02.04.08

Links 04/02/2008: Google vs. Y!MS, Military and RHEL, XO Finds Love

Posted in News Roundup at 2:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents != Innovation

Posted in America, Australia, Europe, Patents, SCO at 1:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital Majority continues to tackle the software patent issues in Europe. It also covers the sad situation elsewhere in the world. The following example, which comes from India, just shows how badly misunderstood the value of protecting ideas really is.

I find not only the proposed law and the reasoning behind it worrying, but also the very uncritical way it is reported in Science. There seems to be no questioning of the equation “patents = innovation”.

Criticism in this case is directed at ScienceMag, but as the following item shows, they do not necessarily fail to cover another side of this equation. Here is their older paper called “When Patents Threaten Science”.

Patents should not be used to protect laws of nature, products of nature, or mathematical formulas.

Taking the above into consideration, it remains worrisome that centralisation in Europe, which also takes law into account, may be bad news as far as software patents are concerned. From FFII:

IAM magazine admits that a central court can legalize software patents

[...]

Imagine a freaky judge at a central patent court adopting the same decision as the english judge Kitchin has made recently, and you get software patents validated Europe wide.

Down there in Australia, the system has already been ruined by America-style DMCA and software patents. The following article, which may contain the biases of a Linux conference (just taking context into account), does not believe that this poses any real danger to Free software.

Efforts to overturn software patents — a major concern in the open source community — were likely to fail, Weatherall suggested. “I don’t think the fight is over, but I don’t think you’re going to kill software patents,” she said. “There’s a lot of them. Every one cost in the five figures to apply for. The amount of investment is enormous, and that’s the sort of thing you have to tear down to tear down software patents.”

Weatherall also advised concerned hackers not to become ridiculously obsessed with legal issues. “Don’t obsess about law reform and changes in the law. Your best protection during law reform processes is success. if you are coding well then people will go out of their way to protect you.”

As the new Micro Trend boycott illustrates, along with the backlash against NetApp, there are always good people out there who are willing to challenge spurious/junk patents. This make attempted cases against FOSS nothing but a loss of money to the plaintiff. It also harm’s the plaintiff’s image as companies like SCO (or even the RIAA) have already taught us. With Free software being so widely deployed, suing FOSS is always guaranteed to be a case of suing your own customers. It’s insane.

IBM and Microsoft Share the Same Problem That They Hide

Posted in Deception, Finance, IBM, Microsoft at 1:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

Just over a week ago we unraveled some of the many flaws in Microsoft's financial reports. In short, they fail to account for many factors that conveniently get concealed. In other words, it is a case of bluffing. Here is another interesting writeup about the situation.

Recently Microsoft posted their profits for 2007. Despite Vista being one of the worst disasters to hit the computer systems markets since Windows ME, Microsoft seemed to come out way ahead… or did they?

Profits don’t always tell the full story about how a company performs, and I’m not talking about Enron.

[...]

Fact is, while Microsoft looks like it did great on paper… the external factors tell a story of a company that is getting hamstrung on all sides.

The collective disaster of Vista on retail has sent all major OEM’s scrambling to get non-Microsoft solutions for their computer systems on the market… and that failure is going to show for the likes of Dell, HP, Gateway, Asus, Averatec, and many others.

The question remains… how many of the OEM’s and Vendors are going to lay their problems at the feet of Microsoft where the problems belong…

This is just another consideration to add to many which were mentioned in the previous long post. Another new article from The Street alludes to one of Microsoft’s problems when it talks about buybacks.

One of the primary goals of Stockpickr.com is to allow everyday investors a look at what the big guns are buying. Often, we see a big-name investor loading up on a particular stock. This is usually a good sign, because you know that person put a lot of time and due diligence into that process.

But when that same company announces that an insider has purchased a large chunk of stock or, even better, the board announces a new large share-buyback program, that usually seals the bullish case for the stock.

“Robert Scoble, a Microsoft evangelist at one point, said the stock was “in a freefall” just before those buybacks began.”Be aware that both IBM and Microsoft are very heavily vested in ‘buybacks mode’. In fact, MSFT almost dropped below $20 before its buybacks began. Robert Scoble, a Microsoft evangelist at one point, said the stock was “in a freefall” just before those buybacks began. Microsoft was fortunate to have cash reserves.

So, all in all, be very careful and wary of the hypnosis that you may come under. Despite a staff exodus, for example, Microsoft wants to be seen as a very healthy company. Ironically, the bid for Yahoo ruins that perception. More than anything, it validates the arguments that Microsoft’s Web strategy was an utter failure. it wants to borrow somebody else’s now; not just strategy, but market share also.

Lastly, remember that there is a good reason why Microsoft resorted to outright corruption in order to save its cash cow from a universal industry standard (ODF).

“Raikes departure will have huge impact on Microsoft as it completes its 2008 fiscal year on June 30. His division is one of two responsible for nearly all Microsoft’s profits. “

Joe Wilcox, Microsoft Watch, January 2008

OOXML is about money

The CompTIA Proxy Joins IP Front; Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent Back in Court

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents, SCO at 12:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One of Microsoft’s vilest lobbying arms is CompTIA. There’s no gentler way to put this. In January alone we mentioned CompTIA no less than four times [1, 2, 3, 4] because they join Microsoft in their various crusades, e.g. against ODF.

Digital Majority had this good pointer which shows that not only Microsoft puts greater emphasis on software patents at the moment. CompTIA appears to be getting there too, possibly accompanying its clients.

Well regarded within the intellectual property community, Katopis will work for the interests of CompTIA’ s membership primarily on intellectual property rights, patent reform, and tech-neutrality in government procurement.

In Techdirt, an update on the Alcatel-Lucent vs. Microsoft case is posted and it is actually named a “Patent Nuclear War”.

Part of the conventional wisdom in having tech companies apply for lots of patents is that they’re helpful as a “defensive” mechanism against other companies filing patent lawsuits against you. It’s the nuclear stockpiling argument that suggests (without much proof) that the more patents everyone holds, the less likely actual patent litigation will result.

Last week, Heise Online has a report about several hundreds of new layoffs at Alcatel-Lucent. That’s just when a company — almost any company for that matter — is likely to cling onto the last straw and abuse everyone it can for some much-needed cash. Defensively, the company will claim that it’s in the interest of the investors. Here is a good new explanation of how it works

Patents always start out well-intentioned. Companies tell their employees, “We just need a few good patents for defensive purposes. If someone sues us, we need leverage.” Sadly, there is truth to this.

But patents last for seventeen years and the average start-up does not. So, once the company gets into financial trouble, those innocent ‘defensive’ patents can turn into funding to keep the company afloat for a short while longer, or worse, fall into a lawyer’s hands after the fire sale.

Remember that SCO was using bogus lawsuits as its new business model. It only caused harm to a lot of companies, including SCO itself. But hey! You can always trust Microsoft and SCO when it comes to the truth, right? See the quote below.

“Windows 98 without Internet Explorer 4 is a working operation system and Internet Explorer 4.0 is not an vital part of Windows 98.”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

Boosting Windows Vista Sales Using AIDS

Posted in Bill Gates, Dell, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 12:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Recently we wrote about the publicity stunt which is intended to boost Windows Vista sales, promoted under the guise of charity. A sensible way to describe this, as one blogger puts it, is to name it sentimental blackmail.

Recently, Microsoft is luring you with a tag line like this: “Windows and Dell are proud partners of (PRODUCT) RED™ — New PCs designed to help eliminate AIDS in Africa.”

[...]

This is one of the most abject way of creating a psychological dependency of Windows Vista Ultimate: making people buy it for giving them the peace of mind that they helped to save lives in Africa!

We have been writing about this important issue quite extensively in recent weeks [1, 2, 3, 4].

Microsoft a  bad ride

Quick Mention: Boycott Trend Micro is On

Posted in Action, Free/Libre Software, Patents, Security at 12:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boycotts getting popular?

Only briefly did we mention the Trend Micro-Barracuda confrontation, but there’s an update on this situation which is worth mentioning. There is an open call for participation in action against Trend Micro.

Anti virus developer Trend Micro accused Barracuda Networks of patent infringement but what they really did was attacking the users of ClamAV free anti virus software with a bogus patent. ¶

Given the nature of the accusation (a poor patent as well as software patent used against Free software), this action against Trend Micro seems justified. It’s another case of a struggling company clinging onto man-made intellectual monopolies and trying to find haven in the courts. This didn’t work too well for SCO.

Boycott Trend Micro

How Microsoft Uses Even OpenSUSE and Freespire to Its Advantage (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, Search, SLES/SLED, Turbolinux at 12:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

An announcement has just made in France and it is brought to more people’s attention over at Digital Majority. The announcement was made by Microsoft, which recently signed a Linux deal in France, a Windows deal in Paris [1, 2, 3], but also lost the French police to GNU/Linux.

The announcement speaks volumes about the reason Microsoft likes Novell. It merely uses Novell. We already knew this. As for OpenSUSE, it aids the development of SLED and SLES, which improve at the expense of other GNU/Linux distributions that are not ‘taxed’ by Microsoft. Here is the gist of it all:

I let you guess why Microsoft likes Linux and Open Source now: software patents solves the OSS problem and makes them confident that they have a legal certainty that they can suck royalties out of Linux sales, and control competitors when they want to operate with their dominant products.

Remind yourself of the place Linux has in Microsoft's 'mindspace'. It is only there to be used, exploited, even subverted. If you think that so-called ‘community’ distros are safe from the abuse, think again. As Ken Starks came to discover, even Freespire is contaminated by the effect of Linspire’s patent deal.

It only took me a few minutes to notice it. It would seem that the Freespire people have been given their marching orders and I would Like Eric Raymond to comment if he is allowed. I can understand why Linspire would have to bow to the Microsoft Collusion but why Freespire? Now I know that Linspire is expected to dance to Microsoft’s tunes…If I calculate correctly, 5 top Linspire executives entered their Linspire employment weighing 3 lbs less than they did when they left.

That extra weight was from the 30 pieces of silver each carried out when they abandoned the infested ship at the end of the MS Deal. (thank you Stephen J.)

Watch the image of Windows Live Search. Turbolinux does this too. They completely sold out to Microsoft and they sell out their so-called ‘community’ in the process.

Update: Here are some more links of interest.

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