The threat is to the cash cows, not a development paradigm
The Apache-Microsoft situation was discussed earlier today and some days ago too [1, 2, 3]. Bruce Perens and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols are concerned about it (it’s too premature to denounce anything), but they are not alone.
Glyn Moody has joined the discussion and his take on this is hardly different. It’s not even indifferent.
I predict that in the coming months we’ll see plenty of visits to Seattle by Apache coders, and plenty of help coming from Microsoft engineers in terms of tweaking and optimising Apache code on Windows. Indeed, it’s already happening: “The company recently invited several Apache contributors to visit its Redmond headquarters for informal interoperability talks.” The mention of one of Microsoft’s favourite memes, “interoperability”, also raises the possibility of Apache starting to add Microsoft’s proprietary technologies – .NET, for example – effectively forking the project.
There’s a common theme here: replacing GNU/Linux at the bottom of the open source stack, and making the applications more Windows-friendly. Microsoft seems to think – rightly, in my view – that the free software threat to its business will be blunted considerably if it can move users of enterprise open source applications onto Windows by encouraging and optimising ports to that platform. Steve Ballmer’s own words, contained in a recent memo to the whole company about future strategy, highlight the importance of beating GNU/Linux in this sector:
Business and enterprise: Our enterprise and server business has never been stronger—today we are on the verge of becoming the number one enterprise software company. We need to continue to push on all fronts—mail with Exchange, business intelligence with PerformancePoint, virtualization with Hyper-V, and databases with SQL Server. We have to drive our enterprise search capabilities, our unified communications solutions, and our collaboration technologies. And we must continue to compete against Linux in key workloads such as Web servers and high performance computing.
Notice how GNU/Linux is singled out as the main threat in this area, and that the Web server sector – Apache’s territory – is mentioned by name.
Just watch another new example of an anti-GNU/Linux, anti-Firefox manoeuvre affecting the world’s largest population (and, as of late, the world’s largest Internet population too).
Oh, there is to be sure much left to do for Microsoft to embrace the competition and change. I have heard today that many out there are still locked into the proprietary platforms trap. An example of this is what’s happening right now at the Bank of China. This bank recently upgraded its systems to what appears to be an all Microsoft environment. As a result, its customers are only able to perform their banking operations through the good old Internet Explorer. Wake up, folks. We’re in 2008 and such things should have stopped a long time ago. But I don’t see the lock-in effect being lift up by Microsoft any time soon.
Can people finally see where this is going?
Yesterday we wrote about some similar strategies in South Africa. Having been shown the same articles, [Pamela Jones wrote about Microsoft's assistance there with proprietary platforms for FOSS: "That's the goal, and likely explains recent events. Microsoft would prefer that you run your apps on their proprietary system and forget about Linux, and most importantly forget about free and open."
There are also some ill-informed responses to the news about Apache, such as this one from the CEO of MuleSource:
Now that my work in convincing Microsoft to love open source is complete I can take a break.
He is linking to an article of his friend, Gavin Clarke. They dined together and Gavin covered Microsoft's open source initiatives (more so in a positive light) in the past.
What on earth does that mean? Et tu, Dave? Being close to the 'Apache layer', perhaps he only thinks of this from a litigious perspective. He does not advocate Free software or GNU/Linux, so the operating system would seem relatively irrelevant to him and his business.
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
Microsoft continues to show that those ‘iie genes’ run deep in its blood. It’s a marketing company, and one that’s unethical enough to lie for sales. Check out this new article.
“From the 30th of June, we have no longer been able to ship a PC with an XP licence,” said Jane Bradburn, a marketing manager for HP Australia. “However, what we have been able to do with Microsoft is ship PCs with a Vista Business licence but with XP pre-loaded. That is still the majority of business computers we are selling today.”
Therefore the Vole’s claims for high Vista sales figures are merely so much steer manure. The major PC vendors are still preloading Windows XP, but Microsoft is counting those XP preloads as Vista sales.
Microsoft has bragged about Windows Vista sales since the very beginning. It lied over and over again for many months, hoping that the lies will serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy and then capitalise on the cattle effect.
“Channel-stuffing techniques were also used to boost figures and perceptions of the XBox360, Zune and Office 2007.”In essence, the numbers Microsoft speaks of (now it’s 180,000,000) are the number of PCs sold, not number of copies of Vists sold. A licence for Windows XP Microsoft just calls a “Vista licence”, yet most PCs are sold without Vista! And PCs that come with Windows are sometimes wiped for GNU/Linux to be installed, due to market distortion at OEM level (paying for something you do not require).
Microsoft used to also lie about the adoption of OOXML. It desperately needed to sell that format, so it knew no boundaries when it comes to truth and lie. On the brighter side, this has taught the world a great deal about Microsoft and dishonesty. The existing format saturation could end monoculture and promote unification (or Web-based interaction and exchanges). Either way, things are bound to change for the better; all but Microsoft’s spin and deception. Some things never change. Channel-stuffing techniques were also used to boost figures and perceptions of the XBox360, Zune and Office 2007. NPD’s methods are sensitive to such gaming and so are search engine trackers, which Microsoft broke using 'junk' automated queries. █
“Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’”
The Novell/Sun/SCO situation was last mentioned over the weekend. The value of Novell, as a technology company, is surprisingly low. Its market cap is so low that the ever-stagnating Sun Microsystems could buy it (if only it made sense despite the overlap in products). Here is how Bruce Perens put it the other day:
So in the article Bruce says “If pressured, Sun could buy out Novell without a problem, which would be the best end for Novell anyway.”
So could this be a mouse that roared scenario? Make war on somebody in the hope that they will win and have to support you?
The main assets of Novell are perhaps considered to be software patents — a legacy of its part glory. Other assets are less tangible too.
Microsoft’s stock value took another dive yesterday and one person suggests that the company has lost over 100 billion in value over the past year alone. Bloomberg estimated the loss at $90 billion just over a week ago, but things have changed, and not for the better. █
The amazing collaboration and enthusiasm showed by Swathanthra Malayalam Computing’s (SMC) KDE subproject made this possible. We had to cross the kde essentials barrier, which is required for inclusion in a KDE release as a supported language in a very short span of time. We achieved this milestone by completing 10000+ strings in about 10 days by 30+ contributors.
I was drawn to a JavaLobby post entitled JavaFX’s Killer Feature, because I have long wondered what, exactly JavaFX’s killer feature could possibly be. Well, brace yourself: JavaFX will succeed where others fail because it runs on Linux, whereas Adobe is notorious for letting its Linux Flash port (upon which Air runs) lag behind.
What impressed me the most about PCLinuxOS is its lack of pretension. The creators of PCLinuxOS know their audience is a wide cross section and know how to present their wares to that audience without being insulting or coming across as “better than the rest.”
We don’t normally start tracking the Ubuntu releases until they hit about the Alpha 3 stage; after all the big software updates have made it in, any theme work is mostly done and the final release is starting to take shape. Well, that happened yesterday: Ubuntu 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” Alpha 3 was released.
“Should the music industry tax you to use the Web?” asked CNET. “Leave it to our friends across the pond to come up with a creative, tax-heavy way of punishing music downloaders,” wrote Brian Heater at PC Magazine, who continued – “Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is proposing yearly fees of £20 to £30, which would be imposed by ISPs.”
Microsoft has reached a settlement in a patent-infringement lawsuit filed last year by Vertical Computer Systems, according to a filing by the mediator in the case: PDF, 1 page. The Fort Worth, Texas, company’s complaint alleged that Microsoft’s .Net development system violated a patent issued to Vertical in November 2004.
Here is a good new video that demonstrates how patent trolls and their little extortions come about. █
‘Embrace’ (to Extend) versus Embrace for Promotion, Contribution
Leaving the spin from the press aside, it’s worth taking a close look at what Microsoft has done at OSCON.
Microsoft wants to blow FOSS developers a kiss while at the same time securing Microsoft’s income. Some innocent developers and passive Microsoft employees/recruits liaise with a company that, objectively speaking, has a criminal past and an appalling history. In fact, even recently it has proven that nothing whatsoever has changed. It is that same old spoiled brat that disregards the law, resorting to bribery, bullying, fraud, extortion, technical sabotage, and blackmail. It’s all well documented.
Bruce Perens and this Web site are far from the only sources that are critical of Microsoft’s latest moves. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, for instance, is not buying it, either.
You see some people still believe that Microsoft offering patented protocols under “reasonable and non-discriminatory terms,” or “for free for noncommercial use without fear of lawsuits” is somehow some kind of olive branch to the open-source community.
As Tiemann put it: “A free-of-cost license that prohibits commercial use is useless to open-source developers. And therefore I cannot understand why anybody would think that Microsoft is doing the open-source community any favors.”
He’s got that right.
There are some more details from Vaughan-Nichols in ComputerWorld
The first announcement, that Microsoft was contributing a patch to ADOdb, a PHP database access interface, wasn’t that big a deal. It is, after all, self-serving. Microsoft’s contribution will enable people to use its own SQL Server instead of MySQL or PostgreSQL with PHP programs. Yawn. Nothing new here.
Apache too was considered over the weekend [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft uses Apache for document lock-in, making its formats more prevalent than the real international standard [1, 2]. Apache might not mind this, but it’s being used against other groups of FOSS developers. Sean Michael Kerner had this to say, based on what he had seen at OSCON.
Ramji also said Microsoft has been working with the Apache POI project, which develops APIs for using pure Java to manipulate various file formats based upon Microsoft’s OLE 2 Compound Document format. Those include most Microsoft Office formats, except for the more recent Office Open XML formats, for which Microsoft has embarked on a massive campaign to see adopted as industry standards.
Overall, Ramji tried his best to ingratiate himself with the OSCON crowd — even wearing a Mozilla Firefox T-Shirt, and telling the audience that he wants to engage openly and honestly with the open source community. That’s a message that he’s been preaching for some time.
For several years the Microsoft astroturf has periodically reported on the activities of a pro open source faction within Microsoft. This factional fight is probably one of many within the Microsoft bureaucracy which apparently endures constant, intense infighting. But I don’t see what interest it is to anybody other than a Microsoft bureaucrat.
Fourth, it means MS wants to seed the Apache Group with Code that they will attach their IP to. This way, they can extract funds from users in the future, with their contributions.
Is it a good deal for Apache? In the short term, it provides them with cash. Is it a good deal for MS? Of course, it gives them access to a code base and hopefully developers they desperately need. Is it good for the development and user community? NO!!! Why not? It means MS is once again employing their extend, embrace, and extinguish paradigm, which has worked so well for them in the past.
From Rex Ballard:
Message-ID: <email@example.com> From: Rex Ballard <firstname.lastname@example.org> Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy Subject: Re: Microsoft donate to Apache Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2008 23:08:59 -0700 (PDT)
> | Microsoft has bolstered its credentials with advocates of open source
> | software.
Microsoft’s credentials and “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” tactics are
well-known throughout the industry.
What’s surprising is that the Apache organization actually took the
> | It has given cash to the Apache organisation which oversees development
> | of open source web server software.
This may be yet another sign that Microsoft’s IIS is not doing what
Microsoft would like it to do. Furthermore, benchmarks between Apache
on Linux or Unix, and Apache on Windows Server NT, 2000, and 2003 have
always been disappointing. Normally, Microsoft sponsors it’s own
benchmarks, comparing ISAPI applications to Apache CGI applications
rather than Apache Plug-ins.
I would suspect that Microsoft is hoping for Apache’s blessings of
OpenXML, as well as the ability to shove Microsoft binary blobs
directly through Apache servers into PCs, where the embedded OLE
objects can run amok on any Windows PC capable of handling the OpenXML
Microsoft is also looking for ways to measure the Linux market more
accurately, because the usual methods used to measure Windows are just
not going to report Linux systems (unless the user has installed
special software to enable ActiveX controls.
Perhaps they are looking at ways to embed signed Java Applets, which
can also be used to install “snitch-ware” and other forms of malware
on Linux systems.
To Apache, this deal seemed harmless, but it may harm other groups of FOSS developers. Tomorrow, hypothetically speaking, another group might sell out to Microsoft and be happy with it while hurting Apache. In that respect, it is the almost same as the funneling of money into Novell’s bank account, which made some pointy-haired managers happy but almost everyone else in the FOSS world nervous.
Of course Apache will deny all of this because they want to believe, they are being defensive, they took the money and then encouraged to praise Microsoft, which is now their sponsor. Corel too thought it would enjoy its little deal with Microsoft while continuing its development of GNU/Linux. Where is it today? What about MySQL? Honeymoons rarely last forever. Sooner or later, it’s purely down to business, to shareholders. █
Here’s an interesting comment. Same old, same old. Bill Gates tried to chew out a local computer club for sharing software. It’s probably the first of his ‘visionary’ statements. You get the full text in the link in the Slashdot post:
Here is the gem:
What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming,
finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute
If you dig a bit or have enough friends in the library, you can find it in print, too.
Kind of ironic since at the time it appears he was himself stealing computing resources from a small company. Back then CPU time cost by the fraction of a second:
PDP-10 time from a Seattle company (which went out
of business), one of the Universities in Seattle
(which kicked him and Paul Allen out when they found
out about it), and even Harvard University. Yes, the PDP-10
time used to run 8080 simulators. Used to write that initial
Basic interpreter … stolen. Odd how Bill Gates doesn’t
really like to tell the side of the story where he stole
PDP-10 time from a Seattle company (which went out of business),
one of the Universities in Seattle (which kicked him and Paul
Allen out when they found out about it), and even Harvard
Especially in the context of his 1976 letter to hobbyists above…
His disregard and even antipathy for the law as well as small companies goes back to the early 70′s as you can see. Few people have done as much economic damage during their lives as Gates causes annually. Right now his bad engineering has been costing double-digit billions of damage per year in just the US alone from just the malware, not including spam. Drop Microsoft and even the spam-generating botnets fade away.
He’s a politician since the late 1990′s but his business skills never amounted more to than those of a college drop out: poker bluffing and “Risk” style leveraging of monopolies. █