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Microsoft, ARM, and Linux Tax on Devices

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, HP, Microsoft, Patents at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken arm

Summary: Microsoft is trying to break Linux’ near-monopoly in ARM and software patents may be in the arsenal

MICROSOFT HAS already managed to use its extortion racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] to make money from Android in quite a few companies (HTC, Samsung, Kyocera Mita, and LG). This morning we wrote that GNU/Linux proponents must defend against such 'Microsoft tax' in order for Linux to remain a competitive platform based on price. Linux mustn’t become Microsoft’s new cash cow.

At the moment, Miguel de Icaza and fellow Microsoft folks (they co-develop Mono now) are trying to further the cause of Microsoft by increasing .NET dependency in Android [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and in the hypePhone. Even Apple has become hostile towards MonoTouch. To quote a Mono booster (David Worthington) from his new article:

The license also specified that iPhone applications must be originally written in C, C++, JavaScript or Objective-C. That left tools (including Novell’s MonoTouch, which brings .NET development to the iPhone, as well as Unity’s Unity 3D game authoring tool) in a state of uncertainty.

That’s OK. Apple does the right thing here for a change. It also gives the finger to Flash. We wrote about this subject in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

According to the latest news, Microsoft befriends the company behind Linux’ huge growth area. That company is the ARM giant.

“How soon will Linux stop working with ARM and when will MS claim their patented Intellectual Property is in Linux running on ARM?”
      –Anonymous reader
The article says that a “spokeswoman for Microsoft in the U.K. said the software giant might contribute ideas and technology to the “ARM ecosystem” but declined to say what Microsoft might do with the license” and “With closer access to the ARM technology we will be able to enhance our research and development activities for ARM-based products,” says another part. One reader of ours has asked, “How soon will Linux stop working with ARM and when will MS claim their patented Intellectual Property is in Linux running on ARM?”

Linux is gaining and gaining on ARM and Microsoft wants to either monetise or replace Linux on ARM. Watch the enthusiasm of Microsoft Jack (Schofield). To Microsoft, this is a cornerstone in the fight against Linux.

It ought to be added that HP announced that it would sell tablets with the Linux-based webOS and shortly afterwards it hired a 20-year Microsoft senior to become its vice president in charge of software and solutions business. Weeks later HP changed its mind about those tablets which run Linux and currently it’s not known why HP changed its mind.

It would be so much easier if Microsoft just went out of business or shrank a lot faster (there are more layoffs at the moment [1, 2]). More on that in the next quick post.

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  1. Agent_Smith said,

    July 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm


    Actually, I think this is just a PR stunt. Something like: Hey, iPhone and Android, here we(M$) come!!!
    They could do something in the ARM platform for a long time now, and they did not.
    To translate from the x86 cisc to ARM risc is an herculean task. If they failed to do it in the past(and then the chips were simpler) I don’t think they’ll be able to accomplish this now. But, this is my humble opinion.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft’s main problem is that Windows ISVs target just x86 (with binaries only).

    twitter Reply:

    Yes, they tout “experience” as if their portable systems track record were something to brag about. WinCE, Zune, Kin, Windows Mobile, and every other Microsoft effort has been a miserable failure designed more to destroy competition like Palm than to provide an actual product or market.

    Microsoft’s “collaboration” with ARM can be bad news for free software, however. They can pressure the company to make bad design decisions like ACPI on Intel. They can also force NDAs that make things difficult for free software developers and competitors like Google. One of Microsoft’s favorite tactic is to create tensions and conflicts between competitors that are otherwise natural allies. Everyone who gets tied up with Microsoft loses. We will see how ARM deals with things.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft was a big fan of the architecture 2 decades ago when Myhrvold (now a notorious patent troll with Transmeta patents) passed around memos about RISC.

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