Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Set for Lock-in-backed Hijack (and Novell Helps It)

Novell's helping hand in the fight against FOSS

Time after time we warned that with the arrival of Windows Vista comes a novel lock-in strategy. It must not be ignored. Proprietary and patent-encumbered technology will be named "open" and then gradually extended. It is a trap which is disguised by disinformation and third parties like Novell and Ecma.

This strategy of lock-in stretches well beyond file formats. It also creates lethal and viral (as in "transferable") integration of the server side and the desktop side. As mentioned many times before, all of this is happening quietly. It's happening quietly for a reason. You never yell when approaching a rabbit.

The following bits of information may not be news, but they circulate around the Web at the moment and they are extremely vital to be aware of. Rather than taking an 'holistic' approach to analyse this lock-in strategy, let us take a look at its pertinent components. The scope of the Grand Scheme is incompatible with the scale of blog posts.

One lock-in component, among roughly half a dozen, is Silverlight, which Miguel de Icaza and his co-workers have been 'kind' enough to infect Linux with. Make no mistake. It is not cross-platform as Microsoft would have developers believe. It is highly Windows-dependent and it even encapsulated anti-consumer elements such as Microsoft DRM.

What remains astounding is the level of attention Silverlight gets, even in the open source world.

Under the hood, Silverlight 1.1 is an extended subset of the .NET 2.0 framework.


It appears as though many people conveniently ignore some nasty consequences. At times of bizarre IP debates and even saber rattling (see below), this is definitely the wrong route to take.

Google and OIN certainly have no interest in starting a legal war. While Microsoft's efforts with just 'talking about' patent violations have manged to gain attention from the less popular distributions, the funny thing is Xandros, Linspire and Novell all produce quality products, it would take all three of them together to even hold a candle to the user-ship seen with Ubuntu. At the end of the day, the only real accomplishment here for Microsoft is to hold onto the enterprise market, since no one else has even batted an eye about the alleged IP violations.


It is dangerous and worrisome to see some folks striding bravely with their eyes shut. They easily fall for Microsoft's "open" initiatives and projects. With disinformation, a lot of possible. More about this was discussed in SJVN's article new on Microsoft's so-called open source software. What about SharePoint? Steve Ballmer called it the new operating system. It's the mother of all lock-ins. These are all things to study and consider. They are all closely integrated and they are very Microsoft-centric.

Microsoft uses the "big guns" to seed its new lock-ins. Here in the UK, the BBC seems to have become the Novell of the broadcasting world. What makes it different from Wal-Mart, which is also uncomforably close to Microsoft and is usually Linux-hostile in terms of delivery methods, is the fact that it's funded by taxpayers, many of whom use Linux. This is similar to Novell's use of Free software. It uses other people's labour (like tax money) to punish those very same people. Silverlight and Microsoft DRM are among the nasty bits that will spread through the BBC's Web site and services, based on plans, not just rumours and specualtions.

Gordon Brown and other Microsoft sympathisers in the UK are said to be poisoning businesses with tomorrow's lock-ins, including SharePoint. Britain is a huge Microsoft victim/player in that respect. It consumes and forces upon others the use of Microsoft technologies.

These technologies (DRM, XAML, OOXML, SharePoint, among more) must be shunned. Giants like IBM have already approached the EU asking to make Vista illegal because of these and it's worth repeating.

An industry coalition that has represented competitors of Microsoft in European markets before the European Commission stepped up its public relations offensive this morning, this time accusing Microsoft of scheming to upset HTML's place in the fabric of the Internet with XAML, an XML-based layout lexicon for network applications.


Protests against such moves have proven to be effective in the sense that they are visible. The 'other side' is being heard.

"The future of iPlayer, the BBC's new online on-demand system for delivering content, is continuing to look bleaker. With ISPs threatening to throttle the content delivered through the iPlayer, consumers petitioning the UK government and the BBC to drop the DRM and Microsoft-only technology, and threatened legal action from the OSC, the last thing the BBC wanted to see today was street protests at their office and at the BBC Media Complex accompanied by a report issued by DefectiveByDesign about their association with Microsoft."


Despite all the noise, the BBC, which is too closely tied to Microsoft now, continues with its plans

The BBC have developed the "iPlayer" at a cost to the BBC license fee payer of €£130 Million and rising.

[...]

FSF Executive Director attending the protest spoke about the corrupting influence of Microsoft, "BBC values have been corrupted because BBC Executives are too closely associated with Microsoft. BBC values have been corrupted because the iPlayer uses proprietary software and standards made under an exclusive deal with Microsoft. BBC values have been corrupted because license fee payers must now own a Microsoft operating system to download BBC programming. BBC values have been corrupted because license fee payers must accept DRM technologies that spy and monitor on the digital files held on their computers. We are here today to help BBC Director General Mark Thompson, clean up this DRM mess, and to encourage the BBC Trust to reverse course and eliminate DRM from the BBC iPlayer"


The discussion here does not stop at DRM. That's where Novell fits the picture. Microsoft intends to use its 'special' deals to spread and make vital the use of Silverlight and .NET. Novell is among the biggest contributors (if the only one) to semi-baked ports of technology that should not be adopted in the first place. Novell gives customers and prospective developers the wrong impression -- the impression that Free software will be compatible with technologies that Microsoft controls. It turns Linux into 'cheap Windows' that is enslaved to a monopoly.

As long as Novell endorses and builds Microsoft's lockins, Novell deserves a boycott. Novell took the money and it's now working to promote Microsoft's own agenda, which includes eliminating Free software rivals.

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