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08.07.07

Using OSI Endorsement and Linux Deals to Promote Lock-ins

Posted in Asia, ECMA, Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, GPL, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’re Novell and OSI pals, so how can’t we be ‘open’?”

Outside the United States, which Microsoft virtually owns, OOXML has a hard time finding acceptance. In spite of all the deception, including dishonest and incomplete press releases, technical panelists are able to interpret the reality. OOXML receives mockery. Here is the latest from China:

We are calling on the government to veto the OOXML format at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).” The OOXML format is a file specification released by Microsoft in December last year for its Microsoft Office 2007 suite. It is currently in a fast track standardization process with the ISO and will be subject to voting next month. Unlike the current ISO digital document standard ODF (Open Document Format) and China’s national standard UDF (Unified Office Document Format), Microsoft’s OOXML format can only be run on a Windows platform.

It is also criticized for containing many proprietary technologies that can only be fully supported by Microsoft’s Office products.

Knowing how much control Microsoft has in China, heavy lobbying there is only a matter of time. We should keep our eyes open (and Bob might receive some anonymous comments). With so much resistance across the world, Microsoft resorts to changing the theme of the story and painting it all with the brush of “Open Source”.

Sam has explained — essentially by citing yet another OSI/Microsoft analysis — how Microsoft’s involvement in Linux companies and the Open Source community can be used as an illusion that Microsoft has itself become a big fan of openness, transparency, collaboration, and standards. But an illusion is just an illusion. You can put lipstick on a pig, wrap it up with a red dress and then take it out for dinner, but the pig is still a pig, not a girlfriend. Microsoft’s attempt to embrace ‘the other side’ is a destructive and self-serving one. By embracing those who sidle with openness they hope to destroy truly open rivals and promote their lock-ins instead. Watch Silverlight. Behold GNOME/Mono (.NET) entanglements, not just in Novell’s Linux. It will get only worse. In Sam’s own words:

Getting Microsoft software licenses OSI-approved and similarly getting Microsoft’s proprietary document formats approved at ISO are like painting an old Chevrolet.

[...]

This may be enough to satisfy the enterprise customer that he is achieving something different. Clearly, the substance is no different: it’s a lock-in in sheep’s clothing.

There is more on this serious issue over at Libervis. Microsoft bends the definition and value of “open source” and knowingly forgets all about cross-platform, freedom, and real standards, as opposed loose and expensive “interoperability” or even broken “translators”.

Of course, they are not [Shared Source licenses not open]. Other Shared Source licenses may very well be too restrictive to be considered Open Source. But, Microsoft may conveniently divert the attention from this little detail to the fact that *some* of Shared Source licenses are Open Source.

Remember that the whole thing is a shrewd publicity stunt. It is a shame that OSI board members such as Matt Asay are too blind to see this, let alone react responsibly.

Matt Asay has just blogged and responded to Groklaw’s criticisms. It is understandable that OSI must operate without discrimination (not even when Microsoft is involved). However, as we already know, Microsoft is good at exploiting loopholes and weaknesses in systems which assume that everyone is a gentleman, not an aggressive sociopath.

Microsoft abuses weak systems and it has it has no shame or guilt when doing so. It did this to the GPLv2 when it signed a deal with Novell. It also did this in ECMA, whose system appears to be broken by design (money and egocentric ambitions are its motor).

As Bob reminded us a couple of days ago (and Rob said last week, the context being Massachusetts), a reform is needed to prevent further and future abuse in the ISO.

What I predict we will see will be widespread re-evaluation of national standards body membership and voting rules. I think we’ll witness a normalization of procedures and all have a better idea of the point of those procedures. That is, we want the creation of high quality standards and not just more standards. Quality is more important than quantity.

In other news from the same blog, there is a great new opportunity for ODF. So let’s finish this item on a brighter note.

Wow, consider that, ODF possibly continuing to evolve to handle new project management requirements. Any estimates from readers as to when we’ll have an XML spec for project management from Microsoft show up on ECMA’s doorstep for standardization? Or, how about everyone just works together starting RIGHT NOW to extend ODF to handle this functionality?

Those who do it first cannot necessarily capitalise on de facto ‘standards’, but it is worth a shot.

Microsoft’s Case Against Linux Takes a Dive, Novell Rearms, Patent Trolls Leave the Bridge

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Oracle, Patents at 9:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It probably need not be said or mentioned, but just in case you have not heard about it yet, Google joined hands with OIN. IBM and Oracle are among the giants who were already there.

This is a huge blow to Microsoft’s attempt to subvert Linux development and/or hurt adoption of Linux through extortion, threats, and repeated baseless accusations.

Upon Google’s move, the company did not neglect to give big a thumbs-up to GNU/Linux. Herein there’s a risk. Google is possibly alienating its anti-FLOSS crowd in the process. Google reminded everyone that every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.

You’ll often hear members of our open source team say, “Every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.” It’s absolutely true. Check a Google engineer’s workstation, and you’ll probably find it’s running Linux.

Thank you, Google, for a free public relations plug.

In other news, Microsoft’s now-weaker-than-ever patent claims are called “a cheap shot”. There is also the obligatory comparison to SCO, whose bad image Microsoft is now inheriting.

Microsoft is yet to display any evidence of these infringements. CEO Steve Ballmer has made a lot of noise in the press about their claimed existence, but has not backed this up by with any specifics. It’s merely Microsoft’s latest strategy against Linux and it seems doubtful that these fallacious claims would enjoy much success in a courtroom.

It’s been done before. SCO launched a similar attack on Linux and failed – miserably. Microsoft’s claims on the Linux code base, at this stage, seem every bit as farcical as SCO’s, if not more so. It basically amounts to a cheap shot.

One thing remains a mystery. Why has Novell just hired a patent lawyer? It has already stated that it does not believe Linux infringes on any patents. Then again, the weakness of the system has not stopped patent trolls from taking preemptive strikes. In the past couple of days alone we find that notable lawsuits were filed which address both hardware and software.

The first case involves Sharp and Samsung.

Sharp said it filed the suit in the Court for the Eastern District of Texas and was seeking compensation and the prohibition of sales of products infringing five of its LCD patents including one that relates to technology used to enhance display quality.

The second case is a much more amusing one. It reminded me of Xerox and Palm, whose tiff forced many users to adopt new graffiti stroke patterns. Luckily, I was able to avoid it by sticking with older models of Palm handhelds.

SP Technologies filed a claim alleging that Apple has infringed on a patent it was granted in 2004 for a “method and medium for computer readable keyboard display incapable of user termination”.

[...]

SP Technologies is seeking “reasonable royalties” from Apple, which online rumours have speculated could see compensation paid for each iPhone already sold.

Can you see how trivial this patent is? How about prior art? It is also funny how the troll waited until the phone got widely distributed. How typical.

A patent troll that sued Sony very recently did the very same thing. It was waiting until Playststation 3s became more widespread. It then demanded the destruction of them all. Microsoft and the MP3 format make a nice example too. Yesterday we mentioned the decision, which was overturned. Last night Alcatel-Lucent said it would appeal, so the story is not over.

Trolls abound + weak cases = total waste of time

Where is that reform that everyone (including Microsoft) craves for?

GPLv3 Adoption Tsunami on the Way? Projects on Hold, But Foresee Licence Upgrade

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE at 9:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An observation that we made several times before is finally stated (or echoed) in the press. Acceptance of the new GNU GPL licence is by no means slow. Its pace of adoption is limited by the frequency of releases. This should be very obvious, but those that antagonise the new license are adding a spin to make it seem as though GPLv3 is not welcomed.

Bui-Friday believes that many companies will move to the new licence but only at a timely juncture. “It’s very rare that a software project will go through the trouble and expense of cutting a new version just for a new licence. Typically, what we’ve heard is that the next version they cut they will go [with GPL3],” she said.

Palamida had over 5,000 projects listed for upgrade intent. Think of it as the lower bound on the number of projects that will eventually be GPLv3-licensed.

GPLv3 is here to stay, to thrive, and for everyone to accept (yes, you too, Microsoft… and even OpenSUSE).

Related articles:

Microsoft Resorted to So-called ‘Patent Terrorism’ Back in 2004

Posted in Asia, FUD, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents, Steve Ballmer at 12:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“It’s deja vu all over again”

Perhaps this is very obvious and already known to some, but a friend has passed me some links which indicate that anti-Linux patent terrorism goes back to 2004 when Microsoft made unsubstantiated claims.

Use Linux and you will be sued, Ballmer tells governments
Lawsuit doom over 228 ‘stolen’ patents predicted

By John Lettice → More by this author
Published Thursday 18th November 2004 10:34 GMT

Asian governments using Linux will be sued for IP violations, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said today in Singapore. He did not specify that Microsoft would be the company doing the suing, but it’s difficult to read the claim as anything other than a declaration of IP war.

According to a Reuters report (which we fervently hope will produce one of Ballmer’s fascinating ‘I was misquoted’ rebuttals*), Ballmer told Microsoft’s Asian Government Leaders Forum that Linux violates more than 228 patents. Come on Steve, don’t hold back – what you mean ‘more than 228′ – 229? 230? Don’t pull your punches to soften the blow to the community. “Some day,” he continued, “for all countries that are entering the WTO [World Trade Organization], somebody will come and look for money owing to the rights for that intellectual property.”

Mary Jo Foley talked about it as well. Rattling sabres while patent trolling is unacceptable behaviour. Meanwhile, the US government appears to defend such behaviour. From yesterday’s news:

Bush lets Qualcomm ban stand”

[...]

Qualcomm will appeal a ban on imports of mobile devices that use some of its chips, the company said Monday after the Bush administration declined to reverse the ban.

The U.S. International Trade Commission imposed the ban in response to patent-infringement claims by Broadcom, a rival communications chipmaker.

Microsoft has managed to escape the wrath of patent trolls. News that has just come in indicates that Microsoft won’t get stung.

U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster said in a 43-page order that the jury’s damages could not stand because Microsoft had not violated one of the two patents related to MP3 music files at the heart of the case.

Other stories of interest:

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