EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

04.17.12

Microsoft is Attacking Free Software and Standards in the UK, Behind Closed Doors

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

ACT Microsoft

Summary: Leakage of dirty tricks from Microsoft in the UK, promoting patents to impede Free software and standards

THERE was a debate recently about whether lobbying is always a form of corruption or bribery at times (we linked to that at the time). As we saw a few years ago, Microsoft pays people to change legislation. Here is a reminder.

Amid the UK’s open standards consultation, Glyn Moody told us: “I’m sure you know about this, probably already made a submission. But it would be really great if you could encourage your readers to do the same.

“Microsoft’s fear and the primary threat is real choice in the market.”“I’m hearing from multiple sources that things are going really badly – Microsoft’s lobbying is working, and the government is moving towards adopting FRAND licensing for RF. We need to get lots of people explaining why this is bad idea for open source and thus bad for the UK government in terms of achieving their goals of promoting a level playing field and saving money.

“Any help you can give would be appreciated. Deadline for submissions is 3 May.”

Microsoft’s fear and the primary threat is real choice in the market. People are not fond of Microsoft products, but many are left without choice. By meddling with paper Microsoft is hoping to just obliterate competitors, as it has done for decades. One out of IRC regulars recalls what landed Microsoft in the federal courts. Before Microsoft came there was real choice:

So when exactly did this all start? The first reference I can find for Microsoft Windows is from 1993 when Radio Shack introduced windows to it’s customer catalog. Of course before that there was the rise of Microsoft DOS, used by almost every “PC” starting from the original IBM PC released in 1981, the infamous model 5150.

Naturally there is a far older history that doesn’t get talked about much from when computers used kilowatts and sometimes even megawatts of power and filled cavernous rooms with their bulk. The oldest preserved computers date back only to 1959 and the Ferranti Pegasus. Since then there has been a trend towards computers becoming more affordable and more homogeneous.

Right now in Munich the success story (getting rid of Microsoft) is being told and Microsoft cannot manage to squash the truth (it also tried paying Munich to derail this, it even sent out the trolls). Quoting a European Commission site:

Switching to a vendor independent desktop based on open source reduces costs and results in fewer calls to help desks, show figures provided last month by the Mayor of Munich, Christian Ude. Replacing the current almost ten thousand open source desktops by a proprietary system would increase costs by some 25 per cent, the Mayor shows in his response to questions from a city councillor.

FSFE leader Karsten Gerloff from Germany is pleased to see that Glyn Moody has just gotten a treasure trove of yet more Microsoft dirty tricks:

Wow, two thumbs up to @glynmoody for obtaining & processing files on Microsoft lobbying UK Cabinet Office. Keep the reports coming!

A regular on IRC says that in light”of [Microsoft] fight against open standards, it tries to re-define them. Moody comes close to hitting on that (with the FRAND example) but does not explicitly point it out. It’s a tactic M[icrosoft] uses again and again.”

“1st report on a treasure trove of FOI documents I have on MS lobbying” calls it Glyn Moody, who blogged some details in this first part. Investigative journalism at it finest:

Regular readers may recall that I was not a little taken aback by an astonishing U-turn performed by the Cabinet Office on the matter of open standards. As I pointed out in a follow-up article, this seemed to bear the hallmarks of a Microsoft intervention, but I didn’t have any proof of that.

So, without much hope, I put in a Freedom of Information request through the wonderful WhatDoTheyKnow site (highly recommended), asking for details of all the meetings that Microsoft had had with the Cabinet Office on this subject. To my utter astonishment I was sent a real cornucopia of briefing notes and emails that Microsoft used to lobby against Restriction-Free (RF) open standards and in favour for standards based on FRAND licensing of claimed patents.

Over the next few days I shall be presenting some of the astonishing things that Microsoft has been saying behind closed doors in its attempt to derail truly open standards. These are extremely timely given the current UK government consultation on open standards, which I’ve already urged you to respond to several times.

First of all, I have to say how impressed I am with the Cabinet Office’s response. Aside from redacting a few names from the memos, for entirely understandable reasons to do with preserving private information, the documents are essentially complete.

[...]

The tenor of the current document – and of Microsoft’s whole attack on true open standards – is that RF open standards are somehow unnatural, or unfair on big companies, and yet by its own admission it has contributed technology to open standards on RF terms not once or twice but dozens of times.

So the question has to be: why is it objecting now? Is it just so that it can exclude open source from future UK government tenders? Or could it be simply that it thinks it can bully the UK government in a way that it couldn’t bully other organisations? This is certainly something that the Cabinet Office should be exploring with Microsoft when they next meet, since the above statement undercuts the company’s position that it can’t work with RF open standards.

[...]

Nobody is suggesting that GSM phones, say, should be banned from UK government use, as Microsoft’s letter seems to insinuate. For a start, these are hardware standards, and not about software interoperability at all; secondly, there are no comparable RF open standards that could be used, and even if there were, there would be clear business reasons why GSM phones should still be purchased. There simply isn’t a problem here.

This straw man attack on non-existent difficulties is symptomatic of Microsoft’s general assault on the idea of RF open standards, and in subsequent posts I shall be exploring other examples of arguments and techniques that it deployed last year in an attempt to turn the UK government against the idea of producing a level playing field for UK procurement through the introduction of truly open and truly fair open standards.

British citizens can contact their authorities and help reveal the truth if not expose this disgraceful behaviour from Microsoft as well. Apple is also a foe of standards by the way, for many reasons including this latest: [via]

Apple Computer came under fire for back-pedaling on its support for IPv6, the next-generation Internet Protocol, at a gathering of experts held in Denver this week.

Presenters at the North American IPv6 Summit expressed annoyance that the latest version of Apple’s AirPort Utility, Version 6.0, is no longer compatible with IPv6. The previous Version, 5.6, offered IPv6 service by default.

Apple also supports OOXML. What we are dealing with here is an assault on a government’s natural inclination to choose software it controls and trusts — software that the population would approve.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

7 Comments

  1. Michael said,

    April 17, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Gravatar

    People are not fond of Microsoft products, but many are left without choice.

    Who is lacking choice? Heck, Stallman says he uses only Free software (what normal people call open source software). I have a Mac, though I do – by choie – have some MS software on it.

    I really would love some examples of where people do not have choice. The closest I can think of are when public documents are published in MS Office format, but even then there are free readers… but many people are not aware of them.

    As far as Apple supporting OOXML – *good*. it would be silly for them not to… in fact, I wish they had better support for it. Why would anyone consider supporting an open format a *bad* thing?

  2. mcinsand said,

    April 18, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    It’s great that you punctuated the article with a mention of OOXML, since that is really the posterboy of our standards problem. To get it approved, MS actually had to buy off the Portugese ISO committee, it is not open, it is not fully documented, and it is patent encumbered. In other words, it is neither a standard nor is it open. Parts of the standard handled situations with merely a handle ‘like in Windows 95,’ rather than actually detailing the operations that needed to take place.

    Did MS ever actually implement it in anything? The most recent thing that I heard was that the version they were using was not compliant with the approved ‘standard.’

    Regards,
    mc

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    ECMA OOXML is not implemented by anyone. It’s a phantom. It’s am expensive hack, made possible through widespread corruption that I spent years of my life tracking and documenting.

    Michael Reply:

    LOL!

    I am happy web space is cheap… otherwise you could not afford enough to hold your head in whatever space you could purchase. :)

    Michael Reply:

    The main problem the “Free” community has with OOXML is that it represents choice. Developers have a choice of which standard to use, and the market, over time, will end up at least mostly focusing on one. Right now OOXML is “ahead”, with strong support from MS and moderate support from Apple and even such groups the OpenOffice and LibreOffice groups.

    The “Free” folks do not get that Apple and MS have little incentive to do the work required to support a “standard” that is used by such a tiny fraction of the market.

    This does not mean, of course, that OOXML is perfect or that MS has handled it well or that it is not in need of some pretty big fixes. If the open source community wants a truly open format, though, why not focus on the one that is far more popular and make it better. It is an *open* standard – which means MS no longer has control over it. look up info on ISO/IEC 29500 for more information…

    I would like to see what alternatives there are to OOXML that actually support all of the features in MS Office. I do not know of any other office suites that support all of the features of MS Office, so maybe ODF is simply not sufficient for the needs of MS. I do know that the attempts to have ODF work with MS Office have continued to fail to support quite a few features: http://odf-converter.sourceforge.net/features.html

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    It was more that just Portugal. Scandalous irregularities occured in just about every nation represented in the ISO process. The Norwegian committee even resigned in protest.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1012179/norway-iso-walk-ooxml

    All that OOXML represents is a desire and ability to throw sand in the gears.

    Michael Reply:

    So the open process leads to junk as much as the proprietary one. Maybe even more?

What Else is New


  1. Links 19/4/2018: Mesa 17.3.9 and 18.0.1, Trisquel 8.0 LTS Flidas, Elections for openSUSE Board

    Links for the day



  2. The Patent Microcosm, Patent Trolls and Their Pressure Groups Incite a USPTO Director Against the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Section 101/Alice

    As one might expect, the patent extremists continue their witch-hunt and constant manipulation of USPTO officials, whom they hope to compel to become patent extremists themselves (otherwise those officials are defamed, typically until they're fired or decide to resign)



  3. Microsoft's Lobbying for FRAND Pays Off as Microsoft-Connected Patent Troll Conversant (Formerly MOSAID) Goes After Android OEMs in Europe

    The FRAND (or SEP) lobby seems to have caused a lot of monopolistic patent lawsuits; this mostly affects Linux-powered platforms such as Android, Tizen and webOS and there are new legal actions from Microsoft-connected patent trolls



  4. To Understand Why People Say That Lawyers are Liars Look No Further Than Misleading Promotion of Software Patents

    Some of the latest misleading claims from the patent microcosm, which is only interested in lots and lots of patents (its bread and butter is monopolies after all) irrespective of their merit, quality, and desirability



  5. When News About the EPO is Dominated by Sponsored 'Reports' and Press Releases Because Publishers Are Afraid of (or Bribed by) the EPO

    The lack of curiosity and genuine journalism in Europe may mean that serious abuses (if not corruption) will go unreported



  6. The Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Organisation (EPO) Complain That They Are Understaffed, Not Just Lacking the Independence They Depend on

    The Boards of Appeal have released a report and once again they openly complain that they're unable to do their job properly, i.e. patent quality cannot be assured



  7. Links 18/4/2018: New Fedora 27 ISOs, Nextcloud Wins German Government Contract

    Links for the day



  8. Guest Post: Responding to Your Recent Posting “The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable”

    In France, where Battistelli does not enjoy diplomatic immunity, he can be held accountable like his "padrone" recently was



  9. The EPO in 2018: Partnering With Saudi Arabia and Cambodia (With Zero European Patents)

    The EPO's status in the world has declined to the point where former French colonies and countries with zero European Patents are hailed as "success stories" for Battistelli



  10. For Samsung and Apple the Biggest Threat Has Become Patent Trolls and Aggressors in China and the Eastern District of Texas, Not Each Other

    The latest stories about two of the world's largest phone OEMs, both of which find themselves subjected to a heavy barrage of patent lawsuits and even embargoes; Samsung has meanwhile obtained an antisuit injunction against Huawei



  11. The EPO Continues to Lie About Patent Quality Whilst Openly Promoting Software Patents, Even Outside Europe

    EPO patent quality continues to sink while EPO management lies about it and software patents are openly being promoted/advocatedEPO patent quality continues to sink while EPO management lies about it (the article above is new) and software patents are openly being promoted/advocated



  12. SCOTUS on WesternGeco v Ion Geophysical Almost Done; Will Oil States Decision Affirm the PTAB's Quality Assurance (IPRs) Soon?

    Ahead of WesternGeco and Oil States, following oral proceedings, it's expected that the highest court in the United States will deliver more blows to patent maximalism



  13. Links 17/4/2018: Linux 5.x Plans and Microsoft's 'Embrace'

    Links for the day



  14. The European Patent Office (EPO) Grants Patents in Error, Insiders Are Complaining That It's the Management's Fault

    The EPO has languished to the point where patents are granted in error, examiners aren't happy, and the resultant chaos benefits no-one but lawyers and patent trolls



  15. The European Patent Office Will Never Hold Its Destroyers Accountable

    With only one in seven EPO stakeholders believing that Battistelli's pick (António Campinos) will turn things around for the better, it certainly does not seem like people are happy and there's no real hope that Battistelli will ever be held accountable for his abuses after his immunity expires



  16. With Liars Like These...

    The European Patent Office continues to lie about the Unified Patent Court (UPC) amongst other things, still revealing its reluctance to say anything which is truthful or work to repair the damage caused by Benoît Battistelli



  17. Links 16/4/2018: Linux 4.17 RC 1, Mesa 18.0.1 RC, GNOME 3.28.1

    Links for the day



  18. IAM, Patently-O and Watchtroll (the Patent Trolls' Lobby) Try to Stop Patent Oppositions/Petitions (PTAB)

    In spite of fee hikes, introduced by Iancu's interim predecessor, petitions (IPRs) at the PTAB continue to grow in number and the patent maximalists are losing their minds over it



  19. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is Ending Software Patents One Patent at a Time

    At an accelerating pace and with growing determination, PTAB (part of AIA) crushes patent trolls and software patents; the statistics and latest stories speak for themselves



  20. Academics and Think Tanks for Patent Maximalism

    Right-wing think tanks and impressionable academics continue to lobby for patent maximalism, rarely revealing the funding sources and motivations; in reality, however, such maximalism mainly helps large (already-wealthy) corporations, monopolists, and law firms



  21. Killing Patent Quality and Encouraging 'Covert' Software Patents Using the Buzzwords Du Jour

    The epidemic of buzzwords and/or hype waves that are being exploited to dodge or bypass patent scope/limitations, as seen in Europe and the US these days



  22. Crisis of Quality at the EPO Extends to Staff (Notably Examiners) and Management as Institutional Integrity is Severely Compromised

    A rather pessimistic but likely realistic outlook for the European Patent Office (EPO), which seems unable to attract the sort of staff it attracted for a number of decades



  23. The 'Blockchaining' of Software Patents (to Dodge the Rules/Guidelines) Now Coming to Europe

    A lot of software patents are being declared invalid (or not granted in the first place); having said that, using all sorts of hype waves (like calling databases “blockchains”) firms and individuals manage to still be granted software patents and sometimes patent trolls hoard these



  24. Links 14/4/2018: Wine 3.6, KDE Elisa 0.1

    Links for the day



  25. East Asia Should Have Adopted the Patent Strategy of South Asia, Notably India

    China seems to be so interested in patent maximalism that it has lost sight of the effect on foreign investment, e.g. US/European/Taiwanese/Japanese/Korean firms operating/manufacturing in mainland China



  26. Samsung is the 'New IBM', Sans the Trolling With Patents

    The 'relic' company, IBM, loses its patent leadership (as measured using some yardstick) to Samsung, a company which is relatively calm when it comes to patent activity (unless/only when sued, as happens a lot nowadays)



  27. David Barcelou May or May Not be a Patent Troll, But He is Certainly a SLAPPing Bully and Watchtroll is Fine With It

    Like a thin-skinned person/entity (which many in the patent microcosm are), David Barcelou and Automated Transactions (“ATL”) SLAPP their critics and surprisingly enough it's Watchtroll, who has been threatened by WIPO, coming to the bully's rescue (double standards)



  28. Links 12/4/2018: Stable New Kernels, Neptune 5.1

    Links for the day



  29. The USPTO Has a Nepotism and Lobbying Problem That Jeopardises the Rationality of US Patent Law

    The influence games of Washington are spilling over to the US patent office and poisoning/harming its ability to conduct professional operations without corporate influence (from either side, both corporations and law firms)



  30. Patent Trolls in the United States Show the Importance of Stopping Software Patents (Trolls' Favourite) Worldwide

    The abundance of entities that exist for no purpose other than to initiate lawsuits is a contagious threat to real innovation (or science and technology being practiced); a new jury verdict (record-breaking $500,000,000) is a reminder of this


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts