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12.27.08

How Microsoft Discourages Use of Competitors’ Products

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, IBM, Microsoft at 3:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

One word: F.U.D.

SOME months ago we showed recent examples of technical sabotage at Microsoft and about a year ago we explained what Microsoft did to DR-DOS [1, 2, 3, 4]. One of our readers pointed out that Bill Gates had some personal involvement [PDF] and in fact one exhibit reveals: “Bill Gates ordered to all application business units to include checking routines of operating environments and if it is Microsoft DOS, nothing will happen.”

DOS screen

We actually found the code that was prepared for the court to have a look at. It’s Microsoft code, which produces errors like “may void valuable warranty protection provided by.”

We have produced a plain text copy of this scan [PDF] by hand, for those who are interested:



/********************************************************
*DisplayAlienDosMessage
*
*Purpose:
* 		Displays a warning message if the user is running
* 	a non MS or IBM PC DOS machine (i.e. pirated DOS).
* Returns: 
* 			none 
********************************************************
int near DisplayA1ienDosMessage(void) 
{ 

	print(9,TAE,”WARNING: Microsoft QuickPascal has been tested for use”); 
	print(lO,TAB,"only with the MS-DOS and PC-DOS operating systems.”); 
	print(12,TAB,"Your use of this product with another operating system"); 
	print(13,TAB,"may void valuable warranty protection provided by”); 
	print(14,TAB,"Mlcrosoft on QuickPascal."); 
	print(16,TAB,”...Press any key to continue’); 
	getch(); 
	return(1); 
}

/***
*main - setup's main 
*Purpose: 
* 		main code for setup. Initialize stuff and do the setup. 
* 
*Entry:
* 		argC, argV as in ‘the bible” (K&R) 
*Exit:
*		void, note that setup exits from “terminate" not main. 
*******************************************************************
/ void NEAR main ( argC, argV )
int				 argC; 
unsigned char *argV [];

{ 
	extern ME1~4U contMaiu; 
	extern unsigned char	sDrive; // set if sourcedir non-
default 
	int 			retVal; 
	unreferenced (argC); 

	InitVideo();

.
	if (!Verify_DOS (); 

		DisplayAlienDosMessage (); 


	if (argV[O](1)==’:’) // don’t assume 
drive A: 
		sDrive = (unsigned char) toupper(*argv[O]);
	JnitDefOptions (); 

		if(GrabMemory()) 
		{ 
			retVal = DoThatStateThing (); 
			ReleaseMemory Q; 
		}
		else
		( 
		ppszErrLns= ppszErrTable [ OUTOFMEM ]; 
		AlertState ( &contMenu, 1.2, dispGenErr); 
		retVal = rv_JtJSTEXIT; 

	}
	terminate (retVal); // exits setup} 
}



It all seems eerily familiar.

‘We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”‘

Internal Microsoft communication [PDF]

Novell SUSE and Go-OO[XML] Damage

Posted in Fork, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, OpenSUSE, SUN at 3:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Grenade planet

EARLY REVIEWS of OpenSUSE 11.1 were mixed, but the more recent ones were slightly better. There are several types that we rarely include here as that would be perceived as an ‘attack’ on a ‘community’ (never mind if OpenSUSE is truly controlled by Novell). To give just one example of OpenSUSE disappointments, there is this one guy who tried it before finalisation (GrandMastering):

…I sold my soul to openSUSE and then I stole it back…

I don’t know if it is the right place…
But I just want to renew my appreciation to Ubuntu…

I wanted to try something different, so I installed openSUSE 11…
It was a mess… shortly after the installation I could not update, because the update engine freezed up…
My viedo card was not recognized… so I installed the driver from the official site… It took me 3 hours to make it work..
And so on…

More interestingly, this Vista-themed blog claims that the OpenSUSE 11.1 Live CD can damage hardware. Is this true? Can anybody verify or falsify?

If you want to run the openSUSE Live CD, you must think about it twice. Because a critical mistake can ruin your PC. There is a configuration file “/etc/sysconfig/clock”, who sets the Hardware clock when the PC is rebooted or halts. The trouble is that some old motherboards do not update correctly (or the opeSUSE’s code is wrong). This “default” configuration can ruin the hardware and affect to other systems.

Meanwhile, someone in Digg has submitted old news that's a Novell attack on OpenOffice.org, but the modified headline is ugly. “The future of Open Office.org is at risk,” says the title and it reached the front page. It’s important never to allow Microsoft/Novell to destroy OpenOffice by taking control or momentum away from Sun to promote .NET and OOXML (with patents) at the expense of Java and ODF. That’s just what they want to achieve with the fork, Go-OO[XML][1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Microsoft is once again controlling its biggest rivals via Novell. Other sites are well aware of this problem.

The issue with Go-OO is that it is badly influenced by Novell. In the name of interoperability, the dirty M$ technologies are infused to it by them. On the other hand, Sun’s OpenOffice is a heavily branded one.

We strongly advise people not to approach Go-OO[OOXML] or SUSE. Only this way Novell might get the message and reform its behaviour.

The End of an Era (SCO), The Beginning of Another (Microsoft & Patents)

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SCO, Standard at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents Roundup: Microsoft’s Plan Foiled; News from US, UK and EU

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO

So, yet another year ends. After almost 5 years in the courtroom, down goes SCO, whose legal death is now being tidied up in Groklaw (that’s why there are no new posts over there). Here are the latest filings.

PJ is obviously having a well deserved break. While she is resting, Groklaw’s timelines are still maintained. To keep you up-to-date, here is a raw summary on the recent filings.

No matter how much money Microsoft allegedly threw at SCO [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], Linux kept growing and the monopolist is now clinging onto software patents, which are softer than copyrights and are incidentally blowing up (c.f. In Re Bilski [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]).

Sadly for Microsoft, almost nothing seems to work for it these days; not much in terms of tangible assets, debt lurking around the corner, and even layoffs, assuming the corroborating rumours are true.

US

Software patents are similar to all that imaginary property which torments the economy at the moment. The ongoing demise of the US economy, mostly due to corruption (aided by deregulation) and greed, affects everyone because nations are more interconnected than they were back in 1929.

“…[E]ven in the United States, software patents have become a tad iffy.”Where do we stand on the issue of patents post the ‘Bilski era’? Well, even in the United States, software patents have become a tad iffy [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. They can more easily be challenged or altogether blocked.

Regarding patents-encumbered ‘standards’ like OOXML, to exemplify the problem we last wrote about Rambus in [ref 5586 this post] where Andy Updegrove was referenced. He currently has an update on the subject.

19 Standards Orgs. – and Over 13,300 Members – Support Rambus Brief

Yesterday I filed a pro bono amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of the Federal Trade Commission’s petition for writ of certiorari in its suit against Rambus Technologies. I’m pleased to report that 19 standard setting organizations (SSOs), representing over 13,300 members, joined as amici curiae supporting this brief; the list of participants appears later in this blog entry. As noted in the brief itself, these SSOs:

…represent a broad range of SSOs that participate in the standard setting process, and each is greatly concerned by the adverse effects that it anticipates will result from the [lower court reversal of the FTC's sanctions of Rambus]. Those effects will reach virtually all aspects of modern society, commerce, education and government, because all of these interests rely heavily upon the efficient development and broad adoption of standards by the private sector.

[...]

More specifically, amici curiae wish to acquaint the Court with the following facts, as developed in greater detail in the arguments that follow:

[...]

4. SSOs adopt IPR policies that are intended to identify patent claims that would be “necessarily infringed” by an implementation of a standard under development, and to ensure that such “necessary claims” will be made available to all would-be implementers under at least RAND terms. Absent such knowledge and commitments, a patent owner may gain a degree of monopoly power over the implementation of a standard that can be greatly abused, to the detrime

According to the wording, IBM is against patent ambushes in standards, but the Linux Foundation, which employs Updegrove, uses “RAND” in this letter. They ought to put forth an open letter saying, “please define RAND”. Jim Zemlin (also of the Linux Foundation) gave an interesting answer in this very recent interview:

Q10 — So is there nothing that can stop the Tux juggernaut? No legal threat or other doomsday scenario lurking in the wings?

A10 — [Jim Zemlin:] I don’t think there’s anything to slow it in the near future. Certainly, it could slow over a long period of time if Linux was unable to innovate, but there’s no sign of that. The other potential problem is the lack of skilled labor. That’s why we’re trying to run LF events that offer training programs. Labor is going to be the big bottleneck for these companies using Linux. If you are an engineer who was recently laid off, I would go learn Linux. There is no shortage of jobs for Linux developers.

What to make of it? He does not talk about patents. We need to research this a little bit further, as we already have to an extent. “So it probably means that he does not clearly see it as a threat. Maybe because IBM is behind Linux Foundation software patent policy. Look for all patent related stuff on Linux Foundation, you will quickly understand,” said one of our readers and informants.

Well, we already know that they are not exactly a foe of intellectual monopolies. The Linux Foundation’s policy on patents is similar to IBM’s, but they rarely say this out publicly. Their funding sources, after all, are big fans of this monopolistic agenda, never mind if it’s contradictory to notions of freedom and equality. This does not embody the principles of Free software either, but they consistently say “open source” to distance themselves from GNU.

“This idea of self-centered paths harms programmers, who already have copyrights.”Speaking of IBM, we’re almost pleased to see that former IBMer Irving Wladawsky-Berger will be advising the new administration because he stood behind GNU/Linux, but we truthfully hope that he has changed his mind about software patents since 2005 when he wrote about it [1, 2]. This idea of self-centered paths harms programmers, who already have copyrights.

OIN mailed me, offering the opportunity to do an interview with their CEO. They happily accepted the questions, which were bold enough to dig down into the challenges rather than blindly praise OIN. The interviewees typically do not like this. They prefer ‘promotional’ interviews (Glyn Moody opposes such conformist passivity). Anyway, for future reference, here are those questions that OIN decided it could not address:

1. OIN has already attracted some fairly large companies that contributed their patent portfolios. Do you foresee more large companies joining?

2. What is OIN’s interpretation of the decision reached in the re Bilski case and how does it apply to software patents?

3. What do you consider to be a high quality software patent and how is it different from any other business method patent? How many of the world’s software patents are high quality?

4. Do you believe that software patents should be extended or limited in terms of scope?

5. Is it fair to say that OIN’s aspiration is not to have software patents eliminated altogether?

6. Richard Stallman once said, “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.” What is your take on such point of view?

7. How would OIN respond to companies which choose litigation or licensing but do not have any products that require them to cross-license?

8. The firm Intellectual Ventures was founded by a former Microsoft executive with Microsoft assistance. How can OIN respond to threat from Intellectual Ventures, given that the company has no concrete products and is hostile to GNU/Linux?

9. OIN stepped up to the defence when Microsoft threatened GNU/Linux in May 2007. Jim Zemlin of the Linux foundations explicitly mentioned OIN’s role in a memorable article that he published in Business Week. A year and half later the threats remain, as they were never retracted. Can OIN respond proactively as opposed to defensibly in order to reduce the effect of fear, uncertainty and doubt that still linger?

10. If a situation arises where a project that OIN covers get forked, will the protection be extended to this fork?

11. One common criticism of OIN is that it legitimises software patents whereas other groups challenge the validity of this class of patent. How do you respond to critics who insist on the latter route to challenging threats?

12. The cost associated with acquiring patents is too high for some small businesses to afford and OIN does not protect Free/open source software projects beyond Linux. Is it possible that scope of protection will change in the future?

13. Do you think the new US administration will change anything regarding patents and enforcement?

Just for the record, we were never huge fans of OIN’s “Linux Defenders” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], so it makes OIN view us as slightly hostile.

UK

As mentioned the other day, although with less certainty, the UK-IPO is not really moved by what happened with Symbian a few months back, so it will continue to reject software patents as a matter of policy (practice is an entirely different matter).

We kick off this week with the news from Out-law that the UK IPO has announced it will not be revising its approach on software patents in the light of the findings of the Symbian case. The announcement comes after UK IPO’s decision to deny a patent to Symbian was overturned on appeal back in October in a judgment many took to be critical of the UK IPO’s approach. The decision has drawn criticism from the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys, who claim the current guidance creates uncertainty for patent applicants.

There is also this report from South Africa, where Microsoft is violating patent laws.

The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) will still use a previously formulated test on software patents despite a court ruling which many took to be critical of its approach.

[...]

The judge in the case, Lord Neuberger, did not follow the process set out by the IPO, which was derived from cases involving Aerotel and Neal Macrossan, but the process set out in an earlier judgment, in a case involving Vicom. Many observers saw the ruling as a rejection of the IPO’s previous methods of judging software patent claims.

The petition to prevent software patents from invading Europe is gaining new traction, whereas in the UK there is still this disproportional obsession with intellectual monopolies, which are enforced quite unnecessarily using taxpayers’ money.

Software copyright inspection powers used for first time

[...]

The Government pledged £5 million of new money to help the existing 4,500 Trading Standards officers to undertake their new duties.

Free software would be a better and more economic solution. It ‘solves’ this problem.

EU

Software patents are not the only menace to be reckoned with. The ACTA, which we wrote about quite extensively [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17], is becoming a little less secretive right now, so FFII has obtained a copy of this video where the ACTA is being discussed (in Europe). “The problem is that each time they talk about “counterfeiting” and “piracy”, it applies to patent infringements,” says Benjamin from FFII. Maybe they long for some more Sisvel combatants [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], who will be running around with guns to ‘fight’ blokes who sell portable music players.

What type of ‘precious’ patents are they talking about (or ‘protecting’) anyway? Let us turn to the news and find this one-man company — possibly a patent troll/opportunist — suing and extorting money out of giants

Mangosoft Inc. has settled a patent lawsuit for $2.3 million with Skype Software and eBay.

The settlement, while sizable for a one man company down to its last $500,000 in assets, is a small percentage of its accumulated deficit – the $90 million stockholders have invested in the Nashua company.

[...]

It has invested most of its resources on litigation with software giants.

The company originally filed suit in Concord against Oracle in 2002 for patent infringement, but it was thrown out by the U.S. District Court in March 2007. That decision was upheld in the Court of Appeals on May 14.

There are similar new examples.

Will a meltdown be needed to make people realise that software patents are a bubble created by mankind?

“There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge.” —Bertrand Russell

Microsoft’s Proprietary Web ‘Extensions’ Already Harm GNU/Linux, Rival Web Browsers

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We should design some of our extensions explicitly so that IBM can’t run them under OS/2. We need to put real thinking into this.”

8ill Gates [PDF]

Buddha
Namhae, South Korea

LAST MONTH we wrote about what Microsoft is doing in Korea. In yesterday’s news we found the impact of what it had been doing to this nation (which is now deeply entangled in Microsoft’s anti-standards for the Web) and how it directly affects GNU/Linux adoption.

Most of us have already seen this Viliv S5 at IDF 2008, but it was based on Linux OS and Hansoft’s 3D Cubic launcher. Maybe they did so then because Intel is currently pushing Linux OS to their future platforms like Moorestown.

[...]

Most MID- or NetBook makers in Korea would like to install Linux OS to save cost and reduce the retail price on their units but Korea’s Internet environment isn’t able to accept this. No Internet banking services, No Internet shopping, unable to login to major community sites as well as being unable to post to some blogs. Microsoft Korea don’t have to promote or market their OS to avoid those alternative OS from MID makers.

GNU/Linux is not the only competing technology that Microsoft harms with potentially-underhanded tactics. Using Silverlight, it does the same thing to rival Web browsers, in addition to GNU/Linux, which will never have a Silverlight plugin.

Why Silverlight does not support Opera

With the release of Silverlight 2 in October, Microsoft added official support for the newly released Google Chrome, in addition to IE, Firefox, and Safari support. Support for Opera, and other browsers with little market share, was nowhere to be seen.

That’s what happens when a company ignores a World Wide Web which is based on standards and instead delivers proprietary and closed objects like ActiveX, Office rendering modes, embedded Windows Media Player, and Silver Lie [1, 2, 3], then disseminates them.

If one complies with standards, then there is no need to support Web browsers; the browsers conform to standards, so compatibility works in reverse and it can always be assured. This also accommodates better for entry by new players.

“So, many of these deviations from standards are not about innovation — they are design decisions whose goal is to crush competition.”Where are all those regulators who realised at the time that Silver Lie was anti-competitive and hugely harmful? There was also a formal investigation in the European Commission last year, but perhaps due to laziness, nothing has been heard about it since then. Microsoft uses Novell (Moon Lie [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23]) to get regulators off its back while carrying on with GNU/Linux neglect and hostility [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Here is an E-mail that Bill Gates sent to Paul Maritz (now the CEO of VMware, after the tossing out the company's founder for reasons we last mentioned this morning) and to Brad Sliverberg, the guy who wrote: “I’d be glad to help tilt lotus into into the death spiral. I could do it Friday afternoon but not Saturday. I could do it pretty much any time the following week.” Microsoft Jack thinks that it's some sort of a joke. Brad Sliverberg also wrote: “b) put a kind gentle message in setup. like an incompatible tsr message, but not everytime the user starts windows. [...] the most sensible thing from a development standpoint is to continue to build dependencies on msdos into windows.” That latter one is deliberate technical sabotage against competitors, using fake error messages (see DR-DOS posts [1, 2, 3, 4] for more details) and he was named "the least credible of all of Microsoft’s many" in a lawsuit against Microsoft for vapourware tactics.

Anyway, here is the E-mail, which was also sent (as a carbon copy) to Nathan Myhrvold, who is now Microsoft's main patent troll, gradually joined by others like Gates [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:


—original message—
From: 8ill Gates
Sent: Tuesday, January 28, 1997 10:34 AM
To: Paul Maritz; Brad Sliverberg
Cc: Nathan Myhrvold; Aaron Conforer; Jim Allchin (Exchange); John Ludwig; Richard Fade; Jon DeVaan;~ Steven Sinofsky
Subject HTML. Opervieec

There has recently been an exchange on email with people in the Office group about Office and HTML.

In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.

[...]


It goes on and discusses patents too (the full E-mail is here [PDF]). So, many of these deviations from standards are not about innovation — they are design decisions whose goal is to crush competition. These decisions come from above, from the very stop. People want to be fair to rival browsers, but Bill Gates himself objects to it. To those who think it was a momentary flip, well… no. Bill Gates repeated this two years later:


….. Original Message …..
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Saturday, December 05, 1998 12:44 PM
To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
Cc: Paul Maritz
Subject: Office rendering

One thing we have got to change in our strategy – allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to avoid doing something to destroy Windows.

I would be glad to explain at greater length.

Likewise this love of DAV in Office/Exchange is a huge problem. I would also like to make sure people understand this as well.


The full correspondence is here, as plain text or as PDF [PDF]. We could comment further on people to whom this was sent. Jim Allchin’s felonies were covered in this Web site very extensively in the past and Paul Maritz is always part of this type of correspondences. With Bob Muglia and Steven Sinofsky in some of the most senior Microsoft roles at the moment, this type of behaviour must not be ignored.

The quote at the very top is from 1991, so it validates at least 8 years of the “incompatibility strategy.” Not much has ever changed, based on what we already know.

Jim Allchin on Novell

Quote of the Day: Bill Gates on ‘Extend’

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Office Suites, Quote at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I have decided that we should not publish these extensions. We should wait until we have a way to do a high level of integration that will be harder for the likes of Notes, Wordperfect to achieve, and which will give Office a real advantage.”

8ill Gates [PDF]

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: Boxing Day 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part II: Novell Potpourri at End of Year

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mail, Marketing, NetWare, Novell, SLES/SLED at 3:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SLED cube

THE Var Guy claims that he was wrong about Novell. He refers only to their Linux business while ignoring the rest though. Novell seems to spend an out-of-the-ordinary amount of time talking about and emphasising this Linux business, which makes up a small portion of the overall portfolio and revenue. From the CTO’s blog:

Last year, we launched OES 2. This product is important to our NetWare customer base, drives the growth of Linux, and is a proof-point of industrial strength virtualization using SLES and XEN. The product’s success has contributed to the business success achieved in fiscal 2008 by our Workgroup team. Our attention and focus have paid off. We have now launched a service pack for OES 2—one which adds considerable function.

BrainShare

BrainShare may be over for good [1, 2, 3], but GWAVA has its fist on the spigot and it’s unleashing another press release:

Read the rest of this entry »

Do-No-Evil Saturday – Part I: OpenSUSE 11.1 Reviews Trickle In

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE, Review at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SUSE SLED GNOME

More Release Coverage

LAST week we wrote about the release of 11.1 and here is the official press release that we neglected to add (also here, along with this modified press release). There are some shallow announcements that pretty much repeat the contents of the press release, which is always disappointing.

Here is LinuxPR (JupiterMedia/LinuxToday) announcing it a little differently.

Read the rest of this entry »

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