Tonight Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, delivered the "footnote" address at the Open Source Business Conference 2008. I asked Brad to speak because I figured it was the shortest path to getting clarity from Microsoft vis-a-vis open source and the nettlesome legal issues that have plagued Microsoft's relationship with open source.
Brad spoke for 30 minutes, and then participated in a follow-up panel with an A-list group from the open-source community, including Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu), James Bottomley (CTO, SteelEye and Linux kernel maintainer), Andrew Updegrove (standards lawyer extraordinaire), and Stephen O'Grady (Redmonk co-founder). The audience then had the opportunity to ask him questions for another 30 minutes. It was no doubt a grueling "opportunity" for Brad, and he represented himself and Microsoft well. (See also Charles Cooper's report.)
But it didn't result in any great "Ah ha!" moment, unfortunately. There are serious chasms between Microsoft's position(s) and the open-source community's position(s). It's very possible that both sides will have to compromise. What would compromise entail?
Brad talked around this in his opening remarks:… Read more