01.01.10

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Microsoft on GNU/Linux Clones of Microsoft: “We’d Have to Look to the Protection Offered Under Intellectual Property [sic] Law”

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 6:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mo-no Mono

Summary: Lessons for Novell and other Mono proponents in light of Microsoft’s response to Ylmf OS

ONE of the biggest GNU/Linux stories this week ought to be about Ylmf OS, which is a Windows XP clone based on Ubuntu GNU/Linux. Microsoft has foolishly cracked down on counterfeiters in China, leading them only to GNU/Linux, as expected.

By its very own choice, Microsoft is now stirring up a hornet’s nest and Microsoft Nick has contacted Microsoft to ask its people about Ylmf OS. Here are the answers:

And Microsoft isn’t sure what to do about it.

[...]

I contacted Microsoft to see if they knew of Ylmf OS and what legal options they might have. Because Ylmf OS is based on Linux, and not a straight Windows XP hack, the applicable law here is foggy. Especially since intellectual property law enforcement in China is so lax.

“We have not really evaluated the code here, but assuming that this is a Linux implementation we agree that the existing laws against software piracy are unlikely to apply here,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me via e-mail. “So we’d have to look to the protection offered under intellectual property law generally in the relevant jurisdictions.

“But it would be difficult to talk about the legal options in a general sense as each instance is unique, depending not only on the local IP laws in play (in this case in China) but also the technical implementation itself. We’d need to drill down into the specifics to understand better what Microsoft IP rights may be at stake here.”

So, Microsoft does not rule out being an intellectual monopoly bully, even in China where these laws are much weaker (and enforcement too).

“Novell has already put MonoDevelop for Windows in a position of advantage by connecting it to Visual Studio.”Ylmf OS seems to be mostly about appearance, not function. Underneath, Ylmf OS lacks compatibility with wonderful Windows applications like Conficker and Nimda.

But when it comes to function, Novell is trying to mimic that too, poorly. Novell wants GNU/Linux to behave similarly (e.g. Moonlight) and offers analogous development tools, such as MonoDevelop, which has recently eliminated GPL-licensed code.

The following new article calls MonoDevelop (in the headline) “Visual Studio Lite for the Linux Developer.”

Does that sound wrong or what?

Descriptions such as this confirm that it is indeed an appetiser for Visual Studio. But this one, unlike Visual Studio Lite, runs outside Windows too, so once the developers are done with the appetiser they can move to Visual Studio, which of course requires Windows. Novell has already put MonoDevelop for Windows in a position of advantage by connecting it to Visual Studio [1, 2].

In reference to the article above, “Evangelism is War” [PDF] is brought up by someone who says : “Stay far, far away from Mono and crack.”

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3 Comments

  1. Robotron 2084 said,

    January 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Gravatar

    Ylmf lacks more than just compatibility with malicious software, but with most popular Windows software programs as well. Most notably QQ, the widely popular IM network in China. That’s why you see a shortcut for “Web QQ” in the article’s screenshot. There is an outdated Linux version of QQ but it’s unstable and missing a lot of features. Empathy won’t connect at all, Pidgin connects but doesn’t support much more than basic chat, and the Windows version does not work under Wine.

    Microsoft certainly isn’t driving mainstream Chinese users to Linux because there is little appeal to using an OS with limited software support for the programs that are popular with Chinese people. Including pirated movie web sites that rely on P2P clients to stream video to viewers.

  2. NotZed said,

    January 1, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Gravatar

    Of all applications, why would one want to copy visual studio? It’s even worse than Word or Excel as far as horribly outdated and crappy software goes.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Many people–including my brother–choose Eclipse even though they get VS for free. I quite liked Trolltech’s and KDE’s development tools.

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