As another timely update to a series of recent posts, consider this one.
Last week, Mary Jo Foley offered commentary on Microsoft’s open source software strategy with respect to independent software vendors based on an interview with Microsoft’s Sam Ramji. Matt Asay provides good colour commentary on his blog. Each post focuses on the trustworthiness and competitive history of the company. Let’s look at things from a different perspective.
“The *AMP stack (plus virtualisation) is particularly attractive, so Microsoft and Sun try to grab it all for themselves.”This long blog posts shows you just how Microsoft hopes to ‘envelope’ Free software while drying up Linux — as solid a platform as it is — from applications and/or developers. Recently we wrote about Xen being taken away after XenSource had struck a partnership with Microsoft and then got acquired by a Microsoft partner. Given the partnership Zend (for PHP) has got with Microsoft, one ought to keep an eye to ensure that Zend isn’t acquired in a similar fashion.
MySQL has already been grabbed by Sun Microsystems and Microsoft recently invited Apache developers to Redmond. Taking the diagram from Mary Jo Foley into account, it should not be hard to see what is happening here. The *AMP stack (plus virtualisation) is particularly attractive, so Microsoft and Sun try to grab it all for themselves. █
Update: The article “Ruby project yields to Microsoft” has just been published.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has welcomed Ruby.NET project participants to its IronRuby project, licensed under the Microsoft Public License (Ms-PL).
Update #2: In relation to update #1, also see this new article from Groklaw. It talks about the destiny of Zimbra.
Thousands of community members have written code for Zimbra for free. Happily, those who were sensible enough to protect the code with the GPL will be able to take it and fork. As for the rest, who knows? Those who chose other licenses will find that Microsoft knows how to squeeze a license for all the rights it wishes to hold, and the full impact of that may fall on Zimbra. Live and learn.
Hopefully this will open some eyes.
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Don’t judge a book by its cover
As an important update to a post from yesterday, consider this reference.
Microsoft Corp said on Monday it may borrow money for the first time in its history to fund a portion of its $44.6 billion unsolicited offer for Yahoo Inc.
This supports our assertion that Microsoft does not tell the true story when it comes to its financial state. See our previous posts for many more supportive references from the press. Microsoft, just like many other companies, is most likely bluffing. Mind you, Novell does the same thing. █
Image from Wikimedia
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Ballnux is tax-tainted GNU/Linux
The previous post discussed and dissected a case of false accusations. Microsoft throws dirt at IBM for ‘daring’ to point out Microsoft’s corruptions, which is akin to a criminal blaming the cop when asked in court about the reason for an arrest.
Surely, another case of false accusations is Microsoft's mythical patents. Mafia-like intimidation tactics were used to lure companies in to signing patent deals which were not necessary. One of the victims (or accomplices) in this plot was Samsung. Because the company’s UMPCs are now running a flavour of Linux, caution is advised.
Quick: you’ve got to sell UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC’s) to a mass market! How to do it? Well, Intel decided to show off pro audio and music production on the Linux-based Transmission, from Trinity Audio, as we saw earlier this week. I’m not entirely sure what got Intel thinking our geeky way, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. And in all seriousness, Linux really an ideal OS choice here, because of its ability to be customized to the application.
Trinity has sent us some photos of the Intel booth at CES. Yes, Linux audio is getting some wider exposure. And even if you’re attached to Mac or Windows as your desktop/laptop platform, a mobile Linux device could be an ideal companion in the near future. We’ll have a chance to look at Trinity’s own device next week at NAMM and see how it stacks up.
Do remember that Samsung signed a software patent deal, so if this CES exhibit reaches the wide market, Microsoft will probably benefit financially. It is important that Linux gets more exposure, but under these terms, dangerous precedence can be set.
Linux is used very extensively in devices and any ‘taxation’ would harm future adoption and expansion. Linux devices have defensive patents too, so none of this was necessary. For Samsung and Microsoft this was a shotgun wedding, at best. It wasn’t even a marriage of convenience because ‘weapons’ were involved (May 2007).
LG is no exception. LG signed a software patent deal, as well. They now express their intent to release a Linux-based mobile.
LG Electronics will be another global mobile phone maker who will roll out a Linux based mobile phone within this year.
This may be another product to cross out from the list. There are so many Linux-based phones anyway, just as there are many GNU/Linux distributions which can replace SUSE.
Remember what Torvalds said in his interview (published just a few days ago) about patents?
Paula notes that Linus said during his podcast that the U.S. patent system is broken, and that patents have no real value, except as tools to inflict fear.
Fear is indeed what patents are about, but fear can keep formidable monopolies in tact. It entirely misses the point of patents which were intended to encourage open minds. Fear makes no comfort to the mind and it harms productivity too.
Here is a new comment about Microsoft’s patent FUD. It comes from Paul at LinuxToday.
Sooner or later, the IT industry will have enough of MS and their FUD tactics and finally put them to bed for good. Or at least that is what one would hope would happen.
However, I have always said, “Ignorance is manifest in all of her children,” and in a MS centric shop, “looks like she has played the Harlot!!”
“Ignorance” may be the key word here. No company needed to sign a deal with Microsoft. It was the hurried cowardly response to false accusations.
One has to wonder how much companies were paid by Microsoft to pretend that a patent deal is needed. Companies were paid (bribed) to be told what to believe. It’s not just patents by the way; it's OOXML too. Quite the scandal, no doubt. █
Image from Wikimedia
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Someone has to put it bluntly
In recent weeks, especially after the publication of a damning article from a journalist who had received Microsoft incentives, Microsoft has been constantly accusing IBM. It dares to portray IBM as the ‘bad guy’. But wait! Is Microsoft trying to make us all forget how it orchestrated a takeover of the whole process and pretty much broke the law? Are we supposed to pay attention to IBM rather than realise that Microsoft could actually get sued for its endless OOXML corruptions around the world?
This is all well-documented and it’s not going away. The real story was told and it will continue to be told time and time again. Having IBM come under fire is Microsoft’s idea of diverting attention away from the real felon or attempting to respond like a 5-year-old who sticks his tongue out and says “he does it too” (only in the boy’s wishful mind).
As means of reflection, noooxml.org wrote about this serious issue as well.
It is getting personal. Now Microsoft openly attacks IBM and IBM employees. The accusations against IBM of leading the international effort against office open xml ISO standardization are far from reality. However, the real matter is if that accusation is defamatory for IBM.
The campaign has to criticize the submitter. IBM clearly prefers a more diplomatic approach. Standard experts as IBM’s Rob Weir provided widely recognized factual analysis. IBM may talk about “small nations that are easily influenced” while a campaign would call them a “banana republic”. Through the debate we got closer and closer to more direct communication. From mostly unreadable marketing language we transformed the language of the submitter into emotional frank statements.
Here is Bob Sutor’s polite response where frauds (pardon the strong word, but you have to call it what it is) are renamed “bad behavior”.
IBM: Microsoft is engaging in “bad behavior”
We spoke to Bob Sutor, vice president of standards and open source for IBM, who responded to Microsoft’s recent claims regarding IBM’s involvement in the OOXML dispute. “IBM believes that there is a revolution occurring in the IT industry, and that smart people around the world are demanding truly open standards developed in a collaborative, democratic way for the betterment of all,” Sutor told Ars. “If ‘business as usual’ means trying to foist a rushed, technically inferior and product-specific piece of work like OOXML on the IT industry, we’re proud to stand with the tens of countries and thousands of individuals who are willing to fight against such bad behavior.
At times when Brian Jones makes cheesy and hostile remarks about IBM employees [1, 2] it becomes rather clear that Microsoft’s new strategy is to accuse others rather than justify its own behaviour (some examples are appended at the bottom, embedded as hyperlinks).
That strategy which revolves around diversion won’t work for Microsoft. People already know (or will soon know) far too well what has happened and they also understand that OOXML is nothing but another proprietary format.
Microsoft hosted four different conference calls last week where officials called its proprietary XML standard essential to progress, and said Microsoft could not possibly support the Open Document Format.
Blogs like Boycott Novell and Noooxml have gone into fine detail on Microsoft’s takeover of national standards bodies and its attempt to, in effect, transform the ISO into a vendor consortium.
For the time being, you are advised to avoid OOXML at all costs.
.docx is used almost nowhere and it’s Microsoft Office-only. Don’t help it spread. There’s already an international standard called ODF. It’s far better, technically and morally. Contrary to what north-western parts of America (and their press) want you to believe, ODF is thriving among software vendors, governments and even businesses. █
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First they ignore you, then they spread patent FUD, then they start dumping…
Bill Gates’ dumping of Windows Vista [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] has received a lot of attention recently. This makes it apparent that Microsoft willingly loses money just so that more people become dependent on it (Gates uses the word “addicted”, not “dependent”). To Microsoft, one bonus might be reversing the effect of XP cannibalizing Vista, which most people are forced to buy and then remove.
Given the fact that Microsoft gives its products away (in order to ‘compete’), it is rather surprising to see it harshly punishing those who do the very same thing in under-privileged nations or nations where software counterfeiting is common and policing limited.
Microsoft forgers get jail time in Taiwan
A counterfeiting operation that Microsoft claims was responsible for 90 per cent of faked Microsoft software has been sent up the river in Taiwan.
Bill Gates said that it's easier to compete against GNU/Linux when there is rampant copyrights infringement. This is nothing new.
Ironically enough, Microsoft actually wants what it calls “piracy”, yet at the same time it punishes the very same people that enable this ‘piracy’ (propaganda term for”copyrights infringement”). The links below ought to say more, as as well as provide admissions right from the horse’s mouth. █
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World Wide Lock-in
Internet Explorer 8′s allergy for Web standards [1, 2, 3, 4] and other similar or related issues [1, 2] are something which mustn’t escape our minds and scrutiny. ActiveX too was mentioned previously as a dangerous mechanism that was used to exclude Microsoft’s rivals from the market. In the links you will find many examples of ActiveX disasters and here is a brand-new one that was reported only yesterday.
On the heels of ActiveX vulnerabilities in the image uploading tools for Facebook and MySpace.com, researchers warned Monday that Yahoo Instant Messenger and Yahoo Messenger are vulnerable to ActiveX-based attacks.
“That is what Microsoft got for making the Web deliberately incompatible with rival Web browsers.”The flaw is rated “extremely critical”. That is what Microsoft got for making the Web deliberately incompatible with rival Web browsers. While failing to implement standards fully (or maliciously choosing not to) the company was very hard at work constructing a binding between the operating system and the World Wide Web, not to mention a browser dependency. Scott Fulton wrote about this very extensively.
The compatibility problem is not irrelevant to us because it almost perfectly matches the future state of OOXML, shall it be widely adopted. There are already (at least) four versions of OOXML, which companies like Novell, Linspire, Turbolinux and Xandros were pressured and/or paid by Microsoft to support. This was probably done against their will.
What lies ahead? Here is one person’s idea:
Backwards compatibility of formats is a curse. An article of Microsoft Internet Explorer Platform architect Chris Wilson provided me with some insights how the market locks in developers of the non-conformant practice.
What does it mean for Office Open XML? No one can make sure that there will ever be an implementation of OOXML that conforms to the DIS 29500 specification. When changes are made to the specification there is still no guarantee that they would be applied in actual implementations. This is especially of concern for a government user that would decide to adopt a technically fully fixed ISO standard.
This article is pretty long and detailed. Added below are a bunch of external references for further reading on this topic. █
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In a recent long post we discussed the enormous effect political pressures have on a variety of policies including software patents and copyrights. We cited Lawrence Lessig’s ambitious yet provable claim that political corruption plays a significant role, which it does indeed.
“There is probably a great deal of favours being exchanged here in one subtle form or another.”Michael Geist, who is quite widely known for his work on copyrights in Canada, has just caught Microsoft misleading to make new laws. He previously caught Hollywood studios making some similar maneuvers, but this time it is a software giant which has a lot to earn from the DMCA.
Speaking of DMCA, remember Nicolas Sarkozy, the man who was ‘bought’ by Microsoft? He has sort of been busted for tactless work on copyrights (yes, again). There is probably a great deal of favours being exchanged here in one subtle form or another. The main sufferer, as Geist points out in his blog, is the innocent consumer, who will be forced to pay more money to already-wealthy corporations. Nicolas Sarkozy has just betrayed the French people whose wealth is more likely to fall into the hands of rich people residing overseas.
Looking elsewhere in Europe, the lobby for software patents shows no signs of rest. This time it’s Finland.
On Tuesday 19 February 2008 the Helsinki Institute of Information Technology (HIIT), Pilotti-rakennus, Metsänneidonkuja 4, Espoo, is conducting a seminar on software patents. The programme features Associate Prof (Hokkaido) Na Ri Lee speaking on “Fragmented Infringement of Computer Program Patents in the Global Economy”, and Rosa Maria Ballardini, (IPR University Center, Hanken) then addresses the topic of “Software Patents in Europe: the Technical Requirement Dilemma”. This is an internal seminar, which is not open to the public. But a version of Rosa Maria Ballardini’s paper will be published later this year in the Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice. The IPKat will let everyone know when this happens.
In the UK, due to recent developments, there is more confusion than ever. After all, where else will ownership of mathematics be honoured?
Anyway, the bottom line is that once again we find a case in which those seeking patent protection in Europe are far from certain as to where they stand. Can you obtain and then enforce software-related patents in the UK or not? Although the case decided yesterday involved patent applications to the UKIPO, there is still an issue with patents granted by the EPO.
As we pointed out yesterday, at this stage, centralisation of the system is a true danger to Europe. █
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