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09.17.10

Strengthening Windows by Marginalising the Freedom Component

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Windows at 12:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Likewise as Microsoft

Summary: News from Microsoft-oriented companies (or companies that are run by former Microsoft employees, sometimes promoting .NET) such as Likewise, OpenLogic, IDG, and Daydream

EVERY now and then we write about Likewise, which pretends to be GPL but is actually ‘open’ core [1, 2, 3], i.e. proprietary. Likewise has a new press release and also a new deal which helps the strengthening of Windows (Likewise comprises former Microsoft employees):

Likewise announced membership in the NetApp Alliance Partner Program as an Advantage Alliance Partner. As an Advantage Partner, it can assist NetApp customers with heterogeneous environments to leverage their investments in Microsoft Active Directory to achieve unified directory access.

Another company headed by former Microsoft staff we consider to be quite ambivalent when it comes to “Open Source”. It’s called OpenLogic. Its new press release is about Open Source and GPL, but it talks mostly about violations, which is how OpenLogic is trying to make money. This time they focus on mobile for some publicity and one article says: “Open source licenses are being widely used inside of mobile app store applications, according to a new study from software services and support vendor OpenLogic.

“So they are just trying to sell some proprietary software, just like Black Duck (also with roots in Microsoft).”“OpenLogic analyzed over 450 Apple App Store and Google Android apps and found that 88 percent of Android and 41 percent of Apple iOS apps had an open source component. The data helps underscore OpenLogic’s new commercial service called OLEX App Store edition, which is intended to help enable App Store developers and managers to identify and maintain compliance with open source licensing requirements.”

So they are just trying to sell some proprietary software, just like Black Duck (also with roots in Microsoft). “Be very afraid of the GPL” is typically their marketing message. To quote further from this article:

“We suspected that there would be a lot of open source used in mobile apps, since there is so much open source used in software in general,” Weins said. “What was a bit surprising was the level of GPL usage in iOS apps given the recent statements by the Free Software Foundation about the incompatibility with the iTunes Store Terms of Service.”

OpenLogic found that GPL type licenses represent 8 percent of the Apple apps and only 3 percent of Android apps. Weins added that in this research, OpenLogic scanned for a subset of all the possible open source licenses.

What was the scanning done for? Was it an academic study? Was it promotional (to ‘plug’ a proprietary software product into articles)? Either way, this helps intimidate people to a degree (fear of GPL compliance/penalties, not a celebration of its wide use).

Over at IDG there is new promotion of Microsoft’s parallel universe of something it calls “open source” (it’s typically just addons for Windows, Office, and other proprietary software).

It’s no secret that not all software is designed as it should be. Thankfully, for Windows admins, a wealth of tools can be found to bridge the gap between what our software can do and how we’d like it to perform. And some of the best of these tools can be had for free, as any perusal of the CodePlex open source project hosting website will show.

CodePlex is a joke and it is hostile towards software freedom. Here we have a new press release about a .NET application masquerading as AGPL (surely it needs Microsoft’s proprietary software just to run). From the press release:

Leading digital asset management software vendor, Daydream, have announced a public beta release of their DAM system, FocusOPEN under an AGPL open source licence, providing a tried-and-tested, fully featured .NET DAM system to more businesses at zero cost or risk.

Leading digital asset management vendor, Daydream, have announced a public beta release of their .NET open source digital asset management system, FocusOPEN Digital Asset Manager under an Affero General Public (AGPL) open source licence. Offering a public release marks a strategic change for Daydream, who have been providing high-end enterprise digital asset management software to corporations worldwide since 1995.

Microsoft and its partners are finding new ways of using the term “open source” to refer to Microsoft-dependent software and to isolate/marginalise software freedom (as the FSF/GNU defines it). At the same time Microsoft openly mocks "open source" while claiming the opposite depending on the venue/motive [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Software patents are a top issue this Software Freedom Day and Microsoft is a top threat with the embodiment of a company as opposed to a phenomenon. No company is trying to impose software patents on free/open source software as much a Microsoft does [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

IDG’s (IDC) Research So Bad Even Its Own People Complain About Its Output (Updated)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Arguing with IDG

Summary: Glyn Moody criticises the study from IDC, even though he writes for IDG (which owns IDC)

A few months ago when IDC and BSA issued their annual propaganda for the RIAA/MPAA/others we received a comment from an alleged IDC member of staff who admitted the figures were made up. Glyn Moody, who writes for IDG, has a new post where his headlines mainly puts blame on BSA (not a real company, just a front) rather than IDC which gives the BSA the lies it requires for its propaganda and lobbying that benefits Microsoft.

From Moody’s post:

One important factor is that proprietary software is mainly produced by US companies. So moving to licensed software will tend to move profits and jobs *out* of local, non-US economies. Taxes may be paid on that licensed software, but remember that Microsoft, for example, minimises its tax bill in most European countries by locating its EU headquarters in Ireland, which has a particularly low corporate tax rate…

[...]

So although the IDC numbers turn out to be reasonable enough, the conclusions drawn from them are not. Reducing software piracy will not magically conjure up those hundreds of billions of dollars of economic growth that the BSA invokes, or create huge numbers of new jobs: it will simply move the money around – in fact, it will simply send more of it *outside* local economies to the US, and reduce the local employment. And it certainly won’t do anything to ameliorate the quotidian problems of poorly-written software…

Moody says that “IDC numbers turn out to be reasonable enough,” but there is a conflict of interest here. Other critics of such studies have a very different opinion on IDC’s role and these critics are not associated with IDG. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the credibility of IDG. Anonymously, its staff blows the whistle.

“I feel like I have worked hard to comply with the agreement. It said you must avoid any conflict of interest or the perception of a conflict of interest. It’s hard to control that last part. Perception of a conflict of interest could be anything.”

Dwight Murphy

Update: Moody has asked to clarify his position, claiming that this is a misreading of his piece. In his defence he argues:

I wrote: “So although the IDC numbers turn out to be reasonable enough, the conclusions drawn from them are not.”

As the rest of the piece made abundantly clear, those conclusions were IDC’s, and I was firmly laying the blame at their door:

“Since 2002, IDC has conducted research with BSA on the economic benefits of lowering piracy – in terms of additional jobs, new local revenues and additional taxes generated. These studies have shown that the benefits to local governments are more significant than just replacing unlicensed software with licensed software.

One thing that is always omitted in these analyses is the fact that the money *not* paid for software licences does not disappear, but is almost certainly spent elsewhere in the economy (I doubt whether people are banking all these “savings” that they are not even aware of.) As a result, it too creates jobs, local revenues and taxes.”

and

“IDC also suggests two other reasons why unlicensed software costs more than licensed:

Business and consumers waste time and money working with faulty and unsupported software.

For users, using unlicensed software entails not just legal risks, but also security risks

Of course, the idea that “official” software from companies like Microsoft is exempt from such “faults” and “risks” is droll, to say
the least: licensed proprietary software is probably plagued with malware and affected by downtime almost as much as unlicensed versions (just ask users…)”

The *whole piece* was about IDC’s flawed analysis: how much clearer does it have to be…?

“conflict of interest”? I don’t think so.

Abolishing Software Patents a Top Priority This Software Freedom Day

Posted in Google, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, SCO at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Freedom

Summary: A day before Software Freedom Day (SFD) we remember the harms software patents cause to everyone’s freedom and give some news about the subject

THOSE who care about their freedom should do something to abolish software patents this Software Freedom Day (tomorrow). SCO is over as a threat because its remaining assets are being sold, according to techrockies.com. We covered this last night.

This morning we found what we were going to describe as a “very good article from Adam Bolte” and only moments later Peter Brown (FSF) dented “Great article by Adam Bolte” (the similar wording is coincidental). The article is titled “The Threat to Software Freedom” and it is a detailed summary of key points, e.g.:

Software Patents

Why are software patents any more of a problem than patents in other fields? There is far more to be said about that that can be covered in this post. The End Software Patents wiki is essential reading—or at least skim the bits you’re interested in; there are bound to be sections you’ll find of interest, and contributions are most welcome. There’s also an excellent downloadable video documentary called Patent Absurdity on the subject.
Unexpected Infringements

Software patents are a bad idea in general, but they are especially bad for free software. While all software might have an equal chance of infringing on a patent unintentionally, it can be a lot harder to detect in a proprietary application. That is to say, detecting certain patent infringements easily would require source code access.

Even if you’re found out later to infringe on a patent, the owner may forgo taking immediate action, instead waiting until the infringement is as widespread as possible so as to maximize potential court awards. The GIF format, for example, was in widespread use before patents associated with it became an issue, regardless of whether the delay in litigation was deliberate or not.

[...]

Patented “Standards”

The other kind of patent problem we have is the MPEG LA kind. It’s the kind that occurs when companies try to create standards based on patents they own, so that they can reap the benefits of licensing software that interoperates with those formats for a hefty price. We’ve seen this problem in the past with MP3, but the current hot topic is H.264.

H.264 is certainly (and unfortunately) more commonplace today than WebM due to a large head start. If H.264 were to win the HTML5 video-format war, it’d mean that it would be impossible for free software browsers like Firefox, Chromium, and Konqueror (which shouldn’t allow for freedoms to be restricted by patents) to have native video support. Given the popularity of some of these browsers, it appears that WebM or Ogg Theora are the only formats that could possibly win in the long run, but still Apple and Microsoft will try to drag the H.264-only versus WebM/Ogg Theora-only war on indefinitely. By being able to pay for patent licenses on behalf of their user base, they have unfair leverage over free software competition that they intend to milk it for all its worth. Once again, web developers lose.

The president of the FFII tweets:

Knowledge4Litigation: litigation is so crucial for the future of Europe: http://ur1.ca/1n3ec

The FFII’s account at Twitter has this new quote from Microsoft’s front group Association for Competitive Technology, which fought against ODF in Massachusetts:

Zuck: “an attempt to prevent lock-in by Microsoft Office in [MA]…, but one of the first communities to object was the disabled community”

OOXML is an example of patented “standards” (pseudo-standards that are actually proprietary).

This week’s best example of the harms of software patents happens to have come from Google. Cecilia Kang from the Washington Post plays along with the anti-Google lobby and AstroTurf by connecting Google being harassed by software patents (more in [1, 2]) to antitrust actions led by Microsoft and its allies. There is hardly any connection between one and the other.

The Boston-based firm also filed a separate suit against Google saying the company infringed on Skyhook’s patents for the software, a technology that allows advertisers to serve up ads based on a user’s precise location.

That’s a rubbish patent case. Nobody ought to defend Skyhook’s action given the absurdity of these software patents. Speaking of which, IBM’s latest rubbish patent gets rubbished in TechDirt right now:

theodp writes “Thirty-three years ago, the Choose Your Own Adventure series of kids books was introduced. But that didn’t stop the USPTO from granting IBM U.S. Patent No. 7,784,069 for Selecting Divergent Storylines Using Branching Techniques, fancy lawyer-speak for choose-your-own-adventure movies. Nice to see the USPTO recognize purported patent reformer Big Blue for its ‘invention’ – never mind that there’s already an app for that!”

As we’ve argued before, IBM should get rid of software patents, but it is too dependent on the patent office which it uses to monopolise some areas. This has gone on for many decades. Google too should help end software patents, but it doesn’t.

Two Percent Market Share for Microsoft

Posted in Hardware, Marketing, Microsoft at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Market share report - a pie chart

Summary: A sobering look at parts of Microsoft’s business that bleed rather bring home the bacon

IT SEEMS rather amazing that Microsoft has not killed the Zune yet.

One reader quotes some figures from a new article that says: “The Zune has remained at roughly two percent of US MP3 player share virtually since the start despite newer models, lower prices and unique features like on-demand music streaming.”

“They should just bury the Zune,” says the reader, “it’s a cash sink.”

“ When it comes to Microsoft, many people think about Windows and Office, but that’s where they stop thinking.”Another cash sink has been Windows Mobile (and its alternative names which are an attempt at rebranding). Microsoft’s market share there is well under 10% and declining.

Microsoft booster Peter Bright is floating the idea of Vista Phone 7 [sic] at HTC, but maybe it’s just part of the pathetic “Slog” Microsoft pays half a billion dollars to make (the marketing alone). This only makes the product line more of a cash sink.

Microsoft is not a company of many successes. When it comes to Microsoft, many people think about Windows and Office, but that’s where they stop thinking.

Symantec, Warner and Sony Music Are AstroTurfing in Blogs, Just Like Novell and Microsoft

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 10:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time Warner Center
Time Warner Center

Summary: More new evidence that AstroTurfing is a lot more common than most people realise

ALL companies seem to engage in AstroTurfing to some extent. Red Hat wrote about the subject recently. Here at Techrights we have been victims of Novell and Microsoft AstroTurfing too (e.g. employees in our site posting anonymously and daemonising us anonymously in other Web sites too). Groklaw was suffering a lot of SCO AstroTurfing, especially before Groklaw started to give them a lot of trouble (exposing them is effective enough as a deterrent).

According to this detailed new post, Symantec is also AstroTurfing:

The thing is – had whoever posted that comment come out and said they were a Symantec employee, we’d have absolutely no problem with that. We don’t mind people who work for companies we talk about to enter the conversation and give their perspective or more information. We love that, in fact. Heck, we might have even taken the opportunity to use the contact information the commenter should have left to call Symantec directly to interview them about how they made the commercials or about the antivirus product development.

All we needed was a little honest disclosure instead of dishonest deception.

Instead of wanting to engage with them and give them press about their campaign or their products, now we’re stuck writing this post, which instead, makes them look like jackasses who don’t know the first thing about how this whole blogger-engagement thing works.

Now, just because we’ve gotten this one anonymous post does not necessarily mean that this is part of Symantec’s official marketing strategy or campaign. This might just be a case of an overzealous Symantec employee who thinks that this is what he or she should be doing. However, if so, it does not fully remove Symantec from culpability; corporations need to have company blog conduct policies in place for just these sort of situations.

If this were a couple of years earlier, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal. But this is mid-2010. Best practices with online social media marketing specifically prohibit this kind of stuff, and blogging and blog-marketing have been mainstream form for some time. Symantec should know better by now, and that’s why this is just utterly pathetic.

Professor Michael Geist has also just complained that RIAA|MPAA (or their funding sources rather) are harassing him because he challenges ACTA and some of their aggressive positions on copyright law (which they try to change in Canada).

Warm welcome 2 all Warner & Sony Music employees anonymously commenting on my blog in support of CRIA from their work IP address

AstroTurfing is very common (it’s just harder to prove and validate). Calling people who say “AstroTurfing” something like “paranoid” is unreasonable.

Microsoft Confirms That It Hates Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 10:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s exclusion of “Open Source” is showing, publicly too

Europeans only

Summary: Remarks from Microsoft management show that the company is still hostile towards “Open Source” and rejects it as a technical paradigm (not just as a matter of freedom)

IN ORDER to defeat “Open Source” (change it from the inside by tying it to Windows, software patents, etc.) Microsoft has been spreading lies recently about “loving” Open Source [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. All that pretense goes down the drain after these recent remarks from a Microsoft executive: [additional discussion at Slashdot]

Microsoft’s Chief Exec For Latin America Says ‘Open’ Means ‘Incompetent’

That’s quite a statement, and one made with no basis whatsoever. Openness could “mask incompetence,” but I’d argue that it’s much easier to mask incompetence with a closed solution. Open generally is the opposite of “masking” anything. He also makes the typical FUDian arguments that open source is more expensive to run, which isn’t quite accurate (or, realistically, depends on what it is you’re trying to do). But this claim that openness is about incompetence is just plain ridiculous.

As Michał Andrzej Woźniak put it in Identica, “”open” means “software written so well I’m not ashamed to show the code to the world.” how’s *your* code, Microsoft?”

Microsoft “loves” Open Source like BP “loves” pelicans.

IE9 Release Will Harm Web Standards (CSS3), Reddit Helps It

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

RedditSummary: Internet Explorer 9 is being promoted by Reddit and it is bad news for many users of the Web, not just of Windows

REDDIT has been doing some questionable things lately and many trolls from Digg have moved there as well. As I mentioned last week, one reason for me exiting Digg some years ago was its deal with Microsoft. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but Digg cancelled its Microsoft deal a few years later.

Increasingly we receive reports from readers who read Reddit and spot what they call AstroTurfers (there are Novell employees there too). Yesterday we found this total sellout where Reddit started promoting Internet Explorer 9 (the tax-funded MSBBC is doing the same thing). Our reader cubevector said it’s “just Microsoft’s way of worming into people’s minds again” and this reminded us of issues we discussed earlier this month. We already have several posts about Internet Explorer 9 failures and lies Microsoft has been spreading about it [1, 2, 3]. There is another issue many people overlook however.

“Increasingly we receive reports from readers who read Reddit and spot what they call AstroTurfers (there are Novell employees there too).”“I was wondering maybe you could raise the awareness of something,” said another reader, “or maybe remind that in one of the post… as we know, MS will not release IE9 for XP… as I see it, it’s like bringing IE6 back to life… 50% of the ppl are still using XP… and it’s going to be supported for another 10 years or so… we’ll have that “there’s a lousy common browser on the web, that we all need to adjust too” just because MS felt like it… the whole “IE6 is holding back the web” is going to be recycled with IE8… no proper CSS3 for another 10 years :(

SJVN already states clearly that “There will never be an IE 9 for XP”:

Yes, yes, we all know that most people are still running XP. Microsoft knows that too. Why do you think they’re using the IE 9 carrot to try to get people to upgrade to Windows 7?

There is no good reason to move to Vista 7, so Microsoft may be trying to make up some reasons. It’s its typical routine.

Goodbye, Novell

Posted in Novell, Site News, SLES/SLED, VMware at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Goodbye Novell Blues” (2009)

Summary: Coverage of the developments which spell the end of Novell

THIS post collects a lot of coverage about the imminent VMware-SUSE sale, which is not a done deal yet. A deal has not been formally signed, but seems like an inevitability given that other sources say that Novell is being split and sold [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. It is now pretty safe to say that Novell (as a public company or as a whole) is over.

Some of the Microsoft boosters are jubilant, as headlines like “At Long Last, NetWare Drops Dead” ought to show:

It looks like Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) has settled on an exit strategy. According to sources spilling a bit of beans to New York Post, the enterprise software specialist will split in two parts, with the Linux-centric segment going to one unnamed buyer and the old-line NetWare and GroupWise portions headed for another destination.

Another known Microsoft booster wrote no less than two articles about it (in less than a day), suggesting that it’s a threat to Red Hat:

Other news coverage which we’ve found so far (about the VMware part emerging from the WSJ report Reuters too covered):

In an interesting new post, Matt Asay argues that “Novell’s Patents Are Complicating Its Sale” and here are some other parts of his argument:

After months on the auction block, Novell will be put out of its misery and sold within the next three weeks, according to credible sources. The only question is, why it has taken so long? The answer, according to a source close to the company, is patents. Big, juicy patents.

After all, there’s no real mystery to Novell’s business (see disclosure below). Most of its legacy product portfolio is just that: a legacy of a bygone era when Novell was king of the networking hill, with a suite of services built up to sustain and advance that leadership. Products like GroupWise and Zenworks, renamed and reorganized constantly to make them appear fresh and new, have mainly sat on the shelf, as financial results demonstrate, quarter after quarter.

[...]

Novell has a rich and varied patent portfolio that touches on everything from core networking technology to office productivity suites and beyond. Novell has patents that cut to the heart of Microsoft’s Office business. Indeed, it has patents that cut to the heart of many different businesses.

There is also a discussion about this fascinating take over at LWN (interesting LWN discussion that continues to develop is about the prior rumour). Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, who some weeks ago said that VMware should buy Novell, also has an interesting take:

I’m not the least bit surprised that the Wall Street Journal is reporting that VMware will be buying Novell’s Linux business. After all, I suggested that VMware could really use Novell’s SUSE Linux for its future, and I also knew that Novell was in hot and heavy merger and acquisition talks earlier this week. My own sources have also now confirmed that VMware is Novell’s suitor.

One of the Novell-oriented Web sites, abend.org, gives a sample of “Novell buy-out rumors galore!” It includes more than just that stuff about an acquisition, e.g.:

There is a subsequent post titled “Even more Novell buy-out rumors galore!” This contains links mostly to articles we linked to before and also:

Going further back a little, many articles covered the news from the New York Post, including Bloomberg:

Novell Inc. rallied after the New York Post reported that the maker of Linux software has reached an agreement to sell itself in two parts.

This rumour from the New York Post also led to stock activity which got mentioned in financial news, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29]. From that last item we learn that:

Shares of company closed at $5.57 in the previous trading session and opened today at $5.85. NOVL is currently trading at $5.90, up $0.33 (+5.92%) in today’s trading session. The shares of the stock are trading between the range of $5.85 – $5.92. Today’s price change was accompanied by a volume of 17,164,112 shares which is greater than the average volume of 2,961,590 shares.

Some short articles are very focused on Novell [1, 2, 3] not just because of the rumour but also the response:

So far investors are enjoying the story and pushing the stock up on the basis it could go much higher if a deal is to be reached.

Associated Press says that “Novell shares surge on sale rumor” (also here) and OStatic has a discussion about it. The press near Red Hat thought that Red Hat too might be bidding, maybe even IBM:

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) shares hit a 52-week high of $39.17 in afterhours trading Wednesday night after news broke that Novell may be selling its SuSE Linux business. Is Red Hat going to buy one of its biggest competitors in the Linux open source business?

After so many rumors that Red Hat itself is a takeover target in these frenzied days of high-tech M&A, now the Street talk is the Hatters may be a buyer.

But also think about this: is Red Hat stock moving up since a buyer of SuSE would set a target price for a Red Hat buyer? Hatters’ stock sells at five times Novell’s value already.

More commentary about the rumour can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Having gone though all the above (the former part about VMware’s confirmation and the latter about rumours preceding it), Techrights firmly believes that there is no going back for Novell; a sale of SUSE seems assured, but the prices are still being negotiated and VMware is not guaranteed to be the buyer. In November of 2006 the site “Boycott Novell” was launched and less than 4 years later it seems as though we’re seeing the end of Novell. It’s not surprising that Novell employees are bugging us today, almost as though they look for some kind of revenge or a punch bag. Some of these employees will get absorbed by other GNU/Linux players as the loss of one company is the gain of another. Demand for GNU/Linux is as high as ever, if not much greater. Novell is over, but Novell was never a GNU/Linux company.

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