04.08.08

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Microsoft Delivers Over 14,000 Pages of Tax Bills (Software Patents)

Posted in Antitrust, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, Protocol, Standard at 11:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gratis (protocols) versus Free as in “free samples”

“The world has established complete sets of open standards for a variety of things, but Microsoft has dodged them as a matter of principle…”There are many misinterpretations in the press at the moment. Microsoft has just released some documentation and some reporters foolishly equate that to openness, which certainty it is not. The world has established complete sets of open standards for a variety of things, but Microsoft has dodged them as a matter of principle and created its own separate set of proprietary substitutes or extensions. Just as a quick reminder consider:

“We want to own these standards, so we should not participate in standards groups. Rather, we should call ‘to me’ to the industry and set a standard that works now and is for everyone’s benefit. We are large enough that this can work.”

–Microsoft Corporation, internal memo (source [compressed PDF])

More examples you can find here, including these bits from the Halloween memos.

By the way, if you are by any chance trying to figure out Microsoft’s policy toward standards, particularly in the context of ODF-EOXML, that same Microsoft page is revelatory, Microsoft’s answer to what the memo meant when it said that Microsoft could extend standard protocols so as to deny Linux “entry into the market”:

Q: The first document talked about extending standard protocols as a way to “deny OSS projects entry into the market.” What does this mean?

A: To better serve customers, Microsoft needs to innovate above standard protocols. By innovating above the base protocol, we are able to deliver advanced functionality to users. An example of this is adding transactional support for DTC over HTTP. This would be a value-add and would in no way break the standard or undermine the concept of standards, of which Microsoft is a significant supporter. Yet it would allow us to solve a class of problems in value chain integration for our Web-based customers that are not solved by any public standard today. Microsoft recognizes that customers are not served by implementations that are different without adding value; we therefore support standards as the foundation on which further innovation can be based.

Just Do It Like Microsoft, They’ll Talk About Patent Tax Later

The foolish articles that you can find on the Web include this one, which luckily enough only refers to this as “interoperability”.

It probably won’t satisfy the company’s critics, but Microsoft has released another 14,000+ pages of interoperability information for its “high-volume products”.

“Interoperability” is pretty much a dead word because Microsoft has had it redefined, just as it redefined many other things. The above disclosure is merely part of the "taxoperability" program, which is about doing things the Microsoft way and paying for the privilege, rather than just using open and free standards. It’s all about software patents, where interoperability is just a weasel word.

Using Poor Security as Excuse for Lock-in

Loosely related to this, watch how Microsoft has turned its security problems into another opportunity to stifle real interoperability. This comes from yesterday’s news:

I showed Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for BT, the End to End Trust documents and he said “it feels general and like marketing hype.” The notion that the world needs centralized authentication “is just silly,” he added.

Basically, Microsoft has used its trusted computing efforts, such as inserting identity rights management into Office 2003, to lock people into using its products, Schneier said.

“Microsoft has used this as an anti-competitive tool,” he said.

No surprises here. At least there is reassurance that Microsoft never changed its ways.

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