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09.02.11

Links 2/9/2011: Android Beats Apple, Intel Responds to MeeGo Rumours

Posted in News Roundup at 9:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • We won and we didn’t notice

    Samba began life in 1992 as “a bit of a hack” by Andrew Tridgell on his university computer in Canberra, Australia, while “procrastinating the stuff [he] was supposed to be doing” for his PhD. The initial hack was to use DOS to mount disks on a Sun workstation through DEC Pathworks running on Vax and Ultrix networks, and it matured rapidly as a means to share files on Windows networks with Linux and Unix servers.

  • Open Source Horror Story – A Linux Recovery Tale

    When he rebooted following the last stage of the upgrade, he saw a … a … a … KERNEL PANIC! The system could not find the root / boot partition. So, he booted a PartedMagic Live CD to access the drive and see what was wrong. But PartedMagic refused to mount the partitions too. When he checked with GParted he saw that the /home partition, which he knew to be an XFS file system, was being “reported” as a “damaged” EXT4 file system. This looked bad. Very bad. So, he ran GSmartControl and tested the drive. Oh no! The drive was giving errors by the megabyte! Oh the horror! The angst! The tearing out of the hair … Okay, so he’s 50ish and mostly bald on top with a ponytail. He really avoids pulling out what hair he has left. But you get the picture.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Canonical Again Pushes Desktop Ubuntu for the Enterprise

            Should enterprises upgrade to Windows 7? If you’re in the IT channel, chances are good you’ve pondered that question at least once or twice in the last few years. In a new e-book, however, Canonical urges administrators to consider another option: exiting the Microsoft ecosystem entirely by switching their desktops to Ubuntu. Here are the details.

            To be sure, pushing Linux as an operating system not just for servers but also for corporate desktops is neither a very new idea, nor one that originated with Canonical. Linux distributions such as Caldera were marketed for the business channel more than a decade ago, and as early as 2008, Canonical partnered with IBM to deliver a virtualized desktop solution aimed at enterprises.

          • Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) Beta Released, & Initial Impressions!

            Ubuntu’s next release, the Oneiric Ocelot (11.10), will soon be upon us and the first beta for this release is now out! At this point, Oneiric has already gone through three alpha releases and the features and the interface should be, essentially, set in stone (both the feature and the user interface freezes have past). Following the beta release today the focus should shift from the user interface (UI) to polishing up the release, squashing bugs, and improving over all quality (see the overall workitems here!).

          • Damn Hot & Sexy: Preview Of Ubuntu 11.10 Two Days Before Beta Release

            As we inch towards the first beta release of Ubuntu 11.10, the excitement is growing what’s new in the upcoming version of Ubuntu. We wanted to share with you what Ubuntu would look like as the UI was frozen just two day ago. What it meant was, this is the way Ubuntu is going to look. There won’t be any UI related changes, what-so-ever.

          • Is Ubuntu Moving Away From Its Users? Quick Look At Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1

            Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 1 arrived last night and I installed it on my main PC. I started using Ubuntu 11.04 since its beta days to I have enough trust in Debian’s stability that I can use a beta as primary OS. Ubuntu did not disappoint, there were to serious crashers, yes there were crash reports but your work won’t stop. In fact beta 1 of Ubuntu 11.10 is more stable than the stable version of Kubuntu/KDE. As I am a dual booter, boot between Kubuntu and Ubuntu as somethings KDE handles better and something Ubuntu can’t fix at all.

          • iBus Support Comes To Unity, Now Work In Hindi
          • Ubuntu deploys cloud-ready Ocelot beta
          • Will Ubuntu Again Benefit From Industry Turmoil?

            News item: Canonical, the organization that leads development of the Linux-based, Ubuntu operating system, releases the first beta version of its “Oneiric Ocelot,” the latest version of the OS.

            News item: Geeks are taking HP TouchPads and swapping out the WebOS operating software with Ubuntu.

            We’ve already taken a look at the alpha versions of Oneiric Ocelot (more commonly known as Ubuntu 11.10), and found a lot to like.

          • HP’s TouchPad gets closer to running Android and Ubuntu Linux
          • Ubuntu 11.10 beta gives Software Center a Mac-like makeover

            The Canonical-backed Ubuntu project released the first beta of Ubuntu 11.10 (“Oneiric Ocelot”), featuring both an improved Dash interface for the Unity desktop and a makeover for the Ubuntu Software Center that resembles the Mac App Store. Ubuntu 11.10 moves up to Linux 3.0.3, the Firefox 7.0 browser, and a Thunderbird 7.0 beta email client, among other changes.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Distro Spotlight: Bodhi Linux

              Bodhi uses the Enlightenment window manager. When you log in from live media you are presented with a menu that allows you to choose between a composited or software rendered desktop and a few different themes and layouts. Having carried out a hard disk installation, the first log in repeats the procedure, along with a few other last minute, mostly cosmetic options.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Latest Pogoplug streams media to Android devices

      Cloud Engines announced a new version of its Pogoplug that lets users stream media to their iOS or Android phones, or back up mobile data to the device. The $80 Pogoplug Mobile lets users attach USB drives or SD cards to the device and stream the media via the pogoplug.com cloud service to phones equipped with free Pogoplug Android and iOS apps.

    • Linux-based RFID vendors combine forces on latest readers

      Trimble’s ThingMagic division has integrated Linux-based Mercury5e (M5e) embedded UHF RFID (radio frequency identification) reader modules into long-range RFID readers from TagMaster. Aimed primarily at the railway industry, TagMaster’s XT-2 is already shipping, and the XT-3 and XT-3HD Readers are on the way and available with an open source Linux SDK.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android Controls 41% US Market, Samsung Beats Apple As The Leading OEM

          Samsung has emerged as the leader OEM in the US market, slapping Apple hard against the face which is trying to slow Samsung’s growth using its legal force. Samsung and Apple both gained around 1% market share in the US, with Samsung with 25% and Apple with 9.5% market share.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Intel pulls MeeGo plug?

        Intel may be pulling out of MeeGo development, if rumors coming out of Taiwan this morning are true. If that’s the case, this will be the second Linux-based mobile platform dropped by its primary corporate sponsor in less than a month’s time.

      • MeeGo, The Bell Tolls For Thee (Maybe)
      • Intel rejects reports it is “backing off” MeeGo

        Intel has responded to reports that it was planning to “back off” MeeGo saying that it remains committed to the open source operating system. The reports suggested that Intel was planning to temporarily discontinue MeeGo development due to a “lack of enthusiasm for the platform from handset and tablet PC vendors”. MeeGo was created in February 2010 when Intel and Nokia pooled their Moblin and Maemo development efforts under the aegis of the Linux Foundation.

      • It Makes Sense For Google To Own Motorola’s Hardware Business To Build Super Cheap Tablets

        The success of the HP TouchPad fire sale and customer surveys show that there is pent-up consumer demand for a cheap tablet. And given the superiority of iPad hardware, the only way for Android to compete is to undercut on price.

        Is that possible? Well, iSuppli estimates the 16GB TouchPad’s bill of materials at $296. The biggest cost items in a tablet are the touchscreen and memory chips, which could both be knocked down a peg for an explicitly low-cost tablet. Google could buy huge inventory upfront to bring down unit costs even further.

      • Running ARM Linux Benchmarks On The HP TouchPad

        While Hewlett-Packard recently announced they will be killing off their webOS devices, just days prior to that I had ordered an HP TouchPad 16GB to carry out some additional ARM-based Linux benchmarks. Although HP’s devices may be going away, I am still fond of webOS and it’s a fair environment to carry out performance tests.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Taking the risk out of open source

    According to Moodley, the most common problem companies experience is failing to make use of the software support and tools provided by the vendor. “The best way to avoid this is to engage with local partners and the vendor.”

    She adds that in comparison with proprietary software, vendor-supported open source software offers more freedom to system integrators and developers. “Secondly, open source software tends to be developed on an open standard, once again making it easier for both developers and system integrators.”

  • Should Adobe Embrace Open Source?

    Things are not what they once were for Adobe. There was a time when Flash’s hegemony on the Web was virtually unchallenged. It was also once common to hear people refer to PDF documents as “Adobe files,” signaling the ubiquity of Adobe Reader. Now, times have changed.

  • Web Browsers

    • The Big, Bad Browser Quiz
    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Targets Tablets With New Browser Designs

        Tablets have caught the interest of browser maker Mozilla, which is polishing up a new version of its Firefox browser for Android tablets. Previews show a tablet browser with many elements that will be familiar to users of the company’s desktop version. However, users generally don’t yet seem to be as choosy about the browsers on their mobile devices as they are about the browsers on their desktops.

      • 10 Best Firefox Add-ons You Can’t Live Without
      • Will Mozilla Kill Small Publishers On Firefox For Tablets?

        The Mozilla team is now working on tablet version of its web browser which started to lose market share owing to slower development cycle as compared to Google’s Chrome. The browser adopted a six week release cycle which while improves the browser in the area it was lagging (speed and resource consumption) also creates a headache for businesses and users who can’t keep up with such fast track release cycle.

  • SaaS

    • Beware the bait and switch in the public cloud

      Even with all the great new product and vision announcements at the VMworld and Dreamforce vendor conferences this week, two announcements will make it more difficult for developers and CIOs to leap into their next cloud investment with confidence. Google, EMC VMware, and Salesforce.com, three vendors vying for cloud leadership status, share the blame for that lowered confidence.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Will Solaris 11 Debut at Oracle OpenWorld 2011?

      Oracle has had Solaris 11 available as a preview of sorts with the Solaris 11 Express edition. Oracle released Solaris 11 Express back in November of 2010 so by the time OpenWorld 2011 comes around in October, that’s nearly a full year of testing in the field.

      The whole point of Solaris 11 is to be the high-end mission critical operating system for Oracle’s platforms and with a year of hardening and stability work, I think OpenWorld is as good a place as any for it to officially be released.

  • Healthcare

    • VA CIO: ‘When we get it done, it will be open source’

      The joint electronic health record for the Veterans Affairs and Defense Departments will in effect be open source when it is complete, according to a senior VA official, who provided more details about how that will occur.

      VA is developing an open source track to modernize its VistA electronic health record and will incorporate the approach with DOD in the joint system. DOD has become more excited by open source and “sees it as a strong contributor as we move ahead,” said Roger Baker, VA CIO.

    • Taking license with open-source software

      Recently, however, the VA embraced open source as a strategy for VistA enhancement. It hired the Informatics Applications Group, or Tiag for short, to create a not-for profit corporation, the Open Source Electronic Health Record Agent, to oversee the program.

  • Business

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

Leftovers

  • Cablegate

    • WIKILEAKS REVELATION DAMAGES U.S.-IRAQ TALKS ON KEEPING AMERICAN TROOPS PAST 2011
    • Israel Objects to Palestinian Statehood to Avoid War Crimes Investigations

      A secret State Department diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed that one of the primary reasons behind Israeli objections to Palestinian statehood is that lack of statehood keeps Palestinian territories outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes war crimes.

    • On the Media: A grim reminder from WikiLeaks

      It’s far from certain we will get a definitive answer. Back then, the war in Iraq had spiraled into its most violent period. The media scrambled to keep up with daily violence. Reporters had enough on their hands trying to account for an attack several months earlier, in which U.S. Marines retaliated for a roadside bombing in Haditha by killing two dozen Iraqis, including women and children.

      Today, much of the American public and media have moved on. The deadliest American war is now in Afghanistan. Economic anguish and the odd hurricane fill the headlines. Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, we would all prefer to recall the heroic moments in the war on terror — such as the cops and firefighters giving up their own lives to rescue fellow New Yorkers and the overwhelming majority of troops who have fought honorably for their country.

Microsoft Confirms Role in Preparing to Litigate Using Patent Trolls as Proxies

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Patents at 7:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s use of MOSAID (which recently sued Red Hat), either directly or as a proxy, is no longer secret

Horacio Gutierrez

Picture contributed by a reader

Summary: “Microsoft is party to the just-announced deal between Nokia and Mosaid,” claims Mary Jo Foley, who calls the patent troll a “patent licensing firm”; the debate over the abolishment of patents is gaining traction in the UK today

IT was yesterday that we first found out about Nokia/Microsoft armament of a patent troll. The following day, semi-official Microsoft PR dunce Mary Jo Foley admitted that “Microsoft is party to the just-announced deal between Nokia and Mosaid, a Canadian patent licensing firm. The Redmond company has a “passive economic interest,” its officials are saying.” So we were right all along.

Just as we continue to see articles about “How the Patent Wars Are Hurting High-Tech” and other such complaints, we are receiving yet more examples of why patents need to die, and perhaps not just software patents anymore (although software would be a good start). Microsoft has already groomed the world’s biggest patent troll (IV), which does nothing but extort companies that actually make products (mostly Microsoft rivals). Who benefits from this? These are very evil people with nearly zero ethical values, just PR (like patent lawyers in their echo chamber). Microsoft seems to be preparing to use Nokia’s patents through a troll and this new statement from a Nokia executive seems to validate our concerns. It basically does seem like Nokia’s patents will soon be used against Android but via a proxy which is a patent troll, in order to avoid Motorola patents being used to counter-sue or deter. Microsoft is playing an evil game here with Nokia and with patent trolls. Will somebody tell President Obama or some EU regulators? Pieter Hintjens (former FFII president) explains why “Patents [Are] Considered Evil” in his new blog post which wisely states:

There are a set of classic arguments for patents, ranging from “inventors have a right to profit from their hard work” to “without patents, no-one will innovate”. None of these arguments stand up to scrutiny nor comparison with fields that aren’t patented. We do not generally ask the State to intervene to ensure that artists will paint, musicians play, chefs prepare meals, fashion designers create the new seasons. The vast bulk of our economy innovates well without 20-year monopolies. By contrast, the areas that are heavily patented, such as telecoms and pharmaceutics, resist change, are run by cartels, and extort consumers with grossly inflated prices.

Interestingly, since around 7 AM there have been several radio programmes (different channels based on our IRC members who live in the UK) which discussed the subject almost simultaneously. It was a hot topic on Friday and even the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones did an article about it, providing as background the following passage:

On the Today programme this morning, there was a spirited debate about patents and whether they are a positive or negative force for innovation.

If anybody needs a great example of why patents need to be killed, look no further than what Microsoft does to Android/Linux right now, via patent trolls acting as a loophole.

Apple Allegedly Impersonates Police, Attacks Linux, Finds Support From Its Allies Microsoft and Oracle

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Microsoft, Patents at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apple cult

Summary: Apple is said to have committed a serious felony by pretending to be police and it is also attacking Linux through the courtroom, much to the chagrin of Microsoft proponents and lobbyists

THE cult which is Apple “will die with steve jobs,” wrote to me someone in Identi.ca two hours ago, after I had posted a link about Apple losing its leadership to Linux (more on that in our daily Links).

The latest disgrace from Apple is this allegation that Apple has again misused police powers that it does not have. To quote:

If accurate, his account raises the possibility that Apple security personnel attempting to recover the prototype falsely represented themselves as police officers — a criminal act punishable by up to a year in jail in the state of California — or that SFPD employees colluding with Apple failed to properly report an extensive search of a person’s home, car, and computer.

A “criminal act”? Don’t worry, cults do that a lot. Ask Scientologists. As TechDirt put it in its headline, “Man Claims Apple Investigators Pretended To Be SF Police In Searching For Lost iPhone Prototype”. Criminal if true, but Apple is never punished for such behaviour, just like it got away with it the previous time (the police typically protects rich corporations from the people, not vice versa). Quoting TechDirt:

Earlier this week, News.com broke a story of yet another Apple employee losing an iPhone prototype in a bar (stop me if you’ve heard this one before…). Unlike the last one, this one (as far as we know) did not get sold to some tech website for a few thousand dollars. However, reports are emerging that raise some serious questions about how Apple went about trying to retrieve the phone.

A man in San Francisco, Sergio Calderon, claims that six people showed up at his door claiming to be San Francisco Police Department officers, and that they had badges. They claimed they were looking for a lost phone, but didn’t say it was a prototype. The original News.com report had said that police together with Apple investigators went to the guy’s house — but the SFPD says they have no record of SFPD being involved in any such action (which it should have if they were involved). The guy whose house was searched says that no one identified themselves as being from Apple. They also threatened him and his family over their immigration status (even though he says they’re all legal). Either way, he was nervous and let them search his house (a mistake) and even check out his computer. They didn’t find anything.

What we cannot help but notice is that many of the pro-Microsoft people have become Apple boosters when it comes to the war on Android. They just cannot stand Linux and Free software, so Apple and Microsoft share common goals. Microsoft’s shameless booster Matt Rosoff continues to promote anti-Linux sides (Rosoff came from a Microsoft consultancy) and the egomaniac pro-Microsoft lobbyist we have all come to know and loathe also quotes Microsoft boosters like Ed Bott in order to make Android/Google/Linux look bad. That one example was just a few hours ago. He does this all day long. They work in unison to daemonise Android and prop up Apple’s case, which by the way has been noticed also by Neil Richards, who writes the column “I Can Sue You, But You Can’t Sue Us: Apple”. To quote:

Apple has sued almost every other company in the mobile industry, in not only US but around the globe. The company also tried to patent a rectangular design claiming monopoly in the tablet segment.

The same company whose ex-CEO quotes “We are shameless about stealing from others.” has sued everyone else over minor similarities in the box of the product, icon design and rectangular shape.

[...]

This is not the first time anti-FOSS bloggers are trying to spin the story. They recently twisted the story of Samsung’s victory in the Dutch court as the victory of Apple diluting the fact that Apple lost its design patents and all other software patents except for one. The court gave Samsung 7 weeks and one day’s time to fix the problem or the injunction will be enforced. Trusted sources like BBC also fell for this trick and covered the defeat of Samsung.

It is interesting to see that such blogger, with no legal expertise, are supporting Apple’s foul cry that Samsung and Motorola are abusing their patents. What they won’t tell us is its Apple which is suing everyone else using software patents.

It’s interesting to see that the same anti-Android lobbyists while support Apple’s ‘right’ to use a broad rectangular design and block everyone else from selling a device, but they criticize competitors when they try to defend themselves using the technologies they actually invented!

We mentioned this yesterday and also this morning. Apple has no shame left. And on the same subject, for those bolstering the anti-Android camp there’s the Oracle case on which Groklaw remarks: “Google’s response is a thorough recitation of the current law of copyright when it comes to analyzing software on the issue of copyright infringement, at least within the 9th Circuit. Google’s strongest arguments are that the JAVA API’s at issue are functional and, thus, not protected by copyright and, to the extent Google has copied anything, the copying has been de minimis, i.e., a few lines of code out of thousands.”

What’s very popular right now among anti-Android lobbyists is to claim copyright-related problems in Android that almost nobody cares about (not even the developers). They try to cause friction and infighting. Some of these people have employment history in Microsoft. We know those tactics.

Why Techrights Republishes Diplomatic Cables

Posted in Cablegate at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wikileaks logo

Summary: Volatile servers and threats against Wikileaks’ sympathisers motivate the adherence to local copies of selected Cablegate cables

SOME Wikileaks-associated Web sites are currently not available. Some came under DDOS attacks, whereas others cannot cope with legitimate requests/server load. Wikileaks is trying to expand its network of mirrors (minutes ago it announced a new mirror in Europe), but it’s an uphill battle as the more available these become, the higher the demand for them gets. In some places in Europe, hosts were forced to put down Wikileaks mirrors, so nothing should be taken for granted. This is why we decided that — given that the cables are already out there on thousands of servers — to republish selected cable in full. Several of us are now combing through them in an attempt to find relevant cables that need explanation and context. Our hope is to establish a somewhat comprehensive coverage of the cables that intersect with our topics of interest. There might not be more than 1,000 such cables, but that too would be an impressive number. A lot of these cables may be quite old, but this does not change the fact the new findings are contained in them. We are hoping to learn more about how software patents lobbying, OOXML corruption, crackdowns against GNU/Linux etc. are being done so that in the future we can be better prepared and properly equipped to effectively intervene.

In other news, our team is working on a theme banner for all the cables we’ll publish in the future. Next week will be fun. It’s nice to get a pat on the back every now and then. If you can help us with Cablegate, then please joins us in IRC.

Missing the Point about Burnout

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD at 2:55 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Dog with a sign

Summary: An opinion about misdirected criticism of the Free software community

Last week a poison pen who pretends to be a reasonable journalist claimed there’s an epidemic of burnout in the Free software community and asked developers to achieve balance in the wrong place. He smeared the community and ignored the largest stressor of the Free software community, Microsoft. There is a lot of stress out there right now, but the answer is more cooperation and freedom, not less. People involved with Free software should be proud of the fantastic world they have built and the way their tools and cooperative spirit is catching on in society at large. No one needs to be a hero when we all share and work together and this — rather than burnout — is a hallmark of the Free software world.

The call to surrender dredges up old and discredited community smears. He regurgitates nonsense about hostility towards women and talks about people vomiting from caffeine addiction. Sexual harassment is not acceptable, but it is less prominent in the Free software community than in society at large but is more so where people are trained to think of developers as “one night stands”. Caffeine addiction and dietary abuse should not be a problem at volunteer organizations but are stereotypical of cubicle life. The charges are a projection of the worst practices of non-Free software companies and the author has a history of doing this to Groklaw, the Free Software Foundation, Boycott Novell and others. What’s not brought up probably as important than what he does talk about.

Microsoft’s constant attacks on the community through infiltration, impersonation, direct trolling, media manipulation, technical sabotage and legal attack are great burdens that deserve mention in any article about free software frustration. Boycott Novell has both experienced and covered these issues in the past. People like Bruce Perens had a dozen Slashdot impersonation accounts, and HP offered him similar PR services when he worked for them. Every Free software community has put up with endless trolling. Anyone who thinks trolling is just coincidental or part of human nature that randomly focuses on Free software has not read and understood Microsoft’s training material which details and advocates “subverting” and shutting down “enemy” channels of communication. Face it, most internet trolls hardly know about Free software projects and are not inclined to waste years harassing yours. If you think Microsoft’s legal assault on Free software started with Android, you should check out my short history of their software patent extortion, which tells the story in their own words. Microsoft’s ongoing technical sabotage of Free software includes creating complex and poorly performing hardware hardware standards like ACPI and the usual boot loader tricks [2, 3]. Those companies that overcome all of those barriers face retail sabotage that includes spying, intimidation and bribes. All of these attacks make it difficult to make a living with software of any sort but are especially aimed at free software users and developers.

Microsoft’s war against software freedom is part of the rich and powerful’s attack on all of our freedoms. At least one person has astutely pointed out that concentration of wealth has created an inefficient command economy. Inefficiency, paradoxically works in their favor. They can only recruit their armies of airport gropers, phone tappers and other flunkies in an atmosphere of paranoid deprivation. Those who have wealth and power are punishing the rest of us to maintain their relative position as their usual means of control falter. Sadly, as we know from the HB Gary scandal, Microsoft’s form of information warfare has gone mainstream and is being used by major banks and other big dumb companies owned by the same set of sociopaths. They would have us divided and helpless and hate the community ethos and effectiveness of free software.

The answer is not to step away from important free software work, it’s to take back your life. Free software is something people want to do. Sixty hour work weeks for progressively less money are not something people want to pull. We will need the cooperation of our neighbors to successfully demand social justice. Free software builds up a civic spirit that is useful in solving problems that are more responsible for people’s frustrations and burn out than anything unique to coding. Sharing is good and people who share trust each other more. Free software also bring essential tools for publication and private communication that our neighbors need.

Microsoft Attacks GNU/Linux in Asia Through the Government

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thai flag

Summary: Diplomats parrots Microsoft claims and biased ‘studies’ about “shareware” like Linux and why it is bad

IN the previous post we showed more of what Microsoft was doing in Vietnam, by proxy. In the following Cablegate cable we receive confirmation of what we knew Microsoft was doing behind closed doors all around Asia, especially whenever a government made the decision to move to GNU/Linux (famously in Thailand)

We are highlighting bits of interest in the diplomatic cable (for those who are not aware, the Business Software Alliance is a Microsoft front group):


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 000367 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
State for EAP/BCLTV 
State pass to USTR Elena Bryan 
USDOC for 6500 and 4431/MAC/AP/OPB/VLC/HPPHO 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: VM, KIPR, ECON, ETRD 
SUBJECT: IN VIETNAM, THE GOVERNMENT IS MICROSOFT\'S FIRST TARGET 
 
Summary 
------- 
1.  (U) With a software piracy rate estimated at 95 percent by the 
Business Software Alliance, there is no shortage of targets in 
Vietnam for IPR protection efforts.  Microsoft executives tell 
ConGen that it will focus on getting the GVN and multi-national 
corporations to use licensed software.  Microsoft is worried about 
the interest in Linux-based systems, fearing that because it is 
more difficult to use, offices that officially switch to Linux 
will soon unofficially switch back to pirated Microsoft software. 
 
Target the Big Targets 
---------------------- 
2.  (U) At a recent meeting with Econoff and Econ FSN, Microsoft\'s 
Director for Business Development Asia-Pacific Emerging Markets 
Mr. Faycal Bouchlaghem and Vietnam Country Director Mr. Ngo Phuc 
Cuong described the situation in Vietnam from their company\'s 
perspective.  Despite the prevalence of vendors selling pirated 
copies of Windows and other MS software from countless shops, 
Microsoft has decided to focus first on getting the GVN and second 
on multinational firms operating in Vietnam to use licensed 
Microsoft software.  Their target is to switch the GVN over 
completely to licensed product over the next five years. 
Microsoft told Econoff that, like the rest of the market, the GVN 
currently uses very little licensed software and that many 
multinational firms that are law abiding elsewhere start using 
pirated software after a few months in Vietnam. 
 
Windows Costs Money 
------------------- 
3.  (U) Microsoft describes two main difficulties in moving the 
GVN from pirated to licensed software.   First is Microsoft\'s lack 
of pricing flexibility.  MS claims that they are constrained from 
offering deeply discounted pricing for the Vietnam or any other 
market by a `Consent Decree\' agreement with U.S. Department of 
Justice.  They say that the decree would allow MS to develop and 
sell a new Vietnamese Windows product, and if it was substantially 
different from the existing versions, they could sell this special 
version for any price they chose.  Microsoft\'s representatives 
said that this was not viable, however, since the Vietnamese 
market would not offer enough of a return on the investment needed 
to develop such products.  They said that the company can, 
however, discount software to existing customers.  But these 
customers will still have to pay for it. 
 
Linux is Cheaper 
-------------------- 
4.  (U) The promise (false according to MS) of cheap or even free 
Linux-based software is another issue.  MS outlined several 
reasons why, in their admittedly biased view, Windows was a better 
choice.  First, the average user is used to Windows-based point 
and click software and retraining them to another system will be 
difficult.  Second, Linux systems require more technical expertise 
on the part of the end user than do Windows systems.  Finally, 
there would be a massive compatibility problem -- most of the 
world uses Windows, and the GVN could find themselves in a 
position where it might be difficult to communicate and share data 
between their Linux systems and everyone else\'s MS systems, not to 
mention the relative shortage of third-party software that runs on 
anything other than Windows. 
 
Copying Thailand 
---------------- 
5.  (U) Microsoft claims that these factors will inevitably lead 
to one outcome.  They contend, based on their own analysis using a 
post-purchase survey of commercial Linux users in Thailand, that 
within a few months of a shift to Linux, almost every GVN computer 
will also be running pirated Windows software.  They claim using 
Linux will be a hassle no one will put up with for very long.  In 
the Thai survey cited by MS over 70 percent of consumers that 
acquired Linux operating systems were back to using illegal 
Windows software within a few months. 
 
Other Efforts 
------------- 
6.  (U) Though the GVN and multinationals remain the focus, MS 
also works with the Economic Police by offering them training on 
how to detect pirated products in the retail market. Microsoft 
agreed to let Econ FSNs attend the next training session.  This 
opportunity should allow ConGen to expand its contacts within the 
Economic Police and help us better target our assistance on IPR 
issues. 
 
7.  (SBU) The firm is still trying to figure out the best way to 
work with local law enforcement.  Like many observers Microsoft 
has been critical of the GVN\'s effort to protect IPR and was 
surprised in a recent meeting when the Economic Police asked MS to 
\"identify targets\" for enforcement raids.  Microsoft elected not 
to give any names.  They explained that they do not want to set a 
precedent by doing the government\'s job when it does not take much 
detective work to find an IPR violator.  Nor do they wish to have 
MS linked to police action in the minds of consumers.  They do not 
want Vietnamese to think police raids and fines when they think 
Microsoft.  Microsoft\'s country director told Econoff that a few 
high-profile raids against small shopkeepers would not/not help 
Microsoft\'s long term business plan in Vietnam. 
 
8.  (U) Though wary of the stick, MS has been trying to use the 
carrot to change behavior.  The company\'s Vietnam offices recently 
began the \"Clean Shop Program.\"  This program asks retailers of 
software and assemblers of PCs to sign a pledge to provide 
customers with only licensed software.  In return, program members 
are rewarded with points for every licensed copy sold.   Points 
can be redeemed for merchandise in a system not much different 
from a frequent flyer or shopper program.  Thus far, the \"Clean 
Shop Program\" has had limited success.  In an investigation of 
program members, MS found that over 30 percent of the shops and 
factories -- all of whom volunteered for the program -- were still 
distributing unlicensed software. 
 
9.  (SBU) Microsoft\'s efforts to influence the local IPR situation 
extend beyond enforcement and rewards programs.   On March 16, 
2004 the software manufacturer signed a Memorandum of 
Understanding (MOU) with the Information Technology Project 
Management Office (ITPMO) of the Ho Chi Minh City People\'s 
Committee.  This MOU, five pages in length, was drafted to ensure, 
\"mutual business cooperation,\" and, \"establish a formal basis for 
cooperation in the area of Information and Communication 
Technology.\"  Under the terms of the MOU, Microsoft will, 
\"contribute to the social and economic development of Ho Chi Minh 
City by developing the local IT ecosystem by building skills 
through IT training for ICT companies, students, teachers and 
government ICT professional employees based on common projects, so 
as to help create employment opportunities in HCMC.\"  Microsoft 
also agrees to help develop HCMC\'s e-government projects and work 
with the city government to agree on software licensing terms 
under the Microsoft Volume Licensing Program.  Finally, Microsoft 
will set up courses to teach educators and students about ICT, as 
well as seminars, \"as appropriate for the target audience,\" on the 
value of IPR protection and enforcement.  In return, the HCMC 
People\'s Committee, through the ITPMO, agrees to \"co-operate with 
Microsoft in order to ensure that the Ho Chi Minh City People\'s 
Committee\'s government institutions lead by example in using only 
licensed software and adopt the best practices for IPR protection 
and for the enforcement of IPR protection through the relevant 
Government Institutions.\" (NOTE: Full text of MOU to follow by 
SEPTEL) 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
10.  (SBU) While the MOU is certainly a positive development, in 
that it increases dialogue and highlights the importance foreign 
companies place on IPR matters, it is an agreement without teeth. 
The MOU does not give either side legal leverage, nor are the 
stated goals and responsibilities binding.  Life can go on as 
usual.  If either party finds that an obligation must go 
unfulfilled for reasons beyond their \"reasonable\" control, they 
are automatically relieved of the obligation as long as they 
inform the other signatory in writing.  The MOU is a nice vision 
of the future, but it lacks an actionable plan. 
 
11.  (SBU) For now it appears that the world\'s software giant is 
more worried about competition from \"shareware\" than it is about 
pirates.  Microsoft\'s arguments that Linux may not be a good fit 
for Vietnam clearly stem from self-interest, but they have a 
point.  In a country where government offices are filled with 
computers running pirated software, it seems unlikely that a 
lasting improvement will take root if the new system is any more 
difficult to use than the familiar, albeit illegal, alternative. 
And it will be hard to take real enforcement actions in the South, 
when the government itself is one of the biggest violators. 
YAMAUCHI 

Linux is actually not “shareware”, it is Free/libre software.

This cable was labelled “IN VIETNAM, THE GOVERNMENT IS MICROSOFT’S FIRST TARGET” and it is easy to see why. There is also Linux FUD there, coming from the mouths of diplomats whose wages are paid by taxpayers. Who are those people really serving, people or corporations?

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates

Microsoft Strikes Back In Vietnam (Leaked)

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Microsoft at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ho Chi Minh

Summary: Microsoft co-opts diplomats that the US public pays for to lobby for changes in law overseas and “MICROSOFT CHOSE TO USE ITS SINGAPORE LEGAL OFFICE AS THE “BAD COP” IN ORDER TO KEEP MR. CUONG OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT AND PRESERVE HIS “GOOD COP” ROLE WITH LOCAL COMPANIES,” reveals a secret diplomatic cable

In a record labelled “VIETNAM’S IPR ENFORCEMENT: MICROSOFT STRIKES BACK UNCLASSIFIED”, information is revealed regarding Microsoft’s operations in Vietnam, which we recently covered in this post. Also see:

Let’s go through he cable very quickly and highlight some bits of interest:


060441Z Nov 02

2002HOCHI01123 - UNCLASSIFIED
 
 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0090

PAGE 01        HO CHI  01123  01 OF 02  060451Z 
ACTION STR-00   

INFO  LOG-00   AGRE-00  AID-00   AMAD-00  CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00  
      CTME-00  DINT-00  DODE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  EAP-00   
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01     
      TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   LAB-01   LOC-01   L-00     VCE-00   
      AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OES-00   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00    
      PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    TEST-00  TRSE-00  
      USIE-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /010W
                  ------------------040D37  060550Z /38    
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7037
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI 
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001123 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE PLS PASS TO USTR EBRYAN AND KALVAREZ 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: VM, ECON, ETRD, KIPR, IPROP 
SUBJECT: VIETNAM\'S IPR ENFORCEMENT: MICROSOFT STRIKES BACK 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
 
PAGE 02        HO CHI  01123  01 OF 02  060451Z 
 
1. (SBU) SUMMARY:  INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS (IPR) ENFORCEMENT 
AUTHORITIES IN HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM RAIDED LOCAL COMPUTER 
SHOPS ON OCTOBER 17, SEIZING APPROXIMATELY 7000 PIRATED DISKS. 
THIS ACTION MARKS THE FIRST ILLEGAL SOFTWARE RAID IN VIETNAM. 
ALTHOUGH MICROSOFT CLAIMED VICTORY, THE RAID IN FACT HAD LIMITED 
SUCCESS DUE TO INADEQUATE TRAINING AND MICROSOFT\'S OWN INTERNAL 
DILEMMA - WHETHER TO PUSH FOR STRONG IPR ENFORCEMENT OR GOOD 
RELATIONS WITH RETAIL DISTRIBUTORS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) MICROSOFT ESTABLISHED A REPRESENTATIVE OFFICE IN HANOI IN 
1996 AND A BRANCH IN HCMC TWO MONTHS AGO.  IT IS THE FIRST 
SOFTWARE COMPANY TO TRY TO ENFORCE THE 1997 U.S-VIETNAM COPYRIGHT 
AGREEMENT.  WHEN MICROSOFT\'S CHIEF REPRESENTATIVE IN VIETNAM, MR. 
NGO P 
HUC CUONG, OPENED THE HCMC OFFICE, HE TOLD CONSUL GENERAL AND 
ECONOFF THAT MICROSOFT PLANNED TO RAID ILLEGAL SOFTWARE SHOPS AND 
CRACK DOWN ON VIETNAM\'S RAMPANT PIRACY RATE.  MR. CUONG ESTIMATED 
THIS RATE AT 94 PERCENT, DOWN FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR\'S 97 PERCENT. 
 
3. (SBU) PLANNING FOR THE ACTUAL RAID REACHED HIGH LEVELS OF 
INTRIGUE, AND ILLUSTRATES WHY IPR ENFORCEMENT IS SO DIFFICULT IN 
VIETNAM.  MICROSOFT CHOSE TO USE ITS SINGAPORE LEGAL OFFICE AS THE 
\"BAD COP\" IN ORDER TO KEEP MR. CUONG OUT OF THE LIMELIGHT AND 
PRESERVE HIS \"GOOD COP\" ROLE WITH LOCAL COMPANIES.  THE SINGAPORE 
REPRESENTATIVE WORKED CLOSELY WITH AN EXPATRIATE LAW FIRM IN HCMC, 
AS WELL AS MR. HUYNH TAN PHONG, THE HEAD OF THE MARKET MANAGEMENT 
BOARD (MMB).  (NOTE:  SOURCES SAY THAT MICROSOFT\'S DECISION TO USE 
ITS SINGAPORE OFFICE MAY HAVE BACKFIRED.  THE SINGAPORE OFFICE, 
FAMILIAR WITH THAILAND AND INDIA, FAILED TO APPRECIATE THE 
DIFFICULTY OF WORKING IN A COMMUNIST COUNTRY WHERE IPR ENFORCEMENT 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 03        HO CHI  01123  01 OF 02  060451Z 
IS A BRAND-NEW AND SUSPECT CONCEPT.  MISUNDERSTANDINGS AND MUTUAL 
FRUSTRATION WERE FREQUENT.  CONGEN NOMINATED MR. PHONG FOR AN IPR 
INTERNATIONAL VISITORS GRANT LAST SUMMER AND WILL CONTINUE TO 
FOCUS ON BUILDING IPR ENFORCEMENT CAPACITY AS PART OF THE 
MISSIONWIDE STRATEGY.  END NOTE.) 
 
4.  (SBU) THE MMB IS THE RELEVANT IPR INSPECTION AUTHORITY ON 
SOFTWARE PIRACY.   MICROSOFT HELD A ONE-DAY TRAINING FOR 40 MMB 
INSPECTORS ON HOW TO IDENTIFY COUNTERFEIT DISKS, WHICH ARE EASILY 
DISTINGUISHABLE FROM GENUINE PRODUCTS.  HOWEVER, MR. PHONG WAS 
RELUCTANT TO PROCEED WITHOUT SPECIFIC AUTHORITY FROM THE HCMC 
PEOPLE\'S COMMITTEE.  MICROSOFT ACCORDINGLY SOUGHT AND OBTAINED 
STRONG ENDORSEMENT FOR THE RAID FROM DR. NGUYEN THIEN NHAN, THE 
COMMITTEE\'S FIRST VICE CHAIRMAN AND AN ACTIVE IT SUPPORTER.  BUT 
AT THE LAST MINUTE, MR. PHONG POSTPONED THE RAID - WITHOUT 
EXPLANATION - POSSIBLY TO ASSERT HIS INDEPENDENCE. 
 
5. (U) ON THE APPOINTED DAY, MMB INSPECTION TEAMS, WITH 
REPRESENTATIVES FROM MICROSOFT AND THE EXPAT LAW FIRM IN TOW, 
SIMULTANEOUSLY RAIDED SEVEN RETAIL OUTLETS AND SEIZED 
APPROXIMATELY 7000 DISKS.  THE STORES RANGED FROM SMALL \"MOM AND 
POP\" SHOPS TO LARGE SOPHISTICATED OPERATIONS.  ONE STORE WAS EVEN 
SELLING PIRATED SOFTWARE ON ITS WEBSITE, WWW.PCLEHOAN.COM.  MMB 
TEAMS CONFISCATED THE DISKS AND WILL EVENTUALLY DESTROY THEM. 
SOME OF THE SHOP OWNERS COMPLAINED, \"HOW CAN YOU DO THIS WHEN THE 
GOVERNMENT ITSELF IS USING OUR (COUNTERFEIT) STUFF?\"  THE MMB, 
ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR SETTING THE FINES, HAS NOT YET ANNOUNCED THE 
CHARGES OR THE AMOUNTS.  FINES COULD REACH VND 20-40 MILLION 
(USD1300-2600) FOR THE FIRST VIOLATION AND VND 50-70 MILLION 
(USD3300-4600) FOR EACH ADDITIONAL VIOLATION.  EACH PIRATED DISK 
COULD BE CONSIDERED A SEPARATE VIOLATION. 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
PAGE 04        HO CHI  01123  01 OF 02  060451Z 
 
6. (SBU) THE EXPATRIATE LAWYER WORKING WITH MICROSOFT CALLED THE 
RAID A SUCCESS, BUT POINTED OUT VARIOUS WEAKNESSES IN THE 
ENFORCEMENT CHAIN.  FIRST, THE MMB TEAMS FOCUSED ONLY ON THE 
MICROSOFT TRADEMARK VIOLATION.  TEAMS SEIZED MICROSOFT SOFTWARE 
AND LEFT BEHIND BLANK DISKS OR BLATANTLY PIRATED SOFTWARE OF NON- 
MICROSOFT ORIGIN.  SECOND, EACH MMB TEAM HAD A DIFFERENT APPROACH. 
SOME TEAMS LEFT BEHIND DISKS LABELED ONLY AS \"MS WORD,\" WHILE 
OTHERS SEIZED ANY MICROSOFT PRODUCT, REGARDLESS OF LABELING. 
THIRD, THE TEAMS SEIZED ONLY A SMALL NUMBER OF DISKS, ALTHOUGH 
MICROSOFT\'S PRE-RAID SURVEY SHOWED THAT EACH STORE STOCKED 5000- 
10,000 PIRATED DISKS.  THE LAW FIRM REPRESENTATIVE WHO ACCOMPANIED 
MMB ON THE RAID URGED MICROSOFT TO INSTRUCT MMB TO SEIZE GREATER 
QUANTITIES OF PIRATED MATERIAL, BUT THE MICROSOFT REPRESENTATIVE 
BACKED DOWN IN THE FACE OF ANGRY PROTESTS FROM SHOP OWNERS. 
FINALLY, THE TEAMS SEIZED A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF DISKS FROM 
SMALL OPERATORS, WHOSE SALES HAVE LITTLE IMPACT ON THE MARKET. 
THE MMB SEIZED ONLY APPROXIMATELY 500 DISKS FROM EACH OF THE BIG 
OPERATORS, AND LESS THAN 100 FROM THE STORE SELLING PIRATED 
SOFTWARE ON THE INTERNET (AFTER SHOP MANAGERS AGAIN DISPUTED 
MICROSOFT\'S RIGHT TO SEIZE NON-MICROSOFT PRODUCT).  THE TEAM 
SEIZED ONLY 40 DISKS FROM THE BIGGEST KNOWN COMMERCIAL DEALER. 
 
7. (SBU) MICROSOFT ANNOUNCED ITS SATISFACTION WITH THE RAID AND 
PLANS TO CONDUCT MORE IN COMING MONTHS.  MR. CUONG WANTS FUTURE 
RAIDS TO FOCUS ON THE REAL PROBLEMS IN VIETNAM: COMPUTER STORES 
LOADING SOFTWARE DIRECTLY ONTO HARD DRIVES AND MULTIPLE COPIES 
DISTRIBUTED THROUGH AN ORGANIZATION WITH ONLY ONE LICENSED DISK. 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 
                           UNCLASSIFIED     PTQ0096 
 
PAGE 01        HO CHI  01123  02 OF 02  060451Z 
ACTION STR-00 
 
INFO  LOG-00   AGRE-00  AID-00   AMAD-00  CEA-01   CIAE-00  COME-00 
      CTME-00  DINT-00  DODE-00  ITCE-00  DOTE-00  SRPP-00  EAP-00 
      EB-00    EXME-00  E-00     UTED-00  VC-00    FRB-00   H-01 
      TEDE-00  INR-00   ITC-01   LAB-01   LOC-01   L-00     VCE-00 
      AC-01    NSAE-00  NSCE-00  OES-00   OMB-01   OPIC-01  PA-00 
      PRS-00   ACE-00   SP-00    SSO-00   SS-00    TEST-00  TRSE-00 
      USIE-00  DRL-02   G-00     NFAT-00  SAS-00     /010W 
                  ------------------040D60  060552Z /38 
R 060441Z NOV 02 
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 7038 
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI 
AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 
AMEMBASSY BEIJING 
AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 
 
UNCLAS SECTION 02 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001123 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE PLS PASS TO USTR EBRYAN AND KALVAREZ 
 
 
THE LAW FIRM, HOWEVER, BELIEVES MMB FEELS IT HAS DONE ENOUGH FOR 
MICROSOFT THIS YEAR AND WILL BE RELUCTANT TO EMBARK UPON ANOTHER 
RAID SOON. 
 
8. (SBU) COMMENT: MICROSOFT\'S ENFORCEMENT EFFORT DEMONSTRATES SOME 
OF THE COMPLEXITY IN TRYING TO DEFEND IPR RIGHTS IN VIETNAM\'S 
OVERWHELMINGLY COUNTERFEIT SOFTWARE MARKET. POST HAS LEARNED THAT 
AS MANY AS HALF OF THE SEIZED DISKS WILL BE RETURNED TO THE SHOPS 
BECAUSE THEY ARE BLANK OR CONTAIN NON-MICROSOFT SOFTWARE.  WITHOUT 
ADEQUATE TRAINING AND CLEAR UNDERSTANDING OF TRADEMARK AND 
COPYRIGHT LAW, THESE RAIDS CAN ONLY BE HALF-MEASURES.  MICROSOFT 
REPRESENTATIVES EXPRESSED FRUSTRATION THAT OTHER SOFTWARE 
COMPANIES ARE NOT ACTIVELY ENFORCING THEIR IPR RIGHTS IN VIETNAM. 
THESE OTHER COMPANIES ARE CONTENT TO LET MICROSOFT CARRY THE WATER 
-- AND ALSO INCUR THE WRATH OF POTENTIAL RETAIL DISTRIBUTORS. 
WHILE THE CONFLICT BETWEEN STRONG IPR ENFORCEMENT AND GOOD RETAIL 
RELATIONS REFLECTS THE ALMOST TOTAL LACK OF PURE, LEGITIMATE 
DISTRIBUTORS IN VIETNAM, MICROSOFT AND OTHER COMPANIES WILL HAVE 
TO ADDRESS THESE COMPETING GOALS MORE EFFECTIVELY BEFORE THEY CAN 
EXPECT STRONG ENFORCEMENT OR SALES.  MEANWHILE, IPR ISSUES WILL 
CONTINUE TO UNDERMINE VIETNAM\'S OWN AMBITIONS TO BECOME AN IT 
CENTER.     YAMAUCHI 
 
                       UNCLASSIFIED 
 


So taxpayers in Vietnam pay their police/authorities in order to serve as extended Microsoft staff (who are used as a proxy like the BSA). They then attack the Vietnamese population. Why? Because the US says it needs to be done. Those who think outside the box can easily see what’s wrong with this picture.

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

Estarta Solutions a Microsoft Proxy in Jordan, Elsewhere

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Microsoft at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Estarta

Summary: Cablegate shows Microsoft injecting funds into a company to imprison a whole nation on its behalf

TECHRIGHT has a wiki page about Microsoft in Jordan. It helps highlight the pattern of operation of Microsoft around the world. it organises itself around subsidiaries that pretend to be “local” and “create jobs”. One Cablegate cable, posted below in its raw form, shows us how US diplomats describe Microsoft’s “INVESTMENT IN JORDAN”. We are highlighting parts of interest.


DEPT PASS FOR ANE/MEA KIM FINAN 
USDOC FOR 4520/ITA/MAC/ONE/PAUL THANOS 
USDOC FOR 6400/ITA/TD/OEC/KFERGUSON 
TREASURY FOR PIPATANAGUL 
TDA FOR SIGLER 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECPS, BEXP, EINV, JO 
SUBJECT: MICROSOFT EXPANDS INVESTMENT IN JORDAN 
 
 
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED; PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1.  (U) Estarta Solutions, the result of a merger between two 
prominent and well-established Jordanian IT companies, 
represents a significant expansion of Microsoft\'s investment 
and presence in Jordan.  The new company bills itself as an 
international IT solutions company and consultant 
specializing in e-government, e-education, banking and 
finance, telecom, and logistics.  The deal demonstrates the 
GOJ\'s determination to boost the development of the IT 
sector.  End Summary 
 
---------- 
BACKGROUND 
---------- 
 
2.  (U) On May 20, following weeks of speculation and 
negotiations, and amidst a great deal of fanfare, Microsoft 
Vice President for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa Emre 
Birkin announced the launch of Estarta Solutions, the result 
of a merger between Jordan\'s two leading IT firms, ONEWORLD 
Jordan and Zeine Technological Applications.  Birkin said 
that reform of Jordan\'s investment framework laws and a 
favorable \"IT investment ambiance\" in the country were behind 
Microsoft\'s preference to launch a new project in Jordan. 
The new firm, which will be based in Amman, will employ 200 
people.  Among its current clients are Thomson Financial, 
Apple, Siemens, and the Jordanian government. 
 
3.  (U) Microsoft will take a small share in the company, as 
will al-Foursan, a local venture capital fund specializing in 
IT companies.  In addition to its investment stake, Microsoft 
has committed to channel business to Estarta (such as for 
creating an Arabic version of its Excel 7.0 spreadsheet 
program).  According to a banker involved as an adviser in 
the merger negotiations, some issues relating to the 
corporate structure and management of the new company remain 
to be worked out. 
 
------------------ 
THE HOPE OF JORDAN 
------------------ 
 
4.  (U) At a dinner reception given by Estarta to celebrate 
the launch and attended by the Ambassador, Minister of 
Planning Bassem Awadallah, Minister of Trade, Industry and 
Commerce Salah al-Bashir, and local IT professionals, 
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Fawwaz 
Zu\'bi opened the proceedings and said the \"young 
entrepreneurs\" who forged the new company represented \"the 
hope of Jordan\".  He said the merged company represented a 
model for \"what we would like to see in Jordan\", and 
expressed his hope that other international IT companies 
might now be more encouraged to invest in Jordan as a result 
of the deal.  The Ambassador cited Microsoft\'s participation 
in the venture as \"a vote of confidence in Jordan\'s ability 
to grow\". 
 
5.  (U) Earlier, at a press conference announcing the merger, 
King Abdullah stressed the importance of cooperation between 
the private sector and the government, particularly the 
Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, in 
working \"to open new horizons for IT in Jordan\".  Contacts 
between Microsoft and Jordan developed following a meeting 
between King Abdullah and Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at the 
World Economic Forum in Davos in 2000.  Their relationship 
drove Microsoft\'s plans for expanding its presence in Jordan. 
 One reason for the long gestation period was the change in 
Jordan\'s Companies Law required to permit the formation of a 
joint stock company (as opposed to the more common form of a 
limited liability partnership), as demanded by Microsoft. 
 
--------- 
SYNERGIES 
--------- 
 
6.  (U) We spoke with Estarta Senior Director Basil Qubain 
about some of the upcoming projects the new company had in 
the pipeline.  He stressed that Estarta was all about 
creating new approaches and synergies for its clients, not 
using existing applications to solve problems.  He cited 
Mobius, a wireless platform that enables content providers to 
send web-based content to any mobile phone, and Gaia, 
Estarta\'s patent-pending pattern recognition software, as two 
major projects with broad applications, ranging from 
commercial to military, forged as solutions to client 
problems and challenges.  As an example of Estarta\'s 
cooperation with Microsoft, Qubain pointed to Muse, an 
automated intelligence interface that plugs into Microsoft 
programs and acts as a virtual information manager and 
organizer.  By way of example, Qubain explained that once an 
email is received by a user, Muse will list all previously 
received emails linked either by subject or sender, enabling 
the user to access and consolidate related information. 
 
7.  (SBU) Qubain said that the merger itself has gone quite 
smoothly, as clients and personnel from Zeine and ONEWORLD 
complement each other rather well.  He added Estarta did face 
a challenge regarding rival mobile telecom companies Fastlink 
and MobileCom, as each was a client of Zeine and ONEWORLD 
respectively.  While theoretically it was possible to retain 
both firms as clients, he said given current tensions between 
the two it was impractical and unlikely.  Qubain said he did 
not yet know how the dilemma would be resolved. 
 
------- 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
8.  (U) Coming after a dry period following the September 11 
disaster, Microsoft\'s decision to invest in Jordan represents 
a shot in the arm for Jordan\'s efforts to attract foreign 
investment despite its volatile neighborhood.  It is also a 
boost for the Jordanian IT sector.  Not just another IT shop, 
Estarta has the goods and the drive to become, as it hopes, 
the leading IT solution provider in the region with worldwide 
reach.  The success of Microsoft\'s investment in Estarta 
could well attract more likewise innovative firms and 
investors to a sector that Jordan expects to be a key to its 
continued economic growth. 
Gnehm 

A few points to note here are the manipulation of government by Microsoft, the creation of a loophole to get around Jordanian law, and lobbying from Bill Gates, to whom this is a matter of nepotism, not technical merit.

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