Archive for May, 2006

Talking with Microsoft

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2006

Last week I went to Tudela for a talk as part of the Semana del Software Libre organized by Fundación Dédalo. There were a few talks the previous days, which I missed them all, but on Thursday evening, it was the last debate, with 2 guys from the Microsoft camp (José Parada, Microsoft employee, and Chema Alonso, from Informatica64 and who works closely with Microsoft Spain) and 2 guys from the Free Software camp (Sergio Montoro from Knowgate, and myself). Each speaker had 20 minutes for their presentation and then 1.5 hours of debate.

José Parada talked about the new? concern about security in Microsoft, and all the things they’ve been doing for making their systems more secure. He mentioned User Account Protection and the automatic tools they use for finding exploits (not like in Free Software, where they use nothing).
Then Sergio Montoro talked about the businesses that can be made with Free Software, and then I talked about what FS represents for all users, developers, companies, public administrations (based on a presentation by the great Jesús Barahona). I tried to focus the debate on the real differences between propietary and free software, that is, the social, technological and business advantages. But then, Chema Alonso used the number of vulnerabilities argument to demonstrate that Free Software is more insecure than propietary software :( Not sure if he succeeded in convincing the few people that attended the debate, since his talk was really funny and might have catched better the attention of the attendees than Sergio’s or mine. But, as I told him after the debate, it is a bit unfortunate to see the same argument over and over.

It was a pity I hadn’t prepared the “Microsoft is insecure” part of my talk, since that would have served as a good counter-argument. I didn’t think that was the argument to defend (attacking your enemy might be seen from the outside as a lack of arguments on your part) though.

I also was given a Microsoft t-shirt, which I was planning to wear in all FS-related events, but unfortunately I left it in Tudela :) I’ve been also invited by Chema to visit the Microsoft offices in Madrid, on a guided tour. It might be an interesting thing, given that Chema was asking if Microsoft could create its own Linux distro (he seemed to not get the point, since he had doubts about it), so maybe I could spy a bit about their MS Linux plans :)

All in all, a good debate, and a pity I had to run back home after the talk, so missed the pintxos (tapas) in Tudela.