“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger… If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”
–Jim Allchin, Platform Group Vice President, Microsoft
Microsoft, much like a wife beater returning from jail or paying bail, wishes us to believe in what it repeatedly calls the “new Microsoft”, a reformed company. A combination of factors, however, which include a vicious assault on ISO, make the “new” in this “new Microsoft” gimmick seem like a joke at best. Like a robber baron, the company goes to great lengths in order to hide the reality about its bad behaviour. But very few appear to be buying it, as opposed to those are are paid to pretend. We will discuss that at the end.
Total Loss of Credibility
Microsoft’s past crimes were mentioned on a couple of occasions over the weekend, context being the sharp decline of the Microsoft brand. Here is another new touch on that subject.
So while microsoft continues to fight an outmoded fight with outmoded business tactics it will be washed out by the new wave of computing that is fast approaching the consumer shore. I would advise you to get your Linux water wings now and start learning to swim before you suddenly find that either your pool has run dry or you are in deeper water than you think.
As you can see in 2004 it was ranked 11th. Last year it dropped down to a low of 59th. That is a very big drop over four years and especially significant when other computer related companies have stayed relatively flat. It is also significant that Linux started really making an appearance to the mainstream public as a viable alternative and stable OS around four years ago.
The item above is focused on GNU/Linux, or more broadly on Free software. The following couple of new articles say something about Microsoft’s credibility as far as collaborations with Linux and open source software go. Have a quick look:
1. Microsoft Isn’t Credible About Open Source
Microsoft’s promise of more interoperability is just that, interoperability and a promise, not support for creating or benefiting open source software. And Microsoft’s Open Specification Promise doesn’t facilitate open source software licensing, just a promise to Microsoft chosen released specs, interfaces and APIs in the clear for others to integrate with.
2. Is Microsoft really any more trustworthy?
I don’t buy it. I’m certain there are some engineers at Microsoft who would have no problem working together with open-source developers. But I also believe that, so long as Steve Ballmer heads the company, Microsoft will never be a real partner for open source. Or, for that matter, that Microsoft would prove a trustworthy partner to any company not under its thumb.
Perlow compares Microsoft’s relationship to open source with the Soviet Union’s Glasnost period when it was opening up to the West for the first time. It’s a good analogy, but I don’t think it’s an accurate one. Come the day when, say, Mark Shuttleworth cribs from Reagan and demands, “Mr. Ballmer, tear down these patent walls” and Microsoft does so, then I’ll believe that the Evil Empire has changed its ways. Until then, I’m going to trust Microsoft about as far as I can throw Ballmer.
The Bully Within
Microsoft works with competitors only provided that they accept Microsoft’s pre-imposed rules, however discriminatory they may be. It often needs to be asked who speaks for Novell and whose behalf Novell speak on. It is clear, as we have seen before with other companies (e.g. here), that the agenda of one company depends on another and it all boils down to the people who run the company. They too can be affiliated with other companies, or a former/future employer.
Depiction of Microsoft ‘collaborating’ with Novell
Over at Microsoft’s press, Novell’s Miguel de Icaza is again cited to give the impression that Microsoft is all nice and cosy with Linux. It’s Novell which is responsible for such deception.
Miguel de Icaza can tell you. The Novell vice president, former Gnu Project founder and lead of both the Mono and Moonlight projects says he has seen an incredibly passionate response to Microsoft’s various efforts. De Icaza’s association with the Microsoft-Novell pact late last year was an immediate lightning rod.
Thank you, Miguel. We may now ‘believe’ that Microsoft is an angel, despite remarks like these.
While we’re on the subject of Microsoft’s attitude towards competitors, check out this post from Dana Blankenhorn.
When Jason Perlow reported on last week’s Microsoft Technology Summit, he sought to compliment the company by giving CEO Steve Ballmer a Gorbachev-like birthmark (right).
But Gorbachev was a Communist. He wasn’t elected. He was the product of a dictatorial society which was rotting from the inside, and his final achievement was to preside over its dissolution.
Microsoft and communism are actually not so different at all. Some opine that they are conjoined twins meeting again just decades after the demise of the Reds. But that’s a subject for another day. █
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“ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.”
From this point onwards, it is worth starting to argue in favour of ODF because of its merits rather than its ISO rubber stamp. Microsoft has single-handedly redefined the meaning and significance of ISO. It rendered ISO moot. The aggressive lobbying (and at times even well-documented bribery) has not gone unnoticed. It has gone well over the fine line and even involved bullying, smear campaigns, and libel.
“The problem is that reports from there transcend borders and can then ‘poison’ the minds of readers in other countries.”We continue to find disturbing stories which tend to escape the media’s attention and rarely by coincidence. That in its own right is equally appalling and we shall soon cover Glyn’s Moody piece which is titled “In Praise of Journalistic Scum”.
You may recall, especially if you are a long-time reader, that the Philippines was on many occasions criticised for biased reporting on OOXML. The problem is that reports from there transcend borders and can then ‘poison’ the minds of readers in other countries. As a refresher to one’s memory, one might wish to read:
Another new article from the Philippines seems more like an imbalanced informercial (more on informercials in general here). Among various bits it contains, the following statement is worth highlighting.
Though obviously elated by the development, the local subsidiary of Microsoft Corp. chose to highlight in its official statement the “transparent” process which the BPS adopted in resolving the issue.
This is far from the first time that a country wrongly defends the transparency of the “process” rather than the so-called “standard”. This is a bald-faced lie, as we have shown many times before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Are we seeing manufactured lies here [1, 2, 3], which rely on the public being misinformed and too trusting? What what is being said in Malaysia, which has been more honest then most.
What is the point is that we have collectively, globally, bore witness to an awesome display of power by a single corporation. Awesome. Ruthless, even. That Microsoft would fight in every nook and cranny, every possible avenue, every committee, sub-committee, sub-sub-committee, upwards, downwards and sideways to the committees, is simply astounding.
That Microsoft can and did encourage the final decision makers to ignore the wishes of their own standards bodies, majorities be damned, is further affirmation of this awesome display.
However, it was awesome. One company, Microsoft, against all comers, all over the world.
Simply, awfully, awesome.
Pieter has posted a bogus press release on April Fools Day, but the sad fact is that it’s exactly the type of press release we ought to see later today.
Geneva, 1 April 2008. The International Organization for Standardization announced at a press conference that its processes are “broken” and “need radical reform”. ISO president Håkan Murby told journalists that “the Microsoft OOXML process was a near-disaster and we want to make sure such a thing never happens again.”
Instead, prepare ISO to continue to pretend that it's all business as usual, sweeping under the carpet all the abuses of the process, boosted by Microsoft and ECMA press releases.
“We are winning!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Of course, those of us who have watched this closely will always know that this so-called ‘standard’ is not really a standard. It was brought to ISO using abuse, even crime.
When is a Standard Not a Standard?
So, now we come to the present day, and an ongoing battle about which relatively few people, compared to the world population, know or understand. The battle lines were drawn, the positions chosen, and the war began. Microsoft can’t stop ODF from being a standard – ODF has already achieved the status.
To quote the father of MXL (on the OOXML BRM specifically): “process irretrievably broken … complete, utter, unadulterated bullsh*t.” To quote ISO itself:
“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.
The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”
–Martin Bryan, ISO ‘Escapee’
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1
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“It is not BSI’s policy to make public the details of how it votes on International Standards”
It has been just over a month since we started to spot irregularities in the BSI's handling of the process and even claimed that it had been corrupted. This was a long time before anyone even knew about an unexplained flip of vote, which was by no means justified.
The BSI did not escape this unhurt. Other than its already-stagnant reputation among relevant circles, here comes a formal complaint, riding is on top of an ongoing investigation by the European Commission.
The delay on making any official announcement suggests the ISO is taking a cautious approach before telling Microsoft it can pop open the bubbly.
Meanwhile, the Open Source Consortium (OSC) has bemoaned the British Standards Institute’s (BSI) own apparent change of heart on OOXML.
Last week the BSI adjusted its stance on Microsoft’s somewhat controversial file format.
OSC president Mark Taylor said: “Once the BSI finally own up to what they’ve done, we will be lodging a formal complaint in the UK, as will many others…”
Quite a few people are involved by now. The BSI mustn’t just get away what it has done. You will find in the links at the bottom some more information about what happened. Upon initial inquiry, here is what the BSI had to say:
Update 3: To help you understand what Taylor means that once BSI owns up to what it has done, then there will be a complaint filed, here’s an email that a reader just sent me, a response to his request to understand why the UK changed its vote at the last minute, which we have permission to publish:
---- Original Message ------------
Subject: RE: no information re: dis 29500
From: "Lucy Fulton" [redacted email]
Date: Tue, April 1, 2008 12:34 pm
To: [redacted email]
Dear Mr Wright,
Many thanks for your email.
It is not BSI's policy to make public the details of how it votes on
International Standards. BSI sent a delegation to the ballot resolution
meeting which took place in Geneva in February 2008 and subsequently
requested that its technical committee carry out a review of its position
on ISO/IEC DIS 29500.
The technical committee did so, made a consensus decision and
advised BSI on its vote.
This is the procedure with any international ballot.
Is this transparency? What are they trying to hide if they are deciding on supposedly ‘open’ standards? █
Related articles (external):
Dark day for the BSI
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Teveral people refused to understood why we had given up on Slashdot. I found the following new comment from Pamela Jones very quote-worthy. Perhaps so will you.
MS shill blogs— Groklaw unfair
Authored by: PJ on Tuesday, April 01 2008 @ 03:59 AM EDT
I don’t do that. It’s not well known. It’s SCO
that used to claim that, if you remember. I loved
the moment when Darl said he liked Slashdot, because
it was really free discussions. Hahahaha.
Doug said that not because it is true but because
Microsoft can’t compete with decency, so they have
to slime the other side. He did the same thing
to Yoon-Kit, if you recall. Slime, slime, slime.
It’s what they do.
I saw what Microsoft did to Slashdot. Any time
you have moderation by the community, you open
yourself up to hordes of Microsoft shills showing
up and eventually taking over. Microsoft has
too much money, and they can throw more and more
troops into battle. That’s the impression I formed,
I don’t want Groklaw ruined, so when I find
what I believe are astroturfers
and shills pretending to be FOSS people, I do
throw their fannies over the fence. I give
them every chance to cut it out and stay, but
if they persist, they are outahere. It’s in
our comments policy, so it shouldn’t be a
I didn’t know Doug was one of them, until now.
That doesn’t mean they can’t read and comment
but they can’t do it as members, because Groklaw
is for group work, and I really don’t want
people who are only here to disrupt to be
I could tell you some stories. We even had a
lawyer who had done work for Microsoft show up,
pretending to be a community person.
He didn’t say he was a lawyer or that he was
connected to Microsoft in any way, but I knew
his name. So we had a private
little discussion. I told him that he could
express himself freely but only if he told
all of you who he was here representing.
Not one comment after that. I didn’t expel
him, but I was disgusted.
We had a guy from CompTIA also. He pretended he
was just expressing his personal views, not
the company. So I mentioned that I doubted that,
since he was posting from CompTIA. Again, no
further comments were ever posted. With him too
I didn’t expel him or remove his comments, but
I let him know that I expected him to be honest.
That’s what Groklaw is about. I don’t think
anyone has the right to come to someone’s web
site and play underhanded games.
We have other Microsoft names you’d know who are
members. I doubt they are here to participate
in what we do. I don’t out them, of course, as
long as they stay within the guidelines for
We don’t censor comments here, but the frequency of abusive comments has fortunately remained low. For our views on Slashdot see:
There are several more items which are cited there. One of our readers also ran a somewhat scientific experiment to demonstrate bias. You can find it all in our previous postings
For recent examples of Microsoft AstroTurfing, start here. it’s real, and this tradition is very much alive. It includes smears for OOXML and anonymous voices, sometimes from Microsoft employees. █
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H-P is on whose side again?
An old familiar story and somewhat of a deja vu. That’s how you can describe the latest post from Groklaw, which brings a translation.
The France Shift From No to Abstain — HP helped Microsoft France do it
Here’s the scoop from Les Echos.fr on France’s sudden change from its No vote to Abstain. Microsoft France’s President Eric Boustouller sent AFNOR a letter [PDF] in French, of course. He tells a tale about OOXML and ODF progressing side by side and how if OOXML is approved, a group will be working hard to make the two more interoperable. Attached was a an HP statement of support for OOXML. HP sings the same song. And AFNOR?
Could it be any more cynical? So, now we know that HP is not supportive of Linux and FOSS as we thought. Knock me over with a feather. So, they got them to change on the basis of promises for the future. I’m sure there’s more to the story, of course.
Let’s just take a short history lesson based on the past year’s news. We really ought to get the facts straight.
To gain insight into the tight integration between Microsoft and large OEMs like H-P, see this post about collusions. Many of the findings came to light in the courts last month, amidst a class actions lawsuit brought against Microsoft. Of particular interest is the following story:
E-mail: Microsoft ‘botched’ dealings with Intel, HP
Internal Microsoft e-mails revealed through a federal class-action lawsuit arising from the troubled launch last year of the Windows Vista operating system have provided a provocative inside look at the software giant’s machinations with Intel, HP and Dell.
The e-mails include an exchange in which one senior Microsoft executive described dealings with computer makers as “really botched.” Another manager complained Microsoft was “caving to Intel” and “really burning HP.”
The e-mails are included in 145 pages of documents unsealed by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle late Wednesday. They include internal reports and some handwritten notes that offer a rare look inside at the famed “Wintel” partnership, and touch upon the alliance’s dealings with Hewlett-Packard, Dell and other computer makers.
H-P and Microsoft: The Formal Business Alliance
It was only about a year ago that Microsoft and H-P made a huge fuss in the media about their collaborative charade, which at the time made you wonder if H-P had actually become Microsoft’s semi-formal hardware department (kickbacks quite likely). Like insecure children, Dell and H-P (even AMD and Intel) compete for “favourite” status to be gained from Microsoft, whose margins are much greater (albeit seemingly decreasing) and have tremendous impact on the OEMs (or chip makers, respectively). The same goes for Linux companies, which is why Novell and 3 others have selfishly defected. Anyway, here is one article about H-P and Microsoft from around that time:
A new deal announced Wednesday calls for, among other things, more HP workers to be trained to sell Microsoft products.
H-P in France: Unbundling Controversy
There are several memorable articles from times of backlash against preinstallation of Windows. France was the nation in focus and the following article speaks about H-P specifically.
The consumer protectionists of the French organization UFC-Que Choisir are demanding of the IT group Hewlett-Packard and the vendors Auchan and Darty that they offer PCs without preinstalled software.
UFC-Que Choisir last year also took action against Sony and Apple, taking the two companies to court for allegedly putting their customers at a disadvantage through proprietary DRM technologies and curtailing their choice of devices.
H-P Helps Microsoft in Antitrust Case
Our Comes vs. Microsoft archive is far from complete, but there is a lot of truth therein, plenty of which was buried at one point or another. Some of Microsoft’s dirty tricks are kept safe (“safe” from Microsoft’s point-of-view) thanks to H-P’s service of dishonesty. Details in the following article.
In my last post here I revealed that a former Microsoft contract worker had come to me some time ago to reveal details about the possible destruction of evidence in the Burst.com v. Microsoft case– destruction of evidence that I expected to be a factor in the recently settled Comes (People of Iowa) v. Microsoft case.
So the outside vendor was Hewlett-Packard, one of Microsoft’s hardware OEMs, which is to say Microsoft’s bitch.
The tape disappearance was blamed on HP, which accepted the blame, and the employees directly involved kept expecting there to be repurcussions, especially legal ones. They expected to be deposed by Burst lawyers. But it never happened.
This was, for Microsoft, a perfect ending. The damning tapes were lost in a way that could be blamed on a contractor — a contractor over which Microsoft had great power — power greater than just a services contract. The contractor “accepted” responsibility though there was no real evidence they had done anything wrong. It could just as easily have been a Microsoft employee who destroyed the tapes.
And Then There’s the “Good H-P”
Hewlett-Packard is caught in a dilemma. If it swaps over to Linux the ‘cold turkey’ way, then it can have its business imbalanced and troubled virtually overnight. So gradually, to H-P’s credit, it attempts to make some changes. Just a day ago we saw H-P announcing more product support for GNU/Linux.
The remaining item in the HP announcement is new Linux capability for mid-market server and cluster environments in the HP Inside Control Environment for Linux (ICE-Linux) management tool.
Going a few days further into last week, you’ll find a good review of their new Linux-based home server.
In the end, this product isn’t just another NAS, but a bold statement that HP is making, that it doesn’t have to be saddled by the rough riders of Redmond when it can build (license?) its own practically identical box at a lower cost. Now I know that there are some things that you can only do with a PC-like server running a full OS, but honestly, what are they? I mean, do most people, even die-hard server-needers, give a crap? I want to know from you folks: Why bother with Windows Home Server when the Linux-based alternatives are on the surface equally friendly, equally powerful and—oh yeah—half the cost?
We wrote about so-called 'home servers' last month in order to show the advantages of GNU/Linux in this domain.
H-P is also said to be working on low-cost laptops which come with the option of Linux preinstalled. Articles include this early one from The Register and here are a couple more:
1. HP preps sexy new ‘Eee PC killer’
Now HP is coming to the party, and it’s dressed to steal all the attention away from Asus. There’s no doubt that the Compaq 2133 (which distinctly needs a catchy consumer-friendly brand name rather than Yet Another Model Number) will be aimed at a more professional slice of the consumer and perhaps even business market when it lands in the US sometime in April.
Which will it be? This is where things get interesting, because HP’s advance spec sheet notes the Compaq 2133 will be offered with a choice of Windows Vista and Linux. There’s no word on which flavour of the Penguin OS gets the gong, but on its business PC line HP already supports Asianux, Debian, Mandriva, Novell SUSE and Red Hat.
2. HP’s new OmniBook?
Of course, the Compaq 2133 will be 15 years better than the OmniBook, with USB support, Wi-Fi, built-in webcam and other goodies. Sadly, the OS probably won’t execute in ROM and the mouse probably won’t pop out. Sadder still is that the Compaq 2133 is rumored to come with either Windows Vista or Linux, not Windows XP. Windows Vista is only slightly better than the OmniBook’s Windows 3.1. Hopefully HP will offer a good flavor of Linux.
Other articles from the past year which speak about H-P and Linux:
1. The Penguin comes in from the cold
In fact, three months ago, Hewlett-Packard and Red Hat launched a pre-installed Linux desktop, the HP Compaq dx2250, in Australia.
Aimed at small to medium businesses, the dx2250 comes pre-loaded with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 desktop operating system.
The desktop comes in myriad forms including AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual-core, AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Sempron processors, and prices start at $600.
The machine is sold through HP’s reseller network and Red Hat offers technical support.
2. HP To Expand Effort On Linux PCs
Hewlett-Packard, the world’s Number 1 PC maker, will try selling pre-loaded Linux on PCs in several countries as it expands a test program — evaluating a market that some competitors have already entered — as it moves its personal computer business into a new generation of form factors and functionality.
3. HP offers peek at next-gen gadgets
HP has unveiled some of the gadgets it is working on in its worldwide laboratories.
The e-book attracted most interest from delegates at the HP Mobility Summit in Shanghai. It uses touch sensitive strips on the base of the rectangular unit to select books and turn pages, runs a Linux OS and has a USB port to install new titles.
4. Q&A: HP exec says Linux Foundation wants to push OS toward common ground
You didn’t hear much about it in North America, but over the last six months or so, I’m personally hearing a lot more interest in Linux on the desktop. It’s definitely a focus for the foundation. I think it’s an area that is kind of a “watch this space” for the next couple [of] years.
5. Orbiting Debian: Interview with Bdale Garbee
It’s a really exciting time to be in this industry. With the kinds of phenomenal growth rates we’re seeing, Linux and the whole of open source is one of the brighter stars in the IT sky right now.
6. Big Debian Linux Payday For HP
In fiscal 2006, $25 million in hardware sales in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) were directly related to HP’s Debian support.
“I was pretty shocked when I found out about this,” Jeffrey Wade, worldwide marketing manager of open source and Linux at HP, told internetnews.com.
To conclude, H-P should be ashamed of itself for politically helping Microsoft get this mess called OOXML approved as a standard. On the other hand, while H-P may be inherently selfish like many other companies, its efforts on Linux are commendable and we should encourage rather than just scold. Remember that H-P competes against IBM and Sun Microsystems, who have a lot to lose from OOXML. When it comes to those large companies, there are many agendas to weigh (some of which are conflicting). It’s a shame that H-P fights for its wallet yet again, rather than for justice, for science, for development, for fair competition. █
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Does ISO teach our children that crime pays?
First off, before proceeding to the latest batch of irregularities, you may wish to know that ISO’s announcement has been leaked prematurely (well, obviously) and unsurprisingly it revealed that ISO had become a lot less relevant, whereas Microsoft can give the illusion that technical qualities — not crime — granted it a standard.
ISO is furthermore an irrelevance in technology standardisation.
It is a sad day for standards as a whole. Moving on to stories which are yet to be discussed, maybe even reverse the decision or put it in great doubt afterwards, here are new bits about the story from Norway.
OpenDocument and OOXMLOne of the things that most of us learn at our mother’s knee is that you shouldn’t rush things. If you do, you’ll make silly mistakes. Mothers also tend to tell their children to play by the rules, but some apparently listen better than others to that advice as well.
The wisdom of the first truism was demonstrated most clearly during the Ballot Resolution Meeting in Geneva, although its effects had been evident throughout the entire Fast Track process. In the latest evidence of the other truism, the first formal protest has been filed with ISO over a National Body vote. The National Body in question is Norway, and the protest has been filed by…(wait for it)…Norway itself.
How can all of this be true in a country like Norway? Elections this flawed usually only occur in Florida.
For more information about Norway see:
Someone can hopefully use whatever information is available in pursuit of justice. Australia’s process is described as one resulting in “controversy” over at the Australian press.
CONTROVERSY over the proposed Office Open XML standard forced Standards Australia to abstain as international balloting concluded overnight.
As we wrote yesterday, the process had been stalled. Some say it’s because April 1st is an inappropriate date for such an announcement to be taken seriously. It also makes a dark day for everyone but Microsoft and its partners. The significance of this to Microsoft was explained earlier and here is another take on the subject.
If Microsoft gets its technology approved, it will be a blow to internet connectivity and issues of data ownership. They already refuse to comply with web standards for their Internet Explorer browser and make using their operating systems next to impossible, especially the newest version of Windows, Vista. To assume they’d remain compliant with ISO regulations once approved is ludicrous, this is, after all, Microsoft we are talking about.
The story isn’t over yet. The next post deals with H-P’s latest shilling for Microsoft — a recurrence of unfortunate past events. █
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