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Microsoft’s Slog Becomes a Song

Posted in Audio/Video, Microsoft at 5:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft dirty tactics

Summary: Microsoft’s illegal strategy now in audio

A Boycott Novell regular, Marti van Lin, has created the following track whose lyrics are Microsoft evangelism documents, as he describes in his blog. The track is playable below (requires browser support for the <audio> element).

Patents Roundup: OIN Calls for Patent Reform, Microsoft’s ‘Sudo’ Revisited

Posted in GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 4:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sudo on Ubuntu

Summary: OIN joins the Bilski debate; some sources claim misinterpretation of new Microsoft patent

DESPITE a questionable strategy, the Open Invention Network (OIN) has been helpful to Free software and its CEO published an article in CNBC just a few days ago, titled “The Case for Market Based Patent Reform”

In the wake of the financial crisis and its attendant repercussions across the global economy, the U.S. Congress stands poised to address the issue of patent reform. Much debated and long anticipated, patent reform legislation is back under consideration with the bill possibly coming up for vote, prior to the end of 2009. Under the stewardship of a set of legislators well sensitized to the salient issues and with the thoughtful counsel of David Kappos, President Obama’s business savvy head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the stars are aligning to usher in legislation that promises to offer significant advances in an arena that has been overdue for reform.


OIN has created a model that can be replicated across many industries. OIN, a defensive patent pool established by IBM, NEC, Novell, Philips, Red Hat, and Sony to keep the Linux Community free of patent-related issues and ensure freedom of action, launched Linux Defenders in December 2008. The program and associated website (www.linuxdefenders.org) enables the contribution of prior art through its portal. For already granted patents, Linux Defenders’ Post Issue Peer to Patent program solicits prior art that can be used to support requests for patent reexam. The third element of the Linux Defenders platform highlights the difference between patents and defensive publications and leads inventors through a process that allows inventions to be codified and made accessible to patent examiners as an effective form of prior art.


The foregoing dynamics underscore the need for legislative, regulatory and judicial patent reform coupled with market-led patent reform. Absent a joint market, industry and government effort that is comprehensive and seeks to resolve all of the challenges posed by today’s patent system, the result of legislative reform will be suboptimal.

The above was published around the same time that Bilski hearings commenced [1, 2, 3]. Among the latest coverage (from patent opponent Timothy B. Lee it ought to be said), we have this article at Ars Technica:

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Bilski case on Monday. The wide-ranging discussion included significant discussion about the patentability of software and also touched on the patentability of horse-training and speed-dating methods.

A Groklaw member has just published this introduction to computation theory for lawyers. The need for such a document is explained by Pamela Jones as follows:

If I had to describe the fairly universal geek reaction to the oral argument at the US Supreme Court on Monday in In Re Bilski, I would have to say it’s a worry that some of the participants didn’t seem to understand computers or the tech behind software very well.

A couple of days ago Groklaw claimed that Microsoft had patented sudo but Heise does not agree with Groklaw and neither does The Register, which adds:

Microsoft’s patent comes as the US Supreme Court wrestles with the issue of business methods, such as those included in software, and whether they qualify for patent protection. Critics contend only physical inventions should be eligible, while a large swath of technology companies maintain that software-driven features such as Amazon’s one-click checkout and Priceline’s reverse auctions are fair game.

Here is a summary of posts on the subject and also interpretation from Microsoft boosters. It is being claimed that Microsoft patented the equivalent of PolicyKit, not sudo.

Microsoft, the EPO, and the European Patent Mafia (Sisvel) Join Hands

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alison Brimelow

Summary: Familiar bedfellows come together for an event that celebrates intellectual monopoly (Innovation 2009)

SEVERAL months ago we argued that the European Patent Office (EPO) sells out to Microsoft. This relationship is proving problematic for Free software, but Microsoft is a major client (i.e. payer that feeds this whole self-fulfilling, mutually-protecting patent system). Someone has just shown us this event called “Innovation 2009″. President of the EPO, who was harshly criticised before deciding to quit (in 7-8 months from now), is spotted as a speaker in this event (conflict of interests), which is sponsored by the armed & dangerous patent bully, Sisvel [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].

A corporate viewpoint is to be provided by allegedly former communist [1, 2] Jan Muehlfeit, who is now the European chairman of Microsoft. He is lobbying in Europe [1, 2, 3, 4] and participating in questionable practices that we covered before.

The panel is to be moderated by a patent maximalist, who makes a living out of an excess of patent news (which usually means legal actions). “But the best are the questions,” says our source, which quotes:

• How to describe the relationships between innovation, IP, and wealth creation?
• Is IP really a remedy against crisis? if so, why? and how?
• How to treat the global “4.2 million unprocessed patent applications” problem. What would solutions to this bring to the economy?
• How far is Europe concerned? Are parts of the issue already addressed? What lies ahead?
• Sharing the Backlog, act 1: what are Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) programmes for? What is the expected benefit?
• Trilateral pilot projects: what expectations for their implementation at the beginning of 2010 ?
• Sharing the Backlog, act 2: would the mutual exploitation of search and examination documents, and/or of patent data, be a major step?
• Global harmonization of patent-granting rules and criteria: dream or possible reality?
• Can translation be entirely automated? What are the other tracks in terms of workflow optimization?
• Does the impressive growth in China call for new co-operation agreements, notably between the EPO and the SIPO? Beyond the implication of EPO though the IPR-2 initiative, what could these cover?
• Financing the European Patent Office: what are the related challenges for member states and the industry?

We have also been told about this new interview with Detlef Eckert, who was hired (and thus silenced) by Microsoft*. According to our source, he might be “back at the Commission, looking for revenge.”

It is important to remember what is happening with Microsoft’s Courtois these days [1, 2]. He forms close relationships with the very same people who are supposed to regulate his behaviour and penalise his company.
* As we noted back in September, Microsoft loves hiring the very same people who become a threat to Microsoft because this way “they are removed from the “gene pool” of those who can tell the story and provide satisfactory material to support strong claims.”

A Week in ODF: Conferences, New Implementations, New ODFDOM

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard, SUN at 3:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spread ODF

Summary: ODF news from the past week, mostly positive this time around (no signs of sabotage from the Microsoft ecosystem)

APART from an ODF event and an OpenOffice.org event, not much has happened in this area of interest. Down under near Australia, Matthew Holloway emphasises that Microsoft does not properly support ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and he recommends the Sun ODF plugin for users of Microsoft Office. Up north in Canada, this new article was published to remind people that Microsoft Office can — and probably should — be substituted. OpenOffice.org is advocated as follows:

OpenOffice.org is currently on version 3.1, with an update expected this December to 3.2, which is expected to offer performance improvements and other technical tweaks, as well as a major update to the interface of Impress.

OOoCon, which is an annual OpenOffice.org conference, ended almost a week ago and attendants tell their stories in the following blog posts:

ODF Plugfest & OOoCon 2009

Spent an intense last week in Orvieto, Italy. First two days had the 2nd odf plugfest; glad to see so many enthusiastic people from the odf universe again, or for the first time in person – and of course witnessing big corporation representatives like Doug and Rob sitting on the table, striving for better odf interop.

Seven Days Time Machine

some of you might have been at the OpenOffice.org Conference 2009 or already read some of the (few) blog comments. I’d hoped to provide similar insights like I did in my blog comments covering the OOoCon last year (first posting). Time for changing that!

Time Machine Reloaded – November 5th

let’s go back the usual 7 days to re-experience the OOoCon 2009!

Rob Weir (of IBM) is keeping close to those products that are using the international standard (ODF), but Microsoft too is sneaking into rivals’ events while pretending that OOXML and the corruptions associated with it do not exist.

Witness the effect of multiple specifications, one of which is just the incomplete corpus of a proprietary piece of buggy software (while the other is a vendor-neutral standard).

Rob Weir writes: “We now have 4 implementations of digital signature support per #ODF 1.2 draft. I hope some day we will see this in MS Office also.

Bart Hanssens keeps advancing ODF and jobs around ODF gradually crop up, which is evidence of the success of ODF.

Weir and others mentioned the release of ODFDOM 0.7.5 — a valuable Sun product that we mentioned in [1, 2, 3]. Here is an official release announcement.

The milestone had already been uploaded last week at the OpenOffice.org conference in Orvieto (Italy), but conference activities distracted me from announcing the release officially on the list.

Now you may find the ODFDOM packages of binaries and JavaDoc at ODFDOM’s download section. Detailed release notes have been added to the Wiki.

Interestingly, a company called Microsystems (not Sun Microsystems) has just issued this press release which mentions ODF.

· Multiple format support – includes MS Office, OpenDocument Format and PDF.

Yet more signs of the growth of ODF. OOXML is not even mentioned.

EDGI Executive from Microsoft and His Conflicts of Interests

Posted in GNU/Linux, OLPC, Windows at 2:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How an anti-GNU/Linux and anti-OLPC executive ended up inside a company where GNU/Linux is an option

Microsoft’s principal booster in CNET has indeliberately posted newer details about a revealing conflict of interests. It is a conflict not just because Microsoft's Will Poole participated in sabotaging OLPC but also because he joined an OLPC rival after doing similar work for Microsoft. We wrote about this in:

Poole joined NComputing just after he had been leading the EDGI group. From a de facto Microsoft PR outlet:

The [Microsoft] approach is similar to one taken by NComputing, a start-up run by former e-Machines CEO Stephen Dukker. Will Poole, the former Windows executive who also led Microsoft’s emerging markets efforts for a time, serves as NComputing’s co-chairman. NComputing sells Windows and Linux-based systems to both schools and businesses.


The product shares a name–but is separate–from an existing MultiPoint product that allows students to each have their own mouse and work off a single display. (Note that the story I link to has Poole–then at Microsoft–talking about the MultiPoint mouse.)

So, he came to NComputing after he had promoted a similar Windows product inside Microsoft. How suitable. As we stressed before, this cannot be beneficial to GNU/Linux at NComputing. Who can ever forget what Microsoft did to OLPC? They should bury their heads in shame.

Nick Negroponte
Picture from Wikipedia

Novell — Like Corel — Becomes a Microsoft Vassal, Promotes XAML-based Desktop

Posted in Corel, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, NetWare, Novell, Patents at 2:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We could refresh the look and feel of the entire desktop with Moonlight”

Miguel de Icaza

Summary: Novell’s (and Mirosoft CodePlex’) Miguel de Icaza issues a call to make more software with Microsoft XAML

AT the beginning of 2008 we wrote this summary of how Microsoft had turned Corel from a GNU/Linux proponent into a .NET proponent. Microsoft neutered the competition using money. In other words, a small ‘bribe’ was once again used to dismantle competition. There is a lot to be learned here also from Apple [1, 2, 3].

In a new article from SJVN, the history of GNU/Linux on the desktop is outlined with the following portion about Corel: “Alas, after Corel experienced some brief success, its efforts came to little. Facing strong opposition from Microsoft and financially ravished by an ill-timed move into the then-hot application service provider (ASP) market and inadequate profits from its application lines, Corel quickly found itself in hot water. By the end of 2000, Corel had changed management and partnered up with Microsoft.

“On several occasions, Novell had changed management (Schmidt, Messman, etc.) and eventually partnered up with Microsoft.”This sounds just like Novell, doesn’t it? To rephrase the above, Novell experienced some success with Netware, but its efforts came to little in recent years. Facing strong opposition from Microsoft and financially ravished by an ill-timed move into the then-hot *NIX/groupware market and inadequate profits from its application lines, Novell quickly found itself in hot water. On several occasions, Novell had changed management (Schmidt, Messman, etc.) and eventually partnered up with Microsoft.

Then, in both cases, came .NET promotion. Novell’s de Icaza, who is currently a board member at Microsoft's CodePlex Foundation, is now rallying his troops at Novell/Ximian/outside to create applications with Moonlight rather than with tools which are not controlled by Microsoft. There are many posts about it in his blog on November 12th (3 in one day, which is unusual). For example he says:

I know that various members of the Moonlight team are passionate about Moonlight because it is this next generation API for building GUI applications.

Which applications do you think are needed nad could be built with Moonlight?

I say video editing, and I have some ideas of how it should work.

The Mono-Nono Web site calls it “Moonlight Marching Orders” and explains this as follows:

Look for ever more of this sort of thing as Team Mono attempts to expand Mono and Moonlight. Team Mono is already getting marching orders to start pushing Moonlight harder, the first plan being a video editor.

A video editor is a beautiful infection vector for Moonlight, because:

1. Moonlight itself only safe to use for direct Novell customers,
2. All those nice proprietary video codecs that Novell has licensed from Microsoft are only safe for direct Novell customers as well.

So, Novell sees a great opportunity to spread Moonlight and the fruits of its Microsoft collaboration, while pretending to develop a “Linux” application.

So long as your “Linux” comes directly via Microsoft-approved Novell-only channels, of course – other Linux flavors need not apply – or redistribute.

Moonlight is a mess, based on the following message which was posted this afternoon:

Subject: Silverlight crap: the saga continues
From: Richard Rasker <spamtrap@linetec.nl>  (Linetec)
Date: Friday 13 Nov 2009 12:37:13
Groups: comp.os.linux.advocacy

Well, it’s been two weeks already since the last Moonlight update — you know, the one that broke Silverlight playback. How time flies. And sure enough, because this Microsoft crap requires on average one update per week, I got yet another notification: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap1.png
OK, so I click “Install”. Oh, drat. Once again, it requires the installation of a codec pack: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap2.png . Sheesh, this must be the fourth or fifth time that I installed it. Can’t these incompetent idiots even manage to create a codec pack that remains usable for two whole weeks? And yup, as expected, there’s the license again http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap3.png — in typical Microsoft fashion: unreadable lingo in a non-resizable window, no doubt meant to discourage more perseverent users. Copy/pasted it to a decent text editor, and read it.
OK, no truly onerous terms, apart perhaps from the patent provisions: http://www.linetec.nl/linux/mooncrap.txt
Then I noticed something: the installed update was Moonlight version 1.99.8, whereas the codec pack distinctly mentions that it’s “ONLY FOR USE WITH NOVELL’S MOONLIGHT 2.0 ALPHA VERSION.” Ah well, 1.99.8 is close enough to 2.0, so I guess it should work.

Except that it doesn’t. Not only that — the situation has even gotten worse: on some Web pages, Firefox now crashes immediately when clicking Silverlight content, and on other pages, nothing happens. So I tried running Firefox from a terminal window, to catch any messages:

  $ firefox
  Attempting to load libmoonloaderxpi
  Moonlight: Forcing client-side rendering because we detected binary drivers which are known to suffer performance problems.

Huh? The official nVidia drivers “suffer performance problems”? And how come this crapware is the *only* software complaining about it? From what I see, accelerated video rendering works absolutely great with my GeForce 8500 GT graphics card.

  Moonlight: Installing signal handlers for crash reporting.
  Moonlight: Enabling MONO_DEBUG=keep-delegates.
  Moonlight: Plugin AppDomain Creation: OK
  Moonlight: Plugin AppDomain Creation: OK
  URL /includes/wmvplayer.xaml downloaded successfully.
  URL /includes/wmvplayer.xaml downloaded successfully.

  (firefox:12436): Moonlight-CRITICAL **: void MediaElement::Pause(): assertion `playlist != NULL’ failed

  (firefox:12436): Moonlight-CRITICAL **: void MediaElement::Pause(): assertion `playlist != NULL’ failed
  Download of URL http://www.rtvoost.nl/nieuws/images/preview/itemsMedia/156318.jpg?nid=103704 failed: 1 (network error)
  Download of URL http://www.rtvoost.nl/nieuws/images/preview/audio.png?nid=103704 failed: 1 (network error)

Hm, OK, so those latter lines suggest that something’s wrong at the server side. But no, that can’t be, because it works under Windows. So two of the  biggest software companies in the world combined can’t even pull off a decent media player that works under Linux. Just compare this sorry mess with MPlayer: just a handful of guys (and perhaps gals) created a media player, complete with browser plugin, that has worked great from day one, on each and every Linux, Windows and Mac version.

So I give up on this closed source rubbish. I uninstalled everything having to do with Moonlight and Silverlight (regaining some 50MB of HD space in the process — probably all those useless codec packs), and I’ll tell my users that they’re out of luck when they stumble upon Silverlight content.

Richard Rasker


Rather than present a rational rebuttal, Miguel de Icaza libels me in Twitter (personal attacks with outright lies). He still has some remaining defenders, who nonetheless acknowledge that “Mono is also seen by many as a potential legal landmine, due to Microsoft patents.”

The “Mono Tools” are based on Mono, a from-scratch open source implementation of .NET. Developed by the Novell-sponsored Mono project, which has also developed the Moonlight open source clone of Microsoft’s Silverlight, Mono has proven to be controversial in the open source community, as are most Novell-sponsored efforts that appear to sidle up to Microsoft. While an impressive piece of software, and imminently useful in a .NET dominated enterprise software world, Mono is also seen by many as a potential legal landmine, due to Microsoft patents.

There are issues greater than patents. It’s about control. No wonder Microsoft helps Mono so much, as the following new post puts it:

Microsoft has said that it backs Mono Tools, but then Microsoft would put their stamp of approval on products that integrate with its Visual Studio IDE (integrated development environment) as they “enrich the Visual Studio ecosystem” no less.

Of course Microsoft approves it. It’s beneficial to Microsoft, so it’s not competition. Mono is complementary to Microsoft, just like Novell is to Microsoft. Here is simple visualisation of where Mono fits.

What Microsoft wants
What Microsoft wants

Microsoft finds some other new complements for Visual Studio/.NET while pretending to have embraced “open source”. Only yesterday we wrote about Orchard, which is now being cast as independent even though it’s not. Microsoft knows that in order for people to swallow .NET it needs to pretend that it comes from other companies, preferably those who are perceived as “trusted”.

No more

If Microsoft Cannot be Sued Over Liability, Can it be Sued for Negligence?

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 1:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Summary: Microsoft’s inability (or unwillingness) to protect customers from severe flaws raises important questions regarding negligence

AS WE stressed last year, Microsoft publicly addresses flaws it is aware of only/usually when attacks begin. Otherwise, Microsoft lies about security. It tells what shareholders want to hear. So although the test of liability may not pass legal muster, negligence does. Should Microsoft be sued as some journalists have already suggested?

The latest serious exploit that affects Vista 7 (there are more examples appended at the bottom of this post) is so valuable for showing how Microsoft ignores security problems and improperly handles them until it’s too late. SJVN argues:

I do wonder sometimes about Microsoft’s quality assurance. No, I tell a lie. I always wonder about Microsoft’s quality assurance. As in, “How can they keep making mistakes like this?” In the latest, a new SMB vulnerability has been found and exploited that can lock-up any Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 system.

As reported in ComputerWorld, Laurent Gaffie posted details of the vulnerabilities, along with proof-of-concept exploit code, to the Full Disclosure security mailing list today, as well as to his personal blog. Gaffie claimed that his exploit crashes the kernel in Windows 7 and its server sibling, Windows Server 2008 R2, triggering an infinite loop. Or, as he puts in so well in the exploit’s code: “‘Most Secure Os Ever’ –> Remote Kernel in 2 mn. #FAIL,#FAIL,#FAIL”


Oh, and Microsoft, hurry up and fix this. OK? This is embarrassingly bad.

This is not just “embarrassingly bad”, it is practically very bad because exploit code is already out there while Microsoft is still “investigating”.

Microsoft has reportedly begun investigating a potentially nasty denial of service vulnerability affecting Windows 7.

Microsoft has been caught hiding vulnerabilities and their fixes (secret fixes which invisibility of proprietary software enables), probably for raves about numbers, i.e. illusion of safety. How long has Microsoft known about this for and why is there no patch yet?

On Vista 7 insecurity:

ARM for GNU/Linux Arrives; Has Microsoft Given up on Sub-notebooks?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Hardware, Kernel, Microsoft at 12:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ARM logo

Summary: The highly-anticipated torrent of low-cost, energy-efficient, user-friendly, GNU/Linux-only appliances has finally arrived, leaving Microsoft racing to the top again

THIS week’s article about ARM was a reminder of the fact that Microsoft cannot lie about the market share of GNU/Linux in sub-notebooks. Not anymore anyway. Our reader Oiaohm shares this article about the arrival of Snapdragon and also shows that “AMD [is] aiming for a 1 watt processor,” to use his own words. It spells trouble for two criminal companies. Microsoft Windows cannot survive under these conditions (not in the longer term because of cost and architecture compatibility) and numbers speak for themselves, being the simple facts:

“High return rates, little market share”: the scare tactic Microsoft used in the spring of 2009 to declare Linux dead in the water in the netbook market. But what might be true for the U.S. doesn’t hold for the European and worldwide market as a whole.

Not only did Dell repeatedly confirm that it found no higher a return rate than Windows for its 30% Ubuntu-installed netbooks, a new independent study by the ABI Research firm forecasts a 32% market share for Linux on netbooks for 2009.

In a new article over at IDG, Microsoft booster Shane O'Neill opines that Microsoft is either giving up on or trying to lessen the appeal of sub-notebooks. He tries to spin this in favour of Microsoft, but it’s really quite pathetic and bad.

It has gotten even worse for Windows Mobile. According to this new report:

Windows Mobile smartphone sales plunge 20% in Q3


The fact that Windows Mobile sales declined may not be a surprise, but the size of the decline is.

Microsoft says that it may withdraw Windows XP from sub-notebooks rather shortly, which leaves just a very crippled and resource-hungry version of Vista 7 to guard against GNU/Linux (Linux is gaining on ARM-type processors anyway). A former Microsoft MVP who regularly participates in our IRC channel wrote a couple of days ago: “I was making fun of a friend with XP [...] “Windows XP loves you, Windows XP wants to be with you, Windows XP wants to stab its tentacles into your brain and merge with you” [...] I am not thrilled with Windows 7 [...] seems like a hillbilly duct tape repair to Vista [...] It seems to have all the problems of Vista and very few actual improvements.”

When it comes to sub-notebooks, Vista 7 Starter Edition has already been mocked by Acer, which claims that Vista 7 has no impact on sales. Acer’s CEO also said ‘on behalf’ of the entire industry (OEMs) that they were disappointed with Vista. How long before the same thing is said about Vista 7, which is not selling well (Microsoft claimed that Vista was selling exceptionally well, but the numbers that truly matter don’t lie)?

“Acer and Intel, for example, are already complaining that Windows 7 Starter Edition simply won’t sell.”

May 2009

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