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02.27.08

Microsoft’s OOXML Gives Open Source Software a Bad Name

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenOffice, Windows at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Office Open” is not open at all

Earlier on we mentioned Google's protest against OOXML. What is wrong with the following article however?

Open Office XML Booed By Google

Google hates OpenOffice?!?!?!?!?!

“Most people still think of Microsoft as the brain behind window-based interfaces (mind the quote at the bottom).”Of course not, but Microsoft vainly chose to confuse people by nicking the OpenOffice brand and putting its proprietary garbage in the same semantic territories, having already pressured OpenOffice to become OpenOffice.org.

The mistake is even repeated in the body of this new post, so it’s not just a slip or a typo. It’s confusion, misunderstanding even. And it’s not an isolated incident.

Remember that Microsoft not only sees itself as the owner of the literal “windows” (it tried to bully “x windows”), but it also attacked Lindows. Most people still think of Microsoft as the brain behind window-based interfaces (mind the quote at the bottom). We mentioned this only yesterday.

From now on, always goes by MOOX or OOXML. Don’t let Microsoft arrogantly ruin the good reputation of OpenOffice, which it insisted should be OpenOffice.org.

“Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO at the time)

Quick Mention: Novell+Mono Discussion

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono at 4:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In response to this recent post, there have been quite a few others and there is a long discussion about it in OS News, as well as other places. Among the comments:

Novell has received those license from microsoft so novell has nothing to fear but other vendors who didnt sign up with the microsoft threats are vunerable.

Novell is pushing mono technology in gnome – since it has the cross-patent license from microsoft.

[...]

On November 2, 2006, Microsoft and Novell announced a joint agreement whereby Microsoft agreed to not sue Novell�€�s customers for patent infringement.[9] According to Mono project leader Miguel de Icaza,[10] this agreement extends to Mono but only for Novell developers and customers.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_(software)#Mono_and_Microsoft.E2.80.99s_patents

That last part implies that Microsoft COULD possibly sue people or organizations that use Mono.

So… given the relationship between Microsoft and Novell, and how Novell is the big organization pushing Mono, maybe there IS something to be concerned about. This situation does look suspiciously like Microsoft worming its way into having power in the FOSS world.

eWeek: “Salesforce Says No to Silverlight”

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Salesforce not interested in anti-Linux tools

Silverlight toilet

As this new article suggests, companies do not trust Microsoft. The article’s headline is “Salesforce Says No to Silverlight”.

Pay attention to the following new bit of information which shows us just why Salesforce is right.

Some other products lose a little oomph, after SP1 installation. My favorite: New York Times Reader. This is the software that Microsoft has touted, like forever, as the showcase native Windows Presentation Foundation application. No longer—or at least not for awhile.

We explained before why Flash not "Silverlight from a different company", despite the fact that Flash is adding DRM. Consider again this alarming reminder from Joe Wilcox (Microsoft Watch):

.Net versus the Net

While Adobe and Microsoft share similar goals, their development approaches and philosophies differ. For starters, Adobe isn’t a .Net shop. AIR strongly favors existing and popular Web and Web-to-desktop development technologies, such as AJAX, Flash, Flex and HTML. Microsoft leverages .Net Framework, Silverlight, Windows Media Video, Windows Presentation Foundation and XAML. While Microsoft’s development toolset also supports AJAX, HTML and even Flash, the greater emphasis is the company’s own technologies.

Avoid, avoid and avoid Silverlight by all means possible. If people complain loudly enough about the use of Silverlight, it won’t grow (especially not outside Microsoft’s ‘tutf’ of the World Wide Web, assuming it leaves Yahoo alone).

Links 27/02/2008: Ubuntu Mobile Announced, System76 Sells GNU/Linux Servers, Linux on the Wii

Posted in News Roundup at 3:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Week of Corruptions :: Day 3 :: Microsoft the Vicious Bully

Posted in America, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 2:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Day three of the ridiculous BRM in Geneva [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] will begin in a couple of hours. We carry on bringing back memories of Microsoft's fight for OOXML. This third post among a series looks how Microsoft bullied (yes, quite practically bullied) States CIO and even diplomats in order to stifle the adoption of ODF in the United States.

Here is only a small portion of a very lengthy post (copied verbatim):


Those of you have followed the developments in the world of document formats probably come across plenty of corruption. The funny OOXML game continues to this date. Massachusetts is no exception and it is probably one among the first places from which ‘funny’ stories arrived. Let’s remind ourselves of the ‘Greatest Hits’ from the State of Massachusetts.

Here we have the first state CIO talking about his departure.

Almost to a person, to anybody involved or who knows about the ODF issue, they attributed the story to Microsoft, right, wrong or otherwise. Senator Pacheco may be a bully but I do not believe he is disingenious and would stoop to such a tactic. Senator Pacheco and Secretary Galvin’s office remain very heavily influenced by the Microsoft money and its lobbyist machine, as witnessed by their playbook and words, in my opinion.

Here is his successor, who held a similar position and stance that defends the interests of the citizens, not the cashflow of a convicted monopoly abuser.

As CIO of Massachusetts from February to November last year, Louis Gutierrez had to endure most of the brunt of Microsoft Corp.’s political wrath over a state policy calling for the adoption of the Open Document Format for Office Applications, or ODF — a rival to the software vendor’s Office Open XML file format.

To Microsoft, his departure was a sweet victory. Two CIOs then had their influence inherited by a Microsoft lobbyist. Microsoft essentially took control of the state.

That person is Brian Burke, the Microsoft Regional Director for Public Affairs, and if that surprises you, it surprises me as well, given the degree of acrimonious debate and disinformation witnessed in Massachusetts over the last 15 months involving the Information Technology Division’s transition to ODF.

If you think that’s bad, check out what they did in Florida.

Microsoft’s ‘Men in Black’ kill Florida open standards legislation

It was just a bit of text advocating open data formats that was slipped into a Florida State Senate bill at the last minute with no fanfare, but within 24 hours three Microsoft-paid lobbyists, all wearing black suits, were pressuring members of the Senate Committee on Governmental Operations (COGO) to remove the words they didn’t like from Senate bill 1974.


Delegates at Geneva will hopefully be fully aware of these stories. This is what they vote on.

When Microsoft Corporation Met Debt

Posted in Deception, Finance, Fraud, Microsoft at 1:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s IBM-isation is closer than you might realise

For a fact, Microsoft might soon enter debt and we have been studying for quite some time the true story behind Microsoft’s PR and accounting walls. Not so long ago we returned our attention to the issue of misconduct, including systematic kickbacks. There is more to bribery then just kickbacks, which themselves as a subtle form of bribery more severe than lobbying, which is legalised to a greater or lesser degree.

Reuters has just published an article about the government’s new and more aggressive effort to curb briberies. Here is the opening portion of an article you might find surprising (witness the true scale of corruption):

Companies under investigation for violations of U.S. bribery laws will likely face heightened scrutiny from law enforcement officials all over the world as probes widen and spill across borders, a study found.

Yesterday, having taken a look at Microsoft’s SEC filing, Groklaw brought attention to the following article titled “Debt in Disguise” and we shall return to this in a moment.

The purpose of securitization is to make the credit rating of the company practically irrelevant in a financing, so that even in a bankruptcy the receivables cash flow will be protected….

The rating agencies also rely greatly on legal constructs that say the payment stream to investors will not be hindered. For instance, the transfer of receivables to the SPE must be a “true sale.” That is, the seller must not retain too much of the reward or the risk coming from the asset, says Robert Hahn, a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP. In addition, the SPE has to be “nonrecourse” — in other words, the company’s creditors must not have claim to the assets of the SPE if the originating company goes bankrupt.

“Securitization divorces the creditworthiness of the [company] from the credit of the pool,” says Mark Spradling, a partner with Vinson & Elkings LLP. “True sale and nonconsolidation are part of that separation.”

But the opinion that legal control of receivables has passed to a third party has not been litigated in the bankruptcy courts….

Tapping the capital markets without a lending bank in between means that even non-investment-grade companies can finance at near what triple-A companies pay.

From the latest SEC filing, the portion of interest was this. Read it very carefully.

Antitrust, unfair competition, and overcharge class actions. A large number of antitrust and unfair competition class action lawsuits have been filed against us in various state, federal, and Canadian courts on behalf of various classes of direct and indirect purchasers of our PC operating system and certain other software products. We obtained dismissals of damages claims of indirect purchasers under federal law and in 15 states. Courts refused to certify classes in two additional states. We have reached agreements to settle all claims that have been made to date in 19 states….

Other antitrust litigation and claims. In November 2004, Novell, Inc. filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Utah, now consolidated with other cases in Maryland, asserting antitrust and unfair competition claims against us related to Novell’s ownership of WordPerfect and other productivity applications during the period between June 1994 and March 1996. …

Patent and intellectual property claims. We are vigorously defending more than 45 patent infringement cases. …

Adverse outcomes in some or all of the matters described in this section may result in significant monetary damages or injunctive relief against us that would adversely affect distribution of our operating system or application products. We may enter into material settlements because of these risks. …

As of December 31, 2007, we had accrued aggregate liabilities of approximately $840 million in other current liabilities and approximately $660 million in other long-term liabilities for all of the contingent matters described in this note. While we intend to vigorously defend these matters, there exists the possibility of adverse outcomes that we estimate could be up to $4.1 billion in aggregate beyond recorded amounts. Were unfavorable final outcomes to occur, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on our financial position and on the results of operations for the period in which the effects become reasonably estimable.

Bear in mind that later today Microsoft is likely to be slapped by a very considerable fine for its market abuses. This is important. Consider this in light of Microsoft approaching debt (unless it’s already in concealed debt) and look back at the article “Debt in Disguise”. According to Steve Lake’s latest analysis, none of this is so far fetched.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at what’s happening out there. Linux is cutting into Microsoft’s desktop dominance. It’s also wiping away any hope of it gaining server dominance. Firefox is quickly replacing its browser as the preferred method for surfing the internet. Outlook is being slowly knocked off its pedestal by open source alternatives, and other competitors are attacking them from all sides in their other fields as well. Open Source is on a roll and Microsoft is getting run over on all sides, and while it may not seem like they’re loosing the war, they are. Just because Open Source isn’t in the mainstream news doesn’t mean it’s not winning. And if this isn’t causing Microsoft and Steve Balmer to reach the point of being nearly panic stricken, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. I honestly believe right now that they’re terrified. Hence the battle for Yahoo is a battle for their very existence.

The word “terrified” is the same one that we used a week ago. The taxoperability program was a desperate attempt to escape the Big Fine which is yet to be announced (c/f aforementioned hyperlink). It was an attempt to please the EU while securing some revenue (‘software patent tax’). Without the EU’s nod of approval, will Microsoft gradually go into debt? How does Yahoo fit into this and are OOXML, Silverlight and other anti-LAMP/standards technologies merely a desperate late attempt?

“Why else would many of Microsoft's top executives be dropping like flies and escape the company?”Do bear in mind that, as Glyn Moody puts it, Microsoft’s dumping of Silverlight for youngsters was truly a giveaway (a word that we used only two days beforehand. It gave away Microsoft’s fear.

If you think all of this is crazy nonesense, be aware that we were cited in Linux Journal, among other publications that start to recognise Microsoft’s financial weakness, which the company has effectively been hiding for quite some time. Why else would many of Microsoft's top executives be dropping like flies and escape the company? Again, it’s quite a giveaway. Microsoft was caught with its pants down when trying to spin this. Do not be hypnotised.

Further reading:

“But the $29 billion on hand at last count was less than half the cash and short-term investments held by Microsoft about two years ago.”

Todd Bishop, Microsoft Watcher, Seattle P-I

The Latest News on the Fight Against Software Patents

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Patents at 1:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Ripple Effect of Business Method Patents

There has been a lot of discussion recently due to the case which revolves around business methods. There is hope is that a responsible reform addressing the issue will knock down software patents as well. Have a look at this new article from BusinessWeek.

A case before an appeals court could make it harder to win legal protection for business methods

Forbes Magazine, as obedient as ever to its business roots and motives, presents the view which favours monetisation at the expense of innovation.

Successful free enterprise requires an effective system of property ownership rights. Economists like Hernando de Soto believe that such rights are the underpinning of capitalism and explain how for decades America’s strong patent system has fostered economic growth and innovation in the face of intensifying international competition. Although many factory jobs have moved overseas, knowledge workers have enjoyed improved living standards in the United States.

That picture will change for the worse if the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (S.1145), now being considered by the Senate, is enacted in its present form. This bill, together with two recent patent-unfriendly Supreme Court rulings, represents one of the worst assaults on intellectual property protection in the 218-year history of our patent system.

[...]

Joe Kiani is the founder and CEO of Irvine, Calif.-based Masimo.

For another more visual perspective (a video), there is this recent one. The “knowledge worker” monopoly is spurring great debate. When it crosses over to software, this means that people in poorer nations are hardly allow to program (or distribute their programs). What’s next? Will people not be permitted to practice mathematics, turning it into a luxury of only the affluent?

The Fight for Cost of Products

There is this excellent new article from Wired Magazine, which analyses some of the effects of modernisation (and digitisation).

Thanks to Gillette, the idea that you can make money by giving something away is no longer radical. But until recently, practically everything “free” was really just the result of what economists would call a cross-subsidy: You’d get one thing free if you bought another, or you’d get a product free only if you paid for a service.

Over the past decade, however, a different sort of free has emerged. The new model is based not on cross-subsidies — the shifting of costs from one product to another — but on the fact that the cost of products themselves is falling fast.

When all else fails, litigate?

Acacia Carries on Trolling with Junk Patents

Acacia, with roots in Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], shows us that its trolling continues, uninterrupted. Watch this recent Acacia settlement (read: ripoff) [Kudos to Doug Mentohl for the links]

Acacia Research Corporation ACTG announced today that its Mobile Traffic Systems Corporation subsidiary has settled patent litigation against Cobra Electronics Corporation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

The licensed technology generally relates to systems and methods for transmitting, receiving and displaying traffic information on portable handheld and mobile devices. This technology is used to identify traffic congestion and can be used with in-vehicle navigation displays and portable handheld units such as cell phones and PDAs.

The patent is here.

United States Patent 5,497,148
Oliva March 5, 1996
Traffic information warning system

Assignee: Cobra Electronics Corporation (Chicago, IL)
Appl. No.: 08/297,969
Filed: August 30, 1994

Docket here.

Michael Tiemann’s Rebuttal to Torvalds’ Response to Taxoperability

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, OSI at 12:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who ‘gets’ it?

There is a bunch of reports out there about Linus Torvalds cautiously welcoming Microsoft’s Taxoperability Program, but there is the possibility that he misses a broader picture. To repeat a response to Asay from yesterday, consider the following comment from Michael Tiemann, President of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

In my opinion, anything that Microsoft does that falls short of the published open source minimums is…sub-minimal. Torvalds is happy because his standards are lower–he cares more about himself than his community. But other people have higher standards–we also care about the community at least as much as we care for ourselves.

The words here are a little strong and Tiemann, who is most notably behind “Open Source”, seems to be embracing a Richard Stallman-like (GNU/FSF) stance, caring to ensure that software remains free and secure from software patents.

Torvalds’ view was somewhat surprising because he does in fact worry about software patents. Might he be missing the conditions secretly embedded in the Taxoperability Program (put more bluntly here) which pertain to patents. Moreover, is the OSI beginning to realise what Microsoft intends to do to open source? Watch this new pick from Groklaw:

Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers

07:52PM February 02/26/08, 2008

[PJ: Microsoft has come up with its own proprietary definition, if I may call it that, of Open Source projects. Here it is, found on the new Patent Pledge for Open Source Developers page of its website:

"To benefit from this promise, You must be a natural or legal person participating in the creation of software code for an open source project. An "open source project" is a software development project the resulting source code of which is freely distributed, modified, or copied pursuant to an open source license and is not commercially distributed by its participants. If You engage in the commercial distribution or importation of software derived from an open source project or if You make or use such software outside the scope of creating such software code, You do not benefit from this promise for such distribution or for these other activities."

Blech.] – Microsoft

Gatchev.info adds some personal analysis, calling it a “Divide and Conquer” Promise. [via LinuxToday]

here is a lot of discussion around the new Microsoft premise to offer freely documentation about its protocols and interfaces, and to not sue developers who use it to create code for non-commercial goals, even if they violate Microsoft patents. Some people think that this is done to avoid further pressure from the European Commission. It could be so – but there could be also a different rationale for it.

[...]

I would. Fair is fair… If only it wasn’t for one small detail: this way, they destroy the FOSS essence. Every FOSS license gives you the right to use and distribute the software in any way you like, commercial or not. If you are limited to non-commercial distribution only, this is not freedom anymore. And this is going to damage the positions of FOSS not only among the freedom pundits, but also (and maybe even more) among the ordinary users. That is – to marginalize FOSS.

It is possible that Linus Torvalds has not learned the full extent of Microsoft’s latest announcement. His response to this might be damaging to perception. Neither Red Hat nor the EU cared for Microsoft's promise, so why should the Linux kernel?

Steve Ballmer license

Image from Wikimedia

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