Their biggest sponsors simply do not oppose software patents and instead hoard some themselves
Summary: The arms race of patents, or the notion that bad patents can be countered using more bad patents, has become an infectious mentality that acts as a barrier to real progress and only makes the patent thickets a lot ‘thicker’ (impenetrable to small companies/market entrants)
THE US patent office is no longer as lenient as it used to be, but software patents continue to be granted on occasions and troll lawsuits are still being filed (albeit fewer of them than before). As so many companies out there now use Android (Linux), the targets of litigation are often users/distributors of Android and hence “PAX” has some real/perceived necessity. We recently wrote two articles about PAX [1, 2] and Andrew Updegrove, who had worked for the Linux Foundation, wrote the following about it yesterday, under the headline “Google Announces Android “PAX” Cross-License Program – But to What Purpose?”
The first meaningful OSS defensive initiative was Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), founded back in 2000 by companies like IBM, Intel and HP to reassure developers and customers in the face of the veiled threats then being made by Microsoft against users of Linux and other OSS, and in light of the actual (and ultimately unsuccessful) litigation by SCO, perhaps bankrolled by Microsoft, against four companies using Linux.
Like OSDL, OIN was heavily funded by its founding members and has a high-powered Executive Director and staff. Over 2,000 organizations have now signed the OIN License Agreement, which you can read here, without having to send in a request to be vetted, or incurring a confidentiality obligation.
And then there are the many efforts that were far less meaningful. Beginning with an announcement by IBM on January 11, 2005, many of the leading IT companies made public “patent non-assertion pledges” to reassure users of Linux (and sometimes other prominent OSS programs) that they would not be sued. Those companies ultimately included Motorola, Nokia, Sun, Google, Oracle and others, each publicly releasing its own slightly different legal pledge, and its own specified list of patents – dozens, scores and even hundreds of them. In the case of IBM, the package included exactly 500 patents, an oddly round number. (The same press release also noted that IBM had filed more patents than anyone else for the fourth year in a row, conveying a rather mixed message to the patent-averse open source community.)
PAX and OIN are both ineffective against trolls and as we reminded readers earlier this afternoon, companies like Ericsson and Microsoft pass patents for trolls to sue, bypassing all sorts of alleged defenses such as OIN.
Yesterday or earlier this week, more detailed analysis emerged on the cases involving Samsung, Apple and Qualcomm (which had abused its position against both Samsung and Apple). To quote what Florian Müller wrote this morning:
Procedural decisions relating to two major Apple cases have come down this week. With respect to design patent damages in Apple v. Samsung, Apple did not get its preferred way forward (affirmance of prior damages verdict and an immediate re-retrial necessitated by the Federal Circuit’s dismissal of Apple’s trade dress claims), but the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has granted Apple’s wish that its contract, patent and antitrust action against Qualcomm be kept separate from a long list of (consumer) antitrust cases related to the FTC’s mid-January complaint against Qualcomm.
There isn’t much to say right now about the Apple v. Samsung design patents case. In a case management order handed down on Tuesday, Judge Lucy Koh disagreed with Apple’s most aggressive suggestions, which would have cut the remand proceedings short (after the Federal Circuit decided that the district court should take a closer look at the record in light of the December Supreme Court ruling). I’m not surprised and I doubt Apple itself was.
Qualcomm’s abuses against all sorts of companies were covered here before [1, 2] and where were groups like OIN while this was going on? Nowhere. Because in practice they are something between “deterrent” and “bloody useless”. To properly address these issues, we need to tackle the underlying issues, which are the patents themselves, notably software patents that Qualcomm still uses and advocates for. █
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Summary: How SCO orchestrated attacks on Groklaw and other takes on the trial against Novell
WE generally cover the SCO case only when there is a major development. One new post that we found particularly curious is titled “Blake Stowell Email to Maureen O’Gara: ‘I Need You to Send a Jab PJ’s Way’” (SCO also paid O'Gara, who carries on lying about the case).
This shows how corruptible the press really is, but then again it’s Sys-Con [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], which is far worse than Fox. Microsoft also used Maureen O'Gara to send a jab in the Linux Foundation's way (OSDL at the time). Microsoft didn’t do this directly. In order to reduce the risk, it used its main PR agency (there are several), Waggener Edstrom. Anyway, here is what Groklaw writes:
So. Now I know. Now we all know.
Blake Stowell, then the PR guy for SCO, sent an email to Maureen O’Gara, saying “I need you to send a jab PJ’s way,” and then right afterwards she wrote that invasive so-called expose, in which she revealed, or at least intended to reveal, things like who I called on my phone. A la the HP scandal. She got fired for doing it the way she did, and the then-publisher apologized to me publicly, but she says in the deposition she’s not sorry a bit.
We learn this by reading excerpts from her deposition, previously under seal, attached to a letter [PDF] SCO’s attorney sent to the court. SCO doesn’t want the part of her deposition video played where she talks about me and Groklaw. It’s beyond eye-opening, however, despite her pretense, as I see it, that there is no connection between the two events.
They also don’t want the part about an email she sent to SCO, subject line, “I want war pay,” played. It’s allegedly humor. Just chatter. But you know, she is on the list of people SCO owes money to, now that I think of it, filed in connection with the bankruptcy. I wonder for what?
It isn’t acceptable, in my eyes, that SCO’s attorneys invariably smear Groklaw in every filing that mentions it. They don’t just say “Groklaw,” they say “the anti-SCO website, Groklaw.” One can say quite a lot in legal filings, and get away with it, but there is a line where it becomes libel, when it is gratuitous, and that language is gratuitous. There isn’t a media outlet that I can think of, other than Maureen O’Gara’s newsletters, that hasn’t criticized what SCO did. The Wall Street Journal was the first, actually, to suspect there was something rotten in Lindon, if you recall. Would it be acceptable to call it, in legal papers, the anti-SCO newspaper, the Wall St. Journal? I think not, and I suggest they are crossing a line.
Microsoft evangelists (on the payroll) are doing this to Boycott Novell and anonymous Novell employees too. Thus, they would be hypocrites to paint themselves as victims of bad publicity.
Our reader The Mad Hatter writes some more about the SCO case, calling it “SCOicide”.
Due to the interest in the case, Judge Kimbell told both parties to minimize redactions in the documents that they filed, and not to minimize the number of documents filed under seal. Because of this we learned that Caldera had hired people to investigate and prove the transfer of code, and that they reported that they COULD NOT FIND PROOF OF ANY TRANSFER. They filed their reports before the original lawsuit was launched. Darl, the CEO knew that he didn’t have any proof. None. But he went ahead with the lawsuit against IBM anyway.
Other coverage from the latest episode in this case includes:
1. Novell asks for further ruling on Motion in Limine No. 4
Novell has asked the Court to rule further on their Motion in Limine No. 4 [PDF; text]. The Court had previously issued a ruling [PDF] granting that Motion, but Novell now asks for further ruling, stating that “[t]he Court addressed this issue solely in the context of SCO’s covenant of good faith claim. However, Novell’s motion covered all of SCO’s claims, including slander of title. The Court’s prior ruling did not expressly address other claims, so Novell requests the Court to rule on the issue that was left open by its prior order.”
2. Attorney: IBM-Novell worked together to hurt SCO
Novell Inc. lied about owning the copyrights for the Unix computer operating system then collaborated with IBM to damage Unix owner The SCO Group, the latter’s attorney told a federal court jury Tuesday.
In the first day of testimony in a trial to settle a long-running legal dispute between SCO and Novell, SCO went on the attack by calling as its first witness the former CEO and chairman of Novell. Robert Frankenberg testified that despite Novell’s claims of ownership, his intent was to sell the copyrights in a 1995 deal that’s at the heart of the conflict.
The SCO Group claims that Novell “slandered” its title to the Unix system and caused it to lose as much as $215 million in revenue at a time when it was in a related dispute with IBM. SCO had accused IBM of improperly using Unix code for improvements that made the Linux operating system a commercial competitor.
SCO’s 2003 lawsuit potentially put IBM on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars. But then Novell late that year claimed that it, and not SCO, owned the copyrights, meaning SCO did not have a basis for its IBM lawsuit nor for demands that businesses using Linux pay licensing fees.
3. Novell, IBM accused of collaborating to hurt Unix owner, lawyer says
A trial in federal court that could have a major impact on the Linux operating system opened in Salt Lake City on Monday with The SCO Group’s lawyer taking aim at Novell and IBM.
4. Arguments begin in SCO v. Novell over copyrights
5. Day 2 of the SCO v. Novell Trial – Opening argument – Updated Repeatedly – 1st Witness, Frankenberg (more documents)
Would it surprise you to find out that it turns out that apparently one of the jurors might be related to one of SCO’s prior corporate officers? At any rate they have the same last name, and Salt Lake City is a big place, so perhaps not. Novell noticed the similarity in names, according to our reporter today, MSS2, only after jury selection was over.
MSS2 has just sent me his first report of day 2 of the jury trial in SCO v. Novell, with more to come. Today was opening arguments by both sides. And we have lots more goodies for you from two eyewitnesses, MSS2 and Tilendor. We begin with SCO’s opening argument by Stuart Singer. All I can say after reading it is maybe you needed to be there. Or SCO must be a slow learner or Mr. Singer never reads Groklaw, or … well, see what you think.
6. Day 1 of the Jury Trial, SCO v. Novell – Updated 2Xs – We Have a Jury
7. Jury seated in SCO lawsuit against Novell
A jury has been seated to hear the lawsuit in which The SCO Group is claiming Novell interfered with its ownership of the Unix computer operating system and cost it more than $100 million in business.
8. Last-Minute Filings from Judge Stewart, SCO, Novell
9. More Back-and-Forth on Proposed Jury Instructions/Verdict Forms in SCO v. Novell
10. Day 2 of the SCO v. Novell Trial – Opening argument – Updated Repeatedly – 1st Witness, Frankenberg
11. Volunteer Needed for Thursday Trial Coverage
The Salt Lake Tribune then published this somewhat controversial article (also posted here), which led to this rebuttal from Groklaw.
And on it goes until Friday:
12. Day 4 of the Trial in SCO v. Novell – and Novell’s Petition for Certiorari
13. Novell’s Motion to Allow Evidence: SCO Opened the Door
14. Day 5 of the SCO v. Novell Trial & Some Help for Journalists Covering the Trial
Some readers of Boycott Novell have sufficient knowledge about the case and they comment about it in IRC. But for well researched commentary regarding SCO, we recommend that people read Groklaw, which could use more volunteers. █
“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”
–Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO approached by Microsoft
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Out goes Rex, in comes Ted
Not so long ago it was Mozilla that got ‘detoxicated’. Novell’s harmful relationship with the Linux Foundation (LF) is something that we remarked on before [1, 2, 3, 4]. By association, the LF with Novell is an open(er) door to Microsoft, which is a partner/ally of one of its funding sources. There are other examples, e.g. Intel, but it does not come quite so close.
Either way, things are changing for the better. Here is a press release about the departure of Markus Rex from the Linux Foundation. He’s going back to Novell, where he was still partly involved. His ‘inauguration’ we mentioned here and here.
Matt Asay changed his headline from “Novell gets a new/old Linux chief” to “Novell’s new Linux chief has Suse history.”
It’s possible that someone from Novell, his former employer, sent him E-mails ‘behind the scenes’ again (the original headline made it sound like Markus is “old”) [correction in the comments]. Anyway, here is his coverage.
Markus Rex, formerly the chief technology officer of Suse and currently on leave from Novell, is back in the saddle as acting general manager and senior vice president of Novell’s Open Platform Solutions business unit, reporting to Novell CTO Jeff Jaffe, as Novell announced Monday.
Some more details
Novell has announced two new executive appointments that it said will strengthen its focus on cross-platform solutions and the SUSE Linux Enterprise market.
The company has appointed Roger Levy as senior vice president of strategic development, responsible for cross business unit strategy and offerings for the data center, end-user computing, and identity and security management markets. Prior to his new role, he was general manager and senior vice president of the company’s Open Platform Solutions unit.
Markus Rex, who is currently on leave from the company as CTO to the Linux Foundation, will take over as acting GM and SVP of the OPS unit. He joined Novell in 2004 when it acquired SUSE Linux, and has served as GM for SUSE Linux and CTO for the OPS unit.
So who will inherit his place? A short while ago it was announced that it would be Ted (also appearing here and here).
Ts’o will be replacing Markus Rex as CTO of the Linux Foundation. Rex was on loan to the Foundation from his employer Novell. He recently returned to Novell to work as the acting general manager and senior vice president of Novell’s OPS business unit.
IDG has covered this.
The Linux Foundation has selected a new CTO, Ted Ts’o, who has been known as the first North American developer of the Linux kernel, the foundation said on Thursday.
This is good news for the Linux Foundation and GNU/Linux as a whole. Ts’o is one of the first contributors to Linux. █
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Early in the day we wrote about Novell’s and the Linux Foundation’s cold attitude towards Free software. Based on the latest from the Linux Foundation, Ron Hovsepian and Jim Zemlin will be be doing another public chat where the deal with Microsoft is unlikely to be brought up and betrayal of the developers even discussed [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Here is just one of the few articles covering it (so far).
The free, invitation-only event will feature an address by Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian and a question-and-answer session with Zemlin.
Here is the press release:
– An address from Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, which will include a Q&A
with the Linux Foundation’s executive director Jim Zemlin.
They give a lot of exposure to Novell in that event. How come?
Are the Foundation’s members aware of Microsoft's proximity to Novell? What might be the impact Monofestation and other C# manifestations a lá Vala? The following new article about .NET mentions Novell’s role as though it’s part of Microsoft’s movement for development domination.
In addition to .NET, there are other implementations of CIL—the two most well known by Microsoft and Novell. Microsoft’s implementation is an open source offering for the purposes of research and education called the Shared Source Common Language Infrastructure (SSCLI). The Novell offering is called Mono, which is also open source.
This will make Novell a more attractive takeover target. And speaking of which, also based on the latest news, Microsoft puts resources in Utah. Again.
Microsoft has become an investor in Move Networks, a growing Utah company that streams television on the Internet for entities such as the NFL and Disney.
There are some more details about it here. Microsoft was recently seen expanding in Fargo, hiring 5 employees for its new base there. Prelude to a strategic move, a coincidence, or none of the above? Microsoft is already toying with Novell, so it’s probably a matter of preparation and just a matter of time. █
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The announcement from Adobe may be slightly overplayed by the press, but the gist of the story is that Flash technologies get a little gentler and a little more transparent. This is good news by all means and it will assist projects like gnash tremendously. However, this does not resolve the deformation of the Web, whose control used to be more decentralised.
It is worth remembering that Adobe is now a member of the Linux Foundation. Despite this, Adobe is being betrayed by Novell in favour of Microsoft. Nonetheless, Novell built parts of its Web site using Adobe Flash. Makeover to come?
Reports from the press include (thanks to several readers who brought this to our attention):
1. Adobe moves to broaden Flash reach
Open Screen is being spearheaded by Adobe. But the company is working with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Qualcomm, Chunghwa Telecom, Samsung, Motorola, NTT Docomo, Toshiba, Verizon Wireless, ARM, Intel, Marvell, NBC, MTV, and the BBC. It’s “a who’s who in the industry,” said David Wadhwani, general manager and vice president of the Platform Business Unit at Adobe.
2. Adobe Drops Licensing Fees, Gives Away Flash For Devices
Software maker Adobe announced Thursday that it would drop many of the licensing requirements attached to its Flash technology, which is used to display video and audio content on the web.
We will stick to Ogg Theora though, whenever this is possible. Thanks to akf for the invaluable suggestions, which made transcoding a lot easier. In order for Adobe to become a darling, the whole stack that it uses ought to embrace a licence like the GPLv3 (this includes codecs).
Another reader wrote to bring up this article, adding: “It’s about what Silverlight need to do to become successful.” It can hopefully be eliminated, but not using Flash. We need some real alternatives like Ogg, rather than fight fire with fire. We shall do our best to promote Ogg and make it more widespread. Presence typically ushers adoption. █
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“I’ve heard from Novell sales representatives that Microsoft sales executives have started calling the Suse Linux Enterprise Server coupons “royalty payments””
–Matt Asay, April 21st, 2008
Yesterday we wrote about Novell's news from China and warned that Microsoft and Novell had begun to share some more vocabulary. Several more articles have since then been published to cover the new announcement, including this one.
As part of the on-going agreement with Novell, Microsoft is identifying and converting unsupported users of Linux to the latest versions of Suse Linux.
After a long period of doubt, scepticism and criticism over their agreement, Novell and Microsoft are finally starting to see the benefits of the 5-year alliance originally announced in December 2006.
Continuing to dabble with the ‘dark side,’ Ron Hovsepian, president and CEO of Novell said in a recent press-release, describing the outcomes of their alliance with Microsoft, “It’s very encouraging to see that our business and technical collaboration continues to resonate with customers around the globe.”
What is meant by “unsupported users of Linux”? Are these users who do not pay Microsoft for mythical software patents in a country where these are invalid anyway? If it’s about technical support, they already have several other companies to turn to.
Amid all this ugliness, the Linux Foundation, which is sponsored by Novell, keeps silent and at times even dishonest about these issues. Sam Varghese has just expressed his thoughts and articulated his complaints, which seem to suggest that the roots of Linux, including projects like Debian and even Slackware are being neglected, disregarded and faced with disinterest from those who had a lot of labour exploited.
Whither the Linux Foundation?
We live in the age of the spinmeister, the age when language is used more as a means to confuse than to educate, an age when obfuscation is preferred to clarification.
The Foundation, one must bear in mind, was formed at the beginning of 2007 by a merger between the Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group.
This is the same group that, last year, asked people to respect Microsoft .
For some time now, the Foundation has been trying to generate its own coverage. There were some pitiful attempts by Zemlin earlier this year to pass around interviews which he had done with Foundation employees. But he came unstuck when he interviewed Novell chief Ron Hovsepian and never raised the question of that company’s deal with Microsoft. If anything could have unmasked an interview as being bogus, this was it.
The whole exercise tells me one thing: this is taking Linux away from its roots. The whole point is to rapidly introduce changes into the kernel, changes which the corporates want, changes for which they pay, both by being members of this Foundation and also by employing developers.
In BusinessWeek, the Foundation protested against Microsoft's saber-rattling. Shouldn’t it begin to pressure and publicly criticise Novell for being a part of the same abuse the Foundation seemingly protested against? Well, the Foundation is far too close to Novell and it’s even feeding Microsoft's favourite shills now.
This is of course disappointing because the very same companies that made use of Free software now turn their backs on it, in addition to giving GNU the kick in favour of “commercial open-source” or whatever they choose to call it nowadays (Web 2.0, SaaS, open enterprise ‘solutions’).
Volunteering advocates among us are by no means happy and it probably shows. Ken Starks is optimistic however.
Linux Users will rescue the Desktop. We don’t need corporate help.
Let me take this ice cold bucket of water and welcome those who believe this to the real world. Take a deep breath, because I’m about to splash you abruptly back into the cold, harsh light of reality.
O’Grady writes some more related notes in his Q&A/monologue-style page in order to explain this perplexing situation which he broadly refers to as “Open Source Indemnification”.
While it remains possible – at least as long as Ballmer is at the helm – that Microsoft could pursue litigation against customers, I think highly unlikely.
For a brand that relies highly on rank and file recognition and adoption, pursuing an RIAA-style course of action that includes legal action against its direct customers would be the worst kind of brand suicide. So while Ballmer might hint at such actions in attempt to disincent usage and adoption of the technologies, it’s unlikely that it would go further than that. If not because of the PR implications, then because of the mutually assured destruction scenarios that would likely result in retaliatory lawsuits from competitive vendors with patent portfolios of their own.
Where is the Linux Foundation and why is it not protesting against this abuse by Microsoft? Does it just inherit Novell’s bad behaviour and accepts it silently because of the sponsorship? Might the “respect Microsoft” remark [1, 2, 3] mean more than we realise? It makes the Linux Foundation look rather bad if it asks us to respect what a government delegate compares to a Scientology-like cult. The same goes for Novell.
Amid the departure of Walter Bender they really ought to learn about Intel’s and Microsoft’s “Slog” (Microsoft term [*]) against OLPC [1, 2, 3, 4]. Don’t be surprised if Microsoft conquers this project quite soon, in the sense that it might assign its own people and use its own operating system to get children “addicted” to Windows (again, Microsoft’s own term [**]). █
[*] From Microsoft’s internal documents:
8: The Slog
Guerilla marketing is often a long, hard slog.
slog (sl^g) v. slogged, slogqing, slogs. –tr, To strike with heavy blows, as in boxing. -intr. 1. To walk with a slow, plodding gait. 2. To work diligently for long hours. –n. . 1. long, hard work. 2. A long, exhausting march or hike. [Orig. unknown.] -slog’ger
–American Heritage Dictionary, 1991
In the Slog, Microsoft dukes it out with the competition. MSDN and Platform marketing are the regular forces, exchanging blows with the enemy mano a mano. Evangelism should avoid formal, frontal assaults, instead focusing its efforts of hit-and-run tactics.
In the Slog, the enemy will counter-attack, trying to subvert your Tier A ISVs to their side, just as you should try to subvert their ISVs to your side. New ISVs should be sought, and directed to MSDN’s one-to- many programs. Evangelism should constantly be on the lookout for killer demos, hot young startups, major ISVs, customer testimonials, enemy-alliance-busting defections and other opportunities to demonstrate momentum for our technology. If bugs are found in our technology, or missing features are found to be critically important, then now is the time to identify and fix them. Stay engaged with the technology development team; ensure that you are a valuable resource for them, not a hectoring pest. Document all of your progress (ideally in regularly updated internal Web pages) and forward it regularly to management. If management is not aware of your progress, your successes, and your stumbling blocks, then they can’t help. (They may not help anyway, but they can’t if they don’t know what you need.)
Keep those Tier A ISVs on track to delivery! They are your strongest weapons and cannot be forgotten.
The elements of the evangelical infrastructure – conference presentations, courses, seminars, books, magazine articles, whitepapers, etc. – should start hitting the street at the start of the Slog. They should be so numerous as to push all other books off the shelf, courses out of catalogs, and presentations off the stage.
Working behind the scenes to orchestrate “independent” praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy’s, is a key evangelism function during the Slog. “Independent” analyst’s report should be issued, praising your technology and damning the competitors (or ignoring them). “Independent” consultants should write columns and articles, give conference presentations and moderate stacked panels, all on our behalf (and setting them up as experts in the new technology, available for just $200/hour). “Independent” academic sources should be cultivated and quoted (and research money granted). “Independent” courseware providers should start profiting from their early involvement in our technology. Every possible source of leverage should be sought and turned to our advantage.
I have mentioned before the “stacked panel”. Panel discussions naturally favor alliances of relatively weak partners – our usual opposition. For example, an “unbiased” panel on OLE vs. OpenDoc would contain representatives of the backers of OLE (Microsoft) and the backers of OpenDoc (Apple, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect, OMG, etc.). Thus we find ourselves outnumbered in almost every “naturally occurring” panel debate.
A stacked panel, on the other hand, is like a stacked deck: it is packed with people who, on the face of things, should be neutral, but who are in fact strong supporters of our technology. The key to stacking a panel is being able to choose the moderator. Most conference organizers allow the moderator to select the panel, so if you can pick the moderator, you win. Since you can’t expect representatives of our competitors to speak on your behalf, you have to get the moderator to agree to having only “independent ISVs” on the panel. No one from Microsoft or any other formal backer of the competing technologies would be allowed – just ISVs who have to use this stuff in the “real world.” Sounds marvelously independent doesn’t it? In fact, it allows us to stack the panel with ISVs that back our cause. Thus, the “independent” panel ends up telling the audience that our technology beats the others hands down. Get the press to cover this panel, and you’ve got a major win on your hands.
Finding a moderator is key to setting up a stacked panel. The best sources of pliable moderators are:
— Analysts: Analysts sell out – that’s their business model. But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.
— Consultants: These guys are your best bets as moderators. Get a well-known consultant on your side early, but don’t let him publish anything blatantly pro-Microsoft. Then, get him to propose himself to the conference organizers as a moderator, whenever a panel opportunity comes up. Since he’s well-known, but apparently independent, he’ll be accepted – one less thing for the constantly-overworked conference organizer to worry about, right?
Gathering intelligence on enemy activities is critical to the success of the Slog. We need to know who their allies are and what differences exist between them and their allies (there are always sources of tension between allies), so that we can find ways to split ‘em apart. Reading the trade press, lurking on newsgroups, attending conferences, and (above all) talking to ISVs is essential to gathering this intelligence.
This is a very tough phase of evangelism. You’ll be pulled in every direction at once, randomized by short-term opportunities and action items, nagged by your Tier A ISVs and pestered by every other ISV that wants to become a Tier A. Management will want to know right now how you’re going to respond to some bogus announcement by some random ISV. Some PM over in Consumer will demand that you drop everything to go talk to an ISV in Outer Mongolia, that’s run by an old college chum of his. Competitors will make surprise announcements, lie through their teeth, and generally try to screw you just as hard as you are trying to screw them.
Of course, if you are very, very lucky, there will be no competition to your technology. But this is almost never the case. ODBC had its IDAPI, OLE had its OpenDoc, COM had its SOM, DCOM has its CORBA, MAPI had its VIM, etc., etc., etc. The existence of a Microsoft technology nearly guarantees that a competitive technology will spring into existence overnight, backed by an impromptu association of Microsoft competitors which have decided to draw yet another Line in the Sand (“If we don’t stop Microsoft here, then they are going to take over the whole world!”).
Without a competing technology to fight, you just hand everything over to MSDN, give your Tier A ISVs to PSS, and find a new technology to evangelize. But that takes most of the fun out of the game
9: Final Release:
Evangelism of a given technology usually ends with the final, shipping release of that technology. One last big press event, with demos, a tradeshow, press releases, etc., is often called for, showcasing the apps that are sim-shipping and the customers that are using them. In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s
focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.
10: Critical Mass
The Slog may continue beyond the Final Release, for many months, until Critical Mass is reached. It is possible that Critical Mass will not be reached at all for Version X of a technology, such that Phases 1-9 will have to be repeated – possibly more than once – before ever reaching Critical Mass.
Critical Mass is reached when the technology starts evangelizing itself. When reviews subtract points if it’s not supported; when analysts say “great product plan, but what about [Technology Name]?”; when VC’s won’t fund a company unless it supports [Technology Name] – that’s Critical Mass. At that point, Evangelism of the technology stops, and Evangelism’s resources are applied to other technologies – or, if you’re lucky, moves into the Mopping Up phase.
11: Mopping Up
Mopping Up can be a lot of fun. In the Mopping Up phase, Evangelism’s goal is to put the final nail into the competing technology’s coffin, and bury it in the burning depths of the earth. Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.
Some technologies continue as competitors long after they are true threats – look at OS/2, the Operating System that Refused to Die. It is always possible – however unlikely – that competitors like OpenDoc, SOM, OS/2, etc, could rise from the dead… so long as there is still development work being done on them. Therefore, final victory is reached only when the competing technology’s development team is disbanded, its offices reassigned, its marketing people promoted, etc. You have truly and finally won, when they come to interview for work at Microsoft.
Victory is sweet. Savor it. Then, find a new technology to evangelize — and get back to work
[**] From Cybersource:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governments Must Reject Gates’ $3 Bid to Addict Next Billion PC Users
30th April, 2007
On April 19th, Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft Corp., unveiled a plan
which seeks to enlist the help of developing nations in a
barely-concealed attempt to get the next billion PC users hooked onto
Microsoft software. Under the guise of trying to bridge the digital
divide, Microsoft will instead aim to extend its desktop monopoly by
using the same technique it’s used for years through software piracy:
platform addiction. An addiction it will milk in future decades. An
addiction that governments should reject in favour of free and open
source software – the only way to truly bridge the digital divide.
“Microsoft’s strategy of getting developing nations hooked on its
software was clearly outlined by Bill Gates almost a decade ago,” said
Con Zymaris, CEO of long-standing open source firm Cybersource.
Specifically, Bill Gates, citing China as an example, said:
“Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but
people don’t pay for the software,” he said. “Someday they will, though.
As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours.
They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to
collect sometime in the next decade.”
“From this, we analyse the following strategy. Microsoft would allow
users in developing countries to use pirated software, which in turn
would lock those users into Microsoft’s proprietary data formats,
proprietary protocols and proprietary Application Programming Interfaces
(APIs). Once so tithed to Microsoft, these users would find it almost
impossible to move to alternatives, thus providing a captive future
revenue stream,” explained Zymaris. “And this new strategy is even more
insidious, as Microsoft is expecting governments to pay for the
hardware, thus paving the way for Microsoft to snare its next billion
addicts in a friction-free manner.”
“What is equally apparent is that Microsoft would prefer to lose money
initially, to prevent competitors from capturing mindshare. Today, Linux
and open source software are Microsoft’s biggest competitor. And Linux
and open source software are capturing huge mindshare in developing
nations, thus Microsoft’s knee-jerk reaction in offering its
$3-meal-deal,” Zymaris said. “Instead of accepting the Microsoft deal,
governments should push open source software, guaranteeing freedom
from vendor lock-in and future price hikes.”
And where Microsoft offers a handful of cut-down applications in its
$3-meal-deal, open source supplies thousands of complete applications,
for no cost at all. Highly functional applications such as Scribus
(desktop publishing), Gimp, (photo editing), Blender3D (animation),
Inkscape (vector drawing), MySQL (database), Python (programming
environment), will help students in their creative endevours. Other
landmark applications such as Linux, OpenOffice.org (office suite) and
Firefox (web browser) will help all users.
“By helping to make users aware of open source alternatives, by
disseminating that software through CD give-aways and via subsidised,
low-cost PCs, governments will be reducing their reliance on proprietary
vendors and improve access to 21st century technology. It’s the
only way to ensure that their citizens will be free to use quality
software, without constraints, in perpetuity,” concluded Zymaris.
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In light of this recent interview with Jim Zemlin
[MP3 or Flash], where Jim talks about the patent threat (or lack thereof) to Linux, consider the following news:
Samsung, Hitachi sign licence deal on hard drives
Samsung, the world’s largest maker of memory chips, said in a filing with the Korea Exchange that the agreement with Hitachi Global Storage Technologies Inc covers HDD patents by International Business Machines Corp and Hitachi. Japanese electronics conglomerate Hitachi bought IBM’s disk drive operations in 2002 for $2 billion.
As you can see, IBM is indirectly involved and the same would go for Lenovo in a separate context. It is worth raising a couple of issues now:
- Dell sells PCs with SLED preloaded, but only in China. Microsoft gets paid for these sales of GNU/Linux, thanks to our friends at Novell.
- Similarly, Lenovo, which bought a business unit from IBM and is based in China, seems to favour the use of SLED. Once again, Microsoft gets paid for software it has nothing to do with.
- Hitachi (and IBM by association) are said to be engaged in a patent deal with Samsung. Samsung also signed a patent deal that involved Linux.
Ever since Samsung signed a patent deal with Microsoft — a deal whose statement included and mentioned Linux by name — we’ve wondered what the vague descriptions (or non-descriptions) actually meant [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19]. For instance, we suspected that phones using Mono had something to do with this. Yes, Samsung uses some Mono on some of its smartphones. Whether the Linux kernel was also involved in cross-licensing or not, it was hard to tell at the time. It was probably never discussed either because the patents seem mythical. █
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