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Microsoft is against Perl!?

by tilly (Archbishop)
on Jun 21, 2001 at 07:40 UTC ( #90279=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

At least someone there is. See LinuxToday for the relevant quote.

The license for beta 2 of Microsoft's Mobile Internet Toolkit (beta 2) specifically lists PERL (sic) among the pieces of open source software that you are not allowed to use to assist in development, or distribute with any applications which you use their toolkit to develop.

Considering that Microsoft is a significant source of funding for ActiveState, this very much seems to be a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. But it is also possible that this is a reaction to the fact that Microsoft executives were badmouthing open source (particularly the GPL) while Microsoft's site continued to distribute GPLed software. Perhaps they feel the need to prove that they really are afraid of open source, just like they want their customers to be..?

BTW the entire license agreement iswas available here. (Search for PERL.)

UPDATE (Jun 29)
The license agreement was available. After appearing on LinuxToday, here, slashdot, and kuro5hin, they moved links and the EULA is no longer at the same location. That looks suspiciously like an attempt at damage control, and I sincerely hope that said damage control extends as far as removing or significantly modifying the objectional terms, rather than just not making the EULA available except to people who are installing the product.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by footpad (Abbot) on Jun 21, 2001 at 08:46 UTC

    I believe the operative word is *was* a significant source of funding. I would seriously doubt any existing contracts will be renewed. Keep in mind that these are the same guys that "invested" $100M+/US in Borland and Corel (each) just to prove they're "fostering" competition.

    And you--of all people--are surprised by the "smile one moment, backstab the next" practice they've used since, well, way back? Remember the "Microsoft Food" email joke? Or the "World Domination 1.0" gif? There's a reason people come up with these gags...e.g. MSFT regularly spreads FUD to undermine the success of their rivals. This is, imh(and experienced in this regard)o SOP for them.

    Indeed, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn that they approached whoever they thought was in power with an offer, only to be rebuffed. Time and again, this has been how they've responded to that.

    In any event, if the Evil Empire is against Perl, well, I say, "Long Live the Alliance." $c&3w 'em if they can't take a joke.


    P.S. Of *course* they're against can actually get some work done without importing a kajillion DLL's and overlays. And it's antithetical to their business model--especially the one they're ramping up. Face it, MSFT is a dealer...the first d/l may be free, but once they're got you...well, you'll pay for it in the long run.

      Three cheers for that!

      And Long Live the Alliance!

      If they don't want the small piece of unix that is Perl, let them go without it; it is their loss, and no harm to us. Particularly since all they can do is keep their own allies from having our benefits; they'll never be a major platform and keep Perl from running on it. Not unless they ban compilers...

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by lemming (Priest) on Jun 21, 2001 at 10:58 UTC

    So I was curious and started reading the license and a couple sections really disturbed me which I'll paraphrase

  • (c) Open Source. License rights are conditioned to not distribute the software using "Potentially Viral Software"
  • At which point they point to any free, open source (e.g. Linux) or similar distribution license.
    Actually the way they phrased it, was that using gcc or any tool that is not a MS product is prohibited.
    Having worked for an Anti-virus company, that is just so ironic coming from the company that has enabled more viruses than any other.

    Disclaimer section: < Note this is a beta product, so it's more poking at lawyers than MS in the following >

  • They disclaim all responsibility to items such as LACK OF VIRUSES, RESULTS, WORKMANLIKE EFFORT, and LACK OF NEGLIGENCE.
  • "Also, there is no Warranty, Duty, or Condition of title, quiet enjoyment, quiet possession..."
  • "The Foregoing shall be limited to actual damages incurred by you based on reasonable reliance up to the lesser of the amount actually paid by recipient for the software or <bold>FIVE DOLLARS (US$5.00)</bold>,
  • After reading that I had to make sure that wasn't a joke site...

    update: Added a disclaimer to the disclaimer section. I agree with tilly in that you get what you deserve with Beta SW, but I had to point out some of the wording in there.

      While reading the disclaimers, note that this is a set of disclaimers on a software development kit labelled beta. You should not be using this for production. Period. And if you do, then Microsoft should not be liable.

      So I don't mind those terms. If they remained when the product shipped (and some likely will) then I would mind them. But not now.

      But the anti Open Source games are a different kettle of fish. I often say that I like using the right tool for the job. However if Microsoft wants to ban the use of things like Emacs, CVS, Perl, Python, Ruby, cygwin, VNC, and so on, then the right tool for me is going to be very unlikely to be from Microsoft. That kind of restriction is simply not acceptable.

      Some of those disclaimers may be invalid or even illegal in the UK. There are some consumer rights you can't sign away.

      I'm not a lawyer though, so I may be wrong.

      Kevin O'Rourke
      "Potentially Viral Software" At which point they point to any free, open source (e.g. Linux) or similar distribution license. [...] Having worked for an Anti-virus company, that is just so ironic coming from the company that has enabled more viruses than any other.

      I think they mean "software with viral licensing" such as the GPL which, if you use their source code in your product, can claim to force you to distribute your source code with your product. I say "claim" because there are lots of ways that a term of a license can fail to stand up in court.

      I don't think it has anything to do with the more common term "computer virus" (which is usually used these days as a synonym for "malware").

              - tye (but my friends call me "Tye")
        That's probably true, and if pressed they would probably explain it that way, but the way it is presented now would put across the idea that their software is clean, and all other software can potentially destroy your system.
        "Potentially Viral Software"

        It's so funny to hear this from the company like Micro$oft, which stupid default settings for MS Word and Outlook (allowing to run macros by default) provided for actual and dangerous viruses like ILOVEYOU, which cost millions of dollars to fix...

        It's about time to split monopoly, but I hope to at least 4 parts!


        To make errors is human. But to make million errors per second, you need a computer.

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by Aighearach (Initiate) on Jun 21, 2001 at 08:00 UTC
    Thinking that the right hand must not know what the left is doing assumes that they are either for it, or against it. But, it is more in character for them to attack everything that they can't control, but yet still support the things that they think the market will insist on. Perl has to work good on MS platforms, for a combination of reasons: It's standard on most servers, and MS wanted into the server market. So, it makes sense from a World Domination standpoint to both make it run well on `doze, and to try to convince people not to use it at the same time.

    That sort of nonsense is why I refuse to work with their products. Sure, I'm pro Free Software, but I'll still work on a Sun box. No problem. At least Sun tries to make technical sense while taking over the world. They wouldn't be happy to take over if it meant sucking. I feel the same way about Oracle. But MS doesn't care if they rule over a paradise or a wasteland, as long as it is an MS Wasteland(TM).
    Snazzy tagline here

      Sun is including more and more free software products on its CDs containing the OS. Some packages are included by default, some need to be installed separately. Some of the included (or soon to be included) products are: bash, tcsh, gcc, gnome (which will replace CDE), Apache, and of course Perl.

      -- Abigail

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by perchance (Monk) on Jun 21, 2001 at 12:37 UTC
    The amusing thing is, that, should MS continue with this blatant 'legalese' they will find themselves:
    • a) Unable to develop software.
    • b) Closed off to major markets, where, e.g., gcc might be necessary.
    • c) Legally liable to lawsuits between different parts of itself (!)
    As a matter of fact, it could be the beginning of the end for MS should anyone there be foolish enough... :-)

    --- perchance

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by davorg (Chancellor) on Jun 21, 2001 at 12:23 UTC

    Oh, that's OK then. They specifically mention 'PERL', and I don't know of any programming language called 'PERL'. Of course, if they'd put that restriction on 'Perl' then I'd be pretty angry :)


    Perl Training in the UK <>

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by mothra (Hermit) on Jun 21, 2001 at 18:04 UTC
    Upon (my own) careful observation, and with great respect for tilly, I still feel the need to point out that this portion of the license doesn't contain anything unusual.

    Its intent is clear:

    • Prevent anyone from getting the impression that MS will provide support for the GPL'd or GPL-like portion of a product developed with the SDK + Free Software. ("create, or purport to create, obligations for Microsoft with respect to the Software"). It's easy to be mislead and think that if 90% of a product is pure MS, and 10% of it is something you're "not to sure about", that most likely MS must be supporting that too, which again, they clearly state they don't. And why blame them? Perl is not their baby, if they don't want to support it (or ANY software that they didn't make, regardless of the license), then who cares?

    • Prevent anyone from thinking that MS should give them their source code for the SDK, just because other portions of a work that use the SDK are written using tools that do happen to provide their source code. ("grant, or purport to grant, to any third party any rights to or immunities under Microsoft's intellectual property or proprietary rights in the Software.") Nobody here needs to be reminded of how stupid users can be, and the misconception that "hmmmmm...I have full source code for this part of the program, but not that part...I should phone MS and get what is rightfully mine!" could easily become commonplace.

    From the GPL FAQ:

    I am writing free software that uses non-free libraries. What legal issues come up if I use the GPL?

    If the libraries that you link with falls within the following exception in the GPL:

    However, as a special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the executable.

    Clearly, the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit is not a "major component of the operating system", and so the potential licensing conflicts are easy to spot, and therefore the license (as any license on any product) does what it needs to do to cover the ass of the person that wrote it.

    To argue that "proprietary software just stinks" is a whole other issue entirely, and doesn't take any special form of intelligence to realize that there will probably never be a "right" answer to that debate. For anyone who feels that they stand on the moral high-ground, and actually "knows" the Right Answer (TM) to this, please let me know whether abortion, the death penalty, and smoking mirjuana should be legal too. And while you're at it, cut my taxes in half.

    To argue that "yeah...well MS just fears Free Software!" is silly too. Why is anyone surprised that a company is trying to put out negative propaganda about their competitors? The concept of "trying to make yourself sound better than your competitors by making them sound like crap" is nothing new, and predates computers...even predates electricity. :) I, for one, would find it much more confusing if MS promoted how "good Linux is". That would be like the Pizza Hut Delivery boy coming to your door and saying, "next time, you really should order from Domino's, they're way better than us!".

    To make any other argument without specific, cited evidence to support your position will certainly not get any of my consideration. I've done the research, so if you think I'm wrong, SHOW ME why I'm wrong, don't just tell me.

    Admittedly, the term "Viral Software" is an insult (they could have chosen so many other ways to describe it than that), but then, that wasn't the point of this thread. If it was, I wouldn't have done the research to provide this response.

    Perhaps you should ask the authors of the GPL to modify the license so that there's no restrictions on linking to non-free software.

      Microsoft's text goes well beyond what you say. For instance it categorically forbids the use of a lot of open source tools in developing software. The following would therefore not be allowed:
      1. Using Emacs to edit your source-code.
      2. Using Perl scripts for automated testing.
      3. Keeping your source-code in CVS.
      This goes well beyond a restatement of the conditions of the GPL.

      Also the inclusion of Perl goes beyond the Artistic license. Perl's license very specifically allows you to embed a Perl interpreter and use it internally in any way you like. Beyond a requirement to not expose any public interfaces associated with the embedded interpreter, there are no obligations of any kind. Yet this specific action is forbidden by Microsoft.

      As for my comment about Microsoft fearing free software, have you kept track of their recent FUD campaign against open source (really the GPL, but they called it open source)? Their strongly stated position there is that companies cannot safely use open source software in any way without running serious risk of losing all of their intellectual property. This is, of course, a serious overstatement of the viral nature of the GPL and ignores the laxer requirements of many other licenses. That they want customers to believe this is a matter of public record, as anyone following current IT news knows.

      You will note that this desired belief oversteps the potential risk of open source software in exactly the same way that their license requires customers to overreact. Overreactions which in no way, shape, or form actually match the content of the open source licenses. Coincidence?

      BTW for future reference, I try to only take positions that I believe. The fact that I do not like Microsoft does not mean that every anti-Microsoft thing I see I will agree with. I try to form an informed opinion each and every item. See for instance my defence above of their very extreme conditions for, "We have no liability for any damage above $5!" When I first saw that, you can bet my knee-jerk reaction was bad. But when I looked at the situation as a whole, it did seem reasonable that Microsoft should have no liability if you use a beta software development library to try and create production software.

      Had a closer reading of their open source terms had any justification that I could see, I would not have objected. For instance I would defend them had they said, Software developed with this kit incorporates components that are Microsoft's property, and therefore you cannot use this development suite to develop open source software. However depending on the specifics of the license, you may be able to create proprietary derivatives. But they said something very different from that, and I object to the significant differences.

      Clearly, the Microsoft Mobile Internet Toolkit is not a "major component of the operating system",

      I just had to comment on this line. 5 years ago, it was clear that internet browsers were not a major component of the operating system. Yet, the legal precedent now exists ...

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by Malkavian (Friar) on Jun 21, 2001 at 20:30 UTC
    An interesting scenario:
    Given that Microsoft has funded ActiveState for a while, and now, now ActiveState is popular, the following conditions apply:
    • A large quantity of pure Windows developers have now at least heard of Perl.
    • A significant amount of them will now be using Perl.
    • Many companies using Window based servers may well be running all their processes using Perl.

    Given the above conditions, it's reasonably safe to assume the following:
    • Of the many pure windows developer, a portion will at some point use Perl to see what the fuss is about, and because many companies now ask for it as a skillset, due to it's popularity.
    • Of those using it, a majority will likely use it for writing utility scripts, with some coming to use it exclusively.
    • The companies that have invested in developing systems in Perl will have invested a significant amount of time and money into the scripts they own and run.

    Now, if Microsoft rocks the boat and states that Perl is not to be installed/finds some way to break the way that Perl operates on Windows in a patch, it is feasible in a good many cases that the following will occur:
    • Of those Windows only Developer follow the urge to learn Perl, they'll likely find notices that it now only runs on non windows platforms. This will expose these people to the concepts of other platforms, where possibly otherwise they could have more easily ignored them.
    • Of those that use Perl, if they need to keep using it safely, they may have to create a quick dual boot on their machine/commission a cheap machine to run an Open Source OS (such as Linux/FreeBSD etc), increasing their exposure to Open Source, and the community at large.
    • For the companies that have heavily invested in Perl, it may be cheaper for them to ditch the Windows boxes in favour of an Open Source solution, on which the systems they have developed will continue to work safely.

    As far as I can see it, Microsoft are trying the old trick of 'forcing the issue' and trying to break the competition.
    However, in this case, the competition can be tried for free, is already established, and heavily invested in.
    So, it's feasible that MS, in their hurry to try and shut away the Open Source phenomenon, they are in fact forcing people to consider it as an alternative.
    I'd find it very funny if that's how it worked out. :)
    As an aside, in a sense, it's true that Open Source is Viral, not just in the licensing, but in it's development. People who become exposed to it, often embrace it (contract it) to some extent, and it grows on them as they become used to it. They then mention that it works, and introduce others to the concept. Some of these 'infections' produce mutation (new coders adding to the open source, and improving it's fitness)
    Microsoft, on the other hand, I think of as a 'Cancerous' development. They take existing methods, and alter them to operate in a way other than they previously did, wreaking havoc in an otherwise established system, often completely breaking it.
    There is no 'infection' and rapid mutation to increase fitness of cancer. It just grows, and breaks more that isn't cancerous.

    Anyhow, maybe that's a little harsh/dark, but it's how I feel about them these days.

      Microsoft, on the other hand, I think of as a 'Cancerous' development. They take existing methods, and alter them to operate in a way other than they previously did, wreaking havoc in an otherwise established system, often completely breaking it. There is no 'infection' and rapid mutation to increase fitness of cancer. It just grows, and breaks more that isn't cancerous.

      I agree with this completely. The first linux I played with was RedHat 5.2. I've since used 6.0 and 6.2, and 7.0, and through all of them, I have seen no major usability changes. I've been able to effortlessly switch between them.

      So, it happens that I'm working on an NT server and the word comes from on high to upgrade the machine to 2000.

      Win2k, "built on NT technology", cost us two days of downtime while we tried to figure out differences in the OS. Admittedly, we might not have been as prepared as we should have been, but honestly! If they can't even maintain the usability of their *own* operating system, how they expect to keep their customer base?

      What's more, I'd extend the analogy. Micro$oft isn't just cancerous with regard to the software they produce, but with the industry as a whole. I can't help but be reminded of a medical battle, watching the anti-trust case procedings. We try to treat it, the treatment doesn't work, the cancer worsens. I just hope that this cancer isn't ultimately fatal to its host.


      Use of this advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement
      of Western industrial civilization.
Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by perigeeV (Hermit) on Jun 21, 2001 at 14:51 UTC
    If I remember correctly Larry Wall added the Artistic License to cater to companies like Microsoft. He was more concerned that Perl be used. It is a sad shame.
Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by feloniousMonk (Pilgrim) on Jun 21, 2001 at 20:12 UTC
    M$ has always been the complete opposite of the Macy's/Gimbels
    situation. If Macy's didn't have it, they would
    tell you to go to Gimbels, they have it. Now, Microsoft's
    strategy is "Wait, we have it..." Six seconds later
    they throw you a crappy rendition of what you really wanted,
    while working on suffocating the company who may have
    produced what you needed in the first place. Oh yeah,
    then they dump a load of money into the company
    they have brought to the brink of death to keep away those
    pesky "monopoly" issues.

    Hey, if we're really lucky maybe there will be an official M$ Perl-like
    language that will be bundled for free with their OS.

    Just look at the C# vs. Java issue - has anyone seen this?
    C# is the inferior by-product of fallout between
    MS and Sun because MS wanted proprietary extensions
    to Java, and in fact provided them in J++
    and thereby breaking the license agreement.

Re: Microsoft is against Perl!?
by mattr (Curate) on Jun 21, 2001 at 18:35 UTC
    I wonder if anything could do whatever .NET is supposed to do better than GNU+Perl could with or without a little work.
Microsoft to port .NET to FreeBSD...
by rrwo (Friar) on Jul 17, 2001 at 01:53 UTC

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