No Schadenfreude, Just Information

Posted in Finance, Novell at 8:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Among today’s headlines:

Novell reports quarterly loss as expenses rise

The company reported a fourth-quarter loss of $17.9 million, or 5 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $19.9 million, or 5 cents a share.

Novell drops; Qwest to restart dividend payments

Novell shares fell 8.6% to $6.49 following the company’s view that 2008 revenue will come in between $920 million and $945 million.

Novell Swings to Fiscal 4Q Loss

Shares fell 80 cents, or 11 percent, to $6.30 in electronic after-hours trading.

Quick Mention: Fedora Beats SLED 10 in CRN Test

Posted in GNU/Linux, Red Hat, SLES/SLED at 8:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another new reason for Novell’s Red Hat envy.

In each test bed, Fedora integrated with the printer with ease. However, on the HP Compaq device, Novell took more hands-on configuration to integrate with the printer. On balance, that left Fedora the winner of Round 2 – - but just barely – - over SLED 10.


Fedora 8 (Werewolf)                Credit: beranger.org

By the way, we wrongly identified a Novell Boycotter, so we apologise.

I just wanted to have a closer look on Kubuntu and compare it to openSUSE and suddenly I became a Novell boycotter on the Boycott Novell site. Obviously this needs some clarifications.

Somehow SuSE has got a bad reputation: Upgrade hassles, old styled RPM packages and a outdated package management as well as the slow Yast configuration.

OOXML and ECMA: Same Scandal, Different Day

Posted in Australia, Deception, ECMA, GNOME, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 7:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Confusion, obscurity, uncertainty

There appears to be plenty of energy dedicated to make the whole standardiatino effort cumbersome, secretive, and immune to outside scrutiny and innervation. This is unacceptable.

It’s bad enough that companies like Corel and Novell seems to have been ‘bought’ (bribed) to defect to Microsoft’s side, with other possibilities as well. It’s even worse when you are not allowed to know what’s going on in a process that must thrive in transparency. Aren’t transparency and openness what standards are all about?

Abuse in Disguise

First, consider this loud complaint about EMCA (aka Microsoft) shutting people out.

What is needed now is the public and unconditional access to the works of the TC 45. What is needed now is for the Ecma to give the password to their page. Give us the password!

Why is Microsoft so afraid of spectators? Why are there so many barriers? Isn’t the ‘openness’ of their standard something to boast and brag about? Or is it something to be embarrassed of and hide?

Gaming the Rules Again?

Andy Updegrove is already concerned. We’re still months ago from the BRM and questionable practices are all too commonplace.

A particularly contentious issue has been whether Ecma is trying to make it as easy as possible, or is trying to make it as difficult as possible while still scoring PR points, for interested parties to view proposed dispositions of comments, and whether it does, or does not, have the latitude under ISO rules to be more transparent. The fairly opaque, and sometimes contradictory nature of those rules, has not made the debate any easier, and gives rise to the possibility of confusion, at best, and serious mistakes, at worst, as Pamela Jones pointed out at Groklaw this morning.

The result is that there will be very little real data available to the general public until Ecma opens the curtains on January 19. And the import of what little data does become available is usually the subject of instant disagreement.

Here is the latest analysis from Groklaw. This must be one of the observations Andy spoke about.

I read that as saying that delegates attend the meeting, and then they go home and talk things over as a group, and if the group decides it wishes to change its country’s vote, it has 30 days to do so.

However, if you visit ISO/IEC’s JTC 1/SC 34 – Document Description and Processing Languages page, it seems to say a country can change its vote at the meeting itself. And later wording in the FAQ seems to confirm that understanding, as I’ll show you. But we’re also hearing that there may not be room for everyone to fit into the room booked for the meeting. So, I’m seeing a potential for some gaming of the rules.

There was an incident some months ago where Microsoft deceived those who would vote, leaving them little or no time to prepare (6 months for 6,000+ pages was never sufficient in any case). An analogy made at the time. Think of an election day where someone names that wrong date so that you can’t vote. You show up when it’s too late. The lies never stopped.

Oops! We did it again.

Check out the following report from the plenary meeting. [via Andy Updegrove]

…The meeting was well attended, both by (what might be called) the old guard, and by many new members who no doubt represent a wide spectrum of thinking on SC 34’s subject areas. There was no substantive discussion either of Ecma’s proposed maintenance agreement for OOXML (should it become a standard), or of the UK’s proposal to create a new working group for Office document formats. These will most likely be formally addressed in the next SC 34 meeting which will take place in Oslo in April 2008.


Finally, my own working group convenor Martin Bryan is stepping down in anticipation of his retirement next year.


Martin has been something of a mentor to me, guiding me along some of the more Byzantine passages of the ISO/IEC process. At the plenary Martin spoke to his paper which has been the subject of some comment in the blogosphere (and which was never intended for public circulation).

OOXML on the trash canThat is the report from the man who spoke about Microsoft's abuse of the whole process. It wasn’t a man watching from the outside, but one who has seen (from the inside) Microsoft bringing his group down to its knees. How shameful is the fact that this was not intended for public circulation. Should people not be aware of abuse in the system that is intended to serve them?

Assimilate-to-Destroy Strategies

Remind yourself what motivates Microsoft to undergo this whole 'open' charade. Here is another good explanation [via Andy Updegrove] which ought to remind you that OOXML’s purpose is merely to eliminate ODF. OOXML is still proprietary and it inherits the same legal threats as its predecessor/ancestor, which was entirely binary.

[The South African] Government’s decision to adopt open document format is a bold one and will not come unchallenged. In the wider market, open document format (ODF) could have an enormously positive impact, but gaining the benefits offered by the format depends on several key factors.


The possibility that the whole world could one day use open standards for documents is a positive one. In March, it will be decided whether Open XML will be ratified as an open standard. Should Microsoft’s standard successfully be approved, it will provide the company with much leverage to encourage doubt in government at its decision for ODF. By then, however, government will be well on its way to implementing the ODF standard and updating its departments, with a commitment to have finally completed the move by 2009. The public, therefore, should follow government’s lead. It was a bold move for government to put its documents where its mouth is and it should encourage the private sector to do the same.

In New Zealand, the NZOSS addresses the problems the right way, as opposed to what some have done in Australia, which is akin to the GNOME Foundation's mistakes.

At this stage of the ISO process the NZOSS would like to invite any technically and legally minded people in the free and open source communities to review ECMA responses: to New Zealand comments or to comments that might affect New Zealand interests.

Microsoft will be lobbying very heavily in all those countries that voted “No” or abstained. Given the corruption we’ve witnessed in the past, it will take more than good spirit to defeat the Microsoft Money Machine(R), which has even used people's jobs (putting them at stake) to blackmail. We’re not dealing with a candidate standard here; we’re deal with a bully that has an impressive track record.

European Patent Convention Overhaul Arrives a Decade Too Late, Fox Watches Henhouse

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Register has parsed through a new item from the European Patent Convention. Here are some of the details.

The revised European Patent Convention (EPC) finally came into effect today – nearly a decade after it was first agreed that an overhaul of the system was needed.

Many amendments can now be adopted by the Organisation’s Administrative Council itself, without the need for the member states to hold a full diplomatic conference

There are already some early voices if criticism. The countries involved will have little or no role in the decisions made, so the system might remain open to abuse. See this:

Many amendments can now be adopted by the Organisation’s Administrative Council itself, without the need for the member states to hold a full diplomatic conference…

Speaking of tactless abuse, how about this possible case of abuse from the news?

MercExchange holds patents relating to internet auctions, and on Tuesday a court in Virginia found eBay had infringed some of its patents. The company was awarded $30m from eBay.

There are also patents on basic ideas like online shopping, not to mention Amazon's one-click shopping and other junk patents.

Quick Mention: Microsoft’s Web Standards Abuse May Incur the Wrath of Europe

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, ISO, Microsoft at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remember the very recent discussion about IE8, its new engine, and possible plans to extend (‘proprietaise’) the Web further? Well, here is a timely update on this issue. Opera has just filed a lawsuit.

Opera Software has filed an antitrust suit against Microsoft in the European Union, accusing it of stifling competition by tying its Internet Explorer web browser to Windows.

The complaint, which was filed by the Norwegian firm with the European Commission yesterday, says Microsoft is abusing its dominant position in the desktop PC market by offering only Internet Explorer as a standard part of Windows, and hindering interoperability by not following accepted standards with IE.

Opera is asking the Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, to force Microsoft to unbundle IE from Windows, or include other browsers as a standard part of its operating system. It also wants it to require Microsoft to adhere to industry standards with its Web browser.

It’s something for the ISO to watch, just in case it intends to allow Microsoft to continue treating documents standards like it treats Web standard.

Novell’s ‘Success’ is the SEC’s Failure

Posted in Finance, Novell, Videos at 4:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Half an hour ago Novell issued a press release to accompany its report.

“We are pleased with our overall results for 2007. While undergoing transformational change, we grew revenue and exceeded our operating targets. We are on the right path to long-term, sustainable profitability,” said Ron Hovsepian, president and CEO of Novell.

As we mentioned yesterday, there are many signs (including some from Novell) that show manipulation of numbers. This only fools investors. According to the following video from the SEC‘s chair, protecting investors from deception is the SEC’s purpose.

The SEC’s approach looked symbolic at best. Structural changes at Novell are said to be on their way. The results show no real sign of recovery.

Xandros, Linspire, OpenSUSE Fail to Keep Up With (K)Ubuntu

Posted in Dell, GNU/Linux, Linspire, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Servers, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu, Xandros at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The loss that never was

It is reassuring to see that SUSE, which we of course boycott, is still playing second fiddle to GNU/Linux distributions such as Kubuntu. Here is a direct, hands-on, side-by-side comparison.

Well, seems like Kubuntu is the clear winner for professional users and also for enthusiasts. For beginners there is a draw. So I would recommend to use the distribution that is used by a friend who is willing to help you with your first step. From the results it seems like a beginner cannot do much wrong.

Another new comparison comes from CRN. It leaves the pricey (now Microsoft tax-tainted) distributions which know as Linspire and Xandros well behind Ubuntu Linux. Here is the article.

But, clearly, Ubuntu shined. It has earned the right to play in the championship round of The World Series of Linux. The next round will determine its opponent, as the RPM Round pits SLED 10, Fedora 7 and PCLinuxOS to compete to pick the best out of those distributions.

The two major distributions, Ubuntu on the desktop and Red Hat on the server are likely to continue to thrive. Here is the latest good analysis, which excludes some important players like Mandriva.

What are Red Hat, Novell, and Canonical going to have to do in the next 52 weeks to in order to dominate the desktop and server Linux market?

Ubuntu is approaching the servers market at the moment. It recently signed a major deal with Dell. Red Hat will release its desktop product next month. This product’s availability has fallen 4 or 5 months behind schedule due to Microsoft patents and extortion attempts. As for Novell, wait and watch how it lies about its 'successes' tomorrow.

It would be most unfortunate if Microsoft ever managed to snatch a deal with Red Hat or Ubuntu. Novell was no trophy, and it dug its own grave for some quick cash.

Related articles: (Mark Shuttleworth on Microsoft’s “racketeering”)

Quick Mention: Summary of Microsoft OOXML Manipulation and Ballot-stuffing

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A fairly comprehensive article on Microsoft’s stuffing has just been published. From its opening paragraphs:


The stuffing of national boards with Certified Partners, getting more countries to join the ISO as voting members – a full throttled attack.

Luckily, some of these manipulations are well-documented, so compiling reports about them should not be hard. Those dirty secrets are not going away.

Further to yesterday's post about Denmark and its bizarre decision on OOXML, consider this new article that nicely summarises the issues raised in Groklaw.

There are only two problems with the inclusion of the Vole’s OOXML document format in this trial: OOXML is neither open nor a standard.

It’s only December and a few months remain before the BRM. As the day draws nearer, the more manipulation and dirty tricks we will see (with the exception of the Christmas vacation). This was expected.

“[OOXML] It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!“

Doug Mahugh, Microsoft

Doug shooting from the lip might be the best ODF advocacies to date.

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