A leaked set of Microsoft memos, sometimes referred to as “evangelism is war“, reveals Microsoft’s intent to use analysts, consultants and grassroots support to serve as mouthpieces. The habit carries on to this date [1, 2, 3, 4].
Such damning evidence is just one among many such antirtrust exhibits that were presented in Iowa where Microsoft quickly settled to avoid conviction. While the following story has little or nothing to do with Novell and patent deals, you may wish to be aware of Microsoft’s use of the BSA as a propaganda tool. Essentially, the BSA another mouthpiece, not just a policeman.
A recent Associated Press story highlighted the fact that 90 percent of the $13 million collected by the BSA in 2006 came from small businesses. Since 1993 the group has collected an estimated $89 million in damages from businesses on behalf of its members, every penny of which it keeps. ‘I don’t know of a business where you can get away with raiding a customer with armed marshals and expect them to continue to do business with you…’ said [Sterling] Ball, who shifted his company to open source software after the raid.
This interesting story came just shortly after this report, which is of course a form of propaganda whose purpose is to grease up lawmakers. Mind the use of words like “pirates” and “steal” to describe copyright infringement. It’s about demonisation.
Software pirates put sizeable dent in UK economy
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) claimed today in its annual “Global Software Piracy Study” – which was carried out by analyst firm IDC – that a reduction in counterfeit software by ten per cent over four years could add an extra £4.46bn to Blighty’s economy.
Remember IDC? Yes, it’s a Microsoft ‘pal’ [1, 2], whose moneyflow includes that of Bill Gates. He is apparently a big investor, so the occasional anti-Free software messages are hardly surprising. Many more links covering the BSA-Microsoft situation/arrangement are here. The MPAA was caught engaging in similar tricks just weeks ago, but that’s another story. The pay-to-say industry is of great relevance to this site because it still strives to convince people that the Novell-Microsoft deal was a good idea. █
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One myth that was busted quite recently is that ODF is OpenOffice.org. Such disinformation is often being used by Microsoft to discredit ODF. Simon Phipps anf Erwin Tenhumberg have explained that better in this new powwow with Microsoft’s own press (don’t be misled by the source):
As another Sun employee, Erwin Tenhumberg, pointed out in his blog quoting a KOffice developer, OOXML’s goal is compatibility with one particular application — Microsoft Office. Therefore, OOXML is very closely related to and dependent on the Microsoft Office implementation. In contrast, ODF is based on the OpenOffice.org XML file format, not the OpenOffice.org implementation.
That’s a huge difference because the OpenOffice.org XML file format was designed with application, vendor and platform independence in mind…
In other news, there are prizes being offered and distributed which urge developers to support OpenOffice.org.
Sun Microsystems has published some details about the Open Source Community Innovation Awards it announced in December of 2007.
It needs to be pointed out that what Sun does here is — worryingly enough — similar to Microsoft's attempt to rally grassroots supporters around 'Open XML'. This shouldn’t really be done. █
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We have endlessly tracked and covered Amazon’s unhealthy obsession with patenting trivial ideas, e.g. [1, 2]. Microsoft is no Saint, either.
There is no sign of abatement just yet because Amazon’s CEO has just patented the idea of delivering customised error pages to site visitors.
Among the patents awarded to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday was one for his invention of Error Processing Methods for Providing Responsive Content to a User When a Page Load Error Occurs, which covers displaying alternate web pages in response to HTTP 404 page-not-found errors.
Not so long ago, Amazon patented — or applied for a patent — covering the passing of arguments through a URL string. What has science descended to? What will be the effect? As you may recall (because this was mentioned yesterday), there is risk to Free software as well. More on this here:
The latest patent idiocies could put phone prices up and increase your security bill. And only one of the cases would be fixed by my own theory of patents (if you don’t yourself manufacture the item or use the process protected by a patent, I think you shouldn’t be able to benefit from the patent by extorting money from companies that do go to the effort of actually making something).
Apple is meanwhile being sued also — by a patent firm.
This guy doesn’t waste time. The stamp on the patent document was barely dry when Kim Ki-il filed suit in California against Apple and a boat equipment supplier from Florida called AtlanticRT, to name just two defendants. Both of the firms allegedly violated the inventor’s patent that his firm, Minerva Industries, just received from the US Patent and Trademark Office.
As a general statement, software patents are a step too far, especially when combined with a broken system of litigious abuse. Software patents are just an innovative new way to be anti-competitive. It’s more effective than dumping techniques and SCO-esque bogus litigation by proxy.
“Programming becomes a luxury of the wealthy and a real burden involving patent planning.”With all those patents out there, you must be rich just to write some lines of code. Programming becomes a luxury of the wealthy and a real burden involving patent planning. You have to review hundreds of patents for each thing implemented, take them into account all at once and pray to God that you can be first to patent (i.e. ‘protect’) your code for future defence. With something like codecs, for instance, it’s all maths. It’s matrix theory largely, as well as other types and areas of maths. How can one own this?
Big corporations that employ programmers, unlike programmers, want to ‘protect’ themselves. To use a parable, they buy a gun (patent). Then, the threatened competitor needs a gun to defend itself from that other gun. Before you know if you have a whole big town full of guns (and therefore ‘protected’, allegedly). Then come the children (or trolls) pulling guns from their parents’ drawers and walking around town shooting people. Welcome to Mafia Culture. █
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Mono has returned to some people’s attention. Last week, for example, an IBM Vice President rejected Mono. We wrote about other Mono problems just a couple of days ago. It seems as though we are not the only ones who are concerned. Here are some new comments from Slashdot. They appeared in reference to an article about GNOME: [hat tip: Planète Béranger]
Removed .NET yet? (Score:5, Insightful)
Any chance that they’ve removed the dependency on Microsoft’s patented .NET technologies via Mono?
(Yes, I know you can manually remove bits of the Gnome environment to get rid of Mono; but the Gnome environment by default includes Mono.)
The reply is equally interesting:
Re:Removed .NET yet? (Score:4)
As a business user you can be fined under sarbines Oxley for running pirated and unlicensed software. MS could make that case that the user didn’t pay a licensing fee to MS to use Gnome and .NET.
That alone is fud and can scare many managers away from using non MS products thanks to the whole split within the linux community.
The second comment comes from the user “Billly Gates”, so it is somewhat sarcastic. It does, however, contain an element of truth because it gives insight into Microsoft’s ideas. Remember that Mono is a Novell project. █
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As you have probably heard by now, the French police is moving to GNU/Linux. The good news is that it did not choose SUSE, unlike others in France. But there is another announcement out there and it speaks about Renault buying Novell/Microsoft’s Linux coupons. Is it for patent ‘protection’ or so-called ‘interoperability’? Maybe both? The press release tries to conceal the former bit. As we have shown before, there is no interoperability barrier or advantage, but it’s a nice guise for selling patent ‘protection’. Here is part of the press release:
“Working with Microsoft to jointly build and support solutions to improve interoperability and deliver powerful new virtualization capabilities is paying great dividends for our customers,” said Susan Heystee, vice president and general manager of global strategic alliances for Novell.
Susan Heystee has at least learned not to brag about “intellectual property”, but this does not change the nature of this deal.
All in all, it seems as though Novell has realised that mentioning the ‘wonderful’ patent royalties part of the deal isn’t good for business. Nevertheless, with all these deals comes the usual extortion that’s associated with mythical software patents, which are not even valid in France. Novell pays Microsoft money for the 'permission' to sell Linux, based on sales volume. This happens even in countries where software patents do not apply. █
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The previous post hopefully gave you a glimpse into Microsoft's own admission that it needs to stack panels.
About a week ago we showed and explained why the BRM in Geneva already seems like a bit of a joke (pardon the blunt approach). We later explained why Geneva ought to do something about it.
A new interview (ish) which Andy Updegrove has just published does not give the mind much rest. He talked to one of the chiefs, Alex Brown, and there are signs of fragility.
I found Alex’s last comment particularly interesting from a strategic point of view. As I’ve repeatedly noted in a variety of prior blog entries over the past two years, Microsoft has adopted a high risk strategy by pushing OOXML so aggressively through the Ecma, and then the ISO/IEC JTC1 process. Already, it’s received one set back, in that its failure to gain approval in the first voting period has resulted in much bad press, and a seven month delay (through the expiration of the second consideration period, which will end on March 30).
Based on the interpretation from Groklaw, all in all, this is bad.
[PJ: Uh oh. It's defined in such a way it is subjective. And with Microsoft stacking the deck, it should be quite easy to attain "consensus" as interpreted like this.]
Mind our evidence which shows that ISO was virtually 'hijacked' by Microsoft. In essence, ISO’s top people left while Microsoft saw them replaced quite conveniently. We also saw that in Massachusetts where Microsoft pressured two consecutive CIOs out of their jobs only to replace them with a Microsoft lobbyist. We saw this in other places, but that would take us astray.
ZDNet UK has published a new short article which you might find interesting because of the paragraph below:
Tsilas [senior director of interoperability and IP policy at Microsoft] is admitting, more explicitly than implicitly, that Microsoft’s profit depends on it controlling standards and that OOXML is a product designed to do exactly that. The mask has slipped and the nature of this particular war is on display. As Ericson, captain of HMS Compass Rose, might say: we are sorry if it is too hard for you, Microsoft.
Well, that’s nothing new (read the quote below). █
“It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!”
–Microsoft’s Doug Mahugh about OOXML in Malaysia
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Something to keep in mind amidst OOXML debates
Source: Full document
[PDF] (from Comes vs Microsoft)
. Establish Microsoft platforms as de facto standards
. Other platfom vendors
We’re here to help Microsoft
# Microsoft pays our wages
# Microsoft provides our stock options
# Microsoft pays our expenses
I have mentioned before the “stacked panel.” Panel discussions naturally favor alliances of relatively weak partners — our usual opposition. For example, an “unbiased” panel on OLE vs. OpenDoc would contain representatives of the backers of OLE (Microsoft) and the Backers of OpenDoc (Apple, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, OMG, etc.). Thus, we find ourselves outnumbered in almost every “naturally occurring” panel debate.
A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In feet, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.
Finding a moderator is key to setting up a stacked panel The best sources of pliable moderators are:
Analysts: Analysts sell out – that’s their business model But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.
“Get a well-known consultant on your side early, but don’t let him publish anything blatantly pro-Microsoft. Then, get him to propose himself to the conference organizers as a moderator, whenever a panel opportunity comes up.”Consultants: These guys are your best bets as moderators. Get a well-known consultant on your side early, but don’t let him publish anything blatantly pro-Microsoft. Then, get him to propose himself to the conference organizers as a moderator, whenever a panel opportunity comes up. Since he’s well-known, but apparently independent, he’ll be accepted – one less thing for the constantly-overworked conference organizer to worry about, right?
Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog. We need to know who their allies are and what differences exist between them and their allies (there are always sources of tension between allies), so that we can find ways to split ‘em apart Reading the trade press, lurking on newsgroups, attending conferences, and (above all) talking to ISVs is essential to gathering this intelligence.
Generalized Evangelism Timeline Microsoft Confidential
Updated: John Drinkwater has converted a lot of the whole thing into text. Thanks, John.
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Yes, he’s not quite done yet.
Microsoft accuses IBM of OOXML smear campaign
Brett Winterford [the author] travelled to Redmond as a guest of Microsoft.
About that first story, bear in mind Microsoft gave that journalist a free trip. Wait until this ‘article’ (accusation) propagates to more media outlets. Microsoft would be proud. It’s the best brainwash money can buy. █
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