Remember those famous stages of agony? Well, Microsoft shows us what they are all about. Here is the latest news:
Microsoft Says It Is Not Bound by GPLv3
Microsoft cleared the air July 5 on its obligations to GNU General Public License Version 3 support, declaring it will not provide support or updates for GPLv3 under the deal it penned in November with Novell to administer certificates for the Linux distribution.
Who didn’t see that coming? Microsoft has expressed anger and frustration whenever GPLv3 was mentioned and whilst it evolved towards completion. Some said this might even lead them to the courtroom. Their failing plan is now facing a real roadblock. Those plotting to ‘kill’ Linux (or change the way it is distributed using ‘innovation tax’) face the realisation that more projects will gradually upgrade their license and leave Microsoft’s partners well behind. Thus, Microsoft’s Linux is becoming very undesirable, even stranded.
As I very recently stated, a lot of people fell victim to ‘placements’ in the media and they now associate GPLv3 (or even GPL) with something very negative. It is important that people check who writes about the GPL and what hidden interests/affiliations are involved. As Richard Stallman put it quite recently:
“They [people who spread GPLv3 FUD] usually disagree cause they disagree with the GPL’s goal of guaranteeing freedom for every user. Defend the users’ freedom, don’t listen to them… We have to defend the users’ freedom against these threats.”
In a series of short articles (here is one on devices), Bruce Perens has been trying to bust GPLv3 myths, but this probably hasn’t reached a wide enough audience. GPLv3 sabotages Microsoft’s plans to hurt Linux. The latest developments demonstrate this very well. They are in agony.
Update: here is the full statement from Microsoft:
“Microsoft is not a party to the GPLv3 license and none of its actions are to be misinterpreted as accepting status as a contracting party of GPLv3 or assuming any legal obligations under such license.
While there have been some claims that Microsoft’s distribution of certificates for Novell support services, under our interoperability collaboration with Novell, constitutes acceptance of the GPLv3 license, we do not believe that such claims have a valid legal basis under contract, intellectual property, or any other law. In fact, we do not believe that Microsoft needs a license under GPL to carry out any aspect of its collaboration with Novell, including its distribution of support certificates, even if Novell chooses to distribute GPLv3 code in the future. Furthermore, Microsoft does not grant any implied or express patent rights under or as a result of GPLv3, and GPLv3 licensors have no authority to represent or bind Microsoft in any way.
At this point in time, in order to avoid any doubt or legal debate on this issue, Microsoft has decided that the Novell support certificates that we distribute to customers will not entitle the recipient to receive from Novell, or any other party, any subscription for support and updates relating to any code licensed under GPLv3. We will closely study the situation and decide whether to expand the scope of the certificates in the future.
As always, Microsoft remains committed to working with the open source software community to help improve interoperability for customers working in mixed source environments and deliver IP assurance. Our partnerships with Novell and other Linux platform and desktop providers remain strong and the IP bridge we built with them, embodied in our collaboration agreements, remains intact. In particular, our technical and business collaboration with Novell continues to move full steam ahead, including our joint development work on virtualization, standards-based systems management, identity interoperability and document format translators. In addition, the patent covenants offered by Microsoft and Novell to each other’s customers are unchanged, and will continue to apply in the same way they did previously.”
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Elaborating further on a recent discussion, there’s a little interesting piece in Server Watch. It is worth mentioning because it builds upon the arguments made in Groklaw.
Various theories are circulating as to why Microsoft has been so gung-ho about intellectual property enforcement lately. I have opined about it myself in other venues, basically putting forth the theory that the staff at Redmond is running a bit scared right now as they watch Linux slowly encompass the server market.
The document, submitted in The SCO Group vs. Novell trial, was a letter “that an outside attorney for Santa Cruz sent to the Department of Justice in 1996, complaining about a 1987 agreement between AT&T and Microsoft which [SCO] says it had inherited, with terms such that [SCO] found itself contractually compelled to include outdated Microsoft Xenix code forevermore in all its own Unix products and to pay royalties on the undesired and irrelevant code.”
It is not clear if the current incarnation of SCO, The SCO Group, is still entitled to pay Xenix royalties. But Microsoft still does a lot of business with The SCO Group, and if it could ever find a direct line between Xenix and Linux, it would make for a very powerful weapon to kill off Linux once and for all.
Let’s just remind ourselves that there is a financial relationship between Microsoft and SCO. Recall the recent McBride deposition where he admits trying to squeeze billions of out Linux using those bogus IP claims. Here is just a snippet:
But the SCO dream as I see it is simply this: they’d like those volunteer Linux programmers, who didn’t charge one thin dime for their wonderful code, to, in effect, support SCO for life, based on alleged, but not specified, “infringement” that no one is allowed to fix. Does it get lower than that?
This confirmed that Microsoft’s strategy has aligned with that of its close friend, SCO. To use some strong words, Novell and other companies are used as well-paid accomplices in this ethical crime.
In Europe, the software patent debate is has been reopened by the ‘new guy’. Do remember what was said the other day in a slightly different context (OOXML). Some people are appointed by certain companies in order to promote their own interests.
Incoming EPO president reopens software patent debate
New head of the European Patent Office (EPO), Alison Brimelow, has signalled her intentions early, calling a public meeting to discuss the policy vacuum left by the rejection of the Directive on Computer Implemented Inventions.
The Interview with Alison Brimelow isn’t much more encouraging. It was published very recently and one can only hope that nobody serves anyone’s agenda here. Selective quote:
The message from industry is very clear, they want a Community patent, but they don’t like what’s on the table. There are also voices which say that they are absolutely certain that EPLA is exactly what they want, and others who have real reservations. But you have to get on with what you can, whether it’s development of the European Patent Network or working more closely in the Trilateral with Japan and the US, and with the fast growing offices of China and South Korea.
Watch the movements of these companies and people. Please report if you see anything suspicious because there are certainly some ‘funny’ things coming.
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Sun Microsystems has just unleashed some key software from its pro-standards arsenal. People can now download the final version of a plug that adds OpenDocument support to Microsoft Office.
Under the name Sun ODF Plug-in for Microsoft Office, Sun has released its import/export filter for the OpenDocument format (ODF), which the ISO has recognized as a standard, for versions 2000, XP, and 2003 of Microsoft’s Office suite; the plug-in can be downloaded via our software repository.
Meanwhile, you may wish to know that Denmark is already discussing document standards. Coming from Denmark, it is a tad disappointing to see that they even consider OpenXML alongide OpenDocument. Bob Sutor gave a bunch of talks over there. We brought together some videos of his talks, in case you are curious.
Here is a fragment from an article that covers the current situation in Denmark.
Government backing for document formats is seen as significant because it could help promote wider use of the standards in the market. If governments mandate the use of ODF, it could help office suites such as OpenOffice.org, which use the standard, to compete more effectively with Microsoft’s dominant Office suite.
Simon Phipps of Sun Microsystems uses a nice little analogy to demonstrate the importance of truly open standards. Everything should be fully compatible with the products of multiple manufacturers. He uses some photos to illustrate his point with lightbulbs.
I want a choice of colours, of energy technologies, of wattages, of shapes, of reflector styles and so on. But I want them all with a common connector so that when I’m shopping I know any bulb will work. Choice that serves the customer is choice of bulb, not of connector.
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