Summary: Yahoo is left with no real capacity to provide search results of its own; Microsoft elongates the pain with another one-way (self-serving) deal
Yahoo is an excellent example of the toll of Microsoft’s behaviour. Many people lost their job, as I explained yesterday morning in a one-hour interview with a technology journalist. According to the news, Yahoo fell deeper into Microsoft’s trap, which will probably result in yet more cuts, affecting customers too (will Flicker be next to get shut down?). To quote: “Yahoo signed a deal with Microsoft in 2009 that came into force the following year and effectively turned Yahoo from an internet search engine provider into an advertising broker, with Microsoft’s Bing providing Yahoo’s internet search engine. The two firms signed a 10 year deal with exclusivity clauses that can be exited during the term, however Microsoft has signed a deal to continue being Yahoo’s exclusive search engine provider.
“There are other such search engines which use Microsoft results without it appearing so to the user.”“Tucked into Yahoo’s 10-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft’s decision to renew also revealed some interesting terms of the deal. For example, Microsoft gets just 12 percent of revenue generated by its search results, an amount that could decrease to seven percent if Microsoft doesn’t renew what Yahoo calls its “sales exclusivity for premium search advertisers”.”
There are other such search engines which use Microsoft results without it appearing so to the user. It is an effective strategy for Microsoft. Facebook is another example because Facebook shares its data with Microsoft, one of the most influential shareholders.
Yahoo is hijacked to very high a degree. iophk says “Yahoo is mostly a shell of a company now. It’s a bit like Nokia” (see our Nokia pages).
“Wait until the revisionists tell us that Yahoo killed itself.”Google’s Mayer made a last attempt to rescue Yahoo after Yahoo nearly signed a Google deal (Microsoft used AstroTurfers to covertly prevent this). Here is another report, stating that “Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer has attempted unsuccessfully to unravel a 10-year search-advertising pact with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) in favor of a deal with Google Inc. (GOOG), according to people familiar with the matter.”
Nokia is going down the same road as Yahoo. Microsoft killed it. What went wrong with MeeGo? Microsoft bribed Nokia, put a mole in it, then ‘lost interest’ in MeeGo (the Microsoft alter-ego). Now it’s a patent trolls feeder for Microsoft. Watch this revisionism from TechRadar (often a source of FUD and bait headlines that hurt Linux). That’s not how most of us remember it. In fact, Nokia’s Linux-based handsets continued to outsell the Windows ones long after the Microsoft deal had been signed. Wait until the revisionists tell us that Yahoo killed itself. Revisionists did that to Netscape. █
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Summary: Western Digital and other hardware companies help turn general-purpose machinery into Windows-expecting machinery
Our criticism of UEFI Restricted Boot is not just to do with GNU/Linux and BSD. It’s to do with a troubling trend where hardware gets closely tied to software. It’s an artificial limitation which is dangerous and costly. Tech tabloid ZDNet has this post which says “ARM now recommends UEFI as the preferred boot loader for its 64-bit processors that are based on the ARMv8 AArch64 architecture, silicon that is finding its way into all sorts of devices, from smartphones to servers and introduced a new raft of features, including a larger register file, enhanced addressing range and support for cryptography instructions.”
“With FAT preinstalled, Microsoft comes knocking to demand payments, even if support for FAT is implemented by Linux.”This is not good. And not just because of Microsoft. On devices there is no option for disabling Restricted Boot. Microsoft can exploit that for unfair advantage, or an antitrust violation. Moreover, says Claudio in D*, “First it was Winmodems, and now it’s Windrives? WTF?!? This is 2013, guys.”
To quote the article he references: “PC makers using the Black SSHD will be able to choose between WD’s proprietary driver and one provided by Intel. The drivers behave similarly, according to Rutledge, but they’re not identical. The WD driver was developed in-house and works with both Windows 7 and 8. In an interesting twist, that driver also employs system memory as part of the caching scheme. We’ll probably have to wait until the Haswell launch next month to find out exactly what Intel is bringing to the table.” (source)
As TomTom found out, there is another problem with storage devices. With FAT preinstalled, Microsoft comes knocking to demand payments, even if support for FAT is implemented by Linux. There is also preinstalled NTFS on Seagate, which makes it no better than Western Digital with built-in DRM (all magnetic drives seem to be Microsoft-infected). These are issues we need to protest against. It’s the beginning of the slippery slope. Hardware, unlike software. cannot be re-imaged (like replacing Windows with GNU/Linux). █
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New Zealand’s geographical landscape still far better than its patent landscape
Summary: Reservations against excessive optimism that lead to passiveness and apathy; a loophole for software patenting in NZ (same as in EU) remains in tact and the Bill is not yet passed, leaving time for further amendments
The debate over software patents in New Zealand will not be finished by a Craig Foss admission that has was wrong. For one thing, the new Bill has not been signed yet; moreover, loopholes remain for patenting software in the island. One report sarcastically says that NZ had to ban software patents twice, not just once. To quote: “The software patentability row in New Zealand, which broke out last August over the wording of new patent legislation, seems to have been settled with the release of new legislation by the government.
“For one thing, the new Bill has not been signed yet; moreover, loopholes remain for patenting software in the island.”“In a move that’s been welcomed locally by the IT industry, the government has clarified the original intention of the legislation, that software alone should not be patentable.”
This other report gives not the full story, but being Forbes, we don’t have high expectations to begin with. It says: “In a bill passed earlier today, the Government of New Zealand announced that software in the country will no longer be patentable. New Zealand’s largest IT representative body, the Institute of IT Professionals, expressed relief and said the decision removed a major barrier to software-led innovation.”
Here is the Supplementary Order Paper, which InternetNZ welcomes. To quote: “InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) welcomes today’s tabling of a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) that makes it clear that computer software is not patentable in New Zealand.”
This is tabled, not passed. Moreover, explains Glyn Moody, the "as such" loophole remains and to use his own words: “Given all the problems with the phrase “as such”, it would have been easier to omit it completely, rather than resort to well-meaning but necessarily limited attempts to clarify it through examples.”
Here is IDG’s report and another from a local competitor with no US ties. There are many reports which emphasise the bill has not passed yet (the corporate press got it wrong). Here is a particulary good report from a very bright reporter.
Is the US next? Unlikely, not any time soon! The USPTO still enjoys the consent from large corporations that run the nation, so trolls (small entities) are the only element primed for abolition. But a group of VCs, including Brad Feld, is still working on real reform — a reform which tar gets software patents. To quote Feld: “Fred Wilson, Brad Burnham, Jason Mendelson, and I have been talking about the problem of software patents for a long time and Fred brought it up again today on his blog in a post titled Piecemeal Patent Reform. It’s nice to see Senator Chuck Schumer proposing a simple yet powerful solution to part of the software patent problem.”
Schumer, whom we mentioned the other day, is one of the few who actually do this correctly this time around (not like his last time [1, 2], this time he is not running just after trolls). Let’s support his endeavour. █
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Barnes and Noble: From hero to zero; Legitimising Microsoft FUD rather than challenging it, eventually selling out
Summary: The Barnes and Noble (B & N) saga continues following disclosure of a typically-NDA’d nastygram and a formal complaint to the government
There have been little concrete exhibits which show how much Microsoft profits from Android patent extortion. The figures may be negligible, but the goal of Microsoft is to discourage use of Android, not just to tax it. FUD has been a tool of choice. It’s effective to a degree, but it has hardly stopped Android’s explosive growth.
“Barnes & Noble was essentially passed a large bribe after it litigated against Microsoft’s extortion of Android (reverse-SLAPP by Microsoft).”There is this new post which attempts to quantity the cost of extortion. “Microsoft has had trouble getting people to use its Windows Phone operating systems, however, it might make as much as $3.4 billion on Android phones,” Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes.
This is based on conjectures and speculations. We oughtn’t help legitimise those. Remember the FUD about royalties allegedly paid by HTC [1, 2].
One should generally avoid certain companies not for paying Microsoft for Linux but for legitimising the claim that Linux has a debt to Microsoft. It’s a crucial point to grasp.
There is an interesting twist in the business of B & N, which we coincidentally wrote about earlier this week. “Shares of Barnes & Noble skyrocketed in early trading on Thursday after a report said Microsoft was offering $1 billion for the digital assets of the bookseller’s e-reader business.” That is what the trend-setting media says. Recall that “Microsoft already owns about 17.6 percent of the Nook division, having paid $300 million last year. According to TechCrunch, the company would seek to take over the unit’s e-books and devices operations.”
Barnes & Noble was essentially passed a large bribe after it litigated against Microsoft's extortion of Android (reverse-SLAPP by Microsoft). This was a threat to the perceived legitimacy of the extortion, so Microsoft paid up for the silence. Corruption indeed. Followed by coverup. There is not much for B & N to gain except money and in fact it continues to sell Android devices, not Windows. We showed it earlier in the week. Microsoft may already be extorting those devices through complicated-to-analyse extortion deals which target the manufacturer.
Swapnil Bhartiya, writing about AstroTurfing by Microsoft (“perception management”), has this to say: “The amount of resources Microsoft is investing in PR stunts – whether it be bogus patent signing deals with Android players (which could be about things like FAT partitions – B&N case already showed that all of Microsoft’s accusations were bogus and bluff and that’s why the company settled out side the court just before it moved forward and ‘paid’ B&N in the name of ‘investment) or these ad campaigns. The amount of experience Microsoft is gaining in smear campaigns Microsoft may actually have a better career as a video ad company than a software maker.”
Fortunately, the three Android tablets that my parents and I use are not part of the patent extortion blanket of Microsoft. Vote with your wallet and never buy anything at all from Barnes and Noble. it’s the only way for your voice to count. █
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Summary: Misinformation and selective reporting on software risks sometimes come from Microsoft-tied firms
There seems to have been a growing level of deception/reality distortion field, seeking to establish a consensus that FOSS is dangerous to adopt (security and compliance are the two strands). This distortion of the truth, or accentuation of perceived pitfalls, is nothing new. The recent growth, however, is noteworthy. Maybe it is proportional to the growth of FOSS, which is viewed as an opportunity for proprietary software houses like Black Duck to cash in on. Not just Microsoft-connected entities are part of this (Black Duck is Microsoft-connected in several ways). Lesser known firms, White Source and others, are starting to show up. We do not know the professional background of the managers there, but none of these firms can be described as FOSS-oriented.
“This distortion of the truth, or accentuation of perceived pitfalls, is nothing new.”Univa and Sonatype are some of the examples we named more recently because they helped generate FOSS-hostile coverage using the ‘risk’ theme. I saw about 4 such articles in the past 2 weeks (omitting stories about the same topic), which is far more than the average. I’ve watched this closely for almost a decade.
IDG repeatedly posted (in several sites) some article which cites/references/promotes OpenLogic, a company run by a Microsoft veteran who started it. It also quotes him and describes his ventures as follows: “Steven Grandchamp has seen companies face serious problems because of lax oversight of open-source software.”
“A lot of information about FOSS these days is being manufactured by proprietary entities, some of which are founded and run by people from Microsoft.”So he worked for Microsoft and then decided to change careers to focus on proprietary software which makes FOSS look bad. The proprietary code analysers are being openwashed by stating that they are being used on FOSS and one report about it says: “The service, which began as the largest public-private sector research project focused on open source software integrity, was initiated between Coverity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006 and is now managed by Coverity.”
Coverity is not a foe of FOSS and much of its output has been favourable to FOSS. However, let us not lose sight of motives, which are quite independent from truth. A lot of information about FOSS these days is being manufactured by proprietary entities, some of which are founded and run by people from Microsoft. Opportunism? That might be an understatement. They mostly legitimise the fiction that proprietary software comes with no risk (e.g. licenses expiration, projects dying, going the wrong way), whereas it’s FOSS — only FOSS — that involves high risk. █
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“Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company, declared a profit of $4.5 billion in 1998; when the cost of options awarded that year, plus the change in the value of outstanding options, is deducted, the firm made a loss of $18 billion, according to Smithers.”
–The Economist, 1999
Summary: Fraudulent firm Goldman Sachs is where Microsoft gets its next CFO from (C*O-level master of accounting at the relative young age of 41); reminder of the dark (but censored) history of accounting practices at Microsoft
here have been shades of Enron at Microsoft, with whistleblowers already alleging financial fraud at the abusive, dishonest monopolist which employed them. Microsoft paid millions of dollars for such whistleblowers to shut up after they had complained and later Microsoft settled with the prosecutors (another bribe). This has not the hallmark of a company that does remarkably well. In the US, quite famously, large corporations including oil giants are receiving government subsidies (taxpayers’ money or deeper national debt). It is marketed as necessary to protect “national interests” or “national security” (the latter usually applies to surveillance and military force). Remember how Goldman Sachs and other rogue financial firms got bailed out by taxpayers’ money that those taxpayers don’t even have (thus contributing to national debt rather than corporate debt). It’s debt-shifting. Anyway, the point to be made here that a lot of institutionalised corruption is going on, and it is going on unpunished. It’s a systemic issue. The existence of this issue need not be met with disbelief.
“In the US, quite famously, large corporations including oil giants are receiving government subsidies (taxpayers’ money or deeper national debt).”“Microsoft on Wednesday named Amy Hood its new chief financial officer, effective immediately,” says IDG. Watch the urgency: “Hood was promoted from CFO of the Microsoft Business Division (MBD). She replaces outgoing CFO Peter Klein, whom Microsoft would stay at the company through the end of June “to ensure a smooth transition.””
Where did Hood come from? Well, here goes IDG again: “Hood, 41, joined Microsoft’s investor relations team in 2002 after working as an investment banker and capital markets analyst at Goldman Sachs.”
We wrote about Goldman Sachs‘s connections with Microsoft several times before. Remember that Microsoft already bribed Klein and his predecessor [1, 2] (the last two CFOs) to keep silent about what they had seen. iophk, who is older than the new Microsoft CFO, says that Microsoft “ran a loss recently in spite of Enron accounting. Seems to have been going on since 1998″ (he cites The Economist for support).
“It’s noteworthy that Microsoft ran a loss in 1998, but then changed it’s accounting to cover the loss.”
–iophkBe sceptical of Microsoft financial figures because we know damn well (it is easily provable) that it lies about software ‘sales’ all the time. Insiders from Microsoft already told the world that Microsoft cheats in its financial reports. Microsoft bribed to silence them all. It’s the usual financial distortion of Microsoft profit reports and information about profits. When it comes to Vista 8, the real numbers are estimated to be just half what Microsoft claims them to be.
“It’s noteworthy that Microsoft ran a loss in 1998, but then changed it’s accounting to cover the loss. Now, even with the new accounting, it’s running a loss that it can’t cover up,” concludes iophk. Yes, Microsoft reported losses. █
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