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05.06.08

HOWTO: Doing the Crimes But Not Paying the Fines

Posted in Antitrust, Database, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, SUN at 11:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We’ve got to put a lot of money into changing behavior.”

Bill Gates

With Novell’s help, alongside those other self-serving initiatives, Microsoft seems to have found a splendid formula for deception and manipulation. The company is perhaps convinced that it can afford to bribe, steal, bully and lie (just watch the OOXML scandals) in order to paint something Windows-specific and patents-riddled like OOXML with the ‘open’ brush.

Microsoft adamantly believes that all its crimes will later be forgotten, fueled by big lies, and Microsoft then be seen as cooperative by regulators when in fact it maintains all the predatory lock-ins and discriminates against — if not altogether excludes — its number one competitor which is Free software,

This whole presence from Microsoft is believed to be related to heavy fines that became a real threat to the company. As Matt Asay put it yesterday:

Microsoft’s open-source charade is not about customers. It’s about regulators. Until Microsoft can convince U.S. and European regulators that its market power is not as bad as it once was, the company will need to hide behind expressions of openness.

Hence, Microsoft “opens” up its protocols (i.e., lets everyone read but not touch…without forking over cash). It inks “open” interoperability agreements with Novell and others, which actually do nothing more than bind otherwise open-source success to Microsoft’s proprietary technology.

This post was mainly about Microsoft’s desire to cling onto its proprietary software forever while only pretending to have ‘opened up’. Compare this to the latest news from Sun Microsystems where there is more adherence to the GPL and there is also a common threat which is proprietary software, according to Ian Murdock.

Mickos, former CEO of MySQL, also pledged to keep the database open source. Murdock, the founder of the Debian GNU Linux distro, urged projects outside Sun to refrain from attacking Sun’s Solaris or NetBeans, insisting they should instead focus on the common enemy – closed-source software.

At the end of the day, MySQL/Sun backtracked on its decision to close some parts of MySQL and I can’t help but wonder if my correspondence with Marten Mickos had some impact. In any event, Groklaw asks itself some similar questions about Sun’s attitude towards Free software and compares to that to Microsoft’s.

…the real question I was asking was, has Sun changed? After all, Microsoft talks a lot about openness and such, but they fail to convince me that they wouldn’t kill and eat my cat if they thought there was money in it. Ethics is the real value add to FOSS, you know. It’s the one thing Microsoft can’t embrace, extend and extinguish.

Doesn’t last year’s "patent terrorism" really give it away? It was actually a Sun executive who called it “patent terrorism” at the time. He slammed Microsoft’s behaviour.

You can put a bully (or bulldog) on a leash and take it out for a walk, but it’s still just a bully on leash, not a Labrador.

I'm Linux
Microsoft is finally open… for ‘negotiations’

Status Update on Microsoft’s Smear Campaign Against ODF (Corrected)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Microsoft’s smear campaign [1, 2, 3, 4] against OpenDocument Format continues. It’s not only a Vice President from Novell who participates in this. It’s also comes from the usual suspects. As our reader Logan put it yesterday (using an excessively pessimistic tone):

You’ll see in coming months more and stories to discredit ODF, by Mr. Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], by Jesper Lund Stocholm [1, 2, 3, 4], by Jirka Kosek, by Rick Jelliffe [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]… The usual whores! They’ll be referenced daily by Microsoft’s employees in their blogs. Just like it’s happening right now.

This charade will only be over when the only way to exchange documents is by using only Microsoft’s file formats and by using only Microsoft’s applications.

Links above were added for some context. Andy Updegrove expects a war or words to carry on for quite some time. He wrote:

The series begins with BRM Convenor Alex Brown reporting on the results of a conformance test that he applied to assess OfficeOpen 2.4.0 to ISO 26300 (ODF 1.0) (an earlier blog entry reported on his using the same test to compare Office 2007 to ISO 29500 (OOXML)). Rob Weir filed the folloiwng reply, challenging Alex’s results. I see a comment at the end of Alex’s post promising “to put Rob right in a follow-on posting.” It appears that this is likely to run on for some time…

ODF formatLast night it was Rob Weir who dispatched another item which, among other things, requested that Alex Brown retracts his invalidated [pun] ODF smear. Microsoft’s anonymous bloggers (or partners, or Munchkins) will probably respond with the usual personal insults [1, 2], even libel.

There’s a lot of funny stuff happening with business relationships that are too complex to follow, but it usually turns out that all those who support OOXML are in Microsoft’s pocket one way or another. We still have our suspicions about Patrick Durusau and his new buddies (mind the photo at the top), especially after he pulled links to his rather shocking pro-OOXML letters [Correction: see corrections in the comments below]. A source tells us this might be related to the ongoing antitrust case which revolves around OOXML abuses.

In other news that is actually more positive, the OpenDocument Fellowship received many donations.

The OpenDocument Fellowship has attracted nearly $40,000 (USD) in donations to help fund development projects under the Fellowship’s Targeted Donations Programme .

One donation will be used to reward volunteers from the OASIS ODF Formula subcommittee for their continuing work on the formula specification. The other donations are targeted at development projects. The Fellowship is producing an “ODF toolkit” for developers, and a light-weight ODF viewer.

GNOME textMicrosoft pretends to have accepted the existence of ODF, but based on its actions in South Africa at the moment, it remains nothing but a bully offering candy to attract victims. Microsoft wants to kill ODF. No more, no less.

Why Novell’s Equivalents Are Nowhere As Harmful

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Novell at 10:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“But the main takeaway, as they might put it, for me is that this [Novell/Microsoft deal] is an anti-Red Hat deal, and Novell is thrilled about that. Justin Steinman reveals that to market their SUSE Linux Enterprise Server against Red Hat they ask, “Do you want the Linux that works with Windows? Or the one that doesn’t?” It’s just appalling. Let me ask you developers who are kernel guys a question: When you contributed code to the kernel, was it your intent that it be used against Red Hat? How about the rest of you developers? Is that all right with you, that your code is being marketed by Novell like that?”

Groklaw, 2007

Selling fear. That’s just what Novell does along with Microsoft, but it's not alone. Novell tries to cause damage to friendly (Free software) rivals for the benefit of Microsoft and increased profit at Novell.

There are different patterns of fear. The one Novell spreads is that GNU/Linux won't inter-operate and that it requires protection against software patents (even where they are neither valid nor legal). The latter point is emphasised more by Microsoft.

Others play this game of fear as well, so the issues is once again being raised in the embedded space where several companies share a common kernel (Linux). They make up or accentuate deficiencies in order to sell their own services. But what are the motives? Here it is from the latest commentary:

…Green Hills Software is hardly a neutral observer. The company sells its own operating systems, so it stands to benefit by sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) about Linux. Indeed, every vendor I have spoken to has taken a distinctly self-interested position on Linux. Here’s a sampling of the claims I’ve heard…

The important thing to note here is that none of this FUD affects price of compatibility.

There are some other new examples of using fear to sell, such as this one from Sydney’s press. It’s a small company which badmouths Drupal in order to draw business in. It’s the use of FUD to market services around Free software. Here is one myth from the article.

There’s a tendency in companies to keep information and answers close to the chest, as there’s a fear that they won’t be needed any more.

It is truly a shame that those who do a great service to the adoption of Free software on the one hand are also the ones spreading some myths in order to make better business for themselves.

The big difference between what Novell does and what those 2 (or more) other companies are doing is that Novell changes the cost, availability and legality of the software, whereas the latter only mess about with perception.

Links 06/05/2008: OpenSolaris 2008.5 Reviewed; Microsoft Lost $24,000,000,000 in Market Value Since Yahoo! Bid!

Posted in News Roundup at 10:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Microsoft Gets Into Board of Open Source Business Foundation

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Preluded by the discomforting subject line “Microsoft infiltrating into open source world,” we have just received a headsup from an anonymous reader. On the face of it, Microsoft continues to exploit the flexibility in the term “open source” to render the whole ‘movement’ rather pointless with its anti-FOSS conditions that essentially lock Free software out of the “open source” umbrella and make everything taxable, using software patents.

“We also saw how the company essentially hijacks and redefines the term “open source”.”We recently saw Microsoft’s stubborn attempts to become part of the Open Solutions Alliance, having been repeatedly rejected to obey its existing members’ demands. We also saw how the company essentially hijacks and redefines the term "open source". This bring us to the message from our reader, which is quoted below, verbatim:

Microsoft keeps insisting on their infiltrate-divide-and-conquer strategy injecting themselves and their marketing mindset (in the form of useless “interoperability” -taxation of compatibility through bogus patent rights claims and fearmongering-)

This is why it is most important to highlight the prevalence of “freedom” over just “openness” of FLOSS:

There is an article in German. It says that Microsoft has now a sit on the board of the “Open Source Business Foundation” and is responsible for interoperability.

No, it is not a joke. I wonder what kind of Open Source Business Foundation this one is. Does anyone have more info?

“There’s free software and then there’s open source… there is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”

Bill Gates, April 2008

Gates on SUSE

Jumping for Dollars to Secure Microsoft Lock-in (Latest Possible Examples)

Posted in ECMA, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono is greed

A vocal ODF skeptic mailed us yesterday to say that Patrick Durusau had quietly pulled all links to his pro-OOXML letters, so all sorts of thoughts and old speculations [1, 2, 3, 4] began to resurface. What is truly happening in this mental poker game?

Other things are happening at the moment, whose main purpose is to eradicate ODF. It ought to be a little more than transparent and clear– albeit not to everyone — that when CompTIA does something, it does this for its paymasters. That’s just how such pressure groups operate, as we last showed only a few days ago. In fact, CompTIA’s agenda in South Africa continues to be slammed [1, 2, 3], more recently by the FFII folks. South Africa has the wrath and the shadow of the Beast looming over it simply because it ‘dared’ to choose ODF for all the right reasons. Shades of (or shadow over) Massachusetts?

You don’t have to convince press speakers and hired guns. But can you imagine that Jan ‘the answer is always the same, you are well paid, shut up’ van den Belt was hired for the comptia lobby after leaving as an ecma international general secretary? What an upgrade for the person to which the ISO jtc1 rewrite was dedicated. Will standards people also let his collegue Mr. Lueders rewrite the essentials of international standardisation? Or could the Dutch nihilist provide some technical assistance? Fast-track Lueders interpretations to the ISO directives?

This whole messiness with ECMA slash Microsoft slash CompTIA has gotten a lot of people thinking about the integrity of all those involved even after the controversial announcement on April 2nd. Here is Glyn Moody’s response to Alex Brown’s baseless assault, which was directed against ODF.

What this means in practice is that Microsoft will be able to get away with blue murder, by deftly moving between all the different kinds of standards – ECMA standards, putative ISO standards, de facto standards etc. – until people charged with procuring office software will simply throw their hands up and sign on the dotted line for another ten years of Microsoft Office bondage.

Now, you might argue that the ODF side can play the same games, and I agree that some of the more, er, commercially-minded outfits might well be tempted. But there’s a big difference from the OOXML world in that ODF is today a key part of the free software world. As such, there are crates of nitpickers and argumentative technical pub bores who really care about ODF and its inner wonders, and will delight in pouncing on such inaccuracies – not least because there is no love lost between them and the commercial side of things. If Sun or IBM or anyone else misbehaves, somebody will spot it, and blog about it.

OOXML, on the other hand, is essentially a product of one company, with practically no open source community around it (Novell hardly counts).

In practice, Novell counts as an example some people do fall for because they do not realise just how much Novell was paid to pretend that it likes OOXML. Novell was cited as a supporter of OOXML in the international press.

It’s far from the first time that Microsoft buys love from people and we haven’t seen the last such incident or contract yet. It’s in the DNA, the corporate culture.

Also noteworthy among today’s findings is the following comment from PJ, in reference to Alex Brown:

I think it’s worse. When people do bad things,
they usually try to perfume it, even to
themselves.

And when they plan to do worse things, they
spray and spray and spray to try to get
everyone to agree that it isn’t as bad as
it is.

That pretty much sums up possible approval of OOXML, even where no bribe (financial incentive) was involved and properly documented. It’s the convenience of finding truths in lies. As always, bullying lobbying is a nice addition, as illustrated and championed by CompTIA and others.

“We should whack them [Dell over Linux dealings], we should make sure they understand our value.”

Paul Flessner, Senior Vice President, Microsoft

Links 06/05/2008: Intel Kickbacks Further Exposed, IEEE Spectrum on Chip-Level Back Doors

Posted in News Roundup at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Microsoft’s Continued Crusade to Make Free Software Not Free

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft, Novell at 2:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Intellectual Monopoly Propaganda (IMP) World Tour reaches the Philippines

Steve Ballmer license

Image from Wikimedia

The following snippets from a news article contain propaganda terms such as “piracy” and “IPR”. The article also comes from a publication that typically published pro-Microsoft agenda. The intention here is to show you just how Microsoft overrides local laws and pushes software patents onto those who must not accept them. Mind the use of the word “patents” (never “software patents”), which is never accidental for the same reason that patents are lumped in with 'harder' laws such as trademarks when Microsoft speaks of “intellectual monopoly [sic].”

Despite recent strides made by the government and the private sector in combating piracy, the Philippines remains an intellectual property rights (IPR) hotspot in the region especially in terms of “optical media” and software.

[...]

[Microsoft's] Smith explained the decision to promote software inter-operability does not mean that the company has gone totally soft on the value it places on its proprietary software, on which it spends billions of dollars.

[...]

“But then if open-source software is distributed commercially, for example by a company or used commercially by a company, then we would expect people to think about our patent rights,” Smith said. “And if they need a patent license, they could come and get one from us.”

Aside from the fact that Microsoft is trying to extract money from Free software which it does not own or contributes to (its sole contribution to it being smears and intimidation), Microsoft knows that software patents hold no water in this country, so it’s still trying hard to sell ‘snake oil’ or FUD, just as Novell recently did in China.

“Microsoft knows that software patents hold no water in this country, so it’s still trying hard to sell ‘snake oil’ or FUD, just as Novell recently did in China.”Unfortunately, Microsoft and Novell work together to quietly make the patent systems more universal, harmonised, i.e. assimilated to the broken system in the United States. And that’s just bad news. Groklaw too has commented on the article above. To quote Pamela’s questions in full: “in countries that don’t recognize software patents as being legitimate, like the Philippines, why does Microsoft offer a patent license? Also, note that this is confirmation that the new interoperability deal from Microsoft is only for noncommercial use, which in FOSS means nothing, since it’s pretty much all both noncommercial and commercial. Finally, Microsoft is pushing the concept that without patent protection, there will be no innovation, but Microsoft built its monopoly without patent protection, a fairly new thing in the US. So were they not innovating?

We addressed that last point quite recently. Microsoft wants walled gardens now that it's deep inside, mooching off the entire industry.

To those who believe this whole charade is acceptable, it’s worth reminding and bearing in mind that, as the India Daily pointed out recently, we develop a generation where cyber-slaves in developing countries actually replace programmers in a competitive and truly innovative market. One emperer maintains the exclusive right to develop proprietary (suppressing custom-made) software while an army of exploited technical support people do the rest. This is middle-age-esque tyranny, as opposed to a true capitalistic market. And if you think that’s bad, just watch what Bank of America is currently patenting.

Bank of America seeks to patent abandoning America

Bank of America believes Americans to be overloaded with “a high salary, good benefits, a good work environment, vacation time, and other job-related perks.” For shame!

But have no fear, Bank of America has submitted a patent application that will help companies find places to get work done where such pesky things as nice salaries, good benefits, good work environments, and vacation time are abandoned.

Also in the Financial Times:

Investment banks turn off IT recruitment

The financial crisis is starting to take its toll on the jobs market for IT staff, with investment banks cutting back on recruitment as the credit crunch forces them to reduce costs.

Speaking of other patent evils, watch this RAND-like cunning plan to further abuse the market, courtesy of Nortel.

Nortel has shunned an industry initiative designed to ensure that intellectual property disputes and licensing fees do not hamper the introduction of future mobile technology, but has come out with a licence fee for its own intellectual property that it says is competitive.

Who gets to define “competitive”, which is another propaganda term (turning a negative to a positive), just like “reasonable” or “fair”? This is completely incompatible with Free software and letting mobile communication rely on proprietary technology is akin to charging people for fetching a Web page (paying just one company for imaginary intellect) — something that’s close to being a reality if Novell and Microsoft successfully infect the Web with Silverblight [sic].

“Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.”

Bill Gates

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