There are many occupational hazards associated with being a fan of FOSS, but one Linux Girl never expected to have to endure is what’s afflicting her now: whiplash.
Yes, after all the unexpected twists and turns in Dell’s (Nasdaq: DELL) approach to Ubuntu, another surprise maneuver came up last week that was simply too much.
The move in question, you ask? Well, just days after the news broke that Dell had removed all Ubuntu-preloaded machines from its site, reports emerged that the company is actually *expanding* its desktop Ubuntu selection.
K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)
KDE SC 4.0 was released in January of 2008 and KDE SC 4.5 will be released shortly (August 4th, 2010), roughly two and a half years later, and it is time to reflect on what KDE SC4 seeks to accomplish and how well it is doing in its goals. The critical shift KDE SC took in this series is abstracting the desktop from the underlying system through three pillars, phonon, plasma and solid making the desktop some sort of a virtual platform environment and easily portable to other operating systems.
This one’s an activity and sports tracking application similar to the .NET-behemoth Sport Tracks or Garmin Training Center.
It’s not a hundred percent complete yet and has its share of rough edges, but to give you an impression of what works already,
Red Hat Family
Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today highlights its leadership in open source desktop development with its ranking as the top corporate contributor to the GNOME project. In a census study published by Neary Consulting at GUADEC, held last week in The Hague, Netherlands, Red Hat placed first among the total 106 companies that have contributed to GNOME development over the past 10 years with nearly 17 percent of the total code commits. The study also showed that nine out of the top 20 contributors are Red Hat employees.
Usually it’s a desire for control or exclusivity in some form, but the outcome is always to negate the “open source effect” by limiting the ability of every participant to get what they want and thus give what they can. While there’s clearly a niche for one or two expertly-balanced businesses, the propensity of commentators to focus on these colourful exceptions has created the perception this is the norm.
As most involved in the broad content management market, I’ve seen the news of the week: Adobe acquires Day Software, the hot WCM vendor.
Adobe could concentrate on monetizing global service offerings: Omniture, Livecycle, end-to-end workflows for medias, acrobat.com on steroids, more online services, etc. Commoditizing the core WCM technology would keep the competition busy and let them make money where they hardly have any meaningful competition, innovate more with new services spanning and leveraging the wide reach of their offerings. We also would see an ecosystem thrive on CQ5, providing the ignition — for free — Adobe needs to enter the market. Kinda the Google way, after all.
Actually the more I think to this and after having read Adobe’s plan for Day, I think it’s the best way to achieve it. If they truly want to create a platform for customer engagement management, this is the way. This is how the industry builds big platform nowadays, by open source software.
Research published this week suggests that the majority of federal government departments in Germany are ignoring requirements to implement Open Standards.
A survey was conducted by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) to investigate the state of government adoption of ODF, and to promote wider uptake of Open Standards. “Although federal policy has wisely embraced Open Standards for interoperability, accessibility and security, it is clear that most government bodies are still using inefficient proprietary formats” said Karsten Gerloff, President of FSFE. “Ultimately citizens will end up paying the price for this lack of conformity through higher bills for public IT contracts, and slower services due to interoperability problems” he added. “They will also pay a price in freedom, as they are forced to use proprietary software and standards to communicate with government authorities”.
OTRS Inc. has announced the release of the first beta of OTRS (Open source Ticket Request System) version 3.0, the company’s open source help desk system. According to OTRS Research and Development Director Manuel Hecht, the latest development version results in “up to 30% quicker ticket turnaround under demanding high-usage scenarios, on top of enhanced features and accessibility.”
Here at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) we’ve recently started taking an interest in open data, and its implication for charities and the voluntary sector.
We know that some voluntary organisations which specialise in open data have been leading the charge – the Open Knowledge Foundation is a not-for-profit company, mySociety is a registered charity – and often the most exciting and innovative uses of open data are made by volunteers in their spare time. But we know that many voluntary organisations find it difficult to find the time and skills to develop their ICT capabilities, and can find the challenge of implementing new technologies in their organisation daunting. This is daunting not just because of the time and resources required, but also because it requires a change in organisational culture.
By contrast, the data underlying Google’s search engine is public – anyone can go out and crawl the entire Web (indeed, companies like Microsoft do that). But for all its support of free software, Google does not make the key part of its code – its PageRank algorithm – public.
So, it’s definitely true that some of the most important players in the digital world offer either open source or open data, but not both: is it *necessarily* true, though?
Well, the last year has answered that question for us. It has been an incredible one for public data. Obama opened up the US government’s data faults as his first legislative act (http://www.data.gov/), followed by government data sites around the world – Australia (http://data.australia.gov.au/), New Zealand http://www.data.govt.nz/, the British government’s Data.gov.uk and of course the London datastore.
“We are spending $8 billion to $15 billion per year on textbooks” in the United States, Mr. McNealy says. “It seems to me we could put that all online for free.”
The nonprofit Curriki fits into an ever-expanding list of organizations that seek to bring the blunt force of Internet economics to bear on the education market. Even the traditional textbook publishers agree that the days of tweaking a few pages in a book just to sell a new edition are coming to an end.
Taken in the economic context of the rest of the interview, it makes him appear ignorant of the fact market forces, not the opinions of free culture advocates, are what’s hurting his traditional industry. Not a smart impression to give, even if you are turning a profit.
If you want to change the world, you have to think big. Say what you want about the feasibility of Scott Brusaw’s idea to replace asphalt roads with miles of solar ribbons that cars and trucks can drive on, it is a very ambitious idea. Brusaw is the co-founder and CEO of Solar Roadways, a bootstrapped startup in Idaho. He is an engineer, and is building prototypes of solar panels that could be used as roads.
A quantum memory may be all scientists need to beat the limit of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, according to a paper published in Nature Physics. According to a group of researchers, maximally entangling a particle with a quantum memory and measuring one of the particle’s variables, like its position, should snap the quantum memory in a corresponding state, which could then be measured. This would allow them to do something long thought verboten by the laws of physics: figure out the state of certain pairs of variables at the exact same time with an unprecedented amount of certainty.
Calculated Risk gathers the data on underwater homes:
* There are 14.75 million underwater homes and 4.1 million of these have more than 50% negative equity (the homeowners owe 50%+ more than their homes are worth).
* The total negative equity is $771 billion.
Thousands of tonnes of garbage washed down by recent torrential rain are threatening to jam the locks of China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, and is in places so think people can stand on it, state media said on Monday.
Chen Lei, a senior official at the China Three Gorges Corporation, told the China Daily that 3,000 tonnes of rubbish was being collected at the dam every day, but there was still not enough manpower to clean it all up. “The large amount of waste in the dam area could jam the miter gate of the Three Gorges Dam,” Chen said, referring to the gates of the locks which allow shipping to pass through the Yangtze River.
As Germany’s wild boar population has skyrocketed in recent years, so too has the number of animals contaminated by radioactivity left over from the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Government payments compensating hunters for lost income due to radioactive boar have quadrupled since 2007.
Opponents of net neutrality, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, have pointed to numerous grounds upon which the detrimental scheme could be challenged. These include its deterrent effect on investment, its unsatisfactory grounding in FCC statutory authority, and that it violates the First Amendment.
A forthcoming paper from Boston College Law Professor Daniel Lyons offers an even stronger basis for challenge: The Fifth Amendment. Under Prof. Lyons’s theory, net neutrality would run afoul of eminent domain. It would constitute a regulatory taking, requiring just compensation.
An anonymous reader sends over the story, found on Reddit of how Namco Bandai sent a letter complaining that a kid recreated Pacman online using Scratch. If you’re not familiar with it, Scratch is a very simple programming “language,” basically designed to teach kids how to program (or think about programming) from a young age. And what’s one of the best ways to learn to program? It’s to recreate an app that already exists.
At DePaul University, the tip-off to one student’s copying was the purple shade of several paragraphs he had lifted from the Web; when confronted by a writing tutor his professor had sent him to, he was not defensive — he just wanted to know how to change purple text to black.
It’s getting really frustrating watching the supposedly professional press repeat stats that have been thoroughly debunked as if they’re factual, so I think it’s about time that people started calling out the publications and reporters who make these mistakes directly. So, Stephanie Clifford, reporter for the NY Times, can you give any evidence whatsoever to support the claim that you made in your article this past weekend that counterfeiting “costs American businesses an estimated $200 billion a year?” I don’t think that Clifford can, because that number has been thoroughly debunked time and time again.
TYT On MSNBC: WikiProtest Launch (Share Your Ideas!)
“Now it was time for the FTC to get tough again, and Microsoft was a great way to start flexing its muscles. But first, the FTC needed to get approval from the Department of Justice. Anxiously awaiting the sanction, investigators began collecting news clippings to bone up on Microsoft and all the subtle complexities of the software industry. In May of 1990, the DoJ gave the green light, freeing the FTC to open their probe. With no shortage of help from Microsoft’s competitors, the FTC collected mounds of evidence showing that Microsoft and IBM had been in cahoots from the beginning.”
–Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul
Summary: Microsoft lays off part of the Office team as sales disappoint, Google gains on the Web, and Microsoft resorts to indirect attacks on Google in another continent
A couple of posts ago we began discussing what went wrong in Microsoft's results and a few days ago we showed that Microsoft’s #1 cash cow (Office) doesn't sell well. This is significant news because other products depend on this cash cow, so it’s not just about direct profit (Steve Ballmer is still being pressured to leave).
Here are some more articles about the problem Office is having:
- Microsoft Office 2010 sales on the slow side
- Sales of Microsoft Office 2010 Have Been Disappointing
- Office 2010 Sales Lagging, Says NPD Group
- ffice 2010 Sales Are Lagging, Says NPD
There are many more articles just like the above and there is also an excuse/”damage control” from Microsoft. Sadly for the monopolist, the press is starting to give more and more attention to Office rivals. Some sites write about free/libre software: “One such word processing tool is OpenOffice.org. It is one of the best open source software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more. [...] OpenOffice.org 3 is released under LGPL terms and OpenOffice.org office suite can be used by anyone at any place–government, education, business, IT businesses, or anyone without paying a single rupee license fee.”
Yes, OpenOffice.org is doing well in less wealthy countries where Microsoft too has been forced to lower the price of Office (or allow it to be shared illegally). Here is a new article titled “Five Reasons You Don’t Need Microsoft Office 2010″ and another from the Boston Herald, suitably titled “Free alternatives to Microsoft Office deliver goods” (free as in gratis in this case).
Nothing’s wrong with the productivity software standard, except for the price tag: It has one. There are several alternatives that replace it or improve upon it for the attractive price of zero dollars.
All of this competition drives down the margins of Microsoft, whose cash cows are both feeling the impact of market pressures. Despite growth in the number of PCs, Windows shows no growth. In Office too there’s room for concern (especially amid transition to the Web) and Microsoft layoffs are said to also affect Office staff. Some managers take more marketing duties while layoffs in the Office team are reported alongside cuts in marketing (AstroTurfing being a subset):
Microsoft layoffs: Marketing, Office, partner groups all reportedly hit
I’ve been watching the growing stream of comments on the Mini Microsoft blog and gathering reports (direct and indirect) from individuals in the trenches today. It looks as if Microsoft’s Central Marketing Group (CMG), Enterprise Partner Group (EPG), the SharePoint/Office team and the search/advertising teams all have made cuts. Most of the cuts I’ve heard about have been in the marketing/sales organizations.
This helps show that competitive pressure on Microsoft Office has taken its toll. Google Apps is part of this too and on top of one type of FUD (about support from Google) Microsoft is adding some more. How come? Just watch the scale of customers Google snatches away from Microsoft:
Why Jaguar Jumped to Google Apps
Spun out by Ford, the British automaker was free to drop its Microsoft programs and switch to Google Mail and other cloud software—saving millions of pounds
Jaguar is one among many, including even larger companies which help endorse Google Apps. These were some of the more lucrative contracts Microsoft enjoyed.
Microsoft cannot take such a defeat so well. First it whines and protests about it [1, 2], not realising that Yahoo! is in dire need of escaping the destructive affairs with Microsoft (“Analysts cut Yahoo target” as the company is suffering in Microsoft’s tight grip).
“Google is now adding more assets with which to fight Microsoft and it gets a contract with Yahoo! as well.”Microsoft’s sheer hypocrisy was mentioned some days ago because Microsoft is in no position to complain about monopoly. Maybe that’s why it hired a bunch of AstroTurfers (the LawMedia Group AstroTurf) the last time it needed to attack a Yahoo-Google deal by proxy. The latest news seems almost like a repetition of this. ‘Jay Yarow at Silicon Alley Insider provides the following statement from a company rep: “We plan to present evidence to the Japanese FTC explaining why we believe that this deal is substantially more harmful to competition than Google’s deal with Yahoo in 2008 that the DOJ found to be illegal.”‘
Why did it find it illegal?
“Microsoft is trying to push for antitrust like it does with IBM in Europe and also to Google in Europe (Microsoft admitted this).”Because Microsoft hired AstroTurfers and lobbyists to do so. We documented it in this Web site at the time.
“Microsoft Will Try to Block Google-Yahoo Japan Deal,” says IDG while legal steps are taken again. Microsoft is trying to push for antitrust like it does with IBM in Europe and also to Google in Europe (Microsoft admitted this).
“Microsoft to go to Japanese FTC about Google-Yahoo deal,” says this one headline, adding that “Microsoft legal spokesman Jack Evans confirmed to me via e-mail that Microsoft will be going to the JFTC, but didn’t share more about what form its complaint might take or when it might happen. Evans said, “Yes, we plan to provide information to JFTC about why we think this deal is more harmful even than the deal Google proposed with Yahoo in the US and Canada.””
Microsoft has got some nerve. They should report themselves for actually abusing their monopoly, not just for illegally getting it in the 80s/90s. Here are some more headlines of interest:
- “Microsoft to confront Japan watchdog on Yahoo-Google deal
- Microsoft to Take Legal Steps to Block Google Yahoo Japan Deal
- Microsoft to challenge Yahoo Japan-Google deal
- Microsoft to present evidence claiming Yahoo Japan-Google deal unfair
- Will Yahoo China Find a Search Suitor? (Yahoo’s lobbying increases and this is problematic because the company is being filled too quickly by former Microsoft employees, who in turn bring in more of their former colleagues from Microsoft)
- Google Refutes Microsoft Rant Against Yahoo Japan Deal
Let’s not be easily hypnotised when it comes to market share, either. Microsoft has been trying deceive with misleading statistics, e.g. renaming an existing product and then pretending the ‘new’ one gains (and showing US-only effects). There are also the old lies from comScore, which Microsoft is paying in various ways [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. It’s money well spent given the output which came from comScore in July, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. The press was quoting figures from comScore, which lets its numbers be gamed by Microsoft, by its very own admission.
MySpace, seeking to replace a search advertising contract with Google that expires in August, has held talks with Microsoft and Yahoo, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans.
For the record, Google is not so benign either. It is “accused of manipulating its search rankings” (not exactly the first time such accusations are made and also proven), but then again, so does Microsoft. Google uses its search results to advance its own business agenda, but it does not attack software freedom, or hardly ever does.
Google’s results are pretty decent (revenue up 24% [1, 2]), but it’s CNN which seems to be giving Google a hard time with negative spin, conveniently ignoring the economic potential for Android — despite being free — to make revenue in ways other than selling hardware (ways like search and advertising).
Even the world’s leader in phones (Nokia) may have to surrender to Google sooner or later (see this recent speculation/suggestion). In this week’s news we find reports like:
Nokia retained a substantial lead in the worldwide smart phone market in Q2 2010, achieving a 38% market share. The vendor shipped a record 23.8 million smart phones during the quarter, representing growth of 41% on a year ago, as it focused on delivering affordable smart phone offerings to the market, such as its popular 5230 touch-screen handset, based on the Symbian operating system (OS). But Nokia’s market dominance is not as unassailable as it once was, with its performance outpaced by growth in the smart phone market as a whole.
Sales of Google Android phones in the U.S. are rising so quickly, the devices have outsold Apple handsets for the first time on record. New smartphone subscribers choosing Google phones accounted for 27 percent of U.S. smartphone sales, the Nielsen Company will announce this morning, nudging past the 23 percent share held by Apple. But Android isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon: Canalys today estimates that Android handset sales grew 886 percent worldwide from the year ago quarter.
In a Microsoft sympathisers’ site it is said to be “Google’s Search World” and Google keeps gaining in Web browsers too (Microsoft loses share in Europe). The report says: “Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has lost market share in major European markets, such as France, Britain and Italy, after the U.S. software firm started to make it easier for European consumers to use competing browsers.”
Microsoft has been trying to accuse Google of privacy violations as a last strategic resort (FUD), but as this new report shows, Microsoft leads the way in that department. It deliberately disrespects and disregards users’ own settings that reduce spying on one’s browsing habits.
What’s more, even if consumers turn the feature on, Microsoft designed the browser so InPrivate Filtering doesn’t stay on permanently. Users must activate the privacy setting every time they start up the browser.
Microsoft dropped another proposed feature, known as InPrivate Subscriptions, that would have let users further conceal their online browsing habits, by automatically blocking Web addresses suspected of consumer tracking if those addresses appeared on “black lists” compiled by privacy groups.
In other news, Microsoft has attempted to deamonise Google by accusing Google of ‘copying’ Bong [sic]. The example journalists gave was nonsense (background images in search pages) and here comes another. A reader informed us this morning of a FUD pattern he labeled “Google trying to catch up to Bing.” He showed us some headlines from The Guardian and asked:
“How many free adverts for Microsoft can you count here. This must be the latest strategy out of Redmond. Only ever mention other tech companies in relation to Microsoft’s own offerings. Pretending that MS is even relevant. Check out the NYT [New York Times] article, personal experiences by Edwin Perello, Laura Michelson. Paul Calla. I wonder, when did the NYT start posting advert pretending to be real news?”
He quoted: “Clearly, you can see how Bing’s competition is forcing Google to try and catch up in some places.”
This reader also encouraged people to ‘compare “Angelina Jolie” on Google and Bing,’ noting that the NYT says: “People do not always want to click on links and dig through pages to hunt out information, so when Bing started in May 2009, it pulled relevant information and stuck it on the top and left-hand side of the results pages. Search “Angelina Jolie,” for instance, and see a slide show and a list of her movies on top and related links on the side.”
“Looks a lot like Bing copied from Google,” claims our reader, who shows the following two shots. █
The money-down-the-drain story never told
Summary: Now that “KIN” is dead, costing Microsoft a lot of money, there is early evidence that Vista Phone 7 [sic] will provide no turnaround
IN the previous post we covered Microsoft’s somewhat dodgy results, which were hyped up in the press while not impressing investors. This post will take a look at Microsoft’s mobile business, which Microsoft loves to hide (sometimes by folding it into another compartment, thus concealing its individual contribution, or lack thereof).
First of all, let’s consider “KIN”. It’s not just another project somewhere at the edge of the galaxy. This was Microsoft’s attempt to make a breakthrough in the mobile arena. Microsoft would of course prefer to deny this now; by the time this toy came out Microsoft must have predicted that it would have no chance. Even the “KIN” spokesman Questlove was not using a “KIN”. Hilarious! To quote the source of this claim, “the swift death of the Kin was forecasted by the fact that even spokesman Questlove, who appears in the ill-fated television ads, doesn’t use a Kin himself; according to his verified Twitter account, the Roots bandleader uses a BlackBerry.”
Watch Microsoft weep:
- Kin outcome not sitting well inside Microsoft
- Kin debacle embarrasses Microsoft
- Microsoft’s Kin sets flop record
- Shocking: Microsoft Kin did not sell well. At all.
It’s understood that the software giant shifted fewer than 10,000 phones in that time.
The memorial site is said to have attracted over 32,000 visitors in just one weekend. That’s more than four times the number of phones sold, depending on whose source is more trusted when it comes to sales figures. Todd Bishop confirmed that the memorial site is already dead, just like the “KIN”. So much for a memorial. To quote: “A tongue-in-cheek online tribute to the short-lived Microsoft phone has been taken offline by the online memorial service, Forever Missed, where it was hosted. CNet News.com’s Ina Fried reports that the service put an end to the comedy at the request of other users who “were none too pleased to see a gadget memorialized in the same way as their departed loved ones.””
“A tongue-in-cheek online tribute to the short-lived Microsoft phone has been taken offline by the online memorial service, Forever Missed, where it was hosted.”
–Todd Bishop“KIN” management was fired or just left and the “Microsoft blame-game begins”, argues an accumulator of articles on this subject.
“Microsoft writes down $240m on Kin debacle,” says BoingBoing. “This is on top of its $500m acquisition of Danger, absorbed in order to develop it,” BoingBoing adds. “Notwithstanding Kin’s shortcomings as a product, the most entertaining aspect of the cock-up is that it appears to be the result of ego battles in Redmond: rumor has it that Kin was throttled in its billion-dollar crib by an executive who saw it as a threat to Windows Mobile.”
The number is confirmed by many other sources, such as:
- Microsoft Kin cost the company at least $240 million
- Failed KIN line cost Microsoft as much as $240 million
- KIN cost Microsoft over $240m and ate up Xbox profits
“Microsoft repeatedly notes cost of discontinuing KIN phone as driving up cost of revenue,” says Joseph Tartakoff, who claims that Microsoft’s online losses increase (expectations were set low on purpose, as usual).
“Microsoft Skips Over Mobile And Talks Xbox Live Instead,” says this headline. Microsoft is trying to hide its failure in phones, just as it has been doing for several years now.
This whole “KIN” story is something which we wrote about last month when we quoted John Gruber as saying that only 503 “KIN” phones had been sold. IDG continues to rip the phone apart [1, 2] and CNN says that even days ago Microsoft continued to advertise “KIN”. To quote: “But all is not lost! I was amused when I visited the official Kin website Wednesday evening to find that the KIN marketing campaign is still alive and well.
“The flashy hipsterish video still plays, the music still blares, and the siren call of “buy now” still flashes proudly. Oops.”
“Microsoft Nick apparently tries to make Microsoft look better by announcing the death of “KIN” in the same post in which he announces Google’s Nexus One dying.”It was several days before this report that “KIN” was still available to last minute buyers. The “remaining supply [were] headed to unknown”, says this report (another report says they got sent to Microsoft). Microsoft Nick apparently tries to make Microsoft look better by announcing the death of “KIN” in the same post in which he announces Google’s Nexus One dying. Since when does Microsoft Nick cover Google? He never does. It’s a blog dedicated just to Microsoft. We saw this talking point elsewhere, but maybe it’s accidental. Later on we’ll show how Microsoft ‘injects’ itself into news about other companies, notably Google.
This whole project continues to be ridiculed by the press [1, 2], which harms Microsoft’s image (and future) a great deal. Joe Wilcox
offers Microsoft some advice and other Microsoft boosters cannot help showing how Microsoft’s smartphone business dies. It’s not about pricing, contrary to some inane claims. Here is one last look at “KIN”, of which they are said to be 8,000 units out there (actual numbers vary between 500 to “less than 10,000″). Daily Tech argues: “The phones lacked features found in Android, the iPhone, or other modern smartphones and were marketed with a series of controversy-laden ads. In the end they reportedly sold around 8,000 units.”
If that number is correct, then Microsoft sold on average ~150 “KIN” phones per day. Google recently stated that it activates ~160,000 Linux phones per day.
To quote one article: “If John Gruber’s “well-placed little birdie” is correct, it’s possible that I have more kin than Microsoft has Kin sales. The Apple guru cites a source saying Microsoft sold a paltry 503 Kin phones before pulling the plug at the end of June.
“By my count, that’s less than 10 a day over the 56 days between the Kin’s May 6 launch and June 30 demise. For contrast, consider that Apple announced it sold about 37,000 iPads a day in the 80 days following its most recent product launch.”
“It is worth stressing that the failure of “KIN” is likely to be sign of Vista Phone 7 [sic] failing.”One writer says it doesn’t matter which number is right as the numbers are minuscule anyway. “Reports on the number of Kin devices sold by Microsoft range between 500 and 10,000,” he argues. “The actual number doesn’t matter.”
It is worth stressing that the failure of “KIN” is likely to be sign of Vista Phone 7 [sic] failing. Some Microsoft boosters have already acknowledged that and HP is essentially dumping Vista Phone 7 before it’s even out. HP goes with the Linux-based WebOS instead. Yes, WebOS is one of the worthy contenders in this arena.
WebOS is also coming to tablets quite soon; Microsoft lost this race a long time ago and Tim Gideon says: “Hmm. So Microsoft is basically just shipping Windows 7 and having “hardware partners” make the tablet. Not only will this device not be a Zune, but it seems like there will be several iterations. This sounds an awful lot like the way Microsoft develops operating systems for PCs and then lets hardware vendors build the machines. In other words, it’s business as usual.” There are more such analyses (like this one) and none is particularly optimistic.
Well, those “hardware partners” ought to be named. Microsoft has got just about nothing but promises. Those tablets are a blow to both Intel and Microsoft because this is a race between Apple and Google with the Linux-based Android. Neither of them uses x86 architectures, perhaps with few exceptions. It’s just too unsuitable for mobile devices.
We generally distrust Apple not just because it outgrows Microsoft. Watch what it’s doing to Microsoft these days:
- Apple is world’s most valuable brand: Forbes
- Apple tops Forbes most-valuable brands list, Microsoft follows
- The iPad caught Microsoft with its pants down
- Apple could bypass Microsoft in terms of revenue
The Microsoft-sympathetic press says that “Microsoft shrinks again” because of new Microsoft layoffs (some in Fargo are affected, but probably not in places like India where Microsoft usually expands).
“KIN” is named as part of the problem. The news about the layoffs and the death of “KIN” came only days apart.
But despite its minimal numbers, the layoff’s timing couldn’t worse. Why? Because Microsoft’s review process strikes low-level employees as capricious, and unfair, especially following the Kin debacle.
One Microsoftie groused to us, “We’re supposedly a performance culture but we never seem to fire anyone for shit performance. We always let them leave on their own terms as opposed to calling it out like it is. So now Roz Ho, Andy Lees and Terry Meyerson [sic] keep their jobs in light of one of the biggest screw-ups in the history of product launches.”
Microsoft’s former AstroTurfer Don Dodge [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] says that Microsoft is no longer a growth company, so it should slash R&D. To quote the article (also in SF Gate), “Microsoft needs to accept that it’s not a big growth company, slash R&D, and give up on its silly online efforts, argues ex-Microsoft employee and current Google employee Don Dodge on his blog.”
Well, Dodge ought to know that Microsoft realised this too. it’s already trying this route and to further cut expenses it is also culling employees and paying them less (by bringing them on visas or sending jobs abroad).
“Microsoft needs developers developers developers developers because it threw away all their prior applications when it buried Windows Mobile.”Microsoft’s booster Peter Bright spreads the inane idea that Microsoft should make its own phone [1, 2], but that’s more or less what it tried with “KIN” and such a strategy didn’t work out for Google, either. It alienates partners too. “It’s Too Late for Microsoft To Build Its Own Handset,” argues GigaOM. So what else could possibly work out then?
Well, how about more marketing for a future phone that does not exist yet? Microsoft embraces Sevenwashing with similar slogans and graphics, probably trying to associate the two which are totally separate (phone and desktop platforms). The taglines are just exceptionally lame and Linux-powered phones will most likely continue to gain; their main competitor seems to be Apple, not Microsoft. To quote another new article: “The instant demise of Microsoft’s Kin phone is one facet of the challenge Microsoft faces. The broader issue is that Redmond is up against the same kind of juggernaut in smartphones that it created (and still maintains) in PCs.”
IDG says that “Kin’s death may signal mobile morbidity at Microsoft” and Daily Tech argues that “Microsoft Has to Go Back to Mobile Phone Drawing Board” (it already has, several times in fact).
There is negative feedback coming from those in possession of Vista Phone 7 (“a couple of developers questioned about Windows Phone 7 have been unimpressed so far.”) and Microsoft usually needs to bribe them to even care about the phone/platform. Microsoft needs developers developers developers developers because it threw away all their prior applications when it buried Windows Mobile.
“It’s pathetic,” says one person, “Windows Phone 7 is being developed by idiots.” To quote the ending:
* Windows Phone 7 should be called Windows Phone 1.0 not only because it is being made anew and lacks compatibility to old Windows Mobile, but also because it misses out on many features that old Windows Mobile had
* Microsoft mobile employees are idiots. If this incompetence with lack of features in Windows Phone 7 will continue, then Windows Phone 7 will be huge flop and even Steve Ballmer will be fired.
OpenBytes says that there is “mutiny in the [Microsoft] MVP ranks” because they — unlike some others (including full-time Microsoft staff) — cannot receive a phone from Microsoft free of charge, not yet anyway.
We have regularly covered the “gifting” of companies to those that comment on the net. For me there can be no better way to ensure loyalty as the receiver of the gift(s)/awards not only showers praise on the giver out of gratitude, but continue that praise in the hope more freebies are forthcoming.
All this is great for the giver, you have a pimp for your products who will flood every forum they visit with comments in favor of your company. Of course the problem comes when the gifting stops; and we may be seeing an example now.
It’s being reported that MVP’s (of the Microsoft ilk) are a little upset that their sugar daddy is not providing them with a free Windows Mobile 7. We heard recently that Microsoft will be giving them out to employee’s (no doubt to boost the numbers) and whilst I went on record by saying prior to its release it will crash and burn, there’s nothing like a freebie and some of the MVP’s want a piece of the action.
When it comes to Vista Phone 7, Microsoft is deliberately removing choice because Bong [sic] is the sole default option. From the article we learn that “Consumers shouldn’t expect to be overwhelmed with search options if they decide to buy Windows Phone 7 devices. A high-ranking Microsoft employee has revealed that there will be only one default search engine: Bing.” But this thing is going nowhere. Not giving users what they want (probably Google as default or at least an option) is the way to drive them away. In the next part we’ll say more about Google’s impact on Microsoft and why it terrifies the convicted monopolist. █
Summary: An opening statement and some coverage preceding an actual breakdown of areas where Microsoft loses a lot of money
MICROSOFT RELEASED financial results last month. We hadn’t caught up with the news about it until Sunday, so now is a good time to elaborate on what we already wrote since these results’ publication, namely:
- Mainstream Press Misreports Microsoft Revenue, Misses Accounting Tricks
- Piled In
- Teaching Our Children That Crime Pays Off
- Microsoft Still Loses Billions of Dollars Online
- Microsoft’s #1 Cash Cow Doesn’t Sell Well Anymore, Steve Ballmer Pressured to Leave
We also have an index about Microsoft’s financial mischiefs, for those who are unfamiliar with Microsoft’s history of financial fraud for example. Last week we said more about the Pequot story, which had also been covered in:
- Wishy-Washy ‘Open Source’ Microsoft
- Tax-Free Financial Gain at Microsoft Assisted by Governor Gregoire
- Pequot Capital, Microsoft, and SCO
- More Microsoft Staff Quits, Microsoft Shares Fall, Pequot Fraud Revisited (Whistleblower Compensated)
- Corruption Around Microsoft Shares Settled
- When a Convicted Criminal Accuses Others of Crime
- More Misconduct Connected to Microsoft
- Microsoft is Still Massively Evading Tax, Insider Trading Revisited
Here is what the Wall Street Journal wrote about this:
The ex-wife of a former Microsoft Corp. employee received $1 million for providing information that helped federal regulators bring an insider-trading case against former hedge-fund titan Arthur Samberg.
This was covered in a ton of publications, only a small portion of which we ought to name for future reference:
- Pequot Insider Trading Informant Gets $1M High Five From SEC
- Hell hath no fury like a hedge fund manager’s ex-wife
- Connecticut couple gets $1 million SEC award for Pequot
- SEC Awards $1 Million for Information Provided in Pequot Case
- SEC pays $1 million to woman who ratted on her ex
Our previous posts about that hopefully provide insight into Microsoft’s relevance to it. They also ought to present quite concisely the similarity to the case of a Microsoft whistleblowing incident; it’s about Microsoft fraud, which Microsoft swept aside by settling with the SEC and paying $4 million to the whistleblower.
“SEC now freer to hike whistleblower awards,” concludes the headline from the Washington Post:
With powerful senators watching closely, federal investigators search high and low for evidence of insider trading in shares of Microsoft. One of Wall Street’s best-known hedge fund managers is targeted, but the feds can’t find proof. Years pass, and they close the case without filing charges.
So on we move to the news and the analysis that has not been presented here yet. Last month it was pointed out that “Microsoft [Was] Down 25.87% Since Reporting Quarterly Results 71 Days Ago (MSFT)” and that “Money Flow [Was] Negative for Microsoft Corporation; MSFT” (see specifics inside).
The Boston press published the following article: “Is Microsoft heading the way of the dinosaur?”
Nortel Networks, Remington, Eastman Kodak: The list of once-thriving and now-defunct or moribund technology companies reads like the stops on an abandoned railway line. You can add Microsoft MSFT-Q to that list. It’s well on its way to obsolescence. Nothing can be done. It’ll take a long time – decades – but this $200-billion (U.S.) company is finished.
These predictions are not far fetched at all. Shortly after Microsoft had posted its results even Microsoft boosters like Preston Gralla could actually choose a headline like “the days of Microsoft growth are over” (and Gralla has vested interests in Microsoft due to his occupation).
Your attempt to reach the youth via smart phones was an epic failure. KIN has been pulled by Verizon in a matter of weeks. Anonymous purported employees claimed that the IP you bought acquiring Danger are now wasted and call it as embarrassing as Microsoft Bob. Joe Wilcox correctly predicted Kin’s failure as you fired the leadership of the Entertainment and Devices division just before the Kin product launch.
Ahead of the results Reuters came out declaring: “High hopes for Microsoft, but stock still adrift”
The article says that “Signs point to strong results for Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) as companies get around to buying computers after a two-year drought, but its stock may find it tough to gain altitude amid worries about where growth will come from in coming years.”
“Microsoft’s stock barely moved because while Microsoft could easily deceive the press, it could not quite deceive shareholders who do this for a living.”As we pointed our earlier today, it's about hardware sales for the most part, especially after a highly recessionary year. “Microsoft profit beats Street, stock unmoved,” heralded The Star. Is anybody surprised? Microsoft always beats expectations because it sets the expectations low and if business is not doing well, then Microsoft does in fact revise the expectations (so that it will beat them later). We wrote about this several times before and explained how financial jargon is being used to obscure the simple truth. We gave current examples. Microsoft’s stock barely moved because while Microsoft could easily deceive the press, it could not quite deceive shareholders who do this for a living. “Microsoft Shares Slip Despite Earnings Beat” — that’s the headline from the Wall Street Journal. It’s not so rosy after all, not based on the financial market anyway.
So anyway, what could have caused Microsoft to push unimpressive results (which did not impress shareholders on the face of it)? We have already explained how Microsoft fudges the numbers and plays with an accountant’s toolbox, which is probably not illegal.
In the next part we will take a look of one of the latest culprits which is responsible for poor performance. That would be “KIN”, which failed to compete against Linux (perhaps outsold by Linux at a ratio of 1:~15,000 on any given day). In the third part of this series we will look at the impact of Google and Free software on Microsoft. █
Summary: Apple and Microsoft, the two patent aggressors that want to accumulate Linux cash derivatives, are still blocking areas of software using new patents; Microsoft’s infringement of i4i patents not necessarily a done case
Take the iPhone as an example: it has over 1000 patents; yet Apple does not apply for patent protection in countries like Peru, Ghana, or Ecuador, or, for that matter, in most of the developing world. So entrepreneurs could use these patent filings to gain information to make an iPhone-like device that solves the unique problems of these countries. Apple has so far received 3287 U.S.-issued patents and has 1767 applications pending: a total of 5054 (for all of its products). Yet it has filed for only about 300 patents in China and has been issued 19. In India, it has filed only 38 patent applications and has received four patents. In Mexico it has filed for 109 and received 59 patents. So even India, China, and Mexico are wide-open fields.
As we pointed out last week, Apple continues to expand its patents arsenal and there is a lot of coverage about the latest examples [1, 2]. These are not ordinary patent applications; these are software patents that can cripple Linux-based phones. Software patents have already killed simple programs for Android.
Three new patent applications that just became public on the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website reveal that Apple is now patenting ideas for mobile applications. Specifically, these patents applications describe iPhone apps that would aid in making travel arrangements, booking hotels and shopping.
As Erica Ogg puts it:
It’s important to keep in mind that these are just patent applications. Lots of tech companies, including Apple, apply for patents just in case they might want to pursue a certain technology in the future. It’s not necessarily an indication that it’s something Apple is working on at the moment.
Whether or not Apple will have those patents accepted does not matter much; neither does the fact that Apple might not implement anything based on the patents. To Apple, this is just another shell to add to its arsenal before the next artillery attack on companies like HTC. Apple is no friend of Linux.
“Everything we think and say is essentially the fusion of things we saw, heard, read, etc.”Then we have Microsoft, which very much like Apple has many reasons to fear Linux. To those proprietary software giants GNU/Linux is a rising giant that takes over the market; it takes shape in companies like IBM and Google. The New York Times now carries a profile of the litigious side of Microsoft, which has a long history of legal abuse, including intimidation, extortion, and bribery.
Microsoft is now patenting some sort of six-axis remote, which sounds like a monopoly on hardware [1, 2, 3], perhaps intended to suppress what could be perceived as a knockoff. “Microsoft patent delivers dual mode Xbox 360 controller,” says another article amongst many others. Let’s consider for a second the fact that Microsoft imitated a lot of prior art when it made controllers. Nothing is without precedence in science and technology. Everything we think and say is essentially the fusion of things we saw, heard, read, etc. That’s how knowledge works. Exact replication of one’s rendition is already covered/stifled by copyright law; we don’t necessarily need to criminalise applied thought. That would just be… criminally unjust. In any case, some days ago we wrote about the possibility that Microsoft’s case with i4i will be escalated to SCOTUS [1, 2]. The ‘Microsoft press’ is now saying that Microsoft might do just that. Here are some quotes of interest:
Microsoft now appears ready to take the battle all of the way to the Supreme Court. On June 8, Microsoft petitioned the Supreme Court to delay its appeal (PDF download), and that delay was granted, according to Owen.
“As far as we know, Microsoft has declared its intention to file with the Supreme Court a petition for cert [certiorari]. And they actually obtained the permission of the Supreme Court to file it late,” Owen said. “So they asked, and they now have until August 27 to file their petition for cert.”
If Microsoft files with the Supreme Court, i4i will have time to respond, which is typically about 30 days, Owen said. After that time, it’s anyone’s guess what happens.
“We think their appeal path has been exhausted, but I never say ‘never,’ and you just don’t know what Microsoft will do,” Owen said.
A Microsoft booster has commented on this case as well.
With Microsoft, it’s the familiar story of taking other people’s ideas, not respecting software patents (in fact bragging about willful infringement in internal E-mails), and then whining about other companies ‘stealing’ Microsoft’s ideas and ‘violating’ their software patents. Another familiar story is Microsoft paying some patent aggressors. Eolas is a classic example of it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and we saw similar stories happening in recent months. Here is another firm that Microsoft paid to walk away and is now suing other firms, buoyed by cash from Microsoft.
After suing Microsoft for patent infringement, Uniloc USA is now turning its sights on a host of other companies.
Microsoft Nick covered this by saying: “Uniloc, the company that won a $388 million patent-infringement judgment against Microsoft before it was overturned in September, is now going after Sony, McAfee, Activision, Quark, Aspyr Media and Borland Software in federal court.” There are many more articles like this one and the Uniloc-Microsoft case is one that we mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
On Thursday a tidbit of news circulated around the Web that Microsoft had filed a patent application in late 2009 hoping to lay claim to the look and feel of page turns on a touchscreen device.
Microsoft was not the first, but it doesn’t matter. Like Apple, Microsoft just wants more weapons in its arsenal and if the dead Courier helped create such a weapon, then why not, right? Patent settlements apply to patents in bulk, no matter their validity or quality.
“Patent settlements apply to patents in bulk, no matter their validity or quality.”It’s good for the large companies but terrible for the all the small companies that manufacture Linux-based E-readers (and have little or no patents). Linux is already dominant in E-readers [1, 2] and the Kindle too is Linux based (Microsoft tainted it with ‘Linux tax’, using software patents it did not name when signing a deal with Amazon).
Software patents need to be stopped and venture capitalists like Feld could not agree more now that they have academic proof backing them.
For what it’s worth, Google too participates in the patent game, but it has no history of aggression (never suing companies with patents unless provoked and sued, which led to counter action). A few days ago we showed that Google won a monopoly on mouse-tracking for personalisation/search results refinement and it’s still in the news. Did Google really need such a patent on software? It’s already in OIN.
TechDirt makes a case against patents by rebutting disinformation as follows:
Author Claims Patents Made Industrial Revolution Possible; Then Shows Why He’s Wrong
Odd wording choices aside, the problem with patents is that they get in the way of this kind of incremental innovation. Patents are designed to protect the big breakthroughs… and then limit follow-on innovation for the course of the patent. If the big breakthrough is the most important thing, then you can maybe make an argument that patents make sense. But, most innovation is, as Rosen notes, about that incremental improvements, where “it takes a village.” But a patent denies the “village” the opportunity to make those improvements (at least without adding a significant cost) and thus delays innovation.
Also worth reading:
The two court cases aren’t new, but the action is certainly heating up. After winning a $40 million settlement from Amazon.com in 2005, Chicago-based Soverain Software LLC, which sells transaction management technology, filed suit against Newegg Inc. and other big web merchants in November 2007. At the time Soverain Software accused Newegg, CDW Corp., Systemax Inc., Redcats USA and Zappos.com of infringing on three of its patents that cover the underlying technology that e-retailers use to handle purchases and payments, as well as for their online shopping carts. Many retailers settled, but Newegg chose to fight in court. In May, a jury found that Newegg must pay $2.5 million in damages to Soverain Software for infringing on its e-retailing technology patents.
Predictably, Myriad Genetics recently appealed a federal district court’s recent decision rendering seven of its lucrative BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene patents invalid. The battle will probably run long, ending only when it reaches the Supreme Court, so the appeal raised hardly a ripple. This stands in contrast to the semantic mayhem triggered by the original ruling
“Pigs fly!” a headline of the Genomics Law Report had wondered, going on to clarify, “Federal Court Invalidates Myriad’s Patent Claims.” In a ruling the GLR described as “jaw-dropping,” “radical,” and “astonishing,” Judge Sweet of the United States District Court invalidated the patents on the breast- and ovarian-cancer genes, declaring that they are not made by man and thus patent-ineligible.
The good news is that patent disdain is becoming quite common. More people realise that patents harm the Commons. █
Summary: Novell hires one of KDE’s marketing public faces
OPENSUSE plays a special role in KDE4. It’s not only that the KDE4 Live CDs tend to be derived from OpenSUSE; it’s also that S.u.S.E. has a long KDE tradition (so does Mandrake/Mandriva). Based on this new post, Poortvliet’s appointment as OpenSUSE Community Manager is a job. He comes from a KDE background. Previously, we were not sure if it was a voluntary role or a paid role like Zonker’s; either way, now we know.
Now I might have this nice ‘community manager’ title, but as I said before, please note that that’s just a Novell title.
For KDE4, OpenSUSE is probably not the best distribution. Here is somewhat of a new rant about it; for a solid KDE4-based distribution, it’s worth looking at Fedora, Mandriva, and PCLinuxOS, to name some of the better-known candidates. It’s unfortunate that OpenSUSE is still Novell’s property. █
Summary: Ubuntu hopefully emerges stronger and its parent company more willing to work upstream after Internet confrontations ignited by DeKoenigsber et al.
THERE IS SOME (relatively) good ending to the saga around Ubuntu and GNOME [1, 2, 3]. Greg DeKoenigsber is backtracking a little, having started some of this flamewar (which others could have started as well). Yesterday he wrote:
It’s easy to shoot your mouth off in the heat of anger, and it can be hard to apologize for it. But when you finally realize, unequivocally, that you’ve done the wrong thing, then apologizing is the right thing to do, no matter how hard it is. I’ve said and done a lot of stupid things in my life, and the only way to live with those stupid things, I’ve discovered, is to own them.
I’m not an active member of the Linux world anymore — but I learned over the past few days that people still pay close attention to what I say about that world. I was highly visible in that small world for a relatively long time. You don’t go from highly visible to completely invisible overnight. (An aside: thanks but no thanks, anonymous member of the Linux press; I’m not the least bit interested in being interviewed.)
Sam Varghese argues that Canonical needs not to ignore the facts:
Red Hat, let me add here, is the top company contributor to GNOME, as per Neary’s statistics, with 16.3 percent. Neary has also pointed out that of 11 of the top 20 GNOME contributors of all time are either present or past Red Hat employees.
For what it’s worth, Ubuntu/Canonical brings a lot of users from Windows and from Mac OS X to the GNU/Linux world. Some of them embrace Ubuntu at first and later move to another distribution. Here is a new example of GNU/Linux advocacy taking a “Ubuntu” shape:
Linux Gospelers would always urge you to find something which is more competitive and secure to use for one’s business needs. Practically, most of what is used in Windows is nothing more than an internet browser, word document, a spread-sheet application and an email program.
Right on here, let’s consider Ubuntu Linux as a replacement for your Windows Desktop OS. For beginners, Ubuntu is an improved Debian based Linux distribution with salient features, easy installation, a similar feel of the Windows OS & a neat operational ability on older hardware.
This debate about Canonical’s contributions is an old one and there was another Greg (Kroah-Hartman) who started it two years ago. Infighting over Ubuntu’s place in GNU/Linux is not constructive. Asking Canonical to contribute more may help though. █