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11.29.10

Novell’s Last Week – Part IV: The Ugly Side of the AttachMSFT Game

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Turned to dust

Summary: The CEO of AttachMSFT was arrested for slaying large animals (just like Microsoft’s Kempin) and his company is a neighbour of Microsoft; the deal’s financier is an unethical thug with Cayman Islands connection

THE MORE we investigate and the deeper we look into AttachMSFT, the more evidence we have that AttachMSFT will be bad news to everyone except Microsoft. Matt Rosoff, a Microsoft booster from a Microsoft-based firm [1, 2, 3, 4], chose a rather daunting title for this whole new affair. He does deliver a bit of FUD (along with his new employer) by stating in the headline that “Today’s Novell Deal Helps Microsoft Continue Linux Fight” and Rob Enderle, a longtime foe of GNU/Linux (also paid ally of Microsoft), draws a similar card.

John C. Dvorak’s headline (for IDG) says: “Will Microsoft Go After Linux, Again?” He thinks Microsoft just prepares to attack.

Microsoft managed to buy 882 patents this week from Novell. Maybe amongst this treasure trove is the elusive Holy Grail of Patents—the Linux killer.

Linux is the real thorn in Microsoft’s side, and it’s not because Linux is making a serious move against the Windows and Office cash cows, but because it just cannot be dethroned as the server OS of choice. The Linux-Apache stranglehold on servers is costing Microsoft money.

But wait, there’s more. The entire Google search engine mechanism consists of millions of small computers linked together in an elaborate Linux network creating one giant search machine that, for this purpose, out performs anything ever invented. Microsoft would love to find a way to de-rail the entire Google operation if it could.

Microsoft was sort of the money behind the agonizing SCO attack on Linux and open source, and there is no reason to believe that Microsoft has mellowed in regards to the destruction of Linux and everything related to Linux. It may be too late, of course, but I can assure you these patents have something Microsoft wants to help it continue the battle.

It often takes years to dissect a patent portfolio to figure out what the patents mean and who is violating one or more of them. Of course, Microsoft may have done all that in advance and could have been laying in wait to get hold of this portfolio, so it could pounce sooner than later.

This isn’t going to sit well with the open source community and the fur will start flying. Within six months, I expect the battle to commence.

Paula Rooney says that “Microsoft refuses to specify what it bought from Novell” and the very weird suggestion from her is that “Microsoft patent move may be defensive”. What she also wrote is that “[o]bservers say the dust hasn’t settled on the so called Attachmate-Novell merger –and that Novell’s Linux business may still be up for sale.” There are mostly negative takes from her, whereas regarding UNIX, the pro-GNU/Linux Brian Proffitt says that “The End of the Penguin is Not Nigh”. Proffitt wrote this when he thought that Microsoft bought UNIX from Novell, which turns out to be wrong (more on that in the next post). The discussion in Slashdot goes under the headline “Microsoft (Probably) Didn’t Just Buy Unix” and Proffitt claims:

[I]t is troublesome that Microsoft, which leads the CPTN investment group, has so far declined to specify just what IP was part of the $450 million side deal. But not too troublesome–after all, that kind of uncertainty only works in Microsoft’s favor for now.

That fact is, that while many in the Linux community are wondering if UNIX is now owned by Microsoft, we don’t know if that’s what has happened, and even if it was, it doesn’t necessarily mean The End of All Things Penguin.

I have two points, somewhat unrelated, as to why I am not highly concerned yet. First, it’s not evident to me that Attachmate/Novell would sell off UNIX IP rights for $450 million to anyone. I would think that UNIX would be worth a lot more, particularly with Oracle’s investment in Solaris, and HP in HP-UX, IBM in AIX, and so on…

With no offense meant for the SUSE or NetWare sides of the business, but I think it’s a reasonable assertion that UNIX is long-term the most valuable piece of Novell’s property. That Attachmate would up and sell it first chance they get seems rather short-sighted. It’s possible Attachmate needed the sale to raise the extra cash to complete the acquistion of Novell, but without UNIX, they are left with yet-another-Linux company that has yet to go successfully head-to-head with its closest rival, Red Hat.

The VAR Guy was looking forward to many answers and Joab Jackson wrote for InfoWorld (IDG) that “Attachmate [is] to feast on Novell technologies”. His colleague Ted Samson wrote for InfoWorld (IDG) that “Novell acquisition doesn’t signal victory for Microsoft over Linux”. This too relied on the erroneous assumption that Microsoft bought UNIX and the summary stated:

Microsoft is likely walking away with valuable technologies and FUD fuel, but it still won’t have control over open sources

Katherine Noyes wrote in IDG that “Microsoft’s Hand in Novell Deal Bodes Ill for Linux” and this was cited by “Homer” in this thread titled “Novell sold to Microsoft-sponsored vulture capitalists” (also put in his personal blog). There is pretense from Novell’s CEO who, according to several IDG domains (like this one), insists that it is “business as usual” after an AttachMSFT takeover. Groklaw does not exactly buy it and as usual it digs deeper and comes up with treasures such as:

Novell has sold itself to Attachmate Corporation. There is a side deal selling “certain intellectual property assets” to CPTN Holdings LLC, “a consortium of technology companies organized by Microsoft”. SUSE goes to Attachmate, I gather, and will be a separate unit, so what goes to Microsoft’s consortium?

No doubt we’ll find out in time. It is being reported that what it will get is 882 patents. Blech. How many does Novell own? Is that all of them? If so, will we get to watch Son of SCO, but with patents this time? But keep in mind that the WordPerfect litigation could be in this picture, and I wonder if this could be a kind of deal to tactfully settle it out, with Microsoft paying to end it this way? $450 million isn’t a lot, though, so how could it be all of the patents? Nevertheless, selling any patents to Microsoft is like selling your baby to a pedophile in the limited sense that you can reasonably predict what it will do with the acquisition.

Novell’s CEO is telling “valued customers” in an email that it’s a merger agreement, that Novell believes “the transaction is great news for our customers,” that all contracts will be honored, and that the IP sale to Linux’s sworn enemy “will not impact customers”, whatever that means. Not a word about Linux and what it means for SUSE. Not a word to reassure the community.

[...]

Well, I told you in 2006 that Novell had sold out, did I not? The Microsoft patent deal was a big hint. The sale to the Microsoft consortium could be about that too, actually.

[...]

But I note that Miguel de Icaza tweets that Mono goes to Attachmate. Watch out, y’all. We warned you and warned you about Mono, did we not? Did you listen? I hope you will now.

[...]

I have a question, actually, although I’m not a shareholder. What exactly did Attachmate pay? TechFlash, above in the media section, wrote: “Novell says in its news release that the $450 million cash payment from the Microsoft group is “reflected in the merger consideration” paid by Attachmate…” so how does that figure in, and what is the connection between the two deals or the two entities for that matter?

There are several updates and many comments in there too. It is a good reference to have. Another recommended reading comes from Andy Updegrove, who insightfully writes about the deal and commences as follows:

Two days have now passed since Novell announced the high-level terms of its proposed sale, and so far the press has not been able to prize any additional details out of the parties involved. As a result, speculation is rife on several key points, and especially with respect to the 822 patents that Novell proposes to sell to a consortium of companies, only one of which has been disclosed: Microsoft.

In the fine comments we find:

And if, as I’ve read elsewhere, Elliott Associates is going to retain its stake in the surviving company (which I’ll call “New Novell”)

Were you aware that Attachmate’s press release said,

As part of the transaction, Elliott Management Corporation, one of Novell’s largest shareholders, will become an equity shareholder in Attachmate Corporation.

Over at Identi.ca, the FSF’s Bradley Kuhn wrote: “Always bad when proprietary sw company buys one dabbling in !FaiF. #Oracle : Sun as Attachmate : #Novell. #swpats to #Microsoft makes worse!”

Carlo Piana told Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat): “I think that WRT “linux” #swpats Novell has created estoppel via #OIN. WRT IDmgmt, that arguably is not effective and dangerous”

“[A] full analysis of #OIN licensing is on my TODO list.”
      –Bradley Kuhn, FSF
He also told Bradley Kuhn: “i confess I am no expert in OIN agrmnt, but your position does not seem evident from the reading of it. Will ask KeithB to comment.”

Kuhn replied with: “Usually #Bergelt dodges questions re: specifics of #OIN agreement. Guess I should write up my analysis to dispel false marketing [...] basically, there’s a “grace period” in #OIN crosslicense. Any member can withdraw & after N months, #swpats licenses evaporate. [...] a full analysis of #OIN licensing is on my TODO list. Frankly, I haven’t done it b/c I fear it’d give them undeserved publicity”

Red Hat’s Oliva wrote to Kuhn: “OIN agreements: it’s trivial to withdraw & there’s no estoppel. OIN is mostly useless.”

We are going to write about the OIN’s role later on.

The FFII, a known critics of the OIN, only writes:

#Novell acquisition sounds like a parody of 10 yro #FFII #patent #doom mongering #swpat

The FFII’s president claims that “Microsoft buys the 882 software patents from Novell via a proxy”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) takes stock of “who owns what in the Novell deal” (Novell did not give all of its patents to Microsoft).

The deal itself is a “reverse triangular merger.” That means that Novell, the “acquired company continues its corporate existence, since in a merger the parties are free to designate which company will be the ‘surviving corporation.’ Attachmate will therefore form an empty shell company before the closing, all of whose shares will be owned by Attachmate. On the closing date, that company will merge into Novell, rather than the other way around.”

Why would they do it that way? Well, there are usually two reasons. The one that seems important here is, “It will lessen a major headache under other structures, which is getting the permission of many hundreds of third parties to assign their contracts from Novell to the acquirer. While every company seeks to limit the number of contracts that it signs that require such permissions, granting this term is sometimes unavoidable (and especially if you want the same right in return). Since Novell will be the surviving legal entity.”

Now, let’s check who’s behind AttachMSFT anyway. We wrote about it before as Novell’s new name/parent company will be a disservice to everyone. It’s run from Seattle (Washington) with funding from an unethical vulture fund, Mr. Singer [1, 2].

For those who do not know, AttachMSFT was founded in Bellevue, Washington (Microsoft’s executives reside there). It is now headquartered in Seattle, Washington (just next to Microsoft then). According to Wikipedia, AttachMSFT’s CEO was misbehaving recently:

In January, 2009, Jeff Hawn, the president and CEO of Attachmate, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for authorizing the 2008 slaughter of 32 of his neighbor’s bison that had wandered onto his Colorado ranch.[12] Hawn pled guilty in November, 2008 to criminal mischief and animal cruelty and was released on $15,000 bail.[13][14] Hawn and hired hands shot and killed 32 bison—including cows carrying calves—which had wandered onto and near his property from a neighboring ranch in Park County, Colorado. The arrest warrant said most were left to rot. In Colorado, bison are allowed to wander under open-range laws.

Here are some links about the incident [1, 2]. So, a guy who slaughters animals makes a promise to SUSE, eh? Well, the nature of people who run those companies matters a lot. Jeff Hawn sounds like a cowboy and thus a lot of bad news, just as SCO under McBride was bad news. AttachMSFT has made no promise to keep Novell staff. At Novell, redundancies were long overdue since 2008, so expect them to take effect soon.

Our reader gnufreex points out that “AttachMSFT makes Enterprise Fraud Manager. “[T]rusted employees commit more fraud and compliance violations than anyone else” says their page. How prophetic.

Dave Neary from GNOME is not to excited about AttachMSFT, either. He writes:

Novell will be bought by a North American group called Attachmate that appears to be made up of financiers buying assets as investments. As someone who has seen one acquisition of a company by financiers up-close, and an acquisition of legacy products, where they languished as cash cows, I feel partly qualified to guess what might happen to Novell post acquisition – although I am often wrong about these things, so take all this with a pinch of salt.

[...]

So you sell on some patents & copyrights that you’re not really interested in (presumably with a free license to use said patents for a period of time), you split your business up into the cash cow moneymaker (Old Novell) and the new, growing business that can sell at a high valuiation relative to its earnings (Suse Linux), and you line up a buyer for the speculative Linux business. With $450M for patents and perhaps $800m for the Linux business, you get old, profitable business with limited growth potential, but with regular earnings (~$600M for the last financial year, as far as I can tell, in legacy revenues, with an operating net margin of >10%) and $300M cash on hand (after subtracting liabilities & deferred revenues from cash on hand).

Bill Beebe has been hostile for a while and rather than realising that out goal was to keep people away from Novell’s (Microsoft’s) grip he spins it the other way, as though supporting Novell would have been better. From his blog:

Remember just four years ago, when Novell entered into the now-infamous joint patent agreement with Microsoft? Remember the hue and cry that went up to boycott Novell? So that Novell would be driven out of business, and thus punished for entering into that “evil” agreement with the enemy?

Well, guess what.

[...]

Frankly I hope Microsoft does have Linux by the short hairs over this. If Katherine Noyes of PCWorld is finally right for once, and Microsoft is indeed looking for a new, more potent way to make Linux vendors “an offer they can’t refuse”, then all I can say is suck it up; you asked for it.

Sleep well tonight, all you self-righteous open source software heroes. Sleep well in the bed you’ve made for yourself.

One IDG pundit asks, “What next for Novell?”

Acquisitions almost always lead to some product line consolidation or outright discontinuation, often coupled with changes in pricing and terms of support. It can take months or more before the impact of a merger is felt. Statements by top officials of the acquiring company are supposed to sound reassuring, while they typically lack meaningful details. Such was the case today.

Here is Groklaw‘s analysis of Elliott:

With that background, we can follow the next step. Elliott Associates, L.P. (through The Liverpool Limited Partnership) bought a lot of stock beginning in January. And Elliott International, the Cayman Islands entity, bought the rest, to a combined total of approximately 7.1% of Novell stock…

Nothing rogue ever happens in Cayman Islands, eh? We wrote about Singer’s (Elliott is like his shell) operations in the Cayman Islands earlier this year. The man is a ruthless thug and anyone who gives him the benefit of the doubt should definitely read more on the subject.

Elliott Associates logo

Novell’s Last Week – Part III: AttachMSFT’s Promise to OpenSUSE is Not a Legal Commitment

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents at 8:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Conference room with OpenSUSE

Summary: Advice to OpenSUSE now that a company without any affection towards free/open source software inherits the assets

AttachMSFT is a rather hostile (towards GNU/Linux) takeover and OpenSUSE should fork as soon as possible. It needs a new trademark to go by because AttachMSFT owns it and it might treat it just like Larry Ellison’s Oracle treated OpenSolaris. When it comes to SLE* — just like in Solaris’ case — it’s an entirely different story because there is a lot of money to be gained, e.g. via IBM’s mainframe business. Here is a new video about it:

SLE* and OpenSUSE should not be confused because they are quite different and as long as companies like Red Hat develop GNU/Linux SLE* does not really rely so much on OpenSUSE. Joe Brockmeier from Novell (he is the former OpenSUSE community manager) doesn’t mince words when he says via IDG that “Attachmate says openSUSE is safe” and that it’s a “Sad end for Novell: Sold to Attachmate” (Novell does not call it “sad”).

Though many (myself included) had Novell pegged for sale to VMware, the company is being sold mostly to Attachmate with “certain intellectual property assets” being sold to a consortium backed by Microsoft. It’s unclear what those assets are, but Novell holds more than 460 patents (according to a quick skim of the USPTO patent database online) and the copyrights to early UNIX, among other IP.

We are going to cover this later (UNIX and patents) because it’s a broad subject which IDG put emphasis on (posted in several of its domains). The Microsoft booster from ZDNet looked at these patents and so did Erik Sherman from BNet. His old headline was apparently “Did Microsoft Hit the Mother Lode with Novell’s Patents” (now it is a lot gentler). In part it says:

Add those together, and you still end up with only 748 granted patents or patent applications, which at a minimum leaves another 134 unaccounted for. I have a call in with Novell in hopes of straightening out the question. But even if clarified, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot of IP lawyers with technology clients searching through the list to see just how much trouble those companies might be in.

Well, that’s just another aspect of it. Peter Judge does not seem to understand the WordPerfect case based on this article of his:

No official word, but it looks like Microsoft is getting out of a long-running lawsuit as a result of the sale of Novell

The case is not related to patents and there are many who confuse copyrights with patents. Fortunately they got their behinds handed to them. We’ll expand on it later.

Going back to OpenSUSE, a publication where Brockmeier writes sometimes has had his colleague publish “Novell’s Acquisition by Attachmate Has A Microsoft Twist, But Red Hat is the Big Winner”. Despite the increase in perceived risk from Novell patents, Red Hat’s stock enjoyed a little rally.

As everyone digests the news of Novell’s acquisition by Attachmate, valued at approximately $2.2 billion, there are many who will note that all the signs were there that Novell wouldn’t be sustainable as an independent company. We wrote about the war drums surrounding Novell multiple times, and we noted that, since Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle this year, a Novell acquisition would leave one company in an advantageous situation: Red Hat. Among other things, the acquisition of Novell leaves Red Hat as the only public, U.S.-based company primarily focused on open source. There are also interesting Microsoft connections to the Novell acquisition, and more.

Brockmeier’s other colleague, Susan Linton, who used and recommended OpenSUSE for a long time (along with other distros), wonders “What Will Become of openSUSE”, but it’s the update which matters the most (already covered in the UK technology press [1, 2]).

Update: Attachmate has addressed openSUSE in a statement released November 23. They said,

The openSUSE project is an important part of the SUSE business,” commented Jeff Hawn, chairman and CEO of Attachmate Corporation. “As noted in the agreement announced today, Attachmate plans to operate SUSE as a stand-alone business unit after the transaction closes. If this transaction closes, then after closing, Attachmate Corporation anticipates no change to the relationship between the SUSE business and the openSUSE project as a result of this transaction.

Xandros also said that it would take good care of Linspire. It’s not a legally-binding obligation, these are just words.

Susan set up a poll to inquire about an OpenSUSE future without Novell’s commitment or help. The results at the time showed 24% (80 votes) saying that “openSUSE will survive”. 4% said that “openSUSE will be axed”, 14% said that “openSUSE will be starved”, 28% said that “openSUSE will be forked”, and 30% just didn’t care.

Alastair Otter argues in the South African press that OpenSUSE faces an “uncertain future” (his headline boldly states this).

For its part Attachmate said in a brief statement that it planned on retaining Suse Linux as a “stand-alone business unit after the transaction closes.” It also said that it foresees “no change to the relationship between the Suse business and the openSuse project.”

While this might soothe fears of a sudden demise of OpenSuse in the coming months, there are also some fears that the deal will have far-reaching patent ramifications.

Novell already has a controversial 2007 patent agreement with Microsoft and now, as part of the sale of Novell, Attachmate has agreed to sell a raft of Novell’s patents to CPTN Holdings, a Microsoft-backed consortium, for $450m. There could be as many as 882 software patents included in the deal with Microsoft, although for now there is no indication of which patents these will be.

Naturally the open source community is uneasy about this with some commentators suggesting that it may re-ignite the patent wars between Microsoft and the open source community.

The 451 Group has its own analysis and OpenSUSE members are trying to act as though it’s business as usual in the blogs and mailing lists [1, 2]. “Just a small story about my ambassador life” is a post published just a couple of days before the big announcement and Mr. Sascha Manns, an OpenSUSE ambassador, carries on as usual [1, 2, 3]. There is generally little news in the OpenSUSE world these days (security advisories occasionally still put it in some headlines) and Andy from the OpenSUSE community says that “openSUSE Needs to Rebel” in the controversial title of this new post.

Over the course of a few years, and after openSUSE was launched, the relationship of openSUSE internally has been one of constant rediscovery and also lethargy. openSUSE heaveily relies on the power of the community and their votes on certain issues, features, etc. Simply put, openSUSE is democratic.

In a sense, this means that openSUSE has developed a system that slows down the process of innovation and has become an acolyte of other Linux distributions such as Fedora and Ubuntu. Fedora, on the one hand, has the fairly advanced support from the Red Hat giant. A company that has enough capacity to make changes which are matured enough and set examples for other distributions to follow. Then Ubuntu has Mark Shuttleworth. A character with a strong personality and defying attitude to break the routine of being a “common” Linux distribution.

In turn openSUSE “had” Novell. A company which had slowed down its business quite a bit in the last years and has not recently been bought out by a company related to Microsoft. Consequently, openSUSE was born dead like a mummy. The problem was that the reliance on Novell to help openSUSE was great and Novell as a company never delivered as did Red Hat to Fedora. Also, openSUSE never had strong personalities to drive its distro development as does Ubuntu. Too fearful to change radically, openSUSE followed in the steps of its godfather Novell and lost personality, for everything was handled and voted on by the community.

OpenSUSE’s reputation got ‘tainted’ by Microsoft, so it’s probably a good time to fork. AttachMSFT will obviously not talk about layoffs just day after a major deal; it has not made any contractually-binding agreement, either. Words are cheap and OpenSUSE should not operate based on them. Later in this series we will explain just what type of people run AttachMSFT.

Novell’s Last Week – Part II: Mono Boosters Ride AttachMSFT News and “It Will be Interesting to see if Mr Icaza Joins Microsoft!”

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 7:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel de Icaza
Photo via Wikipedia (image modified)

Summary: With the core of the Mono team shifting to Seattle (Washington) management there is concern that this Microsoft threat will increase activity rather than be decommissioned

THOSE WHO say that AttachMSFT will axe Mono were mentioned here last week. We no longer cover silly posts that help adoption of Mono (and sometimes Moonlight) because the project seems to have hit a wall. The Mono boosters saw the AttachMSFT announcement last Monday and kept pretending nothing had happened. Their Microsoft-groomed leaders are still defending Microsoft and promoting a surrogate of Visual Studio, NoDevelop [sic].

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza gets flak for his attitude and some pro-GNU/Linux sites are thinking he might join Microsoft (he already did in a way). To quote Muktware for example:

As feared, Microsoft is acquiring technology assets developed by Novell, the leading Open Source vendor. Novell will sell its ‘so-called’ Intellectual Properties to Microsoft-owned CPTN Holdings LLC for mere $450 million in cash.

The foundation of Novell’s acquisition (or its technology assets) by Microsoft was laid when the two companies signed a highly controversial patent-agreement to cover their products on November 2, 2006. Under the five year agreement, the companies also agreed to work closely in the name of ‘inter-operability’.

We did not see any Microsoft products being made available on Linux platform at the consumer front. However, we did see Novell’s attempts to create products which lock Linux user/develops into the Microsoft technologies — Mono and Silverlight being two examples which were developed under the leadership of Miguel de Icaza. It will be interesting to see if Mr Icaza joins Microsoft!

Yes, the author did write: “It will be interesting to see if Mr Icaza joins Microsoft!” He is already trying to float a copy of a dead project (Silver Lie [sic]), which is better off abandoned, not developed any further. It ought to be emphasised that Mono is where Novell and Microsoft intersect a great deal. Watch Microsoft boosters (former Microsoft employees who promote Mono) mentioning this acquisition’s announcement and trying to ride it with a press release and shallow coverage following it [1, 2, 3] (some are just almost identical copies of the press release).

One fellow Mono booster, who is rude towards Mono sceptics, is joining Collabora which was employing Philip Van Hoof when he lobbied to push GNU out of GNOME [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

I am very, VERY proud to say that from the start of January, I’ll be joining Collabora Ltd as their new Systems Manager.

It’s sad to see Collabora too getting filled with Mono boosters.

Novell’s Last Week – Part I: Novell Was Bought by Microsoft, Argue Pundits

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steven J. Vaughan-NicholsSummary: Opinions and takes on the Novell-AttachMSFT agreement, which puts ammunition in Microsoft’s hands

Boycotting Novell was the original purpose of this Web site, so we stay dedicated to Novell as a topic and today we will provide detailed coverage based on the past week’s news. We have gone through hundreds of articles and collected some of the best of them.

When it comes to Novell’s sale, Techrights offered a lot of coverage one week ago (around a dozen posts and a dedicated episode of TechBytes), which was the last week Novell made the headlines in its transitory state. Novell will no longer report results as a public company and it is already being turned into a fur ball of code and marketing, which will be sold to Microsoft-bound entities 4 years and 20 days after selling out to Microsoft.

“We have gone through hundreds of articles and collected some of the best of them.”As usual, IDG has its hands on a lot of the coverage. Centralisation of reporting power is never a healthy thing, but getting a perspective from many sources (even biased ones) is the way to understand the different sides and then strike balance. First of all, Network World staff (IDG) wrote some Novell history and Paul McNamara who was among the group writing it concentrated on Eric Schmidt when he published “Why any great career move should be known as ‘a Schmidt’”. For those who do now know, Schmidt was once Novell’s CEO. As McNamara put it: “The thought arose as I compiled a Novell corporate timeline to accompany our coverage of its acquisition by Attachmate. Schmidt was CEO at Novell in 2001 when he was asked to and did indeed take the top spot at Google. The rest is not only history but has prompted me over the years to wonder: Has anyone in any field ever made a better career move?”

Also see the article “Pull a ‘Schmidt’ and Jump at Opportunity” and this memory of WordPerfect.

Remember WordPerfect back in the 90′s? That went bust thanks to a crumbling relationship between Novell and the WordPerfect executive team. Poor relationships can bring down entire products, and even business empires.

Novell has an extensive legacy as a Microsoft rival, so it cannot be easily picked up by Microsoft. However, Novell seems to have found an antitrust loophole and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) involuntarily shows that Techrights‘ “Boycott Novell” was right on target all along. Writing for IDG, SJVN published the article “Dark horse Attachmate buys Novell, Microsoft helps”. He says that “VMware wanted to buy Novell, but the virtualization company didn’t want to buy everything that Novell’s board wanted to sell. At the same time, Microsoft had made it clear that it hated the idea of VMware, a Microsoft rival, ending up as Novell’s owner. The result was that Attachmate bought Novell for $2.2 billion while Microsoft paid $450 million for as yet unnamed Novell intellectual property.”

But here comes another post from SJVN. This IDG blog coverage from a longtime supporter of Novell bears the headline “Who really bought Novell? Microsoft.”

Who really bought Novell? Of course, I know that Attachmate is the company that’s on record as purchasing Novell for $2.2-billion, while Microsoft shelled out $450 million for some Novell intellectual property. But tell me, where did Attachmate get $2.2-billion? Could it have been Microsoft? I think so.

I’ve covered Attachmate over the years, so I knew who they were when the news broke that Attachmate had purchased Novell. What I couldn’t see was where the heck they had gotten the money for the deal. Attachmate’s main business over the years has been software terminal emulation. That’s a business line that’s been dying ever since the Web came along in the early 90s.

[...]

Instead Microsoft used Attachmate as a proxy to take Novell off the operating system chess board as an independent Linux company. At the same time, it retains enough direct and in-direct control of Novell and its intellectual property to put them into play if needed to put trouble into Red Hat, Android, or Ubuntu’s paths.

I don’t have a bit of proof for this mind you. Both Attachmate and Microsoft are being remarkably close-mouthed about what exactly they’ve bought and what they plan for their pieces of Novell. What I do have is decades of watching Microsoft bully its opposition. From that viewpoint, this seems like a logical Microsoft move.

“Novell is dead and Microsoft has eaten its heart” says another opinion piece from IDG and the official IDG news coverage is a lot more toned down and objective (“Microsoft purchasing 882 Novell patents”). Here is an update and discussion at LWN, which has some very insightful contributors.

Update: Novell’s 8K filing is available with a bit more information. The “certain intellectual property” is 882 patents. There is also an escape clause for Novell should somebody come along with an offer for the company that includes buying the patents.

Reuters has an interesting blog post titled “Deals wrap: Novell deal a Microsoft maneuver?”

Sam Varghese, a longtime Novell critic, says that “Microsoft buys insurance from Novell” (there are more posts that go along those lines, especially in blogs).

There’s no escaping the fact that Microsoft got those software patents from Novell. “Red Hat had “no comment” about the Microsoft purchase of the Novell patents,” wrote the person who reported for IDG on the patent sale. There’s an ongoing debate as to what Microsoft targets with those patents. Some say it’s Linux and others say it’s some of Novell’s proprietary software competitors. Simon Phipps writes: “That’s reading further than the data permits. Best guess I have seen so far is WordPerfect and PlateSpin are the targets.”

Matt Asay, Canonical’s COO (and formerly of Novell) argues that Microsoft and Attachmate were not Novell’s destiny. It’s a decent article (except the Mono boosting) and it suggests that Microsoft did not get all of Novell’s patents, just many of them

Under Hovsepian’s watch, Novell cozied up to Microsoft, gaining short-term revenue but losing long-term leadership points as Novell distanced itself from the open-source community that has supported Red Hat’s rise to a $750m Linux and middleware juggernaut. More recently, Hovsepian managed to spend eight months shopping Novell after an Elliott bid, only to eke out six per cent more from Attachmate. Was it worth it?

No, but apparently there simply wasn’t much interest in buying Novell, as The 451 Group’s Brenon Daly points out:

[B]eyond all of the complications around matchmaking is the fundamental fact that Novell just isn’t that attractive, regardless of whatever business we look at inside the company. Each component of its revenue (license, maintenance/subscription, services) has dropped so far this year, which is part of the reason why Novell has come up short of Wall Street expectations every quarter this year. Overall, sales have dropped six per cent in 2010, and current projections call for Novell’s revenue to decline next year, too. So as we look at it, the board probably did a fair job to get Novell valued at $1.2bn (net of cash), which works out to basically 1.5 times sales.

He should not have mentioned Mono the way he did because it is bound to make people worried about Ubuntu’s direction with Mono. But that’s the subject of part II in this series.

Not Even Oprah Winfrey’s Fake Endorsements Can Save Microsoft’s Vista Phony 7

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Windows at 6:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I do hope that the suit can help demonstrate that Microsoft’s claims of succeeding through innovation are a complete fraud. Their only innovation has been in inventing predatory business practices. Other than that, they have been perhaps the greatest borrowers in the history of the software industry.”

Sybase Chairman Mitchell Kertzman

Oprah

Summary: Time has nearly run out for Vista Phony 7 [sic] and Steve Ballmer’s chair is said to be in jeopardy

Red Hat’s Harish Pillay writes that Microsoft’s “phone OS is so bad, that they’ll give you two for the price of one just to make the numbers.” He refers to articles like this one, which help show that Vista Phony 7 [sic] quickly follows the “KIN” trajectory [1, 2] due to inability to sell. [via the good Slashdot summary with many links under the headline "Windows Phone 7 Sales Continue To Struggle"]

“Even with the pre-Christmas buying rush, Microsoft is already desperately offering a new buy one get one free offer similar to the ones they gave for the KIN. According to the article, ‘Windows Phone 7 devices can’t even manage two per cent of the fortnight’s sales.’ These aren’t official Microsoft figures; they come from online shopping sites. But since Microsoft official sales figures seem subject to manipulation, this is perhaps one of the better guesses we will get at the success of Windows Phone 7 until well into next year. This also strongly backs up other reports of deeply disappointing phone sales. Even Microsoft supporters have been wondering for a while whether it’s time for Ballmer to go. If the sales reports are true, then he may be pushed before he jumps.”

Microsoft resorts to using Oprah again, obviously as an advertiser (Oprah Winfrey promotes Microsoft products in exchange for payments [1, 2], not to mention her recent promotion of Gates Foundation agenda which include taking over schools [1, 2]). As Goblin (Tim) puts it in his Web site last night:

We looked at this during episode 13 of the TechBytes show which can be found here, but it does beg the question: Is Oprah soon to promote WP7? I would think that it certainly needs all the help it can get (Bing certainly does) and if she gives it away to her audience members (like she did the 360) then Microsoft can claim some more sales of the “new” phone.

Talking of sales, why is Microsoft being so tight lipped about the figures? If, as some Microsoft advocates suggest it’s a raging success, why are we not seeing Microsoft proudly claiming this? Why is AT&T trying to offer 2 for the price of 1 on the WP7 and why is it that there seems (in my experience) to be very little excitement anywhere about it?

2 for 1, Oprah, I wonder what other “incentives” can be thought up to try to get people interested in Microsoft tech? This union between Oprah and Microsoft hasn’t been received well by some and prior to the “Xbox Oprah show”…

The Register says that even shortly after a PR blitz from Microsoft (costing around half a billion dollars in just marketing expenses) the Linux-based Android outsells Vista Phony 7 [sic] more than 15 times over.

Figures from comparison service Mobiles Please show Windows Phone 7 being outsold by Android more than 15 times over and by Symbian three times.

That pretty much sums it up. As the Slashdot summary put it, Ballmer’s chair is under threat and it’s not under threat from Ballmer.

“But rather than a search engine or even a “decision engine”, Bing also appears to be a spin engine, in that it provides partisan answers to controversial topics, such as Steve Ballmer’s propensity to throw chairs to blow off stress.”

Christian Einfeldt

Nichi Vendola Ayuda a Microsoft a Conquistar más de Italia (Actualizado)

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 4:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nichi Vendola
Por el Foto Giovanni

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Resumen: Uno de los causantes de la venta del futuro de Italia a Microsoft se desenmascaró, este problema no es sólo italiano.

“STOP” en la zona-m.net es un interesante blog que informa de Italia, en particular sobre temas relacionados con OpenOffice.org (y ahora LibreOffice). Hace unos días lo hizo alguna información excelente sobre Nichi Vendola[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nichi_Vendola] y Microsoft [1[http://techrights.org/2010/11/27/university-of-warwick-hpc/], 2[http://techrights.org/2010/11/25/kde-4-6-previews-imminent/]] y es probablemente vale la pena por el que se de manera aislada siguiente:

* Lider de Izquierda italiana firma contrato-como el acuerdo de Berlusconi con Microsoft[http://stop.zona-m.net/2010/11/italian-left-leader-signs-berlusconi-like-deal-with-microsoft/]

“Nichi Vendola es presidente tanto de la región sur-este de Puglia italiana y de la izquierda italiana partido Sinistra Ecología Libertà (SEL o de “izquierda, la ecología de la libertad” en Español).

El software libre es software que puede ahorrar mucho dinero público. Incluso a las madres les gusta el software libre como Linux, en parte porque se puede utilizar sin problemas incluso por algunos niños discapacitados. Además, el Software Libre es tan buena idea de que a representantes del Parlamento Europeo de todos los colores que les guste!.

En su propia página web, SEL (Partido de “izquierda de la ecología y libertad”) dice “creemos que para que un partido moderno hablando del copyleft, software libre y la neutralidad de la red es tan necesaria como hablar de puestos de trabajo, el medio ambiente, la economía y los derechos civiles”. Entre los más de 100 candidatos políticos que apoyan el software libre en las últimas elecciones regionales en Italia hubo varios representantes de SEL. La sección de Florencia de SEL incluso presentó una moción para promover el Software Libre en] http://www.sinistraeliberta.eu/articoli/sel-per-il-software-libero-al-comune-di-firenze Florencia en enero de 2010.”

* Nichi Vendola se explica (pero no es así?) Su contrato tipo Berlusconi-, con Microsoft[http://stop.zona-m.net/2010/11/nichi-vendola-explains-but-does-he-his-berlusconi-like-deal-with-microsoft/]

“El día después de firmar un acuerdo de Berlusconi-, como con Microsoft, Nichi Vendola, presidente de la Región Puglia, publicó una explicación en la página web de su partido. Estos son mis comentarios a las partes principales de ese artículo:

Vendola: “¿Quién es el enemigo de Puglia y en Italia? ¿Es Microsoft, el gigante del software o cualquier otro? ”

Stop: El primer enemigo es la falta de competencia e interés en las TIC por parte de administradores públicos. ¿Es este el caso de Vendola? Tal vez no, pero, francamente, esta explicación no es suficiente para estar seguro, aunque hay algunas partes “buenas” en él.”

* Región italiana pide ayuda para evitar el software de bloqueo de Microsoft[http://stop.zona-m.net/2010/11/italian-region-asks-for-help-to-avoid-software-lock-in-to-microsoft/]

“Hoy, después de la sorpresa inicial causada por saber que el líder de Izquierda y el presidente de la región italiana de Puglia, Nichi Vendola, acaba de firmar un acuerdo como Berlusconi-, con Microsoft ofreciendo una explicación que, por desgracia, en realidad no explica mucho, recién empezamos a saber algo sobre el contenido del acuerdo (porque el problema más grande, en todo este asunto, mucho más que la presencia de Microsoft, es la falta de transparencia).

La Región de Puglia, publicó un comunicado de prensa titulado, más o menos, “Protocolo de entendimiento entre la Región de Puglia y Microsoft”. Vendola dice: (esto es para) la “neutralidad tecnológica” (un resumen del comunicado de prensa también fue publicado por el diario italiano Corriere del Mezzogiorno”.

Microsoft se apoya claramente y desvergonzadamente en gente corruptible[http://techrights.org/2009/08/25/microsoft-anti-linux-presentation/] que prefieren servir a Microsoft y no servir al público. Vale la pena nombrar a estas personas a ejercer presión sobre ellos. Nichi Vendola es una de esas personas y como este nuevo artículo bien lo dice[http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/public-sector/2010/11/eu-keeps-schtum-on-microsoft-p.html], el problema afecta a algo más que Italia (el autor anteriormente mostró cómo se hace en el Reino Unido con el “Todo lo que Microsoft” CIO, Richard Acero [1[http://techrights.org/2008/04/18/microsoft-uk-city-council/], 2[http://techrights.org/2008/04/21/richard-steele-grilling/], 3[http://techrights.org/2008/04/23/need-transparency-in-iso-uk-mou-olpc/], 4[http://techrights.org/2008/05/09/uk-cio-taxable-gnu-linux/], 5[http://techrights.org/2008/05/14/self-fulfilling-uk-economy/], 6[http://techrights.org/2009/02/28/richard-steel-vs-freedom-policy/]]):

“La razón números de Microsoft de la UE no tienen sentido es que la CE ha pasado la mitad de la cantidad total que se había asignado en virtud de su contrato de € 49m para el software de escritorio.

Cuando la firma del contrato en 2008, la CE estima que el costo por usuario por año sería de € 125, que estaban muy por debajo del valor total del contrato. Suena como un reparto estupendo cuando dicen que es un tercio más barato de lo que es.

Es mejor si suena como un reparto estupendo y si la CE quiere justificar millones el gasto en software de Microsoft al mismo tiempo la lucha contra el gigante del software en los tribunales por sus abusos de monopolio.”

Descuento en el software que quita la libertad de uno puede ser peor que ningún descuento en absoluto, porque su finalidad es garantizar el lock-in a toda costa.

Otro blogger puso el otro día (en relación con Kinect)[http://dasublogbyprashanth.blogspot.com/2010/11/adafruit-bears-fruit-for-microsoft.html]:

“Parece que Microsoft está admitiendo que tiene que lucir como un matón, aunque en realidad no lo es, a veces, ¿por qué?”

Bueno, es sólo Microsoft, un fanático del control. Italia fue lo suficientemente inteligente como para derribar el “patentes de la UE” y para pasar al software libre más rápido que algunos países vecinos. Esperemos que personajes de la talla de Nichi Vendola se vean como lo que son – un obstáculo a la autonomía italiana y la libertad. Más noticias sobre Italia se adjuntan a continuación.

Puestos relacionados con:

* Activistas batallan el fascismo de Microsoft en Italia[http://techrights.org/2008/11/25/microsoft-fascistic-tenders/]
* Los votantes de OOXML en ‘alquiler’ en Italia (Actualizado)[http://techrights.org/2007/07/18/italy-vote-ooxml/]
* Encuesta en Italia: el uso OpenOffice.org en el 50% de las empresas, GNU / Linux en un 63%[http://techrights.org/2009/10/30/free-software-italian-survey/]
* Microsoft lanza el Grupo Gartner a Sabotear la migración a GNU/Linux en Europa[http://techrights.org/2009/05/18/gartner-group-vs-eu-linux/]

Actualización: Glyn Moody escribió una refutación al pobre control de daños por parte de Vendola[http://opendotdotdot.blogspot.com/2010/11/how-to-say-ooh-look-squirrel-in-italian.html]:

“¿De qué diablos está hablando? Después de haber tomado una decisión injustificada a firmar un acuerdo con Microsoft (uno de cuyos términos no han sido aún revelado, en lo que puedo decir), que trata de evitar simplemente la cuestión central “¿Por qué?” Al decir en cierto modo, Tony Blair, que es hora de seguir adelante, y que no se trata de competidores, sino de los cables de fibra óptica, el IPAD así como el precio de las aplicaciones y neutralidad de la red. A continuación, el sujeto cambia una vez más de tema para traer el tema de la brecha digital en Italia.

Ahora, el cierre de la brecha digital es, sin duda una empresa de enorme importancia, pero si algo puede hacer que es un *software libre*, que puede ser distribuido a cada uno en Puglia – a todas las escuelas, y para cada negocio. las ofertas de Microsoft son precisamente lo último que cerraría esa brecha digital.

De hecho, la brecha está ahí, porque en gran medida de Microsoft. En virtud de su dominio monopolístico en el mercado de escritorio ha sido capaz de imponer precios artificialmente elevados en un sector cuyos costos marginales de producción son iguales a cero. Esto implica que ese precio natural de software es también cero – que es exactamente el caso del software libre. Cualquier cosa superior a cero hace más profunda la brecha digital – lo que significa que los precios inflados de Microsoft han ayudado a excavar no tanto una brecha digital como una abismo digital.

Tan extraña señor Vendola la “explicación” de su movimiento – que, por supuesto, es una no-explicación, y el equivalente italiano de decir: “oh, mira, una ardilla” – es, de hecho, una razón excelente por qué debería ser en realidad el apoyo a de código abierto, al igual que su partido profesa a hacer en su sitio web.

[...]

El mensaje es claro: activistas italianos de software libre deben (a)-seguir apoyando la presión hasta que se cancele este acuerdo con Microsoft, y (b)-scoiattolo no guardare lo.”


Eduardo Landaveri adds (in English):

We have another one on the European Hall of Shame: Nichi Vendola.
By the way, there’s a new popular spanish song in La Puglia:

Vote for me … I Nichi sold_la Puglia
vote for my party my help me fill my pockets!

Nichi sold the Puglia region … to Microsoft,
Nichi How much did they pay you?
As a good ex-”communist” sure enough
to ensure you and all your own a future ..
while you’re still “representing” the Puglia
you can continue to deceive the people just to say:
.. I did it! … I made the “best for the people”

Nichi sold la Puglia today, tomorrow the whole of Italy,
Berluschoni is a baby at my side …

Nichi sold the Puglia today, vote for me
my people vote for me. I better represent you
vote for my now I sold the Puglia …
I will sell the whole Italy tomorrow ….

Vote for me Nichi Vendola… Vendola Italy
vote for my party my help me fill my pockets!

Nichi sold the Puglia today, tomorrow the whole Italy,
Berluschoni is a baby at my side …

Nichi sold the Puglia today, tomorrow the whole of Italy,
Berluschoni is a baby at my side …

Nichi sold the Puglia today, vote for me
my people vote for me. I better represent you
vote for my now I sold the Puglia …
Vendola Italy tomorrow ….

Or in Spanish:

Voten por mi Nichi Vendola…vendió la Puglia
voten por mi partido mio ayudenme a llenar mis bolsillos!

Nichi Vendola, …vendió la Puglia region to Microsoft,
¿Cúanto te pagaron Nichi?
Como buen ex-”comunista” seguro que lo suficiente
asegurar a ti y a los tuyos su futuro..
mientras tanto ti sigues “representando” la Puglia,
tu puedes seguir engañando al pueblo solo con decir:
..soy de izquierda,… hize lo “mejor por el pueblo”

Nichi Vendola, hoy vendió la Puglia, mañana toda Italia,
Berluschoni es un bebe a lado mio…

Nichi Vendola, hoy vendió la Puglia, voten por mi,
voten por mi pueblo mio. Yo los represento mejor
voten por my hoy vendió la Puglia…
Mañana Vendola Italia….

Voten por mi Nichi Vendola…Vendola Italia
voten por mi partido mio ayudenme a llenar mis bolsillos!

Nichi Vendola, hoy vendió la Puglia, mañana toda Italia,
Berluschoni es un bebe a lado mio…

Nichi Vendola, hoy vendió la Puglia, mañana toda Italia,
Berluschoni es un bebe a lado mio…

Nichi Vendola, hoy vendió la Puglia, voten por mi,
voten por mi pueblo mio. Yo los represento mejor
voten por my hoy vendi la Puglia…
Mañana Vendola Italia….

Thanks to Eduardo for his translations. He says the song comes from an “anonymous author” — a popular Spanish song in La Puglia.

11.28.10

IRC Proceedings: November 28th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

TechBytes Episode 13: Copyfight, Wikileaks, and Other Chat

Posted in TechBytes at 7:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes

Direct download as Ogg (1:36:33, 29.1 MB) | Direct download as MP3 (44.2 MB)

Summary: First episode in 5 days discusses some offbeat news with emphasis on copyright and law enforcement

TODAY’S show is an unusual one because of the topics we cover. Tim’s site, OpenBytes, has already published some show notes.

RSS 64x64Today’s show ends with Jono Bacon’s music. We hope you will join us for future shows and spread the word if you enjoy this show. Also consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

As embedded (HTML5):

Download:

Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Our past shows:

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 1: Brandon from Fedora TechBytes Episode 1: Apple, Microsoft, Bundling, and Fedora 14 (With Special Guest Brandon Lozza) 1/11/2010
Episode 2: No guests TechBytes Episode 2: Ubuntu’s One Way, Silverlight Goes Dark, and GNU Octave Discovered 7/11/2010
Episode 3: No guests TechBytes Episode 3: Games, Wayland, Xfce, Restrictive Application Stores, and Office Suites 8/11/2010
Episode 4: No guests TechBytes Episode 4: Fedora 14 Impressions, MPAA et al. Payday, and Emma Lee’s Magic 9/11/2010
Episode 5: No guests TechBytes Episode 5: Windows Loses to Linux in Phones, GNU/Linux Desktop Market Share Estimations, and Much More 12/11/2010
Episode 6: No guests TechBytes Episode 6: KINect a Cheapo Gadget, Sharing Perceptually Criminalised, Fedora and Fusion 14 in Review 13/11/2010
Episode 7: No guests TechBytes Episode 7: FUD From The Economist, New Releases, and Linux Eureka Moment at Netflix 14/11/2010
Episode 8: Gordon Sinclair on Linux Mint TechBytes Episode 8: Linux Mint Special With Gordon Sinclair (ThistleWeb) 15/11/2010
Episode 9: Gordon Sinclair returns TechBytes Episode 9: The Potentially Permanent Return of ThistleWeb 17/11/2010
Episode 10: Special show format TechBytes Episode 10: Microsoft FUD and Dirty Tactics Against GNU/Linux 19/11/2010
Episode 11: Part 2 of special show TechBytes Episode 11: Microsoft FUD and Dirty Tactics Against GNU/Linux – Part II 21/11/2010
Episode 12: Novell special TechBytes Episode 12: Novell Sold for Microsoft Gains 23/11/2010

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