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08.15.07

Are Real Standards Hard to Come By When Money is Involved? (Updated)

Posted in Australia, Formats, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Standard at 10:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Expensive formats backed by wealthy corporations and their affiliates

It has become amusing (if not outright annoying) to see the extent to which Microsoft is willing to bend the rules using ridiculous excuses, spin doctors, and bullies. The endless spin will surely continue, so it’s important to identify, rebut, and contradict. Here is more of the latest:

I guess a dedicated Microsoftie could spin this in a positive way (rah! rah! 100% growth in DOCX format in three months), but it is getting harder.

Microsoft has always been particularly strong in the marketing department. Sometimes, marketing became akin to propaganda. A little bit of sabotage was sometimes needed in order to sell inferior products. Some say that things have never truly changed.

After some possible misconduct in Australia, Groklaw called for Australians to get involved. Elsewhere on the Web, Bob Sutor posted a very elaborate blog post (which is a rarity) to explain the importance of the quality of standards.

What would it possibly mean for something to be a “one star standard” versus something that is a “five star standard”?

As argued many times before, Microsoft says that interoperability is facilitated by OOXML, which is merely a proprietary set wrapped in an XML ‘gown’, but it does not say much about patents. Microsoft hopes that nobody will notice that issue until it’s too late to retract. OOXML is one such bait among several others.

That brings a fair bit of focus back to Novell, which is now facing a conflict of interests. Novell sort of believes it has itself protected, having just taken Microsoft money to jeopardise other Linux distributors. These distributors used to share the same goals and ambitions (assuming that everyone will be playing by the same rules). Novell let a Trojan horse enter Linux and spread various patent-encumbered technologies around core GNU/Linux packages or inside Free software that distributions depend on. We consider this to be a serious issue.

Update: The New Zealand Open Source Society has published a submission to warn about a looming OOXML patent threat. It is one among several angles that explain why OOXML is a terrible idea.

Finland and New Zealand’s Fight Against Vendor Lockin; IBM Set to Release Lotus 8 with ODF Support on Friday

Posted in Australia, Europe, Formats, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Protocol, Servers, Standard at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML in Finland

A comment just posted in our Web site tells us that Microsoft’s ‘funny business’ OOXML train may have just reached Finland. To quote part of the comment:

I’m saddened to report that ooxml (msxml) corruption trains seems to have hit yet another country, Finland.

How many countries does it make so far? We have certainly lost count, but it’s clear that money and predatory partnerships (as opposed to technical merits) play a major role in what ought to have been a purely technical decision.

OOXML in New Zealand

The fight for open standards has just arrived at New Zealand as well. It appears to be a battle between the consumer and the corporate agenda (Microsoft money, as Peter Quinn would shrewdly put it). Here is a fragment from a new article published in New Zealand’s press:

But Christie says alarm bells are going off in many parts of the world over Open XML. He says many aspects of the format remain proprietary and because of this the process behind its development has not been robust.

He says the Open Document Format standard went through three years of public standardisation before being submitted to the International Standards Organisation, while Open XML was rushed out at “an unprecedented pace”.

The areas where interoperability breaks down are where the detail is just not there, Christie says, either because of haste or to protect proprietary methods. Add the issue of portability across platforms, he says, and OOXML fails to deliver two of the three hallmarks of a good standard.

Let’s wait and see how things turn out. Microsoft has a lot of influence in Australia, so don’t hold your breath.

ODF with IBM (and Beyond)

Wikipedia maintains a nice page about OpenDocument adoption. The most recent win was in Malaysia, so there is certainly some momentum going for ODF. In fact, this Friday IBM will release an ODF-based applications suite.

IBM is preparing to ship a new version of its Lotus Notes and Domino applications on 17 August, according to a company website that was published on Tuesday.

This product, which is proprietary software, ought to prove that not only Open/StarOffice supports ODF. There are many other programs that either support or will support ODF (e.g. KOffice, Abiword, Google Apps). This ought to prove that ODF is a truly open and free standard, which can be implemented entirely by anybody.

There are some extensions to this suite from IBM and although it is proprietary, it is also Web-based or mashup-enabled.

“Customers can also create mash-ups to feed the information into other systems,” she said, adding the REST API is also being used to integrate Connections with BlackBerry which should make its way to early adopters this month.

Microsoft’s REST was mentioned before, but not in a positive context. If you have not become familiar with it, then just be aware that it does to SOA what OOXML does to documents. It is a vendor lockin and an example of sheer arrogance (snubbing standards).

Speaking of IBM, there is this new short speculation about Novell and a suggestion for IBM to acquire Novell — something which is not the first to be suggested. But there are many speculations, some of which lack substance.

More on Jim Zemlin’s (and Novell’s) “Respect for Microsoft”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 6:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A week ago we mentioned some apologists who fail to see what Microsoft has done to its rivals over the years. They are willing to let history repeat itself. Sadly, these people also fail to tell products and companies apart.

Some more rebuttals to Zemlin’s call to “respect” Microsoft have just arrived. They are definitely worth a mention. Don Parris had this to say:

Can you believe it? Given Microsoft’s history of antagonism, It’s hard to believe anyone – let alone the Linux Foundation – would call on the FOSS community to respect Microsoft. No, if Microsoft wants respect, they should get it the ‘old-fashioned’ way – by earning it.

After Microsoft has treated our community like rogues for nearly 20 years, called us Communists, claimed the GPL was ‘unconstitutional’, hijacked our terminology and accused countless thousands of hackers and customers of violating patents without giving anyone any opportunity at all to correct these so-called violations, now the Executive Director at the Linux Foundation calls on us to respect Microsoft?

The article from ITWire is similar, but rather than repeat the arguments above, we urge you to mind the following bits of information.

There are, of course, companies like Novell which have signed pacts with Microsoft, pacts which endanger the growth of Linux in the marketplace. Is this the kind of strategy which Zemlin had in mind?

There are people like Miguel de Icaza who try to tailgate Microsoft by developing open source versions of Microsoft technologies and hoping against hope that specs will remain accessible to them. Could Zemlin have meant this kind of strategy?

[...]

Judging from the CV available on the Linux Foundation website, Zemlin, clearly, has had no touch with open source apart from various marketing roles. It is claimed that he is “widely quoted in the press on open source and commercial software trends…”

If these are the kind of quotes he generates, it would be indeed wise for him to henceforth hold his peace.

The latter part sounds like an ad hominem attack, which Jack claims Ron Hovsepian has been subjected to as well.

Today, I took another look at Ron Hovsepian’s keynote address from LinuxWorld last week, and his message of “expanding, extending, and enlarging” the Linux operating system. Was the message tainted a bit by the fact that Hovsepian is a businessman at the head of the number two commercial Linux distributor in the world? Sure it was, but there were points to be gleaned from his talk that I think the Linux community would be apt to mull over for a bit before they jump on the Microsoft hating bandwagon.

Let’s make it clear that Ron Hovsepian has Novell’s SUSE (Linux) in mind, not GNU/Linux and not Free software. Taking ‘shortcuts’ at the expense of everybody else is no route to success. It just isn’t.

The Microsoft ‘Communication Tax’ and Scalix (Updatedx2)

Posted in Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents, Scalix, Servers, Xandros at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

About a month ago, when Xandors acquired Scalix, we asked ourselves if Scalix will become ‘infected’ by Microsoft tax.

Well, it didn’t take long.

“The expansion of our agreement with Xandros is a strong example of how collaboration through intellectual property licensing can foster innovation that benefits the overall IT ecosystem,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Vice President, Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.

The press release talks about “protocol licensing”. In other words, Microsoft tries to tell us that communication with its servers is not free. Standards versus IP tax, remember?

Update: The item above is a press release, but Mary Jo Foley was quick to comment.

Update #2: Microsoft has essentially introduced another per-unit ‘Linux tax’, courtesy of Xandros.

Microsoft is also likely to take licensing revenues from Xandros. Under the typical five year ActiveSync licensing deal Microsoft charges $100,000 or the first year’s royalties – depending on which is higher – with a per unit royalty charged after that.

Interestingly, Xandros’ partnership with Microsoft is slated to last five years. Terms of this particular segment in the companies’ alliance, though, were not revealed.

Of course, with open protocols, no such nonesense is needed. Xandros, Novell, and Linspire have turned their Linux into a system of proprietary protocols, proprietary formats, binary bridges, and per-unit cost (forget about the “freedom to redistribute”). Bad news. They transform their Linuxes into some of those other operating systems that are closed (even akin to Mac OS X). What’s worse is that they pay Microsoft for each sale (of Linux) that they make. Linux buyers are financially and technically enslaved to Microsoft. The implication is a complication and a paradox.

Is Oracle a Patent FUD-Fighter to Be?

Posted in Database, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, OIN, Oracle, Patents, Red Hat at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Back in March, Shane informed us of Oracle joining the Open Invention Network (OIN). Apparently, shortly after Google had complained about patent trolls and joined OIN to defend Linux, a new conspiracy theory was born. It comes from a lesser-known Red Hat clone company (not Cent OS or Oracle’s Unbreakable). Here is how it goes.

Now with the SCO vs. Novell case coming to a close and with the continued threats spewed by Microsoft about patent violations against the Linux community after the Novell deal, I’m left wondering if it can be, that Red Hat and its partners got wind of the emerging deal between Novell and Microsoft, which after all took month to accomplish. Can it be, that Oracle scrambled to Red Hat’s help, by producing effectively the same product? Because if Microsoft would sue Red Hat, they would be suing also Oracle which distributes the very same product!? Or at least Oracle would have good reasons to defend Red Hat. Was this a warning sign to Microsoft? At least it would explain, why the database giant started its own RHEL clone…

Several months ago, Matt Asay predicted that Oracle will become a legal guardian to Linux, even if it’s all done for selfish reasons. It would not be surprising given the rising tensions between the two titans. Oracle’s view on Microsoft isn’t quite so flattering, as the following video demonstrates.

In other news, a patent system reform seems to be under way, but scale appears to suggest that it is still experimental.

Currently there are nine patent applications up on the project’s Web site. In the first two weeks of the project, the project signed up 1,000 active contributors, according to Noveck. The largest volume of discussion, however, seems to be taking place on Groklaw. Noveck welcomes other communities to get involved, talk about the applications, do research, and share information with the USPTO through Peer-to-Patent.

XenSource Acquired by Citrix (Announcement Due Tomorrow) (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, Servers, Tivoization, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 12:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yes, it’s official now.

Citrix will announce its acquisition of XenSource tomorrow, The Register has learned.

This confirms some early rumours.

There is a small surge of visitors who reach our Web site for the first time. They are looking for information about a XenSource acquisition. We erroneously mentioned Novell in this context in the past. Later we found out that Novell had quietly acquired another virtualisation company already. It addressed speculations and was following by strategic partnerships.

On Saturday we will post the usual batch of positive news and some items will demonstrate the nearness of Novell and XenSource. Thus, the impact of this acquisition on Novell will be interesting.

With Xen in the hands (and agenda) of Citrix, KVM might have more room to breathe in the Linux universe. Bernard Golden (shown in the videos at the bottom) has more to say in a quick roundup from LinuxWorld.

Crosby was also concerned about the proliferation of Linux virtualization technologies; meaning KVM, although there are still further Linux virtualization initiatives. His plaintive cry is that this fragmentation of effort might allow Microsoft to win the virtualization race; the race, that is, to be the replacement technology for VMware. While his concern is understandable, I’m not sure there’s any real way to solve it, particularly as a couple of the alternative technologies — including KVM– emanate from commercial companies that, presumably, have deep enough pockets to keep the technologies going for the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, one knowledgeable blogger criticised XenSource for taking a wrong approach in implementation. He argued that KVM got it right. And amid VMWare’s IPO, accusations are circulating as well. VMWare is said to have used Linux and renamed it.

Update: this acquisition appears to be a reason to worry. There is some early analysis available now ending with “Linux, incidentally, got barely a mention.

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