SOME PEOPLE saw this coming a couple of weeks ago and the word is finally out.
Microsoft has told Equipt customers that the subscription software package will be killed off on 30 April 2009.
This was also covered by IDG News Service. It is one among many products and divisions that Microsoft ended over the past year. Microsoft also ended its contracts with many employees and contractors, leading Cringley to suggest that Microsoft should sack about half of its workforce. He is finally giving a detailed breakdown.
And there you go – 30,000-50,000 heads later Microsoft would be smaller but stronger, more focused, agile, and better able to compete on a level playing field. Call it the Cringely Plan. Ballmer can implement it, drive Microsoft stock to $150 and then retire a gazillionaire, leaving the Bentonville Mafia to spend the next decade doing what they do best, optimizing processes.
Mr. Lawrence is meanwhile foreseeing or at least agreeing that Windows domination is ending, partly due to GNU/Linux.
Windows could die soon! Isn’t life GRAND?
Linux chomping at the Netbook market that caught the brilliant Microsoft folks by surprise (anything with “net” in it catches Microsoft by surprise), there’s the wonderful gift of Vista.. and the Great Beast stumbles around shedding employees.
Combine this with the news from Part I and it soon becomes abundantly clear that Microsoft is not invincible at all. Au contraire — it’s enormously fragile at the moment because it relies on very few products that generate profit and are under tremendous, constant threat from SaaS and Free software, including GNU/Linux. █
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More failing portions of Microsoft
MANY of Microsoft’s business areas are not successful, but the few which are still profitable can possibly outweigh and compensate for some of the losses. In terms of financial indicators, Zune, MSN/Live and XBox have been total disasters. Windows Mobile too has been a serious failure, but Microsoft Office continues to bring home some bacon, sometimes owing to sheer corruption.
Some of Microsoft’s layoffs over the past 4 months have been taking place in Razorfish [1, 2, 3, 4], which is its fairly large subsidiary. Razorfish was acquired by Microsoft along with aQuantive, a company that was based on GNU/Linux in its stack [1, 2, 3] and whose manager recently quit Microsoft.
According to this fresh report, Razorfish is moving to Rackspace, which is probably well known for its GNU/Linux-based hosting. Having glanced at the site’s Netcraft report, it seems as though Razorfish got rid of Microsoft IIS and is now embracing Free/open source software, namely Apache.
w3m -dump_head http://www.razorfish.com/
HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 19:45:54 GMT
No wonder that, according to Eric Engleman, “there’s been persistent speculation that Microsoft is looking to unload the agency.” This was said in a respectable and reliable publication some weeks ago, as well.
Netcraft suggests that the company’s server is running Apache after many years with IIS, but it still seems to be running Windows as a platform (the server is case insensitive). What happened to Microsoft IIS? Is Microsoft preparing to toss another couple of thousand of employees by selling Razorfish away? █
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FOR THE uninitiated who are not already familiar with EDGI, here is required reading, based on Microsoft’s internal communication:
One of the leaders behind this anti-competitive strategy is still doing legwork around the world. Microsoft is still recruiting additional anti-GNU/Linux strategists as well, despite the layoffs. This brings us to the news.
Mary Jo Foley is skilled at spotting the movement of people in and out of Microsoft. She has just spotted a change and identified people in one of Microsoft’s most ruthless of divisions, which is disguised as “philanthropist” in a very Orwellian fashion (meaning the opposite of what it really is).
Microsoft Unlimited Potential team gets a new chief
The Unlimited Potential team is the group that pioneered Windows Starter Edition, FlexGo licensing, StartKey and other products and projects aimed at bringing Microsoft technology to individuals in developing nations. It is also the team that has worked with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) initiative to get Windows on XO laptops.
It’s nice of her to mention OLPC because it’s utterly disgusting what Microsoft did to OLPC for self gain, as confidential documents reveal. Real people are hurt by this behaviour, but Microsoft’s shareholders up in the high hills might be happy.
Another former leader/candidate of the Unlimited Potential team (Will Poole) keeps busy elsewhere. Sometimes it’s easier to help Microsoft from the outside.
They all think about the children… but not necessarily the children's welfare as much as their wealth which can be taken away in the future when they’re all grown up [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. █
“Linux infestations are being uncovered in many of our large accounts as part of the escalation engagements.”
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The Microsoft patent trap is being pushed into the next Ubuntu:
<directhex> it’s official, moon binaries are now trivially installable on any ubuntu 9.04 system
<directhex> the 1-click url is apt:moonlight-plugin-mozilla
It’s Jo Shield again, pushing Microsoft technologies into Ubuntu having done the same with Mono. Fedora forbade Moonlight because the SFLC had confirmed that it's a problem. Please support a coalition to oppose this (work in progress).
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Apple’s openness (or lack thereof) is a subject we explored before, so old references need not be repeated. However, a couple of new reports are worth special emphasis even if they don’t fit the main theme of this Web site.
The first: Apple Rejects South Park iPhone App
The creators of South Park are the latest developers to have an iPhone application rejected for Apple’s app store. The app would have allowed iPhone users to access episode clips, read South Park news, grab wallpaper and other South Park-related features. In a blog post yesterday on SouthParkStudios.com, the creators explained that Apple had rejected the post because it might be “potentially offensive.”
Addressing another Draconian issue, Even the ‘angels’ of Mozilla join the protest against Apple’s practices on the iPhone:
Skype and Mozilla have thrown their weight behind the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in that digital-freedom organization’s fight to loosen the Digital Millenium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) restrictions on iPhone jailbreaking.
It’s worth adding that a lot of Mozilla employees are Mac users.
“It’s nothing to do with prejudice against brand names.”Apple can do a lot to help Free software and thus enjoy a reciprocal, symbiotic relationship, so why is it attacking Linux-based gadgets using iPhone patents? This means not only that Apple’s customers get abused; Even those who advocate and defend freedom are bound to suffer from Apple’s wrath, whether or not they are actual customers of Apple which ought to be irrelevant.
As a side note, we find that critics of Novell, including Sam Varghese for example, are being attacked for justified convictions*. In feedback on Sam’s latest article, one person starts with “It looks like the editor of this article has hatred against Novell” and another starts with “Looks the writer seems to hate Novell a lot.”
Liking Freedom does not mean “hating” anyone. It’s not about hatred and this stereotype is related to the "Microsoft hater" label, which renames merely hatred of criminal activity. It’s nothing to do with prejudice against brand names.
“Makes sense,” says Boycott Novell’s MinceR, “if someone likes freedom, they probably oppose those who want to take it away.” █
* Let us remember that Novell is anonymously responding to Novell critique, including that of Boycott Novell.
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MEMORIES RETURN of the possibility that Novell signed its patent deal with Microsoft because it was going out of business. This is still an area worthy of exploration.
But anyway, Novell is about to suffer from great turbulence across Europe and Novell’s McCarry, whom we mentioned previously in [1, 2, 3], has already tried to deny this. He is heading Novell’s UK operations, but we hear that Novell UK is a mess right now and we garnered evidence too.
ZDNet UK has just published an interview with McCarry. In this interview, for a change, he is asked some decent questions that really dig deep. For example:
Has the agreement [with Microsoft] affected Novell’s standing in the open-source community?
Novell is one of the largest contributors to the open-source community and we do take the community very seriously. We have a Microsoft [press] statement we can send you about that, that might help.
Novell agreed to pay Microsoft licensing fees on the understanding Microsoft would not assert patents it holds that supposedly cover Linux. These patents have never been tested in court and have never been publicly specified by Microsoft. Did Novell make too big a concession to Microsoft in submitting to its patent claims?
I think the intellectual-property conversation is really complex, but I’m not the right person to talk to about this [at Novell]. One aspect of the agreement was protection for Novell customers.
In other words, he is unable to come up with reasonable explanations of his own, so he’s weaseling out instead and referring to other people’s words.
If Novell’s own managers are unable to justify a patent deal that harmed GNU/Linux, who can? █
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TRUTH be told, Microsoft has already established firm connections with the new United States government [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and it leverages tremendous influence inside the Department of Justice [1, 2, 3].
We have already explained how Microsoft uses this all to pressure Google and a new appointment seems to suggest that Microsoft has reasons to gleefully sit back. So who is Christine Varney anyway?
Bloomberg News has dug up an interesting one: Christine Varney, nominated by President Obama to be the next U.S. antitrust chief, last year singled out Google — not Microsoft — as especially worthy of government scrutiny.
“For me, Microsoft is so last century,” Varney said at an American Antitrust Institute conference. “They are not the problem.”
The Bloomberg report mentioned above is careless or tactless enough to reference a study from former Microsoft employees who were throwing dirt at Microsoft’s competition from Google.
A survey by ClickStream Technologies last year said Google Docs, a Web-based application, is only used by 1 percent of Internet users.
This was a classic example of Microsoft producing false evidence that it needs to then reference it. Microsoft admits doing this as a matter of strategic course. If — as in this case — it uses its own (former) employees, that might as well be expected. It’s only one example of Google-hostile articles about a sort of Google knockoff and it’s merely part of a pattern. Looking elsewhere in the news, here is again a case of former Microsoft employees taking shots at Google.
Ex Microsoft All-Stars Give Google Docs a Nudge
Sinha, CEO at DocVerse and former Microsoft SharePoint and SQL Server strategist, and DeNeui, also an SQL strategist, began their DocVerse adventure in late 2007 in Seattle. Moving from one rain cloud to the next, they then transferred the whole shebang to San Francisco in the summer of 2008.
It’s like a movement. Even when they don’t work for Microsoft anymore, they might still be ‘working’ for Microsoft.
But anyway, addressing the point at hand, Mike Masnick has already responded to the ludicrous position embraced by Christine Varney. Here is one gem that we missed:
Once Again: Making Search Results Better Isn’t An Antitrust Violation
[T]he company in that NY Times profile, TradeComet, still isn’t satisfied, and has now sued Google for antitrust violations claiming that it purposely tried to destroy its SourceTool site (and, of course, it should come as no surprise that there’s a Microsoft connection for all you conspiracy buffs).
There are more substantiated examples of such actions (litigation by proxy).
Having approached a knowledgeable reader for opinion, he wrote: “It’s always disappointing and sometimes embarrassing to see public officials so out of touch on technology.
“It should be mostly to do with behaviour and the company’s behaviour to this very date speaks for itself”“Sure Google might be on the way to gaining an advertising monopoly, but that doesn’t excuse Christine Varney’s bleating of Microsoft talking points.
“For those that seemed to have missed the last century, Google began as a startup by two college students, who delivered a vastly superior service on a level playing field. All the other search engines saw what was happening, and most if not all had explicit feed back from both their users and researchers. They chose to ignore the messages.
“In contrast, last century, Gates’ family wealth allowed him to drop out of college (perhaps before he was kicked out) and fool around with Yet Another Software Company, stealing computer time (which was charged for by the second back then) to make an unnoteworthy program. Later, in about his only clever bit of business, he sold Gary Kildall’s QDOS to IBM and IBM at the time had a monopoly thus giving Bill a monopoly on desktop operating systems over night. The rest, as can be read in the court records, is nothing more than illegally leveraging that monopoly again and again..
“Where is Google heading? No one knows. But how did Google and Bill get where they are today, that it a difference of night and day, skill vs sleaze.”
With all sorts of Microsoft-sympathetic voices (in Microsoft-influenced press [1, 2]) calling for the end of antitrust scrutiny, one must apply a filter. This is not about who’s friends with who. It should be mostly to do with behaviour and the company’s behaviour to this very date speaks for itself [1, 2, 3]. █
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