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04.04.08

Microsoft’s Press on OOXML: Admission of Misconduct

Posted in Formats, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, Standard at 11:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Almost right from the horse’s mouth…

The following find has been highlighted elsewhere, but a reader sent us a tip under the subject line “Microsoft partner channel openly (bald faced) celebrates corruption…

To quote the body of this message:

“It’s a pity this probably won’t be enough proof for a jury, but I am sure the press will be delighted about it, and maybe the competition authorities as well…

“Source: http://rcpmag.com/blogs/weblog.aspx?blog=2075

“P.S.: I printed it to a PDF file in case they make the article offline in order to try to do the damage control… (I am sending it attached to you)”

From the article at hand (essentially in Microsoft’s own press):

“Of course, we’re sure that Microsoft, uh, strongly encouraged a few delegates from a few nations to change their votes — which lots of delegates did. And, really, OOXML’s acceptance isn’t all that big of a deal for partners and users, practically speaking; after all, Microsoft document formats are also de facto standards.

Steve Ballmer rides SUSE“But now, all of those government agencies charged with implementing standards-based computing are free to turn away from open source and run back to sweet mama Microsoft if they so choose. And whatever momentum open source had gained by taking the standards route in IT departments has certainly slowed — if not come to a screeching halt.”

Thank you, RPC, for this one shiny gem. It will prove handy as a reference for future posts. To use the words of Fred Astaire, “they can’t take that away from me.”

More Hostile Fire Over Novell CEO Interview (Corrected)

Posted in Deception, Dell, Finance, Interview, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian at 11:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ron Hovsepian smiles

A few days ago we wrote about Jim Zemlin's interview with Ron Hovsepian. Glyn Moody characterised this as journalistic scum (see corrections at the bottom) criticised it because the interview contained nothing but fluff and no grilling was actually involved.

It turns out that Jim Zemlin was not the only victim whose role in the interview (seemingly more of a setup or staged act) led to gentle insults. Watch this reaction in ComputerWorld, which came under some fire by at least one reader.

While training is important, Hovsepian explained, it has to be balanced against the financial demands confronting Novell. “The cycle time is the biggest issue,” he said. “The brutality of the pressure the company has to operate under in 90 days is what drives us.”

I was taken to task by one reader for letting Hovsepian get away with that comment.

“I am greatly disappointed that you report without any critical analysis what the employers wish to propagate,” he wrote. “What utter BS! It takes them more than 90 days just to make a decision! It’s nothing to do with the ‘pressure’ in the marketplace, but everything to do with hiring the cheapest H-1B peasant programmer at the lowest price.”

Look back at our previous post about the economic downturn. Novell has actually been sending jobs abroad to reduce operation/running costs, but so have other large companies including Intel, Microsoft and Dell (the 'unholy trinity' of kickbacks).

Interlude: Tough Time for Microsoft and Other ‘Old-age Empires’

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Microsoft at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Melancholic ramble

So, another week comes to an end. The US economy is not in a healthy state, not matter where you look. Even the mighty Google has just sacked 300 skilled people. See the following new article about the situation as a whole.

The Great Depression: The sequel

A record number of Americans receiving food stamps. Gas prices at an all-time high, and staples such as milk, eggs and bread costing a prettier penny every week. The average number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits reached its highest level in two years last week, while just this week, construction spending fell for the fifth straight month and manufacturing activity shrank to its lowest level in five years. Real estate values are even plummeting in the Hamptons, and hedge funds started off 2008 with their worst quarter ever.

From “recession”, to “deflation”, to “depression”. At times like these it’s reassuring to know that companies like Red Hat are thriving. Microsoft just keeps up appearance, but the reality for Microsoft is actually rather grim, with rampant copyrights infringement seen as a must and versions of Windows XP being dumped at the Eee PC for almost no charge. The Eee PC is no exception because the same strategy, based on distribution rules, now applies to similar competing units that are too disruptive to Microsoft’s wishful software tariff.

Microsoft is very desperate to destroy GNU/Linux and cause great harm to the GPL. Without competition, Microsoft can then name any price that markets will bear. It can then also crack down on copyrights infringement without fearing mass defection (“where else would those ‘thieves’/'pirates’/'criminals’ go?”). Microsoft burns up a huge amount of resources on FUD, which it sometimes spreads through what used to be called "Munchkins" back in the OS/2 era.

Be alert but do not be afraid. GNU/Linux is gaining and it is certainly winning. This Web site has seen a sharp rise in traffic since the beginning of this month, with about 8,000 visits a day, according to Webalizer. Let’s keep up the good fight for freedom in software. Every economic downturn can bring great revolutions by knocking down abusive and suppressive empires. Brighter days are ahead.

GNU and Linux

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part III: ZENworks, Richard Whitehead, DR-DOS, Bomgar and Honeywell

Posted in Interview, Marketing, Microsoft, NetWare, Novell at 11:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Whether you trust those silly ‘awards’ and ‘nominations’ or not, Novell has just won a Gold Award for ZENworks Endpoint Security Management. Whatever this award actually means is up to one’s imagination, but there you go.

Over here, Novell’s Richard Whitehead speaks about a variety of things he is familiar with.

Richard Whitehead the Director of Product Marketing at Novell talks with Craig about IT storage options and the security implications involved as well as how to mitigate your risk.

Bits about Novell are included in this audiocast from The Register as well. Novell is not the sole focus though.

David Berlind seems to be with Disinformation Week now, at least in part. One wonders if the bankruptcy of Ziff Davis and recent layoffs at CNET have something to do with this. Regardless, Berlind wrote this article about Energy Camp. Energy-saving initiatives are something which Novell is involved in, but herein, Berlind only uses Novell for an analogy.

I’m reminded of how, through the ’80s and ’90s, Novell was able to set the agenda for the network operating system (NOS) discussion: speed. IPX as a protocol was way faster than anything out of the SMB/NetBIOS camp (IBM, Microsoft, and DEC) and Novell had the IT community convinced that your LAN wasn’t worth a hill o’ beans unless it was faster than lightning. As a former benchmarker of NOS performance, I now realize what a joke that was. Especially now that so many LANs run over plain old IP instead. Nevertheless, Novell got to set the agenda and its fortunes grew until internal conflict about how to deal with Redmond sent the company on a downward spiral that it is still trying to recover from today. While it lasted, though, it was clever marketing, and I see the same thing happening in the energy-savings space.

Speaking of old-age Novell, have a look at this new article, which touched the DR-DOS story and Novell. It’s from the Washington Post.

DR-DOS’s heyday, such as it was, was over by the mid-1990s, but its story didn’t end there. In 1991, networking kingpin Novell bought Digital Research, and DR-DOS eventually became Novell DOS; in 1996, Novell sold the operating system to Caledera, which renamed it Caldera OpenDOS. Caldera also sued Microsoft for anti-competitive practices, saying that among other things, Microsoft designed its own applications to alarm users with scary error messages when run on top of DR-DOS. Microsoft settled the lawsuit in 2000; by that time it felt like a flashback to the time in which DOS, rather than Windows, was the key to the company’s dominance.

For more information about DR-DISS (sic), see [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s truly appalling and its serves as an eternal reminder of Microsoft’s business practices. Here is a lesser-known quote:

“I feel we are much too smug in dealing with Novell. Perhaps they didn’t hurt us in DOS yet — but it’s not because of product or their trying. It’s because we already had the OEMs wrapped up.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about Novell’s problem with technical support, which customer complained about at BrainShare. It seems like Novell has recruited Bomgar to assist with the burden.

Bomgar Corporation announced today that its remote desktop access appliance will provide a key component for supporting Novell’s Volume License Agreement (VLA) maintenance program. The new VLA maintenance program provides Novell’s customers with unlimited access to technical assistance and product support via Novell Technical Services Online.

Novell’s relationship with Honeywell (also mentioned fairly recently) gets another mention owing to identity management integration.

Novell, a provider of infrastructure software, has integrated its identity management product into Honeywell’s access-control security platform. The two companies have collaborated to deliver a secure access and provisioning solution for physical and logical assets that addresses requirements of high-security businesses, such as financial services and health care institutions. As a result, organizations can automatically provision and control user access across disparate systems, while also gaining a holistic view of access occurrences for increased security and compliance, according to Novell.

Not too shabby, but let’s keep an eye open. Novell is still close to Linux’s self-admitted fierce rival.

Enjoy the weekend!

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: Novell’s SUSE Linux and Virtualisation News

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, SLES/SLED, Virtualisation at 10:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

To Novell’s credit, as we mentioned earlier in the week, it’s doing some advocacy in Australia trying to rid CIOs of misconceptions about open source software in general. Here is an article which contains Novell’s rebuttal to accusations about poor (or lack of) open source support.

The problem with open source software is a lack of understanding, not a lack of support, according to a Novell executive who hit back at the CIOs from some of Australia’s top government agencies.

Ken and Dennis (UNIX)

UNIX-basedIn the following article, the choice of SUSE Linux at Baldor Electric is explained. It replaces mainly Windows servers but some UNIX ones also. The picture above is of Ken and Dennis (of UNIX fame) in case you wonder

Adding to the workload burden, some application servers ran on one of 20 Windows servers, while others ran on one of nine Unix servers.

[...]

The SUSE/IBM conversion was so successful that it captured management’s attention. “Our CEO does not know or want to know that we are using SUSE Linux,” Shackelford said. “He is interested in driving business value. We have delivered a highly available system that delivers business value at reduced cost, and that is what is important to our shareholders.”

Siemens made a similar migration from UNIX to SUSE Linux but at a much large scale.

Siemens’ IT services arm will use SUSE Linux over Unix as the de facto operating system for running 350 business-critical SAP systems and 120,000 user accounts – along with numerous web applications, web servers and Oracle database servers.

Linux certifications seem to be getting hot nowadays, but as it turns out, vendor-neutral ones are good also. This means that staff employed by the businesses above could cope well with Debian and Red Hat, for example. Novell is hopefully building no walls (lock-in), either practical or legal.

The LPI certification, unlike the Red Hat and Novell certifications, is vendor-neutral. The long-delayed, top-level LPIC-3 arrived in 2007.

To obtain this certification, roughly equivalent to the RHCE or the NCLE (Novell Certified Linux Engineer), a Linux administrator must have already achieved the LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 certifications.

Virtualisation

Novell paid in cash for PlateSpin and the Covington Group seems jubilant enough to make an announcement.

Covington Group of Funds (“Covington”) is pleased to announce that Novell, Inc. (“Novell”) has completed its acquisition of Covington investee PlateSpin Ltd. (the “Company”). The acquisition for USD$205 million (all cash transaction) will see PlateSpin’s customers benefit from the larger resources and global reach provided by the amalgamation of the two entities.

This transaction has also been formally approved.

Novell Inc. said Monday it has completed acquisition of PlateSpin Ltd., whose products are expected to allow Novell customers to use their computer systems more efficiently with a greater variety of applications.

There are two new stories about virtualisation where Novell is involved. The first one is said to be “a Virtual Iron success story.

One of the challenges has been the growth in the number of servers required. Each high school has one Novell Netware workgroup server and six Windows 2003 Enterprise R2 Terminal Servers. Each junior high school has one Netware and four Windows 2003 Terminal Servers. Each elementary school has one Netware and one to two Windows 2003 Terminal Servers.

The second story is related to an announcement which was made at BrainShare 2008. Novell got together with Sesame Street, which now claims savings from virtualisation.

Broadwater recently faced a budget crunch at the same time he needed new Web servers and was physically running out of room in his data center. His solution: new HP blade servers based on Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise server software, which builds in Xen’s virtualization software (Xen is the leading open source alternative to VMware’s offering.)

The next (and last) post of this kind is a potpourri of news about Novell. As always, we encourage to those not interested in the Saturday posting to filter out items with “Do-No-Evil Saturday” in the title. The site maintains its focus on Novell, but weekly news became to be slightly more dull and far less analytical.

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE and Linspire Catchup

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Novell, OpenSUSE at 9:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUSE in Green

There has been relatively little in the news about OpenSUSE, at least over the past week. The project did, however, generate some stories such as the following two profiles/interviews.

The fist one is about Marco Michna of OpenSUSE.

This week we meet #openSUSE IRC supporter, and openSUSE Quality Assurance team member Marco ‘daemon’ Michna in one more ‘People of openSUSE’ interview!

The second is about Jakub Steiner

Independently of how many new application features and fixes a distribution release, doesn’t matter much if the distribution doesn’t look great, and users know it for sure!

So, today we are proud to introduce to the world one of the openSUSE UX members team – Jakub Steiner.

Here is a new mini review of OpenSUSE, but be aware the the writer’s first language is not English, so it’s just a little distracting.

For a change, this week it was Jan-Simon Möller that announced the newsletter of OpenSUSE. It presents another and somewhat different take on this project, mainly comprising announcements.


We are pleased to announce:
Issue 16 of openSUSE Weekly News is out! [0]

In this week’s issue:
* SoC application deadline extended
* People of openSUSE: Marco Michna
* openSUSE Board election proposal
* openSUSE IRC – call for participation
* Calling booth volunteers! LugRadio Live, LinuxFest Northwest
* Packaging Day II – this Friday !

[0] http://en.opensuse.org/OpenSUSE_Weekly_News/16

Have a lot of fun!


Also among the announcements, there was the discontinuation of OpenSUSE 10.1. Here is the message in full.


[opensuse-announce] Advance notice of discontinuation of SUSE Linux 10.1

Dear opensuse-announce subscribers and SUSE Linux users,

SUSE Security announces that SUSE Linux 10.1 will be discontinued soon.
Having provided security-relevant fixes for more than two years,
vulnerabilities found in SUSE Linux 10.1 after May 15th 2008 will
not be fixed any more for this product. We expect to release the last
updates around May 30th 2008.

Please do not confuse SUSE Linux 10.1 with the SUSE Linux Enterprise 10
family of products, these are different products and follow different
policies.

As a consequence, the SUSE Linux 10.1 distribution directory on our
ftp server ftp.suse.com will be moved from /pub/suse/10.1/ to the
/pub/suse/discontinued/ directory tree structure to free space on our
mirror sites. The 10.1 directory in the update tree /pub/suse/update/10.1
will follow, as soon as all updates have been published.

The discontinuation of SUSE Linux 10.1 enables us to focus on the SUSE
Linux and openSUSE distributions of a newer release dates to ensure that
our users can continuously take advantage of the quality that they
are used to with SUSE Linux products.

This announcement holds true for SUSE Linux 10.1 only. As usual, SUSE
will continue to provide update packages for the following products:

openSUSE 10.2
openSUSE 10.3
and
openSUSE 11.0 (currently in development)

for a two-year period after the release of the respective distribution.

Please note that the maintenance cycles of SUSE Linux Enterprise products
and products based on the SUSE Linux Enterprise Server operating system
are not affected by this announcement and have longer life cycles.

To learn more about SUSE Linux business products, please visit
http://www.novell.com/linux/suse/ . For a detailed list of the life cycles
of our Enterprise Products please visit http://support.novell.com/lifecycle/
and http://support.novell.com/lifecycle/lcSearchResults.jsp?sl=suse

If you have any questions regarding this announcement, please do not
hesitate to contact SUSE Security at <security@suse.de>.


Linspire

We don’t typically bother with Linspire, but recently we have been keeping on eye on it too. It’s mainly just press releases, commissioned by Linspire. As in recent weeks, it’s all about proprietary software from CNR.

“CrossOver Linux provides a software bridge to users as they migrate over to the world of Linux,” said Larry Kettler, Linspire President and CEO. “We are pleased to continue the expansion of our long running partnership with CodeWeavers and make available their products via our CNR one-click download service.”

Linspire is not inherently bad and it’s a shame that Larry Kettler needs to carry the burden of the previous CEO, who fled the company shortly after he had sold out.

Links 05/04/2008: Linux on Small-form Computers; Conferences Ahead

Posted in News Roundup at 9:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Microsoft’s Software Patent Injection and Other Insanities

Posted in America, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Open XML at 8:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today… some large company will patent some obvious thing… take as much of our profits as they want.”

Bill Gates (more here)

A few moments ago, as well as in previous writeups [1, 2, 3], we mentioned how Microsoft buys compliance and consent for its anti-standards. It is a very unoriginal strategy and sometimes it is far too shallow to conceal.

Apache and Microsoft’s Software Patents

That bit of work Microsoft did with Sourcesense in order to portray Apache as pro-OOXML has not been forgotten. Its role might affect not only ISO’s decision but also Microsoft’s software patent strategy against Free software. Have a look at this possibility of a patent ambush.

According to the announcement, Microsoft and Sourcesense will contribute code implementing OOXML to the Apache POI project. Since POI is being licensed under the Apache License, version 2.0, contributors are required to grant a patent license, which Microsoft has so far refused to do for OOXML. I think there are two possible outcomes: either we get a patent license through POI, or Microsoft may even introduce more patented code into the project (aka “patent ambush”).

OOXML’s software patents affect not only this project (if at all), but Microsoft remains dishonest on the issue.

We have some other concerns about Apache, which are not related to software patents at all [1, 2, 3].

Eastern District of Texas

It is difficult to have respect for a district which stands out from the crowd by harbouring patent trolls. Digital Majority has found this good bit of audio from a law school lecture in eastern Texas. There are bits in it about the flourishing patent ‘business’ and also a discussion about software patents.

9:10 – How did the Eastern District of Texas come to be known as the Rocket Docket for patent cases?

A new example of this [via Digital Majority] was supplied also.

I2 alleges that the German enterprise software giant infringed seven of its patents related to supply-chain management. A preliminary hearing on the claim is scheduled for April 30 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

What a wonderful place to sue even European companies.

Intellectual Monopolisation Meets Clothing

If you thoughts software patents were bad, watch this. [via Glyn Moody]

Fashion Designers Turning To Patents To Protect Their Designs (And Kill The Industry]

[...]

After all, here was a highly competitive, extremely profitable, exceptionally innovative creative industry — and it was doing all that without copyright protection. It seemed to show quite the opposite of what many in the entertainment industry predicted would happen without copyrights. Unfortunately, though, the lessons seemed to go in the other direction. The fashion industry got jealous of the entertainment industry’s ability to crack down on innovation with copyrights and pushed Congress to introduce new legislation that would add a copyright for fashion design. Recently such laws have been getting a big push from politicians who are pandering to the fashion industry. Of course, studies have shown that the very reason the industry has thrived was because the lack of IP protection. In fact, one bit of research showed that adding IP protections to fashion could kill the industry.

You can hopefully see the role of politics. There is nothing ethical in these debates, which are mainly self-serving (they serve wealthy monopolies, not newcomers).

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