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06.05.09

Microsoft CTO Jumps Ship

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 9:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

That sinking feeling

Summary: XBox- and entertainment-oriented CTO leaves the company

NOT ONLY XBox directors are leaving their team, but many lower down the ranks too are abandoning XBox. After one very recent example comes yet another. Here is the press release about it and also a report from TechCrunch, which goes under the headline “IGT Poaches Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business CTO Chris Satchell.” Here are some details about his departed role:

While at Microsoft, Satchell was responsible for technical strategy and execution across the company’s video gaming business including Xbox, Games for Windows, Xbox Live and Microsoft Game Studios as well as future platform incubations.

It was almost exactly a month ago that Microsoft’s XBox strategy chief officially left the company in order to join Apple. Right now, to make matters worse, another strategy chief is leaving the very same unit, which operates at a loss (having already lost billions of dollars over the years, especially where XBox is concerned).

As the company Satchell joins is likely to be targeting Windows already, the risk of a subverted agenda is not so great.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: June 5th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Links 05/06/2009: GNU/Linux Progress in Austria, CRUX PPC 2.5 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 8:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • My Name is Mac and I am a Linux – Palluxo!

    It also runs Linux, which I just recently installed on it. I haven’t messed with it at all because I have been in Chicago all weekend, but it installed great and worked flawlessly for the half hour I spent configuring my settings.

    So now, I’m sure at least someone has wondered what I think about the Windows 7 RC. In short, I think that it is Vista 2. It is better than Vista 1, but still feels just like Vista. And it still has those annoying security pop-ups that they said they would get rid of.

  • Intel Shows First Working Moorestown Prototypes

    During his speech, Chandrasekher was joined on stage by executives from hardware makers Inventec Appliances, Quanta Computer and Elektrobit, who all have working handheld devices based on the chips. The devices were all running the Moblin 2.0 version of Linux and are expected to hit the market early next year, company executives said.

  • To Jim Zemlin this CompuTex represents progress

    While we sat we also compared netbooks. I showed him the HP Mini 1000 I bought at Fry’s, which only had Windows versions. He showed me an identical device (only with more internal memory) he had bought at the HP web site, for the same price I paid, and with Ubuntu Linux installed.

  • Moving from Solaris to Linux

    Through the years I’ve worked on a lot of different flavors of “UNIX,” starting back when I was in college and then continuing on through graduate school and work. While there have been differences, a tremendous amount of knowledge and number of skills were easily transferred.

  • Linux Outlaws 95 – All Those Sheep Got PDAs

    This week on Linux Outlaws: Google Wave, lots of Moblin news, Microsoft losing deals and sneakily installing Firefox plugins, Dan reviews Chakra and much more.

  • ForLinux Launches First Enomaly Cloud Computing Service

    ForLinux announced that it will begin offering Cloud Computing services to its customers, using the Enomaly Elastic Computing Platform (ECP), Service Provider Edition. This will be one of the first ECP Cloud Computing service based in UK.

  • Austria

  • Kernel Space

    • NVIDIA’s Tegra takes on Intel in the MID/PMP market

      Tegra is bound to be a better fit in every conceivable way—performance, battery life, features—for a wireless, Linux-based MID/portable media player (PMP) than anything x86-based. This will be even more true once Adobe is done porting Flash and AIR to ARM (more on this in the next article).

    • X Input 2.0 Merged Into The X Server

      Just as planned, the X Input 2 protocol for X.Org has entered the master X Server code-base. X Input 2 (or Xi2 for short) is a significant update over the original X Input extension and allows for Multi-Pointer X support and other enhanced input features.

  • Applications

    • This Week on Github: In Good Company

      A free lunch may still be a myth, but the benefits of free and open source software are already legendary. Businesses now readily embrace Linux, Apache, and scores of other packages up and down the so-called stack; companies such as MySQL have proven it’s possible to turn an open source project into a (very) profitable enterprise; and services like Dreamhost and WordPress are leading a new wave of businesses powered entirely by community-driven software rather than an impenetrable black tower of proprietary code.

    • Mondo & Mindi – Disaster recovery solution

      The ability to create bootable images with every backup is a great bonus. This allows you to mass-deploy your backups on multiple systems simultaneously, without depending on third-party operating systems (like CloneZilla, SystemRescueCD or others). You use your own kernel, with every backup bundled with it.

      Mondo is a highly useful solution to keeping your systems healthy in the long run. I highly recommend it.

      This article was inspired by a friend’s suggestion. Thanks, Dany!

    • Far Cry 2 Linux Server

      The version 1.03 dedicated Linux server to correspond to today’s new Far Cry 2 patch is now available, allowing the opportunity to host your own penguin-powered server for the shooter sequel.

    • SEO Tools For Linux

      Nearly every piece of software written that aids in search engine optimization is written for the Windows platform. Perhaps this is because most of these types of software come with a price tag, and I would venture to say that most Linux users are resistant to paying for any type of software. The Open Source community provides just about every kind of app a person needs, but some specialized kinds of apps are sometimes unavailable.

  • Desktop Environments

    • Qt vs. GTK: Juk and Amarok

      I’ve mentioned a couple of times that, at least in my opinion, KDE is losing out to GNOME because there simply aren’t as many Qt applications as GTK ones. Competition breeds quality, and as a result, I find Qt applications in general to be inferior.

      Of course, I can’t just say that and not back it up. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’m right! Because I’m using KDE 4.2 at the moment, I thought this would be an ideal time to really test some Qt and GTK applications extensively. In all cases, I tried to use Qt applications first, and only installed the GTK alternative if it either showed bugs, crashed, or simply irritated me to the point of madness after several days.

    • KDE for Windows in Trouble

      Ehrlicher would like to break away from his work with Windows and instead get involved with Linux development for KDE.

  • Distributions

    • Slackware and Zenwalk

      I installed and all I can say is WOW! It’s a fantastic implementation of XFCE regardless of distribution. The Slackware speed and rc system are there, greeting me on each startup/login. XFCE is done brilliantly there and really feels like a superb implementation. Updating is a snap with netpkg, something I haven’t had any experience with…it does the job nicely though. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with Zenwalk and will be sticking with it for a while. I’ll post back from time to time with any tips or tricks I might find as I’m stretching my legs so to speak in my new environment.

    • 2009-06-04: CRUX PPC 2.5 released!

      CRUX PPC 2.5 is now available. Supports Apple 32bit “NewWorld” G3/G4 and Apple 64bit G5, Genesi PegasosII and Efika, Acube Sam440ep, IBM RS/6000 CHRP32 (604e), YDL Powerstation, IBM Intellistation POWER, and IBM pSeries RS64/POWERn.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Open source microcode gives OSD owners hope

      EMBEDDED SOFTWARE firm Cadenux agreed to release its SDIO and USB stack microcode for the TI DM320 as free software under a GPL license, giving Neuros OSD buyers some hope of finally getting Bluetooth on the unit as well as USB keyboard support. It just goes to show that a Linux OS with buggy proprietary code does not equal freedom.

      An open sauce based device surely has a better chance of beating planned obsolescence than a proprietary one, as we pointed out before in the case of the Nokie Nxx Linux based internet tablets. But running a Linux OS is only half of the story. Here’s how a new piece of open source microcode can give Neuros OSD owners some hope.

    • Phones

      • Google planning Android 2.0 for 2009

        Google is planning to release version 2.0 (code-named Donut) of its open source Android mobile operating system this year. While presenting the latest stage of development at the Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco, Google announced that Android 2.0 should be ready in approximately three to six months.

      • BenQ backs Android

        BenQ has become the latest tech firm to join Android’s ever-expanding band of supporters by announcing plans to develop both a smartphone and a netbook based on the Google OS.

      • Not Just For Phones

        Android, the open-source version of a smart-phone software stack, is attracting some serious attention from the semiconductor industry and morphing into something far beyond the original statement of intent.

        An open source model remains a questionable rival in the smart phone market currently dominated by companies like Apple, Samsung or Palm. This is a market that typically runs, on average, at three to four times the pace of Moore’s Law. Even there, at least something is likely to stick with an open-source alternative, just as Linux has proven extremely resilient in a market where it was initially dismissed. On that assumption alone that many companies are willing to stake a claim.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Acer will use Moblin Linux across its products

        The world’s third-largest PC vendor plans to roll out the Moblin Linux operating system, championed by Intel, in its products, a top executive said Wednesday.

      • Acer Android netbook to dual boot Windows

        Taiwanese firm Acer has announced that it plans to release its first Aspire One netbook featuring Google’s Android open source mobile operating system. Jim Wong, president of IT Products Global Operation at Acer said “The Android operating system offers incredibly fast wireless connection to the Internet; for this reason, Acer has decided to develop Android netbooks for added convenience to our customers”.

      • Moblin 2.0 – A New Way to Make a Netbook Sing With Linux

        As the Netbook market becomes thoroughly saturated with models from all the major PC vendors, the opportunity exists to explore new options for the operating system. Asus was first to market in late 2007 with their Eee PC and has since turned out more variations on that theme than you can shake a stick at. The original Eee PC boasted a Linux OS as one of its ways of keeping cost down, but later models have added Windows to the mix.

      • Future of netbooks, laptops unfolds at Computex

        The challenge for Linux

        Linux’s relatively brandless environment has been a challenge in an app-store world, although this week’s RealNetworks announcement of RealPlayer being preinstalled on Linux netbooks and Instant-On OS platforms is a big step for Ubuntu being able to keep up with the easy media-playing capability of netbook machines. It also adds some brand recognition and codec consolidation.

        Shown at Computex were several Moblin Linux-based netbook prototypes, as well the announcement of Ubuntu Moblin Remix, the next graphical interface evolution beyond Ubuntu and a possible candidate for an OS specifically geared towards ultramobile PCs such as netbooks.

      • ARM Remains Linux Only, No Windows 7 Support

        Despite previous rumors, the Redmond, Washington-based software giant Microsoft has officially confirmed that its next-generation Windows 7 operating system will not provide consumers with support for ARM-based devices. According to the company, the upcoming Windows release, due out on October 22, will be enabled on x86 and x64 platforms and will not be available for the upcoming wave of ARM-based smartbooks,
        netbooks, notebooks and PCs. However, the company did not say anything about the potential of enabling ARM support for a future release of its operating system, leaving some hope for those who are looking to switch to one of the upcoming devices built on NVIDIA Tegra, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon or other ARM-based chip.

      • Taiwan and Computex seek ways out of their box

        Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation was here, trying to get all these folks out of their box. But Microsoft is so dominant he was lucky to get a morning seminar, on the show’s third day, at an outlying venue far from the main action.

        So he hung up a banner reading “Linux Forum 2009,” he was preceded by a speaker from the Moblin project, which the Linux Foundation now hosts for Intel, and he gave his pitch….

Free Software/Open Source

  • Asian Open Source Software Center (AOSSC) Alliance Formed by 10 Countries and Regions to Push Development and Adoption of Open Source in Asia

    Ten Open Source Software Centers and related promotion organizations in Asian countries and regions announce today the formation of Asian Open Source Software Center (AOSSC) alliance/network to further promote the adoption, and development of open source software (OSS) technology among Asian countries. The participating countries and regions include China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

  • Transmageddon and Arista pursue simple transcoding

    Christian Schaller’s Transmageddon and Daniel Taylor’s Arista are both easy-to-use video file conversion tools for GNOME, but they share more than just a vision for simple file transcoding. Rather than competing head-on (or attempting a merge), the two developers are collaborating in the middle; sharing information and utilizing the similar aims of their projects to strengthen the underlying GStreamer multimedia framework on which both code bases depend.

  • Atlassian’s Summit, and its Freebies for Open Source Developers

    In Oliver Marks’ post, you can watch a 6-minute video showing a portion of Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brooke’s keynote address at the Atlassian Summit. It illustrates how Atlassian has made good use of OpenSocial for extending applications.

    Jira (shown below, with a tour online here) is Atlassian’s flagship product, and is a bug and issue tracker aimed at developers. FishEye is the company’s web interface into source code repositories. Bamboo automates the process of source code compiling and testing. Confluence is Atlassian’s enterprise wiki and collaboration product.

  • Winning the war won’t secure peace for open source

    Open source may have won the argument, but that does not mean the world will now change, says Mark Taylor.

    According to Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”*. So by that reckoning, it must be pretty much ‘job done’ for free software.

    Over the past few months I have experienced the eerie sensation that no-one is fighting us any more. Not only are audiences polite, enthusiastic and well informed at conferences, they are almost all using free software already.

  • USM project to bolster nation’s cyber security

    The collaborative project, which also includes the U.S. Navy and the nonprofit Open Source Software Institute based in Hattiesburg, will look at ways to protect government computer systems that use open-source software against the growing threat of cyber terrorism.

  • Business

    • Open source clicking the channels

      Given all of this actvity among channel players and resellers — along with the continued and expanded embrace of open source software among SIs, service providers and others — it seems open source is now indeed clicking the channels.

    • Cisco Discovers Open Source IP PBX Threat, Opportunity

      The sleeping giant has awakened. It looks like Cisco Systems is addressing the potential Asterisk open source IP PBX threat — and opportunity. Here’s the scoop from The VAR Guy at Cisco Partner Summit.

      Cisco announced a series of small business solutions today. Buried within the announcement was an IP Telephony Gateway that allows small businesses to “connect their open source IP PBX to existing analog phones and fax machines.”

    • Sony Ericsson Using Drupal

      Sony Ericsson’s first Drupal web site was officially launched yesterday at the JavaOne conference. The site, called Sony Ericsson Labs, is a community website to shares application concepts with everyone who is interested in mobile applications and where new ideas can begin to take shape.

    • Zmanda backs up MySQL to your cloud of choice

      Open source backup and recovery provider Zmanda, today announced that Zmanda Recovery Manager (ZRM) now allows MySQL databases to be backed up to a destination of choice, including a remote cloud storage service. ZRM also allows on-premises MySQL databases to be backed up to the upcoming Sun Cloud Storage Service, which enables DBAs to create disaster recovery archives of databases on a flexible, secure and open public cloud.

    • Big data and Cloudera: Follow the money

      Cloudera on Tuesday is expected to formally announce the closing of a $6 million series B funding round led by Greylock (whose past investments successes include Red Hat among many others).

  • FSF/GNU

    • It’s time for the community to take charge of its brand

      There are a couple of “beginner’s mistakes” when thinking about Free Software in general and its commercial application, in particular. One is to believe there was a substantial difference in the software referred to by the terms “Free Software” and “Open Source.” There isn’t. As far as the actual software is concerned, both terms are as synonymous as things get in real life, with experts debating about details around the fringes. The differences between the terms lie in framing and brand.

      From the perspective of brand management, Open Source is a failed re-branding effort over which its creators lost control, followed by brand degradation through abuse and over-extension into areas such as business and development models. This has become another beginner’s mistake in Free Software, as highlighted in “What makes a Free Software company?”.

  • Browsers

    • Google Chrome For Mac, Linux Released To Developers

      However, the company is discouraging average users from downloading the browser-in-progress unless they really know what they’re doing.

    • June 5, 2002: Browser, Philosophy Born of Turmoil, Defeat

      The first browser wars effectively ended in 1998 when Microsoft Internet Explorer toppled Netscape Navigator.

      Throughout the the mid-1990s, the makers of the two most popular web browsers battled tooth and nail to capture the largest share of users among the web’s early adopters. Even though the geeks tended to favor Navigator, every new Windows computer shipped with IE on the desktop, giving Microsoft a significant advantage.

    • Which Mozilla blurb works best?

      I’d be interested in hearing which if any of these directions resonate with people. They probably won’t get used for anything exactly as is. But reactions are super helpful in coming up with things we’ll actually use in the end. I’ve created a short survey with this in mind — if you’re interested in this topic, please take 30 seconds to fill out the survey. Also, if you’ve got alternate riffs on the text above, feel free to post them here as a comment.

    • Happy Birthday, Mozilla – and Thanks for Being Here

      There’s a number of noteworthy points here. The first is that the Mozilla project was originally a browser *suite*, which included an email reader and a chat client as well as a browser. This was a throwback to the old Netscape Communicator suite, on which it was based.

  • Openness

    • With an Eye to London, More Transparency in US Expense Accounts

      Yesterday, US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that House office expenses will be published online, vastly streamlining public monitoring of Representatives spending habits. The move will put the current paper records online “at the earliest date,” making each purchase publicly accessible.

    • Open Source Sensing Initiative

      What’s particularly noteworthy is the fact that open source sensing is seen as a way of offering security while dealing with various threats to privacy and freedom that sensor technologies obviously present. Openness may help square the circle here, is the hope.

Leftovers

  • Keep the Libel Laws out of Science

    UK libel laws are famously unbalanced, and allow the rich and powerful to bully challengers who have truth on their side. That’s bad enough, but when it crimps the practice of science itself, as here, it’s even worse:

    The use of the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence discourages debate, denies the public access to the full picture and encourages use of the courts to silence critics. The British Chiropractic Association has sued Simon Singh for libel. The scientific community would have preferred that it had defended its position about chiropractic through an open discussion in the medical literature or mainstream media.

  • EFF Launches TOSBack – A ‘Terms of Service’ Tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and More

    “Terms of Service” policies on websites define how Internet businesses interact with you and use your personal information. But most web users don’t read these policies — or understand that the terms are constantly changing. To track these ever-evolving documents, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is launching “TOSBack”: a “terms of service” tracker for Facebook, Google, eBay, and other major websites.

  • Copyrights

    • Six months later, no ISPs joining RIAA piracy fight

      Last December, the music industry’s message to song writers, publishers, and musicians was that antipiracy help was on the way. Hopes soared after the major labels announced that they had convinced a group of telecoms to work with them.

    • BitTorrent users spend money, too

      Vuze logo Vuze — the company that’s trying to sell licensed, high-def videos to users of the BitTorrent file-sharing software — has spent much of the past two years trying to persuade Hollywood that its users are customers, not thieves. So far, however, the major studios have entrusted little to Vuze beyond movie trailers and other promotional videos. Now Vuze is trying to prod Hollywood with some eye-opening data about its clientele’s buying habits and purchasing power: in addition to being copyright infringers, they spend a lot of money on movies and movie-watching gear. Said Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa, “Those users are actually Hollywood’s best customers.”

    • Advocacy Group Says Canadian ISPs Should Be Required To Hand Over Subscriber Data Without A Warrant

      Rob Hyndman points us to the news that a Canadian “victims advocacy group” called Victims of Crime has put out a report on how the government should deal with “internet-facilitated child sexual abuse.” You should recognize that the recommendations are ridiculous by the way they describe the problem: “internet-facilitated child sexual abuse.

    • British Government Says No To Three Strikes

      The British government has been working on its “Digital Britain” report, which covers a range of tech issues, including copyright and file-sharing. Earlier drafts of the report basically seemed like a proxy for the recording industry, as the government looked to set up an agency run by the industry itself to police copyright infringement.

    • Government Intranet Packed Full of Warez

      Since 2005, a Brazilian senator has been pushing for tough new ‘cybercrime’ legislation which would include measures against file-sharing. However, before thinking of unleashing new laws on the public, the government should look closer to home, since the senate’s intranet is loaded with an impressive amount of warez.

Microsoft is Using Mono and MonoDevelop to Leverage Windows and .NET

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu, Windows at 9:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What Microsoft has
What Microsoft has

What Microsoft wants
What Microsoft wants

Summary: Shades of an embrace & extend routine found in Novell’s labour

IS Mono Microsoft’s tool for “embrace, extend, and extinguish” of Free software developers? Our contributor Fewa sure thinks so. This is not to say that some nefarious thing is happening here or that a plan is executed by Novell at the behest of Microsoft. But it happens to be a side-effect and it mustn’t be overlooked.

“…it happens to be a side-effect and it mustn’t be overlooked.”The previous post spoke about how Novell projects began latching onto Microsoft’s. Specifically, as Miguel de Icaza puts it, “MonoDevelop runs on top of the .NET Framework and uses the .NET managed debugger instead of using Mono’s runtime and Mono’s debugger, so there is no dependency on Mono to be installed on the system.

In other words, Novell programs help developers work directly with (and for) Microsoft .NET, under the illusion that what they do is “Free software”. Does that sound familiar?

Microsoft is trying very hard to get Free software developers to use Visual Studio, which is proprietary. Last year Microsoft paid SourceForge a lot of money to even recommend Visual Studio. It was a sham and more background from that time can be found in [1, 2, 3].

Another developer is realising that the whole thing smells funny and serves as a potential trap. From his very latest essay: [hat tip: tacone]

Mono actually is dangerous

[...]

In a recent iTWire article titled “The elusive, royalty-free patent licence for Mono”, Sam Varghese contacts Ecmea for the patent terms surrounding Mono. Remember that the mono camp always throws the argument at people that mono follows an Ecmea standard and as such is free to implement?

[....]

He reaches a very simple conclusion:
“To me, it looks this licence is as real as the unicorn. Or maybe Santa Claus. I think Mono fans need to think of a fresh defence when people talk about the dangers of patent suits arising over this technology. The licence talk has worn more than a little thin.”

Thanks for a great piece of investigation to Sam.

Now, can we please take a real look into this before we rip out Rhythmbox in favour of Banshee in Ubuntu and can we please reinvestigate making Gnome depend on mono (currently by virtue of Tomboy)?

The opposition to Mono in Ubuntu keeps growing [1, 2] because of new evidence, not to mention Microsoft lawsuits against Linux. Will Canonical pay attention?

“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

How Novell Harms GNU/Linux Programming

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monodevelop

Summary: What MonoDevelop — especially for Windows — means to GNU/Linux

EARLIER TODAY we wrote about MonoDevelop coming to Windows. This is not a new problem. Our contributor ushimitsudoki now points to Miguel’s latest blog post, which says: “On Windows for example, MonoDevelop runs on top of the .NET Framework and uses the .NET managed debugger instead of using Mono’s runtime and Mono’s debugger, so there is no dependency on Mono to be installed on the system.

“So basically you’ve got a Windows .NET application that doesn’t even use mono,” writes ushimitsudoki. “Hooray. This is truly a blessing for Linux users everywhere.”

“We would be better off getting the Windows codes hooked in python.”
      –Oiaohm
Oiaohm agrees and further argues that “MonoDevelop is still second rate to Visual Studio [VS] on Windows.”

“Taking into account what my colleague said about VS, that would be pretty bad then,” writes MinceR. Oiaohm added: “VS Express with the right alterations is the same program as Full VS.”

“Exactly,” exclaims ushimitsudoki, who continues: “If I was a windows developer, why the hell would I be using this second-rate s*** anyway? What serious Windows developer isn’t running Visual Studio? and what wanna-be isn’t running VS Express? I’ve never understood that whole “bringing Windows developers over to Linux” line of argument.

“Is there a group out there that cares LESS about Linux than Windows developers?”

“My problem is .NET programmers are more like the VB programmers of old,” Oiaohm adds. “They create a few gems from time to time. But to make them usable you need to port them to a better language. I really don’t see the interest in them. We would be better off getting the Windows codes hooked in python.”

Patents Roundup: What Bilski Means to IBM, Microsoft; Patent Trolls Still Win

Posted in America, Europe, IBM, Law, Microsoft at 8:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill ski

Summary: The latest news about software patents which pose a threat to the freedom of software

AS WE POINTED out a couple of days ago, In Re Bilski goes all the way to the top, potentially to invalidate software patents in the United States. Groklaw has some very extensive text and the software patents-hostile wiki has a new page asking, “should the whole patent system be axed?”

There is clearly a lot of unrest because this bubble is waiting to explode. Reuters published a report about the Microsoft/Lucent dispute a few days ago:

Microsoft, Lucent battle in huge patent case

Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) argued before an appeals court on Tuesday that its Outlook calendar date-picker tool did not infringe an Alcatel-Lucent (ALUA.PA) patent and asked for a $358 million jury verdict to be overturned.

The lawsuit is the last remaining after Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft settled other patent fights in December. The case was appealed from a district court in San Diego, where a jury ruled that Microsoft did infringe and ordered it to pay $358 million, or $511 million including interest.

Microsoft too is suffering from software patents, so this is hardly sustainable even for monopolists. As stated over at BusinessWeek the other day, “Businesses come down on both sides of the issue. IBM (IBM), which has obtained a slew of business-method patents, filed an amicus brief in what is known as the Bilski case, stating that the company is now opposed to them. IBM maintains that the patents are not needed to promote innovation; businesses would come up with the products even without patent protection. “You’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason,” IBM’s top in-house patent attorney, David Kappos, told BusinessWeek last year.”

As someone points out privately, “What is curious is that IBM in Europe filed [PDF] recently an Amicus Curiae Brief to the EPO EBoA defending the approval of software patents.

“Who holds the real IBM position on the matter: IBM US or IBM Europe?”

IBM’s position on software patents is definitely very troublesome [1, 2]. However, “IBM was talking about business method patents here,” points out a person with knowledge in this area. “I read somewhere on the net that IBM was behind the Bilski “machine transformation” test.”

Looking at BNA.com, there is mere speculation about what In Re Bilski might do to software patenting.

Bilski was up for discussion yesterday at the Supreme Court’s private cert-consideration conference, so we could know as early as Monday if Judge Sotomayor will have that one facing her in the fall. I have no idea what Judge Sotomayor’s views are on the patentability of software-implemented business method patents, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

The pro-Microsoft Richard Waters weighs in on the subject and The Prior Art blog quotes some judges of relevance.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: I may not be a software developer, but as I read the invention, it’s displaying pictures of your wares on a computer network and, you know, picking which ones you want and buying them. I — I might have been able to do that.

[....]

In the patent bar and at the Federal Circuit, software patents are the law of the land. But during oral arguments in the 2007 AT&T v. Microsoft case, which regarded damages for infringing copies of software distributed overseas, it became clear that the at least a few Supreme Court justices haven’t made up their minds about whether software should be patentable.

During oral arguments in that case, Justice Breyer went out of his way to make it clear that despite the fact that software patents were issued widely following the Federal Circuit’s 1998 State Street Bank decision, he had never gotten the opportunity to weigh in, and as far as he was concerned, it’s not a settled issue:

JUSTICE BREYER: “I take it that we are operating on an assumption that software is patentable? We have never held that in this Court, have we?”

Later, Justice Stevens also asked a government lawyer point-blank whether software is patentable. The answer: “Standing alone in and of itself, no.”

He likely said that because as it stands, software has to be tied to a machine to get a patent—not hard to do. But it shows that for Stevens, like Breyer, software patents are up for debate.

The nature of software patents is very troubling because to avoid an infringement (willful or not willful) is virtually impossible. Software is written very quickly, without a rigorous manufacturing process. As are result, the patent trolls and aggressors are still having a field day.

Store Payment Info In Your Online Store? Watch Out For Patent Infringement Lawsuits

[...]

As for the patents in question, they’re all a variation on a “method and apparatus for conducting electronic commerce transactions using electronic tokens.” The specific patents are 7,376,621, 7,249,099, 7,328,189 and 7,177,838. Reading through the claims, this seems like an incredibly typical online system for storing payment info and seeing if the person can actually pay. Since the patent system defenders among our readers get quite upset whenever I say something seems “obvious” to me, let’s flip this around. Can anyone explain how these concepts were not obvious at the time of filing?

More patent trolls in the news:

Patent trolls live under the bridge

Dell, HP, Fujitsu and IBM have been hit by a lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division – famously known for its ability to expedite patent (chapter 830) disputes. The article linked to points out that it is unfair to describe anyone bringing patent suits to court as “patent trolls” – they have to have a sound case and deserve their time in court. So who exactly are the trolls?

Here is another mighty innovator in the news:

Actus goes patent lawsuit crazy

[...]

The outfit clams that more than 15 companies, including Apple, Amazonmdocs, American Express, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Cabela’s, Citigroup, Ebay, Firstview, Marketing Technology Concepts, Netspend, Officemax, US Bancorp, and Vivotech have nicked its technology.

It’s clearly time to change this system or abolish parts of it. This is not working. It does not increase capacity to innovate, it just makes a welfare system for lawyers.

The EPO Does Not Work for European Citizens

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The European Patent Office is a corrupt malicious organisation which should not exist. [...] But if the European Patent Office stands in your way, get rid of it too.”

Richard Stallman, April 2009

Summary: The EPO comes under more fire for attempting to legalise software patents and rejecting letters written in Spanish

SOME weeks ago we showed that Don Knuth opposes software patents in Europe. Groklaw has just shared more details and thoughts about Knuth’s letter, which others like Glyn Moody are already passing further.

Donald Knuth, distinguished computer scientist, recipient of the Turing Award, creator of the TeX computer typesetting system, and author of The Art of Programming, which some call the Bible of computer programming, has submitted a letter [PDF] to the European Patent Office for submission to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal considering the question of software patents and whether they should be allowed in Europe.

knuth

Digital Majority has found this image which hopefully illustrates the irrationality of having the EPO grant patents (monopolies) on mathematical equations.

The EPO is already in a limbo and it is appalling to find that the EPO rejects the amicus brief from the former head of the FFII.

Alberto Barrionuevo, CEO of the small spanish software company OpenTIA and ex-president of the FFII, had submitted an amicus brief to the Enlarged Board of Appeal in spanish. The European Patent Office has notified him that they are refusing his letter because it was not written in one of the 3 official languages of the EPO.

The EPO is really setting itself for more public embarrassment. Is the EPO for citizens of Europe or is it a private enterprise that only accepts French, German, and English people as “eligible citizens”? The EPO is not so much of a public institute. Like the Federal Reserve, for example, it’s a business.

“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.

“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”

Richard Stallman

After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft at 6:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

THIS is the last part in a series that explores Microsoft’s invasion into EU panels and the Commission’s unwillingness to obey transparency rules. It was never supposed to take so long and we were just about to complain at the ombudsman. To list previous posts chronologically (for context):

Finally we have copies of the documents (sent at the 90th minute as I was going to mail the ombudsman on Monday):

Dear Mr. Schestowitz,

Thank you for your e-mail of the 20th of March registered on 23rd of March applying for a copy of documents in accordance with Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

You have requested access to the documents as follows:

“I hereby request electronic access to all documents related to the Towards the European Software Strategy process in the posession of the EU-Commission, in particular access to the following documents:
* the list of participants in the industry expert group
* the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
* draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
* the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
* all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation under the applicable provisions of regulation 1049/2001 which grant me a right of access to all documents mentioned above.”

We are unable to identify the documents referred to in the 6th item “all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation”, as we notified you previously (see our emails dated 15th April 2009, 8th May 2009 and 27th of May 2009).

We enclose a copy of the documents requested in first five items which we hope will meet your needs. I would draw your attention to the fact that they can in no way be reproduced or disseminated for commercial purposes unless we have first been consulted.

The documents included are for:
* the list of participants in the industry expert group
“list of participants in the industry expert group.pdf”

* the list of WGs, WGs sleaders and observing Commission officials
“Working Groups.pdf”

* the participant list of the related meeting on January 20th in Brussels
“Participants list 20th of January.pdf”

* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
“Moderator for the European Software Strategy Working Group SMEs Reduction of Fragmentation – D104400.tif”
– Note that the e-mail is a model for all the e-mails send to the moderators

Please note that the following documents have been drawn up by independent experts and do not necessarily represent the European Commission’s views and can in no way be reproduced or disseminated for commercial purposes unless we have first been consulted.

* draft contributions of all industry Working groups on a the European Software Strategy
“WG1_Future_Internet.pdf”
“WG2_Technology and Business Trends in the Software Industry.pdf”
“WG 3 – IPR, Standards, and Interoperability.zip”
“WG4_Public Procurement – Financing Software Innovation.pdf”
“WG5_SMEs-Reduction of Fragmentation.pdf”
“WG6_Skills.pdf”
“WG7_OSS.pdf”

* draft input to all WG prepared by the Commission
“Software_Strategy_Issues_Paper.pdf”

Yours sincerely,

[Anonymised]

—–Original Message—–
From: [Anonymised]
Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 4:48 PM
To: [Anonymised]
Cc: [Anonymised]
Subject: RE: FW: Gestdem 2009/1562 FW: Document access application purpusant to Article 6 EC/1049/2001 (D/122791)

Dear Mr. Schestowitz,

Thank you for confirming, on 22nd May 2009, your application of the 20th March 2009 registered on 23rd March applying for a copy of documents in accordance with Regulation (EC) N° 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

We are processing your application; however, as we notified you previously (see our emails dated 15th April 2009 and 8th May 2009) we are unable to identify the documents referred to in the 6th item “all submissions from industry to the ESS consultation”. Please could you clarify your request so that we may continue to process this item. You clarified item 4 on your list but not item 6.

If you wish to receive the items that we have identified before sending any clarification of item 6 please inform us and we will dispatch them.

For the procedure to be followed when applying for access to documents, please refer to “Access to European Commission Documents – A Citizen’s Guide”

http://ec.europa.eu/transparency/access_documents/docs/guide_citoyen/en.pdf

Yours sincerely,

[Anonymised]

These documents are not “disseminated for commercial purposes” but only to inform people about a process which was rigged by Microsoft and its EU lobbyists. The links at the top provide extensive background and evidence. See the presence of Jonathan Zuck (ACT) for example. How about IDC, BSA, CompTIA and others who are in Microsoft’s pocket? The lists of companies are very telling. In some cases, Microsoft employees have more presence than any other company, despite being an American company in these EU panels.

Here are the files:

There is no reason why documents that instruct on pubic policy should not be accessible to the affected public.

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