From the humour-of-desperation dept.
Slated comes up with the following humurous bit:
Santa: And what do you want for Christmas, baby Ballmer?
Steve Ballmer: World Domination … Muuuaaaha-ha-ha.
Santa: I don’t think I have any left. Here, have Monopoly instead.
“Slated argued that if Microsoft cannot beat its competitors, it simply buys them.”In the particular context, Slated argued that if Microsoft cannot beat its competitors, it simply buys them. With “buying”, exclusionary deals, such as the one with Novell, can be considered as well.
He also sarcastically argues that Ballmer does not “give a damn about alienating parts of the GNU/Linux community. Oh wait … he does – Divide and conquer: rule 23 in the Pearly Handbook of the Rules of Acquisition. They even stole the book from the Ferengis. Has Microsoft ever actually made anything, other than everyone else miserable?”
Therein Slated refers to statements from Microsoft, such as the following:
Asked about these problems, Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager, told ZDNet UK… “Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products…”
This seems to align with this weekend’s writeup in MarketWatch, from John Dvorak. Microsoft is slowly becoming more of a holdings company rather than a software powerhouse.
Mind the fact that several day ago, Microsoft promised to buy only small companies. 20 companies a year, to be precise, and open source companies too.
You know what they say:
“One competitor a day keeps the FTC away.”
Microsoft has truly found an antitrust loophole. Another one was the use of proxies for acquisition of threats. Novell is a case of appeasing, subverting, and exploiting threats. Novell is simply paid to do this.
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After many discussions about a rebirth or a rip-and-replace Windows kernel, signs appear to indicate that it won’t happen (not any time soon anyway). Setting Novell speculations aside, it’s worth noting that Microsoft tries to build its own ‘Linux’ rather than grab the existing kernel, apparently.
For those who have not read/heard, Microsoft demonstrates a reduced/optimised kernel that is lighter than the previous one and claims that it will make Windows 7 more competitive w.r.t. Linux. Among the responses from the press:
The question is: why is Microsoft bothering with all this? The company already has all these customers hooked onto its lines. Why not just give them a decent product next time by using a Unix (or Linux) derivative as the core? At least they’ll know it works.
He calls it a “leaner, meaner and cleaner Winix”, but he questions the practicability of this technical initiative.
How about this one?
And of course, there’s Linux – which already runs on hand-held devices without much fuss. That’ll be in a much stronger position if and when the x86 architecture becomes a potent part of portable life.
Either way, it is encouraging to discover that no strategy is taken here which involves grabbing the Linux kernel or using Novell to build software will embed in Windows.
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The other side of the coin
Blinded by shallow coverage in the mainstream media, yesterday we expressed restrained optimism about the European resolution to Microsoft’s antitrust case. Upon closer inspection, and after actually looking at the papers, the bad news may possibly outweigh what seemed beneficial.
The patent part [of the deal in the EU] is terrible. Worse than terrible. They are not blocked from offering patent deals, only constrained as to how much to charge for a license, which is not and never was the issue. So they’ll beef up those initiatives, I’m sure. However, the good part is that they were compelled to separate the patent license offer out and make it optional. Thanks, but no thanks.
I’m guessing Microsoft lawyers are high fiving each other, having snatched an important victory from utter and total defeat. The rest is excellent, of course, and in no way do I mean to detract from the hard work and persistence that the EU Commission has shown. However, I don’t think they understand how seriously broken the US patent system is currently, and how easy it is to abuse it, or they don’t feel it’s their job to fix the US problems, or how central patents are to Microsoft’s current strategy against FOSS.
I does change the tune, doesn’t it?
We shall continue to stress that Microsoft claims “innovation” for what it actually devised to drive competition out of the market. Minor and pointless ‘extensions’ to standards such as LDAP, to use just one example, are not innovation. They are means of breaking interoperability and sabotaging other products in a mixed environment. On the issue of innovation, Jeremy Allison of Samba has just published the following column.
Innovation is a weasel word. It used to earn an honest living, but now it’s been hijacked by marketing people for dishonest purposes. It’s now in the same category as “rich”. Does anyone now hear the words “rich user experience” or “rich client” without thinking of a bloated, Windows-only client that doesn’t use open or standard protocols? Controlling the language like this is power. Whoever defines the words we use can control the way we think about things. Our knowledge of language limits how we can express our thoughts. Innovation these days is being used as a code word for large, corporate controlled research and development, regardless of any results it might produce.
In short, there are two messages to take here:
- Microsoft was arguably victorious in Europe. Its patent deals spree has gotten a little boost.
- There is nothing innovative in Microsoft’s work, which it still charges fees for. It is a game of smoke and mirror and, sadly enough, some people fall for it.
It is reassuring to find that “Show Us the Code” folks have decided to launch a Wiki whose purpose is to squash Microsoft’s patent FUD.
Show Us the Code is gearing up now for round two. This time around we’ll pack a more permanent punch.
A wiki will be setup in the near future, the goal? To list every patent that patent trolls can drum up to try to destroy linux, and to find a legal means in which to invalidate those patents, be it prior art or by other means. Of course in this realm we do have public enemy number 1 to worry about but that should not be the sole focus of this wiki.
This is an excellent first step. Grabbing contributors from Groklaw, however, would be hard. The Groklaw community has probably become the de facto standard for this type of activity.
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Worth the wait? Regular retail price (RRP) is no more
Documentation for interoperability has become the central point of debate in Europe. We expected some of this to become available for free of charge, but after Neelie Kroes spoke to Steve Ballmer on the phone, it turns out that there’s somewhat of a settlement in Europe (no appeal). Here are the details.
It will also allow that data to go to open source companies such as Linux, and will cut the price it charges for worldwide licenses — including patents — to less than 7 percent of what Microsoft originally claimed.
Three big questions still remain:
- What will it be in Korea after Microsoft dropped its appeal?
- What will happen in America as more and more states are finally waking up to see the abuse?
- Why is Microsoft allowed to charge money after deliberately deviating from standards? As the following new article shows, Microsoft intends to continue with an “‘independent’ path”.
Speaking to the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Ballmer would not comment directly on any potential acquisitions, but he said Microsoft’s current focus is the “independent path.”
“If at some point it makes sense, maybe then it makes sense. But that’s not where we are going. We are driving in an independent direction,” said Ballmer in a question-and-answer session.
How much will companies be charged to interoperate because standards will be ignored and conceded (backed by the power of takeovers)?
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The perfect crime is one that goes undetected
Let’s look at the evolution of legal actions against Linux. Interestingly, Microsoft is always involved, but later the company is surprised to find that Linux users do not trust it.
It’s time for truth to be told. Here are some key cases, among a few more.
Generation One – MInix
Several years ago, Microsoft used a sophisticated money-funneling channel to stimulate bitterness and motivate lawsuits against Linux. Thew creator of Minix tells the story.
Andrew S Tanenbaum: A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me, from Minix, and therefore the intellectual property rights are unclear and therefore companies shouldn’t use Linux because I might sue them.
It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this — and I defended Linus. I wrote on my Web site saying that this guy Brown came through, visited me and I gave him the [correct] story.
Generation Two – SCO
Here is the ‘smoking gun’ evidence showing the connection between SCO (via BayStar) and Microsoft.
According to the Declaration, Richard Emerson was not the only Microsoft employee Goldfarb was dealing with in connection with the BayStar investment in SCO. He mentions by name two others, from two other departments.
We all know the rest of the SCO story.
Generation Three – Acacia?
So, Acacia recently attacked Linux using a couple of lawsuits. Acacia denies it’s an attack on open source and Microsoft denies connections with Acacia. BayStar, among other parties, are beginning to make it quite apparent that all fingers should be pointing at Microsoft’s piles o’ cash though.
Already spotted is another possible (future) proxies. It’s within some people’s range of sight.
Linus Torvalds still believes that if his kernel is the best one, it will also win. As he said in an interview that was published earlier today, “I’d rather just worry about the technology. The market will take care of itself.” Evidently, as shown above, the market does not take care of itself. Linus must be fully aware of all the forces that are aligned against his kernel. It’s not down just to technical merits when various parties pass money around and play dirty.
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If you follow technology news, then you can probably still recall discussions about Microsoft’s plan to acquire roughly 20 Web 2.0 companies every year. This was stated by Steve Ballmer several days ago and CRN later reported that open source companies were at hand. Let’s look more closely at some further analysis.
With the Yahoo! acquistion of Zimbra for $350 million and the Citrix acquisition of Xensource for $500 million is there an impending feeding frenzy for open source companies? It wasn’t that long ago that Red Hat bought JBoss and Oracle acquired Sleepycat. Maybe these are just the beginnings of a bigger trend.
So back to the boys from Redmond, so who does Microsoft buy and why?
Well I would think you need to discount the database market, they wouldn’t want to compete with MS SQL.They probably would stay away from CRM because of Microsoft Dynamics.
Having just received a lot of information on standards, there are many other consideration to weigh and introduce here. One might argue that Microsoft wants to acquire key Web companies and convert them to Microsoft technologies such as Silverlight. It’s part of the hijack of the Web, i.e. making W3C irrelevant. They already achieve something similar with Novell (Mono, Moonlight, OOXML, and so on).
“It’s part of the hijack of the Web, i.e. making W3C irrelevant.”As mentioned yesterday, Silverlight has just had antitrust scrutiny invoked in the united States. Another news source described this move as “Joining the Team against Microsoft”. The Big Boys may be “teaming up against a monopoly”, but in the mean time, us the ‘little people’ — as opposed to state governors, diplomats, and regulators — can do relatively little for change.
If you want to join a team that opposes abuse of control, then help the FSF, EFF, and make a difference by individual action and word of mouth. Tomorrow’s digital future is at stake. OOXML/Silverlight/SharePoint and Web 2.0 acquisitions are all part of overhauling the Web and getting another set of shackles on ordinary people. Be very aware of this. As for Novell, the company just plays along. It did receive a lot of money to do so.
It is sometimes cheaper to buy a competitor than to produce a product that beats that competitor.
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Whenever Linus Torvalds gets interviewed (usually by the mainstream press because of his high status), we try to dig into his stance on the Novell/Microsoft deal. It’s a case of mind mining. Here is the latest:
The Finnish creator of Linux says open-source software isn’t really an anti-Microsoft movement; it’s just a better model for getting the job done.
Microsoft and Novell last year announced a partnership for the interoperability of Windows and SUSE Linux. Some analysts are saying this kind of agreement is positive for consumers and can help popularize Linux. Do you agree? [Linus:] I don’t know. I don’t actually think the Novell-Microsoft agreement matters all that much in the end, but I think it would be healthier for everybody if there wasn’t the kind of rabid hatred on both sides. I’d rather just worry about the technology. The market will take care of itself.
Interesting response. He says that he doesn’t know (probably because he concentrates on technical matters). That aligns with previous interviews and he even uses some of the same words here (“rabid hatred” for example).
Pedant’s point: the reporter is asking the question along with the statement “Some analysts are saying this kind of agreement is positive for consumers and can help popularize Linux.” But why? Why does he not mention those who say that Novell’s deal is all doom and gloom? Quite a few prominent reporters have openly criticised the deal, but it is almost as though this reporter expects and craves for a nod with the question “Do you agree?” There are traces of bias here.
It is essential to remember that Linus needs to play nice with Novell because he has colleagues from Novell (Greg KH, for one thing). Here are the takeaways from some previous interviews:
Torvalds on the Novell/Microsoft deal:
Torvalds on Microsoft’s patent threats:
Torvalds on the GPL(v3):
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