THIS post is part of a series that will explore old news involving Microsoft and/or Novell. We bring back some ‘dirty laundry’, which we shall squeeze and wash over the next few months (or years). It’s assumed that for better understanding of any corporate relationship, a glimpse at the past is often needed. Groklaw, for example, has done plenty of this by researching Caldera and SCO matters (not just post-lawsuit era).
Here is an interesting story about Microsoft getting sued by the American Justice Department for attempting to buy Intuit and entering a little deeper into the banking industry (scary thought [1, 2, 3]).
The Justice Department challenged Microsoft’s planned $2 billion takeover of Intuit, the maker of Quicken personal finance software. In an antitrust suit, it said the deal — the largest software acquisition ever — would lead to higher software prices and less innovation, if completed. The suit was a big blow for Microsoft, which wanted a commanding position in the electronic banking market. It had proposed selling its rival Money program to Novell, but the Government said that would not be good enough.
Novell’s role here is interesting because it’s not the first time that Microsoft uses Novell to appease regulators and Microsoft’s strategy of buying out competitors (or squashing them) is explained in this good video.
it’s worth adding that several month ago Intuit announced the introduction of GNU/Linux support, starting with the server side. For reference, see past news, e.g. [1, 2]. █
 Intuit joins the Linux revolution
Intuit has been sniffing around open source for at least a year now, but predominately as a platform (Linux) upon which its applications could run. It
opened the door a bit more in April when it opened up QuickBase to developers, but now seems to be paving the way for a more complete launch into open source with its Linux Business Resource Center.
Yes, that Intuit. Promoting Linux and open source.
 Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Enters Linux Fold
The move acknowledges that Linux has found a home in some business accounts, at least in the back office. Until now QuickBooks Enterprise shops had to run their accounting database on a Windows server even if they ran other applications on Linux. That now changes.
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Vista 7, which is also commonly known as “Mojave” (Vista 6, aka “Longhorn” renamed), has already received some negative response, but Microsoft is trying to police perceptions and coverage of Vista 7 by blacklisting journalists. At the same time, the company is offering $15,000 for Mac bloggers to trash Apple. It’s akin to a totalitarian regime trying to restrict the use of the word “democracy” and daemonising or imprisoning its vocal critics. It’s actually not far from that.
Microsoft tried similar tricks when Vista 6, aka “Longhorn”, make its early appearance. Without request, Microsoft decided to send influential bloggers some very expensive gifts. Joel Spolsky, a former manager at Microsoft, called it a bribe. SJVN, a respected journalist in many publications, called it a bribe as well. Microsoft did all this for positive publicity. There are three reasons for this strategy:
- Bloggers will judge the operating system based on personal experience with an optimised, pre-configured and high-end machine
- Bloggers are likely to feel obliged to offer positive words in exchange for the gifts
- Microsoft decides who gets a hand on preview versions and thus who gets to instruct on it in blogs. First/early impressions count.
The storm which came after Microsoft’s latest round of bribery almost led to boycotts from big publications. Edelman is one example.
Did Microsoft learn its lessons from the previous complications? It most certainly did not. It is doing it again, but as usual, there are many forms of bribery and different words to describe (or embellish) it.
…[A]s appears may be the case Microsoft is letting people have Dell XPS M1330 laptops with 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processors and 3GBs of RAM on ‘indefinite loans (wink, wink) then it’s a bribe in my book. What do you think? If you knew someone had been given a PC with a list price of $1,956 and then wrote nice things about the operating system that came with it would you be inclined to think that they might be just a wee bit influenced by the almost two grand worth of computer?
So here is a company that sells software but gives not software as a gift (or a sample). It gives $2000 laptops. It might as well cover people’s mortgages for positive reviews.
Bernard Swiss wrote the following about possible intentions:
It’s still a way of predetermining what hardware the reviewers will be running their alpha and beta releases on, and thus biases the coverage even of most of the honest reviewers.
It’s situations like this which show why Microsoft cannot be reformed. It knows that what it’s doing is wrong, but it’s doing it over and over again. The OOXML fiasco was a good and recent example. █
“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”
–Former Microsoft manager
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If Microsoft pays the bills, then Microsoft pays the shills
Earlier this week we mentioned the FUD which came from IDC in order to hurt VMware. Watch Microsoft singing the manufactured disinformation from IDC. It’s a classic Slog maneuver wherein some ‘study’ — no matter how inaccurate — is produced and then cited en masse, with inaccuracies — if ever found — blamed on the ones with the hatchet.
The figures have been seized upon by Microsoft and emphasised in the company’s corporate blog on Microsoft TechNet. “Customers now have choice in market. VMware is no longer the dominant server virtualisation vendor (less than 50 percent [of the market]). Customers now have choices that include Microsoft, Citrix, Sun, Novell, RedHat and Oracle.”
To give the gist of it, IDC lied to the public, just as it lies about GNU/Linux. Microsoft, which is among IDC’s sponsors (it pays them for business), then used it as ‘ammunition’ while it lasted. It’s a typical trick with recent examples of use. Microsoft also exploits its control of IDC to sometimes conceal obligatory disclosures and redefine how numbers should get collected.
In many cases, so-called ‘analysts’ can — and maybe should — be treated as salespeople in suits [1, 2]. They sell perceptions. They sell out, as Microsoft admits as well.
“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model…”
–Microsoft, internal document
It is troubling to see how the press has shaped itself and the outcome is by no means surprising. They developed a habit where the journalist approaches analysts for composition of articles and then presents the words of those analysts, who are often involved with the companies that they comment on, as though these words were carved in stone.
To make matters worse, the journalists sometimes work for the very same company that employs quoted analysts. There are many of those who flip-flop between the roles, e.g. Michael Gartenberg, who has been an analyst, journalist and also a Microsoft evangelist on the company’s payroll. That’s how dirty this unethical industry can get.
“To make matters worse, the journalists sometimes work for the very same company that employs quoted analysts.”Need it be mentioned that IDC owns IDG, one of the biggest giants of the technology press? Need it be shown that they have Microsoft's money on their table, which is a possible explanation for what the world came to know as “Wintel press”? Remember Microsoft's views on advertisers; they come before development.
Anyway, regarding IDG, it has almost become a routine there to quote the very particular people whose opinion is financially tied to and biased in Microsoft’s favour. Now they pull a nasty one on Android.
In this latest article, why did Nancy Gohring approach Microsoft-associated analysts whose employer receives large cash flows from the company most affected (suffering Google-phobia). Is it the price/reward to conduct their distasteful and dishonest business?
In the article above, the Yankee Group [1, 2] and Gartner Group throw FUD at Android and even desktop GNU/Linux (which is totally unrelated to the subject of the article). These are friends of Steve Ballmer, remember? They did the same to iPhone, later to be proven wrong.
We choose to quote nothing from the ‘article’, but the headline alone, “New Android Apps a Mixed Bag, Should Improve,” would do harm. The whole article is just the weaving of comments from the Gartner Group and the Yankee Group. It might as well state in the headline that it’s merely the opinion of people who have Microsoft as a customer, much like Rob Enderle. █
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“Since when has the world of computer software design been about what people want? This is a simple question of evolution. The day is quickly coming when every knee will bow down to a silicon fist, and you will all beg your binary gods for mercy.”
People are encouraged not to use Go-OO because it’s controlled by Novell, it contains Microsoft traps and it discriminates against non-Windows platforms (also see [**] below). However, on the upside, the Go-OO team has just done something right.
“DRM is not about rights. It’s about taking people’s right away and Sun should know better.”OpenOffice.org developers added DRM capabilities to PDF without consultation involving users. Does that not contradict Sun’s stance on DRM? It did, after all, denounce Windows Vista and Microsoft for some of this. The explanation from a developer was that “the implementation of PDF import has been done according to the PDF specification, there is no plan to change this.”
So, Sun Microsystems once again shows a level of cowardice. It refuses to challenge an unethical — some would say “criminal” — system. DRM is not about rights. It’s about taking people’s right away and Sun should know better. Either way, Go-OO developers have removed this disease from the code. This means that the very latest
openoffice.org-pdfimport package (in Go-OO) can open
protectedinfected PDFs. There is no ‘add-on’ disablement imposed on access. There are no unnecessary antifeatures.
Sun loses points for supporting DRM. Novell earns point for tossing DRM where it belongs. What a refreshing change. █
[**] Over at InformationWeek blogs, there is a rave about the latest Go-oo, which was mentioned days ago.
Go-oo is actually the OpenOffice.org build used by Ubuntu, so if you install 8.10 it comes with the Go-oo edition of OO.o 2.4.1 This led me to go dig up the Windows build and try it out, and after some quick and dirty (and wholly unscientific) testing, I’m really impressed. It’s fundamentally the same program, but faster — visibly and noticeably faster to start up, even without the launch-accelerator app.
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