- Let’s complain about Microsoft restricting choice in the market (part deux)
Yoon Kit wrote about being forced to pay the Microsoft tax when buying computers from computer manufacturers (eg Dell). I submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Internal Trade and Consumer Affairs and received an official acknowledgment from the ministry that the Penang branch office will investigate the complaint.
I strongly urge everybody who uses non-Microsoft operating systems on their computers bought from Dell or any other manufacturers to write in through the web interface and make an official complaint. Make your voices heard so that we can stop being forced to pay for software we don’t use!
- Dell Mini 9….
- Dell’s dresses Ubuntu in a Mini
Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day
Simon Phipps, head of free open source strategy at Sun Microsystems Evangelist, Berlin 02
Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.
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This Web site as well as others have already shown the strong tie between the New York Times and Microsoft. That type of bond is a broader issue. It results in promotional articles and inaccurate revisionist placements, which glorify Gates and pitch in Microsoft's favour. Novell has a role in this too and the same goes for BBC revisionism [1, 2]. Recent examples revolve around OOXML corruptions, which are being denied in the press once witnesses and victims forgot the truth or creased to actively fight for it. Truth has a shelf life because history is being rewritten.
The following old piece demonstrates the fact that the New York Times is letting Microsoft itself publish articles dismissing the antitrust allegations against Microsoft. Intel was doing the same thing (e.g. in the Wall Street Journal) after it had deliberately and maliciously destroyed the OLPC project. Either way, the disclosures typically come at the very bottom (i.e. no prior warning to innocent or fast readers).
The trial court’s decision is before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It is Microsoft’s hope that upon full judicial review, the consent decree will be entered, a result you seemed to anticipate in a July 21, 1994, editorial that extolled the consent decree. WILLIAM H. NEUKOM Senior V.P. & General Counsel Microsoft Corporation Redmond, Wash., March 2, 1995
This is just one example of a letter that becomes an article. A Microsoft VP serves as a defendant and a judge for that which is also being prosecuted, which makes it an irresponsible deed. The “letters from the dead” incident is worth recalling here [1, 2]. It’s known as AstroTurfing.
To set the record straight, we have accumulated some articles from around that time. They will be a valuable addition to the BillWatch archive and other external resources.
Old articles from these days include:
MICROSOFT CRIME HURT CONSUMERS
You portrayed Microsoft crime only as providing low-cost superior goods in a way deemed harmful to competitors. Not true! Microsoft’s crime was forcing computer manufacturers to pay a royalty for every computer sold, in order to ship Microsoft’s MS-DOS…
Some years later came this article: Microsoft Trial — Compaq Staff Feared Sabotage, Retaliation (OEM exclusivity was mentioned before)
A Compaq Computer executive testified that personal-computer makers have no alternative to Microsoft’s Windows operating system, while other employees of the Texas PC manufacturer described Microsoft as a monopoly capable of retaliatory practices and sabotage.
Industry group rips Microsoft’s `extortion’
A group of computer and telephone companies charged yesterday that Microsoft was using “extortion” in its battle with Netscape Communications Corp. for dominance in selling browsers for the World Wide Web.
Government Has the Edge So Far in U.S. vs. Microsoft
Avadis Tevanian, an Apple Computer Inc. senior vice president, comes armed with allegations of blackmail, software sabotage and an illegal market-division attempt by Microsoft in multimedia software. The market-division charge could be especially damaging, because it echoes a core claim made by the Justice Department and 20 states in the broad antitrust lawsuits they filed in May.
Apple: MS ‘Sabotaged’ QuickTime
An Apple Computer executive questioned by a Microsoft lawyer on Wednesday stuck by his accusation that the software giant had “sabotaged” Apple’s multimedia software.
RealNetworks Accuses Microsoft of Sabotage
Highlight from Senate hearings: CEO Robert Glaser claims Windows Media Player intentionally disables RealNetworks product.
Microsoft Accused of Sabotaging Witness’s Computer Program
Testifying as a Government witness, Dr. Felten said several computers on which Internet Explorer had been removed with his ”prototype removal program” worked smoothly through the summer, even when used to visit a special Microsoft Web page for updates to Windows 98.
But then in September, Dr. Felten testified, he gave Microsoft a copy of the source code for his removal program as part of a pretrial discovery request. After that, he said, ”Microsoft modified the software” behind the company’s update Web page ”to make it incompatible” with computers that had been altered by his removal program.
MICROSOFT READY FOR FLOOD OF LAWSUITS
Lawyers are opening the spigots on what is expected to be a flood of private lawsuits alleging that Microsoft Corp. used its control of the market to overcharge customers.
In the wake of a federal judge’s ruling that the software giant is a monopoly, class-action attorneys in California were expected to file one suit against Microsoft today in that state’s courts.
Last week in New Orleans, an attorney filed suit in federal court seeking to represent millions of Windows 98 owners nationwide, alleging that Microsoft used intimidation to reduce consumers’ choices and force them to pay higher prices.
Microsoft Accused of Trying To Get Away with Murder.
Late Tuesday the unappeased states rushed breathlessly into court with the news that they had made the horrifying discovery that Microsoft was actually benefiting from its settlement with the Justice Department.
What are all these settlements anyway? It’s not justice. It’s a “here is some money, leave us alone” solution, which does not resolve anything and does not bring truth to light. Comes vs. Microsoft is a recent example of this, another older one being related to fraud.
Judge’s public critique of Microsoft raises questions
Microsoft’s “crime” was its hubris — that is, an oversized pride that prevented the company from acknowledging that U.S. antitrust laws applied to it, Jackson told article author Ken Auletta.
Judge Jackson, who studied this case for a very long time, called Microsoft “criminals”. Rather than rewarding him for honesty, punishment was what he got.
They seem to have ‘pulled a Peter Quinn’ [1, 2] on Judge Jackson and then came this.
A year ago February, Thomas Penfield Jackson, the trial court judge, appointed a distinguished jurist, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago, to mediate a settlement. With draconian penalties looming, Microsoft accepted demands by the Justice Department that included tough, continuing regulation of the company’s marketing tactics. But the hard-line state Attorneys general — notably those from California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa — vetoed the deal, leading the frustrated mediator to point out in public that the “states do not have the resources to do more than free ride on federal antitrust litigation, complicating its resolution.”
Since then, an appellate court has rolled back most of the findings of legal liability that gave the government its leverage and instructed the trial court to create remedies that fit the “drastically altered” circumstances. Under prodding to settle from the newly appointed judge, Colleen Kollar- Kotelly, prosecutors worked out another deal that puts a lid on Microsoft’s aggressive behavior — albeit one less confining than the agreement California Attorney General Lockyer and company so righteously dismissed almost two years ago. A rump group of attorneys general have now declared that they will oppose the proposed settlement when Judge Kollar-Kotelly formally reviews it.
Why are they asking the court to derail the settlement, effectively guaranteeing that the case won’t be resolved for years?
The Department of Justice has never been the same since. █
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Image from Wikimedia
Two weeks ago we wrote about Caldera evidence which Microsoft had destroyed. It was part of a settlement. Well, purely by coincidence it was only yesterday that Groklaw found and published details about this mysterious settlement. It has a lot to do with Novell and Pamela has the details.
[I]t is its theory, which it wants to do discovery to demonstrate, that Novell sold all its antitrust claims to Caldera, and that would kill off the two remaining claims Novell has brought against Microsoft in the antitrust case. Microsoft, not satisfied with what Novell produced or its reasons for refusing to produce some documents, brought a Motion to Compel Discovery [PDF] [Memorandum in Support (PDF)], and it has just been granted [PDF].
In Novell’s opposition [PDF] to the motion, it attached some exhibits, one of which is the settlement agreement [PDF] in the Caldera v. Microsoft litigation, as Exhibit K.
Finally, we get to read it, all except the exact figure that Microsoft paid to Caldera. But Microsoft does say, in the memorandum in support, on page 9, that Novell got “tens of millions of dollars” from the settlement, and a transcript [PDF] of a hearing in the Caldera litigation hints strongly, on page 9, that Novell contracted to get 20% of any recovery, so you can get an idea of how large the settlement figure was that Canopy received. I know some of you have wondered if that success inspired Caldera to sue IBM to try to get lightning to strike twice. The exhibits are where all the history comes out.
For example, we get to see Microsoft’s 1997 subpoena [PDF] to Novell in the Caldera case. And we find pieces of the APA between Caldera and Novell quoted here and there, although the document itself is under seal, I gather.
Thorough. You can see Microsoft wished to have this brought to a full stop, with nothing to rise from the dead in the future. The very muted press release announcing the settlement, but giving absolutely no details about it, is on page 12.
For background, readers might want to return to this recent post. The short story: Microsoft is repeating its pattern of destroying damaging evidence so as to avoid future action against its corruption. Those wanting to see similar examples would also appreciate some of Novell's own share of scandals.
Microsoft’s securities fraud might have it toppled just like Enron one day. But the relationships with the Bush administration has stood in the way of proper scrutiny. Remember: Microsoft is claimed to have lost $18 billion in 1998. It just plays financial games with assets that it may not really have. More details have been made available on this subject, courtesy of Bill Parish. █
Bill Gates has publicly said that this is his favorite publication on finance and economics. It is also generally believed to be the leading such publication in the world. In an 8/7/99 cover story, The Economist noted that a proper accounting at Microsoft would result in a loss of $18 billion for 1998 rather than the reported earnings of $4.5 billion. If you are not an accountant, don’t waste the time pretending you are, trust The Economist, the earnings are not real. Don’t let yourself be intimidated or deceived by financial analysts, TV commentators, bullies on Internet forums or Microsoft’s elaborate public relations campaign. Bill Gates trusts The Economist and you should too. Abbey Joseph Cohen and Rick Sherlund of Goldman Sachs have been sent this material numerous times over a 9 month period and neither has publicly divulged this situation.
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[Note: see the comments at the bottom for an alternative point of view.]
“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
“It’s going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate [with Microsoft] on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”
–Ron Hovsepian (last week)
Digging up some old news, investors or investigators might find that Novell is not exactly averse to patenting, even after its acquisition of S.u.S.E. and FOSS pretense.
It’s worth remembering that SCO contributed to Linux just like Novell. That’s how it all began anyway.
The following article from 2005 reveals that Novell not only applies for patents (software patents), but it also buys them.
Utah-based tech concern Novell picks up 39 valuable business to business and web services patents from their bankrupt owner.
Novell, however, seems content to fulfill that purpose themselves. Public relations at the Orem, Utah firm state the patents will be used defensively and not for generating a licensing revenue stream.
“We have a stated policy that we will use our patents to defend our open-source offerings against potential patent challenges by others,” Lowry said. “The acquisition of the Commerce One patents strengthens our ability to do so.”
Novell’s patents are significant among its assets, which it can use against GNU/Linux rivals and maybe even (Open)Solaris. In theory, Microsoft can use Novell here, either as a front/proxy (think SCO) or as an acquired company. Regardless, Microsoft has other proxies at its disposal.
The BSA, which is a front for Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, is already lobbying for software protocol royalties and software patents in Europe. It turns out that the BSA is now pressuring Obama as well.
BSA lobbies Obama for software patents at the Democratic Convention in Denver
IP-watch tell us that BSA went to lobby Obama at the Democratic Convention in Denver with a list of principles, where the first one is “inspire creativity and innovation through strong, comprehensive, and enforceable intellectual property policies, including copyright, patent and trademark laws.” Software patents are definitely on the top of the agenda of American multinationals. BSA does not has any small software company in its members, and Microsoft more active then the other members in using the association as a vector for its purposes.
Matt Asay has been complaining about this for a while. The BSA is actively working to legalise anti-Free software mechanisms such as RAND. Asay’s friend, Dave Rosenberg, has just announced that he is leaving MuleSource and only a year ago he wrote the following with request for Asay to bar Novell and Microsoft from OSBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).
Open source companies should boycott Microsoft’s ISV corruption event
This past Friday a IT banking friend and I spoke at length about the upcoming Microsoft event prior to OSBC which is designed to encourage OSS companies to partner and win with Microsoft. The guys at Olliance have been trying to help Microsoft not be such incredible clowns about open source and this event seemed like a good idea.
Nonetheless, I just couldn’t convince myself to attend and in fact I was kind of obnoxious about the whole thing. My main issue was that I had zero trust that Microsoft was going to do right by me, my company or the community at large.
This weekend I was proven 100% correct. Microsoft wants nothing more than to kill open source, and is clearly very threatened–far more than we have realized in the past.
At the end, Novell was not banned, even though It should have. It does not help GNU/Linux against a sworn foe, so it's part of the problem.█
“We will do some buying of companies that are built around open-source products.”
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Here is a new practical example of the harms of Microsoft’s OOXML.
Recently I was caught with three versions of a document to which I needed to make some small changes. I had a printed version, a version saved out of Microsoft Office 2007 (for the record, I made that document on someone else’s computer), and a version saved in the Open Document format (ODF). Unfortunately, where I was, I only had access to Microsoft Office 2003 and no ability to install software. In the end, I had to retype the document off of the printed version. This simply should not be necessary. If there was a single, universally supported document format, this problem would not have occurred. Really, a standard document format is in everyone’s interest, except possibly Microsoft’s.
Instead of one uniform standard, which was the goal of ODF, all that’s left is fragmentation and confusion. Another case of point from the news:
Saving as RTF from Open Office works just as well. The ePub format is based on XML and workflow is possible starting from the Open Document Format. However, at the moment RTF seems an easier option.
Here is why the world ended up this way.
It is bad enough that the brutally-corrupt ISO might infect the IEEE with its bad reputations; now it appears to be happening with the IEC.
The IEEE and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) have agreed to extend their existing cooperation agreement, which describes a procedure for submitting and approving existing IEEE standards to IEC, to include a procedure permitting joint, parallel development of a project in both organizations leading to an IEC/IEEE International Standard.
Martin Bryan, Former Convenor of ISO/International Electrotechnical Commission JTC1/SC34 WG1, wrote: “The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles.” Convergence with ill-reputed bodies is the last thing the world needs. █
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Old tricks, different execution?
Two and a half weeks ago, Microsoft invested a lot of money in what was back then referred to as "Microsoft SUSE". Having already seen Microsoft sneaking its way into
“cancer” the OSI, nothing seems impossible anymore.
Microsoft has invested large sums of money in SUSE as a server platform simply because SUSE can replace Red Hat and Microsoft has control over SUSE. It’s merely a substitution of GNUs/Linuxes. Based on observations that Shane and I repeatedly made over a year ago, many of those coupons that Microsoft and Novell had distributed were actually handed out to existing GNU/Linux users, some of whom Red Hat users.
Back in 2005, roughly one year before Novell and Microsoft began to negotiate their software patents deal, PC World (IDG) published the following article.
While chatting over dinner with the executives of a middleware company during the recent RSA conference for encryption and security in San Francisco, I heard about a secret project. It concerned the development of a version of Linux that runs smoothly as a task under Windows. The project was completed and then shelved. Whether it will ever reemerge is doubtful, but it does offer some interesting possibilities and hints as to what Microsoft may be up to with MS-Linux.
If Microsoft actually produced an MS-Linux that was the standard Linux attached to the driver layer of Windows, giving users full Plug and Play (PnP) support of all their peripherals, nobody would buy any other Linux on the market. Well, except for the fact that Microsoft would be unable to produce such a product without allowing the other vendors access to the driver code as part of the open-source Linux license arrangement (GPL). You can be sure that Microsoft lawyers are studying this as closely as possible to see if there is any way they could market a dominant Linux distribution without killing themselves. So how could they do this?
Open-source law is new and not completely tested. I’m certain that Microsoft got involved with the SCO versus Linux lawsuit partly to reach a better understanding of how to proceed.
What if Microsoft has since then chosen virtualisation rather than middleware as a penetration/intervention vector? While virtualisation has not much effect on the desktop (not yet anyway), we already know that, according to Novell’s CEO Ron Hovsepian, Novell will not be pursuing the desktop. Earlier in the week John Dragoon said that they still lose money on the desktop. So instead, Novell goes for Red Hat’s jugular: the server room. It’s all about harming true GNU/Linux vendors one by one (Novell is still a proprietary software company).
“…there was a coordinated exclusion of virtualisation drivers and ‘shims’ by Microsoft and Novell.”In virtualisation, Novell gets exclusivity from Microsoft. With VMware under Microsoft's 'puppet regime', there remains room for reliance, but that could change in the future. Red Hat and Ubuntu have meanwhile moved to KVM.
As Shane wrote over a year ago, there was a coordinated exclusion of virtualisation drivers and ‘shims’ by Microsoft and Novell. They ensure that only SUSE and Windows will play ‘nice’ with each another, which relates to the Op-Ed piece at the top (device layer as a differentiator).
That brings us back to the supposition that Microsoft indeed had such a plot. Does the above have much substance to it? Well, Maureen O’Gara, a Microsoft talking point [1, 2], had its ‘home base’ trying to ridicule this article anonymously (Maureen was publishing anonymously before). Why attack it? It’s the same ‘home base’ that supposes Microsoft might buy Novell and already covers a lot of Novell and SCO news, always in SCO’s favour. Could the story above be so much on the right topic that a story needed to be written just to attack its author? █
“As discussed in our PR meeting this morning. David & I have spoken with Maureen O’Gara (based on go ahead from BrianV) and planted the story. She has agreed to not attribute the story to us….
“[...] Inform Maureen O’ Gara (Senior Editor Client Server News/LinuxGram) or John Markoff (NYT) of announcement on Aug 28, 2000. Owner dougmil (Approval received from BrianV to proceed)
“Contact Eric Raymond, Tim O’Reilly or Bruce Perrins to solicit support for this going against the objectives of the Open Source movement. Owner: dougmil [Doug Miller]. Note that I will not be doing this. Maureen O’Gara said she was going to call them so it looks better coming from her.”
(From Microsoft’s smoking guns)
“That would be because we believe in Free Software and doing the right thing (a practice you appear to have given up on). Maybe it is time the term ‘open source’ also did the decent thing and died out with you.”
–Alan Cox to Eric Raymond
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