02.07.08

Microsoft Carries on Dumping to Make Its Products a ‘Standard’

Posted in Finance, Formats, Hardware, Microsoft, Standard at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dumping is a case where a sufficiently wealthy company sells products at a loss just to empty the pockets of potential rivals. Those rivals cannot afford to bear similar losses, so they eventually drop out of the market and allow the duo/poly/monopoly to elevate prices (enablement in a state of no competition).

In the context of OLPC, schools and Windows we have mentioned dumping rather frequently [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Additionally, on numerous occasions we mentioned dumping being used against ODF and Blu-Ray. If you have not read about this yet, you are encouraged to do so.

Dumping tactics are illegal, but there is little or no regulation in place. Policing is virtually non existent, despite the ill effects of dumping by monopolies, which makes them even stronger.

If you watch the news today, you may find that Microsoft has just halved (yes, that’s correct) the price of its Xbox 360 HD DVD drives. The company tries to ensure that this format war is not lost to Sony, which also manufactures/distributes/assembles the PlayStation3.

Microsoft have announced a dramatic drop in the Xbox 360 add on HD DVD drive package.

Quietly, the XBox 360 turned out to be a colossal disaster (financially at the very least) and a large proportion of XBox staff had quietly left. Microsoft must snatch a victory with HD DVD and escape the jaws of defeat. Otherwise, Microsoft must support Blu-Ray, in which case it can become reliant on Sony, its direct competitor. It seems like a lost case for HD DVD no matter where you look, so..

Guess who else is helping Microsoft? Intel, of course.

HD DVD News: Why Intel Supports the HD DVD Format

[...]

Regardless, many believe that the format which can proivde a replacement to current DVD players (HD DVD is support by the DVD forum) at a low cost is HD DVD; including tech giant Intel.

OOXML on the trash canMicrosoft and Intel try to hide this, but it’s clear that their long-enduring affair lives on.

Intel was also batting for OOXML, based on the fact that “Intel” was mentioned explicitly by Microsoft and its lobbying arms in Asia as an example of OOXML support from the industry. Another example was Toshiba, which unsurprisingly makes HD DVD (Microsoft stays in the shades because of its bad image) and is also behind the Zune, which failed miserably.

Whatever ‘format war’ Microsoft is involved in, rather than dumping its inferior formats in the bin (see picture on the right), it is dumping to fight the better formats. Only an abusive, careless mind has the ethics to do so, not to mention an above-the-law status. In the case of OOXML, briberies and free Office were part of the plot.

Microsoft Gets Security Upside-down on OOXML

Posted in Formats, FUD, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Standard at 2:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Things are gradually becoming rather outrageous. The gist of this post is that Microsoft gives the illusion that OOXML provides legal security and peace of mind, whereas old file formats are very mean, nasty and dangerous.

Needless to say, this mutually-imposed mentality has a lot to do with the forced upgrades strategy, which Microsoft’s business model and cash cow heavily relies on (the “upgrade treadmill” as they call it).

OOXML is All Patents, But Microsoft Lies

It is getting truly tiring and frustrating to see Microsoft luring in people to OOXML promising that software patents would not be an issue, despite the fact that the company keeps filing and applying for them (ping Brian Jones). There are other recent lies, but who we they kidding? Have we not learned from Mono yet? We wrote about this only yesterday. Even Rob Weir (of IBM) has just published a clarification.

But you might say, “Please Rob, you can’t be serious. Who would try to get a patent on laying out a footnote? That just doesn’t happen in the real world.”

But consider for Microsoft’s patent application “Method and computer readable medium for laying out footnotes” (US20060156225A1). I’m not saying that application matches the above feature in the standard, but if it did, is there anyone who will argue that the Open Specification Promise would not apply in this case?

Digital Majority had a nice find about exactly this subject: “Defensive Patents, Other Fairy Tales”

“Defensive patents” make as much sense as leaving a loaded gun around the house. Like a home robbery, it is more likely it will be used against the home owner then the intruder.

OOXML is badThese could soon become guns for the toddlers (or Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]) to pull out of the parents’ drawer, no? Remember the analogy that we used quite recently. Those patents, just like a gun, are also likely to be used offensively whenever threatened, cornered, or angry. “Defensive patent” excuses are akin to “pledges not to sue,” none of which is a binding legal contract.

Forcefeeding OOXML: Case Revisited

Russell appears to have just elaborated on an older story about Microsoft using security excuses to 'punish' those who do not upgrade to the 'latest and greatest' version of Microsoft Office. Microsoft tried to deny some of this, but not enough people were foolish enough to buy the excuses.

Here is the article.

With the blink of a 117 MB download (and an even lengthier installation process), Office users will no longer be able to open files in 24 older file formats. That means users – citizens, government employees, small business owners, etc. – will not be able to open their own documents saved in file formats used by Corel (Wordperfect), Lotus, and most versions of MS Office products before 2000. Instead, users will see the not-so-user-friendly statement below:

“You are attempting to open a file type that is blocked by your registry policy setting.”

When a user attempts to open one of these older files, they will receive the above in a dialog box and no alternative actions are given to help users get access to their information in these “blocked” files.

Unlike Palamida, for example, Microsoft is contantly selling us fear. We saw this with software patents (legal security) and we are seeing it with OOXML (computer security). It is commonly claimed that fear is the most powerful motivator/driver known to human kind. Exploiting it (or “capitalising on it”) is the lowest form of marketing techniques.

Fearmonger. Thy name is Microsoft. And Novell.

Old and Tired Bundling Tactics Used Against VMWare

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 1:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Citrix acquisition leads to Xen-o-phobia

Preinstalls can be a very powerful — albeit sometimes anticompetitive — weapon, as Microsoft's 'chokehold' on OEMs has already taught us (Microsoft’s retaliation threats against OEMs aside). Without separability, there will be not much choice.

We have highlighted by now the role of Citrix in grabbing a competitive threat to Microsoft. Xen seems to have been hijacked after the typical dance that is intended to marginalise GNU/Linux**. Rumours or speculations that Microsoft might buy Xen (Citrix) are not so far-fetched anymore and the following headline might be a sign of things to come:

Citrix says Xen to be preinstalled on servers

A senior executive with Citrix Systems Inc said on Wednesday that the business software maker expects to announce agreements to preinstall its Xen software on machines made by some of the world’s biggest makers of server computers .

“There are announcements coming,” Simon Crosby, chief technology officer of the virtualization and management division of Citrix said in an interview.

Remember the increasing tightening between Microsoft’s virtualisation strategy and Xen. This was made more concrete in an announcement about two weeks ago.

The considerable danger is that, instead of whiteboxes, people who wish to have GNU/Linux servers will get Novell+Xen***, or even a Windows host with Linux as a slave (guest). Some people who do not know better can be lured in by this. By all means remember that Ron Hovsepian foresaw Novell’s SUSE (SLES) running under Windows when he approached Microsoft. Being a vassal was his miserable choice.

____
** Apache is probably protected because it’s a foundation, but Microsoft recently invited them to Redmond for some good time.

*** Speaking of Novell, OpenSUSE isn’t really the problem at all. The concern is that by helping OpenSUSE, one is also lifting SLED/SLES, from which Microsoft extracts revenue for its extortions.

Nokia and Microsoft Seem to Be Getting Even Closer

Posted in DRM, Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, KDE, Mail, Microsoft, Oracle at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Match made in a heaven of predatory capitalists?

In our previous posts about the Nokia/Trolltech acquisition [1, 2, 3, 4] we looked at its many implications and also spotted an uneasy event that can hopefully affect Nokia’s views on software patents. Nokia is a strong lobbyist for software patents in Europe, much like Microsoft which even blackmailed for it.

Despite the seemingly-malicious nature of some elements of this acquisition, Motorola claims to be unaffected. In fact, it’s readying a new phone at the moment, as reported just days ago after the company had made serious organisational changes and the stock jumped over 10% in a single day.

Anything is possible we guess, but this Motorola A810 looks a bit like it might have been put together at kindergarten craft hour. Apparently this Linux-based — LiMo? — 2.4-inch touchscreen device will feature handwriting recognition, a 2 megapixel cam, memory expansion via SD card, and hopefully the bezel around the screen will end up a little more even.

The more worrisome news comes from Microsoft’s direction. The company wishes to extend its existing affairs with Nokia

While Nokia phones don’t yet have a Windows OS, they do use a range of other Microsoft software. This includes ActiveSynch for connecting to Exchange Servers and the PlayReady DRM technology used to protect purchased music and video content.

Starkweather said the existing relationship between the two companies was strong and he was enthusiastic about it developing further in the future.

“We work closely with Nokia and we would love to have them go all the way,” he said. “It’s something we talk about all the time.”

Nokia’s stance on Linux is far from perfect. We wrote about this extensively in the past (e.g. here), but consider the following a reminder of where Nokia stands:

“Talking about Nokia and Microsoft getting close isn’t a case of making it so. Being unaware of this issue is the worst that can happen.”People still hope that Nokia will learn to love Linux because of Trolltech, but a source told us that Trolltech is indifferent and Microsoft’s relationship with Nokia is nothing new. Both companies are considered monopolies in their area, so an outside observer might even add that they should be expected to think alike.

Talking about Nokia and Microsoft getting close isn’t a case of making it so. Being unaware of this issue is the worst that can happen. We must understand the situation in order to respond logically. It sometimes seems like Nokia bought Trolltech only to punish its rivals, depriving them from necessary components in their stacks.

Remember Oracle?

How about Zimbra [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]? Here’s a comment about some of the latest developments:

This means competition authorities will view Microsoft’s potential take-over of Yahoo! in a different — the appropriate — light as an anti-competitive absorption of its chief e-mail competitor.

Yahoo! will do what it takes to avoid acquisition by Microsoft. Roy is working on it.

As laid out in the links digest which was posted a few hours ago, the Yahoo takeover seems less likely to materialise, which is reassuring news. At the same time, Microsoft’s fear of Google become more justified. Having made a large acquisition in this area, Google is now stepping into Microsoft’s lawn. Recall some of Microsoft’s past (and very rude) remarks about this.

Google Inc. is adding more e-mail security and storage products for businesses, sharpening its aim on a Microsoft Corp. stronghold while the competition between the two rivals also heats up in Internet search and advertising.

it is very unlikely that Yahoo’s takeover of Zimbra was a prelude to Microsoft’s involvement, which is, on the other hand, exactly what happened to XenSource and is arguably happening with Nokia as well (devouring Trolltech).

Here is the old (yet recent) announcement of the Zimbra acquisition by Yahoo.

The move reflects the belief among major players that collaboration represents a massive growth market. In March this year, Cisco paid $US3.2b for WebEx, a market leader in on-demand collaboration applications.

Remember that Yahoo and Microsoft have been negotiating a takeover for a long time. This was usually done secretly, but there were leaks to the media. Yahoo’s acquisition of Zimbra seemed rather absurd at the time because Yahoo was already very prolific when it came to mail. Likewise, Nokia was already using GTK in Maemo, so why buy Qt? Why did Citrix need Xen? Many questions remain largely unanswered.

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