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08.16.09

Does the Intel/Microsoft Relationship Qualify as a Cartel?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Serious questions are raised following the battle against low-cost computing

EARLIER ON in the day we wrote about the possibility that Microsoft was breaking more than one law amid collusion with Intel [1, 2]. As the Russian authorities investigate the issue we also come to discover that the headline from Linux Today has come from Groklaw. To quote Groklaw’s view on the same article: “I have a question, simple soul that I am. Why are two monopolies allowed to dictate what a netbook is allowed to be like? As in, how dare they force the market to accept lower specs than the tech allows? And my follow up question: Where are the antitrust regulators on this?

On the surface, it is a rather simple case of manipulation in the market and mutually-beneficial price-fixing (where the market, i.e. the customers, have no say). Does it qualify as a cartel? That’s the principal question in some people’s minds.

SM writes (in part):

Why are two monopolies allowed to dictate what a netbook is allowed to be like? That is a question for the EU and DOJ anti-trust authorities to answer.

However the reason the Microsoft-OEM cartel is carrying out this market and price fixing arrangement is pretty obvious. The idea is to eliminate Linux preloaded netbooks from the market by selling Windows at below zero cost (ie. a nominal price plus advertising and marketing rebates), and then claw back the subsidy by charging more on higher end PCs and laptops where Linux is not in competition, and which Microsoft’s monopoly position allows it to do. This is a classic and obvious price/market fixing strategy, and completely illegal, and something that Microsoft has been able to execute very successfully in the last year.

GreyGeek then replies:

Like the Judges, Police and politicians in Chicago during the Capone era, the US Department of “Justice” has turned a blind eye on these blatant violations of the Sherman-Clayton Anti-Trust Act, which have continued unabated since Microsoft was “punished” for them nearly a decade ago.

The Capone era police and politicians were PAID off by Capone to thwart justice. One of Bush’s first acts as President was to replace the existing DOJ team, which won TWO convictions against Microsoft, and replace them with a team which immediately surrendered to Microsoft and sued for peace in the form of a “negotiated” settlement, after replacing the Judge who wanted to break up the convicted felon just like a previous court did to AT&T. Apparently either the politicians thought it would be bad for “bidness” or they were paid off in the form of campaign contributions, the current and legal form of political bribery.

SM is at it again:

In any case, it is apparent that the OEMs have accepted a price fixing and market manipulating agreement with Microsoft, and whether they were induced to do so by Microsoft offering better terms for them to do so or whether they were forced to do so by punitive threats from Microsoft, does not matter. The fact that they have agreed to fix prices at a differential rate and to engage in an artificial market manipulating arrangement with Microsoft is enough to make them participants in a cartel.

It is important to remember that this is an Intel+Microsoft collusion, the OEMs being just optional accomplices that may sometimes have no other choice. OEMs and shops, unlike the OS and chip vendors, haven’t a monopoly they can abuse. For more information about this repeating pattern of corporate behaviour, see:

Here is a new article which serves as another reminder of Intel’s more recent felonies.

“Intel has harmed millions of European consumers by deliberately acting to keep competitors out of the market for computer chips for many years,” EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in May. The commission said Intel had used wholly or partially hidden rebates to get PC makers such as Acer, Dell, HP, Lenovo and NEC to buy all or almost all their CPU supplies from Intel instead of AMD.

In spite of impotent regulation in the United States, Intel was found guilty in Asia and also guilty in Europe. And that’s just in the past year alone.

Intel: criminal inside

Links 16/08/2009: Debian Turns Sixteen, Foresight Linux Changes Direction

Posted in News Roundup at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Inside EOS: Cisco’s Big Social Networking Play

    The EOS platform itself is a Linux-based LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) with a Java middleware component.

  • Kubntuforum.net down … again …. 8/15/2009

    The Kubuntu forum is down again. I first learned of this problem, “Service Unavailable”, a month after I installed Kubuntu, in April: http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2009-04-04-013-35-NW-CY

    I was VERY surprised, in April, to learn that the Kubuntuform.net was hosted on a Windows 2003 server from the day it first appeared, in 2005. I was not surprised to see Netcraft statistics revealing that the server is rebooted, on average, every 14 days. I am beginning to wonder if these outages are caused by Win2k3 becoming owned by bot farms or just classic WinX slowdown or stability problems. Sooner or later the forum should begin eating its own dog food and switch to a Linux server. It is becoming an embarrassment.

  • GFS: Evolution on Fast-forward

    A discussion between Kirk McKusick and Sean Quinlan about the origin and evolution of the Google File System.

    During the early stages of development at Google, the initial thinking did not include plans for building a new file system. While work was still being done on one of the earliest versions of the company’s crawl and indexing system, however, it became quite clear to the core engineers that they really had no other choice, and GFS (Google File System) was born.

    [...]

    Part of this, of course, was driven by necessity. Since Google’s plans rested largely on massive deployments of commodity hardware, failures and hardware-related faults were a given. Beyond that, according to the original GFS paper, there were a few compatibility issues. “Many of our disks claimed to the Linux driver that they supported a range of IDE protocol versions but in fact responded reliably only to the more recent ones. Since the protocol versions are very similar, these drives mostly worked but occasionally the mismatches would cause the drive and the kernel to disagree about the drive’s state. This would corrupt data silently due to problems in the kernel. This problem motivated our use of checksums to detect data corruption.”

  • Applications

    • Boxee Will Blow You Away

      Boxee is a cross-platform freeware media center software with promising new social networking features. Boxee is based on XBMC media center, an award winning open source project. Since i had already tested the latest XBMC 9.04, i was not expecting anything dramatic from an alpha release of Boxee. I was way wrong.

    • 7 months later

      We are pretty close to a 0.9 Beta now in terms of functionality. Most of the plugins have been ported in some form to compiz++ although some (mostly the one’s I’ve done) are broken in some way which makes them unusable. When I say ‘most’, I mean that it is about 80% feature parity with 0.8, just some of the *big* plugins have not been ported yet. Asides from some of my own plugins and other users, most user plugins (especially big ones) still need to be ported.

    • Artha – WordWeb Knockoff for Desktop Linux

      Artha is a handy dictionary/thesaurus program for Linux that focuses on high usability. It makes the best utilization of WordNet database with highly usable Hotkeys, Regular Expressions, Notifications, Relative Senses, Suggestions and Much More!

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla recommends upgrading from Firefox 3.0.x to 3.5.x

      The information pop-up offers users the option of downloading Firefox 3.5 immediately, downloading it later, or skipping it completely. Although the pop-up informs users of potential add-on incompatibilities, users will only find out whether updates for their installed add-ons are available after upgrading to the new version of Firefox. The Mozilla development team says that 90 percent of add-ons have either been updated for version 3.5, or new version have been created.

    • 10 Best Mozilla Thunderbird Themes

      Among desktop Mail clients, Mozilla Thunderbird is still a popular choice. Although more than 50% of our readers check their eMail online, 15% use Thunderbird, followed by Outlook and other desktop clients. Source: MUO Poll

  • Distributions

    • A possible change of direction for Foresight Linux

      I think that Foresight needs to be based on an upstream distro that is regularly fully updated and refreshed, and that is maintained by distro specialists with experience and expertise that is just plain missing within the Foresight development community. That distro needs to be imported into a Conary repository; that will allow Foresight to continue to use Conary to manage the process of building a set of consistent modifications relative to that upstream distro, providing a true rolling release. That would allow Foresight developers to concentrate on only the problems inherent in integrating the very latest development source against a recent base that is relatively close to the basis on which the software is maintained.

    • [Mandriva] Cooker – new netprofile in cooker

      The new and improved (or, more exactly, mostly rewritten) netprofile is
      on its way to cooker.

      It comes with a lot of changes, based on the feedback I had on this
      list. So I would like to thank you all first for the ideas, and I hope
      this new netprofile version will be of use to you.

    • Some news on cooker regarding kde3

      kde3 is being removed from cooker, replaced by kde4. i started by the less « important » ones ( kdeadmin, kdeartwork, ..) but soon the others will be removed.

    • Gentoo

      • Gentoo Media Center

        As usual it’s not our intention to break the bank when building a media center. Now it’s true that you can purchase a number of beautiful cases and components to make your media pc blend in with the rest of the electronics that you may have in your home entertainment center but for myself I prefer to get some use of components that may not look the greatest but will simply do the job.

      • Sabayon Linux 4.2 KDE Review

        Sabayon is a Gentoo Linux-based, multi-purpose distribution. Previous releases of Sabayon came in one huge DVD iso image with the option to install your favorite desktop. However, the latest release is available in iso images distinguished by desktop environments. For example, we have Sabayon 4.x KDE, Sabayon 4.x Gnome, etc. This review is based on Sabayon 4.2 KDE. A future review will focus on Sabayon 4.2 Gnome.

        [...]

        The installer is one of the best. If you choose to use Sabayon in Live CD/DVD mode, and then opt to install it on your PC’s hard drive, you still get the same full-featured installer.

    • Debian Family

      • Happy Birthday Debian

        Sixteen years ago today, Ian Murdock announced the “imminent completion of a brand-new Linux release”.

      • Aide (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment) improvements

        At the Karmic Ubuntu developer summit, we had a session on filesystem integrity checkers. The main purpose of the session was to see what the current state of them was, and if we needed to replace Aide in main with a newer alternative.

      • Ubuntu 9.04, I’m impressed

        Everything just works. Out-of-the-box. Do you know what it means? It means, that any person without any knowledge about computers, and Linux, will find Ubuntu user-friendly.

      • CrunchBang Linux – Soft, calm and beautiful

        CrunchBang is a very interesting product. It works well. It’s fast, streamlined and very beautiful, probably one of the better looking distros I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why, but the sterile precision, simplicity and softness of Openbox, the choice of colors and fonts and the overall blend are too hard to resist.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nightstand clock gets open-source, Wi-Fi boost

      The Chumby is a $200 Wi-Fi-connected personal Internet appliance that gets its information and applications through Chumby’s Website following a simple online registration process that opens up access to so-called “widgets.”

    • TomTom Leaches

      I purchased this device after learning that TomTom are a Linux company, or so I thought, after having read about how TomTom was sued by Microsoft for breach of copyright on the use of FAT32, and how TomTom had sought assistance from the Linux Foundation, and also that the TomTom devices are built on top of the Linux kernel and other Free Software tools.

    • CrunchPad prototype coming this month, be available ASAP

      We more or less know everything there is to know about the CrunchPad, but a few more specs have popped up thanks to the NYT and SF Biz Times. The CP, made by Fusion Garage, is 16mm thick with a 12-inch screen encased in aluminum.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mobile app dev unity debated

    Mobile software development proponents yesterday debated the merits of framework and web approaches to combat the fragmentation developers face when building applications for the multitude of handheld phones.

    The proponents, serving on a panel at the OpenSource World conference in San Francisco, also hailed open source as a mechanism to boost software development for these devices.

  • Enterprise LAMP Summit to Feature Global Open Source Thought Leaders

    Now, however, because of the maturity, velocity, security and scalability achieved in particular by the LAMP stack (Linux, MySQL, PHP, Python and Perl) and the training, certification and support offered by a solid array of providers, many thought leaders believe that LAMP has proven its ability to provide performance that CTOs at the world’s largest enterprises can rely on for global deployment.

  • Business

  • Voting

    • Why Governments must make voting systems open source

      Even if the results of the election are not to your personal taste any reasonable person may have confidence in the legitimacy of the result because they know the processes are transparent and trustworthy with visible checks and balances.

      By contrast, a proprietary, closed, electronic voting system does not offer the same degree of assurance. To trust its results you must trust the vendor.

    • Open-source voting: Secure over obscure?
  • Openness

    • More open source ID: Quirky’s portable tripod lives up to the company’s name

      Annie Leibovitz meets Japanese schoolgirl: The DigiDude is a portable camera “tripod with character” produced by the open-source Quirky, a sort of online design-by-committee community that shares profits with contributors proportional to input, meaning you can truly give (and get) your two cents’ worth.

    • FalconView Mapping Software Goes Open Source

      The Georgia Tech Research Institute ( GTRI ) has released an open-source version of its popular FalconViewTM software. The program displays topographical maps, aeronautical charts, satellite images and other maps, along with overlay tools that can be displayed on any map background.

  • Literature

    • Open-Source Textbooks a Mixed Bag in California

      As California moves forward with the first open-source digital textbook program in the nation this fall, the best content seems a lot less like Wikipedia and a lot more like traditional publishing.

    • Gov. Schwarzenegger Releases Free Digital Textbook Initiative Phase 1 Report

      Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the first report of California’s free digital textbook initiative – which outlines how high school math and science textbooks submitted under the first phase of the initiative measure up against the state’s rigorous academic content standards. Of the 16 free digital textbooks for high school math and science reviewed, ten meet at least 90 percent of California’s standards. Four meet 100 percent of standards, including the CK-12 Foundation’s CK-12 Single Variable Calculus, CK-12 Trigonometry, CK-12 Chemistry and Dr. H. Jerome Keisler’s Elementary Calculus: An Infinitesimal Approach.

    • As textbook costs stack up, interest grows in e-books

      “When Pluto becomes not a planet, you can fix it very quickly,” said Rich Baraniuk, an engineering professor at Rice University who pioneered the field of open source class materials. “It’s going to take a decade to get Pluto out of all the nation’s printed science books.”

  • Programming

    • GNU Generation: Bringing Pre-University Students into Free Software

      While GNU Generation isn’t the next Google Highly Open Participation Contest™ (GHOP), the two efforts have a lot in common. My name is Max Shinn and I am going into my junior year of high school. This summer, though, I’m interning with the Free Software Foundation (FSF). When I was participating in GHOP, I never imagined that I would be using that experience to start a similar project. I have been working on GNU Generation extensively as part of my internship with the FSF.

  • Audio

Leftovers

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • DVD Copying Software is “Illegal”, but Copying?

      Making backup copies etc. is so eminently reasonable that it needs spelling out by the courts. Paradoxically, not spelling it out is worse for the film industry, since the boundary of what is and is not (morally) acceptable are ill-defined, letting people make it up as they go along.

    • US studios want NZ copyright justice ‘streamlined’

      Federation Against Copyright Theft executive director Tony Eaton has signalled the lobby group may push for a “streamlined” enforcement regime that would mean people accused of piracy could be cut off from the internet without a full hearing.

    • U.S. Web-Tracking Plan Stirs Privacy Fears

      The Obama administration is proposing to scale back a long-standing ban on tracking how people use government Internet sites with “cookies” and other technologies, raising alarms among privacy groups.

    • Mann releases mushroom doc on USB stick

      Last fall, British company PNY offered a 2GB flash drive for sale in Europe pre-loaded with the 1984 hit Ghostbusters. However, that drive contained digital rights management software in an attempt to prevent viewers from copying or sharing the film.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Unbranded: Lindens To Ban Unauthorized Virtual Copies of Real World Brands on Ecommerce Site

      Starting on September 14, virtual Angelina Jolie will no longer be for sale on Second Life’s ecommerce site. (Unless, that is, Ms. Jolie herself sees fit to put a copy of herself on xStreetSL, the Lindens’ ecommerce site, which was acquired last January.) The same can be said of virtual Barack Obama, several avatar versions of whom are now for sale on xStreetSL, like this one. Unless, again, the President himself authorizes someone to create and sell a version of his appearance as an avatar.

    • “Snatching Digital Rights” or Protecting Our Culture? Burning Man and the EFF

      Burning Man deeply respects the efforts of the EFF, and frankly, would ourselves like to embrace their opinion – but we don’t think the issue is as simple as Corynne McSherry would have you believe. Just like the EFF, we honestly seek to think outside old paradigms and boxes of “creative property” in the digital age, but we view Black Rock City through a more complicated lens, and our view of issues facing creative ownership is not rendered in extremes of black and white. To us, the rights of the individual participant to privacy while in Black Rock City in this unique environment for free expression — and our philosophical desire to maintain it out of reach of those who would exploit that expression just to sell cars or soft drinks — happens to come first.

      In fact, there are but two essential reasons we maintain these increased controls on behalf of our community: to protect our participants so that images that violate their privacy are not displayed, and to prevent companies from using Burning Man to sell products.

  • Newspapers

    • One way newspaper paywalls could work: Sport

      Of course, there is one major drawback with this idea. There is evidence that moving sport from free-to-air to pay-TV is damaging some games at a grass roots level – sticking online media coverage behind a paywall may only make matters worse. But that’s another issue…

    • Behind a billionaire’s interest in the Globe

      While the Reader’s story noted how unusual it was for owners of a newspaper to threaten another newspaper over publication of a news story, Barnhill said: “We urged them to be extremely careful to ensure that they didn’t publish anything inaccurate, misleading, or defamatory. That’s a standard we would expect any news organization to adhere to, including not just our own but also those that cover us.’’

    • Why Murdoch, the old media reactionary, is wrong to charge for content

      I have never received so many calls from so many places across the world to talk about the momentous decision by Rupert Murdoch to charge people for access to his newspaper websites.

    • Five Key Reasons Why Newspapers Are Failing

      1. Consumers don’t pay for news. They have never paid for news.

      The problem of the daily press in the U.S. is exclusively this: the collapse of its business model. That model used to be, plainly put, making money—a lot of money, oceans of money—delivering advertising on newsprint into peoples’ homes. Subscribers didn’t pay for news. Advertisers did.

      Remember “shoppers,” the poorly designed throwaway publications filled with tacky little ads? Daily newspapers are high-end shoppers.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Thomas Bartol, computational neuroscientist for the Salk Institute 06 (2005)

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Does Microsoft Violate the First-sale Doctrine?

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Law, Microsoft, Windows at 7:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tablet PC

Summary: Microsoft’s practices in sub-notebooks raise more questions about illegality

WE recently showed that Intel and Microsoft had probably colluded in order to assassinate sub-notebooks as an attractive choice [1, 2]. The evidence is sparse, but it is extensive. As the Managing Editor of Linux Today puts it, “Why are two monopolies allowed to dictate what a netbook is allowed to be like?” She links to this page from PC Magazine which says:

It’s no secret that Intel and Microsoft have a firm grip on what a netbook may or may not use in terms of features and parts; hence the many look-alikes in this pervasive category. But there are a handful of them that are considered exceptions to the rules handed down by Wintel.

Another new article from PC Magazine is titled “5 Netbooks Microsoft Has Crushed”

To quote:

Think most netbooks have single-core processors, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive because their manufacturers like conformity? Right. The reality — never officially acknowledged — is that Microsoft doesn’t cheaply license its operating systems to netbooks with specs that are too good (see the limitations at TechARP). The result, as evidenced by the looming retirement of Dell’s Mini 12, is tiny netbooks with lesser hardware than full-sized laptops.

A handful of laptops, including the Mini 12, have broken the mold, but they all pay the price in some way. Here’s a list of naughty netbooks that Microsoft is crushing with its hardware limitations…

An obvious victim of this is GNU/Linux. But according to a third new article from PC Magazine, “Dell Looks to Linux to Expand Netbook Presence”

In an effort to expand its Linux offerings, Dell is researching new netbook-type devices and will soon offer netbook Linux OS upgrades, a company official said on Wednesday.

The company is researching the possibility of offering new Linux-based mobile devices called smartbooks, said Todd Finch, senior product marketing manager for Linux clients, at the OpenSourceWorld conference in San Francisco. The company will also upgrade its Ubuntu Linux OS for netbooks to the latest version in the next few weeks, he said.

As people may recall, Dell more or less accused Microsoft of lying about GNU/Linux-powered sub-notebooks. That was a few days ago and we are finding new examples of GNU/Linux success in Dell’s sub-notebooks.

There are many reasons that this is news. Dell is the quintessential user computing device vendor. They have a well recognized brand and off and on, have courted Linux on the desktop. Linux has a lower acquisition cost for a hardware vendor — and on a $300 computing device, there isn’t a lot of margin.

Barring all of that strategic schpew — the fact is, my wife uses an Ubuntu laptop and seems to have taken to the netbook with a minimum of fuss. I use her viewpoint as an indicator of sorts. She doesn’t hold much back in terms of criticism — if it sucks I’m going to hear about it in short order. She’s not a technology lightweight — she uses facebook, email and web browsing as good or at a higher competency than all but my tightest technological contacts — but she’s not a programmer or IT type.

“I booted up Linux on a my cousin’s computer and she didn’t even notice,” writes Fewa. “Just click on Firefox icon and was off. The netbook sellers just need to go back to Linux.”

MinceR argues that “Dell won’t do that,” but Fewa — pointing at the articles from PC Magazine — insists that “Microsoft needs to be prosecuted for this clearly anti-competitive act. It clearly violates the first-sale doctrine at least.”

Related posts:

Commonalities Between i4i and Microsoft

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents at 6:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eyes

Summary: Microsoft’s court loss as the result of “an eye for an eye” after lusting over software patents and abuse of partners

XML (or SGML) has made many headlines recently not because it’s a simple-yet-useful paradigm (or piece of knowledge) but because applied XML is encumbered by software patents. IBM’s Weir has just published some clarifications, stating that:

In the past few days we have had a bumper crop of pontification on the significance of two XML-related patents, one nelwy issued to Microsoft (7,571,169), and another older one (5,787,449) owned by i4i, whose infringement has resulted in a large judgment and injunction against Microsoft. I’ve found the web coverage of both patents to be an unmitigated muddle.

The patent of i4i is being severely criticised here:

I think the source of the problem in the patent system may be linked to a point Friedrich Hayek made long ago about our tendency to overrate the economic importance of theoretical knowledge and vastly underestimate the importance of tacit or practical knowledge. The non-obviousness requirement, tied to the standard of an observer skilled in the appropriate art, is supposed to make the patent system sensitive to this kind of knowledge. But if examiners have to defend their judgments of obviousness, they’re essentially being required to translate their tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge—to turn an inarticulate knack into a formal set of rules or steps. And Hayek’s point was that this is often going to be difficult, if not impossible. Just as a loose analogy, consider that in the Principia Mathematica, Bertrand Russell and A.N. Whitehead’s attempt to provide a rigorous, formalized basis for ordinary arithmetic, it takes several hundred pages to strictly establish the proposition “1+1=2.” It takes a fairly advanced mathematical education to understand the explicit elaboration of a practice (counting, adding) that we expect most children to master.

For background about the i4i trial, also see:

  1. Microsoft Engaged in Misconduct in i4i Trial
  2. The Microsoft Crowd Uses the Word Verdict to Throw FUD at ODF, More Spin Comes from Denmark
  3. The Patent Trolls and McKool Smith Show Why OOXML and Software Patents Should be Shunned
  4. Microsoft and Friends Want to Add More Bugs to OOXML
  5. Microsoft Will Not Comply with Software Patents But Will Eventually Comply with the GPL
  6. Microsoft Accused of “Willful and Deliberate” infringement and “Discovery Misconduct” in Another Patent Case
  7. XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
  8. Microsoft is Again Paying the Huge Price for Wanting Anti-Free Software Laws
  9. Reader Explains “Microsoft Innovation”

The following news channel is obviously taking Microsoft’s side.

Microsoft is no better than i4i by the way, as Microsoft too is collecting ridiculous patents on XML. Microsoft’s very latest XML patent we wrote about in:

Glyn Moody wrote about this patent as well.

As you can see, this is essentially a patent on those core ideas of XML+XSL that impressed me all those years ago – indeed, on the even older ones of SGML+DSSSL. How the US PTO could possibly grant it for something whose core idea has been around for years is just beyond comprehension, and indicates the parlous state of the US patent system.

But what makes this case even more perturbing is that the patent has been granted to Microsoft. Which means that it has another pseudo-patent in its armoury that allows it to indulge in the usual FUD of free software “infringing” on its intellectual monopolies.

[...]

Unfortunately, the EU alone won’t be able to sort things out here, because it seems that Microsoft is not the only company making absurd claims about owning intellectual monopolies on fundamental and obvious document technology.

Microsoft has some more XML patents that we wrote about in:

The office suite monopoly is not a victim in the i4i case. It is just tasting some of its own poison, so it would be hypocritical to complain about it. This was an eye for an eye action (i4i), which does not really affect ODF. Either way, this probably won't bother IBM.

Criticism of Microsoft Deals in Minnesota, US Army, and Wroclaw University (Poland)

Posted in America, Deals, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A variety of new deals put into context

Microsoft has signed some new deals which deserve a bit of background to be fully understood. We shall start with Minnesota.

“This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries.”
      –Mike Hatch, Minnesota’s Attorney General
Microsoft has “Technical Evangelists” (AstroTurf) in Minnesota with examples from Rochester, Minnesota. Minnesota's Attorney General Mike Hatch once called Microsoft’s AstroTurf campaign “sleazy”. He also said: “This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries.”

Minnesota wanted to extend Microsoft oversight by regulators and it also favoured ODF at one stage [1, 2], but Microsoft then retaliated and a Minnesota State study about document formats does not appear to have made much impact. To name some more minor details, Bill Gates invests in the Minnesota-based Otter Tail Corporation.

It is only now that Microsoft is signing a government deal with Minnesota, which in simpler terms means that taxpayers will shell out money for vendor lock-in whether they like it or not.

In an effort to save millions of dollars and streamline government operations, the state of Minnesota has signed a six-year enterprise software agreement with Microsoft Corp. Announced today by Minnesota Chief Information Officer and head of the Office of Enterprise Technology (OET), Gopal Khanna, the deal will reportedly save the state $2.37 million in annual licensing fees, as well as save millions for the state taxpayers by improving services delivery.

[...]

The deal is one of the largest enterprise agreements Microsoft has ever signed with a state. Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology (OET) is purchasing 32,000 software licenses for its executive branch agencies, paying the same price that would have covered roughly 10,000 users under a previous contract.

This type of problem does not only affect Minnesota. Based on another piece of news, the US army negotiates a Microsoft moratorium.

The Army issued the moratorium on purchasing Microsoft software while it negotiated a new agreement, which it awarded on July 7 to Softmart Government Services in Downing, Pa. Softmart had held the original agreement as well, according to the Defense Department.

Perhaps they prefer to use ‘patriotic’ software which contains back doors that only the Unites States can use and the FBI can penetrate with CIPAV. There may be other explanations, but to use Microsoft software in the military is otherwise illogical. The above seems similar to an MoU, for which we provided recent examples [1, 2, 3]. There are some older examples of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in:

Then, it brings us to Poland where Microsoft seems to have turned another university into a sort of self-serving breeding ground.

Wroclaw University of Technology to co-operate with Microsoft

[...]

Microsoft has also pledged to actively engage in both research and teaching activities at the University. – We are among world leaders when it comes to research expenditure. The company spends USD 9 bn annually on research – Jacek Murawski, managing director of Microsoft Polska told Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. – We want to work with the best and that is why we picked the University of Technology in Wroclaw.

A lot has already been said about Microsoft’s impact on the educational systems. Rather than teach methods (long-term lessons) they train young people to become customers of Microsoft. Suffice to say, Microsoft engages in other misconduct in Poland. Examples may be memorable enough, e.g. from the OOXML fiasco:

If people do not stand up against such deals, then corruptible seniors who benefit from these deals (at the expense of victims) will just carry on.

“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

Polish flag

More Misconduct Connected to Microsoft

Posted in Finance, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Samsung at 5:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Misconduct

Summary: Pequot and Samsung in the midst of scandals

MICROSOFT was investigated by the SEC after an employee had blown the whistle on financial fraud. It has been years since then, but the SEC makes a return when it approaches Pequot Capital. From the New York Times:

The firm once invested $15 billion and most recently managed roughly $3 billion. The S.E.C. and the Justice Department recently resurrected their investigation, which focuses on Pequot’s trades in Microsoft securities in 2001. That move followed revelations that Mr. Samberg had paid $2.1 million to a former Microsoft employee, David Zilkha, in 2007. Mr. Zilkha had worked briefly for Pequot six years earlier. The payment came to light recently during Mr. Zilkha’s divorce proceedings.

From MarketWatch: “Pequot gets Wells Notice on Microsoft trades: WSJ”

Hedge fund Pequot Capital and its founder Art Samberg have received Wells Notices from the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday on its Web site.

And from Bloomberg: “Pequot, Samberg Said to Be Warned of SEC Claims Over Microsoft”

Pequot spokesman Jonathan Gasthalter said he couldn’t comment on the notices. Kevin Callahan, an SEC spokesman in Washington, declined to comment.

The SEC closed a related probe in 2006, writing in an internal memo that it couldn’t find evidence to support a case. In January, people familiar with the matter said the agency had opened another investigation.

Why is it that companies which deal with Microsoft also find themselves in trouble with the law?

Samsung signed a Microsoft patent deal involving Linux and although Samsung’s fraud has not been mentioned for a while [1, 2] it is now back in the headlines:

Ex-Samsung boss convicted for fraud

[...]

The ex-chairman of Samsung Lee Kun-Hee has been found guilty of abuse of trust over a dodgy bond issue.

Lee was fined $89.2m and got a suspended prison sentence.

Samsung also joined Microsoft’s Linux ‘protection’ racket when Lee Kun-Hee was in charge.

Related posts:

Microsoft Buys More ‘Analysts’ to Become Marketers

Posted in Deception, Google, Microsoft, Search, Windows at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Dark Softness

Summary: A lot of news about Microsoft in the search arena

EARLIER THIS month we warned that comScore would probably be used to market Microsoft, just after signing a deal with Microsoft.

It took a very short time for this expectation to be actualised. Watch what comScore is doing.

According to comScore Inc. (SCOR), Yahoo and Microsoft have an opportunity to make marketshare headway…

This report from The Wall Street Journal (among other sources) was then used to spread the illusion that Bing has a fighting chance.

“The recently announced search partnership between Microsoft and Yahoo! certainly makes the combined entity a more formidable competitor to Google in the U.S. search marketplace,” said Eli Goodman, comScore Search Evangelist.

It says nothing about the new comScore-Microsoft partnership. How much of a role does that play? There is another possible angle here. It is not unusual for Google-hostile remarks to come from former employees of Microsoft or those who are paid by Microsoft to do so. Money voids trust.

Speaking of paid-for analysis, watch what Microsoft is doing with IDC at the moment.

Microsoft has enlisted the dedicated cheerleadership of IDC to write a report that says how Windows 7 will boost employment and revenue for the IT industry as a whole – and for companies in the Microsoft partner ecosystem in particular.

This was expected. They do this every time an operating system is released by Microsoft even if they get it totally wrong [1, 2].

The Bing-sponsored news site is letting some Seattle-based person spew FUD against Google to essentially promote Bing. There is more of the same in the Seattle press, which is in favour of Microsoft and against those ‘evil’ regulators. Could the bias be any more transparent? They basically try to stave off regulators, who may stands in the way of the horrible Microsoft-Yahoo! deal [1, 2, 3]. Forbes has published the following discussion about it.

Microsoft-Yahoo! ‘Partnership’ Is Anti-Competitive

Now that Microsoft and Yahoo! have finally reached terms on an Internet search deal, it’s time to focus on a critical question: Will antitrust laws permit it?

The proposed “partnership,” which calls for Yahoo! to exit the search business and rely exclusively on Bing, Microsoft’s new search engine, has been billed as the first real (and, according to the parties, only) challenge to Google’s leadership of the Internet search market. Yet, if the U.S. Department of Justice applies traditional antitrust analysis to the proposed deal, it’s dead. And that, ultimately, is as it should be.

An op-ed from IDG has this to say:

Google has little to fear from Microsoft-Yahoo deal

[...]

The 10-year agreement calls for Microsoft’s new Bing search engine to power Yahoo’s search sites, and for Yahoo to sell premium search advertising services for both companies. The companies said they expect the deal, which must be reviewed by U.S. and European regulators, to close early next year.

Some believe that regulators won’t stand in the way, whereas the pro-big business Wall Street Journal seems to be favouring this sad elimination of Yahoo! as a search option after sheer abuse against it by an unaccountable monopoly with a track record at the DoJ.

Speaking of the DoJ, they are losing sight of Microsoft’s many abuses such as racketeering. From CNN’s wire:

Microsoft Still On Track To End Government Antitrust Oversight

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) is still on schedule to be released from under the thumb of strict government oversight by 2011, the federal judge monitoring its antitrust compliance efforts said Thursday.

U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said the software company appears to be on track to complete by May 2011 the requirements agreed upon in the antitrust settlement reached in 2002 with state and federal regulators.

They must not be paying attention or maybe the impact of cronyism is to blame here. Watch what Microsoft has done to Yahoo! in recent weeks alone.

The Web portal alienated much of Wall Street with the terms of its search deal with Microsoft. But, with the shares now off 16% since the deal was announced, investors may want to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Microsoft is already spending loads of money on advertising (increasing losses for Microsoft in this area) and also returning to bribing of users (“bribing” being a word which was used by some reporters in the mainstream media [1, 2]). This new press release from Arlington suggests that Microsoft still profits from bad drugs that are promoted via the grey Internet.

Microsoft Has Already Moved on to Vista 8 Vapourware

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 3:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Microsoft feels like talking about a product that comes after a product that’s not even available yet

WHEN Microsoft starts talking about products that do not exist, it is indicative of issues with the present products. The reality behind Vista 7 is already rather uncomfortable, so unofficial spokespeople like Rob Enderle [1, 2] bring back the illusion (and decoy) which is Vista 8. We saw this before. He does this in his blog at IT Business Edge (“Looking Ahead to Windows 8 and the Rebirth of Windows”), linking to Harry McCracken, whom Microsoft gave a Vista 7 laptop because he’s close to the company.

The past week’s news ought to reveal interesting trends. We were unable to find any headlines about “Vista” this week, whereas there were only 10 about “Windows 7″. It’s not even a product that’s available to the public.

Regarding Vista 7, we were able to find reports of cracks in its most important feature — being able to, well… run an older version of the same operating system. Check out CRN:

Windows 7 XP Mode Hits Patch Of Turbulence

XP Mode has been hailed within the Microsoft channel as a potentially effective carrot for enticing small businesses to upgrade to Windows 7, but reports of glitches in XP Mode suggest that it might not be easy to use.

[...]

“Whether XP Mode will be enough to get people to upgrade remains to be seen, but this is definitely the right way to deal with the issue of backward compatibility,” said Kretzer. “There will be glitches, as there always are with any new software solution, but this sort of backward compatibility will only get robust as time goes on.”

Here is another new analysis of XP versus Vista 7. It looks encouraging for GNU/Linux, which can be run under Windows (or as a standalone operating system) and even run XP programs using Wine, all free of charge.

So, since nobody has come forward with this killer feature and nobody can even highlight a killer feature that can be done in 7 that can’t in Linux I can only conclude that there isn’t one and the only draw I can see for Windows 7 is that “its better than Vista”. Maybe if you are an unhappy Vista user you can consider trying an alternative first to see if like me the dependency on Microsoft products is simply an addiction which really has no relevance in modern computing?

The very fact that Microsoft began talking about Vista 8 is a sign that Microsoft expects some backlash. It’s preparing appropriately.

“The purpose of announcing early like this is to freeze the market at the OEM and ISV level. In this respect it is JUST like the original Windows announcement…

“One might worry that this will help Sun because we will just have vaporware, that people will stop buying 486 machines, that we will have endorsed RISC but not delivered… So, Scott, do you really think you can fight that avalanche?”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft

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