07.04.07

Putting a Price Tag on Free Software by Holding Interoperability Hostage

Posted in Deals, Europe, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Protocol, Red Hat, Servers at 8:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Certain arguments become can truly repetitive, but it’s probably because they should. This is one of them. Microsoft has a clear strategy whose implementation has already begun. It came to the limelight when its deal with Novell was negotiated (if not earlier).

So, what is that plan? Let us call it the “No Linux tax, no play” strategy, along the lines of “pay to play”. Microsoft knows all too well that free-of-charge software is just too competitive. Microsoft’s only chance to compete is by elevating the rivals’ prices (or shamelessly using disinformation).

The company holds back compatibility between platforms and applications in order to get its way. It lends a hand only to companies that are willing admit they some ‘guilt’ (over IP). A wad of cash is added to sweeten a seemingly-terrible deal.

We saw that coming last year. Shane was probably the first to point out the implications in the EU. Microsoft is now getting desperate to make Linux expensive and, as we have seen before, it refuses to make its products compatible with other products, unless all those products bring revenue to Microsoft. Microsoft also did this with Xenix, so there is precedence. History ought to teach us a lesson.

As we have said at the start, none of this is new. However, other Web sites begin to see this more clearly. Red Hat/Microsoft negotiations that regularly break illustrate this point. Here are a couple of blog items that say more on this.

MS: We’ll only interoperate if you sign a patent deal. Red Hat: No.

…Microsoft is refusing to interoperate well unless FOSS agrees to these patent deals, not just so it can collect money, but so it can get your brains to work for them. It also achieves a goal of FOSS costing more. Ever hear of the Microsoft tax? And it also allows Microsoft to put its heavy thumb on FOSS and reset its terms. You don’t want to code for Microsoft and share your skills and your money? Don’t wish to give up control or change your development model? Then they’ll maybe sue you, and for sure they won’t interoperate with you well.

The Reason for All These Patent Deals?

But even Microsoft’s child-like “that’s mine” attitude about intellectual property and patent violation claims against open source doesn’t explain the company’s resistance to Red Hat. The question to ask: Whose intellectual property rights are Microsoft seeking to protect? Microsoft’s insistence on combined interoperability and patent deals makes more sense if the company’s concern is that its software infringes on open-source intellectual property.

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