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Old 11-04-2006, 10:13 AM   #1
colinstu
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Whats's this letter saying?MS is going to start using linux, or wish it didn't exist?


I'm signed up for the linspire newsletter thing, and today I found something interesting with what it said. I didn't read all of it, but is MS going to start using linux technology? Why don't they just drop the NT core.... they know it sucks compared to linux.

Here is what it said:

" I just finished watching a joint news conference with Microsoft and Novell, announcing a new set of agreements for technology, interoperability and intellectual property (IP).

Partners?

During the conference, Steve Ballmer conceded that Linux has in fact become a very important part of the technology landscape and embraced by Microsoft Windows customers worldwide. There was a lot of talk about interoperability, working together, mutual-admiration banter and back-slapping. Microsoft will have to excuse me if I don't take everything that was said at face value. Microsoft, a twice-convicted monopolist, has a history that is hard to forget.

As most of you know, Linspire and Freespire are the most interoperable desktop Linux distributions available in the marketplace today, by distributing the necessary drivers, codecs and software to let desktop Linux work with most popular file types. In fact, in trying to achieve this, Linspire has had many meetings with Microsoft to try and solve media, document, and DRM interoperability problems. Our experience has been that Microsoft gives a lot of lip service to wanting to work with open source Linux, but then proceeds to drag their feet and delay in actually delivering anything meaningful. (Does anyone following ODF believe Microsoft's proposed “open standards” are really open, or just self-serving?) Given their history, I'm understandably very skeptical that Microsoft sincerely wants to do much here. They'll do a few inconsequential things, again, to give the impression they're trying to interoperate, but they'll continue to protect the turf that matters most to them; their staggeringly profitable Microsoft Windows operating system and Microsoft Office dominions.

If Linspire has had such a hard time getting Microsoft to actually work in any meaningful way to help solve the interoperability issues, why do they now put their arms around Novell with big smiles? Some might say it's because Novell is a larger company than Linspire. If that were the case, then why wouldn't Microsoft have entered into these agreements first with Red Hat, the Linux leader and the company with far more Linux installs than Novell? The answer for me is very obvious; Novell is an open source Linux company that, like Microsoft, has a large patent and IP portfolio. Novell is the one key open source Linux company who could have put up a strong, defensive fight against any future Microsoft IP attack.

You see, part of the agreement extends IP protection for Novell's Linux products. This is the part of the announcement that concerns me and perhaps contained Microsoft's hidden agenda. This part of their agreement, by its very nature, suggests two things: 1) that Microsoft HAS IP in open source Linux, and 2) that Microsoft should be paid a licensing fee for this IP. I don't think the rest of the world agrees with these points, or that they've ever been proven in any court. By making such assertions, and now with Novell as their poster child for these claims, Microsoft is in a position to either try to kill open source Linux with exorbitant fees, or to make sure they share in its success, should they prove unable to kill it.

Since transparently investing in SCO, Microsoft has wanted to find ways to use 3rd parties to thwart open source and Linux. I honestly believe Microsoft would love to point their IP guns directly at Linux and blow it out of the water, but that would appear too heavy handed, so they need to have one willing partner to set a price and precedence on that IP. And yesterday, Microsoft announced that partner. Because of their large patent portfolio, Novell was the perfect choice. If Microsoft is going to let the "first guy" off the hook, Novell is a good choice. I'm confident that, just like with the SCO matter, when you follow the money, not only will you see a lot flowing from Novell to Microsoft to pay for the IP, but you'll also find lots flowing from Microsoft to Novell, to off set the IP fees, basically paying Novell to be Microsoft's poster child for IP payments.

However, with SCO, their futile scare tactic attempt to stymie the natural momentum of Linux and Open Source software did nothing but provide editorial content for the industry trades, bringing even more attention to the Linux option. Yes, it worried some at first, but when the dust settled, there was nothing there, leaving Linux more popular than ever. I believe the same will happen in this instance. Those of us who have been following, or are specifically involved with Linux and open source software, are keenly aware that it's an unstoppable movement that continues to weave its way into the fabric of technology in every industry. Everything that is Linux and open source is different from the traditional software business models and Microsoft and Oracle are being forced to make strategic moves and draw alliances in the Linux space for fear of missing on this opportunity or losing more customers. As I look at Microsoft's approach towards open source and Linux, I'm reminded of the famous words of Ghandi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” While Microsoft previously ignored and laughed at open source publicly, they're not laughing any more. This is just another futile effort in their attempts to fight open source, which signals open source is one step closer to winning, which I'm confident it will do.

Fortunately for Linspire, even if one day the courts prove what Novell has conceded, and Microsoft is due fees for their IP, Linspire's distribution system and CNR technology will be able to safely and legally delivery such IP to our users. Don't get me wrong. I believe any company has a right to protect their IP. I would just rather have an outside source, such as the court system or discussion with the broader Linux companies, determine the extent of any Microsoft IP in Linux. This way, such IP could be removed or alternatives and pricing considered in an open environment, not behind closed doors at Novell and Microsoft headquarters.

When the dust settles around this partnership, it will be interesting to see the reaction from the Linux and open source community. Will they embrace Novell and Microsoft's IP plan or will Microsoft continue seeing its attempts to hold back open source rendered futile? I look forward to watching this unfold in the days to come. In the meantime, we assure our customers that we'll continue offering them a safe, legally sound product.

- Kevin "
 
Old 11-04-2006, 11:02 AM   #2
craigevil
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Goes along with the Novell/MS crap:

http://lwn.net/Articles/207559/ - comments

http://lwn.net/Articles/207407/ - comments

http://lwn.net/Articles/207369/

wall street journal

groklaw

Also sounds like Linux distros are starting to feel a bit worried.
 
Old 11-04-2006, 11:24 AM   #3
XavierP
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Also, please see the Linux-News forum. It's one of the top threads. Therefore, I am closing this one.
 
  


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