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11.01.08

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part III: Legacy, Mail, and Partnerships

Posted in AppArmor, Mail, Marketing, NetWare, Novell, Servers at 8:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Witch on broom
Happy Halloween. Do not evil.

A large number of isolated picks are worth including here. There was nothing major happening at all, but a few mentions of Novell here and there ought to be pointed out for future reference.

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Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: SUSE and Lenovo, Few Xandros Bits

Posted in Europe, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, Scalix, Servers, SLES/SLED, Windows, Xandros at 6:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ThinkPad laptop
Lenovo Thinkpad

MOST OF THE NEWS is about Lenovo this time around, but we shall begin with the remainder.

Dell presents a thin client, which only supports Windows or SLE.

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Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE Board Announced, More Beta Slippage

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

YaST boot mode

Board

THIS WEEK’S MAIN news would arguably be the formation of a new OpenSUSE Board following an election with a modest turnout. The results were sent to to OpenSUSE subscribers, including yours truly.

==Non-Novell==
Bleser, Pascal           148    45.96 %
Yunashko, Bryen           69    21.43 %
Linnell, Petee            42    13.04 %
Rodriguez, Alex           30     9.32 %
Pasanen, Tuukka           18     5.59 %
Rusinek, Jakub            15     4.66 %
  Total:                 322 	

==Novell==
Vogelsang, Henne         126    38.18 %
Mena-Quintero, Federico   86    26.06 %
Shaw, Stephen             71    21.52 %
Michna, Marco             47    14.24 %
  Total:                 330

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Novell Pressures SCO for Money

Posted in Courtroom, Humour, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”

Larry Goldfarb, investor in SCO

Darl McBride

HOW HAS this litigious farce dragged on for half a decade? Who funded this whole lost battle? And who fueled for action in the first place?

“Give us the money,” says Novell to SCO, whose role is funnily enough being inherited by Novell, which offers only its own customers "intellectual property peace of mind."

Groklaw was the only site that covered SCO matters. Here is the motion where Novell goes in for the money (i.e. for the kill):

Novell reminds the court, $625,486.90, “based on an uncontested reading of trust tracing law and SCO’s relevant daily balance information” regarding the Sun SVRX royalties that the court concluded were Novell’s from that deal, $2,547,817. What they don’t agree on is when SCO should pay it.

SCO is starting to play some more bizarre games with money. It merely continues this queer pattern.

Am I going nuts or is SCO sending money to the foreign subsidiaries? Take a look.

[...]

Unless I am misreading this, SCO seems now to be sending more than that to SCO India alone. With SCO shrinking before our eyes, why are the subsidiaries needing more money now? I have no explanation.

This isn’t the first peculiar transaction and a recent roundup can be found here.

Over the past week there have also been several hilarious SCO cartoons:

  1. It’s Only A Matter Of Time
  2. Shell Games For Fun And Profit
  3. Ubersoft’s Help Desk … A reorganization plan for SCO

SCO won’t be around for much longer (because "Microsoft needed a new shill" and it found Novell). But the cartoons will stay.

Is there already a company called “Scovell”? Is that a trademark?

Eye on Microsoft: Foggy Clouds, Counterfeiting, and Security Problems

Posted in Asia, Google, Law, Microsoft, Office Suites, Security, Servers, Windows at 4:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Moon and clouds
Lights out for the Microsoft cloud?

MANY of the posts so far today have been about Microsoft (e.g. [1, 2, 3]), but before we come to Novell — as there’s plenty to cover there too — it’s important to show just how troubled and confused Microsoft has become. PDC let it be shown out in the open, provided the observer looks deep enough beneath the surface (or Surface, which is another failing product).

Heads in the Cloud

Whatever “the cloud” actually means (mostly Web services), Microsoft has been in this market for a good while and it was never successful. In PDC, Microsoft threw all sorts of names and made announcements of non-existent products. It also tried to give the illusion that Mr. Softee has not yet entered this market, as if to say, “get ready! Microsoft is coming soon.”

“In PDC, Microsoft threw all sorts of names and made announcements of non-existent products.”Remember Office Live? It’s not a new product (or service). Not at all! Microsoft pretended to have ‘unveiled’ it in order to generate some hype and receive coverage, just like Sun Microsystems ‘announced’ the ‘release’ of OpenSolaris about half a dozen times in order to earn media attention and grab some testers or early adopters. It was the same with Live/MSN search, which was reopened/overhauled/relaunch/ renamed/ reinvented/relocated/ rebranded/redesigned/whatever so many times to beg for attention and attract new dabblers. Mojave, Longhorn and Vista 7 [sic] are another nice example of shuffling names and identities.

It was over a year ago that a Microsoft executive confessed there was not much interest in the product called “Office Live”. Many people did not even know it existed. Perhaps Microsoft just didn’t market it properly, for fear it would cannibalise sales of Microsoft Office. Could it be an experiment and a placeholder? At the time, as means of damage limitation, Microsoft required that Office Live users also obtain a copy of the desktop version (Microsoft Office). Platform and browser support was limited and it sure stays the same way now, if not made worse by the introduction of Silverlight (XAML), which hardly works in two platforms (proprietary ones). Moonlight is not Silverlight.

So how is it coming along? Well, a manager involved with the program left the company quite recently and now its co-founder too (mind the highlight in red).

GMI Appoints Luis Salazar as Chief Marketing Officer

[...]

Salazar joins GMI’s executive team after a successful 11-year career at Microsoft Corporation, bringing over 20 years of experience in international sales, marketing and general management to the company, and a proven track record launching new ventures in the software and services industries. Most recently, as General Manager for Marketing, he co-founded Microsoft Office Live, leading worldwide marketing and engineering teams through several successful product launches, reaching millions of customers with one of the first business-focused services from Microsoft that is monetized through advertising revenue.

With this in mind, what is Microsoft’s latest “cloud” hype all about? According to Dana Gardner, it’s possibly a case of “too little too late,” and on purpose.

Microsoft needs to decide whether it really wants to be in the software or services business. Trying to have it both ways, for an indeterminate amount of precocious time, to in effect delay the advancement of serious productivity, seems a terrible waste and a terrible way to affect its community.

Over at InformationWeek, another question comes up in the headline: “Is The Cloud The End Of Microsoft?”

Microsoft’s failure to explain any aspect of its cloud business model renders the rest of its good words about as intelligible as Charlie Brown’s teacher. Its competition can tell you exactly how you’ll pay for services, and for a developer looking to field their own SaaS product, that makes all the difference. More than anything, Microsoft is describing what’s come to be known as platform as a service. The platform is for developers, and developers have to understand how (or whether) they’ll make money.

Bob X. Cringely was not particularly impressed, either.

[B]ased on the Microsoft announcement this week, all Windows Azure looks like to me is Microsoft’s effort to sell web services or maybe cut the sticker shock for smaller businesses adopting SQL Server. But more properly, it likely means Microsoft’s acceptance that computing clients may eventually be free or nearly so. In short, Windows Azure is an insurance policy against the possible Vista-like failure of Windows 7.

Dave Rosenberg, whose whole career involves a specialty in this area, still fails to grasp what Microsoft is on about.

I’m still trying to figure out if Microsoft’s Azure announcements are meaningful beyond just providing a bit of color for the newly revealed Cloud services.

Mary Jo Foley provides some good insight in her “Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform: A guide for the perplexed” though the fact that she even had to write such a thing speaks to the lack of clear message coming from Microsoft.

One of our readers wrote to ask: “Why does Microsoft Jack think it a bad idea for Google to store all your data but has no complaint about the Microsoft cloud?”

Well, that’s just typical Jack Schofield [1, 2], who loves to accuse everyone else of hypocrisy. He refuses to know what Microsoft has done to deserve negative treatment.

Counterfeiting

Going back a couple of days, we accumulate some background reading. Among the links posted the other day there was also the following chunk:

There is some more of the same pattern in China following Microsoft’s muscling.

When Microsoft noticed ‘misunderstandings’ among the Chinese public over its ‘black screen’ move to crack down on piracy, the country’s domestic software industry saw opportunity and couldn’t wait to embrace it.

Earlier this month we covered the situation in China using groupings of reports (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]). Some newer reports about this saga are very encouraging. Here are a few:

Wired: Chinese Strike Back at Microsoft for Anti-Piracy Measures

“Microsoft has no right to judge whether the installed software is pirated or not. It has no right to penalize users by intruding on their computers,” Liu, a man one man who is suing Microsoft, told the Xinhua News Agency.

China View: Lawsuit ramps up pressure over Microsoft’s ‘black screen’ anti-piracy move

Public pressure on Microsoft over its controversial anti-piracy campaign in China has been stepped up with news that a Beijing man is taking the software giant to court to uphold the principle of the integrity of his computer.

Reuters: Microsoft anti-piracy move irks Chinese official

A top Chinese copyright official chided Microsoft for launching an anti-piracy tool that nags users of counterfeit software with a black computer screen and said the company’s prices were too high.

Forbes: Microsoft Tests Chinese Law On Piracy

But scrutiny centered on how Microsoft folded the anti-piracy program into an automatic update that was sent to users who opt to receive updates through Windows or Microsoft Update. Microsoft can “get into trouble for bundling,” Dickinson said. Dong told the English-language China Daily that “Microsoft uses its monopoly to bundle its updates with the validation programs.” This bundling issue is also the subject of a pending U.S. lawsuit, brought in 2006 when Microsoft packaged a similar anti-piracy program with a security update for U.S. users. A public relations officer for Microsoft stressed Wednesday that users can reject an automatic update before it is installed on their computers.

Zero-cost Windows is not a sustainable strategy. Until now, however, it has been a long-term investment.

Security

Almost every single version of Windows is under attack now. Machines that are not fully patched can be compromised without any user intervention at all. The latest reports about it include:

1. Update: New Trojan Exploits Microsoft Bug

Tuesday, Microsoft Corporation released an emergency security update more than two weeks ahead of the company’s regular time of the month when update patches are issued, notifying of a vulnerability that could allow worms and trojans to run malicious codes on affected by the security hole machines.

The first patch released outside Microsoft’s mainstay update cycle in eighteen months revealed the bug was apt to render attackers to remotely take full control of an infected system.

2. Trojan targets Microsoft’s emergency fix

There are reports emerging Friday morning of a new Trojan exploiting the MS08-067 RPC vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft patched with an emergency fix yesterday. Known as Gimmiv.A, the Trojan propagates automatically through networks, and also installs a number of small programs on compromised machines. But its most worrisome capability is a feature that enables Gimmiv.A to find cached passwords in a number of locations and then send them off to a remote server. Before sending the data, the Trojan encrypts the passwords with AES encryption.

Those who are frightened by the thought of 320 million zombie PCs, which are quite are a lot (accounting for almost half), should brace themselves for more. Technology companies join forces in desperate attempts to combat this serious issue that jeopardises the entire Web and even banking institutes.

Several ISPs and Internet companies will meet in San Francisco early next year to adopt a common strategy for combating botnets, the remotely controlled networks that are used to carry out distributed denial-of-service attacks and massive spam campaigns.

The other day, the BBC reported on bank fraud, indicating that about half a million people are affected. Even the World Bank is suffering. And even the French president is a victim, but he is not a liked figure [1, 2].

But never mind money. Never mind the Internet. National security too is in jeopardy because of these zombie botnets. Even the US Army is reacting to them now.

The US Army has set up a new task force for the protection against cyber attacks. The Defense Industrial Base Cyber Security Task Force (DIB CSTF) will combat the apparently widespread theft of controlled but unclassified information from computer systems. The group will have an annual budget of $1.2m. According to a report issued by the US Army last August, such incidents can “potentially undermine and even neutralise the technological advantage and combat effectiveness of the future force”.

When the military needs to step in because of software issues, shouldn’t a sanity check be required?

“The Internet? We are not interested in it.”

Bill Gates, 1993

“I’ve Heard Creditable Reports of Microsoft Offering XP at No Cost to OEMs”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows is a Loser

Microsoft is losing money due to the emergence of competition from GNU/Linux. We mentioned this last week. The quote in the headline comes from the founder of Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth. He said this last week.

Watch the following good video of Dan Gillmor. We brought it up in the daily links just a few days ago. It explains how and why the cost of Windows can sink to zero.

Ogg Theora

Other formats

XiTi: Mozilla Firefox Surpasses 30% Market Share in Europe

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 9:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

…And why it indicates a significant degradation in Windows market share

HERE IN BoycottNovell, the market share of Firefox is around 62% (Internet Explorer is at 12.5%), which proves that populations play a considerably big role in the nature of such figures that are accumulated. One type of ‘population’ may also be a geographical one and adoption of Firefox is known to be high in Europe.

“Now it is over 30% and the Microsoft spin is brought out…”A reader from Europe has just sent us this pointers to XiTi Monitor, comparing this new page to an old presentation style.

“Look at how Firefox has had steady growth for years and the headlines are about it approaching 30%,” he writes. “Now it is over 30% and the Microsoft spin is brought out: “whereas little more than three [of ten] use Mozilla Firefox.””

Further he argues: “How can surveys retain their integrity in spite of minions of Bill?

“Part of it is a mistake on my part, not comparing the right pages. However, the problem is there it’s just that the two URLs I sent (see above) can’t be compared.

“In this one, the presentation is better, but one can’t help but suspect influence given the damning with faint praise found in the other link.”

Either way, the reader wishes to “just make noise about Firefox passing 30% in Europe.”

Two related articles are:

  1. Opera files antitrust complaint with the EU
  2. Browser market is broken – thanks to Microsoft

Web browser icons

To conclude, writes the reader: “The last XiTi link showed European average weekend use of Firefox at over 30%. That is several months before the highly successful launch of Firefox 3.0. So any reports from the fall are going to show higher numbers, probably even during the work week. Since MSIE has metastasized, by intentional actions, throughout Microsoft Windows, a large rise in Firefox use will be tied to a large drop in Microsoft Windows.”

“There’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly — and their customers are using it…”

Paul DeGroot, a Directions On Microsoft analyst

Patent Problems: Google Unresolved, Bilski Resolved, EPO to be Resolved?

Posted in Europe, Google, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 8:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Every time you use Google, you’re using a machine running the Linux kernel.”

Chris DiBona, Google

Google and Junk/Software Patents

A LOT OF PEOPLE think of Google as a Free software (or open source) company. It is almost nonsensical because Google is mostly a proprietary software company. Its main product is the distribution of services. Some of its recent big products, such as the Android platform and the Chrome browser, are claimed to be “open source”, but there are some snags to that too.

Perhaps more troubling than Google’s cloud-ifaction of Free software (exploiting a loophole that AGPL closes) is the fact that Google is filing for software patents without much regret or hesitation. Matt Asay mentioned this the other day.

Google has been a fairly benevolent steward of its intellectual property thus far, and let’s hope that continues. But if Google has the opportunity to squash Microsoft’s cloud efforts even as Microsoft seeks to head off threats from Google’s forays into “desktop” applications, I’m not sure I’d be betting on benevolence.

Watch this video.

Ogg Theora

The gentleman who speaks for Google offers a rather poor answer. That’s because he seems to describe patents as desired barriers and monetisation avenues, as opposed to something defensive. Others at Google might wish to claim that all those software patents they’re obtaining (even in countries where these are not legal, with two recent examples in India) are needed for defence, but patent trolls are not deterred by it. In fact, the trolls keep getting their way. Here is some news about The Ariba case, which marks a victory for the notorious patent on electronic auctions.

The case in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas revolved around an Ariba patent covering key functions for electronic auctions and found infringement and a second patent also pertaining to electronic auctions.

Is this the type of world Google envisions? A world where every trivial idea (usually unoriginal) is assigned ownership? Google is already exploiting a lot of knowledge that was shared and built upon.

Bilski

The Bilski ruling was wonderful news and we’ve put the full text right here. As expected, there are heaps of coverage about this — coverage which we ought to include here for future reference. Here’s the Wall Street Journal.

In a closely watched case, a federal appeals court in Washington D.C., today made it much harder for companies and individuals to get patent protection on abstract processes developed for businesses, such as tax strategies and investment methods.

BusinessWeek outlined the story with some concise background.

The business strategy at issue in Bilski was developed by two individual inventors, Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw. But the case drew interest and court filings from dozens of large corporations. Some, like IBM Corp., argued for tightened standards that would sharply limit what IBM in-house patent counsel David Kappos described as “runaway issuance of nontechnological process patents.” Others, such as technology services and consulting giant Accenture, defended patents stemming from such areas as financial services and organizational behavior as central to innovation in a 21st century economy.

The effect on software patents was mentioned in Reuters.

A U.S. patent appeals court ruled on Thursday that business methods, such as Amazon.com Inc’s one-click to buy goods on the Internet, cannot be patented.

The case was closely watched by software makers, Internet companies, investment houses and other businesses.

Patently-O wrote:

For software and business methods, the question will remain as to whether a general purpose computer is sufficiently particular to qualify as a “particular machine.” “We leave to future cases the elaboration of the precise contours of machine implementation, as well as the answers to particular questions, such as whether or when recitation of a computer suffices to tie a process claim to a particular machine.” As Professor Duffy noted in an earlier Patently-O article, the PTO Board of Patent Appeals (BPAI) has already answered this question: “A general purpose computer is not a particular machine, and thus innovative software processes are unpatentable if they are tied only to a general purpose computer.” See Ex parte Langemyr (May 28, 2008) and Ex parte Wasynczuk (June 2, 2008). More commonly, the claim may tie the software to computer memory or a processor – is that sufficiently particular? I suspect this fact pattern will arise shortly.

More coverage can be found in: [credit to Digital Majority]

EPO

Alison Brimelow

Reduction of patenting scope is possible in Europe as well, but it may take some time before answers arrive.

The ongoing row related to software patenting has finally reached the European Patent Office (EPO) Enlarged body of Appeal which incidentally is the highest appeals body in the EPO.

[...]

An statement issued by the EPO explained the move by mentioning “It is hoped that the answers to these questions will lead to greater clarity concerning the limits of patentability, thereby facilitating application of the EPC by patent examiners and enabling both applicants and the wider public to understand the law regarding the patentability of programs for computers”

Additional coverage in:

The staff of the EPO will certainlu like such issues to be resolved. Their complaint was that focus on quality patents was lost.

Software patents protest against EPO

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.”

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

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