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09.27.08

In A “World Without Walls” or Fences…

Posted in Bill Gates, Humour, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Linspire, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 5:44 pm by Shane Coyle

Oh, you know the rest.

I’ll admit, I found the fact that Bill Gates was using his rather famous (in Geek culture, anyhow) mug shot in the first of those ill-fated Seinfeld ads for Microsoft to be uproarious – even if the commercials were so-so. The fact that he’d embrace the image that has so often been used to poke a bit of fun at him, I found that to be pretty humorous and ‘big’ of him and Microsoft.

More humorous, to me, was the revelation that Microsoft’s latest set of advertisements for Windows would be mimicking the popular “I’m a Mac” campaign from Apple and using the slogan “Life Without Walls” after all of those sayings that were so popular some years ago. Of course, these ads are just awful – to the point where I want those Seinfeld ads to continue.

Well, there may be another aspect to this other than Microsoft showing it’s sense of humor, and that is trying to possibly undermine the supposed pending trademark of a competing Operating System company, G.ho.st.

An unusual Israeli-Palestinian joint venture start-up, which makes a cloud-based Web operating system letting users access their desktops from any computer with an Internet connection, is alleging a trademark violation by Microsoft in its new $300 million advertising campaign.

G.ho.st, which stands for “Global Hosted Operating System,” is claiming it has a pending trademark registration for the tagline “no walls.”

For it’s part, Microsoft claims that they are aware of no such trademarks, and dismiss the claim as “without merit”. Of course, we all know that Microsoft has a dubious history with trademark suits involving competitors, ala Lindows/Linspire, so it’ll be interesting to see how far they take this one before either backing down or making a large payment.

Google’s Get the Facts Website

Posted in America, Antitrust, Deals, Google, Marketing, Microsoft, Search at 4:44 pm by Shane Coyle

So, now Google finds itself facing criticism as folks air their antitrust concerns regarding their proposed advertising deal with Yahoo!, and have decided the best method of countering those arguments is with their very own “Get the Facts” style website.

This arrangement is not a merger, nor a joint venture. It is much simpler than that – it is a non-exclusive agreement to supply advertising. Yahoo! remains free to enter into similar agreements with other advertising providers, including Microsoft. In addition, Yahoo! will maintain relationships with its own advertising customers and will continue to rely exclusively on its own advertising program outside of the U.S. and Canada.

The agreement has a term of up to ten years: a 4-year initial term and two 3-year renewals at Yahoo!’s option.

As noted by Shaun Nichols at vnunet.com, Google also takes the time to specifically take Microsoft to task for what they characterize as “political attacks” incited by Microsoft’s failure to acquire Yahoo! earlier this year.

The Google website also notes that, although they do not believe regulatory blessing is required, Yahoo! and Google are delaying implementation of the deal to allow for the U.S. Department of Justice, and possibly States’ Attorney Generals, to review the deal and have their concerns about the effect on competition assuaged.

It just seems humorous to me that Google is hitting back at Microsoft using their own methods and tactics. Well, except for the chair throwing anyhow.

Judge Finds Microsoft (Un)Documentation Unimpressive

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft, Windows at 12:19 pm by Shane Coyle

Microsoft’s U.S. Antitrust Proceedings Continue… Seriously?

According to published reports, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotell has ruled that Microsoft is still behind in fulfilling its obligations to the court in regard to documenting their APIs and protocols, some of which are nearly five years overdue now.

In the wake of antitrust actions, documentation of Microsoft technologies has become a method of allaying the concerns of legal authorities in both the US and EU. By providing documentation of the APIs and protocols used by its products, Microsoft would not only allow third-party and open-source software to interact better with Windows and other software, but potentially enable them to write replacements, in whole or in part, for Microsoft products. This, in theory, would enable more software companies to compete on equal terms with Redmond.

Unfortunately, the company has consistently had trouble with producing complete and useful documentation. As noted above, the company struggled to satisfy EU authorities that it was complying with the agreement—that was 2006. By 2008, documentation was rearing its ugly head in the US court system. Microsoft’s consent decree with the federal and state attorneys general was set to expire, and most of the conditions were allowed to. But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the consent decree, ruled that Microsoft still hadn’t sufficiently documented some protocols, despite those documents having been due in 2003. As a result, the consent decree will remain in place at least until November of 2009.

"At least until November 2009", because as Judge Kollar-Kotelly also said that she is inclined to not lift the consent degree at that time unless Microsoft has brought themselves into compliance. It’s somewhat baffling that Microsoft is unable or unwilling to fulfill these requirements, but I also must admit that I have some questions regarding what these “overview” and “system” documents are supposed to be, exactly.

Meanwhile, at least some folks who are involved in the process are becoming a bit frustrated, questioning Microsoft’s commitment to the process and whether they even understand the gravity of the situation.

“I have to express my concern with this attitude that they’re behaving as a volunteer,” said Jay Himes, the antitrust bureau chief for the New York attorney general’s office. “It fosters this sort of grudging commitment to get the system documents done.”

He said the technical committee’s implementation group has been called off all other tasks to support the template effort, and the committee dedicated more than 150 hours to meetings about the templates just last week.

“What we have today is the (technical committee) and its staff spoon-feeding the world’s biggest PC company,” he said. “Something about that just isn’t right.”

Representatives for Microsoft said the company is very committed to finishing the templates and the system documents. The company has assigned a significant number of senior engineers on the template project, said Bob Muglia, Microsoft’s senior vice president of servers and tools.

“We understand that is a requirement,” said Charles Rule, an attorney for Microsoft. “The delays have not been as a result of Microsoft taking a lackadaisical attitude,”

Still, Kollar-Kotelly questioned Microsoft’s commitment.

“I do appreciate that these things are complex, but I think it’s interesting the (technical committee) is able to do what’s necessary and bring Microsoft along, and not the other way around,” she said.

So, according to these legal folks, they are saying that there’s a group outside of Redmond which is able to understand and implement their own APIs and protocols, even with non-existent or poorly created documentation? Sorry, I just don’t believe it. And I certainly can’t believe that Microsoft would do anything to willingly distort and⁄or delay the legal process.

I think I need to add a Sarcasm category to supplement our humor one… but, seriously, why is Microsoft still unable or unwilling to comply with what seems to be the final hurdle in this saga? I mean, this has to be a lot easier than being broken up into two seperate companies, no?

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