Bonum Certa Men Certa

Red Hat Wants Windows Codecs, Microsoft Wants Patent Deals

Hidden in an article about Red Hat's Global Desktop, which is a fairly secret project, was a mind-itching piece of information. From what SJVN could gather, having spoken to some people, Red Hat wishes to license -- not backward engineer (illegal in north America and Australia only) -- Microsoft codecs.

Sources close to the Linux distributor said Red Hat was seeking to conclude negotiations with Microsoft for access to its popular WMF (Windows Media Format) codecs. These codecs have been included in other Microsoft deals with Linux vendors including its partnerships with Linspire, Turbolinux and Xandros.

Red Hat, based in Raleigh, N.C., and Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., have been flirting with forming a technical partnership for several months now. On July 3, Paul Cormier, Red Hat's executive vice president of engineering, said, "I want to talk to the folks at Microsoft about our two operating systems and how we can work together to solve real customer problems without attaching any unrelated strings, such as intellectual property."

What's funny is the fact that Microsoft paid million to companies (not charging them as one should expect) only to set some precedence which encourages a licensing model that keeps codecs away. It is a form of extortion, a form of ransom.

This is very much related to the RealNetworks antitrust case. Microsoft shoved WMF onto the Web using its desktop monopoly and now it is planning to 'tax' everyone who wants to access content that is not even related to Microsoft. Red Hat should not fall for this plot. Europe has already ordered the exclusion of Windows Media Player from Windows for precisely this reason.

It is certainly part of Microsoft's strategy. It wished to put price tags, so to speak, through access to content, be it OOXML, XPS, Silverlight (.NET), WM[A|V], HD, DirectX, or DRM.

By forcing the inclusion of heavily-patented technology at the expense of open industry standards, Microsoft intends for industry to have a debt (bleeding money), which puts Microsoft at the very centre. This isn't just monopoly abuse, but it is also a case of IP abuse. Speaking of which, Microsoft has just been sued over patents.

Microsoft is alleged to infringe the patents in both Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista.

Eating one's own poison, eh?


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