03.03.10

Microsoft Not Only Broke the Law in Europe, So Browser Ballot Should Become International

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Country buttons

Summary: A new push for the Web browser ballot to be deployed on all Windows installers/OEM PCs; other abuses of Microsoft in Europe

ECIS, which shed light on Microsoft's crimes last year (scroll down to the appendix and also see this summary of crimes against Netscape in another appendix), has just suggested that Microsoft should take its biased ballot [1, 2] to countries outside Europe. Suffice to say, Microsoft boosters including Microsoft Emil and Mary Jo Foley are whining. They are of course hostile towards the idea.

ECIS describes itself as “an international non-profit association founded in 1989 that endeavours to promote a favourable environment for interoperable ICT solutions,” but Mary Jo Foley dismisses it as a “lobbyist group” (it’s like calling one’s solicitor or a judge a “lobbyist for justice”). Here is how she put it:

ECIS, a lobbyist group with many Microsoft adversaries as members, is calling on regulators worldwide to follow the European Commission (EC) in requiring Microsoft to offer a browser ballot that calls out non-Internet-Explorer alternatives available to PC users.

Starting March 1, Microsoft began pushing out to European Union users an EC-stipulated browser ballot, which makes it plain to consumers that even though Internet Explorer (IE) comes preloaded on Windows PCs, there are other browsers available. Microsoft agreed to provide the browser ballot to EU consumers running IE as their default browser on XP, Vista and Windows 7 as part of a settlement deal with the EC in an antitrust case brought against Microsoft by browser maker Opera Software.

One reader informed us of this new article from eWEEK Europe (titled “Microsoft Accused Of Sneaking IE Clones Into Browser Ballot”) and he added: “This explains the strange “random” ballot screen and the inclusion of some very obscure browsers, that are actually IExplorer in disguise.”

The article says: “The EC has forced Microsoft to include other browsers in a ballot screen – but according to critics, several of the alternatives are actually Internet Explorer under the hood.”

Typical Microsoft. If that’s not enough to show the abuses of Microsoft, one abuse that we mentioned yesterday is Microsoft’s use of regulators as its private police force. “Microsoft Behind Google Complaints To EC,” says Slashdot. eWEEK Europe states in the headline that “Microsoft Was Behind Google Complaints To EC”

A lawyer for Microsoft confirmed that the software giant told the US Department of Justice and the European Commission how Google’s business practices may be harming publishers, advertisers and competition in search and online advertising.

This is far from the first time that Microsoft is playing cop.

Another type of abuse that we see in Europe is the abuse of state press (which is funded by taxpayers). Yesterday we wrote about the BBC excluding Free software users [1, 2, 3] after hiring many executives from Microsoft UK. Based on this news, the BBC is foolish enough to phase out its Web efforts, as though the Internet is just going away.

Closing 6Music and the Asian Network may have grabbed the headlines in the BBC’s plan to reallocate a fifth of its licence fee income – but it’s the web that’s bearing the brunt.

“By far the biggest single adjustment is the tightening of focus of the website,” director general Mark Thompson told FT’s Digital Media & Broadcasting Conference, hours after unveiling the strategy that proposes cutting a quarter from the annual web budget and online staff by 2013 (read all the online key points from earlier).

Thompson gave the example of the BBC’s web community for Scotland’s Western Isles: “Actually, those communities are launching their own sites – someone else is doing it – we can step back. In entertainment – we’ve seen a lot of people stepping up in that space – we can draw back.”

This is another atrocious decision from Thompson (shown below). Perhaps he just doesn’t belong in this job.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Related posts:

Analyst Expects Microsoft Bid to Buy Novell

Posted in Deals, Finance, Microsoft, Novell at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell blinded by money

Original image from Wikimedia

Summary: Richard Williams from Cross Research believes that Microsoft or even its ally SAP might attempt to buy Novell for approximately $2 billion

LAST NIGHT we wrote about Novell's possibly inevitable fate as a private company, taken over by another. We have not prepared any detailed posts on the subject yet, but here is some food for thought:

Elliot offers to buy Novell Inc. for $2bn; Novell stock surge

[...]

“The deal price is on the low side compared to recent deals that were transacted in the enterprise software space,” said Cross Research analyst Richard Williams.

[...]

William said there could be more companies who would offer a similar bid for Novell as Elliot’s. HP, SAP, and Microsoft are expected to be the possible suitors.

Microsoft, already having a strong business partnership with Novell, sells Novell’s version of Linux to its customers.

This whole episode may explain why a lot of executives quit the company recently. At this stage, it seems unlikely that Novell will stay NOVL this year.

“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”

LinuxToday Managing Editor

Patents Roundup: Benjamin Franklin Would Have Disliked Patents, Tim Bray Leaves, Patents Kill, Ridiculous Software Patents Named

Posted in Bill Gates, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Oracle, Patents, SUN at 7:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis

Summary: This post presents a roundup of patent news (mostly software); it is intended to show the lesser-known truths about patents — the ones which lawyers do not want people to know

Ghabuntu has just done some exploration around Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.

It turns out that, just like Thomas Jefferson, Franklin would have rejected patents and advocated Free software. It is often being argued that software patents are unconstitutional, but that’s another matter that won’t be discussed today.

Here is what Ghabuntu found:

This pamphlet had a good effect. Gov’r. Thomas was so pleas’d with the construction of this stove, as described in it, that he offered to give me a patent for the sole vending of them for a term of years; but I declin’d it from a principle which has ever weighed with me on such occasions, viz., That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.

An ironmonger in London however, assuming a good deal of my pamphlet, and working it up into his own, and making some small changes in the machine, which rather hurt its operation, got a patent for it there, and made, as I was told, a little fortune by it.

Here is an older link on the subject (from one year ago). It’s titled “Ben Franklin, the first Open Source advocate” and it says:

Benjamin Franklin is known in American history as a founding father and a inventor. One interesting fact is that he did not approve of patents. Martin Streicher of IBM points out in his article of 10 tips for sensible systems administration that Benjamin Franklin would more than likely approve of Open Source software.

One of our favourite entrepreneurs is Tim Bray, who had the guts to complain about Microsoft’s corruption [1, 2, 3]. After his recent rants about patents, Bray decides to leave Sun/Oracle.

“Just resigned from Sun/Oracle,” he wrote a few days ago. “Not currently looking for another job.”

Patents are not only harming software by the way. Glyn Moody, who wrote a book about the dangers of genome patents, shows this new report about removal of generics using patent provisions.

Aside from pharmaceutical patents, the other key IP provision in the free trade agreement relates to geographical indications (GIs). These allow certain regions to claim an effective monopoly right on delicacies such as Champagne or Parma ham that are synonymous with them. According to Brussels sources, over 200 GIs will be covered by the agreement with Peru and Colombia.

In previous posts we explained why this is the death knell to a lot of people [1, 2]. This is genocide by patents. Speaking of which, the effect of the Gates-funded Monsanto is similar. It causes deaths rather than save lives and we wrote about the subject in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Monsanto is a company whose business model depends on patents relating to life (biology as a private property of a person). GM Watch asks, “Have we seen Peak Monsanto?”

Is it possible that we’ve reached Peak Monsanto?:

Low commodity soybean prices, attractive premiums, and rising prices for genetically modified soybean seed are leading American farmers to plant more acres of non-GMO soybeans this year.

Representatives with soybean associations, universities, and grain buyers all say that demand for non-GMO soybeans is growing, leading to more non-GMO acres.

Genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans have taken an increasingly larger percentage of U.S. soybean acreage each year since their introduction in 1996, reaching 92 percent in 2008.

Bill Gates supports this colonisation of land and food. It’s about creating a crops monopoly, using intellectual monopolies (patents).

TechDirt has this new item which says that “It’s The Execution That Matters, Not The Idea” and the item happens to cite a former (but famous) Microsoft employee who seemingly argues against patents.

There have been lots of players who have come and gone, and there are at least a dozen players in the space today. And it’s not because they all “took” the idea from this guy, but because lots of people recognized that it’s an idea that makes sense. Kickstarter is certainly getting a ton of press these days, but that’s mostly because of some top notch execution on its part.

This leads us to the next area, which is software patents. No less than twice in recent days we wrote about Facebook’s controversial software patent [1, 2], as well as the company’s relationship with Microsoft and apparently the company’s patent troll too (Nathan Myhrvold). Here is another good analysis of why Facebook’s behaviour should be seen as hostile.

I wonder what is Facebook’s strategy here. They could simply be looking to stifle competitors. The obvious result of this is that they will probably attempt to get licences from some prominent social networks and the aforementioned open source projects. In the longer run, this could be used to become the only name in social networking. Not good news at all.

Google is also a foe when it comes to software patents. Mashable covers Google’s new software patent on location-based advertising. This is ridiculous, but it is not truly a farce like today’s USPTO.

That patent itself focuses on making sure businesses can better target their ads based on location information so that they can do things such as price arbitration (e.g. figuring out prices for items near you and getting the best deal). It also deals with the user interface and defining geographic areas.

Will Google obey or least consider the suggestions from many people who want Google to set its new codec free? Or use Ogg Theora in YouTube? As this new post emphasises, this is a top issue when it comes to Free software and patents. GNU/Linux depends on it.

Patented multimedia codecs, however, are a little different from proprietary drivers and firmware, for reasons discussed in my first post on the topic. There are people–for example, a commenter on a previous post named markit–who remain passionately opposed to the use of restrictively licensed codecs and can make well reasoned arguments to support their stance, particularly since fully functional GPL-friendly equivalents are available for multimedia codecs.

The arguments against the use of patented codecs are not without merit. By using formats like MP3 and MPEG-2 rather than GPL’d alternatives, users perpetuate dependence on proprietary software, which is antithetical to the Ubuntu philosophy.

The obvious response to such arguments, of course, is that while it would be nice to use only patent-free codecs, that’s not a realistic goal for most people. You can’t send .ogg files to Windows users and expect them to know how to open them, and you won’t have many friends if you refuse to accept data in non-free formats.

Google’s harmful policy on patents withstanding, can the company prove to be helpful to Free software by weakening or gradually eliminating H.264? Let’s hope so.

Bull Migrates Desktops to OpenOffice.org, Munich Succeeds With Migration as Well

Posted in Debian, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Men rowing

Summary: More migrations to Free software are seen in Germany and setbacks are spotted elsewhere in Europe

OpenOffice.org continues to evolve under Oracle’s guard, which is good news. According to the following article, OpenOffice.org also continues to gain greater adoption in Germany. Here is Bull speaking about its migrations to OpenOffice.org. [English translation]

Insgesamt wurde weltweit auf mehr als 8.000 Arbeitsplätzen, davon 500 in Deutschland, das Lizenzkosten-freie Office-Paket installiert. Durch den konsequenten Einsatz von offenen Standards setzt Bull auf eine zukunftsfähige IT-Strategie, die die Abhängigkeit von kommerziellen Anwendungen und proprietären Standards verringert – getreu dem Firmen-Claim „Architect of an Open World™“.

That’s a lot more desktops running Free software and ODF. Bull has a customer base with more than 100,000 installations worldwide. There is also this new update about Munich’s migration to Debian GNU/Linux and ODF:

The consolidated IT of the city of Munich is reporting at CeBIT 2010 on converting their workstations to Linux and OpenOffice.

The migration to the free office package was finalized for Munich. All 15,000 office PCs of the city council will work on OpenOffice, under Linux or Windows. In the context of CeBIT Open Source, city experts and the DBI service will answer questions about the migration at booth F24. On display will be their Wollmux software tool for personalized templates and forms administration.

We wrote about Munich’s important migration (which Microsoft tried to derail) on numerous occasions before [1, 2].

The trickier part, as Holland shows us, is getting rid of proprietary lock-ins and never returning to them again. Here is what Glyn Moody wrote about “The Continuing Scandal of Vendor Lock-in“:

This is a strong argument for mandating open source/open standards solutions in the public sector: depending on “level playing fields” as Microsoft demands so vociferously is actually surrendering to the status quo because of the huge lock-in problem. The only way to get true equality of opportunity is to force people to move to open standards, and *then* let the market operate freely.

Moody has a new example of this Microsoft Office lock-in. He refers to the Microsoft-occupied Open University [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] which requests “application forms [for a CIO] only in .doc or .pdf…”

Speaking of lock-in, Pinguinpat has added to our Wiki this new page about how Microsoft is not only removing choice at the OEM level, but also goes further to rob taxpayers for increased lock-in:

Belgian tax money,

The Belgian national government is actually giving ‘less gifted’ people the opportunity to buy a computer to get access to the Internet.

Beautiful right? Well no: the minister in charge refuses to halt the cartel between Microsoft, computer manufacturers and vendors.

Getting a computer includes buying Microsoft software. So for every sold computer, Belgian tax money goes directly to Microsoft.

Minister Van Quickenborne minister ict – openVLD doesn’t seem to care. As usual Microsoft doesn’t need to take the law seriously.

It’s one thing when a private company decides to trade with an abusive monopoly but entirely another when government institutions do so at taxpayers’ expense and without their permission/approval.

Apple Sues Linux Phones Using Software Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Ubuntu at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Android 2.0

Summary: Apple decides to take on Linux without prior provocation and its apologists have a chance to understand why Apple is not a friend

SEVERAL WEEKS ago we warned that Apple is an enemy of Free software because of its stance on software patents and its actions against Linux. Well, finally we can show that Apple is actually suing Linux, not just threatening to sue. Android is targeted by this new lawsuit which names 20 patents, some of them software patents.

Apple is using its strong patent portfolio to fight iPhone competitors in court. Its latest target is HTC. Apple has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the cell phone manufacturer. The suit involves “20 Apple patents related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.”

Steve Jobs is quoted in a press release saying: “We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.” The lawsuit itself is not available yet online. We’ve asked Apple for a copy.

Apple has already threatened to sue Palm, which is using Linux. This is why Free software supporters should stop feeding Apple, which is a supporter of software patents and a funding source of the world's biggest patent troll.

It’s not just a lawsuit from Apple by the way (which targets a Chinese company, where software patents are a grey area if not altogether invalid). For Apple, this is an embargo attempt because it runs to the ITC:

Apple has enlisted the patent court and the U.S. International Trade Commission in an effort to kneecap Google. The company this morning filed a lawsuit against HTC — which makes Google’s Nexus One, among other Android handsets — claiming the Taiwanese manufacturer has infringed on 20 of its patents “related to the iPhone’s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.” But the move may have more to do with Android’s rapid growth than actual patent sins.

Here is the Slashdot discussion. Shame on Apple. In the case of Nokia (covered in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]), Apple only counter-sued, but in this case Apple is attacking unnecessarily and proactively, using software patents.

“At least apple is being more truthful than MS,” writes our reader Oiaohm (this discussion started in IRC around here). He refers to naming of patents. “Once they are named,” he argues, “other methods can be developed to avoid them.”

If Apple wants to sue someone, then it ought to be Microsoft (for its increasingly-neglected Windows Mobile), which openly admits copying Apple in many areas. But Microsoft and Apple are patent buddies now (cross-licensing), so that won’t happen. Here is more proof (from a few days ago) that Microsoft is copying Apple’s iPhone:

But to make the necessary leap required to compete with Apple’s iPhone, Microsoft had to start from scratch. In a New York Times story detailing Microsoft’s overhaul of its mobile division, Terry Myerson, the VP in charge of Windows Phone engineering said: “To be entirely candid, the iPhone opened our eyes as to some things that needed to be done that were not in our plan…Some execution had really gone astray.

In other mobile news about HTC, “Microsoft shafts HTC phone users,” says The Inquirer.

STUMBLING PHONE OS VENDOR Microsoft has decided that users of Windows Mobile 6.X devices, including HTC’s just-launched HD2, will not be allowed to upgrade to its Windows 7 Phone OS.

Anyway, the above lawsuit from Apple ought to serve as a reminder to Apple apologists who support Free software. That includes Apple fans like Canonical’s (Ubuntu’s) COO, Matt Asay, who is still somewhat hostile or negative on open source software. To give examples from this week (so far), here is a post where he advocated “open-source”, which is not even Open Source software.

Open-source software has hastened the evolution of Web applications as it drives out the inefficiencies and costs of proprietary software to enable companies like Google and Twitter to scale. But it’s not just proprietary software that is feeling the squeeze:

Companies like Facebook are now swapping out old-guard open-source projects like MySQL for new-school open source.

Here is another new one where Asay argues that “Open Source” is not useful to the “little guy” (like Canonical).

The downside to the small-company-big-community approach is that it can be hard to sell value around a community that is used to getting everything free of charge.

He’s really just de-legitimising himself (no matter the PR from Slashdot). A few days ago he still advocated Apple and that’s not good at all. It’s a company that’s suing Linux using software patents. He ought to wake up and smell the coffee. Apple promoted OOXML, DRM, and software patents, so it’s not just this lawsuit (and threats of other lawsuits). Steve Jobs is quoted as saying: “Competitors should create their own original technology.” If only he told people how many ideas Apple had taken from other companies since its inception. What a nerve and what a huge case of hypocrisy. Ideas are everywhere; the only mistake is limiting them.

GNU/Linux a King of Servers, But Microsoft Boosters Disagree

Posted in Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers at 4:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux Market Share

Summary: Using flawed and partly Microsoft-funded numbers, the advocates of proprietary software beg to suggest that GNU/Linux is declining (which it’s not)

SEVERAL days ago, Pingdom published this reminder which shows how GNU/Linux dominates the top end of computing.

Most popular supercomputer OS

Here below you can see the division by operating system family across the top 500 supercomputers.

1. Linux (89.2%)
2. Unix (5.0%)
3. Mixed (4.6%)
4. Windows (1.0%)
5. BSD based (0.2%)

Two days ago we wrote about Gartner's bogus numbers referring to server 'share' (improperly measuring the wrong things). One thing we did not highlight at the time (or in more detailed posts on the subject) is that a supercomputer/mainframe would count as one server and so will a dual-core machine. Since GNU/Linux is dominant at the high end, any number of units (let alone just sales of boxes, as opposed to installations) is going to demote Free software, by the very definitions chosen.

Microsoft booster Preston Gralla* takes IDC/Gartner numbers (they deceive in the same way) and he is being very dumb, as usual. SJVN sets him straight.

But Gralla and other critics are missing that IDC is not measuring what server operating systems are being used; it’s measuring what server operating systems people are buying, and those are bundled with their hardware purchases. Specifically, to quote IDC, the researchers are measuring “server revenue includes components that are typically sold today as a server bundle, including frame or cabinet and all cables, processors, memory, communication boards, and OS.”

Another piece of disinformation that’s floating at the moment cites the Microsoft-sponsored Net Applications. Adversaries of Free software are desperate for something to boost their own ego as Microsoft’s results are still declining [1, 2, 3, 4] and their expenditures rise.
______
* For the uninitiated, see [1, 2].

« Previous Page « Previous Page Next entries »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts