[Mono-list] I need help with FUD

ccoish ccoish at gmail.com
Tue Jan 20 19:31:48 EST 2009

Jonathan Pryor wrote:
> Software patents *really*, *really* suck.  (Yes, so important that it
> deserves to be mentioned three times.)
> Last, but not least, the FUDsters can't see the forest for the trees.
> Specifically, they spend so much time on Microsoft (a tree) that they
> miss the entire forest of *actual* patent problems, patent trolls, etc.

I agree that patents are the real problem here, not just the ones from

Jonathan Pryor wrote:
> Thus, the FUD is *extremely* hard to fight, as the first three points
> are quite valid (software patents suck), and then the FUDsters
> mis-represent the fourth fact ("we only need to worry about teh 
> Micro$osft!!!") without noting that EVERY alternative they propose faces
> Which means their entire argument falls down to: Microsoft is evil,
> everything they touch is evil, let's all go use something else.

I use Mono. I love Mono. I think I agree with the intent of your post, but
it just seems wrong to me that every alternative faces the "EXACT SAME
PROBLEMS". Every alternative faces the threat of software patents, sure. But
I think there's a difference between the threat of a typical patent troll
and Microsoft. I see at least two important differences.

1.) Steve Balmer has gone out of his way to state that Linux is infringing
on Microsoft's software patents.
2.) Microsoft is far more powerful than a typical patent troll, both in the
size of its legal department and in terms of public perception.

Now I realise that the whole Microsoft patent threat is more FUD. But the
threat is coming straight from Microsoft. They have specifically targeted
Linux and are trying to make trouble there.

Living in a world of software patents is like living in a lawless world
where murder is legal. Everyone could potentially attack you at any moment
without suffering consequences beyond those you or your friend can dish out
in retaliation. It's impossible to be safe in an environment like that. But
it's even more dangerous when a really huge person is specifically stating
that you owe him and he is going to come after you.

This doesn't change the fact that I use Mono. I don't think Microsoft's
going to risk the bad press by suing. I think the Mono project could work
around it if they did. Mostly, I think Mono is the best technology around
and deserves to have the users. But do I think the risk of using
technologies from a giant company who's CEO has threatened Linux is
precisely the same as the risk of using technologies from companies who's
CEO's have not made such threats? No. There are shades of gray here.

This doesn't invalidate your other point that Microsoft possesses patents on
other technologies that open source projects use all the time.

- Christian
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