Large companies love Android but also love patents
Summary: A survey of last week’s news with special focus on Google and Android, which are trying to coexist and thrive in a world full of patent maximalists
ONCE upon a time there was a giant called Xerox that supposedly changed the world by packaging together components that can help replicate documents on a piece of paper. “Xerox” became a household name (or ‘officehold’ name), much like Hoover or Google, although neither was the first to do what it was doing (e.g. search), they just did something very well, perhaps much better than the rest of their industry, at the time they became synonymous with the function at least. Xerox leaned on patents for protectionism, causing all sorts of well-documented issues (not to be covered today) and IP Troll Tracker tells us that Xerox created an entity or a proxy do do its patent aggression. “Xerox is doing just that,” wrote Steph, “preventing its financial coffers from being depleted by abusing the patent system.”
Blackberry, which seems to be transitioning into an(other) Android OEM, just bought a firm, based on financial news sites. “The company’s software sales rose year-over-year,” says one source, “but some analysts were disappointed with the increase because it also included revenue from the licensing of technology patents.”
So Blackberry is already becoming parasitic with its patents, much as we feared a couple of years ago [1, 2] and a year ago [1, 2], alleging that Blackberry was becoming somewhat of a troll or feeder of so-called ‘patent assertion’ entities. What does Google (the Android steward) say about this now that it works with Blackberry on a more secure Android variant? After all, Free software such as Android is inherently incompatible with patents.
“What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term.”As we pointed out the other day, some famous Android backers now turn to patents as well. An article by Glyn Moody has warned that “Chinese Smartphone Leader Xiaomi Adds Special New Feature In Order To Enter US Market — A Patent Hoard”. To quote Moody: “The smartphone sector is undergoing an upheaval at the moment, as Chinese manufacturers move up the global market share rankings. Already, the third, fourth and fifth places are occupied by Chinese companies: Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi. But it’s the last of these that has emerged as the real star. Although Xiaomi was only founded in 2010, in 2014, the company sold 61 million phones, and hopes to sell 100 million in 2015. Much of that growth will come from outside China: Xiaomi has already started selling its products across Southeast Asia, especially in India, as well as in Mexico, Turkey, Russia and Brazil.”
Google does not seem to mind this and just like Tesla or Panasonic, Google now uses its growing pile of patents for publicity stunts. Google can’t fight back against trolls as they have no products, but it sure likes to pretend to be a champion against trolls.
“Google wasting resources to fight patent troll,” wrote the President of the FFII about this, for it “won’t work anyway” (he linked to this article about “Troll Deterrent” and “Google holds patent giveaway for startups to ward off trolls”).
We have found nearly a hundred articles about this (effectively serving to amplify Google PR), including [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. Nobody really challenges Google’s claims. It’s a PR charade. There are headlines like “Google Offers Free Patents To Halt The Trolls”. What does “free patents” even mean? It’s a meaningless term. It’s something we might expect lawyers to say because they compare ideas to “property” and implementation to “rights” (among other nonsensical metaphors).
One maker of many Android-running boards, Qualcomm, is now in trouble in Europe (we covered this last week) because of patent aggression that goes a long way back, elevating prices and marginalising competition. One writer from IDG calls the effort to split Qualcomm “patently absurd”. “The proposed breakup of Qualcomm by activist investment firm Jana Partners,” he wrote, “as reported by the Wall Street Journal this week, would be a blunder of biblical proportions. The equivalent of Delilah cutting off Samson’s hair while he slept, dividing Qualcomm into separately traded semiconductor and technology licensing businesses would produce two companies of lesser value than the former whole.”
The question is, will that reduce Qualcomm’s ability to exploit patents in a predatory fashion? Qualcomm has become very notorious for that (globally, not just in Europe). We’re not concerned about the “value [of] the former whole”, just the fairness of the competition and one’s ability to enter the market. It’s very relevant to Linux and Free software because whether people know this or not, many devices running Linux (more so than Windows) use stuff from Qualcomm and pay patent tax to Qualcomm even if they avoid Qualcomm.
There is some other patent news pertaining to Android, such as Google’s dumb CCTV Glasses (the Android-powered ‘Google Glass’). We are reminder of this effort and the ambition to hoard people’s CCTV stream, to be retained/stored on the server for searching, based on a new patent [1, 2. Google is treating human lives as an inventory or a resource, which raises all sorts of ethical questions. Apple is hardly better though because it wants to collect people’s fingerprints based on a new patent. Apple’s advocacy sites celebrate other dumb patents from Apple. Android is often being attacked by Apple using patents, so this is definitely relevant.
In summary, Android exists in a hostile environment. Despite that, Android has become the most dominant platform in the world (in terms of growth, sale numbers and so on), so we need to watch out for patent threats. There will be more of them in years to come and Microsoft is blackmailing Android supporters using patents, still. █
Send this to a friend
“In the future, Microsoft wants Windows to run everything, from PCs to phones to cars to appliances. This is a terrifying prospect. If it happens, I’d be far more afraid that machinery everywhere would grind to a halt, planes would fall out of the sky, and civilization would crumble as a result of crummy embedded Windows design than any Y2K problem.”
–Paul Somerson, PC Computing
Summary: Media carries on openwashing Visual Studio and perpetuating the illusion that it is not tied to Microsoft Windows
TECHRIGHTS has already responded to the Visual Studio openwash the other day (also mentioned this other openwashing effort), having already warned about it five years ago, earlier this year, and earlier this month. It’s not about .NET or Mono, it’s about Visual Studio, which is purely proprietary with no imminent opening of anything, not even Visual Studio Code, which some Linux sites foolishly promote [1,2] (there are better programs which are neither from Microsoft nor are proprietary).
IDG has done this promotion of proprietary Visual Studio for platforms other than Windows. It’s only towards the end that discrimination against non-Windows platforms is very evident:
The software also can easily hook into Microsoft’s software for managing team projects, Team Foundation Server 2015 and Visual Studio Online, both of which provide the base for a speedy, devops-styled development environment.
Well, this is Windows software. There is no parity at all between platforms. Visual Studio is still a proprietary program for Microsoft Windows, don’t let Microsoft paint it as cross-platform, not without a challenge. Microsoft is still aggressively attacking GNU/Linux, it is not playing nice with it.
“Eradicating Windows and slapping Linux on your computer sure isn’t as easy as it used to be,” writes Chris Hoffman this week, alluding to ‘secure boot’ in UEFI. This is the type of abuse Microsoft promotes (and now escalates further by removing the “on”/”off switch from some UEFI implementations on future computers — those coming with Vista 10 bundled). As an important reminder, UEFI lockdown is getting even worse, demonstrating that Microsoft hates Linux. With more such headaches on the horizon, affecting anyone wishing to at least try or explore GNU/Linux (not very technical people), Microsoft clearly has lots of hidden hate for Linux. There’s no “love”, just opportunistic PR. Anyone who actually thinks that Visual Studio will “play nice” with GNU/Linux has clearly not been paying attention (or paid attention only to puff pieces). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Send this to a friend
Grabbing GNU/Linux revenue and share
Summary: The ‘Embrace, Extend, Extinguish’ strategy goes a few steps further as Microsoft looks to dominate developers, devices and servers that are running Free/libre software
AS we have just shown, Microsoft suffers billions in losses because GNU/Linux and Android crush it. Microsoft’s reaction seems irrational as it’s not sure whether to just keep attacking GNU/Linux and Android (as it still does) or pretend to embrace it. Xamarin, the steward of Mono (along with Microsoft), integrates more closely with Microsoft and hopes to make developers (not just Windows developers) dependent on Microsoft. Microsoft wants “developers developers developers developers” (Ballmer’s words) and that’s where Xamarin comes in.
“Perhaps we are seeing the very end of Microsoft these days.”Yesterday we remarked on the latest advertising (in news form) for Microsoft as a GNU/Linux host. Microsoft’s Channel 9 (the last remaining channel) has been openwashing Microsoft quite a lot recently and now it joins the advertising effort:
Corey Sanders, Director of Program Management on the Windows Azure Compute team sits to chat about recent Linux announcements on supportability as well as MOAR stuff on ARM Templates (this time from a partner).
Like we explained yesterday, it would be very dumb to let Microsoft control GNU/Linux instances, but Microsoft’s acceptance of this route is a sign of defeat.
An argument that can never be won when dealing with anti-GNU/Linux trolls is about “year of Linux”. It often goes like this never-ending moving-goalposts list of demands:
2002: “Nobody uses Linux.”
But look, everyone uses Google and many other servers, which mostly run GNU/Linux.
2007: “Nobody uses Linux on the client side.”
Actually, many people’s devices and phones run some form of Linux.
2012: “Nobody uses Linux on the proper screen.”
Android (Linux) is used extensively not only on phones but also tablets.
2014: “Nobody uses Linux on desktops or laptops.”
Actually, Chromebooks are gaining popularity and they have GNU/Linux in them.
2014: “But Chrome OS is not really Linux.”
It’s also simple to install ‘proper’ GNU/Linux on them (my wife did that twice).
2015: “Microsoft does better than GNU/Linux. Windows is so much better!”
Even Microsoft is trying to make money by offering GNU/Linux support and hosting.
And on it goes…
Perhaps Microsoft’s current efforts to become a GNU/Linux host are due to GNU/Linux being a majority market share platform (especially in the back rooms). The same is true for Android on mobile. Perhaps we are seeing the very end of Microsoft these days. █
Send this to a friend
Seeing the dark side of Apple…
Summary: Apple is desperately trying to stop Android from increasing its levels of dominance (in phones, tablets, watches, and so on), so Silicon Valley is lining up against Apple, antagonising its misuse/abuse of patents for anticompetitive purposes
APPLE became somewhat of a patent troll around 2010 when it filed its first anti-Android patent lawsuit, having threatened to do the same to Palm years beforehand (Tim Cook played a big role in these threats at the time). Microsoft and Apple are both bullies and they are not hiding it. They really hate Linux; they try to destroy it rather than adopt it like the rest of the industry, especially in Silicon Valley. With the exception of Microsoft, which habitually supports Apple’s court cases against Android, almost every significant company is now supporting Samsung‘s defence against Apple [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Engadget wrote: “Samsung has also found a powerful group of backers in its fight against Apple in court. According to a document unearthed by Inside Sources, Google, Facebook, eBay, Dell, HP and other big tech corporations have submitted a “friend of the court” brief on July 1st, supporting Samsung’s stance. The two companies have been embroiled in legal fisticuffs for years, ever since Apple first filed a lawsuit against Samsung for violating various intellectual properties, such as tap-to-zoom, sinle-finger scrolling and two-finger zooming, as well as edge-to-edge glass design, among other things.”
“Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux.”There is no “patent fight with Samsung” as some media puts it. It is Apple attacking Android by targeting a top Android entity other than Google (it is clear that Google has far greater an incentive to fight back). It is, by extension, an attack on Linux. Apple fans’ site keep bragging about new Apple patents, perhaps not caring to realise that they now support the equivalent of a giant patent troll, the world’s richest troll.
Google, by contrast, is trying to fix the patent system and to reduce litigation. As Mike Masnick put it a few days ago, “Google Revamps Patent Search To Actually Do What Patent Office Should Do” (that’s Masnick’s headline).
Masnick correctly recalls that this is not the first such effort from Google. To quote some background: “A few years ago, Google seemed to downgrade its patent search features, pulling away a separate “Google Patents” section and mixing it back into the main Google search. This seemed like a major step backwards, especially given how terrible the US Patent Office’s own patent search engine was. Google has tried to do a few things like launching a “prior art finder” and teaming up with StackExchange to help crowdsource prior art.”
Supporting Apple these days is supporting an arrogant bully, hell-bent on destroying Linux. Please don’t buy anything from Apple as it only makes this aggressor stronger. █
Send this to a friend
Microsoft doesn’t know what it’s doing (except rebooting)
Summary: Warning signs over Microsoft hosting, as well as reliance on Microsoft for maintenance of hardware
THE lying, dishonest and corrupt company says that it “loves Linux”. How ridiculous a statement. Microsoft clearly targets dumb people who are willing to give Microsoft control over GNU/Linux instances. Will Microsoft find enough dumb people? It remains to be seen. As a famous saying goes, never underestimate the power of dumb people in large numbers.
Yet another British ‘cloud’ site now promotes/advertises Microsoft as a GNU/Linux host. The article (if it can be called that), essentially an advertisement from Clare Hopping, says that “Azure customer support for Linux and other open source technologies were focused on determining whether customer problems were with the Azure platform or not. If not, then it would be left to the developer or the third party platform to solve issues.”
“Microsoft recently left British members of Parliament without access to E-mail for several days.”Is this the kind of host people were really looking for? There are many fine GNU/Linux hosts and Microsoft cares about GNU/Linux like BP cares about turtles in the Gulf of Mexico. Embrace (devour), extend (stab), extinguish (swallow) is what this move from Microsoft is all about. Watch a Microsoft advocacy site (the “Windows Club”) promoting this utter nonsense which includes full surveillance on every file (Microsoft uses “child pornography” as an excuse for this).
People ought to know by now never to rely on Microsoft for anything at all. Microsoft gained traction not because of technical merit; bribery, blackmail etc. had a lot more to do with it. It’s a company of organised crime and collusion with covert agencies that break the law, too.
According to this report, many people are still pursuing compensation for damages caused by the horrible Xbox 360 console. “No matter how hard Microsoft tries,” explained the author, “it can’t defeat a judicial order requiring it to face a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming that the Xbox 360 renders gaming discs unplayable because the console scratches them.
“The decision (PDF) Monday by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals sets the stage either for litigation over the allegations or a Supreme Court showdown.”
Microsoft, of course, is trying to dodge responsibility. Does anyone consider such a company to be a reliable host? Microsoft recently left British members of Parliament without access to E-mail for several days. Prior to that Microsoft had blackmailed British politicians. Microsoft cannot even fix their E-mail hosting (time-critical) in less than 3 days! If this is how Microsoft treats British members of Parliament, why would it do any better for ordinary members of the public? █
Send this to a friend
Summary: The Windows monopoly is at risk of being reduced to scraps after Vista 8, Windows Mobile, and Windows RT failed the market
MICROSOFT will never admit this publicly, but the Windows franchise is under existential threat, looking several years down the line (the trend is clear). In fact, a programmer from Microsoft told me (just over the weekend) that Vista 10 still crashes a lot and has hardware compatibility issues. It sounds a lot like Vista.
Windows RT is pretty much dead or dying. Based on this ‘damage control’, the platform is already on its deathbed and “[w]hatever features the new update brings, it’s a safe bet that this update will be the last gasp for Windows RT. Microsoft stopped selling the RT-powered Surface 2 in January and it put the Lumia 2520 out to pasture shortly after it acquired Nokia. Hardly any other vendors even bothered to make RT tablets, and those that did quickly realized their mistake and pulled out.”
“Windows is in so much trouble right now that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android (to the extent possible), blackmail its backers using software patents, and spread a lot of FUD in the media.”Microsoft is now betting the farm on branding, calling Windows “10″ (as in the number 10, which sounds nice but says very little about anything of substance). Microsoft lies about the price, pretending that it is free, and it also tries to characterise it as “open”. According to this article, if you don’t get “Enterprise Edition” (just not limited by design), “You agree to receive automatic downloads without notice” (meaning that additional back doors can be remotely added for the NSA at any time). As FOSS Force put it, going under the headline “Yet Another Reason to Avoid Windows 10″: “It seems they’re still convinced they know what’s best for their users. So much so that the new Windows, due to be released next week, will have users click off on an EULA that pretty much gives Redmond carte blanche to update the system at will, which will include updating apps as well as Windows itself, with no real way to opt out — except for users of the Enterprise edition.”
Windows is in so much trouble right now that Microsoft is trying to hijack Android (to the extent possible), blackmail its backers using software patents, and spread a lot of FUD in the media. Microsoft also resorts to putting GNU/Linux under Microsoft’s control (as we pointed out last week), with or without patents, e.g. using SUSE. Articles by Microsoft boosters such as Kurt Mackie [1, 2] call this “love”, but it’s actually entrapment with total surveillance on GNU/Linux servers because, according to Microsoft, there might be something criminal in there. Microsoft, according to this new article, is scanning every single file, including photos (i.e. surveillance). Forbes (plutocrats’ propaganda) puts positive spin on it, trying to frame it as “Combat The Spread Of Child Pornography”, but that’s just a convenient excuse that so-called ‘cloud’ companies use to snoop on every single thing. Hopefully there won’t be enough foolish (even negligent) companies that give Microsoft (and NSA vis PRISM) access to everything on their GNU/Linux servers. According to some reports, Microsoft now pretends that change of password is what’s required because Skype has yet another gaping hole in it. That’s not really a solution of course, “but the company is yet to close what appears to be a gaping hole in its software.”
The writer, Kelly (usually FOSS-friendly and Microsoft-sceptical judging by her long history), says that “complaints are building up about the lack of communication coming out of the Microsoft camp regarding what seems to be a Skype security flaw.” Making the software insecure by design (or the encryption flawed) comes at a high cost. GNU/Linux users should immediately remove this malicious blob and never install it again. Moreover, nobody should even give Microsoft any leverage over GNU/Linux and Free software. Microsoft is a loser and an informant, hoping that being a surveillance company will give it a new (post-Windows) future. █
Send this to a friend
Not the Rackspace we once knew…
Summary: Rackspace adds proprietary spyware to its premises, hence reducing confidence in its ability to secure whatever is on the racks (security or perceived security severely compromised)
OVER the past few months I have confronted Rackspace on numerous occasions because they were promoting (even by mass-mailing without consent) proprietary software. This was done repeatedly, even after I had asked them to stop and they said they took action. That’s really quite a shame because Rackspace’s patent policy is commendable and their support team is quite technically-competent. The PATRIOT Act was always quite a problem (they’re subjected to secret warrants and cannot notify customers), but nevertheless, they had a good track record. They throw it all away now.
According to this article, Rackspace, which was traditionally about GNU/Linux, has climbed up Microsoft’s bed. Rackspace says: “We’re pleased to expand our relationship with Microsoft and the options we provide for our customers by offering Fanatical Support for Azure”. The company is based in 1 Fanatical Place, which probably explains the name. Reading further down the article we learn about “Rackspace’s Private Cloud that will be powered by Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure.” They must be out of their minds!
Rackspace makes a laughing stock of itself. What a dumb move.
Rackspace ought to know better, for no deployment on Windows in its datacentre can ever do any good. It is a threat to other guests and hyper-visors, even down to hardware. UEFI, promoted by the NSA’s leading partner, is targeted by Hacking Team and Microsoft Windows too is a target. To make matters worse, Microsoft is now leaving almost 200 million useds [sic] exposed. As The Register has just put it, “Windows XP holdouts are even more danger than ever after Microsoft abandoned anti-malware support for the ancient platform.
“Redmond overnight stopped providing XP support for new and existing installs of its Security Essentials package.”
“Rackspace’s business has back doors in it.”NSA surveillance of Windows is ever more trivial, not just because Microsoft constantly tells the NSA how to crack Windows (before patching flaws). The threat of Windows is contagious because it can spread to other platforms that share the same datacentre, network, and hardware. The weakest links are being targeted ti gain entry. Recall Pedro Hernandez with his Azure marketing (trying to convince GNU/Linux users to host with Microsoft) — shameless marketing which was soon followed by other sites (promoted by Microsoft-centric sites, some of which receive money from Microsoft, but alas, this was also noted by pro-Linux writers at Softpedia News). Any datacentre which gets ‘contaminated’ with Windows is no longer trustworthy; it should be deemed insecure because Microsoft deliberately adds flaws (back doors) to Windows. There are numerous technical reasons for this and we have covered them before. UKFast, for example, a large UK-based host, once told me (I spoke to the CTO) that they use Hyper-V (proprietary and Windows) to host GNU/Linux. This right there is a back door and I have confronted them over this. They never came up with a response that inspired any confidence.
Microsoft is now trying to make Apache software Windows- and Azure-tied, as British media now serves to remind us, and there is new additional bait to attract gullible people.
Don’t ever think that Windows can be contained or compartmentalised ‘away’ from Free software. Once a company starts to mix proprietary software with GNU/Linux (e.g. Hyper-V or VMware, which is connected to RSA) security is evidently lost. Security audits are impossible. Novell made some initial steps in this direction back in 2006 and now we have Rackspace. The company cannot be trusted anymore. Rackspace’s business has back doors in it. █
Send this to a friend
Summary: Propaganda of assimilation, or trying to make Windows look comparable/on par with GNU/Linux cost and freedom, is the latest propaganda pattern
AS Microsoft so desperately combats the zero-cost advantage of GNU/Linux it uses not facts but fiction. We have grown accustomed to seeing advertising pieces like this one (journalists as Microsoft couriers or copywriters), pretending that Windows is “free” and that it may become “open source” because of some blurb from three months ago. “A per this Wired article,” wrote this author, “open sourcing is no longer optional, even for Apple. Even for Microsoft. Even for Windows.” Actually, all of these are proprietary, so evidence does not support the argument. Nice try though…
“They are blurring the distinction between “open” and “closed” or between “free” and “proprietary”.”Wired has been quite notable in the "googlebombing" of "Microsoft open source" or "Windows open source". It has been quite an effective propaganda campaign that culminated over the past year and we see more of it in light of this proprietary software release that is heralded with headlines such as “Microsoft’s Power BI is coming July 24th, adds a bit of open source and Android seasoning” and “Microsoft Says Power BI Will Come Out Of Preview On July 24, Open Sources Visualization Stack”. This is not Open Source at all, but Microsoft-friendly sites are openwashing Microsoft’s proprietary software. Sometimes even Linux sites fall for it as it’s not helping when Microsoft’s propaganda channel (Channel 9) is openwashing proprietary software such as Visual Studio. This example from Channel 9 is again fitting a pattern that we first noted one week ago. This openwashing ‘thing’ is very much ‘in’. The Microsoft-controlled Channel 9 increasingly chimes in to amplify the noise.
“Embrace, extend, extinguish” moves are now being used to make Apache software tied to Windows-powered and Microsoft-controlled servers (Azure). Isn’t that great? They are blurring the distinction between “open” and “closed” or between “free” and “proprietary”.
“Hadoop,” says ZDNet, “started out using an open source implementation of Google’s MapReduce as its exclusive processing engine.” Well, now Microsoft wants it all for itself, to run under Windows (proprietary and pricey) as well as under Microsoft’s control (with rental payments for hosting).
Microsoft is acting like a bandit, operating from the inside when it comes to Android as well (see “Windows 10 to allow easy porting of apps from Android and iOS platforms”), not to mention the underlying kenrel, Linux. Watch this new example of bad code that Microsoft has put inside Linux to promote proprietary software like Hyper-V, which runs on Windows (hyper-visor with NSA back doors implied) to control GNU/Linux guests. █
“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
Send this to a friend
« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »