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11.09.07

Off Topic: Microsoft Crime/Dirty Tricks Watch (Updated)

Posted in Africa, Antitrust, Bill Gates, Law, Mandriva, Microsoft at 8:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Know thy rival

About a week ago we mentioned an off-topic (for this site) story. It was about Mandriva getting betrayed in Nigeria and we sort of predicted that the the full story was yet to be revealed.

Well, some answers are beginning to be brought up to the surface. Mandriva is able to roll back the corruption, so to speak.

After public statements from Mandriva officials implied the marketing deal is legally questionable, Microsoft said last week that it complies with international law and the law of the countries in which it operates.

Be aware of another bit of news that I spotted yesterday. The two abusive monopolists, Intel and Microsoft, are doing it again in Russia.

1999 China government got concerned with dependence on Microsoft, so it decided to develop its own open source software on the basis of Linux, called Red Flag Linux. In Russia a similar program has just been launched. Up to 2009 end all Russian schools are to be supplied with the open source software package, created by the Russian programmers.

That’s a classic example. It is case where two wealthy companies sieze control of territories by “dumping” (in the econonics sense) cheap products onto a market that chose a competitor’s product (GNU/Linux in this case, because over 10,000 Russian schools are to embrace Linux). They try to suppress and eliminate rivals in this way. It’s like a totalitarian regime which is chasing down citizens that deviate from the norm. Remember OLPC? Intel and Microsoft take the spotlight, again. Bill Gates’ charity often emerges as a pawn in this game (we have seen this many times before).

Other recent stories of interest:

Microsoft CIO Stuart Scott is out

Stuart Scott, who joined Microsoft in 2005 as Corporate Vice President and Chief Information Officer, has left was ousted from the company, as of November 5 for violating company policies, Microsoft officials said.

Ecuador Tax Agency Closes Microsoft Branch Offices For 7 Days (link expired)

“We have twice requested balances, payment reports and complete tax information, but the company hasn’t given it to us, so in accordance with our laws we have proceeded with the closure,” the SRI official in charge of the proceeding said.

Microsoft Office raid in Hungary

“Such behavior could lead to the exclusion of competitive products from the market and violate European Union rules, according to the authority known as the GVH.”

Even a Vice President at Microsoft was recently accused.

Microsoft exec dumped stock prior to Red Ring announcement

To make matters more murky, the sales were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission within the mandatory two days of the transaction, a result of an alleged “administrative error.” Microsoft has since remedied the issue by following the “procedures required of late-filers.”

Microsoft’s Bach sold more stock before Xbox news

Microsoft Corp. executive Robbie Bach sold $3 million more in company stock during the period leading up to an announcement about a costly flaw in its Xbox video game console than previously reported, according to a filing Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Insider Trading Hasn’t Affect Microsoft Stock – Yet

MarketWatch.com reports that Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division, sold $6.2 million of Microsoft stock just prior to announcing that Microsoft was going to have to extend XBox 360 warranties to three years because of extensive failures. The filings note that this was not part of any scheduled diversification or selling program; this was a conscious, unscheduled sale by the guy in charge of releasing news that could affect the value of Microsoft stock.

[...]

Insider trading is a very serious violation of the law; just ask Martha Stewart, who served five months in prison for avoiding losses of $43,000 through trades that just had suspicious timing (no insider trading was actually proven). This is $6.3 million that went straight into Robbie Bach’s pocket.

When you control the Department of Justice, then you can do just about anything. I could go a little further and find many older stories that illustrate corruption at Microsoft. OOXML-related stories are excluded in this post as well because they already exist somewhere in our archives. And let’s not get started with Intel and with Disney, which are completely off-topic for this Web site.

Monopoly

Update: just hours ago, an article was published which described another (new) ‘anti-GNU/Linux’ initiative.

Microsoft fights Linux and piracy with cheap Windows for second hand PCs

Observers say MAR also attempts to ameliorate another risk: that refurbishers, frustrated by the high cost and difficulty of following Microsoft’s arcane Windows licenses to the letter, will simply install a free Linux operating system on renewed PCs instead.

Some resellers “are saying, ‘We’re just going to ship this stuff out with Ubuntu Linux,’” said Adam Braunstein, an analyst with the Robert Frances Group.

There is probably no law against practices that Microsoft uses here, but this well-coordinated suppression of competition ought to invoke the wrath of observers such as the European Commission, which strives to restore competition and revert back the market to a healthier state. Mind the Cringely quote which started off a similar post. It was published just a couple of days ago.

This Web Site is Not a Distro War or a Desktop Environments War

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE, Mono, Open XML at 7:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU/Linux Distributions are not the same as standards and Mono (i.e. patents)

I‘ve just noticed a very prominent (as in omnipresent) comment in Digg’s front page. It points to our Web site and says:

Release it [KDE 4] to the wild! I for one am eager to give it a try. I’m tired of Gnome’s Mono shenanigans. http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/05/gnome-mono-yelp/ Yuck. A gnome that has contracted Mono. That’s a pleasant thought. Bring on KDE4!

Don’t use this Web site to slag off GNOME or promote KDE. Please. It makes us look like irrational, clannish zealots. We don’t advocate particular distros or software; we just warn about few bits of software that are a huge threat to GNU/Linux in the medium- and long-term. It’s self defense, not ‘banboyism’.

”Consider why neither KDE is truly a solution here, nor is obedient acceptance of Mono.“Let is be clarified yet again that I love GNOME, but I just don’t like the fact that Mono is becoming a necessary evil in common deployments (packaging) of GNOME. As argued yesterday, with Silverlight making its increased presence in the World Wide Web, it’s likely that all of us (KDE users too) will be virtually forced to use Mono, even just to enter and use Web sites. Therein exist our reasons to warn about Mono, which is totally controlled by Novell and Microsoft in many senses. Watch the most recent discussion (involving a long-time Mono developer) to realise what is going on. Consider why neither KDE is truly a solution here, nor is obedient acceptance of Mono. XAML must be shunned until it’s properly supported (an impossibility perhaps).

GNOME has separate issues, which are less to do with Mono and more to do with OOXML. Some words that are coming from the ODF Fellowship board ought to have revealed what Jeff Waugh and Jody think about OOXML. Let’s not go into the details yet, but I know someone who — for that reason alone — would not use GNOME. It’s also unlikely that GNOME will do a U-turn after Miguel de Icaza’s claim that OOXML is superb (in his own words). Let’s wait and see Jeff’s formal statement on this issue — a statement that he will soon be making. We saw (and noted) his response to Richard Stallman.

To say more on Mono, as you may or may not know, we strive to describe not only the awful consequences of recent developments that include patent deals, but also cover Mono ‘infestation’ in popular distributions, among many other things. A friend of mine might respin Fedora because of that. A GNOME fork was apparently conceived and planned last year, but it never materialised.

Mono Microsoft brain

Whether you’re keeping an eye on GNOME/Mono or not, the very long conversations with Jeff still makes it look quite ugly. I tried giving him the benefit of the doubt (and also a room in this site). Many people who begin to understand the situation openly say that they are waiting for KDE4 before they leave GNOME, but that’s not the point. Meanwhile, Mark Shuttleworth just seems to ignore the issue and I’m not exactly his best of friends, especially after this new article that published. At the end, it all boils down to freedom. Microsoft fights Free software by diluting and hurting its meaning.

To end this clarification, which ended up being far longer than I had anticipated, here are some logical arguments which are inspired by words of wisdom that I once read somewhere:

Free software is about Freedom

GNU/Linux facilitates freedom

Freedom means loss of revenue to Microsoft shareholders

Thus, Microsoft does not like freedom

Microsoft actively fights freedom

Microsoft dislikes whatever enables this freedom, including GNU/Linux users/developers

Therefore, GNU/Linux users/developers have a legitimate reason to dislike Microsoft

Novell/Microsoft Deal — The Success That Wasn’t

Posted in Deals, Finance, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, SLES/SLED at 7:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watch this:

Microsoft-Novell: Has Their Deal Made a Difference?

Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff sees little impact.

“Overall, it’s hard to see a lot of impact to date in the sense that there haven’t been major market share shifts among any of the major players,” Haff said.

451 Group analyst Matthew Aslett is on the same side of the fence, noting that the overall impact of the agreement has not been as great as people might have expected, or feared, depending on their point of view.

“Microsoft’s purchase of $240 million worth of support certificates for joint customers produced a boost for Novell’s Linux revenue, but it doesn’t appear to have had any impact on Red Hat’s business,” Aslett told InternetNews.com.

A Red Hat spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Beyond the business impact there is the interoperability side of the equation to consider, as well.

“There could still be some long-term impact from the interoperability initiatives around virtualization, as well as systems and identity management, but it could be some time before customers see the results,” Aslett said.

Matt Aslett and Gordon Haff rightly point out that there’s little real change. They must be aware of the ‘coupon effect’, which is bound to run out of steam fairly soon. Novell uses its temporary stock of coupons to make itself appear like a growth company, which it is not (jobs are being axed, for starters).

The analysts above do not merely drink the Redmond-Waltham Kool-Aid (joint press releases or PR pitch, which are sometimes parroted by journalists very blindly). In the case of Matt, also knows that Microsoft is deceiving the press (just watch what Susan Hauser did there). It’s nice to see that a journalist who has turned into an analyst maintained the same position, based on his own expriences as a reporter.

eWeek has another article on this topic. It is summarised as follows:

One year after former arch-rivals Microsoft and Novell partner up, what has resulted from their alliance?

Peter Galli, in my eyes at least, is one whose credibility is becoming a tad iffy after biased reporting and a big mistake in an article about virtualisation (misquoting Sam Ramji). Nonetheless, here is anohter article from eWeek.

Microsoft and Novell are using the one-year anniversary of their interoperability agreement to tout the increasing number of enterprise customers who are signing up because of the benefits offered through the collaboration.

The article talks about 30 new customers that signed up for “Microsoft’s Linux Support Coupons”. I’ve received an anonymous leak from one of these potential “new customers” and I am detemined to finally reveal how Microsoft and Novell — just like a couple of hounds — use FUD and other tricks to market themselves. It’s an anti-Mandriva/Red Hat/Ubuntu deal. That’s what it is. Microsoft is still trying to buy the market, essentially by ‘bribing’ or pressuring Linux distributors to defect and pay ‘tax’ for nothing of any substance.

Novell coupons warning

This is utterly disturbing because Novell and Microsoft are willing to share the flesh of a Free software corpse. Later on, Microsoft will eliminate Novell as well. History teaches us that lesson.

”When the coupons finally run out, Novell will begin selling its body.“I might be able to bring out the details about Novell approaching a company while hiding the company’s identity. This requires careful work, so it will probably be posted late in the weekend (if at all).

Remember this: Novell’s coupsons are worthless. Those coupons won’t last (they are limited) and they represent a case where Novell needs Microsoft’s ‘permission’ to sell GNU/Linux. Novell is now too dependent on (and thus loyal to) Microsoft. Just look at Novell’s treatment of OOXML, for example. When the coupons finally run out, Novell will begin selling its body. It will be lucky to stay a 5,000-employee work[h|k]force because Microsoft devours its legacy business.

It didn’t have to be like this. Novell did it to itself. It sold out.

Sellout

Related items:

Personal Minddump: What Is the OpenDocument Foundation?

Posted in Formats, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 6:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some quick thoughts

The OpenDocument Foundation is in for a bit of a shock. I’m actually in good terms with them (or used to be), but I hope they’ll get a good slap on the wrist for what they so selfishly did a few weeks ago.

Money divides communities and Microsoft knows how to use its money. We have seen that with Novell, which supported OOXML only after receiving a huge heap of cash from Microsoft.

Novell gets 'bribed'

On that same issue, I still wonder about the Foundation sometimes, but I am convinced there is no Microsoft connection. Other people whom I speak to suggest otherwise, but their arguments are poor and they completely neglect to take into account the principles of people at the OpenDocument Foundation where Microsoft’s monopoly is generally loathed.

Sam Hiser is a good example of this and I’ve been reading his blog for quite some time. He has just published a pro-GNU/Linux article in the Financial Times. In his defense of the OpenDocument Foundation, he is now bragging about getting attention (see his blog if you wish). Buy why? Why is it worth betraying ODF just to fuel a publicity stunt? Why throw away their years of hard work just to divert attention?

”Does personal interest overcome the obligations?“They are serving Microsoft’s interests, which Gary tells me is a sad side effect. What happened to the good of the community? Does personal interest overcome the obligations? Wasn’t the Foundation supposed to be for the ‘little people’? At the moment, the very opposite steps appear to be taken. They drive in reverse. CDF? I was patient enough and I even mentioned it at some stage. I had some blind trust and faith, but those who understand CDF say it’s impractical, according to the latest article from Andy Updegrove. It’s a route to nowhere. Andy has some harsh words for the media as well:

The most astonishing piece was written by ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. Early on in her article she stated that, “the ODF camp might unravel before Microsoft’s rival Office Open XML (OOXML) comes up for final international standardization vote early next year.” All because Gary, Sam and Marbux have decided that ODF does not meet their needs. Astonishing indeed, given that there is no available evidence to support such a prediction.

[...]

Here’s where things stand today:

  • The Foundation’s former members are not supporting Gary, Sam and Marbux
  • No one has spoken up to support their view of CDF as an alternative
  • They are not working with the W3C at this time, and no one at W3C is working with CDF in the manner they are proposing
  • CDF is not an appropriate substitute for ODF
  • The CDF working group is not chartered to provide what Gary, Sam and Marbux want to try and accomplish, even assuming that what they want is technically possible

All of which takes us back to the question, What were Gary, Sam and Marbux thinking?

I trust Andy’s assessment a great deal, but it’s a good point to clarify that just as we haven't any association with the FSF (or any not-for-profit body for that matter), there’s no connection at all to IBM, or Sun, or anybody else in industry. This is about freedom and fair competition, not market value. It’s good that I’ve actually been reminded to state this in public.

To Andy, our stance would be rather odd. He works for the Linux Foundation, which has Novell as a Gold Sponsor. Generally, it’s the same situation with IBM (notably Rob and Bob), which collaborates with Novell. Still, We’re on Weir’s blogroll (he added us by choice) and Andy lets the links (trackbacks) be. Bob actually linked to boycottnovell.com from his blog (again, by choice). I appreciate this, but again I stress that there’s no connection at all. Shane and I are independent individuals.

Returning to the point at hand, the important part of the article is that where Andy cites a position of authority. Even CDF people say that CDF cannot replace ODF. It is simply not suitable. Meanwhile, ODF gets support from almost everyone (well, just about everyone except Microsoft).

”It’s about time someone explained that the OpenDocument Foundation is not exactly what the name stands for or strives to represent.“It’s about time someone explained that the OpenDocument Foundation is not exactly what the name stands for or strives to represent. Rob Wier did this a month ago, but now it’s the CDF experts as well that give the Foundation the thumbs down. Mind you, I used to be a supporter of the Foundation before they began with the self-serving charade. I hope I haven’t lost them as friends, but I just can’t support their cause, which is a non-cause at the moment.

On the other side of the pond, OOXML is the format which associated with fraud and bribery. We have all the necessary facts to back and protect this accusation. There is no reason to feel shy about using words such as these (“fraud” and “bribery”) when there’s just so much evidence. Anything else would be a case of turning a blind eye to crime, or unethical manipulation at the very least.

If you wish to know what lies ahead for OOXML, then watch Bob Sutor’s latest blog item.

Though I’ve written about this before, I continue to be amazed that there does not seem to be a single, unambiguous, and logically complete description of what will happen at the OOXML Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) in Geneva at the end of February.

Will it be technical or political? What role will the money have? One thing is certainly true: the ISO has lost its way.

Patents Roundup: Trolls Still Out on a Hunt

Posted in GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, LGPL, Microsoft at 5:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keeping an eye on tomorrow’s biggest pain

The (patent) Troll Tracker marks it 100th post and talks about a mind-boggling trend that contradicts with what the Establishment wished us to believe. According to some statistics, as mentioned in recent weeks on numerous occasions, patent trolling is rising fast.

This is really the year of the patent troll. Last year, approximately 6,000 defendants were sued nationwide in about 2,800 patent cases. This year, the 6,000th defendant was sued sometime in early October. With the number of cases up nationwide probably 5% over last year, we’re still projected for at least a 30% increase in the number of defendants sued. More on that data in a later post.

Acacia is among those that are listed. Needless to mention, this backs suggestions for a reform. In fact, this shows us that lawyers are entering a jubilant era at the expense of developers and end-users/consumers. As evidence of these troublesome affairs, here is one patent case that was seen as news coverage-worthy.

Japan’s Canon won a patent lawsuit against a recycled ink cartridge supplier as the country’s Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed an appeal against a lower court decision in favor of the camera and office gear maker.

We must all be wondering about the mother of all patent trolls (at least the one most relevant to GNU/Linux). Mother ship is still up to no good.

Microsoft is trying to patent automatic goodbye messages, including “Have a great afternoon!” and “Ciao, Harry!”

Other than a reform, from a FOSS developer’s point-of-view, the least one can do is make use of the GPLv3, which extends patent coverage. The FSF has just released a quick guide to GPLv3.

Listed below are a bunch of older patents from Microsoft that take some nerve to file.

No Patents in Linux

Quick Mention: Somebody, Explain to Mr. Hovsepian What Fedora Is

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Interview, Novell, Red Hat, Ron Hovsepian at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hovsepian smiles

Ron Hovsepian, who is at a position that requires good knowledge of GNU/Linux, has had an interview with the British press. The interview was very brief and it didn’t contain particularly good questions that bring new information to light. It did, however, had this statement

Q [Computerwire:] How do you position yourselves in relation to Red Hat?

A [Hovsepian:] They are an edge server strategy company with one product. We have a two-year lead on them for desktops.

But Ron, what about the werewolf? Have you not heard of Fedora? It made a lot of buzz on Thursday when version 8 (codename Werewolf) was released.

Werewolf


Credit: beranger.org

There are two many things Novell is not telling us about (Red Hat’s desktop in this case). What ever happened to honesty and transparency?

Ron’s statement about Red Hat’s (or the Fedora community’s) desktop seems like disinformation and FUD. Plain and simple. Both desktops use GNOME and share similar other packages. Isn’t this a case of role reveral? Isn’t Justin Steinman responsible for Red Hat FUD where he doesn’t exactly excel due to lack of technical knowledge?

Even if Ron talks about market share or installed base, the claim is inaccurate and very unscientific. This has shades of the incident where a top Microsoft manager/executive likened OpenOffice.org (2.x) to Microsoft Office 97.

Memorable quotes:

Jeremy Allison said the following after Novell’s deal with Microsoft and after he had left Novell.

“Yes, that’s true, actually. I mean I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using [...] But they’re not telling anyone about it. They’re completely doing it off the record.”

Novell: ‘No One Can Stop Us From Selling Linux’

It was reported that those changes would preclude the inclusion of Linux in third party distribution deals such as the one Novell recently signed with Microsoft and “ban” Novell from selling future versions of Linux.

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