Summary: Short response to a lot of recent FUD about the viability of Free software in demanding systems
“The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team.”
–CIO David Wennergren, Department of Defense (October 2009)
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Summary: Novell is lying about the treasonous patent deal (more than ever before) just 3 years after signing it
SOME days ago we wrote about Novell's "PR tourism" in London. Novell’s Joe Brockmeier acquired some free publicity when he told lies to Glyn Moody, Richard Hillesley, Jason Stamper, Cliff Saran, and Peter Judge. The Source has done a great job exposing the lies that Brockmeier had been telling. To quote some portions:
First, this paragraph implies that Eben Moglen supported the Microsoft/Novell deal – flatly untrue, but perhaps we can just chalk this up to the author’s word choice.
Second is the direct quote though that states Mr. Moglen approved of the Microsoft/Novell deal, which is a very strange word choice indeed for the man who co-authored the GPLv3 and positioned it explicitly as a method to “kill the Microsoft Novell deal“.
This is a clear distortion that Novell has constantly trotted out. They used the same sort of misdirection on the now-removed OpenSUSE Novell Microsoft FAQ, where they selectively quoted RMS…
This is a prime example of the dishonesty of Novell apologists and mouthpieces. There’s a lot more that could be said about this one bit, but let’s move on.
The implication of this quote – that Novell has somehow brought Microsoft to Jesus over Linux – is laughable in the extreme. Novell has done nothing but serve Microsoft’s best interests since the Microsoft/Novell deal.
Then again, this is Novell… a bunch of revisionists/liars, who always find ways of spinning and paying the right people to voice their spin rather than the truth. Novell is very much like Microsoft in that regard. █
“It is in Novell’s interest – selfish interest, I will admit – to advance-remove whatever those inhibitors be to the advancement of Linux and open source.”
–John Dragoon, Novell
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Summary: Numerous new lawsuits are launched against Microsoft, which is accused of patent violations in different areas (Implicit Networks, NetView, and Eleven Engineering as plaintiffs)
TECHDIRT has this new post which it titled “Live By The Patent, Get Sued By The Patent”
Brian writes in to let us know that a patent holding firm, with a long history of suing a bunch of big name tech firms is now suing Microsoft as well, claiming that every copy of Vista, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 violate its patent 6629163 on “Demultiplexing a First Sequence of Packet Components to Identify Specific Components Wherein Subsequent Components are Processed without Re-Identifying Components.”
Microsoft knew what it was getting itself into. Groklaw has just found this recent article where Microsoft shows algorithms as mathematics (a fact they later deny when lobbying for software patents).
For 70 years, mathematicians have been stuck on the Halting Problem: Computers occasionally hang on one line of code and fail to move on to the next, and no one can reliably predict when that will happen. (The result is the unending hourglass or pinwheel of death.) But a few years ago, Microsoft researcher Byron Cook and his colleagues did the unthinkable — they hacked a fix. When Cook tried to describe the workaround, however, he found it impossible to explain with existing mathematical symbols.
Anyway, here is more information about Vista 7 violations which leave Microsoft vulnerable. Microsoft getting sued for software patents infringement was inevitable (there are over 50 patent infringement cases pending against Microsoft, which make up a large proportion of the whole). “Implicit Networks” is the plaintiff and it seems to be all about patents, not products.
Implicit Networks launched a law suit against Microsoft in a California district court, alleging the software giant had breached a patent it owns.
There is another new patent lawsuit against Microsoft, this time from NetView Technologies which has real products.
Founded in 2000 by Robert Handsaker and Gregory Rasin, Belmont, Mass.-based NetView Technologies Inc. is a business-software maker whose flagship product is a product designed to manage employee incentives by tracking sales, sales quotas and compensation. The company’s software uses Microsoft’s widely popular Excel spreadsheet product.
More information can be found here:
A Belmont software company has filed suit today in U.S. District Court in Boston against Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), claiming the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant infringed its patent on a business method for extracting data from spreadsheets.
With over 50 patent cases (and growing) under its wing, Microsoft is likely to come under great pressure. Microsoft had to lay off many lawyers and lower the legal budget by a staggering 15%, so will it be able to keep up? It wanted software patents and Microsoft boosters like Alexander Wolfe defend the practice in relation to a Fog Computing patent, joined by other shills like Maureen O’Gara [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Gavin Clarke wrote about this patent last week and O’Gara cites colleagues from the Microsoft community. There is also Dan Lyons, who is cursing Microsoft’s competition this week, but that’s another story altogether.
A third new lawsuit dawns upon Microsoft, this time coming from Canada, just like i4i [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. Microsoft will be one among three defendants though.
Bloomberg News and the San Jose Mercury News are reporting that Eleven Engineering Inc. [http://www.elevenengineering.com/home/], a maker of microprocessors for home entertainment systems, has claimed the controllers for the Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation 3 game systems incorporate wireless features patented by the company, and that the three game companies are using the technology without permission.
Here is information about the claimant:
Eleven Engineering, based in Edmonton, Canada, said it is a global leader in digital wireless technologies – supplying component and semiconductors to electronics companies.
Other such lawsuits are threatening Linux devices (Nook) and a Canadian giant, RIM, is currently facing a BlackBerry embargo due to patents.
Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry phone, is facing a patent-infringement complaint with a U.S. trade agency that may result in the devices being banned from the U.
How on Earth are all these lawsuits beneficial to the industry as a whole, including customers? They are not. The Against Monopoly Web site has this new essay decrying the obsession with intellectual monopolies. To quote just a portion. [via Jose X]
To cut a long thing short, the moment I realised that there is a conflict between rights to intellectual property and rights to physical property, I also realised that something is wrong about the whole thing. Such a contradiction usually means that something is wrong with the premises of the person facing the contradiction – me.
Restricting a person from giving physical shape to an idea he has in his mind is clearly a violation of his Liberty and Property Rights. However, this is precisely what implementation of IP means. IP proponents typically tent to retort saying that what I am calling “violation of Liberty and Property Rights” is actually implementation of the property rights of the owner of the idea/pattern that is the subject of the IP.
If it is true that in the name of protecting Intellectual Property Rights, one is actually violating the Liberty of some individuals, in effect one is also saying that the holders of Intellectual Property have an undefined lien on the Liberty of the individuals of the other part. Translated, this gives some individuals the right to enslave others by virtue of being holders of Intellectual Property rights. This made the notion all the more bizarre to me. It was in direct contradiction of the most basic principles of Objectivism that no man may claim the right to initiate force against another.
Even Microsoft knew that patents are detrimental, but that was before it became a monopoly in constant need for intellectual monopolies that cement its dominant position. Here is how it came about. █
“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”
–Bill Gates (when Microsoft was smaller)
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Summary: The loophole which Microsoft front groups like ACT have been lobbying for is close to becoming a reality
FREE software is currently under legal attack in Europe [1, 2]. Glyn Moody, a Brit, writes: “EU moves towards common patent system – http://bit.ly/7JOHcY now watch them sneak in software patents…”
Here is the corresponding reference from the BBC:
European ministers say they have agreed on a plan to introduce a common EU-wide patent system that could save companies millions of euros.
Sweden’s foreign ministry says industry ministers reached a deal on the main elements of the EU patent and setting up a single European Patent Court.
Gemstar’s appalling patent strategy is one that we wrote about in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Gemstar has not been successful in the UK so far, but it is going to appeal. Any EU-wide patent system would possibly help Gemstar impose its patent abuse on British companies, even without a challenge in court. What has this system sunk to? Here is some more information about this “enhanced” system.
Today was the final day of the 2982nd Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry and Research) EU Council meeting and, as expected, some important political signal was sent out.
In particular, the EU Council has agreed on a number of conclusions on the main features of the European and EU Patents Court. On the EU patent they should form part of the overall final agreement on a package of measures for an Enhanced Patent System in Europe comprising the creation of a European and EU Patents Court (EEUPC), an EU patent, including the separate regulation on certain special translation arrangements, an Enhanced Partnership between the European Patent Office and central industrial property offices of Member States and, to the extent necessary, amendments to the European Patent Convention (EPC).
While it is marketed as a positive thing, the reality is very much the opposite. It’s a possibility for one country (or corporocracy) to expand ludicrous laws like DMCA to the rest of the world. ACTA has a similar effect [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. █
“Small Software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?” —Marco Schulze, Nightlabs Gmbh
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Summary: Distortion of the truth as seen coming from the people who always work on embellishing Microsoft’s history
REVISIONISM from Microsoft is a crucial ingredient and technique for improving the company’s image, especially after crimes are committed. We wrote about Microsoft revisionists many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
The ‘Microsoft press’ is currently whitewashing, pretending for the second time in a week that Microsoft’s recent bullying scenarios do not exist and never happened.
“Revisionism from Microsoft is a crucial ingredient and technique for improving the company’s image, especially after crimes are committed.”Recent examples include the predatory actions against Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], against Yahoo!, and against Google (most recently the Murdoch plot [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]). Some articles still say that “Microsoft may pay newspapers to avoid Google” (there are more newspapers coming up), but Microsoft denies it.
The same ‘Microsoft press’ (which we last complained about last night) is using miserable measures to sell the illusions Microsoft is lusting. It is citing US-only figures from partners of Microsoft such as comScore [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
Microsoft’s PR placer, Ina Fried, is giving only Microsoft’s side of the Yahoo! story whilst others are daemonising those who try to restore some justice, notably the European Commission which blocked the deal [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft Nick is among those who prod the party line of Microsoft. Scott M. Fulton, who actually supported/advocated oversight, has this to say:
While Almunia could carry out existing penalties imposed against Microsoft and Intel, it’s conceivable he could leave future penalty guidelines to the Court of First Instance to determine, or at least to the Commission itself to legislate in advance.
Microsoft apologists/revisionists can also be seen here, in an article which is feeding Microsoft Nick for some more PR. What fuels his revisionism are statements like:
Microsoft is nevertheless a very different company today – and the perception of it throughout the region’s technology hotbed has shifted dramatically too.
That’s utter nonsense. Microsoft is not a different company when it comes to its business practices. It’s just a tired talking point which they parrot endlessly. Right now, having fought Yahoo! (proxy battle), Microsoft wants people to believe it’s a mutual arrangement. But the real thinking goes like this: “we don’t want to spend much money on you, Yahoo, so just pass over all your visitors and customers.”
This type of bullying from Microsoft, which eventually hijacked Yahoo! and drove away the talent, is something that we covered here before [1, 2, 3]. The mainstream press totally avoids the reality and spins this as Yahoo! running to Microsoft rather than the other way around. With the one-sided deal likely to be finalised shortly (we explained the absurdity of this deal in [1, 2]), one reader of ours ponders the impact on Yahoo's BSD (and Free software) endeavours. He writes:
It looks like the hostile takeover of Yahoo’s board of directors has succeeded in shutting down Yahoo!
So now, Yahoo may become a fascade for Bling, which is a crappy front end for Wolfram Alpha. It would be a smarter move, if Yahoo’s engine is being gutted, to skip Bling. That would improve reliability and content:
One could cut out all the middlemen and just go straight to Wolfram Alpha:
Yahoo management has also recently been heavily infected with Microsoft staff. But none of the changes brought about by Microsoft activists, either on the board of directors or on Yahoo staff, are really about service or function, are they?
Now, since Yahoo! was a major developer and contributor to FreeBSD and PHP development, it would be very important to get out in daylight how these two valuable tools will be affected. With PHP, it probably means that a lot of web activity will move back to Perl or over to Python.
As our reader points out in the above, Microsoft has gotten into the business of ‘consuming’ other people’s services, which are typically running on GNU/Linux and Free software. Examples are given in this new article.
Rather than developing a direct rival to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, Microsoft is working with those services to incorporate their features into its own products.
Microsoft is increasingly becoming dependent on GNU/Linux then. None of these services rely on Microsoft software (they persist with the LAMP stack).
Next, it brings us to Microsoft's search downtime (it uses Windows) — a predictable downtime which Mac sites are cheering and Microsoft PR folks like Ina Fried try to play down. Others from the Microsoft crowd and press ignore the simple truth and Microsoft Nick is playing along with the Microsoft talking point. Another Microsoft booster, Stuart Johnston, uses this downtimes as an excuse to promote Microsoft. What has ever happened to objective reporting? It is actually bound to get worse.
A few days ago we wrote about the Comcast/NBC situation, noting that Microsoft’s impact on the media is expanding. Now comes this update from a Microsoft-sponsored blog:
NBCU deal could bring Microsoft and Comcast back together again
I followed up with Microsoft this morning to find out the specific implications of the Comcast-GE announcement for msnbc.com, and the company referred me to an NBC Universal representative. I’ll update this post depending on the response.
Unless there’s an unexpected twist, the deal would put Microsoft and Comcast in business together, via msnbc.com — potentially giving new life to a corporate relationship that appeared to have fizzled out. Microsoft in January sold its remaining 7.3 percent stake in Comcast, ending a relationship that had started with the Redmond company’s landmark $1 billion investment in the cable company in 1997.
Last week we showed that MSNBC/MSN is still publishing Linux- and open source-hostile articles and now we find it recommending Microsoft’s stock. No conflict of interests here?
“Consumer Groups Cry Foul on Comcast’s NBC Play,” says the headline of this new article. It also mentions Microsoft.
Comcast and General Electric’s long-anticipated merger agreement — which would see see the cable giant take a controlling stake in NBC Universal — is already facing strident opposition from consumer groups, and concerns from lawmakers around the alliance of content with distribution.
To critics, the deal to create the nation’s biggest entertainment conglomerate invites a host of scenarios where Comcast could unfairly favor NBC programming through its television and Internet services.
“Antitrust regulators must ensure that all content providers are treated fairly on the Comcast platform, and that Comcast does not get undue advantages in gaining access to programming,” Sen. Herb Kohl, chairman of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, said in statement today, saying he planned to hold a hearing on the matter.
Microsoft is still focusing on commercials, despite complaints even from a parents group. “‘Family Guy’ content not so family oriented,” says this new article which covers the same subject. At Microsoft, it's all about spin/PR. █
“Government attorneys accuse Microsoft of using its monopoly position to bully, bribe and attempt to collude with others in the industry, while illegally expanding and protecting its Windows franchise.”
–The antitrust case: a timeline
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