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05.03.10

Wal-Mart Removes Microsoft Zune From Shelves — Source

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zune Mayday

Via OpenBytes

Summary: Sources close to Wal-Mart claim that Zune no longer sells so it is not put up on display, either

THE Zune is dying while it’s losing Microsoft a lot of money. The same person who told us that Xbox 360 had lost space on the shelves at Wal-Mart probably ought to know this because he is a former manager at the store. But Ryan tells us now that Wal-Mart has stopped stocking Zune, at least in stores he is aware of. “Microsoft was bribing Wal-Mart with sufficient rent to keep every store at a 10% net profit on Zune even if no Zune units were sold. Apple pays much less rent because iPod sells,” he wrote earlier today. Is this the beginning of the very end for Zune, whose sales are said to have declined by 54%? Microsoft is currently trying to salvage some crumbs and make use of the Zune in creating a new line of phones (which already disappoint [1, 2, 3]).

Now that "Courier" is dead (OpenBytes compares it to Zune) and "Slate" is dead too, what’s left for Microsoft in devices? Not much. GNU/Linux, on the other hand, makes spectacular appliances and that’s why Microsoft is running after Linux, trying to scrape some of the associated revenue using software patents. The iPod is also very bad in the sense that it is all-proprietary and DRM-laden, not to mention its expected intolerance of Ogg (like Steve Jobs). Trust Microsoft to find money even when its own products don’t sell.

“We’ve been very focused on producing a DRM system. [...] We think DRM is important”

Microsoft President Robbie Bach speaking about Zune

Links 3/5/2010: Lubuntu 10.04 Released; Peppermint OS Reviewed

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Does free software create a challenge for Linux?

    These companies spend millions on staffing and paid programmers in the course of a year, so why couldn’t some of that money be set aside for some advertising. When was the last time we saw a commercial advertising Linux? And not on youtube but on actual television programming.

    You get what you pay for…?

    We have all experienced the truthfulness of this at one time or the other. Sometimes when you get something at a low cost it does not turn out to be a quality product. People need to see Linux in action. They need to see how well it runs and the many features that is available to linux users such as compiz fusion etc that are not available to Windows users. The truth is that some times the old you get what you pay for expression simply is not the case. Sometimes the best product is also the lowest priced. And this is something that many have not yet learned is the case with many versions of Linux.

  • Using Linux again – on an Acer Aspire 250D

    So, I wanted to use Linux again and decided to give it a try. I first tried to install Mandriva 2010.0 on it but it would hang on booting after the installation was successfully completed. Looking around I found many people having the same problem but no solution as it’s a bug in this release. I found the hint of using 2009.1 instead and tried that and it worked.

  • Desktop

    • Linux On The Desktop?

      While Linux based systems drive some cell phones and can be found in ordinary PCs, the primary competition between Red Hat and Novell has been in the “enterprise space,” that segment of the software universe which focuses on linking business users to databases. Now, Red Hat has announced its intention to move into the “business desktop” market with a new series of adaptations. According to Red Hat, “This will be a more comprehensive offering that will target markets like the small and medium-sized business [SMB] sector and emerging markets. Part of this strategy is to get the desktop more to the masses than our existing client is getting today.”

      [...]

      It’s a great operating system, but plug-and-play functionality for home computers isn’t there yet. And neither Red Hat nor Novell have any intention of invading the home consumer “space.” For now, they’re content to battle it out by expanding their business-based products.

    • Austin Group Prepares for Linux Against Poverty.

      Lynn Bender called a meeting Saturday at the Triumph Cafe in Austin to begin organizing the Linux Against Poverty 2010 event.

    • Installing fresh operating systems, then updating them.

      I wonder why windows cannot, or does not do their updates in this manner. After all, as with most Linux distributions, all an update is doing is replacing one or more binary files with another. It should be a no brainer to just download the latest files, install them and be done with it. If a “hobbyist OS” such as Linux can do this simple yet important task then why can’t a “professional OS” do this? What do you think?

  • Routing

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • Phenom II X6 Performance Under Linux Below Expectations

      In testing the Phenom II X6, Linux Magazine noticed that AMDs new processor doesn’t have the full performance under the current Linux kernel. A bug in Linux power management throws a wrench into the six-core processing.

    • Systemd presented as SysV-Init and Upstart alternative

      The main developer of Upstart, Scott James Remnant, commented on Systemd shortly after it was presented in his own blog. Remnant admits that Upstart is by no means perfect and that he cannot argue with the points of criticism that Poettering brings up. But now that Ubuntu 10.04 has been released, he says he plans to spend more time on Upstart and focus on a number of the criticised elements. He adds that it is too early to tell which of the two approaches will be better in the long term.

    • A Look at minit
    • Graphics Stack

      • A shout-out to nouveau

        They basically wrote a driver for an incredibly complicated piece of hardware, completely through memory trace dumps, with no help from nvidia whatsoever and can operate the 3D engine so well that one of the world’s most awesome pieces of software runs on it. So from now on, I will no longer be using the binary nvidia driver, but instead nouveau, since it offers exactly what I need + next gen linux graphics technologies such as KMS, XRandR1.2 and G3D. Win Win Win.

      • Is Windows 7 Actually Faster Than Ubuntu 10.04?

        What these results do show is that Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” is very capable of being a comparable gaming platform to Microsoft Windows at least as far as the quantitative performance is concerned. This is good news as Valve’s Steam client and the Source Engine come to Linux and the first of the Unigine Engine games (likely Primal Carnage) are released. The exception to this, however, is if using Intel graphics.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Lubuntu 10.04 is now available for download
    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Who is KDE part XXX

        The growing diversity in our community brings more fun and more creativity, so I welcome it. I’m awaiting a few GSoC students from Nigeria – after reading the final report from Ade about the conference there I have high hopes… But for now, I think we’re looking at a very successful Summer of Code, and those who aren’t in yet: you can join the Season of KDE project, where despite the lack of financial compensation you will get the same guidance and some cool (Kool?) gear! Lydia is also still looking for mentors, btw. If you would love to do KDE Promo things, I hereby offer my services as mentor!

      • Kobby: KDE collaborative text editor

        My series of articles covering text editors wouldn’t be complete without a collaborative tool. I have already covered (some time ago) Gobby (see my article “Collaborate in real time with Gobby“) and now it’s time to re-visit this topic from the KDE perspective. The KDE equivalent of Gobby is, to no surprise, Kobby. Kobby is a tool that allows users to to collaborate on text files either with another Kobby instance or even an instance of Gobby.

      • Ubuntu Makes Another Poor Technology Choice – Battle of the Movie Editors

        So why did Ubuntu do this? Either they are not aware of kdenlive and its capabilities – which can’t be true, because it’s available in their repositories, or they have an aversion to including anything in the default install that requires the KDE libraries. While I can understand that approach – there is only so much space on the CD – why substitute for a clearly inferior application. In my view this is both a poor technical and marketing choice. They would have been better leaving PiTiVi off the default CD rather than tainting user’s impression of the readiness or otherwise of Linux for the desktop. Whilst I’m not saying that video editing for Linux is as healthy as on other platforms, I am saying it is a hell of a lot more advanced that Ubuntu and PiTiVi would lead the average person to think.

      • KDE 4.4.3 reached Debian Sid, and its awesome

        Today, the 3rd of May 2010, KDE SC 4.4.3 has been uploaded to Debian Sid (Unstable). This is the first of the 4.4.x series that Debian has had (outside of the Experimental repository and an unofficial repository), and so far the whole of it is awesome.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tablets

      • We have an early Linux tablet video

        FUSION GARAGE has announced the availability of its Joojoo tablet in the UK, and The INQUIRER went along to the launch for a walk-through of the Linux handheld device and obtained an exclusive demonstation video.

      • Want an iPad? Get the Joojoo instead!

        Then there is multi-tasking. Yes. You can do more than one thing at a time on the JooJoo. Browse and listen to music simultaneously. It’s up to you. It also supports high-def videos out of the box. Watch your favorite videos on the device in crystal clear high definition using the JooJoo player.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mozilla

  • Databases

    • Apache Cassandra gets boost from Riptano (Q&A)

      A new company called Riptano recently launched to provide support and services for the Apache Cassandra project, a nonrelational open-source database designed for high performance that has a strong presence in Web shops like Twitter, Digg, and Reddit. I recently had the chance to chat with Matt Pfeil, founder of Riptano, and he provided some insight into the project and the new world of NoSQL database approaches.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • It’s time for Hulu to adopt HTML5 instead of Flash

      Seriously when I can’t even watch TV shows anymore online because I am using the “wrong” OS is when I draw the line. HTML5 … please like yesterday. Of course Adobe would have fixed it if it didn’t stream on “cancel or allow” Vista or Windows 7 or even OSX .. but no since it’s linux we get the shaft.

Leftovers

  • Top 10 science and technology writers

    A couple of weeks ago a stalwart of the IT writing business died. It got me thinking about the craft of writing and, after much gestation, we decided to come up with a list of the top writers who had explained and expanded our knowledge of science and technology, from a factual basis.

  • Benjamin Henrion tinkers with Belgabox hardware
  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • BP’s “Beyond Petroleum” Campaign Losing its Sheen

      Back in July, 2000, British Petroleum launched a high-profile, $200 million public relations ad campaign designed by Ogilvy & Mather to position the company as environmentally-friendly. The company introduced a new slogan, “Beyond Petroleum,” and changed its 70 year-old logo to a new, cheerful green and yellow sunburst. To many, the “Beyond Petroleum” campaign has always been ludicrous.

      [...]

      Spill, Baby Spill

      Despite, or maybe because of, its history of fatal accidents, environmental disasters, fines and public deceit, BP is still trying to greenwash its image. Its Web pages are filled with bogus statements, like “We try to work in ways that will benefit the communities and habitats where we do business — and earn the world’s respect.”

      [...]

      If they haven’t already, BP’s disingenuous words of support for developing low-carbon, renewable energy sources will increasingly fall on deaf ears as the country’ attention remains riveted instead on the desecration of one of the country’s most beautiful and valuable natural resources: the beleaguered Gulf coast.

  • Finance

    • Sunday Funnies 2010-05-02: “Brown Chip” Investing; Bubble Pricing in Vancouver
    • Goldman Sachs, Chess, and the Godfather

      Between the SEC charges and the congressional panels, the government is finally doing its job going after Goldman Sachs, right? And this last week in April ends with the Justice Department picking up the baton, which puts Goldman under threat of criminal prosecution. Things have suddenly gotten serious.

    • Merkel: $29.6 billion in aid for Greece planned

      Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet approved legislation on Monday that would give Greece euro22.4 billion ($29.6 billion) over three years as part of a wider bailout, as the German government acknowledged that letting Greece go bankrupt could send the euro into a tailspin and hurt Germany’s own economy.

    • Hedge funds get ‘free ride’

      And one reason for that, according to Weissman, is a particularly well-connected group of lobbyists. More than half the 83 lobbyists registered last year to work for the industries’ two trade groups, the Private Equity Council and the Managed Funds Association, have served in government — from Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department.

    • Top Senate Democrat Questions Obama Foreclosure Program’s Effectiveness
    • US GDP growth rate is unsustainable; recovery will fade

      The US turned in a fairly robust quarter in Q1 2010, with real GDP growth meeting expectations at 3.2% annualized. This comes on the back of a very robust annualized 5.6% growth in the previous quarter. This is the best growth two-quarter growth we have seen since 2003.

    • Financial Reform: Will We Feel Better the Morning After?

      There are many other issues in the financial reform bill, most of which will lead to improvements in the regulatory structure. However, without these three changes, the industry will not look very different the day after financial reform than it did the day before. Given what the industry has done to the country, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect some serious changes. After the next couple of weeks, we will know what we get.

    • Blanche Lincoln Rambos Wall Street

      The financial services reform bill is on the Senate floor this week. The recently announced criminal investigation of Goldman Sachs, the bumbling testimony of Goldman’s “Fabulous Fab” and the rocking Wall Street protest last Thursday show that momentum is with reformers.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – MOAT – Aerosols (1/11/1999)


Dear Google: Please Abolish Software Patents, Don’t ‘Donate’ Patent ‘Protection’

Posted in DRM, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 3:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

God is Google

Summary: Google is playing ‘patent God’ by acquiring a monopoly on MapReduce and then pardoning those who worship its feet and don’t pose a commercial threat

IT IS PROBABLY obvious by now that among the benefactors of the patent system there are the monopolies in their respective field (the other benefactors being the patent lawyers/patent trolls).

IBM's support of software patents (even in Europe!) is a serious offence against Free software’s spirit and fundamental premise. Regarding the EPO, the president of the FFII wrote today that its position says: “a computer program is not excluded from patentability under Art52 if, when running on a computer, it causes a further technical effect” (this is the loophole companies exploit).

IBM excuses itself using a patent pool that Google joined after IBM had gotten the ball rolling. We’re talking about OIN, which only reinforces software patents (it calls for “good” software patents) rather than burying this unjust lunacy. Ruby cannot abolish software patents because it has no lobbying power like IBM’s or Microsoft’s, so the Ruby Association too has just joined OIN.

By becoming a licensee, the Ruby Association has joined the growing list of companies that recognize the importance of leveraging the Open Invention Network to further spur open source innovation.

This is probably better than nothing but it is not the solution. IBM’s so-called ‘promise’ regarding patents is not perfect either. IBM wants to have the cake (software patents) and eat it too.

Patents as ‘Charity’

Over two years ago we started to criticise IBM for its silly press releases which claim credit for ‘donating’ access to patents. IBM merely ‘gives back’ something that it took away — very much like the copyright cartel uses DRM to sell people back the “rights” they used to have. Disgusting.

IBM deserves no credit for ‘donating’ software patents; it should not apply for them in the first place and it ought to put its lobby where its mouth is; in other words, it should support Free/open source software by encouraging suitable laws.

We are saddened to see that Google is going down the same route as IBM. Here is Google ‘granting a licence’ to Hadoop:

Google has granted a license for one of its patents to the Apache Hadoop open source framework for distributed computing. Larry Rosen, the Apache Software Foundation’s (ASF) legal counsel, says that several weeks ago he contacted Google about its recently granted MapReduce process patent – patent 7,650,331 (“System and method for efficient large-scale data processing”) – for fear that it may be infringed by implementations of Hadoop or other Apache MapReduce projects.

This is also covered in [1, 2]. Google’s support of software patents is nothing new. It begs for someone to ask the question, why get this patent in the first place and then make it look like charity?

That’s what IBM does.

Google wants us to think along the lines of: “thank you so much, Google, for not suing over that monopoly you acquired on algorithms, using broken laws that could otherwise be mended.”

“It also sends out the signal that companies which vend Linux support software patents, by practice.”The main problem we have with IBM’s and Google’s attitude is that this practice gives ammunition to Microsoft’s similar tricks with its useless "Community Promise" and the likes of that. It also sends out the signal that companies which vend Linux support software patents, by practice. Later on, when Microsoft attacks Android with software patents (and by inference hurting Linux, which Android contains inside of it), the Linux defense is weakened, the obvious excuse being “hypocrisy” or whatever.

To Google’s credit, it works on creating an “open source” codec (usually meaning Free software-friendly as there are no software patents) and it helped fund Ogg for small devices. According to this press release from a few days ago, a lot of money is being spent on codecs right now, due to software patents.

Xorcom, a privately-held manufacturer of business telephony interfaces and appliances based on Asterisk open source software, and Howler Technologies, the high definition voice and video transcoding company, and providers of a wide range of cost-effective, carrier-grade transcoding solutions to the telecoms industry, announced today that they have successfully completed interoperability testing between Xorcom’s IP-PBX models and Howler Technologies’ G.729 software codec for Asterisk, known as “Howlet”.

[...]

“Howlet allows Xorcom integrators to avoid the responsibility of paying the license fee for the Open Source version of the G.729 codec (for which initial license fees are approximately $25,000 – $30,000), since Howlet is GPLv2 compliant and includes the G.729 Patent Royalty,” notes Eran Gal, CEO, Xorcom. “It supports our standard software platforms — Asterisk, Elastix and trixbox — out-of-the-box, so implementation is a breeze.”

The codec conundrum is one that we covered 2 posts ago. Apple and Microsoft do a lot of damage there.

Behind the Microsoft Puppetmaster: SCO-Type Libel, Acacia-Type Patent Trolls, and Novell-Type Patent Deals to Make GNU/Linux Not Free (Gratis)

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, Samsung, SCO at 3:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Donkey Kong

Summary: Microsoft has been trying anything from copyright libel to patent trolls to actually suing companies like TomTom (after using extortion), so what are the implications?

THREE years ago we wrote about Microsoft’s 3 (or more) “Generations of Anti-Linux Lawsuits, by Proxy”. It is neither news nor rumour that Microsoft is sending companies to fight its battles against competitors, GNU/Linux included. One which we cannot be sure Microsoft was involved in is the Acacia lawsuit which ended some days ago (here is Red Hat’s own version/copy of the press release). Just like in the case of SCO, this whole mess took years to end and the GNU/Linux system was found not guilty (the software patent in question is junk). The damage done is one of reputation (FUD) and lawyers/litigation fees, which would be beneficial to Microsoft either way (no matter of the outcome of these lawsuits). Slashdot wrote about the subject and so did Groklaw, which added a reference to SCO:

Say, that’s what SCO wanted, and Microsoft. Everyone wants to use IP bogo lawsuits to get money from Linux, it seems.

Paula Rooney also mentioned SCO in her coverage of the Acacia case:

Now that the SCO and IP Innovation cases are disposed of, it anyone else want to take on Linux?

SCO and Acacia are both sharing some connections with Microsoft.

TechDirt wrote about the SCO case which never seems to end. There is also yet another cartoon about it [1, 2] as coverage carries on.

Well, this is fascinating. Here’s an order from Judge Ted Stewart in a dispute between Novell and its insurer, Vigilant Insurance Company. Novell tried to get them to pay for the SCO v. Novell litigation back in 2004 and they refused, so Novell sued last May. They were seeking to have at least some of their expense to defend from SCO’s attacks covered by the insurer, but Judge Stewart just ruled on summary judgment [PDF] that slander of title isn’t included in the policy and SCO’s initial complaint was for slander of title only, so Vigilant doesn’t have to pay.

[...]

You know what is sort of odd? This order was signed on April 27. The jury in SCO v. Novell ruled that SCO doesn’t own the copyrights in dispute on March 30, 2010. Yet Judge Stewart never mentions that.

Pogson wrote about “Trying to Tax GNU/Linux,” noting that:

There are the doers and the slugs. Slug are living things and need to survive but they do slimy stuff to eat what others produce. In the world of IT there are all kinds of slugs trying to tax the doers of GNU/Linux:

* M$ shaking down manufacturers for “royalties”
* other more obvious patent trolls sued RedHat and Novell and Lost
* SCO tried to claim copyright that software they did not own was copied in GNU/Linux

Microsoft has already initiated or at least supported lawsuits against Linux. What does that say about Microsoft’s relationship with Free/open source software? As we found out a few days ago, Microsoft was apparently going to sue HTC before HTC decided to cough out some ‘protection’ money. HTC is coming up with the Android-based “Incredible” quite soon and it’s just as incredible as the name suggests. Why should Microsoft make money from it given that it contributed not a single line of code to it? Welcome to the bizarre world of software patents and racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] as a profitable business model that does not put you in jail, assuming you have the right connections in the government.

Here is a look at the HTC Incredible:

“The Droid Incredible by HTC is an absolutely amazing device,” says PC Magazine, giving the phone its Editors’ Choice award and a 4.5 star rating. “The most powerful phone on the U.S. market today, it reflects and enhances the state of the art smartphone…It’s one of our highest-rated phones in the past year.”

The HTC Legend finally allows rooting, which makes one wonder if HTC can just sell its phones without an operating system (and without Microsoft extortion tax) to install an operating system of one’s own choice.

The HTC Legend, probably one of the best Android devices ever, has finally been rooted, which means you can now access the smartphone’s file system.

Here is what SJVN wrote about Microsoft’s extortion:

For years, Microsoft has made patent threats against Linux. Mind you, Microsoft has never proven, or even attempted to prove, any of these claims. But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from using the threat of Linux patent lawsuit to force companies like Amazon into paying them off. Now, Microsoft has upped the ante. Microsoft has muscled mobile phone maker HTC into paying Microsoft off for patents that may apply to its Google Android-powered phones. In short, without actually proving that Linux is violating Microsoft’s patents, the Redmond giant is ‘taxing’ companies for using Linux.

The ‘Microsoft press’ chose the headline “Microsoft Attacks Android in HTC Patent Deal” (strong wording) and Samsung expects to sell half of its phones with Microsoft’s extortion tax included in the cost (please do not buy Samsung or HTC phones by the way).

There is another sign today that Android continues to pick up steam in the smartphone industry. Reuters is reporting that Samsung plans to put Android on 50% of it’s smartphones in 2010, and possibly more beyond this year.

The HTC situation is also covered here, along with a new example of the patent system going awry.

Texas-based DDB Technologies, an intellectual property-holding company, has sued a host of US sporting leagues and companies which it alleges copied its live simulation, play-by-play text, graphics, animation and other patented interactive media-based technologies.

Just last week it filed a lawsuit against the National Basketball Association (NBA) and has also brought cases against ESPN, the NFL and Yahoo. The company recently settled a case against Major League Baseball, with the defendants, as part of the settlement, agreeing to buy a patent and entering into a licensing agreement with another.

It has been a while since we last covered Novell’s OpenBallnux, but here is a weekly summary of news and a new video titled “Working With Suse Studio”.


Finally, as a quick reminder, we urge readers to avoid products from HTC, LG, Samsung, Novell, and other companies that pay Microsoft for Linux. Only by refusing to buy from them will they (and Microsoft) get the message that extortion is not an acceptable business model and that software patents need to be shunned.

“Behind the Open Codec FUD Attack, W3C Captured by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and So On?”

Posted in Apple, FUD, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 2:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

King Kong

Summary: Microsoft and Apple continue their attack on freedom facilitation in the World Wide Web and Apple’s PR problem escalates

A FEW months ago we expressed concerns because Novell’s Jaffe, a vocal proponent of software patents, became the chief of the W3C (with chairs from Microsoft, Apple and IBM beneath him). In reality, the W3C should dump Apple and Microsoft for shunning Theora and promoting their software patents, but something has definitely gone amiss [1, 2]. Berners-Lee clearly opposes software patents, but Microsoft is injecting them into HTML (with Apple's support). The president of the FFII wonders loudly, “Behind the open codec FUD attack, W3C captured by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and so on?” Florian is among those who are concerned about it too (no anti-IBM for a change, with defensible exceptions). As this new article puts it, both “Apple [and] Microsoft Come Out Against Open Source Video Codecs”; FFII’s president writes about it: “Microsoft opt for h264 video format in Internet Explorer, in order to kick other browsers who will be said “incompatible with this website”.”

Another blogger wonder what is “behind the open codec FUD attack” (in seeking of explanations, the simplest ones are usually most suitable):

The FUD attack launched against Ogg Theora and VP8, the very idea that they violate patents, is not aimed at the courts, but at the W3C, which held a conference on the coming HTML5 standards last week in Raleigh.

[...]

Microsoft and Apple are carrying the water of the content industries, which fear that losing control of the technology under which content is displayed results in losing control of the content itself. That control is expressed through the MPEG LA licensing body.

The $5 million license fee for the H.264 codec required by MPEG LA acts as a barrier to entry, both a financial and moral one. A licensee that doesn’t follow Hollywood’s rules could have its license pulled, and thus its product.

The money is chump change for Microsoft, and the barrier a good thing. It’s a matter of principle for open source.

Apple wants to shoot down Ogg just like is has shot down Lala months after acquiring the service (maybe due to relationships with Lala's competition). GNU/Linux users are negatively affected by this.

Apple iTunes on the web would be good news for a lot of people if it is launched. It would enable Linux users to purchase songs from their computers (Apple iTunes does not work on Linux).

TechDirt also ponders: “Apple Bought Lala To Shut It Down?”

Instead, it looks like Apple bought Lala to shut it down. Just five months or so after purchasing it, Apple has announced that Lala will be closing at the end of May, pissing off lots of users. Now, it’s entirely possible (or even likely) that Apple is timing the shutdown with a launch of a totally new streaming iTunes-in-the-cloud type service, but it does seem weird to buy a company and shut it down so quickly, and raises questions of whether or not the purchase was really about building out Apple’s offerings, or about shutting down a nascent competitor just before Apple launched its own version. Also, if the plan is to launch its own version, why “shut down” Lala? Why not just transfer them over to the new service?

TechDirt‘s Carlo Longino is one among many who criticised Apple for its hypocrisy [1, 2, 3, 4] when it comes to banning Flash (and MonoTouch [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]). “I think Flash is crap,” says this person who judges software from an accessibility standpoint.

But nothing against Linux at all.

As a blind person, I tried Ubuntu, just because they said It was accessible, so I wanted to see how accessible it was.

Turns out, from what I saw, not half bad.

Anyway, I think flash is crap too. From an accessibility standpoint, from what I’ve seen over my last 10 years of using the various screen readers such as Windoweyes and Jaws For Windows, flash is not very accessible, if at all.

Even if you don’t like apple at all, as of 2008 or so,you have to give it to them when it comes to accessibility.

Now that Apple receives a lot of negative publicity (e.g. [1, 2]) it actually finds supportive apologists (not just staunch Apple proponents that mock Android) who ought to read Wiki pages about Apple’s many offences against Free software and especially against GNU/Linux (Apple is fine with Free software when it makes Apple richer). To be fair, Apple is not so hostile towards web standards, but the hypocrisy stands.

According to TechCrunch, “Apple Patents The Invisible Button” and since Apple uses patents against GNU/Linux and never joined the OIN, this is a reason for concern (Apple sues Linux vendors). The FSF’s John Sullivan has published an article about Apple in Ars Technica (cited here before and now in Slashdot) and the FSF’s Web site put together a response to Steve Jobs’ ‘Thoughts on Flash’. It says:

In a response to an open letter from Hugo Roy of the Free Software Foundation Europe, Jobs claimed that free codecs like Ogg Theora could also infringe patents, but that does not justify making the internet standard for video a technology that is known to be patented by a group who is actively collecting royalties and suing people for infringement.

We have legal assurances from the only publicly claimed patent holders that Ogg Theora can be used both commercially and noncommercially, in any software, by anyone, without royalty.

Of course, other patents may arise, and we will have to fight them if they do. H.264 could also find itself dealing with some hitherto unknown patent claims in the future; that’s just the nature of the system. Buying a license to H.264 does not magically protect you from such submarine attacks.

The software patent system is broken and we will continue campaigning for its abolition. You can help with this campaign by watching and sharing the new film, Patent Absurdity: How software patents broke the system.

In the meantime, “Everything could be patented anyway” is not an argument for “Give up even trying and just submit to MPEG-LA.” It’s an argument for Ogg Theora, and against software patents.

Adobe might soon sue Apple, not just denounce it in public. Both companies are quite religiously proprietary, but both pretend that they are not (some pretend more effectively than others).

Steve Jobs anti-Adobe Flash rant is really quite a remarkable document both for what it says, and what it doesn’t say.

First, and foremost, there’s the fact that Jobs spends most of his time complaining about the Flash format and ignoring the real beef Adobe has with Apple. Sure Adobe doesn’t like that Apple won’t let Adobe Flash on its iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch platforms. But, that’s not what has Adobe executives ticked off to the point that they’re telling Apple to go screw themselves and that they’re quietly considering suing Apple.

It would be nice to see Gizmodo suing Apple after (it participated in) breaking the law when harassing and ‘assaulting’ a blogger. Here is a new cartoon on the subject, summarised as follows:

Gizmodo’s payment of $5,000 for a misplaced iPhone raises questions about the nature of journalism in the Internet age.

We’ve also covered the issue in some of the posts below.

Journey With Novell/Microsoft Moonlight (and How it Broke Firefox While Microsoft Keeps Breaking Antitrust Law)

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 12:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

Miguel de Icaza

Microsoft Moonlight

Summary: Another adventure with Moonlight shows that it can leave Mozilla Firefox broken after a Ubuntu upgrade

AT the beginning of last year we posted an article about the bad experience installing Moonlight, which requires the troublesome Mono. Have all issues been resolved since then? Well, based on this batch of USENET postings from yesterday, the answer would be “No” and it may have actually gotten worse. To quote the messages in sequence:

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid – Silverlight clone to view Microsoft content hoses Firefox

From: High Plains Thumper
Date: Sunday 02 May 2010 23:52:51
Groups: comp.os.linux.advocacy

Last night I upgraded from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.04.  About 2 GB were downloaded, then started setup this morning.  I started at bedtime, and didn’t want to wait the hour to hour and a half for the download.

This morning, I let it go through the usual upgrade setup, which took about an hour.  (I decided to upgrade rather than install anew.)

So far, everything is working fine, in spite of the Wintroll Chicken Little’s claiming the sky is faling.

I did hit one glitch though.  Fortunately, I have Seamonkey as a backup browser.

Firefox would start up, but never got to the open screen stage.  So I opened GNOME Terminal 2.29.6 (command mode for Windows people).  I got the following error message:

“Attempting to load the system libmoon Segmentation fault”

I did a Google search in Seamonkey and found this:

[quote]
Firefox Segmentation fault libmoon
Ubuntu > “firefox” package > Bugs > Bug #563036
This bug affects 6 people

Bug Description
Binary package hint: firefox
Either firefox will crash on the home page, or it will crash soon after.

When I run firefox from the console the output i get is :

Attempting to load the system libmoon
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Jonatan Schroeder  wrote on 2010-04-17:

#2 I had the same problem, uninstalling the libmoon package solved the problem for me. As far as I know, this means that you don’t get access moonlight/silverlight web pages, but there aren’t as many who use it.
[/quote]

https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/firefox/+bug/563036

So, I opened Synaptic Package Manager.  Did a search on “libmoon”:

[quote]
Package: libmoon
Installed Version: 2.2-0buntu1
Latest Version: 2.2-0buntu1
Description: Free Software clone of Silverlight 2.0 – unstable runtime
library
[/quote]

I right clicked on the green coloured status square (green meaning that it is installed), selected “Uninstall Completely”.

Then clicked on “Apply” in Synamptic.  Up comes the following dialogue:

[quote]
Apply the following changes?

- To be removed
    moonlight-plugin-core
    moonlight-plugin-mozilla

- To be completely removed (including configuration files)
    libmoon
[/quote]

I cliked on [Apply], and it uninstalled it.

Now Firefox works.

I find it rather amusing that it is a stupid little plug-in to view Microsoft only Silverlight content, which fortunately only affects a few websites.

Is it a problem created by Microsoft?  I don’t know.  But it was rather ironic that it would be a plug-in to watch Microsoft content.

Other than that, everything seems to be working fine so far in Ubuntu 10.04.

“7″ replied with: [language warning]

I noticed f-spot also installed which means hundreds of mono crap libs must have also gone into that limited 700Mb liveCD to remove other freedom software packages. This fsck up is not going to work forever.

Its probable Ubuntu is being readied to be sacrificed to micoshfat for money.

Fedora has dropped mono claptrap.

I think it is in Canaonical’s best interest to tell the mono camp to fork off and fork off early like fedora did.

Canaonical as does many companies have come thus far with open source and free code and the good will of freedom developers as well as free developers. By incorporating patent troll steaming pile of crap that mono is, it is mistaken if it thinks there is some magic pot of gold at the end of a micoshaft rainbow. As novel found out, there isn’t. Its some tossed off remnant of a morsel that might keep you alive for a few days. But your developers and supporters flee.

The way to avoid all this rubbish is to grow organically.
Not grow too fast and resize a little if needs be.
Knock at every door for preload and show off your rock solid product which is the Ubuntu distro for new products like smartbooks and smartphones. If you poison it with something like mono inside it, if I’m going to be a big customer I want to know that its not patent troll encumbered with mono.
I won’t want it. At the very least, I would want something that had been split and supported and fully developed in that split format where there are no patent troll encumberances.

And finally, a reply from the original poster:

I’m not surprised, because in over 30 years of using Microsoft products, or products that relied on working with Microsoft products, I’ve had nothing but trouble with Microsoft products.
 
Fortunately for the last 13 years, I’ve had no trouble because I don’t  have to do anything with Microsoft products.
 
That includes Mono etc.

Oh, I had another glitch, a minor one, and that was mounting the XP WinNT partition.  I haven’t gotten that fixed yet, but I think it is because I need an optional package.  Again, it is a Microsoft feature.  I am a little vague because it is a while since I enabled it, I can’t remember the specific name of the package and the previous Ubuntu releases just updated these extensions.

I’d use the XP partition when mounted in read only mode.  Reason for that is for relative safety, because I am uncertain of what little devious act that may have been perpetrated by Microsoft, to detect a non-Microsoft OS wrote to it.  Did they do something devious?  I am not saying that.  But given the history of the company and its anticompetitive acts, it would not surprise me if they did.

This is a little long winded, but a good explanation would be unreasonable without it.  I am grateful for the Internet sources to reveal the truth, which previously would have been harder to obtain.

It took Microsoft nearly fines of $2 billion US from the EU to get them to release information on their networking, which they had made sufficient changes to, that others could not successfully reverse engineer.  I gather that it is possible, the reason why something as simple as server – client communication had becomes so borked with “gotcha code”:

[quote]
In contrast to the RPFJ, a meaningful remedy must account for the fact that Microsoft manipulates interface information in a variety of ways to preclude competition. Although too numerous to recount, Microsoft’s tactics include:

     * “Secret Interfaces” – Microsoft does not publish all the interfaces it uses and does not publish all the interface information that others need to develop products that interoperate with Microsoft software.

     * “Crippled Interfaces” – For some functions, Microsoft publishes information about an interface that is inferior to the interface that Microsoft itself uses to accomplish a function, or publishes incomplete information about an interface.

     * “Kick Me Interfaces” – Sometimes, Microsoft publishes information about an interface that Microsoft uses to perform a function, but it “marks” non-Microsoft software in a way that assures the interface will operate in an inferior way. Microsoft can “mark” competitors software through tagging, signing, encrypted passwords, or by noting the absence of such features.

     * “Moving Interfaces” – If, by some means, a third party has been able to obtain adequate interface information that Microsoft doesn’t want it to have, Microsoft will simply move the interface. For example, Novell successfully figured out how to enable its directory services software to interoperate with Windows NT. To counter Novell’s success, in Windows 2000 Microsoft broke up and moved the computer files containing the interface information used by Novell and marked, or signed, information required for the interfaces so that Novell could neither use Microsoft’s interface information nor replace it.

The typical result of such tactics is that Microsoft makes competing products appear inferior to Microsoft’s products. Microsoft’s actions may make a competing product appear slower, require more memory, or perform with limited functionality. These tactics also enable Microsoft to persuade customers to buy Microsoft’s inferior and/or more expensive products simply to avoid Microsoft’s roadblocks.(15)

15. Perhaps most remarkable, is the arrogance with which Microsoft exploits its anticompetitive efforts to impede interoperability. Microsoft, for example, repeatedly issues marketing materials that criticize products offered by Novell and other competitors for technical problems cause by Microsoft’s refusal to allow effective interoperability with Windows.

Thus, in 1998, Microsoft’s Website criticized Novell’s directory services product, NDS for NT, because “[i]t is not integrated with the operating system.” Further, Microsoft proclaimed that Windows NT is “successful,” because ” customers have found that Windows NT Server suits most of their needs now and they are confident that Microsoft will deliver on other functionality that they need in the near future. Such is the case with directory services.” In other words, in 1998, Microsoft admitted that it did not yet offer a competitive directory services middleware product, but it aggressively discouraged customers from using Novell’s product based on interoperability limitations created by Microsoft and its “promise” of improving its software sometime in the future. See NDS for NT: Increases Complexity and Cost Without Adding Value, available at http://www.strom.com/awards/98a.html (visited Jan. 13, 2002) (republication of paper appearing on Microsoft’s website until Jan. 22, 1998). Four years later, Microsoft’s Active Directory is still generally regarded as inferior to Novell’s eDirectory, yet continues to increase market share at Novell’s expense as a result of Microsoft’s anticompetitive acts. See, e.g., Products of the Year, Network Magazine (May 7, 2000), available at http://www.networkmagazine.com/article/NMG20010413S0005 (visited Jan. 15, 2002).
[/quote]

http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/cases/ms_tuncom/major/mtc-00029523.htm

AFAIK, most recent example of borked code is the requirement that a Microsoft server be a primary domain controller, else SMB/CIF would not work:

[quote]
J. Microsoft’s Campaign Against Rival Server Operating Systems

   “Sun, Oracle and Netscape are all pushing a new model of [almost] centralized computing. They all acknowledge that Microsoft holds tremendous sway over the desktop platform, so they all want to quickly strip as much value and spending as possible off the desktop and onto the server where they can charge premium prices and push their own platform offerings.”

   - Aaron Contorer, Microsoft C++ General Manager [107]

   What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”

   - Bill Gates, Microsoft [108]

In the mid to late 1990s, computer networks were growing in speed and Microsoft sensed a threat to its core operating system monopoly from more centralized, server-based computing. Determined to head off any potential competition, Microsoft decided that it needed to add server operating systems to the “moat” surrounding its Windows operating system monopoly. [109]

To gain inroads into this market, Microsoft embraced industry standards for file-and-print sharing, user management, and identity verification so that its products would be compatible with the then-prominent Unix server operating systems. [110]

But as Microsoft’s server systems started to gain a foothold in the market, Microsoft quietly started to “extend” support for industry standard protocols in its Windows operating system so that Windows clients would have a better experience when connected to Microsoft’s servers. [111]

Eventually, by changing its Windows personal computer operating system so that Windows computers could not fully connect to any server that did not use Microsoft’s proprietary extensions unless the users installed special software on their machines, Microsoft established and reinforced its dominance in the work group server operating system market,112 where Microsoft maintains a share of approximately 77%. [113]

Microsoft’s conduct eventually drew scrutiny from the European Commission, which condemned Microsoft’s refusal to release information that would allow other server operating systems to connect to personal computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system. [114]

In a 2004 decision, the European Commission found that if Microsoft succeeded in eliminating other server operating systems as competitive threats, then innovation would be severely limited. [115]

And, in fact, after releasing Windows Server 2003 to lukewarm reviews, [116]

Microsoft failed to release a new server version of Windows until 2008. [117]

Even then, many reviewers noted that, despite aggressive marketing to small- and midsize-business users and a special edition of the server operating system just for these users, Microsoft had done very little to address their needs, and instead had essentially re-packaged a scaled-down version of an existing enterprise-level product. [118]

107. EC Decision, supra note 52, ¶ 771.

108. EC CFI Judgment, ¶ 771.

109. A server operating system is an operating system for a server, a
device that performs services for connected personal computers as part of
a client-server architecture. In contrast, a client (or desktop)
operating system serves only a personal computer.

110. See Microsoft Corp., Windows NT and UNIX Interoperability, Oct. 1,
1997,

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/archive/winntas/deploy/ntunxint.mspx?mfr=true.

111. See EC Decision, supra note 52, ¶¶ 176–301.

112. See id. ¶¶ 236–301.

113. See IDC Workload Tracker 2007 (Worldwide Server Operating System Market Shares — Based on the IDC Server Workload Models in 2000 and 2007).

114. See EC Decision, supra note 52, ¶¶ 781–82.

115. See id.¶ 725 (“Microsoft’s research and development efforts are indeed spurred by the innovative steps its competitors take in the work group server operating system market. Were such competitors to disappear, this would diminish Microsoft’s incentives to innovate.”).

116. See Gregg Keizer, Microsoft Windows Server 2003: Experts Advise Caution, CHANNELWEB NETWORK, Apr. 19, 2003, http://www.crn.com/it-channel/18822436 (weighing the pros and cons of migrating to Windows Server 2003 and noting that many companies may want to “hold tight” rather than migrate).

117. See Steven Warren, Should You Upgrade to Windows Server 2008?, TECHREPUBLIC, Oct. 15, 2007, http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/datacenter/?p=209.

118. See Jason Brooks, A Head Full of Windows Server 2008, EWEEK, Nov. 9, 2007, http://blogs.eweek.com/brooks/content/windows/a_head_full_of_windows_server_2008.html (“Microsoft’s newly minted Windows Essential Business Server offers a very compelling answer to the question, ‘How can a midsize business consume all the same sorts of Microsoft core server products that a large enterprise might consume?’ … [A]n excellent answer to the wrong question.”).
[/quote]

From:

A History of Anticompetitive Behavior and Consumer Harm European Committee for Interoperable Systems
March 31, 2009
Pages 18 & 19

http://www.ecis.eu/documents/Finalversion_Consumerchoicepaper.pdf

It doesn’t take 6,000 pages of documentation so that simple clients and servers communicate, unless of course it has “weasel code”, IMHO.  IIRC, even the Perkin-Elmer PenNET OSI protocol was only one three ring binder. It contained all the information to create and modify code between PC’s and mainframe.

Thus, I think of a need for a new paradigm that regards open protocols and fair access to computer resources, which allow other vendor products besides Microsoft to freely communicate and work together.  Microsoft has a history of breaking that openness, to ensure its continued existence as the desktop monopoly.

This document from ECIS can be found in full (and in HTML form) right here. Microsoft still faces legal actions for its more recent abuses. Datel had sued Microsoft and Microsoft later sued Datel — a subject that we covered in:

“Judge Won’t Dismiss Antitrust Charges Against Microsoft For Breaking 3rd Party Xbox Memory Cards” reports TechDirt, which got hold of the documents.

You may remember back in October of last year that Microsoft publicly warned Xbox users who were using 3rd party memory cards for their Xbox that it was about to break those cards, and that users should, instead, transfer data to Microsoft’s own cards. Datel, a maker of third party cards apparently sued Microsoft, claiming antitrust violations in this move, and Eric Goldman points us to the news that a magistrate judge has rejected Microsoft’s request to dismiss most parts of the lawsuit.

[...]

Oh, and we should note that Microsoft just recently decided to target the very same Datel in a patent infringement lawsuit. Gee, I wonder why they picked Datel… Must be part of Microsoft’s belief in showing how “important [a] role IP plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem.” That, or the belief in punishing companies who sue you for antitrust with more legal fees.

Antitrust trouble is not over for Microsoft. But Microsoft is trying to put Google under antitrust trouble (using proxies [1, 2, 3, 4]) and the same goes for IBM.

ODF Turns 5

Posted in OpenDocument, Standard at 12:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brazil's ODF cap on Lula
Original

Summary: The ODF Alliance (official coordinator of OpenDocument Format) celebrates the 5th anniversary of the international standard

David LeDuc writes: “May 1, 2010, marked the fifth anniversary of the OpenDocument Format’s (OpenDocument v1.0 specification) approval as an OASIS Standard. In honor of this anniversary, the ODF Alliance has prepared a brief summary and timeline of ODF’s key milestones of the last five years. Congratulations, and happy birthday, ODF.”


ODF Turns Five: A Look Back on the Journey to a Mature Open Standard Document Format

May 1, 2010, marks the fifth anniversary of the OpenDocument Format (OpenDocument v1.0 specification) approval as an OASIS Standard. Although the full history of ODF dates back well before this five year period as a recognized industry standard, this date marks the unofficial beginning of a campaign for document freedom that many people probably didn’t expect would be so durable, or so significant.

ODF was created on the principles that interoperability and innovation were paramount, and that these are based on open standards. Not coincidentally, ODF’s creation coincided with the growing support of open ICT architectures, which grew from the Web model where the standardization of HTML, an open, royalty-free standard, enabled the Web to be an open platform that enabled much innovation on top of it. The key was interoperability, or the ability of multiple parties to communicate electronically, without the need that they all run the same application software or operating system. Also critical to the development of ODF was the introduction of OpenOffice.org, the open source office suite that first implemented the format, and the rise of XML as a widely-supported foundational standard for describing structured data.

In the pre-ODF era, office productivity application innovation had all but halted. The “.doc” emerged as a de-facto—but proprietary—format, but it only worked well with one vendor’s applications on one vendor’s operating system. At that time, people—more importantly governments—didn’t have much control of their own documents and there was little choice of applications.

However, over the last five years, ODF has led directly to the current environment where governments around the world increasingly understand and appreciate the value and utility of open formats, and more governments have made open standards-based solutions an essential feature of their eGovernment strategies and open ICT architectures.


Five years, twenty seven governments and myriad applications later, ODF is very well established—albeit continually a work in progress like any worthy format. Not only has ODF exceeded even the high expectations of many initial supporters, it can said without question that ODF has permanently altered the evolution of document formats for the better. Of course, the next five years are likely to be even more important, as more governments continue to implement their open frameworks. While we cannot gaze into a crystal ball to predict the next five years, following is a summary of ODF’s accomplishments—including a time line of these milestones—of the last five years. Congratulations, and happy birthday, ODF:

Standardization – After the initial approval of ODF 1.0 in OASIS on May 1st 2005, ODF was submitted to ISO/IEC JTC1 for approval, where it was unanimously approved as an International Standard in May 2006. February 2007 saw the approval of OASIS ODF 1.1, bringing several accessibility improvements. ODF 1.2, with RDF semantic web metadata, a detailed spreadsheet formula language and other features is expected to be approved by OASIS later in 2010.

Government Adoptions – ODF has become widely recognized and increasingly accepted by public sector authorities who increasingly understand and appreciate the value and utility of open formats, while more governments make open standards-based solutions an essential feature of their eGovernment strategies. As a result, ODF is today an integral part of the global open movement. To date, Twenty seven governments (national and provincial) have adopted pro-ODF open standards policies. These adoptions have occurred through laws, executive decisions, interoperability frameworks, or policy initiatives requiring or recommending the use of ODF between and among government agencies and in their interactions with the public.

ODF Application Support – ODF is widely implemented and available on all major platforms,including traditional desktop editors, as well as web and mobile applications. At this time, all leading office suites support ODF, as do an increasing number of mobile devices. The rise of ODF and demand for open formats has coincided—not coincidentally in our view—with a proliferation of new office productivity applications not seen since the PC was first introduced in the 1980s.

As Google Eats Microsoft’s Cash Cow Ballmer Finds New Attack Dogs in Yahoo!

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Search at 11:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0
Generic license (caption added by us, with Ballmer’s words

Summary: Microsoft cronies from Yahoo! badmouth Google, still; Google weakens Microsoft and contributes to the decline in the Office franchise

GOOGLE is a growth company, unlike Yahoo! In fact, Google grows at a healthy rate, alongside Apple for example (regardless of whether one likes it or not).

Having just received a huge bonus (and after Microsoft’s proxy fight put her in power), Carol Bartz is throwing some more patently false FUD at Google, not just formal complaints.

TechDirt responds with the post “Is Yahoo’s CEO Really In A Position To Tell Google What It Needs To Do?”

I don’t think that anyone judges Google based on how “interesting” they are. Is that the metric they use at Yahoo? Does that explain the $47 million she apparently made last year? Because she made Yahoo so interesting? Well, I guess it should be admitted that Yahoo is the company that is trying (and so far, failing) to patent “interestingness,” so perhaps she’s just urging Google to be interesting for the sake of a future patent fight? In the meantime, I would assume that, at Google, they judge the company based on how much money it makes — and on that front, it appears to be cleaning Yahoo’s clock on a pretty regular basis.

Google, which was almost a Yahoo! partner before Microsoft AstroTurfing broke that off and changed Yahoo’s management, is once again being mocked by allies of Microsoft (who also happen to compete with Google).

A pro-Microsoft ‘news’ site (been like this for ages) reminds us that Microsoft’s cash cow may be a key issue here; it is why search is not Microsoft’s main worry but harming/derailing Google through its own cash cow is the goal, even at the expense of $3 billion in losses per year (that’s Microsoft’s current pace of online deficit increase).

Is Google Eating Microsoft’s Cash Cow?

[..]

With numbers like those, Google only has to take a modest chunk of Office’s market share to do real harm to Microsoft’s bottom line. And with each new release, it looks more and more like Google is up to the task.

GNU/Linux is mentioned several times in this article, which is unusual for this pro-Microsoft source (Motley Fool).

Microsoft faces a threat to Office at two levels: the application level and the standard level (or format layer). Google Apps is proprietary, but at least it supports ODF and all platforms that can run a Web browser. According to IBM’s Rob Weir, ODF has just turned 5 and support for the international standard keeps expanding [1, 2, 3].

To fully appreciate the significance of ODF you need to understand the market climate in which it was created, and to understand that you need to understand a little of the history of word processors. The following time line illustrates the introduction dates of word processor applications over the past 30 years or so.

EurActiv has this new report which comes with the headline “EU eGovernment push ‘threatens Microsoft supremacy’.”

EU telecoms ministers took an important step towards diluting the market dominance of Microsoft’s Office software on Monday (19 April) when they agreed to roll out online services using more interoperable document formats, according to Brussels-based competition lawyers.

[...]

Following Monday’s meeting, governments across Europe are expected to follow Denmark and Norway’s lead by choosing open software standards for eGovernment services, like the freely-available Open Document Format (ODF).

Should their promise materialise, it could pose a threat to the 95% market share held by Microsoft applications, legal sources told EurActiv.

Earlier today we published some links about policies in Europe that favour Free software, not just standards. The difference is important and foes of Free software often try to blur the gap. Here is an example from Spain:

On 8 January 2010, Spain has adopted the Royal Decree 4/2010 which implements the National Interoperability Framework planned in the eGovernment Law 11/2007. The framework has been developed with the participation of all Public Administrations (General State, Regional and Local governments – represented by one hundred experts) and of the ICT Industry professional associations. The Decree includes important provisions, especially Articles 16 and 17 related to the reuse of Public Sector software, the applicable licensing condition and the use of software repositories or forges.

While we’re talking about Spanish rules, it is worth bringing attention to Rui Seabra’s many findings about the Magalhães. “The “public” procurement for laptops for kids in Portugal which demands Windows 7, Intel (in a hidden form) and OOXML,” he wrote yesterday. For more details and some background, see the links below.

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