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09.26.08

A Triumph for Common Sense in the Patent System

Posted in Courtroom, Dell, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 11:25 pm by Shane Coyle

Those were the words of Microsoft counsel Tom Burt, regarding the upholding of a previous ruling overturning the $1.5B Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft patent infringement judgment.

Curiously, according to the Associated Press article, it appears that Microsoft willingly stepped in to this conflict as a defendant after Lucent Technologies filed suit against PC manufacturers Dell and Gateway.

In February 2007, a jury in U.S. District Court in San Diego determined Microsoft infringed on two patents that cover the encoding and decoding of audio into the digital MP3 format, a popular way to convert music from CDs into files on computers and vice versa.

Six months later, the judge who presided over the case, Rudi M. Brewster, vacated the ruling, saying Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software does not infringe on one of the two patents in question.

Brewster, siding with Microsoft, also said the second patent is jointly owned by both Alcatel-Lucent and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a German company that Microsoft paid $16 million in exchange for use of the technology. Since Fraunhofer did not sue Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker was in the clear.

The MP3 patent claims were just two of 15 made by Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2003 against PC makers Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, Lucent’s research arm.

Later that year, Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system. France’s Alcatel bought Lucent in 2006.

So, Microsoft are the (sorta) good guys here? I’m at a loss for words, but good for them I guess.

I find it a bit funny that they didn’t try to argue that software is not a component, and that there needs to be a device for a patent, like they had previously.

Once upon a time, I somewhat jokingly had speculated about Microsoft trying to “pull a Goo-Tube” and step in with their deep pockets when they saw decent technologies were about to be assailed with spurious patent claims – maybe it was more true than I ever thought?

Probably not likely, but what do you think? Tellme.

Novell’s Got the NAC

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, Security, Standard, Windows at 10:42 am by Shane Coyle

But not for Linux… yet

It appears that Novell’s ZENworks is gaining some Network Access Control (NAC) functionality, a product of their Senforce acquisition. As Sean Michael Kerner points out over at Enterprise Networking Planet, there is some confusion about Novell’s NAC implementation as it relates to Linux. Specifically, at this point, Novell is not supporting Linux endpoints – not SUSE, no one.

Apparently, it was a ‘business decision’ to go forward with a mainly Windows-compatible feature set, despite the fact that the NAC is actually running on a Linux kernel, albeit a customized non-SUSE one. I guess that Novell doesn’t see much of a Linux market out there, which is weird because it appears that Red Hat does.

The surprises don’t end there. Although ZENworks NAC is built on top of a Linux kernel, it does not actually support the OS as an enforcement endpoint. Ferre explained that Linux support wasn’t a priority because Novell sees a higher demand for Windows-compatible solutions, owing to the density of Windows devices in the enterprise.

“It was a decision on coming to market,” Ferre said. “We needed to either deliver on what is in the most demand and get to market sooner, or we could have held off and release at a later date. Based on where the market is today, we wanted to move forward immediately rather than wait for Linux compatibility.”

Still, he added that Linux support may be in the works.

“We are offering testing capability on Windows and Mac OS X,” Ferre said. “Linux is a logical extension since we have SUSE Linux, and it is something we will be looking at in the near term.”

In addition, the article notes that the ZENworks NAC does not – again “at this point” – support the Trusted Network Content (TNC) standard, something that even Microsoft is apparently doing with their own Network Access Protection (NAP). (Is it really necessary for them to use a seperate, nearly identical, acronym for their offering – what’s wrong with “NAC” Microsoft? Do we need more acronyms for the same thing?) This lack of TNC support is despite the fact that Novell characterizes TNC as a vendor-neutral open standard, and “the way things will go”. Still, TNC compatibility is not yet in the works “at this point”, and Linux support merely “may be” in the works.

It just seems to me like Novell is rushing this product to market, in order to claim “me too!” when other vendors speak of their having Network Access Control products available, and in the process appear to be quite disorganized and give the appearance that Linux endpoints are either few and far between and therefore not worthy of the development investment, or just not a priority to Novell – a self proclaimed “Linux Company”.

This one has them seeming more and more like the “Windows Complement” some had foreseen.

09.25.08

Hello World

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 11:01 pm by Shane Coyle

Howdy, Comrades! It’s Shane, guest-blogging from the new Union of American Socialist States (UASS). As many are aware, I haven’t contributed much here in the previous year or so – save my last cameo appearance when Roy took a well-deserved break, so perhaps there are some folks here who have never heard from me before.

So, please allow myself to introduce… myself. And, yes, this is a completely personal entry – no news or anything, so if you are uninterested you can save yourself a few minutes. I just would feel weird if I started broadcasting into everyone’s RSS readers and they have no bloody idea who I am.
Read the rest of this entry »

Links 25/09/2008: Nokia + Linux Again, Mandriva Reaches Second RC

Posted in News Roundup at 6:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Phones

Rights

Leftovers

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Eric Bachard, OpenOffice.org developer 02 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Links 25/09/2008: Red Hat’s Business Still Thrives, GNOME 2.24 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 10:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Ubuntu

  • Improving Ubuntu/Upstream Bug Workflow

    This is just one of a number of projects that we are working on to improve how we work with other entities in the Open Source world. We are really, really keen to not only build a strong and effective Ubuntu community, but to also ensure we can work as effectively with other projects and contributors too.

  • Intrepid and beyond
  • Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10 Alpha 6 Review

    Alpha 6 is the last alpha release of Xubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10. I wanted to give it a try on my Dell Inspiron 1150 notebook to see how far it had come along. My Dell has an Intel Celeron 2.4 Ghz processor, 1 Gig of RAM, and 80 Gigabytes of hard disk space. The Ubuntu release schedule states the final release date for Intrepid Ibex is October 30th, 2008.

Devices

Web

F/OSS

Leftovers

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Larry Augustin, GNU Linux business visionary 31

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Eye on Microsoft: Assortment of Key Observations

Posted in America, Antitrust, Asia, Finance, Google, Microsoft at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Those who don’t understand Linux are doomed to reinvent it, poorly.

This set of reports is intended to keep track of anti-competitive behaviour in particular, but also in these “Eye on Microsoft” posts, signs of the demise of Microsoft are being accumulated for future reference.

Past and Future

Today’s report starts with Borland’s story, which was shared here before [1, 2, 3]. Glyn Moody bring up his own memories.

Microsoft essentially won the battle for the hearts and minds of the developer community, and Borland became something of a lost soul, wandering the fringes of computing, trying to find something to do in the shadow of Big Bill and an even bigger Microsoft.

One of the people at Microsoft tasked with destroying Borland was Todd Nielsen, who was general manager for Microsoft’s developer relations and platform marketing.

“Destroying” is a strong word, but we saw that before.

Several months ago, Steve Ballmer expressed no desire to resign from his post. That may change now as he uses a condition to excuse himself.

According to scuttlebutt from Microsoft’s annual employee meeting, which was held in Seattle on September 18, Ballmer told attendees that he is going to stay on at Microsoft until Microsoft’s search share exceeds Google’s.

Whether or not that ever happens (unlikely), the fact that such hubris is showing was worth noting, as well the mentioning of a departure. Microsoft’s hostile behaviour typically descends from the top. Matt Asay once confirmed this in an E-mail to us.

“I See Dead Products”

The heading is a film reference, but it reflects on a trend that was mentioned here a couple of days ago. Several key Microsoft products/services/units shut down.

“Remember that amazing relationship you once had where you didn’t even see the breakup coming?”A reader has sent us this example, describing it as: “How Microsoft shafted Ensemble studios (why should Novell be luckier?)

“Remember that amazing relationship you once had where you didn’t even see the breakup coming? Well, that’s sort of what Ensemble Studios founder Bruce Shelley sounds like when talking about Microsoft’s closure of his studio. Shelley explains he “remains very disappointed” and that everyone at the studio still has a job until Halo Wars is finished later this year.

“Shelley does give some detail on why the ax got dropped on the studio, explaining that Microsoft wanted to shift the budget to other development houses which were “expected to deliver” more strategic and profitable games.”

In other news from yesterday, Associated Press dumped Microsoft. That short affair is officially over.

Until now AP used Microsoft’s MSN media player to distribute videos. Vole flogged ads alongside the material, sharing the revenue with AP.

The Microsoft Tax… Evasion

We wrote about Microsoft’s tax evasion (or tax trickery) several times before [1, 2] and included some references to the developments in India. Well, the following article, which disappeared from CNN, had fortunately been mirrored a couple of days ago and also published. It seems to suggest that Microsoft might be dodging the law (with excuses). It just sounds suspicious.

Microsoft India Says Hasn’t Received Tax Notice,Can’t Comment

The Indian unit of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) said Wednesday it is yet to receive any tax notice from the government.

Earlier in the day, the Economic Times, citing unnamed sources, said the Indian service tax department has asked Microsoft India to pay INR2.56 billion ( $57 million) in taxes and penalties.

Antitrust

Microsoft is not off the hook — and rightly so. Later today there will be a formal discussion about Microsoft’s antitrust status.

Microsoft and antitrust regulators will be back in federal court on Thursday, for a regularly scheduled status conference on the software giant’s compliance with the final judgment order stemming from its historic consent decree.

The antitrust development from Japan — that which was mentioned 3 days ago — has just reached the Australian press, which has more details.

JAPAN’S Fair Trade Commission has told Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, to void clauses that it says violate anti-monopoly law in contracts with Japanese personal computer makers.

Yahoo!

As Microsoft goes into debt, it becomes unlikely that it will ever buy Yahoo. Nevertheless, some people still discuss the possibilities.

Yahoo (YHOO) this week holds its first board meeting with new director Carl Icahn at the table. And Carl is not being quiet about what he wants. In an appearance on CNBC’s Fast Money on Friday, Icahn repeated his stance that eventually the company will need to do a deal with Microsoft (MSFT).

“Yahoo…eventually…in my opinion…they have to do something with Microsoft eventually, they have to do it, or Google is going to kill them,” Icahn said.

Google’s deal with Yahoo is still facing challenges (risk of being derailed) only because of Microsoft, an almost-sole opposer with AstroTurf platforms. It was the same with DoubleClick (few more details in [1, 2]). The American Antitrust Institute has just published a paper on the subject.

The American Antitrust Institute (AAI) today released a white paper on the proposed alliance between Google and Yahoo, concluding that the transaction should be viewed as presumptively anticompetitive, although it may also contain possible pro-competitive benefits.

Debt

We have already expressed our views on the Microsoft buybacks. Roughly Drafted has some more ideas.

Spending your capital to buy back stock also indicates that you have
no ideas for using that capital to build your business, and are
instead converting it into value for shareholders, including
executives and employees holding options (the opposite of diluting
your stock by creating new shares).

[...]

If Microsoft had any implementable ideas, it would be using that $40
billion to make more money, just like Apple has used its capital to
rapidly expand its business while earning more cash on hand. Apple
isn’t buying back its stock because it thinks it can make more for
investors building new business than it can by simply giving the money
back.

Critics who can find no problems with Microsoft’s record earnings and
its dominance of Gartner’s market share reports have fallen for the
market share myth. Linux, Apple and Microsoft aren’t companies selling
competing widgets. Apple sells PCs that don’t have Microsoft’s OEM
software on them, while Linux is used as an alternative to Microsoft’s
software. Rather than directly competing for ”sales,“ Apple and Linux
both serve to compete with Microsoft for attention (development) and
air supply.

Comparing ”market share,“ particularly when talking about Linux, which
isn’t even sold, is absurd. One might as well be describing a man in a
sealed room with a fire burning in one corner as safe because the fire
only consumes a very small portion of the the room’s ”cubic inch
share.“ The real problem is that it is eating up the room’s oxygen and
putting out toxins.

Microsoft has worked well with a monopoly over the PC OS and software
markets. But with competition from non-Windows PCs (both Macs and Acer/
Dells running Linux) and from alternative server software (open source
servers, which power more web servers than Windows Server), Microsoft
is now finding its air supply getting cut off while its proprietary
business model is poisoned by the insidiously opportunistic spread of
open source. That’s why Microsoft calls it a ”cancer.“

[...]

Microsoft is still making loads of money, but Windows has hit a brick
wall with Vista, its consumer products have all tanked and are losing
loads of money, and competition is just barely getting started.

Apple is growing 10x faster than the PC market in general, and the top
PC makers (HP, Dell, Acer) are all actively working to find new ways
to use Linux or develop their own OS in imitation of Apple. Even if
Windows 7 turned out to be a good product in 2010, it wouldn’t matter,
because nobody wants to pay for a PC OS anymore.

Microsoft is fundamentally screwed. The worst part is that it is not
taking any effective stabs at building a new model or innovating
itself out of crisis. Shifts happen all the time. If big companies
can’t adapt, they die, and Microsoft isn’t proving it can adapt. It’s
merely reacting with stock buybacks and imitative advertising
(including its $300 million ads that primarily draw attention to
Apple’s brand.)

Patty Stonesifer Lands in Public Sector

This cannot be good news, due to the known impact of former Microsoft employees outside Microsoft. Patty Stonesifer used to be in the Gates Foundation and her husband ‘planted’ a series of articles praising Bill Gates in Time Magazine. That was about a month ago. It’s part of these attempts to hide truths and publicly glorify those who pay the bill. One reader believes that Stonesifer’s appointment in the Smithsonian Institution is bad news.

The Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents elected former Microsoft executive Patty Stonesifer on Monday as the next chairwoman of the board overseeing the world’s largest museum and research complex.

Having seen the Library of Congress accepting millions of dollars from Microsoft to pollute its Web site with Silverlight [1, 2, 3, 4], one reader worries that Microsoft influence in the Smithsonian Institution might do the same to more public archives. Another reader has just said that Stanfard is being ‘infected’ by this Linux-hostile technology as well.

Silverlight puke, barf

India Might Can ISO; IBM Opposition Backed by LF, Seeks Broader Crowd

Posted in Asia, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 8:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another day, another ISO headache

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

ISO had a lot of fun pretending that everything is fine, but the following morning it had a really nasty hangover. What hath ISO wrought upon itself? By refusing to admit that Microsoft had gamed the process, ISO aligned itself with Microsoft’s abuses, which are well documented.

Over the past couple of days we wrote about independent opposition and action coming from India and IBM [1, 2]. There is some new information in Business Standard, which now states:

First, IBM is threatening to leave organisations that set standards for software interoperability over concerns that their processes are not always transparent (the ostensible references are to the ISO and Microsoft).

Second, according to sources close to the development, the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) — which met in New Delhi on the 22nd of this month — is reviewing the ISO transparency issue while simultaneously exploring alternate standards which emerge from bodies like the W3C and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

That second portion of the text is particularly interesting. It is more substantiated than anything we’ve seen and given what the BIS went through (Microsoft abuse), it’s neither shocking nor extreme. For quite some time there has been the suggestion that India should sweep ISO aside, bypassing its recommendation. It seems to be getting there, hopefully.

In support of IBM’s protest, the Linux Foundation rises and calls for more such backlash. Via Andy Updegrove (of the Linux Foundation):

While IBM’s standards activities are formidible, IBM still controls only one vote within any single standards organization. As a result, it will be significant to see whether it is successful in inspiring other companies (and particularly those that were its allies in the ODF-OOXML competition, such as Google and Oracle) to make statements of active support for these same principles.

Bob Sutor has already mentioned this as well and below we append the press release. If the Linux Foundation was to grasp low-hanging fruit, it should seek a similar statement from Google, to whom standards are more relevant than to some companies like Red Hat, which sooner or later ought to come up with similar denouncements of ISO’s judgment, if not the entire process. Interesting times ahead. The European Commission is still investigating this fiasco.


Linux Foundation Statement on IBM IT Standards Policy

Yesterday, Linux Foundation member IBM announced its adoption of a new corporate policy that will govern its global participation in the standards development process. It also revealed a list of standards reform recommendations generated through a discussion among 70 standards experts from around the world, and called upon all stakeholders, from the open source community, to vendors, to government, to academia, to join in a dialogue that can both raise the bar for standards development as well as facilitate the implementation of open interoperability standards in open source software.

The IBM policy details a set of principles that are intended to regulate its participation in standards development, as well as a list of action items that will direct its efforts in seeking the reform of that process.
IBM’s goals in this pursuit will be to seek greater transparency, openness and inclusiveness in standards development, and also to facilitate the integration of that process with the development of open source software.

The Linux Foundation applauds this action, and supports IBM’s call for raising the bar in the standards development process. In particular, the Foundation, which uniquely supports both open source software and open standards, appreciates IBM’s leadership in recognizing the importance of promoting the advancement of these two essential technology tools in a coordinated way. Submarine patents, overly restrictive intellectual
property policies, and undue vendor influence are of equal concern to proponents of both open standards and open source software, and the best solutions will be those that address the needs of both disciplines.

Like IBM, the Foundation is working for similar goals. Accordingly, the Foundation calls upon others to support the principles laid out in the IBM announcement, and make common cause with this worthwhile effort.

True, IBM is a member of the Foundation – but that would also be true with regard to the vast majority of other IT standards group of any stature that have anything to do with software, hardware, wireless, open source,…well, you get the idea.  But I can personally vouch for the fact that the Linux Foundation statement was created without IBM’s knowledge, much less at its request.

“The problem is not that the IBM principles are, or should be, seen as controversial, but that they need to be publicly stated at all.”

What does lie behind the making of the Foundation’s statement is the fact that IBM is touching on a widely-felt sense of unhappiness with the status quo.  And while the new IBM policy may be more articulate and cohesive than what others may be thinking to themselves, it is giving voice to the type of self-evident best practices that ought, by rights, to be already directing all standards development efforts everywhere.  The problem is not that the IBM principles are, or should be, seen as controversial, but that they need to be publicly stated at all.

My hope is that the Linux Foundation’s statement will be but the first public statement of solidarity, recognizing that IBM has started a ball rolling here that that others should put their shoulders behind.  Hopefully there will be more such statements in the near future, and more voices added to the dialogue.  I’ll look forward to reporting on them here when they do.

 

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: September 24th, 2008 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

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