“She’s an abusive wife, but she her parents have a lot of cash”
Liaising with an opponent is a weird idea and an absurd notion. There are exceptions however. Where only standardisation is involved (to prevent or minimise mutual destruction, including damage to customers), this makes perfect sense. That’s just what companies like Sun Microsystems and Red Hat have established with Microsoft (albeit Microsoft takes pleasure in adding proprietary ‘extensions’ sooner or later). The idea of agreeing on and using vendor-independent standards is similar to a treaty or a truce at times of war. It is a case of living in peace and co-existing.
Novell’s approach towards Microsoft is a bizarre one. It is a one-way relationship. Novell implements OOXML, it embraces .NET, and it pays Microsoft for various privileges which Microsoft claims are needed due to ownership. Novell has become a weak and abused spouse, yet it does not seem to mind. Can Novell and Microsoft sell products together? Of course not, if only because they compete. If they ever do collaborate, then it’s akin to long-time rivals like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates shaking hands for the camera. It’s about image. They still compete (sometimes very fiercely).
Novell’s NetWare income declines primarily because of Microsoft and here is another new example from the new where Novell competes directly with Microsoft.
Microsoft and Novell may be working together on some areas of technology, but the two firms will soon be going head-to-head in the market for improved enterprise configuration management.
So, they truly do compete. Microsoft still has anti-Linux ads all over the Web and its boasts various ‘studies’ on its Web site. As for Novell, being the submissive one, it has torn down its ads which compare SLED and Windows. So where is the mutuality? Novell continues to be nothing but a tool for Microsoft to use. It is a proxy that enables Microsoft to make decisions for Linux and make changes ‘on behalf’ of Linux users. This is bad and the only thing worse is the fact that people remain blind to this.
How about Microsoft getting friendlier towards open source? Don’t hold your breath. It’s all self-serving and even unwelcomed by Microsoft MVPs.
Should Microsoft Really Bundle Open Source Software?
Microsoft doesn’t provide a GridView, tells us developers that’s all we’ll ever need for displaying data, and then closes the door on other control vendors who might want to provide developers with an alternative grid control. Hell no.
Instead, they make it easy for control vendors to provide their own controls and have a first-class integrated experience (with design time support etc…) within the Visual Studio IDE because they recognize they don’t have the bandwidth to build everything top shelf. This sort of forward thinking should apply anytime they plan to ship a crappy stopgap implementation.
So there you have it. Microsoft’s bundling of open source software is semi cooked. The good news is that Eric Raymond witnessed the events which revolved around the OOXML fiasco. As such, he is likely to vote against Microsoft’s membership and affiliation with the realms of Free software and open source. While Novell let Microsoft cross the bridge and enter its gates, other refuse to do so. Sadly enough, many of us share the same village, so we are likely to suffer from projects such as Moonlight and OOXML, whose actual birth is the curse, not their use.
“…back in the 80s, Bill Gates said he was aiming for world domination”Microsoft continues to buy its competitors or pay them to change their direction (in Microsoft’s favour). The most recent example is XenSource. The Financial Times has a new article on Europe’s attempt to restore innovation (through competition) with the approach of the September 17th decision day. If Novell plays a role in this decision, then sadly enough, it’s in favour of Microsoft.
I was very recently told that, back in the 80s, Bill Gates said he was aiming for world domination. He made a statement like this in an interview. At times when government regulation simply fails miserably (antitrust action in America was recently — and oddly enough — declared a success), there’s little hope for change. If Microsoft is also allowed to invade its rivals’ territory by paying a few seniors (remember Ron Hovspeian, Kevin Carmony, and Andy Typaldos, who apparently has links with ‘neo-Nazi’ U.S. Labor Party) against employees’ will, then it can tear apart entire companies and communities.
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OOXML has “corruption” written all over it
Rob Weir was among the first people to have mentioned this. We cited his essay on “hacking ISO” in yesterday’s batch. There is finally a more formal finding from the EFFI which suggests that there’s a correlation between political corruption and acceptance of OOXML as a standard. Surprise, surprise!
Corrupt countries were more likely to support the OOXML document format
Is this just a random coincidence? The median of the CPI index of the above mentioned 70 countries is 3.95. Of the most corrupted half (CPI index less than 3.95) 23 or 77% voted for approval (approval or approval with comments) and 7 or 23% for disapproval; 5 abstained. Of the least corrupted half (CPI index more than 3.95) 13 or 54% voted for approval and 11 or 46% voted for disapproval; 11 abstained – see the table below.
One new report that we have not cited before comes from The Inquirer.
However the 11 new countries are refusing to say how they will vote. These include Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, Ecuador, Jamaica, Lebanon, Malta, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay and Venezuela. Most people seem to think that these have been put there by Vole [Microsoft] to make sure the standard gets pushed through.
The outcome of this was unsurprising. Since there was an admission of bribery in Sweden, who would have faith in the integrity of decision made by some of the countries listed above? They showed up out of nowhere.
The problems associated with corruption do not affect only governors of various nations. Apparently, the ISO has internal issues as well. This one source insists that the blunder in the ISO has not ended. The bias lives on.
The sad news is however that the ISO secretary blunders again. Despite the NO, ISO will have a Board Resolution Meeting in February. A BRM is basically a meeting where the ISO discusses the comments raised by the voting members and sees how it can satisfy these comments.
This is not the first time that we spot curious and suspicious moves [1, 2] being made by the ISO.
Consider this: the world’s biggest populations clearly say “No” to OOXML (see below), but the ISO is either moved by Microsoft’s money, or by all those countries that are moved by Microsoft’s money (and lobbying muscle, by proxy). Should the ISO not be immune to that?
A couple of times in the past couple of week we mentioned the Burton Group’s anti-Google Apps study. We suspected that it was linked to Microsoft somehow. In any event, Google has just rebutted the group’s claims. It still leaves you wondering what motivated such a study in the first place. It includes language that incites fear (risk to one’s career).
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“when the patent quality bar is so low, everyone loses”Ever since the aggressive saber-rattling of May 2007, one of our goals here has been to show that patents are not to be dreaded. Many of them deserve to be mocked and their potential impact dismissed. How so? For starters, some of the companies that have a history of patent abuse have themselves asked for a reform. With proper reform, FUD surrounding Linux will most likely just vanish.
Here are some of the latest examples of patent abuse, harassment, and trolling.
From ‘Innovation’ to Banning of Products
The very latest abuser appears to have painted Sun Microsystems as its victim. NetApp targets ZFS. It strives to shoot down one of Sun’s break-and-butter products.
NetApp files suit against Sun over ZFS
The patents in question include methods and techniques for error correction, software RAID and, according to the NetApp complaint, the method for maintaining consistent states of a file system and for creating user accessible read-only copies of a file system. “We want them to stop developing ZFS, stop distributing [it] and stop doing derivative works with it in particular,” Warmenhoven said.
A classic case that has been mentioned here for quite a while is the Broadcom/Qualcomm dispute. There was an embargo. Here is the latest:
Broadcom wins antitrust appeal against Qualcomm
Broadcom’s lawsuit accused Qualcomm of breaking a pledge to the standards board to be fair when licensing patents for technology it owned. That technology has been adopted as an industry standard to promote interoperability among handsets and carriers.
Here is another ludicrous case where Apple, Acer, Dell, Gateway are targeted.
The firm alleges the companies have breached patent 7,009,655B2 – catchily titled “method and system for direct recording of video information onto a disk medium”.
Re-innovating the Wheel
How about this sophisticated patent?
The present invention relates to an information system, comprising an input device, a presentation device, a processing unit and a database with an address register for storing address information, such as name, address, telephone and telefax numbers, for legal and/or natural persons, said system providing structured access to said address information.
Sounds like a digital address book. Where is the invention? How about this one from Microsoft?
“Last week, the USPTO published a rather odd Microsoft patent application for Content Ratings and Recommendations, which describes how religious-based communities and other ‘subcultures’ can use the patent-pending process to prevent their members from viewing undesirable television programs and movies.”
“Prior art,” says anyone who wasn’t born yesterday. Amazon wanted to patent the idea of book recommendation, which is equally sad.
Here’s a new one from Google.
Google owes its success to putting advertising into parts of our lives where no one has ever put adverts before. Now a new patent illustrates the extent of its ambitions.
Hope is Not Lost
The only good news is that, later this week, the Congress will vote on the need for a patent system reform.
“We’ve spent three Congresses on this,” said Steve Elmendorf, a lobbyist for the Coalition for Patent Fairness, a group of technology companies, such as Microsoft, Apple Inc. and Cisco Systems Inc., that favor the legislation.
Ironically (or not), Microsoft will stand in the way.
Microsoft Corp.’s success in reversing a $1.52 billion trial loss was the latest in a series of court victories that may undermine its chance for broad changes in U.S. patent law this year.
Groklaw continues its bug squashing effort and it also sets its eye on Microsoft patents that are good candidates for dismissal.
For sure I don’t want any patents getting approved that might be used against FOSS someday because I wasn’t paying attention. My worry is that because we have been busy elsewhere, the Microsoft patent submission might slide by, get approved by default despite there being prior art we neglected to mention, and then the FUD machine can start up about how it’s now a super strong patent that made it through a FOSS community examination.
In relation to OOXML, Matt Aslett said that nobody wins when the standards are low. Let’s borrow this nice phrase and say that when the patent quality bar is so low, everyone loses. Science loses. Technology is stalled. Only lawyers win.
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Rebuttal where one is due
OpenDocument format (ODF) has just gotten a big boost and Bob Sutor welcomes the development by reminding us that ODF is about the future, whereas OOXML is about the past. It’s a little slogan that he used several months ago.
ODF was already doing well and now has renewed momentum. Go with it.
Meanwhile, however, the campaign that thrives in spin and deception definitely continues. It’s not just the dishonest press release.
OOXML, whose real embodiment is just Microsoft, is now being claimed to have no ‘proprietary hooks’. This is akin to ‘extensions’, but not exactly the same. Guess who is behind this message, which we rebutted several times in the past?
As Australia and various other nations prepare to vote on whether Microsoft’s Open Office XML becomes an ISO standard, the Redmond giant is attempting to downplay fears that OOXML adopters will be hooked into the company’s technology.
This is wrong for so many reasons. OOXML is incomplete. An OOXML implementation has many extensions, and they are platform dependent too. Remember:
OOXML = Microsoft Office on top of Microsoft Windows
It’s as simple as that.
Bill Gates’ take on Interoperability is easily illustrated by an old press release. Here is its interpretation and rebuttal:
Bill Gates is wrong here. Most open source software goes hand in hand with interoperability. Why? Open source software is usually written to open industry standards with the GPL. You don’t have to buy an expensive license or sign an NDA to get the specifications to be interoperable. There are no restrictions or barriers to entry, except for whats contained in the GPL. Bill’s open source statement is just more rhetoric and FUD.
Microsoft is playing catch up with the industry. The industry is tired of bug infested, high cost, security risked proprietary software (Windows and .NET platform). The XML standard is providing the interoperability, not Microsoft.
So, as the above claims seem to indicate, we may be witnessing yet more spin and lies. It has only been a day since the ISO’s decision. The lies are nothing new and it has been well documented in this site (just partially, of course). To just give a few examples:
- Microsoft claimed that it had won a vote of approval from the world (or span it to appear that way)
- Microsoft said that OOXML was open
- Microsoft lied to prospective voters about the voting date and deadlines
- Microsoft may have lied about CompTIA
- Microsoft lied about Ecma’s role
- Microsoft lied about Abiword’s support for OOXML
- Microsoft lied about iWork’s support for OOXML
There are many other disturbing factors to consider here. So who are you going to believe? Microsoft? The item on proprietary hooks links to a related item where Microsoft claims that OOXML is more secure than alternatives. Brazil, however, cited OOXML’s security problems when it rejected OOXML. Will Microsoft say just about anything to defend a broken specification where some opaque binary enclosures (in-line) are to be considered?
Update: having just taken a quick look at a personal attic of references, the following two items were identified. They throw cold water at Microsoft’s claims about proprietary extensions in OOXML.
The first, “Competition Optional”, comes from Rob Weir.
In previous posts I have pointed out numerous “features” in OOXML which cannot be implemented by anyone else but Microsoft. These stem from a variety of causes, including elements lacking definition (“lineWrapLikeWord6″) to features that are tied to Windows or Office (e.g., Windows Metafiles) to items that are “merely referenced (OLE, digital ink) to items that although featured prominently in Office marketing materials, are curiously not mentioned at all in the OOXML text (scripts, macros, DRM, SharePoint, etc.). When these issues are raised, the typical response from Microsoft has been along the lines of, “Don’t worry, these features are optional. You don’t need to implement them. They are there for implementations that know what they mean. If you don’t understand them, you can ignore them.”
There is a lot more about OLE in a previous post. It contains links and snippets from antitrust exhibits. These show that this type of tactic has roots in the past. Warning: ‘smoking gun’ statements from Microsoft are contained therein.
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As you probably know, Novell has been in a poor financial state in recent years and it also missed Wall Street’s expectations earlier this year, not to mention its risk of being delisted — a risk that it eventually escaped. There was something very fishy about Novell’s latest financial report and we are fortunate enough to find people who look at the numbers more closely. Here is what it’s all about:
Novell is also good at PR. It has been talking about desktop Linux being just around the corner for years, without delivering anything worthwhile. No wonder I get such a hit to the numbers here for mentioning Ubuntu.
This continuing game of massaging numbers and expectations, rather than delivering solid performance or solid software, hurts the whole open source market.
Having covered Novell for two decades, I’m frankly tired of it. Wall Street, not so much. As long as there is action Wall Street is happy.
There is no room for opinion here, so there’s no need to say “hats off to Dana” or “you ignorant blogger”. What Dana is trying to say seems to align pretty well with what we’ve been seeing in recent months. In fact, given Novell’s inability to compete with Red Hat (it was only left further behind after its deal with Microsoft), any optimistic claims from the financial department are highly suspicious.
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Here we go again.
Another press release and another quick article. The press release comes from Redmond, unsurprisingly, and the article completely fails to realise the plans behind XAML (or Silverlight). Just as Novell began implementing OOXML (for Microsoft’s pleasure and bragging rights for ISO), Novell also is now helping Microsoft develop something which would force all Linux users to embrace a Mono-fied (.NET) Linux desktop or else be barred from certain Web sites.
You can learn more about it in previous writings on this topic.
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