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Analogy: Microsoft Announces Patent Deals with 3 Sock Puppets That Sell GNU/Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Humour, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, Patents, Xandros at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Have a look at this hilarious Xandros comic.

Seen it?

Seriously, please do. It’s funny, we assure you, and it perfectly puts the whole situation in perspective. You can easily replace the role of Xandros with Novell or Linspire in this case.

The scary things is that quite recently, Xandros may have spread its ‘patent infection’ onto other companies and products. Was a Bill Gates sock puppet (as pictured in the cartoon) responsible for this?

Surely, Xandros, Linspire and Novell should be treated as marionettes from now on, for they do not make their decisions alone. They have other considerations and funding sources. As we stressed several times before, these companies did not pay Microsoft for so-called ‘protection’. They were actually paid. Is it not absurd? That speaks volumes. Xandros and Linspire apparently received $20 million each, which is a lot of money for these small companies.

Why is Microsoft so desperate to prove validity of unspecified patent claims? Perhaps it is because the patent office is in a state of disarray. Even the Congress acknowledges this and at the end of last week it began getting its act together (unless it’s already too late). From yesterday’s Associated Press article:

Now Congress is trying to cut down on poor-quality or downright ridiculous patents, and at the same time adapt the patent system to a high-tech era in which computers and other electronic devices may contain thousands of patentable parts.


There’s a backlog of 750,000 patent applications at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is recovering from years of underfunding and hopes to nearly double the number of patent examiners on staff, currently about 5,300.

Patent FUD aside, remember that Microsoft not only paid to intensity levels of perceived threat; it also paid these companies to disarm and stop competing (antitrust alert). In fact, at the same time, those companies assist the fight against truly open standards, such as OpenDocument format. It is a win-win-win situation for Microsoft. No Linux distributors should be foolish enough to follow suit. Ever.

SIte News/Off-topic Remark: If you dislike weekend posts, please let us know. The assumption here is that FUD does not take weekend breaks, so neither can we. It seems necessary to keep our eyes open and spot (even interpret) threats as soon as possible. Sharing and transparency help. The number of minds that keep track of the Web site increases every week.

Eben Moglen on the Need to Honour Free Software (Plus Video)

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Novell, Videos at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At times when we speak about the exploitation (sometimes even restriction) of Free software, not only is the GNU GPLv3 needed. There is also the need to urge people to honour and contribute back Free software. A couple of days ago, O’Reilly’s folks at OSCON got blasted for losing focus.

That very speech served as O’Reilly’s attempt to make up for his evisceration as the hands of Free Software Foundation attorney Eben Moglen. One day earlier, Moglen charged O’Reilly with wasting too much time on hem lines, haircuts and the latest fluffy Web 2.0 start-up that looks like it might be acquired for a ridiculous amount of cash. O’Reilly had no counter on the actual day of Moglen’s attack, but thought about the issues overnight.

Surely, in this context, Novell deserves a warning or two as well. Its executives became selfish and arrogant. They ignored and betrayed the spirit of Free software, practically choosing to go against it and then exploit this betrayal, using it as a competitive advantage. Shane mentioned this yesterday.

Only a month or so ago, Professor Moglen had some criticisms addressed and directed at Google. He said that they need to give back more. A few days ago, the following video was uploaded to Google. The video’s availability is new, but the talk itself is about 4 months old. Many topics are covered in this talk, with particular emphasis on large-scale computing and Free software in an age of connected services.

Apologies in advance to all those who loathe Adobe Flash.

Microsoft DRM Lock-in and OOXML Lock-in in Britain

Posted in Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard at 6:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

At risk of touching an off-topic story, we will briefly mention another form of Microsoft lock-in that requires industry deals and partnerships. This post focuses on the United Kingdom.

As you may or may not know, National Archives, the British Library, and the BBC are all victims (if not promoters) of OOXML and the nasty stack of so-called ‘standards’ which accompany OOXML (the XML du jour). Each of these standards has patents as an umbilical cord, which is enough to guarantee and secure cashflow, even from rivals.

Silverlight (.NET) on the BBC Web site is something which is being considered at the moment. It is a case of taxpayers paying the BBC, which then hands over that money for Microsoft to establish more lock-in with and discriminate against rival software (Web browsers, platforms, Web services, and beyond). Needless to say, this is unacceptable. The UK seems to have become a fertile ground for lock-in and it is truly worrisome. Gordon Brown, much like Ashley Highfield, truly seem to be deep in Microsoft’s pocket (or simply careless and ignorant).

A couple of days ago, the MSBBC’s iPlayer was released to the public. The initial reviews were very negative. Even those who were actually able to review the player said that much was left to be desired. The quality of the software aside, it is restricted to work only if you have Windows XP SP2 and Internet Explorer with the latest Media Player from Microsoft. So much choice, eh? This piece of shitoftware has been in the works for a long, long time, but given Microsoft’s history of delivering very little, very slowly, and at well above budget (think about Windows Vista), this is hardly surprising.

The iPlayer is controversial for two main reasons. In our actions against the BBC, ORG are focusing on the DRM aspects. The Open Source Consortium is focusing on cross-platform and anti-trust aspects.

The FSF are going to join these actions as well. This will happen fairly soon. Peter Brown is coming to the UK from the 7th to the 15th of August and bringing the ‘Defective by design’ campaign with him. A protest will be organised (probably 14th or 15th) at the BBC Television Center. When this goes public, we should do our very best to give it wide visibility, and to get as many people to come along as possible.

Now that the iPlayer concern has been set aside (and I duly apologise if it was off topic), here is where Novell’s involvement becomes more pronounced. Novell has been behind the key push whereby Microsoft strives to achieve stronger vendor lock-in. It does this in order to save its franchise. With Silverlight and OOXML, for instance, the two companies — now assisted by Xandros, Turbolinux and Linspire as well — help Microsoft dominate the Web and the office. Based on what is happening in Britain, one could argue that another story of political manipulation has already emerged. Have a look:

By trying to slam through a 6000-page specification on a “fast track” measured in weeks, that opponent appears to seek to turn a technical debate to a political one.

Watch the PDF cited in this short post from Lars. It won’t be long before we hear stories about manipulation (maybe even corporate bullying) in Britain. Stories from Australia will probably precede these.

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