Novell: Microsoft’s best friend and Samba/EU’s foe?
A reader has just brought to our attention some interesting quotes from an interview that we mentioned earlier. Here are the bits worth highlighting, with special emphasis (in red) on the role of Novell and Jeremy Allison, whom we interviewed in the past:
Carlo piana from the interview at LinuxWorld:
Q) Who are the people from free software community in this process and what was their role?
A) I have already mentioned Tridgell, whom many of the readers should know already. He is the founder and the leading developer of Samba. But also from the Samba team, two more people deserve high praises. The first is Jeremy Allison. Jeremy had a very important role first in the administrative proceedings, convincing the Commission to pass the Decision. Then in the interim case he also appeared in court ad made a big show. Unfortunately, after the interim, he was recruited by Novell which, shortly thereafter, entered into a settlement with Microsoft and pulled off the case. The settlement also prohibited any employees of Novell to cooperate with the case (and especially with us), which shows how negative to justice this sort of agreement could be. Nonetheless, as an Italian saying goes, not all bad things come to harm. We had the opportunity to bring Tridgell into the case, and I can hardly say who is more effective.
Some other excerpts of the interview are very clarifying as well, as highlighted by Groklaw’s News Picks:
Q: Was there some problematic behavior from MS that you noticed during the processes? Some non-official information says that MS spent 3.6 billion dollars on several actions related to this case. Any comment?
Piana: That was another arm of Microsoft strategy. Divide et impera.
It all started with Sun, the initial complainant. It received quite a treat to jump off the case, something in the range of two billion dollars. That was even before the court case started. The same happened later with Novell and CCIA, shortly after the “interim measure” case, during fall 2004. Notably, it was before the President issued the final order in that part of the case. And it happened again shortly before the main hearing last year, with Real Networks. That was even sleazier, because it had as a consequence that all the written documents submitted by Real as pleadings and evidence were taken off the court file. At that point the written phase was over and the evidence we were relying upon disappeared. I don’t know what is the final figure of this, but surely is over 3 billion dollars, in cash or services….
Q: How do you comment on the latest 899-million-euro fine?
Piana: Microsoft’s claim that the fine is from old issues, now resolved, is not entirely accurate. See what they are doing with the OOXML process, where instead of merging two standards for the same realm of application, they insist quite peculiarly in pushing for approval of a second international standard. And with a fast track procedure, when there have been thousands of comments in the voting process pointing out tons of very substantial shortcomings.
You can hopefully see the degree of manipulation and Novell’s role in it. Carlos mentions the illusion that the case is over. Microsoft sure like to prematurely/falsely declare such cases as dismissed, but as we showed in a digest just moments ago, Opera indicates that its case is not over. Always beware the spin. IE8 is one heck of a spin!
We previously showed how Microsoft uses Novell as a tool in Europe. Examples include:
- What About the EC Ruling?
- Novell’s Role in a Microsoft Crusade Against Genuine Open Source Software
- Novell’s Role in Microsoft’s New Battle with the EU
- The Samba Project Still Affected by the Novell/Microsoft Deal
- Novell is not the next SCO, Microsoft is.
- Interoperability Mockery in Europe – Microsoft Dumps 30,000 Pages of Text
- Novell’s Role in Hurting Samba and Free Interoperability
Is Europe still buying from
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Image from Wikimedia
A couple of days ago we showed why OOXML is nothing but a patent trap. All these overly hyped promises of openess and interoperability are nothing but smoke and mirrors. They are intended to confuse journalists, wrestle with antitrust regulators and create false hopes which may or may not lure innocent developers in (before Microsoft starts stabbing them in the back).
Here is another important reminder from The Register:
Royalties charged by Microsoft on Windows APIs and protocols are the next hurdle the company must clear in its wooing of open source developers.
Leading open source figures have questioned charges Microsoft makes on its protocols and APIs, with a call to clarify whether Windows server, client and application APIs and protocols that Microsoft has pledged to “open” will come free of charge, and how payments – if levied – would be collected.
The FSFE is meanwhile working to ensure that real (and free) standards get embraced rather than the cheese in Microsoft’s mouse trap. Yes, it’s important to stress that Microsoft is open… open like a bear trap. The EU Commission faltered before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], so a warning is truly needed. From the mailing list:
New petition calls for Open Standards in the European Parliament
Brussels – 6 March 2008.
At a time when the EU Commission investigates the anti-competitive
behaviour of a market-dominant player, the European Parliament (EP)
still imposes that same specific software choice on both the European
Union’s citizens and its own MEPs. OpenForum Europe, The European
Software Market Association, and the Free Software Foundation Europe
today launched a petition to call on the EP to use Open Standards so
that all citizens can participate in the democratic process.
Speaking of open standards, recall yesterday’s post about Microsoft excluding ODF and GNU/Linux. We mentioned a broken ODF plug-in and a reader of ours, SubSonica, wrote in to say this:
Microsoft has released a plugin to add ODF support in office.
Although it is said to be “free software” it is curious the clause that is included into the installer.
So much for Microsoft alleged “openness” and “new strategy”:
“WARNING: This computer program is protected by copyright law and international treaties. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of this program or a portion of it, may result in severe civil or criminal penalties, and will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible under the law.”
You can see an screenshot of the installer here:
Image from versvs.net (original URL above)
P.S.: The plugin is not working on Windows XP+Office XP. I have read accounts that it also fails to work properly on Office 2007…
Based on what we posted yesterday (about Ars Technica’s experience), this is correct. Might this be the rumoured support which sources spoke about prematurely? If so, then again, it’s worse than useless and it does more harm than good. Microsoft might, after all, give the impression that ODF is inherently broken and impossible to work with, at least in Microsoft Office. The company has already given a bad name to Open Office [sic], hasn’t it? History calls. █
“We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?””
–Brad Silverberg, Microsoft
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Several days ago we mentioned the protest from United States delegates against OOXML, or at least the BRM discussing it. The US voted “No”.
At the time, we also added references that highlight past incidents (pre-September vote) which tell the story of manipulation in the United States. Guess what? It appears to be happening again.
As the U.S. delegate to ISO, INCITS had supported OOXML’s failed ratification last September.
The rest of the article discusses the role of INCITS, which makes a nice deja vu. For those wishing to return to July-September events, here is a reading list:
- How the Game is Played: INCITS V1 Narrowly Votes Down OOXML
- OOXML Fails to Gain Approval in US
- Microsoft Looks for the Big Guns in OOXML In-Fighting
- Packing The Court At The ISO?
The gist of it all is that Microsoft’s pressure may have been the sole cause for flipping a vote upside-down. We saw this in other countries, whose more enlightened citizens were furious at the time. Poland comes to mind, but it’s not the exception at all.
As another hint of dirty play — or perhaps just a convenient coincidence — consider this:
Now that the BRM is over and the information cannot be used to apply changes to the OOXML specification the DIN working group on translation between OOXML and the existing ODF standard kindly published its report.
Well, that’s not very useful then. █
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A wolf in sheep’s clothing…
A degree of cynicism is needed here. It really seems as though the patent system will become hopeless unless someone intervenes. As we recently learned from Amazon, it may be true that patent applications can be warped to exploit loopholes in the USPTO. Consider this:
…the possibility of a major shift in patent law and the possible end of business method or software patents (or both). While the excitement is understandable, in this case I think it’s misplaced.
Using that distinction, even if the Federal Circuit (contrary to statute) completely eliminates protection for process patents, clever attorneys can still get their “business method” patents past the 101 hurdle by casting them in the form of machines that manipulate data. Indeed, even Amazon’s notorious “1-Click” patent includes claims directed to machines, rather than being limited to process claims.
Watch the comment from zoobab:
Data processing with a pen and paper is not patentable.
Why do you argue that Data processing with a calculator is patentable?
To give another example from Friday’s news, watch how portable consoles become patentable when re-posed as phones.
Sony has long denied rumours that it’s working on a PlayStation Portable (PSP) phone, but the company has lots of explaining to do now that a new Sony Ericsson patent application has come to light detailing just such a device.
This brings back memories of Amazon’s patent on “recommendation based on sales history”, which is the digital equivalent of a librarian recommending a book based on one’s reading list and other books that were liked.
How about patenting the passing of a football to the nearest player (yes, there is a patent on this) or patents that relate to driving of a car? When it comes to the digital/electronic world, such things become patentable.
Back in 2005 I wrote a Designer’s Notebook column called “The End of Copyright,” warning that copyright, as a property concept, is probably on its way out. It’s a “right” that was invented out of nowhere after the invention of the printing press, and it will probably fade away some time in the next hundred years or so.
For example, the Namco patent on load-time mini-games (US Patent Number 5,718,632), as originally used in the PlayStation 1 version of Ridge Racer, contains 16 claims, many of which are almost identical to one another. Each claim is a description of what was invented. The terms in this description are called the limitations of the claim — that is, the boundaries of what is claimed.
Read on for further details. Also recall our past short discussions about game patents. These are basically software patents that have gone too far.
How about an electronic equivalent which is similar to gift cards?
A Utah County couple is alleging that Starbucks and Apple violated a patent for shopping cards that allow a consumer to purchase items such as music albums or movies at a store then download them at home.
What will be next? A patent on the ‘electronic book’, followed by claims that all Web browsers — and by association all computer users — infringe on this patent? Yes, we said at the start that a cynical tone is to be expected. █
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A year ago we saw how Microsoft essentially hijacks the voice of Novell customers and then uses it to spread Linux FUD. Not much has changed since then. The company continues to misrepresent businesses for its own selfish benefit.
Digital Majority spotted this bit.
Slovenia, France build pressure for Community Patent
“This is a long-awaited step in the right direction. We applaud the Member States’ decision to push for a Community Patent,” said Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, which represents small and medium size companies in the EU.
Who is it again that parises weak/software patents on behalf of small European businesses? ACT?
ACT is a Microsoft lobbying arm which fights the EU’s decisions on Microsoft antitrust . It also fights against ODF, fights for software patents (along with the BSA ), flings mud at the GNU GPL and attacks just about everything else that poses risk to Microsoft’s illegal monopoly. Recently we mentioned this following article as a timely example. Just to repeat the relevant bits again very quickly:
Reactions to the BRM have been mixed. Jonathan Zuck of the Association for Competitive Technology, which counts Microsoft as a member and issued a statement in support of the standard, said that OOXML is just as deserving as ODF of standardisation, as “only OOXML offers full fidelity for storage of existing documents” from prior versions of word-processing software.
 Microsoft sets spinners on court verdict
Microsoft may have lost in court, but it quickly tried to win the war of media reaction via organisations like CompTIA, the Computing Technology Industry Association and ACT (the Association for Competitive Technology) which both intervened in court on its side.
 Big businesses boast of patent benefits, for small businesses
A report published by an EU task force on intellectual property claims that small businesses benefit from a patent system, despite lacking almost any participation by the small business community.
Instead, the report, titled IPR (intellectual property rights) for competitiveness and innovation, was written up almost entirely by large corporations and the patent industry.
The report does note objections from the likes of patentfrei.de and Sun Microsystems, which were recorded at some length in the report. But this does not appear to have impacted the conclusion of the report in any way
Jean-Pierre Laisne, of ObjectWeb, an open source software community, said that he found the report useless: participants were told that all their contributions would be recorded but at the end only those of Business Software Alliance and Microsoft were used.
Don’t let paid lobbying arms get away with disinformation. They should at least be exposed, then named and shamed. █
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Days ago we saw one of the largest Free software projects adopting the (L)GPLv3 (for a good reason in fact). The good folks at Palamida make a noteworthy observation in their latest report from Friday.
We have already seen that the GPL v3 has made its mark on project licenses, but we are now curious to see if it will continue to grow. If adoption continues at this rate, it make [may] start a snowball effect since it will become more convenient to license under GPL v3 for compatibility.
This sounds encouraging and it is also predictable. There is an increasing number of reasons to upgrade the licence. █
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