Summary: Illusion of autonomy — the Microsoft groups involved and the money at play
HIDDEN behind a Web form we have some very juicy details about Microsoft’s lobbying activities in Europe. We already have a rough idea of what it is doing in the United States and we obtained a long list of lobbyists.
In the Web form (register of lobbyists), looking under entry “0801162959-21″, we have a lot of details about Microsoft. We reproduce them here because otherwise, the information will never be presented and indexed anywhere.
Microsoft Corporation is described as “Publicly Traded Corporation, incorporated in the State of Washington, United States of America.” The category of activity is: “«in-house» lobbyists and trade associations active in lobbying.” The “Head of the organisation” (or “Person legally responsible for the organisation”) is listed as Mr Steve Ballmer, the CEO.
The contact details as as follows:
One Microsoft Way
Redmond WA 98052
Telephone number: (+1) 425 8828080
Other contact information: Microsoft
Corporate Affairs Europe, Dr. John Vassallo, Vice President European
Affairs and Associate General Counsel,
Rue du Trone 4, 5th Floor, 1000 Bruxelles
Tel: +32 2 550 06 10
Microsoft wishes to be informed about consultations in:
* Audiovisual and media
* Consumer affairs
* Economic affairs
* Employment and social affairs
* Equal opportunities
* External relations
* External trade
* Foreign and security policy
* General and institutional affairs
* Humanitarian aid
* Information society
* Internal market
* Justice and home affairs
* Public health
* Regional policy
* Research and technology
Here is information on Microsoft’s “membership of any associations/federations/confederations or relationships to other bodies in formal or informal networks” (as of 13.01.2009):
Business Software Alliance (BSA)
European Information & Communications Technology Industry Association
European Software Association (ESA)
European Digital Media Association (EDIMA)
European Internet Foundation (EIF)
European Internet Services Providers Association (EuroISPA)
American Electronic Association (AEA Europe)
American European Community Association (AECA)
Association of Competitive Technologies (ACT)
AIM – European Brands Association
American chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU)
Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD (BIAC)
German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunication and New
Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
Digital interoperability Forum (DIF)
European-American Business Council (EABC)
The European Academy of Business in Society (EABIS)
European competitiveness Platform (ECP)
e-Skills Industry Leadership Board (ILB)
High Level Advisory Group
Interactive Advertising Bureau
ICC – BASCAP Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy
Interactive Software Federation of Europe (ISFE)
Transatlantic Business Dialogue
Transatlantic Policy Network
Voices for Innovation
Voice on the NET Coalition Europe – VON
World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)
MS also participates in a number of and provides support to the
following Think Tanks in Brussels.
Friends of Europe
Many familiar faces are there. It shows that ACT, for example, is officially a Microsoft-affiliated lobby. It was obvious, but the above is a more formal proof.
For the financial year of 2008, Microsoft’s “estimated costs to the organisation directly related to representing interests to EU institutions in that year” was €1,300,000.
That is of course a lower bound because a lot of lobbying activities do not get disclosed. EurActiv says that a lot of lobbyists refuse to register.
The page adds:
Other (financial) information provided by the organisation:
Our estimate of costs, which ranges between 1.250.000 and 1.300.000 €, includes both costs in connection with activities by Microsoft employees, and fees paid to third parties (consultancies and law firms), where those fees are unlikely to be reported elsewhere in the Register. Because the Commission has explicitly urged registrants to avoid potential “double counting,” we have not included fees paid to third parties whom we understand are likely to register themselves.
Interest representation activities
Subject of the main interest representation activities performed by the organisation:
The following is a list of the main lobbying activities performed by MS as of 13.01.2009. This list is subject to change as circumstances affecting the company evolve:
• Audiovisual and media services directive (AVMS)
• Content Online Communication, Olivennes Agreement
• Telecommunication package (+ ERG paper) – esp.: spectrum,
accessibility, privacy, security and VoIP
• Safer Internet Program (+ Draft Guidelines for Social Networking and
Financial Coalition against Child Abuse)
• Data retention
• Article 29 working party opinions and related issues (monitoring)
• Council of Europe Draft Guidelines for ISPs
• i2010, e-Inclusion
• IPR, Copyright, Counterfeiting
• Private copyright levies
• Software liability & consumer acquis, digital rights Charta
• Critical infrastructure protection
• Transatlantic cooperation
• Trade policy
• R&D and Innovation
• Private Litigation Whitepaper
• Art. 82 guidelines
The list above is very telling. Microsoft plays a significant role in lawmaking across Europe. █
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“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”
–Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO
Summary: Microsoft — like SCO and GM — seems to be going the wrong way and it knows it
THE NEW YORK TIMES has just published this article about investment in lawsuits. It immediately brought to mind SCO, for obvious reasons (see that quote at the top).
Richard W. Fields says he has come up with a win-win financial strategy for the downturn. He is investing in lawsuits.
Richard W. Fields, chief of Juridica Capital Management.
Not in trip-and-fall cases, mind you, but in disputes that are far larger, more costly and potentially more lucrative, often pitting major corporations against each other.
Mr. Fields is chief executive of Juridica Capital Management. which runs a fund that invests in one side of a lawsuit in exchange for a share of any winnings.
According to Heise, “Pamela Jones [...] has told Infoworld that Microsoft will be the next SCO Group.” SCO can be rendered finished almost any day now and following SCO’s footsteps we have General Motors, which declared bankruptcy last week. IDG has just published an article with an eye-catching headline: “Is Microsoft Following GM’s Road Map?” [hat tip: David Gerard]
“Microsoft is having a tough ride as it becomes a debt-saddled entity.”The article itself is almost a praise for Microsoft (well, typical for IDG/IDC, whose major clients include Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), so it seems like trollish bait. In reality, Microsoft is having a tough ride as it becomes a debt-saddled entity.
“The Mac is still a niche market, not a threat,” quotes DaemonFC from this article. “Linux supporters have yet to unite and battle the Redmond giant. Essentially, Microsoft has one advantage over GM: The competition won’t cause its downfall.”
This is nonsense. Microsoft itself contradicts this argument out in open and in private. Going a few years back into private correspondence, Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President, wrote: “We are not on a path to win against Linux.” Later he wrote that he was “scared” of GNU/Linux and subsequently he added: “LH [Longhorn] is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem.”
“They wanted people to switch to Vista,” says mtnd3w, “and everyone claimed how Vista is so much better… now we have Windows 7.” █
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Summary: Mono loses ground as it gets increasingly removed and Ubuntu should follow suit (regarding Mono inclusion), argue some of its own users
OVER the past week, quite a lot has happened. Most importantly, Red Hat decided that "it's better without Mono" and Ubuntu users opposed Mono for the same reasons (bloat). OpenSUSE and Hubert (formerly of Novell) are both showing signs that Mono loses its luster (as if it ever had any) and to quote Sam Varghese:
Miguel, looks like there are traitors to the Mono cause within your own ranks. Or is it that, just for once, commonsense and logic has asserted itself at Novell and its associates?
DaemonFC from Boycott Novell adds:
“Linux Distro: “Can we distribute this?” Miguel De Icaza: “*shrug* Go ask Microsoft” [...] so Ubuntu goes whole hog and proceeds to crap up their OS with Mono everywhere [...] if it’s really “free software” you shouldn’t even really need to ask if you may distribute it.”
Neighborlee writes in response: “as long as MOST people don’t notice whats going on.. they can do it. It’s when people that notice make up the majority, that they can’t procede.. so that’s why it [has] been so important to try to get the word to average joe and cindy.”
Fred Williams writes in LinuxToday:
It would be nice if Ubuntu also took Mono off the live CD. They can leave Mono in the repos for people who want it.
To get rid of the trojan horse
sudo aptitude purge mono-common libmono0
“Definitely seconded!” says another person, who agrees with the above and adds:
I’ve been creating a custom Ubuntu live CD, and I was truly astonished how much space was wasted by this.
I believe it could even be as high as in the 5 to 10 percent range.
In other news, Novell is busy developing MonoDevelop. What is it doing now? It makes an installer for Windows. It’s nice to know that Novell spends its time developing Windows software that encourages development in .NET.
There are still some stability issues, and are several add-ins are still untested, but MD is starting to look great on Windows. GTK+ with the Vista theme looks really nice.
“Look really nice,” eh? So why not just use Windows? Whose platform is Novell promoting? Whose API? █
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Summary: Where “copies” means ‘pirates’ there is a certain sign of weakness
MICROSOFT hardly believes in unrestricted sharing, so the following case of legitimate copying by Microsoft Bong[sic] is not only an admission of defeat (neglect of Encarta) but it is also a case of Microsoft linking to a GNU licence, which is just so ironic. Microsoft owes Richard Stallman some credit.
We all know that Google’s search engine likes to push Wikipedia links to the top of its results pages. But Microsoft has gone a step further.
Microsoft doesn’t appear to be editing Wikipedia pages and it’s linking back to the GFDL license, so it would seem that Redmond is free to reproduce the content and even serve ads against it. “An inherent part of our license structure is that downstream commercial uses are allowed,” one longtime Wikipedian tells The Reg. But the GFDL isn’t easily navigated – even for the sharpest legal minds.
GNU is not UNIX and Bing is not Google, but there is more to it than just a playful recursive acronym. Goblin from Boycott Novell reminds us of the meaning of the word “Bing” (he is a Brit by the way).
Bing – “–noun British Dialect. a heap or pile.”
Bing is really quite a pile of something [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] (not a Dogpile). It also piles up other people’s resources. █
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Summary: Another antitrust peril for Microsoft, an ongoing one in Europe (over Web browsers), and continued violations against Firefox
A FEDERAL antitrust investigation has just been launched to investigate Microsoft’s hiring process (among a few other companies). They really ought to take a careful look at what Microsoft does to its US-based workforce. There is gross discrimination against it.
Here are some more specific details about the investigation into alleged “collusion”.
The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether big tech firms, including Google, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) broke antitrust law by possibly colluding on hiring policies, according to a report in the Washington Post. Apparently the companies may have agreed not to actively recruit employees away from each other, although details in the WP story and a follow up one in the NYT are scarce.
In Europe’s case of antitrust enforcement, there is far too much noise coming from Microsoft press and lobbyists [1, 2]. Glyn Moody explains why this is working for Microsoft and why the press fails to capture the context in which action is being taken.
What we are seeing is teacher starting to get heavy with the playground bully – one who, despite a decade of warnings, continues to abuse its monopoly position. What we are seeing is an institution that finally has both the will and means to place limits on what are acceptable business practices.
Of course, forcing Microsoft to give people a choice of browsers when they start up Windows will make little difference to the that market, but that’s not the point. The point is the punishment – a further reminder that Microsoft is under scrutiny, and that further serious financial sanctions are always an option. It’s absolutely the *right* thing to do, because Microsoft’s behaviour for the last two decades has been absolutely the *wrong* thing to do, and it is finally being called to account.
And speaking as abuse in the Web browsers market, Microsoft keeps doing it to this date. Some days ago we wrote about what Microsoft was doing to Mozilla Firefox [1, 2] and now there is a short article titled “Dear Microsoft: Don’t meddle with Firefox.”
On every “patch Tuesday” the latest roll-up of bug fixes are pushed out to every Windows PC (that has automatic update turned on). All well-and-good, unless you had .NET 3.5 installed along with Firefox.
Earlier this year Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 was pushed out to all relevant PCs. All well-and-good. Except that a hidden portion of the update added the Microsoft .NET Framework Assistant Firefox extension.
Without notification, without permission.
The .NET extensions allow (amongst other more ‘reasonable’ things) for websites to install any software of their choosing on your PC. Hang on; didn’t we all switch to Firefox to avoid such behaviour?
There is a lot more of a discussion right here, among other places. Many people are furious. █
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