Monday, May 14, 2007


I talk a lot about transparency in business. I believe in it to my very core. I've always told people what I intended to do, what I hoped to do and what I promised to do. When I was running the Linux Program Office at Oracle I was very open with the strategy and eager to tell people how it would evolve over time.

I remember having many conversations with others about the "sanity" of being so open. There were many people who felt that being secret was the way to go. I always felt this was nonsense. There was nothing more powerful than saying what you were going to do and doing it. After a while others understood that what you said was valuable because it was representative of what you were going to do.

This is why I keep pushing transparency and am so strongly opposed to obliqueness and opaqueness. I harbor an almost instinctual distrust of those who maintain secrets about their business plans. If the secretive were so confident in their business plans then they would gladly share them knowing that no one could stop them from being successful or beating them to the punch.

Yet, here we are with one of the most powerful companies on the planet apparently afraid to take on the open-source world in a direct way. Instead of identifying the patents that have allegedly been violated Microsoft seeks to hide in the shadows. I would argue that Microsoft does not have a sound strategy. If their strategy is so strong then what do they fear?

I believe they fear that their patents are unenforceable and probably a bit farcicle. Microsoft could stand up and say, "Here's a patent you've infringed. We worked hard to invent this clever, neat elegant solution to a difficult problem and you are stealing from us. This is the only way to solve this problem and we are confident that every court in the land will agree with us. Therefore, either stop infringing or pay us."

However, we see no such confidence from Microsoft. What does Microsoft fear more than open-source? I believe they fear what all little bullies fear - of being found out. There is no set of ingenious, clever, elegant solutions that they've invented for all the world to admire. There's nothing but noise, bluster and shadowy skullduggery.

Microsoft fears transparency. They fear the light. We all owe it to ourselves to shine our lights as strongly and as directly as possible.

The truth never fears transparency, why then does Microsoft?

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