Will Microsoft's 'Make Web Not War' Attract Open Source Developers?: Page 2

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Weintraub mentions that a few board members opposed co-operation with Microsoft, but dismisses them as a minority. "For the most part the board is people who work with Microsoft products as well as Linux. If you work in a mixed environment, with Windows desktops on one end and Linux serves on the backend, you're going to have to work with Microsoft products. And I think that most people are realistic enough to realize that."

VanLUG did feel obliged to voice its disapproval of Microsoft's recent decision not to accept apps licensed under the GNU General Public License, the most popular FOSS license, in its Windows Phone Marketplace.

However, this disapproval is not enough for VanLUG to rule out putting on an event for the promotion.

Nor does it stop Weintraub from suggesting ways to help Microsoft compete against FOSS companies. At a preliminary meeting for the Vancouver event, Weintraub did suggest to Julia Stowell, one of the organizers, that Microsoft "should either consider developing their own version of Linux,and just compete openly against the other varieties of Linux, or else develop the project WINE," which allows Windows programs to run on GNU/Linux. It's advice that he intends to repeat "if we have a chance to make a formal presentation."

Asked whether he worried about negative reactions to VanLUG's dealings with Microsoft, Weintraub says, "I don't think that there'll be much. Most of the people who are willing to develop open source stuff just want to see the community flourish. It's not a large percentage of people who are anti-Microsoft.

"I think that most people are pretty pragmatic. There's ways to be involved in both sides of the software community [that is, proprietary and FOSS], and it shouldn't be treated as an opposition. It should be seen as two different business models, and everybody's in competition with everybody else anyway."

Weintraub concludes, "I think we're going to learn a lot. I don't think there's anything momentous that happens at these events. I think it's more about making overtures and making peace. Ten years ago, [Microsoft was] terribly antagonistic to the open source community, but I think that's changed. I think they're trying to make overtures, and that's what the Make Web Not War Event is all about."

Stepping Away From the Table

Unlike VanLug, the Vancouver PHP User Association has chosen not to participate in this year's Make Web Not War promotion.

Part of this refusal has nothing to do with Microsoft. Rather, after organizing the Open Web Vancouver conference in 2009, the local PHP group has become semi-dormant, and would have trouble gearing up to organize an event just now.

But, Peter Gordon, the contact person for the group, also has practical misgivings about the mechanics of the event. Three or four months, he notes, is hardly enough lead time to find a world-class speaker.

Moreover, the thousand dollars that Microsoft offered the PHP Association would hardly be enough to cover the costs of the event.

"To get a person in for a one night event, organize it, pay for [airline] tickets, per diem food and entertainment and arranging for people to come could easily rack up three to five thousand dollars," Gordon says. "And plane tickets are more expensive when people are only in town for a couple of days."

However, for Gordon, the strongest reason for not becoming involved with Make Web Not War is that Microsoft has more to gain from the promotion than the local FOSS community.

"It's probably a really minor event from the point of view of the directors [of Microsoft], Gordon says. "It's nothing compared to the billions that they go through every year. I think they're just on a little bit of a fishing expedition, trying to see what inroads they can make into the community.

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Tags: open source, Linux, Microsoft, developers, FOSS

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