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04.16.08

Patent Bomb in a Ribbon-Cladded Box Available for Download from Novell

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 9:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ferrari laptop
Advertising Microsoft products in exchange for Ferrari-branded laptops

Leaving opinionated comments in YouTube is quite a big gamble not only because Microsoft sends its marketers over there to post viral videos and secretly advocate Microsoft products, but also because you get rebuttals from unknown individuals, who might be affiliated with companies that attack your convictions (or you, personally). It’s like Slashdot in a way. A couple of days ago the following comment came up in a video about Moonlight:

The merger lasts for 4 more years. The patent covenants last for 20+ years. This was guaranteed by Microsoft and Novell by a clause in the merger.

Okay, so what appears to be new here, if true at all, is that Novell’s deal with Microsoft is a “merger”. It’s not, unless Microsoft and Novell are not telling us something. Moreover, where does the “20+ years” duration come from? Bear in mind that this video is about Moonlight, so it’s possible that a Novell employee (Mono/Moonlight developer) is that who responded.

Apart from licensing messiness and Novell’s violation of the GPL, at least by spirit, what can one conclude here? The comment which is quoted above is hopefully false in every sense. The last thing one needs is a software patent mess in an over-the-Web delivered component such as Silverlight. Even Miguel de Icaza denounced this. Yes, he protested against his own foolishness.

In case you think this is harmless because Microsoft doesn’t attack, watch what its close ally Intel has just done. Having just suffered a major slump in profits, Intel is suing. It’s also being sued over patents.

In the first case, Intel is being sued by one Philip Jackson for allegedly breaching a patent he owns. The patent in question is 4,596,900 which has the snappy title of “Phone Line Linkted Tone Operated Control Device.

Novell appears to have chosen to become part of this ‘lawsuits club’. But why? To gain competitive advantage that is based on fear, the greatest driver known to human kind.

“I’m not happy about the fact that such an agreement was made [with Microsoft], but was above my pay grade.”

Miguel de Icaza, Novell

Novell: Putting the Defeatism in GNU/Linux Since 2006

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Ron Hovsepian, Steve Ballmer at 8:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell inherits a Microsoft classic (“Linux not for the desktop” FUD)

Having surrendered to requests (or demands) from Steve Ballmer and having become his ‘patent buddy’, Ron Hovsepian reveals just how apathetic he is when it comes to desktop Linux. Have a look at this new article from InfoWorld

Novell’s Suse Linux at the desktop is unlikely to be popular with consumers in the next three to five years, according to Novell President and CEO Ronald Hovsepian.

With ‘optimistic’ and ‘enthusiastic’ CEOs like these, no wonder Novell's business is doing so poorly. However, Novell’s remark are also damaging to the business of other Linux vendors. On whose behalf does Novell speak here? It starts to become truly embarrassing.

Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer

“Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SuSE Linux is appropriately covered.”

Steve Ballmer

How Quickly a Site Grew…

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 8:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It was pleasantly surprising to find that boycottnovell.com is ranked 3904th on the Web, according to NetCraft. However artificial and inaccurate such traffic ranks can be, we seem to have even surpassed LXer.

When Shane started this Web site it was probably a tad spontaneous and impulsive. We spoke to each other at the time and didn’t even know if this site would last, let alone grow. Little did we know.

Thanks to all those who bother to read us, a very small proportion of which gains visibility by posting comments too.

OOXML Protests Are Back, Lots of ODF FUD Seen Abound (Updatedx2)

Posted in Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 8:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week we saw Norway taking it to the streets where highly respectable figures spoke against OOXML. This was no mob action, but a case of sophisticated individuals speaking on behalf on those in their country who do not understand what is going on.

Norway was not alone. In fact, other protests are being spotted. [many thanks to a reader for this pointer]

The protest organized by FSUG and FCI seems to have attracted a lot of deserved attention, despite the hurried execution.

Head over to the blog of Leif Lodahl, who is highly respected and influential in Denmark. He too is unhappy with OOXML and he debunks a new type of disinformation from Microsoft — the claim that OpenOffice.org will support OOXML.

Will OpenOffice.org support OOXML ?

The answer is no !

From version 3.0 OpenOffice.org will be able to read MS Office 2007 documents.

The purpose is not to support an academic developed file format, but to help the pour users who by accident get hands on a document from Microsoft Office 2007.

ODF FUD seems to back back in a big way. Another form of rumour which was seen propagating earlier is that ODF 1.2 is halted. This is absolutely false. It’s all right on track and this latest posting from GullFOSS sheds some more light on that, as well as other nasty rumours.

It is rumored that adding new features to OpenOffice.org is very hard or close to impossible for volunteer developers if that feature is not already a part of ODF, the file format OpenOffice.org uses for its documents. I think this is unfounded rumor, but understanding that needs some explanations.

ODF is under control of the ODF Technical Committee(TC) at OASIS, an important non-profit consortium that drives the development of open standards in the industry. This implies that extensions of and changes to this standard must be done following the OASIS rules.

Watch out for such trails of manipulative deception. Someone in north-western parts of the United States (rumour mill extraordinaire) wants you to believe that ODF is dead and that the world is happy with OOXML. It’s a case of attempting self-fulfilling prophecies.

“Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Update: coverage of the protests in India has just reached The Hindu. From the article:

Ever since the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) vote on April 2 adopted Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) as a document standard, techie blogs and websites have been inundated with posts and articles voicing their opposition to proprietary software and technical issues with the new standard.

Update #2: Rob Weir elaborates on the post from GullFOSS and picks up suggestions.

If you have any other ideas for ODF enhancements, or thoughts on the above proposals, please don’t post a response to this blog! Remember, you need to use the comment list for your feedback to be considered by the OASIS ODF TC.

Links 17/04/2008: WebOS Chooses GNU/Linux; Backlash Against Microsoft UK Contracts

Posted in News Roundup at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Novell Might Move Overseas to Lower Expenses (Running Costs)

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft, Novell, Windows at 4:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Oriskany ship sinks

Novell wants to “boost its presence” in India, which is not something that we criticise but merely point out. The news came from Reuters only hours ago.

Business software maker Novell Inc plans to invest $100 million in India over the next three years as it seeks to boost its presence in Asia’s third-largest economy, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

GNOME homeBear in mind that over in the United States, large-scale Novell layoffs are still expected. There was a warning about it back in December, but those layoffs have not been announced yet.

Previously, we also saw American workforce of Novell getting replaced by a new workforce India. Do not be mistaken, however, for it is something that many companies appear to be doing, including Microsoft, which develops Windows 7 in India.

Microsoft India centre working on Windows 7

Designers and engineers at Microsoft R&D centre in India have a new mandate for development of Windows 7…

We wrote about the associated deception from Bill Gates not so long ago. In short, he deceives the public and the administration by insulting the intelligence of American engineers. This helps him justify cost-saving decisions made by Microsoft, due to increasing necessity.

Links 16/04/2008: Free Software Seems Big in Italian Politics; Many GNU/Linux Releases

Posted in News Roundup at 5:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Why ISO and Microsoft Will Share a Bad Headache Until June

Posted in Antitrust, ECMA, Europe, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 5:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Under investigation, under great pressure, scrutiny

Our recent coverage of the situation at ISO was almost excessively critical [1, 2, 3], but we are by no means alone. Glyn Moody has just taken a look at the latest FAQ to judge it for himself and he was equally appalled by what he found. Among his observations:

This is amazing: since when did proprietary lock-in represent “additional functionality”? That’s a bit like saying handcuffs offer “additional functionality” to boring old handcuff-less freedom. Proprietary lock-in – even when dignified with the euphemistic moniker of “legacy documents” – is what open standards are supposed to avoid; touting it as an “extra” is a simple betrayal of the fundamental underlying idea.

[...]

In other words, ISO’s FAQ, designed to quell the storm, ends up confirming many of the very issues its critics have raised, and feeding it. Well, I suppose that’s a kind of progress.

How did ISO end up sidling with a single company that went face to face against an entire industry? ISO will probably blame ECMA and Microsoft will surely give credit to ECMA, but at the end of the day it is clear that this system of (mis)trust is utterly broken and it needs to be fixed very quickly, before other proprietary technologies like XPS are passed as 'standards' on the Fast Track.

Remember that XPS can be made reliant on modules of OOXML, which itself, as we already know, is rather horrific. Under the “it’s already an ISO standard” excuse, this sordid mess can be further complicated with dependencies that bring a whole chain that makes a proprietary stack. How long before Windows is made a standard a la POSIX? (the sarcasm of desperation should be noted here)

IBM, which is merely one among hundreds of ODF supporters, has just published the following article about OpenDocument Format for those who intend to read a primer.

The OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF) is an XML standard that lets you store and exchange office application documents, including word-processor, spreadsheet, and presentation files. Whether you try to perform special tasks on files saved from such applications or work on applications to process such files, you should become familiar with this important format. Learn about the two possible forms of OpenDocument files, as multipart packages and as single XML documents, and learn how to structure text and tabular information in OpenDocument.

There is something else which is worth highlighting today. In the Indian press, the following headline has just turned up: “Microsoft never opposed ODF”. Why not implement it then? Why duplicate? Why literally go against the entire industry? Why run a smear campaign against ODF? Why steal Document Freedom Day?

Here in this article you have Microsoft even admitting that OOXML is deficient.

It is almost impossible to resolve 100% of issues, as you are resolving some issues which you have identified like software codes, someone would come with 2-3 new issues.

And that is why standards go into maintenance, and maintenance is of two kinds – to fix any flaws that had been identified or may get identified or to add any new capabilities to the standard. If there are issues that could be resolved later on, then members take this to the standards body as it was out of the hands of the Microsoft. So, this vote kind of reflects that sentiment.

In other words, Microsoft shoved a buggy set of specifications, which Office will never have implemented by the way, down ISO’s threat. It’s left for ISO to choke on.

On the brighter side of things, the abuses for an ISO (and inside ISO) are being studies by the European Commission (EC) which is yet to report back. It has almost two months left, during which OOXML as an ISO standard can be retracted and ISO left very embarrassed, humiliated and even publicly shamed using the EC’s findings. In the mean time, having gathered initial evidence that Microsoft has not changed its ways, Europe will continue to evaluate its migration to GNU/Linux as well as a Microsoft embargo (at a a high level, namely government tier). There are several newer articles that cover these developments, including:

The Commission, which has not responded yet, is allowed a few weeks to reply.

A European MP has called for the EU to stop doing business with Microsoft until it complies with an order to open up to competition.

Recall that recent video which shows Neelie Kroes as she speaks about the price of fleeting [sic] the rules. This could be expensive for Microsoft. It is a matter of contracts and reputation, not just heavy fines. For reasons that we highlighted before, the United States is unlikely to intervene as it should.

“I’m sorry that we have to have a Washington presence. We thrived during our first 16 years without any of this. I never made a political visit to Washington and we had no people here. It wasn’t on our radar screen. We were just making great software.”

Bill Gates

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