Paul Allen, photo by msprague
Summary: Traul Allen (a patent troll who co-founded Microsoft) exposes Bill Gates as pathologically evil
Microsoft is trying to portray Google as evil, as it has been trying for several years now (coordinating this behind the scenes and funding people to do so). But people who run Google are not as anti-social as those who founded and run Microsoft. Despite the PR factory, Gates is anti-social too and even Microsoft’s co-founder, Traul Allen, is a witness to evidence of this.
Cringely once told this story which demonstrate unbelievable lack of morals from Gates and Ballmer. Gates’ “give me all your money, give me more power” attitude is exposed in this bit of news right now:
Bill Gates schemed to take shares in Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT – News) from his co-founder during the early days of the software company following his partner’s treatment for cancer, according to a new memoir by the billionaire co-founder, Paul Allen.
The allegation is part of a critical portrait in the book of Mr. Gates, with whom Mr. Allen formed a friendship in grade school that evolved into one of the iconic partnerships of American business. The book, “Idea Man: A Memoir by the Co-founder of Microsoft,” is scheduled to go on sale on April 17. A draft of the memoir was viewed by The Wall Street Journal. An excerpt of the book appeared on Vanity Fair’s website early Wednesday.
Thanks to the reader who dropped this pointer. It’s not new to us, but it ought to get more exposure because Gates is buying a lot of the press, which lies about him (in his favour, using PR placements). █
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Summary: Tribute to Linux Today editor
Carla Schroder has been openly critical of Microsoft, as one should rightly be. She is an excellent writer, too. Her departure from Linux Today led to much speculation. To quote:
“Save your sympathy because while it sucks to be given the boot, it’s all good. I can’t say a whole lot without incurring the wrath of lawyers, so use your imagination to fill in the gaps. You’ll probably be close to the truth,” she wrote.
“Linux Today gets tied up with Microsoft then sacks Schroder and others,” writes “twitter”, “but hey, they earned $6.2 million, a 27% increase over last year … who needs editors or readers when you have Microsoft ad revenue? [...] until they quit paying [...] is this just another example of Microsoft attacking the non-Microsoft controlled tech press? [...] the “Evangelism is War” reference is so obvious when things like this happen [...] FTC says that Google must report to an “independent third party” with a comprehensive privacy program every two years for the next twenty years. http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2011/03/google-settles-ftc-charges-agrees-to-boost-privacy-protections-.html [...] If the FTC were independent, I’d have some confidence they would select an appropriate panel. As things are, I expect a Microsoft stacked panel. [...] Vista 7 has encrypted communications back to Microsoft and the company has a terrible privacy record, where is their independent review? [...] Google just caught them spying on user’s search queries, so I consider Microsoft the greater threat. [...] No matter what web service you use, Bill Gates is looking over your shoulder if you use Windows or an ISP friendly to Microsoft, which is basically all ISPs. [...] Carla’s dismissal, if it is “it is impossible to be too cynical,” is obviously Microsoft’s doing. That she’s threatened by lawyers to keep silent is another injustice. [...] “use your imagination to fill in the gaps. You’ll probably be close to the truth.” I’m not half evil enough to fill in Microsoft gaps. [...] Techrights got honorable mention from Carla S. http://lxer.com/module/newswire/view/149211/ [...] “LXer, Linux.com, Slashdot, Tuxmachines.org, Junauza.com (Tech Source), Techrights.org, LWN.net, Groklaw.net, Distrowatch.com, Linuxpromagazine.com, Linux-Mag.com, Linuxjournal.com, and all the many other Linux news, howtos, books, and blog sites are all part of a big mutually-supportive ecosystem, whether it’s intentional or not. Something for everyone, and everyone has something to contribute.” Very nice of her.”
We love you, Carla. Keep up what you do. █
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“IT WAS too hard to pretend any longer,” stated Microsoft’s CFO, who only recently replaced another CTO who was paid millions for his silence. “Basically, we have been faking it,” he admitted, “there is not so much money in attaching a tax to machines that could just run GNU/Linux for free.”
Mr. Steve Ballmer announced his resignation following this revelation, publicly announcing using a $300,000,000 marketing campaign that the newly-formed Ballmer Foundation will save hungry children and that everyone who resents him for it wants those children dead.
The fate of the remaining 80,000 or so Microsoft employees were not allowed to be approached for a comment; they have all been gathered in a stadium instead, to be given instuructions on how to help Microsoft outlive its former shell by interjecting themselves strategically into competitors.
And in case it’s not obvious by now, this post is published on April first. █
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Summary: Mich Mathews quits Microsoft after over two decades working with this monopolist
A reader from Latvia has just told us that Microsoft’s high-profile departures carry on with this new departure of Mich Mathews. Microsoft Nick gives some background:
Previously at General Motors, Mathews started working for Microsoft in 1989 as a consultant in the U.K., according to her Microsoft executive biography. She officially joined the software company in 1993 to lead corporate PR and became an officer in 1999, eventually working her way up to SVP.
The funny thing is that Microsoft Nick starts his headline with “Exodus continues”. His predecessor (before Joe) seems to be departing from Microsoft focus altogether. Well, so does Joe. Microsoft is the past and they know it.
Please send us Microsoft updates because we have lost track of its rapid disintegration. █
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Summary: A look back at 5 years of Open Source, Linux, and Techrights
The way people perceive Free/libre and open source software has changed over the years, probably in line with various developments, both psychological and technical. Techrights, which was formerly focused only on Novell, has existed since 2006 and during that time a lot of things have changed when it comes to the way people communicate and the way companies interact with software which is free to share. In this post there is a personal perspective on what has happened over the years. It may not be entirely objective and it should be treated merely as one perspective among many. The goal is to explain what changed in the way Free/libre software is marketed, fought against, and covered on the sites across the Internet. This post was written on the train (expect typos) with aim of explaining to oneself why things progressed the way they have and by highlighting trends from different years (with succession of trends), it will hopefully become obvious how the world moved from coverage about great software to distracting matters like patents, from discussion about Open Source in business to Fog Computing and other marketing hype, and lastly from Linux enthusiasm to fanfare around Android, Ubuntu, etc.
This year was a rather special one for Open Source. At no time beforehand was there so much promise in store for companies which always characterised themselves as being “open source”. Venture capitalists also invested record sums of money in companies which could be labeled Open Source. From the point of view of GNU/Linux as a viable desktop platform, things seemed quite positive. Compiz had arrived and it offered something unique to GNU/Linux — something which the competition simply did not have at the time (although test builds of Windows Vista showed some sort of rudimentary 3-D effects like “flip mode”). On the server side companies like Novell and Red Hat did fairly well and constantly grew their reach as well as market share. Only later in the year did Novell do the unthinkable and announced that it had negotiated a patent deal with Microsoft for almost half a year.
In the embedded space, it did seem like Linux had matured to the point where it could potently run on widely-used devices such as TomTom, early Nokia devices with Maemo on board, and all kinds of routers, hubs, etc. Not much would change over time, but Linux would continue to solidify its position as a de facto option for devices as small as simple onboard chips up to about something the scale of a mainframe and beyond (although these are not really classified as devices anymore). Back then, as it still stands today, the part in the middle which constitutes “desktop” was the Achilles Heel of Linux (the kernel) and also other parts of the typical GNU/Linux stack.
When it comes to the public face of the Free desktop, quite a few reviews of popular distributions were published by the corporate press, especially in sections dedicated solely to technology. The news back then was a different arena because blogs were becoming seriously competitive and social media sites gained traction to the point where they were an Internet gateway to a lot of people. Advocacy of GNU/Linux could easily be found in expected places such as LXer, Linux Today, and also sites with broader or more diverse audiences such as Digg. The impression a lot of people had at the time was that GNU/Linux was about to have a “year of desktop” quite soon; it was not yet a conformist view to have if one truly believed that smartphones would outpace form factors such as desktops and laptops.
In some ways, 2006 was a strong year for a lot of things associated with software freedom. Several things such as Open Source seemed to have peaked or maintained a peak there — something that would not last forever. Microsoft was having problems with Windows development, Apple was still trying to grow its business beyond the perimeter of longtime supporters (to a degree) and for proprietary forces time was running out in some ways because commodity was made of what used to be scarce by unnatural means. Oracle made some strategic acquisitions which disrupted low-cost databases and later it introduced Unbreakable to put some pressure on Red Hat. Microsoft’s deal with Novell was announced shortly afterwards and it was a clear attempt to start a FUD campaign and also ignite a new strategy, wherein Microsoft will use patents as a cash cow. 2007 would be the year Microsoft also made those intentions more publicly known and acted upon them.
The Novell deal led to some outrageous early statements from Microsoft, gradually shedding more light on what it had planned as Vista was a mess and key staff was leaving. It was not entire unprecedented or unexpected. In interviews published in prior years Microsoft made it known that it might resort to using patents one day. It cited obligation to shareholders or something along those lines.
That is what companies typically do when they fail to sell actual products that they make. Well, Microsoft never made products per se, either. Manufacturing is not its field and a lot of the business is based just on copyright law, attachment to hardware companies, and increasingly patents too, Microsoft would become a leech that exploits laws it lobbies for, over time.
On the Open Source front, investments continued to arrive, however some companies were starting to drift away in directions which favoured a sort of compromise, meaning a lot less adherence to the principles of open source. The debate about GPLv3 and the confrontations it brought about also made headlines and put the FSF at the centre of many things. Stagnation of Open Source had only just begun and the lack of certainty about so-called ‘open source’ companies’ commitment to source code was part of the growing feeling of distrust.
On the desktop front, Ubuntu gained a lot of ground and absorbed a lot of new users, even some people who defected from distributions like OpenSUSE. There was growing impatience in some sites in the face of articles which called GNU/Linux just “Ubuntu”. Back in the days a lot of people just called many of the distributions “Linux”, but Canonical earned a position where its product was seen as very unique and also treated this way by newspapers. Back then there was little to be considered controversial inside Canonical as it mostly shipped a vanilla GNOME desktop, just like its counterparts.
On the server side, GNU/Linux carried on making strives and in devices it carried on becoming more widespread. For example, initiatives developed whose longterm goal was to have a unified Linux-based environment for phones, long before Apple’s hypePhone was first known about. Some of these initiatives would perish at one stage or another, but those which find success (notably Android) would hit a home run and leave their counterparts bashful if not altogether obsolete.
The ODF/OOXML kerkuffle started to go mainstream in the latter half of the year, leading to all sorts of hostilities and also the realisation that standards matter a lot, not just access to source code.
This is the year when a lot of the OOXML misconduct became visible and Microsoft’s sheer abuse, not just with software patents but also bribery, became a mainstream issue.
2008 was no longer a year of many peaks and general excitement, at least in the sense that not many people would mention the term/buzzphrase “year of Linux on the desktop”. It is not that people gave up, it’s just that as OLPC was being bettered by Microsoft and Intel (an offence a lot of people have forgotten by now) ASUS began introducing what would become known as “netbooks”, and just about all of them would initially run a flavour of GNU/Linux. It would soon become a crowded space also with Moblin and Android. It was impossible to deny that in portable devices at the very least, Microsoft lacked a lightweight operating system. It would devalue Windows (leading to margins decline) and introduce people to new operating systems over time.
Novell’s deal with Microsoft was showing signs of age and Novell was already quite assimilated, so it promoted Mono and Moonlight, much to the community’s disdain. A lot of staff was leaving Novell, whereas Red Hat was doing just fine, Both companies got sued by Acacia’s software patent from Xerox, with the lawsuit being announced in late 2007. Microsoft was no longer signing as many patent deals as it managed to sign in 2007, so entities associated with Microsoft would do an increasing amount of this heavy lifting. It was not until 2009 that Microsoft decided to also sue to get its way because TomTom would not surrender to extortion.
When it comes to Open Source, things were drying up a bit. Not as much news about the subject was published anymore, companies like MySQL got sold, Sun was starting to really struggle, and debates about Free software versus Open Source became common. Microsoft was also muddying the water by showing up in all sorts of Open Source events, which it could not get its paws off. News sites in general, however, were weakening. Some were closing down and some became inactive; the market collapse of September (onwards) did not help either. This whole situation meant that by this stage, not much investigative journalism — distro reviews included — could be done. PR filled some of the void left by that, which was unfortunate.
This was a quiet year in some ways. Microsoft gradually ruined GNU/Linux dominance in sub-notebooks by dumping products on the market and maybe even paying manufacturers in order for them to avoid anything but Windows. The use of patents and some related rhetoric became more commonplace and Microsoft even sued. As for Open Source, it gradually ceased to be the discussion of much interest in the press as more and more companies used the label for marketing purposes and just diluted what Open Source really meant. GNU/Linux for desktops was at this stage primarily Ubuntu, which also became synonymous with Linux desktop. This put an end to some of the passion people had for Linux, except those who promoted Ubuntu very enthusiastically all along (I have been a Ubuntu user since the very start).
With the recent arrival of Vista 7, the continued rise of sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the weakening of some news sites as a whole, it was made somewhat evident that even though Linux was embedded in almost everything and everywhere it was commonly referred to by other brand names and Microsoft carried on suing and threatening. Apple did this too later and so did Oracle, although in Oracle’s case not the operating platform was targeted. When it comes to Open Source, news was quite dry, but the impact of the movement was easy to see in areas such as open access (OA), open data, etc. Many companies leveraged free/open source technology as means of speeding up development and those which called themselves “Open Source companies” were typically just mixing proprietary with something else. This was somewhat of a blow to something which once had a clearer direction.
This is the current year, which has seen Novell ripe for a takeover to be completed, Android primed for world domination in some areas, and Linux approaching market share of 100% in supercomputing. A lot of Linux sites concentrate on gossip and dross, covering minor developments around fonts, wallpapers and Unity developments in Ubuntu. Android is treated like its own separate thing, HP puts Linux in many PCs (but with proprietary software above that), and many large companies like IBM quietly celebrate the power of Linux.
Does this qualify as a victory for Linux? Was an original goal achieved? It probably depends on whose. █
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The office of bureaucrats and businessmen, not science and technology
Summary: The EPO is evolving into an independent monster lacking regulation and disconnected from seminal commitment to public interest
Patent offices are a funny sort of ‘organism’. They treat patents like business and the more patents (monopolies) they approve, the more money they can make. These organisations begin to justify their own existence by accentuating and emphasising their supposedly important role even when it harms the public. The USPTO offers plenty of examples of that and people sometimes die because of them (notable examples relate to drug treatment). The EPO has a blog now (who hasn’t?) and it goes on in MBA-speak about “Improving the patent system” (which means improving it for the EPO, not for the public). “EPO to go lobby physically MEPs and EU Ministers to become the institution outside the control of Parliament” is how the president of the FFII interprets this post and David Hammerstein, a former European member of parliament, writes:
Preparation for new EU framework for research and innovation in 2013. European Patent system. New financing mechanism. Remove bottlenecks
“Europe needs a new software patent directive, software patents through the backdoor,” adds the president of the FFI, who is linking to this article in French for support of his claim. The FFII’s Web site has meanwhile published a warning about the attempt to use liability burden as part of those legal instruments we see Microsoft pushing for because this marginalises Free/libre software. Our previous post was also about that blunder. To quote the press release from the FFII’s Web site:
The European Parliament wants to make software producers liable for defects. Ahead of the vote on the Consumer Rights Directive on Thursday 24 March, a political agreement amongst the groups in the European Parliament would put software and webservices providers liable for damages under the goal of providing consumer protection.
“During the software patent debate we underlined that Data processing is no field of technology”, explains FFII president Benjamin Henrion. “The physical world is different from the digital environment”. He continues: “Similar to the software patent directive, it is another piece of legislation that makes software development a much more risky business”.
Both Microsoft and Free software (their representatives at least) lobbied against that. But who is bound to suffer just financial toll and who is bound to be blown out of the market if this thing gets approved? Yes, it would be beneficial to Microsoft.
Over in Jamaica there is this report about so-called “anti-piracy software” (a concept which does not exist in the free software world) getting a software patent burden attached to it. How quaint:
Kariblink Digital, a local based web firm aims to patent software it has already developed to ‘Whiplash’ piracy by instantly shutting down illegal online rebroadcasters.
The firm currently awaits a response from the international copyright body having already paid the requisite fees.
About those “requisite fees”, guess who gets the money? The patent systems as they exist today are a disgrace because they are not obliged to actually serve the public, just themselves. The EPO takes that same sad road to irrelevance (in the public eye). █
“Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money.
“One of the ways that the EPO has done this is by issuing software patents in defiance of the treaty that set it up.”
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“It is not the policy of the EPO to require or examine source codes […]. Moreover, given the length and complexity of source code listings, which can often stretch to hundreds of pages, it would be quite impossible to examine them.” —European Patent Office brochure
Summary: How Microsoft lobbies to change public policies such that they discriminate, intentionally, against software freedom
THE BRAND “Microsoft” may only be a scapegoat; it’s not the brand which corrupts systems, it is the highly-influential sociopaths who accommodate the corporation who view themselves as having infinite entitlement, to the point where they are allowed to bribe whoever necessary to change the laws. One self-serving law-changer is Bill Gates, who shelters himself behind a foundation which spends about $1,000,000 per day just buying the press (they call it “advocacy”). Other major lobbyists work behind the scenes and many of these activities are undisclosed.
The situation in New Zealand as far as software patenting goes is not encouraging and Daniel Reurich explains how Microsoft uses legal instruments (as mentioned yesterday) to make things worse for GNU/Linux and software freedom. It’s like barbwiring the market to protect Microsoft’s status quo, finding new ways to label the competition “illegal”. As Reurich put it (NZICT is a Microsoft-backed lobby, it's nothing to do with "NZ" interests):
Sounds to me like Microsoft is resurrecting it’s FUD campaign. Of course Chapman Tripp have in the past provided council for Microsoft in NZ and given that Microsoft used it’s power over NZICT to try and slip in a secret Supplementary Order Paper, I’d figure this is Microsofts next step.
It seems that Microsoft are franticly purchase the law that allows them to maintain their monopoly on computer systems right across the world.
In Europe Microsoft have been putting significant resources in backing the setting up of the European Patent Office.
Europe’s similarity to New Zealand in that regard is a subject we addressed before (the likes of Microsoft use “device” as a syntactic trick). Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps gloated about the EPO not being able to “distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.” That’s just what Microsoft wanted and later on it got its way with FAT patents in Europe. As part of the thread above we have:
They are never going to stop. They have a lot of money, they have a lot of influence, they have a lot of friends in very high places all over the world. It’s going to take an eternal vigilance to keep them at bay.
Microsoft is a very major player among the software patents lobby. Then we have the patent lawyers, who are desperately defending the acts of patent trolls, too (who are themselves part of the litigation pipeline that feeds lawyers). It’s all just a big pile of propaganda. Even Gates himself once admitted that “[i]f people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”
Microsoft has no qualm about lying if it helps pass laws that forbid software freedom and make Microsoft patent boosters like Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates a lot richer (they both accrue power and money using patents these days, including their patents on nuclear technology that they jointly lobby for). █
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Siim Kallas with George Bush
Summary: Vendor-neutral tendering processes which the Commission ought to be preaching for is not even a tenet honoured by the Commission itself; Jan Wildeboer speaks out against this unacceptable behaviour
The latest incarnation of Vista, called Vista 7, is hardly in the news anymore. There is nothing exciting about it. People could never really name any compelling reason to move from Windows XP to Vista 7. For all we know, based on very recent incidents, all that is special about Vista 7 is that it is a lot more likely to get bricked by updates (made unbootable) than Windows XP.
Earlier this week there was renewed interest in the way Europe handles software procurement. There is plenty of room for improvement and linking to Wildeboer’s blog, Robert Pogson has just said that “Switzerland [is] Owned” by Microsoft (reusing Wildeboer’s words). As a refresher:
A court has ruled that it is OK for the government to buy thousands of PCs with that other OS without public tenders preventing providers of GNU/Linux from competing. One judge disagreed but it was not enough to open the bidding process. This was a migration from XP to Vista/”7″ so it was a lot of work either way but the government did not use an open bidding process as is usual.
We wrote about this case of bad procurement in Switzerland under, e.g.:
- Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
- Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
- 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
- Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
- Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
- ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
- Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
- Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
- Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
- Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
- Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
- Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court
- When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”
- Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal Swiss Contracts to Take People to Court Again
- Microsoft’s Allegedly Illegal US Procurement Gets Frozen After Lawsuit
Bearing in mind the status of this case, there might still be room for reversal of Microsoft deals, so regarding this new report about Vista 7 plans in EU bodies, Wildeboer has a lot to say:
At a secret meeting last December, Commission civil servants agreed in principle to upgrade more than 36,000 desktop computers in European institutions to Windows 7 without holding a public tender. The proposed move could tie the Commission to Microsoft for the next four to five years, flying in the face of the Commission’s own advice to avoid public procurement lock-in.
Jan Wildeboer of Linux distributor Red Hat said on Wednesday that he was very disappointed in the decision. “The Commission’s supposed deal with Microsoft is not really strengthening its own message of avoiding lock-in. We are hopeful that the Commission will practice what it preaches. In the interests of a fair and free market we must have vendor-neutral tendering,” he said at an event organized by open source advocates in Brussels. Commission representatives attending the event were visibly uncomfortable, but did not comment.
The Commission should be pressured on this. This whole situation damages the Commission’s legitimacy and unless it assesses GNU/Linux in publicly-funded desktops, this sure will validate our observation that it is being derailed by lobbyists and newly-appointed cronies who serve Microsoft's interests. Maybe there will even be a lawsuit, which is possible given that the Swiss government got sued (nobody is immune to litigation). █
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