Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day
How the Malmrose family moved to GNU-Linux (2008)
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One last item for the day is an accumulation of Microsoft news.
Vista Ultimate Edition Rejected Because GNU/Linux is Much Better
Well, that’s the suggestion made by Techie Moe anyway:
I gave it a shot, but Vista Ultimate simply did not impress. If “the most complete version of Windows” can’t cut it, I think I can definitely say that Vista is not for me. I for one plan on sticking with XP for my gaming fixes as long as it still works, and use Linux for everything else.
Nicholas Petreley actually writes about Microsoft for a change and the following bit is interesting:
I’ll never forget the day Steve Ballmer visited me at InfoWorld to convince me that Windows 95 would be the wave of the future. In our conversation, and in front of a room full of editors and skilled technicians, he unapologetically admitted that IBM’s OS/2 was superior to Windows 95.
Intel and Microsoft Join Forces Again
Microsoft and Intel, partners in collusion, appear to be busy getting people in middle east ‘addicted’ to Windows, to use the terminology of Bill Gates. Over in India, but also in the middle east, Intel crowns a close Microsoft partner, Wipro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], granting it an innovation award, whatever that actually means.
Wipro Infotech, the India and Middle East IT Business of Wipro Ltd and a leading provider of IT and business transformation services announced that it has won the prestigious Intel Global Innovation Award for Storage at the Intel Developer Forum 2008 in San Francisco.
Additionally, and also in India, some low-cost Wintel laptops seem to appear. We previously showed how Intel and Microsoft were working together against Free software in Russia and China.
They go a long way to achieve this goal, even if operating margins and innocent children are badly hurt in the process
A Lost Search for Direction
When Microsoft first announced paybacks/cashback for Live/MSN search users, Charles Copper at CNET labeled it “bribery as a business model”. It does not even seem to be working. Here are a couple of new article about it:
1. TechCrunch: Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback Scheme Fails To Move The Market Share Needle
When it comes to search, Microsoft is trying everything it can to become a serious player. It tried to acquire Yahoo, its latest version of Internet Explorer attempts to steer Web surfers away from Google, and then there is straight-out payola to search advertisers. I am talking, of course, of Microsoft’s Live Search Cashback promotion, which lets advertisers offer rebates to consumers who make a purchase after doing a Microsoft search.
2. Wired: You Can’t Pay People to Use Microsoft Search
Microsoft has been desperately trying to chip away at Google’s dominance in search — and the ad coin it brings in — but it looks like its plan to pay searchers isn’t having much impact on market share.
Microsoft’s Online/Web division is losing many heads and things are not improving when mail outages become not only a recurrence but also the cause for lost work and unroutable (i.e. destructed) mail. Here is the latest incident.
Microsoft Office Live Small Biz suffers outage, possibly lost e-mail
“Outages you can understand, but the outright loss of data? They should be ashamed of themselves, being the biggest computer company in the world,” said Joe Reilly, owner of Marine Wireless Internet in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Similar incidents and articles include:
Squeezing the Goose
Since revenue does not arrive from many of users of Windows (there’s reliance on infringements) and Microsoft is under financial stress, some of the pressure is being passed to users now, never mind the economic situation.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker has expanded its definition of piracy to include instances of license misuse.
Here you have some more new complaints:
Relative: Why does my computer lose my wallpaper and give me a black screen every hour?
Me: Ah, that’s just Vista for you. You have to pay Microsoft to get rid of that.
Relative: Why? Why should I have to pay Microsoft? Why doesn’t it just work?
Me: A.) It’s not Linux, so it won’t “just work” no matter what you do, and B.) You didn’t really expect Microsoft to let you use their computer for free, did you?
Relative: Um, I already paid for it…
Fear of Free Software in South Africa
We noted this very recently, having already explained what Microsoft is doing down south. This carries on with more aggressive discounts for young people, whose personal data will be imprisoned in OOXML jail.
The price of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 productivity suite has been slashed by up to 40 percent in an effort to ensure that technology is made easily accessible and affordable to people across Africa.
The article neglects to mention the real reasons for Microsoft’s discounts, namely SaaS (e.g. Zoho, Google Apps) and Free software (e.g. KOffice, OpenOffice.org), even gratis proprietary software like Lotus. It’s not about goodwill and it’s not about Microsoft’s affinity for students. Microsoft is a ruthless business.
It also turns out that Microsoft South Africa finally gets a new managing director.
Microsoft has appointed experienced industry executive Mteto Nyati to head up its SA subsidiary.
Recall the circumstances of the departure of the previous managing director. Microsoft cannot fight freedom forever. It makes it hugely unpopular among those who are well informed. █
“Copying all or parts of a program is as natural to a programmer as breathing, and as productive. It ought to be as free.”
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Here is another quick roundup of patent news.
The Free Software Foundation is joining the good fight against software patents.
In addition, the FSF is planning to hire a new manager for its End Software Patents campaign.
The FSF is also active in Chennai (Madras), where the existing problems [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] are being discussed and will hopefully be tackled.
With FSF and ILUGC friends, also representing our LoCo Community attended the Patent Manual – Stake Holder’s Meet held at Intellectual Property Office, Guindy, Chennai.
The Manual has provisions for bringing in Software Patents in cases what it claims to be “Software combined with Hardware”. We expressed our concerns on it and the ambiguity over the term used.
Here is another long article about software patents and India. It was published just a couple of days ago.
India for its part seems to have adopted the more conservative approach of the European patenting norms for software. But the Ordinance definitely has its use and relevance in today’s India, particularly for our growing domestic semi- conductor industry. This, along with judicial tempering might definitely ensure a judicious use of patent protection while allowing the industry to grow through innovations and inventions, thereby, mitigating the risks of trivial patents chocking the life out of real innovations and inventions. This is the reason a patent should always be treated as a “double edged sword”, to be wielded with caution and sensitivity. Now whether, in reality this will be implemented on a rigid basis or will become broad in scope through application (as in the U.S.), and, more importantly, whether the Ordinance would, in fact, result in increased innovation and inventions in the software industry, remains to be seen.
Extremity Kills the System
There is still a certain state of unrest as the world fights back. An expert of the subject was quoted in The Register saying that a lenient and careless patent system can have devastating effects on the economy. Software patents are a good example of going too far.
Intellectual property laws which were designed to protect inventors are actually stifling innovation, according to a leading US law academic.
Michael Heller, an academic at Columbia University in New York, told technology law podcast OUT-LAW Radio that intellectual property laws are being used to stop new products and services being made.
More can be found here and this paper is strongly recommended.
Here is what happens when patents turn violent.
Armed agents search for patent infringers
A spokesman for German Customs told us: “We’ve raided 69 companies today. We have seized equipment including flatscreen TVs, CD players, set-top boxes and MP3 players.”
Yes! This is innovation. Feel the excitement.
This also happened 6 months ago and was mentioned here. Also 2 years ago.
There have been long discussion about this in the IRC channel today. Doug quotes a new press release: “Effective August 26th, 2008, licenses under those DVB-T essential patents will be available from SISVEL as an alternative to negotiate separate licenses with the individual patent owners.” Zoobab says that Sisvel is a Philips proxy using the same extorsion tactics as Philips and Doug believes that it’s one way of getting a choke hold on the Media. He also adds this pointer
[PDF], then saying: “This is a HUGE story. Why isn’t the main stream press covering it?”
Elsewhere in the news, the fight between Qualcomm and Broadcom continues.
The legal drama between wireless chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom continues this week.
On Thursday, the companies said a federal judge has ruled that Qualcomm is in contempt of an injunction that bans the use of patented wireless technology owned by Broadcom.
Watch this from news:
Patent-licensing and enforcement company General Patent Corp International has reached a settlement with Motorola over a disputed patent belonging to one of GPCI’s clients, Digital Technology Licensing.
Mind the names: “General Patent Corp International” and “Digital Technology Licensing”. Are these classic names for patent trolls or what?
Software patents monster Blackboard [1, 2, 3], which is associated with and funded by Microsoft, is still fighting for its abusive business strategy, which revolves around intimidating rivals with ludicrous software patents. Here are some of the latest developements. [via Digital Majority]
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected a request by Blackboard Inc. for a temporary halt in the office’s review of a software patent the company holds concerning course-management systems.
This year Blackboard won a lawsuit in federal court against a rival software company, Desire2Learn, for violating the patent, though Desire2Learn has appealed the decision. Meanwhile, Desire2Learn had formally challenged the validity of the patent with the patent office, arguing that it is overly broad and covers technology that other companies had developed before Blackboard filed its patent. The patent office issued an initial verdict in March that rejected all 44 of the claims that make up Blackboard’s patent. But that review is “nonfinal,” meaning that the review is still underway.
A patents lover called Microsoft is aiming for embargoes again. We first saw such behaviour a month ago and it seems to be the beginning of a pattern. Microsoft has turned offensive with its patents. From the news:
1. Gov’t grants Microsoft’s request for imports probe
Horacio Gutierrez, a Microsoft vice president, said the company filed its request with the ITC last month after trying unsuccessfully for several years to reach a patent licensing agreement with Primax.
The ITC performs economic research on trade agreements and investigates unfair trade practices. The agency has the authority to bar imports that infringe U.S. patents and trademarks.
2. “ITC Will Hear Microsoft Complaint Against Taiwanese Co.
The U.S. International Trade Commission will investigate a patent infringement complaint filed by Microsoft against a Taiwanese company.
In the complaint filed July 30, Microsoft alleges that Primax Electronics infringes the software giant’s patents used in peripherals including keyboards and mice. Microsoft is asking the ITC to ban the importation of the products.
3. Microsoft achieves U.S. review of mouse complaint
At the end of the day, Microsoft pretends to be just a poor and innocent victim in a messy system. That’s not the case. Also noteworthy is the fact that Microsoft targets a Taiwanese company only a week and half after Taiwan had filed a formal complaint against Microsoft.
The ‘Page Up’/’Page Down’ patent from Microsoft was mentioned in [1, 2, 3]. This is so utterly ridiculous that the press is still paying attention to it.
Microsoft has been granted a patent on ‘Page Up’ and ‘Page Down’ keystrokes.
Microsoft has a long history of applying for, and being granted patents for, inventions that many argue — and can sometimes demonstrate — were based on earlier work carried out by others, or based on a common, self-evident idea.
More in John Dvorak’s blog.
Microsoft has a new business model, and it ain’t about fixing Vista or just marketing it aggressively. It’s likely to do with litigation, either directly or by proxy. █
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Timely reminder of why Microsoft’s promises are worthless
Here is why Microsoft is so desperate to intervene with Apache’s direction [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. The latest report from Netcraft suggests that Microsoft continues to fall, perhaps having exhausted its ability to pay/influence large hosts like GoDaddy, which help the gaming of statistics.
In the latest report, everyone can see that Apache and other FOSS-based servers are up, whereas Microsoft’s IIS is down.
In the August 2008 survey we received responses from 176,748,506 sites. This month’s overall growth of 1.3 million sites reflects Apache’s growth of 1.2 million and Google’s gain of half a million sites, but a loss of 760 thousand sites using Microsoft IIS.
Opera, Inter-Opera-bility and Antitrust
This situation was previously discussed in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Antitrust action if how far the war against Microsoft has come. Microsoft has, for many years, deliberately and knowingly ignored and/or subverted Web standards. As soon as the legal burden appeared, Microsoft suddenly made some promise of compliance. To nobody’s surprise, Microsoft seems to have lied. It broke its promise.
This week, the promise was broken. It lasted less than six months. Now that Internet Explorer IE8 beta 2 is released, we know that many, if not most, pages viewed in IE8 will not be shown in standards mode by default. The dirty secret is buried deep down in the «Compatibility view» configuration panel, where the «Display intranet sites in Compatibility View» box is checked by default. Thus, by default, intranet pages are not viewed in standards mode.
Should people trust Microsoft with its vague ODF promises [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]?
Compatibility Issues (the ‘Vista Effect’ equivalent of Web Browsers)
Just like Windows Vista, as soon as IE7 came out, software that worked perfectly well with predecessors and other Web browsers simply ceased to work. It’s a backward compatibility nightmare and the same thing is now happening with IE8, by Microsoft’s own admission.
Microsoft Corp. yesterday warned users of Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) that they won’t be able to uninstall either the service pack or Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) under some circumstances.
The warning was reminiscent of one Microsoft made in May, when Windows XP SP3 had just been made available for downloading. At the time, the company told users they wouldn’t be able to downgrade from IE7 to the older IE6 browser without uninstalling the service pack.
The following one is a better story:
It may be a Microsoft creation but it doesn’t play well with other Microsoft products.
Bugs, Competition (E.g. Firefox)
Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft’s reinvention of the browser privacy 'wheel'. It’s already failing.
Privacy feature in Internet Explorer 8 leaks private data
Forensic experts however found it trivial to retrieve the history, according to a test by Webwereld, an IDG affiliate in the Netherlands, and Fox IT, a Dutch firm specializing in IT security and forensic research.
Microsoft’s products are designed to eavesdrop and enable forensics [1, 2], so this may be no accident.
DRM: Poison on the Web
Just have a look at what Microsoft wishes to do to our precious Web.
Will W3C Accept DRM For Webfonts?
Microsoft has submitted Embedded OpenType (EOT) to W3C and a slimy campaign for EOT has been launched. EOT is a DRM layer on top of normal TrueType/Opentype files; EOT ties a font file to a certain web page or site and prevents reuse by other pages/sites.
Microsoft labels DRM technology using the word “Open”. How familiar.
The above is a “slimy campaign” by all means. The campaign cited contains nothing but glorification of DRM and IE. Another example of pseudo-grassroots support? If Microsoft cannot replace (X)HTML with XAML, it wishes to at least ruin the standards and 'extend' them its own way. █
“The Internet? We are not interested in it.”
–Bill Gates, 1993
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A word for our sponsor…
From getyourdrugon.com (Found in Planète Béranger)
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Substitution of ownership
Here is a theory. What if Microsoft wanted to create a cross-platform environment that depends not on more ‘neutral’ frameworks such as Java or C++ but instead depend on the Microsoft API? That’s what Novell and various volunteers develop not at Microsoft’s expense and without much suspicion or scrutiny from observers — those from whom Novell earned some trust between 2003 and 2006. Microsoft must be pleased to see de facto GNU/Linux applications like Tomboy coming to the 'compatibility desert' known as Windows Vista. They all use the Microsoft API, which is software patents-protected. It gives Microsoft power — both technical and financial — over opponent platforms, not just ISVs. Given the Windows crisis Microsoft is experiencing, it wants to at least maintain some control if customers walk away to other platforms. That’s Mono for you. █
“Moonlight is usable for anyone on any distribution of Linux (redhat, ubuntu, etc.) — it is not limited just to Novell as Mono is.”
–Brian Goldfarb, Microsoft Product Manager
[note: Moonlight depends on Mono, emphasis is ours]
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Just the other day, we ran a post about DCI and the political games it had been playing for Microsoft. The following old page sheds some more light on such AstroTurf political campaigns, which Microsoft is resorting to at the moment in order to intercept Google/Yahoo collaborations (AstroTurfing is managed by the LawMedia Group). What it shows rather clearly is that Microsoft’s political muscle has not been loosened. In fact, Microsoft's lobbying activities reportedly continue to climb.
Read the following old gem.
Actually, this isn’t “astroturfs again”, it’s just another project in a massive ongoing astroturf campaign. Numerous magazine columnists have recently published columns spouting the Microsoft line, almost word for word. Microsoft’s PR fronts send them a template and pay them for getting the article published. The results are pretty easy to spot because they just paraphrase the template, All include the exact same points.
Microsoft sponsors two major lobbying groups, The Association for Competitive Technology, and a spin-off from that group, Americans for Technology Leadership. Both are active in trying to influence legislation in state governments, especially in California. Neither will state how much of their support comes from Microsoft, but Oracle Corp. got in a little hot water about a year ago for having a detective agency sort through one of the organization’s trash to try to determine that.
Microsoft also employs two high profile political advocacy groups: Dewey Square Group (Democrat oriented) and DCI/New Media (Republican oriented), has become the 5th largest “soft money” donor to both parties, and hires a whole lineup of other lobbying firms.
Interesting therein is also the inclusion of ACT [1, 2]. They are among the nastier ones and they are largely responsible for the fight against OpenDocument format, at least in California.
The stories above date back to US antitrust actions and also, for a variety of reasons, we have recently criticised the New York Times, which is frequently seen serving Microsoft’s agenda [1, 2, 3]. Here is another oldie pointing out the problem.
[The NYT ran a prominent article on Saturday raising questions about the
Independent Institute, an ad it placed, and funding from MS. Some of the
signers have told me they are very angry that they were not told that MS
was involved. Here is some fallout. --DBM]
The remainder is very interesting because it shows how an establishment which calls itself “Independent Institute” is not independent at all. It’s dependent on Microsoft and it serves as yet another pressure group. This ought to have people wonder about Microsoft’s use of the term “independent”. Recall the incident below. █
“Microsoft did sponsor the benchmark testing and the NT server was better tuned than the Linux one. Having said that, I must say that I still trust the Windows NT server would have outperformed the Linux one.”
–Windows platform manager, Microsoft South-Africa
Reference: Outrage at Microsoft’s independent, yet sponsored NT 4.0/Linux research
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Net loss at $15 million, claims Novell
Novell may have already had financial trouble before. Then came the deal with Microsoft. In the previous fiscal quarter, Novell's financial issues were already impossible to hide, despite cooking its own books (Microsoft does this too by the way).
In more recent months, Novell began buying its own shares in order to keep up appearances just like Microsoft does [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Yesterday’s financial figures, however, reveal that Novell is unable to keep this up. Novell reported bigger losses.
Here is the press release from Novell (also available from The Earth Times, which might improve future retention in case the former link breaks).
Market Watch summaries thusly: “Novell posts widened third-quarter loss”
Network World (IDG) covered this too.
Novell Thursday posted a net income loss of $15 million for its fiscal third quarter fueled by a charge related to its “auction-rate securities.”
Here is a reminder of the fact that Novell has already slashed its staff to reduce expenses. Apparently, this was not enough for a turnaround.
Novell Inc., the second-largest US seller of Linux software, reported a wider third-quarter loss because of a charge related to investments.
The net loss of $15.1 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a loss of $3.68 million, or 1 cent, a year earlier, Waltham-based Novell said.
Novell slashed about 10 percent of its workforce last year, moved costly consulting tasks to partner companies, and started selling more products online and over the phone. The company blamed the third-quarter loss on a $15 million impairment charge related to its auction-rate securities.
Fox News had this report.
Novell Inc. (NOVL) posted a widened fiscal third-quarter loss, citing a $15 million charge related to auction-rate securities. Waltham, Mass.-based Novell said its net loss in the period ended in July grew to $15.1 million, or 4 cents a share, from $3.7 million, or a penny a share in the same period a year earlier.
A long-time Microsoft talking point, Ivy Lessner, annonces that “Novell’s Quarterly Loss Widens.”
Same tune in Associated Press, which does not permit quoting. The Microsoft-obedient New York Times may have cherry-picked a Reuters article, which spins this news positively.
Like a few others, Eric Savitz, of the Microsoft-obedient Barron’s, had his eyes on the forecasts before he finally reported without saying much. The effect on the stock was minor.
After hours, NOVL is unchanged at $6.01; the stock rose 10 cents in the regular session.
Street Insider has offered some coverage too.
Over at iTWire, just prior to Novell’s disclosure of these latest results, Sam Varghese predicted trouble for Novell. A company which becomes so dependent on Microsoft cannot be in a healthy state of affairs.
The extension of the deal indicates one thing – all the money which has been pumped into Novell so far is not yielding the returns which either company hoped for and it is now time to further subsidise SUSE Linux.
Yes, subsidise SUSE Linux. That is the main game from Microsoft’s perspective – the subsidising of a GNU/Linux distribution which Microsoft is slowly infiltrating and trying to control. All this talk about interoperability is so much window (pun intended) dressing.
As Novell is finding out, and will continue to discover, such deals are counter-productive to the bottom line.
Novell has already tried to diffuse several points of backlash [1, 2, 3]. Judging by the ratings of Sam’s article, the the 'Novell squad', if it exists at all, might be working overtime.
Here is another new article from Server Watch.
Then remember that the company [Microsoft] isn’t subsidizing SLES to all and sundry — only to customers (including potential ones.) If Microsoft can’t stop them from moving some of their workloads to Linux, it can at least try to control them by herding them to a Linux from a company it has a strong relationship with. Since the two companies have agreed to collaborate on interoperability, and since Microsoft is paying Novell a quarter of what it’s receiving for its Linux business, it’s not a huge step to imagine Microsoft is calling the collaboration tune and Novell doing the dancing.
But Microsoft will also get something else of value from the deal: a better idea of what its customers are up to when it comes to Linux. After all, it must dearly like to have a clear understanding of the areas in which its customers are abandoning Windows for Linux, why they are doing so, how much it costs and the difficulties they face. It’s a case of heeding the advice of Chinese military strategist Sun-tzu: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
The deal has a darker side to it as well. Subsidies have a habit of distorting the market, and in this case it’s Red Hat and other competitors to SLES that have to struggle against the advantage Microsoft’s greenbacks give Novell. If Microsoft tries to use the knowledge it gains from customers to stifle the growth of Linux in the longer term then that’s altogether more sinister.
Albeit not exactly surprising.
As far as the public if aware, more layoffs are on their way. Novell is meanwhile becoming more of a prime target for an attractive acquisition. It increasingly embraces Microsoft technologies. Yesterday we showed what Novell’s CEO had said about Novell and Microsoft mixing and combining at a technical level. It’s bound to triple in scale.
There are a few speculations out there about Sun Microsystems getting acquired. According to the following, Sun’s FOSS assets could move to Novell, which would make sense for OpenOffice.org, but not for a crown jewel like Java (Novell is a .NET supporter).
HP and IBM would need to see certain mid-term and long-term value in whatever bits of Sun was left after they stripped out the poorly performing parts. IBM could take the open source stuff, like MySQL. It would have trouble taking the Open Solaris software stack on board and would surely regard the Solaris base as conversion material to AIX (less likely) or Linux (more likely). It might sell the open source part of Sun to Novell. The SPARC chip business would have to go, IBM already having PowerPC and not wanting another chip technology. Again Fujitsu is the obvious candidate.
The above is merely speculation, but it’s also possible that Novell will be acquired. Its market cap is very low ($2.13 billion compared to $6.83 billion in Sun’s case and $148.98 billion for Google) and it probably keeps dropping. █
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