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08.28.08

Routes to Innovation: Innovation by Publicity

Posted in Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Ubuntu at 9:41 am 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]

Innovation Only If the Press Says So

Talk about hype. The mainstream press is humming again over Microsoft’s reinvention of the wheel — in this case private Web browsing mode. It’s worth reiterating this loud and clear: Nothing is truly ‘invented’ until Microsoft announces that it will be released some time in the distant future as part of some mass-marketed (or force-fed) product which may, eventually, drop that 'invention' anyway.

The New York Times has some weird coverage of the non-event. This is an IDG article, but it showed up in the New York Times, which has always seemed grossly pro-Microsoft [1, 2]. Groklaw has already pointed out what seems like an obvious mistake: “I find this article a bit puzzling, unless there are other features not mentioned, because you can already achieve the first mentioned privacy already in Firefox and in Opera, and more.”

Irrespective of prior art and erroneous claims of novelty, this did not prevent Microsoft from attempting to get a patent on this ‘invention’.

Microsoft (News – Alert) has reportedly applied for trademarks to protect two of its Internet tools, InPrivate and Cleartracks.

If you think this won’t work out, just watch how they recently got granted a patent on PgDn and PgUp [1, 2]. The USPTO is a mess.

Patent Poll Stacking

Yesterday we warned about the possibility that lobbying in Malaysia might be trying to inject software patents. Similar activities around patents were noted in the UK. Groklaw, having seen these reports, had this to say: “I wonder if the pro-software patents strategy is to solicit input from the public, stack it, and then claim the public demands software patents? In the prior News Picks item, we see such a request in the UK. Here’s one in Malaysia, so if you notice others in your country, will you please let me know?”

Groklaw also pointed out this new patent lawsuit, which clearly shows a junk patent. The venue? Eastern District of Texas, as usual.

Patent holding company Klausner Technologies Inc. has sued Verizon Wireless and LG Electronics Inc. for infringement of a patent on the visual listing of voicemail.

New York-based Klausner said late Tuesday that Verizon Wireless’ Visual Voicemail and LG’s Voyager phone, sold by the carrier, infringe on a patent that covers services through which a user is able to view and retrieve individual voice messages through a menu.

Klausner filed suit in the eastern district of Texas.

‘Innovation’ by Embargo

Another fine example of how patents do not benefit consumers.

U.S. importation of smartphones and other devices using SiRF’s GPS chipsets could be banned by December, if the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) adopts a recommendation made last week. Announced by Broadcom, the ruling is the latest development in a patent battle between the chipmakers.

We wrote about this problem quite recently.

Microsoft’s Forgotten History of Imitation, Not Innovation

A regular fan of Microsoft (also a paid fan for that matter [1, 2, 3, 4]), which is called the Gartner Group, once said the following things.

Repeatedly pushed by Gartner Group analyst Scott Winkler regarding criticisms that Microsoft doesn’t do anything innovative but merely takes existing technologies and ideas and puts them, quite successfully, into its own business model, Gates seemed evasive. Winkler asked Gates to list specific innovations and when the Microsoft chairman and chief executive officer said that his company was the first to separate operating system development from hardware development, Winkler cut him off.

“You didn’t innovate that,” the analyst said, noting that Microsoft obtained DOS externally.

Watch and learn from history how Microsoft steals people’s ideas and then stabs the original inventors in the back. Later it claims credit.

Crushed by Microsoft: What I learned

[...]

Then Microsoft came along.

By the middle of 1994, Microsoft wanted real-time 3D software for its push into the PC consumer entertainment space. Privately, it began courting all three British companies. As head of U.S. operations for Argonaut, I was thrilled when–after a very positive meeting in Redmond, Washington–we were lead to believe that Microsoft had chosen to license and promote our technology over the others. Someone close to the negotiations even told me to “crack open the champagne.”

The euphoria that resulted lasted about a week. Through the grapevine, we learned that Microsoft had decided to license the software of our competitor, Rendermorphics, and, worse still, was going to purchase the entire company.

Real-time 3D software is relevant and timely for a variety of reasons. One of them is a debut of Photosynth. Photosynth has roots in GNU/Linux. Yes, before Microsoft ruined it. Photosynth ran on and was demonstrated on GNU/Linux before Microsoft acquired it (sorry… ‘in-no-vated’ it and blocked its #1 rival, which was already supported anyway). You can still find the videos in YouTube — videos that show Photosynth running on Ubuntu GNU/Linux before the acquisition.

Microsoft doesn’t really innovate; not much of use anyway. Watch this oldie (the original address is a dead link now). It shows how Microsoft is forcing DirectX on people.

Was I fired from Microsoft?

Yes, I was indeed escorted from my building Tuesday afternoon June 24th around 12:15 in the afternoon, roughly four years and six months after joining the collective.

Why?

So many answers to this. The straw that broke the camels back was indeed a piece of email I sent to Bill and Paul challenging the competency of the management in charge of Microsoft’s 3D technology. This might fall under the broader category of being an insufferable bastard, but it was indeed a piece of email that did it. To be clear I don’t believe Bill or Paul gave my execution order. They’re very reasonable guys whom I have enormous respect for. It was a layer to middle managers on the thread between myself and these guys who made the decision based largely on how stung they were probably feeling from my choice of verbiage. Suffice it to say that I did some extremely outrageous things in my time, which tended to cause people to have very polarized opinions of my performance.

3D vs. OGL

As many of you know, my last stand was in the area of 3D. For the record; In my opinion John Carmack is a God, and has my complete respect. The longer I’ve known him, the more he has impressed me. In theory John is absolutely right about OGL, but in practice it will never be for reasons that have little to do with technical purity, and a lot to do with cold market forces, politics, and NDA’s.

I have to say it will be nice to look at the industry again through my own eyes when the Borg implant scars have healed. I’m hoping things will seem simpler now to me to.

Who am I?

I was originally hired by Microsoft as their Publishing technology evangelist. The position of “Game Evangelist” was created for me a year and a half after joining the company, because I wanted very badly to pioneer some “New” technology frontier, and I have always loved games. The “dream” of DirectX was originally had by three evangelists in Microsoft’s Developer Relations Group who all wanted to make great technology. The other two, who’s names I won’t associate with this posting, left DRG to build DirectX. They shipped versions 1-3, before the technology was re-orged to another group as part of the great “internet” refocusing that happened several months ago. I stayed in DRG to carry the message.

DirectX and its goals is an issue that we explored and alluded to many times before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. The better and more recent analysis is probably this one.

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