11.17.11

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Microsoft Spin Kicks in to Daemonise Google Because Android Grows

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Murdered doll

Summary: Microsoft is trying to kill Google in nefarious ways and this has ramifications for Linux, even for open standards and free codecs

THE increasing dominance of Android is one that we write about in our daily links. There is generally not much we can add to the news and not much to contradict, either. But Android is also under attack from angles that Google’s Chris DiBona is addressing now (the “malware” FUD) and then there is the patent FUD. It’s something that we specialise in.

As usual, with support from Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller, the Microsoft booster Matt Rosoff tries to incite against Google over a remark about patent lawyers. Check out this terrible headline. The article contains talking points of the Microsoft lobbyists, trying to portray Google as the patent aggressor. For instance:

His point echoes Google’s stand on the patent wars happening in the mobile space, but Google plays the patent game as well for key inventions like its search algorithms.

This is spin because Google never used patents offensively and it openly speaks out against patents. Microsoft has hired some lobbyists to try portraying Google as a hypocrite and a bully for merely defending itself from the likes of Microsoft.

On the MPEG front, Google has been developing a replacement codec (developed by acquisition) and LWN does not neglect to credit the Ogg people as well. In essence, both strands of codec development strive to set our multimedia free — free in the sense that we need not get the permission of a patent troll called Larry Horn (head of the Apple- and Microsoft-backed MPEG-LA) to play back our video and audio that we ourselves create. Microsoft lobbyists like Florian Müller are pushing for MPEG-LA’s agenda and against free codecs. As for
Monty from Xiph.org, he is named one of the most influential people in the 2005 European debate about software patents. The article opens as follows:

While the talks at the 2011 GStreamer conference mostly focused on the multimedia framework itself—not surprising—there were also some that looked at the wider multimedia ecosystem. One of those was Christopher “Monty” Montgomery’s presentation about Xiph.org, and its work to promote free and open source multimedia. Xiph is known for its work on the Ogg container format (and the Vorbis and Theora codecs), but the organization has worked on much more than just those. In addition, Montgomery outlined a new strategy that Xiph is trying out to combat one of the biggest problems in the free multimedia world: codec patents.

It is truly a problem because multimedia exists everywhere, from phones to TVs. Europe does not suffer from this to the same extent that the US and Japan suffer from it. But upon export it can complicate things. According to this new report, UK judges (who are also lawyers) are making the system here in Europe worse:

UK Judges Think US Makes It Too Hard To Get Patents, Lower Patentability Bar To Show How It’s Done

[...]

It’s bad enough that naturally-occurring genomic sequences are being patented at all – sequences that certainly weren’t invented by anyone. But allowing those patents without even requiring “proof of specific, credible, and substantial utility at the time of filing” is just insane: it will open the floodgates for even more speculative filings on DNA sequences in the hope that someone, someday will come up with a use for them. Except that if they did, they’d presumably be hit with a patent infringement suit. So how does that promote innovation?

Those patent lawyers (and judges) are really quite the epidemic in the software world and the president of the FFII warns of:

European Commission “Patents in standards” conference fueled by large companies for swpats and undefined RAND ur1.ca/5ucd5

Yes, as usual. Microsoft tends to back those. It also sends its paid lobbyists there. Apple is rarely listed as we repeatedly stress. In fact, the push for software patenting cannot quite be attributed to Apple, just Microsoft and selected allies like SAP and Nokia in Europe. It does not mean that Apple is innocent though. As the Independent (British paper) puts it:

Apple has also distinguished itself this year by tying up hundreds of vague software ideas in patents and suing anyone it thinks infringes them, which is one of several reasons why all the big technology companies are locked in furious patent court battles with each other.

The competition from Linux is now forcing Apple to lower its prices, at least according to speculative assessments:

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Apple — until now the runaway market share champ in this nascent niche — is finally facing legitimate competition at ridiculously attractive price points.

It is being reported that tablets running Android, especially ones from Samsung and Amazon, are selling or going to sell very well. It is likely that Apple just recognises what’s coming and prepares to price “Apple”-branded products based on value and not brand value. Apple increasingly colludes with Microsoft against Android and we see this in the CPTN and Nortel arrangements.

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5 Comments

  1. mcinsand said,

    November 17, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Gravatar

    When MS welded DOS and Windows together to make Windows 95, they shut down Digital Research, Geoworks, and any other DOS/kernel or desktop manager companies by raising the entry barriers above the level of any *single* startup company. Since then, they have continued the process, first with Netscape and then with several other utility functions on the way; they have copied, bought, and integrated to basically make it effectively impossible for competition in the general, commodity PC market. Where this is biting MS is that, with the complexity of a modern operating system, their monolithic, antimodular (globular?) architecthure has insecurity and instability outpacing the features that they add (copy, rather).

    Today, this has MS facing their worst nightmare. Competition is not an effective option, so they can only hope to suppress. If Android/Linux gains critical mass, their goose is cooked. In other words, if the average Joe or Joanne wakes up to realize that there is an option that offers choice AND reliability AND security AND broad hardware support AND rapid evolution/innovation, then MS and Apple are toast. So, these anticompetitive options are the only cards they have to play. I take that back; I don’t think Apple would fade completely, because they do serve a niche by putting together shiny systems from higher end parts. And, those systems are shaken down and offered with their (illegally bundled) OSx. Granted OSx is a castrated BSD, but it works well enough for a certain slice of appliance operators. Else, Macintoys would have faded into oblivion long ago.

    MS hasn’t really had to compete since the early ’90′s, and they may well have waited too late to restart. There is a healthy, growing, innovated ecosystem around Linux, and it is driven to a great extent by the GPL. The GPL, unlike the BSD license, forces a reinvestment of ideas. So, rather than paying in money, a company will pay in new ideas to contribute to that ecosystem. Apple tried to participated in this halfheartedly with the Webkit project. Although it did end up with an upgrade to the Konqueror rendering engine, it was hell for the development team; Apple has no ability or track record for playing well with others.

  2. Michael said,

    November 17, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Gravatar

    FUD:

    It is being reported that tablets running Android, especially ones from Samsung and Amazon, are selling or going to sell very well. It is likely that Apple just recognises what’s coming and prepares to price “Apple”-branded products based on value and not brand value. Apple increasingly colludes with Microsoft against Android and we see this in the CPTN and Nortel arrangements.

    Can you *try* to reduce your bias? Please?

  3. saulgoode said,

    November 18, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Gravatar

    It will be interesting to see whether, after their acquisition of Motorola Mobility becomes final, Google abandons the patent lawsuits which have been initiated by that company. Doing so would certainly send a powerful message about where they stand with regard to offensive usage of patents.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I have an article and wiki page coming about MOSAID. Microsoft plans a trolls war.

    Michael Reply:

    But do you think Google is going to drop their law suits?

    If not, are you going to hold on to your double standard of what is evil of Microsoft and Apple is just dandy for Google and Samsung and HTC and companies you are not biased against?

    Why not decide what you think is right and wrong and then apply it equally to all of these companies? When you go so far against doing so it is clear you just have a vendetta against them and are not even trying to be reasonable.

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