When is an apology not an apology?

So, Scott Bellware posted something about how Boo couldn't be included in Visual Studio 2005 as an add-in because of some license thing having to do with VSIP.  Enter in one of his hilariously stupid rants against Microsoft (he hasn't descended to using the 'Micro$oft' label that good old Linux open-source advocates use, though one is inclined to believe he would love to).  Rant, rant, rant.

Except, as he was quickly informed, he was wrong, completely wrong (Scott Guthrie pointed this out in what appears to be about 2 hours, and others followed up).

So, he posted a follow-up admitting his mistake.  Which is all well and good.  Except his 'apology' turned into yet another rant about how the earlier license that had this license issue thing was the cause of some great harm, and it's all about FUD and blah blah blah blah blah.  And Microsoft should pay up to...someone...for the harm caused by this great Boo thing.

Apparently, he seems to think Microsoft should openly support all open-source projects or something.  It's hard to tell, since when he rants, he doesn't really make a lot of sense.  The point is inherently nonsensical.

It's a weird thing listening to OSS advocates in the .NET space.  The non-Microsoft spaces like Linux are at least consistent generally.  Microsoft bad, open source good.  I first encountered this attitude with a guy named Lazero I worked with in Miami who introduced me to Linux through Slackware.  He would pontificate about the evils of Microsoft and I would tell him that the black helicopters from Redmond would kidnap him in his sleep, since fighting the Borg was futile.  I learned a *ton* from him, and we could banter about the 'arguments' in a good humored fashion.

People like Scott seem to think....well, actually I can't tell what he things exactly.  It seems as if people think that Microsoft should support OSS projects, and not introduce any technology that encroaches on any fertile territory that OSS has already started on.

This is stupid on just about every level.  If nHibernate is so great, it shouldn't be threatened by the upcoming LINQ and Entity Framework.  If nUnit is so great, it shouldn't be threatened by VSTS and TFS.  And it shouldn't expect support from Microsoft at all.  The whole 'myth' around OSS is that the community can create these great tools that compete against commercial products.  Well, then do it.

And to be honest, nUnit and nHibernate don't seem to be suffering.  At all.  They sure as hell are cheaper, and they seem to work really well.  And people use them all the time. 

And I don't see Mono suffering that much.  Then again, Mono is run by non-Microsoft OSS types, who don't surrender and whine each step of the way.

But, it is always entertaining to read stuff like this.  As always, read the original posts and make your own opinion.

posted on Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:11 PM Print
# re: When is an apology not an apology?
Ayende Rahien
6/25/2007 1:04 AM
The main objection is that MS is competing with its own community.
See the post in my site about OSS in MS land.
# re: When is an apology not an apology?
6/25/2007 7:58 PM
Well, trying to find which post you are referring to is a bit complicated, since you post 97 things a day (maybe I'm missing an obvious link or something, but how can you have a blog without search functionality?). But I think I can address this objection more generally.

I don't think it is coherent. I think it mistakes what Microsoft's obligations are, who they are directed to, and how other communities function.

I'll start off by pointing out that, besides being called "BlogCoward' by Bellware, I was also lumped in (and may have been the source for) as 'Rednoser.' I found that post hilarious as well in its stupidity (like I've ever gotten anything from Microsoft...well, in full disclosure, I did once get Visual Studio 6 Professional Edition when I got my MCSE...didn't have the slightest idea what to do with it) , but I will state in full disclosure that, in general, when people criticize Microsoft, I tend 80% of the time to think that Microsoft is correct.

This is kind of like rooting for the Yankees in baseball (stereotype point, since you are Israeli, you must like soccer, so, like rooting for AC Milan or Real Madrid), and I realize that.

Anyways, Microsoft's obligations are to its shareholders. The end. When it comes to business anyway. They are obligated to increase and expand their business, and to the extent that they start to build tools that happen to 'encroach' on OSS efforts, too bad for OSS.

Having said that, Microsoft has slowly moved away from the 'OSS is all evil' position previously. Things like CodePlex, IronRuby, etc. make this clear. And people like Scott Guthrie clearly care about the community of developers as well.

But I'll still revert back to my main stock response to your objection. If OSS is so good, then prove it. If nUnit is so much better than VSTS and/or nHibernate is so much better than Linq/EF and/or Monorail is so much better than WebForms, etc. then keep up the good work and see how they compete.

There's another long blog post in this last comment: I've pointed out that a certain strain of Alt.NET is elitist. I stand by that. The flip 'good' side of some of that, is that it is idealist. People like you rail against MS tools because you think it prevents them from being the best developers they can be (or something like that). I don't exactly agree with that thought, but it's an admirable goal.

I think it is *wildly* unrealistic, but that's another issue.

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