10.01.09

Microsoft Dodges Patent Law Again, Moblin and Patents Revisited

Posted in Australia, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Emergency exit

Summary: Microsoft shows that patent law continues to be a single-edged sword hurting the small inventor; what software patents mean to Intel and Moblin

AS we found out some weeks ago, software patents do not apply to Microsoft. The monopolist has so many strings to pull, even in the Australian government as we showed an hour ago. So, it was hardly surprising to see this Australian chap having his verdict against Microsoft overturned.

An Australian inventor, who was set to reap the lion’s share of a mammoth $US388 million ($445 million) damages award from Microsoft, is now set to get nothing after the US judge hearing the case decided to ignore the jury’s decision and hand victory to Microsoft.

What Microsoft wants Microsoft gets.

This is covered in other places which like Microsoft and Lora Bentley’s roundup connects it to the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10].

A few days ago we wrote about the Obama administration filing an amicus brief regarding Bilski. This administration is generally favourable towards intellectual monopolies and secrecy [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13], but here is Patently-O’s short analysis of the impact — if any — on software patentability:

Bilski Briefing: Government Argues that Section 101 ‘Processes’ are limited to ‘technological and industrial processes.

[...]

Although Bilski’s claim does not relate directly to software, the machine-or-transformation could be seen to limit the patentability of software processes acting on a general purpose computer (as opposed to a “particular machine”).

It brings us to the next item in this roundup. Earlier on we tried to discover whether Moblin is submissive to Microsoft’s software patents routine [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. We’ve looked around to unravel Intel’s stance on software patents and found only this:

Intel Statement on Software Patents

[..]

Now, to protect and encourage this kind of vast U.S. investment, and I’m referring to both the technical as well as the financial aspects, and, to promote the development of new and improved products, we at Intel believe that software-related technology should continue to be afforded the opportunity to obtain patent protection.

So Intel was in favour of software patents.

When it comes to Moblin, our reader Oiaohm insists that “Intel does not want anything with patent questions. Intel does not want anything disrupting their sales of hardware. Software patents could block their sales… So [this a]ffects Intel’s bottom line. Remember Intel does not produce software, so software patents are no advantage to Intel.”

The above statement from Intel is very old. “Time has moved a lot for Intel since 1994,” writes Oiaohm. “[In] 1993-1994 Intel had a profitable complier business. icc is Intel’s [and] Intel is slowly fusing the tech from their complier into gcc. Intel still sells it, but it’s not a major profit arm. Basically, if Microsoft provides Silverlight and .NET for Linux in a patent-safe way, Intel would not get in [the] way. Now, the stuff Novell has Intel is not going to touch with a 10-foot pole. Intel is not stupid, they don’t want the headaches.”

But the main issue remains one of proprietary media, not patents. From the comments in another piece of coverage comes this:

Does Silverlight on Linux matter?

[...]

Are you seriously saying, that when Microsoft is making the field of on-line video more fragmented with one more proprietary format that is aimed at nothing else but give more control to Microsoft, we should applaud the company for doing this? This has nothing to do with choice for the users. If the use of Silverlight spreads wider in the future, the users are guaranteed not to have more choice and control of their computing experience.

Silverlight/Moonlight — like .NET/Mono — are not just patent issues, they are issues of control over developers, broadcasters, and users.

Novell Removes GIMP, Adds Proprietary Software

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, SLES/SLED, Ubuntu at 6:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Peace of mind

Summary: Novell gives a bad name to GNU/Linux on sub-notebooks by doing the job poorly

SOME MONTHS ago we wrote about Ubuntu pondering a Mono-based replacement for the GIMP. Novell has apparently done something equally bad based on this new review of the HP Mini:

Having just taken delivery of a HP Mini 5101 pre-loaded with Suse Linux Enterprise Edition 11, it appears that HP still has some engineers left, hiding deep within, perhaps only coming out at night. Certainly the suits running HP don’t seem to want customers to know that Suse is an option. And Novell doesn’t seem all that keen on its adopted child, either.

[...]

Adobe Acrobat? Is that really the best you can do? Repeat after me: free as in speech; not free as in beer.

Um… Where is The Gimp?

Why can I not change the date format from Tue Sep 29 to Tue 29 Sep? Earth to Novell: simple things should be easy; hard things should be possible. What is so hard about changing the date format?

When it comes to sub-notebooks, the high return rates from MSI are the most widely quoted and SUSE was to blame. When Microsoft was spreading lies about sub-notebooks with GNU/Linux, Canonical responded in its blog by saying that Microsoft lied and that properly implemented/deployed GNU/Linux distributions are selling well and not being returned; Dell confirmed this a few months later.

Mark on the back

Now It’s Groklaw’s Turn

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Groklaw criticises Novell VP. Awaiting response in 3… 2… 1…

Army drill versus Groklaw

Summary: Groklaw comes under fire for speaking about taboo areas; More examples that are given here are a case of spin and authors not sticking to facts.

Discrediting Groklaw is a convenient tactic for those who want to bury its latest analysis of Mono, Miguel de Icaza, and Microsoft. The same thing happened when Groklaw 'dared' to criticise Novell for its fork of OpenOffice.org*. GreyGeek wrote in response to Groklaw’s analysis:

PJ shows that de Icaza is NOT ignorant of patent law, or the patent status of the many components of MONO. In fact, as I pointed out in another talkback, in a 2004 interview he was asked about the patent problems of the GUI components of MONO and reported that he was aware of them and was removing IP tainted code from MONO. In July of this year, when it was revealed that those very same components were STILL IN MONO and not covered by ECMA 334 & 335, he said he was putting the MONO team to work “removing them into a non-free repository”. Apparently de Icaza is going to depend on using GTk2+ bindings to give MONO visual appeal, but that raises the question of why using MONO at all since GTK supplies all the tools necessary to build native Linux applications, as de Icaza’s own GNumeric and Evolution, have proven.

There are many other interesting bits in that comment. Many people support Groklaw’s point of view, whereas others choose to mock it (or mock the messenger). We choose not to link to these, for obvious reasons. But how so very typical! Someone who admits doing work for Microsoft at the moment joins OStatic and the very first item on his agenda (first post ever) is an amateurish attack on Boycott Novell. How predictable, much like those Microsoft TEs who smeared us here without disclosure [1, 2].

Anyway, there are other items of deception or FUD worth noticing out there today. Here are some lies that compare Microsoft dumping (gratis, short-term illusion of savings) to FOSS. We addressed this stunt the other day. It’s actually an anti-FOSS move.

A publication called “The Big Money” (from Slate Magazine and therefore with Microsoft/Gates influence [1, 2]) mocks rivals of Microsoft Office despite the fact that Office is losing ground (smaller margins, lost market share) and there is other possible propaganda at Forbes Magazine, which uses “crowdsourcing” opinions to dismiss the business models of mass participation, despite many success stories (e.g. Wikipedia).

So what’s my problem? Why does it bug me that people think crowdsourcing is something it is not? Why do I care that people think a crowd is capable of individual virtuosity? What bugs me is that misplaced faith in the crowd is a blow to the image of the heroic inventor. We need to nurture and fund inventors and give them time to explore, play and fail. A false idea of the crowd reduces the motivation for this investment, with the supposition that companies can tap the minds of inventors on the cheap.

The article is filled with fallacies and it is hostile to whatever threatens existing business franchises. Well, that’s just Forbes being Forbes. The author is also using “open source” and Linux as examples to downplay.
____
* When Richard Stallman spoke about Mono the same thing happened, namely attempt to diminish the messenger’s impact.

Microsoft and English-speaking Countries

Posted in Australia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Union flag as globe

Summary: In Australia, the government and Microsoft rub each other’s back and in the United Kingdom Free software is still discriminated against

WITH the exception of South Africa, which learned valuable lessons from a suppressive apartheid regime, the English-speaking world is said to be tied to Microsoft more than most. That’s an empirically-provable fact, and here is a new article implicitly confirming it. When countries align on political matters, then affinity and joint interests descend down to corporations too (and vice versa), as they are inherently similar if not the same; there is always overlap.

Several countries that are likely to be last to embrace Free software are the UK, Australia, and the United States (where surveys that are hostile towards GNU/Linux typically come from). The sampled populations of surveyed entities are not homogeneous across the different nations. Perception is therefore affected a lot when one is exposed to the press in particular language/s.

Many stories from Australia demonstrate a degree of Microsoft influence and mischief, some of which we covered in, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4]. Watch this new post from the OpenAustralia Community:

With Rob’s permission I have forwarded on his email (attached) here.

Yesterday, I discovered that any vendor that gets money from the Government 2.0 Taskforce has to sign a contract with Microsoft. The reason, as I understand it, is a little long-winded, but basically Microsoft and the government had a deal where Microsoft would give the government software and in return the government would give Microsoft money and some fraction of that money would go in to a fund which could then be later used by the government.

The money that the taskforce has to give out comes out of that Microsoft fund. So, to gain access to the money the vendors have to sign a contract with Microsoft. On the face of it, fair enough, sort of.

Yesterday, the taskforce published a draft contract with Microsoft on their website: http://gov2.net.au/files/2009/09/Government-2-0-Service-Provider-Agmt…

Similar things happen in the UK, as we last noted a few days ago. Apparently illegal contracts are being signed with total exclusion of competitors; excuses and evasion from the really important questions is a standard routine. Ingres is bold enough to speak out about the problem, which seems like a true fear of Free software. There are a few exceptions though.

Mark Taylor is founder and former president of the Open Source Consortium and CEO of open source consultants Sirius Corporation, which will manage and localise the NDRB.

“The policy is having a positive effect,” he said. “This [an open source platform powering the NDRB] could not have existed before the policy came through, it enabled public sector organisations to say I am going down an open source route.

Could the departure of people like Richard Steel contribute to real change?

“Ask the partner to give you heads up on customer situations – bribe them!”

Steve Winfield, Microsoft

GNU/Linux Offers Free Security, Too

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer money
Order today and get “security” ABSOLUTELY free!

Summary: Microsoft is selling defective software and then offering security separately, stomping on former partners in the process

A BLUNDER has become a publicity stunt when Microsoft managed to pass reality as an embellished version of it. The company claims to have made a security product free of charge. Microsoft not only alienates partners in the security industry by overriding them but it is also getting across the message that security is not an inherent property of its software. The danger here is that if security-oriented companies are harmed, then security is only reduced (monoculture) and Microsoft now has an incentive for making software less secure. It’s what some label “disaster capitalism”, which deals with monetising problems that are unnecessarily created.

The BBC, being as obedient (to Microsoft) as it always is, completely misses the point and markets what Microsoft does as “offering free security”. Here is a more balanced article.

Although one of the top consumer security vendors welcomed Microsoft’s Security Essentials to the market, another dismissed the new free software as a “poor product” that will “never be up to snuff.”

In other news, CNET reports that a “banking Trojan steals money from under your nose”

The bank Trojan, dubbed URLZone, has features designed to thwart fraud detection systems which are triggered by unusual transactions…

There is also this from the Globe and Mail:

According to the study, IT security breaches – everything from viruses to intellectual property theft to abuse by employees – cost the average Canadian organization $834,149 in 2009, almost double the amount reported in last year’s study. The average number of reported IT security breaches also soared to 11.3 per organization in 2009, compared to three per organization in 2008.

Eliminating insecure platforms would help.

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