About a year ago, Novell joined forced with the EFF. It needed to give the impression that it was just as concerned as many of us about patents. But meanwhile, Novell advocates the very same thing it purports to be fighting.
They are presented with opportunities for patents and papers and to participate in Standards Bodies with an exposure to a worldwide platform. They closely work with the corporate L&D function to provide management development programs for the managers.
Patent program—They have been aggressively building up their patent portfolio. Currently it exceeds 320 patents, and continues to grow every month with help from dedicated Novell inventors. Novell IDC alone has contributed close to 14 patents to this existing patent pool.
Bravo, Novell. Everyone is very impressed. Not.
Meanwhile, what have we in the news? Another company attacks its rivals using patents of course.
Seagate Technology, the largest maker of computer hard drives, made a pre-emptive strike against an emerging competitor on Monday when it filed a lawsuit in federal court accusing STEC Inc. of patent infringement.
Also from news, watch how 4G technology is already being arranged in a discriminatory way — discriminatory in the sense that Free software players seem to be excluded.
The companies involved – Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Sony Ericsson – have all agreed to a framework based around fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing, which should prevent the kind of ongoing patent spats which dogged 3G technologies.
The notion of patents becoming an inherent or essential part of a standard is something to learn from at least based on precedence. The same type of principles apply to a variety of things including Microsoft’s taxoperability program and OOXML, which is, whether we accept it or not, a patent trap, among many other things. █
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Novell: just misinformed or even delusional?
“I think the vast majority, and I’d quantify that at about 80 percent to 85 percent, of the open source community actually supports this deal [with Microsoft].”
–Justin Steinman, Novell
Recently, Simon Phipps addressed some of Ron Hovsepian’s remarks about OpenSolaris. Phipps contacted me for a correction or clarification. He was not slamming Novell in any way, but merely correcting them. Here is a full-length interview with Phipps where he addresses this mild confrontation.
Question: Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian said in a Linux Foundation interview recently that Sun’s Solaris and OpenSolaris aren’t going anywhere. I would venture to say that you don’t agree, but do you want to elaborate?
Phipps: Well, as it stands, the very fact that the question was asked at all says that something has changed and that OpenSolaris is now on the map. The comments that Novell’s executive made were very ill informed, as I recall… I remember when I read them that they seemed to be based on data that was five years old. It seems to me that Novell’s shareholders ought to be worried that their chief executive isn’t keeping up on the competition.
This was actually pointed out before. Mr. Hovsepian appears to know very little (or nothing) about the Fedora project. █
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ECMA 2.0 in the making, captured by ambitious monopolists
A gentler way to put this would be hard to find because ISO continues to show what a disgrace it has become. It was given a chance to change. It was given a chance to listen to polite critics and respond sensibly. It was given a chance to tell the world that it had been captured. But no. Despite its admission that OOXML is poor, it thinks of ODF and OOXML as a case of survival and competition, having approved a second and muchly inferior set of specifications that are GPL-hostile, vendor-specific, messy to the point of being unimplementable (buggy legacy as part of the ‘standard’), pushed forward by well-documented corruption and so forth.
Brief coverage of the latest you can find in the Inquirer, which picked out some more alarming bits.
Otherwise, the body expects Microsoft’s OOXML and the open source ODF document formats to face one another in a direct competition for “survival”. The outcome will be decided by the market, it said.
If Microsoft doesn’t misbehave, the standards body said that the standards would be left to prove themselves: “After a period of co-existence, it is basically the market that decides which survives,” a spokesman said.
Remember what we were told by a credible source recently about Microsoft's likely attempts to pressure out ODF. As we already know, Microsoft spends obscene amounts of money trying to achieve that goal. It goes as far as offering businesses incentives to choose OOXML over ODF. The same goes for developers such as those at Novell. It makes Novell a big part of this problem and also a Microsoft partner against ODF, against competition. Obligatory banner below.
Groklaw makes some more comments on these latest bits from ISO. PJ is equally disappointed.
Dear ISO, damage control doesn’t work, if you let the damage remain. That’s like putting out a statement that if an oil spill you caused does any damage in the future, you’ll clean it up right away, but for now, you’ll leave the spill in place and wait to see what happens going forward. Oil spills need to be cleaned up before they do more damage.
There is a difference between market *place* and market *players*. Microsoft is a player, and we all saw how fairly they play. The market place tried to speak, and we were called emotional or secret operatives for a market player. For shame, ISO, for shame. So, after the monopoly-distorted market “chooses” OOXML and “kills” ODF, as the FAQ suggests, I’m sure ISO will withdraw OOXML. Not. And even if it did, the poor victim of Microsoft’s litigation pincer move will not benefit. It will be too late.
I am sure you are relieved to hear it. Anyway, now you know. If Microsoft plays dirty with patents, ISO might withdraw OOXML as a standard. And as we’ve seen watching the OOXML standards process play out, when ISO says something, they reeeeeally, reeealy mean it.
ISO seems unwilling to change its behaviour. Many times before it was caught disobeying rules and then and then attempting to sweep everything under the rug. This mustn’t be the way the International Standards Organisation operates. It’s an big embarrassment whose scale is global. █
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The other day we mentioned — however briefly — that Novell can inflate sales figures using all sorts of artificial means. They deceive the viewer, but the bottom line remains unchanged.
Here is yet another good example of the thing we spoke about just days ago. We used OES as an example of ‘legacy revenue’ suddenly counting as “Linux revenue”. Have a look at this new article.
Netware is to be shown the door for OES2
OES1 was released in 2005 and ported some technology that ran on Novell’s Netware operating system to SUSE Linux.
In this case you see revenue cannibalisation, which isn’t precisely the same thing as massaging figures — something that even Novell has admitted doing.
Recipe for pseudo renaissance:
- Rename Y, the existing product target, X
- Claim that growth strategy is X
- Move products from Y to X, then claim great growth of new strategy
Now, if only that profit was real. Microsoft seems to enjoy this newly-found cash cow the most, for it has no spendings (development and staffing are Novell’s role). Microsoft has only imaginary intellectual monopolies that require not a single line of code. █
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Earlier today it was mentioned that ISO had essentially been captured by Microsoft and its interests, so it is no longer able to do anything but keep up appearance. This type of psychological game where ISO begs for its reputation to be saved without honest admission of failure (with OOXML) is likely to continue. Yes, all this despite the fact that Groklaw has just found Alex Brown admitting OOXML’s shortcomings.
Here’s a quotation for the ages, from an Alex Brown comment on Andrew Updegrove’s Standards Blog (scroll down) asking Brown if he’d agree that ODF was cleaner than OOXML:
“I’d go with that. I think ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0) can be compared to a neat house built on good foundations which is not finished; 29500 (OOXML) is a baroque cliffside castle replete with toppling towers, secret passages and ghosts: it is all too finished.”
I see I am not alone in viewing OOXML as a move of aggression. Microsoft must be realizing by now by the outpouring of dismay all over the world that this isn’t just a typical vendor fight, where winner takes all and everyone shakes hands and moves on. The public cares about ODF, because it realizes it will impact every one of us directly, and we see the obvious, that OOXML is a spoiler. This has nothing to do with market share.
The “keep out” sign is still hanging on ISO’s door. In fact, ISO has openly asked people to stop criticising it, which is vain in and of itself. Despite the many details picked up by Groklaw, ISO apparently sees protests as illegitimate, unjustified. But:
The move came as an ISO committee meeting in Norway attracted protesters, who gathered to call for the retraction of OOXML from the ISO standardisation process.
At the start of April, the document format won enough votes to become a fully fledged ISO standard. Many observers had been against that standardisation, pointing out that the OpenDocument Format (ODF) already existed as an ISO standard, and arguing that OOXML’s documentation contained too many unanswered technical problems to be passed.
This last bit even ISO has already admitted to be true. How long can an explanation be sought for? Why does ISO try to silence its critics? And since when is this attack personal? ISO is not a person. █
“ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen.”
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[Headline was corrected from: "Kevin Carmony Admits Microsoft Paid Linspire Millions"]
The best extortion money can buy
A few days ago we mentioned the beans-spilling from Kevin Carmony, but it’s an ongoing discussion and here is some of the latest.
We have known this for a while, but verifiable sums were needed. It was stated in various high-profile Web sites, but admission is always more credible. Linspire’s former CEO has just posted a very telling comment. We highlight a response from FSDaily which quotes a followup (comment) from Kevin Carmony:
[Kevin Carmony:] “Many disagreed with the MS partnership, but it brought us millions in new sources of revenue, all without having any of the negative effects on the desktop Linux space that some predicted the MS/Linux deals would. I reduced our losses by millions in my first year as CEO, and made millions in profits my second year.”
[Comment:] He made millions in profit in the short term, by destroying a GNU/Linux company’s reputation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to sell out to Microsoft. Any GNU/Linux distro which has a significant community could pull millions or more by selling out to Microsoft.
One has to wonder just how much was paid. We quoted some estimates before, but none could be confirmed. Additionally, how much was paid when it comes to Xandros and TurboLinux? And how much do they pay Microsoft in return, over time? Novell was paid over $300,000,000. In return, it gives a variety of things including OOXML support and software patent royalties, based on sales volume. It’s despicable. █
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