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03.12.16

Growing Awareness of Microsoft’s Campaign Against Linux, Based on Poor Quality Software Patents and Secret Settlements

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 5:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights at Reddit

Summary: Articles that we published about the past week’s Microsoft shakedowns (targeting Linux with software patents) are receiving unprecedented traffic levels

TECHRIGHTS is gratified to see that shortly after writing 3 articles about Microsoft’s latest anti-Linux patent deals [1, 2, 3] there is a Web-wide debate about it, and it extended far beyond the GNU/Linux world. The various threads about it are approaching 1,000 comments in all sorts of sites (hard to keep up with it all) and people express their justified anger at Microsoft.

“The various threads about it are approaching 1,000 comments in all sorts of sites (hard to keep up with it all) and people express their justified anger at Microsoft.”Yesterday we noticed this a angle getting press coverage in Germany. To quote: “Microsoft hat zwei Patentabkommen geschlossen, die sich auf Technologien beziehen, die in Linux und Android verwendet werden. Darauf weist Roy Schestowitz vom Techrights-Blog in einem Beitrag hin. Zwar versuche Microsoft derzeit, sich als besonders Linux-freundlich zu inszenieren, so Schestowitz, an der Praxis der Geltendmachung von Patentrechten gegenüber Linux und Android habe sich aber nichts geändert.”

An English-speaking news site wrote yesterday that “not all strands of the open source community are welcoming the open source-Microsoft rapprochement. Christine Hall at FOSS Force filed an analysis this week in which she wrote that Microsoft’s moves “are based solely on greed” and represent a “one-way street” to drive more business for Microsoft.

“Make a lot of money without lifting a finger, basically just sending a flow of patent applications, at the cost of millions, in order to earn billions from companies that actually make things“Similarly, Roy Schestowitz, one of the staunchest of the younger new generation of open source acolytes, writes that Microsoft has “blackmailed Linux.”

“At first glance, criticisms like these may seem merely to reflect deep-seated misgivings toward Microsoft on the part of open source fans who represent the more ideological part of the open source community. It would be easy to write them off as radical viewpoints with little mainstream significance.”

For those who don’t know enough about the controversy, the gist of it is that Microsoft wishes to:

  • Make Linux more expensive
  • Get leverage over Linux development/distribution, using threat of expensive litigation, in order to make Microsoft’s proprietary software (sometimes malware/spyware) preinstalled, e.g. on Android
  • Make a lot of money without lifting a finger, basically just sending a flow of patent applications, at the cost of millions, in order to earn billions from companies that actually make things

“It’s a scorpion or a snake in the parable sense.”Yesterday we mentioned Simon Phipps’ IDG article about this. Shortly afterwards, accompanying his IDG article (maybe stating what’s not suitable for publication there) Phipps released this piece in his personal blog and said: “I went to the Microsoft press release page looking for the news about Linux support for SQL Server and joining Eclipse. Much to my surprise, there was nothing there. But there was something else; a press release celebrating the signing of another Linux user into Microsoft’s patent licensing regime and another celebrating an Android patent win. Nothing about SQL Server, Eclipse or any other positive open source engagement.

“I’ll set aside the issues of the validity of software patents, or of the applicability of Microsoft’s portfolio of them to Linux, although both have real and significant issues. The surprise arises from my own experiences at Sun.”

This came after I had exchanged some words with Phipps, who concluded with: “That’s why I’ve written in InfoWorld a call for Microsoft to join OIN. Please join me in answering every Microsoft announcement related to open source with “But have they joined OIN yet?” until they do.”

They probably never will. It’s not in their nature. It’s a scorpion or a snake in the parable sense.

Earlier today, linking to a pro-Microsoft site, we noticed this Reddit post titled “Raining on the Parade: Microsoft shakes down company over Linux infringing patents” (a lot of the media overlooked this at the time because of plenty of distraction). There are now nearly a dozen Reddit posts linking to Techrights in relation to this topic (here is just one of them). Even Soylent News covered this earlier today by taking stock of Phipps’ article and ours:

Simon Phipps comments on Microsoft’s latest antics in regards to open source. Specifically, while the public is distracted by show, Microsoft is shaking down the Android/Linux and GNU/Linux communities for patent licenses.

Phipps asserts that it’s time for them to put up or shut up by either joining the OIN or admitting that they can’t be trusted in the open source community they now claim to love.

Roy Schestowitz has some harsher words on the same topic, noting that the media is ignoring malicious actions in favor of paying attention to the public relations campaign.

While the OIN cannot protect against NPE’s aka patent trolls, it is created for just this kind of situation and choosing to join — or not — sends a very clear message about their intentions towards the community.

“We hope that our few articles on the topic of Microsoft and GNU/Linux will be enough to leave a lot of people with sobering balance and a broader perspective on things.”There are many comments in there, including: “Simon has written more over at his personal blog. He asks people to join him in answering every M$ announcement related to open source with “But have they joined OIN yet? [webmink.com]” until they actually do. M$ can’t expect to carry on patent shakedowns and also be respected as an open source peer.

“Maybe joining OIN would work, but I’d rather seen M$ fold financially and their remaining assets seized. Nothing they have is needed or even advantageous to open source or free software. The world is better off without them. Certainly technology would be much further advanced. The decades of damage they have done to the software industry in general cannot be undone quickly or easily, even if they were to start in earnest, which they haven’t. But that complaint aside, I agree with Simon. The only way they can show that they are there to work with open source rather than against it would be to join the OIN.”

“This leads people closer to the truth.”There are currently close to 800 comments in Reddit about Techrights‘ latest article (I cannot recall ever attracting this many comments for one single article). FOSS Force has just said: “Although Microsoft mainly succeeded in its attempts to hijack the FOSS news scene this week by spreading open source love — better than spreading FUD, I guess — there was plenty of FOSS news happening away from the Redmond campus. Even Microsoft with all its billions, it seems, isn’t large enough to monopolize all of the news in the big, wide and wonderful world of FOSS.”

We hope that our few articles on the topic of Microsoft and GNU/Linux will be enough to leave a lot of people with sobering balance and a broader perspective on things. Microsoft is not a friend and we estimate that nearly a million people have come across our posts regarding Microsoft’s latest patent bullying. This leads people closer to the truth.

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