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10.25.07

Microsoft and Novell Work in Isolation to Weed Out Common Threat (Free Linux)

Posted in Boycott Novell, Europe, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Protocol, Red Hat, Servers, Virtualisation at 8:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not much is new under the sun. Microsoft has a plan and Novell plays along happily, so long as it is rewarded financially and offered exclusive rights, at the expense of all other Linux distributions.

Here is what Novell had to say about Microsoft’s latest attempt to pretend to have ‘opened up’.

“The majority of our customers have mixed-source environments, and they want their platform vendors to make things work together,” said Roger Levy, senior vice president and general manager, Open Platform Solutions at Novell. “That’s why we entered into a technical collaboration agreement with Microsoft. As a result, Novell is the first vendor to develop and ship technology that will allow a paravirtualized Windows Server 2008 to be hosted as a guest on the Xen hypervisor. Microsoft’s decision to put the hypercall API under their Open Specifications Promise will make it even easier for Novell, our customers and partners, and the entire open source community to develop high-quality virtualization solutions that deliver true interoperability between Windows and Linux.”

Did you spot that bit about “hypercall API” and “Open Specifications”? Guess what? As usual, it contains anti-GPL poison. It is the old trick that involved licensing, which is part of the plan to block those that do not comply with Microsoft’s rules and assimilate.

This one particular issue was not entirely overlooked by Joe Wilcox over at Microsoft Watch.

Microsoft’s decision to license the hypercall API is the right call, although some pundits and competitors might balk at the licensing scheme.

If you think it’s just this hypercall, then think again. Reuters has just published a detailed list of Microsoft patented protocols, which brings back to mind the terms of the agreement in Europe [1, 2].

Microsoft will release interconnection information — called protocols — which rival servers need in order to work smoothly with Microsoft Windows desktops.

It is worth repeating the key argument that Microsoft wants to charge money for standard protocols which is deliberately ‘extended’ with the sole intention of breaking compatibility. It wishes to be rewarded for abuse of standards and sabotage of intercommunication among servers.

Red Hat, which is watching this type of worrisome developments from afar, responds with understandable concern.

While Red Hat welcomed Microsoft’s recent decision to comply with the European Court of First Instance’s antitrust ruling, Michael Cunningham, general counsel for Red Hat, stated that the company was still concerned about Microsoft’s patent model.

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8 Comments

  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:44 pm

    Gravatar

    So, should Red Hat try to implement the spec? Probably not yet, but what if Windows Server Virtualization become common?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Gravatar

    This contains ‘GPL poison’, so it’s merely a tool (bait) to make Linux companies fall for patent deals.

  3. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Gravatar

    What GPL poison? and if Windows Server Virtualization become common, should Red Hat still try to implement it?

  4. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 15, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    Gravatar

    In other words, how severe is the GPL poison?

  5. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    Gravatar

    I wonder what if every Linux vendor assimulated?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Gravatar

    What GPL poison?

    “GPL poison” usually refers to a case where Microsoft deliberately makes its licence/software incompatible with the GNU GPL licence.

    and if Windows Server Virtualization become common, should Red Hat still try to implement it?

    For hypercalls to be implemented, money needs to be paid. Again, you can probably see a separator between free and commercial. There is no good reason to do this, other than to betray Free software and ensure that only companies can deliver a particular solution.

    Companies can be crushed, unlike communities. A year or two ago, Steve Ballmer made a statement that suggests he wants to ‘encapsulate’ GNU/Linux in a company such as Novell, which he can then crush (along with GNU/Linux).

    In other words, how severe is the GPL poison?

    It’s severe enough to make a Free Linux secondary and incomparable with ‘commercial-grade Linux’ (not free). It’s establishing a different situation for TCO comparisons.

    I wonder what if every Linux vendor assimulated?

    That won’t happen any time soon. Red Hat controls a majority of the server market. Novell got together with Microsoft only because it was desperate to get a dent in Red Hat’s dominant position and dethrone it. Novell failed.

    On the desktop, Ubuntu variants seem to have become very popular. Ubuntu’s founder has openly described Microsoft’s action as ‘mafia techniques’ and ‘racketeering’. Needless to say, he is not willing to fall for this whole patent scam. The same goes for Mandriva.

  7. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 15, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Gravatar

    But what specific poison are you talking about? And indeed I hoped that full assimation would not happen, I was just wondering what if it did happen.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    December 16, 2007 at 12:17 am

    Gravatar

    Oh, I apologise for missing the actual question you had in mind. Here is an item that speaks about the licensing route (think Samba/CIFS).

    Licensing may be a sticky point for some third parties interested in licensing the hypercall API. Microsoft will release the API, at no cost, under its Open Specification Promise, which makes a pledge not to sue anyone using hypercall. Promise not to sue isn’t exactly a feel-good licensing term for perceived or real Microsoft competitors. Microsoft’s focus is customers and loyal partners, anyway.

    At a second glance, there’s no cost involved, but there ought to be concerns about the pledge which is similar to OOXML’s pledge that isn’t sufficient to calm one’s mind. Also mind an item where we explained this further. Paula’s item explains why Red Hat might suffer and I haven’t much hope for distributions like Debian in that regard. The notion of API licensing, patents, and promises not to sue should raise flags.

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