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07.30.12

New Complaint Filed in the European Commission Over Microsoft’s Extortion of GNU/Linux

Posted in Microsoft at 4:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.”

Mark Shuttleworth

Summary: A Techrights reader took action against Microsoft racketeering

THE leading phone surveillance company (or aider of this practice), which is known as Amdocs, became a buddy of the convicted monopolist (that also spies on people using Skype). The campaign to tax Linux using extortion — behind NDAs of course — continues one company at a time (culminating in bans), so at least one of our readers submitted input to the European antitrust authorities.

Here is one of the few articles critical of Microsoft:

The latest Patent deal between Microsoft and Amdocs might be a window that gives us a glimpse of what Microsoft is up to. Microsoft licensed its patents to Amdocs because it runs Linux-based servers in its data centres. Amdocs will pay it an undisclosed amount of money to have the ‘right’ to use the free Linux software.

By now you need to pinch yourself because this is real. Pretty soon Microsoft will knock on ‘Big enough to notice’ companies’ doors and demand royalties and fees for using Linux. Since Linux is free Microsoft can’t knock on one of the hundreds of developers’ doors who built the software. Basically it will be doing to the user what it did with the companies who build Android-based devices.

Today Microsoft is fighting battles on every front. Trying to keep its dominance in the desktop space, fighting the Android beast in the mobile space and Linux on servers, it makes sense that Microsoft wants to ‘scare’ companies away with possible patent licensing demands into using Microsoft’s server products. Servers and tools are basically its cash cow at present. Or, make money while it uses the competing software.

But will it stop there? Microsoft is known for its killer anti-competitive practices and would rather have its competition burn than to have any. Right now it’s using licensing to make sure it benefits from its competition, if they made any success in the market. Microsoft will most likely get around US$1-billion in royalty payments from Android manufacturers, and Chromebook builders this year. If you can’t compete, monetize free software. It already locked in Apple with patent licensing deals back when Microsoft helped Apple in the 90s.

We doubt regulators will tackle the problem any time soon, but with enough power from the people we can help change public opinion and the needs of politicians. Currently, what we’re seeing is borderline criminal, but criminals in suits rarely get incriminated.

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

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