Companies to Avoid

“Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SuSE Linux is appropriately covered.”

Steve Ballmer

Brendan Scott has gathered an excellent collection of quotes which vividly illustrate how Microsoft treats GNU/Linux. It makes it very clear that Microsoft wishes to turn GNU/Linux (and more broadly — FOSS) into its very own cash cow. The means: changing of laws, extortion and a subtle form bribery (e.g. paying companies to sign unwanted deals). Among the quotes:

Microsoft’s recent history on patents (particularly since the Novell deal in November 06) has a particularly public persona:

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties. – Fortune


Mr. Ballmer once called Linux a form of intellectual-property cancer. While he has since dialed back the rhetoric, the subtext remains in nearly all Microsoft discussions of Linux: Use it, and you run the risk that Microsoft will sue you [for patent infringement]. Post-Gazette


“Linspire, Xandros and Turbolinux are not better off than Novell.”Linspire, Xandros and Turbolinux are not better off than Novell. Similar questions arose about Mandriva and JVC a few days ago, but these questions seem unfounded. At least 4 companies that do Linux devices signed deals which explicitly mention “Linux” or “Linux-related products” or “Linux-based Embedded Devices”. Those companies are, by name: LG, Fuji Xerox, Brother, Melco, Samsung, and Kyocera Mita. Some of them, including Samsung, deliver chips to other companies, so it’s worth paying careful attention to where ‘protected’ components are passed. Samsung is also pretty close Microsoft.

Novell coupons

Image from Wikimedia

Created and last edited in January 2008

Update (2010): Amazon too is a company to avoid now.

Cumulative Update (2010): I-O Data also belongs in this list.
Update (2011): HTC gave up in 2010 (over Android). Onkyo, General Dynamics Itronix, as well as Velocity Micro, gave up in the same week in June 2011. Then came Wistron in July. Acer and ViewSonic gave up in September. Then it was Casio. In October is was Quanta and then Compal, with Microsoft producing a figure to conceptualise this and create fear (claiming to tax most Android devices).

Update: Pegatron was added in 2012. Then Coby Electronics and Aluratek joined. Amdocs sold out on the server side and did that in another sector. Then there was Sharp. In December it was Hoeft & Wessel and EINS. 2013 started with Nikon, then Foxconn and ZTE.

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An invade, divide, and conquer Grand Plan

Novell CEO Ron HovsepianHighlight: Novell was the first to acknowledge that Microsoft FUD tactics had substance. Novell then used anti-Linux FUD to market itself. Learn more

Xandros founderHighlight: Xandros let Microsoft make patent claims and brag about (paid-for) OOXML support. Learn more

Linspire CEO Kevin CarmonyHighlight: Linspire's CEO not only fell into Microsoft arms, but he also assisted the company's attack on GNU/Linux. Learn more

Hand with moneyHighlight: Microsoft craves pseudo (proprietary) standards and gets its way using proxies and influence which it buys. Learn more

Eric RaymondHighlight: The invasion into the open source world is intended to leave Linux companies neglected, due to financial incentives from Microsoft. Learn more

XenSource CEOAnalysis: Xen, an open source hypervisor, possibly fell victim to Microsoft's aggressive (and stealthy) acquisition-by-proxy strategy. Learn more

More analysis >>

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