The idea for this story has been cooking in my mind for a while but I kept pushing it away. Now I strongly feel that I should talk about it.\n\n\nLast week I wrote about two of Microsoft\u2019s recent patent deals with Linux players, bringing to the surface the criticism Microsoft gets from a certain segment of the open source community. And the thread continued this week, as I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people from the open source 'industry' as well as the community to get a sense of what they think about all of this.\n\n\nHere is the what came out of those conversations:\n\n\nJoining OIN is not the solution\n\n\nThere are many reasons why Microsoft may not join the Open Invention Network (OIN) anytime soon. First of all, if a company doesn\u2019t want to use patents as a weapon, it won\u2019t, whether or not it joins OIN.\n\n\nAt the same time, joining OIN doesn\u2019t guarantee that a company won't use patents as a weapon. Both Oracle and Google are OIN members and they have locked horns in one of the fieriest battles in the open source world. IBM is one of the founders of OIN and it has also sued companies (like Groupon) over various patents.\n\n\nSo as much as I believe joining OIN sends a positive message, I don\u2019t think that\u2019s _the_ ultimate solution.\n\n\nCross licensing is an industry norm\n\n\nCross licensing deals are a common practice in many industries. What Microsoft is doing is nothing new or unique. They get more attention because many believe that software or process patents should not exist in the first place. And software patents are a particularly sensitive issue for the open source community. That said, what the community believes at odds with how industry operates.\n\n\nPatents generate revenue\n\n\nMicrosoft is making a lot of money from patents. According to reports Microsoft may be making as much as $3 billion from patents alone. That\u2019s more than what Red Hat makes in a year. So Microsoft is not going to give up that revenue just to make some people feel good about them.\n\n\nCost of patents\n\n\nIf you are a company selling a box with Linux or Android in it, Microsoft may want to sign a patent deal with you. This is likely cheaper than going to court, and that\u2019s why most companies choose to sign a deal. These companies don\u2019t bear the cost of the patent; they shift the cost to customers. They may think of patent fees as the equivalent of the cost of another hardware component going into their devices. It is an easier cost to bear than the uncertain costs of a legal battle, especially against a company with deep pockets.\n\n\nDevelopers and companies don\u2019t care\n\n\nCompanies like Canonical, Red Hat and SUSE are close partners of Microsoft. These companies, from what I see, don\u2019t much care about such patent deals. Other than what Novell did in their partnership with Microsoft when they owned SUSE and a limited patent agreement that Red Hat and Microsoft have, Canonical has not signed any such patent deal, as far as I know.\n\n\nAt the same time, every developer I have talked to is excited about Microsoft open sourcing their tools. All they really care about is having more open source software out there.\n\n\nThe most vocal criticism comes from a section of the open source community that blindly hates Microsoft. And there is absolutely nothing that can be done to appease this segment of the community. And I think neither Microsoft nor their partners worry much about this vocal minority.\n\n\nFinal takeaway\n\n\nWe need to fix our broken patent system, and until and unless that happens, companies will use patents as a weapons.\n\n\nLooking at the revenue that patents generate for Microsoft, I don\u2019t see them changing course anytime soon. So there is no point in beating a dead horse. What I would like to see is Microsoft open sourcing more and more of their software and becoming a pure open source company.\n\n\nThe most open source software, the better. Right?