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08.05.12

Microsoft is Losing Share in Servers and Desktops, GNU/Linux and FOSS Gain

Posted in Microsoft, Servers at 10:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Empty servers room

Summary: Very low customer retention at Microsoft as Nginx and Apache grow, Android spreads Linux on the client side

MR. Pogson has been tracking the decline of Microsoft's IIS and the latest report speaks of Microsoft falling to 3rd position in Web servers. To quote the commentary: “Nginx surpassed M$’s IIS as the number two web server on active sites in Netcraft’s estimation. This is only fitting since IIS is burdened by having a bunch of salesmen design it and it being a part of M$’s lock-in. People want lowest cost IT that performs well. Both Apache web server and Nginx web server are better choices, apparently. IIS clung to less than 12% share while Nginx took a bit from Apache and grew a bit. Gone are the “good old days” when M$ paid people to use IIS to boost share. That plan failed.”

“Linux is not going away. It’s spreading at Microsoft’s expense.”GNU/Linux market share is a subject that occupied our attention quite a lot a few years ago. One reader sent us some aggregated data [ODF | PDF] that shows growth for Linux on desktops and phone as well. The reader says: “I just finished collating the annual market share statistics from w3schools.com browser OS statistics. It is a comparison between MSFT, Linux, Mac, and mobile OS’s. I thought you might appreciate these, you may use these as you wish.

“Note, Linux is on the rise as shown by the numbers. MSFT is now 84.1%, which seems to mirror other info sources, as I informally have seen. I think Linux underrepresentation may simply be due to the fact that these are only on-line statistics. Linux in foreign 3rd world countries and education will under reflected, as Internet service is expensive. Overall, education and businesses for example will rely upon their internal Intranet (server) resources more than on outside. (Reference Eddie Ball’s article some time back, that if a person does not need an Internet browser, they don’t have access, to cut down company time abuse.)”

Linux is not going away. It’s spreading at Microsoft’s expense.

“Really, I’m not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.”

Linus Torvalds

A Call to Boycott Skype

Posted in Microsoft at 10:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Listening

Summary: More sites call for a boycott of Microsoft Skype, especially after Microsoft’s admission that Skype facilitates surveillance

THE controversy behind Skype has given us a lot of attention recently, including mentions from some rather famous people.

FSFE folks promote this new list of 10 reasons to “boycott Skype” and the opening remarks go like this: “If you want to understand what Skype actually is, it might help to picture an almighty telephone and mail company. This company can not only spy on your private conversations and has total control over them, but it also forces you to use it. It owns the telephone lines and all mail transportation and does not let other companies use them. At the same time, you are bound to only use their telephone and mailboxes. Despite of these facts, more and more people are using Skype and even begin using the word “to skype” as a general term for talking and chatting over the internet.

“Hotmail as a brand is now dead.”“Concentrating a lot of power in one single uncontrolled entity always leads to abuse of those powers, and Skype is not an exception. The following ten arguments should convince everybody to boycott Skype once and for all.”

One sure thing is, Microsoft’s ownership of Skype did the software no good. The same thing happened after Microsoft had bought Hotmail. Hotmail as a brand is now dead.

Patent Trolls and Their Favourite Weapon, Software Patents, Could Face Death

Posted in EFF, Law, Patents at 10:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. Jason Chaffetz give us Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (“SHIELD”) Act

Shield

Summary: An existential threat to the #1 foe of Free (as in freedom-respecting) software

THE EFF, which fights against software patents this year (targeting the whole lot, not busting them one at a time), is excited to see a bill that’s intended to stop software patents or at least make a start by flagging them as distinct. As news spreads about this bill in almost every technology site we learn that the target is “[p]eople who sue technology companies over patents when they’re really only trying to win big settlements [and] have earned themselves a nickname: patent trolls.

“Unlike the fake ‘reform’, this one is real, but Glyn Moody won’t believe it until it’s passed, he states.”“Thanks to the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act, or SHIELD Act, their days may be numbered.

“The SHIELD Act would require anybody who files a lawsuit related to a computer hardware or software patent to pay his or her opponent’s legal bills if a court finds the lawsuit “did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding.”

“Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio introduced the bill in the House to protect innovators from superfluous lawsuits.”

Unlike the fake ‘reform’, this one is real, but Glyn Moody won’t believe it until it’s passed, he states. The EFF’s words are “Can You Believe It? Legislation that Would Actually Help Fix the Patent System” (link).

To quote: “Finally, a moment of sanity. Today, Rep. Peter DeFazio, along with co-sponsor Rep. Jason Chaffetz, introduced legislation (HR 6245) in the House of Representatives that would actually help make the patent system work better for innovators and innovation, and make life more difficult for patent trolls.

“Well, if we wish to impede Microsoft proxies, then this bill can make an enormous contribution.”“We have written time and again about just how broken the system is and how, thus far, the courts and Congress have failed to fix it. Which makes us even more excited about the new bill, the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (“SHEILD”) Act. The idea behind the SHIELD Act is simple: if you sue someone, you better have a reasonable and good-faith belief that you are entitled to relief. In other words, a plaintiff needs to believe that a defendant actually infringes a valid patent before it sues. If it doesn’t, that plaintiff could be on the hook for the costs of litigation and for the winning party’s attorneys’ fees (which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases).

“Fee shifting, often called “loser pays,” is not a new idea. It’s long existed in copyright law, for instance, allowing a court to award a winning party costs and fees in certain cases. In patent litigation, this type of provision would help tilt the playing field slightly more in favor of the good guys. To understand, think about the patent troll business model: making broad claims of infringement based on patents of questionable validity is the troll’s favorite move. It’s no wonder that many defendants choose to pay up rather than take the time, energy, and especially the money to fight in court. Fee shifting would empower innovators to fight back, while discourging trolls from threatening lawsuits to start.

“Trying to understand the recent patent licensing deal between Microsoft and Amdocs is like watching a poker tournament, where you never know whether players are bluffing or if they have pat hands. In this case, it appears that Microsoft is bluffing when it comes to Linux. An inspection of the facts, as they are known, indicates the “Linux licensing” element of the story is only more Microsoft FUD–with Amdocs being a willing participant.

“This isn’t the story of an underdog being pressured by the Redmond giant into paying a bounty on some patents Microsoft claims are being infringed upon by Linux servers in Amdocs’s data centers. In fact, it appears as if Linux licensing isn’t really a part of this deal at all.”

“Lodsys got some patents from IV (Intellectual Ventures).”The OIN, in the mean time, is growing a team behind a portfolio of software patents (latest statement), perhaps refusing to accept that abolishing patent trolls and software patents is an achievable goal. Timothy B. Lee, one of the leading people in the fight against software patents, has this to say: “A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives attempts to deter frivolous patent litigation by forcing unsuccessful patent plaintiffs to cover defendants’ legal costs. Introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), the Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act is limited to patents related to computer hardware and software.

“”Patent trolls don’t create new technology and they don’t create American jobs,” DeFazio said in a news release. “They pad their pockets by buying patents on products they didn’t create and then suing the innovators who did the hard work and created the product.”

“While DeFazio portrays the SHIELD Act as anti-troll legislation, its provisions don’t seem to be limited to non-practicing entities. Any plantiff who a court finds “did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding” could be on the hook for his opponent’s legal bills, regardless of whether the plaintiff is using the technology in question.”

Mark Webbink keeps track of one such troll with Microsoft connections and a case against Android developers. To quote: “Lodsys has been hit with another declaratory judgment action, this one by Creative Mobile, O.U., an Estonian company, filed in the Eastern District of Wisconsin. (Complaint [PDF; Text]) There is nothing particularly new about this complaint when compared to earlier declaratory judgment actions filed against Lodsys other than the fact that it provides a useful synopsis of where the case stands. [See paragraphs 17 through 51]

“With so many suits in play it will be impractical to follow all of them, but that really shouldn’t be necessary anyway. There are three critical parts that merit our attention: (1) the pending reexaminations before the USPTO; (2) the intervention by Apple; and (3) the declaratory judgment action by Oracle with its attendant invalidity contentions.”

Lodsys got some patents from IV (Intellectual Ventures).

Well, if we wish to impede Microsoft proxies, then this bill can make an enormous contribution. To quote one of the better reports: “The bill is limited to patents that cover hardware or software for computers and other IT systems. It defines a software patent as a patent that covers “any process that could be implemented in a computer regardless of whether a computer is specifically mentioned in the patent.” This also includes systems that can be programmed to perform such a process. The bill expressly omits the highly controversial question of whether “computer-implemented inventions” should be patentable at all, stating that it does not aim to amend the substantive patent law.”

Excellent stuff!

Apple Uses Koh for Android/Linux Embargo Strategy

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Samsung phone

Summary: Apple uses patents and misguided judges to ban products resembling Sony phones, i.e. similar to designs that are not even Apple’s

THE cult of Steve Jobs is hoping to prevent the public from seeing how ridiculous its case really is. It’s an insult to science and technology. “Samsung yesterday angered the judge Lucy Koh as they released material about rejected evidence to the press. Samsung was rejected the evidence, which it thinks is critical for this case, as the judge said was submitted too late to show to the jury. Samsung had requested the judge couple of times to include the evidence , but to no avail. Yesterday when the evidence in question, Samsung phone F700, was displayed in an Apple slide Samsung argued that Apple has opened the door to discussion of the F700 and asked the judge to reconsider. But the judge rejected and warned that “Don’t make me sanction you.””

“It’s an insult to science and technology.”Koh has been one of the most Android-hostile judges so far, unlike Posner [1, 2].

Here is Apple latching onto Koh again: “Apple now wants Judge Koh to issue a verdict announcing victory of Apple in this case and that all of Apple’s patents are valid and Samsung infringed upon them. The reason for this ‘request’ is the rejected evidence (because the judge said it was submitted late) which Samsung released to some members of press on request.

“The Verge reports, “Apple respectfully requests that the Court sanction Samsung by granting judgment in favor of Apple on its claim that Samsung infringes Apple’s phone design patents, and granting judgment that those patents are not invalid.””

As Pamela Jones put it: “Apple wants to win by sanctions. It is asking the judge to declare, as a sanction, that Apple’s design patents are valid and that they are infringed. Legal experts, Howard Minz reports at the Mercury News, are calling it a long shot.

“Cook is one of the mightiest patent aggressors, with his aggression going back to the days of threats against Palm.”“Can you imagine if Apple establishes a ruling that its design patent of a rectangle with four rounded corners is valid and infringed, without a trial, just by judicial fiat — as a punishment because a lawyer made a statement to the press? Apple would lose its cool factor, that’s for sure, not to mention going down in history as the King of Legal Ickdom. Move over, Microsoft. Apple is aiming for the gold in this category, and your record as the worst ever is being challenged.”

Here is Samsung’s response that helps show which “Apple [is] The New SCO and Samsung is a bit like Novell. “Samsung has filed a motion to strike in response to Apple’s request,” it says.

Cult leaders from Apple weigh in: “With Apple (AAPL) legend Steve Jobs gone and current CEO Tim Cook conspicuously absent, Apple on Friday put two of its rock-star executives on the stand as ammunition in its multibillion-dollar patent showdown with Samsung, including a software guru who assembled the design team for the original iPhone.”

Cook is one of the mightiest patent aggressors, with his aggression going back to the days of threats against Palm. This aggression goes all the way to the top. The bottom line is, Apple has become just about as anti-competitive as Microsoft; we need to end software parents to strike the problem at its root.

How Microsoft Expands the Patent Racket Against Android/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 6:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Motorola phone

Summary: As another company aligns with Microsoft (under an NDA) we get to discover how Microsoft is setting up its patent extortion scheme against Android

MICROSOFT was recently seen hiding details in the Samsung case as these would otherwise weaken the extortion campaign and potentially expose Microsoft to prosecution by government authorities. B&N had filed formal (and federal-level) complaints, whereupon Microsoft decided to essentially bribe the firm to change its mind or course (money to control behaviour).

According to this report, Microsoft hopes to replicate the aforementioned corrupt strategy in another case that ended up in the courts. To quote: “MOBILE PHONE SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Microsoft is calling on Motorola to settle the firms’ patent dispute out of court, clearly hoping to avoid a high profile court case similar to that between Apple and Samsung.

“Microsoft’s patent spat with Motorola has been going on for months, with the firm claiming that the Android phone maker uses its technology, Activesync, without paying royalties. Motorola is also looking to get some cash out of Microsoft, claiming that the company uses its video and wireless technologies in its Xbox 360 console without a licensing agreement in place.”

Microsoft is clearly afraid that Motorola, recently bought by Google (for the relevant business division), will derail the entire extortion campaign. Google bought itself a case in which is gets to defend Android against Microsoft, so we expect Motorola not to give up, not even when offered a bribe like B&N’s. Bribing one’s way out of justice or out of the penal system is something Bill Gates is familiar with; as a rich young boy he had his affluent mom and dad bail him out after he got arrested on the road. Right now, using another trick, he’s painting himself as a saint rather than the criminal he was. We must understand that there are massive PR forces at play, acting as a stunt that changes public perception in the face of serious offences.

“Microsoft is clearly afraid that Motorola, recently bought by Google (for the relevant business division), will derail the entire extortion campaign.”Glyn Moody mentions the apparent bribe in his latest article which goes like this: “At the end of last year, I wrote about the great service Barnes & Noble had performed by drawing back the curtain on one of Microsoft’s patent lawsuits.

“One of the reasons that Microsoft has settled on patents as a way of attacking open source is that it can do so through innuendo. It doesn’t have to prove that Android, for example, infringes on any of its patents; it simply points at all the companies that have taken a licence from Microsoft based on the claim that it does, and then uses that as suggestive evidence that it must be true.

“But since we know nothing about the terms of those deals, it might even be that Microsoft is paying its licensees more for reciprocal rights than it receives. The net effect would then be Microsoft funding companies to go along with the “Android infringes on Microsoft patents” story in return for these kinds of deals. Indeed, companies would be crazy to refuse such an offer, so you can’t really blame them.

“That’s what made Barnes & Noble’s stand all-the-more remarkable. Even better was the fact that Microsoft somehow botched the NDA process, allowing Barnes & Noble to reveal which patents were being asserted against it (and they turned out to be risibly weak.)

“We must understand that there are massive PR forces at play, acting as a stunt that changes public perception in the face of serious offences.”“Barnes & Noble was obviously a real thorn in Microsoft’s side, so it came as no huge surprise to learn in April of this year that the two companies had formed a “strategic alliance” that saw Microsoft investing $300 million in a new subsidiary of Barnes & Noble. And then there was this:

“‘Barnes & Noble and Microsoft have settled their patent litigation, and moving forward, Barnes & Noble and Newco will have a royalty-bearing license under Microsoft’s patents for its NOOK eReader and Tablet products. This paves the way for both companies to collaborate and reach a broader set of customers.’

“It was another deal that couldn’t be refused – and further evidence of how desperate Microsoft is to try to buy friends in its battle against the open source world.”

Moody later concludes, quite correctly, that the extortion might have the following goal: “Microsoft is quite open to a settlement of patent litigation provided Google agrees that Android infringes. What Microsoft is “offering” in this “solid foundation” is actually the culmination of its approach over the last year or so: getting companies using Android to sign licensing deals that implicitly admit that the code infringes on Microsoft patents – without the need to prove that they actually do.”

“There is no point for Google to settle these cases; the idealists might say that Google should work to put Microsoft executives in jail for what they do.”Microsoft reportedly wanted $15 for each Android device sold by Samsung, so the claim from Moody may not be entirely factual even though it is clearly speculative. Microsoft has been separating the companies and using NDAs (also in Novell’s case) as a manipulative part in the racket. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; Microsoft hides Windows OEM deals for the same reason. When there is investigation/case like Comes vs. Microsoft we get to see the truth.

It is unreasonable to assume that only Microsoft’s cases need to be fought against; Microsoft also uses patent trolls such as MOSAID to fight by proxy. There is no point for Google to settle these cases; the idealists might say that Google should work to put Microsoft executives in jail for what they do. In reality, Microsoft has so many government connections that it is unlikely to ever occur. In fact, while in Clinton’s term Bill Gates was breaking the law as a matter of routine, Clinton is now hanging out with Gates. It’s a case of fake it/break it till you make it. The law is all warped. It is shaped by the money interests.

Microsoft usually finds accomplices for its illegal activities; it recently recruited the phone spying firm called Amdocs (it does things other than spying, too) which is not really a victim but a collaborator. It’s more of a collaboration on FUD, as we found Microsoft trying to do with a large British company years ago (without success). We leaked some anonymised information that had been handed to us about it. Microsoft was willing to pay just for FUD, including a press release from the company that Microsoft wanted to say would pay for Linux.

Here is an article that helps validate our assertions. Christine Hall says: “Trying to understand the recent patent licensing deal between Microsoft and Amdocs is like watching a poker tournament, where you never know whether players are bluffing or if they have pat hands. In this case, it appears that Microsoft is bluffing when it comes to Linux. An inspection of the facts, as they are known, indicates the “Linux licensing” element of the story is only more Microsoft FUD–with Amdocs being a willing participant.

“This isn’t the story of an underdog being pressured by the Redmond giant into paying a bounty on some patents Microsoft claims are being infringed upon by Linux servers in Amdocs’s data centers. In fact, it appears as if Linux licensing isn’t really a part of this deal at all.”

Further, she says: “Like Microsoft, Amdocs is in the software business. It would appear the company sells its own stack and also acts as a reseller, most likely for products from folks like Oracle and Microsoft. As the company earns its keep by peddling proprietary software, it would be just as threatened by open source solutions as Redmond. So when it reached a cross licensing agreement with Microsoft covering a wide range of patents, adding some Linux FUD into the mix would be a no-brainer.”

And lastly: “In other words, it appears as if Linux had very little, if anything, to do with this agreement. Mr. Ballmer was just taking advantage of another opportunity to practice one of his favorite hobbies, the sowing of FUD. When they really have something, they’ll sue Red Hat, of that you can be sure.”

“Honeywell becomes another company to avoid for the fact that it helps Microsoft make Linux non-free.”By bribing all the right companies Microsoft tries to normalise (make acceptable) selling permission to something that’s not theirs, namely Android.

According to new reports, Microsoft found another willing FUD partner. To quote: “Thursday, Honeywell International Inc. (HON) became the 15th company to sign a patent-licensing agreement with Microsoft that covers Android devices. The deal coincides with the introduction of Honeywell’s Dolphin, a digital assistant for data capture, navigation and communication for field workers.”

The press release came from Honeywell and Microsoft boosters were quick to promote the FUD. To quote: “The move is tied to the introduction of Honeywell’s first enterprise digital assistant computing device, which runs on Android. (Microsoft contends that certain features of Android infringe on its patents.)”

Well, Honeywell becomes another company to avoid for the fact that it helps Microsoft make Linux non-free. “Extortion continues,” iophk remarks about it. “Again the terms of the patent extortion are kept under wraps.”

“Intellectual property is the next software.”

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft patent troll

Microsoft Partner comScore is a Patent Aggressor

Posted in Patents at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Swords

Summary: comScore’s lesser-known ‘contribution’ to society is patent aggression

TECHRIGHTS likes to gather information and properly research sources of FUD. comScore, a Microsoft partner (paid by Microsoft), turns out to also be a patent aggressor, just like Facebook. Quoting one report: “The ad tech ecosystem only really ever gets controversial when premium brands’ ads somehow end up on sketchy sites. That is, until comScore launched a three-front patent war.

“As first reported by AdExchanger on Tuesday, comScore has filed lawsuits against DoubleVerify, AdSafe Media and Moat for patent infringement. ComScore is claiming that the three verification/targeting companies have each infringed upon eight patents overall. The patents in question relate to comScore’s ability to monitor, measure and report on how content is displayed online.”

Another troll, VirnetX, had been paid by Microsoft and later it sued other companies [1, 2]. To be fair to Microsoft, the passage of money was part of a settlement.

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

Bill Gates (when Microsoft was smaller)

OpenSUSE to Have Release Soon

Posted in GNU/Linux, OpenSUSE at 4:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Light in woods

Summary: The second RC of OpenSUSE 12.2 is out, but how many more releases are going to be made?

THERE are early signs that OpenSUSE will have a new release quite soon, with the second RC being out there in the wild.

After the latest deceitful PR from SUSE, aided by the Linux Foundation, we are saddened to see continued momentum (however small) for ‘Microsoft Linux’, so to speak. Some sites like Phoronix gave that coverage along with other SUSE sympathisers. To quote The H: “With the final version due in mid-September, the openSUSE developers have announced the second release candidate for version 12.2 of their Linux distribution. The two weeks since the first RC release have seen “a flurry” of last minute fixes in higher level packages as the core of 12.2 has been “stabilized and locked”. The focus now moves to final polish and fixes for release. One late change to the system has been the removal of many manuals and books from the DVD release of openSUSE to save space; a new “books” pattern can be installed separately for users who want them.”

Another SUSE sympathiser covered it but no large news sites. OpenSUSE does not matter so much anymore.

Sunday Vote: MP3 Versions in TechBytes

Posted in Site News at 1:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg Theora

Summary: Open question about the future of MP3 format in TechBytes

THE next episode of TechBytes will revolve around office suites, LibreOffice in particular. After Richard Stallman’s advice that we should omit MP3 versions of the show altogether I wish to ask readers of this site (or listeners of TechBytes for that matter) what they think about the subject. It’s going to be a group decision. My main concern has been, having no MP3 versions would render the show unplayable on many portable devices, cars stereos, etc. Much of the target audience uses FOSS operating system, so Ogg is typically supported out of the box and the Ogg downloads by far exceed those of the MP3 anyway. So, today’a small poll (members-only vote) will help determine if future episodes of Techbytes will be encoded as MP3 as well as Ogg or just Ogg (encouraging people to download Ogg-playing software and buy Ogg-supporting gadgets, as Stallman would allege)

“If you are registered with this site, please consider voting right now, with or without listening to Stallman’s advice in advance.”If we drop the MP3 versions, the show will be Ogg only, as well as VP8/WebM-supporting (as fallback) for browsers that are less Ogg-tolerant. The vote will be considered and taken into account within the next 24 hours or so.

For those who wish to know Stallman’s views on this subject, I have just encoded his conversation with me (as ogg of course), allowing folks to hear his side in this. He does make a rather compelling argument.

To the right side of this post (scroll down a little) I have added a poll question. If you are registered with this site, please consider voting right now, with or without listening to Stallman’s advice in advance. Also consider leaving a comment.

Richard Stallman on MP3 Options for Techbytes: Download:

Ogg Theora

Richard Stallman on MP3 Options for Techbytes: Embedded (HTML5):

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