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09.27.07

OpenDocument News: ODF at Sun, Google, IBM, and Novell

Posted in Formats, Google, IBM, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, Turbolinux at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is no secret that there are at least 3 large companies that are out to steal Microsoft’s lunch. They are all united by a single unified format, and a single standard that promotes healthy competition and defends the user’s data.

OpenOffice and Symphony are compatible with the OpenDocument format (ODf), an industry standard that allows programs from different developers to read each other’s documents and preserve typefaces, paragraphs, indents, tabs, bullets, numbering and so forth.

As always, Dr. Sutor is optimistic and calm. He celebrates a wonderful September for open standards and ODF in particular.

In early August I stated in this blog that after the OOXML JTC1 ballot closed on September 2, the sun would rise, the birds would sing, and so on. As we are now at the end of the month and about to move into October, I can state that those things all happened. Indeed, from my perspective, September was a very good month, maybe a historic month, for open standards and open source.

[...]

I like to say that every day, every week, every month, the world gets more open. In September this was measurably true.

IBM is very pleased with the download rates of its blue OpenOffice.org ‘sister’. It even unleashed a press release and here is one article that expands upon the fact that IBM’s Symphony was downloaded 100,000 times in just one week.

IBM and ODF supporters such as Sun Microsystems and Google have been waging a public battle against Microsoft to promote their interest in ODF, on which all three companies have based productivity applications.

Stephane has already warned us by suggesting that Novell’s Michael Meeks has a mindset which possibly aligns with Miguel “Superb Standar^H^H^H^Hd” de Icaza’s. The following article presents Michael’s latest views on the issue.

Michael Meeks has a tough job. Anyone who’s struggled with making documents not created in the Word interface with Microsoft Office should be able to sympathise.

Novell is still supporting OOXML is the sense that it implements ‘translators’. These would not have been necessary had Novell not signed an binding ‘interoperability’ deal which required and started a chain reaction (TurboLinux was the latest company to join in).

Related articles: (never to be forgotten)

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.

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.

Catching up With Novell’s Sibling Sellouts — Xandros and Linspire

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, Scalix, Xandros at 6:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell is by orders of magnitude larger than Xandros and Linspire, so there tends to be a lot more news coming from Novell. This does not, however, stop those smaller companies from introducing themselves in the press, stirring up controversies, and making product announcements. It does not mean that they do not deserve equally harsh criticism; for what they did is as bad as what Novell did.

Linspire Lindows

From the company where an “executive exodus” is suspected to have taken place comes this announcement:

Linspire, the company behind the Linspire commercial and Freespire community desktop Linux operating systems and CNR.com, a free Linux software delivery service, has announced the immediate availability of its first commercial paid support offerings for Freespire 2.0 users.

If someone bets or even relies on Linspire for commercial support, then it’s worth exploring and finding the chances of the company surviving the next few years. Linspire already forbidden access to a lot of code. Since GPLv3 is adopted more quickly and widely than anyone predicted, Linspire is left behind. If it chooses to touch that code, it then faces the wrath of Microsoft.

Xandros(oft) ‘Windows’

Another distributor that is a threat (and thus no longer a friend) is Xandros. Xandros sold out and apparently received a lot of money in the process, just like Linspire. It later snatched and ‘infected’ another company, called Scalix, by association.

Asus is about to unleash a nice and affordable device onto the market. It is known as the “Eee” and many people anticipate it because it’s inexpensive, it Linux-based and it’s similar to OLPC (one laptop per child), which is also Linux-based but serves an entirely different audience (primarily — but not only — young children in developing nations).

“Boycotting the Asus Eee seems like a necessary evil.”Sadly, Asus chose to use a derivative/variant of Xandros for that spectacular Eee. The poor device has been therefore been tainted by the ‘Xandros tax’. You would be wiser to spend your money on an OLPC (Fedora), which will be available in the United States (at the least), not a Linux that pays Microsoft money for unsubstantiated claims, FUD, and “patent terrorism”. Xandros received their millions of dollars to spit in the well we all drink from. They sold out for selfish reason. Don’t give them even more money. What’s more, don’t give Microsoft any money when you buy Linux. Boycotting the Asus Eee seems like a necessary evil.

Novell and Microsoft Face the Wrath of Free/Fair Market Advocates

Posted in Europe, FUD, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 6:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week we covered the ruling in Europe, which is very much related to Microsoft’s deal with Novell. By signing the deal, Novell immediately helped Microsoft’s battles in Europe, for a variety of reasons that we already mentioned.

As you might recall, Neelie Kroes has had yet another smear campaign coordinated and orchestrated against her agency. She quickly responded to this a week ago, but she now makes available a more formal response [PDF].

There cannot be many businesspeople who doubt that a monopolist can use its market power to squash even the most efficient rival producers of goods or services that interact with the monopolized product. There cannot be many venture capitalists who would invest in a company whose market can at any moment fall under the sway of an entrenched neighboring monopolist whose behavior was subject to no limits.

What I will do is continue to look hard at the actions of monopolists. I will use my practical business experience to help me understand the dynamics of markets. I will look for answers that maintain the incentives of everyone on the market to innovate, and not just the friendly neighborhood monopolist. Power has to be used responsibly, by the enforcement agencies and by the monopolists. I will not look for fights, but where interventions will make consumers better off, I will not shy away from them.

That would make Novell a friend of “the friendly neighborhood monopolist,” to use Neelie’s own words. This is not the first time that Neelie gets under the scrutiny of the US government, the Microsoft lobbyists, or even Microsoft itself (Steve Ballmer impolitely phoned her last year and the same was done in Korea). It is merely a case of Microsoft motoring its agenda using a variety of seemingly-independent proxies, whom it considers partners, whether paid or not.

As we’ve witnessed before, Novell has become one such partner. de Icaza, for example, felt the urge to strike back at EU regulators some time ago, essentially taking a hard line along with Microsoft. His rebuttals are highly cited. Why would a Novell vice president do this?

In Groklaw, Georg Greve has responded to some common FUD (repeated over and over again for a Big Lie-esque propaganda effect). This FUD comes from Microsoft and proxies that we mentioned above. It is then echoed by the mainstream media, which is obedient to those who fund it (large companies seeking assets and information control). Georg’s main points that are squashed:

1st Fallacy: That the Ruling Punishes Innovation

[...]

2nd Fallacy: That Google, Apple and All Successful Companies Need to Fear

How convenient a generalisation. Hopefully, all that spin will prove ineffective.

Elsewhere on the Web, an interview with Novell was published. Watch how many of the questions, which are collected from different individuals, attack Novell over patents (about half of them) and related issues.

It is known that the Novell-Microsoft agreement has caused an enormous wave of unpopularity against Novell, no matter how much the company tries to tranquilize their users. If it is demonstrated that this unpopularity is negatively affecting the growth of the distribution, do you intend to cancel the agreement? (Patola)

[Novell:] Is is important to keep in mind there are many different groups that look at the Novell-Microsoft agreement in different ways. There is no doubt that there is a part of the open source community that is vocally opposed to the agreement.

Yes, many people dislike the deal and the questions in this interviews prove this. Novell repeats the same line of defense which is, “we did it for the customer.” They pass liability to incognito. According to Novell (not exact quotes here), “patents are not an issue,” but Novell decided to sign a deal which includes them anyway. It knew what this would cause. It could easily predict that Microsoft would use this as a weapon (even if just FUD but no legal action). Novell actually liked the idea, and according to a recently-departing Novell executive, it perceived this as a competitive advantage.

Was Novell drunk when it signed the deal? Was it bribed? Or was it just tactlessly selfish?

Patent Madness Watch: When USPTO Becomes Incompatible with Consumers’ Needs

Posted in America, ECMA, Intellectual Monopoly, ISO, Open XML, Patents at 5:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More patents = more INNOVA~1?

There was a glimmer of hope about a month ago when talks about a reform began to materialise. In hindsight, optimism was premature. Shortly thereafter came the opposition and the lobbying, which has had some impact, sadly enough.

“In hindsight, optimism was premature.”It appears as though the patent system remains and will remain entangled in the mess which it led itself into. This must the consequence of being motivated and run by lobbyists and the commercial interests of companies that can afford influence. We covered all of this before and provides many references to support the fact that the patent system is in a sad state and that internal issues have had it possessed by industry forces, not independent assessors or promoters of invention, let alone the consumer.

Some of the very latest articles demonstrate the issues which must now be coped with (or better yet — corrected). The following news, for instance, shows us that companies are stung because of poor quality control in the USPTO.

Vonage denied the claims, arguing that Sprint’s patents were flawed and shouldn’t have been approved.

Is peer review inexistent? Some time ago it was said that people are paid better if they just approve a patent rather than reject it, which gives an incentive to spurious patents. It’s another moronic case of quantity over quality, which is something that Neelie Kroes recently criticised, the context being Microsoft’s abuses.

If you thought you had already seen ridiculous patents, then watch this:

Dublin-based firm Adwalker has been granted a US patent for its wearable interactive digital media platform.

Can USPTO save itself from becoming another toothless, clawless and dishonored tiger such as Ecma and the ISO?

While Congress continues to fight over patent reform (often missing the bigger issues for those that the lobbyists are most interested in), it’s been the Supreme Court that’s been doing its best to bring some sanity back to the patent system.

It is at least acknowledged — not just by outsiders — that the system is broken and possibly irreparable. It’s easier to reject weak standards (c/f OOXML) and patents (c/f Microsoft’s patent on sudo) then it is to throw them away after they had been accepted, filed, and possibly paid/compensated for.

Novell’s Linux Business Does NOT Climb Since its Deal with Microsoft (Updated)

Posted in Deception, Finance, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell at 2:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Don’t judge the health of a 25-year marriage based on the honeymoon

The press if going ga-ga after Justin Steinman’s claim that Novell is doing well despite and because of the deal with Microsoft. But Justin is a PR agent, and the reporters do not bother to perform a quick and independent sanity check.

I was going to write more about this tomorrow because I’m submitting my thesis today (didn’t have any free time), but while the press is blindly spreading such disinformation, I can’t help it anymore. To keep this short, watch what we said just days ago and follow the links therein. It’s clear that while Steinman says:

“The affect on sales year over year, for Novell’s first three quarters of our fiscal year, which ends Oct. 31 — our Linux business was up 243%”

Ron Hovsepian confusedThe reality is (from last week’s news): “As Linux sales slowed in subsequent quarters — from year-over-year growth of 659 percent to 114 percent to 95 percent — executives have backed away from espousing the importance of Linux orders to Novell’s overall business strategy.

This comes from the article, “One year after Microsoft deal, Novell’s Linux sales growth slows,” which shows that Novell/Microsoft’s quota of SUSE coupons has almost been exceeded and the ‘gift’ (as in “Greek bearing gift”) runs out. We have covered many such articles and this one just happens to be the most recent. The articles are consistent, and it’s a damn shame that ComputerWorld decided to blindly project (or echo) Novell’s PR pitch.

Quick temporary boosts cannot be described as a climb, especially when they involve an ill reliance on a fierce rival, which has already backstabbed Novell.

There is some similar misinterpretation about the GPLv3 at the moment, with figures that come from Evans Data. Keep on eye only on Palamida, which shows that GPLv3 adoption keeps climbing.

Update: another source agrees. Hours after we had posted this item. the following was posted elsewhere.

Details Needed On Novell’s Allegedly Soaring Linux Sales

Slashdot is linking to a story supposedly showing that Novell’s Linux business has seen amazing growth in the nine months since they signed a controversial patent deal with Microsoft. “The affect on sales year over year, for Novell’s first three quarters of our fiscal year, which ends Oct. 31 — our Linux business was up 243 percent year over year,” said Novell exec Justin Steinman. But so far, at least, this growth doesn’t appear to be reflected in Novell’s financial results. If my math is right, Novell’s revenue for “Linux platform products” totaled $32 million in the first three quarters of 2006, while the total for the first three quarters of 2007 is $53 million.

Once again, Novell’s PR spins like a ballerina. I’ve left a comment in Slashdot.

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