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Microsoft Trying To Appeal to the Unix Crowd? 468

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the well-we-are-very-sexy dept.
DigDuality writes "With the news that Windows 2008 (recently discussed on Slashdot) will have GUI-less installs and be fully scriptable, that they've opened up their communication protocols for non-commercial usage and are providing a patent covenant (Redhat Responds), and now finally an interesting rumor floating around that Microsoft will be taking on GNU directly. Has Microsoft totally switched gears in how it is approaching the Unix and FOSS sector for direct competition? According to an anonymous email leaked from a Microsoft employee, it seems Microsoft will be developing a framework that will be completely GNU compatible. Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, said on Friday (23 February) that they are aiming to restore a Unix-like environment to its former proprietary glory, at the same time proving that Microsoft is committed to interoperability. Ballmer emphasized that Microsoft's new strategy is to provide users with a complete package, and this includes users who like Unix environments. According to the supposedly leaked email, UNG, which stands for UNG's not GNU, is set to be released late 2009."
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Microsoft Trying To Appeal to the Unix Crowd?

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  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:01AM (#22573388)
    A rumour that sounds about as trustworthy as an e-mail from Nigeria.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ZeroFactorial (1025676) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:12AM (#22573556)
      Does Balmer actually understand the holy war he's getting the company into?

      This is like Satan trying to appeal to Christians.

      *nix users have already eaten the apple and realized they were duped.
      If the Nigerian princes are right, I'd say it's time to sell your Microsoft stock.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:21AM (#22573710) Homepage Journal

        This is like Satan trying to appeal to Christians.
        Is that really that great of a description? I mean, Satan is depicted as putting money, power, wealth, women, and other temptations in front of Christians to tempt them from their path. He's also depicted as regularly succeeding.

        I think the analogy you're looking for is something more along the lines of selling sno-cones to Eskimos.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You insensitive clod! I'm an Eskimo and I love the sweet tasty goodness of a cool, sugary sno-cone.

          Also, you left one other difference out:
          Satan engages in questionable business practices.
          Oh wait....
        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

          by BotnetZombie (1174935) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:46AM (#22574108)
          We use car analogies around here. This is like a car-dealer trying to sell Trabants [wikipedia.org] to a Formula 1 team.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Provocateur (133110)
          I think he's right, Satan with the upside down cross, MS with UNG instead of GNU...
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:16AM (#22573608) Homepage Journal
      I dunno, seems plausible enough to me. I was always of fan of the idea of extracting the NT kernel and doing a GNU distribution on top of it. (Something which is theoretically possible even without Microsoft's help, though rather difficult.) Microsoft would never have been happy about it because it would further erode their lock-in.

      Of course, these days Microsoft's lock-in is slipping away fast. More and more programs are showing up on the Mac, the web is going standards-compliant, and Java has ensured that Windows no longer locks customers in on the server side.

      The way I see it, Microsoft is fighting. Which is step 3 of 4 in Ghandi's formula for success: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Andrzej Sawicki (921100) <ansaw@poczta.onet.pl> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:30AM (#22573878)
        If anything it's a step on the way from Embrace to Extend. Later to be followed by Extingiush. I wonder, though, if the target isn't a tad too big this time. We'll see, I guess.
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

          by mikael (484) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @01:34PM (#22575548)
          Microsoft did try this before when they first brought out Windows NT. They provided a very minimal shell environment along with some unix emulation commands (make, ls, df, du, vi) as well as being able to get OpenGL drivers ported over. The idea was to provide these commands to get the applications ported over, and then to silently withdraw the suppport once the applications were ported.

          There are still emulation libraries by Cygwin [cygwin.com] and MKS [mkssoftware.com]

          Shell scripts are Microsofts weakness. Microsoft held off from including Monad [blogspot.com] into Vista for security fears. This was in a previous Slashdot discussion [slashdot.org]
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987)
        MS also has existing software available for making Windows UNIX compatible, "UNIX Services for Windows", if memory serves. It's not a long distance from that to GNU compatibility.

        With Cygwin already around, and UNIX being open and readily able to be integrated into Windows, it would be a smart way to envelop potential UNIX users. Personally I'd like a Microsoft supported Cygwin, which isn't as buggy and doesn't feel as detached from Windows.
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

          by incripshin (580256) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [niuqolepkram]> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:33PM (#22574774) Homepage

          I think Cygwin's full of too many hacks to be a good starting point. For instance, Windows programs have no ability to fork, and yet cygwin has a fork() implementation. Personally, I don't want GNU compatibility but POSIX compatibility. There are POSIX makefiles and there are GNU makefiles. The difference is that POSIX makefiles run everywhere, while GNU makefiles don't. Just the same, I try never use GNU-specific language features in gcc (I use -std=c89 or -std=c99 with -pedantic). GNU hinders interoperability, themselves. It would be good if a Microsoft-developed make (there is nmake, but I don't know how it works at all) had a POSIX mode and a GNU+POSIX mode, in the same way that GCC allows by use of -std=XXX -pedantic flags to disable GNU extensions.

          Also, Microsoft's library model is positively nutty. Static libraries are stored as a big .lib file, while shared libraries are stored as a small .lib file together with a .dll file. Unix has .a and .so files, respectively. Inter-operable makefiles need simpler compilation systems than having three kinds of library files.

          • NT and forking (Score:5, Informative)

            by Myria (562655) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @08:25PM (#22581746)
            Win32 does not have a way to fork a process, but NT does. Passing a NULL image handle to NtCreateProcess() is similar to calling fork(), cloning the memory space as a new process. The NT kernel supports a lot of system calls that are not exposed through Win32, and it's a shame. The NT API is much more elegant and self-consistent than the Win32 wrapper, yet it's the officially undocumented one.

            NT is almost a superset of the features of Linux. There are only a few concepts that don't exist in NT, like signals.
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

          by nxtw (866177) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @02:07PM (#22576018)

          MS also has existing software available for making Windows UNIX compatible, "UNIX Services for Windows", if memory serves. It's not a long distance from that to GNU compatibility.

          With Cygwin already around, and UNIX being open and readily able to be integrated into Windows, it would be a smart way to envelop potential UNIX users. Personally I'd like a Microsoft supported Cygwin, which isn't as buggy and doesn't feel as detached from Windows.


          As of Windows 2003 R2 and later, it's now called Subsystem for UNIX-Based Applications.

          SFU/SUA applications are not Win32 applications; they operate on the POSIX layer. The apps are still Windows PE formatted binaries. Libraries are also PE and do not have a .dll extension.

          The Unix environment is more Unix-like than Cygwin. Executables have no file extension; their names are all lowercase and appear that way in the Task Manager. SUA is aware of NT ACLs and permissions and appears to work with ACLs. It's possible to suspend and kill processes like any unix system.

          SUA borrows a lot of stuff from BSD and includes some GNU code. Much of the userland is based on BSD; the SUA FTP application supports HTTP downloads as well, like NetBSD's IIRC. SUA applications can be compiled with the Microsoft Visual C++ compiler or the included gcc (version 3.3). SUA provides a /proc filesystem.

          The userland is not as "complete" as a GNU system; commands like top and killall are missing, but ps and kill are functional.

          Ports of some GNU software are available here [interix.com].

          I haven't found much of a need for SFU/SUA, mainly because I typically have some sort of Linux system accessible and because PowerShell makes it possible to do many of the same things. But it doesn't feel too different than any other Unix

          Here's the output of a few commands on my Windows Vista box:

          bash-3.00$ uname -a
          Interix bobspc 6.0 10.0.6000.0 x86 Intel_x86_Family6_Model15_Stepping10
          bash-3.00$ gcc -v
          Reading specs from /opt/gcc.3.3/lib/gcc-lib/i586-pc-interix3/3.3/specs
          Configured with: : (reconfigured) : (reconfigured) /dev/fs/D/gnu2.intel/egcs.s
          ource//configure --verbose --prefix=/opt/gcc.3.3 --disable-shared --with-stabs -
          -enable-nls --with-local-prefix=/opt/gcc.3.3 --with-gnu-as --with-gnu-ld --enabl
          e-targets=i586-pc-interix3 --enable-threads=posix
          Thread model: posix
          gcc version 3.3
          bash-3.00$ pwd
          /dev/fs/C/Users/bob
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Wine on top of NT Kernel? Now we're talking!
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:57AM (#22574270) Homepage Journal
        What'd be the benefit of the NT kernel instead of Linux or *BSD? Surely the kernel doesn't directly host Win32 or .NET APIs, since so much of them has to do with the GUI.
        • You don't really gain anything with the NT kernel. The problem is developers. They want to learn technologies that don't lock them down to one vendor or a "licensed" solution. Because of that chosen career paths follow toolkits that are portable. Java, python,ruby, mysql, apache, etc.. . Automation and installation of these type of tools are best handled through the GNU or GNU like products.

          Even though the developer doesn't have the purchasing power, they do influence. If someone says, I need you to i
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by protohiro1 (590732)
            This is the best option, port the GUI (vista gui sounds pretty portable actually) to SCO unix (ms can buy it), run old apps in a virtual machine. Done and done.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by einhverfr (238914)
          Well, the other thing is that the desired development model is entirely different. Linux tends to support cheap process creation and optimize for that. The NT kernel is really optimized for single process, multithreaded applications which use things like async I/O. So yes, you can get the software to run from one to the other, but the performance overhead of running on the wrong platform could be substantial under load.
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

          by EvanED (569694) <evaned@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @03:45PM (#22577456)
          [Whew, long post. If your reaction is 'TL;DR' I don't feel bad.]

          The NT kernel... is an interesting beast. There are a lot of things I really like about the architecture it presents. In many ways it has a lot of things that are more modern and better-designed than Unix-descendents (including Linux). At the same time MS seems to have made it more complicated than it "needs" to be, in part to satisfy backwards compatibility and in part because they just seemed to make some decisions I don't agree with.

          Some of the good points:

          1. Security. Yes, security. This is often brought up as a Windows problem, but that is largely because of policy decisions such as running as admin. (There are also a number of bugs caused by just plain bad coding that lead to buffer overflows. The biggest problem here in some sense is some of the abilities such as sending messages to other processes, which are probably too ingrained to pull out without some very clever modifications.) The security manager in NT provides a lot of very fine-grained control. Related, you don't need explicit file system support and a separate mechanism to do more than RWX on files. (ACLs are absolutely vital in some environments, and things like an "append only" or "create files but no delete" are useful for some applications.) In Unix, sometimes you use chmod, sometimes you use fsacl or whatever it is; the framework isn't unified.

          2. Flexibility, in some sense. MS (in theory) can change the system calls that the NT kernel accepts on a whim. This is because all programs are dynamically linked to the Windows subsystem DLLs. These DLLs translate Windows API calls into whatever actual system calls they need. (One API call may generate zero, one, or more syscalls.) It's only the rare, "misbehaving" program that uses the syscall interface directly, and MS doesn't mind breaking them too much. (There are some mostly-legitimate reasons why you need to do this.) By contrast, statically linking code is a bigger tradition in Unix. (Then again, so is having source, so you can recompile if you change your syscall interface.) The idea of having various subsystems that provide different API views is pretty neat, though it's not a fundamental idea. (It's hard to say how it differs from just dynamically linking against just some shared lib.)

          3. Not really a good advantage, but interesting and one of the rare examples of where Windows is actually simpler is in the read/write interface. In Unix, my impression is that if you are writing a driver, you "have" to implement to entry points for each: synchronous and asynchronous read, and synchronous and asynchronous write. In Windows, you only implement the asynchronous interface. If a synchronous request is issued, it is handled at a higher level and translated to an async call. (Upside: simpler driver code. Downside: inability to implement just the synchronous version.)

          4. It's actually possible to use extended attributes on Windows, though admittedly only because of a huge hack introduced for a related but not-quite-the-same reason. (In Unix, opening a file with an extended attribute in Vi or Emacs, modifying it, and saving it is enough to kill the extended attributes. This makes them next to useless, when I at least can imagine a TON of very useful and neat things you could do with them if you could use them reliably.)

          5. The registry gets a lot of hate, but I think a modified version could be better. There are a lot of very nice things it provides over config files. (Transactional access, fine-grained access controls (often nice for a corporate environment, at least in some sense),

          6. Diversity. Yes, diversity. People often talk about the "Windows monoculture" on /. and other places. And yes, this is a big problem. But there is another kind of diversity, which is that Windows is the only major OS that isn't Unixy. Solaris is Unix. BSD is Unix. Linux is Unixy. It's only when you start talking about either research OSes (Mach, L4, Singularity) and old Oses (OS/2, BeOS
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gnu-user (162334)
        Colinux is exactly that: http://www.colinux.org/ [colinux.org]

        Its a linux distro that runs on top of the NT kernel

        Runs pretty fast, for what it's worth
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by nuzak (959558)
          CoLinux runs User Mode Linux on NT. It's really quite a far cry from "running on top of the NT kernel", and more like a paravirtualized guest.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The One and Only (691315) * <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:32PM (#22574760) Homepage

        The way I see it, Microsoft is fighting. Which is step 3 of 4 in Ghandi's formula for success: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."

        What Gandhi left out is that, nine times out of ten, the fourth step is "then you're never heard from again".

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:17AM (#22573640)
      Perhaps, but there's no denying that products like Server 2008 and Powershell definitely have a very *nix flavor to them and are at least partially meant to appeal to the Linux crowd. I'm sure MS would love to make the MySQL/MSSQL or IIS/Apache decision a little more difficult for a lot of admins out there.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by diegocgteleline.es (653730) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:19AM (#22573672)
      I don't agree. Microsoft IS trying to make Windows the best FOSS platform. The goal is not to be nice to FOSS, but to try to damage Linux. It's not me who says it, but Mary Jo Foley [zdnet.com] (who got it from a Microsoft), one of the most journalists experts in microsoft, if not the best. Quote:

      "Microsoft is looking at open-source software (OSS) as just another flavor of independent software vendors (ISV) software. Microsoft's goal is to convince OSS vendors to port their software to Windows. But Microsoft doesn't want OSS software to just sit on top of Windows; the company wants this software to be tied into the Windows ecosystem by integrating with Active Directory, Microsoft Office, Expression designer tools, System Center systems-management wares and SQL Server database.

      In cases where customers and software vendors want/need Linux to still be part of the picture for some reason, Microsoft will suggest they use Hyper-V, its forthcoming virtualization hypervisor, to run Linux and Linux-dependent applications.

      Microsoft's OSS strategy makes a lot of sense for Microsoft. It's another way for Microsoft to try to make Linux obsolete, and not look as obviously ruthless doing so. And for OSS vendors who are selling a lot of their software on Windows -- Ramji repeated a couple of times that more than 50 percent of JBoss' business these days is from software running on Windows -- Microsoft's OSS push isn't a bad deal, either.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatman@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:23AM (#22573768) Homepage Journal
        Long story short: "Embrace, extend, extinguish"
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:32AM (#22573908) Journal
        When I can recompile the Windows kernel to my liking, then we'll talk about how Windows will be a better FOSS platform.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          When I can recompile the Windows kernel to my liking, then we'll talk about how Windows will be a better FOSS platform.

          Of course, you don't need to because it's not monolithic. The benefits of recompiling the linux kernel stem from the fact that everything in linux-land is jammed into the kernel.

          You can simply load different drivers in pseudo-userland and run a separate set of services to completely rework your windows system. As far as enterprises and business customers are concerned, there's little to no benefit for them to be able to compile their own kernel unless it is completely monolithic- it's just a waste of time

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by EvilRyry (1025309)
            You might not have heard this, but Linux does have support for these things called kernel modules. Also BSD and OpenSolaris don't use the GNU userland for the most part.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lysse (516445)

            You can simply load different drivers in pseudo-userland and run a separate set of services to completely rework your windows system.

            You mean, kind of like Linux's modules...? There's no reason to recompile a kernel just to get a system working these days, nor has there been since about 2001; indeed, vendors tend to recommend against doing so. But you do at least get the chance to say "no, I know what I'm doing" and choose.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Java Pimp (98454)

            Of course, you don't need to because it's not monolithic.

            Windows is absolutely monolithic. Even though you can dynamically extend it with drivers/kernel modules, it is still monolithic. As is Linux. When the module is inserted, it essentially becomes part of the operating system.

            You are likely thinking of a Microkernel [wikipedia.org] architecture which separates services into completely independent components. However, the difference being if one component goes down, it does not take the entire system with it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArikTheRed (865776)

        But Microsoft doesn't want OSS software to just sit on top of Windows; the company wants this software to be tied into the Windows ecosystem by integrating with Active Directory, Microsoft Office, Expression designer tools, System Center systems-management wares and SQL Server database.

        If this is indeed their strategy, then it's not a good one. If GNU tools are available on Windows, then it would only be a matter of time acceptable OSS alternatives appear that interwork with Active Directory or SQL Server clones. Hell, clone the interface, and use LDAP and Postgres behind the scenes.

      • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @01:39PM (#22575608)

        Microsoft's OSS strategy makes a lot of sense for Microsoft. It's another way for Microsoft to try to make Linux obsolete, and not look as obviously ruthless doing so. And for OSS vendors who are selling a lot of their software on Windows -- Ramji repeated a couple of times that more than 50 percent of JBoss' business these days is from software running on Windows -- Microsoft's OSS push isn't a bad deal, either.
        This appears risky for Microsoft. In times past, you ran Windows because that's all anybody wrote for. Those weird apps that are industry-specific, they're always defaulting to Windows. Microsoft's biggest fear is that the client can become platform-agnostic. If your app is now running via browser, you can run anything you want on the desktop. If you aren't coding to IE proprietary extensions, there's no lock-in.

        Previously, Microsoft's fear was apps moving from Windows to OSS platforms. The fear was that if you could run your precious app on Linux, why keep Windows? Well, now they're talking about apps that started in the OSS world and trying to get people using them on Windows. That to me seems to be accurately fitting the hoary old gateway drug scare story! You dip your toe into OSS while still having all your comfy Windows apps on the box. You get to like the functionality, pretty soon the jump to Linux isn't all that abrupt, the desktop looks a little different but lookie here, all your apps are just fine.

        By breaking down the barrier between Windows and OSS, Microsoft thinks Linux will lose the attractiveness and people will just run the OSS apps they like on Windows. I think it could accelerate the move the other direction. Well, wait five years and we'll see if I'm right.
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Informative)

      by // (81289) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:56AM (#22574264) Journal
      ...and I remember when some "microsoft partners" were told (very hush hush) that a GUI-less version of windows2000 would be released.

      We're still waiting.

      It's not like a Unix system, where a GUI is built on top of a CLI. Windows is GUI by design from the start. It's a whole different kettle of meat.

  • MS is a business (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shados (741919) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:03AM (#22573408)
    A business tries to appeal to its market. The market changed. MS will change too. Its just long to shift gears of such a behemoth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Yeah, I actually think that, in abstract, this sort of thing is very appropriate. Microsoft *should* be trying to appeal to the Unix/Linux crowd. They should be trying to make there stuff more interoperable, opening their protocols, giving headless servers, supporting GNU tools, etc. There's a case to be made for doing those sorts of things because of business interests, economic benefit, and technological need.

      The only problem I see is that Microsoft has not earned people's trust that they'll do these t

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locutus (9039)
      oh pleaz, there is nothing to show that Microsoft is appealing to its market and that is not how Microsoft has worked over the last 20 something years. They are adjusting to the competition and those adjustments are designed to eliminate the competition. THAT is how Microsoft works.

      Microsoft is profitable because of Windows and without Windows they would be just another software company. Because they know Windows must continue to exist in its dominant and monopoly position, they must stop threats from dimin
  • by FlameWise (84536) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:04AM (#22573418)
    > UNG, which stands for UNG's not GNU

    Wait is it april's fool's already?
  • this has to be fake (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kevgaxxana (1197617)
    microsoft is way to, what's the word, oh yeah, proud to let their os be subject to community modification.
    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:41AM (#22574034)
      Competing with GNU does not mean that they are releasing open source software. What it means is that they would be release tools that are compatible with GNU, so that companies that are running GNU right now would have an easy time switching to Microsoft. It should be interesting to see Microsoft pull this off without violating the GPL.

      Also, this idea reeks of embrace/extend/extinguish.

  • by SendBot (29932) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:04AM (#22573422) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft: Bringing new meaning to "Gnu's not unix"

    Didya hear that there's this operating system that gives you the best of windows and linux? It's called linux!
  • by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:04AM (#22573426) Homepage Journal
    There is already a book out on UNG [oreillymaker.com]. How do publishers knock this stuff out so quickly?
    • Err... that site is a parody. It doesn't take that long to knock out a parody.

      BTW, I love the author's name E.X.Tend who presumably co-writes with E.M.Brace
  • The water will seek its own level. I've written a high-level overview [slashdot.org] of what could happen if tech workers leveraged Free Software to "Embrace and Extend" the tech industry down to the employment level. Unless Microsoft (and many, many others) go the Free Software route, then this plan does not include them.
  • by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:06AM (#22573462) Homepage Journal
    And what is the difference between this and Windows Services for Unix [microsoft.com]? Sounds like rebranding to me.
  • by pembo13 (770295) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:06AM (#22573464) Homepage
    And I think this is fair enough to be applied to any company, not just Microsoft.
  • What's that line?

    Something like "Those who forget Unix are doomed to recode it". So the last big OS vendor is finally coming around. Good.

    As for involving GNU as part of their plans, of course it's a trap :)
  • In future they will be able to say "they must have copied our code" SCO wise.

  • they are aiming to restore a Unix-like environment to its former propriety glory

    The most glorious thing that I can remember about proprietary unix was the awesome pizza box cases [classiccmp.org]. I seriously have no idea why the PC "tower" caught on instead of that.

  • itsatrap (Score:5, Funny)

    by BoberFett (127537) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:12AM (#22573554)
    If ever there were an appropriate story for the itsatrap tag, this is it.
  • by davecb (6526) * <davec-b@rogers.com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:14AM (#22573590) Homepage Journal
    his is exactly what MS tried to do with Java, and did do with C#.

    First, build a language or system that runs existing programs.

    Then change the compilers so they use MS-only, intel-only features by default

    Then add attractive features at the source level.

    Pretty soon, you can port *to* the new platform, but can't port away from it.

    --dave
    [PS: If you're already in that situation and want to port, send me private email]

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:14AM (#22573598)
    In the late 1970s and early 1980s MicroSoft sold a version of PC-UNIX called Xenix (they didnt write it). Until the mid-1990s PCs were too-weak to effectively run UNIX, so it was not a popular product. In the early 1980s MicroSoft decided to concentrate on MS-DOS and other products, so it sold Xenix to a company which eventually became SCO.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:33PM (#22574790)
      Um, you're a little confused on the facts there.

      Around the mid eighties, Xenix was the most widely installed unix, due primarily to the cheapness of the hardware on which it ran. To say it wasn't popular just isn't true.

      Also, MS never sold Xenix directly to customers, quoth Wikipedia:

      "Microsoft did not sell Xenix directly to end users; instead, they licensed it to software OEMs such as Intel, Tandy, Altos and SCO, who then ported it to their own proprietary computer architectures. Microsoft Xenix originally ran on the PDP-11; the first port was for the Zilog Z8001 16-bit processor. Altos shipped a version for their Intel 8086 based computers early in 1982, Tandy Corporation shipped TRS-XENIX for their 68000-based systems in January 1983, and SCO released their port to the IBM PC in September 1983."
    • by yorugua (697900) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:38PM (#22574850)

      In the late 1970s and early 1980s MicroSoft sold a version of PC-UNIX called Xenix (they didnt write it).

      Great old times..!! I remember I had a 80266 machine back then, 10 MHz (way faster than the original IBM PC-AT, but you could always press CTRL-ALT-minus to set it back to normal speed in case of incompatibilities).

      Until the mid-1990s PCs were too-weak to effectively run UNIX


      Well, on my 80266 10MHz/640kb RAM I used to do the college work (Turbo Pascal, Turbo C, documentation) on PC-DOS. When I "discovered" Xenix-286, the same machine could run 4 virtual terminals on the console, I was able to edit, compile, run/test on three different terminals. If I made a mistake on C, I'd get a coredump, but the machine kept running. Also, I was able to enable my modem, so a classmate could also work on what I was doing.

      Great times, 80266 machine, 640 KB ram, 40 MB Hard drive.

      Then I met a lot of people that were using SCO Xenix/UNIX on 80386 class machines, doing all kind of things from running a BBS with 20+modems, or running the billing system of local companies from multiple RS-232 terminals in the late 80's, early 90's.

  • by breagerey (758928) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:17AM (#22573650)
    and has for a very long time.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:20AM (#22573690) Homepage

    opened up their communication protocols for non-commercial usage
    Get back to me when it's for general-purpose uses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MrNemesis (587188)
      Really, this comment should be +5 insightful by now. By having a caveat that basically says "if you're a corporation making money off Linux (hello Redhat!) and your distro happens to contain a nifty utility that some dude made based on stuff in our patents, we'll sue the hell out of you unless you pay us this protect... er, technology licensing fee", this is just yet another version of embrace, extend, extinguish.

      When commercial distros (and community distros used commercially, like Debian) can't implement
  • They have to by law (Score:5, Informative)

    by esocid (946821) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:24AM (#22573784) Journal
    This is just a conference to make it look like this interoperability was all their idea. From this quote:

    This covenant will use the exact same terms created in October for the protocols covered by the CFI decision. This means that open source developers will be able to use the documentation to develop implementations of these protocols without paying for a patent license. Companies that subsequently engage in commercial distribution of these protocol implementations will be able to obtain a patent license from Microsoft, as will enterprises that obtain these implementations from a distributor that does not have such a patent license. So that's how we're addressing the intellectual property rights
    you can see that all they are doing is simply complying with the CFI's [weil.com] decision about how the

    Commission found that Microsoft had abused its monopoly in the market for client PC operating systems by (i) refusing to supply its competitors in the market for work group server operating systems with "interoperability information," i.e., documentation allowing server products of Microsoft's competitors to freely interoperate with the Windows environment, and (ii) tying the Windows client PC operating system and Windows Media Player.
  • Who's the target? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phantom of the Opera (1867) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @11:33AM (#22573918) Homepage
    Let's see, the target audience could be :
        * people who hate M$'s guts all ready
        * Windows users who want to see what the fuss is all about
        * Manager who read this and think "my tech people like Unix, I can buy this and they will be happy".

    Would anyone reading this want to touch it with a 10' pole? Anyone curious enough to find out what 'faster and easier' features they've added?

    This is gonna be a dog, a distorted bizarro [wikipedia.org] unix.
  • They're opening up to "non-commercial use".

    This isn't "Microsoft's answer to Open Source", it's "Microsoft's answer to shareware".

    Releasing these documents is meaningless to the open source community so long as they require money for "commercial use". It's not meaningless, but it's not the open source community that will benefit.
  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:03PM (#22574360) Homepage Journal
    My whole point of investing my time into Linux is because FOSS is a cultural phenomon that is completely new. Nobody, at least, not a single entity, owns Linux, and for that reason, it belongs to everyone. If you make some sort of a contribution to it, free of charge, it is almost like making a contribution directly to humanity.

    I can't possibly see how Microsoft could pull off a similar thing.

    No amount of being nice or slick marketing posters could make me think that writing for free on platform with a track record of sickening self interest could even remotely equate to the grand social experiment that is Linux.

    But that's really not the worst of it. If anything, the slick marketing posters that come with Windows are a part of the problem. To a large extent, I view the drive for Linux as a push for a newer set of ethics for consulting firms.

    We need to at some examine the relationship consulting firms have with large concerns like Microsoft. I always though that in the ideal case, a consultant was somewhat akin to a doctor, supposedly free of any sort of taint from any particular vendor's solution. But that's not what we have today. We have consulting firms that are "Junior, Gold", and more with Microsoft. It's an unholy alliance, where, consultants invest in MCSD's and other certifications, pay through the nose to get a product logo'd as compatible. In exchange, Microsoft gives those companies preferred listings and free development tools and operating systems. So basically, Microsoft is using artificial prices for copying to induce consultants to support their platform for free, and those consultants, in turn, are going to always be biased towards push their clients to Microsoft products. Indeed, higher levels of Microsoft partnership require sales of Microsoft products to achieve Gold or some other channel status.

    If doctors did that, they would be barred from practice, and I think this comingling of a vendor with a solution provider is flat out wrong. In other lines of business, if you were paid by a vendor to advocate a particular product, selling everything from nuts and bolts to window frames, you would wind up in jail. But this practice of "partnering" is mysteriously ok in IT.

    Adopting Linux removes this disgust. Because the software is free, there's no incentive to copy it, and ultimately, the customer is going to wind up with a solution that is genuinely more right sized for their needs. With Microsoft, you'll always have consultants pushing Biztalk and Enterprise this or Enterprise that, because, well, they are getting paid to do it.

    The bottom line is this. If Microsoft genuinely wants to promote an open source environment, then yes, it has to make open source software, but it also has to work to promote the idea of a consultant as an independent advocate for his or her clients. We are not some salesman on the cheap motivated by free licensing for products similar to what Linux gives you for free.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:28PM (#22574714) Homepage
    Microsoft would have to do a complete make-over on BSD the way Apple did with OSX. It's not that they couldn't do it, it's that they wouldn't. It would upset all of their development users to no end. There are so many developers making their products and living based on the Windows API that to move to something GNU "compatible" would simply be catastrophic in so many ways that I'd prefer not to put brain power into imagining the details. It would be ugly though... very ugly.

    And in the end, it's not only that the Windows platform isn't and will never be efficient and reliable, it's that people who aren't using Microsoft as their basis for development or operations aren't doing so because they haven't heard or or tried Microsoft's stuff, it's because they have! Microsoft's reputation remains fresh in the minds of those who have rejected them.

    To pull this off would require a lot. The first thing they would need to do is assure their developers that all the work, the time and resources devoted to Microsoft's platforms will not be wasted. To keep those developers would be no easy task. A large portion of them are 'worshipers' but many more are simply very invested in the current API and only take changes in small increments.

    So such a move would take a long time -- even more than 5 years, possibly more than 10 -- to accomplish and even then, people are already burned on Microsoft's name, brand, style and attitude that it would take a long time to 'heal.' But 10 years is a long time to heal those memories, but why should the industry wait 10 years for what it has available to it now just so it could get something from a company that has a general strangle-hold on the IT market? People will figure it out eventually.

    And since so much of today's business mentality is short-term anyway what with having to give in to short-term investors' demands or fear being sued, any planning more than 2 or 3 years out is just unimaginable.

    Can they do it? Should they do it? Yes and yes! I have been saying it all along that if Microsoft wants to restore its former glory, it will have to dump the Windows API and either create a new, more stable and secure basis or adopt BSD and tweak it the way Apple did and hen create a WindowsAPI compatibility layer that actually works. Apple did it with their "Classic" mode (it's not perfect, but it worked well enough for many, and from what I hear Vista is a 'resounding success' even with its declining level of backward compatibility). Microsoft can do it too.

    But will they? Not while present management is currently in control of things. If Microsoft wants another shot at being fresh, new and what's hip the way they were quite a few years ago, they'll have to dump their 80's-mentality leadership and fast! Only then will spurned anti-Microsoft people give a second look at Microsoft now or in the future.
  • Some supporting info (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tomy (34647) on Wednesday February 27, 2008 @12:48PM (#22574966)
    I live in Seattle and the last three months I have been receiving a lot of calls from head hunters staffing for MS looking for people with a strong Unix background. When I first received the job descriptions, my guess was that they were working on something that would allow you to manage Linux/Unix systems from a Windows machine. Reflecting back on the job description, it could have been something like this.

    I didn't accept the offers, but here is some free advice:

    - Get rid of single letter drive names (you know, the eighties called, ...)

    - The directory separator is '/', As Seen On Unix and URLs.

    - Reorganize the file system more like Unix/Linux, and maybe rename 'Program Files' to 'Applications', have a /usr directory tree, etc.

    - Ship every copy of the OS with an X server.

    - And I still need a compliant shell and C compiler to support the holy invocation './configure && make && sudo make install'.

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