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04.22.08

Bill Gates Ridicules the GPL While Novell Mops Up with Software Patents

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Europe, Finance, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Movell and Nicrosoft

There is no substantial news here other than development of discussions, which seem to spread fairly fast from one blog to another blog and soon onto the press. To repeat criticisms from yesterday about Novell’s announcement on China [1, 2], Novell and Microsoft keep spreading software patents to all parts of the world (never mind the legality), using SUSE Linux (Ballnux).

As another article to consider, there is this one from The Boston Globe.

Because Linux software is available free of charge, many Chinese businesses use it without paying. These companies miss out on the service, support, and upgrades that companies like Novell can provide. By encouraging Chinese firms to pay for Linux, Microsoft is helping Novell tap a valuable revenue stream.

It should really say “Microsoft tap a valuable revenue stream.” Novell’s Linux is actually Microsoft Linux in the sense that it’s only a ‘surrogate’ that replaces Free Linuxes with one that Microsoft owns in the ‘intellectual’ sense. It’s a trap.

Meanwhile, returning to the discussion about Microsoft taxoperability program [1, 2, 3, 4], Centrify stirred up some discussion with this analysis of Microsoft software patents.

The motivation for this blog entry is that given that so much has been written about Microsoft and patents vis a vis Linux and vis a vis the European Commission decision, I found it interesting that it seems no one in the industry has actually rolled up their sleeves and analyzed and published how many patents Microsoft actually holds within their Windows server protocols and what functional areas these patents cover. I think this is key information to know in order to help address Gartner Group’s advice to open source developers to “not use Microsoft’s [protocol] documentation unless you have rigorous processes to keep track of applicable patents.” Having this supplementary information could also benefit commercial software developers by helping them better understand what Microsoft has to offer protocol-wise and what they potentially may need (or may not need) to license from Microsoft.

This soon got the attention of ZDNet’s Between the Lines and the Microsoft Blog. What we see here is probably increased pressure by staged introduction of clues. Microsoft hopes not only to replace all those ‘nasty’ Linuxes that Microsoft does not control and or make money from, but it also hopes to set legal traps for them.

Where does that leave Novell? On Microsoft’s side, of course, with a frontal assault on the Freedom of software (not the same as Linux).

Quite appalling are some of the things which Gates said just a couple of days ago about open source, Free software and the GPL.

One thing Gates won’t be leaving behind in retirement is his distaste for open source software. After one scientist asked if Gates would consider open source uses in health research, the man who built his $280 billion company on the power of intellectual property bristled.

“There’s free software and then there’s open source,” he suggested, noting that Microsoft gives away its software in developing countries. With open source software, on the other hand, “there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Open source, he said, creates a license “so that nobody can ever improve the software,” he claimed, bemoaning the squandered opportunity for jobs and business. (Yes, Linux fans, we’re aware of how distorted this definition is.) He went back to the analogy of pharmaceuticals: “I think if you invent drugs, you should be able to charge for them,” he said, adding with a shrug: “That may seem radical.”

it’s very revealing that Microsoft tries to separate Free software (it tries to characterise it as gratis, i.e. zero cost, cheap, shoddy) from open source. Open source is, to Microsoft, mainly about visibility, but it wants it to be subjected to the same rules, including software patents. Where are those geniuses who defended Microsoft’s seemingly-friendly approach towards the OSI?

“Other than Bill Gates, I don’t know of any high tech CEO that sits down to review the company’s IP portfolio.”

Marshall Phelps

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4 Comments

  1. Logan said,

    April 22, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Gravatar

    “Because Linux software is available free of charge, many Chinese businesses use it without paying.”

    This is the most funniest thing I’ve read in a long time.

    Despicable people, like Bill Gates, will continue to exist and be powerful as long other despicable people, like those commenting on the the article, continue to kiss his ass. Doesn’t these people have brains to think for themselves? Is that too much to ask from the average human being?

    Novell and Microsoft are selling some “moon property” to those unfortunate chinese citizens.

    There’s a fool born every second.

  2. SubSonica said,

    April 23, 2008 at 2:08 am

    Gravatar

    They started their strategy of wooing the Open Source side of FOSS in order to marginalise Free(dom) Software and find a way to marginalise the FSF and kill the GPL and GNU/Linux long ago. They tried first with Eric Raymond, who already knew better:

    “http://esr.ibiblio.org/index.php?p=208

    I had my serious, constructive converstation with Microsoft last year, when a midlevel exec named Steven Walli took me out to dinner at OSCON 2004 and asked, in so many words, “How can we not be evil?” And I told him — open up your file formats (including Word and multimedia), support open technical standards instead of sabotaging them, license your patents under royalty-free, paperwork-free terms.

    I believe Steve Walli went back to his bosses and told them that truth. He is no longer with Microsoft, and what little he’ll say about it hints that they canned him for trying to change their culture.

    This didn’t surprise me. Microsoft’s profit margins require a monopoly lock on the market; thus, they’re stuck with being predatory evil bastards. The moment they stop being predatory evil bastards, their stock price will tank and their options pyramid will crash and it will be all over.

    That being the case, negotiation is pointless. Microsoft is not reformable. Jeering at offers like this is actually the most constructive thing we can do.”

    There is a IMHO well-intentioned article on Freesoftwaremagazine stating how Microsoft wouldn’t lose with Free Software, notice it is full of “if”s , although the article starts completely wrong by assuming the divisive propaganda thesis of Microsoft that “there is some faction in the FOSS world who has an anti-Microsoft agenda”, while it is quite the opposite: It is Microsoft who has had an anti-Free Software, anti-Linux and anti-OpenSource agenda from the beginning, only they seem to be approaching what (for them) seem to be the lesser, easier to tame (with money) of these three “evils” in order to sidestep and defeat the other two: So I agree with ESR. that Microsoft will try to keep their monopoly lock-in at any cost, because it is the only thing that keeps their margins so high; which again, allows them to spend buckloads of money in their cover-ops throught lobbying as we have been witness with the FIASCOOXML and the SW Patents (which includes the Microvell pact) ongoing war.
    May be it would be appropriate for BN to write a well-elaborated rebuttal of that article at FSM, since they are encouraging readers to write a full article in reply if they feel like to.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 23, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Gravatar

    Interesting insights. It’s all very obvious to many of us, but not to everyone (the brainwashed media does not help). I’m writing an article for Datamation at the moment. It’s about Red Hat, but maybe we should indeed rebut in some way all those “Microsoft loves FOSS” articles that completely fall into Microsoft’s trap (it’s about empowering the Microsoft stack and APIs).

  4. John Wilson said,

    April 29, 2008 at 12:22 am

    Gravatar

    While I don’t find it at all hard to believe that MS is up to the tricks you’re alleging, for the reasons you state in this case I happen to think they’re being too clever by half with this one.

    First off the Chinese aren’t stupid. They’ve watched Microsoft for years and they’re well aware of the kind of tricks they pull. Beyond that they seem more in the mood to acquire others than to sell themselves off these days.

    You do business in China by their rules not by anyone elses.

    There’s also a bit of a chinese elephant in the room here in the form of Red Flag Linux which carries the blessing of the Communist Party of China who do, after all, still run the show. Playing this kind of game puts Novell and Microsoft in the position of pissing off the folks that run the place which just happens to be the largest emerging market in the world. Not at all smart.

    ttfn

    John

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