August 22, 2006 10:14 AM PDT

Microsoft reaches out to Firefox developers

The head of Microsoft's open-source business has offered to help get Firefox to work with Windows Vista, but it remains to be seen whether Mozilla and the open-source community will respond positively.

Sam Ramji, the director of Microsoft's open-source software lab, posted an open invitation for them to work with the software giant on a Mozilla development discussion group mailing list Monday.

"I'm writing to see if you are open to some 1:1 support in getting Firefox and Thunderbird to run on Vista," Ramji wrote. Mozilla oversees the development of the open-source Firefox Web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client.

He stressed that Microsoft is "committed to evolving our thinking beyond commercial companies to include open-source projects" for Vista, the update to the Windows operating system due for broad release in January.

Ramji was also anxious that Mozilla and the open-source community should not take the offer lightly. He stressed that his contribution to Vista is the "nontrivial effort of getting slots for noncommercial open-source projects."

Early signs from the open-source community indicate that some are suspicious of Microsoft's motives.

But others believe that Monday's offer was a sign that Microsoft is changing. The company has finally realized that "ultimately...proprietary technologies will always get replaced by an industry-supported, open-standard alternative, hence the embrace of RSS, Open Source Lab, XML and royalty-free access to Open XML," one enthusiast wrote in a posting to the Ars Technica Web site.

Firefox already runs successfully on existing Windows, Linux and Macintosh operating systems. Testing by ZDNet UK Reviews found that it also runs well in Vista beta 2, so it's not clear why Mozilla would need help from Microsoft.

Mozilla Europe said it was "too early to comment" on Microsoft's offer.

Colin Barker of ZDNet UK reported from London.

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open-source community, open source, Mozilla Corp., Firefox, offer

72 comments

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So is it difficult to port to Vista?
If it's difficult to port existing Win32 apps to Vista, is this a sign that it's even more unlikely businesses will switch?

Or more likely, is this just a big PR stunt?
Posted by alucinor (71 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lol
Hmmm, I would take everything that MS says with a grain of salt, they have a long history of back stabing.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Link Flag
pR
Businesses won't switch 2008 because some just got XP
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Link Flag
CNET Sucks
Never trust M$ since they are almost as pathetic as
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/631/43/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/631/43/</a>
CNET. No one can possibly be worse than CNET.
Posted by (156 comments )
Link Flag
It's not that you can't trust Microsoft...
it's just that, well, you can't trust Microsoft. How many other open-source projects is Microsoft extending an olive branch to? Let's see how they fare before letting them mess around with Firefox.
Posted by john.breen (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
hell no, is the answer.
There is no way in hell that I would allow MS to get anywhere close to any open source projects, these people been dogging, making fun of, laughting at, dismissing it for years and now all of a sudden they want to be nice.

They put Netscape out of business. Hello no! is my answer, go and develop your IE bs browser.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Link Flag
hell no, would be my answer.
There is no way in hell that I would allow MS to get anywhere close to any open source projects, these people been dogging, making fun of, laughting at, dismissing it for years and now all of a sudden they want to be nice.

They put Netscape out of business. Hello no! is my answer, go and develop your IE bs browser.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Link Flag
you CAN trust M$
Sure you can trust Micro$loth - trust that they will stab you in the
back, screw you over and steal as many ideas as they can from you
in the mean time. Then sue you for infringing on their proprietary
ideas (which were stolen from you to begin with, remember).

Personally, I trust Micro$loth to screw up my computer and make
me vulnerable to every 12 year old with internet access. Oops,
make that I used to - now I have Linux on my machine and I feel I
can trust M$ to leave me alone!
Posted by Dalkorian (3000 comments )
Link Flag
#$%@! Snakes In An Operating System
Exactly right. There's no need to hurry into a bargain with the
devil.

Here's the smart play. Spurn MS, let it twist. Port Firefox as before,
and prevent MS from colonizing the effort.
Posted by v1m (72 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft Reaches out to Firefox Developers
aaaaaaaaaand none want to help Microsoft
Posted by Nocturnex (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is because...
MS knows that most people that use Open Source tools have no intension of upgrading to the DRM infested Vista. At this rate, Linux will be a better desktop solution before Vista is released in 2010. At the very least, us XP users have a long time until we have to upgrade to Vista. I bought my video card to run games; not a stupid, overbloated OS.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WRONG
The simple fact is that MOST users will be running Vista in 2 or 3 years, just like MOST users run XP today.

Another simple fact: MOST FireFox users are running FireFox on WINDOWS, not an OpenSource OS.

FireFox developers have an offer for assistance from Microsoft. The arrogant anti-MS attitude I see in these comments is pretty ignorant... why not take advantage of their assistance? Since the code is OPEN SOURCE, its not like FireFox has anything to lose.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Hehehe
I'm thinking the reason MS is wanting 1:1 project development for Vista is because their IE7 isn't fully functional and that a major development bug has been found in IE7 that would delay the release of Vista further. By working with the Firefox team they may be able to work out some of the kinks they have with IE7.

I've used IE7 and have had nothing but problems with it cruising a variety of web material... So I'm thinking they're looking for some insight from Firefox.
Posted by sniperdoc (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Businesses
Heh... dead on my friend... Most businesses either have JUST switched to XP or they have workstations that don't have a smidgeon of hardware that Vista will require to run. Shoot... I'm still running some PIII's with 64MB's of RAM!!!!
Posted by sniperdoc (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
They just want Firefox codes for use in Explorer.
simple.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Reply Link Flag
that's simply idiotic...
Firefox is an OPEN SOURCE project, meaning that the source code is out there...for free...regularly updated...for anyone to look at. MS doesn't need to partner with Mozilla to get a look at the code. It appears that MS is actually concerned about supportin goepn sourced projects. And no, it's not out of the goodness of their hearts, its all about perception, compatibility with Vista, and what makes sense for their bottom line. It must benefit them from a marketing standpoint and ultimately from a bottom-line standpoint to reach out to the open source community or otherwise they wouldn't bother.
Posted by PhillyBoy919 (126 comments )
Link Flag
Uh, maybe you're missing something here...
Firefox code is open source. Microsoft would be asking for "support", not code.
Posted by FroZone (143 comments )
Link Flag
???
Firefox is OPEN SOURCE! And it already RUNS fine on Vista!?!

Why would they go to Redmond? Why doesn't MS just look at the code and help them out? This is very suspicious.
Posted by solomonrex (112 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not so fast
sure, MS could use the code but then to have to share their complete IE source...no way. They know they would get eaten alive and hacked to death. They need the FF developers to do it for them so it[IE code] can remain behind doors.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
Bad Microsoft, Bad!
I agree with kamwmail-cnet1
Posted by aarias (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Shows a strange tactic by MSFT...
...integrate OSS apps into Windows as often as possible, and folks won't so quickly switch OSes.

If folks think that Firefox works better in Linux (okay, IMHO it does), and they use it because (perception or not) IE is an outright hazard for surfing, then they may indeed be tempted to try the (to them) new OS. OTOH, if FF works just hunky-dory on Windows, they'll stick with Windows, thinking that they're still perfectly safe (they are safer than by using IE to hit web pages, but still...)

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Crazy
You seem to miss the fact that MOST FireFox users are running Windows today. And if you think that MOST users are going to switch Operating Systems just to have access to a different browser, I think you dramatically overestimate the importance of browser preference. Because MOST FireFox users are already on Windows, it only makes sense for FireFox developers to take advantage of this offer to ensure that their software continues to run well in Windows Vista. Any other approach will result in FireFox losing customers to IE, or any other browser that runs in Windows.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Open Source should get limited help from MS
It's not suprising that MS is extending a hand to open source for publishing to Windows.
One of the main reasons is that if Open Source software truly becomes mainstream it would effectively hurt MS in areas where Windows and Office are concerned.
Software like Firefox and Open Office can be offered to the public either for free or to a fraction of the cost for retail versions of any MS product to any operating system besides Windows; if this type of software was exclusive to Linux and Mac, businesses looking for more affordable alternatives to MS licensed products would certainly look at these other OS products.

Also extending a hand to the Open Source community allows MS control over the development of these products as to how MS wants these products to work in Windows; MS does not want independent software developers to start "peeking and poking" in Vista to find advantages or holes that could either outshine a competing MS product or create a new security hole.

And a third reason is that MS wants to avoid the monopoly label that has been slapped on it by both the US and EU, making it to change its overwhelming marketing muscle.

Open Source should work with MS on a limited basis - asking for developer technical support but not under any type of developer guidelines that can help MS get an edge over its competition.

My two cents,
Ned
Posted by techned (200 comments )
Reply Link Flag
no quite
MS wants[needs] the existing FF developers to get a look at existing IE code so that at a point in the future they can cry foul when FF develops new features and claim they were copied. MS has never played fair with any partnership, why sould they start now?

There's more than one way to skin and open source cat besides suing over the license, and MS is looking for it.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
For the record...
One thought I haven't seen anyone else discuss...

Microsoft is probably offering assistance to Firefox so that once they do become a part of the Firefox open source effort, their contributions can go down into the record books as showing Microsoft did in fact support open source projects. If there is any future litigation against Microsoft regarding browsers, Microsoft can open that record book and announce to the court that they did in fact work with the competition. On a case-by-case basis, it could actually work in favor of Microsoft.
Posted by groink_hi (380 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Record Established.
Just the fact that they OFFERED to work with their competition is enough to establish a favorable record. That has already been done, so it makes little difference if Firefox takes them up on the offer.
Posted by br77575 (46 comments )
Link Flag
good point
Thats something I had not cxonsidered. It might even stop some currently ongoing litigation or lessen damages that are currently under appeal.
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
LIE!!!!!
Microsoft wouldn't invite the Firefox developers to lunch without a good reason. I think that they want to "steal" the Firefox coding for tabbed browsing, popup blocking, search engines, themes, and extensions and intergrate it into a possible Inetnet Explorer 8 beta 1 and release it by April next year.
Posted by pm_41 (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
re
Anyone can get a hold of the code for Firefox.

This is just MS trying to pretend they are into OSS, to use for PR ammo. Nothing more.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
It exists already...
There have been extensions for IE that allow for tabbed browsing and many other features including some you didn't even think of yet.

Microsoft does not NEED to provide everything when someone else can provide a solution that works and is popular with the users. They can take their time adding the features to their products and they do not need code from open source projects to do that.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
why isn't this obvious?
Here's the weird part -

- Cnet reports that Microsoft makes an offer to Mozilla folks to make Vista beta builds available and give them access to OS devs if there are problems with Firefox on Vista.

- all the CNET knuckleheads go crazy about how 'evil' Microsoft is just trying to pull some nefarious stunt.

Do you folks all live in a fantasy cartoon world? Why does this have to be some sort of mafioso plot where Microsoft wants to whack the other boss after inviting him to a 'sitdown'?

Let me help you figure this out - Firefox is a really popular application. Microsoft benefits when really popular applications run properly on Windows, especially because people keep buying Windows so they can run their really popular applications.

Is there really more to it than this? Nope.
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Please
Are you stupid or just darn naive?????
Posted by sergiobevi (23 comments )
Link Flag
Firefox doesn't need any help
To run properly in Vista. It won't be that difficult to port, if it is even needed to be ported to run.

It is not like Vista is a new OS, and the same executable can be run and any MS OS from 98 on.

From reports I have read Firefox already runs just fine in Vista, but can't personally verify it.

This is a PR stunt, plain and simple.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
Well lets see here
history shows any joint effort by microsoft with a outside compnay ends up with said outside company loosing millions if not billions in revenue. This can be seen with thier flag ship product. Bill and company swindeled apple out of thier GUI os. Now sure it is good business. But why after years of this would you as a new fledgling company go down the oh so proven road? Sun Java is another example. Microsoft IE is another example. Almost every product they sell is a rip off of an existing product.

Microsoft leased Mosaic browser from Spyglass Inc. Then ripped it off, when it was time to renew the lease they said, ummm nahhh thanks we got what we need. Spyglss by the way does not list IE the most used browser out there as an acomplishment. Wonder why.

It took Sun forever in court to get all rights back from microsoft. It is what they do. They con thier way into your dev team somewhere some how then ruin your product while pushng thier version forward. Open source is primed for this with low budgets. Court cases would be easy to tie up while they make billions.

That is what the big deal is. EVERY and I mean Every time, they steal code, key engineers, products, ideas and claim they are thier own.

In browsers Mozilla is giving Microsoft a better run for thier money than others have been able to. Now they want to help them? And they have a competing product? You do not find this odd?

Many only have computers now for internet. Just imagine, if they do not need IE, do they need windows? And now with writely, googles spread sheet, zoho.com, do you need office?
Posted by Central_office_tech (49 comments )
Link Flag
Hardrada works for microsoft?
I have been readin all your posts on here Hardrada and I must say I am wondering. You are quite defensive of a company that has a proven track record. To give an example..

If hitler were alive today, would we let him help set up isreal security?

I mean microsoft has for years down played OS as a fad, then communisum, then a security risk, warned major compaines that if they used it they would loose thier trade secrets and property.

Now out of the blue they are pro OS? Common sense advises cation, speculation and dare I say pause. It is a red flag. An action that makes you say, wait a minute, what is going one here.

Name a project Microsoft worked on with another company besides intel where both came out happy. They have caned and manipulated the biggest names in the business. Like my example above. I belive history give an good indication of what to expect.
Posted by Central_office_tech (49 comments )
Link Flag
darwin
The dodo bird is extinct. You're next!
Posted by R Me (196 comments )
Link Flag
MS should pay Mozilla-Firefox big bucks
Because they will provide Vista with a decent internet browser at least, making it the default browser sure would be a big plus. But for sure they will keep old good looser IE...
Posted by gerardogerardo80 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is a great idea...
Microsoft could promote open source projects on Vista by providing financial incentives to those projects. While Open Source is viewed widely as "free" there are costs associated with it. Putting the money carrot out there could draw in new applications and attention to programming that is targeted towards the Vista Operating System.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
uh IE7 has tabs...
the only thing IE doesn't have is themes and if Microsoft really wanted to, they could have integrated themes long ago...
Posted by cdaniels75 (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Where's the downside to this request?
In addition to the previously stated reasons to believe that this is a legit outreach to the FF/Mozilla community, there are a couple of factors that haven't been mentioned here or at any other discussion boards. I think the combination of the scrutiny MS faces about any kind of action the company takes with the all the various legal battles/judgements make it necessary to reach out and make attempts to follow through on compliance. If the attempts are spurned, then its the choice of the group that turned down the overature. If the groups are ones that have litigation against MS, then turning down offers reflects on their motives, not MS's. Second, the reality of the older company leaders, along with the way they ran MS, either have been, or in the process of, being replaced by a new generation of people that are comfortable with the OS initiative, should be figured in to the equation, instead of the automatic dismissal of MS intentions. At least, when combined with the first point, a fair minded approach would be a wait and see attitude. Any kind of MS chicanery would be immediately seen and used to attack their credibility. There are a lot of progressive examples of OSS collaboration in MS new technologies like .NET Framework, ASP.NET, etc. Lastly, if the OS community is truly interested in being "open to all comers," and are about "making computing better for everyone, rich or poor," then why wouldn't Mozilla or any other OSS group not jump at the chance to work with MS? It would only benefit computer users and developers alike. Collaboration would not only improve developers abillities, but would develop a relationship that would let MS be more receptive to working closer to the OS community. If the community doesn't like the MS input, then don't incorporate it into the projects code. Seems simple enough to me, unless there are motives/agendas other than the "betterment of computing."
Posted by kruk28 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I Like Your Thinking
Me thinks you are right.

I believe that Microsoft has their own reasons, and it's probably to be able to maintain that they are not monopolizing the field, by saying that "hey, firefox works no problem, and we even worked WITH them."

But...firefox is a great product and it works that way not ONLY because it's open source, but because the people working on the project are focused on what is best for people, not just on getting paid at the end of the week. These people use good judgement, and if they do accept Microsoft's offer, they will still have the good sense to know when M$ is wrong, or pushing too much change for a feature or method of computing.

So I agree with Kruk28, there really isn't a downside for firefox.
Posted by Brandon Bartelds (42 comments )
Link Flag
re
"Seems simple enough to me, unless there are motives/agendas other than the "betterment of computing.""

Microsoft never does anything for the betterment of anything other then their image and bottom line.

"here are a lot of progressive examples of OSS collaboration in MS new technologies like .NET Framework"

MS has very little to do with mono, and really who needs or cares about .NET?

History shows that if you trust MS, and get too close you will get burned badly. There are no new actions coming from the company to suggest otherwise, only words.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Link Flag
Where's the downside to this request?
In addition to the previously stated reasons to believe that this is a legit outreach to the FF/Mozilla community, there are a couple of factors that haven't been mentioned here or at any other discussion boards. I think the combination of the scrutiny MS faces about any kind of action the company takes with the all the various legal battles/judgements make it necessary to reach out and make attempts to follow through on compliance. If the attempts are spurned, then its the choice of the group that turned down the overature. If the groups are ones that have litigation against MS, then turning down offers reflects on their motives, not MS's. Second, the reality of the older company leaders, along with the way they ran MS, either have been, or in the process of, being replaced by a new generation of people that are comfortable with the OS initiative, should be figured in to the equation, instead of the automatic dismissal of MS intentions. At least, when combined with the first point, a fair minded approach would be a wait and see attitude. Any kind of MS chicanery would be immediately seen and used to attack their credibility. There are a lot of progressive examples of OSS collaboration in MS new technologies like .NET Framework, ASP.NET, etc. Lastly, if the OS community is truly interested in being "open to all comers," and are about "making computing better for everyone, rich or poor," then why wouldn't Mozilla or any other OSS group not jump at the chance to work with MS? It would only benefit computer users and developers alike. Collaboration would not only improve developers abillities, but would develop a relationship that would let MS be more receptive to working closer to the OS community. If the community doesn't like the MS input, then don't incorporate it into the projects code. Seems simple enough to me, unless there are motives/agendas other than the "betterment of computing."
Posted by kruk28 (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wouldn't trust them yet
Bill Gates the shark is still swimming in that pool, so it is not safe to go back into the water yet.

Perhaps the real motive is to get the Firefox extentions to also work for IE.

Who knows, but I know one thing. Never trust Microsoft.

They aren't called the Evil Empire for nothing.
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Link Flag
Of course there is no downside
what you need to understand is that many of the folks professing to be for Open Source are in fact not 'for' anything(especially the really vocal ones); the are simply against MS, and will join any viewpoint to that end.
If MS were to find the cure for cancer tomorrow and hand it out for free, you'd see the same folks in these talk-backs bashing MS for page after page about how they 'stole' it or 'integrated' it or some other such nonsense.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
MS SPIN: "FireFox Runs Better on Vista!"
If Microsoft can help the project customize and tune FireFox so that it runs better under Vista than Windows XP they can then use that as a selling point to try and prove how much more efficient the Vista OS is. Sure it's not an even comparison, but Microsoft has never made any such comparisons in the past when saying a new OS was better, faster or more compatible than it's predecessor.

Not sure how many of you remember the spin Microsoft used to say Windows XP boots faster than Windows 2000. All they did was present the login screen before everything finished loading. It still took LONGER to get to the desktop and start working, but you got to type in your password faster.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sharks are circling the Penquins in Open Waters...
"Come die/play with us, we want to eat/help you experience the Vista point of view..."
said the Great White MShark to the Open Source/Linux tiny fish in the Open Seas of Technology.

MS is the JAWS of the technology Water World.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The ball is in Mozillas court now&.
As for my own thoughts?:

@ Microsoft: Release Vista when its ready, Id like to free up some time on Tuesdays&..

@ Mozilla: If you smell even a hint of rat, dont let them near the cheese&..

@ everyone else: L16h73n |_|p! Our opinions really mean very little, unless of course we vote with our wallets. (Thats usually when companies begin to listen to us.)

:p
Posted by Ghost Spider (27 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is insane!
It is essential that new versions of windows support legacy programs. The very idea that Microsoft wants to help improve an existing program to run on a new OS is ludicrous!

Who here does not already have a WIN9x machine and possibly even a dos machine hanging around to run software or hardware made unusable by Microsofts screw-ups.

The idea that every software and hardware venders should scurry around patching up their software to run on a new OS every few years is unacceptable.

Microsoft is making our lives miserable; Microsoft is not listening to us. Microsoft is giving us everything we dont want and nothing we do.

Microsoft is NOT GIVING US A CHOICE!


Frustrated.
Posted by kellysontheroad (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mozilla: Don't you dare!
Microshaft has their right hand out in friendship, and their left hand is holding a dagger! A lawsuit dagger is my bet. Don't do it! Proprietary software is on it's way out. Do what Novell did, and refuse any proprietary assistance or programming!
Open-Sorce rules, and proprietary drools!
Posted by Jon N. (182 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wait a minute...
The supposed invite was posted on Google Groups, right?
Would a Microsoft employee use Google in the open for all to
see? I don't know if I trust this report.
Posted by salli-d (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Killing Netscape Twice!!
It occured to me that it would look REALLY bad if Microsoft were to lose significant marketshare to a legitimate and strong open source effort, and suddenly have the entire application function/perform significantly differently (worse) on thier new OS.

As Microsoft has been nearly-convicted several times (they settle often, don't they) of altering thier codebase to cripple/disable 3rd party applications while improving thier own, it could be argued that such degrading changes have occured yet again to Firefox.

Combined with the Netscape and antitrust history (all of it blurs together), they may be fearing the legitimacy of ANOTHER case against them, a very strong case given the prior legally-acknowledged evidence against them.
Posted by javierlopezroman (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Netscape killed themselves, MS had inside help
No company can survive forever when they continually make poor decisions and any critical look at the decisions Netscape made are perfect evidence that they killed themselves, MS was just in a perfect position to take the market share as the users defected from a company that changed their strategy so frequently they couldn't come up with new products before they dropped them in favor of another new idea.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
Link Flag
 

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