I can’t believe Microsoft lets this guy out in public. That would be bad enough, but to purposely put him in front of reporters?
Ballmer’s latest fiasco is to claim that Open Source projects violate “over 235 patents,” and to then threaten lawsuits for any company using Linux or other open source software. Turns out, Steve was quoting a study produced by the Open Source Risk Management Group. However, the author of the study has claimed that Microsoft has it all wrong — the study’s conclusions were that those were only “potential” infringements, and that not a single one of those patents had ever been held up in court. In addition, not all of those patents were even held by Microsoft!
Further, Microsoft has refused to specify which patents they are even referring to, or specifically where they think the infringement has occurred. Starting to sound familiar? *Cough*, SCO, *cough*, *cough*. It should. Microsoft quietly provided $86 million to support SCO in it’s legal battle against Linux, under which they have not won a single count in 3 years. It seems that Steve Ballmer has decided to come out and play in the open, now that his proxy SCO has nearly completely self-destructed. Oh, and if this sounds like a hypocritical claim on Microsoft’s part, that’s only because they had to pay out $1.53 BILLION last week for violating Lucent patents.
Microsoft’s goal, like SCO’s, is to provide FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about their competitors. Unfortunately, this tactic tends to work against them. Its surprising that they haven’t learned this lesson from what happened to SCO — since they began their lawsuit tactics, SCO’s market share has dropped exponentially. Like SCO, however, Microsoft is finding itself in a position where its competitors are out pacing it. Apple is growing far quicker than Microsoft, and is able to deliver bother hardware and software products at profit. Linux is advancing quickly, and the press is starting to tout it as a “Vista alternate.” It doesn’t help that Vista has virtually no new features for users, unless you count being more expensive. It appears that Steve Ballmer has lead Microsoft down the path of other companies which can’t deal with change: SCO, RAMBUS, the RIAA, the MPAA. All these companies probably know that customers will not purchase their product just because they threaten to beat them with a stick. But they don’t know what else to do (hint: build *good* products, and you won’t have this problem. Microsoft knew how to do this at some point).
It seems as if ever since Bill Gates left the helm, Microsoft hasn’t been able to steer itself in the right direction. Take a look at Steve Ballmer, the guy he left in charge, and draw your own conclusions why: