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09.29.11

Microsoft Hijacks the News to Spread Propaganda Against Android and Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

New examples of bad ‘journalism’ from fake ‘journalists’

Jack Schofield

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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A Single Comment

  1. verofakto said,

    September 29, 2011 at 11:46 am

    Gravatar

    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).

    While this is the usual carefully-crafted nonsense, and institutional hypocrisy is par for the course around here, I’d just like to point out that you have been whining (literally) about how the Slashdot editors are in someone’s pocket (always vaguely, in true FUD form) for the better part of three years now, so I fail to see how Rob Malda’s departure changed anything at all. I can pull up many more links if you so require. A bit disingenuous for you to say that they didn’t do it before so you can make the point that they do now.

    Even more amusing is the fact that one of your collaborators gamed Slashdot for a long time on your behalf. Just like other friends of yours have gamed (or attempted to) Digg, Reddit, Propeller, Mixx, OSNews, FSDaily and HackerNews. Or have we also forgotten about that?

    This is not journalism, it’s trash.

    And this is not advocacy, either.

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