12.04.14

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Microsoft .NET Still a Patent Trap, Many Bamboozled by Media-Coordinating Announcement

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like Microsoft’s OOXML (“open” only by name), .NET remains a patent liability and an attempt to ‘standardise’ lock-in

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Summary: Microsoft’s openwashing of proprietary lock-in serves to bamboozle much of the technical media, including some who support Free/libre software

A few weeks ago we wrote about what was essentially the openwashing of .NET lock-in with remaining patent threats (if one forks/deviates). It is the same thing with Mono; when the Mono boosters claimed that Microsoft had promised them patent peace they neglected to say that it assumed no deviation from Microsoft’s “true” .NET. It’s “look but don’t touch”, or “touch and get sued”. Always remember Java’s situation and Oracle attacking Dalvik through Google. There was a patent lawsuit despite Java being FOSS and Oracle being a member of OIN. Promises are not necessarily legally-binding. Few people bothered to read the fine prints. It is the same with .NET (both then and now) and no matter what the press says (we lost count of how many deceiving articles were published), .NET is still private and closed; Microsoft totally controls it.

A fortnight ago Microsoft showed us that it tries to control GNU/Linux through Windows, Hyper-V, and Azure. Even Docker is now being EEE’d. There should be no confusion about Microsoft’s interests here. There is no ambiguity. It is about imposing Microsoft’s agenda on everyone, including the competition.

That said, even some FOSS people helped Microsoft’s openwashing of .NET last month. The Linux Foundation helped openwashing of Microsoft by promoting Microsoft’s message (giving it a platform). How gullible can one get?

Along the way we also found nonsense headlines that misinform the public and some came from FOSS sites and blogs (not just Microsoft apologists). “Missing facts,” a reader of ours labelled it. “The closing sentence is spot on though,” he added.

Links like the above are easy to debunk. Microsoft is now trying to impose patent lockin on the world. There are lapses in the so-called “promise”, so it is not good, except for Microsoft.

IDG and other Microsoft-grooming media following the usual routine for the sponsor, Microsoft. Here is a disgusting puff piece from IDG in NZ about Microsoft blessing itself. There was a similar piece elsewhere in the country. Here is more from ZDNet (CBS), which played a significant role in the openwashing of .NET. Suffice to see, it was easy to find also in Microsoft boosting sites masquerading as “development” sites (we named them before), the ECT network, and Microsoft-affiliated sites (we gave some examples last month).

What we have here is Microsoft’s attempt to make .NET the ‘standard’. As we were reminded the other day, standards can be used as a weapon and we already saw Microsoft doing that to ODF by trying to pretend OOXML was on equal footing. “My humble experience in the field of digital standards,” explains a key person from the Document Foundation, “makes me think that no standard is ever innocent, not in itself but by the intent of its authors or implementors. Even a nice and deeply useful standard such as ODF is a big stone thrown in the backyard of Microsoft.”

For Microsoft, the goal is to hurt Java and Eclipse, not to promote .NET based on any real merit. .NET is not Free software and Microsoft reserves the right to sue using patents. Yes, there is still a very obvious patent threat if one does not use the implementation of Microsoft. We found this out thanks to some legal analysis that received little or no media coverage, after we had discovered the same thing in relation to the useless promise for Mono some years back. As some people pointed out in Ubuntu Forums, Microsoft made similar promises with regards to FAT but later sued or extorted many companies, starting with TomTom 5.5 years ago. Here is a useful reminder:

Microsoft decided a long time ago that its battle for world domination would be fought with patents. They published the specs for FAT, remember. Then years later they began suing everyone who used it. Open sourcing .net is just inviting people to paint a target on their backs.

The analogy is useful. To embrace .NET as though it’s “open” and “safe” is about as clueless as adopting exFAT and other such patent traps. As long as the US has patents on software, genetics, etc. (these patents are spreading to other nations) .NET is definitely dangerous. Ignore the openwashing.

The reality of the matter is, as even a Microsoft booster (Tim Anderson) put it, development on Windows remains a fragmented experience [via] and to quote Anderson himself, “recent post by Microsoft’s WPF team, and the comments it provoked, has revealed the unhappy state of Windows desktop development. Presented as a roadmap, the post promises investment in WPF to improve performance, DirectX interoperability, tooling, and support for touch input and high density displays.”

Do not rely on Microsoft for development tools. There is no compelling reason to believe that .NET (just like WPF or DirectX) is cross-platform and the development tools are as proprietary as they can get.

.NET is the proprietary software choice, nothing whatsoever to do with openness.

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