Summary: Samba, which denounced Novell for its Microsoft patent deal, is derailing Microsoft’s CIFS monopoly and now Active Directory monopoly, owing to EU regulatory, corrective intervention
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC, two firms that work together to create propaganda and scaremongering (one is lobbying and policing, whereas the other controls the press), seem to be suggesting that their client, Microsoft, is the victim in all that so-called ‘piracy’. The Microsoft booster has a new report which says:
Microsoft licence cops kick in TWICE as many customers’ doors as rivals
Redmond’s compliance troops swooped on 51 per cent of enterprises and partners polled for the 2012 Software Pricing and Licensing Survey by IDC and sponsored by Flexera Software.
Those “Microsoft licence cops” are the BSA. What’s interesting here is that Microsoft mouthpieces try to scare more businesses into paying Microsoft. Now is a good time to evade Microsoft lock-in and EU action helped in that regard.
Due to antitrust violations, Microsoft was forced to concede its CIFS monopoly, even though some Microsoft proxies want to sabotage that. Here is some of the better coverage we found that’s also applicable to the news:
In an elegant bit of definitional creativity, the United Kingdom Cabinet Office has come up with an answer to this conundrum. Their achievement can be found in a document titled Open Standards Principles: For software interoperability, data and document formats in government IT specifications. What the authors have pulled off involves a bit of clever time travel, transferring the costs of later breaking the hold of a proprietary vendor back to the initial bidding process, and grossing up the vendor’s bid accordingly.
In other words, when an IT contract is put out for bid, a respondent that does not intend to deliver products that comply with “open standards,” as defined by the Principles, must include a fair estimate of the government’s later switching costs into the vendor’s initial bid, as if those costs would need to be paid at the time of procurement rather at the time of product replacement. The result is that a vendor responding with a bid to provide products compliant with open standards would be at a substantial advantage to a vendor offering only its own proprietary offerings.
Moreover, the definition of open standards included is the kind that precludes charging for Essential Claims or inclusion of licensing terms that would preclude implementation in open source software.
The elegance of the approach is that it provides proprietary vendors that have to date provided only half-way compliance with open standards, or locked in their customers by adding proprietary extensions to existing standards, will now have immediate incentives to fully comply with the type of standards that are most effective to avoid vendor lock in.
The Foreword to the Principles makes no attempt to disguise the fact that breaking the hold of large, proprietary vendors on government customers was a major goal in crafting the Principles, while at the same time creating more commercial opportunities for small and medium size businesses.
As one might imagine, the public comment period that preceded the release of the final version of the Principles attracted a broad and energetic range of responses. All of this input was taken into account, but despite substantial pressure from some commercial interests, the Cabinet Office held firm on its key terms.
If you’re just a desktop or home user (like me), probably your only contact with Samba has been when you wanted to share files over a network between your Linux PC and a Windows PC. But if you’re an enterprise user, this is Big News. A huge number of corporate systems rely upon Active Directory, and up until now, you had to buy Microsoft’s server software. Not any more.
The release of Samba 4 will no doubt cut into Windows server business somewhat, but its interoperability capabilities will ease administrative and vendor support costs and preserve Windows servers and clients in the long run as open source transforms enterprise computing
Anti-trust settlements are not just meant to punish corporations that abuse their dominant market position, they are also meant to remedy the abuse and restore competition to the affected market. In the real world, this rarely happens. But Samba version 4, released yesterday, could become one of the first open source projects to deliver an effective remedy.
“Even Microsoft welcome Samba4 on their blog,” Jeremy Allison writes about their spin blog. Remember that Microsoft was merely complying with orders, it’s nothing to do with goodwill. Microsoft denied Samba’s requests for many years, allowing itself to harm many businesses in the interim. █