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03.02.08

Links 02/03/2008: Elonex Unveiled, KDE Progress, GNOME Progress, LAC2008 Opens

Posted in News Roundup at 2:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 02/03/2008: Linux Laptops Up Again, Yahoo and Microsoft Office/Vista Face New Struggles

Posted in News Roundup at 5:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flashback: “Novell Have Sold Linux’s Future Down The River”

Posted in BSD, Deals, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sellout

While trying to locate some old articles in my archives I accidentally came across this old USENET post, which is probably quote-worthy. Mind the date. It was posted a day after the Novell/Microsoft was announced.


Message-ID: eifq36$e1h$1@web.aioe.org
From: RINGO ringo.lefrak@geemail.com
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy,microsoft.public,alt.os.linux.suse
Subject: Novell Sells Linux Down The River To Microsoft. I’m moving to FreeBSD. Screw Linux.
Date: Fri, 03 Nov 2006 11:17:54 -0500
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2600.1600.60
X-Newsreader: Microsoft Outlook Express 6.00.2600.1600.60

Looks like the SOB’s at Novell have sold Linux’s future down the river. Get ready for the greedy executives to pump and dump the stock as Microsoft absorbs Novell and then destroys it. It looks like Linux is doomed.


It’s quite radical, I do not agree with it, but it was worth quoting nonetheless. Here is another one from USENET. People knew from the very start that this deal was no good.

Patents Roundup: From [A]pple to [O]OXML (and Undercover Lobbyi$T$)

Posted in Apple, Google, Law, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 3:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Since Novell’s deal with Microsoft is mainly about software patents, it is important to look around and become familiar with this terrain. The outrageous war over territories in telecom, in handsets and in ‘commodity software’ have gone too far and here we are presenting more proof of it.

Apple Stung

An ‘invention’ with prior art going decades back has just gotten Apple sued.

Figa’s patent, describes an “an automatic incoming telephone call number display system for detecting an incoming call and identifying the party associated with the incoming call number”.

Like the iPhone, the system “includes a directory of telephone numbers and parties associated with those numbers,” and it’s equipped with “circuitry detects the origin telephone number of an incoming telephone call and compares that number with numbers in the directory for identifying the calling party.”

This is just the basic idea of Caller ID. Remember that Apple can also be an aggressor, not just a victim.

Microsoft OOXML and Patents

Thomas Vinje is a smart man and he understands fully what Microsoft is trying to accomplish with GPL exclusion in its OOXML ‘promises’.

Where standards can run into trouble, Thomas Vinje of the European Committee for Interoperable Systems told the event, is when patents are needed in order to implement them, allowing patent holders to set high prices or to exclude certain users from a needed technology.

This type of GPL poison can of course be found elsewhere in Microsoft's promises, not just in OOXML.

Innovation is Cheap

So argues Google’s engineer, Kevin Marks: Innovation comes cheap

On Friday, amid a frenzy of chatter about open this and open that at FOWA, Marks took some time to chat with CNET News.com about OpenSocial on MySpace, that wacky Silicon Valley exuberance, and his view that a tough economy won’t hurt innovation–because the cost of innovation has gone down.

Remember just how much pro-patents lobbyists stress the word "innovation" as rationale. And speaking of lobbyists, look who we find in this new article from Associated Press.

Software Group Lobbied on Patents

[...]

The Business Software Alliance, whose members include Microsoft Corp. and Adobe Systems Inc., paid Emery Simon $260,000 in 2007 to lobby the federal government.

We wrote about the Business Software Alliance on several occasions recently (more minor observations in [1, 2, 3, 4]). It’s a Microsoft front in many way.

Miscellaneous Picks of Interest from Digital Majority

The good folks from FFII have identified another report about massive lobbying activities and disclosures.

Vonage spent more than $601,000 in the second half of the year lobbying on those issues, according to its most recent filing.

For lobbying (aka “legalised bribery“), that is quite a lot of money, especially for a single company to spend.

The End Software Patents (ESP) initiative, which was mentioned here twice before, has announced (via PR) and unlashed the following report [PDF]. Here is the abstract.

The current state of software and business method patents: 2008 edition

On the economic front, there continue to be billions of dollars in litigation over software patents every year, and such suits are increasingly against companies in the general economy who have software patent liability simply because they have a web site. Several pro-software patent academics have searched the existing data for evidence that software patents foster innovation, and failed to find any.

On the legal front, the courts have begun to take notice, and from the Patent Office to the Supreme Court, judges have begun to indicate a desire to revise the current policy that everything is patentable subject matter. Expect to see the restoration of many important limits on what may be patented.

Change is expected, according to this blog item that analyses IAM’s very recent take.

Joff Wild of IAM Magazine predicts that the Federal Circuit’s en banc rehearing of the In re Bilsk case signals a move to restrict the patentability of software and business methods.

Sadly, IAM takes somewhat of a swing at ESP, which fights against software patents. Overinflated figures are claimed (MPAA-style).

Clearly, what the authors have done is take 55, multiply it by 52 and then multiply that figure (2860) to get the $11.4 billion. In other words, they have assumed that every single case filed in the US ends up going to a final decision at the first instance. However, the truth is that the vast majority of patent suits are settled well before they get to court and so the litigation costs incurred are significantly less. Any patent attorney that End Software Patents had cared to ask could have pointed out this simple truth. But maybe it is just a litte too inconvenient.

Lastly, have a look at this new readers survey.

Should software be patented?

# No (54%)
# Why not copyright it instead? (22%)
# Only in rare cases when the software is truly innovative (16%)
# Yes (6%)
# Abolish the Patent office. Let the free market decide (3%)

Those participating in the poll are likely to be involved in technology. This ought to include programmers, who are most familiar with and most affected by the question. Is anyone listening to the real demands of so-called investors at all (programmers in this case)?

Software patent on rise

Microsoft’s OOXML Scandal in India and the Legal Issues Ahead

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML at 2:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft: still a bunch of gangsters.”

Sam Hiser (reaction to Microsoft’s 'open' pledge, 2008)

Our last wrap-up covering the incident in India showed that Microsoft offered money to tens of thousands of non-profits only days before the nation’s vote on OOXML. Leaked letters, whose authenticity has not yet been confirmed, suggest that these non-profits later pressured their national standards body to cave in and fall for Microsoft. This is extremely damaging and the following new article from The Post seems to allude to this incident rather gently.

Monopoly and proprietary software have an advantage in influencing state and governmental institutions because of their large market base and ready capital. Unscrupulous ways of influencing state governments have persisted in India, for example, where executives of proprietary software cajole government heads to promote their brands in lieu of some form of charity given. FLOSS activists must overcome this huge challenge in order to get their philosophy accepted and model implemented for the good of people who are still on the barren side of the digital divide.

“Remember that the LF is partly funded by Novell, which is a Microsoft partner…”This is definitely something for the European Commission to look into. The ongoing antitrust investigation of OOXML-related abuses has another ‘smoking gun’ right there. It’s one among many, but the scale of this one is rather disturbing. It illustrates the possibility of ‘charity’ being used as a bribery funnel.

The LF‘s President, Jim Zemlin, is probably known for his liberal views that are relatively supportive of Microsoft. Remember that the LF is partly funded by Novell, which is a Microsoft partner, so he has to be nice and avoid controversies. Nevertheless, he did bother a post a gentle item bearing the sympathetic title: “It’s Been a Tough Week for Microsoft”.

It has been a tough week for Microsoft. This morning the E.U. announced it is imposing a 1.3 billion dollar fine on the company because Microsoft had “charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation for work group servers” and that it had abused its dominant position under Article 82 of the EC Treaty. That is not something any company wants to hear the week after announcing, “new interoperability principles and actions will increase openness of key products” and on the day of Windows Server 2008’s “Heroes Happen Here” launch event.

It’s understandable that the LF should keep an open mind that appeals to the marketplace. The LF does not, after all, wish to be perceived as "anti-Microsoft".

Going forward, Microsoft will have to face the consequences of its unacceptable behaviour. Its stock has already been knocked down by a downgrade, spurred by its recent abuses that led to considerable fines. Here is the Reuters article:

RESEARCH ALERT-Bear Stearns cuts Microsoft Q3 shr view

[...]

“We believe the EU is unlikely to levy further fines relative to this issue as they declared MSFT has been in compliance since Oct 22, 2007,” Bear Stearns said and continued to rate the stock “peer perform.”

Then came the reaction.

In Nasdaq trading, Microsoft Corp slid 1.2 percent to $27.93. Bear Stearns cut its estimates for Microsoft’s GAAP earnings per share for both the third quarter and fiscal 2008 after the European Commission levied a record fine against the company for failure to comply with antitrust sanctions.

We shall soon publish a summary of Microsoft’s financial situation, as a reader suggested that we do. We have also contacted Bill Parish, who is familiar with these matters.

In other good news, the controversial chairwoman of the FTC, who repeatedly turned a blind eye to many monopolistic abuses and more recently got caught in a conflicting interests scandal (her husband), has finally stepped down.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras will resign in late March and become general counsel of Procter & Gamble, the FTC and company said on Thursday.

If the American regulators can learn from Europe (getting claws and teeth), then Microsoft, Intel and several other abusive monopolists will finally have to rethink and reconsider their business strategy.

Assorted Web/Blog Reactions to OOXML BRM

Posted in Asia, Deception, ECMA, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Noooxml.org could not contain a bit of excitement about the outcome. Its headline was:

BRM in Geneva is over: big failure for OOXML

Only ten national delegations voted, and only 4 P-members were for approval. 4 P-members disapproved, a whopping 15 abstained, and 2 even refused to register a vote in protest.

If you count all voting delegates, including those who are not P members, the vote was 6 approvals, 4 disapprovals, 18 abstentions and 4 refusals to vote. Expect this to be announced by Microsoft as a “3 to 2 majority for OOXML approval” in the next few hours. The reality is of course that this is a huge setback for Microsoft. The tricks they have been trying have backfired, and it is now more clear than ever before that OOXML is an immature specification which was totally inappropriate for the fast track procedure.

Same headline echoed by Open Malaysia:

BRM in Geneva is over: big failure for OOXML

As noooxml.org points out, Microsoft will try to spin this. It is already trying to spin (it's a pattern), so here is the point to bear in mind and prepare for:

Microsoft’s New Meme: ‘Marketplace Relevance’

This seems to be preparing the ground for an eventual rejection of OOXML. The line would be well, being an official ISO standard isn’t *so* important: what matters is “marketplace relevance”. And we all know what that means: just keep that status quo rolling…

Here is the summary of an article from InfoWorld, which also appears in CIO.com.

About four-fifths of the proposed changes to a draft standard for the OOXML document format were waved through, undiscussed, at the conclusion of a weeklong meeting in Geneva.

This relates to the prophecy of Bob Sutor, which he posted in his blog several days ago.

Although a month remains for changes of heart (brace yourself for colossally heavy lobbying by Microsoft), the following post prematurely predicts failure.

The BRM meeting in Geneva is over. The plan was, from the Microsoft point of view, that OOXML should now be an ISO standard. It didn’t make it.

Noooxml.org later posted an update almost identical to ours and it’s focused on Tim Bray’s spilling of the beans.

The Canadian BRM delegate Tim Bray strongly criticised the ISO process while he doesn’t blame the BRM failure on ISO but on the vendor that used the ECMA proxy.

Tim Bray, redirecting his readers to this page, was not too happy with the headlines, possibly ours included.

The Open Malaysia blogger posts another last update which concurs with what we find in the press.

The final day was absolute mayhem. We had to submit decisions on over 500 items which we hadn’t have the time to review. All the important issues which have been worked on repeatedly happened to appear on this final day. So it was non-stop important matters. Unfortunately I was caught up in a change from Malaysia, so I must have missed deliberating on a few important matters.

Articles from the mainstream press agreed that the final day was somewhat of a mess. This BRM ought to be remembered as a disaster, as predciated all along [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It leaves ECMA, Microsoft and even ISO quite seriously wounded. In another Web forum, someone has begun asking if the European Commission can take action against ECMA, not just Microsoft, which is already under antitrust investigation for its abuse of ISO.

ISO standard

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