MANY CHANGES were quietly made over the past few days and nothing was said about them, so here is a quick rundown.
- The site was taken offline a few times last week because it had overloaded the server, exceeding 300 SQL queries/second at times. We resolved this by finally upgrading the software and then enabling server/CMS cache, which may rid us of reliance on CDNs like CORAL. Super cache seems like a future possibility too, but the switchover to it would require flushing all the existing cache and thus put the server at risk, at least temporarily.
- Page templates were trimmed down somewhat and subsequent benchmarks (keeping an eye on server utility) were used to ensure the site behaves less unexpectedly, i.e. even loads. We still plan to add plugins and experiment further with content management. Past material is still too hard to navigate through.
- A secondary IRC channel was created to accommodate chats that are less on topic. The address is
#boycottnovell-social on FreeNode.
- Some readers already know that we are building a Wiki in which we intend to organise a lot of the material already assembled and presented in this Web log that contains external references. The plan is to manage things in indexes — by topic, time, name, etc. pretty much like SourceWatch but not quite for politics. In the past, anyone could edit the Wiki pages anonymously, but at a later stage spammers began striking, so we now require that people register with the Wiki in order to edit.
Any general suggestions on how to improve the Web site? Many such ideas generally come from readers, for example the daily links, the IRC channels, increased focus on Microsoft, the Wiki and so forth. These were all suggestions from readers and occasional contributors. █
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The French national police force has slashed its IT costs by 70 per cent by cutting Microsoft out of the equation.
A while ago somebody asked me what he could tell his boss to convince him to migrate to Linux, so I made him a small list.
Bosses know calculators, so this is the number one thing to tell your boss why you should migrate to Linux. The total cost of ownership(TCO) of linux is lower than windows. While linux administrators are a little more expensive, they are a lot more efficient so this gives a benefit. The licensing costs are lower, you don’t have to migrate to a new OS every few years, you can use the same hardware twice as long.
Politicians have no incentive to adopt free and open source software – not until someone writes a FOSS application that will ensure that they win the next election. But when geeks are part of a party and the party’s policies are furthered by adopting FOSS, then it is a slightly different story.
Wright, a former employee of Reuters and HP, says the use of FOSS fits in with Green policies well. Russell points to a few policies: that government information, both internal and external, should be made available in a format that is accessible by all, and is not restricted by the need to purchase additional software; that electronic government documents should be saved in an open document standard; and that government should be an active proponent and contributor to open standard forums.
Sometimes it takes fresh eyes to see new opportunities in an existing technology. LiveOps Inc. in Santa Clara, Calif., was founded in 2001 as a call center outsourcer. To be competitive with in-house call centers, LiveOps developed its software as a Web-based application on Linux. The application stack was designed to manage multiple customer campaigns simultaneously among tens of thousands of operators.
Even if consumers and businesses don’t opt for Linux on their Netbooks, the Windows they’re choosing is not very profitable for Microsoft, and getting users to upgrade to a pricey Windows 7 could prove to be a fool’s errand, as Microsoft admits.
“I’m absolutely uninterested in politics,” Linus famously (well, famously if you’re a Linux geek) said in 1999. “It was a fairly political family, so I may have reacted against that by being non-political.” Yet pressed a little further, he acknowledges leaning more left than right and has expressed opposition to US foreign policy of the Bush 43 administration (along with the rest of the civilized world).
As an immigrant in America, Linus has some comparative thoughts on our system:
The whole US voting system is apparently expressly designed to be polarizing (winner-take-all electoral system etc). To somebody from Finland, that looks like a rather obvious and fundamental design flaw.
Design flaw. Spoken like a true programmer.
In this Podcast an interview with a 7 year old Linux user, the Gentoo Community Portal, a tour of my home network and much more .
Building on the Call of Duty 4 engine, Call of Duty: World at War thrusts players into the ruthless and gritty chaos of WWII combat like never been before, and challenges them to band together to survive the most harrowing and climactic battles of WWII that led to the demise of the Axis powers on the European and South Pacific fronts. The title re-defines WWII games by offering an uncensored experience with unique enemies and combat variety, including Kamikaze fighters, ambush attacks, Banzai charges and cunning cover tactics, as well as explosive on-screen action through all new cooperative gameplay.
For those interested in turn-based strategy games, Battle For Wesnoth 1.6 is now available on Linux and other supported platforms. This major update to Battle For Wesnoth brings a new campaign (called The Legend of Wesmere), many multi-player improvements, improved game graphics, new terrain types, user-interface improvements, and an improved map editor.
Scorched 3D has been in development since 2001 with build 1 released on 29th April of that year.
The first thing to note about Scorched 3D is that it looks beautiful. It is the only 3D game in the article, but it is especially well done. The islands deform as they get pounded by missiles. Battleships stay moored offshore, the waves lap against the beaches, and jet fighters fly overhead the tanks. It looks as good as a commercial game.
Instant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time communication between two or more individuals based on typed text. The text is conveyed via devices connected over a network such as the Internet.
There are a number of different instant messaging protocols which are used by the major networks. The primary ones are XMPP (used by Google Talk, Jabber etc), AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger (formerly called MSN Messenger), and the venerable Internet Relay Chat (IRC). The IM clients featured in this article either cater for as many different networks as possible, or focus on a small subset.
I know it’s a tease, but I want readers to know that some important development is going on in these projects—development that may have a great impact on the Linux audio world. 64 Studio 3.0 promises a new world of kernel capabilities, and Ardour3 will assume the status of a complete professional DAW. Linux sound software is indeed looking and sounding better all the time.
The two computers I use most run Linux — the laptop runs Ubuntu, while the desktop is a “distribution nomad” that changes frequently. One great thing about Linux is that the platform has no shortage of capable text editors. Some lend themselves more to writing code and heavy-duty programming than others (such as Vim and Emacs) while others straddle the plain text document/programming editor line.
Lately, primarily because I’ve been slow to install my usual cross-over text editor of choice, Geany, I took a closer look at the plugins available for GNOME’s “came with the desktop” editor, Gedit. The default plugins (and those found in the “extra” packages) make the plain vanilla editor far more appealing and useful for hardcore writers and casual programmers alike.
I earlier wrote about the best 20 free image editor including 5 best online image editors. Image viewers are used to display or handle stored graphical images in different graphics file formats. Following are some of most widely used Image viewers for Linux you can consider using. They are all unique in their own way.
Here’s your cheat sheet on the absolute best plugins for Firefox — that you probably don’t know about.
I have been busy over the past several weeks doing various videos, all done with Free Software, in specific the programs Inkscape, Kino, GIMP and Audacity.
These videos can be found on my YouTube channel “maddoghall” I have had many comments about them. A couple of people have critiqued the quality (particularly the singing) and one criticized the acting, but most of the comments were positive.
If you think Twitter is a no-good, time-waster, fad that will die off just in time before the new social media fad comes in; you should be glad to know that that is exactly how I felt before I started using Twitter. Your experience with twitter will be as good as the people you follow or the users you socialize with. If you follow someone who spams you with marketing stuff and updates every morning what he had for breakfast, then you definitely will be disappointed.
Both features will be available with KDE 4.3. Have fun!
As I’ve used GNOME 2.26, I tried hard to find new things to make the overall release notable, but unfortunately I couldn’t really find anything exciting. Don’t get me wrong, GNOME is not a horrible desktop by any means; it’s fast, stable and gets the job done. However, this new release likely will not do much to convince users of other desktop environments to make the switch.
Is there such a thing as a perfect Linux or BSD desktop distribution? If so, what features and functionalities would such a distro have for it to have attained that high state – of perfection (on the desktop)? And perfect for what group of users? Geeks or non-geeks? In order to answer these questions, we set out here the most important features we expect a modern Linux or BSD desktop distribution to have.
Is there really a way for any one distro to be “more Linux’ than another?
It’s hard to say that one distro is “more Linux” than any other, because technically, as long as they contain the Linux kernel, then they are Linux.
Now is where we bring GNU into the GNU/Linux discussion. GNU is where a whole lot of the apps Linux users use come from.
Overall, I give Qimo a good thumbs up. The developers appear to be working hard to make a child friendly distribution, and it shows. It’s also good because it gives you a safe, virus free, child friendly environment on which to let your kids run free. It’s also a good way to get them started into Linux.
One word of warning though. It’s best not to allow the machine you’re going to put this on to be connected to the Internet. This is mostly because I didn’t really find any parental controls that limit where the child can go. So they could very easily stumble onto the darker sides of the Internet if you’re not with them, monitoring wherever they go.
PCLinuxOS is a Linux distribution based on Mandriva Linux. The most recent update, and the first since the last update in 2007, was released last week. This review will be the very first review of PCLinuxOS on this site.
What we like about PCLinuxOS Using PCLinuxOS is like using Mandriva Linux Powerpack without paying for it. The main thing missing is that LVM configuration is not supported. Also disk encryption is limited.
What needs to improve Not a whole lot, but there are key features I think should be supported especially when those features are supported on Mandriva, its parent distro. Here’s a short list:
* A regular release schedule. PCLinuxOS 2009.1 is the first release since 2007. That wont cut it in the free software operating system arena.
* LVM configuration. Contrary to the opinions of a few mis-informed people, Linux Logical Volume Manager is important, even on the desktop.
* The firewall must be enabled by default. There is no good reason to disable the firewall on a networked computer.
* During the installation and just before the packages are installed, give users one last opportunity to tweak their settings. That the way it is on Mandriva.
Red Hat (NYSE: RHT – News), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that JBoss Developer Studio 2.0 – Portfolio Edition is now available; the complete development environment not only enhances the Eclipse-based toolset, but also adds JBoss Enterprise Application, Portal, SOA and Data Services Platforms. The solution provides a robust, integrated development environment for rich web applications, mission critical enterprise applications, integration services in a single package, and at a price point that is expected to deliver compelling value to Red Hat customers.
You read it correctly. A sub-200.00 dollar netbook that offers more than most current netbooks. The kicker? As of now it looks like the only operating systems that will support the new processor are Android and Linux.
A recurrent theme in these posts – and throughout Computerworld UK – has been the rise of vast, unnecessary and ultimately doomed databases in the UK.
But those stories have been largely sporadic and anecdotal; what has been lacking has been a consolidated, coherent and compelling analysis of what is going on in this area – what is wrong, and how we can fix it.
Of the 46 databases investigated, only six were found to conform to current human rights and data protection laws. Nearly twice as many are described as: “Almost certainly illegal under human rights or data protection law and should be scrapped or substantially redesigned.” The remaining 29 databases all have significant problems.
Open letter to the Spanish Minister of Industry demanding him to fire to the vice-minister who seems to drive the current ICT public policy of Spain… for big telecoms and Hollywood entertainment corporations. The man who tries to bring the French 3-strikes against P2P to Spain. Everything against the public opinions expressed by the Minister. What is wrong here, Minister Sebastián?
Inevitably, a copy has made its way to Wikileaks; inevitably that link is being exposed all over the place, which has led to the site being overloaded (do make a donation if you can: I’ve given my widow’s mite). Barclays Bank can apply for as many injunctions as they like, the judge can – and probably will – huff and puff as much as he/she likes, but the game’s over: this stuff is out.
And quite right too: these documents either show the bank engaged in something dodgy, in which case they should be published, or they don’t, in which case there’s no problem in them being public anyway, since the bank is asking for serious scads of public dosh, and is effectively being part-nationalised.
Seven of the UK’s biggest web firms have been urged to opt out of a controversial ad-serving system.
Phorm – aka Webwise – profiles users’ browsing habits and serves up adverts based on which sites they visit.
NEW ZEALAND HAS REJECTED a controversial law which could have seen suspected illegal file sharers disconnected from the Internet without trial or evidence.
The French government is said to be ‘fighting like a lion’ to kill the controversial Amendment 138 for user safeguards in the Telecoms Package. It is taking its fight to heart of the Council of Ministers, where the British government is also pushing its position for an Internet where access and use is conditional on the operator’s terms.
It looks like yet another filmmaker has realized that obscurity is a much bigger threat than piracy. Matthew Krum lets us know that the makers of the movie BLANK have decided to release the movie on all torrent sites, while also offering up a DVD version and a donation offering on their site.
* Authors create the information with (usually) public funding
* Authors do not expect or want any financial reward
* Authors and funders want the results to be re-used by others
* The work is usually understaken with the benefit of the human race in mind
PMR: Copyright and contracts can often stand in the way of re-use for science. Sometimes this is unintentional, but users dare not infringe copyright and libraries often sign additional contracts which have very powerful constraints about the amount and purpose of re-use.
Bhaskar Chakravorti, business theory visionary (SF) 07 (2005)
Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.
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DURHAM, NC (March 23, 2009) Open Invention Network (OIN), the company formed to enable and protect Linux, today extended the Linux ecosystem with the signing of TomTom as a licensee. By becoming a licensee, TomTom has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of participating in a substantial community of Linux supporters and leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.
“As we look to enable the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have TomTom become a licensee”
–Keith Bergelt, OIN CEOPatents owned by Open Invention Network are available royalty-free to any company, institution or individual that agrees not to assert its patents against the Linux System. This enables companies to continue to make significant corporate and capital expenditure investments in Linux – helping to fuel economic growth. By developing a web of Linux developers, distributors, sellers, resellers and end-users that license its patent portfolio, Open Invention Network is creating a supportive and shielded ecosystem to ensure the growth and adoption of Linux.
“As we look to enable the Linux Ecosystem, we are pleased to have TomTom become a licensee,” said Keith Bergelt, chief executive officer of Open Invention Network. “TomTom is one of a growing number of companies, of all sizes, that value the openness and collaborative culture of the Linux community. We applaud their support for Linux.”
“Linux plays an important role at TomTom as the core of all our Portable Navigation Devices,” said Peter Spours, director of IP at TomTom. “We believe that by becoming an Open Invention Network licensee, we encourage Linux development and foster innovation in a technical community that benefits everyone.”
OIN has accumulated more than 275 strategic, worldwide patents and patent applications. These patents are available to all licensees as part of the patent portfolio that OIN is creating around, and in support of Linux. This makes it economically attractive for companies that want to repackage, embed and use Linux to host specialized services or create complementary products. Additionally, it helps ensure the continuation of innovation that has benefited software vendors, customers, emerging markets and investors.
The Open Invention Network license agreement can be found at http://www.openinventionnetwork.com/pat_license_agreement.php.
About Open Invention Network
Open Invention NetworkSM is a collaborative enterprise that enables innovation in open source and an increasingly vibrant ecosystem around Linux by acquiring and licensing patents, influencing behaviors and policy, and protecting the integrity of the ecosystem. It enables the growth and continuation of open source software by fostering a healthy Linux ecosystem of investors, vendors, developers and users.
Open Invention Network has considerable industry backing. It was launched in 2005, and has received investments from IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat and Sony. For more information, go to www.openinventionnetwork.com. █
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Summary: BSA lobbies the government; Microsoft builds bridges at taxpayers’ expense, sends jobs away
Earlier this month we wrote about the BSA's connections with Bill Gates' father and his firm. There are overlaps that cannot and should not be simply ignored because consequences are occasionally seen and it is easier to rationalise and defend explanations with more evidence at hand.
Now, it may be just a coincidence and for the sake of safety, benefit of the doubt will be given the skeptics, but it’s interesting that just a week or so after a Microsoft executive took power at the Department of Homeland Security [1, 2] Reuters comes up with this report about the BSA lobbying for software companies to take greater responsibility in national security.
Software lobby seeks greater role in U.S. security
The Business Software Alliance, which represents companies including Microsoft Corp and Dell Inc., told White House officials this week the government should share more threat and attack information with the industry.
Need it be shown again how close the BSA is to Microsoft? The BSA not only fights against Microsoft’s enemies [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] but it also has residues of Bill Gates’ father, who helps his son a lot [1, 2, 3]. Could there be a connection between this latest BSA lobby and the appointment of Microsoft’s Phil Reitinger? This gives Microsoft an even greater role in the United States government. For background, we recommend reading the following recent posts (mostly from 2009):
With so much influence inside the government, need people be surprised that taxpayers are now building bridges for the tax-evading Microsoft? Here is some newer coverage of this story:
What has Microsoft done for Americans recently? This new article from Fox News speaks about the offshoring of labour, in which Microsoft plays a significant role.
Microsoft Corporation led U.S. companies receiving H-1B visas last year with a total of 1,037. Microsoft’s announcement in January that the company would shed up to 3,000 jobs over the next 18 months does not seem to be putting a damper on its search for foreign talent.
Bill Gates and his father are largely responsible for what came to be known as Abramoff visas; not even a state senator can do much about it. According to another article, “H1-B workers laid off by Microsoft, but US workers took biggest hit.”
The Seattle press (what’s left of it) reports about worker unrest at Microsoft.
Members of the Service Employees International Union Local 6 demonstrated at Microsoft’s Redmond campus for a second day Monday. Their gripe is not with the software giant but with a subcontractor, SBM Site Services of Sacramento, Calif., which was awarded the custodial contract in December to clean buildings at the corporate campus.
There is some more information at BizJournals.com:
Unhappy janitors at Microsoft protest subcontractor’s cuts
Janitors who work at Microsoft Corp. as employees of SBM Site Services are protesting cutbacks by the subcontractor, saying their workload has increased substantially as a result of recent layoffs in their ranks.
This is part of a growing problem which was inevitable, so all Microsoft has left is press control like Waggener Edstrom. Watch how they all come together in this new short report:
Here’s why Gary Locke got $19K from Microsoft’s PR firm
It was that he also made $19,250 consulting for Waggener Edstrom, the Bellevue-based PR firm known mostly for its longtime association with Microsoft.
Locke, the Commerce Secretary nominee and former Washington governor, is tight with Bill and Melinda Gates, so it makes you wonder.
Waggener Edstrom is a subject we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] and we also watch the Gates Foundation quite carefully because it invests in companies and in governments.
Speaking of which, Paul Allen is a notable investor in Ticketmaster, he’s not just Microsoft’s co-founder. As a quick lesson in history:
After posting record sales and profits in 1993, Ticketmaster’s fate was changed again when Paul Allen beat out several big media players in a bid to purchase controlling interest in the company. The 40-year-old Allen, who had gained fame as the cofounder of Microsoft, paid an estimated $300 million for his stake.
Last week, Ticketmaster came under an investigation from the Department of Justice, which probably views Ticketmaster as a monopoliser.
The Department of Justice has asked Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. and concert promoter Live Nation Inc. for more information about their proposed merger, the companies said Friday.
Ticketmaster is the world’s largest seller of tickets to concerts and shows, and Live Nation is the largest U.S. operator of concert venues, with more than 140. The companies have been expecting to complete the deal in the second half of the year.
Could Paul Allen have his hand in another monopoly? He also had a personal stake in some media/entertainment company (DreamWorks) until recently, just like another Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates. Media companies control people’s perceptions and feelings, so this has real ramifications, predominantly to people’s minds. █
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Microsoft’s upper hand
Summary: Microsoft uses MSPs and incentives for stranglehold on students; technical errors persist
LAST WEEK we leaked information about Microsoft's Live@Edu, which offers gentle bribes to those who help ‘infect’ their academic institution with more Microsoft lock-in. Another document, regarding ELMS, was leaked quite recently and we finally have some example of MSDNAA
[ODF], with a plain text version at the bottom. We possess 4 more large documents that are copyrighted. These too are interesting but cannot be safely shared.
This whole thing is very timely because Queensland University of Technology has just fallen a victim to Live@Edu, so who is it that cashed in?
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will migrate some 40,000 student user accounts to Microsoft’s Live@edu hosted messaging and storage platform providing an alternative to the successful Google Apps education surge.
This seems like a war of incentives, but we know nothing about Google offering any money merely to be chosen. Microsoft has a proven track record of paying companies to ditch competitors’ technology and thereby starve these competitors of Microsoft . Adobe has already complained about it because Microsoft is paying — not charging — for companies to choose Silverlight, which is on a route to nowhere nonetheless.
Given the choice, businesses sometimes choose Google over Microsoft; GNU/Linux is being favoured also. It turns out that the opposition leader in India is promising $200 ‘Microsoft-free’ laptops if he gets elected to become prime minister.
Indian PM Candidate Promises $200 ‘Microsoft-Free’ Laptop
To secure votes, BJP leader LK Advani is pledging open source computers for 10 million students in his country.
The existing prime minister is no fan of Microsoft products, either. EDGI in India was apparently not enough. One reader sent to our attention the following article about the prime minister's bitter experience with Microsoft software.
The e-mail system of the Indian Prime Ministers Office was crippled by a virus that devoured nearly all of its incoming mail for three months last year, according to a recent report in the Times of India.
Apparently the virus affected the PMO’s Microsoft Outlook Express program, and consequently the office received almost none of the e-mail it was sent from February to April. Which, really, is the kind of thing you think someone would have noticed, because presumably the PMO usually gets a fair bit of e-mail, here in the worlds biggest democracy.
This was covered in many other Web sites, such as this one.
Our reader adds: “I’d posit that a large portion of people do notice mail lost due to the Exchange / Outlook pox. However, nearly all of them take the “it’s not my job” approach or are soil-their-britches scared of the Microsoft sales representatives working in their IT dept. For the latter, how many times a day do we see in the press that it’s the user’s fault that the software does not perform as advertised.”
The person who sent us this pointer thought that the following old article was also worth reviewing:
“A lot of people are sick of Microsoft and Bill Gates,” he said in an interview. “They hate that their computers crash once a week. They hate viruses. They hate paying so much for Microsoft software.”
On Friday, Silverman announced that his Toronto-based store will begin an intense marketing campaign of its Sub300.com Ultralite Laptop for $799. The 2.9-pound laptop has the Linspire Linux operating system and OpenOffice software including word processor, spreadsheet and data base filer.
“We are avoiding the ‘Microsoft tax,’” said Silverman, adding that Microsoft software can add from $200 to $400 to the cost of a PC or laptop. He said customers have been drawn to the store and its offerings for a variety of reasons, most of which are based in a dislike of Microsoft products.
Well, what else is new? Conficker is alive and well.
An extraordinary behind-the-scenes struggle is taking place between computer security groups around the world and the brazen author of a malicious software program called Conficker.
This PR disaster is not quite over yet. There is no real end in sight, so for the time being, we might as well accept that about 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie. Everyone is affected somehow. █
Appendix: MSDNAA — A typical mail to an MSP, as text
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Will Microsoft ever cut the crap?
Summary: A quick look at ways in which Microsoft markets its closed ecosystem under misleading banners
THERE are all sorts of articles out there that can truly bother one’s mind. For starters, Microsoft’s latest spin on ‘Open’ XML is being deconstructed by Andre, who concludes:
Mandatory ODF policies are only a small step in a long transformation process in the field of communications technologies but it is time to walk the talk. The financial markets have shown that we cannot afford to lean back on the regulatory side as society as a whole suffers the consequences.
Last week we wrote about "open source" events that Microsoft had invaded and we now find that it organises one too. Microsoft, however, not a sponsor of SD Forum which helps it form this self-praising charade and there are similar PR moves that may culminate in the loss of the meaning of "open source".
As one reader pointed out to us, Microsoft’s official “
/opensource” page contains references to “BizSpark” and things like “Silverlight” that are very much weapons against GNU/Linux and Free software (in the GPL sense). Diluting the value of the term “open source” is clearly the goal, not just the means of accomplishing this goal. According to a new article about MIX, it’s all about Microsoft’s closed-source technologies.
Microsoft is continuing its courtship of students, some as young as high school age, to bring new blood into the ranks of .NET developers and Microsoft platform users.
Another new press release is titled “Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW Interactive Announces Winners,” so there is another public event where Microsoft is flogging its FOSS-hostile initiative, bringing it to Lebanon too.
The other day we wrote about what Microsoft had been up to in Thailand. It’s coming to a conclusion now that the country’s leadership lends Microsoft further control. █
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Microsoft is Dying Online, Desperate for Yahoo! Deal
“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.”
–Brad Silverberg, Microsoft executive
Summary: In Microsoft’s latest attempt to “tilt Google into the death spiral,” it reaches out for allies
THE STRUGGLE to stay relevant in the Web era is a key one to Microsoft and the phrase “tilting <Company_name> into the death spiral” is rather common in the company’s internal communication. Since GNU/Linux is not tied to any one company, Microsoft’s current “tilt” attempt is directed at Google, whose market cap almost equates to Microsoft’s.
So what is a Steve Ballmer to do?
The company has gone as far as the manufacturing of lies, but figures that are not paid for by Microsoft indicate that the company’s steady decline carries on. The Wall Street Journal wrote about this in the context of ongoing talks between Microsoft and Yahoo.
But who needs a deal? Ballmer also set off a whole new round of Yahoo speculation, saying he would be open to discussing a search partnership with Yahoo’s new chief, Carol Bartz.
Sure, Ballmer’s statement isn’t really anything new; he has been panting after Yahoo’s search capabilities for months, and he reiterated at the software giant’s strategy update in late February that he preferred a search deal with Yahoo but no outright acquisition. And make no mistake: the only things that have changed since Ballmer last made eyes at Yahoo are the passage of time and the fact that the Sunnyvale, Calif., company has a new chief executive.
But on the flip side, both Microsoft and Yahoo still are losing market share in Internet search, and Standard & Poor’s analyst Jim Yin expects that Microsoft “will continue to lose marketshare in Internet search engine,” according to a March 11 research note. That decline has been visible over the past two years at both Microsoft and Yahoo, and there is little reason to expect that to ease or reverse itself.
That last remark is not exactly news. Going a week back, InternetNews claimed that “Microsoft U.S. Searches Sink to 12-Month Low.” This is representative of some other areas including Azure that's going offline, Hotmail that’s losing users (mostly to Google), and other units that are being shut down as part of a trend.
Microsoft’s share of U.S. searches last month fell to its lowest level in a year, according to Web tracking firm comScore.
The latest data show that Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) garnered only 8.2 percent of all U.S. search queries in February, slipping from 8.5 percent in January. The company had previously held a 9.6 percent share in February 2008.
Microsoft is now leaning towards Yahoo! as a harbour [1, 2] that’s of little or no use, unless they wish to harm Free software.
A year ago — and only a month or so after Microsoft’s initial bid for Yahoo — Microsoft’s CFO seriously considered buying Yahoo and go into over $20 billion in debt. But no longer is Microsoft truly interested in buying companies for growth, maybe because Microsoft is in debt territories even without Yahoo [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. According to Dow Jones (via CNN):
Microsoft CEO Sees Fewer Acquisitions
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer said Thursday he expects less acquisition activity in the economic downturn since targets will be less likely to sell at depressed valuations.
Dina Bass, who has some inside connection with Microsoft, wrote the following in Bloomberg:
Microsoft will experiment with new business models and ways to present Web search results, Ballmer said. So far, its efforts haven’t made much headway with users. The company controls a smaller portion of the Web search market than it did four years ago, when it switched from using Yahoo! Inc.’s search technology. Building market share will be a step-by-step process, Ballmer said.
As Ars Technica shows in its new article, titled “Why Microsoft continues with search: it’s still not solved,” this is a purely technical issue. Microsoft is currently rebranding, once again renaming (Kumo), and changing the outside appearance of its search engine, but it’s the underlying engine which must change. Microsoft has already suspended plans to build a datacentre in Iowa, so its ability to expand and grow in this crucial business area seems highly limited.
Some days ago, one of Microsoft’s talking heads called Preston Gralla, started yelping — yet again — about Google being a monopolist. This is part of a strategy that began 2-3 years ago when Microsoft tried to portray Google as what a major newspaper called “evil empire” and Microsoft even donated money to this daemonisation cause. Gralla, who does Microsoft/Windows stuff for a living, is using his appointment in the Microsoft-funded IDG [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] to constantly attack Google and attack GNU/Linux, which are Microsoft’s biggest competitive threats. That is all Microsoft has left. It can’t compete based on quality, so it also sued Linux and encouraged companies to sue Google, maybe even Apple.
“Microsoft has already suspended plans to build a datacentre in Iowa…”Returning to Bloomberg, Bass also wrote this article about Microsoft trying to sneak its way into search using agreements (probably a reference to buying exclusivity, i.e. buying one’s way to market share). Mozilla complained about this tactic only a couple of days ago (direct link).
Steve Ballmer is still trying to form a partnership with Yahoo (like the one they so hypocritically blocked when Google came over to Yahoo's rescue). Mary Jo Foley informs that Microsoft claims to have held only a single meeting with Carol Bartz.
Although you’d never know it from most of the headlines today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said he has had only one meeting so far with Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz since she became CEO. And it sounds — at least according to Ballmer’s remarks — that he and Bartz did little more than exchange pleasantries.
There is a lot more news coverage about this at the moment. The last impression varies depending on the source:
Yahoo is already caving somewhat, having promoted Firefox 3.0 when it was new*. Here is some interesting news about IE8, which has just been released.
Microsoft IE8 Browser Seeks To ‘Accelerate’ Searching, Yahoo Adds ‘Visual Shortcuts’ To Search Box
The other development I wanted to discuss is Yahoo’s “visual search shortcuts.” This operates from the search box on the browser toolbar. Yahoo must first be selected as the search provider in the IE 8 search box (Live Search is the default). If you then enter a query you see search suggestions but also “shortcuts” for certain categories of information: stocks, movie showtimes, movie reviews and weather.
What is this technical linkage about and when did it come into play?
As one last and very secondary note, IE8 is nothing to care about. Despite Mossberg's good relationship with Microsoft, IE8 failed to impress him and the same goes for TechCrunch, which writes:
With IE8, Microsoft Ignores One Third Of The Market
[S]peed is really everything. Without speed, all the other features fall by the wayside. You can’t enjoy a WebSlice (which is a slice of a Webpage that is constantly updated) if it takes forever to load. And if you look at Internet Explorer’s market share, it has steadily been eroded over the past few years by its faster rivals Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera. We’ll have to wait for new independent speed tests to see how IE8 stacks up, but speed does not appear to be its strong point.
Microsoft is doing what it always does: focusing on its massive installed base of users and ignoring the rest. If you’ve already left IE for a speedier browser, IE8 is not going to bring you back, and Microsoft knows it. For instance, Internet Explorer long ago turned its back the Mac and IE8 will be no different. There will be no Mac version, even though Macs continue to gain market share against PCs.
Bundling and integration that violate the rules seem to be the last card in Microsoft’s deck for renaissance on the Web. The best tagline for IE8 to have might be “too little, too late.” The same goes for Microsoft’s Web ambitions. █
* Yahoo was headed by Yang and Decker back then [1, 2, 3], but Microsoft fought them until its potential insider, Carl Icahn, played a role in pushing Yang out.
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