04.21.10

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Why Apple and Microsoft Operating Systems Are Unethical: New Examples

Posted in America, Apple, Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chained love

Summary: How proprietary software disables freedom and discourages solidarity, based on the actions of Apple and Microsoft

LAST WEEK we highlighted a case where Apple was censoring applications based on their content and this week Apple is still receiving flak for blocking any application not written/developed with tools that Apple does endorse (because they’re Apple’s). “Steve Jobs bans all apps from iPhone (or thereabouts),” says this headline from The Register:

You could argue that the new Jobsian SDK bars developers from writing any application for the iPhone – unless they possess some sort of savant-like ability to think solely in Objective C.

The much-discussed software development kit for the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 says that native applications must be “originally written” in Objective C, C, or C++, forbidding developers from using any sort of “translation or compatibility layer.” If you take this legalese to its logical extreme, it rules out just about anything you can think of.

With or without these compatibility layers, Apple has security problems, so the only apparent justification Apple may have here is one of control. Adobe will receive none and the same goes for Novell and Microsoft, whose MonoTouch toolset is being blocked [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (and yet, Miguel de Icaza and his team continue to ‘help’ Apple with Microsoft APIs).

We regularly stress that Free software is about one’s freedom, independence, and control. It’s not about price, although price is also a selling point, especially in particular areas of the world. Proprietary software, which Apple and Microsoft are championing, is the very opposite of all that. GNU/Linux or BSD cannot be assessed at the same level as OS X and Windows on a purely technical basis as that would be comparing apples and oranges or comparing commercials for a toothpaste to an advisory from Greenpeace.

“Brazil used unauthorized copies of software as an excuse in the 90s to arrest activists of the landless rural workers’ movement. [...] To protect themselves, they moved to GNU/Linux. Everyone else should do that too.”
      –Richard Stallman
On we move to Microsoft. Last week we wrote about Microsoft agents (whom Microsoft used to work with) shutting down free speech in Kyrgyzstan [1, 2]. Carlo from TechDirt wrote about it, but he hadn’t gotten the update about Microsoft actually being indirectly involved. Richard Stallman wrote about this too, under the heading “Microsoft lends helping hand to global authoritarianism“; he explains that “Police in Kyrgyzstan used “unauthorized copies of software” as an excuse to shut down a TV station which was broadcasting news about protestors.

“I was disappointed that the article uses the propaganda terms “pirated” and “Intellectual Property”. The latter term is so misleading that even quoting a name in which it appears spreads confusion if you don’t deconstruct the term. See here for more information.

“Also, to say that “software piracy” is a “legitimate problem” whitewashes the real problem: proprietary software which forbid redistribution.

“Brazil used unauthorized copies of software as an excuse in the 90s to arrest activists of the landless rural workers’ movement. In that case, the copies really were unauthorized, but that didn’t alter the effect. To protect themselves, they moved to GNU/Linux. Everyone else should do that too.”

As we explained last week, the same thing happened to brave journalists in Russia. Proprietary software limits people’s expression and creativity. Nobody deserves this type of treatment. It is often being said the people come to realise what “freedom” really means only when they lose it; otherwise it’s taken for granted.

“‘Free software’ is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech,’ not as in ‘free beer’.”

Richard Stallman

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4 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    April 21, 2010 at 7:22 am

    Gravatar

    Perhaps Apple wants to instill a discipline that will allow its platform to function better over time than those of rivals. You can always fix bugs (not to mention that C will attract developers that tend to be more meticulous with their code), but if you code in ways where you always pressure the platform to do a lot of clean-up work for you, then you will generally not be able to create highly efficient applications no matter how much you try.

    Also, I think they might be trying to fight dotnet, java, etc growth which would otherwise help some of their rivals.

    Apple can get away with this because their platform is not intended to appeal to millions of in-house developers (at least not at this point in time). They can focus on a smaller group with a greater level of experience and understanding.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Apple’s main market is rich people (as users) and “good enough” developers. To Apple this is very profitable, even if it excludes so many.

    Jose_X Reply:

    I forgot to mention the “obvious”. Apple may very well have patent leverage in their new devices (Jobs said they have patented everything imaginable).

    For example, with dotnet applications, significant leverage lies in Microsoft’s corner. Apple would be forced to lose significant leverage if they had to go against a company with so many patents that would apply.

    And, of course, Apple *is* playing the patent card to help themselves gain competitive points over rivals (injunctions or at least royalties). Not only can they lose if they have to yield significant money per device to an inferior competitor (and it’s always more profitable to gain instead), but having injunctions against what may end up being popular apps would really hurt their platform.

    …and they want to have as much control as possible over the topmost layers of API being used to code the apps. Eventually, they will add enough layers. Eventually, they will want to leverage the iphone and other devices to help make the Mac platform the largest and seize control of the monopoly driver’s seat from Microsoft.

    …and they fear Google. Any advantages they can preserve (eg, with patenting), they will take.

  2. Dr. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 22, 2010 at 3:16 am

    Gravatar

    @Jose_X:

    Yes, Apple has already threatened both Android and WebOS (Pre) with patents. We’ve begun taking Apple’s threat more seriously. I’m disappointed to see other “Linux” sites defending Apple.

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