Summary: Symantec almost accuses Google of merely hosting USENET content that may contain arbitrary binaries
BACK in April we wrote about the ongoing battle against USENET. Some companies wish to eliminate USENET because it enables Free speech, being a decentralised medium like P2P or torrent. Others worry that it negatively impacts their artificial scarcity-based business models.
“Some companies wish to eliminate USENET because it enables Free speech, being a decentralised medium like P2P or torrent.”Either way — and although it is probably unrelated to any of the above — one informant/reader shows us this warming, remarking that it’s a “slow day at Symantec”. Yes, Symantec titles it “Google Groups Trojan.”
“This is BS,” he writes. “Who in their right minds downloads and runs a DLL from Usenet?”
There is another curious article in Wired Magazine which somehow connects Da Vinci Code (the book, nothing to do with source code) to Windows malware. It turns out that lovers of the book may find themselves in trouble, but only if they use Microsoft Windows and search the Web.
But on Wednesday morning the top Google search result for “death star research” — the logical query — would bring you no closer to unraveling the Lost Symbol mystery. Instead, it produced a malicious website that uses pop-ups, mouse-trapping and a well-executed fake virus scan to trick you into installing a Windows executable that will screw up your computer pretty badly.
If Symantec calls Google Groups (or USENET) a threat because it may contain some downloadable malware (added by posters of zeros and ones), then why not generalise and say that this whole “Internet thing” is a massive case of malware? Let’s just throw the baby out with the bathwater, right? █
“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”
–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive
Send this to a friend
Summary: Putting in perspective some of Microsoft’s latest attacks on GNU/Linux and an apparent deflection
SHORTLY after the OIN had intercepted Microsoft’s attempt to float anti-GNU/Linux patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], many responses were posted. Among them there is one from Eben Moglen. who wrote that “Our community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks for interrupting this arms trade, and calling attention to a bad business practice.” He also wrote:
An announcement by the Open Invention Network has disclosed publicly for the first time another, previously-secret front in our community’s efforts to protect itself against anti-competitive aggression by Microsoft. OIN’s transaction with Allied Security Trust to buy patents, supposedly reading on free software, offered to the troll market by Microsoft prevented what could have been a very unpleasant experience for the whole free software ecosystem.
Selling patents to organizations that have no purpose except to bring litigation—entities which do not themselves make anything or conduct any research, which do not indeed contribute in any tangible or intangible way to the progress of civilization—is not standard commercial practice. What Microsoft is really doing here is sowing disruption, creating fear, uncertainty and doubt at the expense of encouraging the very sort of misbehavior in the patent system that hurts everyone in the industry, including them.
Jay Lyman posts a superb, concise summary of the responses which matter.
This week, we saw some of the software patent skirmishes that are driving and validating this thinking. There was first news that the Open Invention Network, the consortium dedicated to legal and IP defense of Linux, had bought some software patents that related to Linux, which admittedly is not hard to do these days. It turned out the 22 Linux-focused patents were purchased from Allied Security Trust, which had actually purchased them from none other than Microsoft. This might not have meant a whole lot, with OIN proclaiming a victory and Microsoft stating simply that the patents did not hold much value to them. However, the plot thickened as we heard from FOSS defender Eben Moglen, from Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin and from vendor Red Hat, that Microsoft may have been shopping the patents around to would-be patent trolls who would do the dirty work of FUD on their own.
Here is the follow-on article from Groklaw, which finally relates this alleged trolling attempt to Microsoft’s so-called “Open Source” Foundation. Yesterday we explained why it's a farce, which only comprises the usual members [1, 2].
Microsoft doesn’t control it. What it used to be able to do in the dark now falls out of its noxious bag of tricks into the Internet’s bright light, stage front and center. And there stands Microsoft in the spotlight, with its pants down, and let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight.
Take the failed patent hustle of a couple of days ago, apparently maneuvering to enable proxy patent trolls to sue Linux. The idea, I gather, was to damage Linux, but without any way to trace it back to Microsoft. Thank you OIN and AST for foiling the plan. And by the way, are courts supposed to be used like this, to attack the competition? The court system is designed for adjudicating conflicts that are real. If you get damaged, you can go to court and try to be made whole. And so far as I know, there is no definition of abuse of monopoly that would exclude what just happened from being part of what antitrust law covers.
Then there is the hypocrisy factor. Ironically, Microsoft’s lead attorney in the i4i patent litigation was sanctioned by the judge in the Memorandum and Order because he persistently argued to the jury that patent trolls shouldn’t be allowed to seek money damages. And yet, out in the back, behind the garage, so to speak, it’s “Psst… trolls, wanna buy a patent?”
Here is where Pamela Jones refers to Microsoft’s new foundation:
What won’t Miguel do for Microsoft, I ask myself? I take that as good news, frankly, as the new foundation wouldn’t be needed by Microsoft to “supplement” what others already have in place if they could undermine what the community already has. So Microsoft funds and runs a new Brand X open source foundation which will be entirely under Microsoft’s thumb. Now do you see the purpose of the GPL? Why the F in FOSS is so vital? If all that matters is viewing the code or excellence of code or whatever that concept was in the longstanding debate, look what you get: Microsoft’s Brand X open source foundation to sell you patent licenses to proprietary code. An offer they hope you can’t refuse. How do you like it?
Richard Adhikari of ECT correctly points out that “FOSS fans” (yes, the real ones) are not buying Microsoft’s story. From the summary:
The CodePlex Foundation, according to Redmond, enables the exchange of code and understanding among software companies and open source communities. Those OSS communities, however, aren’t entirely trustful of Microsoft’s intentions.
Sam Ramji still has 3 months to go at Microsoft; one has to wonder who he shall work for next. Experience suggests that departing Microsoft employees become an HR issue. Ramji’s job has been — to a great extent — lying to the press on Microsoft’s behalf; it was not easy, especially while Microsoft was attacking GNU/Linux behind closed doors. Microsoft is still lying without any qualm. According to David Williams, Microsoft says that CodePlex is accepted by Linux and the open source community. “According to [Microsoft's] Sara Ford,” he writes, “the site is accepted and welcomed among the fans of open source and Linux software.” Utter nonsense. Maybe it’s this type of people who endorse it.
He [Ramji] will serve as president of the CodePlex Foundation for at least the first 100 days but is also departing Microsoft before the end of the month for another software vendor.
The Microsoft-sponsored blog called the whole thing a “soap opera”, thus trivialising serious issues. That’s funny. When Microsoft attacks GNU/Linux from multiple directions — potentially breaking some laws in the process (depending on location) — and then further abuses the “Open Source” brand, all it can be called is just a “soap opera”? On the other hand, positions are at least provided from the other side of this story:
Bergelt said he suspects that strategic agenda was to stall or slow the growth of Linux by seeing the patents ultimately fall into the hands of organizations that would use them to pursue lawsuits against people who use or distribute Linux. Microsoft has said that it believes Linux and other open-source programs violate more than 200 of its patents.
Here are all the recent events sorted contextually. One has to wonder if the CodePlex Foundation announcement timing was intended to quell the storm over Microsoft’s attempt to sue GNU/Linux vendors by proxy. It was mas perhaps intended to change the focus of debate in the press; that would not be the first time Microsoft deliberately does this.
“One has to wonder if the CodePlex Foundation announcement timing was intended to quell the storm over Microsoft’s attempt to sue GNU/Linux vendors by proxy.”Over at the Mono-Nono Web site, one commenter argues that “The whole “microsoft opening up to open source” things reminds me of this movie:
“We come in peace”.
“Do not run! We are your friends!”
There is already some FUD out there, such as the essay titled “Will Microsoft’s Open Source Initiative Kill Linux?”
This comes from Ken Hess, who has gone ahead with a lot of trollish anti-Linux rhetorics recently. He once invited Microsoft to hire him in one of his columns. Apart from the headline, however, the body of arguments seems rather reasonable.
In other patent news that we shall write about later, Microsoft has managed to overturn a patent judgment regarding Alcatel-Lucent’s claims. From Reuters:
A U.S. court of appeals on Friday overturned a $358 million damages award against software maker Microsoft Corp in a long-running patent dispute with French telecoms equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles many patent and trademark cases, held that Microsoft did indirectly infringe Alcatel’s patents, but said the damages awarded against the firm were not justified and must be retried.
We wrote a lot about this case in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s seemingly never-ending. Then again, that’s the nature of intellectual monopolies; those with deeper pockets can endure the test of ‘justice’ for longer, file more motions, and thus ‘win’. █
“The Company believes that existing copyright law and available trade secret protections, as opposed to patent law, are better suited to protecting computer software developments.” —Oracle Corporation, IBiblio: Oracle Corporation’s position paper on software patents
Send this to a friend
Summary: A look at unrest caused by Microsoft licensing and FUD which entities close to Microsoft throw at the favoured alternative
WE previously provided many citations regarding Microsoft EULAs and also some critique of the SUSE EULA. Microsoft, unlike Novell, is able to get away with a very appalling EULA because a lot of computers have Microsoft software tied to them, whether the buyer accepts the terms or not.
According to this new report from IDG, Microsoft’s software licensing is becoming a “nightmare” to businesses.
Despite efforts from Microsoft over the years to simplify its software licensing for businesses, a new analyst report said it’s more complex than ever for companies to figure out the most cost-effective way to acquire products from the vendor.
A new report by Directions on Microsoft analysts Paul DeGroot and Rob Horwitz called “5 Reasons Why Microsoft Licensing Is Hard” claims that Microsoft licensing isn’t likely to get any easier any time soon, mainly because Microsoft is not motivated to make it so. The report is available online and is connected to a series of “boot camps” the firm hosts to help companies get up to speed on Microsoft licensing.
Compare the complexity of Microsoft licences to the simplicity of the GPL. The GPL encourages any business to download and to spread not only the program but also the code. It is free for everyone to use. How can any business overlook such fantastic opportunity?
Microsoft spreads a lot of GPL FUD [1, 2] probably because it fears that more businesses will realise the appeal of Free software. Just watch how Microsoft deals with GPL-licensed software that it was forced to disclose and make available because it had violated the GPL [1, 2]. Microsoft lost interest in developing this code, as evidenced by some Novell-Microsoft trouble over the maintenance of a loadable module. From IDG comes the following Kroah-Hartman (Novell employee) quote:
“Unfortunately the Microsoft developers seem to have disappeared, and no one is answering my emails. If they do not show back up to claim this driver soon, it will be removed in the 2.6.33 [kernel] release. So sad…,” he wrote.
Lastly, speaking of Free software FUD, less than a week ago we wrote about the Gartner Group throwing some more FUD at such Free software. IDG, with its apparent bias against the GPL , more or less parrots Gartner, whereas OStatic directly challenges these claims.
No, the Cloud is Not Killing Open Source
Andrea DiMaio from the Gartner Blog Network asks an interesting question in a post titled “Is Cloud Computing Killing Open Source in Government?,” and InfoWorld [IDG] weighs in on the issue as well. One might as well not limit the question to government usage.
For that matter, Cloudera, which provides commercial support for the open source Hadoop software framework, straddles the worlds of cloud computing and open source precisely in the middle. Countless ambitious cloud initiatives rely on Hadoop, such as this one at the New York Times. As another example of how cloud computing and open source can walk down common paths, Ulteo, which we’ve covered before, allows users to use the OpenOffice applications online, and offers them free storage. Ulteo is very competitive with Zoho and Google Docs in terms of quality of its offering, but it’s combining cloud services with open source.
Why all the hostility towards Free software from analysts who are regularly doing business (monetary transactions) with Microsoft? A cynic might begin to theorise that Microsoft is not a fan of Free software. █
“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”
–Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft
Send this to a friend
“The official, Thomas O. Barnett, an assistant attorney general, had until 2004 been a top antitrust partner at the law firm that has represented Microsoft in several antitrust disputes.” –New York Times
Summary: The Yahoo!-Microsoft deal faces more challenges as the US DOJ actually steps in
IT HAS BEEN argued for quite some time now (by several independent experts in fact) that the Yahoo!-Microsoft deal would not go ahead without major interference [1, 2, 3]. Now that Microsoft's vassal at Yahoo! admits that she would have sold Yahoo! to Microsoft, antitrust regulators in the United States look more closely at the deal. Sadly, as it’s the Department of ‘Justice’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] which does the review, we already know that Microsoft insiders will be among the deciders.
And in a CNBC interview Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says she would have accepted the Microsoft takeover offer that then CEO Jerry Yang and the Yahoo board rejected. (That would have had a tougher time with regulators than the search-only deal now before them.) Bartz also asserted that Yahoo was still in the search business by controlling the search experience around Bing results
Indeed, this issue gets assigned to the wrong people, as we already know what the Department of ‘Justice’ is comprised of.
The US Department of Justice has expanded its review of the Microhoo search pact.
More in Bloomberg. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Microsoft’s board carries on becoming smaller
Jon Shirley quit Microsoft’s board just over a year ago and some days ago we also saw Sam Ramji quitting. Another new departure is James Cash, a board member of Microsoft. The board carries on shrinking as more and more people decide to leave while Microsoft is spinning.
Cash is “stepping down due to increasing pressure on his time from other professional and personal commitments,” according to the Microsoft news release. The Microsoft board didn’t make any mention of nominating a replacement. If it doesn’t, the size would shrink to nine members. The indication in the past has been that the board sees its optimal size somewhere in the range of eight to 11 members.
Here is the press release and some more coverage. █
Send this to a friend