Is Microsoft Afraid to Say the €œL€�-word?

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It seems that, having lost its position as monarch of the world of computing, Microsoft has decided to become the industry jester. Last week I wrote about its amusing suggestion that we should all be taxed to clean up the mess its software has caused. Now we have this witty post on Microsoft's Port 25 site, which involves writing about open source software applications and the platforms they run on without mentioning “Linux” once.

The piece is entitled “Geeknet at OSBC 2010" and begins thus:

As we get ready for the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco later this month, Microsoft asked us to pull some statistics around how Windows plays in the broader Open Source ecosystem.

As you may know, the Geeknet network includes SourceForge, Slashdot, ThinkGeek, Ohloh, and freshmeat. Each month, we provide over 40 million geeks with content, connections and commerce.

What we found when we pulled the data was really interesting: starting with the fact that the amount of Open Source Software (OSS) that is Windows compatible has been steadily climbing over time, from 72 percent in early 2005 to some 82 percent in late 2009.

Now that's a great start: notice how open source is becoming more “Windows compatible” - as if it had been wandering in the great computer wilderness, and had now finally seen the light, and that light was Windows, and Windows was good. Er, I think we call this porting, actually: it's one of the many advantages that free software has over closed-source software: anyone can port code to anything.

But it gets better. In the accompanying graph, which shows “Open Source Projects by Platform”, we are treated to a representation of how the open source world is becoming more “Windows compatible”. Of course, there's an inconvenient truth that needs to be negotiated here: the fact that the vast majority of free software runs on GNU/Linux. But fear not, those jolly jesters have come up with a way of representing this fact *without mentioning the “L”-word at all*. They accomplish this amazing feat by talking about – wait for it - “POSIX-compatible” software because, you know, that's just how *everyone* refers to GNU/Linux these days....

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