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05.15.07

Microsoft’s Story Might Contradict Novell’s (Again)

Posted in Deals, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Rumour at 11:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Here is a funny contradiction (among several, including a very recent one).

We have three options here:

  • Microsoft may be changing the story it tells;
  • Novell is simply not being honest;
  • or it is just a case of flawed journalism

Let us have a look. Microsoft tells its story to ComputerWorld in the article which is aptly titled “Analysis: Microsoft patent claims hint at internal issues”.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft vice president of intellectual property and licensing, said that although Microsoft won’t discuss specific patents publicly, it has discussed them in private with companies like Novell Inc.

The story suggests that Microsoft did discuss the patents with Novell, possibly showing them these 235 patents which they wave. Have a look at Novell’s stance and Novell’s side of the story.

While providing numbers is new, the claims that violations exists are not new. In response to similar Microsoft claims back in November, we put out an open letter from our CEO, Ron Hovsepian, that states our position on this issue. That position hasn’t changed.

Here is another contradiction.

Microsoft executives had previously told Computer Business Review that the company had not carried out a detailed patent assessment before reaching its patent covenant agreement with Novell.

So, is Mr. Horacio Gutierrez lying to enhance the level of FUD? Or is it just poor reporting?

The Community Comments

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Quote, SLES/SLED at 11:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On Microsoft’s plan:

They [Microsoft] are blabbering their FUD that’s all. They want people to have doubts about Linux’es legality so they can get people to switch to SUSE Linux which is “patent-infringement free” (look up recent relationship of MS w/ Novel). They will never sue because their claims have no grounds. How come they haven’t pointed out specifically which 235 patents Linux has violated yet? Any person would think that’s the first thing Microsoft will do. Well, the answer is – because such infringement doesn’t exist.’

             Source: Wall Street Journal blogs

On patenting software:

‘A computer is a general-purpose machine. A computer’s purpose is to process an organized collection of instructions to do a specific thing. These instructions are called “software”. A computer without software is a doorstop. Patenting a particular collection of instructions (even if they do something really, really interesting) is, in effect, patenting the use of a thing for its intended purpose. It would be akin to patenting “a method for dialing my phone number” and then going after royalties every time my phone rings. Or “a method for using an automobile to get to work” and suing everyone in rush-hour traffic.’

             Source: Slashdot (Groklaw identified and hand-picked this one)

Novell’s CEO Denies Patent Infringement in Linux, Eyes Acquisitions

Posted in Deals, Finance, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Ron Hovsepian at 11:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In an update to a Reuters story, Novell’s CEO, Ron Hovsepian, expresses his disagreement and take on Microsoft’s claims.

Novell Chief Executive and President Ronald Hovsepian said Linux did not infringe on any patents. He told the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York on Tuesday that the deal with Microsoft was focused on not suing each other’s customers.

In another new item, Hovsepian talks about Novell’s deal with SAP (Microsoft made a SAP deal on the very same day). He also says that he is eying some acquisition.

“I would like to be acquiring in a couple of markets. Anything in the Linux market, systems and resources management and in the identity business,” Hovsepian said.

Business as Usual for Linux Companies (Updated)

Posted in Deals, Finance, GNU/Linux, Novell, Red Hat at 10:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell has just made a little deal with SAP and it will probably serve it well. Unsuprisingly, the recent events may have helped its stock.

Novell Inc. is currently accelerating to the upside on a strong increase in volume and is taking out the highs of the day after trading in a range for the last hour. The stock is at an 11 month high trading up by 23 cents at $7.57.

Novell presented alongside Microsoft yesterday. They attended what was called the ‘Mind Your Business’ road show.

Among the technology companies presenting in Raleigh are: HP, Cisco, Sun, Microsoft, Novell, Citrix, VMWare and Altiris.

Does Novell benefit at everyone else’s expense in the Linux world? Novell clearly expected this when it named its deal “selfish”. Meanwhile, however, Red Hat does not suffer and its stock is unaffected. Some reporters and analysts still seem unable to grasp business models which revolve around support. This must be the effect of dealing with disruptive technologies.

See, it’s not really a software company, in that its margins (should it mature) won’t resemble what people are used to with companies like Microsoft and Oracle. That’s because it doesn’t sell software, it sells services on software.

All in all, the take-home message is that the Linux world is healthy and it is not afraid, even amid Microrosft’s intimidation techniques. Novell did nothing to prevent this however. Nowadays, Novell and Microsoft seem like pals. Interpret this as you wish.

Update: surprise, surprise. SAP made a deal with Microsoft on the same day as Novell.

Two Writers Explain Why Microsoft Can Never Win This Battle

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 9:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Readers are probably aware of the fact that we have recently deviated from our focus on Novell. Nevertheless, Novell, being an ally of Microsoft in its attempt to create a ‘protection racket’ axis, is partly responsible. We shall continue to address the urgent issue at hand because some myths must be dispelled. Yesterday, headlines from Redmond-oriented magazines already appeared to herald the looming death of Free software, joining similar attempts to demoralise.

Rumours of Free software/Linux death are greatly exaggerated and simply made up. The truth is, Microsoft’s latest acts reveal its great fear of what’s to come. It is a great endorsement and validation of the power and inevitability of GNU/Linux in the broad mainstream.

Matt Asay explains that Microsoft very well understands that business models have changed and are continuing to change rapidly. Its recent actions are a miserable attempt to stop the natural evolution of industrial trends.

The Microsoft patent FUD isn’t about intellectual property. It’s about Microsoft’s desire to continue making money the way it always has.

Those who attempt to hinder or fight progression are doomed to spend their resources and be left in the past with empty pockets. Just ask Darl McBride. Free software cannot be defeated, as Daniel Eran would rightfully argue. He calls it an “unwinnable war”.

How is an untouchable superpower defeated? In many cases, it foolishly engages itself in an unwinnable war and simply consumes itself.

Microsoft, threatened by the encroachment of competition from open source, has long waged a detached propaganda war against free software and in particular Linux, but has recently escalated its conflict into a full blown attack.

[...]

As Microsoft begins waging its all out war against Linux, how far wil its popularity decline? And will that war be conveniently limited to a far away land, or might it cause fear and distress to Microsoft’s own customers? Would Microsoft’s own customers be targeted as potential enemies in massive, RIAA-style crackdowns?

When asked by Fortune whether Microsoft would ever seek to “sue its customers for royalties, the way the record industry has,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer answered, “That’s not a bridge we’ve crossed, and not a bridge I want to cross today on the phone with you.”

That should certainly scare the Windows out of Microsoft’s customers.

Another interesting analysis says that Microsoft loses either way.

You can’t defeat this community so why not joining us on the equal footing, on the terms which govern the rest of this community, a true fair play, a new free world in which both you and us can coexist without trying to subvert each others’ chances, a true free market. You can’t be that adverse towards the concept of a free market, right? The time of your monopoly is over. If you can’t deal with that, you deserve to be defeated in the great patent armageddon.

It’s your choice, Microsoft, it’s your choice.

The future looks bright for Free software. Microsoft has entered its ‘SCO stage’ in life. It’s menopause.

Divide, Alienate, But Never Conquer

Posted in FUD, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One man believes that attempts are made to create a civil war, so to speak.

Mr. Auvil, on the other hand, said Microsoft could have something more ominous than litigation in mind: It might be trying to further fragment the open source community, which is already split between companies that want to make money off free-code-based software and proponents with the philosophical belief in free software for all.

We wish to dismiss this by arguing that everyone would lose if Free software involved paying money to companies which do not actually own the software.

The closer you look at this scenario, the more insane Microsoft’s actions begin to seem. The company is willing to accept alienation and hate, as if it hasn’t suffered from this already, due to its shady history. Not many customer will quietly tolerate this (c/f the Microsoft prisoner mentality).

The following bit of analysis explains why Microsoft does not just aggravate big giants whom it competes against. Microsoft is eliminating the equivalent of mom-and-pop stores. It is now willing to stomp on the little guy, as well. Developers, whom Microsoft depended on the most over the years, will continue the stampete to the open source world. Why on earth would Microsoft send a offending message to start-ups by flaunting patent portfolios and actually making use of them?

Microsoft’s patent hard line hardest on startups

[...]

The infringement claims are an indication of Microsoft’s declining position in the software industry, Lyman said. “It tells me that Redmond is now officially afraid of open source and the negative revenue impact it is having upon Microsoft as a corporation,” he said.

[...]

The infringement claims are an indication of Microsoft’s declining position in the software industry, Lyman said. “It tells me that Redmond is now officially afraid of open source and the negative revenue impact it is having upon Microsoft as a corporation,” he said.

Microsoft has apparently just shot itself in the toes. In the future, when it continues to lose more of its most loyal followers and supporters, other platforms will become exceptionally attractive. No longer will they enjoy the “network effect” and be able to depend on lockin (good example from yesterday’s news). The company has isolated itself from many of its own customers. To an extent, the same applies to Novell.

Linux Foundation Joins the Front Opposing Microsoft’s Threats

Posted in GNU/Linux, IBM, OIN, OSDL, Patents, Servers, SUN, UNIX at 8:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Over the years, Linux has accumulated many shields. First consider OIN. Then, remember that there are titans out there who will fight for Linux because it saved them billions of dollars. IBM, for example, can fight independently, even without OIN.

Here comes another large cogwheel into play. It is, of course, the recently-founded Linux Foundation, which is gaining new members very quickly as more and more companies see and embrace the promise of Linux. The Linux Foundation is now preparing to rebut Microsoft, shall that be necessary.

“If you use Windows, Solaris, [IBM's] AIX or any similar operating system, you have the same patent infringement risk as using Linux. Microsoft should be careful of what it starts because it doesn’t know where it will end,” said Zemlin [of the Linux Foundation] in an interview.

There may be an ugly story, however, behind OSDL’s transition into the Linux Foundation (merger). There is reason to suspect that the Linux Foundation might be a Novell apologist and a GPLv3 slammer, even after Stuart Cohen’s (somewhat forced) departure.

The Linux Foundation isn’t the first to take a strong stand against Microsoft’s recent actions and make Microsoft worry. In fact, OpenOffice.org has already come out swinging. It slammed Microsoft, claiming that its actions are miserable acts that reflect on its own miseries and fears.

Further Evidence That Microsoft’s Patent Claims are an Ineffective Farce

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft would have us believe that an operating system such as Novell’s SUSE is in fact its own territory. It would have us believe that it invented the GUI, the word processor, the spreadsheet, and the double click (yes, there is a patent on that as well). Have a look at the following musing from a mystified BTL columnist.

What exactly are these patents about? I can look at Ubuntu and say “hey this is Windows-ish.” Is that a patent problem?

Consider the following statement, which teaches us how pointless and ineffective software patents have become.

“I remain convinced that the software patent system is fundamentally broken,” O’Grady said.

Broken or not, “After the KSR decision, software patents are especially vulnerable now,” Jenkins noted.

O’Grady doesn’t believe that Microsoft will sue its own customers, despite the fact that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer left that option open. “I don’t believe, at this point, that users should be concerned,” he said.

This validates our contention that here we have a dog barking, but it will never bite. Ignore the attempts to create fear and stick to practical considerations and logic. Software patents may be there on paper, but they may have become a waste of time and money. The courts reject them. They have recently been tested in court and no-one other than Microsoft defeated them. Is that a shot in the foot? Clearly. Just consider the fact that Microsoft was possibly spearheading the initiative to make software patentable in the first place.

MS are key sponsors of “Voices For Innovation” aimed at MS customers and designed to put a positive spin on software patents and enlist people to lobby on their behalf.

Additionally, have a look at this so-called “innovation panel”.

He [Schramm] will be part of a lineup that includes the Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer, 3M CEO George Buckley, UPS Chairman and CEO Michael Eskew, IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano and Wal-Mart Stores Vice Chairman John Menzer.

Where are the small companies? Of course, the giant conveniently exclude them. Have a look at the following very disturbing article.

A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community.

Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry.

[...]

The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way

[...]

Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used.

It has become clear that software patents are nothing but an attempt to stifle a free market. It’s anti capitalist, it is predatory, and it is unacceptable.

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