Linus Torvalds and nine other leaders of the open source community have fired back at Microsoft's criticism of the general public licence (GPL), the fountain of open source, labelling the software giant as practitioners of the "deliberately incompatible".
Earlier this month, Microsoft's senior vice president, Craig Mundie, said that free software licensing leeched intellectual property rights away from corporations, opened up security holes and would damage the software business.
But a group including Linux creator Torvalds, Red Hat co-founder Bob Young, VA Linux Systems chief executive Larry Augustin and Free Software Foundation guru Richard Stallman has hit back, saying that the only threat they provide is "to end Microsoft's monopoly practices".
Comparing the GPL's "share and share alike" philosophy to Microsoft's stated strategy of "embrace and extend", the co-signed statement said: "Microsoft tries to retain control of the market by taking the result of open projects and standards, and adding incompatible Microsoft-only features in closed-source.
"Adding an incompatible feature to a server, for example, then requires a similarly incompatible client, which forces users to 'upgrade'. Microsoft uses this deliberate incompatibility strategy to force its way through the marketplace.
"But if Microsoft were to attempt to 'embrace and extend' GPL software, they would be required to make each incompatible 'enhancement' public and available to its competitors. Thus, the GPL threatens the strategy that Microsoft uses to maintain its monopoly."
Interested readers can read the full statement, around two pages of A4, here.
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