Summary: Memories of the Connie Chung interview return to haunt as Bill Gates faces tough questions
BILL GATES does not like to be asked hard questions. At least once he abandoned an interview in the middle because he was asked a hard question (he probably bailed out of others before they could take place because his PR agents, e.g. Waggener Edstrom from Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, is known to be compiling dossiers on reporters to determine if communication with them is ‘safe’).
Essentially, Gates is using PR people to ensure in advance it’s just a few softball questions he will get, trying to control what the interviews (public appearances) ever cover. To quote from “Barbarians Led by Bill Gates”, a book composed by Pam Edstrom’s (of Waggener Edstrom) daughter:
By May of 1994, Gates’s patience was growing so thin that not even a public relations pro like Pam Edstrom could muzzle him.
On May 19, one of Edstrom’s biggest nightmares unfolded on national television. Gates had agreed to be interviewed by CBS’s Eye to Eye host Connie Chung. Chung said she wouldn’t ask Gates sensitive questions, particularly ones regarding the current Justice Department investigation. With that, “Gates’s keeper” swung open
Gates was patient and accommodating during the interview, even when Chung asked him to jump over a chair from a standing position, a skill he demonstrated at various times, including once during COMDEX at the Shark’s Club in Las Vegas in front of a packed crowd of admirers and computer junkies. So, once again, Gates complied, successfully jumping over a chair for the camera crew and their network TV audience.
But by then Connie and company had outstayed their welcome. Gates turned to Edstrom.
“Is this five minutes up? Pam, I mean, do you know five minutes?” he drilled.
Edstrom replied with a simple yes, but Chung continued with her questioning, drifting further and further off limits. She asked about his wife, Melinda. Then she brought up the STAC lawsuit.
In early 1993, STAC Electronics, which made data compression software, had sued Microsoft for patent violation, claiming Microsoft had used these patents in DOS 6.0. STAC said Microsoft had been in negotiations to license “Stacker,” but talks disintegrated when Microsoft refused to pay the royalties STAC wanted. It was one of the only lawsuits Microsoft ever lost for patent infringement.
In preparation for her interview, Chung had talked to the CEO of STAC, Gary Clow, as well as other Gates rivals. She quoted a Clow comment to Gates on the air.
“A lot of people make that analogy that competing with Bill Gates is like playing hardball,” she had Clow saying. “I’d say it’s more like a knife fight.”
“I’ve never heard any of these things,” Gates said. “You know, you’re saying like a knife fight. That’s silliness. It’s—childish. I mean, why be a mouthpiece for that kind of—of silliness? Why doesn’t he just—just say them—anyway, it—because it has nothing to do with the patent lawsuit. It has to do with just, you know, creating a—you know, sort of a David versus Goliath thing out of it. Well, I’m done.”
And with that, Gates walked off the set.
“Can I just ask you one more question, Bill?” Chung said. His voice trailed off into the distance, “No, I don’t think so.” It wasn’t much later that Chung left CBS, and many people wondered if Gates had had something to do with it.
He chickened out. Now, watch the following new video, which somebody titled “Bill Gates Wants Death Panels: Dying People VS Teachers”
There are many comments here, such as the insinuation that Gates said: “SAVE A LIFE, FIRE A TEACHER”
Summary: Novell’s proprietary business assets and what they have been up to in the past week
NOVELL news coverage has recently been overwhelmed by the big bid [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Novell’s PR team has been very active despite all of this and it hardly even mentioned the bid, instead choosing to focus on fluff like SaaS and a survey that Novell was conducting itself in order to support its position, apparently.
Summary: News touching on Novell’s non-Free/libre component of the business
THIS is the third part which covers Novell news from the first two weeks of February. This part covers Novell’s proprietary side, of which there is a lot (Novell is predominantly a closed-source company). What we happen to have found along the way this week is that Novell is not just a company that makes jewelry; there is yet another company called Novell Pharmaceutical Laboratories. Here is what we gather from the press release:
I‘m Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Movement. I campaign for computer users’ freedom — for instance, your freedom to control the software you use, to redistribute the software to others. Software that respects the user’s freedom is what we call free software.
In 1983 I announced the plan to develop a complete free operating system called GNU. The system that millions of people use, and often refer to as “Linux”, is a variant of the GNU system.
What hardware are you using?
I am using a Lemote Yeelong, a netbook with a Loongson chip and a 9-inch display. This is my only computer, and I use it all the time. I chose it because I can run it with 100% free software even at the BIOS level.
I spend most of my time using Emacs. I run it on a text console, so that I don’t have to worry about accidentally touching the mouse-pad and moving the pointer, which would be a nuisance. I read and send mail with Emacs (mail is what I do most of the time).
I switch to the X console when I need to do something graphical, such as look at an image or a PDF file.
Most of the time I do not have an Internet connection. Once or twice or maybe three times a day I connect and transfer mail in and out. Before sending mail, I always review and revise the outgoing messages. That gives me a chance to catch mistakes and faux pas.
What would be your dream setup?
I would ideally like to have a machine with the speed and memory of a laptop, and the display size of a laptop too, combined with the same freedom that I have now on the Yeelong.
Until I can have them both, freedom is my priority. I’ve campaigned for freedom since 1983, and I am not going to surrender that freedom for the sake of a more convenient computer.
I do hope to switch soon to a newer model of Yeelong with a 10-inch display. █
How does the interoperability agreement with Microsoft relate to the IWM launches? [The Microsoft/Novell Partnership announced in 2006 gives interoperability and virtualisation solutions for firms using both Windows and Linux]
The agreement means that Microsoft can run their virtualised applications on our environment and we can run ours on theirs.
I think it works really well. Our core assumption is that customers are Microsoft customers and have multiple Java technology stacks. So in a virtualized environment, this relationship allows us to support and optimise those workloads.
This puts us in a stronger position than competitors such as Red Hat for example.
So our strategy is built on that assumption of heterogeneity. Where firms have multiple technology stacks, we can optimise and build security and governance into them.
Microsoft could do that too. A couple of years ago it was argued that Microsoft could buy the WordPerfect lawsuit along with Novell. █
Summary: An excellent new audiocast covers lesser known facts about Novell’s deal with Microsoft
JEREMY Allison, whom we interviewed shortly after he had left Novell in protest, has just done a session with the SFLC where he talks about events predating the Microsoft deal. According to the audio (playable below), Allison was sent an early copy of Novell’s deal with Microsoft, which he said was like passing a crayon over section 7 of the GPL (v2). Allison resisted it, but the lawyers ignored his feedback anyway and requested deletion of the trail.
* Jeremy discussed that he resigned from Novell in protest over the Microsoft/Novell deal. (19:33)
The main new item there is Novell’s treatment of antagonism. The legal team patronised an expert advice, so what was it sharing a draft for? A pursuit for endorsement and “yes men”? Based on the bogus survey, that is a possibility. █
Summary: Further discussion of the European Commission’s provisional agreement with Microsoft; licensing complications at Microsoft turn out to be deliberate
THE European Commission has permitted Microsoft to discriminate against Free software [1, 2] and it also failed to address Microsoft's racketeering tactics against Free software. Most press coverage, however, is focused only on the terms regarding Web browsers and a screen-based ballot.
Ashwin van Rooijen: Yeah. Well, I think the open source issue is important. In many markets, Microsoft faces meaningful competition — any meaningful competition — only from open source developers. So it is very important that they can actually create interoperable products. And the current template patent license that was part of the undertaking — I believe it was Annex C of the undertaking — is clearly not compatible with open source licensing schemes and especially not with the GPL. It requires, for example, that developers that take a license, that take a patent license, notify all the other developers that they distribute the software to of the various patents which Microsoft claims to have in its software. And obviously, that’s an obligation which cannot be reconciled with the GPL. And there are other provisions as well which I think would need to be resolved.
Q: Well, there’s also been a history of Microsoft claiming patent infringement, but not communicating the numbers of the patents in question.
Thomas Vinje: that’s been a very serious issue indeed. And patent FUD, in that regard –
Q: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Thomas Vinje: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, which we certainly believe and has been engaged in to cause concern mainly among potential consumers of open source software about potential patent liability. That’s been a serious concern. There are some things in this proposed undertaking that would help to address that problem. And we should say more generally that not everything in the proposed interoperability undertaking is bad; there are some very serious problems with it, some really rather obnoxious devils in the details –
Q: Could you be more specific?
Thomas Vinje: Well, we’ve been talking about the patent one, and the standards one, and we could address other ones as well. But nonetheless, there are some — we’re not certainly saying that it’s unsaveable — I mean, this is a document which could be modified and turned into something which would be very useful. Not necessarily a panacea, it’s not going to change the landscape of the industry and make it competitive tomorrow in ways that it isn’t today, or even next year in ways that it isn’t today, but it potentially would be a very useful arrangement. Ashwin, I’ve spoken a lot, why don’t you mention some of the other devils in the details of the proposed interoperability undertaking?
The good news is that there is still room for modification. Microsoft has attempted to complicate things for Free software, using fees that supposedly correspond to software patents (they are not legal in Europe).
Speaking of complication in licences, IDG has shed some light on why Microsoft licensing is such a complicated thing. The truth may seem like a joke, but it’s not; it comes from Microsoft’s own mouth:
Navigating Microsoft’s complex rules and programs for software licensing has been notoriously difficult for businesses — a pain point not lost on the company, which for years has said it is trying to simplify the process for customers.
But remarks made recently by Microsoft’s top executive, as well as suspicions raised by customers and software consultants, suggest that Microsoft keeps its licensing complicated for a reason, and that it has no plans to make it any simpler in the foreseeable future.
Customers tend to take a big-picture view of licensing, according to Elop — that is, they look at the value it adds to their businesses overall, rather than dwell on the minutia of individual licenses required for the products they use.
“Customers want the amount they pay to be tied to the value that they’re driving, the usage they’re getting — that’s why these models are so complicated,” he said. “For different customers, these things are measured in different ways.
“What a customer will do generally is take a big step back and say, what am I paying for e-mail? What am I paying for collaboration? And they will make a determination as to whether they think that’s fair value or less than fair value,” he said.
Ouch. Why has Microsoft said the truth out in public? It would be used against it now that the cat is out of the bag. █
“Usually Microsoft doesn’t develop products, we buy products.”