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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: October 10th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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Microsoft Works Dies, More Layoffs Reported

Posted in Google, Law, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 1:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Works

Summary: Microsoft decides to bury Works; legal staff laid off at Microsoft

IN RESPONSE to requests from a reader, we recently put together lists regarding Microsoft layoffs and dead products.

There are some new additions to these. The first is the death of Microsoft Works.

Microsoft scraps Works


Microsoft Works has been around for more than 20 years and came preinstalled on home PCs. It was not a bad product other than the fact you had to save everything in the Works format.

The Vole has been muttering about killing off the software for over two years, which is probably why it has been largely ignored.

Microsoft has spoken about putting advertisements in Works; but instead, Microsoft will put these advertisements in a future version of Office, which will not properly support ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Google is by all means killing this cash cow along with Free software like OpenOffice.org. From BNET:

Mednieks noted that Google also uses standards-based technology across all its products and platforms: Java, Linux, Webkit, SQLite, and Eclipse.

One of our readers, Ziggyfish, has also alerted us about this report.

Microsoft’s legal department has seen its legal budget cut by 15% over the last 18 months, leading to a 5% reduction in headcount, according to the software giant’s general counsel, Brad Smith.

The Microsoft ‘press’ is trying to play down the seriousness of this.

There’s no indication if the 450 lawyers who were axed are part of the 5K that Microsoft was going to let go, but I’m guessing it is.

Microsoft relies heavily on lawyers and marketing people. Their elimination (even in part) is bound to have considerable impact on the company’s overall performance.

“Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Linux Has Won the E-readers ‘War’ as Microsoft CEO Calls it Quits

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, Kernel, Microsoft, Windows at 12:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Book talks

Summary: In E-readers — like in phones — Microsoft vanishes as Linux grows rapidly

THE NEWLY-RELEASED Windows Mobile 6.5 is already a disaster and the Washington Post, despite its Microsoft ties, rips it apart and hails Linux at its expense. From the article:

Consider two new follow-on performances in the wireless-phone industry: One broadens the appeal of Google’s Android software, while the other cements the irrelevance of Microsoft’s aging Windows Mobile platform.


The other, less impressive new phone development of the month is Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 6.5 — the company’s first big update to its mobile software since the iPhone arrived in 2007. You might think that two years would be enough time for Microsoft to respond to its new competitor, but you would be wrong.


Windows Mobile 6.5 is a miserable mess. Slow, clumsy and ugly, it offers a few surface refinements of the iPhone and Android but little of their underlying elegance.


With all these issues, it can be difficult to see many people wanting a Windows Mobile phone now. It’s even harder to imagine how long phone manufacturers will keep paying Microsoft for this software when Android is not only better but also free.

Android is now gaining in E-readers.

Reports indicate that another new e-reader is on the way, this time from Barnes & Noble. The interesting thing – or at least the interesting thing that makes this development connect to the search industry – is that Barnes & Noble’s e-reader will supposedly use Android as its operating system.

The dominance of Linux in E-readers is a subject that we covered quite extensively in this post, using heaps of evidence. Linux has become more or less a de facto platform for E-readers and contrary to reports from the past month or so, Microsoft dare not challenge Linux in this space. Here it is from the original source, Reuters:

Microsoft has no plans to develop a digital book reader to compete with the fast-growing popularity of Amazon’s Kindle or a device that rival Apple is reportedly developing.

If Microsoft does not address the amazing growth of Linux in devices, then Linux will grow upwards from devices to desktops. GNU/Linux is already destroying Microsoft's profitability between devices and desktops.

Microsoft’s Vista 7 Schwag/Bribe Resold on eBay

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 12:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 7 house party

Summary: Misuse of Microsoft’s “party pack” is noticed ahead of launch; Microsoft starts talking about mythical versions of Windows

Microsoft has already attempted to acquire some paid ‘fans’ [1, 2] for the improved version of Windows Vista, namely Vista 7. As it turns out, the programme which Microsoft introduced for incentivising parties is already being abused.

After reading this exchange, I decided to look on Ebay and found that a signed copy of Windows 7 was for sale for £150. You can see that item here. There were 5 other copies in total, for sale and at time of writing none have received any bids. I wonder how much they will go for?

The same blogger, Goblin, also comments on the finding that Vista 7 sometimes boots more slowly than Vista.

There is a more detailed article over on ComputerWorld on Windows 7 boot times and this can be found here. Who would have thought Vista could be compared to another product and seen as the faster one?

It has become abundantly clear (especially recently) that Vista 7 will not succeed. Even Microsoft’s CEO reluctantly admits this, so plan B is invoked. We are seeing a lot of vapourware recently [1, 2, 3, 4], namely a variety of fluff about Vista 8.

Right now they apparently produce a “leak” (screenshot or plan) to create mystique. They did the same thing with “leaked” screenshots of Vista 7 just over a year ago.

Here is how Microsoft argued that Windows would look in October 2003 (Longhorn) [via].

Skip to 1:01. Watch the date.

These are the same marketing tricks that they exploit every time. Rinse and repeat. The above lesson is too often missed by people who are conned time after time.

Vista 7 starts now

ECIS on the Patent Licensing Paradox, Microsoft Confesses Licensing Tricks

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Interview, Microsoft, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European map

Summary: Further discussion of the European Commission’s provisional agreement with Microsoft; licensing complications at Microsoft turn out to be deliberate

THE European Commission has permitted Microsoft to discriminate against Free software [1, 2] and it also failed to address Microsoft's racketeering tactics against Free software. Most press coverage, however, is focused only on the terms regarding Web browsers and a screen-based ballot.

Groklaw has this new audio chat (with transcripts) regarding the latest developments. Here is an interesting part of it:

Ashwin van Rooijen: Yeah. Well, I think the open source issue is important. In many markets, Microsoft faces meaningful competition — any meaningful competition — only from open source developers. So it is very important that they can actually create interoperable products. And the current template patent license that was part of the undertaking — I believe it was Annex C of the undertaking — is clearly not compatible with open source licensing schemes and especially not with the GPL. It requires, for example, that developers that take a license, that take a patent license, notify all the other developers that they distribute the software to of the various patents which Microsoft claims to have in its software. And obviously, that’s an obligation which cannot be reconciled with the GPL. And there are other provisions as well which I think would need to be resolved.


Q: Well, there’s also been a history of Microsoft claiming patent infringement, but not communicating the numbers of the patents in question.


Thomas Vinje: that’s been a very serious issue indeed. And patent FUD, in that regard –


Q: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.


Thomas Vinje: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, which we certainly believe and has been engaged in to cause concern mainly among potential consumers of open source software about potential patent liability. That’s been a serious concern. There are some things in this proposed undertaking that would help to address that problem. And we should say more generally that not everything in the proposed interoperability undertaking is bad; there are some very serious problems with it, some really rather obnoxious devils in the details –


Q: Could you be more specific?


Thomas Vinje: Well, we’ve been talking about the patent one, and the standards one, and we could address other ones as well. But nonetheless, there are some — we’re not certainly saying that it’s unsaveable — I mean, this is a document which could be modified and turned into something which would be very useful. Not necessarily a panacea, it’s not going to change the landscape of the industry and make it competitive tomorrow in ways that it isn’t today, or even next year in ways that it isn’t today, but it potentially would be a very useful arrangement. Ashwin, I’ve spoken a lot, why don’t you mention some of the other devils in the details of the proposed interoperability undertaking?

The good news is that there is still room for modification. Microsoft has attempted to complicate things for Free software, using fees that supposedly correspond to software patents (they are not legal in Europe).

Speaking of complication in licences, IDG has shed some light on why Microsoft licensing is such a complicated thing. The truth may seem like a joke, but it’s not; it comes from Microsoft’s own mouth:

Navigating Microsoft’s complex rules and programs for software licensing has been notoriously difficult for businesses — a pain point not lost on the company, which for years has said it is trying to simplify the process for customers.

But remarks made recently by Microsoft’s top executive, as well as suspicions raised by customers and software consultants, suggest that Microsoft keeps its licensing complicated for a reason, and that it has no plans to make it any simpler in the foreseeable future.


Customers tend to take a big-picture view of licensing, according to Elop — that is, they look at the value it adds to their businesses overall, rather than dwell on the minutia of individual licenses required for the products they use.

“Customers want the amount they pay to be tied to the value that they’re driving, the usage they’re getting — that’s why these models are so complicated,” he said. “For different customers, these things are measured in different ways.

“What a customer will do generally is take a big step back and say, what am I paying for e-mail? What am I paying for collaboration? And they will make a determination as to whether they think that’s fair value or less than fair value,” he said.

Ouch. Why has Microsoft said the truth out in public? It would be used against it now that the cat is out of the bag.

“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”

Arno Edelmann, Microsoft’s European business security product manager

Novell VP Brushes Off Microsoft’s Attacks on GNU/Linux, Promotes .NET

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OIN, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 10:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel de Icaza
via Wikipedia

Summary: Novell’s de Icaza disregards substantiated warnings about Microsoft; Mono/C# spread to Apple’s territory

Novell has made it a lot clearer recently that it is no friend of Free software. And according to this, its vice president also ignores the warning from the Linux Foundation, the OIN, and the SFLC. They all warned about Microsoft’s active patent aggression against GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Novell vice-president Miguel de Icaza has dismissed Microsoft’s bid to sell patents that could be used to attack Linux, saying it was not a problem as the patents were now in good hands.


“As for the patent sale, they are now in good hands: the OIN, so they are not a problem.” (emphasis mine)

Mark pointed out that some of the comments, made in reaction to De Icaza’s post, made no sense because they were referring to this deleted portion. De Icaza did not respond to this post.

How typical. Similar questions were raised before and he either denies, spins or slinks away. But who can blame him? He works for Microsoft now. Sam Ramji, the Microsoft equivalent of Miguel de Icaza, not only escapes hard questions; he escaped the company.

Over at ZDNet, Dana Blankenhorn operates a poll regarding whether de Icaza is a "traitor" or not.

There is an implication in Perlow’s piece (mouse over the illustration at its top) that Miguel de Icaza, credited with launching both Mono and GNOME, should be that alternative spokesman. This is partly due to Stallman’s focusing on him as “a traitor” to the FLOSS movement.

Technically he is. But as I’ve noted before, being a traitor to FLOSS does not make you a traitor to open source. The two things are quite different, even if they share a license in the GPL. And open source, as opposed to to FLOSS, does lack a leader. a spokesman, a Stallman if you will.

At the time of writing, 40% consider de Icaza to be a “traitor” to Open Source (not Free software). People must bear in mind that the site’s readership is actually favourable to de Icaza because Blankenhorn is a lot more open source-oriented than GNU/Linux- or Free software-oriented. The way the question was phrased also said “open source”, as opposed to “Free(dom) software”.

Here are a couple of new comments from Linux Today. It’s regarding SUSE, which Richard Stallman does not endorse. The first commenter calls it “Microsoft Linux”.

It’s not their favorite, but there is a Microsoft Linux being sold. It’s called SUSE (Novell)

Looks like ‘world domination’ did happen. MS now has both outcomes covered.

The correct response is to ignore it all and just keep coding.

Fisher King’s message is titled “Being over obvious…lawyers vs. Product folks” and it says:

It is sad for the product development and product mgmt folks at Microsoft that they have to live by the crud their lawyers and CEO orchestrated with Novell.
Making them leap up and talk about the Novell patent protection, and spreading Linux FUD…like customers care. All it does is make customers leery, and makes the MS employees look and feel inadequate (like they can’t compete without the big bully standing next to them). I know for sure this upsets many smart, driven people that work at Microsoft. “Don’t talk about the quality of your product, sell Suse, and tell people why non-Suse Linux is bad”. What a giant waste of time and energy.

Novell’s unique output these days seems rather beneficial to Microsoft. Such is the case with MonoTouch, which we wrote about in:

Here is some more new coverage of this. It’s like free advertising for .NET, which comes directly from Novell.

Like the earlier announcement from Novell about MonoTouch letting .NET compile iPhone apps, Flash is using the same “ahead of time” compilation instead of “just-in-time” to build the native apps.

Microsoft cannot own the iPhone, so it tries to put its DNA in it, just as it did with Nokia/Symbian several weeks ago.

What developer tools are available? You can use the aforementioned iPhone SDK, or if you are using C#, Delphi Prism or other .NET languages, you can also use Mono Touch from Novell.

How nice of Novell to offer an endorsement of C#.

The new tool is called MonoTouch and it comes, ironically, from Linux company Novell (NOVL). “It definitely lowers the barrier to writing and porting iPhone applications because there are many more C# developers than Objective-C developers,” said Daniel Leuck, CEO of smartphone and social media software development company Ikayzo.

The above article contains an inaccuracy. Novell is not really a “Linux company”. Linux only makes up a small proportion of the company’s revenue, so a characterisation as such would prove misleading.

Novell News Summary – Part II: SUSE Studio and BridgeWays, Novell’s Proprietary Side Also

Posted in Australia, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Identity Management, Interoperability, Mail, Marketing, NetWare, Novell, OpenSUSE, Protocol, Red Hat, SCO, Servers, SLES/SLED, UNIX, Videos, Virtualisation, Windows, Xandros at 10:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Letter N

Summary: Large assortment of Novell news from the past week

IT HAS not been a packed week for Novell, not judging by the news anyway. This week we combine some elements of SUSE with the rest of the bunch. Novell’s business is also mentioned in this new report.

Read the rest of this entry »

Novell News Summary – Part I: Official OpenSUSE Boosting Team

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 8:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flower plant

Summary: “OpenSUSE Boosters” now official; Another SUSE worker departs

PREVIOUS posts about the OpenSUSE Conference [1, 2, 3] covered the event as a whole, but it turns out that an “RPM Summit” took place there too. Here are the details:

I’m sure you all heard about the openSUSE Conference 2009 that took place in September in Nuremberg. Not so many know about the RPM Summit that was a part of the conference during its first two days. Idea to create something like this started at LinuxTag 2009 when Zonker invited Florian to Nuremberg.

Zonker returns from vacation and an older interview with him is published for non-subscribers to read.

The openSUSE Conference was held September 17 – 20, 2009 in Nürnberg, Germany. There was full schedule with talks, workshops, Birds of a Feather sessions, an RPM summit, and more. We talked with openSUSE community manager Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier about the conference.

Boosted by Novell’s PR team, there is some other stuff going on around him. Zonker used to be Perlow’s editor in Linux Magazine and now he’s promoting his review, which was published here in Vimeo (as video) and at ZDNet (as text).

I haven’t used openSUSE as my main Linux desktop OS for a while — that honor, at least for the last few years, has gone to Ubuntu. But could openSUSE 11.2 and it’s sexy KDE 4.3 implementation bring me back? Perhaps, perhaps.

Zonker and Perlow are now colleagues at ZDNet (correction: Zonker stopped writing for ZDNet a few months ago). There are other intersecting interests that we learned about, e.g. at OStatic.

We’ve occasionally mentioned the term “Microsoft Boosters” and “Novell Boosters” in the past, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. At one point we also explained why Zonker was a “‘Novell Booster’ in the Linux News.” Novell needed some publicity, so it hired a person who had contacts in the press.

The OpenSUSE project now announces the ‘OpenSUSE Boosters’ Team, whose picture can be found here (from Federico, who left the OpenSUSE Board).

Writing about “New Challenges”, here is another man who has officially left SUSE.

Some of you might have already noticed it: I’m no longer working for SUSE.

“No Thanks Microsoft Puppet” was the title assigned to this new comment from BrentH, who explained:

Suse employs some questionable business tactics thanks to a money trail leading back to Redmond.
I no long consider Suse as a trustworthy linux distro.

OpenSUSE is still a fine distribution from a technical point of view. It also has some loyal supporters who stick with it despite Novell and Microsoft. Ben Kevan, for example, is catering for OpenSUSE 11.2, OpenSUSE 11.1 and OpenSUSE 11.0 while some folks work on and maintain an OpenSUSE version which targets education.

Novell’s Stephan Kulow wrote about some changes in packaging and WebYaST is coming along too.

That doesn’t solve the 11.1->11.2 update case, but after updating to 11.2, you can reselect the patterns you want and you can be sure they will stay from now on. And perhaps we do an online update for 11.0 and 11.1 that will add patterns packages to the most prominent use case: the desktops.

Sandy from Novell wrote about Tomboy 1.2 and Federico wrote about Zeitgeist, which was at one stage at risk of Mono [1, 2]. It turns out that he worked with the Ximian team at one point.

Some years ago, after I stopped working on Evolution, I worked for a brief period in the Ximian edition of OpenOffice.org. Before that, I had never worked on such a complex code base.

Last but not least, Sascha Manns still coordinates Weekly News posts, which continue coming. There is also an audio equivalent now.

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