I remember trying out Red Hat 9 and Fedora Core. I of course distro-hop a lot, so those didn’t stay for very long, but when one is going about reviewing distributions of Operating Systems, such a thing is to be expected. I will start off by saying thanks. Thank you for making Linux a household name. There are many disagreements on the naming conventions due to the fact that GNU software is often used, but let us set that aside for the moment.
I am writing to you now out of deep concern for the well being of a great company. I recently read about the potential of new talks with Microsoft on interoperability. I beg of you. Please do not persist walking this path, for it will lead to nothing more than a dead end. The executives in that company in Redmond, Washington are not interested in interoperability. Windows has become a religion to them, which is something that should frighten just about everyone. I understand what is trying to be done: Putting the customer first. It is a great strategy, but not if the company in question does not wish to place the customer first. Even third party developers for the .NET framework are on the low end of the totem pole. Ballmer was speaking a half truth when he kept blabbing, “Developers! Developers! Developers! Developers!” It was all about the developers back in the day, but only as long as they were working for Microsoft. Jamie Cansdale is not a Microsoft employee, and his TestDriven.NET suite of tools, which was first celebrated by the company as a valuable thing, is now the subject of a potential lawsuit due to one thing: He had the audacity, no… the gall to make VisualStudio.NET Express better for hobbyist programmers. How dare he actually make a decent product and not be from Microsoft! How dare he!
It should serve as a reminder that the Microsoft evangelists are only there to help Microsoft, not the third party developers, who are seen as pawns and nothing more. Other people, such as the Samba Team, have worked day in and day out to help with interoperability, and I’m sure they are not the only ones doing that, and all without Microsoft’s help. Interoperability should be about putting customers first, and the Redmond company is not needed for that. There are plenty of ways to have documents go back and forth. We have Thunderbird and Firefox for web and e-mail needs. OpenOffice.org has the ability to export documents directly to PDF, and with enough improvement, I’m sure an open source graphical PDF editor can be made so people can collaborate and add comments. If there are still things that are needed, the Free and Open Source Communities are more than talented in filling the gap.
Please reconsider talks with Microsoft. They will not talk about interoperability unless Intellectual Property is placed on the table, even if the claims are absurd at best. They are not interested in their customers. They are only interested in their stock price and money.