Microsoft Has No Intentions Of Being Open Source: Canonical's CEO
Microsoft Has No Intentions Of Being Open Source: Canonical's CEO
Diksha P Gupta, EFY News Network
(Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:18:21 PM)
Microsoft has intentions of meeting their commercial goals as any company does including Canonical, says Jane Silber, chief executive officer, Canonical.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012:
Gone are the days when Microsoft considered open source technology a cancer to the society. It's time when the company has stopped bashing open source and has initiated steps to become open source friendly. The proprietary software king has become one of the largest contributors of Linux and has come up with an entirely new open source subsidiary. Microsoft has also allowed Linux on Azure platform. What more! Open source companies are taking such initiatives from Microsoft in a positive light. EFYTimes.com spoke exclusively to Jane Silber, chief executive officer of Canonical about recent open source friendly efforts from Microsoft. Excerpts:
What is your take on Microsoft's open source subsidiary?
I think Microsoft has got a lot smarter and a lot savvier about open source. We, Canonical, have a good relationship with Microsoft. We recently announced Ubuntu being supported on Azure, Microsoft's cloud. That's a positive relationship. I think in the previous years, Microsoft's strategy was based on fear and disdain. I think now they have recognised open source. Previously they were hoping open source to go away. But they are smart business people and know that open source is not going away anywhere. So they are adopting the strategy to figure out how to work together. I think that's a smart business move. They know that their customers want to use Linux and open source. However, I don't see them open-sourcing Windows ever. I don't think Microsoft will ever go to that extreme, but I think they are making pragmatic, realistic, smart business decisions about the fact that people live in a heterogeneous computing environment and open source and Linux are a part of the IT landscape. They have realised that the better everybody interacts with each other, the better will be the experience for the end-user and customers.
Any reasons for joining hands with Microsoft on Azure platform?
Microsoft's goal with Azure is to provide infrastructure that delivers computing resources and computing power to its users. Azure is the infrastructure piece and there are guest images and guest OSes that sit on top of that in the cloud. For Microsoft, it's a smart business decision to make sure that what they are delivering in that cloud is what people want to use. And for us, it's a smart business decision to make sure that people who want to use Ubuntu, even if they want to use around Windows can do that in a secure and certified manner. So, it was very obvious that we should work with Microsoft to make sure that Ubuntu that people are using in Azure Cloud is the best Ubuntu experience possible. It's what Microsoft's customers want and what our customers want as well. So it was a very natural partnership to strike. I think there is often a perception that there are some backroom deals, but there is none of these in this case. It is a very obvious business decision. The end-user wanted to use Ubuntu, we wanted them to use it, Microsoft wanted them to use it on their cloud and it all got aligned naturally.
So even if it was a business decision, Microsoft sees any other operating system as a competitor...
I would say, just like any operating system is a competitor to Ubuntu. People want to use the right tool for the job. I think it's important to be able to compete and co-operate with other companies. With so many big companies today dealing in a range of activities, competition is bound to happen in some areas. I think that's natural. If you allow that competition to stop you from working with someone, you will be very isolated. You have to learn to collaborate and compete. The collaboration often makes the competition easier because there is mutual respect from the collaborative efforts and vice versa. From competing you learn others' strengths and you appreciate those strengths sometimes.
Does that mean Microsoft was isolated so far and now these moves are taken in the direction of being collaborative?
I think Microsoft is certainly trying to establish itself with the open source community and open source advocates. But they are dominant player. It's not right to say that they are isolated. They are clearly the leading OS in many environments depending upon how you define those environments. As I said before, it is a pragmatic smart decision of theirs to learn how to work with open source competitors rather than trying to push them away. And in some ways it's a recognition on their part that open source is not going away. They tried to beat it but now they have realised that it is going to be there and let's figure out how to get the best out of it.
But what about the secure boot feature of Windows 8 that Microsoft is talking about and there is a lot of opposition from The Linux Foundation as well. What is your take on that?
I think there are different levels to the secure boot issue. There is a pure technical level at which there are benefits to secure boot. There are genuine technical security benefits to secure boot. There are some marketing and brand implementations on top of that, which are being driven by competitive concerns rather than technical security concerns. Stepping in those two areas is difficult and this is partly a reason behind some of the opposition to secure boot coming from Linux and open source community.
Does that mean Microsoft is not able to balance its intentions of being open source or not being open source?
Microsoft doesn't have any intentions of being open source. Microsoft has intentions of meeting their commercial goals as any company does including Canonical. We choose to do it the open source way. We think that's a better and more effective way, while Microsoft chooses a different path. In choosing their path, they become more accepting of open source alternatives and they recognise the need to work together with those. But I don't think it's correct to say that Microsoft has gone open source or is going open source. I think their view of open source has matured and they recognise it as a player in the ecosystem. That doesn't mean they are not going to compete against it. In general, we all know that fair competition largely results in a better experience for the customer. There are obvious issues and historical issues with Microsoft about fair competition but as far as our dealings with Microsoft is concerned, they have been a very good partner around the Azure collaboration. It's a solid partnership that can benefit both the organisations.
What is coming up in future in between Canonical and Microsoft? Do we see more partnerships between proprietary and open source companies on any other level?
I don't have anything specific to share but I think in general that's the trend. I think people will use more and more Linux and Ubuntu and there will be more and more touch points with Microsoft. Things like cloud computing will improve the relationship simply because of the nature of the cloud, which means people are freely moving between platforms. I think the number of places where those platform choices or operating system choices will come in contact with each other will increase and I think its in everybody's interest to make those smooth interactions. I don't have a specific example of what that may look like but the days of Microsoft really bashing open source are ending.