In an open letter to Bill Gates, Håkon Lie has eloquently responded to Gates’s recent memo about “interoperability” in Microsoft software. (Lie is CTO at Opera Software ASA, the Norwegian makers of the Opera browser, which I hold in high esteem.)
You say you believe in interoperability, Mr Gates. We’d like to believe you. But interoperability is hard work. It means writing test cases, discussing edge cases with other vendors, answering high school students, making the necessary bug fixes, and releasing upgrades. Writing the occasional email praising interoperability simply isn’t enough. And your track record doesn’t support your proclaimed beliefs.
As it turns out, Lie has comprehensively summarized the past ten years in Microsoft’s not-so-perfect history, all on one page. You can read the rest at The Register.
Lie points out the same thing that I did the other day: that the W3C et al. were responsible for saving Microsoft from Eolas. It’s time (perhaps past time) that Microsoft acknowledge its responsibilities as the chief vendor of end-user software in the world. The company is indebted to the people who took its (unpopular) side.
Interoperability is not simply a buzzword for wooing stockholders. For technology companies, it’s an expectation, an obligation – at the very least, the status quo. Hopefully Microsoft takes this memo as seriously as it took Gates’s previous memo on security.