“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: Update on the situation in Russia and the role played by Microsoft-funded ‘analysts’
THE salesmen from IDC (dressed up as “analysts”) and the Gartner Group might have to finally admit that those ‘studies’ Microsoft buys from them are a sham. In his personal blog, one Gartner chum calls Vista 8 “bad”. Yes, even the Microsoft- and Gates-funded Gartner has its analysts say about Vista 8: “In a word: Bad.” It’s not an official position, as Microsoft typically pays them to just say what Microsoft pays them to say.
This makes one wonder. Why don’t more governments and businesses move to GNU/Linux? For one thing, Microsoft’s goons from Gartner (people like Silver) discourage this, as we last showed some days ago. Well, as we also showed before, in Russia-centric wiki pages for example, there has been a lot of funny business and misconduct. While Putin said that Russia would move to GNU/Linux within several years, his colleague Medvedev was meeting Microsoft and it is alleged that Russia is dumping GNU/Linux. To quote a Russian blogger:
The winner of the tender was the company PingWin Software, owned by… Leonid Reiman. What was the distribution they offered? It was… face-lifted Mandriva! Yes, you read it right. The prototype of Russian National Software Platform, due to be used in Russian state-owned organisations and in schools, was French! At the same time, Russian teams like ALT Linux or RBK-Soft (currently Armada), were left outside. Is it just a coincidence that the investment fund NGI, which manages the money of Mr.Reinman, partially owns Mandriva too?
That was actually only half of the trouble. The fate of Russian Government, including the Ministry of Defence, could be given to foreign (French) developers. But, at least, that could be an open-source product based on open source principles.
Things actually got worse since February 2012. Many changes happened in Russian politics since that time. The most famous of them was a castling between the President and Prime Minister. Ex-president Medvedev is now a Prime Minister, and ex-President ex-Prime Minister Putin is now a President again.
Mr.Medvedev made significant changes in the Cabinet. One of the most notable was the appointment of 29-year old Nikolay Nikiforov as a new Minister of Telecommunications.
Less than a month after the appointment of the new Minister, the curator of the National Software Platform Ilya Massukh resigned. This is how he explained his resignation: Mr.Nikiforov thinks that National Software Platform is futile and has no future. Instead, Mr.Nikiforov suggests getting proper discounts for… Microsoft software! As first steps in this process, Mr.Nikiforov has already taken part in talks with Microsoft representatives during the Saint-Petersburg Economic Forum in early June.
Why does Mr.Nikiforov like Microsoft so much? The possible reason is that this is not his first acquaintance with this company. He has his photo published on the Microsoft site in one of the press-releases. Nikolay Nikiforov helped to translate Microsoft Windows 7 and Office 2010 to Tatar language while being regional Minister of Telecommunications in the Russian region of Tatarstan. Old roots are growing bigger, obviously.
ALT Linux complained about IDC helping Microsoft derail deployment of GNU/Linux in Russian schools. We never forgot this. █
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“…[C]ut off Netscape’s air supply.”
–Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (now VMWare CEO)
Summary: Microsoft moles in the news and lessons we can learn from them
THERE are readers who sent us links about VMware repelling some of its Microsoft moles. An undisclosed former Microsoft staff covered the news, saying it might be more than just the CEO (he surrounded himself with more former Microsoft executives after he had joined). To quote:
VMware’s chief executive Paul Maritz has left the company. Rumours of a wider company shuffle keep swirling. Maritz’s next move is on everyone’s mind.
The Microsoft-occupied Nokia is somewhat similar to VMware in the sense that a CEO was appointed from Microsoft and soon thereafter more former Microsoft executives were brought in to assist the CEO. It is a form of occupation although, quite evidently, internal fights continue as some staff refuses to accept the orders or ideology of the new CEO. This was happening in Yahoo! as well and it drove away a lot of the talent. From those in Nokia who still care for Linux (and have not left or been fired) comes funding for the MeeGo startup:
With 40,000 layoffs announced in the last two years, Nokia has lost technical talent hand over fist. In response, it’s set up a number of centres in Europe, India and the US to help those faced with redundancy to find a new job, either inside or outside the company.
The scheme, known as Bridge, was introduced in April 2011 and offers an entrepreneurial stream. For those with a new business idea in need of backing, the programme can lead to start-up funding and exposure to angel investors, venture capitalists and other entrepreneurs.
Among the start-ups to get funding from Bridge so far is Jolla, the Finnish smartphone software company that’s taken the reins of the MeeGo, the OS that Nokia nixed last year.
40,000 lost jobs at Nokia. And some people whine when we celebrate layoffs at Microsoft, one of the most destructive companies in the 20th century. The gain of one company — even illegal gain — is often the loss of another.
A Finnish reader sent us this news link about imminent collapse of Nokia (“junk” status). He added: “Nokia didn’t decline until Elop killed it. Spinning the fault to be the iPhone is just plain wrong.” Microsoft continues to destroy companies, including Novell. Microsoft not only destroys such companies; like a parasite it takes over those companies (“hosts”) and sucks up everything that’s left in them. Remember that Microsoft sucked up Netscape’s patents, just like Novell’s. This is the highest form of insult, like claiming inheritance for one’s murder victim. █
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Controlling behaviour using money (bribe)
Summary: SUSE developers unite with Microsoft as LibreOffice developers with financial Microsoft ties help advance the agenda of their backers from Microsoft
THE relationship between Go-OO and LibreOffice continues to remind us to be at least somewhat vigilant. Money buys results. As part of Novell’s deal with Microsoft it was required to advance OOXML. It’s a form of bribe, but nothing compared to the other fraudulent activities that Microsoft used to advance OOXML. The elusive format was not even implemented by Microsoft and it led to many incompatibilities. Based on this news, Office continues to be a fragmented mess, which is a way of encouraging everyone to always buy the newest version. To quote: “The newly unveiled productivity suite from Microsoft, Office 2013, won’t be running on older operating systems like Windows XP and Vista it has been revealed.
“As part of Novell’s deal with Microsoft it was required to advance OOXML.”“Office 2013 is said to be only compatible with PCs, laptops or tablets that are running on the latest version of Windows i.e. either Windows 7 or not yet released Windows 8. According to a systems requirements page on Microsoft for Office 2013 customer preview, the Office 2010 successor is only compatible with Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008 R2 or Windows Server 2012. This was confirmed by a Microsoft spokesperson.”
More interestingly, some body we have heard of before (the so-called “Open Source Business Alliance” which we wrote about before because of rogue agenda), together with SUSE connections (Microsoft-funded), is helping the promotion of OOXML:
Developers from a project hosted by the Open Source Business AllianceGerman language link are working to improve the compatibility of LibreOffice and OpenOffice with Microsoft Office. The German municipalities of Munich, Jena and Freiburg, and the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit (FITSU) and the Swiss Canton of Vaud – who together use OpenOffice on around 18,000 workstations – have jointly raised €140,000 (approximately £109,000) funding for the project.
In December, the OSB Alliance’s Office Interoperability Working Group introduced a specification which mapped out the improvements that need to be made in these areas. The extensions are being implemented by developers from SUSE and by Hamburg-based open source specialists Lanedo.
So here we have SUSE/Novell, once again helping to demote ODF, giving a lift to OOXML in government instead. As for SUSE itself, its latest build is being reviewed:
In overall, I was more comfortable with the KDE version than the Gnome version.
Let’s hope SUSE does not promote OOXML in KDE as well. KDE has probably been most outspoken in its stance against OOXML. A few hours ago in our IRC channel Ryan asked: “Does LibreOffice still keep creepy metadata in ODF files like Microsoft’s office suite does in all its file formats?” LibreOffice developers should recognise the fact that some of them, the people from SUSE, are funded indirectly by Microsoft. There are ways for LibreOffice to help the Microsoft agenda at the expense of other competitors. Microsoft’s occupation of rivals will be recalled in the next post. █
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Summary: Red Hat dodges questions about the consequences of its UEFI dealings with Microsoft
A few days ago we received a lot of press coverage for explaining the UEFI scheme of convicted monopolist Microsoft. One person wrote to get our attention and show how Fedora/Red Hat dodge a legitimate point of criticism. Here is the crux of it all:
When we ran our original report, we noted that Fedora did not mention once ARM or Windows RT. Obviously, Windows RT is the elephant in the room. While Windows 8 will have an off switch to Secure Boot, allowing anyone to bypass these operating system restrictions… Windows RT is quite the opposite.
Windows RT will only run operating systems that are signed by Microsoft. Microsoft, has refused to comment on if any operating systems other than Windows will be permitted to run. Including, Fedora. And, they’ve told OEMs to expect the worst.
Apologists for Microsoft, including people like Ed Bott and Paul Thurrott, have chastised PhoneNews.com directly for challenging Microsoft on this walled-garden position. Their position is that Microsoft is doing no different than Apple, and Apple has been allowed to lock down iOS without any reprisal from regulators, let alone consumers in general.
We followed up with Mr. Garrett, asking him if it was Microsoft, or Red Hat, that refused to entertain a signed version of Fedora for Windows RT. Unfortunately, Mr. Garrett declined to comment, directing us to Red Hat media relations.
After contacting Red Hat media relations multiple times, we were promised a clarification. Unfortunately, after repeated re-requests, Red Hat’s media relations department has become unresponsive. We will be happy to follow up if we do hear back from Red Hat, and will continue to ask them for an answer.
The burning question does remain though, did Microsoft tell Red Hat that it would be barred from offering Fedora on ARM-based Windows PCs? Or, did Fedora opt-out on their own, for some unknown reason? It is hard to remain independent, and not accuse Microsoft of the former.
There is little evidence to indicate that Red Hat would simply choose to not offer Fedora on ARM systems, and only on x86 machines. Fedora currently runs on a broad range of ARM systems and chipsets. All evidence points to Microsoft refusing to allow ARM signatures for Fedora, and Red Hat choosing a half-agreement for x86 PCs and tablets.
Regulators in the United States and European Union are taking another look at Windows RT. Sources report the primary reason being that, in general, consumers will not be able to differentiate between an ARM-based desktop and an Intel-based desktop computer.
If Microsoft accomplishes this two-processor approach, where x86-PCs will be allowed to run Linux, and ARM-PCs running Windows RT will not be allowed to run Linux, the results will likely be devastating to the Linux platform.
One thing Microsoft will achieve, if successful, is blocking users from migrating over to Android. Google has stated their intentions to unveil a unified Android-Chrome OS unification as a transcending operating system. Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwhich already makes significant improvements, aimed at making it a palatable desktop operating system.
PhoneNews.com can confirm that future versions of Android able to run native code on-par with Windows and OS X, and that the goal is a pressing matter inside Google. It’s only a matter of time before Android enters the desktop operating system wars. If Microsoft is successful, it will be difficult to tell which Windows 8 RT computers can be migrated to Android, and the task will likely be too difficult for the average user to accomplish on their own.
With ARM-based desktops only likely to increase, the only way to migrate a Windows RT machine to Android, will be to drag it to the Recycle Bin. And that’s the awful choice that Microsoft wants.
Microsoft must be very worried that manufacturers increasingly turn to Linux-powered operating systems (mostly Google’s), so it is trying some subversive means to hack the market. At Microsoft, a delusion prevails that Windows 95 hype can be reproduced for Vista 8. To quote the VAR Guy:
But 1995 was seventeen years ago — when Microsoft disrupted PC software rivals and Unix rivals, and defined the client-server age. Today, Microsoft is the market incumbent trying to find off cloud and on-premises rivals while the PC market delivers flat growth.
Microsoft is trying to subject ‘Linux companies’ to deals which favour Microsoft and in the process, in the case of Novell, it also polluted the kernel, Linux. It polluted OpenOffice.org as well, but that’s the subject of the next post. Staying on the subject of the kernel, Microsoft put "big boobs" it in. Here is some lengthy coverage about it:
Geeks are known to be obsessive about things. At times that tendency can go overboard, resulting in them looking rather silly and foolish.
A classic case came to light a few days ago when Red Hat developer Matthew Garrett blew a fuse over what he characterised as “male childish humour”.
Some background is needed: Garrett, once one of the more volatile developers in the Debian GNU/Linux project (he quit sometime back), has over the last few years taken up the cause of women in general. At times, his campaigning is on target; at others, like the instance that follows, he appears to be flailing at flies.
As usual, Network World spins with an apology from Microsoft (here it is being spun as an apology).
Red Hat oughtn’t come to depend on Microsoft. It doesn’t need to; Microsoft just doesn’t have the same leverage it once had. Red Hat made a mistake. It should have learned from Novell’s death. █
“Booming Steve Ballmer, Gates’s number two, said the company had received an outpouring of mail from customers, much of it saying that the company was too arrogant.”
–Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul
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Roaring out loud
Summary: Oracle FUD targets competing distributions rather than non-Free operating systems such as Windows
RHEL clones are numerous and several of them are widely used. Over the years we wrote several articles about CentOS, which is probably the most widely used clone. It is hard to measure Free software usage with certainty, so let us merely assume that the main clone to compete with is CentOS.
Oracle has been trying to scoop up Red Hat clients, for its greed knows no boundaries. Now we see Oracle trying to do the same thing to a community project and as mentioned in Daily Links, FUD is involved:
I was quite surprised to see Oracle has a new page up, encouraging people to switch from CentOS to Oracle Linux.
For those that aren’t aware, CentOS is a completely free re-build of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It’s a distribution our customers use a lot, both with our own CentOS 6 AMIs and on bare metal.
Let’s remember that Oracle is also spreading Android/Linux FUD by suing and making claims that the courtroom deemed inadequate. Oracle is planning to carry on suing, but Google fights on:
Immediately after Oracle’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law was denied by Judge William Alsup, Google has filed its own. Google’s renewed Rule 50(b) motion is about Count VIII of Oracle’s complaint regarding the rangeCheck function, 9 lines of code, which Google argues is de minimis as a matter of law. In the alternative, Google asks for a new trial on this issue. But like Oracle, Google states that it is filing this motion simply to preserve its appeal rights, now that Oracle has stated it will appeal.
What Oracle is doing shows an iron-fisted approach and total disregard for Linux-powered operating systems that cannot be exploited by Oracle. No wonder prominent Linux developers find greener pastures when they decide to leave Oracle. They find FOSS-friendly places. Not so long ago Oracle hired Microsoft Florian to spread FOSS patent FUD, this man’s expertise. █
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Summary: News about the legal system, patent trolls, and problematic bias in the legal circles
JUST when we thought that the USPTO had hit rock bottom it continued to surprise us with existence-threatening lawsuits and embargoes. Judge Posner, who oversaw a case incorporating both aspects, got a lot of exposure after the Reuters report that had him quoted widely as saying that, based on resultant coverage, patents should not cover software and maybe it’s time for reform in the broken patent system because it is out of sync.
“Those who criticise campaigns to abolish software patents are most often patent lawyers…”Ed Burnette complains about the current patent system as well, particularly in light of some propaganda from his colleague “Steven Shaw [who] used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm” (how telling). His multi-part propaganda [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] helps show that it’s patent lawyers who want software patents, not practising folks such as technical writers.
Those who criticise campaigns to abolish software patents are most often patent lawyers, this particular example being some legal blog that claims to “explore the nexus of legal rulings”. Some announcements like this one reveal that, at least in this case, a recruit “focuses his intellectual property practice on patents” (the most controversial form of so-called ‘IP’).
Here is the hoarding of patents and accumulation of new ones, as in this case. A lot are explicitly covering software because it is legal in the US.
A “UK Computer Software Law Firm” is advertising itself in the context of patents as well, exemplifying the ambitions of UK-based lawyers to make software patentable in the UK as well. To quote: “Patent and trade mark attorney Franks and Co has been named UK Computer Software Law Firm of the Year by Corporate INTL Magazine.”
The startup parents propaganda which we wrote about recently is being challenged by some data and as hideous patents are being granted we are also reminded of their toll on society.
Acacia, a patent troll, has just extorted MathWorks, which might make some software like MATLAB more expensive (passage of wealth from non-trolls to trolls).
“Acacia, a patent troll, has just extorted MathWorks, which might make some software like MATLAB more expensive (passage of wealth from non-trolls to trolls).”Here is a new report about the impact of patents on society as a whole. To quote: “A patent is an easy way to make money, but these days not so much for inventing things but inventing concepts to patent. To make money from them, usually someone has to get sued. The process involves a considerable amount of money, starting with paying lawyers, paying court costs, paying for transport, hotels, meals, and so on. All these things add up and they account for every cent as to what a trial would and does cost. [...] Judge Richard Posner, who ruled upon a patent dispute between Apple and Motorola, called Apple’s filling “frivolous”. The man has got some character to be able to stand up to Apple, and we have to applaud him to having the courage to do so.”
The only cases where we see the press advocating software patents (and sometimes patents as a whole) is when the writer is part of the patent litigation pipeline. It has become clear what the public wants, but private interest groups continue to distort policy. █
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Summary: A roundup of news about software patents and other controversial patents
THE patent wars continue to receive more and more media attention. Last month, before Facebook and Yahoo! settled their case (more on that to be covered soon), the financial press said that “[f]or big players like Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL), last summer marked a dramatic turn toward patent warfare in the world of technology.”
Facebook is quite the patent aggressor itself. Being an ally of Microsoft (like Yahoo!), this is not too shocking. Microsoft has been trying to extort its competitors, especially Android as of late (resulting even in bans). Then there is the patent lawsuit from Microsoft’s cofounder (now a patent troll), who also sued over Android, amongst other things. Here is the latest from that case: “As we noted in our story (Allen v World – Stay Lifted – Expect A Rough Ride) a few weeks ago, the Court granted Interval’s motion to lift the stay in this case. At the time the Court asked the parties to file a joint status report suggesting a timeline for the case. The parties have now filed that joint status report. (270 [PDF; Text]) The schedule calls for the Markman hearing to occur in November of this year with the trial to commence in October 2013.”
“Encryption patents, especially ones that relate to SSL, should never be granted. They impede security and stifle adoption of standards.”There are new examples where financial harm is caused by patent aggression [1, 2, 3]. Elaborating on one of these three very recent examples: “The SSL patents relate to an authentication and encryption program. Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Citrix argued that it uses a different method of sending information than what is covered by the two patents.” Encryption patents, especially ones that relate to SSL, should never be granted. They impede security and stifle adoption of standards. Contrary to reports like this one, we are seeing the patent problem getting worse, not better. Pemale Jones calls for participation in a survey, noting that she “found out some more details about the patent demand survey that Professor Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University is asking folks to fill out. First, the link didn’t resolve properly in the previous article that mentioned it, so I’ve corrected it now, but I wanted to highlight it here also, in case you gave up earlier. If you go here, you can fill it out.”
Patent parasites harm real companies again. Sometimes they harm life, too. Here is an example of software patents on cellular research. To quote: “A University of Saskatchewan (U of S) research team has harnessed bioinformatics and molecular biology to create powerful software that promises to become a “must have” tool in drug development research labs around the world.
“Led by U of S professors Tony Kusalik and Scott Napper, the team has developed software which is used to analyze kinases – a type of enzyme involved in virtually every cellular function.”
We also see software patents granted on medical procedures.
“Right now many of the patent wars happen in the US; they are a symptom of a dysfunctional system…”Not too long ago the SCOTUS weighed the effect of patents that affect life, but it was unable to come up with the conclusion that patent scope should be limited. In fact, its review was worse than useless. Therefore, the chaos continues.
Other patent stories help shed light on the growing problem that relies on software patents (a fast-growing patenting area in the US). There are also parasites exploiting patent issues in the mobile market and monetising the conflicts, with patent trolls being notable in that regard.
Several new patents [1, 2, 3, 4] give room for concern because they are related to software and sometimes they verge Europe (EPO) too. Quoting that last example: “The approval of the patent from the European Patent Office is a strong indication that our U.S. patent application will be granted in due course.”
As we will show in our interview about software patents (with Richard Stallman), it is important to prevent software patents from getting into more nations. Right now many of the patent wars happen in the US; they are a symptom of a dysfunctional system, as we’ll show in the next post. █
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Summary: RIM ordered to pay 147 million dollars for software patents
THE other day we wrote about how software patents help marginalise producing companies, hurting the market in the process. Moving on to another example, RIM got surrounded by so many patent vultures that its very existence is at stake. RIM’s problems are described as follows: “I am not sure what it is recently but it seems like the whole tech industry has been subjected to parasitic patent trolls. The latest in line is Mobile Telecommunications Technologies who has sued RIM using their acquired portfolio of former SkyTel Communications patents including five patents. Here is how TheStar describes the patents in question registered between 1996-1999…”
Here is an important report. And more recently, this article [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] led to other reports which make one wonder if RIM can survive at all. To quote: “A federal jury in San Francisco has found beleaguered Blackberry maker Research in Motion Ltd. liable for $147.2 million in damages for infringing on patents held by Mformation Technologies Inc.”
This is a patent lawsuit over sofwtare, not hardware [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. If RIM goes under due to this lawsuit (as some people hypothesise), what will supporters of software patents have to say? █
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