Thursday, March 04, 2004

Smoking gun - or smoking something.... [update 3/11]

Eric Raymond (he of the Cathedral and the Bazaar fame) was sent (anonymously) an email purporting to be from a consultant to SCO VP Chris Sontag, and published (with annotations) as Open Source Initiative OSI - Doc10:Halloween Documents.

Lot's of crowing and crying that this is the "smoking gun" which indicts Microsoft as SCO CEO Darl MacBride's paymaster. SCO, through PR head Blake Stowell, confirms the email is legitimate but denies most of the speculation Raymond draws from it. In truth, why would Microsoft need to hide any money it paid to SCO? Redmond is on record as "purchasing licenses" (which almost everyone took to be a euphemism for "paying off"). Whether the price was 10 million or 100 million - what difference does it make?

We all know (that is, anyone who can read a quarterly report) that SCO isn't making any money. We know that Microsoft is putting up cash to have SCO spread FUD about Linux and Open Source. We also know this email was from a consultant trying to justify his commission, a rather hefty one. Who's to say he wasn't fudging the numbers and/or the degree of involvement of any particular player?

Bottom line: its interesting and gives a tiny bit of insight into SCO culture but in the grand scheme of things it hasn't very much meaning.

UPDATE 3/11/04 - Business Week has revealed that BayStar Capital did indeed invest in SCO after Microsoft suggested it might be a worthwhile venture. Wow, just think, Microsoft encouraging someone to invest in a company that's fighting Linux and Open Source. Hard to believe, isn't it? But illegal, its not. Nor is it unethical. And its not even fattening. So what's the point of even mentioning it? The Register's Andrew Orlowski, not known as a great friend of Microsoft, has an excellent take on these "revelations".

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