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Microsoft off base on open source reader Inder Singh, CEO of LynuxWorks, says Microsoft executive Craig Mundie's statements about open-source software cannot be substantiated.


Microsoft off base on open source

In response to the May 17 column by Craig Mundie, "Commercial software, sustainable innovation":

It is obvious that Microsoft is trying to convince the industry that open-source software and General Public Licenses are a threat to intellectual property rights, and will therefore lead to the demise of the commercial software industry.

In my opinion, this argument simply cannot be substantiated. The discussion isn't about an either/or proposition in respect to open source and the General Public License vs. commercially licensed software. For many years, the two communities have peacefully coexisted without "turning intellectual property rights on their heads."

Microsoft is attempting to paint this discussion into an anti-American, anti-free market argument. At no time has the open-source community stymied the software industry's innovation or caused irreparable damage to the industry's licensed commercial-software business models. In fact, Mundie offers no facts or data to give credibility to his statements.

Actually, if Microsoft were to study the impact, it would find quite the reverse holds true where the market has reaped even greater innovation and economic rewards.

Linux is a perfect example. The world has adopted Linux as a viable open-source platform, and it is the fastest-growing operating system in the embedded and server markets. It is licensed under the General Public License, and contrary to Mundie's assertions, increasing numbers of corporations are using it without jeopardizing their intellectual property rights. It offers great value to the software industry. Also contrary to Mundie's beliefs, Linux companies are making significant economic contributions to the industry worldwide--both in employment and revenue numbers.

Microsoft itself has benefited greatly from work on open-source software, including the TCP/IP stack and the NCSA Mosaic browser.

I encourage the software industry to continue to review any future comments made by Mundie concerning open source and the General Public License with great care and skepticism. It is not the first time that Microsoft has used a soapbox for self-serving interests. So what exactly are those interests?

Let me be the first to raise the question: Is Microsoft sincerely looking for an honest debate on intellectual property issues in the software industry? Or is it simply looking to de-legitimize a blossoming competitive threat represented by the embedded Linux community?

Inder Singh
Chairman, Embedded Linux Consortium
Chairman and chief executive officer, LynuxWorks
San Jose, Calif.