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06.27.08

The Games Microsoft Plays in Portugal to Fight Free Software

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft, Portugal, and ‘ownership’ of government officials

Despite our attempts to steer away from politics, Microsoft plays this angle so persistently that it becomes foolish — if not even irresponsible — to ignore it. Some days ago we discovered that the monopolists’ friend, Commissioner Mccreevy, is pushing letters at Barroso's direction nowadays. It was also just weeks ago that Microsoft hired John Vassallo to handle things after the sheer OOXML abuses. Vassallo is somewhat of an insider.

At the moment, as part of the 'mad acquisition' strategy, Microsoft grabs more control in telecommunication. The American company is taking over the Portuguese phone program provider called MobiComp. And It’s not just about Portugal.

MobiComp’s customer base includes 11 mobile operators around the world, including Zain (Kuwait), ALJAWAL (Saudi Arabia) and Syriatel (Syria). The company says its services provide operators with ways of establishing closer (and presumably more profitable) relationships with their customers.

Now, have a look at the press release. [via Groklaw]

[Microsoft Portugal GM:] “It highlights the success of our prime minister’s economic policies and serves as proof of Microsoft’s commitment to the partnership signed between Portugal’s government and Bill Gates two years ago. Following several top companywide awards for Microsoft Portugal, this is further evidence of our visibility in Microsoft’s worldwide efforts.”

Pamela Jones wrote: “Here’s the press release about the meeting in 2006 in Lisbon. EC President José Manuel Barroso, who is Portugese, attended, incidentally. And Portugal was one of the countries where the OOXML delegation was headed by a Microsoft employee.” Remember Microsoft’s recent push to dump software on Portugal's schools (“free” as in “free shackles”), which face increased need for Free software substitutes they receive.

“‘Free software’ is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech,’ not as in ‘free beer’.”

Richard Stallman

To learn what Microsoft did for OOXML in Portugal, scroll down to “P” here. It’s rather appalling indeed.

From the older press release that Pamela Jones has dug up:

In addition to the new investments Microsoft is making in support of ICT education, the company also announced it is expanding its IP Ventures programme. This gives small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) the opportunity to licence Microsoft inventions that have untapped market potential.

Publicly launched in May 2005, IP Ventures provides a mechanism for selected Microsoft technologies, most of which have been developed in Microsoft Research labs around the world, to have a life outside of the company. Today’s announcement features new technologies available to licence and new relationships with European partners, including Enterprise Ireland and the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development (Sitra). Both are government-funded agencies that provide grants, investment, business counselling and office space to start-up companies.

“By working with groups that receive government funding for the purpose of spurring economic development, like Sitra and Enterprise Ireland, Microsoft is helping European companies to gain a foothold in the global IT industry,” says Brad Smith, senior vice president and general counsel in Microsoft’s Legal and Corporate Affairs division.

Barroso was there. It seems like part of the push for software patents in Europe. As we wrote at the start, Microsoft is playing politics. It’s one of the things it excels at (and most heavily invests in).

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: June 26th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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OOXML Abuses a Prelude to Battle for the Web

Posted in Formats, Google, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ODF = A portable Web; OOXML = The Microsoft .Net

O

n two separate occasions so far this week [1, 2], we happen to have mentioned Microsoft’s remarks where they claim ‘OOXML innocence’. They claim not to have known the rules and add that they have no regrets for breaking the process using bribes, bullying, blackmail, and lies.

Andy Updegrove finally gets around to commenting on Microsoft’s remarks. He too does not buy these excuses.

How ‘Ignorant of Standards’ was Microsoft Really?

[...]

Why “Huh?” Because Microsoft has been playing the standards game, butting heads over prior technologies such as ActiveX, Java and much, much more with the best of them for decades as a member of hundreds of standards organizations. Moreover, it has held many board seats along the way, and has had a staff of attorneys for some time dedicated to standards matters. That staff includes the former General Counsel of the American National Standards Institute.

In the mean time, Microsoft does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. There is no doubt.

Moving on, it’s worth considering a new case of ODF support. This time it comes from EditGrid.

To use EditGrid , you need a broadband internet connection and a web browser that supports JavaScript (as most do). After signing up for a free account, you can up – load up to 2GB (8GB in the paid version) of existing spreadsheet files created in Excel, OpenDocument, or Lotus 1-2-3.

As you can see, it’s Web-based and it support ODF (nothing explicit there about OOXML). We shall be seeing plenty more of that, and not just from leaders like Zoho and Google. There’s plenty of room for specialised applications (niche) and portability of data depends greatly on open standards like ODF.

Sun, whose crown jewels include OpenOffice.org, is not shy to admit that the future may be in cloud computing. Published just a couple of days ago:

Speaking at the Structure 08 conference here, Sun Microsystems CTO Greg Papadopoulos predicted that by the beginning of 2010 the majority of systems sold would be for Web, high performance computing and software-as-a-service applications. “We are going through this phase change in computing in a big way,” he said. He made a similar prediction last year.

Papadopoulos also advocated a free market in which all interfaces and formats are based on open standards; customers own their data, relationships, and metadata; and customers can extract, synchronize or purge their data unilaterally. This echoes recent efforts to promote openness and data portability.

Computer Weekly has just reviewed OpenOffice.org and its conclusions are very telling too. We wrote about this before.

OpenOffice.org: a viable alternative to Microsoft Office?

[...]

Ironically, by striving to overcome the inertia and the sense of devil-you-know security that keeps most users with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org may be fighting last year’s battle. In fact, too close an identification with Microsoft Office means OpenOffice.org risks becoming associated with an obsolete IT model, as attention moves to online applications and “the cloud”, where deployment and version compatibility problems are a thing of the past – as long as your connection holds and your browser behaves itself. This would be unfair to OpenOffice.org, which is already available online as part of the Ulteo Virtual Desktop. Other major OpenOffice.org suppliers will follow as they square up to the challenge of Google Apps.

This serves as further proof that ODF is not just about a limited set of native office suites, but also about the ability to change SaaS vendors while grabbing data along with the user. ODF is hugely important because it is not tied to a business model of lock-in.

Microsoft wishes to exploit its broken OOXML — with SharePoint tags (as part of the ‘standard’) — to build a Web-based framework of lock-in. Call it Live Lock-in if you will…

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Linux.com Criticised for Promoting Windows-only Software

Posted in GNU/Linux, Windows at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

T

ina Gasperson is my favourite writer at Linux.com, but this latest one from her was slightly mystifying. The comments on this article say it all.

It doesn’t jibe too well, especially when one considers the anti-Linux advertisements which this Web site has had (sister sites have their issues too). To be fair, such an article is very much the exception. Last week, however, Linux.com drew attention to Microsoft Paul and upset a few readers also.

This is just something to watch out for. Maybe it’s an innocent mistake that won’t be repeated.

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