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06.25.09

Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft at 3:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EU flag

Summary: European Ombudsman to receive complaint about Lars Hindkjær Pederse, who hides Microsoft lobbyists like Jonathan Zuck

THIS will hopefully be the last part in a series that attempts to expose how Microsoft derails European policy, using lobbyists. Some months ago we caught an example and for a bit of chronology, see:

The European Commission did not respond to our request for input regarding contributions from Microsoft lobbyists. Here is a portion of my last exchange with the Commission:

>>> * 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.”

Hi,

Thank you. Some files are still missing.

I shall ask again for more documents, including written contributions of the different participants. What you are giving me are the final papers, not the history of the whole editing process.

It has been 2 weeks. No reply, obviously.

As one of our readers rightly puts it, “They also made a mockery of our request, the Zuck contribution is not even in there.” It is kindly advised that Europeans reading this site proceed to the Ombudsman immediately and file a complaint. As a regular reader puts it, “Why does the Commission continue to hide documents published by Wikileaks?”

Here is another newer leak (not from us) regarding the Commission’s sheltering of Microsoft lobbyists.

Request:

“* 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.” ”

Answer:

“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).”

Where is the contribution from ACT in the Commission answer?

Glyn Moody took a look at documents that we had obtained and shared. He then wrote about SAP’s role in this whole fiasco. SAP and Microsoft are very, very close to each other.

For example, the European Commission organised seven workgroups looking at various aspects of European software policy. One of these was on open source. Among the groups taking part in this was the Free Software Foundation Europe, and SAP. At the end of their joint report (PDF, HTML), there are a number of appendices that represent the particular views of participants. SAP’s is by far the longest, running to some 17 pages.

Most of that space is used to bolster the following statements through supporting comments of various kinds (mostly links to news items):

A number of key open source projects depend on the contributions by mixed source / hybrid model companies

Hybrid / mixed source models seem to be a key element of the larger open source ecosystem

Open source development like closed source development has its pros and cons

It is very difficult to discriminate between open source and non-open source vendors any longer

Open source software is proprietary as well

Different business models and business interest lead to different positions regarding IPR, standardization and interoperability

I have obtained a complaint form from the Ombudsman and filed a complaint at the ombudsman against Lars Hindkjær Pedersen and the European Commission, DG InfoSoc. For those who are able and willing to help using similar complaints, here is how I completed the form that I shall drop in the postbox tomorrow:

3: Misconduct and delay: public access request concerning documents about the European Software Strategy (ESS) under Lars Hindkjær Pedersen and several colleagues at the European Commission, DG Infosoc

4. Breach of Article 255 TEC – improper conduct and delay of the Commission in its application of directive EC/1049/2001 concerning repeated and confirmatory request for document access

- alleged difficulty in finding documents which relate to the ESS. The Commission confirmed a provided non-exhaustive list and helped find some of the documents, but repeated the call for clarifications ad nauseam.

- The request and communication was directed to the department in charge of the European Software Strategy (ESS), who are in possession of relevant documents.

- deadlines under the legal base have expired without grant of any access to the requested documents or an official decision.

5.

- grant access and help to identify the documents, cmp. Article 15 EC/1049/2001

- examine all documents in their possession concerning the ESS process.

- meet the legal requirements under Article 15 EC/1049/2001

6.
- yes.

7.
- cmp. Article 8 c) EC/1049/2001

8.
- no

9.

10
- no

For those who are willing to do likewise, please fill it out, then sent it to The European Ombudsman — 1 Avenue du Président Robert Schuman — B.P. 403 — FR- 67001 Strasbourg Cedex — France.

“Value your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history. “Don’t bother us with politics,” respond those who don’t want to learn.”

Richard Stallman

Bill Gates’ “Security as a lock in” Memo (to Discriminate Against Non-Windows Operating Systems)

Posted in Bill Gates, Java, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 2:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Home keys

Summary: To Bill Gates, “security” is means of advancing Windows and they “need to make this an explicit goal of [their] security strategy”

THE following exhibit, Exhibit px06105 (1997) [PDF], is a real ‘smoking gun’. People often complain about how TPM [1, 2], DRM and the likes of these technologies stifle interoperability and leave some platforms out in the cold.

This may be no accidental side-effect but an actual strategy that comes from the very top of a convicted monopolist. Today’s exhibit very clearly shows what subject Bill Gates has chosen to bring up. The phrase “Security as a lock in” is right there in the subject line:

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 1997 2:53 PM
To: Nathan Myhrvold
Cc: Paul Maritz
Subject: Security as a lock in

I believe as we evolve our security capabilities there must be some way to set this up so that our operating systems have shared secrets with each other that make them work better with each other than with other operating systems – whether it’s JAVAOS layered on top of us or clones or anything else.

I think we need to make this an explicit goal of our security strategy.

Remember Bill Gates' early writings on DRM. It may be the genesis (at least in part) of that whole mess. The memo above gets a nod from Nathan Myhrvold, currently the company's patent troll. Yasov Yacobi passes it to Paul Maritz, who passes it to Jim Allchin. There is no objection to this objectionable suggestion from Bill Gates. It is anti-competitive.

Take-home message: Bill Gates views “security” as a modality for “lock-in”.


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit px06105, as text


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Microsoft on “Embrace and Extend”, the “Windows API Franchise”

Posted in FUD, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Open XML, OpenDocument, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Old lessons about Microsoft’s intentional sabotage through “embrace and extend”; use of the Windows API with software patents (like Mono’s problem)

T

ODAY’S INTERESTING exhibit arrives after a lot of work on the Wiki. We have hundreds more coming. We will summarise key observations drawn from Exhibit plex_5906 (1997) [PDF], which contains an E-mail from Aaron Contorer to Bill Gates. The full exhibit is available as plain text at the bottom, but here are the bits worth paying attention to, as well as corresponding background.

We start with the realisation — as Microsoft confesses to it — that Windows is at great risk.

Today we face the largest threat Microsoft has faced since the success of Windows For the first time, there is a really credible threat to our position as the leading platform for ISVs to write to.

Fear of Java comes into play:

There are three possible ways to address the threat of the Java platform. One is to do nothing and gradually die as others innovate around us. The second is to join the parade of people who are saying “let’s kill Microsoft and share their market among us” – good for everyone else, but reducing us to the much smaller role of a common software company like Lotus or Borland or even Symantec. Thats a great way to make all our stock options worth zero, even If we would not technically be out of business. The third choice is to make major innovations to our platform so people still prefer to write to us instead of some tepid cross-platform Java layer. This is our only real option.

We have already revealed the gory details about Microsoft’s attack on NetPC (sometimes referred to as “NC”). The Gartner Group helped Microsoft's attack, as always. Here is some more information from Microsoft:

Our competitors are not stupid, so they are pushing the Java platform as the solution for programs that really need to run closer to the user. Sure, its a half-assed solution and isn’t compatible with anything and in fact scarcely exists, but hey, at least it’s not Windows. With Oracle and HTML-generating code on the server and a browser with Java on the client, you have a very crude, complicated, but functional platform for developing line-of-business applications more specifically distributed applications which take advantage of all the interactivity and media-richness that purely centralized mainframe apps never had

Microsoft is then defining “Embrace and Extend”:

In economics there is a well-understood concept called switching costs – how much it costs for a trading partner to change partners. Our philosophy on switching costs is very clear: we want low switching costs for customers who want to start using our platform, and we want to provide so much unique value that there are in effect high costs of deciding to move to a different platform. There is a name for this: it is called Embrace and Extend.

Embrace means we are compatible with what’s out there, so you can switch to our platform without a lot of obstacles and rework. You can switch from someone else’s Java compiler to ours; from someone else’s Web server to ours; etc. Customers love when we do this (as long as we don’t spend our energy embracing extra standards no one really cares about); our competitors are not so sure they like It because they prefer us to screw up.

Extend means we provide tremendous value that nobody else does, so (A) you really want to switch to our software, and (B) once you try our software you would never want to go back to some inferior junk from our competitors. Customers usually like when we do this, since by definition it’s only an extension if it adds value. Competitors hate when we do this, because by adding new value we make our products much harder to clone – this is the difference between innovation and just being a commodity like corn where suppliers compete on price alone. Nobody builds or sustains a business as successful as Microsoft by producing trivial products that are easy to clone – that would be a strategy for failure.

If we fail to embrace, we can lose because there are big barriers to buying our products. But if we Fail to extend, or do only humble work that is easy to clone or to surpass, we automatically lose because our competitors will spend literally billions of dollars to clone our work and replace us.

With that in sight, think about MSODF and how Microsoft broke interoperability in other malicious ways [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

The “Windows API” is then described as “Embrace and Extend” against NC specifically:

Windows was a very successful embrace-and-extend move. People already had DOS machines and DOS apps, and we were able to go in and say “add this to your machine and it wLll just get better.” Wow! What a deal! It seems to have worked out all right so far. NT is a very similar move; although It’s not trivial to upgrade from Win95 to NT. in general you can use the same computer, same apps. and same APIs as before, plus more.

The really big win in Windows is the API. An app that calls the Windows API is effectively calling upon thousands of person-years of engineering work to help their app get its job done in a very specific way. You could argue !hat the API is too hard to use, that not every library is as fast as it should be, or other serious imperfections, but the fact remains: if you took away Windows, that apphcation would no longer work.

The Windows API is so broad, so deep, and so functional that most ISVs would be crazy not to use it. And it is so deeply embedded in the source code of many Windows apps that there is a huge switching cast to using a different operating system Instead. You can’t just take a Windows app and stick it on some weird Java NC from Oracle, for example, and expect it to work – the guts just are not there. For many customers, the cast of reworking all their apps would be huge.

Watch this:

In short, without this exclusive franchise called the Windows API, we would have been dead a long time ago.

Think about the role of Mono and why it helps Microsoft. Remember that this whole memo is about fighting Sun’s NC and Java, which is cross-platform. Oracle, which now owns/buys Sun, was part of this programme at the time.

Watch how Microsoft intends to use software patents to shield its territory (it is just as though Mono is history repeating itself):

We are doing all of this. We are fixing TCO and further improving our dev tools. We are providing new value such as Viper and great multimedia and unified storage. We are making sure that Windows, not some new platform, is the most attractive place to run apps written in this now programming language. We are building the best virtual machine in the world, and optimizing it to run on Windows. We are even making sure you can run your Windows apps remotely on an NT server if all you have on your desk is a GUI terminal. As if all this work were not already hard to copy, we are also getting a bunch of patents to further protect It against cloning.

On the role of ActiveX and DirectX in merely preventing platforms from becoming a commodity, to use Bill Gates' explanation:

Let me be dear we have no problem with the Java language or with running Java apps really really well on our platform. But we are explicitly not in the business of making it easy for people to write apps that get all the features of Windows on a non-Windows platform. “Pure cross-platform portability” is another way of saying “commoditize the OS.” In this vision, every OS is just an engine for running this layer called Java as fast as possible, and adding any value below the Java layer Is explicitly against the rules.

Sun has already figured this out and has launched its 100% pure Java” marketing program, which literally certifies apps as running the same on any client OS. Programs that call a Windows API or use ActiveX or DirectX, or any platform-specific feature, are by definition not 100% Pure Java, and are therefore evil. Hey, If you were Sun, you would say this too!

As usual, there is a lot to be learned from this. Although it is over a decade old, this was not seen before in the public arena, just in courts for the most part. Microsoft settled to keep it away from the public eye.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

                 – George Santayana


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit plex_5906, as text


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Bill Gates: “We Should Look at Even Patenting the Things That We Do Add to Help Office”

Posted in Antitrust, Bill Gates, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 3:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Bill Gates wants not only to make IE ‘extend’ HTML but also to patent Office features that do so

For a little bit of essential background, see what was shown in:

Today we look at Exhibit PX06508 (1998) [PDF], which was probably made famous by the following text it contains:

From: Bill Gates
Sent:. Saturday, December 05, 1998 12:4,t PM
To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
Cc: Paul Maritz
Subject: Office rendering

One thing we have got to change in our strategy – allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on
PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to avoid doing something to destory Windows,

I would be glad to explain at greater length.

Likewise this love of DAV in Office/Exchange is a huge problem. I would also like to make sure people understand this as well.

It basically shows that Chairman Gates wanted to ‘extend’ the Web with proprietary Microsoft bits, but it actually gets worse. In the same exhibit we find intent to use software patents to limit interoperability/compatibility:

Its right for business reasons because it supports competitive browsers but with a clear benefit for people who use our browser (particularly IE 5),

What I trying to say is that looking forward we should not do heroic things like add new capabilities to the standards to help Office.

We should look at even patenting the things that we do add to help Office.

I need to lean more about this whole DAV thing.

The reply from Steve Sinofsky starts with an admission that Microsoft has proprietary protocols:

I personally think this is an area that has been oversold as a benefit and in terms of interoperability. In essence, this is a proprietary protocol for us anyway since we are re-building MAPI on top of It.

The words “open” and “standard” are thrown out there yet again:

For me, DAV is a case where Microsoft is out there leading with the newly proposed (by Microsoft) but yet to be implemented “open” standard. In contrast, HTML is a case where we are dealing with an installed base and standard that already existed and our conflicts are how to work within that environment.

Another interesting bit says that proprietary IE ‘extensions’ are “are enough to convince people that Office requires IE in a proprietary way and that if you want to exchange documents, the odds are your recipients won’t be happy with anything but IE.”

For all practical purposes, Office 2000 requires Windows and IE. We started the project trying to be great on all browsers, and even greater on lnternet Explorer (from our vision and presentation we did for you), but the momentum inside the company essentially prevents that message from making it through development. Only the most basic rendering works in other browsers-IE is required for:

* PowerPoint (the default output is IE only, and that is essentially IE5)
* Access Data Pages (IE5)
* Web Components (IE5)
* Reasonable performance in Excel (due to big tables and the IE5 support for a predefined table width)
* Word and PowerPoint output tons of stuff that only looks good in IE due to the shared line layout code and bugs in other browsers implementation of CS(which is essentially an IE-specific feature)
* HTML email essentially requires Outlook Express or Outlook
* Vector Graphics (VML which renders using vectors rather than GIFs) requires IE

to name a few. I think these are enough to convince people that Office requires IE in a proprietary way and that if you want to exchange documents, the odds are your recipients won’t be happy with anything but IE.

There is also clear realisation that people loathe this:

If Office documents only render in IE then there is zero chance that anyone will be able to use Office to create documents that will be shared outside an environment with the standardized Window browsers (intranet perhaps, but only perhaps given the time to migrate and the minority of Win 3.1, etc.). Personally I put pictures of a trip out on sinofsky.com that were made with PowerPoint 2000 and got a dozen messages from fdends and family (including a webtv person) saying they could not see the pictures. Everything I’ve posted here at the business school has been “recalled” by me because students were not able to read it (all sorts of combinations of OS/browsers).

No area of the product has received more skepticism and push back than our HTML output-from reviewers, analysts, and beta customers. The other night I attended a 500 person Office 2000 event in Boston (the Team Web Tour”). The whole presentation was in IE and every time the browser was shown hands went up to ask “what about non-IE browsers?”. Finally the demonstration showed powerpoint 2000 in IE which is *awesome* output–then showed the non-IE output and it was just ugly (didn’t scale, fixed size slides, no slide show view, no DHTML, etc.). I thought the audience was either going to get up and walk out in disgust or rush the stage in protest.

All in all, what any person can learn from this 9-year-old antitrust exhibit is that orders come from the very top to add proprietary extensions to Internet Explorer and shield them even further with software patents. Microsoft knows that people would not like this, but being anti-competitive, this may seem like a priority. Had it been just about improvement, then patents would probably not be needed and the issue of breaking interoperability remains.

For people whose work is affected by the ODF/OOXML situation it is an important lesson to always bear in mind.


Appendix: Comes vs. Microsoft – exhibit PX06508, as text


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