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04.27.08

Links 27/04/2008: Many More GNU/Linux-based Products; FLOSS Procurement Draft for Governments

Posted in News Roundup at 11:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

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Novell and GNOME Help Microsoft and .NET’s Fight Against Sun and Java

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, SUN, Windows at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft No

It is no secret that Free software has been attracting some highly-skilled and influential developers, who can easily change the programming agenda, set trends, and turn some consistent choices into a de facto standard.

It is also no secret that Microsoft wants to destroy Java (even from the inside), which is soon to be fully GPLv2-licensed and therefore available pre-installed on GNU/Linux distributions (without IcedTea). So how come GNOME has adopted the following policy (if true)?

2. The front page of gtk.org.

There’s no evidence Java was ever on the front page of this site, and I’d love to see someone try to prove it – gtk-web is stored in GNOME’s svn, so you don’t need a cache, the full history is there.

C++, Python and C# are mentioned there. They also are the allowed dependencies in the GNOME desktop set, whereas Java is not.

A reader of ours says (outside this Web site): “If that is true, then there is the smoking gun that C# is being shoehorned into GNOME at the expense of open source material like Java.”

Only days ago the following article got published in Dr. Dobb’s, which is quite a respected and authoritative source of information on these matters:

I expect in five years time there will be two main languages: Java and C#, closely followed by good-old Visual Basic. There is no new paradigm foreseen.

DDJ: Which languages seem to be losing ground?

PJ: C and C++ are definitely losing ground. There is a simple explanation for this. Languages without automated garbage collection are getting out of fashion.

Can you imagine why Microsoft might want its partner, Novell, which already controls Mono and to a large extent GNOME as well, to demote Java and promote Mono? Microsoft wants to become the standard for programming as we noted several times before. So here you have yet another reason for Sun to be bitter and impatient with Novell, which mocked OpenSolaris quite recently [1, 2, 3].

The story about Microsoft’s very malicious sabotage of Java has been told so many times before (even here), so here is just one among the many articles which talk about it with Linux and open source software in mind.

These [Halloween] memos are nothing short of fascinating. In them, the authors freely admit that many Open Source Software products equal or surpass the quality of commercially produced products, such as Microsoft’s own Windows NT, and urge that Microsoft itself could benefit by adopting certain aspects of the OSS development environment. The authors warn that OSS products (Linux, in particular) could certainly threaten Microsoft’s server market, and even allow that OSS could possibly erode the company’s existing desktop dominance — that is, if OSS is not stifled.

To this end, the authors suggest a number of ways in which the OSS threat might be attacked. Conceding that OSS products themselves are “FUD proof,” simply because they obviously have credibility by their very nature, the authors suggest instead that the the OSS production process itself might be brought into question — a rehash of the old “who you gonna blame if it doesn’t work?” argument.

[...]

This is an example of Microsoft’s infamous “embrace and extend” policy at its worst. Embed Microsoft-proprietary extensions in common Internet protocols hook unsuspecting customers on these look-alike but incompatible tools, and lock those customers into the resulting custom Microsoft solutions — neatly locking out Open Source Software (and commercial competitors) in the process.

How might this strategy work in practice? For an example, we need look no further than Microsoft’s alleged “embrace and extend” treatment of Java, a commercial product developed by competitor Sun Microsystems. To counter the threat that Java might marginalize their Windows products, some at Microsoft have recommended letting Microsoft’s “Java [developer tools] space fragment so that ‘write once, run anywhere’ does not happen” and “eliminate/contain cross-platform Java by growing the polluted Java market.”

And in a page that could have been taken directly from the Halloween Memos: “quietly grow [Microsoft's versions of Java] and assume that people will take advantage of our [versions] without ever realizing they are building win32-only java apps.”

In case you have time to spare, consider going through some old articles from this long-ago-retired articles archive of Boycott Microsoft. If you find something we can associate with present events, please share. Critics need to make use of the most evidence we have available and identify behavioral patterns, possibly managerial strategies too. So long it has been, yet so little has changed.

Comes, Iowa, Suppression of Truth, Collusion and Tax Evasion

Posted in Antitrust, Finance, Hardware, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 9:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vortex or misconduct and hints of favour-making

A reader has just sent us a pointer to this recently-modified Web page, suggesting that Microsoft might be getting an easy ride in Iowa. Watch and judge this one for yourself (the formatting and layout make it somewhat of a necessity anyway). The Microsoft items on the list are the only ones highlighted in red.

This listing is an attempt to track tax bills for Iowa’s 2008 legislative session. While we will do our best to keep it up to date, we appreciate any updates or corrections our readers may have. Direct them to Joe Kristan (jkristan -at- rothcpa.com).

[...]

HF 2233 Great big sales and property tax giveaway to Microsoft Signed into law 2/28/08 Sure thing HF 2233c

[...]

SSB 3184 Senate version of Microsoft giveaway; same as HF 2233, which was signed 2/28/08 Introduced 2/14 Sure thing

The reader’s interpretation: “I’m guessing based on almost no data that Microsoft folded in the Iowa case (Comes v Microsoft) when all that material was posted publicly. In one earlier case (was it Corel or Caldera?) the settlement required that the court records be destroyed. So this one is probably some way get back at Iowa or at competitors based in Iowa.”

“Last week Microsoft failed to prevent the court from divulging some more damaging information about Windows Vista collusions.”You can find a bit of background about Microsoft in Iowa here, with more pertinents details right here. Microsoft was seemingly suspected of tax games in Wisconsin recently (broader picture here). Our reader adds, with respect to the find above, “perhaps [it is] in retribution for Comes v Microsoft.” And speaking tax evasion, another new case was noted just days ago. It’s systematic and endemic.

It is worth adding that Iowa has also been trying to kiss and make up with Microsoft recently. It was hoping to put pressure on the monopoly to build a datacentre there (you know, give some jobs to locals), having been compensated with some software coupons (‘funny money’) to escape prosecution last year. It suppressed disclosure, as usual (terms of settlement withheld initially, then followed by the prompt closure of the site with court evidence), just as it currently tries to do in a 2008 case. Last week Microsoft failed to prevent the court from divulging some more damaging information about Windows Vista collusions. This is nothing new because Microsoft has done this for well over a decade it has gone almost unnoticed and virtually unpunished.

But Microsoft’s pricing strategy has seldom been considered a criminal act, an act of monopoly price-fixing intended to squeeze more money out of computer buyers by raising prices. Microsoft has been able to “spin” the arguments to avoid the non-price issues while keeping its long-term pricing strategies a secret.

Until now.

Read carefully the following excerpts from an internal Microsoft memo released during the ongoing federal antitrust case…

[...]

Could things be any clearer than that? Microsoft is apparently engaged in a conspiracy to commit price-fixing in the market for personal computers. Read that again: price fixing not merely in the OS marketplace, but in the PC marketplace itself. Note also that Microsoft is not practicing collusion with any OS competitors because it does not have to. Microsoft has a literal monopoly on the price of PC operating systems; otherwise, this scheme would require collusion with their competitors.

It continues to fascinate how Microsoft never changed its ways. It only became more prudent when it comes to allowing truths to go public. The Vista scandal is just the more recent illustration of it.

What Ever Happened to the Boycott Microsoft Web Site?

Posted in Boycott Novell, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 8:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Bill Gates looks at everything as something that should be his. He acts in any way he can to make it his. It can be an idea, market share, or a contract. There is not an ounce of conscientiousness or compassion in him. The notion of fairness means nothing to him. The only thing he understands is leverage.”

Philippe Kahn

As you may or may not know, the official Boycott Microsoft Web site has been inactive for about 10 years. In the week to come we will present some of its old yet invaluable findings. We ought to share them in order to demonstrate how little the company has changed since the more brutal antitrust era (before change in administration, which has turned a blind eye to bad behavior since).

We previously highlighted some disgusting stories of intimidation and abuse intended to silence Microsoft critics. Examples include:

Show Us the Code gagged by pressure through employers (seemingly imposed by Microsoft-sworn shills like Dan Lyons); Groklaw gagging attempts by SCO; well-documented intimidation of important figures that ‘dared’ to disagree with OOXML; Novell&Miguel's subtle threats are not forgotten, either.

Watch the story about the Boycott Microsoft site.

Now I’m asking myself, how does this Microsoft employee come to be calling my place of business? I certainly don’t post my company phone number on the Boycott Microsoft site.

Simple really — he’s noticed that the Boycott Microsoft directory is set up as a subdirectory to another web site. “Ah-ha,” he’s probably thinking, “this account belongs to a business. I’ll bet some employee of this company is camping out on this account without the boss knowing about it!” So he follows the directory backwards, finds the company phone number, and calls asking for the webmaster.

[...]

At first, this entire incident made me furious. How on earth could this be any of Microsoft’s business? And what astonishing insolence to call a place of business with the confidence that, on Microsoft’s tip-off, we would take some sort of action against one of our employees. Good Lord, who do these people think they are?

Does this kind of petty harassment of critics constitute official Microsoft policy? That’s doubtful. But would an employee of any other company even consider taking unilateral action to silence a critic by tattling to his boss? Official policy or not, this employee thought it was the right thing to do, and that alone is telling.

So in retrospect, infuriating as this incident was, I did learn something useful about the corporate culture at Microsoft. Unfortunately, it confirmed my worst suspicions: intimidating, meddlesome and arrogant activities in the service of the company are entirely legitimate.

So there you have it. Microsoft identifies critics and then turns to peers for pressure in silencing attempts. I’ve personally had my share of abuses too. The above just makes further validation in the form of hard evidence.

Links 27/04/2008: Developing Countries Grok Free Software; NVIDIA Pressured to Open Its Specifications

Posted in News Roundup at 2:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Direct link

Minor Site Change: External/Internal Cues

Posted in Site News at 1:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

On a few occasions in the past, readers said that they found it confusing or hard to find links which correspond to quoted snippets of text . We have just modified the style sheets to differentiate external citations from internal ones (cross-referencing). This hopefully helps a little. It requires decent support for CSS3, which Mozilla types (Gecko), Webkit, Opera and probably KHTML too should be able to cope with.

Open Invention Network (OIN) Gets New Leadership, Other Software Patents News

Posted in Asia, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 12:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One particularly quiet head-change has gone almost unnoticed. As it turns out, Jerry Rosenthal stepped out of OIN and got replaced by Keith Bergelt.

Keith Bergelt, who made his name first with Motorola and subsequently as a pioneer in the world of IP finance at IP Innovations and then at Paradox Capital, has become the CEO of the Open Innovation Network (OIN). This is the company founded by IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Philips and Sony, that acquires intellectual property rights and then licenses them out royalty free to organisations that agree not to assert their own patents against either Linux or Linux-based applications. While at Paradox, Bergelt helped arrange several significant transactions, including deals around the purchase of Betsey Johnson by Castanea Partners.
The last I heard was that Jerry Rosenthal, the former VP of IP and licensing at IBM, was CEO of OIN, so presumably he has either left the organisation or moved to another post. As yet there is no official announcement from the organisation on its website announcing Bergelt’s arrival or what Rosenthal will now be doing.

Bergelt himself has already responded to this piece, which is appended as a clarifying update that shed more light:

So, my assuming the role of CEO of OIN (as I have recast it – the guardian of Linux responsible for enabling, influencing and defending the integrity of the Linux ecosystem) ties in all of my past experience and gives me a platform to continue to be an innovator but have a far more profound positive impact on the IP world and, more importantly, on the global macro-economy. I essentially manage a fund for some of the largest and most influential players in global technology – IBM, NEC, Sony, RedHat, Novell, & Philips – whose purpose is to enable the Linux ecosystem and shield it from patent attacks by patent trolls and others whose business models might be antithetical to true innovation and, by their nature, are opposed to truly facilitating work through rapid advancements in IT and communications technologies and applications.

Other giants in OIN include Oracle and Google, both being relatively recent additions. Sun’s CEO promised to protect Linux as well, but in a separate context. Novell’s role and membership there is a little strange because its deal with Microsoft beats the purpose of defense from Microsoft, a self-confessed hater of Linux and the GPL. It’s important to add that Microsoft’s little ‘spinoffs’ — which may or many not include Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], along with its software patent assault on Novell — come to mind as proof of the weaknesses of OIN. These shortcomings are not going away.

“It makes Novell a black sheep inside OIN and it’s a similar position to that of Novell in the FSF, ODF, the Linux Foundation and maybe even the EFF.”Moreover, some people reckon Microsoft will get closer to Novell over the years and maybe even devour it (along with SUSE). OpenSUSE already helps Novell in the development of a distro whose purpose is to replace all those ‘naughty’ Linux distributions such as Red Flag, Ubuntu and Fedora [1, 2, 3, 4], which ‘dare’ to refuse Microsoft’s ‘intellectual’ ownership of them. It makes Novell a black sheep inside OIN and it’s a similar position to that of Novell in the FSF, ODF, the Linux Foundation and maybe even the EFF. Why do they entertain a Microsoft partner?

Renewed Attempts to Squeeze Software Patents Into the EU

The American administration has been largely apathetic when it come to a needed patent reform. It recently put it on the ice. It just let industry giants essentially take the law into their own hands and abolish a ‘rebellion’ against intellectual monopolies. The US Government is suppressive to change, to correction through necessary readjustment. More worrying, however, is this unconfirmed report about a big industry lobby which is trying to force an unhealthy unification. It brings with it a broken system and blends it with a healthier one. Monopolisation through contamination, anyone?

The big industry, gathered inside a club named Trans Antlantic Business Dialogue, is lobbying the European Commission (McCreevy and Verheugen) and the American Department of Commerce (Carlos M. Gutierrez) to sign a bilateral treaty on harmonisation of patent law between the developed countries, which will probably not include the european exclusion of computer programs, thus provide a legal base to overhide the failure of the software patent directive in 2005.

Crêpe du Jour, Served by USPTO

Just watch what type of patent applications the USPTO accepts and approves.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent number 7,355,990 for “Mobile-Originated to HTTP Internet Communications.” The patent describes a means for triggering an Internet informational query or search using a simple text message originated from a cell phone or mobile device, and is widely used today for two-way premium messaging services.

Worth noticing are the words “widely used today.” Not “to be innovative tomorrow” or “promising to be valuable.” Abusers of this dysfunctional system strive to get hold of an ownership certificate of something which already exists. It makes it a good weapon, or a candidate for extortion extraction.

China’s Nuclear Threat is a Patent Cold War, Armageddon

The Economist has this new article which warns about almost one million lawsuits in China.

WESTERN firms are always complaining about the theft of intellectual property in China. From knock-off designs to copycat brand names, pirated music and fake drugs, China has a well-earned reputation as a free-for-all when it comes to patents and copyrights. Worse, there often seems little hope of redress: the courts are too distant and too incompetent; the laws are too weak or too vague; the culture is too resistant to the very idea of intellectual property. Yet help is at hand, in the form of Chinese firms with patents to defend.

Since 2003 the number of trademark applications has grown by 60%; the number of patents has nearly doubled (850,000 are now active) and the number of lawsuits about intellectual property has more than doubled (see chart). The government is encouraging the trend in many ways, including signalling to the press to cheer it on.

[...]

Unsurprisingly, the main beneficiaries of the sudden interest in intellectual property are Chinese lawyers. Some reportedly earn more than $5m a year. Non-Chinese law firms sometimes provide advice on thorny cases. But they are not allowed to file patents or appear in court on behalf of a client—a proprietary process that Chinese lawyers are keen to defend.

It has always been about the lawyers, but marketed in a way which obscures this, using words like “invention”, “innovation”, “inventor” (turning negatives to positives), “protection” and “risk” (selling using fear).

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