“Put not your trust in journalists.”
We were going to simply ignore Bruce Byfield’s piece on Microsoft and Novell not because of the whole history of this but because it’s a classic example of hiding all the known issue and writing two pages of text which present only one side of this debate. Not only that; he downplays the opposition to this deal.
So Microsoft and Novell are extending their two year old partnership. Is anyone really surprised? Similar, if smaller, deals are announced by other partners on an almost daily basis. The truth is, the deal is not nearly as insightful as the reactions to it in the free and open source (FOSS) community.
Oh, lord! That ‘crazy’ “free and open source (FOSS) community.” How dare ‘the’ community stand in the way of business which resolves around code ‘the’ community produced, usually for no pay?
Groklaw responded to this article last night, saying: “I put this in News Picks, but not because I agree. I think the community doesn’t care if businesses share their values, nor do they expect it. What they *do* expect is that vendors who benefit from FOSS code not actively work against the best interests of the FOSS community. That is the issue, not any of arguments raised in this article, and one the author doesn’t address at all.”
Michael Tiemann is no happy puppy, either. Here is a portion of his remarks, which he posted in Linux Today.
What I find shocking about his article is that on page two he attempts to shift all the questions and concerns about Novell’s dalliance with Microsoft and equate them (with equal skepticism) to the Fedora/Red Hat relationship, which is ridiculous for two reasons.
There are some other noteworthy reactions to this deal. Lisa Hoover said something strange:
Running Novell’s SUSE Linux alongside Windows? Buy a support voucher.
Say what? Patent royalties encouraged in an open source blog? What patents exactly?
“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments”"
–Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008
Charles, of OpenOffice.org fame, once again complained about what Microsoft and Novell had done.
I don’t think enterprise customers want to switch to Linux in order to better stay with Microsoft. Some actually refuse such a deal, and there Novell loses pretty often. But what I also see is the buying process of some customers. Your job as a CIO/CFO/CLO (Chief Legal Officer) is to minimize the risks. And sometimes, you’re ready to do very ridiculous things to have no risk happening. So what does the Novell/Microsoft partnership amount to? In some -unfortunate- cases, it can be seen as a helpful insurance contract. Now, if I were the CEO in such a company, I would be having a serious conversation with my team about signing up for an insurance covering this kind of oddities. But fear is a powerful motivator, and many fall in its trap… especially corporate management.
Why is anyone still defending Novell? Is it because Novell and Microsoft gag journalists [1, 2, 3], police coverage, hijack voices, and have it all serve as brainwash touting a treasonous relationship? █
“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
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The regulators are fast asleep. Apart from the fact that Microsoft makes profit from GNU/Linux preinstalls [1, 2, 3], it’s still nearly impossible to find and then to get them.
Taiwan, China, Poland, [1, 2], and Hungary have formally complained about Microsoft this month, but not the United States. As pointed out yesterday (see the comment at the bottom), the American (US) regulators are indifferent because they are themselves corrupt. Meanwhile, says a reader, Steve Ballmer’s trip to Portugal might be aimed at intercepting Free software.
It’s not grim news all around though. Yesterday, for example, this article showed up and it proves that some people do get in trouble for buying Microsoft. Quebec’s government comes under legal scrutiny, which is not exactly surprising given prior complaints about the procurement process there. It’s equally bad in the UK and elsewhere.
Quebec’s open-source software association is suing the provincial government, saying it is giving preferential treatment to Microsoft Corp. by buying the company’s products rather than using free alternatives.
The lawsuit by Facil was lodged with the Quebec Superior Court on July 15 and made public on Wednesday. In it, the group says the provincial government has refused to entertain competing bids from all software providers, opting instead to supply public-sector departments with products bought from proprietary vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle Corp.
As a side note, speaking of lawsuits, Novell still has a lawsuit against Microsoft and it could win hundreds of millions of dollars. This was mentioned before as a possible reason for Microsoft to buy Novell once it becomes a suitable target (with .NET, patents and all that).
Microsoft may have given up on its old strategy. See the previous post about a patents revenue strategy and recall those SCO analogies . Microsoft suffers from a customer retention issue. Could Microsoft buy out the lawsuit and the competitor? It could be less expensive than buying out threats like XenSource (using Citrix as a proxy) due to competitive bids and a large numbers of players in this space. Naturally, GNU and Linux can spread endlessly between vendors, which keeps them secure from hostile takeovers, but software patents change this. Novell and Microsoft actively try to change this using “licensing”. This exclusionary move shows just why Novell and Microsoft are already becoming the same company.
“This exclusionary move shows just why Novell and Microsoft are already becoming the same company.”Let us return to exclusion at the OEM level. Exclusionary OEM contracts is something that we covered before and this article from the Czech Republic was mentioned some days ago. It shows just how impossible Microsoft has made it to choose an operating system other than Windows (or no operating system at all, i.e. just bare-metal hardware bundles). Over at Groklaw, Pamela just wrote: “Isn’t it ridiculous that it’s nearly impossible to avoid buying Vista on a new computer, even if you have no desire to get Vista? And then Microsoft counts such “sales” as indicating an interest in Vista.”
Going a long way back, you can still find this detailed page on the impossibility of obtaining a Toshiba computer without Microsoft software. Not much has change since then.
I hope that this web page will prove useful to those people who want to purchase a laptop without Microsoft Windows. The short summary is:
* It is near impossible to buy a laptop without Windows
* The Microsoft Software License Agreement allows you to return the software if you do not agree to its terms.
* It is difficult, but not impossible to get Toshiba (at least in Australia) to send you a cheque in return for the Windows License.
Here is another good page, which is no longer live, but it has a copy on the Internet Archive.
My name is David Chun. I am an undergraduate student at UCLA, where I am in the UCLA Center for American Public Policy and Politics. I am working this spring as an intern at the Consumer Project on Technology. On May 25, 1998 through June 3, 1998, I called 12 computer manufacturers, known in the industry as original equipment manufactures (OEMs), attempting to buy computers without a Microsoft Windows operating systems.
This is not competition. It’s free market distortion. █
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This Web site is called “Boycott Novell”, but we actually address a problem that has mushroomed since the Novell/Microsoft deal was signed. Novell is merely a first betrayal among a bunch.
Samsung is one among several Asian companies that manufacture/design electronics and also signed a patent deal with Microsoft. Samsung’s deal explicitly involved Linux. Among other issues with Samsung, there’s Mono on devices and outright corruption [1, 2, 3, 4]. But here is another new reason: [credit to an anonymous reader who pointed this out]
I just came from a presentation purported to be about a stackable filesystem from Samsung called SynergyFS. The talk was more of a hardware sales pitch with no technical details, and technology that “can’t be released under the GPL because if we give it to you you can give it to anyone else.”
Samsung definitely doesn’t get Linux and Open Source and deserves to remain on the “to avoid” list when purchasing new hardware.
Just last night, the following new cross-licensing deal was also signed by Nikon, which like several others in the far east, is going to pay Microsoft for the ‘privilege’ to make use of some knowledge. The consumer if paying addtional ‘tax’ to Microsoft when a camera, for example, is purchased.
Microsoft and Nikon have signed a cross-licensing deal that gives each company access to the other’s patents.
The deal is one of a growing list from Microsoft, which has been seeking to establish the heft and significance of its intellectual property effort.
Detailed terms of the Nikon deal weren’t disclosed, but the companies said Nikon is compensating Microsoft through the alliance.
So, Microsoft’s new business model is intellectual monopolies now that sales are dropping. Fortunately, Nikon does not appear like a GNU/Linux-oriented company, so this deal may be almost harmless to Free software.
This new deal is particularly interesting in light of this news from earlier this month.
Nikon exits Microsoft photo contest
Nikon has withdrawn its support for a photography contest hosted by computer giant Microsoft after a row over potential copyright infringement.
In a statement issued to Pro Imaging, Microsoft said: ‘We have since taken steps to obtain the rights to use every image to be featured in the subsequent stages of the Iconic Britain competition.’
Shortly afterwards came this:
Microsoft has always been rather strident on the topic of copyright infringement, as you may have noticed, which makes tale of its “Iconic Britain” photo contest all the more astonishing.
The competition was designed as part of the marketing campaign around Windows Live Image Search, with Nikon as the prize partner. Unlike most photographic competitions, which tend to involve photographers submitting their own work (crazy, I know), this one invited entrants to search for other people’s online pictures, then submit the ones they felt were iconic British stuff, in the hope of winning a Nikon camera. As for the photographers themselves, they get nada–not even a link-back to their site or a credit of their name. photos
Spotted the problem yet?
Only a fortnight ago, Tim Bray complained about Nikon, accusing them of lock-in servitude for Microsoft.
So, if I want to watch the Olympics online, I need to install Microsoft Silverlight. And if I’m interested in good-looking new high-end compact cameras, I’m super-interested in the new Nikon P6000; which writes a RAW format that can only be read by Microsoft WIC, available only on Windows.
Open, non-proprietary equivalents to all of these, which do not constrain your customers’ choice of platform, are widely available.
Nikon is a competent camera company. The IOC is a competent sports impresario. The Chinese government is a competent authoritarian dictatorship. Pity they’re all so fucking stupid about technology.
What exactly is going on between Microsoft and Nikon? Clues might emerge in the future, hopefully. Companies don’t have friends; they have interests. It’s not unusual for companies to liaise for creation of lock-in. █
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