There are those who think that Microsoft invited me to speak in the hope of seducing me away from the free software cause. Some fear that it might even have succeeded. I am sure the Microsoft staff I addressed saw that that could never happen. I resisted Steve Jobs’s snow job in 1989 or 1990; I am no easy mark for those who want me to change my views.
Others assert that inviting me was opposition research and nothing more. If that was the intention, Microsoft didn’t learn anything it could not have learned from recordings of my talks.
In the past, Microsoft published what it called “contributions to open source” that were no contribution whatsoever to the Free World. (This says something about the deep difference between the open source and the free software movement.) However, if Microsoft sought to return to that practice, it had no need to invite me.
Some are trying to portray my decision to speak there as approval of Microsoft’s current conduct. This is, of course, absurd. My rejection of Microsoft’s nonfree software continues just like my rejection of all other nonfree software. But the fact that people make non-free software is no reason not to show them reasons why software should be free.
I don’t think Microsoft invited me with a view to seduction, or opposition research, or trickery, or misrepresentation. I think some Microsoft executives are seriously interested in the ethical issues surrounding software. They may also be interested in carrying out some of the specific suggestions / requests I presented. I started with a list of actions that would help the free software community, and which I though Microsoft might be amenable to, before stating the free software philosophy in the usual way. I think there is a chance that Microsoft might change some practices in ways that would help the Free World practically, even if they do not support us overall.
It is only a chance; I would not try to estimate the probability. Microsoft did not give me any promises to change; I did not ask for any.