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Summary: Rumours are swirling around Wim Van der Eijk’s absence, suggesting that he too may be a victim of Benoît Battistelli’s iron fist
THE EPO is out of touch and Van der Eijk may be out of work, based on the latest rumours.
“Still it is not clear what are the long term plans as a move would lead to mass resignations from DG3, replacing DG3 with the UPC appears to be impossible without a diplomatic conference?”
–AnonymousSeveral days ago we wrote about Van der Eijk's unlimited sick leave, which seems likely to have little or nothing to do with sickness (as we explained yesterday). As Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and DG3 VP, Van der Eijk is probably the only remaining potent threat to Benoît Battistelli because the boards are, in principle, independent from Battistelli’s corruptible EPO (in practice Battistelli just breaks the rules).
Over at IP Kat we are seeing some interesting comments. Among them:
Mr Battistelli’s plan:
Get rid of the present VP 3,
Introduce “his” reform of the Boards of Appeal;
Install there his choice of new VP3.
The new chapter in the EPOsaga: “Taming the boards”
The present VP3, Mr Van der Eijk, is on unlimited sick leave and thus out of function. Nervous breakdown? Most likely.
Another comment says:
According to what I have heard from multiple sources the move of DG3 is not for reasons of independence, but simply retaliation for having angered the top management, mainly by R19/12 and refusal of the enlarged board to agree to the dismissal of the DG3 member under investigation.
Still it is not clear what are the long term plans as a move would lead to mass resignations from DG3, replacing DG3 with the UPC appears to be impossible without a diplomatic conference?
Also quite obviously the german delegation in the AC would be strongly against weakening Munich as Europe’s patent capital, so all those plans might go nowhere as the other delegations will be very reluctant to outvote Germany in that matter.
Perhaps the best possible explanation is this:
1) EPO Enlarged Board tells Chairman: “disobey President when necessary”
The European Patent Office (EPO) Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBA) has issued an interlocutory decision in case R2/14
2) The present VP3, Mr Van der Eijk, is on unlimited sick leave and thus out of function.
who would ever think that there is any connection between 1) and 2)
One can see more context in the threads, but most comments are of no relevance to this. We kindly ask anyone with information to conside contacting us anonymously. We really wish to get to the bottom of this and end the uncertainty.
“The EPO should be a member of the Council of Europe,” Florian Müller wrote today, “but it’s not because it wants free rein to violate human rights.” █
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Summary: Rumours suggest that Benoît Battistelli’s affairs at the EPO may have something to do with Wim Van der Eijk’s longterm absence
IT IS widely known by now that, due to (probably legitimate) criticism of Željko Topić, Battistelli (arguably) illegally suspended a judge and attacked the EBoA (among other boards).
“The present VP3,” says this comment, “Mr Van der Eijk, is on unlimited sick leave and thus out of function.”
Well, “unlimited sick leave” at the notorious office which treats sick staff like liars and cheats must really mean something. Remember how the EPO framed the suspension of a judge in order to overcome serious legal issues, or create uncertainty and doubt. It’s like assassinating someone, then calling it an “unfortunate accident”.
To quote some sarcastic comments about this: “Sounds like a bloody malingerer to me. He should be immediately summoned to a medical examination by one of the President’s doctors. And of course subject to strict “house arrest” …”
Another one says: “The President has an interest in keeping VP3 at home as at work he does only damages, i.e. he’s unable to control the chairs and the members who are too independent and do not obey orders.”
Another goes like this: “VP3 has always been a silent subordinate of the President and never had the guts to show disagreement with the mad line imposed upon the staff. Now, under house arrest, he has the time to meditate and understand the true nature if [sic] the President. Too late for coming out!”
Here is an important new comment: “VP3 has been appointed by the Administrative Council under Article 11 EPC and thus subject to the disciplinary authority of the Council – not that of the President. It is not clear whether the President can actually impose “house arrest” on him.
“Apart from that he can only be removed from office as the Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal on a proposal of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (Article 23(1) EPC).”
“Given how Battistelli historically dealt with boards like these, one shouldn’t be hastily accused of making a mountain out of a molehill.”The latest mystery, to put it politely or even just prudently, is why he’s away for so long.
“For your information,” told us a source, “the Vice-President in charge of the EPO Boards of Appeal (known internally as DG3) is on extended sick leave [...] Mr van der Eijk is the Vice-President of DG3 (VP3) and also the Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal.” [Wikipedia says "Wim van der Eijk (born ca. 1957) is a Dutch civil servant, currently Vice-President of the European Patent Office (EPO), head of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO, known as DG3 (Directorate-General, 3, Appeals), and Chairman of the EPO Enlarged Board of Appeal."]
Given how Battistelli historically dealt with boards like these, one shouldn’t be hastily accused of making a mountain out of a molehill. Also remember the gag orders that Control Risks and the I.U. use against staff like Elizabeth Hardon whilst under investigation/interrogation [1, 2]. “The Enlarged Board of Appeal,” as someone explained to us, “is one of the few instances which – at least on paper – enjoys some independence from the EPO President although he seems to have been doing his best to interfere in its workings over the last year or so.
“Internal rumour at the EPO has it that some recent decisions of the Enlarged Board of Appeal have not been to Battistelli’s liking.”
We covered this before. The Enlarged Board of Appeal and other boards have been under bombardment (at times silent) by Battistelli and his ilk.
Our source “can’t say at this point whether there is any connection between these events and the sudden mysterious “indisposition” of VP3. But it definitely looks like there is something fishy going on behind the scenes.”
As we explained about a year ago, the Administrative Council is now in Battistelli’s pocket and largely subservient to him.
“If the Administrative Council was doing its job properly,” told us another source, “they should investigate what exactly is going on. But if past performance is any indicator, they are more likely to stick their heads in the sand at the upcoming quarterly meeting on 14th/15th October.” █
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Summary: Rumours that Nokia is selling its mobile unit to Microsoft begin to surface
A senior figure at Nokia was quoted as saying that the Microsoft/Nokia deal “isn’t a deal between Nokia and Microsoft, this is a Microsoft take over.”
Well, with this “takeover” in mind, how about this rumour?
Straight out of the rumor mill, comes news on the possibility that Nokia would be considering selling its mobile unit to Microsoft, and that the meeting to discuss the deal might go down as soon as next week.
While this might turn out to be nothing more than just a big rumor, there is also the possibility that it would pan out, and that Microsoft and Nokia would announce the largest acquisition of all times in the near future.
The news comes from Eldar Murtazin, who has a record of being right about various aspects regarding Nokia’s business, and who claims that Nokia and Microsoft are getting ready to sit at the table and discuss the potential merger during the week of May 23rd.
That would mean patents too. Microsoft already has Skype patents that can help it impede VoIP competitors.
Has Ballmer just 'pulled a Belluzzo? █
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Summary: Muglia’s exit bodes badly for the convicted monopolist and it may have been a sacking based on a person close to Microsoft
YESTERDAY we wrote about the departure of Bob Muglia, which was rather vague and resembled the departures of Bach and Elop in the sense that Ballmer’s statements created uncertainty and led to more speculations than answers. First of all, let it be pointed out that this was another classic case of spinning bad news as wonderful news. Microsoft loves to spin it as “reorg”, as we explained 3 years ago (and provided many examples of thereafter).
“All presidents are leaving Microsoft just months apart from each other, leaving no reasonably-solid succession option for Steve Ballmer.”Microsoft understands that in order for trust from shareholders to be assured, it is better to pretend that nobody ever leaves Microsoft wilfully. Bob Muglia is no exception in that regard and he is just among many at his level who left recently (e.g. Bob Muglia, Robbie Bach, Stephen Elop, and Ray Ozzie). All presidents are leaving Microsoft just months apart from each other, leaving no reasonably-solid succession option for Steve Ballmer. “IMHO,” writes Jan Wildeboer, “Muglia and Ballmer seem to have different opinions about future of Windows Server market. No successor named means a lot IMHO.”
Well, here is some background about Muglia, courtesy of Joab Jackson who currently works for IDG:
Muglia has been with Microsoft for 23 years, leading development efforts in Microsoft Office, Windows NT and online services businesses. As president of STB, he oversaw Microsoft’s development and infrastructure products, including Microsoft Windows Server, SQLServer, Visual Studio and System Center products, among others.
Jackson also gives new signs that Microsoft Dynamics is struggling to stand on its feet (as always). Let’s face it; very few of Microsoft’s products are actually profitable. Some of the latest unprofitable ones can burn money at a pace of billions per year. They cannot rely on the cash cows forever and based on Muglia’s departure, something is not quite right with the division that handles Windows (Office too has had Elop elope). Recently it was confirmed that Microsoft is manipulating its SEC filing, specifically when it comes to fake numbers around Windows (so there is no guarantee that the rest of the report is reliable, either). This wiki page contains a lot more information on the subject.
“Recently it was confirmed that Microsoft is manipulating its SEC filing…”Microsoft’s most prominent boosters are very baffled by the news about Muglia and one of them insinuates that Ballmer actually fired Muglia, which would make it even more bizarre. To quote: “For a CEO, it’s surprisingly blunt to write: “I have decided that now is the time to put new leadership in place.” Vaguer, gentler language is generally used.
“Why the blunt talk? No one seems to know. And why is Muglia being let go when his division has been doing surprisingly well? Again, no one is sure.”
The title is “Why did Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer publicly oust Bob Muglia?” and the only comment at the time of writing rightly says: “What’s more vague than Steve Ballmer’s mail is your take on it, Preston. You haven’t answered your question that makes up the title of your post; but speculatively let the whole thing lie as is; without answers or offering insights or clues.” █
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Summary: Unverified comments about internal problems at Microsoft, namely lack of activity
AT Techrights we are very references based on the sense that we try to provide a lot of references (preferably new ones) for all claims that are being made. But sometimes information arrives via IRC or word of mouth and that’s just harder to verify/validate, so we clearly make the separation.
Under what can only be classified as “word of mouth” we can say that there’s a class action coming against Microsoft Windows bundling. There’s no reason to assume everyone wants Windows anymore and to force everyone to buy Windows along with hardware is simply unreasonable. GNU/Linux has matured a great deal and people whom I put on a GNU/Linux-based operating system for the first time have zero problems with it. It does everything they expect and it is simple to use without prior experience. Increasingly I hear from people who explore GNU/Linux and migrated entire facilities to it. Even relatives of mine, who I never imagined would explore GNU/Linux, turn out to be using it without making much fuss about it. A lot of my family uses it and my brother, whose friend started working for Microsoft not so long ago, confessed that they hardly do any work there anymore. They just come to work to sit idly and he actually brags about it (which would be problematic had the name been given). Well, this is the type of arrogance that kills companies. It’s Hubris.
“Microsoft Employees Are More Bored Than Ever” says this new report from Business Insider. This one too quotes anonymous Microsoft employees.
Microsoft’s employees are more bored than ever, says the author of Mini-Microsoft, a message board/blog focused on the internal culture of Microsoft.
According to the anonymous author of Mini-Microsoft, “my circle of friends have hit a patch of corporate ennui like never before.”
They die out of boredom and this lies in complete agreement with what I have been hearing from my brother’s friend. He says they just come in, have drinks and chat, and maybe program for just a little while. Nonchalance kills their paymaster and it shows. This type of neglect may also leave angry customers hanging until more lawsuit land on Microsoft’s desk. There are interesting times to come. █
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Summary: Why Microsoft will not manage to grab yet another Internet giant, not any time soon anyway
CONSOLIDATION sounds like a nice word, but usually it means removal of choice and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Microsoft has already eliminated the second search engine in all sorts of nefarious ways. Microsoft never bought Yahoo! It just achieved a sort of hijack from the inside. The company is now run by many former executives of Microsoft.
Well, one reader from Brazil told us about reports like this one yesterday:
AOL Inc. and several private-equity firms are exploring making an offer to buy Yahoo Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, devising a bold plan to marry two big Internet brands facing steep challenges.
Considering rumours/speculations that turned out to be false regarding Adobe takeover, Nokia takeover, and even AOL [1, 2, 3], it’s probably a case of boy crying “Wolf!”
Microsoft cannot afford to buy anything significant anymore (it would require borrowing more money), so for anything significant to happen here is unlikely unless the takeover is indirect. As Cringely put it:
If you think AOL actually intends to buy Yahoo, you are wrong. That story hit the press this week but it’s a ruse to motivate Google exactly as I explained a few days ago. AOL has neither the money nor the motivation to buy Yahoo, which is analogous to a bus company buying a poorly-managed airline. AOL just wants to make Google jealous.
In other Yahoo! news, it’s harmed by Google’s Instant despite revamp attempts. Is Yahoo! still developing a search engine? Why bother anymore? Won’t Microsoft just devour the whole thing?
To Microsoft, Yahoo! is just a tool now, just like SCO was once a tool. Now it’s just dead:
SCO’s stock is now back up to 7 cents, up from 2 cents or maybe less — I don’t track it closely — and 7 is where it’s been hovering most of the time for the last few months. Do people really make money from these little dips and surges? What a life that must be. That is actually a fraction of a penny higher than the stock sold for on the day SCO filed for bankruptcy. Go figure.
There’s a long list of companies that ended up as corpses outside Microsoft’s lair. Which one will Microsoft exploit next? █
“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
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Summary: A reality check amid rumours that Microsoft may be interested in Adobe’s assets and more bad news about Vista Phone 7 [sic]
Due to some reports like this one, people have begun to speculate that Microsoft might buy Adobe, which is extremely unlikely for reasons that were brought up in IRC. If Microsoft ever thought about buying Adobe, then it confirms yet again it has an identity crisis (as new internal documents appear to suggest). The article from the New York Times begins as follows:
Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft’s chief executive, recently showed up with a small entourage of deputies at Adobe’s offices to hold a secret meeting with Adobe’s chief executive, Shantanu Narayen.
The meeting, which lasted more than an hour, covered a number of topics, but one of the main thrusts of the discussion was Apple and its control of the mobile phone market and how the two companies could team up in the battle against Apple. A possible acquisition of Adobe by Microsoft were among the options.
Microsoft has been poaching Adobe employees for a while, it has products that compete directly with Adobe (hello redundancy and antitrust), and it does not have money to buy Adobe. These are just some of the many reasons why an acquisition is not going to happen. Rather than Microsoft growing through stealthy deals it appears as though it may shrink by splitting up, just like it was supposed to after antitrust violations in the 90s. Such a ‘radical’ suggestion came from Goldman Sachs a few days ago and here it is in the news again:
Goldman Sachs, at one time the most respected Wall Street investment bank in the world, is urging Microsoft to shed its Xbox (and the entire entertainment division, actually) branch into its own company, and for Microsoft proper to just focus on the business, operating system and office software stuff.
Goldman Sachs has also expressed dissatisfaction with Microsoft’s next attempt at the mobile market. It was not alone. As IDG puts it:
Windows Phone 7 Buzz Muted by Naysayers
In fact Microsoft is facing a wall of naysayers leading up this Monday when it will introduce its first batch of Windows Phone 7 phones. Analysts and investors are wary about Windows Phone 7′s prospects. Third-party application developers are giving mixed reviews about the new smartphone platform. And average Joes and Janes are just making wisecracks.
Here’s a look at what people are saying about Microsoft.
Market research firm Gartner on Wednesday predicted that Microsoft’s forthcoming Windows Phone 7 will not buoy the company’s sagging mobile handset fortunes. Instead, Gartner predicts, Microsoft’s global market share will drop from 4.7 percent in 2010 to 3.9 percent by 2014, according to Information Week.
Gartner’s prediction follows Goldman Sachs downgrade of Microsoft’s stock on Monday from “buy” to “neutral.” The investment firm dinged Microsoft for its failure to gain “a firmer foothold in the growing migration to mobile devices,” according to Bloomberg.
It’s not hard to see where that criticism comes from. Apple’s iPad, for example, has become the tablet device to beat and inspired a slew of competitors, and this has all happened in less than a year. Microsoft, meanwhile, has been trying to inspire tablet PC adoption for years without much success.
It may not take long for Vista Phone 7 to die and join this list, at which point buyers of such phones will be greeted by messages like this one:
Customers can continue to enjoy the full benefits of MSN Direct, along with service and support, up until that date. Pro-rated refunds for unused portions of existing One-Time Payment and 12 month subscription plans will be automatically credited after January 1, 2012. Customers may cancel service at any point prior to that date and receive a pro-rated refund for any unused portion of their subscription. Microsoft customer support is available to answer any questions about existing subscriptions or refund eligibility at 1-866-658-7032.
Why would Microsoft bury about 40 products only to spend ~15 billion dollars buying Adobe (the company’s market cap is around $14.3 billion at the moment)? Microsoft hardly even makes acquisitions anymore. It just makes no sense. █
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Summary: The vast majority of Windows Live Spaces is about to get wiped out, according to a source familiar with those matters
Windows Live Spaces became a notorious spam trap, as pointed out by blogs over the past year or so. Microsoft was a very poor steward, so the whole network got filled with splogs and other rubbish. Microsoft is playing loose with the numbers when it claims that 30 million users exist in Windows Live Spaces, which will be shifted to GNU/Linux in another company [1, 2, 3] so that Microsoft can shut down its own service. Based on this post with some statistics, only about 1% of Windows Live Spaces will actually be active, so it’s natural to assume that 99% (or about 29.6 million of those 30 million users which Microsoft claims to have) won’t even bother migrating to another service. Their blogs/splogs will die permanently within months.
Windows Live Spaces’ shutdown may not be a big win for WordPress.com, after all. According to internal e-mail messages obtained by Betanews, Microsoft expects only about 1 percent of Windows Live Spaces bloggers to move to WordPress.com. If not there then where? In the e-mail exchange, one Microsoft executive asserts about the 30 million active Windows Live Spaces blogs: “Most are dead.”
As MinceR put it earlier today, Microsoft is “where projects go to die”. It’s also where blogs come to die. One blog from Windows Live Spaces — and one that we are particularly interested in — belongs to the man behind Microsoft’s highly unethical tactics. He wrote about them in Windows Live Spaces and we covered these back in 2008. Just in case he does not migrate his blog (it’s not maintained anymore based on the amount of comment spam), we are going to keep a copy. To quote him: “To be profitable, the platform must not only dominate its market, but also be defended from cloning. Anti-cloning defenses include patents and rapid evolution. Maintaining the platform’s anti-cloning defense must also be cheap, relative to the platform’s revenue, else the cost of defense will consume the platform’s potential profits.” Well, somebody tell that to fans of Mono. █
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