When competition is becoming lawyers’ business, generally unhinged from science and technology
Summary: A roundup of news of interest with a special focus on software patents, which severely affect one’s ability to liberally develop software and are potentially being expanded to countries outside the United States, where the Supreme Court may have already, in effect, put an end to them anyway
RETUNING to our main focus again, this post brings together all the news we were able to find about software patents towards the end of the week. It’s sub-divided into four parts.
Software Patents in India
As readers probably know by now, as we wrote half a dozen articles about this subject alone, India’s political system, which has a lot of power in the world, is surrendering to the lobbies of multinationals and offers them patents on software, effectively stomping on India’s massive population, software developers in particular. Here is a new “[t]ime-line of Software Patent Law in India” which explains the latest development as follows:
August 21, 2015: Guidelines for Examination of Computer Related Inventions released by IPO. Provide that:
– Mere use of mathematical formula in a claim to clearly specify the scope of protection being sought would not render the claim a mathematical method. Eg. Method of encoding, decoding, encryption
– While business methods are non-patentable, if the claimed matter specifies an apparatus or technical process for carrying out invention even in part, the claims to be examined as whole
– So long as a computer programme is not claimed in itself, but in a manner so as to establish industrial applicability and fulfils all other criteria of patentability, the patent should not be denied.
These loopholes are even worse than what we have in Europe (similar to New Zealand’s loopholes). If Narendra Modi and his colleagues fail to stop this, India will suffer from inflated pricing and many software houses (local) will shut down. Nothing has actually changed in India which justifies this latest change to guidelines. It probably boils down to lobbying and corruption. We know which companies want software patents in India; they’re not Indian companies but companies that exploit Indian labour for cost-savings, ensuring that India stays dependent on foreign-made systems with imperialistic back doors.
Software Patents in the US
SCOTUS, the US Supreme Court, has emerged as somewhat of a hero in the fight against software patents. We are grateful for Alice as it’s a huge game-changer. Patent lawyers are plotting to patent software nonetheless, even after the Supreme Court banned many of them. How typical. Expect a major war of words between people who actually produce software and patent lawyers whose role is parasitic at best (as well as their very rich clients and patent aggressors, i.e. companies like Microsoft).
Microsoft’s Dubious Software Patents
PatentVue, a patents glorification site which even celebrates Microsoft’s patent troll Intellectual Ventures, has just published the article “Microsoft Has a Diverse Software Focused Patent Portfolio”.
“If Ballmer was the extortion racket CEO (like the Mafia), then Nadella is the blackmail CEO. Nothing has changed.”Microsoft needs such patents so that it can attack, extort, and blackmail Android/Linux. Microsoft has been pressuring in favour software patents in Europe (often via lobbyists and proxies, e.g. Association for Competitive Technology, which keeps changing its name in order to dodge negative publicity). This year alone Microsoft attacked Samsung, Kyocera, Dell, and ASUS using software patents, forcing them — by means of patent blackmail — to put Microsoft spyware inside Android. If Ballmer was the extortion racket CEO (like the Mafia), then Nadella is the blackmail CEO. Nothing has changed.
Quoting the patent maximalists from PatentVue: “Earlier this month, Microsoft and Google announced a settlement to end nearly 20 patent-related lawsuits in the U.S. and Germany. The deal brought to close years of patent litigation surrounding various technologies, including gaming systems, mobile devices, and multimedia streaming.
“Envision IP analyzed Microsoft’s US patent portfolio to understand where the company has focused its patenting efforts, as well as to determine emerging technologies which Microsoft may be developing. At a high level, we identified 31,209 in-force, unexpired US patents owned by Microsoft and its subsidiaries. According to the company’s annual 10-K filed in July, Microsoft owns “over 57,000 US and international patents”. Also, according to Microsoft’s Patent Tracker Tool, the company owned 29,235 patents as of December 11, 2014.”
“It’s Microsoft’s utterly shameful patent assault on a Dutch company (and by extension on Linux) using discredited patents which probably never ought to have been granted in the first place.”Rather than produce software Microsoft has been busy bullying the EPO into granting it patents as soon as possible (many of these are on software), even without proper prior art search, checks for inventive step/s, suitability based on European patent scope and so on (there is a fast track now, so an even sloppier examination process is clearly inevitable). Speaking to patent maximalists with a Microsoft Windows Web site several years ago, Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps said that Microsoft would have 50,000 patents within two years. The EPO, as he explained it, “can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway” (more so if Microsoft pressures the examiners to do their job at a rush).
For those inside the EPO who don’t understand Microsoft’s insidious (uniquely so!) role in the EPO, including the pressure for a V.I.P. lane, we can humbly suggest a quick read though the TomTom case. It’s Microsoft’s utterly shameful patent assault on a Dutch company (and by extension on Linux) using discredited patents which probably never ought to have been granted in the first place.
Shooting the Mark Cuban (Messenger)
Mark Cuban, an influential person in the US, has expressed his opposition to software patents on many occasions and even put money where his mouth was (investment in Vringo notwithstanding).
“This isn’t what the patent system was supposed to be about.”Patent lawyers and nasty (at times exceptionally rude) proponents of software patents resort to an ad hominem attacks on Mark Cuban, still (ongoing smear campaign). Here is the latest such attack. Patent examiners (technical people) and software developers alike ought to know that their enemies are often patent lawyers and lobbyists, not just their main clients (cash cows), i.e. companies like Microsoft. These people have made a mockery of the patent systems with all sorts of loopholes and corporate/V.I.P. queues. This isn’t what the patent system was supposed to be about. At the beginning it was advocated to the public as the mechanism by which a lone inventor can protect himself or herself from a corporate raid on ideas. Now it’s all reversed. It’s protectionism for the world’s billionaires. Fix it or abolish it. █
“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
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“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows.”
–Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO
Summary: Microsoft’s attempts to embrace, extend, extinguish GNU/Linux (convert GNU/Linux virtual instances into Windows, in the long term) an important reminder of a long-established modus operandi
JUST less than a fortnight ago we showed that the Azure 'department' at Microsoft tries poaching GNU/Linux people in events that are about the very opposite of Microsoft. Microsoft propaganda sites (treated as ‘news’ site nonetheless) are now amplifying Microsoft’s E.E.E. blog by saying: “If you’re looking for a job and possess some awesome open source chops, Microsoft might be looking for you. The Azure team is hiring, and they’ve laid out what they’re looking for over at the Microsoft Openness blog.”
“Now, Microsoft is showing its commitment to open source technologies,” Brian Fagioli wrote. No, they are just showing their E.E.E. strategy. Have they dropped the patent lawsuit? Have they stopped bullying FOSS rivals? Nope.
“Priorities may vary depending on the person, but if we want to make the world a better place we need to stop helping those whose ambitions are against public interests.”Microsoft is not about “Openness”, it’s about predation, bribes, blackmail, and mass surveillance. Days ago we mentioned how Microsoft had liaised with TASER (see the press release). Having given plenty of back doors for spooks, Microsoft now gets closer to very shady companies for income, even so-called ‘law enforcement’ (whose potentially-lethal/fatal tools are used domestically to torture dissidents like Matt DeHart in the US). Microsoft is also getting closer to the FOSS-hostile ‘security’ firm Trend Micro, based on puff pieces that accompany the press release or other puff pieces, e.g. [1, 2].
People should reject careers at Microsoft not just because it’s a proprietary software company. It’s an unethical company. Notoriously so. What comes first? Money? Freedom? Ethics? Priorities may vary depending on the person, but if we want to make the world a better place we need to stop helping those whose ambitions are against public interests. █
“Really, I’m not out to destroy Microsoft. That will just be a completely unintentional side effect.”
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Forking (to turn Android into a Microsoft common carrier), patent litigation (to threaten zero-cost advantage), and takeovers (to annihilate software freedom)
Summary: A glance at the current situation in the mobile market, where Microsoft has virtually no presence, with focus on how Microsoft is trying to intervene and wrestle with the market leader, Android
THE MOBILE market is a very lucrative one. Not only has it outgrown the desktop (and laptop) market but it also thrives — from a business point of view — because of a huge number of applications which many people pay for. There is a lot of money to be made in mobility, both on the software side and hardware side. Microsoft makes money from neither.
Microsoft tried hard to enter the mobile market but since the Windows Mobile days it barely ever succeeded. Nowadays, Microsoft’s mobile platforms continue to be called off and Microsoft tries to rebrand, most latterly with the Vista 10 label.
“There is a lot of money to be made in mobility, both on the software side and hardware side. Microsoft makes money from neither.”As many of the spendings are gradually moving away from the desktops, the revenues reported by Microsoft decline a great deal and Microsoft even reports losses. Then, financial games (or accounting tricks) are used to make up for it. According to Wall Street media, Microsoft now “raises money to repurchase stock and repay existing debt. It sold its longest portion, a 40-year bond, at a yield that was 1.8 percentage points more than comparable government debt, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. also sold bonds today.”
This is not a sign of health; it’s rather the very opposite. Its due to a rapidly-slipping Windows dominance. Rest assured that Microsoft's force-feeding of Windows will only get worse, as the British media serves to reaffirm, as does the pseudo-British media (US company with co.uk domain and some writers who happen to be British but living abroad). Microsoft’s force-feeding of Vista 10 is painted as quite benign by Microsoft Peter, but most people find it infuriating.
“Microsoft’s force-feeding of Vista 10 is painted as quite benign by Microsoft Peter, but most people find it infuriating.”Going back to the situation in the mobile market, it could, in principle, help Microsoft find reprieve. Apple, for example, isn’t doing so badly, and that’s largely owing to its presence in the mobile market (especially where people have a lot money that they are willing to spend). Microsoft cannot sell mobile devices, hence it is unable to impose its APIs, patents, lock-in etc. on this market. This, in turn, harms Microsoft’s desktop monopoly. Based on new articles such as “Microsoft’s smartphone sales collapse and even Surface feels the pinch” or “Microsoft reports falling revenues, slowing Surface sales in latest quarter”, things won’t change for the better any time soon. To quote one report: “‘Mobile first, cloud first’ is Microsoft’s new mantra, but its fiscal first quarter financial results showed growth in only one of them. Indeed, the mobile hardware business saw its revenues fall by a huge 54% year-on-year, to $1.1bn at constant currency, a sad comedown from the glory days of Nokia, and with gross operating profit of just $100m.”
As readers of ours know by now, Microsoft is now attempting E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish) of the leading mobile platform, Android, which is based on Linux. Microsoft tries to turn an open platform into its own proprietary back yard.
The Microsoft booster Tim Anderson now bashes Free software using a case of a company bought by a Microsoft proxy, Xamarin. To be fair to Anderson, maybe it was the editor’s own bait headline, “RoboVM: Open source? Sorry, it’s not working for us” (well, surely it worked well enough until Xamarin decided to take over because the project thrived and then got acquired).
Microsoft and Xamarin appear to be crushing the freedom of Android, one piece at a time, after Xamarin formally took over RoboVM [1, 2]. To quote from Anderson’s article:
The company, which was recently acquired by Xamarin, used to publish its core compiler under the GPL licence. However, users noticed that the latest published version on GitHub was 1.6, while the product itself is at 1.9.
So they turned from copyleft to proprietary. Xamarin sure is a kiss of death to software freedom. As The VAR Guy put it, “RoboVM has made its mobile app development platform closed-source. Previously, the platform was an open source product licensed under the GNU GPL.”
“Xamarin sure is a kiss of death to software freedom.”Quoting further: “So far, the company has not offered details about exactly what went wrong with its open source model. It has only made general statements about how its open code failed to attract many contributions and apparently made life easier for the company’s competitors.
“It’s also unclear to what extent RoboVM’s recent acquisition by Xamarin may have played a role in the decision to close-source the compiler. But we’re betting the timing was more than a coincidence.”
There was also a report from the Microsoft-connected ‘news’ network, 1105 Media, which contains a lot of details. Given this chronology, which probably serves to indicate time overlap between takeover negotiations and the transition to proprietary, there must have been a correlation. To quote: “The six-employee RoboVM last month announced iOS 9 support in a new release, version 1.8, the final release issued under the open source GPL license. Earlier this month, the company announced updated pricing, and shortly after came news of the Xamarin buyout. One disgruntled developer attributed these events to the company’s decision to revert to a proprietary source code model.”
Here are some other interesting parts:
“Cool,” wrote a poster identified as Carsten in reply to Müller’s message. “Now we understand. You were in talks with Xamarin for a while and one of the requirements was an updated price model (no more free stuff!) and closing down the source. Thanks for translating this process into corporate bs-bingo. Attract people for years with an open source model until you attract enough users and are acquired by the next bigger fish. Then we immediately go from open source feel good to updated pricing, closed source. Genius!”
“Complaints also abounded on a Reddit thread, and a couple Google Group discussions have sprung up to investigate interest in forking the project to keep it open source…”
Miguel de Icaza and his mates appear to love money a lot more than they love software freedom, so they squeeze this goose, RoboVM, for some golden eggs. In due course this can kill the project’s popularity. Cui bono?
“In due course this can kill the project’s popularity.”To quote someone who commented in LXer, “I have to admit, I’m a little confused. On one hand, Microsoft open-sources some components of the .NET framework, and on the other hand they closed-source a vital tool for some Android developers. I’m still convinced that Microsoft doesn’t care about FOSS or GNU/Linux, or their communities. They’re simply trying to nip a market trend in the bud… they’re competing in a manner that appears collaborative at first glance.
“I think it’s time we took a moment to re-evaluate how we look at corporate entities that offer open-source software, and if they are susceptible to buyouts, whether their projects are viable for the community to invest precious time and effort into. RoboVM would never have been such a huge loss if it had forked from the very beginning and managed by a non-corporate entity. We’ve already decided not to trust MySQL any more because of what Oracle has done to it. Why should we not apply this same decision to several other company-offered projects?”
Here is another comment:
In order to put this into perspective, it is important to keep in the forefront of our minds that we are not talking about some small company out there trying in earnest to make a go of it with a free-software project. We are talking about MICROSOFT.
Of course, we have seen this pattern repeated time and time again:
Oh my, a small company was taken advantage of by those evil free-software developers.
Well, is this really Microsoft in action or is it Xamarin or is it RoboVM?
We are all supposed to wonder now if a business model involving free-software is really a good idea… Doubt, please doubt, everyone.
blah, blah, blah… I am so bored by all these pattern repetitions.
Judging this based on the article from the Microsoft booster at The Register (especially the headline), there is indeed a lot of FUD right now, leading people to questioning of the Free software business models. Again, cui bono? █
“Gates is trying to make sure that he has a proprietary position in controlling the tools that allow you and me to access information. And that’s profitable by definition. How would you like to own the printing press?”
–PaineWebber Media Analyst Christopher Dixon
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Microsoft’s war on Android surely a benefactor here
Summary: An essential Android tool, RoboVM, turns into proprietary software just shortly after Xamarin, which is financially assisted by Microsoft veterans, takes over it; time to fork?
LAST WEEK we wrote about Xamarin‘s disturbing takeover of RoboVM [1, 2], which was a threat to Microsoft’s monopoly and domination of APIs (especially on the desktop). Xamarin, for the uninitiated, creates proprietary software that strives to spread Microsoft’s .NET to mobile (including Android) devices.
“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin, the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
–Abel AvramIt has only been less than a week and now we learn from Abel Avram that “RoboVM Is No Longer Open Source”.
“Following RoboVM’s acquisition by Xamarin,” explains Avram, “the company has raised the price of their offering and has closed the source code.”
“The community has wondered what would happen to RoboVM now that they have been acquired by Xamarin,” Avram noted. Well, now we know. Bye bye, community.
To quote further: “RoboVM is no longer providing the source code except to enterprise customers. [...] Several RoboVM components used to be made available under the Apache 2.0 license while the compiler was open sourced under the GPL license.”
It has gotten so bad that RoboVM might be forked. To quote Avram, “some developers consider that closing down the source code has to do with Xamarin’s acquisition. And some are discussing forking the project, perhaps starting with the sources v. 1.8 which will be pushed to GitHub this week, according to Zechner. It remains to see how successful they are in their endeavor considering that RoboVM is not a trivial piece of software.”
Xamarin and Mono were never about Free software and GNU/Linux; they were just a parasite trying to exploit Free software and GNU/Linux to spread .NET and now they serve to convert Free software into proprietary. Microsoft must love what Miguel de Icaza has been up to recently. █
“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”
–Miguel de Icaza
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It sure looks like E.E.E.
Miguel de Icaza with his friends from Microsoft
Summary: Further analysis of the news about RoboVM, which got taken over by a Microsoft-connected company (one might say offshoot or proxy), funded in part by Microsoft money
MICROSOFT’S WAR against the Linux-powered Android platform is well under way, currently descending into the 'extend' phase in E.E.E. against Free/libre software and against GNU/Linux. Readers of Microsoft puff pieces don’t agree with what Microsoft is saying and people at LXer recognise this strategy even from a great distance (see for example “Microsoft’s Death Embrace”). Recall what Microsoft did to Nokia and do not assume that a top contributor to Linux (which Nokia once was) will stay this way after Microsoft moles somehow manage to enter. Elop had destroyed companies before he entered Nokia and Miguel de Icaza had derailed Novell before he became a lot more closely connected to Microsoft, even working for Microsoft.
Yesterday we wrote about Xamarin‘s takeover of RoboVM (with money that came in part from Microsoft veterans). Tim Anderson oddly enough suggests that:
It may not be so welcome to Microsoft, if in the long term it dilutes the focus on C#, which has made Xamarin a key partner.
That’s assuming that the RoboVM-derived/produced work (including users of RoboVM’s products) won’t be diverted away to .NET, rather than be preserved in its current (and formerly independent) form. Perhaps it remains to be seen what Xamarin makes of RoboVM, but judging by the track record of de Icaza, the folks at RoboVM, living across the border from Nokia, may have just let in an ‘Elop’.
“It has happened before, so it can happen again; Microsoft takes great in the strategy of befriending the competition in an effort to betray and eventually kill it.”The news of the buyout (copies of the press release aside [1, 2, 3]) was covered mostly by Microsoft boosters, Microsoft-connected ‘news’ sites (multiple copies even), Microsoft apologists, and RoboVM itself. It’s almost as though the only parties interested in this are Microsoft, the acquiring party (with some funds from Microsoft veterans), and the acquired party. These are all the articles I was able to find when searching the Web. The interested parties are clear to see here. Google has absolutely nothing to gain from this.
In Xamarin’s forums Joseph Hill has said in relation to this takeover that “C# is a beautiful, advanced language with an incredibly large and passionate developer base that is continuing to adopt Xamarin in large and growing numbers.” My instinct tells me that this is part of Microsoft’s E.E.E. against Android and other mobile platforms. It has happened before, so it can happen again; Microsoft takes great in the strategy of befriending the competition in an effort to betray and eventually kill it. █
“We need to slaughter Novell before they get stronger….If you’re going to kill someone, there isn’t much reason to get all worked up about it and angry. You just pull the trigger. Any discussions beforehand are a waste of time. We need to smile at Novell while we pull the trigger.”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft’s Platform Group Vice President
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Remember these words from Microsoft itself (click for source PDF):
Summary: Analysis of Microsoft’s abysmal state and what it has been trying to do as a result of its inability to compete fairly with Free (as in freedom) software such as GNU/Linux, Android, Java, Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL etc.
TECHRIGHTS has been a critic of Microsoft for a very long time; never before have we seen Microsoft in such poor form. The attempts to derail GNU/Linux and Free/Open Source software from the inside are part of a fight for the company’s very survival. Its cash cows are losing their luster and the only way to keep their momentum/inertia is to force companies to bundle them; Microsoft now does this forcing (or blackmail) using software patents (Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS and Dell are the main examples of this strategy, so far).
Microsoft’s history of cooking the books and avoiding taxes has led to the perception that Microsoft is very rich, but after the losses announced in the last quarter (in the billions of dollars) comes another poor quarter and the signs are on the wall. As Robert Pogson put it:
The monopoly is not dead yet, unfortunately, but it is on its death-bed.
Parts of the monopoly are already dead and formats lock-in too is being loosened, in spite of Microsoft’s OOXML crimes. Several countries recognised what Microsoft had done and moved to ODF, sometimes to Free/libre software as well. See last week’s example from the British government.
“Parts of the monopoly are already dead and formats lock-in too is being loosened, in spite of Microsoft’s OOXML crimes.”Microsoft cannot sell hardware (potentially a profitable business) and finds ‘creative’ accounting tricks to hide it . This huge failure, which has become a massive embarrassment for the abusive monopolist, shows no signs of reversal because products keep dying and are not at all recognised by the public [2,3]. Putting speech recognition, which does not even work properly [4,5], on devices such as phones won’t work, primarily because Microsoft has no presence in mobile and not even in cars, despite tall ambitions  (where poor speech recognition can result in fatalities).
With internal cultural problems and costs associated with litigation (e.g. sexism lawsuits ) Microsoft falls back on an evil business model similar to that of Facebook (as Vista 10 serves to show), namely turning users into “products”, then selling their private data to many companies or malicious entities such as GCHQ, NSA etc. Microsoft continues to be a leading proponent of the NSA while working for the military and war complex  (they call it “information-sharing partnership”, but what it means is mass surveillance plus data-passing). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The inclusion of the typically very profitable Windows in the MPC division offsets and hides the profitability, or lack thereof, of Microsoft’s hardware endeavors, Dawson added.
In one of the most highly anticipated games of the season, quarterback Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday to kick off the National Football League (NFL) season. The first game of the season is always popular, though this particular match-up drew interest from fans wondering how Brady would fare after being dogged in the media for the past seven months over something known as Deflategate. With all that attention, Microsoft can’t be pleased that on-air commentators are still referring to its sponsored Surface tablet as an iPad.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has possibly the most outstanding reputation for its products and services. The company is synonymous with quality, and it is hard to think about the technology sector without Microsoft. However, Zune is another story altogether. The music service, which was started to counter the growing popularity of online music streaming services, has always played second fiddle to the more established players in the market.
Satya Nadella was delivering a keynote address at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference. The Microsoft CEO was in the midst of demoing some productivity tools and also also occasionally showing off Windows 10 capabilities when he attempted to showcase Microsoft virtual assistant Cortana’s ability to understand voice commands and to deliver relevant results.
Nadella could immediately see that Cortana was not getting it. “Come on,” he implored, the annoyance showing in his voice.
Finally he gave up and said, “No, this is not going to work.”
A Microsoft-connected car, reportedly in trial mode, would let you issue commands using the Cortana voice assistant.
Microsoft has been hit by a gender discrimination lawsuit by one of its ex-technician
Microsoft and NATO have agreed to renew a longstanding partnership that will see the tech giant provide the intergovernmental treaty group’s Communications and Information Agency with details of Microsoft products and services, as well as new information about cybersecurity threats.
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“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”
Summary: Microsoft’s war against POSIX/UNIX/Linux APIs culminates with the .NET push and the ‘bastardisation’ of OpenSSH, a Swiss army knife in BSD/UNIX and GNU/Linux secure channels
MICROSOFT will not rest until it regains its once dominant position in computing. It’s not just because of pressure from shareholders but also because of clevery-marketed sociopaths, such as Bill Gates, who are back at the helm and are very thirsty for power.
Microsoft is now pushing .NET into GNU/Linux, having failed to do so with Mono and Xamarin because regular people (end users) and sometimes developers pushed back. How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.
Jordan Novet, who writes a lot of pro-Microsoft or marketing pieces for Microsoft (for many months now), is formerly a writer of Gigaom, which had received money from Microsoft to embed Microsoft marketing inside articles (without disclosure, i.e. corrupted journalism). Now he acts as a courier of Microsoft marketing, repeating a delusion which we spent a lot of time debunking here (.NET is NOT “Open Source” [1, 2, 3]). To quote Novet:
Microsoft today announced the beginning of a new bug bounty to pay researchers to find security holes in some of the tech giant’s recently open-sourced web development tools.
“How can Microsoft still convince people to embrace the Microsoft APIs (which are heavily patented and not secure)? Openwashing and propaganda.”When Microsoft alludedwto “Open Source” in relation to .NET it sometimes merely piggybacks the reputation of projects it exploits. See the article “Microsoft’s .NET Team Continues Making Progress On An LLVM Compiler” (not GPL). To quote Phoronix: “Earlier this year Microsoft announced an LLVM-based .NET compiler was entering development, LLILC. Six months later, LLILC continues making progress.
“The .NET team has published a six month retrospective of LLILC. It’s a very lengthy read for those interested in low-level compiler details.”
“Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
–Michael Larabel, PhoronixThis is a potential example of the infamous “embrace, extend, extinguish” approach. As we have shown here before, platform discrimination remains and it is even being extended to existing Free software projects, such as OpenSSH, as we explained yesterday (expect Windows-only ‘features’ and antifeatures). Microsoft APIs are already being phased in — the “extend” phase in E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish). We warned about this months ago [1, 2] and we are now proven right. Even Michael Larabel noticed this and wrote: “Microsoft is still working on implementing support for Windows’ crypto APIs rather than OpenSSL/LibreSSL and to address POSIX compatibility concerns along with other issues.”
So now we have Windows- and Microsoft-specific code right there inside OpenSSH, in spite of Microsoft support of back doors for the NSA et al. Does this inspire much confidence? Repelling Microsoft isn’t about intolerance but about self defence. █
“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
–Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée
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Characterising societal issues as a ‘Linux problem’ because of transparency
Summary: A look at the broader scale of discrimination against women and how widespread a phenomenon it is inside Microsoft, the arch rival of Linux
REMEMBER how Microsoft pushed “boobs” into Linux [1, 2, 3] (much to the detriment of Linux) and later “apologised” because it got caught? Many people don’t remember that (or simply didn’t pay attention at the time). This helped remind us that Microsoft is very hard to beat when it comes to chauvinism. Over the years we have covered many examples of sexism at Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This kind of sexism goes all the way up to the CEO himself and let’s not even mention Microsoft homophobia [1, 2, 3] because that is a separate (albeit related) topic.
Several weeks ago “Microsoft [got] Hit With Gender Discrimination Lawsuit”. To quote a progressive site: “Microsoft is staring at a potential class-action gender discrimination lawsuit filed by a former technician alleging the company denied her promotions and raises.
“Katherine Moussouris filed a complaint against the Seattle-based company claiming her supervisors didn’t like her “manner of style” and gave the promotions she was up for to her less-qualified male counterparts, Reuters reported. She also reportedly received lower bonuses as retaliation for making sexual harassment complaints. According to the complaint, Microsoft’s female employees in Redmond, Washington frequently received lower performance ratings and were often based on subjective observations.
“Microsoft has been criticized in the past for being cavalier towards gender discrimination in its ranks. Last October, CEO Satya Nadella apologized after telling a roomful of women technicians at the Grace Hopper Conference that they shouldn’t ask for a raise, but instead have “faith that the system will give you the right raise.” Nadella backtracked his comments soon thereafter via a mass email to employees: “If you think you deserve a raise, you should just ask.”
“Moussouris is encouraging women who worked for Microsoft in the past six years to come forward, which could help the case gain class action certification. Wednesday’s lawsuit is the first gender discrimination allegation against a major tech company in the wake of the conclusion of former Reddit interim CEO Ellen Pao’s infamous suit against her former law firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. Pao lost her case, in which her claims were similar in tone to Moussouris, and recently dropped her appeal.”
Will Hill at the Join Diaspora Web site wrote (he personally brought it to my attention while I was away on vacation):
Sexism Lawsuit Against Microsoft
A class action lawsuit has been filed by a former Microsoft employee over rampant sexual discrimination at Microsoft. Katherine Moussouris claims that women are underpaid, passed over for promotions, and face retaliation if they complain. She worked for the company for seven years.
This does not surprise us because we saw and covered similar reports in the past. Microsoft tries to suppress publication of such matters and it is easier because of the culture of secrecy.
By contrast, in Free software communities everything is visible to the public, including to the already-hostile press. One might expect the observer to take this transparency into account and therefore use some judgment. Some people care more about Linux gossip than about Linux news, however, so when something similar happens in the Linux world it can hijack the news feeds for about a week if not longer than that. A lot has been said about Linux in relation to women’s rights, especially this past week (because of Sharp). There are still some new articles about it [1-16], with plenty of discussion in each (it has become quite an Internet storm).
At Microsoft, based on evidence that does not receive much media coverage, females sue the company for millions over discrimination; in Linux one can just make a mess, start flamewars. We can quite safely guess that many Linux developers (especially in top positions) have been wasting time checking what people say about them online rather than write code. A week-long saga, never-ending and self-feeding, is still raging. Even on Friday we still saw at least 3 articles about this drama against Linux culture. Coders are distracted by these flamewars, hence productivity is significantly down.
One of the curious comments I have come across talks about socially-engineering the community. Remember that Intel helped create OSDL and later played a key role in the Linux Foundation, so it cannot be treated as an outsider to Linux development.
To quote one comment, “Conspiracy theory: Would one of those multi-billion-dollar corporations (with NSA connections) spend a few million bucks to social engineer the Linux community?” It’s not as though Intel itself respects women’s rights (not inside the company anyway).
“I’ve asked Sarah Sharp some questions about how she reconciles her attitude towards the free software community and her work with Intel,” Hill wrote. “I have not seen any serious answers to those questions yet.”
Will Hill said, “I have asked Sarah Sharp on Google Plus some questions about working for Intel.” Here is the text of the questions: “Thanks for all the interesting ideas, and prior usb and graphics work, but how do you square these thoughts with working for Intel (1)? Intel is known for nasty things like killing the OLPC project through dumping (2), and partnership with Microsoft, a company that’s everything you complain about and more. Even when Intel is cooperating, the seem to hold back and treat the free software world as second class (2) Intel’s Management Engine and other firmware are direct threats to people’s software freedom, privacy, and ownership of their machines. Is Intel somehow getting internal culture right while doing so many bad things to everyone outside the company? Was your kernel work an official part of your job? How have they responded to your decision to quit that work?”
There are more articles about all this below (we shared almost 20 more in the previous reply), but we don’t really want to feed the cycle of endless discussions.
The lack of women in Computer Science or S.T.E.M. disciplines in general (there are explanations of causes for that, but it’s beyond the scope of this post) is not the fault of FOSS, however it’s fashionable to blame it all on FOSS when one looks for a good, effective smear. This is also done a lot in the political sphere, where it’s fashionable to mistreat or invade one’s neighbours (or very distant nations) using concern for women’s rights. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Matthew Garrett, noted developers and self-proclaimed social justice warrior, today announced solidarity with Sarah Sharp’s resignation in protest of rude behavior and the “way [Linus Torvalds] behaves” by providing a Linux kernel with changes rejected by Torvalds. Elsewhere, Jack M. Germain said Slackel offers advantages over Slackware but it’s still not for new users and DarkDuck found most Linux users still use Windows or Mac as well.
A Game of Thrones style war has broken out amongst the weirdie beardies of Open Source Land which has now split the Linux kingdom just as “Winter is a Coming.”
Everyone is free to have his own opinion (sorry, his/her), and I am free to form my own opinion on Sarah Sharp by just simply reading the facts. I am more than happy that one more SJW has left Linux development, as the proliferation of cleaning of speech from any personality has taken too far a grip.
On the other hand, it’s little mystery at all: Sarah was the first female kernel contributor I’d ever heard of, and the only one I can readily name now. It’s an uncomfortable answer, because when someone breaks into a space that doesn’t often include their gender or background, we feel we avoid culpability by being nonchalant. No exclusion here, nosiree. Didn’t even notice you were a woman. It’s comforting and dishonest; when someone breaks a boundary of cultural exclusion, regardless of how your reaction may later be judged, the fact is you notice.
Although apparently nobody noticed when Sarah quietly disappeared over the past year, finally coming out to cite now-familiar complaints about the toxic and hostile atmosphere on LKML and in the kernel community in general.
Once again, he’s complaining about how the fun from Debian has been lost because making sexist jokes, or treating other people like shit is not allowed any more. He seems to think the LKML is the ideal environment and that Debian should be more like it.
Another Linux kernel developer has left, citing a toxic environment. Jack Wallen proposes the type of motivation used by the kernel devs could unmake a very precious commodity.
Well, here’s the third, though it’s completely unrelated to Sharp and Garrett: The call went out in September for nominations for the Ubuntu Community Council elections, and they were returned with a glaring omission: Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph, who will not be running for re-election. She explains in her blog her motivations for moving on, and it’s well worth a read. Perhaps this is understatement, but her absence leaves a notable void in the “adult-in-the-room” department, since Elizabeth was often the voice of reason and sanity — and of course a voice for doing the right thing even when it was unpleasant or difficult for Canonical/Ubuntu — in a UCC group too full of yes-boys and Ubuntu Apocalypse zombies. Her leadership will definitely be missed.
Bottomley, maintainer of the kernel’s SCSI subsystem and other code, argues that things on the Linux kernel mailing list aren’t all that it’s talked up to be.
When Matthew Garrett, well-known Linux kernel developer and CoreOS principal security engineer, announced he was releasing a [Linux] kernel tree with patches that implement a BSD-style securelevel interface, I predicted people would say Garrett was forking Linux. I was right. They have. But, that’s not what Garrett is doing.
The definition of “thick-skinned” in different dictionaries ranges from “not easily offended” to “largely unaffected by the needs and feelings of other people; insensitive”, going through “able to ignore personal criticism”, “ability to withstand criticism and show no signs of any criticism you may receive getting to you”, “an insensitive nature” or “impervious to criticism”. It essentially describes an emotionally detached attitude regarding one’s social environment, the capacity or ignoring or minimizing the effects of others’ criticism and the priorization of the protection of one’s current state over the capacity of empathizing and taking into account what others may say that don’t conform to one’s current way of thinking. It is essentially setting up barriers against whatever others may do that might provoke any kind of crisis or change in you.
Folks are still discussing the resignation of Sarah Sharp and Matthew Garrett from Linux kernel development. Jack Wallen said Sharp (and Garrett) are cases of more developers being “turned away, simply because developers had no patience for personal respect.” He said Linux rules with a “sharp and iron tongue” with “foul and abusive language.” He agreed with Dr. Roy Schestowitz in that all this is a “PR nightmare” threatening the “flagship of the open-source movement.” He placed part of the blame on what he calls the “Internet of hate” and said if Linux is to compete with Microsoft and Apple its developers need to “start treating the legions of programmers, who are working tirelessly to deliver, as well as they treat the code itself. Open source is about community. A community with a toxic foundation will eventually crumble.”
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