Summary: Microsoft pays less than 1% tax; other financial irregularities discussed
Microsoft’s notorious tax evasion practices are an issue we previously explored in many posts that include:
The Irish Times has this latest update on the subject.
Microsoft Ireland Operations Ltd (MIOL) had turnover of €11.3 billion and paid corporation tax of €63.5 million according to accounts just lodged with the Companies Office and seen by The Irish Times.
Read that again. A lot of the revenue is deliberately being funneled through Ireland, which has a special relashionship with Microsoft. Microsoft is therefore paying less than 1% tax, leaving the actual tax-paying obligations to other people with limited means of providing for their families.
And Microsoft still wonders why many people don’t like it.
To be fair here, Google and Intel were very recently caught doing similar things, albeit in a more localised scope:
i. Intel accused of massive tax evasion
Professor Mikkelsen described the level of Intel’s tax evasion – believed to be Denmark’s biggest ever case of transfer pricing – as “shocking”.
ii. Google avoids millions in UK taxes
GOOGLE HAS AVOIDED paying over £100 million in UK tax through employing an elaborate revenue billing structure, an accountant reckons.
A Microsoft president, Robert Bach, was previously caught inside-trading [1, 2] and the following new report from Forbes brings back memories.
A Connecticut divorce judge ordered Tuesday that $250,000 be placed in escrow that a hedge fund planned to pay a former Microsoft employee amid a federal investigation of possible insider trading.
The Securities and Exchange Commission earlier this year reopened its probe of possible insider trading at Pequot. It’s investigating if Pequot traded Microsoft Corp. ( MSFT – news – people ) shares on confidential information provided by Zilkha, whom it had hired.
Microsoft and finance are not a happy couple if one looks closely enough. There is a lot of bending of the law. █
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”
“My background is finance and accounting. As a socially conscious venture capitalist and philanthropist, I have a very good understanding of wealth management and philanthropy. I started my career in 1967 with the IRS as a specialist in taxation covering many areas of the tax law including the so-called legal loopholes to charitable giving. […] However, the Gates Buffet foundation grant is nothing more than a shell game in which control of assets for both Gates and Buffet remain the same. […] The only difference is that the accumulation of wealth by these two will be much more massive because they will no longer have to pay any taxes.”
The Gates and Buffet Foundation Shell Game
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Summary: Microsoft assumes users will love the update, as long as it’s from Microsoft
ACCORDING TO this report, “Microsoft [Is] Pushing Out IE8 Through Auto Update.”
Microsoft has begun pushing out Internet Explorer 8, the latest version of its Web browser, to Windows users who are signed up for automatic software updates.
Can they also push Opera to users, preferably through auto-update? How about Mozilla Firefox? How does that promote competition or restore any? Europe’s case against Microsoft is still on, but it’s progressing far too slowly if Microsoft already force-feeds users so that they ‘choose’ its latest Web browser and get locked in even further.
Opera initiated the Commission’s case when it first filed a complaint in late 2007. Since then it has become one of the case’s “interested third parties” together with Google and Mozilla under the umbrella of Brussels-based ECIS, or the European Committee for Interoperable Systems.
But won’t bundling a few more browsers like Opera into Windows be just as unfair to other browsers who aren’t included? “That is of course a question that has to be addressed,” said ECIS’s legal counsel Thomas Vinje, who thinks between four and five other browsers should be packaged in. “The choice of who is included is an important one.” Opera is not guaranteed a place, Vinje insists. The Commission would take advice on that from independent experts.
As recent background to this case, see this post. It would probably be unproductive to discuss this again. Microsoft does not tolerate choice; it loathes it.█
“My children – in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”
–Steve Ballmer (on CNN)
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Summary: A weekly look at important moves that are made by Microsoft employees
Microsoft’s connection with (ownership of) Slate.com is a subject we have already explored in [1, 2] and the company’s relationship with the Republican National Committee is also an issue that we looked at. Now comes this report about Microsoft hiring a man who was in both
Krohn previously worked at Microsoft from 1996 through 2005, succeeding Moore as publisher of Slate.com and working for him at MSN Video. When Moore moved to Yahoo in 2005, Krohn soon followed. He left Yahoo in 2007 to head digital campaigning for the RNC, departing that role in early March. The Washington Post described his resignation as “an especially heavy blow—not just to the RNC, but to the conservative blogosphere.”
For future reference, in case DataInfoCom comes up again, it’s worth noting that it has just installed a former Vice President from Microsoft as a board member.
Chris Stanley, former Vice President, Enterprise and Partner Group, Asia, at Microsoft, has joined the Board of Directors of DataInfoCom, a company whose patent-pending technologies not only predict a process’ future, but also produce actionable decisions to take advantage of these predictions.
Here is a company that was created by a Microsoft employee and is now receiving funds from OVP.
Seattle-based Symform, a small company that provides data storage and backup in the Internet cloud, is announcing today a $1.5 million Series A financing from OVP Venture Partners in Kirkland, WA. This is the first new investment OVP has announced this year; the firm made six follow-on investments last quarter. Managing directors Mark Ashida and Lucinda Stewart are joining Symform’s board.
As for Symform, the young startup we profiled back in February, it’s a significant step forward. The company was founded in late 2007 by ex-Microsoft veterans Praerit Garg and Bassam Tabbara, and has been developing its product for the past year and a half.
It’s worth keeping in mind that
xconomy.com is pro-Microsoft press and one of the managing directors from OVP has history in Microsoft, but it’s nothing like Ignition Partners where almost everyone is from Microsoft. They too are venture capitalists. █
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Summary: Netcraft changes what it measures, which works pretty well for Microsoft; Net Applications carries on deceiving
THREE weeks ago we wrote about the mysteries of Netcraft, which is claimed to be bent in Microsoft's favour. A few days ago the following got published:
Netcraft: Microsoft Hosts Most Active Sites
Web analytics firm Netcraft (www.netcraft.com) is expanding on its web server survey by offering a dataset of the most active sites, giving a truly global analysis of web hosts.
The firm explains that each website that is found on its monthly web server survey can be attributed to a hosting location using reverse DNS and IP address delegation information.
Could Microsoft be compensating for this change in the element that’s measured so as to glorify Microsoft’s pathetic true numbers (10-20% market share, according to some sources)?
“They are linking to a cryptic survey that is indirectly funded by Microsoft and Apple.”The black art of statistics is associated with mastery of how to change what’s displayed or measured such that it places the preferred data/company as leader and then presents ‘quick results’ (usually graphs) to unsuspecting viewers that are lazy to validate or to ask what it is that they are actually seeing, let alone how it was derived, bar caveats?
A few days ago we found Web sites which are pretending that GNU/Linux has only just surpassed 1% of market share on the desktop. They are all linking to a cryptic survey that is indirectly funded by Microsoft and Apple. For information about Net Applications, review past writings such as:
Regarding the latest from Net Applications, Bernard Swiss writes:
IIRC, Google Zeitgeist in 2003 reported 2.9%
and I trust that figure for client OS share much better than anything put out by NetApplications.
It’s too bad that Google decided to stop reporting client OS share; I never understood why they felt it necessary to do so, but I suspect there was more to it than the official statement covered.
We have already shared our own perspective on desktop market share in [1, 2, 3, 4]. █
“We don’t have a monopoly. We have market share. There’s a difference.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
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Microsoft employs self-appointed experts to study your perceptions and modify them
Summary: Waggener Edstrom’s lack of ethics – take II; a look at a current real-world example
IN OUR previous post about Waggener Edstrom* we showed that it had become an integral part of Microsoft Corporation, for which is also lobbies in a variety of well-documented ways [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. This includes anti-Linux actions.
One issue that we explored before is this set of Microsoft guidelines for controlling coverage about the company and its products. Whereas Microsoft’s documents are confidential, Waggener Edstrom turns out to be talking about what it does a little more openly. It’s promoting itself using its unethical methods that it also patents (see the “Our IP” section). That first patent which was mentioned earlier today is a universal translator, but there is a lot more. “Some of their other ones are [...] strange scanning tools to [...] guide the direction of your development,” claims oiaohm. “It’s really strange to depend on a machine to tell you if your marketing is working. It’s even more strange to attempt to use a machine to tell you if you are the market leader or not,” he adds.
“A short while later it received an unexpected phone call from Microsoft and some abuse which ultimately led to the review being removed.”Going back to that video, “it covers all the methods you have been seeing,” oiaohm told me. According to his interpretation, the “idea [of] throwing more resources and shills/astro turfers at the problem is documented graphically in that video (instead of fixing problems that caused the bad PR in the first place). The information is around publicly to see Microsoft’s tactics.”
As a new example of this, see the following post from last week. A small business received 1,000 times the usual traffic on its Web site when it had published a negative review of Microsoft’s Surface. A short while later it received an unexpected phone call from Microsoft and some abuse which ultimately led to the review being removed. Could Waggener Edstrom have sent an alert regarding this blogger? After all, that’s just what they do at Waggener Edstrom.
The post was ‘updated’ (emptied), comments were closed, and the latest separate update — to quote what Twitter wrote — may indicate the following:
There is nothing gentle about that contact. If you are so “Microsofty” that you would even consider a $13,000 novelty, Microsoft is your oxygen. They go on to explain the hate mail they got.
5pm today that discussion had become so chock full of “web-muck” (the online equivalent of the telephone game, where the original message gets lost in the transmission) that it was becoming a huge distraction. … the tireless Apple vs. PC debate … impassioned souls who accused me of being everything from a “Microsoft Apologist” to “M$ fanboy” to a “complete idiot”
This is typical troll juice and crap flood that comes from Microsoft astroturfers. Microsoft and friends will smear this person to protect what’s left of their own reputations. Had this person worked for Microsoft or a Microsoft partner, they would have been fired. Comments to the apology posts are now moderated and I doubt any will see the light of day.
Indeed, not a single one has appeared since then. It has been a week. █
“Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”
–Microsoft, internal document
* The core is Melissa Waggener and Pam Edstrom, who are based in Bellevue, Washington just like a lot of Microsoft.
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Europe’s software patents cartel is rearmed
Summary: Another look at the TomTom/FAT case, GE’s new role in Europe, and growing opposition to software patents
ACCORDING TO this report, General Electric has joined a group of American lobbyists who are trying to impose American software patents upon Europe. Red Hat is the exception
Microsoft has teamed with General Electric to petition European regulators on a fundamental principle that will continue to drive a wedge between the company and open source supporters.
The duo filed an amicus brief arguing that regulators should believe in the existence of patents in software and that these patents should then be enforceable in European Union courts.
This article comes from a Linux-hostile person and it actually stirs things up using FAT patents. Over in Europe, TomTom paid less than €500,000 to Microsoft. The laws in Holland are worth learning in order to understand the cause, but basically, what Microsoft wanted from the TomTom case is PR. And indeed, the company issued a press release to celebrate this settlement at the time, so right now it must be going from door to door waiving it and demanding money for the Linux kernel. That’s why OIN has responded and Linux developers are already working around the patents.
“…Microsoft wanted to keep this number under the radar (out of the public eye) and that’s why they asked for less than €500,000.”In reality, given the nature and scale of the case, €500,000 is a very meager amount, so Microsoft will not want it to be publicly known. We have it confirmed that Microsoft wanted to keep this number under the radar (out of the public eye) and that’s why they asked for less than €500,000. It has something to do with Dutch law (tax in particular). Can any of our Dutch readers look into this?
To say more about Europe, patent filings are falling there as well (just like in the United States). It’s a reason to be delighted because patents merely restrict research and development. They promote immovable monopolies that are nothing to be jubilant about unless you work for Philips or Siemens or SAP. They too are lobbyists for more patents simply because they are in a position where they can elbow competition out of their way.
Preliminary figures from the European Patent Office (EPO) reveal that the number of applications for new patents is down 7% in the first two months of 2009. This is the first reduction in patent applications in over a decade, sparking fears that Europe’s knowledge economy is under threat.
As the deadline for submission to the EBoA is reached, a few more reports trickle in. From those who are in favour of software patents (lawyers of course):
Of these, some are very interesting, some are fairly pedestrian, some are horribly wordy and full of legal ‘analysis’, footnotes and references, some are fairly predictable ill-informed anti-patent rants, while others are merely irrelevant. The IPKat (who still can’t see what on Earth TRIPs has to do with the EPO) will let his readers decide which are which.
More from the same source: [via Digital Majority]
There have also been problems in the UK, where the Intellectual Property Office has issued four different Practice Notices relating to computer-implemented inventions in the last five years. CIPA is not in favour of such frequent changes, as patents have a lifetime of up to twenty years.
The EBoA (for EPO) is also receiving some more hostile responses.
(B) IF QUESTION 2 (A) IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, IS A FURTHER TECHNICAL EFFECT NECESSARY TO AVOID EXCLUSION, SAID EFFECT GOING BEYOND THOSE EFFECTS INHERENT IN THE USE OF A COMPUTER OR DATA STORAGE MEDIUM TO RESPECTIVELY EXECUTE OR STORE A COMPUTER PROGRAM?
Congratulations. That is more creative for circumventing the law.
IBM may be fighting to protect Linux from FAT (c/f first report), but it is by no means opposed to software patenting. Being a veteran monopoly, it sticks to diplomacy and keeps quiet about it while patenting a whole load of rubbish. Latest example:
theodp writes “In 2006, IBM boasted it was ‘holding itself to a higher standard than any law requires because it’s urgent that patent quality is improved.’ On Thursday, the USPTO revealed that IBM was seeking a patent for Controlling and Using Virtual Universe Wish Lists. The product of six IBM inventors, Big Blue explained that a ‘virtual wish list device determines an item in a virtual universe that is desired by an avatar.’ Led by Chief Avatar Sam Palmisano, IBM is still drinking the virtual world Kool-Aid, dropping $80,000 to host a recent Second Life-based conference for 200 or so members of the IBM Academy of Technology. IBM indicated the virtual venue was chosen to avoid sending ‘the wrong kind of message’ (pdf) that something like a $400,000 real-world meeting might send during troubled economic times.”
IBM must realise that its patent hypocrisy is not helping GNU/Linux. It ought to show some determination to exterminate barriers to Free software; and not just about Linux, of which it is a prominent user. █
“IBM’s patent department is actively lobbying Europe to legalise software patents. They have invested millions in fighting example cases to leading European lawcourts such as the EPO’s Technical Boards of Appeal and the German Federal Court in order to soften and eventually remove European restrictions on patenting software. They have also threatened European politicians that IBM might close down local facilities if software patents are not legalised in Europe. IBM has also prevented the US government from conducting studies on the value of software patents for the national economy. In the wake of the Opensource hype, IBM’s rhetoric has become relatively moderate, but nonetheless it is supported by real pressure. IBM has acquired approximately 1000 European software patents whose legal status is currently unclear. Given the great number of software patents in IBM’s hands, IBM is one of the few software companies who may have a genuine interest in software patentability. Once software patents become assertable in Europe, an IBM tax of several billion EUR per year may be levied on European software companies.” [Read more]
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Summary: Last roundup of Novell news for this week, excluding SUSE
Shreepriya Gopalan claims to be the owner of Novell, but that’s just a bizarre little story which is not worth discussing. Let’s start with UNIX ownership (SCO trial).
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Summary: Another glance at H-P’s embrace of SLED 11; other notable news about SUSE and Xandros
SOME days ago we commented on H-P's support of SLED. Further to that, all the following items mention Novell and SLED in the same context:
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