A big hole in Apple, but Apple doesn’t mind as long as the public doesn’t know
Summary: Apple neglected to patch known security flaws in Mac OS X for no less than three months and only did something about that vector of intrusion when the public found out about it
LAST year Apple admitted having back doors in iOS, conveniently dubbing them “diagnostics” (Orwellian newspeak). Apple did this only after a security researcher had found and publicised severe flaws that enabled remote intrusion into any device running iOS (there are unfortunately many such devices out there). This led us to alleging that not only Microsoft and the NSA worked to enable back doors for secret access into Windows. Both Apple and Microsoft are in PRISM and both produce proprietary software onto which it’s trivial to dump back doors, both undetectable and immutable.
Weeks ago we showed that Microsoft does not strive to make Windows secure, based on its very own actions whenever the public is unaware of the insecurities (only the NSA/GCHQ and the reporter/s are 'in the know'). Now we come to realise that Apple too — like Microsoft — did not close back/bug doors in Mac OS X for 90 days despite knowing about them. This isn’t a 0-day, it is a 90-day. It’s incompetence, negligence and might one even say deliberate sabotage by Apple. Apple just chose to leave the serious flaws in tact until it was too late because the public found out about it, owing to Google.
Do not let the Wintel-centric media blame Google for merely informing the public that proprietary operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X have holes in them that Microsoft and Apple refuse to patch. We should generally be thankful for this information. It says quite a lot about Microsoft’s and Apple’s priorities. It helps prove China right for banning Windows and Apple operating systems in government.
There is increasing consensus that Apple is going down the bin when it comes to users’ trust and browsing the Net these days I often read or hear from people who abandon Apple for GNU/Linux. Suffice to say, based on public appearances, the NSA is intimately involved in the build process of OS X (for a number of years now), which does make one wonder. █
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“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Summary: As Linux becomes the dominant kernel at Windows’ expense Microsoft pulls old tricks including media manipulation, AstroTurfing, co-opting schools (making Windows obligatory for future generations), and EEE (embrace, extend, and extinguish)
THE so-called ‘PC’ — a term which refers to a long-lived form factor (but only one among many these days) — is not the sole focus of today’s computer industry. Overall, putting together all form factors, Linux is the victor and a lot of the press said this after CES 2015. Our daily links contain examples of articles which speak about this. PCs are not even necessarily where the big money is. Far less so than ever before…
While it may be common to say that GNU/Linux has single-digit (percentage) market share in desktops, the opposite is true in some areas and Microsoft remains in single-digit market share in phones. As Ahonen put it the other day:
So then the Evil Empire. Whats Microsoft up to? Well, they were at one point the biggest player from the computer industry and for much of the past decades have been the most profitable of that industry. They did see mobile coming early on, Bill Gates launched Microsoft into the mobile OS wars and Windows Mobile at its peak was the world’s second most used OS on smartphones with 12% market share (slightly less than the level where iPhone currently is in 2014 – if you want a warning from history haha).
Steve Ballmer then threw all that away with his silliness starting with ‘no migration path’ (why on earth not, after Microsoft – which managed to migrate DOS users to Windows on the PC, how could that same Microsoft make such an elementary blunder). So today Windows Phone OS has under 3% market share of new sales, and all those phones were essentially given away – sold at a loss – and even after that we just heard last year that one in three Windows based smartphones had never been activated (likely most were simply manufactured, shipped to retail and never sold). So the real market share for Windows in smartphones is dismal now, at 2%. It is the most toxic of any ‘ecosystems’ and developers are abandoning the sinking ship. It is now only a question of time when will Nadella shut down (or sell) the Lumia unit.
Microsoft has totally lost it and Android is totally winning, not just in phones but increasingly in tablets, TVs, etc. Microsoft’s attacks on Android failed miserably and according to reports like this, Microsoft is giving up its anti-Google Jihad that makes it so publicly known how much of a loser Microsoft became. As the British press put it: “MICROSOFT HAS APPARENTLY PUT THE HOARY old Scroogled campaign in a sack, filled it with rocks and thrown it off a cliff.
“Scroogle, a riff on Google and Scrooge, a fictitious miser, was a Microsoft marketing whizz that used to shine a negative light on a rival and, by association, a positive light on its own gear.”
Microsoft, being a propaganda company, did manage to bamboozle many people into accepting Vista 7, but Vista 7 is now pretty much dead [1, 2] for many people who will refuse to embrace Vista 8 — an operating system which failed in the market more miserably than Vista. How many are going to turn to Chromebooks, Android devices, and so-called ‘PCs’ with GNU/Linux?
Microsoft’s propaganda does not end with the ‘Scroogle’ de-emphasis; Sue Gee in the Microsoft-centric propaganda site “i-programmer” (misleading name) is now preying on children. Microsoft is “infecting teachers,” to use a term that a reader of ours used to describe it and the end goal is to impose Microsoft software on helpless children who cannot resist. This shameless pro-Microsoft site basically publishes what looks more like a Microsoft advertisement than an article, hailing Microsoft slavery as “skill”. It wasn’t alone, either. Hypocritically enough Microsoft uses the term “technology trap” to describe the alternatives and ITWire’s Microsoft booster lays out there yet another Microsoft puff piece, stating: “It’s back-to-school buying season, and both Intel and Microsoft have decided to inject some life back into the Wintel alliance and promote Windows-powered devices as the ideal back-to-school student technologies.”
Preying on children as their last resort? To avoid the “technology trap” as they put it? What a nerve they have…
“Preying on children as their last resort?”Speaking of propaganda pieces, watch ZDNet‘s Microsoft advertiser, Mary Jo Foley, paying lip service to the Microsoft “loves Linux” nonsense, as does the Microsoft-friendly Pedro Hernandez (there is history there), who advertises Microsoft surveillance over GNU/Linux servers.
The company now offers an Azure Data Center Migration Solution and expands support of its Migration Accelerator to include Linux servers and virtual machines.
This has virtually nothing to do with GNU/Linux, except Microsoft’s attempt to embrace, extend and extinguish it. These tactics worked for Microsoft before, but they are not working anymore. Just look what happened to Novell. █
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Nontechnical people in black gowns and white wigs to decide on huge things
Summary: The US Supreme Court may soon start dealing with a legal assault on Android and in the process hopefully end the notion of copyright on APIs
SOFTWARE bully Oracle, which pretty much put to rest all of Sun’s Free software except few successful items (e.g. MySQL and VirtualBox, but not OpenOffice) and now attacks Java’s integrity by preventing deviations using abuse/misuse of copyright law, is still at it. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), one of the most ridiculous and insidious courts in the world (both corrupt and biased), let Oracle have its way against Android, essentially sending a warning shot not just to those inspired by Java but everyone who reuses names of/in interfaces. This is dangerous and it is heading for judgment by the highest court, SCOTUS.
“Just like software patents, here we have something that both Free software and proprietary software developers should be united against.”According to some articles about SCOTUS, such as this report from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, the case that can affect so many programmers is potentially to be decided by the same court that recently defanged a lot of software patents (much to the regrets of the USPTO). Vaughan-Nichols writes: “Google has had enough of its long-running legal battle with Oracle over whether application programming interfaces (API)s can be copyrighted. The search giant has asked the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to bypass further battles in lower courts and address the API copyright issue once and for all. SCOTUS, in return, is soliciting the Obama administration for its view of the case before moving forward.”
Well, it is proceeding pretty much as expected. The British media put it like this:
The US Supreme Court hasn’t decided whether it will hear arguments in the long-running dispute between Google and Oracle over Java copyrights, and it has asked the Obama administration to weigh in before it makes up its mind.
An expert in legal matters of the Free software world recently  named this case one of the top 10 “FOSS legal developments of 2014″. It is probably one of the top “legal developments of 2014″ if not one of the top “technical legal developments of 2014″, especially when it comes to programming. The case affects not only FOSS. Just like software patents, here we have something that both Free software and proprietary software developers should be united against. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The litigation surrounding Android continued this year, with significant developments in the patent litigation between Apple Computer, Inc. (Apple) and Samsung Electronics, Inc. (Samsung) and the copyright litigation over the Java APIs between Oracle Corporation (Oracle) and Google, Inc. (Google). Apple and Samsung have agreed to end patent disputes in nine countries, but they will continue the litigation in the US. As I stated last year, the Rockstar Consortium was a wild card in this dispute. However, the Rockstar Consortium settled its litigation with Google this year and sold off its patents, so it will no longer be a risk to the Android ecosystem.
The copyright litigation regarding the copyrightability of the Java APIs was brought back to life by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) decision which overturned the District Court decision. The District Court had found that Google was not liable for copyright infringement for its admitted copying of the Java APIs: the court found that the Java APIs were either not copyrightable or their use by Google was protected by various defenses to copyright. The CAFC overturned both the decision and the analysis and remanded the case to the District Court for a review of the fair use defense raised by Google. Subsequently, Google filed an appeal to the Supreme Court. The impact of a finding that Google was liable for copyright infringement in this case would have a dramatic effect on Android and, depending on the reasoning, would have a ripple effect across the interpretation of the scope of the “copyleft” terms of the GPL family of licenses which use APIs.
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The only platform that is losing market is the corporate press
Summary: The Microsoft- and Apple-friendly press is bending backwards to make Android look like a losing platform
APPLE vs. Google (or iOS vs. Android) fan wars are boring because rarely do they focus on ethics, freedom, etc. Nevertheless, we often see anti-Android bias coming from Apple-oriented or pro-Microsoft sites. It’s what should be expected and where facts are being distorted we need to weigh in.
“There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets.”The other day we were reminded of severe security flaws in Apple operating systems (more here, not to be confused with security issues in underlying ‘apps’ ) and one influential Apple booster said that Apple’s software quality had taken “a nosedive” lately. As BGR put it: “Instapaper creator Marco Arment is certainly one of the most read and widely influential Mac and iOS developers around. And when he says that there’s something seriously wrong with the way things have been going with Apple’s software lately, many people will take note.
“In a new essay posted on his website, Arment offers a blistering critique of Apple’s latest software releases and then delivers the ultimate insult that would have made Steve Jobs weep: He compares some of the latest iOS and OS X software flubs to the mistakes that Microsoft repeatedly made with Windows.”
There is no denying that Android is gaining quickly at Apple’s expense, not only in phones but also in tablets. ZDNet, a technology tabloid of CBS, tries to warp the facts using a very misleading headline and an article that is quite baseless. As this tabloid continues its US-only propaganda (extrapolating from US to the whole globe) against Android — and by extension Google — it is willing to draw conclusions even based on a poll with sample size of just 112. We have seen other such misinformation before. People from Microsoft love to spread it, just like Microsoft itself. CBS staff from Microsoft last month used US-only figures that tacitly insinuated that Android was losing globally. False. CBS is doing it again this month (the guy from Microsoft also advertises Microsoft and Microsoft’s lock-in/trap for Android). To be fair, not only CBS did it as others advertised this trap and the US-only propaganda (like that from CBS) could also be found in US-based sites/networks like America Online (AOL), Time, CNBC, Business Insider, eWeek, and BGR. These very misleading headlines and claims leave one with the impression that Apple is now beating Android and the tide as a whole has turned. Relative to the entire world Apple has always had somewhat of an edge in the US, so none of it is news. The US-based EFF sure prefers Android , regardless of the trend in the US. As for the promotion of Microsoft inside Android, a reader of ours labeled it “Fighting against ODF, not that ODF support on Android is adequate yet.”
We can generally say that a lot of the press remains hostile towards Android. Maybe not enough ads and product placements? █
Related/contextual items from the news:
In the economy of mobile apps, you are less a consumer of software than consumed by it. That’s according to security firm Zscaler that has analysed the surprisingly intrusive permissions demanded by many popular Google App store apps before they will allow a download to start.
Non-profit digital rights organization EFF rolled out a new mobile application this morning, which allows users to more easily access the group’s “action center” from their smartphone. However, the new app is only being made available to Android users, the EFF explains, because the group has issues with Apple’s Developer Agreement. The EFF says it could not agree to its terms, which it calls “outrageous” and “bad for developers and users alike.”
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Only OEM inertia and brand awareness keep driving Windows ‘sales’ (rentals)
Summary: The era of Windows monopoly is ending or has ended because Microsoft can no longer compete with the better-priced Linux-powered rivals
FOR A MERE 250 pounds we recently bought a laptop plus tablet bundle (both HP-made and of high build quality). The laptop runs GNU/Linux and the tablet uses Android (i.e. Linux-powered). No Windows required. Microsoft cannot compete with such pricing, it can only pretend to.
According to a media site that received money from Microsoft (not disclosed), HP’s attempts to make a Windows-based Chromebook competitor is terrible. This isn’t the first time this year that we see sources close to Microsoft speaking of the rise of Chromebook and the problem of the relatively bloated Windows. Vista 8 was terrible not just because of bloat. The article states: “Setting up a Chromebook and getting to work with the most up-to-date software takes about three minutes, maybe five if you’re slow. That’s not the case with the HP Stream 13, although it’s much improved over computers from just a few years ago.
“It took me about 10 minutes before I could use the Windows laptop since it was going though various setup processes. Ah, but the updates.”
And that’s just the beginning. The headline says that “the $229 HP Stream 13 isn’t a Chromebook killer” and it’s easy to see why. This is how Simon Phipps put it: “It’s a mistake to try to squeeze Windows into hardware designed for ChromeOS. You end up with a laptop that’s so under-powered it’s best for cloud-hosted applications (as the HP/Microsoft TV advertising in the UK implies). But you still have to maintain anti-malware software, apply updates, manage drivers, buy upgrades and so on.
“So you have sbought yourself the functionality of a Chromebook but with the upkeep of Windows. Why on earth would anyone think that was a good deal?”
GNU/Linux in its classic form (e.g. with GNOME or KDE desktop) may not be gaining in terms of installed base fast enough, but with operating systems like ChromeOS, Android, SteamOS, FirefoxOS, webOS, Tizen, Sailfish OS etc. Linux sure is taking over the digital world, not only in the back end (servers, routers, ‘dumb’ embedded devices, and supercomputers). CES 2015 shows plenty of evidence of that right now, even if the “L” word isn’t always mentioned/advertised.
Microsoft says it ‘loves’ Linux not because it really loves GNU/Linux but because GNU/Linux inevitably became a dominant, undefeatable force. Even Microsoft’s biggest customers use GNU/Linux. Microsoft loves Linux like Russians love Putin. █
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“Spiral of death” clings onto Microsoft for a change
Summary: The demise of Windows is demonstrated by various data sources and Microsoft now makes its bread and butter available to Windows rivals before even bothering with Windows itself, showing Microsoft’s own recognition of this trend
IT was Vista 8 that really killed the Windows franchise, following the already-terrible Vista. Is Microsoft saving the other cash cow, Office, now that Windows is quickly becoming irrelevant, thanks to a large degree to Android and other mobile operating systems? It is evident that Google — not just Free software office suites — gives a big challenge not just in operating systems but also in office suites, especially now that it is embracing OpenDocument Format (ODF).
The demise of Windows is measurable. The other day we showed a Windows- and Microsoft-friendly firm, Net Applications, demonstrating quick demise of Vista 8. It’s not just Net Applications indicating this. “StatCounter reports that 8.* has peaked and is in decline,” notes Robert Pogson today. He has followed StatCounter closely for several years now and produced perhaps hundreds of graphs based on StatCounter. “I have some influence in my family’s choices,” he writes, “but I was teaching up north most of the year when my family was growing up, starting professional careers and making choices in IT. Most of them use GNU/Linux. Most of them use Android/Linux, but none use that other OS, not one.” The same is true in our house.
“There is no denying that Microsoft is in serious trouble.”Windows is becoming such a fringe player that even Microsoft starts to ignore it. According to this new report:
Range of Office and Windows Phone announcements coming soon following iOS and Android launch
A senior Microsoft Office spokesperson has reassured Windows Phone fans that, despite a dearth of new products recently, the company is still very much behind its mobile platform.
What it basically says is that Microsoft brings Office first to Google’s and Apple’s platforms. There is not yet a version for Windows (Phone)! Over the past few weeks I have been speaking a lot with a Microsoft developer who told me that Microsoft was silently shrinking, cutting ties with external workforce (does not count as layoffs) and squeezing about a dozen people in a single office (they used to all have an office of their own). The company even moves into smaller buildings. There is no denying that Microsoft is in serious trouble. The common carriers — and hence the cash cows — are dying. The company’s friends at IDG now badmouth a move  from Windows XP (a lot of people still use it) to GNU/Linux for the most ridiculous reasons, showing the company’s great reliance on propaganda and non-technical brainwash. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
While VDI, Linux and BYOD might look like an attractive alternative to trudging down the Windows Client path once again, they all come with considerable baggage.
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The fall of the Gecko (Mozilla)
Summary: Mozilla is letting Microsoft manage users’ data in Firefox, including keystrokes in the address bar
TECHRIGHTS has published plenty of pro-Mozilla and pro-Firefox articles over the years. Speaking for myself, I have posted literally thousands of pro-Firefox links over the past decade as I viewed Firefox as the software that rescued the Web from Microsoft’s monopoly and iron grip. It was Firefox that had Web developers cease their Internet Explorer-only mentality (or dogma). It is with deep regrets that I have to revoke my support for Firefox, not just because of its treatment of Eich, the company’s pro-DRM apologists, the ads, and now the privacy compromises. This post is an accumulation of a fortnight of sad news about Mozilla. The saddest thing is that Mozilla does not view this as sad news, or at least doesn’t want the public to view it that way.
Let us agree that the relationship between surveillance and ads is a close one, but one must not be treated as interchangeable with the other. This post is not a rant about ads, which to be realistic is truly a growing business model, especially on the Web. That alone is not the problem. This post is also not provocation or trolling but the expression of genuine concern for a project and a company I have loved and wish to still love (if they rectify their act, despite the seemingly irrevocable nature of some recent moves).
Ads are not the main problem with Mozilla, even though it sure helps discredit Free software projects like Fedora, so Fedora is planning to dump Firefox (except if one installs it from the repositories). Free software does not go well with ads (Linux Mint received flak for a controversial approach to such a business model), so it is not too shocking that Fedorans are unhappy with the move. This serves to show that Mozilla’s appeal to advertisers is in fact backfiring. They’re losing market share that way. As Internet News put it, “Fedora Linux [is] Set to Abandon Firefox over Advertising Issue”. Not everyone has a problem with ads, especially when these can be blocked. As one pro-GNU/Linux and BSD site put it: “That Sponsored Tiles program from Mozilla, which I first wrote about in Mozilla to sell ads in Firefox browser via the Directory Tiles program, has gone live.”
One might have to download a cutting-edge build to see it. Again, it’s not the ads that we’re worried about.
Putting aside the fact that spies use ads for surveillance (a good example might be something along the lines of Angry Birds), the NSA sure works very closely with Microsoft. It’s a strong relationship that goes back to the 1990s. A lot of people, perhaps influenced by Microsoft’s massive (multi-million) anti-Google PR campaign, look the other way and accuse only Google of privacy violations in search, E-mail etc. There is news right now that says Google allows privacy for a fee (or at least removal of privacy-infringing ads). It’s a substitute for the ads business model. To quote the Romania-based SoftPedia: “Google is always looking to diversify its online advertising policy and you might think that there is little left to do in this regard. It appears that Google has found yet another way to monetize ads, both for itself and for the website, but this time the power rests in the users’ hands.”
That is actually a good thing, no matter how Microsoft’s anti-Google PR tries to spin it.
Then comes the news about Mozilla breaking up with Google despite the fact that “Mozilla gets more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google” (which was a good thing, as it helped fund Free software).
One longtime Firefox observer wrote that “Firefox maker remains ‘utterly confident’ as revenue growth sputters”. What are they so confident about? Firefox has been Google-reliant for quite some time; it’s no secret. To remove that reliance one needs to find hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (or otherwise shrink considerably). What other than selling out to the “devil we don’t know” (or the devil we do know in the case of Microsoft) can possibly achieve that? Thunderbird already sold its users out in that horrible way by linking to Microsoft (“Bing”) just before Mozilla abandoned Thunderbird development. Firefox is now going down a similar route, putting aside attempts to raise donations (now in Bitcoin form, too). According to this article, Mozilla was really loaded with money up until now. A reader of ours asked us: “What is the money spent on? Not Thunderbird or Firefox, obviously.”
Marketing, or perhaps even face-saving projects, used up much of the budget, not important projects (with PGP support) such as Thunderbird. As Mozilla had hundreds of millions of dollars coming in, the old excuses about not maintaining Thunderbird because people use GMail (PRISM) are utter nonsense. Yes, when Mozilla stopped Thunderbird development (with easy-to-use PGP support through Enigmail) it said people were moving to to hosted mail (PRISM/NSA), naming GMail by name. Guess who bankrolled Mozilla at the time…
Either way, the problem with the move away from Google is that Mozilla now actively helps a sworn enemy of FOSS and GNU/Linux (ignore the PR nonsense about Microsoft “loving” Linux and other such self-serving lies that we debunked last month and earlier this month). In addition there’s the privacy factor, but it’s not the main point. “Why Mozilla is scared of Google” was one headline of interest and the respective article said: “For the last 10 years, Google has had that business almost entirely to itself. Every time you make a search through that bar, Google makes a little bit of money from ads and passes a piece of that money on to the browser through AdSense’s revenue sharing deal. That adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars for companies like Mozilla, but the money can produce some strange incentives. Google’s making a browser too, and it may not want to support Chrome’s competitors forever. Suddenly, the short-term money starts to look like a long-term liability.”
But Microsoft makes a Web browser too. There’s no point using “Chrome” as a reason for Mozilla to fear Google but not Microsoft, which makes the much worse and standards-hostile Internet Explorer that Windows imposes on PC buyers. Chrome is at least based on Free software (which Chormium is), whereas Internet Explorer is purely proprietary. Firefox can reuse code from Chrome.
According to this article, things are getting worse with the shift to Microsoft because Mozilla now lets Microsoft log keystrokes in the address bar (see the screenshot). How ridiculous is that (even if that behaviour can be disabled)? Very sad.
One pundit says that “despite losing Google as its cash cow, Mozilla isn’t dead yet”, noting: “Its Google advertising contract was coming to an end. With 90 percent of Mozilla’s income coming from Google, it was far from good news. With the contract ending in November, and no reason for Google to renew the deal with its Chrome Web browser success, things were looking dark as an overcast, moonless night for Mozilla.”
So what? Moving to Microsoft (through Yahoo) is not independence, it’s even worse than before. Mozilla cannot assert independence by becoming dependent on Microsoft and the NSA through Yahoo. Microsoft is not “Choice and Innovation” (as Mozilla tries to frame it), it’s espionage and blackmail (with patents). The company’s head said: “In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence”
That’s a joke, right?
Yahoo is now just a front end of “Bing” (in the US, where the Mozilla deal was signed for), so we might as well just speak about Microsoft here, not Yahoo (the covert façade). If Mozilla continues to sell out its users, now by diverting users’ searches to Microsoft (via Yahoo) like Canonical tried several years ago, then we as users need to speak out. The boosters of the monopolist, people like Microsoft Peter, sure love this deal. It is good for Microsoft.
It’s Not About Yahoo, It’s Microsoft
Mozilla has clearly learned nothing about Ubuntu’s mistake with Yahoo — a mistake that was realised later and the plan undone. As Lirodon put it in our IRC channels, “Microsoft’s Yahoo-branded front-end of Bing is going to be Firefox’s new default search engine,” but we do not see enough people willing to chastise Mozilla over this. Microsoft only (by default) is not “multiple-search-partner” as LWN put it, and this should be rather clear. Putting aside the DRM, the ads and other controversies and scandals, this is quite serious and merely the latest step. It is just one among other misguided decisions that turned a once-awesome company into a one that compromises and even abandons principles, hopelessly thinking it would help it gain market share rather than the very opposite.
Sam Dean wrote about this deal and recalled that Mozilla “has historically gotten more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google, to the tune of $300 million recently, in exchange for search placement in the Firefox browser. That has completely changed, and now Mozilla has struck a similar five-year deal with Yahoo.”
5 years being stuck with Microsoft. And they probably cannot even revoke this deal. It’s similar to the 5-year (since 2006) Microsoft-Novell deal (also irrevocable, despite huge amounts of criticism). Some years ago Mozilla put some pressure on Google by flirting with the idea of a Microsoft deal. Can Google perhaps still save Mozilla from this horrible dependency? Press reports make that seem unlikely and few articles even point out that Yahoo is a relay for Microsoft (US searches done purely by Microsoft, meaning that Yahoo search is essentially just “Bing” in the US), after a corruptions parade and a corporate coup. Those who are implying that Google is in Yahoo because of the CEO (see the sneaky remarks about the CEO) must not have followed recent events closely enough. To quote one take on this:
It had been reported that Google and Mozilla were still negotiating on renewing their deal, but apparently that has failed (in the U.S) at least. No word (yet) on how much the Yahoo deal is worth to Mozilla, but it’s likely a good deal for Yahoo.
No, for Microsoft. Yahoo searches in the US are Microsoft’s business.
Christine Hall wrote:
There’s just one teeny-tiny little problem. For the last several years, Yahoo has been obtaining its search results from Bing, owned by Microsoft, with no indication this will change. I’m not exactly sure how the Microsoft/Yahoo deal works, but you can be sure that some money goes to Redmond each and every time a search is done via the web portal, something that many FOSS supporters might find unacceptable.
She is right. If only more people got this story right, perhaps there would be an uproar big enough and Mozilla would cancel the Microsoft (through Yahoo!) deal. Tell Mozilla what you think; get this mess undone before it’s too late and even incorporated into new stable releases. █
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Summary: Challenging the clueless ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the United States (very pro-software patents and anti-computer science), notable programmers write to the highest court
The SCOTUS and CAFC don’t often agree about patents. One possible (and commonly named) explanation is that the CAFC is inherently corrupt after patent maximalists got hold of positions of power, whereupon hid their conflicts of interest. CAFC, especially in its current form, should not be allowed to exist. It’s rogue.
Ruling in favour of Oracle, CAFC recently made copyrights on APIs a dangerous precedent and computer scientists are rightly fuming, seeing how a bunch of ignorant lawyers make a mockery of anyone who understands how computers work. As IDG put it:
Computer scientists have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision that Java APIs, the specifications that let programs communicate with each other, can be copyrighted.
In a dispute between Oracle and Google, the 77 scientists argue that the free and open use of the application programming interfaces has been both routine and essential in the computer industry since its beginning, and depended on the “sensible assumption” that APIs and other interfaces were not copyrightable.
“When Google wrote its program-interface (API) for Android, the company made a strategic decision to mimic the method call structure of Java,” writes Dennis Crouch under a misleading headline. “In the Copyright [CAFC] lawsuit,” explains Crouch, “the district court held that the API method headers were not protectable under copyright. However, the Federal Circuit reversed on appeal — finding the Java API taxonomy copyrightable as a whole. In particular, the appellate panel led by Judge O’Malley rejected the idea/expression merger doctrine since there are many other ways that functionally equivalent method-calls could have been constructed besides those found in Java. “Merger cannot bar copyright protection for any lines of declaring source code unless Sun/Oracle had only one way, or a limited number of ways, to write them.””
Anyone with a bit of a clue about programming (which makes about every patent lawyers or judge unsuitable to comment) can say that this is a ridiculous case with pretty much no basis at all. Many famous computer scientists have already written to the Court about this. As TechDirt put it:
Perhaps the most interesting was put together by the EFF, and was signed by 77 computer scientists, including many of the most well-known and most respected computer scientists around, including Hal Abelson, Brian Behlendorf, Ward Cunningham, Peter Deutsch, David Dill, Dave Farber, Ed Felten, Mitch Kapor, Alan Kay, Brian Kernighan, Guido van Rossum, Avi Rubin, Bruce Schneier and Bjarne Stroustrup among others. There are a lot more, obviously, but those were just a few of the names that stood out.
Perhaps realising that fellow OIN members and Android users can attack Android itself, Google has meanwhile signed this defensive deal with LG:
LG Electronics and Google sign a 10-year cross-licensing agreement that gives Google access to wearable device patents while encouraging LG to continue marketing Android mobile devices.
Android is by far the best selling platform right now, so no wonder it comes under fire. Since it is inherently Open Source (AOSP) and even Free software for the most part (it uses and contributes to Linux), we do care about this case a great deal and will keep on following it as a matter of priority. █
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