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08.02.07

GPLv2 ‘Vulnerabilties’ and Massachusetts ‘Vulnerabilties’

Posted in America, Formats, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 10:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Earlier today I spotted some ‘cheap shot’ attacks on Pamela Jone (Groklaw) and Bob Sutor (IBM). Guess who was behind it? ACT — the vile lobbying arm for Microsoft. Under the guise of independence, it attacks everything that puts Microsoft under some competitive pressure, but personal, ad hominen attacks are well beyond the line. Just more aggression for a sociopath.

After witnessing a fair bit of manipulation and — shall we say — corruption by Microsoft in the State of Massachusetts, Rob Weir rightly criticises a broken system, which is open to abuse.

We learn lessons and move on to the next battle. Just as GPLv2 required GPLv3 to patch perceived vulnerabilities, we’ll all have much work to do cleaning up after OOXML. Certainly JTC1 Directives around Fast Tracks will need to be gutted and rewritten. Also, the vague and contradictory ballot rules in JTC1, and the non-existent Ballot Resolution Meeting procedures will need to be addressed.

This was a nice analogy which involves the GPL Remember the very strong relationship between Novell, the GPL, and Microsoft’s OOXML.

So, by threatening everything and promising nothing (because would Microsoft really sue anyone for patents, knowing how many competitors in the Linux community have patents of their own?), Microsoft has skillfully managed to get open source players to endorse Open XML. A variant of the classic Badger Game if I ever heard one.

Faced with cons like this, I am beginning to realize that having something like the GPLv3 around is a very good idea. Even though the new GPL could not have prevented this scam, it may help in the future.

What does it mean when it comes to choice in Massachusetts? At risk of being repetitive, here is a new article.

Some of you may still be wondering why this is such a big deal. Aren’t ODF and Open XML both open standards? Does it really matter?

Well, yes, they are different. ODF is a real open standard. I can use it. You can use it. I could write an office program that uses it as its default format. You could do the same, and we’d both be able to read and write each other’s documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Open XML is open in name only.

I think it’s telling that Open XML documents aren’t even compatible with older versions of Microsoft’s own Office suite programs. If you want to read and write to Open XML in Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP or Office 2003, you’ll need interoperability pack download from Microsoft. Office 97 users? You’re out of luck.

There is still plenty that you can do to help ODF. The ODF Alliance has released a Voting Guide for National Bodies [PDF]. There is also an ODF Interoperability Workshop.

Do not ever touch Novell’s ‘contaminated’ version of OpenOffice.org. Reject the abuse of the legal system just as you reject and denounce Novell’s sellout.

USPTO: Eliminating Young Companies While Defending Abuse by Giants

Posted in America, Apple, Google, IBM, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patent Covenant, Patents at 10:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Demands for a patent system reform are very loud nowadays. To pick some headlines and stories from yesterday:

Google: Kill all the patent trolls

So, even a company that has begun thriving in search-related patents is getting fed up.

Google’s head of patents believes the U.S. patent system is “in crisis”.

RealNetworks Case Highlights Sea-Change In Patent Law

Once again, we see the KSR decision coming into play.

“I can tell you that as a result of the KSR decision, we are receiving new training to determine how we process patent applications,” Locker said. “Right now it’s an open question as to how it will impact us. But it very well may mean that it will be a lot tougher for people to get patents.”

Microsoft and Xen and Patent Leadership

This one comes from a consultant who denounced Microsoft’s “patent terrorism”.

A quick check of the USPTO patent database can give us a initial inexact feel for the space:

  • Patents with VMWare as the assignee (22)
  • Patents with Microsoft as the assignee (7117)
  • Patents with Microsoft as the assignee and containing “virtualization” (20)
  • Patents with Advanced Micro Devices and containing “virtualization” (4)
  • Patents with International Business Machines and containing “virtualization” (130) !!!
  • Patents with SWSoft as assignee and containing “virtualization” (2)
  • Patents with SWSoft as assignee [SWSoft makes Parallels] (6)
  • Patents with Intel as assignee and containing “virtualization” (100)

[...]

To date their competitors keep rolling positional hand grenades out into the field and the Microsoft legal team feels obliged to leap on every one of them. Mention the GPL and the Microsoft legal team runs screaming with their hair ON FIRE (to borrow a phrase from Eben Moglen’s great Ubuntu Live keynote.)

Advertising that is relevant to a person – classic case of patent trolling

Microsoft is always a step ahead when it comes to abusing the patent system.

Patent application Advertising that is relevant to a person just filed by Microsoft is a splendid example of patent abuse or patent trolling.

Is the U.S. patent system in crisis? Apple, Google patent czars disagree

As I’ve always suspected, Apple is not so different from Microsoft when it comes to habits which defend dominance.

Chip Lutton, Apple chief patent counsel, said at a conference at Stanford University that the United States patent system is not broken and he’s not sure there’s a crisis.

Time Warner and IBM Enter Patent Cross-License Agreement

IBM is no angel either, but what else would you expect from large and long-established companies?

Patent cross-licenses support one of the basic reasons for granting patents — sharing information about new inventions — and give companies greater freedom to innovate.

What freedom to innovate? Every startup is scared. This is nothing but a system that discourages competition and gives rise to an oligopoly. Just to illustrate this point, here is some older (and highly disturbing) news where a report gets ‘hijacked’ by large companies.

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.

Open Source Becomes Web 2.0 and Novell 2.0 (or SCO 3.0)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Xandros at 9:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We previously argued that Microsoft intends to do to “Open Source” with OSI what it did to “GNU/Linux” with Novell. The closer you look, the more reasonable this seems.

Novell, which describes itself as a “mixed-source” company, could learn from this debate and development where there’s greater polarisation that separates “Free software” from “Open Source”.

Beyond that, many industry watchers, including myself, wonder just how much relevancy the OSI will have in the open source community if it were to actually approve open source licenses from the Evil Empire itself. There are already signs of strengthening polarization between the free software and open source software communities; I have little doubt this could tip over to an outright flame war,

Jack Schofield from the Guardian has for a long time been suspected of serving Microsoft’s agenda in a tactfully secret fashion. This new article is no exception and it is worth reading for the value of cynicism.

Either way, if GPL v3 exacerbates the split in the free/open source world, it’s a good time for Microsoft to get cosy with the OSI side while trying to avoid Stallman’s FSF side. This may sound unlikely, because many people in the open software camp appear to define themselves by their hatred for Microsoft. But it wouldn’t be the first proprietary company to get itself accepted. IBM has already made a similar transition.

Of course, the comparison to IBM is laughable, but the idea of separation is true. Also recall this exchange of heated arguments at OSCON. The provocation began with accusation of exploitation and loss of direction in the so-called “Open Source” world, where even Web 2.0 — whatever that is — has become analogous with “Open Source” (APIs), even freedom.

Once upon a time, the term “open source” was coined to save the free-software world from itself–or, rather, from the free-software zealots, as you can read on the Open Source Initiative’s Web site.

Today, I can’t help but feel that the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, where we’re so self-satisfied with the money we’re making off open source that we have neglected the essential freedoms that make open-source profit possible.

There are some more thoughts about it in the item whose title is “Open Source is no Web 2.0″.

It is time we stop the term open source from getting hijacked. I recently wrote about how tech media doesn’t get open source. The events in the last week or so have confirmed my thesis further.

[...]

It is time for saner elements in the open source world to wake up and stop the abuse of the term open source by the tech media and companies like Microsoft. If we don’t do it now, the only other alternative is the free software movement and the business community may not be able to leverage the freedom offered by the free software then.

Finally, here is a very good assessment which explains what Microsoft tries to achieve by invading OSI.

Microsoft people love to overly complicate a simple concept, throw out a dozen definitions or more about one thing to confuse an audience, and then try to make people that believe that it is going to eat its own profits for lunch.

[...]

Does anybody out there think that Hilf is running some kind of separate agenda to Ballmer? Will Hilf’s apparent efforts to bring about some change in Microsoft’s business philosophy transcend Ballmer’s policy? Dream on.

[...]

Just as a fighter plane throws out flares left and right in order to distract heat-seeking missiles, Microsoft throws out these morsels from time to time in order to try and unsettle its competitors. And it tries to win over those it can, using the one thing of which it has plenty – money.

And that’s the only thing which Microsoft understands.

Returning to the main point of this post, recall that Novell, Xandros, and Linspire have become fairly bizarre Linux companies that mix proprietary code with open source. They truly blur the margin that exists between Free software and software that maintains lock-in and control.

With Novell’s Deal, Microsoft is Already Bound by GPLv3

Posted in Deception, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell at 9:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft insists that it has no involvement with GPLv3, but not everyone agrees. The following discussions, for example, contradict a previous analysis from a seemingly-isolated party.

According to the GPLv3 lawyers, they’re [Microsoft] “procuring the distribution of” GPL’d software, and that requires permission from the copyright holder. So Microsoft are either distributing under the permissions which the GPL grants them, or they are violating copyright.

As always, the media only covers the arguments which defend Microsoft’s side. Why is this not surprising? The following new article separates GPLv3 lies from facts.

In an email to me last month, Linus Torvalds, who has been portrayed in the media as GPLv3′s main opponent, describes the language that he and other use on the Linux kernel mailing list as “blunt, to the point, and not very polite.” When journalists quote pieces of it, he notes, often “the context of that language is then lost entirely” — and he adds that “it’s not just the text of the thread itself that is the context; the context is also how technical people discussing things amongst each other is in itself a very different context than a trade magazine article.”

Massachusetts — Bullied, Battered, and Defeated

Posted in Africa, Deception, Formats, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 4:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The outcome is now public and defeat has been heralded. Andy is disappointed and PJ is unsurprised (“Surprise, surprise. Not. So my first instinct was right after all. They didn’t care one bit what you or anyone said.“). BetaNews is just one source among several that already have a detailed report.

Late today, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced that it has formally ratified the 4.0 version of its Enterprise Technical Reference Policy. As a result, Microsoft’s Office Open XML format — recently ratified by the ECMA standards body — is now considered in equal stature with OASIS’ OpenDocument Format, for use by state employees.

Those of you have followed the developments in the world of document formats probably come across plenty of corruption. The funny OOXML game continues to this date. Massachusetts is no exception and it is probably one among the first places from which ‘funny’ stories arrived. Let’s remind ourselves of the ‘Greatest Hits’ from the State of Massachusetts.

Here we have the first state CIO talking about his departure.

Almost to a person, to anybody involved or who knows about the ODF issue, they attributed the story to Microsoft, right, wrong or otherwise. Senator Pacheco may be a bully but I do not believe he is disingenious and would stoop to such a tactic. Senator Pacheco and Secretary Galvin’s office remain very heavily influenced by the Microsoft money and its lobbyist machine, as witnessed by their playbook and words, in my opinion.

Here is his successor, who held a similar position and stance that defends the interests of the citizens, not the cashflow of a convicted monopoly abuser.

As CIO of Massachusetts from February to November last year, Louis Gutierrez had to endure most of the brunt of Microsoft Corp.’s political wrath over a state policy calling for the adoption of the Open Document Format for Office Applications, or ODF — a rival to the software vendor’s Office Open XML file format.

To Microsoft, his departure was a sweet victory. Two CIOs then had their influence inherited by a Microsoft lobbyist. Microsoft essentially took control of the state.

That person is Brian Burke, the Microsoft Regional Director for Public Affairs, and if that surprises you, it surprises me as well, given the degree of acrimonious debate and disinformation witnessed in Massachusetts over the last 15 months involving the Information Technology Division’s transition to ODF.

If you think that’s bad, check out what they did in Florida.

Microsoft’s ‘Men in Black’ kill Florida open standards legislation

It was just a bit of text advocating open data formats that was slipped into a Florida State Senate bill at the last minute with no fanfare, but within 24 hours three Microsoft-paid lobbyists, all wearing black suits, were pressuring members of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations (COGO) to remove the words they didn’t like from Senate bill 1974.

Thereafter, adoption of ODF was no longer significant.

And Microsoft itself lobbied heavily against the original open formats policy after it was announced by the ITD.

[...]

The slower-than-planned adoption of ODF in Massachusetts appears to have influenced state legislators in Texas who recently quashed a bill calling for the use of open document formats — one of five such proposals that have been defeated or shelved in the U.S. this year following strong opposition from Microsoft and its allies in the IT industry.

A campaign was born to protest against this type of abuse.

We the activists of BinaryFreedom created a coalition to link all of our issues relating to computing freedom…

It was followed by an interview.

Unfortunately, companies like Microsoft have thrown around their financial and political weight to combat our work. They defeated a measure in Florida through lobbying and the only way this abuse will stop is if we continue to fight them.

It was too little, too late, however, because Microsoft had already gained too much control over the state.

Massachusetts caused a stir among governments and the technology industry nearly two years ago when it mandated the use of “open formats” in desktop applications.

[...]

“We completely agree: ooXML looks backward, while ODF is an international ISO standard, and is forward looking. The public understands this, too, as nearly 15,000 people opposing ooXML have signed an online petition circulated by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure. We look forward to seeing the public discussion in the Commonwealth,” Sutor said in a statement.

Andy’s coverage of this has been commendable and one of his writeups, “The Sorry State of Massachusetts”, says it all.

In its anti-ODF journey, Microsoft also ‘dumped’ free software on schools. This was clearly an attempt to stifle adoption of software such as OpenOffice.org, which is not only rival software and pro-ODF software. It represented open source, freedom, and true standardisation. Microsoft also started messing about with the US Senate at one stage.

More coverage of the disturbing events can be found here. it involves lots of FUD and use of FUNDS to prevent ODF adoption, not to mention the use of “accessibility” as an excuse, the smear campaigns, and coordinated disinformation in the media.

Unfortunately for the Information Technology Division (ITD) in particular, and state government in general, the new bill would provide only a fraction of the funding that would have been provided under last year’s legislation. As proposed by Patrick, the bond would offer only $95 million, rather than the $250 million originally proposed. According to MHT, $75 million would be dedicated to planning and procurement, a further $15 million would fund a statewide system to mange performance and measure efficiency of agency databases, and $4.9 million would be given to the state attorney general’s offices for IT projects.

As a result, it the new bill will fall far short of accomplishing what had long been hoped by the ITD. This follows on the heels of damage already done, as stated by Gutierrez in his letter of resignation

[...]

What does this portend for ODF in Massachusetts, and what does it tell us about Deval Patrick’s plans for the future?

First, here’s what I don’t know: as you may recall, both Gutierrez and Microsoft lobbyist Brian Burke were appointed to a transition working group formed to advise governor-elect Patrick on IT matters.

Here is another eye sore:

E-mails show that the vendor lobbied for hardball legislation over the file format controversy — and then backed off.

Less than a week after he became CIO of Massachusetts last February, Louis Gutierrez sensed a serious threat to his power — one that was being promoted by a seemingly unlikely source. Within a matter of days, Gutierrez confirmed that Brian Burke, Microsoft Corp.’s government affairs director for the Northeast, had been backing an amendment to an economic stimulus bill that would largely strip the Massachusetts Information Technology Division of its decision-making authority.

It did not take long for OOXML to get a foothold. The deal with Novell certainly played a role.

In the meantime, the state government is committed to begin using the competing OpenDocument Format beginning January 1.

In contract to Andy’s “The Sad State of Massachusetts” we’ll always have a happier history to remember. He once published “The Happy State of [ODF implementation in] Massachusetts”.

Q: Is ODF adoption proceeding on schedule in Massachusetts?

A: Yes. I spoke with someone in the Information Technology Division (ITD) late last week, and was assured that the adoption plan described in the Mid-Year Statement Regarding ODF Implementation issued on August 23, 2006 remains on course and on schedule.

Q: What will happen next?

A: As originally planned, early adopter agencies will begin using converter technology to save documents in ODF format beginning in next month, meeting the goal of beginning the rollout of ODF by January 1, 2007.

There is also “Massachusetts accepts ODF, rejects MOOX”.

Massachusetts was once actually called the State of Open Source. At the time, however, it was managed by different people.

Massachusetts’ plan for adoption of open standards has been in place since 2003, according to Tim Vaverchack, manager of shared services for Massachusetts’ information technology division. “Our main focus is to bring in as many open source products as we can and also [to promote] an open source mindset.”

Massachusetts’ embrace of open technology, open standards and open source Latest News about open source software was simply routine strategic planning, the way Tim Vaverchack tells it. However, the state’s stance to strongly consider alternatives to proprietary solutions — such as the Open Document Format — has fueled one of the biggest technology firestorms in government IT history.

Massachusetts, we know what happened. It was written. And it will be remembered.

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