Summary: Despite Microsoft’s ongoing abuses, a media attempt to rewrite history emerges
THE anticompetitive nature of Microsoft persists with UEFI, a deterrence against Linux and GNU GRUB. Mr. Varghese shows that UEFI is effective at that. It secures Microsoft’s common carrier from competition. Or in his own words:
It’s early days for secure boot, the new method that Microsoft is using to protect its desktop turf, but it would not be unfair to say that the company has succeeded in showing up the sharply fragmented nature of GNU/Linux.
Secure boot is a feature in the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, the replacement for the motherboard firmware or BIOS. It has been implemented by Microsoft in a manner that effectively prevents easy booting of other operating systems on machines which have secure boot enabled.
This ‘side effect’ is not an afterthought. Microsoft uses it to suppress Linux with the convenient excuse of ‘security’. Yes, offence is spun as necessity. Likewise, Microsoft spins its legal obligation as goodwill as it strives to rewrite Samba history.
Sean Michael Kerner recalls what Microsoft told him. It’s patent FUD:
Why is this so shocking? Well for one – it wasn’t that long ago (six years ago for me), when Microsoft execs weren’t all that thrilled with Samba. In April of 2006, I published an interview with Bill Hilf who at the time was the General Manager for Microsoft Platform strategy. This is what he told me in 2006:
“With Samba I’m really familiar with that technology and I’d say that a lot of what they do under the guise of interoperability is clone ability. I wouldn’t say it’s a great relationship but we have a working relationship. They ask things of us and we say, “That’s our IP.” And they say you should do it because all software should be free. ”
Now in 2012 after ten years of effort, Samba 4 is here thanks in part to Microsoft’s help. The Samba Team also thanks Microsoft for interoperability testing that Microsoft engineers helped with.
Times do change.
No, what changed since then is that multi-billion-dollar fines forced Microsoft to act differently in the practical sense. The pretence, or the act, is just a smart PR decision for them. By “IP” they meant patents and unsurprisingly Samba denounced Novell for a patent deal which the EU Commission found harmful to its case. █
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Summary: Samba, which denounced Novell for its Microsoft patent deal, is derailing Microsoft’s CIFS monopoly and now Active Directory monopoly, owing to EU regulatory, corrective intervention
The Business Software Alliance (BSA) and IDC, two firms that work together to create propaganda and scaremongering (one is lobbying and policing, whereas the other controls the press), seem to be suggesting that their client, Microsoft, is the victim in all that so-called ‘piracy’. The Microsoft booster has a new report which says:
Microsoft licence cops kick in TWICE as many customers’ doors as rivals
Redmond’s compliance troops swooped on 51 per cent of enterprises and partners polled for the 2012 Software Pricing and Licensing Survey by IDC and sponsored by Flexera Software.
Those “Microsoft licence cops” are the BSA. What’s interesting here is that Microsoft mouthpieces try to scare more businesses into paying Microsoft. Now is a good time to evade Microsoft lock-in and EU action helped in that regard.
Due to antitrust violations, Microsoft was forced to concede its CIFS monopoly, even though some Microsoft proxies want to sabotage that. Here is some of the better coverage we found that’s also applicable to the news:
In an elegant bit of definitional creativity, the United Kingdom Cabinet Office has come up with an answer to this conundrum. Their achievement can be found in a document titled Open Standards Principles: For software interoperability, data and document formats in government IT specifications. What the authors have pulled off involves a bit of clever time travel, transferring the costs of later breaking the hold of a proprietary vendor back to the initial bidding process, and grossing up the vendor’s bid accordingly.
In other words, when an IT contract is put out for bid, a respondent that does not intend to deliver products that comply with “open standards,” as defined by the Principles, must include a fair estimate of the government’s later switching costs into the vendor’s initial bid, as if those costs would need to be paid at the time of procurement rather at the time of product replacement. The result is that a vendor responding with a bid to provide products compliant with open standards would be at a substantial advantage to a vendor offering only its own proprietary offerings.
Moreover, the definition of open standards included is the kind that precludes charging for Essential Claims or inclusion of licensing terms that would preclude implementation in open source software.
The elegance of the approach is that it provides proprietary vendors that have to date provided only half-way compliance with open standards, or locked in their customers by adding proprietary extensions to existing standards, will now have immediate incentives to fully comply with the type of standards that are most effective to avoid vendor lock in.
The Foreword to the Principles makes no attempt to disguise the fact that breaking the hold of large, proprietary vendors on government customers was a major goal in crafting the Principles, while at the same time creating more commercial opportunities for small and medium size businesses.
As one might imagine, the public comment period that preceded the release of the final version of the Principles attracted a broad and energetic range of responses. All of this input was taken into account, but despite substantial pressure from some commercial interests, the Cabinet Office held firm on its key terms.
If you’re just a desktop or home user (like me), probably your only contact with Samba has been when you wanted to share files over a network between your Linux PC and a Windows PC. But if you’re an enterprise user, this is Big News. A huge number of corporate systems rely upon Active Directory, and up until now, you had to buy Microsoft’s server software. Not any more.
The release of Samba 4 will no doubt cut into Windows server business somewhat, but its interoperability capabilities will ease administrative and vendor support costs and preserve Windows servers and clients in the long run as open source transforms enterprise computing
Anti-trust settlements are not just meant to punish corporations that abuse their dominant market position, they are also meant to remedy the abuse and restore competition to the affected market. In the real world, this rarely happens. But Samba version 4, released yesterday, could become one of the first open source projects to deliver an effective remedy.
“Even Microsoft welcome Samba4 on their blog,” Jeremy Allison writes about their spin blog. Remember that Microsoft was merely complying with orders, it’s nothing to do with goodwill. Microsoft denied Samba’s requests for many years, allowing itself to harm many businesses in the interim. █
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Summary: Remarks on particular reports that deceive the public this week
POOR journalism helps show why alternative news sites are truly needed. Right now, for example, a Microsoft MVP is spreading pro-Microsoft messages in IDG, without any disclosures of course. We saw this sort of stuff before, in other news networks.
Over at ZDNet, rather scary headlines are appearing which are hinged upon a Samba flaw alone (like the many flaws that appear in Windows all the time). When one configures Microsoft Linux to serve Microsoft protocols, then it’s debatable if that too should count as Microsoft’s fault. The bottom line is, reporting on those subjects is flawed, sometimes by design (as in the case where Microsoft folks are assigned to report on Microsoft).
Since we’ve mentioned SUSE, watch how the post-acquisition VAR Guy is advertising SUSE:
Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) recently became the world’s first $1 billion open source company. Now, the folks at SUSE, promoter of the rival Linux distribution, are seeking bragging rights of their own. Indeed, SUSE says it now has more than 9,200 certified third-party applications and supports over 13,500 hardware, storage and networking devices. Impressive. But is SUSE in growth mode?
The VAR Guy’s educated hunch: Absolutely yes. Attachmate acquired Novell and its SUSE business roughly a year ago. Over the past year, SUSE has been freed from Novell branding, and SUSE is once again run from its own European headquarters.
And then he proceeds to parroting Novell PR talking points which we debunked years ago. They make up some numbers by aggregating useless metrics and then make themselves look big. If one wants just a rewritten press release, then the above meets the standards. But will someone please verify those bogus numbers before reporting? PR is the art of making things look different from what they actually are. █
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Summary: How and why Microsoft is ‘embracing’ Samba
n 10 October 2011,” writes The H, “a Microsoft developer contributed a GPL licensed patch to the Samba project. The patch, which was part of a proof of concept for extended protection for NTLM and presented by Stephen A. Zarko of Microsoft’s Open Source Technology Center, has now been noted as the passing of a milestone by Chris Hertel of the Samba team. Samba provides tools and servers which enable interoperability with Windows’ SMB and CIFS networking on Linux and Unix based systems.”
The reactions to this move were mixed. Proponents of the monopolist (who advertise with Microsoft) make it look wonderful (identical headline from SJVN), but members of Techrights are a lot more cautious.
“I’m not sure what the real role of the Microsoft team working with Samba is,” noted one person, “but the developers should not lose sight of the whole picture that is Microsoft. Just because one small department is helpful for one group, for right now does not mean that the greater threat has diminished or gone away. In some ways it the threat is greater because it gets the Samba team and others to let their guard down.
“It’s not unlike a vendor buying them a meal or beer for them, or providing swag. It’s not done for their benefit.
“This is a little more advanced than simply buying someone off with swag or free beer, but it’s the same principle. One rogue department doesn’t set policy for the whole beast.”
Microsoft also gave code to Mono (MS-PL-licensed). At the same time Microsoft asserted that it can sue over it.
“It’s working,” noted one of us. “One problem with Allison’s statement is that he is blind to how Microsoft makes its money. It does not make it’s money from Windows and Office, that’s just a tiny fraction of the money. The big money comes from the monopoly rents on both products.
“Microsoft was trying to leverage that monopoly to get into the server room when Samba took on M$ and defeated it in court. Microsoft is still going to protect its core money-makers, the two monopolies even if Samba does now get thrown a bone.”
Microsoft has already got its former employees from Likewise paying Microsoft for patents on Samba-like functionality (with Samba code). This is not good.
Sam Varghese points out that “Samba is one of the free software projects that has moved in toto to the GPL version 3.” Muktware’s take is that: “As Linux is gaining popularity Microsoft seems to have increased its contribution to ensure their products will work well with Linux. The recent patch submission to the Linux kernel was an indicator.”
What do readers think? █
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Summary: More Linux patent tax, this time courtesy of a company closely tied to Microsoft (as part of the campaign to generate more FUD, in numeric form)
THE MONOPOLIST from Redmond is part of a chain of companies, some of which are some kind of spinoffs.
Former Microsoft employees tend to use the skills they acquired at Microsoft to further perpetuate the Microsoft mindset (which is why many in the Mono community have Microsoft connections or roots, but that’s a story for another day). Likewise, for example, is part of the Microsoft group. Its managers, the people who came from Microsoft, have been spreading Microsoft APIs for several years now, for a fee.
Likewise is not new to us and we already have a wiki page about it. It is trying to compete with projects like Samba, offering for a fee what people can get for free.
Likewise never hid its Microsoft ties, but the Microsoft boosters promote its latest kissing affair with Microsoft as “Linux patent deal”, which is shameful reporting that helps Microsoft spread FUD. See the following:
Likewise, a software platform provider for identity, security and storage, has signed a licensing agreement with Microsoft, adding Likewise to the list of companies on Microsoft’s Linux patent-protection list.
The licensing agreement with Microsoft will affect Linux and Unix-based Network Attached Storage devices and provide Microsoft Server Message Block protocol support for Windows Server 8.
This is more Microsoft PR and an attempt to scare companies that use Linux. The source of the article was previously funded by Microsoft and the deceiving case of ‘reporting’ this placement of “Linux tax” inside companies is another case of collaborating with market manipulation and extortion. We have seen more of that recently. Journalists like these should be smashed of themselves.
The reality of the matter is that the press should receive a lot of flak for playing along with extortionist companies, which essentially ‘normalises’ this behaviour and makes readers accustomed to it. To give another new example, it is ridiculous headlines like “How I’m protecting my software IP with a patent” that further do damage by calling code “technologies” (illusion of physical existence). It is a very weak piece that neglects to account for copyright as the reasonable option and it makes software patents seem essential for small businesses (this could not be further from the truth). Journalists who are doing this deserve to be criticised because they do a massive disservice to the public. Some of them justify this by painting the articles “interviews” or pointing to FUD-inspiring “press releases” to pass liability. We shall write more about patent lobbying and myths in the next couple of posts. █
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Summary: Likewise and Centrify carry on promoting Active Directory just like Mono promotes C# and other inferior (not to mention risky) ways of doing things
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” stresses a famous saying. To Microsoft, however, it’s more than just flattering and also an endorsement of the One Microsoft Way. To Microsoft it is additionally a chance to discriminate and even file lawsuits. Short of a lawsuit, Microsoft can tax/extort rivals. This whole paradigm of imitating Microsoft is truly a problem. Not only Mono is beneficial to Microsoft. Anything which promotes development and deployment with Microsoft APIs is likely to make Microsoft stronger. One such example is the work of former Microsoft people who take Samba too far and add patents to it. We are talking about Likewise, which according to this new announcement has just sold AD Bridge. Another company which does something similar is Centrify [1, 2], and it too has an announcement about AD. They help spread Microsoft, which ultimately leads to FOSS or Novell replaced being by Microsoft, as in this new case (not necessarily a shift through APIs). People must understand that Wine or Samba are not the same things because they are more like compatibility shims, whereas Mono for example encourages the creation of yet more dependence on Microsoft APIs. This point was stressed as the #1 issue with Mono when I did that recent video. █
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Summary: An explanation of what Likewise is really doing (serving Microsoft)
A reader has left this comment which says:
I interviewed with likewise last March for a SysAdmin/Support position (and I have the emails to prove it), helping customers with Linux and Mac Likewise installs. During the interview with Jessie DeCarlos I started asking excited questions about deploying RedHat Directory Servers to replace ActiveDirectory which would push more Linux desktops into the enterprise, thinking this was Likewises goal. I was stopped cold by Jessie and told the hard facts of Likewise which were the opposite. According to Jessie, the goal of Likewise was to go into Mac/Linux enterprises and convert their directory servers into MS ActiveDirectory while allowing them to keep their Mac/Linux desktops. When I pressed further about Likewise being a open source company I was told that a.) its open core not open source b.) the goal is to push MS server software as the executive and sales team is all ex-MS and still very good friends with Redmond.
And to seal the deal of my disgust with these trolls, I was told the compensation package included lots of bonuses, for…….wait for it…….converting Mac/Linux directory servers over to MS ActiveDirectory. I feel violated just telling the story.
One last bit, I had installed Likewise before the interview (when I was naive and thought they were pushing open source not the opposite) on my Ubuntu test box and tried to get it working on a MS domain. Ehhhh, nope, didnt work. On top of that, I uninstalled and then found Likewise changes your local user password and wont let the local user change it by removing the permissions. Crap software being pimped as ‘open source’ and its a total shame.
See our Wiki page about Likewise because there is a lot more about this sham company which tries to ‘openwash’ its public image. █
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Beware the enemy within
Summary: Latest examples of Microsoft’s strategy, wherein it sends out affiliates to pretend to be FOSS people and then promote software patent deals, separation between Open Source and Free software, departure from the GPL, promotion of ‘open’ core (proprietary) as “Open Source”, and demotion of free/libre platforms like GNU/Linux along with free suites/formats like ODF
MICROSOFT has a lot of nerve. But hey, it’s Microsoft!
For those who cannot recall, Microsoft was forced by the European Commission to comply with Samba’s requests (or face extremely heavy fines), but that’s not the story Microsoft wants to tell the world, so later it pretended to have done it all out of goodwill (utter lies stemming from need to spin). We covered this pattern of spin before and debunked it thoroughly; still, this FUD just won’t die. Since when is the press just a facility for Microsoft revisionism? Oh, well, keep the up count then. Mea culpa.
A few months ago Microsoft had to comply with the Commission (or face maybe billions in fines), so it very reluctantly implemented browser ballots, which are a farce (Internet Explorer is a part of all options which are selectable) and one that Microsoft could never implement properly. See the following posts:
- Browser Ballot Critique
- Microsoft’s Fake “Choice” Campaign is Back
- Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot
- Microsoft Loses Impact in the Web Despite Unfair Ballot Placements
- Given Choice, Customers Reject Microsoft
- Microsoft is Still Cheating in Browser Ballot — Claim
- Microsoft’s Browser Ballot is Broken Again and Internet Explorer 8 is Critically Flawed
- The Microsoft Who Cried “Wolf!”
Now, here comes the key point; Microsoft used exactly the same spin that it used against Samba. Microsoft pretended that those ballots were an act of goodwill rather than obeying a law. Microsoft was also pretending that ballots are punishment enough, even though Internet Explorer remained obligatory.
“It seems like that old tactic which Microsoft calls or refers to as “infiltration”…”It’s amazing, isn’t it? Microsoft breaks the law, then it is punished for it (the punishment is so minor that it’s meaningless), and Microsoft then spins this punishment as a self-imposed limitation that Microsoft has chosen because it loves competition so very much.
Well done, Microsoft. You’re a master of spin.
Over in Budapest, Microsoft spent the beginning of the week bashing OpenOffice.org (in public), assuming the claims are correct. What a funny case of timing, eh? It happens to coincide with the OpenOffice.org event in Budapest. It turned out later, as IBM’s Rob Weir told me, that Microsoft’s Moritz Berger also decided to divide and conquer the OpenOffice.org event itself. It seems like that old tactic which Microsoft calls or refers to as “infiltration” (or “crashing” the event, as per this internal document
“You are totally wrong Both RDF and digital signatures are new to ODF 1.2″
–Rob Weir to Microsoft infiltrator at OpenOffice.org eventWhy does Oracle allow Microsoft to to this? Not surprisingly, some hours ago it turned out that Microsoft’s Berger used the OpenOffice.org event to smear OpenOffice.org or ODF. “You are totally wrong Both RDF and digital signatures are new to ODF 1.2,” hollered Weir at Berger during the event.
So let’s repeat what was happening here: Microsoft staff moving on from an anti-OpenOffice.org event in Budapest to an OpenOffice.org event in Budapest where they spread FUD, as expected. Microsoft always comes to these events under pretenses of “we come in peace” (the title of the talk in this case was about “bridges”, a mere euphemism) and anyone standing in their way will be painted an “irrational zealot” and separated from the rest, singled out as “poisonous” (that’s where the “divide and conquer” approach applies). We wrote a lot more about these techniques (so do Microsoft’s internal documents/presentations to newly-recruited AstroTurfers) when LinuxTag 2010 got the ‘Microsoft treatment’ [1, 2, 3]. It’s truly distasteful and it’s damaging.
Another thing we wish to draw attention to is IDG’s fuaxpen source blog, which delivers more and more messages from Microsoft staff (here is another one from the Microsoft employee who compares/likens Free software to communism and says that “No one is working for free”). How did Microsoft’s team end up writing in this blog? It’s simple. Bort from the Microsoft Subnet now explains who brought him in (Walli), augmenting the Microsoft ‘open source’ think tank which they broadcast to the world via IDG Web sites:
So, I got a hold of Stephen Walli (pictured), who recently joined Network World’s Open Source Subnet as a blogger. (He writes the Open Minded blog). Walli is Technical Director of the CodePlex Foundation.
Bort’s colleague/co-writer, who works for a Microsoft partner, is currently trying to separate “Linux” from the rest (another common Microsoft tactic commonly seen in this Microsoft auditorium). When someone’s colleagues work for a company that spreads proprietary software (there are more of them), it’s likely that more will follow, gradually separating the platform from the notion of Freedom — including the GPL — which otherwise belonged under the “Open Source” badge/brand. Likewise, they are separating it from GNU/Linux.
Watch out for those who take Microsoft and “Open Source” and combine the two. IDG is marrying them quite a lot these days, occasionally taking input from Microsoft Florian (when it comes to patents). Another person who takes input from Microsoft Florian is ZDNet’s Blankenhorn and he got some flak for it from Groklaw, which he once gave an award to. █
“Entryism (or entrism or enterism) is a political tactic by which an organisation or state encourages its members or agents to infiltrate another organisation in an attempt to gain recruits, or take over entirely. In situations where the organisation being “entered” is hostile to entryism, the entryists may engage in a degree of subterfuge to hide the fact that they are, in fact, an organisation in their own right.” –Wikipedia
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