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03.27.10

BrainShare 2010

Posted in Novell at 6:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Coverage of key items from the past week’s Novell event in Salt Lake City

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Novell News Summary – Part II: SUSE (SLES/SLED) in BrainShare 2010, Samsung and Kyocera With Android

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, HP, Kyocera Mita, Novell, Samsung, SLES/SLED, Videos at 5:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Big reptile

Summary: News about companies that pay Microsoft for Linux for no good reason

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Novell News Summary – Part I: OpenSUSE 11.3 Milestone 4, Upstart Introduced

Posted in GNU/Linux, OpenSUSE at 4:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Iguana

Summary: OpenSUSE has a new test release but very little news apart from that

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Citrix and Amazon Climb on Microsoft’s Bed

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat, Servers, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 6:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Playing with Windows toys rather than mission-dedicated GNU/Linux

Sweet dreams

Summary: Citrix is promoting if not prioritising Windows Server and so does Amazon, which continues to discriminate against GNU/Linux

Microsoft booster Paul Thurrott writes the article “Microsoft’s Virtualization Jihad” — an article in which he describes an issue that has worried us for quite some time. All along Microsoft has just been buying its way into virtualisation and disrupting many companies in the process. This includes XenSource, which was acquired by Microsoft’s ally Citrix (Novell too plays a role in this).

“All along Microsoft has just been buying its way into virtualisation and disrupting many companies in the process.”According to many articles [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], Microsoft and Citrix grow even closer. “Microsoft squeezes Citrix into Windows server pack,” says this one report and one blogger asks: “What’s Microsoft’s real reason for killing VECD?”

We are actually made a lot more concerned not by Microsoft’s increased relationship with Citrix but about what goes on at Amazon.

Early this morning, we received an announcement from Amazon the company is launching a pilot for EC2 customers to allow your enterprise organizations to move existing Microsoft Windows Server licenses to Amazon and receive a proper discount for the new EC2 instance.

As we explained last week [1, 2], Amazon grew increasingly hostile towards GNU/Linux, which it sold out to Microsoft [1, 2, 3] after it had hired many former Microsoft employees. Amazon is now encouraging adoption of its Windows servers using “discounts” [1, 2, 3] and one must not forget that Microsoft’s lawyers were first with the news that Amazon will pay Microsoft for Red Hat servers. No “discounts” from Amazon for GNU/Linux? No “opt-out” for “Microsoft tax”?

As a SAAS blogger states in his new headline, “Microsoft really, really, hates the cloud” and Microsoft is trying to marginalise GNU/Linux where it is really successful, using racketeering tactics [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. This is not the behaviour of a software company, whose former employees changed Amazon like they were part of a political movement.

Revised Microsoft History, Brought to You by Microsoft Boosters

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Microsoft at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Let me tell you the story of a company that brought us computers and the Internet and the media player and the search engine and...

Summary: Microsoft’s past as seen from the eyes on people who make money from Microsoft, courtesy of IDG ‘News’ Service

“Appeasement, said Winston Churchill, consists of being nice to a crocodile in the hope that he will eat you last. At the moment, the biggest crocodile in the world is Microsoft, and everybody is busy sucking up to it,” wrote John Naughton for The London Observer.

Microsoft is like the crocodile that has already eaten many companies while committing heinous crimes and antitrust violations. We can’t go though them today because there is just too much ground to cover. What worries us greatly is that Microsoft has been rewriting the past quite a lot recently. We gave an example just a couple of weeks ago.

“I wonder if it’s as simple as this, that many people are a little afraid of computers, so they felt reluctant to swap in something new until there was a page saying it was OK and nothing would break?”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
Microsoft’s booster, Preston [1, 2], is doing that again and it gets promoted by Microsoft Nick. They are desperate to pretend that Microsoft has legitimately earned its current position and with so many Microsoft boosters in the press (even in publications that used to say the truth about Microsoft before they got intruded), there is a danger of whitewashing of scary proportions.

Microsoft Nick is boosting Microsoft in many other ways and another Microsoft Nick trivialises the situation with the browser ballots as we addressed it a few days ago. “I wonder if it’s as simple as this,” writes Groklaw in response to Nick, “that many people are a little afraid of computers, so they felt reluctant to swap in something new until there was a page saying it was OK and nothing would break?”

One must not forget the crimes against Netscape and others. People do not choose Microsoft’s browser and if they use it, then it’s because Microsoft previously broke the law and had people associate the “Blue E” with “the Internet” (the BBC perpetuates this myth). Given choice, people do not choose Microsoft, but they are rarely allowed to choose. Despite all of this, Microsoft’s products continue to lose market share. From Reuters we have:

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has lost market share in major European markets, such as France, Britain and Italy, after the U.S. software firm started to make it easier for European consumers to use competing browsers.

Microsoft’s pledge to allow easier access to rival browsers in Windows by the middle of May, ended a long antitrust dispute with the European Union.

People must remember that Microsoft was forced to do this. It’s not about Microsoft giving opportunities for a diversity, it’s about antitrust regulators responding to Microsoft’s abuses. We are disheartened to see how Microsoft has spun this debate, but then again, the monopolist is controlling media with new companies and appointments involving Microsoft employees (new example in [1, 2]). Those who want an accurate description of Microsoft’s historic role in computing can start here.

Patents Roundup: Microsoft Sells Algorithms But Not Programs, Sued for Patent Violations in Zune

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Microsoft, Patents at 5:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Paper innovation

Money fan

Summary: Patent news with particular focus on how Microsoft and its patent troll (the world’s largest troll) do business

“Microsoft licenses caching algorithms,” tells us a reader who points in this direction. What the following article shows is that Microsoft does not actually act as a software vendor but as a licensor that manages the sales through lawyers who also abuse GNU/Linux (that would be David Kaefer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

Adaptec has announced benchmark results for its MaxIS solid state drive (SSD) caching card and revealed it’s based on licensed Microsoft code.

[...]

Adaptec said it licensed ideas from Microsoft about using SSDs as read caching devices. Its release about the benchmark quoted David Kaefer, general manager of Microsoft’s Intellectual Property Licensing, saying: “When our datacenter team came up with some innovative ideas around using solid state devices as read caching devices, we determined it made good sense to license these advances to Adaptec because Microsoft itself doesn’t sell these types of products.”

Here is the press release. It shows a new business model that develops at Microsoft and also its patent troll Nathan Myhrvold, who said that “intellectual property is the next software.”

A few days ago we showed that Myhrvold was allegedly using Durham Logistics as a shell and Glyn Moody covers this now, claiming that “The King of the Trolls Strikes Gold”.

What’s just so perfect, of course, is that not only did Intellectual Ventures not invent anything here, but that it used other companies to hide the fact it had acquired the patent – the very opposite of the disclosure that the word “patent” implies. It’s a perfect demonstration of what is wrong with Intellectual Ventures and the US patent system, and with their unhealthy symbiosis.

It will be interesting to see what happens now. I’m sure that lots of conversations between Intellectual Ventures and smartphone manufacturers are underway; deals will be done, and we’ll never know the details. So now might be a good time for companies and engineers to dig through that prior art at the bottom of their filing cabinets in the hope that the patent can be blown away rather than bowed down to.

Microsoft and its trolls are not exactly in a position where they can claim any moral ground. Based on many new reports [1, 2, 3, 4], Microsoft has been sued by an ophthalmologist for patent violations.

A patent-holding Illinois ophthalmologist has sued Microsoft over the Zune, alleging the software company illegally added his patented technology to the media player after he tried to license it to Microsoft.

This patent may seem absurd, but it’s no more absurd than Microsoft’s own patents.

An eye doctor has sued Microsoft for allegedly nicking his patented technology with its Zune media player.

Dr Edward Yavitz, of the Yavitz Eye Centre in Rockford, spotted two wizard ideas to quickly tag and downloading music via a device’s FM radio receiver.

Microsoft Nick writes about the ongoing VirnetX case (VirnetX is suing Vista 7 now, having just won another case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]) and IDG has this new slideshow which contains some notable patent lawsuits against Microsoft [1, 2]. There are over 50 of them at the moment.

TechDirt has just published a rebuttal to a man who promoted software patents.

His take is that by only allowing for seven years, “patent trolls” lying in wait to pounce on a technology to become successful would lose their window in which to sue. This of course ignores the cases where lawsuits are filed almost immediately after a patent is rewarded.

TechDirt has also found this dangerous precedence [via] where the migration of cases to the Eastern District of Texas is said not to matter. Should judges simply ignore patent troll tourism?

The FFII’s president points to what he describes as “FRAND and reasonable royalties for patents on Philips CDs and Orange Book compliance used by a Dutch Court.” From the lawyers’ den (they call patents “IP”):

The relationship between IP and competition law is one of the hottest topics in IP law. It now seems that two respected European courts have come to different conclusions on the applicability of the “competition law defence” (although in the result, the decisions do not differ).

In Europe, the danger persists that a unification will eliminate safe havens for developers.

Vista 7 Cracked Again

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Window

Summary: Windows security still broken, judging by Pwn2Own

WINDOWS is not doing terribly well. The margins are low and Microsoft relies on bundling alone (which requires a hardware buying spree). Looking at the past week’s news, there was one headline alone with “Vista” in it and just 5 clusters of headlines about “Windows 7″, 1 of which was a whitepaper.

Vista 7 is hardly mentioned these days, except for occasional complaints or PR fluff. Microsoft continues to improperly count “sales” and we have already explained how Microsoft fakes these to achieve an illusion of success. In many ways, Vista 7 is just Vista, but it looks a little different (notably the new deskbar). “Well the initial impression is how much it looks like Vista,” said Microsoft’s booster Jack Schofield about Vista 7, “Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.”

In previous posts we showed that Vista 7 is considered worse when it come to security than its predecessor, Windows Vista. To name some posts on the subject:

According to IDG, “Hacker busts IE8 on Windows 7 in 2 minutes”

Two researchers yesterday won $10,000 each at the Pwn2Own hacking contest by bypassing important security measures of Windows 7.

Both Peter Vreugdenhil of the Netherlands and a German researcher who would only identify himself by the first name Nils found ways to disable DEP (data execution prevention) and ASLR (address space layout randomization), which are two of Windows 7′s most vaunted anti-exploit features. Each contestant faced down the fully-patched 64-bit version of Windows 7 and came out a winner.

“Hacker Bypasses Windows 7 Anti-Exploit Features In IE 8 Hack,” reports Dark Reading, a Web site which is focused on security issues.

A Dutch researcher won $10,000 in the Pwn2Own hacking contest this week for hacking Internet Explorer 8 on a Windows 7 machine — bypassing built-in anti-exploit features in the operating system.

From Microsoft sites comes a bit of spin and it’s worth noting that Apple’s proprietary products got cracked too.

Miller used one of the flaws he found by dumb fuzzing yesterday to exploit Safari on a MacBook Pro, walking off with the notebook, $10,000 and a free trip to Las Vegas this summer to the DefCon hacking conference.

Here is an interview with Miller and a summary from The Inquirer that says: “Apple and Microsoft get trashed by hackers again”

Some months ago we wrote about Microsoft entering Telstra [1, 2], so the following new item is also worth mentioning.

Telstra Corporation director of security services, Andy Solterback, has responded to claims by Microsoft that it has largely fixed security problems.

It is now being claimed the Internet attacks which are mostly caused by Windows zombies hit Seattle the most.

Seattle is top, according to the report, for cyberattacks and potential infections and online behaviour that can lead to cybercrime, like online shops, online banks and wi-fi.

It is rather interesting that Windows zombies go right back where they came from.

Google Gains Influence at Microsoft’s Expense

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 4:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Swiss coins

Summary: More money to be spent on Google, at the expense of Microsoft, which in turn lobbies the government so that it serves its corporate overlords

OUR position on Google was recently described in this post. Free software does not need to personify or rely on corporations as though they are inherently committed to Free software, but while some corporations perceive Free software as an enabler and a friend, others viciously attack it and try to make it illegal. This is why the following news story about Microsoft being dumped for Google in a very large company is probably good news (but not as good as a company moving to Free software).

It wasn’t broken, but he fixed it anyway. After launching an initial pilot, Manesh Patel, senior vice president and CIO at global contract manufacturer Sanmina-SCI Corp., ramped up quickly to move more than 16,000 users onto Google Apps for e-mail, calendaring and contacts — and he began turning off the company’s Microsoft Exchange infrastructure.

This only comes to show that Microsoft is being ditched. The company from Redmond often pitches for this weird delusion that it is gaining, despite the fact that in many areas its market share diminishes and it has an effect on the bottom line [1, 2, 3, 4] (profits decline in almost every area of operation despite some economic recovery and layoffs that reduce expenses). Microsoft is even killing many products and some divisions.

According to this new report, Microsoft is now putting an end to “Select”.

Microsoft will phase out its popular Select volume licensing plan in favor of its “Select Plus” program, which the company claims is a simpler option. Others say Select Plus will mean smaller discounts for buyers who truly worked the system and who could wangle bigger discounts from Select than other volume programs, including Microsoft Enterprise Agreements.

“Select is the funnest [sic] program to deal with because there are ways to game the system to get more than you’re entitled to,” said analyst Paul DeGroot with Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash.-based consulting firm.

DeGroot makes a living from praise of Microsoft [1, 2], but he also admitted that “there’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly.” DeGroot is even based near the homes of Microsoft’s chiefs, so we always take his words of analysis with a grain of salt. He is essentially a Microsoft booster. So anyway, the above shows that Microsoft resorts to a form of price hiking, which usually indicates that the company is in immediately need for more revenue. Google’s business model is proving very challenging to Microsoft and according to this news report, Google even challenges Microsoft when it comes to lobbying.

In 2009, Microsoft spent $6.72 million on lobbying, including $1.69 million in the fourth quarter. But the world’s largest software maker spent 24 percent less on lobbying last year than it did in 2008 when its lobbying expenses totaled $8.9 million.

As we have explained many times before, there are undisclosed activities and amounts that are not accounted for in these “official” figures. Gates-hired lobbyists, for example, may not count as Microsoft lobbying, but they have a similar effect and agenda. Anyway, the report above is titled “Google’s lobbying machine still cranking in 4Q” and we insist that lobbying by anyone is a bad thing [1, 2] because it subverts democracy and harms people’s freedom. In a later post we’ll debate Microsoft’s latest attack on people’s freedom in China.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

CIO.com

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