May 19, 2006 6:26 AM PDT

Microsoft: Open source 'not reliable or dependable'

A senior Microsoft executive told a BBC documentary that people should use commercial software if they're looking for stability.

"I don't think (open source) is anti-Microsoft in the sense that it's giving people choices in the technologies that they use," Jonathan Murray, the vice president and chief technology officer of Microsoft Europe, told BBC World in the first part of the documentary "The Code Breakers," which aired this week.

Jonathan Murray Jonathan Murray

"Some people want to use community-based software, and they get value out of sharing with other people in the community. Other people want the reliability and the dependability that comes from a commercial software model. And again, at the end of the day, you make the choice based on what has the highest value to you," Murray continued.

It isn't clear from Murray's statement which category he believes commercial open-source companies such as Red Hat and MySQL fit into.

Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of the One Laptop Per Child project, was also interviewed in the documentary, and he disagreed with Microsoft's claim that open source is inferior.

"We've chosen free and open software because it's better, and because it means the children can participate in making the software better over time," Negroponte said.

Kenneth Cukier, a technology correspondent for The Economist, weighed in halfway between the two by claiming that open source offers similar functionality to proprietary software.

"One can consider open-source software a lot like generic drugs. The analogy fits," Cukier said in the documentary. "Open-source software...is essentially the same product--it does the same thing on a computer--but it costs less," Cukier told BBC World.

The documentary also included footage of Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, giving a speech, and interviews with people working on open-source projects in developing countries, such as the SchoolNet Namibia project and the Digital Doorway project in South Africa.

Part 2 of "The Code Breakers" is due to be screened next week on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Program times can be found on the BBC World Web site.

Currently, the documentary is only available on BBC World, which isn't broadcast in the United Kingdom.

Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
documentary, open source, open-source software, founder, Microsoft Corp.

87 comments

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What planet is this guy on ?!!
Two words, Apache Foundation.
Posted by groyal (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Four Words
Blue Screen Of Death.

The commercial model does not guarantee dependability and reliability. Mr. Murray's been drinking the kool-aid.
Posted by dagwud (44 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah, RIGHT!
5 Letters.. MySQL

3 more.. PHP

5 More Linux

Hmm..

All of these blow MS out of the water, ASP Stinks, MS's, SQL DB Stinks, Its all super expensive and has to have hardware out the wazoo..

I believe what this dude is trying to say is there's no money in it, At least not enough to satisfy them.
Posted by G.Nuisance (10 comments )
Link Flag
The Apache "Foundation"
The "foundation" (note the quotes) amounts to pretty much nothing more than this these days:

@resolv WORKSFORME

Ken Coar is excluded from this generality, because he's responsible, respectable, and does things the Right Way(tm). This is more than I can say for some developers like this one: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.arctic.org/~dean/legal" target="_newWindow">http://www.arctic.org/~dean/legal</a>

I'm presently in the process of trying to debug Apache (literally as I write this). What? You want a coredump from SIGFPE like your kernel and libc enables by default? SORRY YOU CAN'T HAVE IT.

Apache is quickly being superceded by things like thttpd, lighttpd, and fhttpd. Oh, and let's not forget Zeus (a commercial solution that's incredible).
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Link Flag
Headline is a lie
The headline of this story is not supported by the quote. Whoever put that headline up there should be ashamed.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Really?
"Other people want the reliability and the dependability that comes from a commercial software model."

Obviously he (Microsoft VP) is implying that non-commercial software is NOT reliable and dependable.

For once, the headline is more or less accurate, though hardly news-worthy.
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
True
This guy is right. Anyone of the FLOSS developers and users can assure you: open source is not reliable nor dependable.

Better term would be "addictive" ;-)

M$Wind0ze might have larger applications pool available. But I still find it hard justifying $200/$100/$50/$35 spent on license, since I still need to spend another $200-$400 on software which is missing from the M$ Windows.

Free (as in "free beer") Debian of Gentoo or FreeBSD look all not that bad when real cost of M$ Windows is put forward.

I find it very frustrating when people who have paid $200 for OS still have to spend another $400 to make their computer secure and useable for everyday routine use. And I'm not counting the costs of M$ Office. OEMs may sweeten the deal - but it is still too expensive for what it does. Even Mac OS X - with functionality on par - is cheaper. And Apple's OEM deal is better than any Wintel PC OEM deal you could possibly get.

Once one had become part of FLOSS community - as user or developer - it's the addiction one can hardly cure with MS Windows.
Posted by Philips (400 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Windows is Stable?
You have got to be kidding me. I have to reboot my windows machine every day to keep it running reliably. My Linux boxes have each run for well over 3 years without a crash or a restart.

Guess you can say anything if you never actaully "used" the competition.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hi Pot
I suggest you get some help in configuring your Windows environment, because the days of having to reboot your machine ended with Windows 98 disappearing.

Everyone I know that runs either 2000/XP/2003 has their workstations, personal computers, servers, etc. running for as long as they like, the only necessary reboots are for system maintenance and/or update installations.

Please stop with the FUD about "windows is unstable", its getting old. If you decide to install a ton of crapware to make your system unstable, then there's really nothing that Bill &#38; Co. can do to stop you.
Posted by theosux (2 comments )
Link Flag
YES, Window is stable - and secure
But not unless you click Start, then Shutdown. :)
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Hardly a surprise, Windows has been outperforming Linux for years
Windows server outperforms Linux is pretty much every way. Just look at pretty much any bench marks.

And people running Linux in internet facing environments are very brave. Linux is far more likely to get hacked than Windows server - just look at defacement / hacking stats and the report on the subject by mi2g.

I guess that is because there are so many many more security vulnerabilities in Linux than Windows server and that it takes longer on average to get them fixed.
Posted by richto (895 comments )
Link Flag
What a Laugh
If open source products are not reliable or dependable, then why is Apache still a leader in Web servers -- including a large number of commercial Web sites -- after years of Microsoft bashing anything that comes from open source roots? For that matter, why is there still a Linux in existence, which again is in very wide use on servers, again including many commercial servers, after all those years of Microsoft negative PR against it?

I am really not anti Microsoft per se, but I think it is just ludicrous that they should be making such comments, particularly after Microsoft has had so many reliability problems vis-a-vis security issues with its own line of products. What is that old saying about throwing stones when you live in a glass house? Microsoft should remeber that.
Posted by steven.randolph (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That title MADE me come here.
I can't believe it. Microsoft has finally come out and said, "we are reliable". Hahaha - laughter is a cure for anything, but not matter how hard I laugh, it isn't going to cure Microsoft from their unreliability. " Microsoft: Open source 'not reliable or dependable'" - that's a good one too. *looks at top of screen* Yup, Firefox. Using firefox makes it so I recieve less viruses for obvious reasons - which makes my computer more reliable.

Doesn't that make IE less reliable if it has holes that could let spyware sneak in, which in turn makes my computer less reliable?
Posted by jackharvest (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
BIAS Opinion
And that's because the guy works for MS and is paid a lot of money, so of course he will say that, stock brokers do the same thing.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hahahaha
hahahahahaha

that's all I got to say to that one and lay off
those brownies.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft depends on Linux
In my opinion Microsoft is being a hypocrite.

These show to be Linux.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://searchdns.netcraft.com/?host=.microsoft.com" target="_newWindow">http://searchdns.netcraft.com/?host=.microsoft.com</a> &#38;position=limited&#38;lookup=Wait. .


...and these too

video.msn.com
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toolbar.msn.com
techpreview.search.msn.com
sports.msn.com
site.search.msn.com
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related.msn.com
partners.search.msn.com
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msnbcmedia.msn.com
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beta.entimg.msn.com
auto.search.msn.com


Part of Microsoft's internal network is Linux.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://*******.com/9a7uh" target="_newWindow">http://*******.com/9a7uh</a>
Posted by cyber_rigger (70 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's just Akamai
Akamai provides front-end service to MS. And Akamai's servers are running Linux, of course.
Posted by JoeF2 (1306 comments )
Link Flag
There gateway is linux also.
MS server products can't take the beating of a busy server system. When you first go to any MS site, you go through a linux machine.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
This article made my day
AHAHAHAH

I needed a good laugh today. Thanks c|net. That was a hoot!
Posted by herkamur (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft should stop this nonsense
Open source has been found to be reliable as well as dependable. I don't know what makes microsoft think that they are reliable or even dependable!!!

Microsoft executives should work on windows innovations than making this kind of silly statements.
Posted by Tanjore (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Partial agreement, partial disagreement.
I agree with the following:

* "People should use commercial software if they're looking for stability".

[This is a generalisation (as there are many free things which are stable), but fact is, commercial software helps establish one important thing: responsibility of ownership. The lack-of such is the biggest caveat to open source]

* "I don't think (open source) is anti-Microsoft in the sense that it's giving people choices in the technologies that they use ..."

I agree with this statement as well.

Now for the disagreements / comments:

* I have to assume that Murray, when referring to "commercial software", means Microsoft software. Sorry Murray, but Windows -- as a workstation -- is quite possibly the worst thing for the world right now.

I'll give you an example as to why I disagree here:

There is a long-standing bug in GDI+ when "East Asian Languages" are enabled in the Regional/Languge options. The bug is minor in the sense that it does not cause crashes or induce instability, but it is major because it results in borders of windows being left scattered all over other windows or the desktop whenever you move or resize a window. To me, this is major, because 2D/GDI+ should have been stabilised back in 1995.

The bug itself is probably (speculation) an off-by-one error, where Microsoft isn't refreshing/clearing the window border correctly (i.e. 3 pixels wide results in them only clearing 2 -- but randomly).

Now the question: how is this bug GDI+'s fault? Simple: because Microsoft added hackish code into GDI+ when double-byte characters (and font gylphs) are used. This is necessary code, but they *stuck it in the GDI library* rather than elsewhere.

Has Microsoft acknowledged this bug? No. Has it been reported? A couple times on Usenet, where it has gone ignored by Microsoft support every time. End-users end up blame video drivers for the problem, but it's actually a bug in GDI+.

With that said, how do **I** go about solving this bug? I can't. I do not have the choice of using reliable, OS and UI-level debugging tools. I would be forced to write Win32 code, and "inject" a hook/handler in front of GDI calls, just to monitor what's going on.

I don't have the source to the GDI library. I don't have the source -- or even any idea -- what that mysteriously ambiguous "East Asian Languages" checkbox does (and it DOES NOT just install IME + fonts! It does some magical DLL and registry garbage behind the scenes).

Therefore, as an ultimatum, my hands are tied. I have NO CHOICES available to me in this situation. I cannot go looking through the source, I cannot help the authors/developers test solutions, I cannot submit a patch, and I *can't even work around the problem by picking an alternative UI engine*.

Oh, and I have one final comment for Murray directly:

If you think Microsoft software is reliable, I'd like you to go look up the following switch/flag you can pass to IIS:

/REBOOTONERROR

That pretty much sums up Microsoft stability for you right there.

Have a nice day.
Posted by katamari (310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Responsibility
Quote

[This is a generalisation (as there are many free things which are stable), but fact is, commercial software helps establish one important thing: responsibility of ownership. The lack-of such is the biggest caveat to open source]

Not so true. When the not so recent Viruses came about, and people lost all their work and had to re-install, MS didn't take up responsibility at all.

When the First X Box power supply started to catch on fire and short-circuit, MS didn't take responsibility, instead they sent everyone a new power cable, which basically just tripped the circuit when your power supply short circuited, so that your house didn't catch on fire, but what they should have done, was replaced the power supply.

This means crap to me. At least the Open source community can see all the CODE and critizie it inside out and I can't never see any code from private companies.

Private companies I am all fine with, but this is totaly crap to say they are responsible.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dependable?
Yes, Microsoft is the epitome of dependability [snicker]. Not only in software performance, but you can depend on them releasing their new products on time, like Vista! What a joke.
Posted by (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Need MORE Open Source
Microsoft dishes out their proprietary formats such as the
inferior WMP formats, and passes them off as standard. There
are far superior open standards such as the H.264 MPEG-4
format, which practically solves all high-bandwidth video
problems. Even more disturbing is that the uninformed masses
assume that if it's from Microsoft, then it's a standard they
should use. If we want to see the future, then we need to bypass
Microsoft.
Posted by shanehughes (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not reliable or dependable?
This is a bit like President Bush accusing Alcatraz of having insecure borders...
Posted by unixroot (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Methinks...
...he doth protest too much. This is such an old argument and
continues to demonstrate no matter how much spin MS puts on
topics and how much Ray Ozzie wants to talk about the Net
initiatives that MS just does not get it! Even Apple, with its own
proprietary OS, allows for more openness than the Redmond
dinosaur.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apache? Firefox? FreeBSD?
How about the BSD network stack that Microsoft used in its own products for a while?

Some open source is reliable, some it not, just like any other software. One simple needs to perform responsible research in order to determine which products or projects are worth using.
Posted by rcsteiner (48 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am not going to...
Bash Microsoft. There are too many idiots that post to these things that do that. They apparently need a day job. The same for all of the Pro-Apple people.

I think Microsoft is wrong. I think open source is pretty good. I don't think it matches the quality of commercial software. It is somewhat close, but I find most open source programs lacking some important features.

However, what I do see and the big weak point of open source is that they have so many people in the program pie that it takes far too long for updates. Open source software should need a year or more for a major upgrade. In fact without all of the marketing bull that companies like Adobe, Microsoft, etc. has to deal with Open source should manage at least a half major release a year some thing like 1.5, 2.5, etc. This is at the very least. But, they don't and can't because they have too many people doing too many things and can't get them organized well. Shame, if they could I think open source could be as good or better than commerical products of the same type.

I do wish them luck and I say to Microsoft "Stop stretching the truth, intelligent people don't by it."

Robert
Posted by Heebee Jeebies (632 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Junior can hack the kernel?
Here's the thing about open source fans that doesn't align well with reality... They always take the position that you can make it better, as if everyone is qualified to do that. Don't like the way Linux or Open Office works? Make it better. I write software for a living, and I hate having to mess with other people's code and try to understand how it works.

Yeah, I develop on Microsoft's platform, but I'm not an open source hater. In the Web area of .NET, they've released pieces of the framework itself and there are a ton of open source projects out there. I write and give away a forum app too. But the reality is that this is stuff ideally suited to code monkeys and geeks. It's not stuff the general public is well suited to use.

That doesn't make open source better or worse... it's just the way it is. If people would put aside the religion for a moment they'd see that.
Posted by Jeff Putz (302 comments )
Reply Link Flag
who to trust...
You have your choice....

Proprietary vendor:
Writes code for money.
Has deadlines to meet or looses lots of money.
Wants you to buy EVERY version as it comes out.

Open Source:
Day job is typically as a professional coder.
Wrote it to solve their own problem.
Gains work and prestige for good quality code.

You see, it's all in the motivation. You can go with the proprietary vendor whose only interest is getting his hands on your $$$. OR you can go with Open Source whose existance relies completely on being reliable and featurefull.

Proprietary vendors almost never (there are exceptions, rare ones) produce software for their own needs (some end up using their own products), nor for the good of the world. Rarely do they write it to serve their own needs and THEN sell it.

Open Source authors wrote their software because they needed it for their own use. Typically they are either employed full time and love coding or are contractors that rely on their Open Source coding to prove that they are worth hiring. If the software is buggy, or badly designed, then it usually does not get picked up by others.

So be careful in what you believe when reading about who is better. One should always examine motives when deciding things.
Posted by ahzzmandius (30 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Proprietary Vendors Must Think of The Quality Too!
If the software is buggy, or badly designed, then it usually does not get picked up by others, but that is important too for the one who makes softwares for money profits. Björn Lundahl, Gothenburg, Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Link Flag
Reputation is Important for Profits Too!
If the software is buggy, or badly designed, then it usually does not get picked up by others, but that is important too for the one who makes softwares for money profits. Björn Lundahl, Gothenburg, Sweden
Posted by Björn Lundahl (253 comments )
Link Flag
Biased Reporting
I think Ingrid Marson needs to learn the meaning of using quotes around text, because "other people want the reliability and the dependability that comes from a commercial software model" is not the same as "not reliable or dependable".

And here I thought CNET was a reputable news source. Guess we live and learn.
Posted by FyberOptic (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, I agree.
That's some cheap tabloid nonsense. Cnet should do a better job.
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Link Flag
Implied meaning
It's quite obviously implied that open source is NOT reliable and dependable. But he was careful not to state it directly, and therefore he can always deny that's what he meant. How do you think he got to be a VP. ;-)

And where in the world did you get the idea this was a reputable news source?
Posted by freemarket--2008 (5058 comments )
Link Flag
Open Source is simply a better model
Commercial software companies want you to believe that their software is more reliable and dependable, but this is simply not true. I've been in the commercial software business for over 25 years and have built successful products and companies. The problem with commercial software is that individual companies control it, only their developers fix or enhance it, management frequently prioritizes new features that help the marketing/sales effort rather than users, and you cannot understand how it really works, much less fix it.

The first thing to understand about open software is that there are many projects with substantially different user bases and development communities. There are many small projects with only 1 or a few developers and a tiny user base. These packages are frequently not that reliable, especially for non-developer users. On the other hand, there are many major open source initiatives with large developer communities and enormous user bases. In my experience, these communities produce the most reliable software in the world.

I recently made the transition from the Microsoft Windows world into the pure open source world. I have no Microsoft software in my computers at all, from the operating system (debian linux) to the core productivity applications (Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice) to many advanced software systems. This is the most reliable and productive environment I've ever used. It is a breath of fresh air after all those years with Windows.

From a developer's standpoint, when you use open source libraries and run into problems, you can diagnose and fix them. Developer support from open source communities is far better than any commercial support I've ever experienced. What commercial software companies give you direct access the software developers or let the developers control what changes are made to the software?

Here's a concrete example that just happened in my company last week. We are using xml messages (SOAP) to enable communication between a Microsoft .Net component and a Java component. We've run into some issues in the SOAP libraries both in .Net and in the open source Java library we are using (Apache Axis2). With Axis2, we have the source, have direct access to the developers, and have quickly been able to resolve any issues we've hit. With .Net, we have none of the above and cannot even diagnose the problems, much less fix them. We have been forced into ugly counterintuitive workarounds to .Net bugs. This has been a waste of time and effort.

Give me open source when it comes to dependability, reliability, productivity, innovation, and of course, cost.
Posted by manawiz (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
It's nice to hear that from someone with experience. I usualy talk with marketing and sales people. I hate the consultant job, the tie, the suit ... no one gets fired for selling Microsoft, Oracle, (I like IBM, don't hate me) ...
Posted by orfeu_niko (104 comments )
Link Flag
Thats calling the Kettle Black.
I would have to agree with Murray's statement but only to the
degree that in some cases commercial software is more
advanced in some respects counter to what open source has to
offer currently.

But I still believe Open Source has a great future ahead of it. And
contrary to what Murray believes that Open Source is not reliable
or dependable is an absolute ridiculous statement to make as a
Microsoft Executive for which his company for years, in my belief
have stifled innovation. You only need to look no further than
their own backyard to see what Microsoft has accomplished in
the last two years which hasn't been much but broken
promises.. and unwarranted marketing..

Windows Vista the main culprit definitely needs a deadline.
Customers and computer vendors have been waiting years for
this product. Microsoft created the buzz but are unwilling to
give a release date. They really haven't been accountable for
their own deadlines or mistakes. Only relying on their own
monopolistic empire to keep them ahead because it isn't their
software that is.

In my view they are struggling internally and still won't admit
what they can't accomplish. Instead they extend a deadline that
had already been set. God only knows the internal mess
happening within the confines of Redmond these days.

So I wouldn't call the Kettle black if I was him.

But of course, for Microsoft if it isn't a Microsoft product or
branded product. Its an enemy.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Calling the Kettle Black.
I would have to agree with Murray's statement but only to the
degree that in some cases commercial software is more
advanced in some respects counter to what open source has to
offer currently.

But I still believe Open Source has a great future ahead of it. And
contrary to what Murray believes that Open Source is not reliable
or dependable is an absolute ridiculous statement to make as a
Microsoft Executive for which his company for years, in my belief
have stifled innovation. You only need to look no further than
their own backyard to see what Microsoft has accomplished in
the last two years which hasn't been much but broken
promises.. and unwarranted marketing..

Windows Vista the main culprit definitely needs a deadline.
Customers and computer vendors have been waiting years for
this product. Microsoft created the buzz but are unwilling to
give a release date. They really haven't been accountable for
their own deadlines or mistakes. Only relying on their own
monopolistic empire to keep them ahead because it isn't their
software that is.

In my view they are struggling internally and still won't admit
what they can't accomplish. Instead they extend a deadline that
had already been set. God only knows the internal mess
happening within the confines of Redmond these days.

So I wouldn't call the Kettle black if I was him.

But of course, for Microsoft if it isn't a Microsoft product or
branded product. Its an enemy.
Posted by ServedUp (413 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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