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01.07.08

Microsoft’s Latest: Want Olympics on Linux? Get Mono (and Pay ‘Patent Tax’)

Posted in DRM, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’re disheartened because Microsoft helped W3C develop the very standards that they’ve failed to implement in their browser. We’re also dismayed to see Microsoft continue adding proprietary extensions to these standards when support for the essentials remains unfinished.”

George Olsen, Web Standards Project

Do you enjoy watching the Olympic games? Got Silverlight? No? Then you may be out of luck after Microsoft’s partnership in the 2008 games.

Tuning In to Microsoft Silverlight for Olympic Gold

[...]

It’s also serving notice that Microsoft wants to be one of the major “channels” for Internet television.

The main problem with this, as we have stressed many times before, is that only Novell customers receive so-called ‘protection’ for the use of Mono (and therefore Moonlight, which is incomplete anyway). This protection expires less than 5 years from now.

By accepting Silverlight on the Web, Linux users put themselves in a position where Microsoft can claim that every Linux user owes Microsoft money and even demand and receive that money. Are all Linux developers even aware of the fact that Microsoft already makes money from their own voluntary work? Complacency is very dangerous here.

Novell has a role in this because it supports Silverlight, just like it supports OOXML (and other things from Microsoft). If users accept this, then they accept an ambush. When OOXML and Silverlight dependency is increased, Microsoft’s patent wrath will mount. Don’t let Novell turn Linux into what Microsoft plans to extract money from.

Bad Silverlight

Patents Roundup: Illustrating the Serious Issue Using Examples

Posted in Europe, Google, Humour, Microsoft, Patents at 11:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let’s present a quick summary of recent patent news. Some of the good links come from digitalmajority.org (thanks, zoobab) and some have been collected in the past couple of days.

The first is a good extraction from an article about the German system.

The IPKat recalls the Open Source seminar he attended last year at QMIPRI, where an articulate IBM exponent of patent reform maintained that nowadays patents are stockpiled in order to create thickets, cartels or standards, but that no-one bothers reading them any more.

This is more or less being confirmed by the following comment from IEEE Spectrum.

I am continually amazed at the lack of prior art searches done by major corporations. Microsoft certainly would have found it was infringing if it had done an exhaustive prior art search. The same goes for other corporations. At a billion and a half dollars, Microsoft certainly would have saved their money if it had done so. But, this begs the question, do corporations purposely not do prior art searches because it just doesn’t matter? If violating another patent results in billion of dollars in profits (as in RIM), what is a measly half billion dollar settlement? High tech firms profits are accrued in the immediacy of the moment. Whatever patents they receive are outdated within a few years. And with patent application pendency running more than six years, for most high tech inventions, does it really matter? It really seems to be a free-for-all in regards to patents. For all sides the US patent system is a joke.

Yesterday we covered some outrageous lawsuits which resolve around gaming on the network. Watch this new item:

Cyberview Technology Inc., the world leader in server-based gaming solutions, announced today that it was granted a patent, US 7,297,062, “Modular Entertainment and Gaming Systems Configured To Consume and Provide Network Services.”

There are some fairly benign patents such as this one from Google, which is hot in the news at the moment.

Google has filed a patent for the recognition and use of text contained in images and videos.

IBM’s situation with Asustek gets some federal attention.

IBM’s infringement complaint about some Asustek Computer products will be investigated by the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

To top of it all off, Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] seems to be receiving awards for selfish abuse. Its claims are not even being challenged.

Acacia Research Corp., which develops, acquires and licenses patented technologies, said Monday its Contacts Synchronization Corp. unit settled a patent infringement dispute with Verizon Wireless.

Settlement terms are confidential.

If Acacia and other patent trolls can carry on collecting money in this way, then there’s little hope for the current patent system.

Bruce Byfield Misattributes Quotes (Updatedx4)

Posted in Deception, FUD at 8:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I am shocked. Totally shocked.

In a new blog post Bruce Byfield points to another page where he attributes the following quote to me:

“Bruce is a Micro$oft/Novell shill. Don’t listen to him, he spreads nothing but lies.”

I never wrote this thing and following the link even proves this. Bruce, you must correct this. You’re putting fake words right in my mouth. I have always loved your articles, cited them and respected them a lot. How can you get something like this wrong? I am sure it’s not a deliberate mistake.

This is almost as bad as people who forged identities to publicly post ‘on my behalf’ that I am a transsexual, that I castrate parts of my body, and all sort of other hateful messages which they used my name to add credibility to.

I suggest that you post an apology and clarify this.

I’m not too keen on this whole “Microsoft doesn’t matter saga” either, but here are some other new writeups on this:

1. Free software, free speech

If you win, your ego is boosted and when you lose you have at least learned something. But there are a few tale-tell signs that indicate you’ve reached the end of the line. When your opponent tells you to shut up, he’s in fact waving the white flag. When the name-calling starts it means he is out for a final, berserk attack. It’s not about the issue anymore, it’s about you, the messenger.

I can understand that a teenage, underprivileged geek reacts like that, but not mature people who are blessed with the gift of words and the privilege of a good education. Regular visitors of my blog know that nothing outrages me more than people who apply these guerrilla tactics. Whether it is Ian Ferguson who said that “the flaming Linux bigots should take a backseat”, Mohit Joshi, who equaled GNU to communism or the more recently Bruce Byfield, who obviously couldn’t take the heat anymore and decided to proclaim unilaterally that all bloggers who don’t agree with him are automatically “conspiracy theorists”.

[...]

Every single blogger – whether professional or amateur – has to face the music. If you write, you get flamed. Swallow your professional pride and listen; you might learn something. And if you do, there is no shame in admitting you were wrong. It’s a humbling experience, but also a valuable life lesson. If you do not win a discussion you may be defeated but that doesn’t mean you have to be a loser.

2. Opinion: FOSS Supporters Need to Think for Themselves.

So Bruce. Why broach the subject in the first place if you are not going to offer information to support your claim. I would certainly like to know who has been wild eyed lately, so that I can potentially learn from their mistakes. However, you have opted not to do so. You lit a fire and walked away. This is but a blog, but I myself tend to link to plenty of other resources that support what I am saying. Those resources also link to yet more resources that may have views that I do not agree with. That is fine with me.

Update: I must confess that I wrote the above very quickly and at the heat of the moment, so I apologise if it seems impolite and impulsive. I did some thinking, looked at the quote again and contacted Bruce. I don’t know if someone is trying to fuel hostility between Bruce and I, but the fake quote makes me suspicious. Bruce had trust in the linux.com CMS where comments are posted anonymously. Someone put my name next to a message and there’s no digital signature to verify or falsify one’s identity. This is nothing new.

People post stuff ‘on my behalf’ which is fake and there have been many incidents in Digg, for example, where people ‘hijacked’ my identity and posted abusive stuff to create backlash against me. In some forums it seems like long-time Internet trolls try to stir things up as well. They even mention Bruce Byfield. At risk of being called a ‘conspiracy theory’, it’s very possible that some people out there try to create ‘civil wars’. Without intention of making any comparisons, just look at the Tanenbaum story. Microsoft tried to incite him against Linus Torvalds. It used proxies to achieve this, essentially by increasing friction. Do bear in mind that Bruce and I are colleagues in the sense that we both write articles for Datamation.

Update #2: To give some examples of identity-jacking in Digg, here are some screenshots:

There are many more examples. Additionally, there are still about 4 users in Digg who have spent the past few months modding down all my comments and burying all my stories systematically. They also add slander to the mix (libel that I haven’t the capacity to keep track of). That makes several thousands of comments and posts (I’m quite prolific there) for 4 people to handle consistently. Every day, once every several hours. That’s how bad it is.

Update #3: Bruce has corrected the page. He truly deserves some apologies because he trusted the comment’s validity. It’s easy to fall for such scams.

Update #4: To illustrate better what is happening at Digg I have just grabbed a screenshot of my comments’ ratings from the past 8 hours. Apart from the personal attacks from those usual suspects (users who are always defending Microsoft at Digg), look at the consistent modding down by 4 people just hours after these comments were posted. It’s always the same four people hawking my comments.

Say No to Novell

This is not an unusual observation. It has gone on for months. What would people spend so many hours mocking and making someone else’s comments invisible? Why the obsession?

While we’re at it, the following was said to me just 2 days ago in an E-mail:

Yeah. I’ve noticed the explosion [of FUD and attacks on FODD]. Richard Stallman seems to be under a more or less constant denial of service attack (using e-mail). It’s pretty much a constant stream of Ballmeresque name calling and slurs, which he’s handling remarkably well.

There’s some clever playing of the *BSD (esp. FreeBSD) off against Linux, GPL and FSF. Some of the nastier e-mails seem to originate from networks /businesses in the Seattle area.

Another reliable source which I cannot name said several months ago that Theo de Raadt might be used by Microsoft to attack the GPL and Linu[s|x]. Whether people have tried to create tension between me and a colleague, Bruce Byfield, it’s impossible to tell. They posted fake comments under my name. I know at least one other person with an experience just like this. That person no longer makes comments in public as a result. It has become a matter of policy.

Joseph LaSala Quits Novell!

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

One question remains: Why was Novell so quiet about it?

He appears to have just landed in a new job.

Most recently, LaSala served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Novell, where he served as a member of Novell’s executive leadership team and had responsibility for all legal matters affecting Novell on a worldwide basis, including corporate governance, intellectual property, contract management, licensing, anti-piracy, regulatory compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation. LaSala joined Novell in 2001 when the company acquired Cambridge Technology Partners, where he served as senior vice president, general counsel and secretary since 2000.

With layoffs planned for this year, many Novell employees already plan their escape.

Is Microsoft Already Redefining ‘Open Source’?

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Marketing, Microsoft, OSI at 6:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tast month we published Pandu Rao's article which explained how Microsoft redefined “open” and used terms like “XML” to confuse. Dilution of important terms that are also distinguishing factor is something which Microsoft does frequently. Here is another good example from David Rosenberg.

Back in June of 2006 I wrote a post about Microsoft’s attempts to insidiously subvert and usurp the open source community. In that post I opined that Microsoft was using clever marketing to make nice with the open source community with the launch of a developer site called Codeplex.

This week Microsoft launched a SMB program that contains the words “open”, “value” and “subscription”, none of which are common to Microsoft products, culture, or marketing.

[...]

So if I read this right:

* There is nothing open about the code or the contract as you have to use the software for a set period of time
* The value isn’t really there as there is no cost-benefit
* It’s not really a subscription as “lease-like” means it’s a perpetual license–you just absorb the cost over time instead of upfront
* If you already bought all the Microsoft software you might get a discount if you buy this muck too

As you can see, innocent CIOs are likely to lose faith in key terms such as “open”, “subscription model” and it’s not so clear how “value” fits in. There are many similar examples of such ‘term-jacking’.

Related articles (external):

Speaking of So-called ‘Conspiracy Theories’ and ‘Coincidences’

Posted in Africa, Apple, Courtroom, DRM, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Minix, SCO, SUN at 12:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“A couple of years ago this guy called Ken Brown wrote a book saying that Linus stole Linux from me… It later came out that Microsoft had paid him to do this…”

Andrew S Tanenbaum, father on MINIX

In a previous post we showed that it would be foolish to ignore what Microsoft constantly does to sabotage and stifle competitors. At times, the company stumbles and falls. It fails to defend itself after leaving too many fingerprints or leaving in tact the trail of evidence which shows how it pulls strings in order to secretly attack it worst of fears.

Recent examples include Google, possibly IBM and possibly OLPC. And never mind SCO (Goldfarb declaration), the many possibilities surrounding Acacia and what PJ (of Groklaw fame) has just revealed thanks to a large community of investigators and experienced lawyers. She calls it — quite sarcastically in fact — just a coincidence. Microsoft is apparently suing Apple by proxy, just as it recently did with other companies and Linux. We will get to this in a moment.

Groklaw links to some recent articles of interest. Here are the accompanying remarks:

[PJ: Hey, is this sue-your-competitor-by-proxy-thing getting more and more transparent, or is it just me that finds it hard to believe a consumer wants her music protected Microsoft's way enough to sue over it ... bit of a stretch, no? That reminds me: Microsoft's Silverlight uses Windows Media Video:

"We depend on Microsoft Windows Media technologies, and we’re excited about Microsoft Silverlight as a platform to enable instant watching of great content for all our members, on multiple platforms.”

"Silverlight customers will also enjoy compatibility with the broad ecosystem of Windows Media-enabled tools and solutions, and the proven scalability and reliability of the Emmy Award-winning Windows Media technologies. At the discretion of content providers, Silverlight will also deliver digital rights management support built on the recently announced Microsoft PlayReady™ content access technology — with feature parity on Windows and Mac....

Microsoft Expression Media Encoder, which will be a feature of Microsoft Expression Media, enables rapid import, compression and Web publishing of digital video imported from a variety of popular formats, including AVI and QuickTime, into WMV."

So, anyone see a possible tie-in to this litigation? Microsoft might want to clear that up right away. I'm guessing that Microsoft wants to own the Internet. And I'm sure we can all trust *them* to do the right thing with it.]

Further, in reference to another item she adds:

[PJ: If this is Stacie Lynn Somers, the attorney, then go to PACER and plug in her name, and you'll find there is some class action history there, including a reference to Lerach Coughlin, in an entry in an earlier case against Nextel that reads, "FAX number for Attorneys Theodore J Pintar, Stacie Lynn Somers, John J Stoia Jr with the Law Firm of Lerach, Coughlin, Stoia and Robbins is [redacted].”
The firm is no longer associated with William Lerach who pled guilty last September to kickback schemes regarding getting plaintiffs for class action lawsuits. I don’t see Ms. Somers listed at Coughlin Stoia now. But here’s what the firm is doing including another Apple antitrust case:

The Apple iPod iTunes Antitrust Litig., Case No. C-05-00037-JW (N.D. Cal.). Coughlin Stoia is one of two firms appointed lead counsel for the proposed iPod direct-purchaser class – a class of several million people. Plaintiffs assert that Apple illegally tied the purchase of digital music and video files from its iTunes Store to the purchase of an iPod by making it impossible to play music and video purchased on iTunes using other portable players, and unlawfully monopolized the market for portable digital music players.” Probably just a coincidence.]

Okay, so you get the picture now. Mind the bit about kickbacks, which even Intel was caught engaging in on several occasions with several different companies. It is a form of bribery.

There is nothing conclusive in the Apple case, but it just happens to be the most recent investigation, backed by a pool of evidence and facts. While there’s no hard evidence, it makes a decent start.

Let’s repeat again what we’ve seen in recent weeks:

  • Google went under attacks while Microsoft urged publishers to sue Google. Microsoft also used lobbyists to almost intercept an acquisition that Microsoft pursed itself. Hypocrisy greater than this is very rare and hard to find.
  • Possibly a by-proxy lawsuit against IBM — an antitrust case in Europe courtesy a Microsoft partner/client/collaborator
  • Tanenbaum proxy story — we will get to it in a moment
  • Did Microsoft offer Sun Microsystems money to sue Linux?
  • Possibly OLPC/LANCOR — a convicted felon launched a lawsuit in Nigeria just shortly after a Microsoft bribery incident in Nigeria, along with empty threats of testing junk patents in America as well (FUD)
  • SCO — Goldfarb's declaration pretty much confirms that Microsoft fueled SCO financially
  • Possibilities to consider which involve Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], a company comprising former Microsoft employees which is now suing Linux companies, with others like Intellectual Ventures (also founded by and consisting former Microsoft employees), which is lurking around the corner openly expressing Linux disdain or dismissal
  • Apple antitrust lawsuit with some Silverlight in the midst of it. See the notes from Groklaw (quoted at the top).

This brings us back to Bruce Byfield’s screed and his complaint about this Web site’s coverage. It’s a vague piece calling us to not worry about Microsoft and suggesting that there are merely ‘conspiracy theories’ out there.

“Those who watch Microsoft at play are being (mis)labeled using stereotypes like “conspiracy theorist”, which is almost synonymous with “loon”.”The piece is essentially encouraging people not to look at Microsoft’s business practices. Those who watch Microsoft at play are being (mis)labeled using stereotypes like “conspiracy theorist”, which is almost synonymous with “loon”. It does make one wonder if he got the special Redmond treatment just like another person from linux.com (Roblimo accepted a gift from Microsoft). They are both in linux.com, which has Microsoft’s “Get the Fact” banners featured in Linux articles. I don’t believe any of these accusations personally (that would be the real ‘conspiracy theory’), but it’s a case of throwing ideas out there. Those Microsoft adverts do, after all, pay some of these writers’ wages.

PJ is rightly concerned (she asked me about it because she thought Byfield was accusing her, not me), but then again, Bruce Byfield response seems to be making a mention of the LANCOR case, which we barely ever cover here.

The next time someone attempts to convince you not to keep an eye on Microsoft, consider many of the stories we already know about, including these:

  1. The whole Mandriva-Nigeria-Microsoft bribery incident, which is recent. Bribery is no acceptable way to intercept done Linux contracts.
  2. The OLPC story, which contains quite a lot of hints and quite a few coincidences. It remains clear that at least one party was actively scheming to take the charitable project down, ensuring it does not take off the ground and benefits from low costs associated with mass-production.
  3. Lawsuits by proxy, e.g. the Tanenbaum 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.

There are no coincidences here. We have real stories. We have hard evidence from those who were involved. In some circumstances, the ‘smoking gun’ is still absent, but it might be out there.

As someone wrote to me by E-mail yesterday: “Yeah, sure. The people who said the Gulf of Tonkin incident was staged were called conspiracy theorists. Same goes for those who said the US had a hand in pulling the Soviets into Afghanistan. Ditto for those who said the Pearl Harbour attack was known about in advance.”

Finally here is an interesting video which ought to teach us a lesson about that politically-correct press we are so frequently educated to trust too blindly.

Unfortunately, we cannot produce an Ogg version of this video because there may be copyrights attached to it.

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