Summary: New article about software patents reveals that HP, under new leadership, has quietly bought a group of Microsoft allies (Fortify)
Following Hurd’s departure [1, 2, 3, 4] a former Microsoft ally was made the CEO of HP [1, 2, 3, 4] and this is important because of HP’s leading position in the desktops/servers market, not to mention all of its patents. “Every time a software patent is registered, an angel is bludgeoned to death with a shoe,” wrote “MrAlanCooper” to a former Microsoft employee. Yesterday we noticed this article about software patents in security, in which it’s mentioned that Fortify has just been acquired by HP. It’s important because Fortify too is a Microsoft ally, as we noted in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The article says:
Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can. Gary McGraw explains how another party may get a patent on a technique he had a hand in inventing.
The notion of software patents is extremely controversial. The basic idea is simple and mirrors “regular” patents. An inventor invents something and files a number of claims about the invention. The Patent Office reviews the filing and determines whether to grant a patent for the invention. Holding a patent guarantees the inventor some rights to enjoy the fruits of the invention for a fixed period of time. Not so bad if you invent the next great inside-the-peel Tomato twaddler, but a bit harder to understand in the software space.
Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can.
On to patent land. Apparently the security testing firm Cenzic believes that they deserve a patent for software fault injection. In February 2007 (a decade after our book was published) Cenzic was awarded patent number 7185232 for “fault injection methods and apparatus.” The basic claims in the patent involve injecting some faulty input into a web program (thing one) and watching for error responses (thing two). Very nice. Or maybe not. A grass roots effort to collect prior art and dispute the patent is being spearheaded on the net byEnrique A. Sanchez Montellano.
As an inventor of security technology, I am not completely opposed to the idea of software patents. In fact, we hold eight patents in various aspects of software security at Cigital (some of which are likely to be infringed upon). We like the idea of licensing our ideas and our prototypes to others. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with Fortify which was recently acquired by HP. We licensed our code scanning ideas and prototypes to Kleiner-Perkins who went on to found Fortify, build a real commercial product, and sell the heck out of it. So the notion of protecting our ideas with patents is not foreign to us.
A lot could be said about the article’s attitude w.r.t. software patents, but the news that we missed about Fortify may be important in the future. Fortify attacks Free software quite routinely, so it’s unclear why HP would want this culture to become ‘in-house’. Incidentally, considering that Hurd was fired after Microsoft had pointed out that his work on a homebrew Linux-based operating system was a major threat (c/f SEC filing), one ought to watch carefully what Apotheker does at HP. Microsoft also named Intel’s work on MeeGo as a major threat (alongside HP) and we all know what Microsoft did to Nokia [1, 2, 3, 4], harming MeeGo a great deal using entryism (a manager from BT privately told us by mail that it was probably illegal, he called it “100% corrupt”). Yesterday we wrote about the contractual obligations of Micromoles. Watch out, HP. █
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Summary: The companies behind the Linux-powered MeeGo and the Linux-powered WebOS are occupied by friends of Microsoft (CEO positions), but what will they do in the face of the Linux-powered Android?
IT increasingly seems like Microsoft’s Elop (a former president) will have Microsoft and Nokia wed each other, just like we feared. As a recap of previous posts about this issue, consider:
- If You Can’t Beat Them, Hijack Them (Microsoft Joins Nokia and It Already Shows)
- Linux Battle in Mobile Phones Becomes Primarily Legal, Not Technical, Due to Software Patents
- Taking Over Linux, by Proxy
- Microsoft Passes More of Its Executives to the MSBBC. What About Nokia?
- Microsoft President Quits, But is Nokia the Next Victim?
- Microsoft Insiders Galore: BBC, Nokia, Others Already Damaged by Microsoft Hires
- Linspire/Ballnux in Tablets; HP Possibly Experiments With Vista 7 in Slate After Abandoning It, Then Hiring From Microsoft
- New Article Says Nokia Might be Bought by Microsoft After Appointing Microsoft President as CEO
- Entryism Watch: Yahoo! Keeps Being Abducted by Microsoft Executives, HP Cancels Android Projects After CEO Appointment From SAP
- As Expected, Nokia and HP Betray Linux Under Microsoft-sympathetic New Leadership
- Head of Microsoft Romania Quits, Entryism Revisited
- Microsoft’s Favourite ‘Reporters’ Are Attacking Nokia, Pushing it Into Microsoft’s Arms
- Will Elop Choose the Future (Linux) or His Past (Microsoft) for Nokia?
- Analyst Wants Microsoft’s Elop (Now Nokia CEO) to Shoot Down Linux Programmes
Engadget has the headline “Nokia, Microsoft announcing partnership next week, possibly involving Windows Phone 7?”
This time around, it’s said that Microsoft will be the partner announced on the 11th — and though Nokia’s uptake of Windows Phone 7 would be the obvious strategic shift, it’s important to note that these companies have actually partnered before with pretty trivial consequences for the market; it’s entirely possible they could be ramping up to do that again, sharing apps and services between Windows Phone 7 and Symbian / MeeGo. We doubt it, but it’s within the realm of reason.
First off, the elephant in the room: recently-appointed CEO Stephen Elop comes from Microsoft on good terms and has clearly been given marching orders to take Nokia in a new, more profitable direction; the Symbian Foundation’s gutting happened on Elop’s watch, for example, and he just hinted a few days ago that joining an existing ecosystem could make sense.
These two companies signed some of their previous deals around communication applications and a sub-notebook (which never seemed to materialise really). It will be interesting to see what their announcement will be all about. In any event, the fact that they partner shows what a disastrous entryism we have here. Another company which builds phones with Linux is HP, which is run by Apotheker (a former Microsoft ally [1, 2, 3]). He became CEO and Hurd bought some Linux-related assets before he was ousted [1, 2, 3, 4]. What will Apotheker do with that? Well, first of all he “asks employees to get rid of iPhones”. We don’t know what comes next. Will they all be pressured or maybe forced to use WebOS-powered phones (with Linux)?
At the end of the day, all those ownership changes and cases of entryism should bother everyone involved. SCO too is said to be passing its business to another company:
In an email, SCO today (Friday) informed its partners that UnXis Inc. was chosen as the successful bidder for SCO’s Unix software business on 26 January. The slightly convoluted phrasing is probably due to SCO’s current reorganisation under Chapter 11. On 16 February, the transaction is to be submitted for approval to the bankruptcy court where SCO’s case is pending. The email also quotes Hans Bayer, SCO’s Vice President Worldwide Sales, as saying that “We are delighted that after years of shifting targets, that under the UnXis ownership, we now will be prepared to create a truly customer driven, fully supported, open systems platform for high reliability enterprise computing”.
We have already mentioned UnXis in the following old posts:
It is worth seeing what it all leads to. Microsoft is sometimes compared to a cult and whatever helps Microsoft make a profit — even if these are lawsuits against Android (lawsuits from former Microsoft employees) — cannot be ruled out. One need not look far to see how the Gates Foundation, for example, sometimes promotes Microsoft directly in all sorts of ways. It’s not as though Microsoft’s history lacks examples of dirty tricks and entryism, or even payments to SCO which sued Linux. █
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Summary: Another sign that Linux is winning against Windows comes from HP, which has had enough of Windows Home Server
WE ARE almost back to normal coverage (yours truly has been coding more than usual recently) and one reader sent us this pointer which shows that Microsoft’s dead products continue to pile up. It was around Thanksgiving, i.e. just very recently, that we spoke about Windows Home Server (WHS) being a candidate for deletion. HP has been essential for Microsoft in this space [1, 2]. It is their main if not only hope in this area and that’s about to end too:
“HP has told us they do not plan to provide a platform for Windows Home Server code name ‘Vail’. HP has told us they will continue to sell the existing version of MediaSmart Server through the end of the calendar year 2010 and will honour service and support agreements,” said Microsoft in a blog post yesterday.
“This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server ‘Vail.’”
According to MediaSmartServer.net, which quotes HP marketing manager Allen Buckner, the move away from Vail was due to “shifting additional resources to focus on webOS initiatives”.
All of which has got to hurt Microsoft, which already took a sizeable bruising from customers following its decision to kill the Drive Extender feature.
That’s despite Apotheker being in charge [1, 2] after Hurd got ousted by HP [1, 2, 3, 4]. As another reader, Ziomatrix, put it last night in IRC: “Dell starts selling laptops bundled with Linux again (look under Tech Specs): http://dell.to/idOer6 and HP drops its Windows Home Server line amid feature crisis and claims to focus more efforts on WebOS based Linux: http://engt.co/i8PsuP” (which further confirms that other report). █
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Summary: Microsoft’s practices of blocking competition through abolition of a proper procurement process is going to end up in court again
THE LAWSUIT over Microsoft’s deal with the government of Switzerland was last mentioned in relation to this story about Canton of Solothurn. Links to resources about the case can be found in (chronological order):
- Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
- Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
- 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
- Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
- Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
- ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
- Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
- Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
- Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
- Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
- Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
- Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court
- When Microsoft-Only/Lock-in is Defined as “Technology”
According to this new report, free/open source service providers appeal the procurement case in Switzerland. We may finally see some justice, assuming the courts in Switzerland can be shown sufficient evidence.
Microsoft “Squeezes OEMs”, says Pogson in one of his latest posts which specifically names HP (now occupied by more Microsoft-sympathetic managers [1, 2]).
HP is bargaining so hard with OEMs that some are refusing to supply machines to HP. This is because M$ rakes in far too much for software licensing. The margins of manufacturers are just too thin. It is the end-game of monopoly when suppliers no longer accept the dictates of monopoly. They can make other products and sell to other customers. Once the monopoly concedes to the first OEM, there is no place to go for licence fees but down.
Microsoft is rarely selected for any merits; it very often gets selected due to lock-in, chokehold (obstruction of competition), corruption, and entryism. █
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Greek military junta of 1967–1974
Summary: Microsoft may be organising a coup against Linux, especially inside some of its very top supporters, and evidence from the news concurs
“Nokia’s MeeGo device chief quits,” reports Engadget. This is the type of thing we have been expecting ever since a Microsoft president was made the CEO of Nokia, right after Nokia had become one of the top developers of Linux (the kernel) and told the press that its future crown jewel phones would run MeeGo. And now, just 2-3 weeks after Microsoft’s Elop comes to Nokia:
Nokia’s MeeGo device chief quits
In case you’re keeping track, Jaaksi’s departure follows the high-profile exits of Nokia’s former CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo (replaced by Stephen Elop) and the head of Nokia Mobile Solutions, Anssi Vanjoki. Notably, Nokia’s MeeGo team picked up Palm’s Peter Skillman as the head of MeeGo User Experience and Services during the same period.
Nokia can whitewash this all it wants, but in recent weeks we learned that Nokia had allegedly started playing with Vista Phone 7 [sic] and the commitment to MeeGo was weakened. Microsoft comes in as CEO, Linux comes out, eh? Sounds like potential entryism to us, unless the import from Microsoft only came after a strategic decision from ‘old Nokia’ (perhaps the board). Microsoft would not mind it so much if Nokia carried on with Symbian because Symbian development — unlike Linux development — does not help hundreds of Microsoft competitor at the same time. It is “the Linux phenomenon” — not Symbian — which Steve Ballmer called “threat number one” 9 years ago.
A key partner and co-developer of MeeGo, Intel, appears to be procrastinating as a result of all that news from Nokia. “Intel Says No MeeGo Handsets Until 2011,” reports a Forbes blogger and David Wood, known for his old role in Symbian, says “(sounds like Q2?)”. That’s a whole year from now. From the informal article:
MeeGo, the open-source mobile operating system that Intel and Nokia are jointly creating, recently took a hit with the departure of its Vice President of Devices, Ari Jaaksi. In the wake of that announcement, an Intel executive who oversees MeeGo development insists the project is on track, but concedes that MeeGo-powered smartphones–and tablets, for the most part–won’t debut until next year.
The news could disappoint gadget fans that have been anticipating the release of a portable MeeGo device since Intel and Nokia joined forces in February. It could also have implications for Nokia. Though the Finnish mobile technology giant is still the world’s largest handset maker, it is struggling to reinvent itself under a new Chief Executive and has been looking to MeeGo to rekindle interest in its high-end smartphones.
MeeGo is very important because of relative LSB compliance which Android, for example, does not have.
Having expressed some concerns after the “pee in the pants to get warm” remark from Nokia (about Android), Glyn Moody told me that “Eric [Schmidt] is not stupid: that just makes his poker hand stronger” when he contacts Nokia:
As MeeGo VP Quits, Nokia CEO Taking Calls From Eric Schmidt
News broke this morning that Nokia’s executive in charge of MeeGo devices, Ari Jaaksi, resigned last week. This continues a string of high-profile people leaving the world’s largest mobile phone company as it attempts to establish an identity in the quickly-evolving mobile space. The internal turmoil and the recent hiring of former Microsoft executive Stephen Elop to be Nokia’s new CEO has led to quite a bit of speculation that Nokia may turn away from its own operating systems and go with the new Windows Phone OS — or at least fork its products to have this OS as an option on top of the upcoming MeeGo. But don’t rule out Google’s Android OS just yet either.
We’ve heard from a good source that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has called Elop to discuss the possibility of Android running on Nokia phones. We actually heard this information about a week ago, but today’s news makes it potentially more interesting. Around the time Jaaksi was resigning, Elop and Schmidt were talking.
Why would a CEO who came from Microsoft embrace the same platform which Microsoft is zealously suing? This whole affair is somewhat depressing and worth keeping track of. We previous covered it in:
Nokia is not the only company which seems like a victim of Microsoft entryism. “HP-SAP merger talk considered far-fetched,” opines a writer from IDG, but the Microsoft boosters now report that HP “Windows 7 slates [come] ‘this Christmas,’ touch optimizations in 2011″ (as a reminder, HP sort of abandoned Vista 7 when it comes to slate, but then top appointments were made from SAP and Microsoft [1, 2]). Are we seeing Nokia and HP going through a phase similar to the one Yahoo! and VMB_ware went through (they became occupied by Microsoft executives who brought more Microsoft executives, over time)?
Never underestimate Microsoft’s willingness and ability to compete against Linux using dirty tactics like FUD, lawsuits, and entryism. HP and Intel (of MeeGo) were both distinctly named in Microsoft’s SEC filing as threats, specifically because they were promoting Linux. Gary Clow, a famous victim of Microsoft, once said that “[a] lot of people make that analogy that competing with Bill Gates is like playing hardball. I’d say it’s more like a knife fight.” █
“Where are we on this Jihad?”
–Bill Gates (about removing Linux support at Intel)
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Site of the Trojan War
Summary: The more Microsoft executives enter other companies, the less committed those companies become to projects that use GNU/Linux and the more receptive they become to other Microsoft veterans (friend brings a friend)
Entryism is much cheaper than buying an entire company (rather than taking over it from the inside). Entryism is usually a zero-cost means of converting a rival into an ally, with examples that in Microsoft’s case include Novell, Corel, Xandros, and XenSource. One of the most recent examples is VMB_Ware, which now wants to buy SUSE. VM_Bware is filled with former Microsoft executives at the top. Other ongoing cases of entryism appear to be Yahoo!, Nokia, and HP. These are the ones we deal with in this post.
Microsoft’s multi-year shakedown of Yahoo! has had Yahoo! hijacked by Microsoft from the inside. We documented this in many dozens of posts since 2008. What usually happens is that old Yahoo! managers leave or get expelled, only to be replaced by managers from Microsoft. It becomes like a Microsoft alumni reunion inside the newly-conquered company, whose old logo and name remain even though the agenda is different.
Many top managers are fleeing Yahoo!, still.
Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) is finally confirming the departure of a trio of top executives, including Americas head Hilary Schneider. In a just-filed statement with the SEC, Yahoo says Schneider will “be leaving after a transition period.” And, in a statement provided to us, the company says it expects to appoint Schneider’s successor by year-end.
Yahoo is also confirming that SVP of audience, mobile and local David Ko and Yahoo Media Head Jimmy Pitaro are both also leaving. The company isn’t saying why, but Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says in a memo sent to staff (via AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher) that all three are leaving for “different reasons that suit their life.”
Here are the terms of Schneider’s departure from Yahoo! [via Joseph Tartakoff] and here is indication of more of this exodus (“Yahoo In Disarray: Schneider, Ko, Pitaro All Reportedly Leaving”). There is more coming later today, based on the now-AOL-owned TechCrunch. The third paragraph is quite revealing:
Yahoo is in shambles right now. You’ve likely already heard about the most recent SVP exits, which CEO Carol Bartz has tried to spin. Now we’ve heard another one is leaving as well — Jeff Kinder, the SVP of Media Products and Solutions. And you know what that means — time for a massive re-org at the top of Yahoo. Yes, again.
Based on what we’re hearing, this re-org will take place next Tuesday. Of course, us reporting on this means that it could possibly be moved (as has happened in the past with Yahoo deals), but as of right now that’s the plan.
Based on what we’re hearing Yahoo Chief Product Officer Blake Irving may be the big winner of this re-org, as he’s been seen as the rising star in the company. Word is that he’ll be bringing some of his old Microsoft chums in to join him in high-up positions at this new-look Yahoo.
So, according to this, the Microsoft VP who became Yahoo Chief Product Officer “may be the big winner of this re-org, as he’s been seen as the rising star in the company. Word is that he’ll be bringing some of his old Microsoft chums in to join him in high-up positions at this new-look Yahoo.”
Yahoo! is making it all quite stealthy. Joseph Tartakoff, who has been somewhat of a Microsoft watcher (especially in the past) and a Yahoo! watcher more recently, writes: “So, if this report of another Yahoo SVP leaving is true … umm … why didn’t Yahoo announce his departure with the others yesterday?”
He also says: “Like, if Yahoo announced it, then people would cover that. Instead, people are being forced to write all these analysis pieces.”
“It seems like Yahoo is just asking for yet ANOTHER story about how top people are leaving the company in droves”
–Joseph TartakoffThe rants go on as he argues: “It seems like Yahoo is just asking for yet ANOTHER story about how top people are leaving the company in droves”
“But instead it seems we’ll have another week of stories about all the troubles at Yahoo,” he adds.
Lastly, says Tartakoff, “Yahoo will continue to leave their external PR/messaging to bloggers instead of taking control of it themselves.”
Microsoft is having problems and suffering many notable departures too (cannot be good for orientation); the issue is that these departing executives help Microsoft occupy some of its direct competition, due in part to HR mistakes. The thing about these seniors is that they land inside other companies and in the case of the mobile, entertainment, and Office businesses, we already see the negative impact. Microsoft appears to be poisoning Nokia these days, as we covered in:
Chips B. Malroy alerts us that following the latest news about SAP inside HP [1, 2] there are signs that HP is indeed losing some of its Linux direction, just like Yahoo! and Nokia. “If the headline is true,” wrote Malroy in IRC, “this is what Roy has been saying.” The headline says “HP Officially Drops Plans For Android Phones and Tablets” and here is a portion from the article:
The decision isn’t surprising, particularly as HP already announced it had no plans to make a phone running Windows Phone 7. However, the company still plans to sell that slate that Steve Ballmer was waving around back at a CES in January. Albeit, only business customers will see that still-unnamed slate.
This — combined with the lawsuits from Microsoft (against Android) — may lead to all sorts of conclusions or at least speculations. There was a lot more discussed in IRC (some parts to appear tomorrow as it went on past midnight). To quote some portions, Malroy said that “it looks like HP is only doing one Windows tablet” and Ziomatrix replied by saying that “it’s only logical considering [that] if the new CEO proclaimed to not use acquired Palm assets for future projects that’s worth $1.2B, the BoD would have him thrown out faster then you can say sexual harassment.
“I as well as other analysts foresee the new CEO forging a deeper relationship between SAP and MS in enterprise packages while competing more fervently with the likes of Oracle…”
–Ziomatrix“HP as an OEM has plenty of room to continue to accommodate MS products in PCs and Enterprise. I as well as other analysts foresee the new CEO forging a deeper relationship between SAP and MS in enterprise packages while competing more fervently with the likes of Oracle, like this: http://tinyurl.com/2c8wudg Perhaps we’ll be surprised, don’t forget most of the folks who re-vitalized Palm came from Apple and they wanted to be as un-Apple as possible as far as software openness is concerned.”
“We are at the point where computer tech is changing at a faster rate and it becomes increasingly harder for Microsoft to hide both it’s failures and it’s decline,” Malroy remarked later on and Ziomatrix responded with the claim that “perhaps this is the start of HP wanting to assemble an executive dreamteam to pen a strategy that will take them on their own path with exclusively their own assets such as Pheonix or HP-UX 11i+. One can dream…” █
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Summary: HP has been poisoned by Apotheker, whose long career took place in the “Microsoft of Europe” (SAP)
AS FAR as GNU/Linux at HP goes, the latest news (CEO appointment) is terrible for reasons we gave yesterday, but Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke pretends that the Windows versus GNU/Linux dimension does not exist at all (HP is a platforms company too) and instead he just apparently tries to make Oracle look bad (Oracle picked Hurd right after HP had ejected him under mysterious circumstances [1, 2, 3, 4]). Clarke for example suggests:
Apotheker’s hiring would suggest HP hasn’t forgiven Ellison’s remarks or forgotten. In fact, it has put a big fat reminder in Ellison’s face about who it’s dealing with by hiring some SAP blue blood. Apotheker’s presence reminds Oracle that HP is its own company and his presence suggests HP will leverage its business’ relationship with SAP in joint customers and work to deliver SAP apps on HP hardware as an alternative to Oracle.
Citing articles like the above and also this one, Mr. Pogson is surprisingly optimistic. He thinks that “Apotheker will no doubt have a global view of IT and may be friendly to GNU/Linux on desktop and server. They could increase margins by pushing GNU/Linux instead of that other OS. At SAP, Apotheker had no problem with customers running SAP on GNU/Linux.” (as long as it was Microsoft’s GNU/Linux, aka “Ballnux”). As the only comment on the post puts it, “If anything, I think Apotheker will make HP more unfriendly to free software. It is really debatable why Hurd was ousted. I happen to think he is removed by Microsoft because he engaged HP in free software “too much”. Acquisitions of Palm and Phoenix Linux BIOS tech as well contributions to GNOME and Linux kernel put HP on Microsoft’s hit list. Microsoft declared HP a threat in SEC fillings. Now Apotheker comes from proprietary company which is Microsoft ally. Make no mistake, SAP is enemy of free software. They feel the burn, and their business practices are incompatible with free software as much as Microsoft’s. SAP had a try when they released MaxDB under GPL, but they abandoned it after some time and continued supporting proprietary version. Since Apotheker lack experience with being a CEO (he was SAP CEO for only about a year) he will probably leave lots decision making to his underlings. And chief of HP software division is a Microsoft guy, appointed right about after Palm acquisition.” █
“Where are we on this Jihad?”
–Bill Gates talking about eliminating Linux at Intel
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“Open source is great for debugging, but it’s crucial not to touch [the code...] Intellectual property [IP] socialism is the worst that can happen to any IP-based society. And we are an IP-based society. If there is no way to protect IP, there is no reason to invest in IP.”
–Shai Agassi, SAP president
Summary: A SAP CEO becomes the CEO of HP after HP began to explore Linux very seriously, just like Nokia had its CEO canned to give way to a Microsoft President after it had moved aggressively and strongly in MeeGo’s (Linux/LSB) direction
WHAT WE dreaded the most is becoming a reality. One of the biggest OEMs in the world — just like the world’s biggest mobile phones manufacturer — seems to have become somewhat of a victim of Microsoft entryism and assimilation after supporting Linux ‘too much’. The CEOs got thrown out under mysterious circumstances. The subject was discussed in IRC a few hours ago, but here is just a preliminary summary (more information to come later).
For those who know not so much about Hurd’s departure, it turns out not to have been caused by sexual harassment at all [1, 2, 3, 4] (and it’s not surprising that Oracle immediately hired him after he had been ousted). The CEO who replaces him will be far less sympathetic towards Linux at HP because it is a SAP CEO, Leo Apotheker:
Today was the day eh? HP has chose Leo Apotheker as CEO and President. Who is Leo? Well, for the last 20 years he has been the CEO of a tiny little company called SAP.
HP has already hired some top guns from Microsoft, even a ~20-year veteran who became a Vice President at HP earlier this year. Microsoft must not have liked seeing Hurd drop Vista 7 like a
rock Slate, putting instead on his tablets a nice touch of Linux, which performed a lot better (Vista 7 on the Slate is a subject of ridicule at the moment). When Hurd got canned Microsoft seemed to have managed to reverse Hurd’s judgment. And who exactly is this new CEO? It’s the top man from SAP (see our Wiki page about SAP). Microsoft wanted to buy SAP some years ago because it’s Microsoft’s #1 ally in Europe, perhaps if only large companies are accounted for. SAP is also the major party among the few lobbyists for software patents in Europe. As for its relationship with Microsoft at present, they recently signed yet another partnership (right after lobbying together against SUN), building upon other relationships that they had (there are many past deals between this pair). They are close to Novell because Microsoft-taxed SUSE is the main GNU/Linux distribution SAP would dare to touch these days (it was solidified last week). It’s all rather telling and there is a lot more ugly stuff about SAP (see the Wiki and today’s IRC logs).
“Imagine what they can do with their own as well as acquired IP, including Palm. WebOS will pay the MS. tax?”
–ZiomatrixTo quote Ziomatrix about SAP: “They seem like MS’s minime concerning European lobbying. What’s their market cap? [...] Hurd was no saint but who knows what this CEO may unleash onto HP. He could be their Nero. [...] either that or HP will gain abundant market share by becoming a key patent hoarder. Imagine what they can do with their own as well as acquired IP, including Palm. WebOS will pay the MS. tax? [...] you think Nokia’s fate is as much sealed?”
Well, that’s the thing though, there are similarities there too. Nokia was assimilated to Microsoft right after it had moved a little ‘too close’ to Linux (MeeGo) and declared its intent to put Linux on the future crown jewel handsets (N series phones). In Nokia too the CEO got ousted, as if putting a Microsoft President instead of him and then exploring Vista Phone 7 [sic] would provide a lifeline somehow. For background see:
Getting back to HP, Hurd was canned (some would say “framed”) not so long after Microsoft had identified HP as a “risk” and its executives said this to their investors; HP was labelled a threat specifically for ‘daring’ to support GNU/Linux on sun-notebooks/netbooks (see the SEC filing for MSFT) and so was Intel, which built Moblin at the time (now it’s merged with Nokia’s Maemo and Microsoft has influence inside Nokia, the more dominant steward of MeeGo).
“Microsoft’s Elop does not even come from a mobile background, he comes from the Microsoft Movement and Steve Ballmer’s announcement of Elop’s departure seemed so optimistic that it aroused suspicion of it being arranged.”What are we trying to suggest here? In order to counter Android/Linux Microsoft seems to be invading companies which very much promote Linux and develop for Linux. In some cases, Microsoft signs Linux-hostile patent deals with those companies (e.g. HTC, Samsung, and LG), so Microsoft seems to have achieved a lot with this distasteful strategy. Just days ago it seemed like HP put Vista 7 on the HP Slate, even though Hurd had decided to call off this project (or focus a lot more on the Linux-based WebOS, which he bought along with Palm, expending billions). And then there’s the recent news about Vista Phone 7 on Nokia phones. Seriously, how much more evidence does one need to say that the Microsoft Movement is dealing some tricks? Companies don’t just reverse their strategies and return to old, discarded strategies overnight. Management can change in all sorts of ways and just as cats can be shaved in all sorts of ways, CEOs too can be disgraced and canned in many different ways. There was no reason for Nokia, for example (a longtime Microsoft sceptic/foe) to appoint a Microsoft President to become CEO. Microsoft’s mobile business is an utter disgrace and sheer failure, despite huge spendings on it. Microsoft’s Elop does not even come from a mobile background, he comes from the Microsoft Movement and Steve Ballmer’s announcement of Elop’s departure seemed so optimistic that it aroused suspicion of it being arranged.
The following timely links from Pogson may help explain why Microsoft had to prevent HP and Nokia/Intel (MeeGo) from releasing Linux-based products. Published today:
The OEMs are seeing that that other OS is holding them back. They can make more money by cutting prices and selling machines without that other OS but with no OS or GNU/Linux.
White-box players also believe that even though they have inferior quality over hardware and software, with the addition of GPS, WiDi, micro projector and e-book reading capabilities, as well as a price point of half the mainstream tablet PC’s price, their products can still attract consumers from emerging markets such as China, India and the Middle-East.
As for Intel’s new Atom N550 processor, based on Acer’s internal testing, the new processor performs 50% faster than the previous generation model, but the price is at about the same range. Since new netbooks are priced at US$300-400, about the same as previous models, while having better performance, Lin believes the price/performance ratio should help attract consumers.
While a number of IT companies and handset vendors have unveiled tablet PC products, volume shipments are unlikely to hit the market until 2011 as most of the newly developed tablet PC products are still in sampling or small volume production, as well as low yields in lamination of medium-size touch panels, according to Lin Sheng-chang, president of Chunghwa Picture Tubes (CPT).
Microsoft is left out of these market segments.
Another question worth asking is, what will happen to HP’s role in GNOME (Stormy Peters et al.) and Free software? Why would a SAP guy be committed to it? SAP hates GNU/Linux (not Ballnux), it loves Microsoft, and it loves software patents (it still lobbies for them in Europe). SAP has a very Free software-hostile history, with notable remarks that include some from Shai Agassi (see the top of this post). █
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