Rythie's Blog

Technology and stuff

Bill Hilf Interview

There is a article on the Bangkok Post in which the head of Microsoft's Linux Labs, Bill Hilf apparently sets out some 'Controversial statements' and presumably these are supposed to hurt Linux and open source in some way. However looking at what he says, he doesn't really say anything bad or wrong about Linux except when he just doesn't make any sense.
'He said that most customers run a distribution - RedHat, Novell, Suse or Mandriva. Most of the work on maintaining the Linux kernel is done by developers working for these distributions, he noted'
Well this is good isn't it? What he says means that people work full time on maintaining the Linux Kernel to make and keep it the highly reliable, fast and stable workhorse it is today. It's a bit like what Microsoft do except the Linux kernel doesn't require every PC you buy to come with it loaded whether you like or not, is very stable, works on lots of CPU architectures, doesn't try to lock you into to anything and it's Open Source.
"They are full-time employees, with 401K stock options. Some work for IBM or Oracle. What does that mean? It means that Linux doesn't exist any more in 2007. There is no free software movement. If someone says Linux is about Love, Peace and Harmony, I would tell them to do their research. There is no free software movement any more. There is big commercial [firms] like IBM and there is small commercial [firms] like Ubuntu,"
If Linux isn't about Love, Peace and Harmony then what do you call lots of companies big and small getting along and putting their collective efforts into something they all benefit from (the Linux Kernel). It's quite possible on the Microsoft Campus they don't have a word for this type of thing since it doesn't come up in anything they do. As for 'Linux doesn't exist in 2007', well that's clearly not true, I'm using it right now and latest kernel prepatch was released only yesterday (2.6.22-rc1), so it definitely alive, in fact I imagine the Linux kernel is being worked on at a much higher rate than the Windows kernel is.
"People ask me, why are you doing this? Why did you do the Novell deal? Why aren't you doing Office on Linux? The summary is quite simple. Growth of the ecosystem equals growth of the [Windows] platform,"
How does that answer relate to the question at all? The first question depends on the context. The second is I imagine is because Novell had some patents that Microsoft infringed and that needed sorting also Microsoft wanted to help spread some FUD buy creating a cross-licensing deal around Linux. The reason they don't do Office on Linux is that it would cut into their Windows sales. Though these probably aren't the answers his one doesn't even make sense for those questions.
"That's the dirty little secret. When I talk to open source developers, at least half are talking about Windows, from SugarCRM, MySQL, PHP. Every single one,"
Well why wouldn't they? I mean Microsoft doesn't want their products to run on Linux because it would hurt Windows, but Open Source projects have no such conflict of interest and are for creating what the users and developers want from them. In fact people running open source programs on windows is a great way for people to try open source out and migrate or inter operate with Linux they can use Tomcat, SugarCRM, PHP, Apache all on Windows for testing before putting it on Linux box for production for example. Microsoft doesn't let you do anything like that with their products and even explicitly blocks attempts to use wine to do that sort of thing. It's not like this is a secret either since the Windows downloads are available from the same place the Linux one are.
"Standards is the first thing you go to in the competitive strategy playbook. Of course, IBM and Sun won't say that on the record. You create a problem that didn't exist and use standards to force a problem,"
The first part could be true but the problem definitely did exist before, Microsoft doesn't document the DOC file format or the others used in Office which makes interoperability hard for anyone else. The only reason it might not of existed before was that almost everyone uses Microsoft Office due in part to the lack of an open standard and the problems that creates to anyone who wants to compete.