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08.03.07

Microsoft’s ODF Sabotage is a Case of History Repeating Itself

Posted in Antitrust, Formats, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 11:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Oops! Did we break your software? Sorry, we win.

Buried in our stories archive, which now contains nearly 1000 posts, are some antitrust exhibits. Consider this one about Novell. It is a classic example. There are many more and the best way to find them is probably by following cross references.

As I said just hours ago, it would be rather easy fishing for further evidence that Microsoft breaks rival products and/or components. With at least 3000 exhibits at hand, it is only matter of patience. The latest victim of this illegal tactic appears to be the ODF plugin for Microsoft Office. How convenient! Especially now that OOXML fails to gain traction (last updated a couple of days ago).

Let’s look closely at some documents and find out how Microsoft operates behind the scenes. I chose the classic “Ain’t Done Until DR-DOS Won’t Run” scenario as an example (a case study if you like). Many thanks to ‘Doug Mentohl’ for the text (plenty of manual work, no OCR).

Watch what Steve Ballmer gets told about [PDF] and what we deal with here: a fake DR-DOS error message.

To: davidcol
Subject: RE: message
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 92 08:51:10 PST

what the guy is supposed to do is feel uncomfortable, and when he has bugs, suspect that the problem is dr-dos and then go out and buy ms-dos, or decide not to take the risk for the other machines he has to buy for in the office.

..

From bradsi; Mon Feb 10 10:50:05 1992
To: steveb
Subject: Re: the message
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 92 10:50:05 PST

i am saying that we should either:

b) put a kind gentle message in setup. like an incompatible tsr message, but not everytime the user starts windows.

..

the most sensible thing from a development standpoint is to continue to build dependencies on msdos into windows.

Okay, okay… another one.

Here is where Microsoft starts using FUD tactics against its rival [PDF]. A Microsoft employee suggests “plant[ing] the bug of FUD in their [customers] ears”. Sounds like ol’ skool “Get the Facts” campaign, doesn’t it?

From w-carrin Mon Oct 15 12:18:05 1990
To: bradsi
Subject: Getting the word out about DR DOS
Cc: kathrynh; russw
Date: Mon Oct 15 12:09:08 1990

Concerns have been raised that DR-DOS incompatibilities and flaws are being overlooked by reviewers.

..

We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”

“That security feature is a neat idea and, gosh, such a feature would be great, but it’s just too easily circumvented”

“Gee, it’s unfortunate that DR DOS can’t be loaded high all the time. MS-DOS 5.0 can” We’ll do this very tactfully.

..

The security features may lead someone to a false sense of security and someone may break into their payroll.

..

* If Digital Research can to Microsoft for help in making DR DOS work with Windows, would Microsoft help them? Maybe not?

Such tactics were apparently effective. Watch an E-mail that explains why Amstrad dropped DR-DOS [PDF.

Friday, Septembeer 22, 1989
Mr. Leonard Liu
President
Acer Incorporated

I’m sure Alan Sugar would not mind me tellling you about his decision for Amstrad. He decided to stay with MS-DOS (they use the disk version). In 1985 when he first came out with his low end 512k machines, he shipped both DRI’s then current product and MS-DOS: his market research showed that virtually all users chose to use the Microsoft product, rathe then risk the compatibility questions thet DRI’s operating system products raise. His more recent machines dropped the
DRI products entirely .. It only takes a couple of reports about non-compatibility to give the kiss of death to a PC: we’ve seen that on the hardware side as well as in the operating system area.

The mixture of technical sabotage and FUD had impact elsewhere [PDF].

From: tonyka Thu Sep 19 18:44:04 1991
To: tomle
Cc: brentk; dosdev; jefflo; vangard
Subject: DR-DOS 6.0 Testing (9/19)

DR DOS beats us on a 386 system by 12,560 bytes conventional; their EMM386 is a combined XMS provider and expanded memory manager. I don’t understand why MS DOS only gives 95kb UMB; maybe I need to include some region on emm386 line.

..

1) Please include All bugs in DR-DOS that are not in MS-DOS from Intel TESTMEM test suite Boundary test:
Allocating more (expanded memory) pages than available in system
EMM did not return the expected results (returned 12 instead of 9A).

DTK 386 cold boot/hang problem:
After installing DR 6 on this machine, cold boot always results in a “Cannot load file”. Press a key to retry.” When press a key, the machine will boot fine. Warm boot always work without this problem.

Also there’s intermittent hang after exiting EDITOR. It hung on me twice today. Haven’t seen these problems happen on another machine.

Warm boot with HIDOS.SYS installed
gives “Warning: Address line A20 already enabled.”

..

2) Anything you did not like about DR-DOS

DR DOS reports version as 3.31; no lie table and programs won’t run.

Their EDITOR looks antique (compared to ours); haven’t used WORDSTAR for ages.

..

3) Anything you like about DR-DOS that we should add to future MS-DOS versions

DR MEM program output looks sharp: layout is clearer and offers more info than ours.

DOSBOOK online help looks pretty fancy and helpful.

DR SETUP lets user tune system after installation. This concept is good but their implementation is not useful enough.

..

Privileged Material Redacted

Then came this [PDF].

From brade Fri Sep 20 17:31:57 1991
To: bradsi
Cc: bradc; braddir; dosmktg; lizsi; w-carrin; w-maria
Subject: PC Week and DR DOS
Date: Fri Sep 20 17:32:48 PDT 1991

Carrine’s great work got us the oppurtunity to feed pc week some info on where to look for bugs with dr dos. I have had a couple of conversations with lenny bailes who is helping with the ms-dos 5 versus dr-dos 5 evaluation process.

Today tom and i talked to him. on the negative side i probably brought up one two many things for him to look at. it is difficult to appropriately and professionally try and trash your competitor. also on the negative side, lenny clearly seems to be a dr dos fan. to be fair i think he is sincere and is trying to be balanced.

also on the negative side he did tells us that under 1 meg dr dos 6 was better than ms-dos 5 on 7 out of 10 machines they tested. no real details but i think the differences will be small.

on the positive side they did themselves find some of the setup problems (such as poor updating to config.sys) and he has passed on tp the pc weeks labs some of these configurations we suggested they look at that we uncovered with dr dos 5. he was also intrigued by some of the data from yesterday’s dr-dos 6 test, in particular tom’s problems when he entered a ton of nested directory names.

In the following brow-raising E-mail, Jim Allchin jokes about making sure DR-DOS will have problems in the future [PDF]. Strange sense of humour.

From bradsi Fri Sep 91 10:01:22 PDT
To bradc; jimail; johnlu; mikemur; paulma; russs; steveb; tonya
Cc: mackm
Subject: dri/novell/ibm

.. drdos has problems running windows today.
And I assume will have more problems in the futire.

..

To: bradsi
Subject: RE: dri/novell/ibm
Date Fri Sep 27 18:26:52 PDT 1991

You should make sure it has problems in the future :)

jim

..

From bradc Fri Sep 27 18:35:22 1991
To: bradsi
Cc: bradc; richab; richf; loaya
Subject: FW: FYI – Windows message
Date Fri Sep 27 18:36:31 PDT 1991

..

I asked to have this forwarded to me.

Two cents from richf and I;

1) The check for dr dos better be perfect, otherwize you could be in a heep of trouble ..

..

4) The PC-DOS statement is problematic if ibm calls dr dos pc dos 6 so we think that we have to not state ms-dos or pc-dos directly

..

we can get the message out that they don’t work with windows without seeming so manipulative. We need to say the right thing so that people get the right message – we are helping users by giving them info that windows is only tsted on ms-dos.

I truly hope hope that you can see the resemblance to anti-ODF tactics here (namely FUD and technical sabotage). There is more to come and I’ll post this as Part II. I will then also concentrate on use of ‘politics’ because we continue to see plenty of that in the document formats debate. Microsoft cannot defend the technical merits of OOXML (none exists), so it strikes deals with Linux companies, sets the decks (committees), and threatens (or at least overwhelms) CIOs.

Do-No-Evil Saturday: OpenSUSE, SUSE, SLED, SLES and Sales

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, Identity Management, Marketing, Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 9:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpensuseA lot has been happening in the world of OpenSUSE in the past week. For starters, OpenSUSE had its homepage redone. Something mischievous appeared there as well. Watch this screenshot.

Additionally, the seventh alpha was released and Benji’s “One-Click-Install” got supported by openSUSE’s Build Service.

The openSUSE Build Service generates .ymp files from now on, which can be used with Benjamin Weber’s One Click Install YaST Module.

A new mailing list was born some time in the middle of of the week.

Good morning everyone,

I’m happy to announce the creation of a new mailing list:
opensuse-kernel.

This list is dedicated to the discussion of the openSUSE kernel
development (Factory et al) and the kernels in the buildservice.

Packaging or openSUSE-specific patches (though hopefully rare and
growing more so) are on-topic; general Linux kernel development is best
served by the existing public lists (LKML et al).

Regards,
Lars

Novell has begun running some more GNU/Linux promotion sites, but Matt Aslett thought it just made Linux look weird. He was pointing out that Nat just sways and moves too much in one of the promotional video (Flash). I can’t say that I agree. Anyway…

Novell has launched two new Web sites this week to provide more info to customers on … you guessed it, enterprise Linux.

A popular story from Canada spoke a migration from Windows to SUSE Linux desktops.

He didn’t have a preference when it came to Linux distributions so he tested a number of them. The SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop (SLED) stood out for Giroux. It came with the GNOME desktop, which he regards as faster than most, Firefox, which is the company’s preferred browser, and the Citrix client built-in.

In other news, Novell announces a key date.

Novell, Inc. will issue a press release providing an overview of financial results for its third fiscal quarter of 2007 on Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 4pm ET.

The company’s senior employee, Markus Rex, spoke to ECT.

[Markus Rex:] Linux is huge, and there are new things coming up that you have to figure out what to do, whether it’s concerning the standard or if it’s a good thing for Linux moving forward. Somehow I have the feeling I will not be bored.

There was even some coverage from Novell in Russia.

After a long period of silence the Moscow office of Novell held a press conference, in course of which some results of the company’s activities in Russia and CIS were announced and some elements of its new development strategy were presented.

Concurrent made a fair bit of ‘noise’ and it boastsed it use of SUSE.

New NightStar Release Now Supports SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 from Novell

Novell unleashed a press release as well.

Novell today announced a new solution to help organizations enforce security policies at the most vulnerable location on the network, the endpoint. Novell® ZENworks® Endpoint Security Management complements the existing Novell ZENworks product line by extending policy-based management to device security.

Some Things Never Change — Technical Sabotage at Microsoft

Posted in Interoperability, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Xandros at 8:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When an animal gets cornered, it becomes afraid. That’s when it becomes irrationally aggressive. Microsoft has truly become an animal recently and it shows.

Even journalists have begun doubting and criticising Microsoft’s dirty tactics. And rightly so. Here are the latest developments:

Bob talks about stories of corruption.

Every once is a while I get an anonymous comment or a tip about something that happened in “closed” standards meetings. This is especially true lately where the various national bodies are deliberating whether they should support Microsoft’s OOXML product specification for Microsoft Office.

[...]

Slanted, inappropriate, and biased behavior (in any way in any direction and for anyone) is not allowable, in my mind, when deciding this and other important standards issues. I repeat: All this information must be made public and those running the processes must be accountable to each other, their fellow citizens, and the various standards organizations and committees in which they participate.

You have hopefully followed many stories on this subject before. We covered several of them. Sam has another shocking piece of information to share. Microsoft resorts to breaking the ODF plugins.

Sun is having trouble because Microsoft is breaking interoperability deliberately through hi-jinks with the Dynamic-Link Libraries (“dll”) in Windows.

I guess that without OpenOffice.org (or another ODF-friendly suite), our colleagues will no longer be able to read OpenDocument-formatted files. Thank you, Microsoft. You never fail to surprise and I truly hope that the ODF Alliance/TC will take you to court. Knowing how it works, a settlement is more likely than time in prison. This is a recurring pattern and in days to come I might also attempt to show this by digging some old antitrust exhibits. In the following, mind the part about technical sabotage.

Conlin used a variety of computer-generated illustrations, including one that showed 15 icons, each representing what she said was an illegal action taken by Microsoft in pursuit of its bid to become and remain a monopoly. The icons had titles like “exclusionary contract,” “technical sabotage,” “buying out the competition,” “espionage,” and “deception and misinformation.”

I have seen many examples (exhibits) where companies, including Novell, had their products broken by Microsoft. It is deliberate. Microsoft did the same in order to gain control over the Web.

Another part worth discussing is “buying out the competition”. Although Microsoft did not buy Novell, Xandros and Linspire per se, it took control of them and forced them to make some certain decisions, including the support of OOXML.

On the brighter side of things, New York seems to be reassessing its choices. It will study document formats more closely.

The OpenDocument Format Alliance (ODF Alliance) has hailed New York for becoming the second state, along with Minnesota, to enact legislation requiring study of electronic document formats.

Sock Puppets to Vote on Monopoly Enablement in Colombia?

Posted in Formats, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Xandros at 12:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Only days ago we thought we had found this in Denmark, having encountered such madness in many other parts of the world. This is absolutely astounding. Watch this list. Microsoft sets the deck of cards and ensures that (at least) 9 of out 14 chairs in the technical committee are also in its pocket.

Are standards really being earned? How about buying them, essentially by using money to be accredited with proxies?

There are worse sins around, but this amounts to nothing but a broken system or corruption. In Portugal, a giant such as IBM was denied attendance.

In case you wonder how or why this is relevant to this Web site, Microsoft also bought endorsement from Linspire, Xandros, and Novell (if not more companies). It uses money to eliminate (or at least suppress) opposition. This is unacceptable. It’s a good thing that people spot such manipulation, never letting it escape ‘beneath the radar’.

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