Summary: In light of more FUD from Miguel de Icaza, a reminder of who or what he is serving and why we oughtn’t pay attention to him
SEVERAL people have asked us to cover the unsurprising story of a Microsoft MVP praising Microsoft and trashing Linux. The only noteworthy gem is that this Microsoft MVP is called Miguel de Icaza, the man who technically leads a startup striving to spread .NET. He also works (or worked) for a Microsoft foundation that facilitates self-serving intrusion into FOSS. We’ll expand a bit just in case someone still does not know Miguel de Icaza, whom Microsoft conveniently characterises as opposition because he is controlled opposition.
The short story is, Miguel is being Miguel again. “Conveniently,” says one of our regulars in IRC, “he skips the OEM monopoly [..] and shilling for vista 8″
Miguel’s current fascination with Vista 8 can be seen in this post, but we must remember that Miguel also promoted .NET and Silverlight for Linux (even rewriting and writing applications for Linux in Moonlight) while Microsoft pretty much dumped both. This man is not credible and he is fuelling Linux FUD that quotes him as “Gnome creator”.
“Like everything in Microsoft’s culture, lying is OK as long as it’s useful to Microsoft.”This should not surprise anyone as we have seen him in newsgroups too playing along with Microsoft trolls and throwing FUD at Linux. One has to gasp at the sight of this person who openly bashes the Linux desktop, a part of which people sometimes wrongly attribute to him (mostly in the Microsoft camp, of which he is a loyal part).
It ought to be mentioned that the latest FUD from Miguel was generated in collaboration with Microsoft’s buddy Tim Anderson, whom Microsoft gives presents. It is helps validate what we have been saying for years about Miguel and other Microsoft lust which he takes pride in.
He will not be insulted by association with Microsoft. He loves Microsoft, he tried getting a job there as far back as 1998.
Like everything in Microsoft’s culture, lying is OK as long as it’s useful to Microsoft. The company even lied to the government recently — a serious breach of trust that does get scrutiny from the press but probably not enough scrutiny.
“Ask Miguel about Microsoft’s abuses and see him slinking away.”The bottom line is, Miguel will say the darnest things, he will get things wrong (as he did before), and we really must not take what he says seriously anymore. If FOSS developers took his advice, they would be swapping OOXML files, building GNOME 3 using Moonlight (XAML), and investing their effort in Xamarin, which fails to even be mentioned by the press after staff left, the software turned proprietary, the new CEO was appointed after an early Microsoft career, and the CTO is reduced to some kind of anti-Linux mouthpiece.
Miguel has been groomed by Microsoft boosters (some pretend to be objective journalists) for a good reason. He gives credibility to their FUD because they can try to label him “Gnome founder” and then magically speak ‘on behalf’ of the opposition. The grooming of the “de Icaza” brand is mostly done by Microsoft sites, as a news survey can easily help show (we performance several such surveys about Mono before). The goal is to weaken FOSS elements such as the FSF and give power to Microsoft boosters and apologists mostly through exposure and PR tactics. Another objective to be achieved is the marginalisation of elements in the community which are critical of Microsoft (and there is lots to be critical of, e.g. patent extortion and boot attack). The same strategy is used in politics. It is partisan and at times very malicious.
Ask Miguel about Microsoft’s abuses and see him slinking away. █
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Summary: Latest anticompetitive practices and lies from Microsoft, as well as preparation for complaint to antitrust authorities
THE GNU/Linux desktop is under attack again. In this last week of September we have been seeing new aggressive behaviour from Microsoft, which helps remind us why Microsoft just cannot be ignored (its apologists and spinners cannot be ignored, either).
Later this year we are going to dive deeper into Cablegate and provide a more comprehensive summary of Microsoft and Apple actions against Linux and open source. In USENET, Rex Ballard writes: “Microsoft’s primary tactic is to threaten and ultimatum that if the organization does not preinstall Windows on every machine, or at least buy licenses for every machine, then any machine that has Windows installed on a machine that wasn’t shipped with Windows when it was manufactured, and wasn’t licensed for Windows Professional by the organization – will be charged a license fee at full MSRP rather than the discounted OEM and/or corporate license price. Since the MSRP is around $400 for Windows 7 professional with $400 for Office Professional, and the OEM price is about $30 and Corporate license is around $50 per year, with MS-Office corporate licenses going for around $150, the risk of getting ding’d for $800 to $1000 or the pirated copies on 10% of their PCs is greater than the cost of buying the deeply discounted licenses for all of their Intel and AMD based PCs.
“We all need to learn from history because some people fall for the whole spin of “feature”, which Microsoft knowingly used only as an excuse to block competitors.”“Corporations have countered by extending the refresh rates from every 2 years to every 5 years, while offering support programs for those who want to get an Android or iPAD tablet.”
To make matters worse, Microsoft takes a lesson from Apple and plays with the boot sequence to TiVoise PCs. Michael Reed from Linux Journal writes about this politely, but there is nothing to be gentle about. We all need to learn from history because some people fall for the whole spin of “feature”, which Microsoft knowingly used only as an excuse to block competitors. Here is an example of useful idiocy and a response to it. The problem is that younger people (like Jeff in this case) don’t understand the subject’s history and there are rebuttals that say: “Jeff Hoogland tries to make the point that M$’s “secure boot” protocol is only a problem if OEMs do not give Linux the key…”
Yes, that is another flaw in the argument. Microsoft has enough apologists in its own camp, it really doesn’t deserve any confused ones like Jeff. The “feature” talking points was used before, as antitrust exhibits helped show. Every time this happens it’s a feature for Microsoft, not the user. It’s technical sabotage disguised as goodwill (to keep regulars at bay). Giving exposure to Microsoft spin is not worthwhile for the same reason that freedom of speech if not the right to an audience. Microsoft has been talking nonsense as “damage control” and there is already evidence to suggest legal action. To list and quote some recent articles:
Plans to enable a secure boot on Windows 8 machines have drawn the ire of Linux Australia’s membership, and have the Linux Australia Council itself considering a campaign against Microsoft.
Last week, in response to the brouhaha over its reported effort to implement a specification called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) that could make it impossible to run Linux on Windows 8 PCs, Microsoft officials responded with an extensive post that explains exactly what kinds of flexibility UEFI will offer. After I read the post, I concluded that Microsoft is unlikely to pursue any systematic strategy for excluding Linux, but not everyone agreed with me. Now, the Linux community in Australia is letting its concerns be known.
As reported here yesterday, the Linux community in Australia is increasingly unhappy with Microsoft’s effort to implement a specification called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) that some contend could make it impossible to run Linux on Windows 8 PCs. In response to complaints about the brouhaha, Microsoft officials responded with an extensive post that explains exactly what kinds of flexibility UEFI will offer. Many OStatic readers find the post from Microsoft to reach dubious conclusions, and now Linux Australia members are officially petitioning regulators, with reports coming in that they may have a case.
Those and many related questions have been voiced repeatedly in the blogosphere over the past week or so, even as Linux Australia reportedly announced it’s considering petitioning the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with a claim that Microsoft’s behavior is anti-competitive.
This is M$’s “wet dream”. Bill can finally realize 100% monopoly if M$ can get OEMs to produce such hardware and no other.
Would it be legal? No. Could M$ get away with it? Only if governments do nothing. This is the tip of a global conspiracy to bundle hardware and software to the detriment of FLOSS and other competitors of M$.
An expected feature in the upcoming Windows 8 operating system has some Linux gurus worried. A secure boot will prevent any executable from loading unless it is signed by a Microsoft key. So, according to Red Hat engineer Matthew Garrett, an unsigned executable, such as Linux, would be blocked. This is a serious concern, since many Linux users are now running the OS on machines that originally came preloaded with an earlier version of Windows. In his blog, Garrett says that an obvious solution would be to provide signed copies of Linux, but he sees problems with that approach.
Linux Australia is fit to be tied over recent reports that Microsoft is requiring Windows 8 certified machines to support UEFI secure booting, a situation that could most likely hamper or block Linux booting on such machines.
Indeed, Linux Australia is so ticked off, they plan to file a formal anti-competitive complaint against Microsoft with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Unfortunately, all I can say is, good luck with that.
I am unfamiliar with the burden of proof the ACCC holds for such complaints, but I’m pretty sure Microsoft will be able to get itself off the hook for this one. Why? Because nothing in the language they have used to describe the UEFI secure boot process or the need for this process mentions other operating systems in any way. The case Microsoft has carefully and consistently made is that secure booting is good for Windows because it shuts down one more avenue of malware.
So basically, Microsoft is saying that ability to stop UEFI secure boot lies in the hands of the hardware manufacturer. If the UEFI feature is not disabled, other OS cannot run on the computer.
A senior Red Hat engineer has lashed back at Microsoft’s attempt to downplay concerns that upcoming secure boot features will make it impossible to install Linux on Windows 8 certified systems.
Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) specifications are designed to offer faster boot times and improved security over current BIOS ROM systems. The secure boot feature of the specification is designed so that only digitally signed OS loaders will load, a security feature that would prevent the installation of generic copies of Linux or FreeBSD as well as preventing rootkits and other boot-time malware from running.
A digitally signed build of Linux would work, but that would mean persuading OEMs to include the keys. Disabling the feature would allow unsigned code to run. However, it is unclear how many OEMs and firmware vendors will follow this route, which isn’t required for Windows 8 certification.
As Sam Varghese puts it, “GNU/Linux users [are] given false hope over Windows 8 issue” because “Garrett pointed out later that the company had said nothing to remove the fears that users of other operating systems, including GNU/Linux, may have: that if they buy a Windows 8 certified PC when it does come out, they will only be able to run Windows 8 – and that too a specific copy of that operating system – on it.”
Is anyone surprised by this at all? Going back to the older point about OEMs, The Register says that “Microsoft has pushed its OEM software franchise out to tender among new and existing distributors amid a consumer market meltdown.”
Microsoft wants some new lock-in and to this publication it has said that “distributors have been informed of the OEM review and a Request For Proposal (RFP) had been sent out.” (quoting The Register, not Microsoft)
Microsoft is planning to make TiVoisation a standard in the OEM channel as means of blocking competition, or so it would seem. A poster from USENET remarked on it as follows: “it’s a good sign. It means OEMs are finally waking up to the possibility it might actually be more profitable to dump Microsoft, and try something more appealing to consumers, especially WRT price.
“With any luck this may also persuade them to keep their options open in the UEFI BIOS too.”
“Microsoft will not go away without fighting hard and causing a lot of damage, probably breaking laws in the process.”According to this same poster, “Softies walk out of Ballmer meeting in disgust.’ He quotes a post that says “Microsoft’s Ballmer faces mutiny… Employees angry and frustrated [...] The Seattle PI has cast its magnifying glass over the comments on a Microsoft blog post. It says at a recent company meeting, Ballmer was faced with a crowd suffering from restless bum syndrome, who deseated themselves and promptly exited mid-talk.” (source: TechEye)
We are actually seeing this validated in the blog of a Microsoft employee who writes: “As for people leaving (as some of the tech bloggers have picked up): yeah, people were streaming out. In small numbers. No where near as bad as BillG’s last company meeting where Ballmer started screaming at people to sit down. And, well, yes, I was one of those folks who wandered to the upper portion of the seats while Mr. Ballmer passed on his coachie wisdom from Friday Night Lights (BTW, I prefer coach John Wooden). I suppose if Microsoft had been serving beer and snacks after the meeting I would have managed to stay in my seat.” [via]
To quote Pogson’s remark on it: “It’s interesting that while Apple is on the radar of the author, the steam-roller overtaking Apple, Android/Linux on diverse smart thingies, is not. Picture, in your mind, a pedestrian on the sidewalk trying to dodge an out-of-control fuel tanker.”
Microsoft will not go away without fighting hard and causing a lot of damage, probably breaking laws in the process. Those who act like gentlemen in the face of Microsoft will get slapped on both cheeks. █
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Summary: Awareness of the blood-sucking leech which is NPEs keeps growing while more and more people subscribe to a call for real patent reform in the US, not a symbolic signing of some pointless act
THE LEGAL ISSUES-oriented Web sites cannot escape the tough reality about patent trolls. Groklaw carries on tracking the patent troll that gets patents from Microsoft’s former CTO and his extortion firm, Intellectual Ventures. It seems to have been reasonably quiet as of late:
Not a great deal has happened in the various Lodsys cases since we last wrote. A lot of the activity pertains to whether Lodsys will get dragged into federal district court somewhere other than the Eastern District of Texas.
To recount all of the cases, Lodsys has four pending cases in the Eastern District of Texas against a variety of defendants. In turn, Lodsys is the defendant in eight active declaratory judgment actions – four in the Northern District of Illinois, two in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, one in Arizona, and one in the Southern District of California. There was a fifth declaratory judgment action brought against Lodsys in the Eastern District of Wisconsin by ESET, but ESET has voluntarily dismissed that action.
Lodsys has been working not only to discourage development for platforms other than Windows; it also got named for being the alter ego of Microsoft's former CTO, who had become the world’s biggest patent troll. In an article posted by Ron Miller he wonders if “patent wars eventually have an impact on mobile IT,” noting that “anybody who is anybody is suing or being sued for patent violations. The highest profile cases involve the biggest names like Oracle versus Google (which is in negotiations stage right now with the two CEOs supposedly hashing it out) and Apple versus Samsung (and vice versa).”
“Lodsys has been working not only to discourage development for platforms other than Windows; it also got named for being the alter ego of Microsoft’s former CTO, who had become the world’s biggest patent troll.”James Grimmelmann has a similar article, stating: “In the last few weeks, the smartphone industry appeared to produce more lawsuits than phones. Apple briefly managed to stop the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in all of Europe, and is now going after the whole Galaxy line. Back Stateside, Google first complained that Microsoft and Apple were using “bogus patents” to target Android, then spent $12 billion for Motorola and its patent arsenal. These are big, high-stakes fights—and the last company left standing may walk away with control over nothing less than the smartphone market itself.”
Then there is the attack from dozens of patent trolls, which Bessen claims have cost the economy half a trillion dollars in just two decades [1, 2, 3] — a claim that Red Hat’s patent expert puts the spotlight on:
NPEs obviously have not stopped all innovation, but we are starting to understand how the losses they have caused are huge. It makes one wonder: what if the half a trillion dollars lost from NPE lawsuits had been channeled into socially productive uses? How much more innovation could we achieve if we quit tolerating this incredible waste?
Here is another new article on the subject:
The mess is like a hidden tax that hits each one of us every time we buy a gadget, whether it be a smartphone, tablet, PC or video-game console. The leading innovative companies that design and make these things are spending billions—billions—of dollars in an essentially meaningless and often absurd worldwide patent war.
Unfortunately, the America Invents Act addresses none of that.
Indeed. It’s a joke of a ‘reform’. It is worse than useless because it gives only the impression that something substantial was amended.
Over at Masnick’s good Web site there is this criticism of patent trolls:
If At First You Don’t Succeed As A Patent Troll, Just Sue Again
So, basically, after losing, they’re just trying to expand what they claim the patent covers. It’s hard to see this as anything more than a standard patent troll shakedown of a company that doesn’t do anything demanding cash from the companies who do things… even when those things are obvious next steps that were discussed decades before the troll came on the scene.
One solution would be to amend the law to restrict passage of patents and require implementation, too.
Mr. Pogson gives this example of a patent troll and notes:
Twit Thinks He Invented Web Applications and Troll Sues World
Of course they wait 14 years to wait for the tech to become really valuable before “defending their property”…
The FSF, which recently got many signatures for a pro-Ogg petition, is now calling for people to sign the petition against software patents in the United States. To quote:
Join me and already over 12,000 others in petitioning the Obama administration to “Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents”.
Some days ago they only had over 10,000 signatures. The number if rising steadily and the White House must take action. This is not some petition hosted on another site but a rather official one which the administration cannot sweep under the carpet or turn a blind eye to. Here is a direct link to the petition (for US citizens). █
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New examples of bad ‘journalism’ from fake ‘journalists’
Summary: How Microsoft boosters (who routinely liaise with Microsoft) seed the press with FUD, misinformation, euphemisms, and apologism for arguably criminal behaviour
INACCURATE reporting and one-sided scaremongering took over the Web yesterday. Dr. Glyn Moody quotes an article titled “Samsung & Microsoft settle Android licensing dispute” and says: “feeble story: there was no “dispute”, figures are speculation”
Indeed, and those inaccurate stories serve Microsoft a great deal. The purpose of those stories — and to an extent those deals too — is to generate fear and discourage choice of Android by manufacturers. Moreover, Samsung and Microsoft already have a patent deal that indirectly involves Linux. It has been over 4 years since that deal was signed. Moody asks a “quick question: some stories are describing the Samsung/MS patent deal as “settling a dispute”: was there a dispute? I don’t remember one”
As I explained to Moody, the only ‘dispute’ — if any — was over the price that Samsung had already been paying Microsoft for FAT since 2007 (the OIN told us that Linux-related software meant FAT in this case).
“There are no Linux infringements being named”Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, an advocate of GNU/Linux but not a strong resistor of those patent deals, calls this a “patent troll win”, explaining that “Microsoft has just announced its biggest ever Android-related patent deal with Samsung. In this contract, Microsoft will get a royalty payment on every Android smartphone and tablet that Samsung sells. And, what exactly is Samsung paying for and how much are they actually paying? We don’t know.”
Well, not even patents are named, so maybe just ActivSync is (again) at the centre of the so-called ‘dispute’. The OIN explained to me that many or all of those patent deals are about Microsoft compatibility. There are no Linux infringements being named. This helps show just how weak a case Microsoft has against GNU/Linux. But those deals are mostly about FUD and innuendo, resulting in reluctance to make Android phones and also an extra source of revenue for Microsoft (whose mobile platform suddenly seems cheaper). Granted, this is a form of monopoly abuse, but it is largely overlooked by regulators. Microsoft has a way of agreeing with the extorted to pretend not to be a victim, We saw some evidence of that when Barnes & Noble came out with a formal complaint.
What we find just about as despicable as this extortion is the Murdoch rags abusing their ‘press’ status to spread more FUD against Google, quite frankly as usual.
One Microsoft booster is actively playing along with the FUD and spreads some more for Microsoft talking points. It ought to be noted that this booster has always been doing this shameless extortion apologism and support for Smith, riding his coattails since the CNET days. This is not journalism, it’s trash.
“The reality is actually not as bad as Microsoft wishes to paint it.”Other Microsoft boosters are a little more subtle about it. This one Microsoft booster was cited a lot perhaps for getting a headsup from Microsoft’s PR and thus coming with the earlier report. This is Todd Bishop, who helped seed coverage which was not at all critical of Microsoft. They are controlling the message and the public perception using those boosters who they are briefing in advance and sometimes rewarding. We covered such issues before (distortion of the press) and surely will do so again in the future. “Samsung Joins Ranks of Android Vendors Licensing Microsoft Patents” is the headline from Slashdot and it repeats what Microsoft boosters have to say, which is something ‘old Slashdot’ would not have done (the Slashdot that did not do Microsoft PR, before it saw its founder, Rob Malda, quitting). The Slashdot summary too is craftily written to contain a lot of FUD, even pulling more FUD from HTC and using a language that Microsoft loves to use (euphemisms galore). Shame on the press for being Microsoft’s tool. And what a shame for Slashdot, which became noise for nerds instead of News for Nerds.
“Disgusting,” called it one person in USENET, “I just wish somebody would challenge this shit in court so we can all see whether the patents have merit rather than this behind the scenes shakedown.”
The reality is actually not as bad as Microsoft wishes to paint it. Samsung was already paying Microsoft for FAT. Samsung was a pariah going back to 2007 and this whole deal might be just a return of favour to Microsoft (it is said to involve Windows marketing too). If Bishop and Fried actually went to a school of journalism, they should hand their heads in shame. They became propagandists masquarading as journalists.
Speaking of extortion (and sanction) attempts that actually name individual patents, there is more Samsung and Apple action and even a pro-Apple site now says that Samsung is part of the “beast Apple should have never awoken”. To quote:
As you know, the Nokia vs. Apple case over wireless patents ended with a settlement involving a big one-time payment to Nokia and ongoing royalties on a per-device basis. What happens if Apple gets the short end of the stick in HTC and VIA lawsuits? Consequences for the company could be far-reaching and are bound to be costly. It is interesting that Apple kicking those potentially dangerous lawsuits into motion coincides with the appointment of Bruce Sewell as Apple’s senior vice president and legal counsel in September of 2009.
Apple quoted its then CEO Steve Jobs in a statement accompanying the hire. Jobs praised Sewell’s “extensive experience in litigation, securities and intellectual property”. Sewell’s bio page at Apple notes that he “oversees all legal matters, including corporate governance, intellectual property, litigation and securities compliance, as well as government affairs”, which makes him pretty much the mastermind behind Apple’s current legal maneuvering. The problem is, Sewell lost some key lawsuits during his 19-year tenure at Intel.
For example, in May of 2009 the European Union ruled that Intel had engaged in anti-competitive practices and fined the chip maker €1.06 billion, or approximately $1.44 billion. It would be a stretch to claim that Sewell is personally responsible for the legal mess in which Apple has gotten itself into, but there’s no doubt the pressure is on him to deliver. The alternative – should Apple lose those cases – is anyone’s guess. Let’s just say the company might easily regret taking rivals to courts in the first place.
Apple is using patents aggressively, but unlike Microsoft, it does not sign shady deals that should clearly be the subject of criminal investigation. There are laws against racketeering, they just don’t appear to be actively enforced. █
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