Here published with kind permission by Cybersource Pty. Ltd.

Cybersource to Microsoft: Get Real on Joint Research Efforts

Australia -- 26th August, 2005

Microsoft recently approached Open Source Development Labs, the home of Linux, with an offer of co-operation on research. Unfortunately, the kind of joint research that Microsoft proposed, namely more paid-for analyst comparisons, is designed to extend the Linux vs. Windows war-of -words, not help users of either platform. Cybersource has an alternate suggestion: it's time for Microsoft to actually do what's best for its own customers and the industry in general, by working towards making Linux and Windows work better together.

"Most businesses will end up running a combination of proprietary and open source software," said Cybersource CEO Con Zymaris. "By joining with the open source industry and working towards reducing the interoperability headaches between the two, Microsoft can help its own customers as well as make it easier for users to select and move to the platform best suited to them."

To date, most of the effort towards improving interoperability between Linux & open source and Microsoft platforms, has been shouldered by the open source community.

"Apache, PHP, MySQL, Perl, Sendmail, BIND, Python, Zope, PostgreSQL, Firefox, Thunderbird,, FirebirdSQL and several thousand other open source technologies have been ported to run on Windows. In comparison, Microsoft has not made any effort to bring any of its major technologies, such as Exchange, Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer, IIS, SQL Server, to Linux," continued Zymaris.

"When it comes to sharing data on disk or on a network, Linux's Network File System (NFS), EXT2 and ReiserFS filesystems are open and documented for interoperability, as are the Kerberos and OpenLDAP authentication protocols. This is in sharp contrast to Microsoft's NTFS, SMB/CIFS and Active Directory, which are encumbered through lack of technical interoperation documentation or by legal firewalls."

"Just as importantly, open source developers provide full, unfettered access to protocols, document standards and XML schemas. In return, Microsoft keeps the information required to work with Word, Excel, Access, Outlook and Exchange, secret. Even when Microsoft makes claims towards interoperability, as with the recent Word XML schemas, they nobble that effort by releasing information under a licence which prevents implementation in common open source forms," continued Zymaris.

Cybersource suggests the following as actually useful joint-research that Microsoft can co-operate with the open source community on:

  1. Publish (in an un-encumbered form) the information necessary for third-party software to interoperate fully with Microsoft Office, Exchange, Windows Media codecs etc.
  2. Stop the 'intellectual property' land-grab on XML schemas, communication protocols and document formats. Interoperability information should never be legally encumbered: that defeats the purpose.

"In order for Linux and Windows to properly interoperate, we need to establish a common 'language', with agreed syntax, forms and rules - this is what schemas, protocols and document formats do. Microsoft has thus-far done its best to subvert that common language with either technical or legal obstructions, causing problems for users. It's time to change tack and assist both Windows and Linux users by working towards interoperability," Zymaris concluded.