04.04.08

Watch Out, ISO. XPS Coming Down Your Throat in 3, 2, 1….

Posted in Deception, ECMA, ISO, Microsoft, Mono, XPS at 8:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In our previous writings about MS-XPS [1, 2, 3], we presented a case that makes Microsoft’s plan rather clear to see. The company wants its entire platform or stack essentially to be seen (and approved) as a standard so that those escaping Microsoft lock-in on the basis of “need for standards” will lose justification for doing so.

“Microsoft knows all of this which is why it demotes the status of standards as a whole while at the same time pretending to be part of that club.”You see, changing national policies to advance GNU/Linux “because Linux is kind of cool” is very different from “the need to reduce dependency and comply with international standards.” Microsoft knows all of this which is why it demotes the status of standards as a whole while at the same time pretending to be part of that club. It’s no longer a gentlemen’s club. The distinguishing factor, the added value, is at least formally disappearing. Those close to these matters know exactly what is happening (sheer abuse to counter disapproval), but officials at the very top just look for certifications and stare at rubber stamps. The stories told by 'the media' do not help all that much.

XPS returns to the attention of some. Once again, indeed.

It has been quite a while since XPS was last discussed, but quiet progress by no means makes it a slow progress. In fact, this makes XPS more risky because it becomes insensitive to scrutiny. If Microsoft is allowed to practically define standards along with EMCA employees whom it pays, then we may soon suffer from another duplicate standard, from which Adobe suffers and whose licence Microsoft decides on as means of excluding competitors. Here is the gist of this new take on XPS:

What do have OOXML and XPS have in common? Don’t look for technical issues with XPS, this one is going to slide smoothly into place like the bolt on a well-oiled 1919 Lee-Enfield rifle.

In the writing above, mind the inclusion of Microsoft’s HD, which brings back those shades of Mono prophecies. It’s a candidate standard within a standard, somewhat of nested standard, or standard ‘by association’. None of this helps anyone, except Microsoft, whose almost-ISO-approved OOXML contains Microsoft Windows-specific bits and pieces.

Microsoft’s XPS is not the only attack by Microsoft against Adobe. Recall the "open source-compatible" chorus and what it all means for tomorrow’s World Wide Web. As it turns out, some projects on SourceForge have already been created to usher the arrival MS-XAML.

Microsoft’s XAML isn’t the only one out there of course. Open source programmers have long had access to MyXaml which went Version 1.0 in 2004. Its sponsor is Ironsuit Software.

Open source programmers are also familiar with United XAML and the Open XUL Alliance, both on Sourceforge.

Ironsuit Software seems like a permanently parked domain (either retired or a shell company) and this brings recollections of Microsoft’s OOXML bogus ‘support’ from Apache [1, 2, 3]. One of the projects above proudly speaks of “turning .NET into a browser.” Wow. Wouldn’t Miguel and his followers get excited?

In Rob Weir’s latest post, which was mentioned the other day, the impact of OOXML on the Web was mentioned also. We need none of that, but Microsoft known better what’s good for the world.

Related pages:

The Mono stack

Depiction of ‘Microsoft Linux’ (GPL-licensed graphics)

More Failures of ISO and Failures of US Regulators

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, Europe, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO standard

Our cumulative criticisms of ISO are justified [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], but it is also important to remember that heads were rolling at ISO before Microsoft 'took over', so to speak, just as it treats companies which is wants acquired and controlled (the Short Windows Digital Leash). Accusations are rarely made against individuals at ISO, albeit there are a few exceptions. As it stands, ISO is a mess and it’s important to resolve this. The next post will speak about more proprietary formats which Microsoft wants approved as ISO standards.

Groklaw has meanwhile taken a look at ISO’s rules and concluded that even more rules were broken in the past week. This looks even grimmer to those running ISO.

Not to burst any bubbles, but I think the ISO folks have failed to follow the rules.

[...]

Personally, I seem to be losing count already of rules breached, but some of you are anal types and probably have charts and graphs and spreadsheets, because you haven’t yet fully grasped the insouciant breeziness of the standards process in our modern world.

This type of disgrace was acknowledges by almost no-one in the United States. It’s truly astounding because much of the drama and the centre of attention was also the home of Microsoft Corporation, Google, Sun, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle and whatnot.

The following new article from the Financial Times [via Marc Fleury] sheds some light on the core of these issues. It’s centered around the inability (or rather the lack of desire) to properly regulate the market.

The proposal from Hank Paulson, US Treasury secretary, for reorganising government regulation of financial institutions misses the point. We need new thinking, not a reshuffling of regulatory agencies.

[...]

Regulators ought to have known better because it was their intervention that prevented the financial system from unravelling on several occasions. Their success has reinforced the misconception that markets are self-correcting.

The article’s message can be generalised or — quite contrariwise — even specified to account for mishandling of the technology industry in the United States.

“…American companies need to turn to Europe for legal help and action against another American company.”Unlike the US regulators (see details about the DoJ, FCC, FTC and Microsoft's upper hand), the European regulators are responsive and proactive. It remains a tad absurd that American companies need to turn to Europe for legal help and action against another American company. It all just comes to show how broken the American regulatory system really is.

As stressed quite frequently over the past fortnight, the European Commission lets none of this abuse just slide by [1, 2, 3, 4]. Even The Register now reports on this issue. It publishes quotes from the Commission itself and adds details about interoperability issues in OOXML, not just the sheer abuse of the process.

A spokesman for the European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes, told The Register that regulators were continuing to scrutinise interoperability issues related to Microsoft’s products following complaints from the Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) group.

As part of that process, the EC formally contacted a number of national standards bodies, including the Norwegian Standards Institute (NSI), requesting more details about possible irregularities in the OOXML standardisation process.

[...]

“It must be stressed that it is not the Commission’s intention to influence the outcome of this process, but the Commission considers it essential to ensure that European competition law is not violated in the course of the standard setting process,” he said in an email to El Reg.

In January the EC began formal anti-trust probes against Microsoft in two cases where it was alleged that the multinational firm had abused its strong market position. As part of the investigation into the first case, the Commission said that it would scrutinise OOXML on the grounds that the specification doesn’t work with those of competitors.

Expect China to start enforcing anti-monopoly laws just like Europe. From yesterday’s news:

Big brother China eyes Microsoft

A new Chinese anti-monopoly law due to take effect in August could become the thorn in Microsoft’s side should it be successful in its takeover bid for Yahoo!. The law will allow Chinese regulators the power to examine foreign mergers when they involve acquisitions of Chinese companies or foreign investment in Chinese companies.

There are bits in this article about OOXML as well, but they are unbelievably inaccurate. Unbelievable. That also comes to prove that Microsoft killed the term "open source" by having OOXML described as such. And yes, the article above confuses “open xml” with “open source”.

“[…] when Noorda raised the possibility that the Justice Department might try to block a merger between the first and third biggest software companies on the planet, Gates responded, “Don’t worry, we know how to handle the federal government.” […] Gates denied every saying such a thing”

BILL GATES and the Race to Control Cyberspace

What if a Microsoft-owned Novell is Only a Matter of Time? (Sys-Con Op-Ed)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Windows, Xen at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Novell

Voices of Sanity or Voice of Insanity?

It is no secret that Microsoft uses a lot of GNU/Linux, but it keeps exceptionally quiet about it. For obvious reasons, had people known that even Microsoft chooses Linux as a tool to get the job done, what customer would ever choose Windows?

When Novell entered its partnership with Microsoft, some people called the company “Microsoft’s Linux department” and partly with sarcasm they said that SUSE became “Microsoft Linux”. Since then, Novell has probably grown closer to Microsoft rather than distance itself from it. There is a lot of evidence to back this assertion. Novell is now calling Microsoft a "partner", doing its legwork and even joining its corporate circles.

Microsoft’s plan to just acquire the Open Source threat is nothing new. It’s a case of forcing it to assimilate to the New Trust. It’s a case of building consensus around Microsoft’s management and corner everyone who does not comply with the Trust.

“Novell is one company where assimilation to Windows and obedience to Microsoft has become more complacent.”There are cases where there is resistance to assimilation, in which case Microsoft just needs to bring its former employees or loyal supporters into the board of companies resisting takeover or compliance. The Citrix acquisition of XenSource, which serves Microsoft very well and bears a resemblance to Yahoo's current proxy fight (even the mainstream press acknowledges that it is a “proxy fight”), is only one example of this.

Novell is one company where assimilation to Windows and obedience to Microsoft has become more complacent. The company almost practically depends on its rival/partner (frienemy) and it is not a reciprocal relationship. Microsoft just exploits Novell, whereas Novell relies on this exploitation for coupons and other benefits like priority in deals.

Only yesterday, the following article appeared. It speaks about the possibility and the business sense behind Microsoft acquiring Novell. Do have a look.

Microsoft & Linux: At What Point Is It Cheaper to Just Buy Novell?

Microsoft no longer sees itself as simply a Windows company. One recent indication of this is their determination to buy the LAMP-centric (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) Yahoo! Instead of migrating all the tried and tested Yahoo! services over to a Windows server infrastructure, wouldn’t it be simpler to establish Microsoft Linux through the acquisition of Novell?

As Novell continues to shrink (layoff expected), one has to wonder if Microsoft can buy a weaker Novell. At the moment, Microsoft weakens Yahoo in a variety of ways (driving away staff, damage to image, lawsuits by proxy, attack against existing board members) until the bid/price suits the value. The heading of this site happens to be “boycott Novell”, but what if Novell ever became an integral part of Microsoft?

Related articles:

Links 04/04/2008: New Compiz, KPC is Out, BitTorrent Appliance Runs Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 6:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Do Intel and Microsoft Use SpikeSource to Fight GNU/Linux?

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 5:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

More spiky business or just an innocent investment?

“What are we/should we be doing to leverage WIN32S against OS/2 2.0. Building up the perception that there will be a base of Windows applications that will not run on OS/2 2.0 is something that we should do.”

Paul Marltz, Microsoft [PDF]

Microsoft tries to build up the perception that open source applications run better on Windows than on GNU/Linux. It also establishes various collaborations in attempt to make it so, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4].

SpikeSource happens to be one of those supposedly open source companies that work with Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. It integrates and certifies others’ work, but to be fair, it happens to do some business with Linux companies too [1, 2].

But watch this new bit:

Microsoft Certifying Open Source Apps for Windows Server 2008

But Microsoft isn’t stopping there. The company is working with SpikeSource to ensure open source applications work with Windows Server 2008. SpikeSource has so far certified five PHP applications for Microsoft…

Possibly by coincidence, around the same time cometh Intel and invests in the company which makes this possible. Yes, the name is SpikeSource, which seemingly moved over to the ‘dark side’ around a year ago. From last night:

Intel says it is entering into a partnership with SpikeSource – - the Kim Polese-led, open source-focused, software verification company – - and adding $10 million to an earlier investment

Upon seeing the surprising investment from none of other than Intel in an ‘open source’ company, a light was lit. Intel tends to play nice with GNU/Linux for its image, but its financial interests remain tied to Microsoft. Just watch the recent collusions scandal.

Some Intel employees sincerely like Linux and even do things to promote it, but the company’s CEO, just arguably notorious for those alleged E-mail-shredding practices [6, 7] and monopoly abuse [5], fears alienating Microsoft [3, 4]. What Intel did to OLPC must never be forgotten [1, 2, 3], either. So, it is possible that Intel gives a cash injection to a company whose work benefits Windows? What would be the likely motive?

______
[1] SpikeSource also moves to Ubuntu

It also marks the increasing business focus of Ubuntu sponsor Canonical which just last week announced a deal via with Ubuntu will become the basis for Linspire’s desktop Linux operating system.

[2] Schwartz Guides Sun to Light at Tunnel’s End [original article expired]

This move to cheaper servers with off-the-shelf parts helped Sun win back some cost-conscious customers who had turned to Intel-based servers running Linux. Sun began to offer its version of the Unix operating system, Solaris, free to customers to compete better with Linux.

[3] Intel Seen Using China Forum to Detail Plans on Hand-Helds

That [Linux] software effort does not have the support of Mr. Otellini, who is concerned about incurring Microsoft’s wrath, the executive said. The two companies have a long history of tension over who controls the hardware and software direction of the “Wintel standard.” Intelc has said it is supporting both operating systems.

[4] Intel CEO mum on Vista’s impact

Before the question could even be finished, Otellini shook his head and said, “no,” he was not getting into any discussion about Vista.

We considered that not just odd, given Otellini’s history of taking on all questions, but a sign that Intel is seriously displeased with Vista. If that weren’t true, why couldn’t the CEO muster even a lukewarm response like, “We certainly think Vista a superior OS, but after five years in development we would have hoped it had more of an impact on creating a demand for PC upgrades.”

[5] Otellini faced EU in closed session

It is also defending itself to the European Commission anti trust court against allegations that it sold into the public sector at below cost and that it paid manufacturers to cancel AMD chip-based product launches. Intel denies doing anything wrong.

AMD is making its presentations today, also behind closed doors.

[6] AMD: Intel Destroyed Evidence in Antitrust Case

In an unpublished statement to the U.S. District Court of Delaware, AMD alleges Intel allowed the destruction of evidence in pending antitrust litigation.

[7] Intel’s anti-trust memos started vanishing from the top

Chairman Craig Barrett, CEO Paul Otellini and sales chief Sean Maloney have appeared on a list of Intel employees thought to have deleted e-mails possibly relevant to AMD’s anti-trust lawsuit against its larger rival. The missing e-mails have thrust a livid state of mind onto AMD’s lawyers who have very serious problems with Intel’s rather lax document retention policy.

[...]

CEO Otellini appears to have been one of these troublesome employees.

Return of the ‘Peter O’Kelly Mouthpiece’ and Why Microsoft Lost the Standards War

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Finance, ISO, Law, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard, Steve Ballmer at 2:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Claiming wins using paid-for proxies

The following new article from John Fontana quotes a Microsoft lobbyist (essentially he is), who was paid handsomely by Microsoft for ‘consulting’ work (recall this recent post about soft bribery). Look back at this page about Peter O'Kelly and realise that the man is just a proxy, in fact one among many more.

It’s rather astounding how those ‘analysts’ (“shillnalysts” morelike) are able to warp publications in the mainstream press and tell a bogus story from seemingly independent points of view. Reporters should know better. They must not approach those ‘talking heads’ of Microsoft.

Looking at more objective literature, consider this new formal statement from Canada [via Groklaw], which voted “No” to OOXML.

Canada voted to “Disapprove with Comments”. Canada was among 10 countries that expressed concern with the Fast Track of ISO/IEC DIS 29500.

In this report, the decision is actually explained. Yes, it’s all said out in public, so the BSI, which will go under investigation for likely abuse and mishandling of the process, ought to learn something from Canada. The secrecy of the decision in Britain drew in a lot more bad smell.

Moving on to a slightly separate topic, it was stressed before that ISO’s role represents part of a much broader picture. According to this good column, what Microsoft has done might actually earn it nothing but a loss, not a win. Regardless of the outcome at ISO (which is not final yet), Microsoft has destroyed its image even further, adding to existing troubles of a sinking status and financial fears.

There is a two-month period for appeals before the ISO pronounces OOXML a standard, and it’s already obvious that there will be some. Members of the Norwegian national standards committee, for instance, have already petitioned the government to investigate how the country came to register a “yes” vote on the draft standard when a majority of committee members were against it.

I wrote a while ago about the disruption of the national process in Great Britain, and an appeal is promised there, as well. And I’m sure the list will grow: The New York Times this week also numbered Malaysia and Germany among countries where protests are rising.

I’m sitting here wondering, what has Microsoft won? Not much, as far as I can tell.

Its OOXML victory – if it turns out to be one after the appeals are heard – will certainly be won at the cost of huge damage to its credibility. Evidently, even while Microsoft was promising interoperability and openness it was actively subverting the primary interoperability vehicle of the international computing community: the standards-setting process.

[...]

Even if Microsoft has managed to buy enough votes to get OOXML approved, and bullies enough of the protestors into silence to make it stick, it still hasn’t created a standard. At most it’s created the very real possibility that it will be back in front of Neelie Kroes, the EU’s commissioner for competition, shelling out another billion euros in fines.

It is all very well said. Microsoft might also end up breaking a promise to its shareholders — the promise that it would go out of its way to escape further fines. This was stated publicly just over a month ago when Steve Ballmer even mentioned retirement. Microsoft’s celebration here is more of a wild drunken night as a fresher back in college. The following morning it might wake down in a hallway with a very bad hangover.

“I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.”

Brad Silverberg, Microsoft

‘Novell Booster’ in the Linux News

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Novell, OpenSUSE at 2:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“zOMG! Zonker is teh boosterz!!one!!eleven!”

The phrase “Microsoft boosters” is typically used to describe reporters, analysts, commenters or entire Web sites that glorify Microsoft. It describes them collectively. Some of them exist solely for this reason and they operate with this role in disguise (some examples here).

YaST boot modeThere are several Web sites set up solely for the purpose of increasing Novell’s presence on the Web and small prints might indicate that the sites (or blogs) are intended for PR purposes, possibly owing to disclosure rules that are rarely enforced (not effectively anyway).

Interestingly enough, Novell’s community manager (Zonker) enjoys his posting privileges at KDE’s Dot, which is where he has just promoted OpenSUSE with the following announcement.

Ever run into the issue that you saw a cool new app on KDE-Apps.org and could not find a binary package for your favourite KDE version on your favourite KDE distro? The openSUSE Build Service allows creation of binary packages quite easily, so you can do the work yourself and help other KDE users who run into the same problem. If you are interested in learning how, the openSUSE community are organising Packaging Days II, which starts tomorrow.

Perhaps that’s just how Novell’s ‘acquisition’ of Zonker pays off. To be fair, several KDE developers are employed or funded by Linux companies in one way or another. But still, Novell may have bought itself more presence in the relevant press. That’s just a little disappointing.

In other news, Zonker took Firefox 3 for an early ride and bloggd about his experiences. There is no conflict of interests here and he posted this to his blog, as opposed a KDE site with a far broader audience.

Just grabbed Firefox 3.0 beta 5 — it’s looking real good so far, so I thought I’d post a few notes about the release. I spend far more time than is healthy at the computer, and Firefox is probably the application I use the most (next to Vim) so expect more commentary on this throughout the week.

vim >> Firefox?

Links 04/04/2008: Good Progress for FOSS in Europe; SCO Seemingly Desserted

Posted in News Roundup at 12:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

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