Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why Moonlight is Not Free, and How Microsoft “Addicts” People

Addiction evidence

With the author's permission, we repost portions of this comment.

Why Moonlight is Not Free

Moonlight is ostensibly 'licensed under the terms of the GNU LGPL 2 license only (no "later versions")'.

Here's part of LGPLv2.0:

You may not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.

But Novell have indeed "imposed a further restriction" to the license for Moonlight:

We consider non-LGPL use instances where you use this on an embedded system where the end user is not able to upgrade the Moonlight installation or distribution that is part of you product (Section 6 and 7), you would have to obtain a commercial license from Novell

This "further restriction" is explicitly prohibited under the LGPL, therefore Moonlight is non-Free.

“Since I am not a Novell customer, I therefore cannot use this software.”This would, for example, prohibit Moonlight from being distributed on immutable systems such as a LiveCD, since the software on such a medium cannot be updated in place by the recipient. LiveCDs can sometimes be installed of course, but that doesn't alter the fact that "the product" is immutable, and therefore in violation of Moonlight's license if it distributes that software. LiveCD's can also be "remastered", but then that essentially changes "the product" to something else, created by someone else. In any event, the above clause is a "further restriction" which violates the LGPL, and hence the software is not Free, regardless of the semantics of this clause, and regardless of Novell's false claim that immutable systems are inherently in violation of the LGPL.

Of course there are other even more insidious things which make this software non-Free, such as the fact that only direct "Downstream Recipients" of Novell are indemnified against the use of Microsoft's patented technology in this software. Since I am not a Novell customer, I therefore cannot use this software. Again, this is not an attribute of Free Software.

How Microsoft "Addicts" People

Could you make it explicit about what Microsoft is doing to get people addicted.

Let me begin my answer to that question by quoting Bill Gates himself:

Gates shed some light on his own hard-nosed business philosophy. "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."

Microsoft have three main mechanisms by which they "addict" users to their products:

  1. Secret MOUs with OEMs to exclude competitors' software from being preinstalled, thus essentially forcing all PC buyers to pay for Microsoft's software, whether they want it or not. This in itself is a form of pressure to use Windows ("I paid for it, therefore I should have the (perhaps dubious) benefit of using it").


    1. 'The answer lies in the nature of the relationship Microsoft maintains with hardware vendors. More specifically, in the "Windows License" agreed to by hardware vendors who want to include Windows on the computers they sell. This is not the license you pretend to read and click "I Accept" to when installing Windows. This license is not available online. This is a confidential license, seen only by Microsoft and computer vendors. You and I can't read the license because Microsoft classifies it as a "trade secret." The license specifies that any machine which includes a Microsoft operating system must not also offer a non-Microsoft operating system as a boot option. In other words, a computer that offers to boot into Windows upon startup cannot also offer to boot into BeOS or Linux. The hardware vendor does not get to choose which OSes to install on the machines they sell -- Microsoft does.' ~
    2. 'The States' remedy hearing opened in DC yesterday, and States attorney Steven Kuney produced a devastating memo from Kempin, then in charge of Microsoft's OEM business, written after Judge Jackson had ordered his break-up of the company. Kempin raises the possibility of threatening Dell and other PC builders which promote Linux.

      "I'm thinking of hitting the OEMs harder than in the past with anti-Linux. ... they should do a delicate dance," Kempin wrote to Ballmer, in what is sure to be a memorable addition to the phrases ("knife the baby", "cut off the air supply") with which Microsoft enriched the English language in the first trial. Unlike those two, this is not contested.' ~ The Register

  2. Controlling Standards: By supplanting industry standards with their own, and making the use of those standards ubiquitous (with the forced preinstallation of Windows on OEM systems), Microsoft spreads dependence on their proprietary and patent-encumbered standards, and subsequently the software which most effectively implements those standards, which is quite naturally the software created by the company that devised those standards - Microsoft.

    There are two reasons for this: First, only Microsoft and its "partners" have the necessary grant of authority to utilise their patented technology (either fully or at all), and second, Microsoft has the habit of deliberately introducing undocumented features into their software in order to make it work differently to the published standard, and thus make the end results (e.g. documents) non-interoperable with other software which follows those standards properly. This then induces a dependence on Microsoft's proprietary implementation (and thus - their software). A perfect example of this is OOXML, which Microsoft has already admitted they will arbitrarily change to suit their own purposes:

    Microsoft won't commit to the open document standard it's pushing so hard


    Now consider this from Brian Jones, a Microsoft manager who has worked on OOXML for six years. In July, Jones was asked on his blog whether Microsoft would actually commit to conform to an officially standardised OOXML. His response:

    “It’s hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK’d OOXML] in the coming years, because we don’t know what direction they will take the formats. We’ll of course stay active and propose changes based on where we want to go with Office 14. At the end of the day, though, the other Ecma members could decide to take the spec in a completely different direction. ... Since it’s not guaranteed, it would be hard for us to make any sort of official statement.”

    Now that’s cynical. After all this work to make OOXML a formal, independent standard — a standard created and promoted by Microsoft, remember — Microsoft won’t agree to follow it.

    There are many, many such examples, indeed it's difficult to find any software technology which Microsoft has not at least tried to pervert to their own ends.

    Why do you suppose Microsoft battled with Netscape so ferociously? Netscape didn't sell a competing OS, and Microsoft didn't sell a browser, so why the need to "cut off Netscape's air supply"? That battle was not about products, it was about standards. Microsoft needs to control those standards, in order to maintain its monopoly. Exactly the same thing goes for OOXML vs ODF, and .Net (Mono/DotGNU) vs Java. This is why DotGNU is wrong, because it only serves to further Microsoft's "standards dominance", and lest we forget, Microsoft operates it's business like gangsters. This is not the kind of company anyone should be supporting, in any way at all, much less supporting them by giving them the very weapon they need to win.

  3. Propaganda and disinformation (i.e. FUD): Microsoft spreads false propaganda about itself and its competitors, both directly and indirectly using shills. This is no conspiracy theory, but a proven, well documented fact.

    Microsoft accomplishes this primarily using bribery, which sometimes takes the form of cash or commodity gifts (e.g. laptops), is sometimes masked as "marketing assistance" (in at least two documented cases), and often takes the form of lobbying (a.k.a. legalised bribery).

    Another means by which Microsoft spreads its propaganda is via "Industry Analysts", which it hires legitimately, although in a clandestine fashion, to produce illegitimate "studies", which are either outright lies or gross misrepresentations of the truth.

    And finally there's Microsoft's chief goon, Steve Ballmer, who claims "Linux violates 235 Microsoft patents", "Linux is a cancer", "Google reads your E-mail", "Red Hat's customer's owe Microsoft money", and many other examples of FUD to dissuade people from using Free Software like Linux, and thus "addict" them to Microsoft's products.

Credit: Slated


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