“It’s nice for you to admit your guys are running scared [of Free software]. They should be.”
–The sum of Microsoft’s fears (yesterday)
Remember Susan Hauser, who 'stole' the voices of customers and tried to 'override' their views? We will never forget this fear mongering technique. She did not impress much in the audiocast from last October and neither did Justin Steinman and the other Novell/Microsoft salespersons. To a great degree, these marketing folks are responsible for Novell’s troubles.
“Microsoft needs trusted open source Web sited (not Redmond’s Fort 25) to offer them room to speak out.”OStatic is an “open source” site, but there has always been something funny about it (not just posts advocating Windows and Mac software). Other than the fact that they publicly dismissed our views on Mono, it’s part of the same network that at leas once in the past AstroTurfed for Microsoft (and got caught). It also employs OpenSUSE’s community manager, who receives a salary from Novell.
At the moment, there are more reasons for cautiousness. OStatic has just interviewed 4 people from Microsoft, which as regular readers would know, is just trying to hijack and ruin "Open Source". In order to achieve this, Microsoft needs trusted open source Web sited (not Redmond’s Fort 25) to offer them room to speak out. It’s the path to people’s minds — especially people on the ‘other side of the fence’ (never preach to the cenverted).
Anyway, let’s interpret Susan Hauser’s response to OStatic. It’s heavily filled with toxic words.
OStatic: What goals do you have for Microsoft’s interoperability alliance with Novell, and what’s behind the goal of converting Linux users in the Chinese market to SUSE Linux Enterprise?
Susan Hauser, General Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Licensing at Microsoft:
“We entered into this agreement because based on customer feedback, we believed that there was an opportunity to grow our business by working together and to show leadership in the industry and the community in the following ways.”
Translation: We arranged a protection racket with Novell, paid it loads of money and then pretended that customers had certain requirements in order to justify our dirty little transaction.
[Note: Matt Asay and others have already confirmed that customers required none of the above (e.g. bogus 'protection'). The only one perpetuating and spreading this lie is Susan Hauser, who stole the voice of customers (c/f reference at the top) to tell lies 'on their behalf', and behind their backs too.]
“Customers want their vendors to embrace interoperability. Microsoft and Novell collaborated – and continue to collaborate – on technical solutions for their shared customers to address critical interoperability technologies such as virtualization and web services. The sales of SUSE Linux support certificates and feedback we’ve received from those customers affirms that choice.”
Translation: Customers needed Microsoft to finally get its act together and stop the technical sabotage, or at least total its disregard for open standards. However, by liaising with Novell, we at Microsoft realised that we can carry on maintaining our proprietary protocols and then build secret binary bridges that only those who pay us ‘protection money’ will receive access to. The patent royalties we’re receive from customer affirm the fact that we got them screwed big time. They pay Microsoft for GNU/Linux.
“Customers want their vendors to manage IP issues for them. Both companies recognize that Microsoft and Novell intellectual property is relevant to their respective products and will be increasingly relevant over time. This agreement has provided customers with confidence these issues have been addressed. We have provided customers with IP Peace of mind. In addition, by having reciprocal respect for IP, we are able to collaborate technically and deliver technical collaboration solutions that benefit our customers.”
Translation: Customers don’t care about interoperability. They just want to cover imaginary debt for imaginary things. Both companies realise that they can build a collective and mutual intellectual monopoly and, as time goes by, they can maginalise competition because antitrust regulators look the other way. The agreement showed that we can sleep better at night, knowing that a corrupted system will permit this to happen. We provided foolish customers with a piece of paper which they never asked for and had them brainwashed to the point of believing that this paperwork was needed. Of course, without pieces of papers, bits of binary code magically cease to work. Programming is impossible without paper (no, not punch cards).
“Microsoft wants to continue reaching out to the open source community. Microsoft has begun participation in some important OSS projects and the non-compensated OSS community is being encouraged to experiment and grow through a broad covenant not-to-sue that benefits individual developers.”
Translation: To quote my boss Steve Ballmer, we need to “f**cking kill Linux.” In order to do so, we try to infiltrate FOSS project and convince them that they have a debt to Microsoft and that they need to pay up in order to ensure Microsoft does not take them and their customers to court. Additionally, they need to ditch that “cancer” called Linux and port their programs to Windows as soon as possible, using “open source”
programs solutions like Visual Studio.
“There is a growing recognition among customers – in many countries including China – that there are significant costs to the business by running an operating system that is not supported by a commercial vendor. These costs include the staff time to do manual patches and bug fixes versus leveraging the seamless updates that are provided by Novell for SUSE Linux Enterprise as part of a support contract.”
Translation: China respects intellectual monopolies and ownership of mathematics. Additionally, no GNU/Linux distribution other than Novell ever receives patches. Users have to write their own. They have to keep track of Bugzilla and watchever and figure out how to fix every individual flaw. It’s really, really hard.
“In addition, companies are realizing that with limited budgets, it makes much more sense to use valuable IT staff on strategic projects that support the overall business than on manual tasks that are easily automated when a support contract is purchased.”
Translation: Novell is cheaper than something like Debian. And let’s not forget that if you don’t pay for your copy of GNU/Linux, then automation becomes impossible.
This hopefully sums up the spin doctoring which can be seen above. Microsoft is very good at something — it’s the mastery of FUD tactics and intimidation. It’s just a dirty old routine.
In other OStatic ‘news’, you can clearly see this pattern of FUD (or non-deliberate disinformation), which was once accidentally echoed also in the 451 Group’s blog. The GPL has already won; maybe not in the US (never been tested there to the end), but planet Earth is not the same thing as the United States of America. Why oh why are people still trying to suggest that the GPL is weak, invalid or untested? █
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…Unless you’re a paying customer of Novell (and Microsoft)
Our recent writings about Mono ought to have convincingly shown (well, hopefully they have) why it’s a risk we mustn’t accept. We dealt with Mono, Moonlight and GNOME separately over the past 3 days. Descending to a level that involves more pertinent details might be helpful but not a necessity.
As we stressed about a year ago, Microsoft’s .NET on the Net is intended to turn GNU/Linux into second-class citizens even on the World Wide Web. It can easily make all users of all platforms technically dependent on Microsoft (documentation, distribution, licences, legal threats, etc.) and again… all just as we warned approximately a year ago, so there’s no late realisation. Novell could and should have seen this too (Miguel de Icaza already has). It just probably didn’t mind because it serves its investors well. Never mind if it harms its suppliers (programmers)…
“Adopting Moonlight and Mono is accepting dominance of the Microsoft API. ”Adopting Moonlight and Mono is accepting dominance of the Microsoft API. That’s a helluva lot of power to give Microsoft over its #1 rival, which it is unable to compete against using conventional subversive tactics. It has tried many things to no avail (see the Halloween Documents).
The following short piece from Linux.com contains some interesting and lesser-known bits of information. It shows you just what type of treatment you’ll most likely receive for being independent from Novell (and from Microsoft, by association).
The binary version of Moonlight does not have audio and video support built-in. If you want the audio and video features you have to build Moonlight from source using the instructions on the Mono wiki.
Let us say that you, an experienced 1337 hack3r, managed to properly compile the shebang and have it work the way you like it. Does that make you ‘covered’? No? Can you recall what Groklaw shared the other day, regarding the legal conditions that come with use of Moonlight?
Not afraid yet? “Microsoft will never sue,” you say? What about its patent trolls, such as its buddy from Intellectual Ventures? Watch the pompous man as he speaks at All Things D.
Calacanis had an interesting question: Is IV making an unethical land grab for patents? His answer was that he didn’t know how to answer that question, except that people might complain if he has a lot of success, but no one was going to give him back his money. (Fair enough—B.L.)
Guy from Intel asks if an unintended consequence of IV’s patent action and speculation is that big companies would keep extending patents to protect them. Nathan says it’s BS. Most companies are doing R&D with a little R and a BIG D. They need to put more into the research. If people know they can spin out inventions, like they do divisions, they’ll be more likely to do more research.
“If you’re not doing something that is somewhat threatening to the apple cart, you’re not doing something interesting.”
In other coverages of this session, Nathan Myhrvold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] made it more clear that he prefers to ‘license’ (nice word for “extortion”) rather than sue. Remember that similar rules apply to OOXML. █
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Lots of companies do this, but it’s no excuse
This issue is one that we wrote about earlier today. Critically, we also wrote about the buybacks earlier this month, along with head-changes, offshoring, etc.
“Novell embellishes its case and offers a fantastic story because investors sometimes enjoy good news more than honesty.”Things are not going too well at Novell, but like most companies — no matter the circumstances — it manages to deceive the press. Novell embellishes its case and offers a fantastic story because investors sometimes enjoy good news more than honesty. Let’s just pretend that the massive looming layoffs are non existent, okay?
To repeat the gist of this story, Novell cut off 10% of its staff last year  (more axing to come soon) and it counts as “Linux sales” transitions from its old O/S/es to GNU/Linux  (e.g. OES). In other words, Novell is seems to be cooking the books and innocent folks like Matt Asay are buying it, much like the rest of the mainstream press. You can spot sheep when you see the likes of the Wool Street Journal promoting the blue- and white-collar chaps (blue chips for white sheep).
Novell is a partner of Microsoft now , so wanting it to succeed would be risky. In fact, relying on it would be risky too.
References below are from yesterday’s news alone. █
 Novell moves into black in 2d quarter
Chief executive Ron Hovsepian slashed about 10 percent of jobs last year and focused on new Linux products, seeking to counter a drop in revenue from older software. Sales of its Linux operating system rose 31 percent to $29 million last quarter.
 Novell financials beat estimates again
The company said it showed healthy growth in its core business units around the Linux operating system, identity/access management software and systems management tools.
[This confirms what was said earlier about layoffs and cannibalisation. Linux sales are the main thing the company really raves about with actual figures, implying that the rest isn't too good (not enough to harp about).]
 Foolish Forecast: Novell Swings for the Fences
Don’t be fooled by the massive cash flow margins in 2007. It’s a mirage, generated by a cross-licensing and cross-promotion agreement with Microsoft that landed Novell a one-time $348 million payment. Without it, the trailing free cash flow margins would have stayed positive but in the lower single digits.
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Microsoft-tainted distributions at position of disadvantage
A certain misconception that can easily be perpetuated is that SUSE will stride ahead of its counterparts owing to the pact with Microsoft. Fortunately, that’s not the case. We recently highlighted a review that demonstrated the problem with SLED on low-cost laptops. It’s no match for some of its competition and the following new review makes no exception.
Not so Eee-sy
In the UK, HP offers the Mini Note 2133 with the choice of Linux, in the form of Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10.1, or Windows Vista Business. Both the SKUs have the same core specification, but the Windows Vista version adds a 6-cell battery and makes up for Microsoft’s licensing costs with a £50 price hike.
Our test unit came with Novell’s Suse Linux 10 pre-installed, but unlike Asus, HP has made zero attempt to customise the installation to make it more accessible to beginners. If you’ve never used Linux before, that may make for a daunting first few hours with the 2133.
You can hopefully see that, yet again, Microsoft-crippled laptops (possibly illegal) are not necessarily cheaper in some countries with Ballnux than with Windows. We saw that before. Microsoft is able to manipulate pricing of competitors. █
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Thanks to all those who urged their national standards body to appeal the decision. Another article has just been published about South Africa’s appeal, so it might be a good read for the uninitiated. It also contains some additional background information.
Since ISO approved OOXML as a standard, Microsoft has said it will also ensure that rival file formats work just as well in Office 2007, and that documents saved in the Office 2007 format will work smoothly with competing programs. Opponents say OOXML still locks out competitors and perpetuates Microsoft’s programs’ massive market share.
Microsoft declined to comment on the complaint Wednesday.
There’s still some confusion about the appeal from Brazil, so we’ll keep you informed. Some say that Brazil did not formally appeal (ambiguity). We shall wait and see.
Some days ago we wrote about Microsoft's fierce attack against some people in India. Now it’s a little clearer why it happened. The story wasn’t over in that nation, despite the inevitability of a “No” vote. India has just appealed, just like South Africa. The following article also seemingly confirms that Brazil formally appealed.
India and Brazil have filed appeals against the adoption of the Microsoft-sponsored Office Open XML (OOXML) document format as an international standard.
The world’s second- and third-largest populations protesting against the ISO process is nothing to sneeze at. It’s looking bad for Microsoft and ISO. There might be more appeals on their way. We hope that Malaysia will join the three we already know of. Malaysia issued a press release to sort of denounce the BRM shortly after it was over. Having just taken a glance at the Open Malaysia blog, there’s nothing new to see there.
As the article at the top stated when only one appeal could be confirmed: “The appeal means Microsoft will have to wait at least another month before knowing for sure whether the file format is approved as an open standard.” Things have gotten worse since. █
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Google disregards the AGPL and, as everyone knows, Google Does-No-Evil™, so…
Google loves Free software on its servers. Giving back improvements? Not so much. This continues to be a problem that we mentioned here before [1, 2]. At the moment, Google’s Stein, who is a high-level senior, seems to be doing some damage control. Watch the discussion.
Well, actually, there’s another rather important trend that is conspicuous by its absence: adoption of the Affero GPL. To which Google seems strangely allergic….
But that’s not all. The other day, Google did what it’s exceptionally skilled at protesting against. It made some nifty Web-based features available, but only for Windows (mind highlights in red).
Google’s 3D data has escaped the client and is now a welcome addition to the browser! Today at Google I/O a Google Earth Browser plugin is going to be released. With the plugin installed anybody with a Windows machine will be able to view Google Earth mashups in the comfort of their own browser instead of having to pull up a separate client.
Google could use a gentle reminder here. It was also using ActiveX controls in Google Maps a few years back. You can find my comment and one from DiBona too in the post above. Sympathy is not enough. That’s the same argument which individual Microsoft employees use to defend themselves, passing liability to their superiors. As in, “it came from above.”
Disclaimer: There’s no bias against Google here. The company’s recruiters approached me a couple of times for interviews. I also needed to correct them when they claimed Google Earth to be their ‘innovation’ (it’s an acquisition really). █
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity”
–Andre Gide quotes
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