“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”
PEOPLE who reportedly leave Microsoft aside tend to 'reappear' in other places. Bill Gates, for example, is actively fighting against Free software, albeit behind the scenes [1, 2]. Possession of governments enables this [1, 2] and pet charities can help too.
Public documents describe the new Gates entity — bgC3 LLC — as a “think tank.” It’s housed within a Kirkland office that the Microsoft co-founder established on his own after leaving his day-to-day executive role at the company this summer.
“Microsoft has actual engagements in the writing of national rules that affect it.”Keeping an eye on Gates is important because he is still fully dedicated to helping Microsoft, largely using political means and diplomacy. Some time ago we also wrote about the departure of Todd Bishop, but we wondered where he would land? Well, it turns out that he never vanished; rather, he relocated.
Tracking the movement of key people is important in order to understand decisions that are made by companies. Novell, for example, may be oozing IBM influence [1, 2] and IBM seems like one of the main forces behind OIN and the Linux Foundation. It is a sad thing that OIN, just like IBM, does not participate in attempts to eliminate software patents. This has just been confirmed by Roberto Galoppini.
Initiatives like the world day Against software patents, or the stop software patent initiative, are definitely a good thing. Not the ultimate answer to the problem though, I am afraid.
Keith Bergelt, Open Innovation Network’s new appointed CEO, was clear telling me that OIN won’t collaborate with FFII or similar organizations to fight against software patents in Europe. OIN cares just about Linux, so far. That is a pity, considering that they are lobbying around Europe now.
The FSF does not participate enough in this either (maybe not as actively as before). On the other hand, it is clear what the views of the FSF and FSFE really are.
For those who are not aware of OIN’s deficiencies, here is the gist of it.
GM: Typically, patent trolls don’t have any products, so they are unlikely to be infringing on any of your patents. Isn’t that a problem for the OIN approach?
JR: Very clearly there’s not much we can do with regard to patent trolls. On the other hand, it’s my belief that patent trolls go where the money is. They’re after the big dollars. That’s probably why they haven’t, and not for a long time will, go after the open-source movement – that’s not where the money is. Could it become a problem in the future? The answer is, sure it could.
Whatever happens, whereas OIN defends Linux, it does not protect the vast majority of GNU/Linux distributions. It is far from a solution. So, the patent watch continues. █
“No less than Bill Gates himself said in a recent Fortune article that Microsoft competes better against Linux in China when there’s piracy than when there isn’t.
“So, Microsoft actively looks the other way as people pirate its software. It builds its market share that way, and lets people get used to the idea of having Windows at a certain price.”
This post is an accumulation of Microsoft news since the beginning of the week. There is quite a large load of stuff and overall it’s pretty gloomy. Microsoft’s financial results will come out later today, so we’ll start with more urgent topics that need to get out of the way. On Saturday we shall write more extensively about Microsoft’s latest results, which it will definitely try hard to embellish (further digging is always required).
Such is the commitment to drive traffic to its own versions of Google search, YouTube, and Digg, Microsoft has done what most other startups couldn’t: spend billions of dollars and almost double it’s workforce in just three years. Microsoft now has nearly 100,000 employees.
Despite its size, though, Microsoft is poised to experience the same pains of junior startups, if the money that fed Web 2.0 optimism has – as it seems – dried up. If and when that happens, and if Microsoft’s business managers behave like most do during a downturn, that’ll hurt Microsoft’s three-year-old Web 2.0 strategy.
Don’t bank on the bank
The economy, as you’re well aware by now, is in trouble. Banks are not lending money, and some big names have gone out of business.
This is just one case, but it’s symbolic. What if other customers also start struggling to pay the bills when their cash flow begins to dry up?
What about those loans Microsoft is prepared to take? We recently wrote about services and products that Microsoft was killing, including some MSN-branded ones (i.e. online business). In addition to this, mini-Microsoft (outspoken yet anonymous Microsoft employee) believes that layoffs are not out of the question.
It is too soon to expect this during this week’s quarterly results, but within the next quarter, as the impact to reduced global PC sales becomes apparent, we should be ready to announce some major overhead reduction (e.g., not towels but rather less butts for said towels to dry – win-win). And remember: you cut once and you cut deep. Incremental pain is unhealthy and all that you’re doing is poisoning your teams and setting up a huge round of bad attrition once things turn around.
Last month, Microsoft announced it was going to spend $40 billion buying back its own stock. Traditionally, that would have meant a payday for its investors. With Microsoft using its own spare cash to reduce the number of outstanding shares, earnings per share should have improved, and the stock price should have ticked upwards.
At risk of sounding like a parrot, Microsoft’s results will arrive later today. It’s worth reminding ourselves that Microsoft disappointed its investors when it unleashed the past two reports (April and July), so the stock sank. Even Microsoft’s profits declined, at least in April. Windows was down 24%.
There was a lot of talk in the blogosphere about Steve Ballmer’s tactless remarks regarding Windows Vista. Here is one example:
As though this weren’t enough, he kept right on talking. In a column on ComputerWorld called Ballmer Says Skip Vista, my colleague, Steven J Vaughan-Nichols reports that Ballmer told the same audience if they wanted to wait for Windows 7, they certainly can. Come again?! That’s right, it’s a statement so outrageous coming out of the mouth of the Microsoft CEO, that it’s hard to believe he said it. I’m sure his PR people were just thrilled to hear that, as was the Vista sales team. As Vaughan-Nichols says, this is a prime opportunity for Apple and Linux to continue to capture market share while waiting for the elusive Windows 7.
Giving Apple and Linux a Huge Opening
Given that many people are just looking for an excuse to jump ship from Microsoft, you might think that the CEO would be doing damage control for the OS his beleaguered company is trying to sell today, but instead he’s saying it’s OK to move on and wait for the next one. This is just bone-headed coming from your chief executive, the individual whose job is to promote your company’s public image, yet there he was sticking his foot in hit once again.
Microsoft has had some trouble explaining these alleged contradictions; with, for example, Nash calling Windows 7 both a “significant” and “evolutionary” advancement. Then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declared at Gartner’s annual Symposium ITxpo in Orlando, Fla., that, “Windows 7 is Windows Vista with cleanup in user interface [and] improvements in performance.”
From now on, it would be useful and constructive to refer to “7″ as “Vista 7″. This ought to remind people what the ‘new’ operating system really is. There is a lot to a name.
Earlier today, Microsoft confirmed that its next operating system, codenamed Windows 7, would in fact be called just that when it hits shelves at some point in the next few years. Good on ‘em, I say: a simple, no-nonsense name suggests they’re approaching it with a clearer eye than they had cooking up the hypefest that was Vista.
It must be remembered that Vista 7 is vapourware. It won’t be seen any time soon. In fact, more delays and false promises are affecting and directed at XBox users too. Consider the following new reports:
In a windowless room on Microsoft’s campus here, T. J. Campana, a cybercrime investigator, connects an unprotected computer running an early version of Windows XP to the Internet. In about 30 seconds the computer is “owned.”
Criminals are believed to have amassed around 320,000,000 zombie PCs, based on the figures from USA Today. This botnet plague is a very serious issue because it may have already led to multi-national cyber-wars. From the latest news:
The hackers who launched cyberattacks against the former Soviet republic of Georgia two months ago probably had links to the Russian government, even though no hard evidence has been uncovered of official involvement, a report by an all-volunteer group of experts said Friday.
Last night, presidential candidates were publicly seen being approached by the Special Services due to concern about zombies and other cyber-threats. (source: IDG)
There are many other security-related reports, including:
According to research group NPD, this month’s list of top 10 PC software applications contains 3 video games, 1 productivity tool and 6 anti-virus/security tools. It’s amazing that Microsoft has created more of a market for applications that fix the problems Windows causes than it has for entertainment or business.
Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. each dropped a bevy of software patches on their users last Tuesday, with Microsoft issuing 11 updates to plug a total of 20 security holes and Oracle releasing 36 separate fixes.
Those who do not use Microsoft Windows are probably thankful, but we all share the costs and the burden caused by cyber-turbulence. Punishment is in many ways a collective one.
Don’t ever fall for Microsoft’s lies regarding security [1, 2], even when these lies are echoed by its close allies. It’s a bald-faced misinformation campaign.
Microsoft’s new “Global Anti-Piracy Day” must have Linux users laughing
It was only last week on the 14th of October that Microsoft Australia took some pirates to court, filing proceedings “in the Federal Magistrates Court for copyright infringement against three individuals trading online.”
Pirates prefer Windows XP over Vista, says Microsoft
Software counterfeiters pass on Windows Vista and instead prefer to pirate Windows XP, a Microsoft Corp. attorney said today, outlining a practice that tracks with the leanings of many of the company’s customers.
While explaining the “Global Anti-Piracy Day” educational and enforcement effort Microsoft launched today, Bonnie MacNaughton, a senior attorney with the company, acknowledged that pirates prefer Windows XP over Vista.
Today is Microsoft’s self-declared Global Anti-Piracy Day. No surprise then that the local arm of the Business Software Alliance has been ringing up journalists over the past couple of days with the ominous news that South Africa is losing between R2.8 billion to software pirates every year.
As usual, the BSA statements are sweeping and presumptive.
For a start, South Africa doesn’t really lose all this money. Most of the licensing money heads straight overseas to companies like Microsoft and Adobe with this country holding on to very little of it.
The BSA ‘software police’ is another disturbing subject that was covered before, but worth noticing (if you look closely at press) is Microsoft’s attempt to have journalists cover this extensively and have some sort of massive effect.
At the end of day, it is just one more opportunity to throw around bogus reports with inflated figures (the loss and ‘harms’ to society) and produce explanations for Microsoft’s financial results, which will come later today. When Microsoft performs well, then it says it’s “despite the piracy”; when expectations are not met, Microsoft blames “the pirates”. Prepare for more of that, although this time around the global economic slump can be blamed too. But it’s never Microsoft’s fault; its products reign supreme! [sarcasm /]
Microsoft Sued for Sabotaging PCs
Microsoft must be in real need for revenue — and urgently. It starts showing users who is in charge of their PCs.
A lot later than observant people had discovered this, InformationWeek’s Microsoft blog noted that Microsoft controls Windows PCs remotely and there is no way to disable this behaviour. Microsoft gives GUI controls for a false sense of control; it just ignores and overrides these user settings though.
I was out of the office most of last week, traveling on business. My system has quite a few automated tasks that run, so I tend to leave it running even when I’m away. I returned to the office to find the system had rebooted, with a message that Windows Update had applied patches. There’s just one problem: I don’t use that option.
People in China have just found out that their modified Windows installations (again, no way to prevent this) are acting up. Having got the Chinese people “kind of addicted,” just as Bill Gates had planned, Microsoft is now starting to exploit the lock-in and squeeze users for money they don’t have. It comes amid a global recession.
Microsoft accused of hacking in piracy clampdown
Across China thousands of computer screens are turning dark. The reason is a piece of software from a US firm.
Software giant Microsoft is deactivating unauthorised copies of its Windows operating system, in a nation where 82% of all software is pirated – even if many end users do not know it.
A Chinese lawyer has filed a legal complaint against Microsoft for installing Windows Genuine Advantage on his computer. He has asked the Ministry of Public Security to file criminal charges against Microsoft.
Microsoft is Suing Everybody
Microsoft is not only being sued. it seems to have begun suing the entire world, as well. Here are some of the reports which surface at the moment:
As part of a global antipiracy push, software giant Microsoft is taking aim at a Rochester business — Miracle Computer LLC.
In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis Monday, the maker of the Windows operating system accuses Miracle of a practice called hard-disk loading, meaning selling computers with unlicensed versions of Microsoft software.
Microsoft has filed suit against two Portland companies that it accuses of software piracy.
The suits, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Portland, allege that Portland-based Grand Avenue Microtech and Gresham-based Agility Corporate Solutions “have infringed Microsoft’s copyrights and trademarks.”
Microsoft has accused two central Ohio companies of software piracy as part of a sweep this week that includes accusations against 18 other software resellers in nine states.
What a nice and gentle company.
In recent weeks we have been writing about Microsoft muscling the United States government in order to harm Google. There are some really nasty tactics involved [1, 2]. The press has some more coverage that sheds light on these tactics, which as we showed before, include AstroTurfing. Here are some reports:
Rudy Arredondo, the chief executive of the Latino farmers group, confirmed that his organization became involved in the issue after talking to lobbyists at the Raben Group. The Raben Group received $30,000 this spring to lobby against the deal – from Google’s rival, Microsoft, which wanted to buy Yahoo.
Meanwhile, Microsoft spent the intervening months lobbying everyone—regulators, other lobbyists, anyone who might be willing to raise a doubt about the anti-competitive possibilities. In the process, they drew some support—or at least, some doubt-raising—from some of those who gave the Redmond company grief over anti-trust issues.
Google both blames Microsoft for working “hard from behind the scenes to generate much of the opposition to this deal” and tries to dismiss it. And Microsoft doesn’t want credit for this one, with a spokesman telling the Times: “There’s an old rule in debate: if you’re not winning on substance, talk about the process.”