MS says Linux Threatens Innovation
Microsoft Executive Says Linux Threatens Innovation (Update1)
02/14/01 04:57 PM
Source: Bloomberg News
Redmond, Washington, Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Microsoft Corp.'s Windows operating-system chief, Jim Allchin, says that
freely distributed software code such as rival Linux could stifle innovation and that legislators need to understand
The result will be the demise of both intellectual property rights and the incentive to spend on research and
development, he said yesterday, after the company previewed its latest version of Windows. Microsoft has told
U.S. lawmakers of its
concern while discussing protection of intellectual property rights.
Linux is developed in a so-called open-source environment in which the software code generally isn't owned by any one
company. That, as well as programs such as music-sharing software from Napster Inc., means the world's largest
maker has to do a better job of talking to policymakers, he said.
''Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer,'' Allchin said. ''I can't imagine something that could be worse
than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business.''
Microsoft distributes some of its programs without charge to customers, although it generally doesn't release its
programming code, and it retains the ownership rights to that code. Linux is the most widely known open-source
product, though other
programs including the popular Apache system for Web server computers also are developed the same way.
Allchin made his comments several hours before Microsoft confirmed that its $135 million investment in software maker
Corel Corp. last October is being reviewed by the U.S. Justice Department. Corel said last month it willl drop efforts
the Linux operating system, though it will continue to make Linux applications. Corel said it hadn't consulted with
Microsoft before making that decision.
Brian Behlendorf, founder of open-source company CollabNet Inc., said most companies that use the open-source
development model do retain the rights to some of their intellectual property.
''I think Microsoft is trying to paint the open-source community as being fascist; that all software have has to be
free, or none of it can be,'' said Behlendorf, whose company helps businesses run their own open-source projects.
Allchin said he's concerned that the open-source business model could stifle initiative in the computer industry.
''I'm an American, I believe in the American Way,'' he said. ''I worry if the government encourages open source, and I
don't think we've done enough education of policy makers to understand the threat.''
Some leading computer companies including International Business Machines Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are selling
Linux- based products and working on open-source projects, noted Jeremy Allison, a VA Linux Systems Inc. software
developer. He's also a leader in a project develop an open-source file and printer server program.
Microsoft only began significant lobbying efforts in the last few years. The Redmond, Washington-based company also
talks to lawmakers about issues including the need for more visas for people with computer skills and computer privacy
Linux is the fastest-growing operating system program for running server computers, according to research firm IDC. It
accounted for 27 percent of unit shipments of server operating systems in 2000. Microsoft's Windows was the most
that basis, with 41 percent.
Despite Linux's success in some markets, Allchin says he isn't concerned about sales competition from the
product. Microsoft provides support to change and develop products based on its operating system software that Linux
companies don't, he
said. Companies that use Linux in their products then must pay someone else for support, he said.
''We can build a better product than Linux,'' he said. ''There is always something enamoring about thinking you can
get something for free.''