04.28.11

Expecting and Preparing for Microsoft’s Last Stand

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 9:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

Summary: The importance of eliminating software patents, which may be Microsoft’s last chance to save cash cows

TODAY I’ve been corresponding with someone who had spoken to Gates and Jobs about patents. Behind the scenes there is an interesting battle going on and it all revolves around patents, not products. In addition, patent trolls play a role in it. They appear to be working at the behest of larger companies and hopefully we’ll be permitted to name some of the involved parties very soon.

It has occurred to me that not many people in the Free/Open Source software world even realise just how serious an issue this is. For all I can see (with great concern), pundits and journalists often berate Groklaw for doing exactly what any responsible and competent reporter ought to have done. I see the same daemonisations directed against myself, even though anyone who objectively checked my record would find no justification for such characterisations. They are usually based on falsehoods and deliberate libel. In fact, many people who used to smear us came to IRC and after a while became our allies; they came to realised that we were on their side, not against them. Just because Techrights writes extensively on the subject of patents does not mean that it seeks to legitimise them; au contraire — we raise the issue so that more and more people pick a bone and join the fight against software patents. We are going to dedicate the entire coming week to this issue. A “software patent could threaten open source” says this one respected blogger, who emphasises that without software patents the situation would be entirely different. Currently, it is mostly a US problem:

The only good news is that this patent only applies in the U.S. A worldwide patent search of the inventor only produced 2 applications and 2 full patents. While it is perfectly possible for an international firm to be sued in the U.S. for patent infringement (RIM springs to mind), it is unlikely that smaller international developers will be subject to suits. Undoubtedly these broad patents have an effect in the rest of the world, but thankfully it is limited.

Mr. Pogson gives us some selected quotes from Barnes and Noble and Mary Jo Microsoft at least mentions it (see yesterday's coverage). Microsoft has become sort of organised crime syndicate simply because it cannot compete. To reuse the words of Steve Ballmer (about Google), Microsoft is a “house of cards”. That house is mostly built on foundations which are anything but concrete; they are Windows. Like any window, that too can be easy to smash and once the windows are smashed, break-in becomes trivial. Microsoft is feeling very threatened right not because it cannot even sell operating systems — the common carrier of its whole portfolio — to OEMs (it never really sold them to customers, it just used the OEMs to force people to get it all bundled). We have already written about the decline of Windows sales and one of the latest pundits to show this comes from IDG [1, 2], which is rather unusual.

The bottom line is, Techrights believes that Windows is already being dethroned and newer evidence further solidifies this claim. Right now we just need to ensure that Microsoft does not turn into a cash cow other companies’ operating systems, using software patents. Let us leave the mediocre operating system behind and the abusive monopolist in the gutter; both have caused tremendous damage to society for over 2 decades (or my entire life as I’m in my twenties) and to give just one examples of that damage, consider this new rant. It says: “Our company web log, web site, shopping site and forum get hit by varying degrees with SPAM bots, or in some cases possibly paid SPAM shills, signing up for accounts, posting “comments” and sending “track-backs” that aren’t. Constant administration oversight is needed to keep these cleaned up, which is one reason why all comments and track-backs here at The ERACC Web Log are moderated. We see the SPAM so you don’t have to. I also see the occasional SPAM in my e-mail. Even though I have measures in place to mitigate the problem in all these locations, nothing completely stops these annoying SPAM-ing jerks. Invariably, when I trace back the IP addresses of these SPAM attempts with nmap and check the running OS I see something like this:

Running: Microsoft Windows 2003
OS details: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 SP2, Microsoft Windows XP SP2

“It seems another technically ignorant Microsoft user, or dare I say “administrator”, has zero clue how to secure an internet facing operating system.”

Imagine a world without Windows — a world where a spammer cannot just recruit strangers’ machines by the thousands/millions to hammer on other machines and cause trillions in damages to the economy. We are almost there now (servers and devices usually do not run Windows) and a lot of what remains to be cleaned is hinged on the patent question. Will the law permit Microsoft to extort Android? Fight against software patents today. GNU/Linux advocacy (which is where I come from) in a world where sharing code is antithetical will not be enough. Larry Lessig put aside Create Commons because he knew that corrupt(ible) politicians will always marginalise copyright reform and impede sharing of culture. “Finally, someone talks about the kind of patent extortion that has been going on against Samba for years,” wrote Jeremy Allison yesterday regarding the revelations from Barnes and Noble. Allison went to work for Google after he quit Novell in protest, due to its patent deal with Microsoft.

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2 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    April 28, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Gravatar

    It’s a good point you make that M$ sells to OEMs. In practice the desktop monopoly is not a monopoly of systems but a monopoly on who can sell what to the OEMs.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    European regulators might start tackling this issue.

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