Microsoft supports Ballnux (Ballmer-taxed GNU/Linux), but calls it Linux support
The pattern continues. What at first sight might seem like innocent news about Windows playing nice with GNU/Linux is actually more than that (or rather — less than that). As Matt Asay puts it, “Microsoft opens up to Linux for System Center, but on a very short leash.”
…one would expect Microsoft to support not only SUSE Enterprise Linux but also Ubuntu Linux and Red Hat Enterprise Linux as part of this. After all, if it’s customers you want to benefit, then go for the two Linux distributions with the biggest community appeal (Ubuntu) and corporate appeal (Red Hat). Supporting only the Linux vendor with whom you have a measure of control through a patent agreement is, well, not so open.
Only Xandros and SUSE are mentioned in the blog post that he cites. Think along the lines of:
“We’ll play nice with you, as long as you share your revenue with us.”
This was seen before. Microsoft tries to also exclude non-Ballnux Linuxes from virtualisation and a fresh reminder of this came only yesterday from the CTO of XenSource, who is now a CTO inside a Microsoft partner. He said:
At the same time, Microsoft with Hyper-V in the OS, and the Linux vendors with Xen have the opportunity to leverage the same code base through a different delivery model, where the OS virtualizes more instances of that OS, or other guests. This model is still in its early stages – the Linux vendors don’t virtualize Windows well, and Microsoft Hyper-V doesn’t support Linux particularly well.
Mind the ever-increasing intersections between Xen and Hyper-V, which favour SUSE and Windows. It’s a case of Microsoft, Novell and Citrix against VMWare and other companies that empower GNU/Linux. Is Microsoft truly that allergic to GNU/Linux or is it just being self-serving to the point of becoming anti-competitive and breaking the rules? As mentioned the other day, Microsoft will facilitate some more GNU/Linux inside its own business, so is this not hypocrisy? Here is another new report about that.
FAST: Bring on The Microsoft Linux/Unix Ties
Did someone pull a FAST one on Microsoft?
You could almost hear a collective “gulp” coming from Redmond. After all, the purchase of a company that supports Linux/Unit would seem to go against the company’s DNA, wouldn’t it?
It has truly become a little embarrassing for the company which does not eat its own dogfood, so to speak. Microsoft has deployments of GNU/Linux that are not tied to its extortions (for now) while at the same time Microsoft is ignoring these deployments and excluding them from support. Which way would it be, Microsoft? You can’t snub your #1 competitor forever. The European Commission is growing impatient. █
Related items (external):
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We typically mention the SCO-Novell case only on Saturdays, but this one, posted in reference to the SCO-Novell case, is an eye-catcher.
Subject: MS/Novell vs. whomever
Yes, no doubt SCO will get their comeuppence. But I can’t help but think the M$/Novell comglomerate had anticipated this when they formed their non-compete alliance. What this trial didn’t do, and should have, is determine that there is no unix code in linux. Or, Unix code in M$. Say what you will, those boys know how to play both sides of the litigation game.
Also see: Could Microsoft ‘Borrow’ Novell to Hurt Linux with UNIX? █
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“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”
–Steve Ballmer, February 28th, 2008
We saw this coming a long time ago, but now arrive the specifics. Microsoft’s former media partner, MS(NBC), which was criticised before due to biased reporting that favours the paymaster, turns out to be that who shall do the ‘dirty job’. It’s not alone by the way. The Microsoft-faithful Ina Friend from CNET has just come up with another very misleading headline, suggesting that “the Democrats vote for Microsoft,” referring simply to the use of Silverlight in some new Web site. The media will continue to betray and deceive, but let’s look at the technical problems at hand and not be distracted by dishonesty.
“XAML seems like another software patent trap which is most likely based on the RAND+OSP routine.”As we mentioned recently, it’s very important for Microsoft to disrupt — if not altogether eliminate — the open fabric of the Web in order to hurt many rivals, from software companies to Web technologies and search engines. It even makes some subtle lies to deceive about the nature and purpose of its technology. Novell helps Microsoft a lot in that respect.
Watch the comments in the new article at ZDNet, with the usual fallacy that “Silverlight is available for OS X & Linux” (it’s not!) and the boring Microsoft apologism that disguises this as “competition is good” (reminisce an insane case of OOXML versus ODF, pretending that competition between standards is the same as competing applications and vendors, with this most recent example coming from Microsoft Malaysia). Flash is not like Silverlight, for reasons that we mentioned before.
Who supports this charade inside the open source world? Probably the same guy (or group) who advocated OOXML and ActiveX. Be careful what you wish for, Novell. Oh wait! Novell has exclusive ‘protection’, unlike all those other ‘mischievous’ distros that don’t pay ‘Microsoft tax’.
XAML seems like another software patent trap which is most likely based on the RAND+OSP routine. Even Miguel de Icaza himself denounced this a couple of months ago.
Other comments in the new article include: “MS/NBC ties”; “Not a smart move by NBC” and some remarks from the usual Munchkin “No_Ax_to_Grind”. Novell should protest against XAML, not endorse it. It’s blindly in love with Microsoft and it harms many of those that surround the couple. █
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Can’t believe what you read in the press
We warned about this a couple of weeks back, the context being Yankee Group FUD, but it’s worth repeating and presenting this alongside some more material and background, as well as new supportive stories.
“By Microsoft’s own confession, “analysts sell out” because “it’s their business model.””At this very moment, the press is once again getting filled with suggestions that migrations to Windows Vista are “inevitable” (hyperlinks omitted on purpose, but a quick search on “Forrester Vista” might get you started). Remember the "buy Vista or die" article (tactics that are based on fear)? It’s an attempt to fulfill a prophecy, which gets echoed by more than one major analyst. They validate each others’ claims in a suck-puppet-like fashion, as was witnessed many times before (the illusion of a peer-condoning crowd). It typically occurs in bursts of releases, fueled by public relations agencies that push out the promotional messages manufactured by analysts.
As some readers may or may not know, IDC is working closely with Microsoft, but it’s only one among this authority of the “Big Five” (5 or thereabouts) who comment on the area of desktop/enterprise/server computing — as oppose to say — devices, embedded devices, programming or hardware performance. They earned a status which is undeserved (or been corrupted once they earned it) and they are quoted widely in the media and trade journals despite the fact that their business model relies on corporate investments, commissioned studies and invited talks (to promote the agenda of one company or another). By Microsoft's own confession, “analysts sell out” because “it’s their business model.” Microsoft has always sought to exploit this.
As far as Windows Vista goes, the deception continues. It hardly matters if Steve Ballmer tactlessly called it “work in progress” 15 months after its release and Bill Gates acknowledged the problem. The marketing machine shows no signs of weakness and cannot afford any rest. It’s a game of perception-shaping. To give a quick example from Glyn Moody, this one was published a couple of months before the Novell/Microsoft deal. It talks about Vista just months before its overly-hyped release.
Microsoft’s Masterpiece of FUD
I’ve been tracking the evolution of Microsoft FUD for nearly 10 years now, and wrote a short history of the subject a few months back. But even I was impressed when I came across Microsoft’s latest effort in this department: it’s truly a masterpiece of its kind.
Whereas previous FUDs have revolved around details like the relative speed, price and legality of free software compared with Microsoft’s own code, its most recent offering takes a different tack, and purports to look at the bigger picture.
It’s a white paper from IDC, “sponsored” by Microsoft, on “The Economic Impact of Microsoft Windows Vista”. But this is not some abstract ivory-tower analysis: on the contrary, it is highly targeted, and aimed at a very particular audience – the European Commission – that is proving to be annoyingly unaccommodating when it comes to letting Microsoft have its monopolistic way. Not content with slapping some juicy fines on the company for past misdemeanors, the European Commission is now starting to make unfriendly noises about the forthcoming Windows Vista.
With increasing scrutiny and threats in Europe (maybe even an embargo for repeated and systematic unacceptable behaviour), it’s interesting to look back not only at the role of lobbying arms and faithful (as in “bought”) politicians, but also at the role of analysts.
Now that Microsoft is being fined regularly for failure to comply it’s rather interesting to find what Rob Enderle, notorious for his role as a Microsoft shill, said over a decade ago. Here is just the rebuttal to it:
It is probably difficult for Microsoft critics to find themselves agreeing with somebody like Mike Maples, but in this case Mr. Maples is correct. Rob Enderle needs to consider just how ineffective “monitoring” of Saddam Hussein has been. The idea of “monitoring” leaves the perpetrator’s power intact. Empirically, that doesn’t seem to work very well. If the only thing the power can be used for is to violate agreements or laws, failing to destroy that power is asking for trouble. The best way to prevent Hussein’s repeated misuse of his power is to get rid of that power, not to “monitor” it. And the best way to prevent Microsoft’s misuse of monopoly power is to get rid of the monopoly, because under U.S. law there is not really anything you can do with your monopoly power that is legal. Furthermore, proponents of a monitoring solution are failing to do anything to address two root causes of the problem: the power to violate the law still exists, and the will to exploit that power still exists. If either of those two things did not still exist, there would be no need for the monitoring.
Why was Rob Enderle worthy of being refuted anyway? Is it not yet known (or was it not known at the time) what vested interests he has? Enderle is nowadays attending cocktail parties in Redmond (drinking the Kool-Aid from his client, almost literally), as reported very recently by Mr. Perlow. █
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
–Microsoft, internal document
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What’s increasingly found these days is diplomacy that leads to reformation of old-age Trust, where companies like Novell are invited to join the Microsoft ecosystem provided that they share the same pool of software patents. It makes these two an “Intellectual Duopoly”.
An interesting set of a well-crafted explanations were recently recommended to us. These speak about what’s known as “Intellectual Monopoly”, which is wrongly (and deliberately) called all sorts of other things to add a positive connotation. In the index you will find a succinct description of the fallacies and their negative impact.
It is common to argue that intellectual property in the form of copyright and patent is necessary for the innovation and creation of ideas and inventions such as machines, drugs, computer software, books, music, literature and movies. In fact intellectual property is not like ordinary property at all, but constitutes a government grant of a costly and dangerous private monopoly over ideas. We show through theory and example that intellectual monopoly is not neccesary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty.
A perfect example of this, which also fits the theme of this Web site, is Microsoft. As the following old essay states, Microsoft is resistant to change because of existing dominance; therefore it’s reluctant to disrupt its own market with improved and more cost-effective solutions. A decade later, the same arguments remain very valid.
Despite its reputation among some consumers as an innovative company, Microsoft’s number one goal is actually the opposite of innovation. Microsoft, like any other monopolist, can only succeed by preventing innovation. Here is a short summary of how they do it.
The control of the demand for a product involves controlling perceptions, which usually involves controlling advertising. If you build the world’s best mousetrap, people will come to your door — if they can find it! So the monopolist’s duty in a high-tech industry will generally involve disinformation campaigns disguised as brilliant marketing.
This is where Microsoft’s favorite marketing practices come in, such as preannouncing products long in advance, overstating their capabilities, and occasionally even announcing products they have no intention of shipping. However, these lies are only the beginning; Microsoft also uses an even dirtier trick of raising the entry cost for small companies into the marketing arena.
With Novell’s helping hand, Microsoft is permitted to elevate the price of GNU/Linux, assuming you obtain it from the wrong places. Additionally, it wasn’t more than a fortnight ago that a Windows 7 vapourware routine got pulled to “freeze the market” [1, 2] (Microsoft’s own words). This harms the customer, which becomes misinformed and develops high expectations.
Overall, the main message to take from this is that whenever Microsoft boasts “innovation”, it is worth noticing that it abstains from affecting its existing revenue sources. It won’t, for example, permit Web-based applications to de-elevate the role of the operating system unless there is no other choice (Google, Salesforce and smaller players take the lead and take matters into their own hands, for example). Ever since the mid-nineties, when Bill Gates discovered the potential of Web-based applications in Netscape, Microsoft has viciously tried to squash this disruptive trend. It has been successful, until recently, but it continues to exclude rival operating systems in the process. █
“COM/OLE programming in C++ was declared a success in order to block language invocation.”
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When companies control standards bodies and standards bodies instruct procurement…
It’s proving to be a busy day today and there are positives reports arriving from non-English-speaking countries. Among the more valuable bits which have relevance to this Web site, consider this comment “free SuSE now!”, which relates to yesterday's discussion about Sun and SuSE.
If Novell sells SuSE I would very much like to see SuSE and the Microsoft-Novell agreement end up in two unrelated corporations. That would solve SuSE’s problems with the rest of the open source community.
I think that it would also be in Novell’s best interest to sell SuSE unencumbered with the Microsoft-Novell agreement. Novell has already learned the hard way that SuSE encumbered with the Microsoft-Novell agreement is worth significantly less that SuSE free of the agreement.
According to the article Novell has tried to sell SuSE to RedHat and Sun with no success. I encourage Novell to keep trying. I would very much like to see SuSE freed from the Microsoft-Novell agreement.
Another item to keep an eye on is Bob Sutor’s (IBM VP) latest take on ISO.
I know that procurement laws may require international standards in some cases. Maybe it’s time to revisit those laws and instead have them relate to quality, openness, and transparency rather than historical working arrangements.
More face-saving in the comment from Alex Brown. There are some people whose name might become (and forever remain) synonymous with the desruction of ISO’s reputation (Roger Frost might be one of them). It’s a good thing for Martin Bryan that he retired at the right time and publicly said: “The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation””. He didn’t really intend for his comments to leak out of ISO, but there you go. Even discrepenabty inside ISO, acknowledged by ISO itself, was supposed to remain secret. But we deserve to know better. █
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