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Distro of the Day: Not OpenSUSE (KDE 4.3 Video)

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE, Videos at 7:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is demonstrated on kubuntu

Direct link

Patents Roundup: Bilski Links and Other Stories

Posted in Law, Patents, Red Hat at 6:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A daily accumulation of links about news that can affect legality of software patents

US Supremes prod software patent law

The machine-or-transformation test has been derided by some as being a cold and unappetizing leftover from the Industrial Revolution no long applicable to the digital complexities of the Information Age, but praised by others as being a practical guide to whether an idea is more than a mere abstract concept and instead an actual, verifiable, and practical process.

Latha Jishnu: Method mania

No other patent application has drawn the kind of interest worldwide as the Bilski case has. And no other patent suit has drawn into the debate, various industry interests, academia, the legal fraternity and the open source community. Filed 12 years, the Bilski case has put under the scanner the flood of business method patents issued in the US in the past decade, and as the case found its way to the Supreme Court, websites and the blogsphere has become cluttered with a plethora of opinions on the merits of the patentability business methods or processes. An indication of the high interest in the Bilski outcome was the long line of people wanting to attend the public hearing — it turned out to be a brief 30-minute session ultimately — in the Supreme Court last Monday.

Microsoft Patents Changing User Privileges Temporarily On The Fly

As the submitter notes, this sounds like “sudo” or any number of other tools that have been around for ages.

Red Hat on Patents (VIDEO) [as Ogg here and also below]

The video prominently features BU law professor and economist Michael Meurer whose book Patent Failure (with Jim Bessen) uses economic analysis to make the case that patents (particularly software patents) are a net drag on innovation. The video is purely one-sided.

Direct link

The ‘Microsoft of Europe’ Instructs Oracle on Free Software

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, SLES/SLED, SUN at 6:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SAP logo for Microsoft business partner

Summary: Microsoft’s business partner and ally SAP lobbies against Oracle and then issues demands for Java, pretending to be a friend of the very same thing it is attacking

Microsoft and SAP have reasons to celebrate this week because their lobbying against Oracle and Sun [1, 2] has apparently paid off. Java would most likely suffer as a result and Microsoft’s partner in lobbying against Free software, against open standards, and for software patents [1, 2] is now hypocritically pressuring for Java to be liberated. As a reminder, SAP and Microsoft almost merged and the only GNU/Linux SAP seems to be touching these days is tainted by Microsoft tax, thanks to Novell.

Glyn Moody has written this response to SAP’s shameless request, which shows quite a nerve given that it’s coming from one of the most vehemently anti-Free software companies out there (the comments from Shai Agassi, for example, are almost impossible to forget).

The real reason SAP’s call is hypocritical is this document [.pdf], essentially a love-letter to software patents, submitted as an amicus curiae brief to the European Patent Office. Software patents are simply incompatible with free software, because they are government-granted monopolies designed to *stop* people sharing stuff. They also prevent hackers from writing new code because they represent an ever-present digital sword of Damocles hanging over them.

SAP simply cannot claim to be a true friend of openness while it also supports software patents in any jurisdiction, in any form – the same applies to other companies, too, I should note. They can share as much code as they like, but until they repudiate software patents – for example, by placing their patent portfolios in the public domain – that’s little more than window-dressing.

Moody has seen the leaked documents which reveal SAP lobbying for software patents, against standards, and against Free software in procurement. SAP is also working with Novell so that it can please Microsoft and pay ‘patent tax’ on GNU/Linux (unprecedented in many cases). Here is another analysis of what truly goes on in SAP’s mind.

SAP has been trying to get the influential SAP Mentor group onside with open source. That’s probably one of the easiest tasks it has. Geeks love open source and care little for commercial issues. And the Mentors are extremely good geek advocates for what SAP does. Marketing wise it’s an internal SAP community slam dunk for SAP. But…SAP has also made clear that IT doesn’t believe open source means ‘free.’ Mentors may not be concerned about that from a development viewpoint but I’m pretty darned sure they’d get antsy if the license bills came at deployment time.

As an aside, I have practical experience of running the SAP IP gauntlet. If SAP is truly committed to open source then this will relieve a lot of the pressure on developer groups. However, that’s not a certainty.

For the betterment of Free software, companies like SAP should really embrace Free software or simply cease to exist. Another proprietary software company that causes great trouble (although it opposes software patents) is Adobe, which has just laid off 10% of its staff.

The software firm, best known for Photoshop, Flash and Acrobat, said the cuts were necessary to cut costs.

We wrote about the problem with Adobe just a few weeks ago.

Microsoft’s Pseudo-Open Source CMS Fails, GPL Violations Noted Everywhere

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Law, Microsoft at 5:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Is Orchard just Ox **ite?

Horse dung

Summary: Orchard/Oxite rejected by developers; Microsoft violations of copyright law reported more widely

EARLIER THIS week we shared some notes about Microsoft's attempt to replace LAMP-based content management systems with something that uses the entire Microsoft stack, which is proprietary, expensive, virus-prone, inferior when it comes to performance, and basically just a trap for Microsoft dependency. We wrote about Orchard and Oxite (which are nothing new) only because Mary Jo Foley keeps mentioning them. At least someone set the record straight:

Update: As one reader (thanks, @karlseguin) noted, Oxite was anything but a big hit with developers, including many of those in Microsoft’s own .Net community. There have been many complaints about Oxite, from the development process, to the scope of the project, to the quality of the code and the way Microsoft explained the concept/product. Perhaps that’s one reason why Microsoft is starting over with a new codename and claiming this is not a Microsoft project…

Oxite was apparently a failure (it has hardly been mentioned for the past year), so Microsoft does the switcheroo, probably avoiding jokes about it being an “Ox **ite”, just like a lot of Microsoft software in general. It just doesn’t smell right.

“…Microsoft is a repeat offender when it comes to GPL violations.”To Microsoft, this is yet another miserable attempt to sell the illusion that the company does “open source” (no matter the prerequisites, all of which are proprietary).

Microsoft’s record when it comes to “open source” is rather abysmal and to make matters worse, Microsoft is a repeat offender when it comes to GPL violations. We have mentioned this 3 times so far this week [1, 2, 3] and the news eventually made it into some notable Web sites. To give just a sample:

Did Microsoft violate the GPL?

What’s quite sad about this is that the tool in question wasn’t being sold for money, and was just there to help people upgrade to a new Microsoft operating system. Were Microsoft to release the source code of the tool under the GPL, it wouldn’t lose any money, since it’s not asking for any. It might even gain some new Windows 7 users, as people hack the code to make it support a wider range of hardware. Dogma is preventing everyone from gaining in this situation.

Microsoft yanks Windows 7 tool over open-source code swipe

Microsoft has yanked a tool it touted as a way for netbook owners to install Windows 7 without a DVD drive after a prominent blogger accused the company of using open-source code without acknowledging where it originated.

Microsoft yanks Windows 7 tool over open-source code swipe

Microsoft Yanks Windows 7 Download Tool

Microsoft pulls download tool over GPL violation accusation

Microsoft pulls Windows 7 tool after GPL violation claims

Free Windows 7 RTM USB/DVD Download Tool Pulled Down

Microsoft seems to be causing trouble when it tries to handle “open source”; maybe time for another strategy?

Another Microsoft Product is Allegedly Dying, Vista 7 Rejected by Enterprises

Posted in Microsoft, Servers, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 5:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Police car in Oslo

Summary: Oslo gets folded, Vista 7 passed over by enterprises, Microsoft compared to General Motors, and Windows Home Server fails again

Microsoft’s league of dead divisions and products keeps growing and Mary Jo Foley reveals another item which is on the verge of death. When Microsoft folds a product into another or sometimes reassigns it to another division (e.g. WinFS) it means that something went wrong and Microsoft tries to salvage something out of the existing code. We have examples of this in the list of dead products. Oslo seems to be heading in the same direction:

Tomas Restrepo: Cynical thought of the day: Oslo == Longhorn. OK, could’ve been worse (i.e. Cairo).

James Hart: Any expectations anybody had for what Oslo might turn out to be came from their own imagination. Disappointment was inevitable.

Ryan Rinaldi: The Oslo story just got more confusing.

Steve Bohlen: good lord; Oslo follows in the footsteps of WinFS; big (if nebulous) idea degenerates into dull implementation w dubious value

To make matters worse, Vista 7 does not turn out to be much of a cash cow because businesses, as expected, are not adopting the operating system.

Peter Whatnell, CIO for Sunoco Inc., said the petroleum retailer won’t move to Windows 7 for at least two years.

It’s like Vista all over again. As a reminder, just over one year ago large companies like General Motors (GM) said that they would not adopt Vista.

General Motors (GM) may take a detour around Vista, the latest computer operating system from Microsoft (MSFT).

Based on this new CNN writeup, Microsoft may become the General Motors of software (and it is not a good thing).

The more I learn about the current situation in software, the more Microsoft’s position seems to mirror General Motors’ position in the auto industry a few decades ago. Like Microsoft (MSFT) today, GM was an icon in its industry, held a quasi-monopoly, produced eye-popping profits and was often distracted by antitrust lawsuits. When a company experiences this kind of environment over a couple of decades, it eventually loses its competitiveness.

Will Microsoft be virtually nationalised in the face of hardships?

This question was actually raised before, with such comparisons between General Motors and Microsoft being made at the beginning of the year.

How about this classic from 2007?

GM vs Microsoft


For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on. At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated, “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: “If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics…

Also in yesterday’s news we find the latest major failure of Windows Home Server. There were many other such failures.

Many Windows Home Server customers have been unable to access Microsoft’s Windows Live Custom Domains service since the weekend.

Tough times for Microsoft.

Microsoft Actions — Not Free Software Proponents — Are Harming FOSS

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Screw driver in yellow

Summary: An important reminder that Microsoft’s screwing with the competition — not those reacting to it — is the problem; Microsoft leads to further FOSS drain at Yahoo!

WE are always amused to find people who accuse us of harming FOSS. To them, such an accusation is typically a defence mechanism, especially when they themselves are part of the problem (promoters of Mono everywhere, to give just one example). One of our readers has just let us know that he too was dragged into the accusations and he responded with this lengthy post.

A slightly different approach today and I hope you can relate to some of the issues I cover here. I am looking at a claim thats usually made against many outspoken people in the FOSS, but often you see it when there is no counter in an debate/argument. When I first started writing this article little did I know I would get my own example of “killing the FOSS” directed at me and it was a sweet surprise in the middle of a rather vulgar tirade by the person concerned (more on that later) Without further ado lets look at some of the people who have been accused of “Killing the foss!!!!!!!”

What is actually “killing the FOSS” — to borrow the words as he puts them — are not Free software advocates; it is not those who denounce Microsoft, either. The problem is Microsoft and those who denounce Microsoft do so in a reactionary fashion, as a defence against blatant attacks on FOSS [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

To give just one new example where Microsoft is hurting FOSS, we previously showed that FOSS people were leaving Yahoo!, making the damage rather beneficial to Microsoft. It is by all means Microsoft's fault and now we find that the founder of PHP, who has worked at Yahoo! for quite some time, is finally leaving because of Microsoft.

When he first announced his departure, Cutting said it had nothing to do with the Microhoo! pact. “This has been in the works for awhile and is unrelated,” he told the New York Times.

So when people ask themselves what is hurting FOSS, they ought to think carefully at where the problem originates from, rather than become fixated on those who merely react and respond to the problem.

“I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Can GNOME 3.0 Avoid Mono Despite GNOME Foundation Director Being Novell Employee?

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 12:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono strings GNOME

Image contributed by Beranger

Summary: Novell still controls GNOME’s direction using staff appointments

LAST week we showed evidence of intent to saturate GNOME 3.0 with Mono, Novell’s crown jewel and “added value” that only Novell customers can use “safely”. GNOME 3.0 is scheduled to be released in September and yesterday we mentioned Zonker’s audiocast with his colleague Vincent Untz, who is also GNOME Foundation Director (Miguel de Icaza stepped down 2 years ago).

“As long as Novell depends on Microsoft for cash, its agenda remains suspect.”Considering the fact that this nonsense is what keeps Novell busy nowadays, what can possibly prevent Microsoft from using Novell to make GNU/Linux desktops dependent on “promises” and conditions from Microsoft while they also advance Microsoft APIs?

Microsoft already uses SUSE as a back door into HPC, with similar new deals showing that it is a consistent strategy of piggybacking. As long as Novell depends on Microsoft for cash, its agenda remains suspect.

So again, what prevents Novell from influencing GNOME into becoming more dependent on Mono?

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.”

Bob Muglia, Microsoft President

Microsoft’s Partner Group Manager Reveals the Obvious: Windows is a Ripoff of Rivals

Posted in Apple, GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 12:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’ve enclosed a screen shot from Lenn of using Spotlight against locally cached exchange data. (You can point the built in mail client against an exchange server. The mail is copied down locally, and then “spotlight” works against it wickedly fast).”

Vic Gundotra, Microsoft, 2004

Summary: Vista 7 is the “the next version” of Windows Vista, inspired by competitors

A FORTNIGHT ago we raised the point that parts of Vista 7 look as though they were ‘inspired’ by KDE4. Many other elements, including visuals, have also existed in GNOME and Compiz for several years.

Well, at least Microsoft can still falsely claim credit for the GUI.

Fortunately, thanks to Comes vs Microsoft exhibits, we know for a fact that Microsoft copied Mac OS X when it created Windows Vista. Now we find out that Microsoft did the same with Vista 7:

Microsoft’s partner group manager Simon Aldous told PCR:

One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it’s very graphical and easy to use. What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 – whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format – is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics. We’ve significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it’s built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform, for instance.

Aldous also described Windows 7 as “the next version” of Windows Vista, which took flack for copying Mac OS X with its use of Gadgets, mimicking Apple’s Widgets, and photo storage and editing software similar to Apple’s iPhoto.

Microsoft can deny this all it wants; it can even truly believe its own denials. It is interesting that Aldous also called Vista 7 (Windows 6.1 actually) “the next version”. Vista 7 is just Vista with enormous amounts of marketing, well-documented bribes, and some visual changes.

For those who do not believe that Microsoft developers are copying rival operating systems, the innovation lie is right there in Comes vs Microsoft exhibits, black upon white. Microsoft did not manage to bury the evidence with a secret settlement.

“Our friends up north [Microsoft] spend over five billion dollars on research and development and all they seem to do is copy Google and Apple.”

Steve Jobs, 2006

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