Becta, Its Microsoft Affairs, and OpenDocument Format

Posted in Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The danger is that Microsoft is using strategic monopolistic pricing in the education market, with the government’s assistance, to turn our state university systems into private workforce training programs for Microsoft.”

Nathan Newman

Prior to discussing Microsoft's exclusionary deals with OEM we also discussed Microsoft exclusionary deal with British education. The gist of the story is that BECTA and Microsoft sign secret deals which more or less force all educational institutions to stick with Microsoft’s prepaid-for products (thereby excluding Free software).

“They have dual roles and conflicting interests, e.g. serving Microsoft investors and ‘serving’ British taxpayers at the same time.”At the time, such actions and deals resulted in some outrage. Those who understand the situation — as opposed to just assume that politicians serve their people with good cause in mind — have called for change. There is already too much ‘cheeky business’ like this in the United Kingdom. We recently discussed the BBC again. In fact, much more information is yet to arrive about other government establishments that become Microsoft hostages in the hands of former/current Microsoft employees. They have dual roles and conflicting interests, e.g. serving Microsoft investors and ‘serving’ British taxpayers at the same time.

More recently, BECTA has been a little more responsive. It actually listened. They say it’s the perception that you cannot live without Office which makes a mental barrier. With OOXML spreading around, this may actually become a technical barrier, so it's time to worry about BECTA and ODF (they made no clear statement on the issue for all we can tell).

Having made some inquires we learned that BECTA did write to BSI to tell them to vote “No” to OOXML as an ISO standard. They have also complained to the OFT about Microsoft’s lack of interoperability in office suites. “They really ought to use ODF for Web site downloads again,” I was told just days ago. After all, this is a government-associated establishment. A formal announcement of some sort ought to come from BECTA as it would be helpful. The ODF Alliance periodically compiles reports that serve as evidence of ODF growth and expansion.BECTA’s words can be used. Here is what ZDNet UK had to report on yesterday:

Becta, the organisation that implements government educational technology policy, has claimed Windows Vista and Office 2007 should not be deployed in schools because of potential compatibility issues with earlier versions of Microsoft’s software, as well as software produced by Microsoft’s rivals. This view was reiterated on Wednesday in an update to a Becta report released late last year.

Here is a more comprehensive analysis from Matt Aslett, which includes valuable quotes.

“We remain concerned about the approach taken to supporting ODF in Office 2007. While the product includes the functionality to read virtually every other relevant file format ‘out of the box’, the processes for dealing with ODF files are very cumbersome. We identified ten steps that users would need to take in order to locate and install the converter that gives Office 2007 the ability to access ODF files and note that the arrangements for opening and saving ODF files in Microsoft Office 2007 are not intuitive in that they deviate from the normal approach familiar to users. We believe that these arrangements present sufficient technical difficulties for the majority of users to make them disinclined to use competitor products and this may weaken competition.”

It is important that BECTA speaks out more loudly about ODF, especially as we now have a window of opportunity while schools are getting really hassled with kids bringing in OOXML-format material.

Stephen Walli once argued that Microsoft's support for ODF is inevitable. Microsoft should just support ODF as soon as possible if it wished to remain relevant in the market. According to one source which is close to the company, this will be done sooner or later. Why procrastinate the inevitable?

A Look Back at Well-documented Microsoft Briberies

Posted in Europe, Finance, Formats, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It would be worth taking a quick look back for those who resort to using insults like "conspiracy theorist". There are two new articles that happen to mention what Microsoft got caught doing just a few months ago. Here is the first.

The most egregious incident occurred when local Microsoft officials in Sweden were caught essentially trying to bribe business partners into joining a committee whose task was to decide whether to endorse Microsoft’s Office Open XML, the default format for Office 2007, as an international standard. It turned out that Microsoft managers in Sweden offered “joint marketing support” and other incentives to local VARs if they joined the committee and voted for OOXML.

Another short mention is here:

The business of establishing standards is ugly stuff, complete with politicking and dirty tricks and all that. Just look at Microsoft’s effort to get OOXML approved by the ISO.

As we emphasised quite recently, Microsoft's dirty tricks for OOXML are far from over. The tricks, including the briberies — however subtle they may be (c/f Novell) — will never end because it’s innate. All we can do is find them, document them and present them. As long as Microsoft is above the law, nobody can actually punish them, except for the collective power of the consumer.

OOXML is fraud

Scalix/Xandros Release Microsoft-compatible Ballnux Binaries (Patent Tax Included)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Linspire, Mail, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Protocol, Scalix, Xandros at 11:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The essence of a competitive market is its impersonal character. No one participant can determine the terms on which other participants shall have access to goods or jobs. All takes prices as given by the market and no individual can by himself have more than a negligible influence on price though all participants together determine price by the combined effect of their separate actions.”

Milton Friedman in “Capitalism and Freedom”

For those of us who love proprietary software that is built by exploiting free software developers, a new product has just arrived. As you are probably aware by now, Xandros acquired Scalix and soon afterwards, just as we predicted, Scalix became the victim of a Microsoft taxation scam. A few months go by and Xandros reveals another clone of a Microsoft product, for which Microsoft gets paid.

Scalix is an open source mail server based on OpenMail, which runs on Linux servers, and uses e-mail standards such as POP, IMAP, SMTP, MIME and works with any standard Lightweight Directory Access Protocol directory.

Sadly enough:

  1. It is proprietary;
  2. It uses non-standard protocols (industry standards which Microsoft kindly ‘extended’); and
  3. The company licenses protocols from Microsoft (i.e. awards Microsoft for its objection to standards).

In simpler terms, here were have a proprietary software product which is only built upon open source technology and uses (also pays for) Microsoft protocols.

“In simpler terms, here were have a proprietary software product which is only built upon open source technology and uses (also pays for) Microsoft protocols.”For the same reasons, as ‘taxation’ above shows, there is a good reason to avoid OOXML and Silverlight, ensuring that they never become widespread. All these technologies present the same issue and are a reflection of the very same strategy which is to subvert the nature of GNU/Linux — making it something that Microsoft can more easily defeat.

In the title we have once again used a tactless term (“Ballnux”), but we do try to stress a point. It’s the point that attempts are made by Microsoft to make Linux users pay Microsoft. What for? for Linux. It’s a sheer case of abuse because no patents have ever been shown. Having a generic/encompassing/umbrella/ term to describe products to avoid is needed and “Ballnux” was a good suggestion that came from a reader.

We apologise for using a strong word, but mentioning products like the Koobox (Linspire), Wizpy (Turbolinux), and Eee PC (Xandros) is just hard without issuing some sort of warning.

Novell’s Participation in Linux Conference Leads to Some Backlash (Updated)

Posted in Australia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 10:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A bad penguin -- Novell

Depiction of Novell’s Ballnux

Sam Varghese has never been a big fan of Novell's use of Microsoft FUD against competing Linux vendors. In fact, at this very moment he is objecting to Novell’s involvement in the largest Linux Conference in Australia.

I also raised the issue of Novell employees like Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman who appear to be pushing further and further to duplicate technologies which Microsoft has developed and offering totally unconvincing explanations as to why they are doing so.


These arguments notwithstanding, it is a fact that overlooking what Novell has done tends to dilute the whole message of FOSS. Novell, obviously, is hoping that, as public memory is woefully short, it will be able to wriggle its way back into the community. Providing such leeway is, in my opinion, a big mistake.

“Novell, just like Microsoft, is not truly wanted where people promote OpenDocument format and a free GNU/Linux.”Sam is absolutely correct, but he’ll get a good slap for ‘daring’ to say this out in public. There will always be some people out there with a personal vendetta and a burden from previous employers. In fact, only half an hour ago I discovered (and publicly exposed for shame) a former Microsoft employee who has been commenting in favour of Microsoft in Linux forums. This is hardly surprising. It also makes one wonder to what extent current and former Novell employees (of which there are plenty) play a role in shaping perceptions of the Novell/Microsoft deal.

Novell, just like Microsoft, is not truly wanted where people promote OpenDocument format and a free GNU/Linux. It was the same situation in OSBC 2007 where Novell and Microsoft stood side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Dave Rosenberg, CEO of MuleSource and a friend of the organiser Matt Asay, openly objected to this and even blogged about it in public at the time. In InfoWorld, he called for exclusion because this came amid Microsoft's patent assault on Linux. Novell, unsurprisingly, quietly enjoyed and benefited from that assault.

Update: Jeff Waugh is on the offense again (attacking the messenger) and his behaviour earns him the wrath of a chief editor.

McAfee Receives Warning After Spreading GPL FUD

Posted in FUD, GPL, Security at 10:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As you may recall, McAfee recently contributed to Linux and GPL FUD and later tried to mitigate the damage (without retraction of its claims). Someone whom I know has independently decided to challenge McAfee for its alleged GPL violations. I helped in drafting a response, which is appended below.

Contact was first made, but the issue at hand was escaped.

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for contacting McAfee Customer Service.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience but I am unable to understand your message. Please rephrase and resend your issue in detail so that I can assist you more efficiently.

I would like to inform you that McAfee Customer Service can only answer issues related to McAfee.

Please include your previous correspondence when you reply to this e-mail.
Your reference number for this contact is 81456567.


Venj V.
McAfee CS-Tier 1

Here is the second message, with responses yet to come.

Dear Sir,

The company that you work for, McAfee, develops and sells software. Apparently, included in your software are third party contributions protected under the General Public License, otherwise known as the GPL. The GPL license stipulates that your company can indeed use GPL-licensed software to develop the products which McAfee sells, provided that you make modification to the GPL-licensed source code available and freely accessible for public use. If GPL code that you added to software was changed by you, then under those provisions of the GPL I request access to the source code of parts of your products that make use of the GPL-licensed source code.

To help you understand what is being requested, here are some relevant URLs that support my request for relevant McAfee source code. A copy of the licence is typically accompanied with to source code that you download for use and the language is clear enough to ensure understanding of use (there are no ‘hidden’ expectations and surprising obligations).

The General Public License 2.0 can be found at:

There is an excellent FAQ that explains the terms of the GPL at:

One of the relevant points leading to my request for your source code being:

The URL’s where your company, McAfee, admits to using GPL’d source code in your products may be found at:

Additionally see:


I await your next message containing the location on the McAfee website where I can freely access the sources. If GPL-licensed code was never modified and the articles above are incorrect, then I apologize in advance.

Thank you very much for accepting my query.

Perhaps Jerry will get to the bottom of this. This hasn’t anything to do with BoycottNovell, but permission was given to post this as an open letter for greater exposure and increased public scrutiny.

Quick Mention: New Connection Between Kyocera Mita and Novell

Posted in Deals, GNU/Linux, Kyocera Mita, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 9:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

(Both Have Linux Patent Deals with Microsoft)

The following is a minor observation based on a new press release (appended below) from Kyocera Mita, which signed a patent deal with Microsoft. The press release accompanying Microsoft’s deal with Kyocera Mita mentioned Linux explicitly, which makes products from Kyocera Mita what shall be referred to as “Ballnux” (a suggestion made by a reader as a consistent term for Linux products that pay Steve Ballmer a ‘tax’ for mythical obligations).

As you can see near the bottom, a company that Kyocera Mita is acquiring has a partnership with Novell, which itself has a deal with Microsoft.

Peerless’ customer base includes companies such as Canon, IBM, Konica Minolta, Kyocera Mita, Lenovo, OkiData, Ricoh, RISO, Seiko Epson and Xerox. Peerless also maintains strategic partnerships with Adobe and Novell. For more information, visit Peerless’ web site at www.peerless.com.

This is indeed minor, but it may be worth filing here regardless, at least for future reference.

Kyocera Mita Corporation Sets Stage for Aggressive Document Solutions Technology Development Through Strategic Acquisition of Peerless’ Intellectual P

Friday January 11 12:00 AM

Kyocera Mita Corporation (www.kyoceramita.com), a group company of
Kyocera Corporation, and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of
office information equipment, including network-ready digital
multifunctional products (MFPs) and printers, is acquiring $37 million
USD in intellectual property (IP) and assets of Peerless Systems
Corporation, as part of a strategic move to expand its global market
share, as well as accelerate and strengthen its technological

Through its award-winning ECOSYS technology, Kyocera Mita
manufacturers and markets document solutions proven to be one of the
most reliable, durable and cost efficient products in the industry. By
incorporating Peerless’ IP and R&D directly within its own operations,
Kyocera Mita will strengthen its competitive position and deliver
additional product value and higher customer satisfaction to the

“We believe there are untapped, strategic opportunities to better
serve today’s demanding business customer which can be captured
through the advent of emerging printing technologies,” said Katsumi
Komaguchi, president, Kyocera Mita Corporation. “Although we have been
a collaborative partner of Peerless Systems for years, we can now more
fully leverage such technologies, and the skills of the engineers who
helped develop them, through the elevated position of operational
strength this acquisition brings us.”

The company said it expects to announce new high speed color
printers and MFPs based upon its acquisition in this year, and will
continue to consider alternative software technologies based on
customer demand. In the meantime, Peerless will continue to serve
current and prospective OEM customers, as well as develop new IP for
use in future products and services, under terms of the agreement.

“The business value of this engagement goes far beyond the IP and
patents being added to Kyocera Mita’s portfolio,” said Michael
Pietrunti, president and CEO, Kyocera Mita America. “We are
strengthening our entire R&D process and pipeline to better compete in
a crowded, commoditized market – the results of which will provide a
higher degree of value and overall satisfaction for the end-user.”

The Peerless transaction is scheduled to close before June 30,
2008, and is subject to certain conditions including shareholder
approval. Kyocera Mita plans to transfer approximately 40 Peerless
employees who have been involved in the development of Kyocera Mita’s
products. This team will report to Atsushi Yuki, president of Kyocera
Technology Development, Inc., a research, design and testing facility
of controller technology and printing software for Kyocera printers
and multifunctional devices, and a subsidiary of Kyocera Mita America,

The transaction includes all IP and assets relative to Peerless’
digital imaging software offerings, as well as all of Peerless’
patents and specific fixed assets.


Kyocera Mita manufactures and markets black & white and color
digital copiers, network-ready multifunctional devices and laser
printers as well as a range of wide-format imaging products. It also
offers a portfolio of software and network solutions.

Kyocera’s ECOSYS Technology provides customers with print
solutions that incorporate long-life components, which reduce the need
to replace the drum and other image forming parts. This technology
delivers a number of benefits: improved reliability, reduced
environmental impact and the lowest TCO in the printer industry.
Combining these hardware strengths with the latest digital and network
technologies, Kyocera Mita assists businesses of all sizes to maximize
value and improve their document management processes.

Kyocera Mita is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kyocera
Corporation. The Kyocera Group dedicates its resources to the
development of its businesses across three broad sectors: Information
and Communications, Environmental Preservation and Quality of Life.
Kyocera Mita, as a document solutions provider, is a core company in
the Information and Communications sector. Also, its development of
long-life component technology means it is an important part of
Kyocera’s Environmental Preservation sector.


Founded in 1982, Peerless Systems Corporation is a provider of
imaging and networking technologies and components to the digital
document markets, which include manufacturers of color, monochrome and
multifunction office products and digital appliances. In order to
process digital text and graphics, digital document products rely on a
core set of imaging software and supporting electronics, collectively
known as an imaging controller. Peerless’ broad line of scalable
software and silicon offerings enables its customers to shorten their
time-to-market and reduce costs by offering unique solutions for
multiple products. Peerless’ customer base includes companies such as
Canon, IBM, Konica Minolta, Kyocera Mita, Lenovo, OkiData, Ricoh,
RISO, Seiko Epson and Xerox. Peerless also maintains strategic
partnerships with Adobe and Novell. For more information, visit
Peerless’ web site at www.peerless.com.

Safe Harbor Statement Under The U.S. Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act Of 1995

Statements made by us in this press release that are not
historical facts constitute “forward-looking statements” within the
meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E
of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking
statements are necessarily estimates reflecting the best judgment of
our senior management based on our current estimates, expectations,
forecasts and projections and include comments that express our
current opinions about trends and factors that may impact future
operating results. Statements that use words such as we “believe,”
“anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “could,” “plan,” “expect,”
“project,” “predict,” “forecast,” “outlook,” “potential,” “continue,”
“may,” “future,” “can,” “enhance,” and “should,” or the negative of
these, as well as similar expressions, can be used to identify
forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of
future performance, rely on a number of assumptions concerning future
events, many of which are outside of our control, and involve known
and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual
results, performance or achievements, or industry results, to differ
materially from any future results, performance or achievements,
expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such risks
and uncertainties include, among other things, changing competitive
and market conditions, our reliance on certain OEM customers for
significant portions of our revenues, the sufficiency of our capital
resources, any adverse change in our relationship with Adobe Systems
Incorporated and/or Novell, Inc, increased competition both from
in-house OEM products and low cost offshore competitors, the impact of
Microsoft’s Vista(TM) operating system, reduced demand for our
existing monochrome technologies or other products, the rapid changes
taking place in the emerging color print devices markets, our ability
to realize contract backlog, our ability to identify new customers or
place our technology in a broader base of products, our ability to
leverage core competencies and find product segments that blend well
with our core business, our ability to successfully enter new software
application sectors, our ability to maintain our profit objectives and
create compelling margins, the tenure of the competitive advantage of
our old and new technologies, our reliance on block licensing, our
ability to develop and market our advanced devices and software, the
validity and protection of our intellectual property rights, risks
associated with international business activities, our reliance on key
personnel and our board of directors and our ability to execute our
business plan and strategic partnering transactions.

The above risks, and others, are described in further detail in
our reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission,
including, but not limited to, those described under “Item 1A. Risk
Factors” in our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal
year ended January 31, 2007, filed on April 13, 2007, and those
described under “Item 1A. Risk Factors” in the most recent Quarterly
Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended July 31, 2007, filed
September 10, 2007.

Current and prospective stockholders are urged not to place undue
reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the
date hereof. We are under no obligation, and expressly disclaim any
obligation, to update or alter any forward-looking statements, whether
as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. All
forward-looking statements contained herein are qualified in their
entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements.


Kyocera Mita Corporation
T.Kawasaki, +81-6-6764-3515

Information Week Busted for Systematic Anti-Linux Agenda

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Security at 2:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Someone must be nervous about Free software…

Coverity has done some wonderful work recently. It showed that Free software is truly as secure as people were led to believe by free software advocates. Here:

PHP, Perl and Python pass Homeland Security test

Coverity, which creates automated source-code analysis tools, announced late Monday its first list of open-source projects that have been certified as free of security defects.

It’s great, isn’t it? But watch this:

Coverity work spun backward

11 open source programs certified as secure. That is Robert Vamosi’s headline over at News.Com. As if all the others are insecure? As if closed source programs are, by definition, secure?

That’s far from the most egregious headline. Open Source Code Contains Security Holes. That’s from “Information” Week. I put the term “Information” in quotes because that headline is deliberately misinformative.

As we discovered and pointed out recently, News.Com is actually owned by Microsoft's co-founder (see links therein), so such bias is hardly surprising. As for Information Week, that’s a bit trickier.

The fragment above reveals part of a pattern. This is very far from the first time that Information Week misleads, carelessly lies, and shamelessly spreads Linux FUD that resembles ‘handbook arguments’ that are used by Microsoft to discredit the GPL and Linux. Appended at the bottom are just a few examples.

“Recently, it has been easy to spot a pattern that involved Information Week attacking the GPL in all sorts of sophisticated ways.”Information Week also touts anti-Linux advertisements (“Get the Facts”) in many of its Linux-related pages, regardless of whether the stories glorify or bash Free software. About a year ago, Information Week openly stated that it was extremely pleased with the amount of traffic Linux stories generated for it.

Recently, it has been easy to spot a pattern that involved Information Week attacking the GPL in all sorts of sophisticated ways. There are several examples of this, but here is just one which relates to the recent McAfee story, which may have involved coordination with known anti-Linux individuals such as Jeff Gould.

It happens to be Information Week which put together this alarming headline and an article. Then came the Slashdot shove (their own journalists submit articles to Slashdot, USENET newsgroups, and social networking sites). Using some language in McAfee’s report, the article tried to echo Ballmer’s “GPL is a cancer” message and put that right inside the mouth of McAfee, which is now doing ‘damage control’ and responding:

[McAfee:] “It is standard practice for public companies to include an extensive list of potential risk factors in their 10-K filings. We included in that list of factors is reference to potential licensing risks associated with open source software. This risk factor has been included in previous McAfee filings and is similar to current filings from other companies in the technology space including Symantec, Oracle and many others,” said Evers in an e-mail to ZDNet.

More information on the McAfee story is quite likely on its way.

More Example of Information Week FUD:

Some New FUD Is Born – And a New Wallpaper for Edubuntu

I thought about all this today because of this article, “Sparks Fly As Linux Kernel Guy Quits In a Huff,” by Alexander Wolfe on Information Week, part of his theme song on “Reasons Why Linux Won’t Succeed on the Desktop.” You wish.


Has Information Week declared a jihad against Linux or something?

Misleading InformationWeek GPLv3 article

Linus’s position is clear. He’s repeatedly said that he’d use GPLv3 in certain situations if there was a practical advantage, but he prefers v2 over v3. That’s fine. I prefer v3, but v2 is still a great licence.

InformationWeek opens its mouth to change feet (GPLv3)

InformationWeek have posted a follow-up article. In trying to respond to recent criticism about misrepresenting facts regarding Linus Torvalds and GPLv3, InformationWeek has managed to show exactly how incorrect their first article was.

InformationWeek Declares SCO v. IBM Over and IBM Won. Huh?

What is going on at InformationWeek? Let me guess. Nah. You are sophisticated enough to figure it out. But I think it’s clear there is afoot an attempt to create the impression of some schism in the FOSS world.

[InformationWeek:] IBM Helps Fund Web Hosting For Anti-SCO Site Groklaw

Paul Jones said the funding from those companies didn’t influence his decision to provide free hosting to Groklaw on ibiblio’s servers. “We have a collection criteria, and Groklaw meets that criteria,” he said.

Needless to say, it’s a lie, and it was ‘planted’ right inside Information Week (it’s also known as a “placement”). PJ complained openly about this. SCO later used this particular lie from the ‘press’ against her. It’s a shame that Microsoft and the Gates Foundation literally own so many media companies. They 'buy' bloggers, forum members, poll gamers, and blog comments as well. Not to mention analysts, professionals, academics, and even world leaders.

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology is a key evangelism function. “Independent” analysts’ reports should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent consultants should write articles, give conference presentations, moderate stacked panels on our behalf, and set themselves up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour.””

Internal Microsoft documents (leaked) [PDF]

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