Steinman answered that: “Right now, the GPLv3 is still in discussion. The latest draft of GPLv3 is in discussion. According to the latest version that was published on, I think, March 28, under that version, Novell will be able to ship Linux under a GPLv3. Period. There’s nothing in the current draft of GPLv3 that prevents Novell from shipping Linux. What about forking? There’s no need to have that discussion because the current draft of GPLv3 allows us to ship Linux. It’s still in discussion though so we have to wait and see what the final version is”.
That is good news for Novell, but their filing states that “If the Free Software Foundation (FSF) releases a new version of the GNU General Public License with certain currently proposed terms, our business may suffer harm”.
Is optimism from Novell’s PR department justified at all? The filing clearly disagrees with the jubilant attitude of Steinman. If you choose to read the article as a whole, there is something to bear in mind. The writer has pro-Novell bias, so readers beware. It’s not the first time that he shows this (it’s part of a series of articles).
A cynical writeup from a Microsoft MVP has just caught my eye. To quote a fragment from this writeup:
Dell supposedly gets pounded by a hoard of folks demanding they come up with a Linux box. Dell goes back and forth and finally gives in, announcing they will use Ubuntu. Than (sic) Dell does a strange thing and joins in the Microsoft-Novell alliance.
It turns out that there are 3 parties which are deserving of notice in this deal (there are other parties to the deal – namely Novell’s customers and OpenSUSE.org contributors, but the deal architects apparently don’t consider them worthy of Notice, I suppose): Microsoft, Novell, and something known as MLGP:.
Any notice under this Agreement shall be effective upon receipt when made in writing and delivered to the other party at the address stated below. Notice by facsimile is effective upon receipt if an original signature copy is mailed contemporaneously to the other party at the address stated below.
For Microsoft: For MLGP: For Novell:
Microsoft Corporation Microsoft Licensing, GP Novell, Inc.
One Microsoft Way 6100 Neil Road 404 Wyman
Redmond, WA USA 98052 Reno, Nevada, USA 89511 Waltham, MA USA 02451
Attn: Director of IP Attn: Managing Partner Attn: General Counsel
Licensing Law and
Facsimile: xxx.xxx.xxxx Facsimile: xxx.xxx.xxxx Facsimile: xxx.xxx.xxxx
Just down the road from Lake Tahoe, in Reno, Nevada, you’ll find Microsoft Licensing, GP headquarters. We handle product licensing agreements, worldwide for Microsoft. This high-impact organization is at the forefront of an industry that’s growing at an incredible rate. An industry that represents the future of how software purchases everywhere will transpire. What’s more, we’ve got Microsoft’s resources to draw from. It’s big. And the ground floor is wide open. Welcome to Microsoft Licensing, GP.
"The future of how software purchases everywhere will transpire" – Sounds exciting, No? What they mean to say is, "in every future software purchase, we will take a cut". Think about all of those Free Software and Open Source products that you have to shake down – not only the developers, but the end users too?
Rob Weir has a posting regarding his experiences with Microsoft’s ODF Plugin, and suffice it to say it falls far short of "native support" and integration. Some notably disappointing aspects of the add-ins operation include the fact that all ODF files are imported to DOCX format to edit, and then must be explicitly saved as ODF (no Ctrl + S for you). Also, you cannot create an ODF file from scratch in MS Word – you must first save the file in a native MS format, then convert it to ODF.
Even more amazing are the fundamental ways in which the Microsoft-sponsored add-in fail in terms of Windows and Office integration:
First, we start by looking at the many ways in which documents are integrated into the Windows/Office platform. Any fluent user of this platform will use many of these capabilities on daily basis. These are basic features which have been around, in some cases, since Windows 3.0, maybe earlier.
Windows shell integration
1. Double-click on a document on the Desktop or in a folder and it loads into the appropriate application. Double-click on a Word document and it loads in Word.
2. Right-click in a folder and choose “New XXX” to create a new XXX document in the specified folder. So, “New…Microsoft Office Excel Worksheet” creates a new, blank Excel document.
3. Right-click on a document, choose Properties and on the Summary tab you can view metadata for that document.
4. Recently-edited documents appear in the “My Recent Documents” under the Start menu.
5. Documents referred to in web pages, via URL links will render in an inline Office session in the browser.
6. Documents are indexed by the Windows search engine.
1. Ability to File/Open, File/Save and File/New a document via the familiar menu options.
2. Ability to set a file format as the default file format for the application.
3. Ability to use the familiar keyboard shortcuts, Control-O and Control-S to open and save documents.
4. Ability to forward a document to someone in an email and for them to be able to launch the a document by clicking on it when received via email.
5. Ability to password protect a document.
6. Ability to post a document to a web folder or to a SharePoint server
It must be noted that none of the above integration points are allowed by the ODF Add-in for Word, the much-touted translator for which Microsoft provides the, “Funding, Architectural & Technical Guidance and Project co-coordination”.
So, it appears that there will be quite a bit of work needed for Stafford’s vision of native ODF support in MS Office to be delivered by Microsoft. There was some talk of the DaVinci plugin and its providing of native support for ODF within Office, but I have yet to see the plugin available – and not too much in ways of announcements either. I would find it funny if an outside group was better able to deliver seamless ODF integration into Microsoft’s own products, but then again – does anyone believe Microsoft truly wants native ODF support in Office, even if Novell does?
Discussion Draft 3 includes a term intended to require Microsoft to make the same patent covenants that our customers receive to all recipients of the GPLv3 software included in our products. It also includes a license condition intended to preclude companies from entering into patent arrangements such as our agreement with Microsoft by prohibiting any company that has entered into such an arrangement from distributing GPLv3 code. This license condition does not apply to arrangements entered before March 28, 2007, so as currently proposed it would not apply to our agreement with Microsoft; however, the FSF specifically indicated that this “grandfathering” condition is tentative and may be dropped depending on feedback the FSF receives.
If the final version of GPLv3 contains terms or conditions that interfere with our agreement with Microsoft or our ability to distribute GPLv3 code, Microsoft may cease to distribute SUSE Linux coupons in order to avoid the extension of its patent covenants to a broader range of GPLv3 software recipients, we may need to modify our relationship with Microsoft under less advantageous terms than our current agreement, or we may be restricted in our ability to include GPLv3 code in our products, any of which could adversely affect our business and our operating results. In such a case, we would likely explore alternatives to remedy the conflict, but there is no assurance that we would be successful in these efforts.
Not a pretty picture, perhaps a stock buyback really is the only hope this management team has left for one last hurrah on the market. Otherwise, this may be the beginning of the end for Novell – either lose much of your contributed code base, or lose your #1 channel partner. Considering they seem to have already lost their soul, I bet they keep the channel partner.
Shane has already taken a preliminary look at Novell’s recent disclosure. Next week we shall find out a lot more as prominent people analyse the text and will report to the press. Here are some early reactions. The first comes from the Wine team.
More than a few people have been angered by Novell’s patent indemnification agreement with Microsoft. If you’re looking a bunch of really exciting fun, you can find a redacted version of the entire agreement filed with the SEC. There’s two nice bits in there about Wine. The first pretty much means Novell won’t ever ship Wine (someone please correct me if I’m wrong because it’s late and I might have pieced it together wrong.) Why?
Remember that Dell joined the Microsoft/Novell deal. A couple of weeks ago, just shortly after this deal, Mark Shuttleworth announced that Wine would not be included in Dell’s Ubuntu PCs. A while later it turned out that proprietary multimedia codecs would not be included either. Is it a coincidence, a conspiracy, or simply a logical decision? Here is the reaction of a man who is disappointed due to these recent developments.
Dell’s deliberately limited Ubuntu Linux offerings show cowardice in the face of Microsoft’s displeasure, and telegraphs to the casual shopper that Linux is a very cheap (as in quality) second to Windows in terms of breadth and depth of hardware support, when it most certainly is not.
The agreement enshrines the pretzel-like position Novell has been forced to adopt because it appears to be paying Microsoft not to sue its customers for using Linux.
It looks as if the agreement makes provision for the possibility that Novell will get acquired — it passes through — unless, it appears, it goes to a private equity buy-out firm or a company that gets less than 10% of revenues from hardware and software. There are also safety nets for product spin-offs.
What a mouthful. More speculations are certainly yet to come our way. Here are the reactions that Novell had to face in last week’s OSBC.
Corbet of LWN.net, however, accused Novell of enabling Microsoft’s bad behavior. “Novell is paying Microsoft a per unit fee (on sales of SUSE Linux). If there’s not a patent issue, what are you paying for?” he asked.
The issue of patents has been front and center at OSBC… and audience members expressed disappointment at the mixed signals coming from Microsoft over possible litigation, and what many perceived as a lack of honest cooperation between Microsoft and the open source community. “I’m not afraid of Novell coming after me like I’m afraid of Microsoft coming after me,” said Jon Stumpf, Senior Vice President of Engineering at AIG. “I don’t need a new (collaboration) deal on virtualization or ODF. I need cooperation on standards.” At other times, audience members responded with outright derision at efforts to smooth over the disagreements that have followed from the partnership.
Under the terms of the agreements, Microsoft will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on licensing fees and sales and marketing costs over five years, including $240 million for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription certificates. For its part, Novell has agreed to pay Microsoft a percentage of revenue from open-source products.
Novell has chosen to betray the supplier in order to please a few customers (if any at all). The wrath of those who were harmed (developers and Linux peers) is going to harm Novell. What goes around comes around.
Update: a video from OSBC was published yesterday. Here it is, in case someone is interested.
As response in Canada shows, nobody wants OOXML. So far, there have been over 130 comments, which were posted by people who understand and care about this matter. These are very consistent. People reject OOXML because it encourages lockin and it is not truly open. People in Canada prefer OpenDocument Format.
Take a look at this photo from an OOXML workshop. (Read the blog entry too.) [Photo of a pile of 6,000+ A4 sheets]
I don’t know what your job is, but imagine your boss came to you and said “read this, fully understand it, implement it perfectly, and make sure that it fully interoperates with the software being produced by anyone else doing the same.” Translate this statement to your own job and stare again at that photo. What do you conclude?
You’ll have lifetime employment trying to implement the spec.
Your boss comes from another wacko parallel universe.
This is a joke if not a travesty.
Your job evaluation will not be very good next year.
There is no way you can fully do the job without reimplementing significant portions of Microsoft’s product portfolio and therefore you will run into intellectual property problems. (Don’t think that’s a problem?)
Microsoft is trying to change the rules on what is a standard and who can implement it.