05.12.10

Microsoft Mouthpieces Put a Number on Microsoft ‘Linux Tax’

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, SCO, Windows at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“What we’re seeing though now [from Microsoft] can be loosely described as patent terrorism, where people are using their patent horde as a threat…”

James Eagleton, systems product manager for Sun Microsystems

Summary: Rob Enderle puts a price tag on Linux/Android to deter companies from using it; Gartner’s software patents proponent does the same thing; CNET’s Ina Fried carries on participating in Microsoft’s patent terrorism with multiple dishonest articles about Android; Microsoft’s own mobile business is a total disaster as we show using new articles

LAST year we found out that Xandros was paying Microsoft $50 per copy of GNU/Linux for patent 'protection' (no patents are even named, but it’s just extortion/racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], so it’s part of the plan).

Now that Microsoft is increasing its attacks on Android (extortion against HTC after collecting ‘Android’ tax from LG, Kyocera Mita, and Samsung) we find this totally misinformed article from Associated Press. The headline says that Microsoft is “cozy” with HTC when signing that settlement, but the HTC-Microsoft agreement was apparently an extortion. There is nothing “cozy” about that, so Jessica Mintz is just playing along with Microsoft PR. “Google Pays Microsoft To Sell Google Nexus One,” says the weird headline of another news site. This same silly Web site says (in the headline) that “Apple & Microsoft Benefit From Android Phone Success”

What??? Apple?

A writer would have to be seriously out of touch to summarise the situation this way. This is extortion. It’s not about being “cozy” with Microsoft and it’s not about “Google Pay[ing] Microsoft To Sell Google Nexus One”. These reports are bound to deceive a lot of readers and benefit Microsoft’s racket, which is probably illegal in many countries. Here is a better example of coverage.

According to another article which cites another, 'Microsoft Enderle' says that $20-$40 is the size of the ‘Android tax’ or ‘Linux tax’.

A Bloomberg article has it that analyst Rob Enderle estimates that HTC, as well as other unnamed phone makers, may have to pay Microsoft $20 to $40 for each Android handset sold. Of course, analyst predictions can be (and often are) wrong. $40 per phone is way too much.

Rob Enderle also says that “Android is going to fall off as an expensive and risky platform”, unless Google manages to avoid paying that much money to Microsoft.

“If it’s 20 to 40, [this] is more than what Microsoft would get for [Windows] CE on the phone,” remarked our reader Oiaohm. Rob Enderle could just be lying here for FUD; he also insisted that SCO had a true case.

“Microsoft’s Got Nothin’,” explained one blogger, who makes the mistake of confusing patent deals in general with patent deals involving Linux (the first sentence is not correct).

In the last three years, Microsoft claims to have entered into over 600 licensing agreements with companies small and large over alleged patent violations in “Linux”. One consistent feature of all these agreements is that their contents are unknown. No one, other than Microsoft and the relevant “licensee”, knows which parts of “Linux” violate which patents. Another consistent feature is that most of the “licensees” are small companies without the resources to take on Microsoft in a patent claim. However, there are a number of larger or more high profile companies that have also entered into such agreements, including Amazon, Novell, Xandros, Turbolinux, TomTom and most recently HTC. The whole situation is clouded in mystery under a veil of PR speak and mumbo jumbo. So what the hell is going on? What can we deduce from what we know so far?

[...]

Because all of the licensing deals are confidential, no one knows “what” in “Linux” infringes on Microsoft’s patents. By keeping the “what” confidential, Microsoft does not need to identify the patents it claims are infringed. This means that Linux users cannot investigate these patents and analyse their potential validity if challenged.

[...]

Obviously, this whole article is based on conjecture and speculation, however, it is an interesting analysis, which may point to a number of conclusions in relation to Microsoft’s recent patent enforcement activity. First, Microsoft is worried – not specifically about Linux per se, but about the shift of the computing world to new appliance-like devices and the cloud. Linux being just one player in this space. Secondly, the patent claims against “Linux” are in fact based on the vfat file system, and attacking “Linux” vendors and distributors is a convenient way to hit both embedded device manufacturers and Linux distributors at the same time. Thirdly, the patents that Microsoft claims to be infringed by Linux are probably not particularly robust, and/or where they are robust, they can be easily coded around.

This post makes the incorrect assumption which is based on a claim attributed to Microsoft. Very few companies pay Microsoft for Linux. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of companies out there which sell Linux in one form or another. Only about a handful or maybe a dozen pay Microsoft for Linux; FAT is a separate matter and it was resolved last year with a patch whose availability got overshadowed by an announcement from Microsoft. We wrote about this before and provided the supporting links.

“Very few companies pay Microsoft for Linux.”In any event, this latest extortion against Android (it was not the first because LG, Kyocera Mita, and Samsung preceded it) was mentioned by Florian, who says that the “Gartner Group believes need to pay for patent licenses “puts a serious crimp in Android’s game plan”” and he points to longtime software patents proponent Brian Prentice [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Does he know who he references there? Gartner has been playing along with Microsoft's software patents spiel for quite a few years now.

Let’s explore Microsoft’s motives for attacking Linux so viciously while trying to paint itself as a friend of "Open Source". The short story is that Microsoft is dying in the mobile space, so unless it finds a way to sabotage or ‘milk’ its competitors’ business, its future is uncertain.

“Verizon runs low on Droid Incredibles,” says this new report, which is another sign that Linux-based phones are flying off the shelves because of customer demand (whereas Microsoft’s are taken off the shelves by sellers because no customers buy them).

Speculation has it that Verizon wasn’t prepared for the onslaught of Incredible buyers who had been holding out for Google’s Nexus One phones. Google last week indicated that it may not bring its own branded smartphone to Verizon, recommending Verizon consumers look at the Incredible instead.

The “Incredible” is an HTC phone, which means that Microsoft will make money from it (even though it contains not a single line of code from Microsoft). Here is a new video showing the phone.

HTC’s small yet power-packed Incredible phone has already bagged a rave review from us. If you want to see more of the phone, here’s a cool stop-motion animation video, via Engadget, that shows the unboxing of the Incredible.

TechRestore, an electronics repair shop, has taken apart the Incredible and then it put all back together.

PhonesReview asks, “Will Microsoft KIN Phones Lose out to HTC Droid Incredible?” Well, no matter which one people buy, Microsoft gets paid either way.

The latest handsets from Microsoft the KIN One and KIN Two have now become available, but according to an article over on strategyeye, the Microsoft KIN phones may well lose out to the likes of the HTC Droid Incredible, and even the Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus.

We’ll soon come to discussing the Palm Pre, whose Linux-based operating system is apparently also defeating Vista 7.

We ought to point out that HTC’s patent deal/settlement with Microsoft came around the same time that HTC hyped up Windows. The ‘Microsoft press’ called it “Redmond vs. Android” and there are signs that Microsoft’s actions act as a deterrent to those who wanted to use Android in their products (BlackBerry maker for starters) (another site asks, “Will RIM’s New Operating System Save It Market Share?”). That’s just what Microsoft intended, other than the intent to tax products it does not own.

Microsoft’s booster from CNET (Ina Fried, who also pasted Microsoft’s patent terrorism against Android) has co-authored and published the article titled “Patent fights could change Google’s Android pitch”

Recent moves from Apple and Microsoft show that the big guys are not going to be shy about deploying their array of patents as competition increases.

More shameless FUD from Fried. Are people still reading CNET at all? What is this?

“Ina Fried is therefore no better than SCO boosters like Rob Enderle and Laura DiDio.”In another article from Fried, it says: “In a statement to CNET, Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said that, although Microsoft prefers to resolve intellectual property licensing issues without resorting to lawsuits, it has a responsibility to make sure that “competitors do not free ride on our innovations…”

At Groklaw, Pamela Jones responded to the above portion by saying: “That’s exactly what SCO said.”

Ina Fried is therefore no better than SCO boosters like Rob Enderle and Laura DiDio. CNET is just starting to look like more of a joke than we already knew it was, with Fried carrying the torch [1, 2] of Microsoft FUD.

Microsoft’s frantic response to Android is not too surprising. Android is said to be the fastest-growing mobile platform, whereas “WinMo and Zune depress Microsoft’s mobile sales,” says this new report

As part of its Q3 results announcement, Microsoft said revenue in its mobile and entertainment division – excluding the Xbox gaming platform – fell by $80m. Windows Mobile has lost over 20% of its smartphone market share in the past four months, according to estimates from comScore, with Android the main predator. In the US – the best market for both OSs because of the weakness of market leader Symbian – the study says WinMo has just 15.1%, while Android has doubled its share in a year, to 9%, and is sure to hit double figures very soon.

Microsoft is dying in the mobile space and we know this because the company is leaping to vapourware again. Windows Phone 7 is not even out yet and they are already talking about Windows Phone 8. Should we laugh or should we cry? One thing is for sure: Microsoft boosters like Mary Jo Foley are promoting Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 in the most futile of ways (with question marks and words like “maybe” because they don’t believe what they write anymore).

Mary Jo Foley is also writing for the ‘Microsoft press’ now (unless it’s just a mirror), which removes most pretenses of unbiased reporting/opinions. As another new article points out, there are no applications for Windows Phone 7 (or hardly any).

Microsoft is still trying to generate hype using journalists*, but largely negative reviews continues to flow in. How about this roundup from Information Week?

KIN Reviews: Microsoft Phones A Flop?

The early reviews are in for Microsoft’s new KIN phones—and pundits, for the most part, aren’t overly impressed with Redmond’s attempt at a mobile device geared primarily toward social-networkers.

In our previous posts about KIN [1, 2, 3] we showed many more negative reviews. There is a limit to how many journalists Microsoft can bribe incentivise with phones that are not yet available to the public. Microsoft used similar tricks to preset a consensus and glorify Vista 7 (Vista with a new name and marketing/AstroTurfing campaign) before real customers could review it.

The company is now filing for the “Kinect” trademark. What a repellent word. Is this another attempt to compensate for bad products using branding? We gave several such examples earlier in the week.
______
* Or boosters masquerading as journalists, Todd Bishop for example because he can’t ever say anything negative about Microsoft products, not to mention those givings of schwag to boosters like Ina Fried , who also did the same thing when Zune was released and then hyped it up quite a lot in CNET.

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