02.08.08

Microsoft ‘Pulled a BBC’ in New Zealand, ‘Stole’ from Taxpayers

Posted in Apple, DRM, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 7:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Same fiasco, different country

It is truly amazing to find the same story unfolding in the very same way in two separate countries, even independently. Under many people’s radar, New Zealand’s television turns out to have been abused — and also actively abused — in a BBC-like fashion. The Radar (O’Reilly) scoops up bits of this story.

The New Zealand Herald has an interesting article about state-owned broadcaster Television New Zealand’s on-demand streaming of media moving away from DRM (TVNZ has the same scope of programming and dominant market position as the BBC in England, though alas not the commercial-free public good mandate). TVNZ’s head of emerging business, Jason Paris (who was at the recently-ended Kiwi Foo Camp) said the ad-supported streams outnumbered paid-for downloads by “many thousands to one” and so they’re dropping the DRMed downloads.

[...]

TVNZ has been using Microsoft’s PlaysForSure digital rights management software to try to prevent downloaded TV shows from being copied. But just days after the launch of TVNZ OnDemand last March, the protection systems had been bypassed by viewers using software freely available on the internet.

“This ought to bring back to mind Novell’s help to Microsoft’s Silverlight, which is intended to create another type of lock-in with DRM included.”The story is almost a perfect copy of the Microsoft-BBC fiasco, which is far from over based on what we were recently told. There are far too many unanswered questions and there is colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. This ought to bring back to mind Novell's help to Microsoft's Silverlight, which is intended to create another type of lock-in with DRM included.

While the BBC has already received an “F”, it seems to aspire for a “D” at best. It fails to see that its problem is the proprietary software stack that was borrowed from Microsoft. Although the BBC intends to bring iPlayer to Macs, there is not a single word about GNU/Linux. The BBC announced that there would make available a Linux version in 2008, not just a Mac version as just reported by the BBC itself. And let’s not forget the obvious spit in the face:

Highlighting the marginal Linux audience is a risky move for Thomson, after his director of future media and technology, Ashley Highfield, got himself into hot water with open-source advocates last year by declaring the BBC website had only 400-600 Linux users every week.

An iPlayer equivalent could be very inexpensive to develop. The BBC would have delivered the software to all platforms simultaneously had it not relied on Microsoft’s stack and DRM-laden delivery of media (which it later gave up on anyway). Here is a new article from Wired where it is shrewdly implied that DRM ‘security’ is a matter of financial security for distributors and also an excuse for greater control.

With enough lock-in, a company can protect its market share even as it reduces customer service, raises prices, refuses to innovate and otherwise abuses its customer base. It should be no surprise that this sounds like pretty much every experience you’ve had with IT companies: Once the industry discovered lock-in, everyone started figuring out how to get as much of it as they can.

Mark Thompson already does some damage control. Sadly for him, it’s a blog, so he receives harsh comments such as this one:


I continue to be very disappointed in the way the BBC has handled the whole iPlayer project.

Mark, you continue to speak of “Platform Neutrality” and then go on to say how you’re looking into developing cross-platform DRM solutions. How is this neutral? This is you picking platforms to support, not being neutral at all.

Being neutral would mean publishing media using open standards so that anybody on any platform would be able to access your media.

The fact that you spout a term such as “market penetration” just further proves to me how far away you are from understanding this issue. Are you really saying you are prepared to completely shut out a minority group of viewers in such a discriminatory way?

As a licence payer I’m disgusted.


Stay tuned. The BBC makes baby steps, but too many people remain deeply disappointed.

Red Hat’s CEO Responds to Question About Microsoft’s Patent Threats

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Interview, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 7:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When the departure of Red Hat’s previous CEO was first announced, a reader suggested that we write a letter to the new CEO, so we did. The letter was read many times and we believe that it has reached James Whitehurst himself. In a New Interview for NetworkWorld, Whitehurst was asked about Microsoft a few times. Here is one question and answer of interest:

You have a strong business background, is signing a cross-patent licensing deal with Microsoft still bad business for Red Hat?

[Whitehurst:] If we knew what kind of patent issues we had that would be helpful. So it is hard to have productive conversation if we don’t know what they are. So it’s way too early to say that. To be clear, I am not some type of religious zealot, I do not have a problem having relationships with proprietary software companies, but we need to think about if it is good for the customers. Interoperability – great – but we would like to do that on open standards. But in terms of patents, it would be helpful if Microsoft would be a little more forthcoming.

The way John Fontana (the interviewer) asked this question makes it rather catchy. In the remainder of this interview you can see the general attitude towards Microsoft, which is somewhat akin to that of Jim Zemlim, just without the “respect Microsoft”-type calls [1, 2, 3].

Mysterious New Moves in the Gates Foundation

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Finance, Microsoft at 6:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s a question of timing

The last time we mentioned the Gates Foundation, we highlighted the following new addition/assignment:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation named former World Bank official Geoff Lamb managing director of public policy, a new position that highlights the philanthropy’s growing need to work more closely with governments world-wide.

For those with some background in politics, the role of World Bank executives ought to strike a nerve. What’s more, Melinda Gates’ presence in listings of secretive Bilderberg Group meetings might actually mean something.

It is important that you are made aware of some of the Foundation’s lesser-known activities. These activities receive little or no publicity in the mainstream media.

The Foundation came under attacks from critics who explored the activity of the Foundation in a wider context and we also saw the role of seemingly-philanthropic acts as means of assisting Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and having people dependent on (or locked in to) Microsoft software. It is an optimal situation to have. A charity acts as a moral shield. It’s hard to say something negative about the Foundation as a whole.

Mind the following news from yesterday. The head of the Foundation (since 1997 in fact) has just departed. Of interest:

Buffett, the head of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and a longtime friend of the Gateses, announced in June 2006 that he would give the foundation about $1.5 billion annually, to be distributed in the year it is donated. Stonesifer said Bill and Melinda Gates asked her to insure Buffett’s gifts would have their maximum impact before she left the CEO spot.

She said her bosses have no intention of filling the chief executive job themselves.

From the Billwatch Quotes Database we extract the following situation which involved this departing director of the Gates Foundation:


Quote: “If it [the timing of the donation] had anything to do with the antitrust case, we would have told someone”
By: Ms. Stonifer, director, William H. Gates Foundation
Reference: Responding to the question if the timing of Gates’ $3.3 billion gift to the foundations…


If you look at our past writings you’ll see this mentioned in a broader context. To this date, the donations seem somewhat strategic in the sense that they are sometimes tied to a few business interests.

Be aware that Microsoft is hurting financially, albeit very secretly. This was covered a lot recently, so start here and follow the references back in time if this is news to you. An Associated Press article has just shown up in some Web sites and it states Microsoft’s problem fairly well.

The investor backlash during the past week has reduced Microsoft’s market value by more than $40 billion, an amount roughly equal to the current value of its bid for Yahoo.

Remember the fact that Microsoft sought a big loan just in order to buy Yahoo. At the moment, the company’s cash reserves are being used for aggressive stock buybacks and the Seattle P-I reported that Microsoft had lost over half of its cash piles in just two years. That was last year and you are encouraged to follow the reference in order to find out more. It would be needless and wasteful to just repeat very detailed posts with compelling proof.

Victory! EU Antitrust Officials Go After Microsoft for Fiddling with ISO

Posted in Europe, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO standard
There’s hope left for ISO

Finally we have some good news, for a change. After many months (almost years) of protesting against ballot-stuffing, briberies, threats and lies, the European Commission is responding. Microsoft is now under investigation for its OOXML abuses.

European regulators are examining whether Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Corp violated antitrust laws during a struggle last year to ratify its Office software file format as an international standard, the Wall Street Journal reported.

EU antitrust officials have asked Microsoft for information about its activities in the standards-setting process – an early step in an investigation – and are stepping up scrutiny of the issue, people familiar with the matter told the newspaper.

Personally, I foresaw some legal action, but antitrust scrutiny would be even more effective. It might also have Microsoft’s well-document behaviour brought to the mainstream media’s attention, a la Netscape trial.

Links 08/02/2008: Linux Interviews, Press Releases, Analysis

Posted in News Roundup at 2:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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