08.21.08

SCO and Microsoft/Novell: A Deja Vu

Posted in Dell, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Novell, Patents, SCO at 10:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What might Hewlett-Packard and Dell have in common? We can’t tell for sure, but have a look at the following.

2002: HP memo forecasts MS patent attacks on free software

The memo — its full text is provided later in the story, along with HP’s response — briefly explains a patent cross-licensing deal between HP and Microsoft. By itself, that’s not a big deal, especially since it was sent two years ago. But the memo asserts that “Microsoft will soon be launching a patent-based legal offensive against Linux and other free software projects.” Leaders in the open source community have been warning of such attacks for some time. The memo reveals there may be very good reason for the worry.

Then came SCO, suing the entire world.

2007: Dell joins Microsoft Linux ‘protection’ deal:

Dell has become the first systems maker to join last year’s Linux pact between Microsoft and Novell covering interoperability, technical support and intellectual property rights.

[...]

In mid-November, shortly after the pact was announced, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said companies that sell or run Linux, but aren’t covered under the Novell deal, are illegally using Microsoft’s IP. “We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,” he said.

He said in a later meeting: “I do think it [Novell deal] clearly establishes that open source is not free.”

Less than a week after Dell had joined this very obscure “‘protection’ deal”, Microsoft launched a massive attack on GNU/Linux, demanding payments.

Yesterday we brought up old evidence that could suggest SCO had hooked up with Microsoft, or vice versa.

Links 21/08/2008: New GNU/Linux Device, FOSS for Government

Posted in News Roundup at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Virtualisation

Windows

Leftover

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Amy Wohl, e-market maven 09 (2005)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Coupons from Steve Capone

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML, Patents, Servers, SLES/SLED at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell coupons

Image from Wikimedia

Previous press coverage of Novell’s latest-and-greatest software patent ‘coupons’ [1, 2] is probably worth expanding on. For future reference, here are some of the many articles about it:

Picking out a few highlights, here is the post “Microsoft is profiting from Linux.”

So doing the simple calculation ($340 million by 29%= X), Microsoft over the lifetime of the Novell coupon deal could profit by $99 million (or more) dollars. At that figure Microsoft would likely be one of the top Linux resellers on Earth.

[...]

As Microsoft is set to pump up to $100 million more in Novell for Linux, it’s important to note that Microsoft is not paying off Linux – it’s actually making money from it.

Microsoft isn’t just buying Linux subscriptions from Novell to give away…it’s buying them so they can sell them. So that means for the past 18 months, Microsoft has been selling Linux.

Stating the obvious almost 2 years late. It goes further than this, as far as back room extortions which the press rarely covers.

Matt Asay explains what Microsoft is trying to achieve:

It’s just business for Microsoft, and business is better when Linux is limping. So Microsoft is trying to kill off the Linux market leader by giving Novell a compelling differentiator. The day that Novell becomes a threat to Microsoft’s business, however, is the day that the deal is shut down.

Why are some companies still picking up these coupons? People who were approached by Novell and Microsoft contacted us privately. Microsoft and Novell jointly offer them considerable discounts just so that they buy ‘Microsoft SUSE’ (with patent tax). They try to set a precedence and they invest in this precedence.

Dana at ZDNet wrote about this fiasco (he even ‘borrowed’ our image) and he actually thinks those coupons are about bridging.

It’s created a compliant client state, a vassal, small and subservient, a bridge between the closed world of Windows and the free world of open source.

He wrongly asserts that GNU/Linux benefited when he says: “Microsoft has benefitted enormously from its Novell deal, and to be honest so has the Linux community.” The truth is that only Novell benefited in the short term, at the expense of its image, which will suffer. Here is an interesting quote from another article on this subject:

“There’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly — and their customers are using it, so it’s important that Microsoft have a good interoperability story on that front. Linking up with a Linux vendor is a good way to do that,” added Paul DeGroot, a Directions On Microsoft analyst.

Big Lies about the ‘market share’ of GNU/Linux (both desktop- and server-side) were highlighted before.

Here is some coverage from IDG:

For Microsoft, the deal was a recognition of the significant role that Linux plays in enterprises, but also provided a way to show the European Commission, which was hounding it at the time about anticompetitive practices, that it was open to working with the open-source community.

“Working with” as in “mooching”. Truthfully, Microsoft hopes to have the cake and eat it too. It wants to sabotage Free software while at the same time keeping those ‘pesky’ regulators off its back. Shane and I foresaw this back in 2006.

“It wants to sabotage Free software while at the same time keeping those ‘pesky’ regulators off its back.”Has Microsoft offered the ‘interoperability’ it had promised? Of course not. Look no further than Silverlight and the Olympic games [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

Another similar example of behaviour is Microsoft buying a company with its product that works on GNU/Linux and even typically demonstrated on Ubuntu and then turning it into a Windows-only Web technology. It’s another Silverlight-esque ‘infection’ on the Web — rendering parts of the Web accessible only to Microsoft Windows users. It made the news yesterday. Watch the comments.

Going back to those Novell/Microsoft coupons, Paula Rooney gets it wrong. Not only does she suggest that OOXML is an ISO standard (there is still room for appeals and an EC investigation), but she also suggests that there’s something “sweet” in the Microsoft/Novell relationship. On the other hand, she gets it right when she suggests that businesses use Novell and Microsoft to bypass the spirit of Free software and just get things working on Microsoft’s terms. That’s an implicit message anyway.

“People that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us.”

Steve Ballmer

“We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Steve Ballmer

“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.”

Steve Ballmer

Can Germany Fine Microsoft for Slandering GNU/Linux?

Posted in Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, SCO at 7:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Interesting new article from Groklaw:

German Court: SCO Must Pay a Fine. Yes. Again.

[...]

SCO was enjoined from making certain claims in Germany, and it signed an agreement in 2003 not to say them there, because its alternate choice was to have to prove them immediately, so it chose silence. As a result, SCO can’t say in Germany that Linux violates SCO’s IP or that end users could be liable for violations of SCO’s intellectual property or that Linux is an unauthorized derivative of UNIX. Unless it can prove it. Good luck with that. SCO hasn’t been successful proving that anywhere, so it can’t say that in Germany. But the US website makes such claims, which were apparently shown in Germany too. Naughty, naughty.

This German law, which forbids making negative allegations without proof, was mentioned here over a year ago. Can Microsoft be fined and forced to apologize for making accusations while refusing to back any of them using evidence? For all we know, Novell was their 'evidence'. It was precedence [++].
___
[++] Dell joins Microsoft Linux ‘protection’ deal:

In mid-November, shortly after the pact was announced, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said companies that sell or run Linux, but aren’t covered under the Novell deal, are illegally using Microsoft’s IP. “We believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability,” he said.

He said in a later meeting: “I do think it [Novell deal] clearly establishes that open source is not free.”

Steve Ballmer license

Image from Wikimedia

Former Microsoft Executive (VMWare) Makes Friends with Microsoft

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Virtualisation, Xen at 7:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

As necessary background, consider reading previous posts on the effect of former Microsoft employees on other companies, sometimes even direct competitors [1, 2]. More recently, we saw VMWare coming under such a threat [1, 2, 3]. Yesterday in the IRC channel, we discussed the latest situation in light of a new development.

It has been only weeks since a former Microsoft executive became the CEO of VMWare and look what happens.

Virtualization newbie Microsoft and market leader VMware play nice, up to a point, with validation program.

There are no permanent enemies in politics, just permanent interests, the truism goes; and this is apparently true in business as well. InternetNews.com has learned that VMware has joined arch-rival Microsoft’s third-party server virtualization validation program (SVVP).

“VMware is proud to be a part of SVVP,” Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president of worldwide field operations, said in an email sent to InternetNews.com. “VMware is looking forward to working closely with Microsoft to complete the certification of VMware ESX under the SVVP program to provide customers the support they need to gain the flexibility and benefits of working in virtualized environments.”

That is, essentially, Microsoft shaking hands with (former) Microsoft. It may have seized its rival in a sense. Since VMWare has the lion’s share of this market and it should know Microsoft’s typical behaviour, why the change of heart? Another Novell? We all know (or ought to know) what happened to XenSource after a General Manager from Microsoft had joined its upper ranks.

More information about this piece of news in:

Adding some more to the ‘political’ side of things, watch Bill Gates refusing to retire. He is still working quietly for Microsoft, and not just in a representative role.

Gates was supposed to have stopped participating in Microsoft’s everyday business about two months ago.

This is not the first time that we spot Gates’ activity against threats like Free software (post his ‘retirement’) [1, 2].

“Number two is move Netscape out of the win32 client area.”

Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (Now VMWare)

“The major reason for this is: to combat [Netscape] we have to position the browser as “going away” and do deeper integration on Windows. The stronger way to communicate this is to have a “new release” of Windows and make a big deal out of it. We will thus position Memphis as “Windows 98. IE integration will be the most compelling feature of Memphis.”

Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (Now VMWare)

“To combat NSCP we have to have [sic] position the browser as ‘going away’ and do deeper integration on Windows. The stronger way to communicate this is to have a ‘new release’ of Windows and make a big deal out of it. We will thus position Memphis as ‘Windows 98′.”

Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (Now VMWare)

“…cut off Netscape’s air supply.”

Paul Maritz, Vice President, Microsoft (Now VMWare)

Quick Mention: Microsoft Still ‘Buys’ Bollywood for Mass Appeal (Updated)

Posted in Asia, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 6:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We saw this before [1, 2] and it’s happening again.

Well, Microsoft has tried out many ways to promote their current generation console in India. They had tied up with cricketer Yuvraj Singh and Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. They even came up with an Indianised Marcus Fenix! Now Microsoft has partnered with Yash Raj Films for the Bollywood movie Bachna Ae Haseeno.

Other recent Microsoft promotions included the ‘recruitment’ of NASCAR vehicles and the star of “Jackass”. What is the company thinking? What message does that send the customer? The "Mojave experiment" has already (dis)served quite a rude message: “You, our customers, are dumb.”

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Update: With this breaking news, Microsoft clearly resorts to comedy in order to market what it possibly perceives as a joke (Vista).

WSJ: Microsoft hires Seinfeld to bite Apple

Continually painted by Apple and other rivals as uncool and unsafe, Microsoft plans to spend $300 million on a new series of advertisements, designed around its “Windows Not Walls” slogan, that will feature Seinfeld and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

Reminder: Protest Against Software Patents This Weekend

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

A

few days ago, those protests in Bangalore received a quick mention. As background to this, consider [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The short version of this story: Microsoft and its partner in India are trying to legalise software patents in a nation that rejected them. Yes, again. It seems like another case of ballot-stuffing or chair-warming, i.e. voting by a minority with a common interest on ‘behalf’ of an entire nation. Watch what Richard Stallman wrote yesterday:

20 August 2008 (Microsoft corrupts the ISO)

Microsoft consummated its corruption of the International Standards Organization, which dismissed an appeal by several countries against the approval of OOXML.

However, I think the EU’s criminal investigation of this corruption is still live. (Is it?)

The investigation is ongoing. Some say it might be the cause for further ISO delays.

There is clearly some recognition of the fact that Microsoft will go as far as necessary to get its way. It desperately needs software patents in India. Now is the time to fight back.

The latest details about a peaceful protest are here:

Software patents are rejected by Indian Parliament in 2005 (Patent Amendment bill 2005). But Indian Government is now trying to push it through back door by bringing a Patent manual. Public consultations on this draft manual is going on in various metros in India. Bangalore Consultation is scheduled for the last week of August.

The Candle light vigil to “Say No To Software Patents” is a occasion to raise civil society voice against this back door trojan to Indian patent system.

On 23rd August 2008 in front of Town Hall near Corporation Circle, Bangalore. Publicity campaigns will be hosted in various places on 22nd.

There are some more details about the event in this page and the following article was published last week.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As explained above, software patents are bad for everyone other than large companies. Each software patent is a potential mine in the path to progress for small software companies. Allowing software patents in the country will be like strewing the path with mines.

Stay tuned for FSF India to unleash its response. There is already a mature draft of a lengthy letter.

Help the world fight against intellectual monopolies, a new embodiment of which is defended by the very same governments that dishonour them. Read the following letter:

As much as I utterly despise the entire premise of Intellectual Monopoly, this is about violating the principles of a Free License, and if it’s good enough for the British government to violate our civil rights in the name of Intellectual Monopoly, then it’s good enough for the Free World to protect its “property” (in fact Freedom) too…

There’s a book review that touches on the issue of Free software and intellectual monopolies. At least it’s a critical assessment.

A book on (gulp) law? Why would I want to read this? Well, if you’re a developer (open source or not) and you are at all interested in protecting the fruits of your labors, you will want to know this the same way you want to know about locking your house when you leave for work each morning. The next question is, “Will I understand anything the author is saying?”. Depends. If you’re an attorney, the answer is “yes”. If you’re a software engineer, the answer is…”yes”. What? How can that be? Turns out the author is both a software engineer and a practicing attorney (at least, according to the blurb on the back cover of the book). Is it possible he can speak to both audiences? Let’s find out.

Such a book which strives to mix (almost marry) FOSS and software patents is — perhaps unsurprisingly — from O’Reilly Media, which recently received payments from Diamond Sponsor Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. They are pro-OSS, but a little hostile or skeptical towards the philosophy of Free software. It’s only reason for apprehension.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 20th, 2008 – Part III

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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