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12.20.07

From Fighting for Standards to Fighting Against Them (Novell)

Posted in Deals, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 11:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As far as open standards are concerned, it is saddening to say that Novell has become somewhat of a disgrace. Not only has it left Samba alone amid its battle in Eurupe, but it also chose patent-encumbered connectivity (interoperability) over standards. Rob Weir has published an extensive piece which takes a look back at Novell’s fight for standards in industry. He then shows how things have changed since the deal with Microsoft.

So much for Novell’s complaint from 2004. I’m told that this is still case is suspended as of November, 2007, as the two parties pursue mediation. A status report on that mediation is due to Judge Motz by January 11th, 2008. Maybe we’re hear more then.

We mentioned this many times before, but it’s worth repeating that Microsoft essentially bought Novell’s pardon. It then even used Novell to battle open standards (remember that OOXML is merely intended to eliminate ODF as a threat, nothing else).

It’s bad enough that Novell, due to its binding contract with Microsoft, must support OOXML. It’s even worse when Novell spreads its standards-hostile behaviour onto other projects and a fine desktop environment such as GNOME. This issue is explored further in the following long piece.

What is this all about? The Gnome Foundation’s behaviour in front of the OOXML controversy. I don’t think there is any need to remind my audience on what happened with the Gnome Foundation (the article above will summarize things well). Suffice to say, Novell and/or ex-Novell developers have been assisting to the Ecma TC 45 (the one on OOXML) and been “supportive” of OOXML in general. I am aware that I’m making a very long story short here. But I’m doing this on purpose: the conspiracy that Bruce refers could be summarized as Novell engineers hijacking Gnome to serve their own corporate needs, and the problem is, these needs are aligned with the ones of Microsoft.

[...]

The Gnome Foundation is composed of many developers from large or small corporations that are either hostile or simply indifferent to OOXML.

As indicated somewhere among the comments, which are yet to appear on the page, the GNOME Foundation’s deeds — to borrow the terminology of Jim Powers — speak louder than their words. It’s also worth acknowledging that the Foundation itself is divided on this issue, so it ought to be resolved before it’s too late.

”Novell has influence in the GNOME project.“Remember this: Novell is assisting Microsoft. It’s all in their contract. Novell has influence in the GNOME project.

Looking ahead, last week's comment shed light on the danger Novell’s staff might become to the Linux Foundation and the Linux kernel. Judging by the fact that the homepage of OpenOffice.org points to BoycottNovell, it appears as though these guys aren’t too happy with Novell either.

Supporting (peripheral) references:

More Lawsuits and Attacks by Proxy, Courtesy of Microsoft

Posted in America, Antitrust, Bill Gates, Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Kernel, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Steve Ballmer at 8:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The fierce battle between Microsoft and Google has a long history with many different dimensions or ‘episodes’ to consider at the same time. One of them has just resurfaced in the media. It would take a lot of time to process the information and rewrite one cohesive piece, so this post is composed from a series of recent news articles that are posted in a logical (and sometimes chronological) order. They hopefully tell the story accurately enough, unlike some journalists who seem to have missed the broader picture.

”Aren’t we already used to seeing lawsuits by proxy from Microsoft? This includes several lawsuits against Linux (the kernel). “Controversial action is better off taken in disguise. We have seen this many times before in the context of Silverlight and OOXML (Novell for instance). It’s a pattern. It’s a diversion strategy that involves proxies, as in “when you cannot attack directly, seek out some friends.” That appears to be the motto anyway.

Aren’t we already used to seeing lawsuits by proxy from Microsoft? This includes several lawsuits against Linux (the kernel). How about this very new one against IBM [via Andy Updegrove]? Here is some information about the party which launched the lawsuit:

Platform Solutions, founded in 2003, is funded by venture-capital firm Blueprint Ventures, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Intel Capital, InterWest Partners, InvestCorp, and Microsoft.

Yes, that’s Microsoft right there. Remember that Bill Gates perceives IBM as Microsoft’s #1 threat.

This all come at a time when Microsoft and Viacom join forces against another giant (also in Forbes Magazine, whose name is Google. Google is a fast-growing giant, but the same cannot be said about IBM. It is therefore not surprising that Steve Ballmer sees Google — not IBM — as Microsoft’s #1 threat (alongside GNU/Linux)

The new attack on Google should be seen in context. There’s history there. Here is a quick summary, which was constructed by extracting quotes from the news.

Viacom Attacks YouTube (Google)

Here is where some of this story began, after Google’s inability to police its content and users.

Legal Titans Glare At Each Other Across Google-Viacom Battlefield

The Viacom versus Google case is going to be an interesting showdown.

Then, months later, Viacom had a response that justifies some of its actions.

Viacom: ‘Daily Show’ clips just the beginning

In the meantime, there’s still the matter of that $1 billion lawsuit. Viacom earlier this year sued Google over the misappropriation of copyrighted content on YouTube.

This is despite the fact that Viacom merely fights a disruptive trend and it may be too late to the party.

Viacom out of touch with Web 2.0

Listening to the anti-Google and YouTube rhetoric spewing out of the mouth of Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman one has to wonder why he bothered to show up to the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco last week.

Microsoft Joins the Anti-Google Lobby

Watch Microsoft’s role in the lawsuits against Google. At some stages, Microsoft even encouraged publishers to sue Google.

Microsoft Befriends Google’s Foes

After a government- and monopoly-inspired period in which Microsoft had to pretend to be a gentle force for global good, the company is being forced to return to its ruthless roots. Ironically, it is doing this in part by decrying the unfair practices of a competitor and shamelessly sucking up to the Establishment.

Watch some of the hypocrisy in Microsoft’s actions.

Microsoft’s Soapbox returns with filtering technology

To that point, Soapbox was littered with pirated videos. This put Microsoft in a pickle. The software giant was agreeing to distribute content for entertainment companies whose copyright was commonly violated at its video-sharing site.

This brings us to a little more hypocrisy on Microsoft’s part.

Microsoft Shows Its Hypocrisy

Recently, Google pursued the acquisition of DoubleClick. Microsoft was fast to complain, but only later it turned out that Microsoft wanted to acquire the very same company (and got rejected by shareholders).

News Analysis: Microsoft General Counsel on DoubleClick and Antitrust

This raises a very important question – why didn’t Microsoft match Google’s $3.1 billion offer. Smith would not comment on this, but I can report from very good sources that in fact the company did offer to match it, and was willing to pay even more to insure that Google did not corner the online ad market. But for whatever reasons, the private equity firm that owned the majority of DoubleClick’s shares decided to go with Google.

[...]

I asked Smith about the irony of Microsoft asking the government to support it on antitrust. His response was interesting.

Google Gets the OK

It seemed like Microsoft’s actions (more on this later) were fruitful, but they were not. As far as the FTC was concerned, all was well at the time.

Report FTC To OK Google/DoubleClick Deal

The deal has faced fierce opposition from both Microsoft (MSFT) and some privacy advocates.

The FTC has its share problems when it comes to monopolies.

On December 20th, 2007:

FTC: We won’t block Google-DoubleClick merger

Federal Trade Commission regulators said Thursday that Google’s controversial $3.1 billion merger proposal with DoubleClick can proceed, despite earlier complaints raised by competitors and privacy advocates.

Be aware that Microsoft then started to lobby very heavily and called partners to join the attack on Google. That brings us to the next bunch of articles.

Microsoft Attacks Google

Microsoft not only invited other companies, but it also used marketing people and other groups to do its legwork and serve as seemingly-independent parties.

Microsoft trying to derail Google/DoubleClick deal by lobbying congress

Microsoft has hired lobbying firm Patton Boggs LLC to do work on “competitive issues surrounding Google/DoubleClick [sic] merger.”

Google hasn’t much luck when it comes to justice.

Microsoft Finds Legal Defender in Justice Dept.

Nearly a decade after the government began its landmark effort to break up Microsoft, the Bush administration has sharply changed course by repeatedly defending the company both in the United States and abroad against accusations of anticompetitive conduct, including the recent rejection of a complaint by Google.

[...]

In the most striking recent example of the policy shift, the top antitrust official at the Justice Department last month urged state prosecutors to reject a confidential antitrust complaint filed by Google that is tied to a consent decree that monitors Microsoft’s behavior. Google has accused Microsoft of designing its latest operating system, Vista, to discourage the use of Google’s desktop search program, lawyers involved in the case said.

The US DoJ is actually overly friendly when it comes to Microsoft. There’s a series of failures predating this.

On December 20th, 2007

European lobby rejects Google-Doubleclick merger

Google’s planned takeover of online ad giant DoubleClick for $3.1 billion will harm European citizens through greater intrusion into their privacy, the continent’s top consumer group said Thursday.

You have to wonder who is behind this. More on this in the articles below.

Google Suddenly Under Fire

EU Worries About Privacy in Google Deal

European lawmakers plan to take the unusual step of pressing antitrust regulators next month to look at privacy concerns raised by Google Inc.’s intended takeover of online ad tracker DoubleClick.

U.S. lawmakers urge Google-DoubleClick deal scrutiny

Two U.S. senators on the antitrust subcommittee urged the Federal Trade Commission’s chairman to submit Google’s purchase of advertising company DoubleClick to “serious scrutiny.”

There’s a lot more (EU extends review of Google/DoubleClick merger).

Microsoft’s Hypocrisy Returns

There are many ways (and means) to view Microsoft’s sheer hypocrisy. One of them is to consider some of the gigantic acquisitions Microsoft has successfully completed since its Google scrutiny (joint effort with AT&T)

Luckily for Google, some of this hypocrisy is actually paying off for Google.

Google: Microsoft-Viacom deal helps our DoubleClick defense

Now Google is pointing to a new, $500 million ad deal between Redmond and Viacom on Wednesday as proof positive that there’s plenty of competition in the online ad market–a not-so-thinly-veiled reminder that its planned purchase deserves the green light.

Google has more plans for the future (not that we ought to endorse such compromise of privacy).

Google looks to ad partners beyond DoubleClick deal

Tim Armstrong, Google’s president of advertising and commerce in North America, said the Web search leader’s forays into selling ads in print, radio and television had shown that marketers would be keen to use a joint system that let them better manage ad inventory.

This long and laborious post has hopefully shown how Microsoft reaches out to other parties when it needs to apply pressure on competitors. We have seen that many times before and we shall certainly see more of this in the future.

BoycottNovell Changes on Their Way, Doors Always Open

Posted in Site News at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It is no secret that this site neglected to do a few things which could truly add to its credibility:

  1. Proofreading. Shane’s posts are quite polished and contain almost no typos. In the year to come, I intend to ensure that I do more than one quick pass through the text. I will also rewrite text rather than type down my mind, which results in a single train of consciousness that is not always as clear and unambitious as it can be. I concentrate on pace, but that comes at the expense of quality sometimes (the same goes for other sites where I participate, the exception being academic papers and press articles).
  2. Scale. Longer items are to be expected, with the exception of posts whose title is preceded by “Quick Mention:“.
  3. External references. We already include many external references. Cross citations point to items that are themselves pointing at reliable external references (plus context). In the year to come, expect larger heaps of supporting (external) references, which add intensity to our arguments and serve those who do research better than ourselves (it’s a very time-consuming task).

The year is not over and this Web site is likely to be active over the holiday period. The FUD never takes breaks, unlike businesses. We have to keep our eyes open, even in the weekends (mind the comments).

Have Yourself an OpenDocument Christmas

Posted in Boycott Novell, Formats, GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 7:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…or whichever holiday is celebrated this winter

”The smear campaign against the site and its message is simply bound to fail.“There is a fair bit of stuff going on at the moment. Just before Christmas arrives, plenty of last-minute news is arriving. I’ve just returned from a Christmas dinner, so I’m feeling quite full and I’m definitely not sober, but let me try to catch up with ODF news. Don’t mind the types, whose frequency is increased by my poor (or non-existent) proofreading habits, never mind the alcohol.

The front page of OpenOffice is linking to us at the moment, so all those skeptics (yes, that includes you too, Jeff) should realise that our views are taken seriously. The smear campaign against the site and its message is simply bound to fail.

In ComputerWorld, the following new article on the role of StarOffice has just appeared.

Sun’s retreat from the enterprise arena will let IBM take a stab at Microsoft Office.

The beta of Symphony garnered 250,000 registered downloads in its first two months. By contrast, OpenOffice.org is being downloaded about 1 million times a week.

Considering this high pace, ODF is definitely going to get its claws on many people’s documents. Meanwhile, The Register writes about the ‘standards war’ and cares enough to mention story which the mainstream press is ‘kind’ enough to ignore.

Microsoft’s partners in Sweden, for example, were given “marketing incentives” in return for paying to join the national standards body. This “ballot stuffing” ploy, which Redmond claimed was down to the actions of one over zealous worker rather than company policy, backfired after Sweden invalidated its vote because of voting iregularaties after it was discovered someone had been allowed to vote twice.

The draft specification was amended in light of criticisms and will now be resubmitted for a further standards vote. Groklaw has published an informative article that highlights concerns about Redmond’s possible influence on the February vote, worries about the lack of discussion over patent issues or public accountability, and a run-down on the more colourful incidents in the on-going saga.

A somewhat misleading headline was chosen for this article. OOXML is not an open office standard. It’s not open and its not a standard (ECMA is a coin-in-the-slot exercise). Moving on, check out this update on the exciting news from Norway, which merely joined another country where Microsoft played very dirty.

So, now two European (I know Norway is not truly part of the EEC but, like Switzerland, it is in Europe) countries have mandated Open standards for electronic documentation. I wonder how stupid the UK’s National Archive feel now? Or perhaps, because their management are Microsoft puppets, they didn’t really have a say in the first place…

Indeed, they are (Microsoft puppets). We covered this here before. It’s rather amazing how many positions of power Microsoft has quietly conquered and then used to make decisions that favour itself (and lock citizens in). We last mentioned the BBC (aka MSBBC) just a few days ago.

In other OOXML-related news, Glyn Moody, whose Linux Journal article we mentioned only yesterday, receives an open letter from a prominent KDE developer.

Dear Glyn Moody:

I found how you trotted out an age old and long since dealt with issue, namely the licensing of Qt1, as a way to discuss what you consider to be “the growing tensions between the KDE and GNOME camps” to be tasteless and ironic. If you want to help mend fences (we need all the hands we can get), the last thing to do is drag long-since dealt with issues that have been irrelevant for years back to the surface.

A cynic might think you were trying to deflect the issues that have arisen around OOXML and the negative attention it has resulted in for GNOME by kicking the someone else’s dead horses. Personally, I think you were just being a bit clumsy while trying to make the point that everyone falters now and again and that nobody gains from conflict within our shared house. I think your intentions were good but unfortunately the road to hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions.

Aaron Seigo is right in this case, but Glyn didn’t mean to cause any harm. He was probably just trying to keep the article balanced, even if it involved some artificial things and plenty of imagination.

Spread ODF

Red Hat FUD Was Off Target

Posted in Finance, FUD, GNU/Linux, Novell, Red Hat at 6:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several days ago we happened to mention some Red Hat FUD. Well, Red Hat’s results are solid, unlike Novell's. Here is the latest:

Red Hat Inc. tapped former Delta Air Lines Inc. executive James Whitehurst to lead the company into a new phase of growth, as the open source provider said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose 12 percent.

Yes, the company gets a new CEO as well.

In a surprise move, Red Hat said Thursday that Matthew Szulik will step down as president and chief executive on January 1, to be replaced by James Whitehurst, Delta Airlines’ former chief operating officer.

And an obligatory comment consider:

Red Hat is for those that know better !. If anyone listens to the BS FUD about Red Hat, they are going to be pulled by the chain around their neck about everything !. Most of the BS about Red Hat, is because Novell needs business, come on with layoffs and all to max profits ?. Imo if not for Red Hat Novell would be lost for GPL code as they are lost on how to be a successful distro. The thinking by some about – Let’s make a Deal with Microsoft, that btw was Novell’s big idea to kill Red Hat and have other distros begging Microsoft, while those that would have signed a deal being limited under Microsoft’s first deal with Novell. This does not work with a community as the community around Linux as Novell is in pain over having that knowledge now and grab for RH gold to live.

Remember that Novell’s deal with Microsoft is an anti-Red Hat deal. It always has been. The same goes goes for other companies that went the wrong way).

Quick Mention: Samba Gets Its Way

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Samba at 6:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ending what seemed like a major loss at one point [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], Samba gets the documentation it needed.

The Protocol Freedom Information Foundation has just signed an agreement with Microsoft to receive the protocol documentation needed to fully interoperate with the Microsoft Windows workgroup server products and to make them available to Samba and other Free Software projects.

No. This isn’t a bit like the Novell-Microsoft agreements. This is for access to Microsoft’s protocols, as ordered by the EU Commission and agreed to by Microsoft. It’s a good thing, in my opinion, and the Samba guys worked really hard to make this as good as it gets. Note that it’s a copyright agreement, not a patent licensing, but there’s a list of patents. Samba has not agreed to license them. Rather it will avoid them, and with a list of them provided by Microsoft, they can and so can you. There is no acknowledgment of them by Samba, no money paid for them, nothing. This is what Novell and others could have done, and thanks to Samba, everyone is a bit freer today.

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