01.11.10

Microsoft Cracks Down Hard, Viral Advertisers Multiply

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Marketing, Microsoft, Protocol at 1:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An accumulation of observations about how Microsoft treats the industry and how peripheral agents help it accomplish goals

EARLIER today we wrote about Microsoft's anti-counterfeiting chief quitting the company. It happens just as the ‘Microsoft police’ [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] goes hard on businesses that use proprietary software. From eWEEK Europe:

Software Auditors Crack Down As Recession Bites

[...]

Software auditors risk becoming “revenue-generating” traffic cops as the recession put pressure on vendors to collect every penny of revenue

Now, check out this new press release which shows Directions on Microsoft acting as more than an analyst firm focused on Microsoft. They are just making money from the Microsoft ecosystem by assisting with Microsoft licensing, for example, offering remedies to the above "illness". Essentially, they are like Microsoft salespeople, but some have a blog at CNET. What a farce, as if CNET didn’t have enough Microsoft blogs already…

The funny thing is that this press release (with Paul DeGroot at the bottom) says: “Directions on Microsoft is an INDEPENDENT analyst firm formed in 1992 to focus exclusively on Microsoft.” Yes, they even capitalised “INDEPENDENT”. Maybe it’s “INDEPENDENT” in the Peter O’Kelly sense [1, 2]. Eventually he worked directly for Microsoft.

“Essentially, they are like Microsoft salespeople, but some have a blog at CNET.”Then there’s Microsoft Enderle, the “INDEPENDENT” analyst who has just come out with a 3-part series boosting Microsoft. He is routinely attacking Microsoft’s competition and even prominent critics like Groklaw. Private E-mails revealed that he’s working with Microsoft's PR department, Waggener Edstrom (examples in [1, 2]). There’s no shame to these people.

About a week ago we wrote about Centrify and mentioned Likewise; both of these companies engage in Microsoft methodologies (they are run by former Microsoft employees, at least in part) and do protocol promotion with software patents, even on UNIX/Linux (unlike Samba, which is exempted from these unacceptable terms). Likewise is preparing for change. It’s to do with perception and public engagement.

Speaking of which, Microsoft has just sparked some more cheap PR efforts (there’s a $36,000 ‘carrot’ involved) and it offers free lunch to developers (well, breakfast actually):

It will be attended by some of Silicon Valley’s most well known companies, including Yahoo, Microsoft, Mozilla, Yelp, and plenty more. Microsoft is even sponsoring breakfast.

Microsoft also organised/sponsored an anti-Google ("Screw Google") luncheon. Microsoft pays for — not earns — supporters.

12.22.09

“We Need ACTA to Send Microsoft and Linus to Jail”

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents, Protocol at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Swedish pennant

Summary: Europe is losing its intellectual freedom and sovereignty due to treaties for monopolies, surveillance, and artificial limits on programming

THE GREAT REPRESSION that occurs these days (partly owing to intellectual monopolies) has spurred strong — but by all means tongue-in-cheek — remarks from the FFII’s president, who says that “Swedish Patent Trolls were meeting in Stockholm, slides online, we need ACTA to send Microsoft and Linus to jail”

Their site says:

During the last couple of years intellectual property rights has grown in significance. Society has shifted. Intellectual property rights have come into focus in a way that we haven’t seen before.

That’s what they would hope, wouldn’t they? They created a meta-industry that benefits nobody except themselves. In the process, it empowers monopolies and slows down scientific progress.

The FFII has already warned about the Swedish presidency's role in legalising or at least legitimising software patents in Europe. To make matters worse, the Microsoft-EU deal on interoperability [1, 2, 3, 4] is a big disaster because it legitimises Microsoft’s software patents in Europe without any parliamentary veto power (or obedience to the constitution/s). Nellie Kroes’ agency should be brought back to the table and mend the agreement. There is great fury at the FFII at the moment and Scott Fulton admits that “Microsoft’s interoperability pledge not free enough for Free Software” when he writes:

The agreement between the European Commission and Microsoft announced last Wednesday did not mention “Free Software” by name. There is no corporation or partnership by that name, at least not officially, though up until the resolution of the dispute last week, there had been occasional hints from outgoing Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes that any agreement with Microsoft must take “free” into account, almost as though it were “Free Software, Ltd.”

It’s a very serious issue for many European developers, as Free Software had been treated as a worthy-of-all-caps entity in drafts of the European Interoperability Framework from last year. But recent discussions on revising the EIF have included suggestions from many sources, including a controversial one from the Polish government, that strike references to Free Software as a legal entity, especially as one that deserves equal protection as a limited legal body.

Thus the omission of reference to FS or FOSS from last week’s agreement drew a harsh warning from Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), one of the only entities to criticize the agreement for legal, as opposed to technical or operational, reasons.

This needs to be mended as the patent system seems to have been hijacked by a group of bureaucrats who simply do not understand technology and are therefore easy to fool. Multinational corporations lead them to recognising software patents, which are simply not legal under their sovereignty (and for good reasons!).

As TechDirt puts it in this new post about the UK, the patent system is seeking to retard science and technology with even more intellectual monopolies. Lawyers would absolutely love this.

But all such things really do is encourage more patenting, but less actual innovation. That’s because the tax rate on actual innovation — actually bringing these products to market successfully — remains significantly higher. So, if you do any research at all, you have every incentive in the world to try to just gain income from the patents directly (such as by threatening any company that actually does any innovation and demanding licensing fees) rather than doing the work of actually implementing the product yourself. After all, that’s exactly what the government is telling you to do. It’s saying that if you actually produce an innovative product, we’ll tax you at a very high rate.

As we pointed out some days ago, UK-IPO might be breaking the law and it also serves Microsoft by sneakily approving software patents.

12.14.09

Microsoft Lobby Roundup: Software Patents, Attack on Sun, Environment Lies, Banking Venture, and AARP Pressure

Posted in America, Antitrust, Bill Gates, Europe, Finance, Fraud, Microsoft, Open XML, Oracle, Patents, Protocol, SUN at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Henry Paulson - official Treasury photo (2006)

Summary: Microsoft’s political side shows its face in many areas, both in Europe and in the United States

AN important subject that wrote about a few days ago [1, 2] is this arrangement between the US Department of Justice and Microsoft. This is summarised by the Microsoft reporters as follows: “Microsoft Nears DoJ OK to Collect Protocol Fees”

Microsoft will deliberately avoid standards, create proprietary substitutes and then withhold information, bringing to a halt progress, then documenting some stuff (maybe a decade later) and demanding money for software patents adjacent to these anti-standards specifications. We made a comparison to Rambus the other day and now comes this IDG report:

EC Agrees to Close DRAM Antitrust Case Against Rambus

[...]

And it could have a bearing on how the European Commission deals with the controversial decision by the international standards body ISO to recognize Microsoft’s OOXML document format, according to some observers.

[...]

The Commission is in the process of settling a much bigger antitrust case against Microsoft. A final decision to accept the software giant’s settlement offer is expected next Tuesday.

In addition to creating a level playing field for competition among Internet browsers, Microsoft is understood to have also made promises not to unfairly withhold information from companies that want to make products compatible with the word processing, spreadsheet and office management tools contained in Microsoft’s Office suite of software applications.

As part of this probe the Commission was examining whether OOXML is sufficiently interoperable with competitors’ products, and in April last year, when OOXML won ISO status, the regulator suspected foul play.

Microsoft was suspected of having unfairly influenced the vote by national ISO affiliates in order to secure the ISO label on OOXML.

It is unclear how the anticipated settlement announcement of the Microsoft case next week will deal with the questions surrounding OOXML. “Microsoft’s settlement offer in the interoperability case has addressed the main concerns other companies had, but I don’t know how this specific issue has been settled,” said one person familiar with the Commission’s thinking who asked not to be named.

Microsoft and SAP want to decide on Sun's (and ODF's) fate for all of us (they lobby heavily [1, 2, 3, 4]) and to many people’s surprise, they are actually allowed to do so, despite obvious conflicts.

With an assist from Microsoft, SAP is making a renewed push against Oracle in the EPM (enterprise performance management) space, and has a rip-and-replace success story to show for it.

As long as Microsoft is controlling the government’s judgment, such problems are likely to persist. The OOXML corruptions involved a lot of political pressure as well.

Former Microsoft employees are now looking to gain more government positions.

Microsoft alum challenges Inslee

James Watkins, a Redmond entrepreneur, on Wednesday announced he would challenge Rep. Jay Inslee, the Democrat from Washington’s 1st Congressional District.

Microsoft is getting closer — physically — to Washington D.C.. The Gates- and Microsoft-hired lobbyists will soon be joined by 10,000 guests. Just see the press stories, as it’s appalling.

Here is another new press release about a manager of “Microsoft banking, capital market”:

Microsoft Corp. today announced that Joe Pagano has accepted the role of Managing Director of Banking and Capital Markets in the Worldwide Financial Services Industry Group. Joe will report to Susan Hauser, vice president, Worldwide Financial Services, effective December 2, 2009.

This pitiful role will be tied to anti-GNU/Linux FUDMeister, Susan Hauser. Since when is there a “Microsoft banking” part?

Microsoft has appointed Joe Pagano as the new managing director of Banking and Capital Markets in its Worldwide Financial Services Industry Group.

Pagano, who has been working at Microsoft for nearly 15 years, will report to Susan Hauser, vice president of Worldwide Financial Services.

Microsoft banks on banking interventions and it has been getting closer to bankers. According to this new article, even after the Microsoft disasters inside banks across Denmark, Microsoft is trying to push into them the same software that had the London Stock Exchange (LSE) crash [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is another new press release about Microsoft’s attempts to penetrate banks.

“And then comes more advertising from the Microsoft blog that only ever praises Microsoft.”Speaking of Microsoft disasters in Danish banks, last week we wrote about Microsoft PR stunts in Copenhagen and a new one with AARP as well. Yes, Microsoft uses Copenhagen (environment-centric summit) for PR, despite being a major polluter and offender/denier. Some of this PR comes from Microsoft’s de facto PR blogs (Silver Lie only), which then leads to more PR: “Dickerson reached out to seattlepi.com after reading our Tuesday piece on Microsoft’s work in climate change.”

And then comes more advertising from the Microsoft blog that only ever praises Microsoft. In general, it is all coming from de facto Microsoft press (Seattle), which emits the usual PR fluff almost endlessly.

Regarding AARP, last week we stressed that its work with Microsoft was likely to have hidden goals (as always [1, 2, 3]) and there really is a hidden goal, based on the following newer fluff:

Microsoft Says Graying Boomers Will Never Surrender Their Gadgets!

The New York Times reports on a study, jointly sponsored by MSFT and the American Association of Retired Persons, that suggests many more years of spending on upgrades and gizmos. Instead of clinging to their old VCR players, TRS-80 computers, and brick-like cell phones, boomers will continue to splurge on the latest neat high-tech toys.

What Do Baby Boomers Want From Technology?

Those were the sorts of questions explored in a somewhat unusual marketing research project sponsored by AARP and Microsoft. Earlier this year, 60 people in total gathered for dinner and after-dinner discussions about their attitudes toward, use of and expectations for technology. The lengthy sessions were in four cities: San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago and New York. The participants ranged in age from 50 to 60.

Nice to see AARP and Microsoft shilling together. It gives them ammunition with which to lobby the governments.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

CIO.com

11.26.09

Novell Supports GNU/Linux-Hostile Software, NASA Excludes With it After Microsoft MoU

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Protocol, Ubuntu at 6:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World's largest telescopes

Summary: How the Novell-backed Silverlight impacts GNU/Linux users and what NASA is doing with it

NOVELL’S sick obsession with Silverlight (may lead to “drooling” or foaming at the mouth) is a subject we explored in recent days [1, 2] because Silverlight turns out to be a Windows-only technology that can only be a compromise for other (non-Windows) platforms. Here is the implication as one writer puts it:

Silverlight gives the multi-platform market to flash

What I get from this decision is that the objectives Microsoft had with Silverlight have changed. It looks like competing with flash in the wider, multi-platform market is taking a back seat to the introduction of new functionality. What Microsoft is pushing is Silverlight as the default web based development platform for Windows, with some limited compatibility with non Windows platforms. This goes in the opposite direction to Adobe Flash which seems to favor a consistent set of functionality and compatibility across all platforms. Flash is not only available on Windows, Mac and Linux, but also on the Wii, and soon an ARM version should be released for smartbooks. And that does not even cover gnash, the open source version of flash that is more or less to Flash what Moonlight is to Silverlight. In short, Microsoft is giving up the multi-platform market to Adobe.

Groklaw has just processed some more Comes vs Microsoft exhibits, including text where it shows Microsoft’s treatment of ‘extensions’ to APIs/protocols and such things. The title says: “Gates: ‘I have decided we should not publish these extensions.’”

You might find it interesting to compare this memo with Bill Gates’ July 20, 1995 letter to Novell’s Robert Frankenberg, Microsoft’s Exhibit 15 [PDF] in its collection attached to its Cross Motion for Summary Judgment. It’s a hoot. Frankenberg had complained about undocumented calls, and Gates writes that both the FTC and the DOJ has “thoroughly investigated” the allegations and found them to be “not provable”. That was then. This is now. Here’s my favorite part of the letter:

In fact, Microsoft goes out of its way to make early copies of API and protocol specifications available, hold design reviews (that even our competitors attend), and run the largest beta test programs in the industry. Novell has been invited to participate in many of these “Open Process” events — and all without requiring a tit-for-tat arrangement.

Does Novell pay attention to this at all? It is currently fighting against Microsoft in court over discriminatory extensions and APIs, such as the ones it’s falling for when dealing with Silverlight. This is contradictory.

A few days ago we wrote about what Microsoft was doing at NASA and one of our readers, The Mad Hatter, is now arguing that Microsoft had NASA exclude non-Windows users, yet again.

After a couple of minutes of talking to a very polite receptionist, who finally understood that I was having a problem with a website, I got transferred to Mark in Public Services. I explained the problem to Mark, pointing out that:

1) Most geeks are fans of the space effort.
2) Most geeks don’t run Windows.
3) Most geeks refuse to have Microsoft software on their systems.
4) Does CalTech/NASA/JPL really want to annoy their biggest fans?
5) Does Microsoft have the right to force us to run Windows?

Mark had never heard of the website, so I pointed him to it, and he spotted the bit about the Memorandum with Microsoft immediately, and pointed out that of course Microsoft would use Silverlight. And he’s correct. Of course Microsoft would use Silverlight. However NASA/JPL is a government institution, with responsibility to the American taxpayers, not Microsoft, and that it could be argued that any memorandum that blocked access to a significant part of NASA/JPL’s core constituency might not be legal.

This should be treated as an antitrust issue. It almost was, but Novell and cronies helped Microsoft escape this after an investigation had been launched in Europe (2007).

Carla Schroder is mystified by the decision to remove GIMP from Ubuntu [1, 2, 3] (Canonical could remove Mono or OpenOffice.org instead) and she offers this explanation:

I have a suspicion that this demonstrates how deeply Mono has become entrenched in Ubuntu. Gimp critics like to complain that it’s not Adobe Photoshop. True, it lacks CMYK support and other features essential to producing very high-quality professional color prints. For everything else it’s great, it makes excellent Web images and darned good color prints.

How different is Gimp? Not very, I think the critics have never touched it. Virtually all image editing programs have similar toolsets, the brush, pencil, airbrush, bucket fill, crop, eraser, fonts, and so on. Higher-end ones support layers and bales of plugins and add-ons. I think what the critics really want is Photoshop for free just because it is expensive, like the trendy folks who only wear brand-name apparel with high price tags. Like paying more makes those denim jeans that came out of the same factories as the cheap ones wear better. At any rate anyone who has touched a decent image editing/paint program before will do fine in Gimp, and someone who has never used one has some learning to do. Requiring a user of a product to learn anything seems to be a criminal offense anymore.

The latest episode of Tux Radar debates the issue and mentions “Mono haters” at one stage. Would that include “haters” like the FSF, for example? Resistance to Mono exists because of a real problem in Mono. To suggest that “irrational hatred” is behind all opposition to Mono is like casting people who get vaccinations “Swine flu haters”.

11.23.09

O’Reilly Does Not Know What Open Means (Let Alone Free)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Protocol at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cut
“Open” can also mean open sores

Summary: Microsoft’s perversion of the word “open” (as George Orwell once warned) put in perspective

IN SEPTEMBER we showed that O'Reilly had grown closer to Microsoft, then a few days ago noting that both are neglecting web standards. There is a new article in eWEEK, going under the headline “Why Tim O’Reilly Sees Microsoft as a Proponent of the Open Web”

This is not intended to be humour. To quote from the opening paragraph, “O’Reilly says Microsoft’s recent deals to index Twitter tweets and use Wolfram Alpha’s APIs for computational data show a shift in its willingness to work with other Web companies.”

“When a company uses APIs or makes some available, it is merely looking for increased use, it has nothing to do with Freedom.”O’Reilly’s perception of “open” is a very biased and personal one, like “Web 2.0″. He eyes APIs as “open” when in fact there is no such thing as “open APIs”; an API is open by definition, for it begs to be used as an access point to Free or non-Free code. When a company uses APIs or makes some available, it is merely looking for increased use, it has nothing to do with Freedom.

O’Reilly must also have forgotten about .NET, which is proprietary and even a platform lock-in. It’s a case against the cross-platform, GPL-licensed Java. Microsoft boosters/bloggers are also busy at the moment spreading FUD about the GPL, helped by some other useful idiots who echo Microsoft talking points.

In the previous post we showed Novell’s de Icaza sharing this post from Mary Jo Foley about XAML as an anti-GNU/Linux weapon (Chrome OS specifically). Novell’s de Icaza then praised Silverlight.

Will Microsoft’s Silverlight dampen the appeal of Google’s Chrome OS?

[...]

First, as others have noted, Google’s Chrome OS is a new windowing system layered on top of Linux that is being customized to run on netbooks.

Microsoft is fraudulently trying to characterise Silverlight as “open source” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], usually with Novell’s help.

This is clearly an attack on web standards, making parts of the Web Windows-only (and blocking Google spiders, not just end-user software). So how can O’Reilly be so blind to deals and partnerships that only make a Closed Web, not an “Open Web”? Whose side is he on? Reality? Or marketing? It’s not even about Microsoft, it’s about standards and those who oppose them, including Adobe whose blobs are now required to read O’Reilly-published literature. And just to think that O’Reilly used to stand for “open” (whatever “open” means). Richard Stallman was right all along about “open”.

[More Open Than Open]: “I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Jason Matusow, Microsoft (for background see [1, 2])

11.20.09

O’Reilly and Microsoft Abandon Web Standards, ‘Open’ Web Foundation (OWF) Wants Them Redefined

Posted in Formats, Interoperability, Microsoft, Patents, Protocol, Standard at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Digital dreams

Summary: As HTML5 is approaching, vendors continue in their attempts to gain ownership and exclusivity over content using formats and protocols

MICROSOFT’S control of the media is an important subject because it leads to “perception management” [1, 2], as exemplified in the previous post. Glyn Moody reveals that “the Editor of The Next Web Italy, @Contz, is “Junior PR at Microsoft Italy”; tiny conflict of interest there, perhaps…?

It’s not just publications as such which are affected by Microsoft marketing people. O’Reilly and Microsoft decided to work together some months ago and now we find that O’Reilly is abandoning web standards and requiring that Web users install proprietary software to read books.

Safaribooks online were availabe in HTML-View for a long time and were accessible with free software.

Now the O’Reilly Safari team has decided to stop this and deliver online books in Adobe flash format only for online reading. As expected gnash does not work.

This means reading and browsing O’Reilly books online is no more possible with free software.

This is not about Microsoft, but it shows that O’Reilly lost its way. From a UNIX/Linux-oriented (and thus standards-friendly) origin it found its way into “Web 2.0″ and other such abstract nonsense.

Speaking of standards, Microsoft starts talking about Internet Explorer 9, which is another departure further away from web standards (DirectX in addition to XAML and ActiveX). Microsoft just cannot permit the World Wide Web to be interoperable.

Glyn Moody shares this new article about HTML5 and also looks with concern at the Open Web Foundation, where “open” is a deceiving term (Orwell must love this!).

The great promise of HTML5 is that it will turn the web into a full-fledged computing platform awash with video, animation and real-time interactions, yet free of the hacks and plug-ins common today.

While the language itself is almost fully baked, HTML5 won’t fully arrive for at least another two years, according to one of the men charged with its design.

In the mean time, Moody shows why the Open Web Foundation is not on the good side.

But independently of these details, there’s another big problem with the Open Web Foundation. The Mozilla Foundation has been pushing the idea of the Open Web for some time now; the appearance of this new foundation, with its agreement, is likely to muddy the waters around the concept of the open Web considerably. But then, that’s maybe what some companies involved in the OWF want…

Heise has some more coverage of the OWF.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

11.16.09

Revisionism from Microsoft’s Partner, Likewise

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, NetWare, Oracle, Protocol, Samba, Servers, Standard, Windows at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coffee book session

Summary: An example of disinformation about history being spread by those to whom open, royalty-free standards are a foe

ONE of our readers has alerted us about what seems like revisionism — a topic that we covered many times before, e.g. in:

Getting down to the latest claim of revisionism, our reader points to this article which says: ‘“In the dot-com bust it was Unix to Linux migration because Linux was cheaper than Solaris on SPARC,” says Barry Crist, CEO of Likewise, a maker of integration and identity management software for mixed environments. “Phase 2 [of corporate open source adoption] has been accelerated by the current economic conditions. IT is looking to do things in a cost-effective manner and there are a lot of viable open source solutions out there.”

Our reader says: “It looks like another Microsoft partner trying to establish revisionist history of the history of the WWW.

“You can spot the Microsoft partners by how they stick to Microsoft talking points and how they exist to rope businesses into Microsoft infrastructure and elimination of open standards.”
      –Anonymous
“During the dot-com, Linux was being added in addition to SunOS on Sparc and Digital Unix on Alpha. Microsoft had not yet even begun to infect the server room at the time, despite the beginnings of FUD and even a smattering of false advertising.

“Linux was often used to get a web service up and running with the least amount of delay on old PCs while the real hardware request was making its way through administrative channels.

“Unluckily, Linux ended up giving managers the idea that Windows servers worked. Most of the claims of growth for Windows in the server room can be blamed on Microsoft eating Novell Netware’s market through false advertising (see court cases) and BSA strongarming. Once those were in place, users bitched up a storm at the loss of reliability. The fast response by the IT dept was to slap Samba on a machine and not tell anyone. The increased reliability of files services for Windows users was attributed then to Windows Server, rather than Samba on Linux. Often the Windows server that a zealot manager forced on the IT department sat in the corner humming away, consuming electricity, WITHOUT a network cable. Then came the day, that under the belief that the server room was using Windows, the managers replaced a departing tech with a Windows monkey who promptly zapped the Samba…”

We gave several examples of migrations without permission back in August. This issue is real.

As for Likewise, it is the "Microsoft version" of Samba (adding software patents to the original software). Our reader shares this older article which starts with: “What’s it like to be an open source company that’s also a Microsoft partner dependent on the Windows world? Not bad, says Barry Crist, CEO of Likewise Software…

Our reader then adds: “You can spot the Microsoft partners by how they stick to Microsoft talking points and how they exist to rope businesses into Microsoft infrastructure and elimination of open standards. That company is peddling Microsoft alternative to Kerberos+LDAP+(puppet/radmind)

“Another apologist company is Cloudera, which seems to be one of Microsoft proxies to damage the Apache foundation and Hadoop in particular.”

Our reader points to a press release, but this latter assessment/speculation is highly questionable. Cloudera was formed by a man from Oracle, whose company had been bought before he left (one can see its genesis in the official Web sites), so any suggestion that its GNU/Linux-based Hadoop distribution is a negative thing would require considerable proof. Regardless, the part about Likewise was worth a quick discussion. There are reasons for distrust, many of which we covered before.

“What we are trying to do is use our server control to do new protocols and lock out Sun and Oracle specifically”

Bill Gates

“Thanks to Mr. Gates, we now know that an open Internet with protocols anyone can implement is communism; it was set up by that famous communist agent, the US Department of Defense.”

Richard Stallman

11.02.09

Microsoft Patent Traps and the Possible Looming End of Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Protocol at 6:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ActiveSync logo joke

Summary: How Microsoft uses ActiveSync to shut out Free software with software patents; OOXML patents and other issues revisited; Bilski to be revisited by the Supremes, who can axe software patents in the United States

Microsoft’s plan for fighting Free software involves software patents that essentially impose a tax on use. One example of a software patents vector is ActiveSync, which we last wrote about right here, with other examples in [1, 2]. Now there is another Microsoft patent deal (ActiveSync), which serves the same agenda of imposing a tax on access to protocols. What will the European Commission say about that? Is it familiar with this issue already?

It happens to be a similar case with OOXML, which Microsoft knew all along had patent issues but kept them secret and lied to the public about them. Microsoft Nick is now showing that OOXML has other issues too; even users of Microsoft Office are unnecessarily facing barriers because Microsoft changed its proprietary formats.

Microsoft is optimizing its upcoming Office Web Apps for .docx, .pptx, and .xslx, which will boost the online accessibility of documents uploaded from users’ desktops—but in the process, perhaps making life more difficult for those using older versions of Office. During testing of the Web Apps technical preview, eWEEK found that documents with .xls and .ppt file extensions could not be edited through the browser, although they could still be viewed and downloaded.

Meet the OOXML upgrade treadmill. Many say that OOXML is about forced upgrades along with other tricks like breaking compatibility with rival office suites, all while pretending to have gone “open”. And again, what about the patents? OOXML remains a patent trap. Groklaw has just published an article that challenges Microsoft’s Bilski amicus brief, which is in favour of software patents of course.

I have noticed something about PDF the amicus brief from Microsoft, Philips and Symantec submitted to the US Supreme Court in the In re Bilski case. This amicus brief relies on a particular interpretation of the history of computing and on its own description of the inner workings of a computer to argue that software should be patentable subject matter. I argue that both the history and the description of the actual working of a computer is inaccurate.

The Supreme Court’s decision could put an end to software patenting in the United States and the hearing is very near. It’s only a week away.

The United States Supreme Court will hear a patent case on Nov. 9 that has implications for both method and software patents, and it has gained widespread attention from industry groups, professors and businesses looking to influence the high court’s thinking.

But at least one lawyer expects that the decision made in this case will not fix anything at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Interestingly enough, the previous ruling on the Bilski case already kills software patents.

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