“We reserve the right to sue our #1 rival. Sheesh!”
Yes, Microsoft cannot help denying the existence and role of its #1 rival. Microsoft is trying to sell people the illusion that use and implementation of OOXML is safe from Microsoft lawsuits, but this excludes FOSS, as well as patent trolls, proxies. Microsoft also gives the illusion that OOXML is complete, which it is not. Another clarification comes from Bob Sutor.
OOXML IPR problems
Anyway, the phrase that caught my eye last night in one of the presentations I was sent was “No IPR problems!”.
I immediately thought “That should have an asterisk.” As in:
“No IPR problems!*”
* If you don’t care about 1) everything you need to use the spec, or 2) are interested in using free software.
The question can be expanded to add: Why have software patents in the first place, let alone ones covering what strives to become a standard? This is insane and this new short article [via Andy Updegrove] says more about the negative effect on research and development.
We find that the patent system discourages investment in innovation by the average publicly traded American firm. Although the patent system provides positive incentives in some industries like pharmaceuticals, it provides negative incentives in most industries. Further, the performance has deteriorated over time.
Enough has been said about why software patents are harmful. Why must the whole world suffer from a class of patents which is only applicable in a handful of countries? There is no place for such patents in anything international. And to 'punish' FLOSS using false promises may be grounds to antitrust violation. Microsoft has lied about this for many months. █
“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”
–Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist
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Buying an election to buy some vendor lock-in
There is hardly a single committee which was not stacked at the last minute, or at least made a suspect. Romania, on the face of it, is no exception. Someone who looked at mysterious last-minute additions brings back very recent memories from Greece.
Have a look: OOXML vote in Romania, signs of committee stuffing [via Andy Updegrove]
Today four have joined the committee, all of them seem to be MS partners (Fujitsu-Siemens is one of them, the others are local software companies). The sad thing is that these companies or people have not shown interest in the subject so far, have not participated in the 6 months online debate but are probably going to cast their vote in favor of OOXML . What they are doing is perfectly legal, after all anyone can join the committe, but it’s sad to see attempts at public debate and the chances of it changing something getting offset by throwing money at the problem at the last minute.
I’ll keep an update on how things are progressing and the results and details of the vote when it happens.
Are any of those partners offered Microsoft money to do the stacking? We saw that before. More recently we even saw Microsoft using charities to do its dirty deeds. █
“A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select die panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed -just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvellously independent doesn’t it? In feet, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.
Finding a moderator is key to setting up a stacked panel.”
–Internal Microsoft document
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Broken process everywhere you look
It never ceases to amaze how corrupt the whole framework of standardisation seems to be. We shall leave ISO aside for the time being (it’s really bad over there) and focus on ECMA, Microsoft’s total control of it and some of the very latest. Watch this interview with ECMA’s van den Beld and pay careful attention to the following gem:
“If people say this whole ISO process is lousy, out of date and doesn’t work anymore or is broken, I challenge anybody to make a new worldwide process,” van den Beld told PC World while in Australia working for the Computing Technology Industry Association.
Working for the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)? Moses, smell the roses. CompTIA is a Microsoft lobbying arm, but its name is deceiving because it sounds like an umbrella that serves the public at large. In reality, it’s almost as though ECMA was actually sponsored by Microsoft at more than a single level. For some background on CompTIA consider [1, 2, 3].
There are dozens of more examples that we covered here. You know what they say: “Just follow the money.” █
ECMA is sinking itself
Update: Having sent this to Groklaw, there is more information there in an update about CompTIA. The article to which this was appended includes what we’ve already seen plenty of: smear campaigns.
Remember I told you I’ve noticed that people who don’t support Microsoft’s agenda end up the victim of smear campaigns?
The New Zealand Open Source Society is reporting that an employee at Microsoft New Zealand recently sent an email to one of the technical bodies advising an NB involved in the OOXML ISO process, smearing a man’s reputation, Matthew Holloway, apparently to undermine his technical input which was critical of OOXML.
Here is a post about smear campaigns, which was posted the other day.
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“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave. “
–Ray Noorda (Novell’s CEO at the time)
It was only yesterday that we mentioned the Novell/Microsoft faceoff in the courtroom. It was over Microsoft’s file formats, in a sense. As you hopefully realise by now, Novell helps Microsoft in getting OOXML more widespread. Microsoft paid Novell to do this.
Why would Novell help Microsoft commit the very same sins which it currently sues Microsoft over? It’s moronic. To say more about it, consider this blog item which talks about Novell’s selfishness.
In other words, Microsoft engaged in selective interoperability via closed “standards,” which sounds eerily similar to the interoperability and patent scheme that Novell signed up to with Microsoft. Is it OK now that Novell gets to dish out the closed “standards” now, with Microsoft’s help?
Novell took 10 years to dig itself out from Microsoft’s last monopolistic barrage. Why undergo the same humiliation again? Why not join with the industry in forcing Microsoft to play fairly, rather than siding with the bully because it’s momentarily convenient?
Novell reckons that by helping Microsoft screws the whole of the industry it might actually receive a hug and some cash. In many ways, as we continue to find each day, Novell and Microsoft share the same goals. They are partners. █
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BrainShare has already begun. We shall look back at some developments from this event over the coming weekend. One thing that stood out in the talk from Novell’s CEO, however, is the .NET stack, so it cannot escape without an early comment.
We mentioned in the past Novell’s obsession with .NET (e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]) and it’s worrying to find that Novell becomes somewhat of a .NET company, just as a few observers foresaw. It’s more or less about Linux at the bottom and Microsoft controlling the upper layers (proprietary applications). Here is Novell’s latest:
Novell plans to focus on interoperability between the .NET and J2EE platforms and put a renewed emphasis on customer relationships, Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO and president, said Monday during a keynote at the company’s BrainShare conference in Salt Lake City.
An important element of Novell’s strategy, he said, is built around enterprise IT management software. “There are two stacks of software that will exist inside your enterprises that you’ll want to build applications on top of,” he said, referring to the J2EE stack and Microsoft’s .NET stack. “The core piece of what we try to do is focus in on the harmony between those IT stacks.” Hovsepian also said Linux is another key piece of Novell’s game plan. “Linux is the foundation of what we’re trying to get done, from desktop to data center,” he said. “It will play a key role going forward in the future.”
Recall this recent post from Dave Rosenberg, CEO of MuleSource. He has been watching Novell’s approach towards .NET (or Mono) and, needless to say, he is not excited about it. The same goes for Novell’s deal with Microsoft, no matter what it means to market share. OStatic, a Web site of Microsoft AstroTurf Malik, has this new article claiming that Mono adoption is very slow. Relieving news indeed, if true.
On the legal front, Microsoft and Novell have signed agreements to work together on some parts of Mono, and Novell and Microsoft have various other agreements in place. The Mono contributors have also pointed to the published ECMA specs for C# as the basis for their work, and have consistently said they remain ready to rewrite any portion of Mono that Microsoft should some day assert claims against (so far, there have been no such claims).
Despite all of this, Mono seems to still be a marginal player in the open source world. A search of SourceForge, for example, reveals less than 400 projects mentioning Mono, and C# projects (on whatever infrastructure) are vastly outnumbered by others. For whatever reason, the open source community has not widely embraced C# – whether this is due to its Microsoft roots, worries that Microsoft’s murky IP policies will someday make Mono an untenable platform, or for other reasons.
In case you cannot remember why Mono is dangerous, start here and consider the fact that Microsoft needn’t sue directly, even if it has some covenant with Novell. As we saw back in October, Microsoft has friends like Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], who can do their dirty job by proxy. Novell has already been attacked by Acacia. And in case you wonder, by the way, Acacia remains hyper active, as this new press release suggests. [via Groklaw]
Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG) announced today that its Disc Link Corporation subsidiary has entered into a license agreement with Siemens Product Lifecycle Management Software Inc. The agreement resolves the parties’ dispute concerning patents relating to the distribution of CDs or DVDs that include a link to retrieve additional data via the Internet.
It is funny that they refer to themselves as “Acacia Research” because they only acquire patents rather than actually do research. It’s a classic patent troll. Fortunately, over at the Eclipse event, a sort of replacement for .NET is offered, which antagonises Novell’s rather bizarre ambitions to mimic Microsoft technolgies.
The Eclipse organization has amassed a huge installed base of developers using its Java-based open source development tools. Now the organization has set its sights on the run-time arena and will take on Sun’s Java and Microsoft’s .NET with what it says is an agnostic open source component model that runs across multiple operating systems and computing tiers.
Meanwhile we’ll see Miguel de Icaza calling those whom he disagrees with on Mono “Jihadists” — a word which Microsoft uses internally too .
A little under a week ago, GNOME co-founder and Microsoft admirer Miguel de Icaza called me a jihadist. I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that. When a man from Mexico uses words from the east one is unsure what he means to convey – but I thought it would be worth examining in detail the great developer’s sayings.
It’s rather appalling to find out that a Novell Vice President resorts to calling a journalist “jihadist”. Hypocritically enough, he refers a person who happens to criticise the very same thing. Remember that both the journalist, Sam Varghese, and Miguel de Icaza have openly criticised the Novell/Microsoft deal.
Who is Miguel kidding? As Bruce Perens recently insinuated, it’s all about the money and fame to Miguel. He knows the deal sucks, but he’s getting his wage to just quietly accept it and move on. █
“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it immediately.”
–Miguel de Icaza
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Linux wins, Microsoft gleefully smiles?
People keep discussing adoption of GNU/Linux as the dream to come true. If that’s a dream, then that’s not the way it was supposed to materialise. This latest announcement from H-P is reminiscent to that from Lenovo and Dell (in China). It will preinstall Ballnux rather than GNU/Linux.
HP is planning to introduce desktop and laptop computers that come with Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop operating system preinstalled.
Systems are scheduled to start shipping worldwide in select geographies in the second quarter of this year, according to a source familiar with the matter. The two vendors will jointly develop software drivers and provide support to end-users.
Be aware that they are only offering the option of a Linux for which Microsoft is paid ‘patent tax’. H-P and Microsoft are still business buddies, so this might — just might — be an explanation. This is not the way Linux is supposed to become mainstream. Linux is not a Microsoft cash cow as Microsoft contributed not even a single line of code to it.
We are still trying to figure out if Microsoft got Dell imprisoned in the Microsoft Tax Cage as well. We never inquired. OEMs must be pressured to avoid the Ballnuxes because it gives legitimacy to non-gratis Linux. █
Image from Wikimedia
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