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12.08.08

Microsoft Office: Fail, Literally

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML at 4:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just published in The Register:

Entire class fails IT exam by submitting in Word format

The 29 students of a computing class at a school in Lincolnshire have all failed to gain their diploma because their teacher told them to save their coursework in Microsoft Word format, which is not accepted by the exam board.

Two days ago the following showed up in a blog.

Excel fails

Source: Usability Hall of Shame: Excel [thanks to Tony Manco]

Since May of this year, I’ve been trying to snap screenshots and videos of those special moments when my software (or hardware) interactions have been… less than stellar.

Keep doing what you do, Microsoft. This is not the first such fluke and it is helping ODF and Free software.

Memo to IBM: Enough with Software Patents, Please

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 2:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In summary, to IBM, please join the fight against intellectual monopolies

IBM has begun marketing its GNU/Linux solutions (running proprietary Lotus) as “Microsoft-free”, but not as “Free” because they are not. They try to ‘outMicrosoft’ Microsoft the Microsoft way.

IBM also builds its Maginot Line inside OIN, which is a software patents pool. It actively participates in this patents vs. patents cold war instead of just eliminating the weapon called software patents for the sake of everyone else (not just the large companies in possession of extensive portfolios). As we showed recently, even the man who drove IBM into Linux is still defending software patents.

WON’T J|OIN

IBM just won’t join the cause against software patents. Fortune, the same magazine that ushered Microsoft's patent attack on GNU/Linux with its seminal report, sports a new post that seems as though it’s almost ghostwritten by IBM et al.

Roger Parloff, who provoked opposers of SCO, has just published a very unhelpful thing. This informal article of his mostly echoes OIN’s chief Keith Bergelt [1, 2, 3], the successor of IBMer Jerry Rosenthal (first OIN leader).

The idea is to create a defensive patent shield or no-fly zone around Linux,” says Keith Bergelt, the chief executive officer of Open Invention Network, the consortium launching the site. The core members of that group, formed in 2005, are IBM, NEC, Novell (NOVL), Philips, Red Hat (RHT) and Sony.

[...]

Although some factions of the free- and open-source community are ideologically opposed to the whole notion of software patents — most notably and passionately Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation (which is a client of Linux-Defenders co-sponsor Software Freedom Law Center, which, in turn, supports the End Software Patents organization) — neither Bergelt nor OIN fall into that camp.

“We’re not anti-patent by any stretch of the imagination,” says Bergelt. “More patents is fine with me, as long as they’re high quality. Quality is the drum we beat.

The comment from Benjamin Henrion hits the nail on the head. It says:

It won’t work against patent trolls. Competitors of the Linux-based OSes can put some patents in a troll company, and this kind of patent pooling won’t work, because you cannot countersue.

And what Mr Bergelt is dangerous, since a patent troll with a high quality software patent is much more complicated to invalidate:

“More patents is fine with me, as long as they’re high quality.”

Software cannot be protected by patents, as you always need someone’s else patent to sell or distribute your product. As a software producer, you are always subject to blackmail.

If IBM wants to help more effectively (OIN is not so helpful), then it should empower people’s battle against software patents in the US and Europe, as opposed to giving credence to such patents. We wrote about this before. As this new article suggests, elimination of software patents is a high priority.

[T]he community has to help set a tone of ‘openness’ when working with companies and governments, and encourage these to adopt the same approach. In addition, the community must push for a stable legal system for software – and this includes standing firm against the idea of software patents.

Here is some text which was extracted from the comprehensive new report about Free software [PDF]:

The main threat to FLOSS currently in the area of legislation is software patentability. Software patents make innovation more rigid, reinforce dominant positions, and work against the four freedoms. In the United States, where the principle of software patentability was validated in 1998 by the software law, software patents have generated many costly procedures and trials, and the system actually turns out to be prejudicial to the software industry.

Europe Needs Help

There is a lot of work to be done in Europe. Digital Majority continues to identify new places where the Community patent rears its ugly head. The latest examples are the following four articles:

  1. Pharmaceutical Sector: EC Competition Rules ./. Patent System?
  2. Ministers give green light to Small Business Act
  3. The Small Business Act: a crucial element of Europe’s economic recovery
  4. Commissioner Fígel’: EU must unlock its ‘innovative capacity’

The Community patent is also seeing another window of opportunity, which is dangerous. Here are a couple of new articles about this:

1. EU seen edging towards deal on patents in 2009

A deal on a so-called community patent has long eluded the 27 European Union governments, due to spats over which languages to use and what sort of legal framework was needed.

2. French IP chief confident of European patent breakthrough in 2009, but we’ve heard it all before

As we all now know, the hoped for breakthrough under the French presidency did not happen. The reasons for this are basically those that I have already explained in previous blogs: problems over language and money for the national patent offices. However, Battistelli declared that, although there were still major difficulties to resolve in these two areas, as well as a number of specific technical problems to overcome with regard to the court, the glass was now 80% to 90% full. “I am optimistic that the forthcoming [Czech and Swedish] presidencies can build on this and that there will be good news in 2009,” he said.

One thing that can be tackled is the legitimacy of the reign at the EPO [PDF].

Why do you allow the European Patent Office to control the patent inflation and innovation of the EU, being a foreign institution to the EU?

A few months ago, Richard Stallman wrote that “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.”

Alison Brimelow

Patent Abusers

In absence of careful quality control and supervision of standards, the world might end up with another Rambus-like ambush, which leads to embargoes. This is neither healthy to development nor to consumers.

Rambus Inc. (RMBS: News ), which develops and licenses chip interface technologies and architectures used in digital electronics products, said Thursday that the U.S. International Trade Commission has agreed to its request and instituted a probe regarding alleged infringement of nine of the company’s patents by graphics chip maker NVIDIA Corp. (NVDA) and others whose products incorporate the disputed NVIDIA products.

The IEEE continues to mess things up by facilitating patents inside standards. Just in: “IEEE to Set up Patent Pools to Simplify Standards Adoption”

Would it not be better to deny patents in standards altogether, so as to accommodate free (as in Freedom) products? These two things — patents and Freedom — mix together like water and sand [1, 2] and Microsoft, for example, is exploiting this (along with the BSA).

It’s pointed out by the Microsoft-friendly press (Seattle Times) that Microsoft continues hogging and hoarding monopolies on algorithms.

Microsoft received 1,649 U.S. patents in 2007, the most by far of any software company, according to the Patents Scorecard produced by IEEE Spectrum and released this week.

Microsoft wants to fight using patents, but it does not target giants like IBM. It targets smaller companies like Red Hat, Mandriva, and Canonical. IBM is able to change its way if so it desires. It’s time to pick a side.

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

Stephen Fry Loves GNU, But What Does He Say About Windows Vista?

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 12:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mr. Stephen Fry introduces you to free software, and reminds you of a very special birthday.

Ogg Theora

HE HAS JUST TRIED WINDOWS VISTA AND HE TOTALLY LOST IT. Here is what he wrote in his micro-blogging journal.

The QI star and Guardian technology columnist’s rant started on Sunday afternoon. “I hate Vista so much I want to cry,” he wrote. “Bought a Vaio. The most useless $4k ever spent. It just will not join a sec-enabled network. HOW????”.

Within minutes he’d submitted another, more heated update. “I have nine macs!!!!!! I don’t need another f***ing mac. I just want ONE ARSING PC that isn’t complete SH*T.”

Which was promptly followed by: “Too late. It’s going out the window. I can’t put up with this sort of arse.”

The pressure then really started to take its toll. “Listemn [sic] I have parallels, I have fusion, I have 2 distros of Linux. I need jsut [sic] one, just 1 of c***ing Vista so that I can review things.”

This is not good for the already-stagnant reputation of Windows. Stephen Fry is a renowned and respectable technologist.

Windows Vista suffers from some other new issues, as noted in last week’s news [1, 2]. The company seems to abstain from mentioning the “V” word and this was pointed out in several publications this morning. The only “V” they mention is Vapourware, not Vista. As James Plamondon wrote in Microsoft’s top secret training material, “In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Notice the fact that when challenged by GNU/Linux (mostly on sub-notebooks) and Macs, Microsoft points to non-existent products that promise so much, yet deliver so little. Vista 7 is just another Vista.

____
1. Gates and Seinfeld Ads Voted Top ‘Bad’ Commercial

In fact, according to the Anderson Analytics 2008 fall survey involving college students, Microsoft could not have done any worse than to produce those video advertisements.

2. Students Give Bill and Jerry the Big Fail

News Commentary. Perhaps colleges were good reason for Microsoft to pull those Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and comedian Jerry Seinfield commercials.

You remembered them, right? What? They were that forgetful? Apparently, some college students would undergo brain surgery to remove the memories.

Anderson Analytics has released its fall survey of about 1,000 college students and what brands resonate with them. I looked for the survey or some news release about it, but there’s nothing obvious from the Andersen Analytics Web site. Fortunately, Advertising Age has a synopsis. I’ll update this post later today with fuller results, should they become available from Anderson Analytics.

Red Hat Surges 32 Percent While Novell Declines

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Servers at 12:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell stock in Yahoo!

Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer with red hats
The Anti-Red Hat Pact

Novell’s latest results were rather poor and the following new article makes it apparent that Novell’s alliance with Microsoft turned out not as was hoped.

Red Hat Defies Market Pressures, Jumps 32%

[...]

The biggest loser of the week was Novell (NASDAQ: NOVL) with a loss of 11 percent. Novell reported a fourth quarter loss of 5 cents per share. Net revenue losses were $16 million versus $18 million for the same quarter last year.

Microsoft is concerned enough about its own situation amid financial issues, so keeping Novell afloat is not necessarily a priority.

Some Novell sites use (or used) Fedora and so do some of Microsoft's. Red Hat is left victorious on the server, despite a ruthless patent plot against it.

The Many Signs That GNU/Linux Grew Significantly in 2007 – Part 1

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel, OLPC, Servers at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU/Linux PC

IT is sometimes forgotten that GNU/Linux is more than just a desktop operating system. Linux, being a well-engineered kernel, is used extensively and also funded for its important role in several different areas of computing. One needs to look for evidence of growth not only in desktops. Judgment must be based on multiple areas where GNU/Linux gains traction. This ought to cover some disruptive trends that are yet to be reckoned with.

As time goes by, appliances might inherit the important role of traditional desktops. Mobile and ultramobile devices could gradually replace laptops and servers become more predominant owing to Web-based software, which also moves storage towards the back end. Let’s explore how GNU/Linux fits this broader vision and discover just how ubiquitous it is, with growth consistently on the upside.

Supercomputers

In supercomputing, GNU/Linux has become extremely popular and sometimes irreplaceable. Its selection is a a matter of scalability and reliability, not just cost. Among the world’s top computers, taking virtualisation into account as well, Linux climbed from 86% installed base in 2006 up to 91% at the end of 2007. This relative growth in 2007 might not seem great, but it comes to show that GNU/Linux still tightens its grip on this domain, rather than loosen any. Inertia is likely to ensure that such domination is maintained, if not further expanded in years to come.

In the past couple of years, SGI, Sun Microsystems and Microsoft have all attempted to gain or regain ground in supercomputing. SGI conceded UNIX in favor of GNU/Linux, whereas Microsoft and Sun stuck to their guns and they have yet to demonstrate actual growth with Windows and Solaris, respectively. Based on the world’s top 500 computers, their ambitions led to very limited success. IBM’s AIX holds on to a share of 4.8%, Sun’s Solaris is at 0.4% and Mac OS X maintains 0.4%. GNU/Linux is still seen as a de facto platform in this domain. Faith in this platform is increasing owing to maturity and its hard-earned reputation.

Mobile Phones

EDN highlighted the success of Linux in mobile phones last year. It pointed to exceptionally high popularity in Asia thanks to NEC, Panasonic, Motorola and others. In 2006, Linux was said to have powered approximately a quarter of all feature phones shipped in the previous year, according to market analysts cited by Webb. Growth seems to have been persistent since then, but there was one barrier that was finally passed in 2007.

Linux-powered handsets are said to be suffering from fragmentation in their development, but the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum has created a formal liaison and a technical framework for cooperation. Google’s Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) emerged later in the year 2007 and it can exist in a state of collaboration and harmonize with LiPS. OMA develops open specifications for content and services, whereas LiMO concentrates on specifications and standards for these services. At the center of OMA you will find Android, which is a Linux/Java-based stack for developers. It is a common framework that leads to greater centralisation, essentially replacing that notorious fragmentation with unification.

All in all, in the mobile space, growth continued at a rapid pace, especially in Asia. The effect of LiMO and Google’s Android is to be seen in years to come. Google has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its endeavors in the mobile space, the company’s spectrum-related investments aside. We shall see the first product which uses Android in the first quarter of next year. Many large companies will be actively involved and HTC might lead the way.

Desktops

On the desktop, the outlook seems increasingly bright. Two independent user surveys, one from LinuxDesktop.com and another from the Linux Foundation, saw participation more than doubling in just one year. This indicates strong growth that cannot normally be measured. When it comes to free software, obtaining absolute numbers is different from studying trends. If you extrapolate these figures, as some industry watchers have already done, then it’s almost safe to assume that the presence of GNU/Linux on the desktop has doubled in the past year.

In 2007, several major OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) such as Dell, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and Epson have all begun offering GNU/Linux options for PCs that they stock. Other companies such as Toshiba have spoken in the press about the possibility of offering such choice in the near future.

“With availability, a system that was once perceived as ‘exotic’ or a hobbyist’s choice suddenly becomes mainstream.”Preinstalled GNU/Linux became more commonplace among smaller computer shops too. Some attribute this trend to Windows Vista backlash and — in particular — its steep hardware requirements that elevate cost. It appears like only a matter of time before offering GNU/Linux as an affordable option becomes the norm everywhere. With availability, a system that was once perceived as ‘exotic’ or a hobbyist’s choice suddenly becomes mainstream.

Acceptance of GNU/Linux by the world’s largest OEMs was only the beginning. Large retailers such as Tesco and Wal-Mart began offering cheaper GNU/Linux computers, adding more choice to past offerings which were less attractive, scarcely advertised, lacking support, and suffering from limited availability.

Wal-Mart’s offer of the Everex gPC was a success. They sold out within a couple of weeks and this was not an isolated incident. Dell’s sales figures of GNU/Linux PCs exceeded the company’s initial expectations as well, so they expanded their offers to more models and brought GNU/Linux options to more parts of the world. 2007 will be remembered as the year when GNU/Linux became not only available, but also properly preinstalled on desktops and laptops by the world’s largest companies.

Low-end Laptops and Tablets

In recent months, a wave of highly-anticipated laptops finally arrived. Some insist on calling them gadgets because they are on the verge of being intuitive and affordable enough to suit every person and even be sold over the counter just like any consumable electronic item. These laptops are small and their use of GNU/Linux permits them to use modest hardware which is inexpensive. The Linux-based Eee PC is probably the most recent example.

“They all happen to be Linux-based for a reason.”It was only a couple of months ago that ASUSTek introduced the Eee PC, whose sales figures have so far exceeded the company’s initial expectations. It soon became one of the most sought-after Christmas gifts and the company cannot manufacture these fast enough to meet overwhelming market demand. Just before Christmas, the company revised its sales forecast positively, made this product its second-most valuable asset, and even predicted that it would occupy a 20% market share among laptops within years.

The Eee PC is just one among several success stories that involve portable low-end products. They all happen to be Linux-based for a reason. Other similar laptops and tablets include: Zonbu notebook (powered by Gentoo Linux), Nokia’s Internet tablets (running the Debian-based Maemo), Intel’s ClassMate (running Mandriva Linux) and PepperPad. Even Wal-Mart is poised to deliver a notebook equivalent of the Everex desktop mentioned above. It will be called Cloudbook.

The One Laptop Per Child makes another case study that isn’t very ordinary. It is misunderstood by those who review it because its target audience is underprivileged children in parts of the world where computing is more rare. The laptop is highly innovative — and thus it seems almost outlandish — but at the same time a not-for-profit organization stands behind it. The laptop, which runs XO on top of Fedora Linux, strives to reach children all across the globe and become a universal educational tool. It is proving quite popular even among adults in United States where it is sold under the “Give one, get one” program (closing at the end of this month, so you can still order yours and help bridge the digital divide).

New laptops of this kind keep coming at a rapid pace owing to relatively low and ever-decreasing costs that are associated with producing hardware nowadays. This makes other expenses — any expenses for that matter — highly undesirable. Costs which are tied to software should constantly be escaped for a competitive edge, so manufacturers find haven in free software. Such new imbalance between the cost of hardware and software typically promotes the use of GNU/Linux.

Program scale and ‘weight’ (and therefore speed of the software) come into play also. Since Linux presents a flexible platform that facilitates tweaking, things like complexity, battery consumption and various other aspects are easier to have customized. Amazon’s Kindle, for example, runs Linux and it employs an underlying design that exploits this key trait. It reduces consumption of battery power, thereby increasing its actual capacity. Generic and rigid systems cannot achieve this without considerable investment.

Consoles

Crossing over to the world of gaming, which is loosely related to computing, the GP2X handheld is definitely worth mentioning. It is one of the most hackable Linux-based consoles of its type and there are other similar gadgets such as the Sony Mylo, which came to the limelight in 2007. Part 2 of this article will discuss such devices in greater depth.

When it comes to next-generation consoles, GNU/Linux is never left neglected. A full-blown platform can trivially be installed on the PlayStation 3 and hacks also exist which enable GNU/Linux to run on Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s XBox360. The latter requires a firmware downgrade, however, and it is not considered quite so ethical. By all means, it does demonstrate the versatility and adaptability of the Linux kernel. There is almost no electronic circuit that Linux is unable to cope with nowadays. The kernel supports literally dozens of different architectures.

Media Players and Set-top Boxes

There are many examples of the use of GNU/Linux in media (e.g. video, audio, pure graphics). The MythTV family, for instance, is cutting-edge free software that can turn old PCs into powerful media servers and set-top boxes. Pre-built appliances already exist for those who cannot handle the complexity of installation. 2007 gave birth to several businesses (mostly system integrators) that capitalize on the need for support in this space.

Many commercial equivalents thrive without their users paying attention to the underlying system. Tivo is an excellent example of this because it runs Linux at its heart. Tivo customers are usually oblivious to this fact.

Among televisions, including consideration for IPTV, some have called Linux a de facto choice. Rarely does it get the attention of ordinary viewers to whom a box is just a box, no matter what programs run on it.

The next part, which covers embedded Linux and also Linux devices, says more about portable audio players and film production. This first part of the article presented just some of the many areas where the use of GNU/Linux continues to grow. The next part puts greater emphasis on areas of Linux growth that are more remote from people’s sight. We will cover growth in devices, robotics and servers, including large-scale services powered by mainframes and cloud computing,

Originally published in Datamation in 2007 and made the front page of Slashdot

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 7th, 2008 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 7th, 2008 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft ‘Advocates’ Free Software by Suing the World

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 7:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AS Microsoft’s financial woes persist [1, 2], the ‘nerve’ to extract more money increases, even from those who can hardly afford to but are left with no choice because they got addicted. As Bill Gates once said, “they’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.” Well, this decade has apparently come.

Tough Times for Microsoft

At the end of last week, Microsoft suffered a major blow from a respected analyst who foresees red ink.

Microsoft Profit, Sales May Fall Short, Bellini Says

There is also a blurb about this in the Seattle P-I’s Microsoft blog.

A Microsoft analyst thinks that the company might have to warn shareholders that its results won’t match forecasts, according to Bloomberg News.

Microsoft’s partner in collusion [1, 2, 3] does not do so well, either.

An Intel Corp. analyst lowered his outlook for the company Friday and said he thinks the chip giant will cut 6 to 7 percent of its work force.

Squeezing the Goose for Golden Eggs

Windows is very ubiquitous, but not many people pay for it. Those who do pay for it typically reside in affluent countries, yet in the majority of the world Microsoft turns a blind eye to illegal copying because it helps them against GNU/Linux and Free software that comes with it (e.g. OpenOffice.org).

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates

This is a subject that was covered recently and worth reminding ourselves of is propaganda fueled by disgraceful words like “pirates” and “piracy”. The executives or shareholders need more money, so they attack people who spread their software widely and distribute this digital commodity to those who can’t afford it. Here are several examples from the past week’s news:

1. Microsoft Targets Auctions in Counterfeit Crackdown

Microsoft continues to crack down on people it believes are counterfeiting and selling its software. On Thursday the company will add another 63 legal filings in 12 countries against individuals who it says are selling counterfeit Microsoft products.

2. Microsoft tackles auction pirates

Microsoft has launched 63 separate lawsuits against people peddling counterfeit software on auction sites.

3. Microsoft fights online auction pirates

Despite Microsoft saying that Vista sales are strong, they clearly aren’t if businesses favour XP to the extent that they’ll buy fake versions.

4. Microsoft sues counterfeit software dealers

“They’re not going to cease selling XP because Microsoft has.”

5. Microsoft goes after software pirates

Microsoft filed 63 lawsuits in 12 countries against software pirates, the company said today.

They are using the BSA as a front all across their world (there are BSA equivalents in some nations), as the following illustrates.

6. Microsoft Gulf and UAE Ministry of Economy

“Eliminating software piracy from the country is high on the agenda for the Ministry of Economy given the major negative impact piracy can have on the country’s growing economy. We will continue to work closely with the BSA and its members to curb software piracy across the UAE, and we are confident that our concerted efforts will bring in expected results,” said Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Alshihhi, MoE Undersecretary.

The Battle of Trafalgar
War on real piracy… when “piracy” meant
piracy and cracker was no hacker

Microsoft tries to portray itself as a victim (an addicting nonetheless) and those who use computers as vicious people who murder and rape, i.e. “pirates”. The copyrights cartel shamelessly uses the same tactics.

Some of the articles above suggest that not even counterfeiters want Windows Vista. The site “Vista is Rubbish” seems fairly new and it tells how people feel about it.

The more Microsoft struggles financially, the more it will curse everyone else and try to squeeze out an extra buck. Here are lots more new articles that are packed with words like “piracy”, which it is not.

Microsoft is not only suing old people in this process. There are other interesting stories about Microsoft taking action against those whom it did not mind before (because they made its software widespread).

At the Internet marketplace sell.com, Schaun Johnson largely earned rave reviews — called the “best seller” and “recommended to everyone A+++” — when dealing video games.

Microsoft Corp., the Washington state-based software titan, was less impressed, classifying Johnson, also known as skj8100, as a counterfeiter who allegedly was dealing operating systems illegally to unsuspecting buyers.

Here is Microsoft pinching the Australian aged care once again.

MICROSOFT Australia has accused aged-care services providers of illegitimately buying software through a discount licensing program.

Some people fight back. Here is another report about a story that was mentioned before.

Dutch firm says Microsoft is unfairly pricing EU stock higher than US

Dutch reseller HW Trading has launched a legal battle with Microsoft, accusing the software vendor of illegally inflating prices in the EU.

The case, began with a filing at the Californian Central Court back in May, accuses Microsoft of breaching Article 81 that forbids anti-competitive agreements. Owner of HW Trading, Samir Abdalla claims that by selling software for 30 per cent less in the USA, it is breaching EU law.

This is a good time to embrace Free software. This is the time when proprietary software companies squeeze hard for every penny they can get, having held people’s skills set and data hostage (lock-in).

Microsoft’s Global Anti-Piracy Day campaign spans 49 countries, has initiated educational programs as well as legal actions, and will likely pick up speed in 2009. According to reports in October, Microsoft has filed lawsuits against 20 resellers in the United States suspected of selling pirated software (Source: Microsoft to describe anti-piracy campaign). In Singapore three retailers have already settled negotiations with the software giant after being caught in a raid that took place in April this year (Source: Microsoft launches global antipiracy campaign)

There is some more analysis here.

CIO.com offers a sobering reminder as to one potential downside to proprietary licensing: when vendors get desperate for revenue, auditing for “piracy” can help them clean up.

The harder the push for revenue, the more people will turn to Free software. This means that every crackdown on counterfeiting is in one way or another the best GNU/Linux advocacy money need not even buy. It’s self-inflicted marketing of fear, uncertainty and doubt (about non-Free software and its consequences).

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