Was GNOME eying the Microsoft API back in 1997?
I sometimes think that certain people are either paid directly or ‘compensated’ (indirect payment) by Microsoft for sidling with a malicious and monopolistic agenda. Two individual examples would be the ZDNet bloggers George Ou and Ed Bought [by Microsoft]. Sometimes, however, a long-term strategy requires exploration.
Despite all of Miguel de Icaza’s enormous contributions to the Linux desktop, we must never forget where he comes from and who he still interacts with. Despite Microsoft long history of abuses, de Icaza defends them rigorously. He even defends OOXML. His vocal take on this matter has being used to fuel arguments made in favour of OOXML. Since he is expected to be on the ‘other side of the fence’, his arguments are perceived as more credible than these which come from Microsoft employees and partners. The same goes for OOXML support by Apple and Linux companies that liaised with Microsoft (for money, of course).
Novell’s direction with Linux seems worrisome. It does not align with the vision of a free operating system that builds upon open standards. Control of its direction is not decentralised, either.
Yesterday, Linux.com published an article that contained another ‘red flag’ statement from de Icaza.
Though de Icaza is no longer directly involved with GNOME development, he says his work on Mono, and that of the rest of his team at Novell, “pretty much revolves around the goals from 10 years ago.” He says he keeps in touch with GNOME developers, but “mostly with those who are using the APIs and tools that we are creating, like the Banshee Media Music Player, the F-Spot manager, and the Bater collaboration tool.”
Can you see this? Building a desktop that revolves around the Microsoft API was a goal since inception (unless we read this incorrectly). Follow at the link and read about his background again. It was exactly 10 years ago that Miguel traveled to Microsoft and attended a job interview. This statement from Linux.com seems like news, which might confirm what some used to call “conspiracy” or “hidden agenda”.
If you do not know why this is dangerous, have a look at our previous writings (GNOME is gradually becoming .NET-dependent) . What is the thinking here? According to a Gartner analyst, a lot of SUSE developers left because of the Microsoft/Novell deal. Some months ago, Novell said that it was hiring many Mono (.NET) developers. It sometimes seems like de Icaza and Microsoft have taken control of SUSE’s direction. The company transforms into something else. We’re concerned that we’re seeing a patent-encumbered clone in the making.
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“The System is Broken, But We Love It That Way”
“When will the linked list (or a trivial extension thereof) lawsuits begin?”
Many companies, including Novell and Microsoft, have publicly spoken about problems with the patent system. You would think that change ought to soon follow, but behind that sympathetic public relations mask, all you have is greed. Companies do not truly want change, provided they have got themselves a portfolio to boast and extract money with. Here is a new article from the Wall Street Journal.
Opponents of the legislation argue that it would make it easier for foreign competitors to legally copy patented methods and products. The maneuvering dramatizes how fears about global integration are spreading across many issues
Small companies are aware of the dangers that they face. They have barriers to face — barriers that were built by much larger companies. At the same time, wealthy large companies are being victimised by small patent trolls with very trivial inventions that most probably have prior art.
In the case of Linux and Free software, the former scenario (abuse by giants) is in effect a deterrent, but it is made worse by the fact that obscurity is used to incite panic. Microsoft has been doing this for years.
Patent Trolls Abound
You would be flabbergasted to find some of the stuff that gets patented and actually used to pull money out of companies’ pockets. Nowadays, do not dare to automate mail delivery, or else you might be sued for stepping on someone else’s toes.
Crouch pointed out that the message routing patent at issue has been involved in litigation many times. “There are no published opinions associated with these cases and they have all been settled,” he said.
There are many other examples, but this one was in the news. When will the linked list (or a trivial extension thereof) lawsuits begin? Will every software company on the planet be sued? Will such patents ever be binned? The European Commission is already addressing one case of abuse.
This is the first time that the Commission is dealing with a “patent ambush” under EC antitrust law, but the approach reflects well-established general case-law under Article 82 of the Treaty.
Aruba, which we mentioned the other day, has just been stung as well.
Mobile-phone maker Motorola said on Tuesday that two of its subsidiaries had sued Aruba Networks for patent infringement related to wireless local-area network technologies.
Microsoft in “Patent Harassment” Land
It was hardly surprising to find that Broadcom, renowned for their vicious behaviour and abysmal Linux support, have strong ties with Microsoft. Broadcom’s products are very Linux-hostile and they recently attacked Qualcomm, leading to an embargo. From BusinessWeek:
The chipmaker is snaring Qualcomm customers before the patent infringement ruling is final, as wireless players scramble amid supply worries
“Several [manufacturers] have been pushing Broadcom and Microsoft to build this development center,” says John Starkweather, general manager of mobile communications at Microsoft. He adds that, later this year, a major manufacturer will release a Windows Mobile device based on a Broadcom baseband chip.
There was some more information of interest in yesterday’s CNN Money article on a Microsoft entrepreneur.
There’s a healthy dose of skepticism in the programming community that Intentional will accomplish its goal. IBM and Cornell set up similar systems that were shunned by programmers. And MIT’s Edwards is dubious of Intentional’s attempt to patent its system in an age when open-source rules. “It feels archaic, frankly, to have all of this secrecy, the patents and NDAs,” he says of Intentional, which has thus far released few technical details. “The only way you have an influence today is by giving it away.”
Therein lies the proof that Free software is the way to go. There is no place for USPTO affinity whilst algorithms (essentially mathematics) can be owned and arbitrary implementations made taxable.
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Debunking a myth from a post that debunks other myths
Shortly after the Free Software Foundation had unleashed its statement on GPLv3 upon Microsoft, Ed Burnette posted the following item. Certain bits could not escape without comment, e.g.:
So clearly, GPLv3 will have no effect on the MS/Novell agreement, which was completed in 2006. But what about other deals, such as the latest one between Microsoft and Linspire? Some in the free software community were hoping that MS would make more deals after Novell, so that they would be forced to swallow the “poison pill” in GPLv3 making any patent grants universal. Not so fast, says Microsoft.
Ed clearly misunderstands this, or at least overlooked some important factors. Companies cannot enter similar deals — no matter how generous the Microsoft payoff is — because that would kill them (consider Linspire’s example). It’s not about the poison pill, so in that respect, the licence has proven to be effective. No deals have been made since GPLv3 was released. The malicious plan was intercepted before it could spread further, but the OSI remains an easy victim.
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Just when you think that you have seen the ugliest stories, more of them seem to be arriving (in large volumes at the moment). Here is a quick overview with very little commentary.
From New Zealand:
He says claims that Open XML is a vehicle for protecting old binary formatted documents, the focus of Microsoft’s newspaper advertising yesterday, are also false.
This is not the first time that we see newspapers being used for deception or spin.
Comment of interest:
“Microsoft’s Brian Jones, sums it up best. The OOXML ECMA spec is not finished yet.”
“Those whores will probably never be seen at a standards meeting again, unless Microsoft has another proprietary standard they want to foist onto the public as ‘open’.”
“If they let this sort of manipulation take place without pulling the plug on fast tracking OOXML, it will prove just how inadequet the hole process is and how little it means. ISO will become WORTHLESS.”
“It is a case of a blatant exercise of monopolistic powers and monetary clout. If ISO crumbles under such an underhand onslaught it must surely cease to be a body with any meaning and purpose.”
The comments are pretty much the same in all the forums.
Microsoft is said to have just ‘pulled a Sweden’ in Uruguay. This new petition for UK National Archives does not seem to have people aware of the fact that National Archives is itself run by a Microsoft employee (talk about conflict of interests).
BetaNews writes about the mad events in the Nordic states.
“This is how a standard is bought,” Bosson wrote later. “I left the meeting in protest – pissed off.”
There is already an article about this (in Swedish) and more information in Groklaw conversations.
He acknowledges that the rules might need to be changed.
Here are some more articles of interest:
The OOXML Problem
Another thing, by introducing a “new fancy” document format, MS can hold a tighter grip round existing customers and get more on the false pretence that they’ve “opened up”.
Linux Foundation Releases Statement Calling for National Bodies to Vote “No” on OOXML
Perhaps enough National Bodies will heed the call of the Linux Foundation to draw a line in the sand, here and now, and even at this eleventh hour, and stop the juggernaut of abuse before it drives the system totally over the cliff.
All the CIOs say they want is XML documents; unfortunately they aren’t as aware as Georg Greve, above, that Microsoft’s implementation of XML is exceedingly half-hearted.
Remember the man who was paid by Microsoft to mess about with Wikipedia’s article on OOXML? In what appears to me like a stunt he said he would vote “No”.
Vote “No”? But aren’t I supposed to be Microsoft’s biggest fanboy? Well, what I mean is a conditional approval, not a rejection.
It seems like a plot which says that “no” votes are actually a “yes, with comments”. Bob Sutor warned about such ugly spin.
I’ve heard several reports of supporters of OOXML trying to get national standards bodies to change their votes from “NO with comments” to “YES with comments” because “it’s the same thing.” The logic, which I’ll explain in a later post, is that any comments will trigger a ballot resolution meeting, so there is no need to be so negative and vote NO.
Ecma has clearly lost its reputation and here is more evidence.
Ecma is shepherding Open XML, the default format used by Office 2007 documents, through ISO’s traditionally difficult approval process.
To close this post on a brighter note, here’s a new article on Malaysia’s choice of ODF.
ODF, an international standard, is an open standard for any vendor to implement without restrictions.
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