09.27.08

Google’s Get the Facts Website

Posted in America, Antitrust, Deals, Google, Marketing, Microsoft, Search at 4:44 pm by Shane Coyle

So, now Google finds itself facing criticism as folks air their antitrust concerns regarding their proposed advertising deal with Yahoo!, and have decided the best method of countering those arguments is with their very own “Get the Facts” style website.

This arrangement is not a merger, nor a joint venture. It is much simpler than that – it is a non-exclusive agreement to supply advertising. Yahoo! remains free to enter into similar agreements with other advertising providers, including Microsoft. In addition, Yahoo! will maintain relationships with its own advertising customers and will continue to rely exclusively on its own advertising program outside of the U.S. and Canada.

The agreement has a term of up to ten years: a 4-year initial term and two 3-year renewals at Yahoo!’s option.

As noted by Shaun Nichols at vnunet.com, Google also takes the time to specifically take Microsoft to task for what they characterize as “political attacks” incited by Microsoft’s failure to acquire Yahoo! earlier this year.

The Google website also notes that, although they do not believe regulatory blessing is required, Yahoo! and Google are delaying implementation of the deal to allow for the U.S. Department of Justice, and possibly States’ Attorney Generals, to review the deal and have their concerns about the effect on competition assuaged.

It just seems humorous to me that Google is hitting back at Microsoft using their own methods and tactics. Well, except for the chair throwing anyhow.

Judge Finds Microsoft (Un)Documentation Unimpressive

Posted in America, Antitrust, Courtroom, Interoperability, Law, Microsoft, Windows at 12:19 pm by Shane Coyle

Microsoft’s U.S. Antitrust Proceedings Continue… Seriously?

According to published reports, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotell has ruled that Microsoft is still behind in fulfilling its obligations to the court in regard to documenting their APIs and protocols, some of which are nearly five years overdue now.

In the wake of antitrust actions, documentation of Microsoft technologies has become a method of allaying the concerns of legal authorities in both the US and EU. By providing documentation of the APIs and protocols used by its products, Microsoft would not only allow third-party and open-source software to interact better with Windows and other software, but potentially enable them to write replacements, in whole or in part, for Microsoft products. This, in theory, would enable more software companies to compete on equal terms with Redmond.

Unfortunately, the company has consistently had trouble with producing complete and useful documentation. As noted above, the company struggled to satisfy EU authorities that it was complying with the agreement—that was 2006. By 2008, documentation was rearing its ugly head in the US court system. Microsoft’s consent decree with the federal and state attorneys general was set to expire, and most of the conditions were allowed to. But Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is overseeing the consent decree, ruled that Microsoft still hadn’t sufficiently documented some protocols, despite those documents having been due in 2003. As a result, the consent decree will remain in place at least until November of 2009.

"At least until November 2009", because as Judge Kollar-Kotelly also said that she is inclined to not lift the consent degree at that time unless Microsoft has brought themselves into compliance. It’s somewhat baffling that Microsoft is unable or unwilling to fulfill these requirements, but I also must admit that I have some questions regarding what these “overview” and “system” documents are supposed to be, exactly.

Meanwhile, at least some folks who are involved in the process are becoming a bit frustrated, questioning Microsoft’s commitment to the process and whether they even understand the gravity of the situation.

“I have to express my concern with this attitude that they’re behaving as a volunteer,” said Jay Himes, the antitrust bureau chief for the New York attorney general’s office. “It fosters this sort of grudging commitment to get the system documents done.”

He said the technical committee’s implementation group has been called off all other tasks to support the template effort, and the committee dedicated more than 150 hours to meetings about the templates just last week.

“What we have today is the (technical committee) and its staff spoon-feeding the world’s biggest PC company,” he said. “Something about that just isn’t right.”

Representatives for Microsoft said the company is very committed to finishing the templates and the system documents. The company has assigned a significant number of senior engineers on the template project, said Bob Muglia, Microsoft’s senior vice president of servers and tools.

“We understand that is a requirement,” said Charles Rule, an attorney for Microsoft. “The delays have not been as a result of Microsoft taking a lackadaisical attitude,”

Still, Kollar-Kotelly questioned Microsoft’s commitment.

“I do appreciate that these things are complex, but I think it’s interesting the (technical committee) is able to do what’s necessary and bring Microsoft along, and not the other way around,” she said.

So, according to these legal folks, they are saying that there’s a group outside of Redmond which is able to understand and implement their own APIs and protocols, even with non-existent or poorly created documentation? Sorry, I just don’t believe it. And I certainly can’t believe that Microsoft would do anything to willingly distort and⁄or delay the legal process.

I think I need to add a Sarcasm category to supplement our humor one… but, seriously, why is Microsoft still unable or unwilling to comply with what seems to be the final hurdle in this saga? I mean, this has to be a lot easier than being broken up into two seperate companies, no?

09.26.08

A Triumph for Common Sense in the Patent System

Posted in Courtroom, Dell, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 11:25 pm by Shane Coyle

Those were the words of Microsoft counsel Tom Burt, regarding the upholding of a previous ruling overturning the $1.5B Alcatel-Lucent v. Microsoft patent infringement judgment.

Curiously, according to the Associated Press article, it appears that Microsoft willingly stepped in to this conflict as a defendant after Lucent Technologies filed suit against PC manufacturers Dell and Gateway.

In February 2007, a jury in U.S. District Court in San Diego determined Microsoft infringed on two patents that cover the encoding and decoding of audio into the digital MP3 format, a popular way to convert music from CDs into files on computers and vice versa.

Six months later, the judge who presided over the case, Rudi M. Brewster, vacated the ruling, saying Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software does not infringe on one of the two patents in question.

Brewster, siding with Microsoft, also said the second patent is jointly owned by both Alcatel-Lucent and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a German company that Microsoft paid $16 million in exchange for use of the technology. Since Fraunhofer did not sue Microsoft, the Redmond, Wash.-based software maker was in the clear.

The MP3 patent claims were just two of 15 made by Lucent Technologies Inc. in 2003 against PC makers Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, Lucent’s research arm.

Later that year, Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system. France’s Alcatel bought Lucent in 2006.

So, Microsoft are the (sorta) good guys here? I’m at a loss for words, but good for them I guess.

I find it a bit funny that they didn’t try to argue that software is not a component, and that there needs to be a device for a patent, like they had previously.

Once upon a time, I somewhat jokingly had speculated about Microsoft trying to “pull a Goo-Tube” and step in with their deep pockets when they saw decent technologies were about to be assailed with spurious patent claims – maybe it was more true than I ever thought?

Probably not likely, but what do you think? Tellme.

Novell’s Got the NAC

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Novell, Security, Standard, Windows at 10:42 am by Shane Coyle

But not for Linux… yet

It appears that Novell’s ZENworks is gaining some Network Access Control (NAC) functionality, a product of their Senforce acquisition. As Sean Michael Kerner points out over at Enterprise Networking Planet, there is some confusion about Novell’s NAC implementation as it relates to Linux. Specifically, at this point, Novell is not supporting Linux endpoints – not SUSE, no one.

Apparently, it was a ‘business decision’ to go forward with a mainly Windows-compatible feature set, despite the fact that the NAC is actually running on a Linux kernel, albeit a customized non-SUSE one. I guess that Novell doesn’t see much of a Linux market out there, which is weird because it appears that Red Hat does.

The surprises don’t end there. Although ZENworks NAC is built on top of a Linux kernel, it does not actually support the OS as an enforcement endpoint. Ferre explained that Linux support wasn’t a priority because Novell sees a higher demand for Windows-compatible solutions, owing to the density of Windows devices in the enterprise.

“It was a decision on coming to market,” Ferre said. “We needed to either deliver on what is in the most demand and get to market sooner, or we could have held off and release at a later date. Based on where the market is today, we wanted to move forward immediately rather than wait for Linux compatibility.”

Still, he added that Linux support may be in the works.

“We are offering testing capability on Windows and Mac OS X,” Ferre said. “Linux is a logical extension since we have SUSE Linux, and it is something we will be looking at in the near term.”

In addition, the article notes that the ZENworks NAC does not – again “at this point” – support the Trusted Network Content (TNC) standard, something that even Microsoft is apparently doing with their own Network Access Protection (NAP). (Is it really necessary for them to use a seperate, nearly identical, acronym for their offering – what’s wrong with “NAC” Microsoft? Do we need more acronyms for the same thing?) This lack of TNC support is despite the fact that Novell characterizes TNC as a vendor-neutral open standard, and “the way things will go”. Still, TNC compatibility is not yet in the works “at this point”, and Linux support merely “may be” in the works.

It just seems to me like Novell is rushing this product to market, in order to claim “me too!” when other vendors speak of their having Network Access Control products available, and in the process appear to be quite disorganized and give the appearance that Linux endpoints are either few and far between and therefore not worthy of the development investment, or just not a priority to Novell – a self proclaimed “Linux Company”.

This one has them seeming more and more like the “Windows Complement” some had foreseen.

09.25.08

Hello World

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 11:01 pm by Shane Coyle

Howdy, Comrades! It’s Shane, guest-blogging from the new Union of American Socialist States (UASS). As many are aware, I haven’t contributed much here in the previous year or so – save my last cameo appearance when Roy took a well-deserved break, so perhaps there are some folks here who have never heard from me before.

So, please allow myself to introduce… myself. And, yes, this is a completely personal entry – no news or anything, so if you are uninterested you can save yourself a few minutes. I just would feel weird if I started broadcasting into everyone’s RSS readers and they have no bloody idea who I am.
Read the rest of this entry »

10.13.07

No OpenOffice.org Fork, if Sun Relinquishes Control

Posted in Fork, LGPL, Novell, Office Suites, OpenOffice, SUN at 10:09 pm by Shane Coyle

According to a recent blog entry from Paula Rooney, Michael Meeks – the developer at the center of the most recent OpenOffice.org fork rumors – has denied that he intends to fork the project at this time, saying that forking is "not an ideal outcome".

However, Meeks is not ruling out an eventual forking of OOO if Sun refuses to give up its control of the project and establish an independent non-profit foundation to govern it.

Concerns about a possible fork arose because the Go-OO build, an OpenOffice implementation maintained by Meeks and others, decided to include a feature that Sun rejected for inclusion in the next OpenOffice because the developer refused to sign Sun’s contributor agreement.

Meeks said in an interview that it is customary for Go-OO to include new technologies and that the latest build should not be viewed as a fork. But he hinted that a fork is not out of the question if Sun doesn’t loosen its grip on the OpenOffice project.

“It’s clear that if Sun continues to refuse to include changes under their own license then you will see a growing set of changes that can’t be included in OpenOffice, and then we’d see that delta increasing over time. Eventually, users can understand they can get a better OpenOffice than at OpenOffice.org,” Meeks said this week during a telephone interview.

It would appear, that according to Simon Phipps, Sun is at this time content with the changes that they have made in recent weeks – including the replacing of the Contributor Agreement and creation of a Community Advisory Board. Phipps goes on to question Meeks’ motivation for mounting this challenge now, after having been an historical supporter of the contributor agreement.

In his blast at Novell’s Meeks, Phipps points to great strides made by OpenOffice over the past several months, including new participation by Red Flag 2000 and IBM.

“In the midst of all this, I see my friend Michael Meeks has been challenging Sun in a creative way – it even made Slashdot today. I remember the days when Michael used to enthusiastically encourage OpenOffice.org community members to sign the contributor agreement, as recently as last December…,” Phipps wrote on his blog recently, questioning Mr Meeks’ motives. It’s a shame Michael has chosen now – a turning point in OpenOffice.org and a moment when Sun has radically improved the SCA in response to broad feedback from many communities – as a time to mount a fresh challenge to Sun that by implication also harms OpenOffice.org. And when you distill out all the details, that’s what this turns out to be even by Michael’s admission – a competitive issue, not a community one.”

So, it appears that the line in the sand has been drawn between Sun and Meeks, yet we still have not heard anything in an official capacity from Novell. I would expect there to be quite a bit more from both sides on this highly contentious subject in the coming weeks leading up to the first meeting of the Community Advisory Board, and perhaps beyond.

10.12.07

Novell Technology Assurance Program, Microsoft and GPLv3

Posted in Deals, GPL, Intellectual Monopoly, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, Patent Covenant, SLES/SLED at 12:26 am by Shane Coyle

Novell’s PR Blog points out that they have updated their indemnification program, one of the "oldest in the industry". Novell Technology Assurance program, or NTAP, is – oh, well let them introduce themselves…

This protection extends far beyond our broad Novell Indemnification Program; you also benefit from the Novell and Microsoft patent cooperation agreement. It ensures that when you buy any Novell products—whether Linux-based or proprietary—you receive a patent covenant from Microsoft. The Novell Technology Assurance Program also affirms our willingness to use the large Novell software patent portfolio as a deterrent to patent aggression. With the Novell Technology Assurance Program and our ownership of the UNIX copyright, we are able to support our customers with one of the most extensive IP protection offerings in the industry.

So, Novell now wants to remind you they have the double whammy in IP protection – a covenant and patent license for themselves and customers from our friends in Redmond, in addition to ownership of the Unix copyrights. Feel free to go check out the details, but the first thing I clicked on floored me: Microsoft is extending their covenant to GPLv3, once a GPLv3 program is in SUSE Linux Enterprise.

Microsoft has extended its covenant to not sue users of Linux-based products from Novell to all GPL v3 users as soon as GPL v3 code is integrated into SUSE Linux Enterprise. This means that the patent protection Microsoft extends to Novell customers now covers every customer who uses any Linux-based software that Novell distributes under GPL v3.

I’m not sure if that means that Microsoft is embracing GPLv3, is confident they can beat GPLv3 in court, or if it means Novell will simply never include v3 code in SLE.

I’ll be poking around the NTAP site some more in the A.M., it’s getting a bit late and I’m bleary eyed. I don’t know how Roy does this so prolifically, sometimes I think there are two of him ;^ ).

Novell Lays Off AppArmor Team

Posted in AppArmor, Boycott Novell, Novell, Ubuntu at 12:03 am by Shane Coyle

It has been said on this site before, we do not really hate Novell (certainly not the employees and community), and we absolutely recognize and appreciate all of Novell’s contributions, we just want them to see the error of their ways. Call it tough love, if you will.

So, keeping that in mind, realize I am not particularly comfortable writing about the current layoffs at Novell. However, this story really shocked me, I must admit.

Apparently, Novell has layed off the AppArmor team (and it’s confirmed, so this isn’t like when it appeared that the Samba developers left Novell, but hadn’t – a little embarrassing).

Two years after acquiring the company that developed the AppArmor security software for Linux, Novell has laid off team members behind the project, CNET News.com has learned.

AppArmor’s founder and leader, Crispin Cowan, joined Novell in 2005 when it acquired his company, Immunix, which developed the software. But he and four others from the project lost their Novell jobs in Portland, Ore., on September 28, Cowan confirmed.

However, he plans to continue AppArmor development. He and two other laid-off AppArmor programmers, Steve Beattie and Dominic Reynolds, launched an AppArmor consulting company on Wednesday called Mercenary Linux.

The article goes on to say, from a rather cold economic perspective, that Novell intends to rely on the AppArmor community to lead development of the project since it is an even lower-cost option than outsourcing.

With the adoption of AppArmor really beginning to take off, in my mind, it seems rather odd that Novell would dissociate itself from the core team in such a way – as Cowan put it, "tossing it in the wind and hoping" – yet Novell terms it as "improving our product development process".

What are we to make of this rather sudden, somewhat shocking (even to Crispin Cowan) move? It’s like Novell wanted to embrace the "Bazaar" development model, and just now is going to a bizarre development model.

P.S.
Best of luck to the Mercenary Linux folks (great name, by the way!).

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