Summary: New Bilski links and another possible linkage between Florian Müller and Microsoft
HERE are several new articles/blog posts about the Bilski case.
• High Court Considers H&C Brief in Landmark Bilski Ruling
Noted European patent expert Georg Jakob, who signed onto the amicus brief and coordinated retaining Hopkins & Carley to file the FFII amicus brief had this to say: “Today’s Supreme Court decision highlights the fact that real checks and balances are needed in to stop the patent system from running Amok. We need substantial patent reform in Europe now and real Courts that control the patent office. It might be uncomfortable, but the European Court of Justice can not run away from this responsibility. The core rules of innovation must not be left to apparatchiks, as the U.S.A. has shown us.”
• Bilski v. Kappos: The Supreme Court Declines to Prohibit Business Method Patents
In short, the ruling has done little to clean up the mess the CAFC helped created in 1998, when it decided State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, and opened the doors to patents for novel methods of doing business. That ruling knocked patent law loose from its historical moorings and injected patents into business areas where they were neither needed nor wanted. The results had been nothing short of disastrous: a flood of patent applications for services like arbitration, tax-planning, legal counseling, charity fundraising, and even a “system for toilet reservations.” In its Bilski opinion, the CAFC tried to fix the problem by effectively overruling State Street. Yesterday’s ruling eroded the CAFC’s limits on process patents, and thus missed an opportunity to fix some of the problems with those patents.
• Second Thoughts On Bilski: Could Another Case Get A Direct Ruling On Business Method Patentability?
So, I already wrote one initial post on the Bilski ruling, where the court basically seems to punt on the larger questions of the patentability of business methods by focusing very narrowly on whether or not Bilski’s specific patent is valid. However, as you read through the “concurring” rulings (pdf), it does seem like many members of the court want, very badly, to outlaw business method patents, but weren’t able to do so this time around. The court really had one clear question to look at here: whether or not the Federal Circuit’s “machine or transformation” test for patents made sense. The court ruled that this was not the only test, so the Federal Circuit erred on that part, even if there were plenty of other reasons to reject Bilski’s specific patent. The majority opinion by Kennedy makes it clear that the court is not making any statements on what is “excluded” from patentability. But the concurring opinions seem to have a serious problem with this. There are two concurring opinions and both express concerns about business method patents.
• Botching Bilski
It is truly tragic that this view narrowly failed to prevail – four judges were in agreement, but five wanted the weaker result that became the main opinion – since it encapsulates all that is wrong with the US patent system’s approach to business method and software patents.
Unfortunately, in the wake of Bilski, it will probably be some years before the Supreme Court addresses this issue again, with the result that many more billions of dollars will be wasted on US litigation around software patents. Worse, the botched opportunity to bring some sense to this area is likely to have knock-on effects around the world, which means that we will all suffer its negative consequences.
• Bilski & Warsaw Share Insights
As an entrepreneur/inventor/person who raises money for my companies, the patent system is a rich man’s game, and as I learned not to play poker with millionaires because they will simply raise the stakes until I can’t keep up, large corporations will eventually raise the litigation stakes until I lose.
• Who lost Bilski vs. Kappos besides Bilski & Warsaw? Ten answers
The notion of Free Software is fundamentally incompatible with software patents. Ciarán O’Riordan, the director of the EndSoftPatents.org campaign, made a statement at a European Commission hearing four years ago where he accurately said that software patents and free software don’t mix whether you cut the price of a patent in half or double it.
But the other part of FOSS, the open source community, is equally affected. While it doesn’t emphasize the concept of freedom as much as Richard Stallman and his followers, I know many open source advocates who are no less opposed to software patents than RMS is.
I venture to guess that the Bilski ruling will represent an obstacle to GPLv3 adoption. I wish the whole world could accept the patent clause in GPLv3, which is meant to counter patent licensing deals by FOSS companies and other entities, but under the circumstances it will be very hard to convince businesses and other contributors to FOSS development that this our-way-or-the-highway approach works in the world we (currently) live in.
• Breaking: Biotech and the Supremes: Prometheus Follows Bilski to Highest Court (For Just a Moment)
Yesterday the Supreme Court issued its decision in the highly anticipated patent case, Bilski v. Kappos. Contrary to some expectations, the Court decided Bilski on narrow grounds, leaving the state of biotechnology patents largely untouched.
• Justice Scalia’s Indecision a Victory for the Patent Bar
Bilski v. Kappos was the most-anticipated Supreme Court patent case in a generation. And when it was finally handed down on Monday, it turned out to be the most anticlimactic.
There’s been a raging debate about software and “business method” patents since an appeals court gave the green light to them in 1998. Many people, myself included, hoped that the Supreme Court would place new limits on such patents this term.
But Bilski turned out to be a bad test case. The applicant, one Bernard L. Bilski, tried to patent a “method for managing the consumption risk costs of a commodity.” If that doesn’t sound like the sort of thing patents are supposed to cover, that’s because it’s not. Almost no one other than Bilski and his attorney believed that he should get his patent.
• Guest Post on Bilski: Throwing Back the Gauntlet
Ultimately, Bilski v Kappos says more about how patent law is made in the United States than about patentable subject matter. By setting the clock back to 1982, the Supreme Court is telling the Federal Circuit to try again in devising workable rules for patent law. The Federal Circuit wrote an opinion that was goading the Supreme Court to address the issue of patentable subject matter after nearly three decades. The resulting opinion raises some fundamental and unsettled questions and, unfortunately, gives us the same, old answers.
• Narrow Bilski ruling leaves all options open for the future
The Supreme Court of the United States delivered its ruling on the Bilski landmark case yesterday. A split court issued a very narrow ruling, avoiding broad decisions on patentability. The Court explicitly refused to weigh in on the scope and limits of the patent system, stating that “nothing in this opinion should be read to take a position on where that balance ought to be struck”.
“We are pleased, but we feel the Supreme Court did not go far enough in banning all patents on abstract ideas such as software and business methods”, comments Benjamin Henrion on the outcome. The President of the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) has a 10 years record of promoting patent reforms in the European Union, often to prevent “deterioration to US patenting standards”.
• Bilski loses, but the patent madness continues
Once upon a time, the U.S. patent system served a useful purpose. It was meant to encourage inventors and innovation. Ha! Boy, was that a long time ago. Now patents, especially software patents, serve only as bludgeons for patent trolls — companies that do nothing but own patents and then threaten to sue companies that actually do something with ideas — or they’re used by big companies to beat up on smaller ones. I had hoped that the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) would do the right thing in the Bilski case and slap both business process and software patents down once and for all. SCOTUS didn’t. While SCOTUS ruled against Bilski, the Court left the door open for IP (intellectual property) patents (PDF Link) to be granted.
• First thoughts on Bilski
I’m afraid that at the end of this brief train ride, my only firm conclusion can be that the real winners here are patent lawyers- this decision creates no new certainties, only uncertainties, which will encourage patenters to spend more money patenting things, and the rest of us to waste time and energy worrying about the problem- time and energy that should have been spent on innovating. But this is a long, multi-layered ruling, and will require a lot of time for the full implications to be truly understood, so take this one-train-ride blog post with a large grain of salt Hopefully more writing tonight/tomorrow.
• US Supreme Court rejects Bilski patent but nothing else
Reaction from the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) was immediate. Eben Moglen, Chairman of the SFLC, said “The confusion and uncertainty behind today’s ruling guarantees that the issues involved in Bilski v. Kappos will have to return to the Supreme Court after much money has been wasted and much innovation obstructed”. Daniel Ravicher, the SFLC’s legal director said the court had missed an opportunity to “send a strong signal that ideas are not patentable subject matter” and that the rejection of the Bilski patent “got rid of a symptom, but failed to treat the real cause”.
• Software Freedom Law Center Responds to Landmark Supreme Court Patent Decision
Attributable to Eben Moglen: “The landscape of patent law has been a cluttered, dangerous mess for almost two decades,” said Eben Moglen, Chairman of the Software Freedom Law Center. “The confusion and uncertainty behind today’s ruling guarantees that the issues involved in Bilski v. Kappos will have to return to the Supreme Court after much money has been wasted and much innovation obstructed.”
• Microsoft was against software patents before it was for them
Given the support of major corporations like IBM — and, perhaps, a “reformed” Microsoft — for patent protection, Mueller lamented that “it is hard to see how the opponents of software patents could successfully lobby the United States Congress.”
Watch Microsoft lobbyist ACT recommending Florian Müller after he privately pointed to their analysis/jubilation. Yes, a Microsoft lobbyist says that Müller “delivers the most insightful analysis of who lost in Bilski”. It’s just a tad interesting. He is now on some sort of a mission to “expose” Groklaw. These are “a couple thousand words on Mueller’s threat to “expose” groklaw’s “bias” in banning certain users (the specific case was Jay Maynard – Hercules maintainer),” writes Barbara. “I think the picture is apropos ” █
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Another initiative from our side was to make the Microsoft IT support guys and companies comfortable with linux . We had started conducting the free workshop on open source solutions targeting them. Last workshop was on Zimbra mailing solution.The workshop was designed in such a way that the attendees(mostly MS guys) after the workshop said to us . They never knew giving mailing solution in Linux was so easy. In this workshops we do not stress to much on ideas behind OS.We show them a solution which they can use, or sell.Here Linux is propagated through this MS IT support guys
As I mentioned in an earlier Linux Journal article, I decided to cut the apron strings with my television provider over a year ago. Bye bye, DISH Satelite TV!
Man, you should have heard them whimper. “But sir, is there anything we can do to keep your business?”
“No, thanks. I get all of my content off the internet now. Have you tried Hulu.com*? It’s great!” I can be a real jerk sometimes.
The Bureau of Meteorology claims to have saved considerable sums on software licensing by embracing open source software during a server virtualisation drive.
When the Bureau of Meteorology shifted to using server virtualisation, one major benefit for scientists was the ability to deploy individual servers for specialised processing tasks.
Sadly, the Nouveau driver remains to be just a community effort with no official support from NVIDIA even though the popular GPU company had dropped their open-source 2D driver. As such, the Nouveau driver has not been maturing as quickly as the open-source ATI Radeon driver stack that has more active developers along with official support from AMD. For our testing of the Nouveau Gallium3D driver today, we ran the open-source driver (and then NVIDIA’s binary driver) on a NVIDIA GeForce 8500GT, GeForce 8800GT, and GeForce 9800GTX graphics cards.
Both Fillmore and Lombard come from Yorba, the non-profit software group behind Shotwell with a goal to make it as “easy to work with media using Linux as on a Mac or Windows computer”.
It seems like Yorba is focused on using Vala to bring a suite of media apps to GNOME. It seems to me that Vala has taken some FUD for being underused, so it’s interesting to see an organized effort adopt it and produce some nice looking apps.
According to OpenShot creator Jonathan Thomas, the long awaited feature will “bring the power of Blender, the creativity of the Blender community (in the form of templates) to OpenShot in the most intuitive interface possible”. After selecting a 3D template, users can customise their settings, such as the text, colour, size and font, and render the animation (created as a RGBA image sequence) so that it can be added to their OpenShot project as a clip. The developers consider the new feature to be at an “alpha” stage of development and note that it will not be available until the next version is released.
Best is subjective. My best may not be your best. Still, I wanted to share with you my perception of the best Linux games you can have installed on your machine, in year 2010, Gregorian Calendar. These games offer an unrivaled mix of storyline, attention to detail and a balance between realism and plain ole fun. These are more than just games you will play for a few minutes and then toss away forever. These are games that you will keep returning to, even if they sit abandoned on the digital shelf for a a few months or even years. They are special.
Qt Quick works by combining an enhanced Qt Creator IDE, a new easy-to-learn declarative language that will be instantly familiar to many developers (QML) and a new module in the Qt library called QtDeclarative.
K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)
Hopefully with the porting of the KDE PIM suite of applications to akonadi in 4.5.1, all of the necessary frameworks for delivering on the KDE SC 4.x promise, will be in place. But I don’t think that 4.5 will deliver the full bloom referred to in the release notes. Hopefully the stabilisation of KDE SC 4.5 will lay the foundation for things to bloom fully in 4.6.
On June 1st, 2010, KDE Blog, one of the foremost KDE-focused blogs in Spanish, celebrated the publication of its 1500th post. The occasion seemed to be the perfect excuse to chat with its author, Baltasar Ortega, and to ask him a few questions about himself, blogging, and how KDE is going to take over the world. Read on for his insightful and passionate answers.
Several weeks ago, I ended a comparison of the KDE 4 and 3 desktops by saying “Unless a project takes over KDE 3 development, sooner or later it may become unusable with the latest generation of computers.”
What I had missed — free software being a large place where events move at near-light speeds — was that a project had already taken over KDE 3 development. It’s called Trinity KDE, and is organized by Timothy Pearson, who has been releasing Kubuntu releases that use KDE 3.5 for some time. According to Facebook rumor, he has been planning to revive KDE 3 for some time.
Linux is certainly available for everyone. And with the right tools, it is even possible to make it available to those with disabilities. Both KMag and KMouseTool makes Linux possible for those who might not have been able to without such tools.
Desktop applications for ‘Information Management’ that go beyond conventional card-index style databases are hard to find. The ideas behind such software are perhaps not that well known, so a prototype program, Knowledge, has been developed to put them firmly into the public domain.
This is a nice collection of themes for ubuntu and Gnome
8 More Linux Distributions for Web Server: I’ve already shared with you a list of some of the best and most well-known Linux distributions used on web servers. However, there are still plenty of excellent server-oriented Linux distros that I failed to mention there. So I think it is important to make a follow up post and bring you another round of Linux distributions for web server.
Puppy Linux. One of the most iconic Linux distros out there. I have played around with them for what seems like ages, and have found reasons to both love and hate them over the years.
As of recently Puppy has been built from Ubuntu, and I take a look at the newest release…
Red Hat Family
In a conversation with MSPmentor, a the recent Red Hat Partner Summit, CEO Jim Whitehurst clearly said that his company is not pinning its fortunes on desktop Linux. He made clear that Red Hat will continue to develop and support its desktop Linux offering, but won’t make a substantial push with it.
In his keynote speech at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst made the case that of the $1.3 trillion USD spent in 2009 on Enterprise IT globally, $500 billion was essentially wasted (due to new project mortality and Version 2.0-itis). Moreover, because the purpose of IT spending is to create value (typically $6-$8 for each $1 of IT spend), the $500 billion waste in enterprise IT spending translates to $3.5 trillion of lost economic value. He goes on to explain that with the right innovations—in software business models, software architectures, software technologies, and applications—we can get full value from the money that’s being wasted today, reinforcing the thesis that innovation trumps cost savings.
Red Hat’s virtualization pitch is pretty simple: The company claims RHEV is more scalable and lower cost than VMware. But Red Hat concedes it has to improve the management tools surrounding RHEV. It sounds like Red Hat eventually hopes to leapfrog VMware with a potent combo (the forthcoming RHEL 6 and RHEV 2.3 releases) over the long haul.
A leadership change is always momentous, and the Fedora Project is no exception to this rule. I wanted to share some thoughts about being the Fedora Project Leader, tell the community about the person who will be taking over that role soon, and to let you know what to expect over the next few weeks and months.
Every Fedora release provides an opportunity for renewal and change. Our recent release of Fedora 13, which is being hailed by many as one of our best releases ever, is no exception. As we embark on another exciting development cycle, we also have the opportunity to renew the leadership of the Fedora Project as part of our commitment to change and evolution. In July, Jared Smith will join Red Hat as the new Fedora Project Leader, taking over the role from Paul Frields.
Congratulations, Jef, on a job well-done! By the way, Jef is a second-year industrial design student from the Netherlands, and this was his first contribution to open source. Also worth noting, Jef has since taken on two other design tickets as well as worked on some mockups for Design Hub, so he is whooping some serious behind (or skulking stealthily about with a Gimp katana or Inkscape nunchucks at the ready, as ninjas prefer to do)!
Debian and Ubuntu are distributions that lend themselves naturally to comparison. Not only is Ubuntu a continuing fork of Debian, but many of its developers also work on Debian.
Even more important, you sometimes hear the suggestion that Ubuntu is a beginner’s distribution, and that users might consider migrating to Debian when they gain experience.
However, like many popular conceptions, the common characterizations of Debian and Ubuntu are only partially true. Debian’s reputation as an expert’s distribution is partly based on its state a decade ago, although it does provide more scope for hands-on management if that is what you want. Similarly, while Ubuntu has always emphasized usability, like any distro, much of its usability comes from the software that it includes — software that is just as much a part of Debian as of Ubuntu.
My portable music player only plays MP3 and WMA format files, so I rip CD’s into MP3. I hadn’t ripped a CD since installing Debian, so coming across this post on the Debian forum, I checked and found that MP3 in Audio CD Extractor was not enabled. Following the instructions in the post, I was able to enable ripping into MP3.
Flavours and Variants
The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 9 KDE RC.
Based on the Android operating system, Cisco Cius is an open platform for communication and collaboration whose form factor and applications are designed to more securely connect employees on-the-go with the right people in real-time, and to provide those workers with the ability to access and share the content they need from any place on the network.
A novice climbed the mountain and asked the guru for advice. The guru said, “when I hire, I want to know you’re a good developer. I am much more likely to hire you if I can see public commits in an open source repository. I love to hire open source developers and recommend you do it too.”
Google’s choice a few weeks ago, to use a modified version of the BSD open-source license for its WebM format and VP8 codec raised the discussion of open-sourcing to a level that it was covered by more than just the tech media.
Mozilla and Firefox are in uncharted territory in Indonesia because we enjoy being the dominant browser. Firefox’s share on many of the top Indonesian websites is between 65-75%. It’s not clear exactly why Firefox is so popular (I go into more detail below), but I believe Mozilla needs to be more active in Indonesia moving forward in order to keep the market share that we have today, and to understand why Firefox is as popular as it is for both the Indonesian market as well as other emerging markets (other parts of S. E. Asia and S. America at the very least.)
If you have been using a previous version of Firefox 3.7, which now officially becomes Firefox 4.0, you should feel already comfortable with this new version. Mozilla has not posted detailed release notes yet, but there seem to be no major changes from Firefox 3.7a6-pre, with the exception that the browser is running more smoothly and with fewer crashes.
Students around the world love Mozilla’s products and embrace our mission. Our 2,100 student evangelists have a global presence, reaching schools in 77 countries around the world. To more effectively communicate with our student leaders, we are going international with our student guide as well.
SaaS or Fake/Obscure Open Source
When I spoke at the Transfer Summit in Oxford last week, I invited the delegates to join me in reforming the Open Source Initiative (OSI). I repeated the explanation I made here, that OSI needs to be rebuilt in the light of a re-projection of software freedom for a new decade. In articulating the challenges facing open source after ten years of success, I asserted – as I usually do – that “open core” is one of the big challenges facing open source. This surprised some delegates.
Last week Mårten Mickos, the former CEO of MySQL and new CEO of cloud technology company Eucalyptus, indicated in an interview that he considers open core to be the best model for a new business exploiting open source software. He said
“We deliver a fully functional cloud with Eucalyptus software. You can download it on a GPL v3 license. But, additionally, we provide enterprise features only if you pay for them … it’s open core,”
On that first point, I would argue that tons of companies are, actually, billion dollar open source companies: Google, IBM, Facebook and many others, for example, all rely heavily on open source software and are valued at well over a billion dollars. It’s unlikely that any of the three would be anywhere near what they are today without open source software. It’s just that all of these companies were smart enough not to be in the bad business of selling an infinite good. Instead, they all looked for ways to use an infinite good — for free — to make something scarce massively more valuable. With Google it was user’s attention and all of the information out on the web. With IBM it was services to support enterprise technology. Even Redhat, the company that kicked off this discussion, really makes its money from services and expertise.
Zack Urlocker, a board member and executive for several open source companies, points out the trade-off between the degree of sharing and revenue: “Apache has a great license model that enables the wide adoption of open source software, but there have been few significant businesses — none approaching even $100 million in revenue — based on a permissive license model” such as Apache’s.
Junto is an environment for open discussion, combined with a public backchannel. it’s not about being a platform – it’s more of a meme and a mindset of collaboration and cooperation. Junto was a club started by Benjamin Franklin for mutual exchange of knowledge and information and personal and business development. When I proposed the concept of Junto, it was in that spirit that the community of people who believe “we can’t do it alone” would model the behavior online of what generative dialogue and open innovation looks like.
Rufus Pollock, founder, The Open Knowledge Foundation
How, in your experience, have web technologies been employed to make the world a better place?
The internet and new digital technologies have had and will continue to have a huge impact on the way that knowledge is disseminated in society. Sharing knowledge more effectively has the potential to improve the world in all kinds of ways — from closing the loop between citizens and public bodies, allowing for greater accountability and improved service provision, to improving large-scale collaboration in science, e.g. on the development of life-saving drugs and treatments. Better knowledge sharing enables us to understand some of the world’s biggest problems — from our changing climate to our troubled economies — and to respond to them more effectively. In addition to these extrinsic merits, digital content can also be intrinsically valuable — such as in the case of classic literary or musical works which have entered the public domain or recordings of lecture courses which anyone can freely listen to and share.
For the third meeting we’ll be asking the question “what factors contribute to the success of an open source hardware project?”, and using Arduino and derivatives LilyPad Arduino and the concurrency.cc board as the basis for an informal case study
Listening to marketing messages from companies such as Apple and Google, one might think HTML5, the next-generation Web page standard, is ready to take the Net by storm.
But the words of those producing the specification show an HTML governance process that can be stormy, fractious, and far from settled down. The World Wide Web Consortium’s return to HTML standardization after years of absence has produced tensions with the more informal Web Hypertext Application Working Group (WHATWG) that shouldered the HTML burden during that absence.
Some examples of language that’s cropped up this month on the W3C’s HTML Working Group mailing list: “childish,” “intolerable,” “ridiculous,” “shenanigans.” And there’s a concrete manifestation of the divisiveness: The WHATWG and W3C versions of the HTML5 specification, though both stemming from the same source material, have diverged in some areas.
But where will those developers look to find that standard? The W3C, a recognized standards body that includes the participation of Microsoft and carries patent policy that attempts to ease patent-infringement worries?
But where will those developers look to find that standard? The W3C, a recognized standards body that includes the participation of Microsoft and carries patent policy that attempts to ease patent-infringement worries?
The HTML disputes come at a time when the W3C, under the leadership of new chief executive Jeff Jaffe, is trying to reclaim some of its power.
“There is much new innovation, and the Web will benefit if the community brings their work to W3C,” Jaffe said last week in a blog post, adding that the W3C is trying to become more agile and open.
Developers Ronald Bultje, David Conrad, and Jason Garret-Glaser are creating a native VP8 video codec implementation for the open source FFmpeg project. The aim of this effort is to bring first-class VP8 support to FFmpeg and demonstrate the feasibility of producing an independent VP8 implementation.
After the math department at the University of Texas noticed some of its Dell computers failing, Dell examined the machines. The company came up with an unusual reason for the computers’ demise: the school had overtaxed the machines by making them perform difficult math calculations.
An independent study on the previous government’s controversial child protection database highlighted significant security and privacy risks.
Despite fine words from high-ranking police officers, an unpleasant incident in Romford last week suggests that officers on the ground are no nearer understanding or respecting photographers’ rights.
In the early hours of June 18 the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tor Project released a beta of a Firefox extension dubbed “HTTPS Everywhere” with the intention of providing encryption of user data when visiting certain sites. According to the official announcement, “HTTPS Everywhere” will provide SSL encryption to sites like Google Search, Wikipedia, Twitter and Identi.ca, and Facebook.
The name “HTTPS Everywhere” is a bit misleading. Besides Google Search, Wikipedia, Twitter and Identi.ca, and Facebook this extension also works on the EFF and Tor sites, Ixquick, DuckDuckGo, Scroogle, other small search engines, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Paypal, and many other sites that offer HTTPS encryption. But that’s hardly everywhere.
A Virgin Islands-based financial manager ran a $105 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded 400 investors by falsely claiming to invest in foreign currencies, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged Monday.
President Obama warned Sunday that the world economic recovery remains “fragile” and urged continued spending to support growth, an expansionist call at the end of a summit marked by an agreement among developed nations to halve their annual deficits within three years.
A number of commenters have pointed out that unemployment has been falling in Germany over the past few months. Um, yes — but not in the eurozone as a whole. And that is what we’re talking about here, aren’t we? Or is European monetary and fiscal policy to be run solely based on how things are going in one country?
An organization bringing together the world’s major central banks warned Monday that the global economy risks a replay of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, with massive public debt in Europe and the United States replacing the private debt that fueled the credit crunch two years ago.
OUR nation’s Congressional machinery was humming last week as legislators reconciled the differences between the labyrinthine financial reforms proposed by the Senate and the House and emerged early Friday morning with a voluminous new law in hand. They christened it the Dodd-Frank bill, after the heads of the Senate Banking and House Financial Services Committees who drove the process toward the finish line.
An organization bringing together the world’s major central banks warned Monday that the global economy risks a replay of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, with massive public debt in Europe and the United States replacing the private debt that fueled the credit crunch two years ago.
LAST week in Washington, the House and Senate reached agreement on a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s architecture of financial regulation.
Well before Congress reached agreement on the details of its financial overhaul legislation, industry lobbyists and consumer advocates started preparing for the next battle: influencing the creation of several hundred new rules and regulations.
To keep taxpayers from having to bail out giant banks again, lawmakers faced two choices: design rules to try to prevent them from failing, or shrink them so that if they do fail, they won’t threaten the financial system.
Wall Street banks such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase Co. lost a major battle as U.S. lawmakers crafted a final financial overhaul bill Friday that will cut into their trading and derivatives profits.
A sweeping overhaul of financial regulations faced new obstacles in the Senate on Monday – the loss of one and potentially more crucial votes to guarantee its passage.
The financial overhaul bill set for passage sometime next week is supposed to “bring accountability to Wall Street.” In announcing an agreement between the House and Senate last week, Senator Christopher Dodd noted that “the American people have called on us to set clear rules of the road for the financial industry to prevent a repeat of the financial collapse that cost so many so dearly.”
The next Great Crash is coming. Guaranteed.
Not since the Great Depression, when the mighty House of Morgan was cleaved in two, have Washington lawmakers rewritten the rules for Wall Street as extensively as they did on Friday.
Morgan Stanley, the sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets, agreed to pay $102 million to settle claims by Massachusetts that the firm financed and securitized unfair residential loans, state Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
The New York delegation’s role in changing the Wall Street reform bill to alter the provision regulating derivatives was a rare political moment — much of the heavily Democratic group was actually on the same page.
A former hedge fund manager, Williams would not discuss the substance of the call. But he said the conversation eased any lingering concerns he had over the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on April 16.
Britain’s new bank levy will have a “minimal” impact on U.S. investment banks with operations in London, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. likely to pay only a sixth of the bill it faces for the bonus tax.
Three of the five U.S. banks that dominate swaps trading already perform most transactions outside their depository institutions and would face minimal disruption from a congressional proposal to reorder the derivatives business, financial statements and banking records show.
The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission will focus on the role of derivatives in the financial crisis, particularly the relationship between Goldman and AIG.
Cassano, Goldman Sachs’s Cohn to Testify to Crisis Commission
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is considering advertising for first time in a bid to improve its battered reputation, and has even discussed placing Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein on the “The Oprah Show,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
Weinstein Co., the film studio run by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, reached an agreement with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to eliminate its $450 million in debt, a person with knowledge of the terms said.
Movie studio The Weinstein Co has agreed to a major debt restructuring that gives Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Assured Guaranty Ltd (AGO.N) possession of as many as 250 films in its library, the Wall Street Journal said.
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, could have been following in the footsteps of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, in using an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show to attempt to revitalise his and the bank’s tarnished image.
Time was, if you were, say, a hedge fund client of Goldman Sachs, you knew not to expect much in the way of bedside manner. No coddling, no hand holding, no Shmoopy Talk. You could try getting them on the phone, but that was generally futile, as all client calls were automatically rerouted to the Rejection Line. Oh, you felt like you weren’t getting enough attention? You wondered if maybe there was a chance they were sometimes screwing you? Too bad. The way GS saw it, you were lucky if they didn’t nut in your eye. Your only recourse was to roll over and take it, or GTFO. Since the whole “SEC fraud charge,” however, things have changed.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was ordered to pay $20.6 million, the largest arbitration award levied against the securities firm, to unsecured creditors of Bayou Group LLC who accused Goldman of ignoring signs of fraud at the hedge-fund firm.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. spent $1.15 million lobbying the government during the first quarter on issues tied to financial regulatory reform and the housing market, according to lobbying disclosure filings.
The $1.15 million the Wall Street bank spent during the first three months of the year is 72 percent more than it spent during the same quarter last year. It is also 67 percent more than Goldman spent lobbying the government during the final three months of 2009.
Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co., the lender to the owners of Florida’s Sawgrass Marriott Resort, failed to win bankruptcy court permission to take over and sell the company’s assets.
While Congress puts finishing touches on its financial-regulatory overhaul, Wall Street lobbyists are preparing for a new battle out of the public spotlight and inside nearly a dozen federal agencies.
Its excoriating takedown of Goldman Sachs last summer was one of the most provocative and widely debated pieces of journalism to come out of the financial crisis. In the article, the writer Matt Taibbi described the investment bank as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
Google Inc. has announced a “new approach” in China after the government said the company could no longer automatically redirect users to the unfiltered Hong Kong site.
Companies opposed to Network Neutrality spent more than 4 times as much money on lobbying last quarter than organizations in support of it, according to a report on new hearings on the subject by watchdog organization Sunlight Foundation. Net Neutrality opponents spent $19.7 million in lobbying in the first quarter of 2010 -supporters only $4.7 million.
As the US Copyright Group continues with its plans to force settlements from thousands of individuals who they claim illegally shared copyright movies using BitTorrent, opposition to their turn-piracy-into-profit scheme grows. Tomorrow the EFF steps up to the mark in a federal court to argue for the breaking up of the lawsuits. If successful they could strike a significant blow to this operation.
A few months ago, Britain’s archivists, educators, independent artists and technologists were up in arms over the digital economy bill, a dreadful piece of legislation that ignored all the independent experts’ views on how to improve Britain’s digital economy; instead, it further rewarded the slow-moving entertainment companies that refused to adapt to the changing marketplace and diverted even more public enforcement resources to shoring up their business-models.
The bill was passed despite enormous public outcry, without real parliamentary debate, in a largely empty house, hours before parliament dissolved for the election. Despite reassuring promises to their constituents, huge numbers of MPs just didn’t bother to show up for work that day, allowing the bill to slip through (my own MP, Meg Hillier, sent me a letter to tell me that she was “concerned” that the bill was up for a vote without debate, but she voted for it anyway).
In 2003 a group of friends from Sweden decided to found Piratbyrån (the bureau of piracy), a lobbying organization to promote the sharing of information and culture. A few months later the group took a decision that would change the Internet – the launch of a BitTorrent tracker named ‘The Pirate Bay’. Today marks the end of an era with the announcement that Piratbyrån has disbanded.
The Dutch public broadcasting organization NPO has launched a trial project which will see it publish all recent video broadcasts via BitTorrent downloads and streams. With the trial NPO wants to gauge the demand for BitTorrent downloads, and whether P2P technology can cut down distribution costs significantly.
Just as the G8-G20 meetings conclude in Muskoka and Toronto, another round of negotiations on the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement resumes in Switzerland today. In the aftermath of the last round of discussions in New Zealand, a draft version of the ACTA text was publicly released, temporarily quieting criticism about the lack of transparency associated with an agreement that currently touches on all forms of intellectual property, including patents, trademark, and copyright.
A group of intellectual property experts have warned that search engines, web hosts and e-commerce sites will be stripped of protections if the proposed draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is endorsed.
La Quadrature du Net, along with access to medication NGOs, met in Luzern with 20 negotiators of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). No answer was given regarding the concern that ACTA would hinder fundamental freedoms online, by turning Internet operators into a private copyright police. More disturbingly, negotiators showed a profound lack of understanding and competence, close to disdain, regarding Internet and the digital environment.
“The profound disdain of the ACTA negotiators, and their blatant lack of knowledge of Internet and the realities of the digital environment, show how flawed the whole process is. With ACTA, unelected public officials will force private actors into censoring the Internet in the name of copyright. Citizens worldwide must react by holding their government accountable.” concludes Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net.
Rather than admitting how secret and closed off the negotiations have been, the negotiators are just passing the blame, by saying it’s not their issue to actually engage representatives from civil rights groups and civil societies. Besides, the response is again off-base. If the whole point of meeting with these groups is to understand the concerns of them and their constituents, it should be the negotiators who are seeking out such meetings. Once again, this response makes it clear that the negotiators’ marching orders are not to come up with the best solution for each of the societies and countries they represent, but of a very narrow group of special interests. This is no surprise, but the answer basically confirms that they know this. Very sad.
CLUG Talk 14 April 2009 – Keeping Time with Linux (2009)
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Summary: Microsoft stumbles in mobile phones/devices and its share price too tumbles significantly as its future is questioned by pundits
Vista [sic] Phone 7 is not even out yet and it has almost no applications at all (big mistake for Microsoft to abandon third-party applications compatibility). So why does it receive so much press coverage? It’s not as though Windows Mobile even matters much in the phones space. It seems possible that Microsoft used the leak trick to get some coverage which supposedly resulted from an “accident” (Microsoft does this with Vista 8 at the moment because to put out there Vista 8 screenshots without a supposed ‘leaker’ can send the message that Microsoft to has given up on Vista 7). It’s hard to tell for sure, but Microsoft does use many fake ‘leaks’; it possibly learned this from Apple and we gave many examples before.
There are missing features (even copy and paste) and obstacles, such as the fact that Microsoft is alienating developers. Many large ones have dumped Windows Mobile, at least for now (examples include Mozilla, Skype, and Adobe). Tony Bradley from IDG argues that “Microsoft might be late to the party and have trouble reversing the tide.”
Eric Knorr from IDG publishes his thoughts under two separate headlines (maybe changed by an editor), one being “Microsoft’s embarrassing problem with the future” and the other being “Why Microsoft Can’t Figure Out What’s Next”. From the summary [1, 2]:
When it comes to mobile computing, the cloud, and desktop virtualization, Microsoft can’t seem to shoot straight
We have already covered the fact that Microsoft is sort of bribing mobile developers so that they target Vista Phone 7. The pro-Apple sites call this bribery [1, 2] (“Microsoft Bribing iPhone Developers to Build Windows 7 Games”) and it’s reportedly not working out for Microsoft. The fragmentation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] sure is not helping and the problem is recognised by more and more sites [1, 2]. Apparently pushing ads is Microsoft’s idea of a ‘killer feature’ [1, 2]:
Microsoft is positioning its upcoming Windows Phone 7 smartphone OS, planned for release this October, as an “ad-serving machine.”
Who would want something like that? Surely not users.
This whole thing is starting to look like another Zune in the making. Our reader Ryan, who used to work at Walmart as an assistant manager, still visits the store and he says that “Walmart has a 16 GB Zune HD. They haven’t sold any in the last 4 months at least. I can tell because they haven’t moved”
Zune is likely to be doomed, but Microsoft depends on its operating system because of the disaster called “KIN” (more on that in a moment). “Bing-Zune integration still not working,” says CNET’s headline and yet again downtime hits the Zune. It suffered a downtime last week and it has become an embarrassment to Microsoft, whose CEO tried to distance himself from the product’s failure. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s CEO is not paid so well compared to peers [1, 2, 3] and according to Cory Doctorow:
Aaron Swartz has the news of how the White House is trying to gut a piece of legislation (passed by the House and the Senate) that would be key to reining in CEO compensation in large corporations
The WSJ links to itself (a subsite of sorts, where Kara defends Microsoft) in an article titled “Could a New CEO Fix Microsoft?”
A pro-Microsoft publication goes with the headline “How Vulnerable Is Microsoft?”
Joe Wilcox gives “Five reasons why Microsoft can’t compete (and Steve Ballmer isn’t one of them)” while Matt Asay (Canonical) claims that “Microsoft disqualifies itself from smartphone race”
In the hugely competitive smartphone arms race, there’s only one real certainty:
Microsoft is out. Disqualified. Not competitive.
Why? Because Microsoft failed to tune into its own theme song: “Developers. Developers. Developers.” For a variety of reasons, the company fetished Windows desktop developers to the exclusion of mobile developers and now it’s paying the price.
Just how “not competitive” is Microsoft? Well, last week we aired the rumours that Microsoft had sold just 500 units of "KIN". Microsoft is not denying it yet:
But when taking a closer look at the information that’s available — since Microsoft is unlikely to offer sales numbers that could dispute or confirm the rumor — its easy to see why this tall-tale has legs.
TechFlash’s Microsoft booster Todd Bishop took it upon himself to get some answers and he investigated in a local shop. He wrote:
For starters, if I hadn’t been looking for the Kin, I might not have known it was there. At each of the Verizon Wireless stores I visited, the Kin did have a dedicated area, measuring a few feet across against the wall. But the area was generally overshadowed by promotional areas for Android devices and other high-end phones sold by the carrier.
For those who do not know, TechFlash is still receiving Microsoft sponsorship, but this time around it’s a lot more diluted:
A big thanks to our sponsors for their support: Barokas PR, BDO, Bing, KeyBank, and R2integrated. For additional sponsorship opportunities, please contact Joe Heslet at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In order to float “KIN” Microsoft has come up with a new and pathetic press release, appealing to children. Microsoft pretends that it’s a niche product for young people, not for stupid buyers.
The price of “KIN” was cut by about 50% (depending on the store) due to abysmal demand and it continues to receive terrible reviews, the latest example being this detailed review from Brighthand:
The bottom line:
Microsoft stated that, with the Kin, they were developing a phone that sits somewhere between so-called “feature phones” that offer the basics and a full-featured, pricier smartphone, but with the Kin Two, they’ve managed to capture the worst of both worlds, often underperforming low-end phones when it comes to capability while charging more than a typical smartphone if you opt for the Zune Pass subscription.
No wonder the management left the project and the company. It’s just a total embarrassment. Open for Business has another new review of “KIN” and it was disappointed, just like everyone else (misguided buyers, not just reviewers whom Microsoft sent a phone).
Sadly, for now this means we would point those in the market for a new Verizon phone to one of the company’s collection of Android devices instead. We wanted to like the KIN, and like the concept car analogy mentioned earlier, many of its ideas are good in theory – they just come up short in practice.
At the expense of Microsoft and other brands, Linux/Android and Apple continue to grow (the Linux-based Android and Apple grow at the fastest pace). Forbes has published “Could Apple Collapse? Not Likely”
This is a response to Henry Blodget’s contention (also published in Forbes) that “odds are increasing that Microsoft’s business will just completely collapse.”
“It’s funny that a Microsoft booster/watcher becomes a Microsoft basher within just a couple of years. Maybe he just cannot ignore the facts anymore.”These articles have some factual basis. Another new one from Henry Blodget is titled “Reason No. 19 Why Microsoft’s Business Is Massively Threatened: Corporate Users Now Want What They Have At Home”
Bloomberg is responding to Blodget and it’s part of the big PR campaign that tries to show Microsoft as professional and invincible. Joe Wilcox, a former editor of the “Microsoft Watch” Web site which has been almost dead for months right after he left it, argues that “Apple revenue will likely top Microsoft during Q2″
It’s funny that a Microsoft booster/watcher becomes a Microsoft basher within just a couple of years. Maybe he just cannot ignore the facts anymore. “Microsoft Volatility Elevated; Shares Near 10-Month Low,” said this financial site last week. Another financial news site says that “Microsoft Is Down 15.77% Since Reporting Quarterly Results 57 Days Ago” and “Microsoft 9.20% Below its May 6th Flash Crash Low of $27.91″ (those are just the headlines).
Unless Microsoft can find a way to evolve for the Web and adapt to mobile technology, its days (or years) may be numbered. It already has an increasing debt. █
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Summary: Many months after the original complaint (almost a year) a deadlock is reached and Microsoft gets away with legalised corruption of EU guidelines
LAST YEAR I went through a lot of trouble trying to submit feedback and expose the role played by Microsoft lobbyists in derailing documents which promoted Free/libre software and/or open standards. Thanks to Wikileaks we already had sufficient evidence, but we asked for the evidence to be provided by a verified source, namely the EU Commission. This long journey was covered in posts such as:
- European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
- Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
- Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
- The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
- 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
- After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
- Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
- ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
- Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”
Today we received the following message with a 7-page PDF from the Ombudsman’s Microsoft Exchange server (they are still stuck with proprietary software). The message says:
From – Tue Jun 29 15:04:11 2010
Delivery-date: Tue, 29 Jun 2010 13:40:27 +0100
Received: from smtp15.europarl.europa.eu ([188.8.131.52])
by blueberry.active-ns.com with esmtp (Exim 4.69)
for email@example.com; Tue, 29 Jun 2010 13:40:27 +0100
Received: from EMAILLUXSV31.ep.parl.union.eu (unverified) by SMTP15.europarl.europa.eu
(European Parliament) with ESMTP id <T96908f85e588ad3ee41ddc@SMTP15.europarl.europa.eu> for [roy]
Tue, 29 Jun 2010 14:40:19 +0200
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Exchange V6.5
Subject: Complaint Nr. 1719-2009-(MAM)JF
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 2010 14:40:20 +0200
Thread-Topic: Complaint Nr. 1719-2009-(MAM)JF
From: “Euro-Ombudsman” <EO@ombudsman.europa.eu>
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
Please find attached a letter from the European Ombudsman which was sent
to your postal address on 20 November 2009 and returned undelivered on
23 Junbe 2010.
It’s not clear why it bounced and why it took 6 months to return to the sender. In any event, the enclosed PDF reveals nothing new; the Commission was asked to provide a copy of edits from Microsoft’s lobbyist (Association for Competitive Technology). It never provided this, despite repeated requests. Sending just the final documents is absolutely useless as it says nothing about the process which was not transparent and was also stuffed by multinationals. It’s rather outrageous, but at least we have documented proof of what happened and why the system is broken. More recently, this same broken system derailed the EIFv2 (see coverage below) and it’s going to happen again and again unless something is reformed or the ‘bad apples’ get thrown out. “The more corrupt the state, the more laws,” said Publius Cornelius Tacitus. Replace “laws” with “lawyers”? █
- European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
- Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
- No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
- Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
- IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
- EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
- Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
- More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)
- Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia
- Microsoft Under Fire: Open Source Software Thematic Group Complains About EIFv2 Subversion, NHS Software Supplier Under Criminal Investigation
- British MEP Responds to Microsoft Lobby Against EIFv2; Microsoft’s Visible Technologies Infiltrates/Derails Forums Too
- Patents Roundup: Escalations in Europe, SAP Pretense, CCIA Goes Wrong, and IETF Opens Up
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The first release of Netrunner
Summary: A Ubuntu-based GNU/Linux distribution which excludes Mono reaches its second release
Netrunner submits: “just dropping a line to say we released the second version of Netrunner. From our website:
Netrunner 2 is re-based from Gnome to KDE!
Yet it still aims to be fully Ubuntu/GTK+/Gnome-compatible!
Netrunner 2: Blacklight features well-known Gnome-apps like nautilus, synaptic and more out-of-the-box:
* Firefox 3.6.3
* installed web browser plugins (Java, Flash)
* OpenOffice Software Suite 3.2
* VLC media player with codecs
* Thunderbird email client
* WINE 1.42
* GIMP paint program
* audacious (winamp-like music player)
* vuze (filesharing program)
* and even more
All that on top of a well-tuned and easily customizable KDE 4.4 Desktop Environment!
“And of course we still ditched mono completely and installed a lot of software instead,” remarked the lead developer. █
Update: Here is a screenshot of the new version (Netrunner 2)
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Summary: In order to become “too big to fail” Microsoft is grasping at people’s medical records, sues competitors (using software patents), and offers bribes for people to embrace Microsoft because Google in particular keeps gaining
MICROSOFT is having a hard time and it has begun manufacturing more Vista 8 vapourware (it’s apparently faked as being “leaked” for some extra allure), which is telling because it says Vista 7 is passé (c/f the previous post). Microsoft does this type of thing (bogus numbers too) when morale in the company is low. Microsoft lacks direction in many divisions as presidents and vice presidents leave the company. Last week there was a job swap [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which is somewhat indicative of strategic misdirection.
Microsoft bolsters a strategy of lawsuits, with a recent example revolving around Hotmail (mentioned beforehand, but still being covered in the news [1, 2]) and other examples involving lawsuits against GNU/Linux (via distributors). These are signs of desperation. Frivolous lawsuits alienate and distract. Ask SCO.
Several months ago Microsoft dumped Linux/UNIX support from FAST (a shot in the foot) and it turns out that Apptus uses this to poach Microsoft customers (a path to other proprietary software). From its new press release:
Apptus, Europe’s leading developer of search and content enrichment services for online directories, today announced that they will offer all users of the FAST Enterprise Search Platform to replace it with their own platform Theca at no cost for licenses. The announcement was made as a response to the spring news that FAST’s present owner Microsoft will abandon all further Unix and Linux platform support for FAST.
Microsoft may be running out of friends, but not just yet. Microsoft has just honoured Accenture, which helped Microsoft in England and sued with software patents. Bad minds think alike.
In the case of Yahoo!, the company avoided Microsoft by all means. It wanted nothing to do with Microsoft before the proxy battle began and Microsoft overthrew the old management, eventually putting on top a Microsoft partner (Carol Bartz). She is driving the company into the ground but in a way that’s at least beneficial to Microsoft.
Yahoo Inc. CEO Carol Bartz faced shareholders at the company’s annual meeting Thursday—18 months into her effort to turn around an unfocused Internet giant eclipsed by Google Inc. and left battered by Microsoft Corp.’s failed takeover attempt.
It was failed, but the bullies eventually got their way as they virtually bought it cheaply and they will pass many users to Microsoft’s engine of lies (biased results by design). Yahoo! might also pass advertisers to Microsoft. What on Earth is this deal? Is anyone watching this covert corporate takeover? Forbes goes along with a deceiving hypothesis and with the headline “How Yahoo Learned To Love Microsoft,” neglecting to mention how the old management was pushed out, only to be replaced by Microsoft partners and former managers. It’s not the same Yahoo! anymore and it puts in jeopardy many people who are being profiled by Microsoft and brainwashed by Microsoft (which provides biased search results).
Here is what Murdoch’s press had to say about a related subject:
A new system to police privacy abuses by companies that track consumers’ Web-surfing habits for ad targeting will be launched in coming months by groups whose members include heavy users of this type of information—Internet companies such as Yahoo Inc. and Microsoft Corp. and advertising companies like WPP PLC.
Apple too is a privacy menace, but that’s a story for another time.
A few days ago we also wrote about rotten things in Telstra, whose CIO has just quit:
Telstra’s chief information officer, John McInerney, has announced he is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities. He has been on leave since April.
Who will replace him? They have already had Microsoft executive staff entering the company’s management.
AOL too is said to be at risk of being taken over by Microsoft [1, 2] and John Dvorak believes it’s a terrible idea. Some days ago he wrote:
Should Microsoft buy AOL?
Microsoft Corp. just seems intent on doing something dumb, such as its earlier attempt to buy Yahoo Inc., so I think this rumor of a takeover of AOL Inc. may be in play. But there could be more to it than meets the eye: a curse!
Microsoft is afraid of Google because it became a threat to it in the Web browsers, operating systems, and office suites space. At the moment, Google is pushing GNU/Linux into the mainstream (maybe Dell desktops/laptops/tablets):
Google’s (GOOG) Chrome operating system will be locked in a market share war with Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows OS when it’s released later this year. Microsoft has a huge lead because it runs, by some estimates, on 90% of the PCs sold around the world. The success of Windows 7 may help cement that advantage. But the tide could be changing.
Google and Dell (DELL) are discussing a deal to have its Chrome OS put on on the PC company’s laptops. According to Reuters, “We have to have a point of view on the industry and technology direction two years, three years down the road, so we continuously work with Google on this,” Amit Midha, Dell’s president for Greater China and South Asia said.
This is also covered in [1, 2, 3, 4] and many other articles we mentioned last week.
Dell is not hostile towards GNU/Linux, despite that recent debacle [1, 2, 3]. The Consumerist asks, “Did Microsoft Make Dell Take Back Love Letter To Linux?”
It will be interesting to see if Dell chooses Chrome OS (based on Ubuntu GNU/Linux) at the expense of Ubuntu GNU/Linux. The pro-Microsoft press has published the article “How Google Will Defeat Microsoft” and new figures suggest that Google continues to gain at Microsoft’s expense in search.
Experian Hitwise reported that Yahoo’s market share dipped to 14.4% in May, from 15% in the prior month, while Microsoft’s share fell to 9.2% from 9.4%. Yahoo and Microsoft have agreed to combine search operations, in a bid to gain ground on Google.
This is also covered in:
These results are consistent with what we’ve been seeing from companies that Microsoft is not paying while they produce so-called ‘market share’ figures. Microsoft’s partner comScore [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] says the very opposite and lets Microsoft game statistics. comScore should be ignored because with Microsoft money on its table it contradicts the rest of the pack which claims to be measuring the same thing (without receiving payments from Microsoft). This is indeed a complaint about comScore, which is part of the propaganda that the press repeats without investigating and asking key questions (or ask the sceptics what’s wrong with the numbers and with the sources). Murdoch’s press is still airing the same propaganda from ‘research’ firms that are in Microsoft’s pocket. No shame?
“Murdoch’s press is still airing the same propaganda from ‘research’ firms that are in Microsoft’s pocket.”Anyway, Microsoft is “attacking” Google Apps and IDG advertises (in the form of an article, also here for increased exposure) a case study for Live@Edu (do see this leak). It’s claimed to be taking a Google Apps customer, possibly with the usual bribes that Live@Edu offers to those who sell out their colleagues (we acquired leaked documents to show this and there is recent anecdotal evidence).
The truth of the matter is that as much as Microsoft wants to succeed in Fog Computing (Microsoft boosters, press releases, and few others [1, 2] play along), the area is dominated by companies like Google and even Salesforce. The Salesforce lawsuit [1, 2, 3] shows that Microsoft has given up on competing like a technology company and decided to act more like a patent troll. Microsoft’s spat is “the greatest thing that’s ever happened,” says Marc Benioff, the head of Salesforce. He explained it in the context of Microsoft invading other people’s conferences (Microsoft does this to other companies, which just shows what an aggressor it is, like Novell).
Microsoft’s lawsuit against his company hasn’t cowed Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff, judging from his on-stage remarks today.
Benioff spoke in San Jose, Calif. at a launch event for Chatter, the company’s new social networking application for businesses. During that speech, he repeatedly took swipes at Microsoft, noting for example that there were Microsoft representatives handing out fliers outside the event. (On the other hand, Salesforce representatives are a familiar sight outside Microsoft events.)
Microsoft is trying to extract money from Salesforce operations, which run GNU/Linux. This appalling strategy has already worked with former Microsoft executives at Amazon, who pay Microsoft for both GNU/Linux and Windows servers. Microsoft gets paid either way, no matter if people choose Azure, Red Hat on Amazon’s EC2, or Windows on EC2. This is clearly an abuse and it puts in jeopardy a fair market. To make matters worse, Fog Computing potentially gives Microsoft enormous power over people’s sensitive data.
Microsoft hired top lobbyist because it’s trying to control more people’s medical records, this time in the EU/UK as well [1, 2]. With all the typical PR offensives Microsoft is taking more control away from the taxpayers, this time exploiting its relationship with the NHS. According to British news sites [1, 2] and Microsoft boosters like Marius Oiaga, Microsoft it trying to gain greater control over UK healthcare [1, 2] (Canadian healthcare has a similar threat).
This atrocious possibility of giving Microsoft the data of patients is being scrutinised in The Guardian:
The perils of privatised health records
As Microsoft launches its new health records website, ministers must resist the temptation to cut the NHS’s online data service
This whole health lobby is partly backed or assisted by the Gates Foundation, which has just expanded to having London presence (more on that later). Should the NHS let sick people give Microsoft their personal data without an option to opt out? This is a travesty that Canada’s healthcare ought to dodge too. █
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Summary: As Microsoft runs away to Vista 8 vapourware we take a look at its failure to spread Vista 7 in the market (less than 10% market share in business, almost a year after its release)
John C. Dvorak has not been much of an optimist when it comes to Microsoft. And who can blame him? Earlier this month a former Microsoft executive was alleged to have said that Microsoft should lay off 30%-40% of its workforce. Over the past week we have found no headline at all about Vista (containing “Vista” in the headline) and Reuters says that Dell estimated the percentage of commercial PC users who have updated to Microsoft’s Vista 7 as still in single digits.
This helps in debunking Microsoft's latest spin/lies about ‘sales’ numbers of “Windows 7″ (it’s almost the only thing that made headlines about Vista 7 in last week’s news). About Vista 7, argues John Dvorak in a new column, “it was a face-saving Vista re-do.” Within more context:
This particular series of ads was possibly the biggest blunder the company could have made. It revealed a monumental communications ineptitude. To make things worse, I think that Microsoft still hasn’t realized what a bad idea the whole thing was. What the company did realize, however, was that Vista was not doing as well as it had hoped. Microsoft quickly ramped up Windows 7, selling it as though it was something different. Fact is, it was a face-saving Vista re-do. This time, everything was brilliant and on-time. This put the PC back on track, opening up the opportunity for upgrades without having to worry about “bad” PC systems.
But the thing is, there are more machines now that come preloaded with GNU/Linux. Based on market statistics, many businesss have no ongoing plans of leaving Windows XP, despite Microsoft’s discounts and promotions. Here is one new example of it:
Windows 7 Professional is the Windows 7 SKU targeted primarily at small business users. To get these customers to bite, Microsoft is offering them a $100 Southwest Airlines voucher.
Microsoft is giving away unused licences to brag about fake ‘sales’ numbers (we explained this in detail before and also gave examples). Windows XP SP2 is being pushed off a cliff [1, 2], but it’s a risky bet that potentially leads some customers to competitors such as GNU/Linux. “Microsoft sets out options as XP SP3 nears End of Life,” says the headline of another report.
According to Ian Moulster, Windows product manager for Microsoft UK, Vista and XP users will have several options. “They can move to XP SP3 or to a later version of Vista or they can opt for Microsoft break-fix, which is a low level support. That’s not recommended as a long term solution though.”
So staying with XP is not an appealing option and people who picked Vista get burned. One person wonders, “Is Microsoft Windows in danger of becoming the “XP Mode” of the future app world?” (the lock-in modality persists and there is need for legacy compatibility).
Microsoft Jack (Schofield) writes about the imminent death of XP SP2 (can be replaced by Wine under GNU/Linux in many cases). Schofield is not quite retiring and maybe he was pushed out of the Guardian where he rarely writes anymore. That’s the better explanation we have for the fact he writes for ZDNet UK now.
“Well the initial impression is how much it [Vista 7] looks like Vista. Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.”
Those who still use XP may some day be barred from the Australian Internet because XP will never be secure (Microsoft does not really patch it).
ZDNet Australia has just published a reminder of this:
The Federal Government, alongside the Internet Industry Association (IIA), yesterday launched a code of practice that aims to reduce the amount of zombie-infected computers on the internet.
Zombie-infected computers are PCs connected to the internet that are infected with malware.
It is estimated that 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie PC. In the next post we’ll show (without linking) that Microsoft has begun another round of Vista 8 vapourware. It always means that Microsoft is struggling. █
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
–Microsoft, internal document
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