Microsoft's 12 Tenets of Windows
Well, this is interesting, but consistent with Microsoft's new image as the well meaning altruistic big brother of the software world. I actually like the decision to open up Windows a little. The question that I see everyone asking, however is whether this means anything or not. I'd have to say that I agree with everyone else, that while transparency and openness are good things in general, I don't believe that this means too much.
Some people have indicated that they belive this is in response to the ridiculous fines being levied by the EU onto Microsoft. I don't think so, Microsoft could afford, and would tie the EU up in legislation until kingdom come. They also have no reason to comply with the crazy ruling of the EU. One of the problems with lots of people when it comes to Microsoft is that they forget that A) Microsoft is a business, B) That Microsoft doesn't have to sell Windows to you, and C) That everyone does not have to use Windows. Let's look at these one at a time…
A) Microsoft is a business. Well, Microsoft doesn't make stuff to make the world a better place, they make stuff to sell and get money. That being said, it is unreasonable to expect for them to give their competitors a hand in taking them apart. Microsoft may be a monopoly, but are they stifling competition? In the past yes, they were, now, I don't think they are. Dell, probably the biggest PC supplier in the US is giving users the option to buy their servers with no OS, and will preinstall Linux for you.
B) Microsoft doesn't have to sell Windows to you. Well, they don't. I mean, they are and have made efforts to allow others to write software for Windows without any negative effects. Open Office runs really well on Windows, in some cases I'd say better than it does on linux. The EU should be careful, if they make doing business there too much of an expense for Microsoft, they might just find themselves, and all of their business in violation of Microsoft's EULA if they decide to revoke their licenses and stop selling Windows there. I'd like to see the reaction of European business when they have to immediately switch to Linux. Not that there is anything wrong with Linux, but for desktop users, it would be something of a shock.
C) Everyone does not have to use windows. I mean, if you want some software but it doesn't work well on Windows, I can't really think of anything off the top of my head that meets this criteria but I'm sure the EU can, get the company to write a version for linux. I can tell you that this would happen approximately when hell freezes over. But for those irrational Microsoft haters out there, they can download and use just about any distribution of Linux. They can use, if they can configure it, Wine, or they can buy CrossOver Office by CodeWeavers. Both of which are astonishing pieces of software. They can run Evolution and Open Office and be every bit as productive as they could be in MS Office and Windows. Except of course when they want to communicate to the world.
Microsoft should not have to open their Office format. That would be absurd, that would be like making Coke publish their cola formula so that Pepsi could better compete. I am glad that Microsoft is making their developer tools more open, and better documenting their APIs. I don't think its from any pressure from a particular group, I think they are just smart enough to understand that if developers can easily make applications for your product, then there will be more software that runs on your system.
A perfect example is J2SE. I love J2SE, but I have found myself loving C# just a little more. Mostly because of all of the APIs that Microsoft has opened up to managed code. Direct X running from C# is awesomely easy. Well, not easy, but as easy as any programming could be. There is insane amounts of documentation available for it so that most people could pick it up. It seems to me that Microsoft is serious about winning the hearts and minds of developers and users back. IMHO, they are doing it, and they have the right formula.