More on Microsoft and Open Source

Jon Galloway wrote a fantastic summary of Microsoft’s unofficial explanation for their non-inclusion of OSS in their products.  Apparently he was able to discuss this at MIX with someone in the know and they provided him with a good explanation of the situation.

Basically, Microsoft’s position seems to come down to this:

Redistributing Open Source Software presents high legal liability risk due to the unmanaged nature of the codebase.

Given that this concerns the worlds largest software company headed by the world’s richest man, yeah, ok.  I get it.  The risk of litigation is genuine, although not necessarily acute.  Surely there is an imaginative way to bridge this gap without re-writing software to do it.  Open standards and plugin models are good ways to provide interoperability and we have seen more of both from the mothership on the last few years.

And to this argument may I add that I flippin hate lawyers?  We were recently told at work that we can no longer buy beer on the company card at Sprint Review celebrations.  Thanks to lawyers.  We were actually told at one point that we couldn’t have a dart board in our team room.  Thanks To Lawyers.  We have to have structure huge contracts with component vendors like Telerik to limit liability exposure on redistributing their products in ours, THANKS TO LAWYERS.

So, it is with reluctant acceptance that I admit this explanation of legal risk rings a bit true.