Microsoft could GPL every bit of code they've ever written and renounce all patents and people would still say not to use it because "they still might sue you" or claim it's some kind of trick.
Nah. There is only so far people will go towards hate.
Microsoft, being as large as it is, is unfortunately not very uniform in its ideals.
For example, Apple presents a clear image of a Mac-centric world, or in the case of the browser market, a desire for a duopoly, even though it is practically impossible given that Safari doesn't doesn't in Linux.
Microsoft's goals are a lot murkier. Some people within Microsoft present the company image as a friendly company that is willing to work with partners and competitors in the spirit of "coopertition." The Port 25 guys are an example of people trying to pull
The company sometimes present a darker image of a company willing to do what it needs to do to remain on top, even if it is of questionable taste. An example of this would be Steve Ballmer stating Linux violates 235 patents, without stating what the patents
are. Or the various offhand comments he has made about his competitors over the years. They show overconfidence and cockiness. Even though Steve is a horrible salesman, he is quite good at stirring the pot, just not always in the way Microsoft wants.
Then there are the parts of Microsoft that are trying hard to be a part of the open source world, without being butchered alive. The CodePlex and MS Visual Studio Express efforts are examples of this.
Everyone knows Microsoft values Windows to an extremely high degree. Why wouldn't they? It was the OS that got them to the top. Maybe in another world, OS/2 is the one Microsoft truly values. But the fact is, Windows isn't what makes Microsoft the big bucks.
It's their other software, particularly Microsoft Office and Visual Studio. Both of which don't need to really depend on Windows. If within the next year, the whole world suddenly starts migrating to Linux, Microsoft wouldn't die. They would adjust to the
new market and survive (possibly with wider profit margins too).
In the unlikely event I would ever get to talk to Microsoft execs personally, I would have quite a lot to say to them. I have been using Microsoft software since I was six years old (I'm 18 now). I started with MS-DOS 5.0 and kept up all the way to Microsoft
Windows Vista. I used Office, Windows, DOS, and I even tried out Xenix at one point. Microsoft did a lot right, and a lot wrong. But what they did right was force the UNIX vendors to change. Most of the UNIX distributions that were available in the 80s are
dead now, but the ones that survived have learned their lesson from the UNIX wars era.
In my opinion, UNIX was a great idea, and was even implemented rather well. But the vendors competing and making changes to cause incompatibilities screwed us all over. Microsoft brought home the important lesson of standardization, even if nowadays they
don't quite follow it that much anymore.
Now, with Windows' greatest competitor being Linux, Microsoft has a bit to worry about. Linux, even though it is fragmented into a multitude of distributions, remains largely compatible with each other. However, since a majority of distributions are not
made by a company, Microsoft feels little worry from them because nobody really advertises for Linux.