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03.02.10

Microsoft’s Extortion Battle Against GNU/Linux and Lawsuits by Proxy Against Google

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Servers, Ubuntu, VMware at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lloyd Fester

Summary: More details about the Amazon patent deal; Microsoft confirms role in legal actions against Google and Murdoch joins the cause

MICROSOFT is distrusted for a reason. No other company is arrogant enough to view it as a privilege to destroy other companies in nefarious ways rather than by improving one’s own offerings. Today we will share many new examples which show that Microsoft never changed.

Last week we wrote about Microsoft's patent deal with Panasonic. It is covered by some more sites right now [1, 2] and it is intended to require people to buy licences for software patents from Microsoft, even if they wish only to access their digital camera. TechRepublic asks, “New Linux kernel release and brewing legal battles vs. Microsoft?

“No other company is arrogant enough to view it as a privilege to destroy other companies in nefarious ways rather than by improving one’s own offerings.”Microsoft has clearly decided that software patents are its weapon of choice against the inevitability of software freedom. Microsoft imposes these patents in places where they are not legal (Europe for example) while employing lobbying groups that attempt to legalise these patents everywhere.

This brings us back to Amazon’s patent deal with Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. The deal was signed almost on the very same day (same week) that Amazon announced that it will be advancing Windows on servers. See the article “Amazon gives EC2 a boost and broadens Windows support”:

Second, Amazon now offers its cheaper Reserved Instance pricing to Windows nodes. Reserved Instances reduce the per-hour pricing in return for a commitment to pay for a reserved instance for one or three years.

Amazon is doing all this while making GNU/Linux more expensive because it lets Microsoft ‘tax’ the Red Hat servers. Ken Hess goes further (too far) with the headline “Amazon Abandons Linux for Windows”

Amazon uses Linux for its Kindle now. Amazon uses a lot of Linux for its EC2 service. Just one day after their patent agreement deal, Amazon announced that they now offer Windows reserved instances just like their Linux ones.

Are you getting the picture yet? If not, let me help some more.

Microsoft employees have been entering Amazon for quite some time (latest instance). Very many examples were listed here before, so we leave them for readers to find (site search).

Pogson calls the patent deal with Amazon “Extortion”:

If you want to spread FUD, this will do. We also have no word on how many businesses have told M$ where to go. So far they have only sued TomTom. United we stand. Divided we fall. That’s the game. If the world does not stand up to bullies they become more aggressive and dangerous. Seeking to diversify their cash cow, the patent portfolio will be milked repeatedly. I notice this does not rate an SEC filing so it is not huge but its FUD value may be much higher.

The worst possible outcome is the extension of the M$ tax to GNU/Linux. That will not happen. Software patents are on their way out. Copyright FUD did not work for SCOG, M$’s stooge. Patent FUD will not work for M$. Even if they somehow play the game out for years as SCOG has done, patents expire in much shorter time than copyrights. The best M$ can hope to do it use this FUD to retain control of the US market where software patents are tolerated. Most of the rest of the world gives them no play.

Now everyone agrees that this is extortion though. At Groklaw, for instance, Pamela Jones wrote: “Uh huh. Microsoft says [that the deal involved Linux]. And you know *they* never lie. Here’s their press release, that says the terms are confidential, so how would we ever really know? But if I might point out, Amazon isn’t a Linux company, and it sells a hardware device. And I gather Microsoft’s MO is to make any company signing up with them in a patent cross licensing deal sign an NDA, so only Microsoft speaks in public, then they put out a press release which makes claims no one can check or verify, wave their arms about Linux, then go on to the next victim. Unless they show some details, it means absolutely nothing to me, except that Microsoft is very good at marketing FUD.”

Later she wrote: “Personally, what is lacking as far as proof is concerned is also what the deal is really about. It’s just Microsoft talking, I notice, isn’t it? Let’s hear from Amazon, by all means, and if Microsoft won’t let that happen, why take it seriously? If the deal was really what Microsoft says it is, why would they require Amazon to stay silent, and if they are not requiring it, why isn’t Amazon telling us all about it?”

Jay Lyman from The 451 Group had an interesting take on it:

But now, I’m beginning to question why Linux and open source get such prominent mention in the press release on this latest deal with Amazon. Others have questioned why Amazon would agree to such a deal, and while I believe it’s often a reality of best interest/better than court, I also question how far any attempt at FUD can really travel in an industry that has largely already made its decision on Linux. For the most part and in most every case, the benefits outweigh the risks, whether they be real or perceived.

Over at Linux Planet, someone has compared Microsoft’s strategy to IBM’s (when it was collapsing). The headline says, “Is Microsoft the New Old IBM: a Ponderous Innot-vator?”

Twenty years ago IBM was a bloated, ponderous corporate giant, dominating the computing world not by advancing technology but by intimidating not only its few competitors, but even its customers. Did a long-term user of IBM’s support services buy so much as a single product from Amdahl? Too bad — the service contract was de facto terminated. It seemed there was no way to break the stranglehold IBM had on the very concept of computing. (If you want the full story on all of this, I recommend “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” by Louis Gerstner, the CEO who turned IBM around)

[...]

As to Microsoft, that article shows how perfectly they are imitating the flawed history of IBM by attempting to intimidate anyone they regard as a rival.

In the past week we have found news headlines promoting special prices for Microsoft Office at Amazon.com. We continue to stress that a lot of the people who run Amazon are former Microsoft executives. They just found a new ‘host’ right next door. We suspect that VMware has the same type of problem [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and so did Yahoo!

Here is new evidence that Microsoft will pay Yahoo! [1, 2, 3], which in turn will pay Ubuntu developers to send GNU/Linux users to Microsoft’s datacentres and highly biased search results, with requests and behaviours that get stored for Microsoft to analyse. This weakens Ubuntu’s Chrome OS partner (see details about the Yahoo-Canonical deal in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]).

Here is another new article, titled “Microsoft Against Google Books Plan”

The tide has definitely turned against Google as it seems almost every company is gunning for the search giant. At a fairness hearing held last week in relation to Google’s plan to digitise published works, lawyers from both Microsoft and Amazon spoke out against the company. Lawyers from Microsoft and Amazon have said that allowing Google to publish millions of books online would give it an unfair domination of unclaimed books, violating current copyright laws.

We mentioned this before, just about a week ago. Watch how Amazon is helping Microsoft fight Google. Interesting timing too. Microsoft may have used Yahoo! is the very same way. It is the typical strategy of just eliminating rivals rather than improving one’s own products. Microsoft builds “anti-Google” coalitions. As IDG put it several days ago (in the headline): “Microsoft Chief’s Battle Plan: Vaporize Google’s Cloud”

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was used in attacks against Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and now that Google considers leaving China (as a direct result of these attacks) “Microsoft, Others Poach Google China Staff,” says one report.

Some Chinese tech companies have begun to actively recruit Google China employees in light of Google’s possible withdrawal from the China market. Both headhunters and Google’s competitors say Google engineers and other employees have become more receptive to job offers since Google’s prospects in China are unclear. Google’s workforce had been very loyal and difficult to poach in the past.

Now comes the anti-trust assault from Microsoft. Here is some coverage confirming that Microsoft is behind those assaults on Google:

Reuters: “Microsoft says Google acts raise antitrust issues”

Microsoft Corp made its most vehement and public attack on Google Inc on Friday, calling its internet rival’s actions potentially anti-competitive, and urging victims to file complaints to regulators.

More on that later.

There are many articles about it and over at Groklaw, Pamela Jones says that she “had to fix the headline” of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “as the WSJ seemed to me to be making it seem a lot more serious than it is, in that they have to do a preliminary investigation of any complaint, I would think, so they know whether or not there is any substance. Reuters has it more accurately phrased: “The European Commission is considering complaints from three online companies regarding Google Inc’s practices including its search rankings, the company said on Tuesday.” And the headline is “Google notified of EC complaints”.”

That’s some interesting disinformation from Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. Well, guess what? After Microsoft’s many flirts with Murdoch [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] about destroying Google, it turns out that he is “‘Ready To Sue’ Google”

Although a few months have passed since the last big flareup, News Corp. may still be willing to go to war with Google. A fresh report indicates that Rupert Murdoch is indeed prepared to take the search giant to court, and has been talking to Microsoft about an exclusive deal, too.

Sue Google over what exactly? They can just delist his sites if that’s what he wants (which he doesn’t). It has been said many times before that he is just trying to smear Google in order to please his friends, the thugs from Microsoft. Based on new reports like this one, people who leave Microsoft no longer have a problem with Google.

Mike Koss had a hand in developing some of Microsoft’s most important products during his 19-year career, from Excel to Outlook to Sharepoint. But the 49-year-old software developer — who left Microsoft in 2002 to pursue his own entrepreneurial ventures — now proudly proclaims that he’s turned into a “Google fanboy.”

How about Don Dodge [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], who turned from Microsoft’s AstroTurfer into a Google booster when the payments suddenly came from Google? By the way, we are not defending Google.

Microsoft is still just a bunch of aggressive hypocrites. Microsoft is behind many other complaints against Google and against IBM. Microsoft’s strategy here is very simple: buy a rival of the company and then use that rival for antitrust complaints by proxy against the said company (in IBM's case, Microsoft used T3).

In Google’s case, Microsoft first denied its involvement but then it gave up. Microsoft now confirms this; it uses lobbying against a competitor and The Register helps this cause.

Microsoft launched an ardent attack against Google late last week, accusing the web giant of anti-competitive behaviour.

The software vendor’s deputy general counsel Dave Heiner wrote a missive on Microsoft’s corporate blog on Friday, in which he highlighted complaints levelled at what he sees as Google’s questionable business practices.

Glyn Moody writes the witty response that he titles “Microsoft Hoist by its Own Anti-Anti-Competitive Petard”

One of the decisive moments in computing history was when Microsoft was investigated for and found guilty of breaching US rules on anti-competitive behaviour.
Microsoft’s line in defending itself was that it was not anti-competitive, that this investigation was all down to desperate, failed competitors trying to take their petty revenge by setting the government on the company, and that it should be allowed to “innovate”, untrammelled by those silly governmental authorities that just don’t understand all this groovy technology stuff.

More coverage on this includes:

Microsoft Tells Google To Face The Antitrust Music

Microsoft Publicly Takes Google to Task Over Antitrust Investigations

Microsoft’s Latest Attempt To Derail Google: Sic The Antitrust Cops On Them

Microsoft says Google acts raise antitrust issues

Microsoft breaks silence on EU investigation into Google

Microsoft has broken its silence on the European Commission inquiry into Google after criticisms that the US giant was orchestrating a campaign against the company founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Here is one of the complainers distancing itself from Microsoft and an explanation of why it’s all just a waste of time. The Seattle Times is just promoting Microsoft as usual (and keeping silent about the company's offences), with more new examples to be found here and a complaint about the Seattle Times here:

That BoingBoing headline–”Broke-ass Washington state set to give MSFT $100M annual tax cut and amnesty for $1B in evasion”–should make the people (well, Jeff Reifman) at Microsoft Tax Dodge happy–they’ve been wondering where the Seattle Times has been on this issue. Who needs old media? BoingBoing is here.

Here is the Seattle Times promoting what seems like another Visible Technologies wannabe (former Microsoft employees proceed to spying).

A former Microsoft engineer’s longtime vision for a user-centered Web service is launching today at Strings.com.

[...]

“The whole premise was the Web is so noisy,” he said. “The best way to filter all the noise is for some automated system to understand ‘me’ intimately.”

Another Seattle site writes about Microsoft’s Poole entering more than just NComputing [1, 2, 3, 4].

MOD Systems continues to add firepower to its growing team, naming former Coinstar executive Dan Gerrity and former Microsoft Windows executive Will Poole to the board. The news follows a series of appointments at the company which were announced last week, most notably former Clearwire exec Robert DeLucia who joined as chief financial officer. They also come amid ongoing legal troubles with MOD’s founder and former CEO: Mark Phillips.

NComputing got closer to Microsoft after it had taken Microsoft’s Poole on board. They never seem to learn what happens when former Sotfies are hired. Amazon didn’t learn, VMware had EMC impose this upon it, and Yahoo! was just too weak to resist the proxy battle from Microsoft and bullies like Icahn (“corporate raider”).

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8 Comments

  1. BrownieBoy said,

    March 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    With regards to Reserved Instance costs, yes, the up-front costs are the same for Linux or Windows. However, there’s an hourly usage cost on top of that, and Windows is more expensive there; sometimes by quite a margin.

    For example, the highest spec Reserved Instance charges $0.24 per hour for Linux, but $0.50 per hour for Windows. Yep, that’s over double. That works out at $2102.40 per annum for Linux, but a whacking $4380 per annum for Windows. That’s on top of your up-front costs, of course.

    And that’s without mentioning (except I’m going to!) that for all the extra money that you spend for Windows, you’ll end up with a system that’s utter shite. The only advantage is that your MCSE gibbons might just be able to operate it … on a good day.

    EC2 pricing is at:

    http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/#instance

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Surely there can be good offers elsewhere — ones that don’t pay Microsoft for an operating system it does not own.

    BrownieBoy Reply:

    We don’t know that Amazon is paying Microsoft anything.

    My guess is that Amazon is only lending its name to this mess, although that’s bad enough.

    As for alternatives, I’d sure like to know of any. Amazon seems to be way ahead of the pack in this market.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Amazon has said in its press release that Microsoft will be paid, but it does not say for which patents.

  2. your_friend said,

    March 3, 2010 at 2:17 am

    Gravatar

    Anyone tempted to compare IBM and Microsoft should consult the Jargon File FUD entry.

    Defined by Gene Amdahl after he left IBM to found his own company: “FUD is the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that IBM sales people instill in the minds of potential customers who might be considering [Amdahl] products.” … After 1990 the term FUD was associated increasingly frequently with Microsoft, and has become generalized to refer to any kind of disinformation used as a competitive weapon. …

    The SCO suit rapidly became infamous for the number and magnitude of falsehoods alleged in SCO’s filings. In October 2003, SCO’s lawyers filed a memorandum in which they actually had the temerity to link to the web version of this entry in furtherance of their claims. Whilst we appreciate the compliment of being treated as an authority, we can return it only by observing that SCO has become a nest of liars and thieves compared to which IBM at its historic worst looked positively angelic. Any judge or law clerk reading this should surf through to my collected resources on this topic for the appalling details.—ESR

    Now that we know that SCO was nothing but a front financed by and for Microsoft, we can safely assume that the operative portion of the above can be stated, Microsoft is a nest of liars and thieves compared to which IBM at its historic worst looked positively angelic. SCO is only a small portion of Microsoft’s 30 year crime spree. There is absolutely no chance that Microsoft will pull any kind of turn around like IBM has. This is no reason to forgive IBM for their support of software patents and other petty sins but we should keep things in perspective.

  3. Needs Sunlight said,

    March 3, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Gravatar

    The extortion is also against individuals. Look at the fight in Denmark. There like anywhere else, Microsoft is pressing against administrators to fire staff that don’t toe the party line of One Microsoft Way. Russia is another place to look, especially in the schools.

    Student extortion is a lot harder to track, but probably much more common. A lot of so-called tech degree programmes fully block use of (if the have it at all) non-Microsoft technologies until late in the programme and even then only as optional electives to students proven loyal to One Microsoft Way.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Here is Microsoft admitting that it’s doing it.

  4. Agent_Smith said,

    March 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Gravatar

    This is old news. Micro$oft funded SCO to attack Linux years ago… So, nothing new coming from Redmond. Only the attacked now is Google, by little companies M$ funds… Shame on you Steve B. And Shame on You, Steve J (crApple)

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