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

11.22.12

Vista 8 Endorsements Are Fake, Microsoft Decided to Break Rather Than Make

Posted in Vista 8, Windows at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Oprah
Photo by Bill Ebbesen

Summary: The multi-billion-dollar astroturf campaign for Vista 8 and Microsoft’s UEFI-encumbered hardware are both failing, but for new hardware with UEFI there are still issues

Oprah is doing it again, offering fake endorsements for Microsoft, this time because Vista 8 is out. It is not just a fake endorsement because it is paid for; Oprah does not even use Vista 8.

Mr, Pogson and others say that Vista 8 might not get much love in the German public sector because hardware with UEFI is a no-go area based on the rules. To put it crudely:

As M$ insists OEMs ship UEFI “Secure Boot” enabled, the German government seemingly intends to ban M$’s OS from now on. That’s great. Trusting M$ with any IT is insane.

Sam Varghese, who has been actively against UEFI, shows how to install Vista 8 without UEFI while noting:

At the gates of Microsoft, there are numerous competing Windows versions now almost falling over each other as they strive for marketshare.

The Windows franchise is dying, so Microsoft plays hardball with hardware keys. As Sam Dean put it:

Linux users who have tracked each step in the endless saga surrounding the Windows 8 UEFI Secure Boot scheme may be disappointed to hear that a promised workaround is delayed. Last year, in the post “Will Windows 8 Lock Linux Out of PCs?,” I discussed a Microsoft methodology for ultra-fast booting of Windows 8 PC through a specification called Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI). Linux users cried foul over it, because UEFI makes it technically possible for a hardware manufacturer to deliver a Windows 8 machine that won’t boot an alternative operating system.

Finally, The Linux Foundation came up with a plan “to enable Linux (and indeed all Open Source based distributions) to continue operating as Secure Boot enabled systems roll out.” We covered plans for the workaround here, but now it is confirmed that it will be delayed.

In other words, Linux is being excluded. Just what Microsoft needed ahead of Christmas. Today in Birmingham I went to the Apple Store (inquiring about a gift for a friend who insisted on it) and it was flooded; it sure seems like Vista 8 has driven many people to alternatives. Let’s make sure that disgruntled Windows users choose to install GNU/Linux rather than buy Apple-branded PCs.

Culture of Litigation Versus Business, Innovation, and Production

Posted in Google, IBM, Patents at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law school dropout relies on lawyers, legal loopholes

Goodfellas

Summary: Notable new challenges to software patents advocacy from lawyers (the fox in the hen house)

TOP journal Nature has a new article from Joshua M. Pearce, who protests against nanotechnology patents and names Linux/FOSS for backing of his assertion that patents only slow down progress. In that sense, Pearce put forth the idea that software patents — by inference — slow things down. For corporations whose ultimate goal is to increase income this whole dimension called progress is secondary. It leads to the innovator’s dilemma, so it can actually reduce income. Disruption requires making new machines, for example. The lifetime of cash cows is lessened. This is why managers might never like progress, unless it is truly necessary for survival in the market. Managers can also hire lawyers who specialise in how to use patents to artificially slow down progress, by getting granted monopolies on certain essential processes. Patents also help raise the price of products, which can in turn help income, at customers’ expense of course.

The class of managers and patent lawyers has become the anathema of scientists, whose main goal is to improve knowledge or products/programs, which they believe can improve income too. Software does not require machines for manufacturing/copying, so the innovator’s dilemma does not quite apply. Why is it that some people still try to impose software patenting on everyone? Clearly, such people care neither about business nor science. They are not business(wo)men or scientists, they are leeches. So why is it that in an online debate in Wired there were so many law professionals talking about software patents? One of them, Duffy, was one among perhaps half a dozen. As we pointed out repeatedly, there too many law professors in Wired and hardly any programmers like Stallman (he was the only one). We see this again and again. It’s like a stacked panel. How about a forum or a series with actual software professionals and not career lawyers? Who is affected the most by such patents?

Stallman, a programmer by trade (he turned into an activist), shatters the claims made by Duffy, the law professor. A troll patents-hostile author covered it:

The large, bearded man bounded to the front of the room last Friday, hand thrust into the air, fingers shaking. It was a question-and-answer session, but he clearly wouldn’t be able to wait long. He began speaking just before a conference organizer moved to hand him the microphone.

“So many stupid insults—and mistakes!” shouted Richard Stallman, the father of the free software movement. “I proposed a way to solve the problem! It’s elegant, and it gets right to the point. Your criticisms are completely wrong.”

The speaker he was denouncing, Professor John Duffy of the University of Virginia, had been defending software patents to the assembled crowd a moment ago. Duffy was actually proposing reforms, but as was the case with most speakers at this legal conference, Duffy’s reforms weren’t quite what Stallman was looking for. He was looking for a “safe harbor” for software—essentially, a total ban on any patents that touched on software.

Duffy raised the specter that some things might not be invented at all without patents, in software and other fields. “The only thing worse than a patented technology that burdens the public is not having a technology at all,” he said. Sure, some software patents were a pain, but others were protecting important work. “The question is, will you get very serious research that is patent-motivated? Speech recognition, for example, is very patent-intensive.”

In Stallman’s view, the idea that society might be able to eliminate “bad patents” while keeping good ones is a kind of Jedi mind trick. Offering patents as a reward for software development—a system where the prize is a right to shut down someone else—is fatally flawed.

The “bad patents” party line is also advanced by Red Hat lawyers and lawyers who run a patent front for companies like IBM (e.g. OIN, USPTO). It’s no good taking their advice because they defend their own occupation, which is not software development. Georg C. F. Greve was at an event this morning where legal people pushed software patents into FOSS (IBM style), under the “OSSFRAND” banner. Here are Greve’s dents from the sessions. They are self explanatory really:

  • Chief economist of #EPO, Nikolaus Thumm, explains patents are supposed to grow public domain of knowledge at http://is.gd/jHZLko #OSSFRAND
  • This might be a good time to work of #WIPO at SCP/12 and SCP/13 on the economic rationale of patenting: http://is.gd/e6S1uy #OSSFRAND
  • Iain G. Mitchell: “FRAND is smoke and mirrors… but what does it mean?” Points out that “agreeing on fair forms no contract” #OSSFRAND
  • Provides example of how Nokia and Apple disagreed on what is “fair” and had to have the courts sort it out. #OSSFRAND
  • …and explains how that can subvert standard setting by retracting the offer after the fact. Except in Scotland & Romania #OSSFRAND
  • FUD from Siemens: “Open Source is not free, you have to comply with the license, I cannot just do what I want with your software!” #OSSFRAND
  • Does this mean I am entitled to do whatever I please with Siemens software? ;) #OSSFRAND
  • (Paraphrasing) France Telecom: “I will render my presentation pointless by ignoring the basic definitions of terms I am using.” #OSSFRAND
  • Microsoft dropping its ‘but we’re now open and collaborative’ mask at #OSSFRAND
  • France Telecom sent a stand up comedian to #OSSFRAND: “Why would a large patent holder try to enforce patents on small companies?”

Kevin Drum, in response to the nonsense from Kappos, IBM's keeper of the patent cartel, writes the following after quoting Timothy B. Lee’s article

A World Without Software Patents Would Be a Perfectly Good World

[...]

We already know what would probably happen if software patents didn’t exist. That’s because, for the most part, they didn’t exist until the early 70s, and thanks to fights between the courts and the patent office, they didn’t become common until the late 80s. And yet, the era from the 50s through the 80s was about as dynamic and innovative as you could possibly imagine. Lack of patents simply doesn’t seem to have had the slightest effect on the growth of the software industry.

The world is different today, of course. But I see little evidence that software patents are any more necessary now than they were during the adolescence of the computer industry. Rather than spurs to genuine innovation, they’ve evolved into little more than virtual armaments that big companies use to fight virtual wars with each other. And virtual wars are no better for economic growth than real ones. Honestly, it’s long past time for software patents to be put out of their misery and for software companies to focus their attention on inventing new stuff, not wasting countless man-hours of time building defensive patent portfolios with no real-world value aside from providing protection against other companies who are building their own defensive patent portfolios for the same reason. This particular arms race got out of hand a long time ago.

Some scholars argue that all patents — not just software patents — should be deprecated.

Techrights IRC Software, Free (Libre) Software, and Software Perspective

Posted in Site News at 6:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Our adherence to Free and Open Source software is not enough for triumph in the long fight for digital rights, fair competition, etc.

As a little bit of background, when I had turned 21 and started my Ph.D. I found myself surrounded by archaic digital systems which impeded access to valuable human knowledge. They were designed this way. I also found navigation therein cumbersome enough to reduce or eliminate reuse of knowledge. I am familiar with all the principal arguments for Open Access, so I do share everything that I create, be it software or text or graphics.

Paywalls and registration are barriers because they limit the audience based on financial status and eliminate anonymous reading, respectively. It is quite unjust and it is no coincidence. Profit and control (power over the reader) take priority over what scientists typically want, which is maximal dissemination of their work. This contributes to influence.

Ever since I began getting active, a lot of systems have gotten more malicious in the sense that they increase tracking, put people’s data outside their own control (Fog Computing), and even take software — including binaries — away from the users. This make such systems ripe for abuse and we constantly see reports of abuses, ranging from spying, selling of personal data, and addition of malicious features through software updates one cannot decline (programs are stored on servers). This affects everyone who uses the Web, e.g. to pay bills, so often enough no choice on the matter is even given. We are losing a fight for control over our computing.

Increasingly, paying or non-paying customers become the product, whereas real clients become those who want to control us (nosy oppressive governments, marketing companies that want to sell us stuff we neither need nor naturally want, and financial firms which assess risk based on our private lives, e.g. health condition).

Free software is not enough to fight away this trend, but it sure can help. These are the sorts of issues that fall under the umbrella of tech or digital rights. We, ‘mere mortals’, are losing power as corporations (superorganisms) gain power. They have architecture-wise instated a system and perfected instruments like patents (enforced by the system) to further limit people’s ability to compete. To give an example, Novell signed a patent deal by which it uses its patents to claim ‘safe’ ownership of software that many people created for free, rendering these people ‘infingers’. That was just seriously outrageous. It needed to be countered and Novell is no more.

Techrights uses various bits of Free software to serve web pages. Our IRC channls have become more than the typical type of thing. Free software improves the experience in the sense that it adds live updates.

Twitfolk for identi.ca, once developed here in the UK (at a company with a few people I know), helps syndicate blogs in real time.

Tony Manco from Canada wrote a bot which helps manage our IRC channels and Toby, who lives near Tony, improved it to further suit our needs.

There is also offline software. For the past four and a half years, for example, we have used the same Python program to produce thousands of IRC logs. My wife and I plan to add some more features to it and then release that as Free software. It’s work in progress.

It is fun to write about Free software and especially fun releasing new software at the same time. Everything in the site is done using Free software. Most posts are written in Android, too (since a couple of months ago).

Some people still ask, what are the site’s goals? Well, in general, given enough time the scope would have included privacy, net neutrality, copyright etc. (part of our tech rights, which help preserve or advance human rights) but we just post timely links about those subjects (daily links) without further commentary, while primarily focusing on patents, competition barriers, and sometimes censorship if it relates to proprietary software rather than politics. Techrights was never entirely focused on Free software, not because it’s not important but because it’s part of a broader picture which includes open data, access, networks, etc. Competition (if fair) and collaboration drive innovation; protectionism like patents is a barrier. Actually, we increasingly find that — particularly in the smartphones market — companies collude, which is another form or typical phenomenon where competition is being subverted. It does not deal with the licences of software (FOSS or proprietary) although GPLv3 helps address some issues. Linux is not enough and Free software is not enough either. Companies that use both, e.g. IBM, are part of the problem and Google goes down a similar route because it hired patent lawyers who push in this direction. We have explained how the interests of lawyers often supersede those of developers whom they claim to ‘protect’.

Techrights in colour

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 Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts