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Summary: ZFS as a good example of wonderful software that gets sidelined due to obsession with intellectual monopolies
TO BORROW the words of the FFII, a recent ‘avalanche’ of software patents-hostile filings in the Bilski case [1, 2] shows that the USPTO can no longer take its broken patent law for granted. A Bilski oral argument is due very soon and in separate news, Sun's attitude towards software patents is claimed to have killed ZFS (frankly, NetApp too contributed a lot to such problems). “Sun’s heavily patent-encumbered, GPL-incompatible ZFS filesystem ‘appears to be very dead’,” claims one of our readers, who also cites this bit of news from Roughly Drafted (also in Apple Insider).
Sun’s ZFS had already come under fire for patent infringement from NetApp as part of a patent war instigated by Sun.
NetApp reported that ZFS not only infringes its WAFL storage patents, but that Sun intentionally designed ZFS to provide features unique to NetApp’s WAFL, which Sun itself described it its marketing as “the first commercial file system to use the copy-on-write tree of blocks approach to file system consistency.”
This leaves Apple with an unfinished, patent-encumbered file system and without an enterprise class partner to work with in developing the future of ZFS. Were Apple to develop ZFS on its own, the technology would likely be relegated to pariah status by the rest of the industry.
It remains to be seen whether Apple will begin working with Oracle to port the similar BTRFS to Mac OS X, or simply continue to add new features to HFS+ while monitoring the landscape for promising new file system options. In any case, ZFS appears to be very dead.
The author, a Mac enthusiast and an excellent writer, seemingly strives to make it look like Apple alone was a factor when in fact Linux too has played a role with its multiple rejections of ZFS, mostly for licensing (including patents) and structural issues, according to Morton.
It would be funny to suggest that Apple’s departure from ZFS was due to patents; Apple has a real software patents fever going on at the moment.
Apple Applies for Patent on OS With Embedded Advertising
An ad-supported operating system would likely not be popular with Mac users.
Roughly Drafted has just written to explain “why Nokia is suing Apple over iPhone GSM/UMTS patents”; for those who missed it, we wrote about Nokia's patent moves against Apple only a few days ago. The litigation is wasteful. █
Summary: The real motives behind Adobe’s moves and its “open source” point-of-view
Heise runs the article titled “Why Adobe likes open source,” but unlike the headline, there is much disdain for open source inside Adobe. About the company’s evil side we wrote for example here, along with examples of the negative impact of Adobe on GNU/Linux adoption and on Web standards.
“Black Duck is a purely proprietary software company with proprietary data.”Regarding the article from Heise, Groklaw writes: “This should help you to understand, when you see figures on license adoption showing the GPL being less used, that it isn’t developers who are not choosing it; it’s vendors and corporate types, who have their own agendas, not necessarily including freedom for you or the code.”
Another one to watch out for is Black Duck, which despite some decent work is also harming Free software; Black Duck is a purely proprietary software company with proprietary data. There are reasons to be wary of it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].
Also regarding the Heise article, one reader wrote to us remarking on “Adobe and the viral GPL license.” Quoting from the article: “Tamarin, the JIT compiler for the ActionScript runtime, is under the Mozilla licence simply because it went to the Mozilla foundation – which does have drawbacks; “The good thing is it’s a BSD-style licence, the bad thing is they have some things written into the licence that may not be universally applicable and our lawyers get very uncomfortable.”
“What license exactly is Tamarin under,” asks our reader, “what is ‘written into the licence’ that has drawbacks?”
Also from Heise: ““If you want to make money selling open source software use GPL,” Adobe will not use it because of customer concerns about inheritance issues when GPL and LGPL licensed libraries are used in customer applications. There’s a specific exception in the GPL for Java, but it’s not specified for other languages – so Adobe adds its own exceptions to licences to ensure that inheritance doesn’t expose customers to the full force of the licence.”
Our reader asks:
Quoting further: “There are good commercial reasons for this, says McAllister; “We have been frequently contacted by customers who have asked us not to use the GPL. They are under a mandate not to allow influx of GPL. Companies don’t like it, but they’re not necessarily scared of it.” The same is true of Adobe itself, as McAllister notes, “We only allow it in under very tight scrutiny.””
Our reader asks: “What customers specifically ask Adobe not to use GPL code? What are their names?”
Lastly, from the article: “LLVM has a very open licence if you’re not using its GCC-based front end, which has let Adobe modify and distribute the compiler without sharing all its changes. McAllister is happy with that; “We did modify the LLVM code but LLVM grants a uniform exception to anybody’s code being exposed. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve seen in my life, but that’s the LLVM model.””
“I don’t understand this bit,” says our reader, “LLVM is more ‘open’ because you can distribute the compiler without sharing the changes?”
Moreover, from Heise: “the LLVM Project does distribute llvm-gcc, which is GPL. This means that anything “linked” into llvm-gcc must itself be compatible with the GPL, and must be releasable under the terms of the GPL. This implies that any code linked into llvm-gcc and distributed to others may be subject to the viral aspects of the GPL…”
“That’s not playing nice with ‘open source’,” argues our reader, “they said viral.” Microsoft’s Craig Mundie once said: “This viral aspect of the GPL poses a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.” Adobe and Microsoft may not be so different after all, but they happen to be competitors. Both pretend to be friends of “open source” while in practice what they do is a tad dubious and very much contradictory to their stated intent (PR).
On the positive side, to Adobe’s credit, they do oppose software patents. █
“Let me make my position on the patentability of software clear. I believe that software per se should not be allowed patent protection. […] We take this position because it is the best policy for maintaining a healthy software industry, where innovation can prosper.” —Douglas Brotz, Adobe Systems, Inc.
“Software patents harm the industry, with no corresponding benefit” —Adobe, Douglas Brotz, JamessHuggins: Adobe Systems Statement on Software Patents
Summary: Courtois infiltrates another area where there is a potentially-forbidden conflict of interests and Microsoft deceives the EU Commission
WOW. Microsoft never ceases to amaze with underhanded tactics and cronyism, even in European member states. Recall Microsoft's hiring of a big gun (John Vassallo) in Europe, which it needed after the OOXML corruptions that had the Commission launch a formal investigation.
Microsoft has other big guns in Europe, one of whom is Courtois. We wrote about him earlier this month in relation to previous actions that involved him, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Well, watch how incestuous things are getting in the European Commission right now. From CNN blogs:
It’s a sign of the growing détente that Courtois himself, a 25-year Microsoft veteran, is currently serving as an official “ambassador” for a jamboree called the “Year of Creativity and Innovation” organized by the E.U.’s executive commission — the same body that has been taking Microsoft to task over its business practices. He will be sharing a podium in Brussels in early November with the commission’s president, José-Manuel Barroso, and the other 14 ambassadors. “We’re trying to be a partner with Europe,” Courtois says, pointing out that Microsoft spends about $600 million on research and development in Europe, and provides thousands of jobs in the region.
The above text was written in relation to the Web browsers “war”, which as far as Europe is concerned is still an antitrust issue because Opera, Mozilla, and ECIS are not happy with the Microsoft deal [1, 2].
Putting Web browsers aside for a moment, Groklaw has noticed that Microsoft and its close ally SAP are both lobbying regarding the Oracle takeover of MySQL, which is the reason the Commission leaves Sun hanging and burning .
The investigation followed lobbying by Oracle competitors including SAP AG and Microsoft Corp.
Now, here is where is gets really interesting. The other day, Groklaw alleged that Monty may be used as a 'front' for Microsoft (we know from one reader of ours that Monty censors even polite comments that are critical of Microsoft) and now comes this report from The Inquirer, which says:
Microsoft wants MySQL sold
“To make things clear, I have not ever been paid anything from Microsoft and I have no relationship with them. The Codeplex foundation is an independent organization from Microsoft; It’s true that a lot of the people on it are still paid by Microsoft, but that is supposed to change soon,” wrote Widenius.
Monty also expanded upon his support for Codeplex, stating
“What is interesting with the Codeplex foundation is that if it is, what Microsoft claims it is, it will make it easy for people employed by Microsoft to actively participate with Open Source. This would be a great mind set change for Microsoft and as an Open Source/Free Software advocate I want to be sure that they do it right and there is no hidden agenda in the Foundation. The reason for me to accept to be on the Codeplex Advisory board was that it gives me a chance to ensure the above. I also believe that the more we get Microsoft employees (and actually any company) engaged in Open Source, the better it will be for Open Source projects in general.”
Still, Microsoft can be seen to have a massive vested interest in MySQL and whoever ultimately owns it.
The FSFE has had time to lay out its case as well. MySQL is hugely important to so many Free software projects and thus its independence is important, as Richard Stallman of the FSF would probably argue. There are no intuitive answers here. MySQL is also vital as a component in the fabric of Fog Computing (more proper name for “Cloud Computing”) where Microsoft is now trying to push and earn certification — quite sadly a certification from the same ISO it corrupted and hijacked.
Microsoft Corp. wants to get its suite of hosted messaging and collaboration products certified to the ISO 27001 international information security standard, part of an effort to assure customers about the security of its cloud computing services.
Fog Computing security and security of data “out there” (in the so-called ‘cloud’) are not the same thing. Microsoft can achieve neither because Windows is easy pickings and backup is not Microsoft’s best skill. We’ve covered the Sidekick fiasco, for example, in:
Some hospitals are still foolish enough to give patients’ data to Microsoft.
Microsoft got a seat at the health IT table last week as Caritas Christi, a Catholic-based hospital chain in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, decided to standardize on Amalga software.
They didn’t learn from Sidekick, did they? The hospitals can never tell doctors that they will recover just part of their data in about 2 weeks, just maybe.
Windows botnets already cause many deaths in hospitals [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (there are many Conficker examples from British hospitals), not just trillions in damages. But anyway, we’ve deviated from the main subject of this post. This issue of data control will be revisited at a later date. █
All your bases are [sic] belong to Ballmer
Summary: In its fight to dethrone Google, Microsoft — with the help of its secret ally Icahn — leaves Yahoo! shattered and Icahn calls it a day
WIKIPEDIA describes Carl Icahn as a “corporate raider”, amongst other things. Like Microsoft's patent troll Nathan Myhrvold, Icahn gives nothing of value to society; he only takes a lot from it. The Wall Street Journal has just called what Icahn did in Yahoo! a “proxy fight”. Yes, it is made that explicit and it comes from a respectable publication that presents shareholders’ point of view.
In May 2008, for instance, he launched a proxy fight to unseat Yahoo Inc.’s (YHOO) board after that wobbly web portal rejected a takeover by Microsoft…
Those who follow the bank bailout/bonuses fiasco (mentioned earlier today) will probably come across Carl Icahn. He is involved in that area too. This is not an activist, it’s an opportunistic corporate agitator who interferes with healthy markets for personal financial gain and the gains of those whom he collaborates/communicates with. This includes Microsoft’s management, as reported in CNET last year, just after Microsoft threatened a “proxy fight” (source: The Times). The fact that they can get away with it all is indicative of an innately-rotten system. Their marginally-criminal activities (organised/white-collar crime), which is almost akin to military coups (where war crimes or state terrorism are the appropriate, analogous allegations), simply go unpunished.
Icahn came inside to throw out the management [1, 2, 3], invite Microsoft, and help appoint cronies who served his objectives. He did bring some of his established friends to the company’s board. And now that his work is done [1, 2] on he moves, probably proceeding to another vicious corporate coup.
Icahn, an outspoken billionaire, spent several months last year denigrating Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and the rest of the company’s board after Yahoo turned down an opportunity to sell to Microsoft Corp. for $47.5 billion, or $33 per share.
The summary here is even more telling.
Famed activist praises company’s Microsoft deal, says he isn’t needed anymore
Of course it was his mission to just do this (skeptics should probably read through his history), perhaps handing over Yahoo! to Microsoft using bullying and money games. He managed to give Yahoo! to Microsoft almost for free, just as Microsoft had hoped. How does that add value to Yahoo! and its customers, which Icahn can only pretend to care about? Ugly, ugly business. He was never interested in the company, he was more interested in letting someone else control it and that someone (Microsoft) was speaking to him throughout, for a verifiable fact. Should the regulatory authorities not prevent hired/self-appointed guns from undertaking such ‘coups’? Well, here is more coverage from Bloomberg.
Yahoo’s proposed search partnership with Microsoft has hit a bump. When asked how the approval was proceeding, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told reporters that the partnership was facing regulatory snags.
It’s obvious what Microsoft’s trouble is: Google. This ever-growing company harms Microsoft’s cash cows, which are already starving, gradually. From Reuters we learn that: “Google goes global with Apps, has 2 million customers”
Google Inc (GOOG.O) said more than 2 million businesses now use its online office software, and the Web search leader is going global on Monday with an advertising campaign to lure customers away from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and IBM (IBM.N) products.
From AFP we learn that: “Google wooing Microsoft business customers”
Google on Monday ramped up a campaign to convert businesses worldwide into users of email, calendar, document and other software programs it offers online as services on the Internet.
Twitter has just signed a deal with both Microsoft and Google, but only one among those two large companies is actually profiting. Here are some new numbers from the Guardian:
Microsoft’s results: online, it’s losing more money than before
Microsoft has, you’ll have seen, just announced its first-quarter results. They’re down on last year – which isn’t surprising for a company which relies on corporations for its principal revenues, at a time when corporations are suffering a continuing recession.
Microsoft as a whole is doing pretty badly, and not just online.
The latest version of Google’s Chrome browser presents a privacy risk through its search-term tracking, a Microsoft security executive has said.
Microsoft general manager Amy Barzdukas, who heads up Internet Explorer and consumer security for the software company, said on Wednesday that Chrome 3.0 sends packets of information to Google every time a character is typed into its search box.
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.”
Summary: Windows Mobile, Sidekick, Xbox 360, and Zune still lagging, proving that Microsoft is unable to advance beyond the cash cows
Microsoft gadgets like Zune and Windows Mobile phones are simply unable to turn a profit [1, 2], but Microsoft has not given up. New products were recently launched, for example Windows Mobile 6.5 which received terrible reviews and now receives an apparent ‘fix release’. According to a couple of separate, independent analysts who spoke about this market over the past month, Android is poised to dominate this space and Android uses Linux.
According to the following article from IDG, Vista 7 is likely to break even further the compatibility between Windows and Windows Mobile.
Windows 7 might as well be Vista when it comes to interacting with mobile devices. Microsoft’s total mangling of this mobile opportunity reveals a number of major flaws that the company must address if it’s going to continue to dominate the OS world.
One of Microsoft’s fatal flaws is that it thinks in products, not in ecosystems. It builds a lot of attractive pieces, but it doesn’t snap together the puzzle. For instance: what’s up with the Danger/Sidekick thing, anyway? They bought Danger way back in February, 2008.
It all sounds very unpleasant and ghosts of Sidekick return in light of the Danger/Microsoft fiasco. IDG has this new article which bears the headline: “Ballmer: Sidekick outage ‘not good’”
You don’t say, eh?
We wrote about Sidekick incidents in:
Speaking of Windows Mobile, Microsoft is proudly displaying mobile applications that it rejected. Not only applications are being rejected by Microsoft but hardware too. We wrote about this last week and now we can find Microsoft’s excuse, which substitutes “revenue” with “cheating in games”. Yes, Microsoft claims that if some memory chip is not “approved”/”authorised” by Microsoft, then it can actually alter the function of games. It is a rather dubious claim. In their own words:
Chances are you’ve already heard how the forthcoming Xbox 360 update isn’t going to play nicely with “unauthorized storage devices” aka all memory units that aren’t licensed by Microsoft. It’s a bummer considering how expensive the company’s storage devices are, no doubt about it.
Patrick Klepek at G4TV got a spokesperson from Microsoft to explain why the decision was made, in addition to what would happen to those who didn’t obey the new rules. According to the rep, Microsoft is looking to “protect the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE service from cheating, which is the primary purpose and use of these unauthorized MUs.”
Evidence is not provided and Microsoft is annoying those who have joined the Xbox swindle. At the moment, Microsoft is not even leading in sales across the United States, its ‘home ground’ (the Japanese retain/regain the lead and Microsoft is trailing behind).
Lastly, regarding the Zune HD, more bad reviews arrive.
MS needs to pull their collective heads out and get to work here or they will surely lose the PMP fight and very quickly.
From another new review:
If you need your media player to function as a PDA too, the Zune is not there yet, and you’d still be better off with an iPod Touch despite the new benefits of the Zune HD.
Why does Microsoft even keep this product alive? It’s losing money, not making any. Microsoft may be driving itself into more unnecessary layoffs that it could avoid by not trying to overstretch in vain. It’s the sin of Hubris. The next post will look at the high cost of Microsoft’s battles on the Web, mostly against Google. █
“Gates’ gimmick of becoming a philantropist repeats the Rockefeller scam almost one to one a century later.”
Summary: The Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation put grants in a program for making African farmers dependent on the US — a program euphemistically called “green revolution”
BILL GATES’ foundation is sometimes being compared to the Rockefeller Foundation. It is a subject that we covered before, but at the time we did not know just how close those two foundations were, until finding this new report from Forbes. They now invest jointly, after Gates' flirting with the United Nations. It’s about privatising Africa for power and profit [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
This is hypocrisy of the vilest sort. In fact, U.N. agencies, programs and policies themselves have prevented farmers in the developing world from obtaining the tools they need to become more productive. That gets us back to Bill Gates and his big plans: His choice last year of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to head a new group intended to achieve a “green revolution” in African agriculture, the Alliance for a Green Revolution–established with an initial $150 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation–was incomprehensible. If past performance is any indication, the only things likely to become greener are the numbered bank accounts of Annan and his cronies.
Needless to say, Forbes cannot criticise the Gates Foundation for its hidden agenda of profit (e.g. money made through patents and investments in badly-monitored production of oil, which kills children in Africa). Forbes Magazine is for Big Business and the UN is not a big business, so it is the only one to be taking the blow here. The real victim in this case is the externality, the people of Africa.
There are other interesting developments around the Gates Foundation at the moment. “Doubtless with a catch,” says Glyn Moody regarding: “Allen says Gates Foundation supporting open textbook projects”
Moody believes that this is another attempt to spread DRM, of which Gates is a major proponent. And Moody is probably right. The greatest mastery is making business look like philanthropy. This way, people fall in love with those who steal the most from them. █
“Microsoft did sponsor the benchmark testing and the NT server was better tuned than the Linux one. Having said that, I must say that I still trust the Windows NT server would have outperformed the Linux one.”
–Windows platform manager, Microsoft South Africa
Reference: “Outrage at Microsoft’s independent, yet sponsored NT 4.0/Linux research”
Summary: More news about analysts that sell their opinions and how Microsoft is using these
MICROSOFT PAID IDC (IDG [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) a lot of money to produce ammunition that assists lobbying in India, Portugal, and several other countries. IDC essentially helps Microsoft lobbying. We covered it in:
It hasn’t quite stopped there. Watch how an EU-based news site reads like a Microsoft advert; to an extent, it was actually ghostwritten by Microsoft itself in order to promote Microsoft products with IDC’s paid-for propaganda.
On a sunny day last week Alia Papageorgiou met with Jan Muehlfeit, Chairman of Microsoft Europe to talk about a latest study released on ICT and the economic crisis, why Microsoft decided to look at the effects of the crisis so soon, and just what this would mean for future workforces in our region. The interview is below.
What is ICT really doing for the economy?
The IDC research reinforces the conclusions drawn in academic research – namely, that IT is good for local economies. The economic benefits quantified in this study will help the region grow, create new jobs, improve the efficiency of its labor force, and support the formation of new companies. The economic benefits not quantified in this study but referenced in the academic research help drive productivity improvements throughout the region, increase competitiveness, and foster local innovation.
Somewhere in the article it says that “This report is an independent study commissioned by Microsoft by IDC.” If it is commissioned by Microsoft (gentler phrasing for “paid for”), then how is it “independent”? It’s not. “Independent, yet sponsored” is a typical Microsoft pattern that can also be found in that old quote at the very top. But by stating this in the article (disclosure of sponsorship), Microsoft avoids breaking the new laws (enforced by the FTC).
- Fair Disclosure on Conflicts of Interest. Gartner generates its revenues from payments made by the same vendors whose products it evaluates.
Another interesting item in the news is to do with NPD. NPD has clients and thus conflicts of interests that it never properly discloses. Microsoft is now spinning NPD numbers in order to hide the failures of the Xbox 360, which has lost billions of dollars. █
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