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10.08.07

Ballmer’s FUD Makes a Comeback (and Microsoft Real ‘Open Source’ Plan is Unleashed) (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat at 8:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Throughout a public talk in the United Kingdom, Microsoft’s CEO says some of the darnest (yet expected) things. For example, consider this short summary:

Any plans to bring development tools to other platforms? No.

[...]

Open Source

What’s our strategy
A. Compete–we need to offer better value where there is a direct overlap
B. Open Source innovation on Windows–our battle is product to product

Praise for Novell–”Novell says that IP matters, Red Hat doesn’t.”

Does anybody still think that the deal with Novell was not harmful? This is not the first time that Steve Ballmer uses it as ammunition. Matt Asay has apparently viewed the video as well and he is particularly interested — for obvious reasons — in Microsoft’s approach towards open source software.

Steve Ballmer apparently likes open source. Well, so long as it drives Windows revenue. And doesn’t replace any. Ever. In fact, as he said at an event in Microsoft last week in London that he hopes to see all open-source innovation going to Windows, rather than Linux (more below).

None of this is surprising of course. It is also the reason for what we consider a hijack of XenSource and the agreements with Novell on virtualisation. Microsoft uses money to make Windows more predominant in the server space (and later on in the desktop space too). All money which is spent is intended to optimise for Windows or to create more dependencies on Windows.

Matt proceeds to covering Ballmer’s latest patent FUD.

In fact, in this Q&A, he all-but-declared something that I’ve been saying for many moons: Microsoft wants to tax open-source innovation. He said, with respect to Red Hat:

“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!!! Ballmer believes Linux violates Microsoft’s patents (as he says earlier in his comments), and wants people to pay up.

Recall what OIN and the OSC had to say about such insidious tactics from Microsoft. Also mind the fact that Ballmer talks about intellectual property and not software patents, which are not the same. He talks in the United Kingdom where software patents are not legal, so he throws patents into a collective bag that is IP. This is a very nasty strategy from Microsoft and not the first time it uses it in Europe.

Update: at least one article about this event has just been published. It poses things as though and it’s attack on Red Hat and Groklaw responds. Remember that Microsoft sneakily escapes every chance to disclose its own patent-sheet liability because it knows it’s essentially armless (and thus harmless).

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6 Comments

  1. Jon said,

    October 9, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Gravatar

    This is all reminiscent of the Effective Software Evangelism that was released at the Iowa antitrust suit. Basically, they are still using a plan concocted over 10 years ago!

    How he (Steve B.) thinks that everyone owes him money, I have no idea.

    It’s stupid, really.

  2. Shane Coyle said,

    October 9, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Gravatar

    More of Ballmer’s quote is available in update 2 of this groklaw article, he takes the time to pat Novell on the back:

    The only other thing I would say that is probably germane is, we spend a lot of money, the rest of the commercial industry spends a lot of money on R & D. We’ve spent a lot of money licensing patents, when people come to us and say, “Hey, this commercial piece of software violates our patent, our intellectual propery, we’ll either get a court judgment or we’ll pay a big check. And we are going to — I think it is important that the Open Source products also have an obligation to participate in the same way in the intellectual property regime.

    That’s why we’ve done the deal we have with Novell, where not only are we working on technical interoperability between Linux and Windows but we’ve also made sure that we could provide the appropriate, for the appropriate fee Novell customers also get essentially the right to use our patented intellectual property. And I think it’s great the way Novell stepped up to kind of say intellectual property matters. People use Red hat, at least with respect to *our* intellectual property in a sense have an obligation to eventually compensate us.

  3. Serenitude said,

    October 9, 2007 at 1:40 pm

    Gravatar

    Between recent articles – this in particular, and it’s counterpoint on Groklaw – after many, many months reading this site with my Skeptic’s handbook firmly in hand, color me convinced. I don’t think there can be any doubt, anymore.

  4. Stomfi said,

    October 9, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    Gravatar

    Steve Balmer is like the bully at school who used his weight advantage to get all the smaller kids to give him their lollies, otherwise they might get beaten up. Not that ever happened, the threat was enough, as Steve hopes will be the case in this instance.

    Eventually all the little kids would get together and threaten to beat up the bully, who more often than not turned out to be a runaway cry baby.

    This is already happening to Steve. The more the general community see the Microsoft CEO bullying the little guys, who are only trying to help make computing better for everyone, the more they wont want to be associated with Microsoft and will look for alternatives.

    The FOSS community has already had one win through the EU litigation, although it remains to be seen whether the punishment is effective, and the Open Standards community has effectively delayed MS’s attempt to fast track their own industry standard.

    Bullies always respond to individual threats, so I think that the FOSS community needs to use a few of its Open Patents to sue MS. This will make them retaliate with some of theirs, and we will then be able to force them to show the rest at litigation, otherwise they will have a lose lose PR exercise on their hands.

  5. Robuka Kenderle said,

    October 9, 2007 at 9:00 pm

    Gravatar

    Steve Balllmer is the most important person in FLOSS.
    No one can galvanize the troops as well as he can by simply opening his mouth. Linus cant be bothered to deal in non-technical matters and RMS scares people.

    Ive had quite a few discussions with laissez faire Linux friends over the past few months and they’ve been slowly sipping the interoperability kool-aid served by people like Bill Milf, Miguel and other lackeys who are supposed to make us believe that the times are a changin at Microsoft. Sorry, but I base my beliefs based on what the head honcho says, not some smoke screen.
    Who signs the checks?
    Then I will take heed to HIS words first and foremost.

    There are a lot of reasons I dont believe that Microsoft hasnt changed and one of the most important is BECAUSE THE BOSS HASNT CHANGED HIS TUNE since the days of Linux=Cancer.

    Whenever a friend says “that was the old Microsoft”, all I have to do is find the latest Ballmer threat and have them explain to me how their behavior has changed.
    And since Ballmer does this every few months, I always have fresh ammunition so no one can claim ‘that was the old Microsoft’.

    Im happy people like Serenitude have realized that you can whistle by the graveyard all you want, it doesnt change reality one bit.

    There is NOTHING that the Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation has said in the past 18 months which even REMOTELY suggest that there has been a softening of their stance towards Gnu/Linux and FLOSS.
    The tone has been agressive and threathening as it ever was.

    To claim otherwise is delusional.

  6. Shane Coyle said,

    October 9, 2007 at 11:47 pm

    Gravatar

    BetaNews has further information on this subject, including a fuller quote for context in addition to a link to a video of the Q&A session.

    I wonder if the MS spokespeople will try to float the idea that Ballmer was taken out of context, like Novell tried last time he put his foot in his mouth.

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