Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft's Plan to Harm GNU/Linux and ODF via the Web

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

--LinuxToday Managing Editor



Several days ago, Simon Phipps from Sun Microsystems outlined what he considered to be the company's new or existing strategy. As the comments there indicate, there was dissatisfaction (including some from yours truly) about the company's announcement of collaboration with Microsoft. The discomforting news intersected with this post from Simon. There were some rants also.

Jonathan Schwartz has made some waves with his post The Inside Story (Java, Microsoft and MySQL). My problem is however not what most people think of.


Planète Béranger says nothing about Silverlight and the Microsoft/Live toolbar (H-P did this too), not to mention Sun's ditching of Google, which bundled and distributed StarOffice only to Windows users anyway (I inquired with Google's Chris DiBona about GNU/Linux, but they ignored my plea).

“At times, Sun is to Microsoft what Novell is to Microsoft.”At times, Sun is to Microsoft what Novell is to Microsoft. They go to the cleaners looking for a lifeline at the cost of their poor old soul. They also sign dubious patent deals.

Also discomforting is the idea of Sun embedding ads in its office suite, a little like Microsoft Works (an oxymoron, as we all know). Adding this insult to the DRM injury, all in all this could help Novell's marketing of its patent-encumbered Windows-optimised fork. That's just what Microsoft would want [1, 2, 3, 4. Microsoft won't scoop up Novell, at least not for the time being. Novell is more useful for them when people think it's a 'Linux company' (even if 80%+ of Novell's business, as measured in terms of money, involves proprietary software).

Here is some more cohesive coverage from The Register.

OpenOffice is being pimped out by Sun Microsystems, just as Microsoft takes Office online, if Sun's chief executive latest blog entry is anything to go by.

Jonathan Schwartz has posted that an "auction's afoot...to see who we'll be partnering with us to integrate their business and brands into our binary product distribution" of OpenOffice.

[...]

A Microsoft FAQ has said Office Web Applications will be available to consumers via Office Live with both ad-funded and subscription offerings.

"That seems to imply a free (ad-supported) and paid (subscription) offering will be available. For business customers," Microsoft said apparently unaware of what's coming itself. For business customers, Microsoft will also offer Office Web Applications "as a hosted subscription service and through existing volume licensing agreements."


That last bit is worth expanding on because there was a lot of coverage portraying it as Microsoft accommodating competition. Matt Asay wrote a bad article that miscomprehends the complexity of the situation, so we quote just the reply to it from Michael Tiemann, who understands very well what is going on.

What Microsoft and Novell are doing is totally different than what Office-on-Linux might mean. Microsoft is using Novell to undermine confidence in open source by using a once-trusted brand as a mouthpiece for their legal FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

It could well be that when we see the final details of Microsoft's offer, it will be every bit as problematic as you predict. They could have a EULA that forces Red Hat users to swear allegiance to Satan, for example. Or they could stipulate that Office can only run on versions of Linux that have conceded to Microsoft's vague patent claims--which would be no help to Red Hat at all, and would create a "there you go again" moment as users continue to evaluate what authentic open source means to their business and their freedom.


Silverlight is only suitable for Novell customers (i.e. those who pay Microsoft for GNU/Linux). In other words, this on-line version of Office (in its fuller glory) might work properly for GNU/Linux users some day, provided that they leave their 'unlicensed' GNU/Linux distribution. it's another entrapment.

Moreover, this Web-based software from Microsoft would have data stored as OOXML for more eternal lock-in and stifling of mobility and potability (e.g. OpenOffice.org).

Mono+OOXML are traps striving to claim "willful infringement" and to limit developer control. Office Web Applications are lock-in and they should therefore be avoided.

OOXML is fraud

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