Poor maligned Bill Hilf

Today, on Port 25, Microsoft's latest effort to give the appearance that it's playing nicely with Open Source software, there appeared a truly unfortunate tale of woe. Yes, it looks like Bill Hilf, Microsoft's General Manager of Platform Strategy, feels he was misrepresented in a Bangkok Post article "Microsoft director out to 'debunk mythology around open source'" - and, for the record, I think he probably was badly misquoted. That said, someone in Bill's position should know how to handle the media... I note, by the way, that he neglects to link to the article directly from his blog entry, no doubt as part of damage control...

I posted a comment to the blog entry, but it was blocked by moderators. Instead, the following comment from a user called jcannon appeared: Please, If you would like to comment on the Bangkok article, or Bill's blog - please keep it constructive, and less inciteful.

I subsequently emailed Jamie (whose profile on the Port25 site lists him as the OSS/Community Manager based in New York City) to ask why my message had been blocked... He responded that it was blocked due to my comment on Microsoft's imminent demise... Interesting thing for the moderators to trip up on... Anyway, here, for the record, is my original posting: Hi Bill, I'm very sorry to hear that you've been done wrong by the media. Funny how bad that feels, eh? Amazing that, now, after all these years that Open Source/Free software has been maligned by Microsoft representatives providing "the Facts" on non-Microsoft technologies in the Microsoft-pandering media, that you're being dished some of your own bitter medicine. Microsoft is a dying, and, funny thing is, the world at large (and even the media, despite your massive spin-propagating advertising dollar) are falling all over themselves to celebrate your demise. Whatever vestiges of respect Microsoft might once have clung to have now well and truly evaporated. Must be chilly for the emperor these days. And for the other Bill, you, how does it feel to work for a despicable corporation? Earning goodwill seems a lot more worthwhile when you haven't got any, eh, Bill.

(I should point out that I did post a "tidied" version of the comment, and another comment besides on the blog, if anyone's keeping score).

I find it delightfully ironic that a representative of the corporation that plasters the media with its "Get The Facts" on Linux should cry foul of misrepresentation in the media. Forgive me if I don't leap to arms at the injustice of it all... Microsoft's wilful misrepresentation and other efforts to malign Linux and open source have been well exposed (or here, or here, or here, or here - heck, there's a Wikipedia entry on it).

It's worth noting that all this occurs against the backdrop of Microsoft's unsubstantiated claims that Linux and open source software infringe on 235 of its patents - clearly aimed at scaring the masses away from dirty old open source software. I believe that Microsoft is just trying to arrest their own inevitable slide into irrelevance. Unfortunately for poor old hard-done-by Microsoft, the market's not buying it, and the media's not pulling any punches either. In fact, even the researcher on whose patent research Microsoft's claims are based reckons that Microsoft has got it all wrong. Ouch, that's gotta sting. If Microsoft really wanted to turn things around, it would be simple: actually do something genuine (and not in the warped "Microsoft Genuine Advantage" sense of genuine) and helpful for the world in general. Microsoft look out for only one thing: Microsoft. Their total inability to acknowledge that they exist in the midst of a global software ecosystem is what got them into their dire position in the first place.

Personally, I think that Linus Torvalds' response to the patent allegations is a real beauty. Good on ya, Linus.