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Microsoft Licensing Fee Intended To Reduce Hobbyists

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the please-obey-the-keep-off-the-grass-sign dept.

Microsoft 355

BokLM writes "Microsoft's Amir Majidimehr, Corporate VP of the Windows Digital Media Division, explained at a DRM conference in London why they require a license fee from device makers." From the article: "According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

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355 comments

Things haven't changed since 1976... (0, Troll)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625977)

I'm reminded of a movie called Revolution OS [revolution-os.com] which enlightened me to Gates' history with hobbyists.

Remember the open letter to hobbyists [blinkenlights.com] that Gates penned on the third of February, nineteen seventy six?

A choice selection of his letter:
The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour. Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? Is this fair? One thing you don't do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written.

And for those of you that hate reading the word of Gates, I'll paraphrase the above for you in fewer words:

Remember, don't you dare try to write your own software. Leave that to me. Then buy it from me. Any resistance to this shows that you are ruining the software industry as we know it. If we fool everyone into thinking they need to pay us money for software, then we can rape the world, are you blind?

Look what you've done! You horrible hobbyists. You steal software. You make technology do what you want it to do. You write and distribute freely. For shame.

*Gates shakes rolled up newspaper at the world*

No DRM for you. No. Bad hobbyist. Get.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (4, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626028)

And remember, it's the HOBBYISTS who've done more to advance computing than anything Microsoft has done to advance the state of software development in the world. (Linus Torvalds anyone?)

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (2, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626369)

more to advance computing than anything Microsoft has done

Holds true for some values of "more" and "advance"

OTOH, if you factor out Mr. Softy, and just consider $800_pound_gorilla, I think a contrary case can be made that the positive network effect of $800_pound_gorilla has been substantial.

Consider CUA, or any other standard that has helped focus the market.

Somewhere between monoculture and chaos is a reasonable operating point.

So, a helpful question might be: how can we manage $800_pound_gorilla such that we minimize chaos without venturing into the Mordor of monoculture?

Linux didn't really advance computing ... (4, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626520)

And remember, it's the HOBBYISTS who've done more to advance computing than anything Microsoft has done to advance the state of software development in the world. (Linus Torvalds anyone?)

Linux didn't really advance computing, Linux is yet another reimplementation of Unix. AT&T advanced computing by developing Unix. I'm open to the idea of giving UC Berekeley some credit too, but we have the reimplementation issue as well. However Berkeley does deserve credit for it's open license, Linux's GPL license being a reimplementation of the the open distribution idea. Please don't misunderstand, I am not slamming Linux or minimizing the enormous efforts that went into it's development. Linux is an outstanding technical achievement, but it does not offer original ideas, it merely offers original source code.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (5, Informative)

mopslik (688435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626074)

'll paraphrase the above for you in fewer words.

Interesting. I don't see one instance of Billy G mentioning:

  • that hobbyists should not make software
  • that software other than Billy's ruins the industry
  • that free software is bad

What I do see is a screed claiming that:

  • stealing software does not reward financially-motivated software makers
  • stealing software does not motivate certain software makers into further delevoping said software

So how is that paraphrasing again?

Come on. I'm not fan of Billy G, but you can't honestly claim that the paragraph above says what you say it does.

Read his entire letter... (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626218)

First off, read the entire letter from Gates linked in my original post if you're going to comment on this.

He says hobbyists cannot write good software:
What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free?

He says he's the best at doing it:
The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists.

He says that if you sell software written by yourself, you're just distributing bugs. So that implies that only software written by his company should be distributed because only he has the resources to make it immaculate.

Free software is bad because he can't make money:
Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.
That "deluge" would almost certainly cause him some financial gain from people who otherwise would have worked on projects to distribute as a hobbyist.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (1)

damsa (840364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626254)

Gates wants hobbiests to charge for software including paying him for a Basic license. He wanted to create an environment where there is a software industry back in 1976. In this case MS doesn't want hobbiest according to their words because they don't want to support the hobbiest. However to the more cynical of people, I think it is to prevent hobbiest from making software that is as good or if not better than the software industry and giving it away for free. The biggest threats to MS right now is free software, Tivo, Firefox, Linux and the like. So I think the comparison is an apt one.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (1)

mopslik (688435) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626316)

So I think the comparison is an apt one.

I don't disagree with the sentiment; I simply feel that the paragraph did not convey the same message that the poster's "summary" did. I have since been told that "above" referred to the link, and not to the selection given. An odd way to present an argument, but the full text of the letter certainly has more substance to it.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626262)

Paraphrasing is expressing the idea in different words. The OP was saying that Mr. Gates was implying those things. They obviously aren't spelled out in the quote.

You're thinking of summarizing, where you make a passage shorter. Paraphrasing often makes it longer.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626364)

"paraphrase ... in fewer words" often does not.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626402)

Paraphrasing: The act of turning a paragraph into a phrase. How could this possibly make it longer when the very essence of the word is to make something shorter?

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (1)

deadlinegrunt (520160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626299)

And in a shocking twist of events people are pissed off that he found a way to capitalize on the mentality of this behavior to make billions. Seems to me like he relized something:

People are going to pirate software.
If it can be built, it can be taken apart.

These two things will never change. So instead of fighting the system you work with it to find things to exploit for the purpose of getting ahead..

Lock up the data and people will be forced to migrate to your schedule on your terms.

Never been impressed with Mr. Gates technical abilities but I have always tipped my hat to his shrewed business prowess.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (4, Insightful)

governorx (524152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626315)

Classic diplomatic speak. The real issue which was presented by the original post was carefully walked around by BG. By claiming that software sharing is hurting his company (in this case development tools) he precludes giving more concrete examples.

What BG is particularily upset about is that the shared dev. tools are used to create competitive software. Whats more, this is done using software that was never going to make a profit anyway. So BG is upset about a faulty business plan. If he didn't sell dev. tools he would be alright and he could complain about people stealing his OS's (kinda like he did at the start with DOS - he payed much less for it that it was worth, kinda like people that steal windows because they feel that a windows license isnt $500).

Bottom line: Hobbyists will push their software and hardware. Hobbyists create worms and virii for all we know. Hobbyists are bad. Im a hobbyist. A+B != C always.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (2, Interesting)

Cyno (85911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626496)

Either way Bill Gates is lying. You can get free software that is well-maintained. The software developers may not be financially motivated, but they are motivated to improve the software AND keep it free. Whatever motivation it is that drives Free Software, if I were a capitalist I'd stop and think a moment about the factors that are motivating hundreds or thousands of computer scientists to give of their time freely. But since I'm not a capitalist I wouldn't spend any time trying to think of a way to exploit this, no, just admire, encourage and support it. Because its a good thing, unlike capitalism.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626097)

No, what's he's saying is don't steal software just to write your own. Thanks to people like him, we now have many free tools and can write our own software without paying, and without stealing. If you truly think that a product is worth using, then pay what they are charging. If you don't think it's worth what they are asking, then don't use it.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626178)

That's not how markets work.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (2, Interesting)

wageslave (30013) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626194)

No, things HAVE changed. Developers have to make money somehow, and 30 years ago they made money from the sale of their software. Today, there is no end to the software you can get for free, with the developer making money on the support of that software.

All your idiotic paraphrasing did was make you sound like an advocate for software theft. If you don't like someone's software, you should go write your own, you shouldn't steal it. If you don't like how much Photoshop costs, you shouldn't steal it, you should use the GIMP. You make it sound like stealing a commercial software package and then using it to write open software is just fine.

You just come accross as another Gates-hater that hates big, bad Microsoft because it's cool to do.

The Hobbitses! (1)

Nushio (951488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626200)

Bill Gates sure reminds me of Gollum... My Precious! Those stinkin' little Hobbitses want to steal it from me... Precious... *Gollum* *Gollum*

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626323)

One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written.

Looks like he was right on that one. Although I fail to see how you can blame MS Windows on those stealing hobbyists.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (1)

ZhuLien (150593) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626329)

wow, so many people actually DO buy M$ software and yet still NO good software is written.

Amazing Hypocracy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626345)

Interviewer: "Is studying computer science the best way to prepare to be a programmer?"


Gates: "No, the best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system."
-- From: 'Programmers at work', Microsoft Press, Redmond, WA [c1986]:



In 1975 Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who were students at Harvard University at the time, adapted BASIC to run on the popular Altair 8800 computer and sold it to the Altair's manufacturer, MITS. The Altair BASIC interpreter was the first computer language program to run on the type of computer that would later become known as the home computer or personal computer. Even though the BASIC programming language was already in the public domain by then, the interpreter that could run it on home computers wasn't. Thus Gates and Allen had created an original product; a true innovation. It would be one of their last.



Gates and Allen had initially met at Lakeside School (an exclusive private school for rich boys) where Gates became an adept at BASIC on a General Electric Mark II. Shortly thereafter they got access to a PDP-10 run by a private company in Seattle. The company offered free time to the Lakeside school kids to see if they could crash the system. Gates proved to be particularly adept at doing so. When the free time ran out Gates and Allen figured out how to get free time on the PDP-10 by logging on as the system operator. About a year later the private company running the PDP-10 went bankrupt.



This left Gates and Allen without a source of free computing power. Therefore Allen went over to the University of Washington and began using a Xerox computer by pretending to be a graduate student. Gates soon followed, and this went on until they were caught and removed from the campus. They continued to break into university and privately owned computer systems until about 1975. By that time Gates was a student at Harvard University. The BASIC he sold to MITS had been developed and tested on a Harvard PDP-10 using an 8080-emulation program that Allen had adapted from earlier code. In fact, by the time Gates contacted MITS to announce their product, it had never ran on an actual 8080 CPU. The demonstration Gates and Allen put up for MITS in New Mexico was the first time the product actually ran on the system it was intended for. Gates sold it by announcing a product that didn't exist, developing it on the model of the best version available elsewhere, not testing it very seriously, demonstrating an edition that didn't fully work, and finally releasing the product in rather buggy form after a lengthy delay. From then on this modus operandi became Microsoft's trademark.



After Gates sold the new BASIC interpreter to MITS he left Harvard University, and went into business for himself with Allen as a partner. Allen was also an MITS employee at the time, which made his position rather interesting. Gates' departure from Harvard is shrouded in controversy: some say he dropped out, others say he was expelled for stealing computer time. Whatever the case may be, the fact is that Gates did most of the work on his BASIC version in a Harvard computer lab without having been authorized to use the (expensive) computer time needed for the project. Perhaps he did not really steal unauthorized computer capacity (which was a valuable commodity in those days) to develop his first commercially successful product. Yet he has never offered another explanation. He did however send his now-infamous "Open Letter To Hobbyists" to every major computer publication in February 1976, in which he decried the copying of Microsoft software by home computer hobbyists as simple theft.
-- excerpt borrowed from Why I hate Microsoft [freedomware.us]

Piracy allows Gates to squash would be competitors (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626348)

"The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these "users" never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour. Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid? Is this fair? One thing you don't do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn't make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written."

And for those of you that hate reading the word of Gates, I'll paraphrase the above for you in fewer words:


Actually a better introduction would be: "for those of you that do not see the things I am imagining, I'll distort the above for you."

Remember, don't you dare try to write your own software. Leave that to me. Then buy it from me ...

He does not write that. He is complaining about the widespread use of pirated software, an entirely legitimate complaint. If it is OK to violate his copyright and his license, wouldn't it also be OK to violate the copyright and license of authors who choose to release software under the GPL?

... Any resistance to this shows that you are ruining the software industry as we know it. If we fool everyone into thinking they need to pay us money for software, then we can rape the world, are you blind?

Software piracy does hurt the software industry. Products and technologies fail not due to technical shortcomings but rather the shallow pockets of the developers. Piracy destroys the little guy, not the guy with the deep pockets like Bill Gates.

Re:Piracy allows Gates to squash would be competit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626458)

Who, exactly, is the little guy? I'll give him $100. But seriously, who in the software business isn't a large corporation? The Open Source movement? They're giving people the code - not exactly a target for piracy...

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626393)

And for those of you that hate reading the word of Gates, I'll paraphrase the above for you in fewer words:

Remember, don't you dare try to write your own software. Leave that to me. Then buy it from me. Any resistance to this shows that you are ruining the software industry as we know it. If we fool everyone into thinking they need to pay us money for software, then we can rape the world, are you blind?


Out of curiosity, who was "writing their own software" through the act of copying BASIC and using it without a license? Does your opinion change if I "build my own hardware" by embedding GPL software in a hardware device, like a Linksys wireless access point, and sell it to consumers without distributing the source? If the GPL fools everyone into thinking that they need to pay the community for software by contributing back changes, then we can all live in Stallman's big commie utopia, built on the theft of our work. [sarcasm alert]

There is no moral superiority in violating Microsoft's copyrights but enforcing the copyrights of the GPL community. There isn't even a EULA issue here -- you're simply defending the little guy's right to rip off some other little guy. Remember, you've chosen to discuss Bill Gates circa 1976. No monopoly, no billions, no accusations that Bill stole/bought/cheated his way into possession of the Altair BASIC code. If you can steal from that man with a clear conscience then you can steal from anyone.

The Pot and the Kettle (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626576)

It is widely thought that Gates did not develop the MITS Altair BASIC in a clean room. It is thought that Gates started his Altair BASIC with a little help from some purloined BASIC interpreter source code... (The internet rumors say it was stolen from Digital, which I could believe, because I am aware that source code was not tightly held by DEC, in fact, an early PDP-11 unix version of BASIC was derived from the same source.)

In any event, Gates old rant about stolen software sounds to me like the pot calling the kettle black.

Re:Things haven't changed since 1976... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626585)

And if you bothered to read it, it doesn't say that at all. It says:

If you are going to use software - damn well pay for it! People that write software and make it their livelihood deserve to be paid for their efforts just as much as anybody should be paid if their product/service is being used.

"Remember, don't you dare try to write your own software. Leave that to me. Then buy it from me." - Just another anti-Microsoft slashdotter who hasn't two brain cells to rub together. Baaaaa, I will follow everyone else and slag off Microsoft because i'm jealous that i'll never do that well.

hobby (5, Funny)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625978)

... but what if my hobby is annoying microsoft?

Do as we say, not as we do... (3, Interesting)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625983)

"A Microsoft spokesman has described their DRM licensing scheme as a system for reducing the number of device vendors to a manageable number, so that the company doesn't have to oversee too many developers."

Ballmer: Developers! Developers! Developers!

Yeah, uh huh... right... sounds more like THIS discussion...

Dr. Walter Gibbs: User requests are what computers are for!
Ed Dillinger: DOING OUR BUSINESS is what computers are for.

You made the point! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626180)

Steve BALLmer wants the developers to engorge their mouths with his component for which his last name refers. Microsoft--try as you may, but you're swinging the pendulum the wrong way. In ten or twenty years, you will have swung to your peak, and F/OSS will begin to open things back up again...until the government gets its musty and filth-ridden hands all over F/OSS and starts censoring.
 
The big guys just want to be in control.

Xbox points to the future (5, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626302)

> Ballmer: Developers! Developers! Developers!

But they are starting the long slow trend that ends with Xbox bow. They still want developers, but only large ones. Because in the end the goal is to turn the PC into an Xbox. All applications are signed by Microsoft and they collect a piece of the action in exchange for it. It solves most of their security problems, lets them tap vast new revenue streams to show investors some growth and allows them the total freedom to screw each developer in turn by introducing their own replacement and deciding the 3rd party app no longer 'meets our strategic vision' and refusing to continue signing.

Monopoly? (2, Insightful)

aitikin (909209) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625986)

Isn't that sort of monopolistic of them? Forcing everyone to pay them, whether you develop for them or buy from them.

Re:Monopoly? (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626188)

No, it's sales.

You're free to reverse engineer the DRM and implement a free version, possibly, though oddly enough, nobody does that with DRM. I wonder why.

Re:Monopoly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626383)

"You're free to reverse engineer the DRM and implement a free version...nobody does that with DRM. I wonder why."

Guantanamo

Re:Monopoly? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626608)

Dat's mighty curious, aye.

What effect? (1)

abscissa (136568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625993)

Will this have the same effect as other licensing schemes (i.e. to completely discourage use of the product?)

Specifically I am thinking of the difficulty experienced by Firewire, and Macintosh Hardware...

Re:What effect? (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626148)

I'm still trying to figure out why its bad when Microsoft is restrictive, but when its Apple's modus operandi everyone ooohs and ahhhs over each technological development? If you buy Microsoft's products, you subscribe to their vision of the 'platform'... if it diverges from what you want to accomplish, then don't bother buying it!

Ultimately this will just drive the technologically inquisitive towards linux. Linux won't displace Windows or even OS/X today, or tomorrow, or next year. But after a generation of high school kids tweaking in their basement, and with linux ported onto every hardware platform known to man, it will be too late for Microsoft to do anything about it. If technology skills in linux are legion, but microsoft development is expensive and hard to find, the marketplace will shift by itself naturally.

I'm not too concerned about h/w makers and DRM. The PC industry is mostly comprised of 3rd party generic components...if there's a market for non-DRM hardware, you'll be able to buy it.

Re:What effect? (2, Insightful)

the_bard17 (626642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626232)

...if there's a market for non-DRM hardware, you'll be able to buy it.

Unless Big Business puts enough money into the government to legislate it out of existence.

Re:What effect? (1)

ZhuLien (150593) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626471)

which government is going to legislate the World?

BoingBoing? (2, Insightful)

failure-man (870605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14625994)

So Slashdot links directly to BoingBoing now? There's something spectacularly lame about that . . . . . . .

Re:BoingBoing? (2, Insightful)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626176)

Blame the submitter not the messenger.

If something is submitted and its accepted does it really matter where it coems from?

Besides in this case, boingboing has a decent enough rep and Cory was actually at the discussed conference so I think its best to use his link.

DRM locks out this consumer (1)

Asmor (775910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626006)

That's totally fine with me, because I refuse to buy any digital media with DRM on it. I only buy PDFs (at most watermarked) and mp3s.

Re:DRM locks out this consumer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626446)

And if you ever end up with a locked PDF, you can always print to postscript and then use a postscript to pdf converter to generate an unlocked version (for things like being able to highlight text and copy out of the PDF and so forth). Some open source PDF readers have "not yet" implemented password protection support for PDFs, also...

Surprised? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626007)

"I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company's strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators rather than maximizing its profits through producing a better product and charging a fair price for it."

Really? I thought that everybody -- especially Slashdot -- had this impression.

Re:Surprised? (4, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626069)

It's surprising that this would be openly admitted. I would expect them to deny this, despite how obvious it is.

That's Sound Wisdom. (1)

CheeseburgerBlue (553720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626008)

Everyone knows that decentralized efforts never amount to anything. Why take advantage of the long-tail when monolithic models never teeter?

Jazzercise on, Microsoft!

more patience than me (5, Funny)

kevin.fowler (915964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626014)

Considering we're talking about the oh-so-chipper WMA/V format, they should be paying people to have to work with it.

Sweet Zombie Jesus (4, Insightful)

SchrodingersRoot (943800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626030)

Those damn hobbyists are the entire problem! Those bastards! Er...this has nothing to do with tromping the little guys...

The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Microsoft has the resources to "manage" nearly any number of "hobbyists"? I mean, laziness is one thing, but sheesh...
I wonder if there are any backroom deals being made here?

Re:Sweet Zombie Jesus (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626476)

that's simple, "hobbyists" is a way to say "open source devs" without refering to any word like open, free, libre, gnu or whatever non-ms terms, it ought to be a word from the official ms dictionary

(and btw it adds a bad conotation, it's software made during free time, not real work...we're lucky the PR dept didn't opt for "communist hippies" to talk about gnu...)

remember "active directory" "wins" "sql server" etc...every word ms employees use has to be different from the generic term, i'm even sure they don't "google" but instead "msn" stuff, and never begin a sentence with "i was grepping through files..."

(as a side note, the first time i was confronted to that i didn't understand the compulsory "corporate spirit" at ms and though the guy i had in front of me was either kidding or stupid===we were talking about mp3 while drinking a coffee, the ms guy that was with us kept talking about wma, it was impossible to make him say "mp3": it was directly translated to "wma" even if it made no sense in the sentence)

Re:Sweet Zombie Jesus (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626505)

When they say "we don't want to manage hobbyists", they most likely mean: "we don't want the competition from hobbyists".

So, either they'd rather not have to invest more to keep on top of the open-source competition and would just prefer it to go away, or they just feel they're unable to.

And of course, fair competition is out of the picture at Microsoft for historical and cultural reasons. They've come all that way by being assholes, why would they want to change their ways now ?

anagram (5, Funny)

kunzy (880730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626036)

Did you know that "Steve Ballmer" is an anagram for "Tremble, slave!". This explains a lot :)

Re:anagram (2, Funny)

LukePieStalker (746993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626230)

And an anagram for Bill Gates is "I get balls". I'm not sure what that explains, but it's pretty funny.

Re:anagram (0)

kunzy (880730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626265)

But don't fear, because, you know, "microsoft" "is comfort".

Another one? (4, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626072)

Guess we can add the "War on Cusotmers" (started by the RIAA) to the country's other great successes -- the War on Terror, War on Drugs, and War on Kids on My Lawn

Re:Another one? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626266)

I don't know about you but the War on Kids on My Lawn is going swimmingly here in Daytona.

Re:Another one? (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626404)

Guess we can add the "War on Cusotmers" (started by the RIAA) to the country's other great successes

Well we had a War on Poverty -- and Poverty won!

Re:Another one? (4, Funny)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626499)

the War on Terror

Here's a little viral propaganda you might like to try spreading. Refer to it always as the war against terror. In conversation. In posts. On IRC. It's the war AGAINST terror. Try to get that alternative phrase into common currency. Get your friends to do the same. Spread the meme throughout /. - there's nearly a million of us, and we're quite talkative, so if we work in concert to subvert the language we can make a difference. Think of it as linguistic Googlebombing.

It's just possible that the acronym of the new phrase, and its appropriateness to the likes of Bush and Blair, will have a subliminal effect on all who hear the phrase. George Bush leads us in the war against terror. TWAT.

Driving the wedge deeper (5, Interesting)

confusion (14388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626087)

MS certainly isn't winning over any of the open source community with that move. It really drives the wedge deeper and give more people more reason to not use Windows.

I do have to wonder how much of this is to show a strong front to the increasingly powerful media companies and their mostly oppresive DRM schemes.

Jerry
http://www.networkstrike.com/ [networkstrike.com]

Re:Driving the wedge deeper (1)

BVis (267028) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626498)

MS certainly isn't winning over any of the open source community with that move.
That presupposes that MS gives a rat's ass about winning over the open source community. They'd much rather crush it.
It really drives the wedge deeper and give more people more reason to not use Windows.
No, it gives people more reason to not use open source software, because if it doesn't work in Windows, nobody cares about it. Sad, but true.

Re:Driving the wedge deeper (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626508)

That's actually kinda cool in a way.

Right now a lot of people write software to release for the windows market because of the profit/risk ratio. If they add another layer of fees to pay then that ratio shifts in favor of other solutions.

There only needs to be one "killer game" for linux that is not on windows and the jig is up. Linux would probably gain 10% penetration from that one event.

By driving away developers who are creating things- just not "big enough"- they are creating a set of developers for other OS's.

Monopoly 101 (2, Funny)

imbaczek (690596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626103)

1. Microsoft 2. Profit!!!

Big deal (5, Insightful)

typical (886006) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626107)

The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

If it turns out that hobbyists are a bad thing, then the market will demonstrate that. There's no need to act as if your rights are being suppressed.

Sometimes hobbyists are phenomenal for a platform (the Apple II platform, Linux). Sometimes they don't seem to provide enough benefit to be essential. Game consoles are effectively closed to hobbyists and despite the degree of amateur work, Flash was never really a free platform to seriously develop for.

The only area in which I can think of that this isn't true is when monopolies exist (such as the cell phone market, where cell providers can force the platform closed by requiring that anyone that uses their services provide only a closed platform).

Anyone can sit down and provide something an an encoded audio and video format. There are a lot more MPEG-based players out there than anything else, and it's not as if hobbyists can't produce content for these. Microsoft's chosen their market (at least in the short term). Let them play with the idea and see whether it pans out.

Re:Big deal (1)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626549)

If it turns out that hobbyists are a bad thing, then the market will demonstrate that.

Too late. Microsoft has already demonstrated it, and they have much more influence in the market than you or I. There is no amorphous "market." There are companies that sell products. And they are lining up against fair use, and creating a barrier to entry for others who are not on their side.

DRM is self-collapsing (1)

MasterC (70492) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626112)

In order for a consumer to hold both a protected object and the ability to use it, then they must have the key to unlock the protection...somewhere. So, in addition, companies now have to deal with licensing and compliantcy issues. And DRM sacrificies the rights of the majority at the expense of the minority.

Every leg of DRM is trying to collapse it: except two.

The only supporting legs are a company's desire to "protect" their work and the necessary laws to make circumvention of DRM illegal

And, as we all know, a two-legged table can't stay up for long.

Re:DRM is self-collapsing (1)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626211)

And, as we all know, a two-legged table can't stay up for long.

Strangely, though, some people believe that no-legged analogies can stay up forever.

Time (1, Flamebait)

borganha (938520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626116)

to find another hobby for a lot of people.

Duct Tape? (1)

SchrodingersRoot (943800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626117)

Ohhh, you know what just occurred to me? Duct/gaff tape has to be the answer to this. That, or paperclips.

With Bic pens unshackling bicycles, and sharpies defeating copy protection on CDs, it's gotta be just a matter of time before the other Most Useful Thing Ever items are used to fight against tyranny!

Licensing Fee Intended To Reduce Hobbyists (1)

pharwell (854602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626125)

.... to ashes!

Hi, I'm Slashdot (-1, Troll)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626126)

I hate all DRM and refuse to buy any products that use it, unless Microsoft is selling DRM, in which case I need it and I'm appalled that they don't give it to me! For free!

Standard Business Practice (2, Interesting)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626142)

This isn't news, nor is it some grand conspiracy. It's perfectly normal business practice. If you price a product (or worse, make it available for free,) you'll have huge demand. This demand carries with it a customer support expense, which can be quite large. You can break a company with excessive expenses, of which customer support is one.

When pricing a product, you typically want to set a minimum price specifically for the purpose of eliminating the deadbeat/hobbyist factor. Yes, you'll lose a couple of potential sales because the price presents a barrier to entry, but if you did the math properly, that minor loss is substantially easier to swallow than the loss from a huge non-revenue-generating support obligation. If the majority of your customers are businesses, they won't blink at a couple-hundred bucks for a product.

Re:Standard Business Practice (1)

subVorkian (138658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626301)

Tell me what is the demand for DRM? This is a completely artificial market. The demand is for content, not the keys.

I understand and support your view, but I don't think market economics apply here because MS is trying to define those market conditions.

Re:Standard Business Practice (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626487)

This isn't news, nor is it some grand conspiracy.

Actually, it is. A monopolist has partnered with two cartels and all three of them have been convicted of illegally abusing their market positions. They are partnering to build an artificial barrier to entry in the convergence of their markets and to leverage their existing position to gain an advantage in new markets. This is most definitely a conspiracy and it is news. Here's a hint. It is illegal to use a monopoly to gain an advantage in other markets or to build barriers to entry to those markets. MS has partnered to do just that, implementing software restrictions to provide some parties with a market advantage using their monopoly on desktop OSs.

When pricing a product, you typically want to set a minimum price specifically for the purpose of eliminating the deadbeat/hobbyist factor.

Since when is an artificial restriction on use a "product?"

If the majority of your customers are businesses, they won't blink at a couple-hundred bucks for a product.

And you think that makes it ok or something? MS has a monopoly and they are using that monopoly to collect an additional toll from developers in the separate software application market. That is illegal.

Economics of support (1)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626493)

The simple solution is this: if support is an expense, charge for support. It's just that simple. Businesses do it all the time. Cygnus made millions that way; Red Hat is doing all right too, I hear. From the hardware side, Sun makes a pretty penny on the hardware, but they make even more on support contracts.

Pricing something just to freeze out a certain segment of the population might be standard business practice, but it has nothing to do with the economics of support. It has to do with freezing out a certain portion of the population.

Find a lobbist ASAP (1)

DS_User (874465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626149)

"Isn't that why the Justice Department and the EU went after Redmond in the first place?" Ballmer: "Oh crap we need to get our bribery I mean lobbing funds to congress ASAP to make it legal for monopolies I mean redine laws to help our business become better." RandomEMployee: "Isn't that immoral Ballmer: "Nope its just a way to eterminate low life scum that believe in freedom, I mean piracy. That's why we need to be proactive like the RIAA and MPAA. Also you're banished to the lava pit for eternity for challenging your master."

Biting the hand that feeds it? (4, Insightful)

mykepredko (40154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626152)

This really isn't news - Microsoft has been actively trying to limit hobbyists and small businesses entry into creating new applications for the PC for ten years or more. This is just one more way to squeeze them (us) out.

Personally, I don't understand this behavior because it is so damaging in the long term - students (who can also be thought of as "hobbyists") will not be able to easily work on Microsoft products and will naturally gravitate towards more open solutions...

I've never understood why Microsoft wasn't more supportive of the student, hobbyist and small business marketplace. I can understand that they do not want products propagating that use obsolute interfaces/methodologies but there should be some halfway point, not freezing out those of us that want to experiment with PC applications and don't have deep pocket sponsors.

myke

Re:Biting the hand that feeds it? (1)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626477)

This really isn't news - Microsoft has been actively trying to limit hobbyists and small businesses entry into creating new applications for the PC for ten years or more. This is just one more way to squeeze them (us) out.

Visual Studio Express is free, and so are fully functioning versions fo SQL Server 200 and 2005.

Well I think... (1)

michaelmichael (859793) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626164)

...that these 'hobbyists' would be able to come up with some of the more innovative and interesting stuff for Windows.

Not limited to Microsoft (4, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626169)

Beyond MS and the XBox, this practice is pretty common in both the HW and SW industries. If you've ever: tried to synthesize FPGA code, get a compiler for a up,uc that's not mainstream, tried to get an eval board, tried to get API info, tried to program for any console or handheld, you've come across this practice.

Most of that stuff is FREE to corporate customers, companies will voluntarily lose money just to get people to try to use their product. However for people on the street, or companies too small to be "real", they will charge thousands upon thousands of dollars for these materials, if they will let you have them at all.

On one hand they're right, true hobbyists often have day jobs that are not in the industry (since those in the industry often gank this stuff from work) and can generate a lot of cost by a multitude of questions and misunderstandings. On the other hand, one persons hobby could turn into a good business, if their idea or project becomes interesting. By discouraging this, they are effectively discouraging innovation in anything less than a rather well funded start-up.

Damage is Done (2, Insightful)

Yhippa (443967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626174)

They may have made a mistake by even licensing this tech at all. Have you tried using a WMA device? I purchased a SanDisk MP3 player over Xmas to try out the Napster-to-Go service. Needless to say, the confusion started when you had to deal with two pieces of software (WMP and Napster) and the fact that the hardware OS is inconsistent from one manufacturere to another.

I recently bought (and returned) a Philips mp3 player to use for audiobooks. Not only can the thing not display track time > 1 hr., but there is no mid-track resume feature. Some of the WM licensed players may have this, but some don't. Unfortuantely, this strict control of licensing (or lack thereof) is why the iPod works so well. Well, that and the software on the back-end, but that's a whole different argument.

get Muvaudio.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626485)

get muvaudio.com. It lets you turn WMA to MP3 files so you can actually listen to the music you paid for without this hassle.

The iPod has its quirks, too. Unlike some of the MP3 players you mentioned, it does not run on regular batteries, and the guys who designed it forgot a regular on/off switch (which is a way too common design blunder anymore).

Bad move (4, Insightful)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626182)

If Microsoft can't bother with the hobbyists, then the hobbyists won't bother with Microsoft. Result: The new cool things will happen on Linux or Mac, not on Windows.

This is not the smartest thing Microsoft has ever done...

Depends on your viewpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626275)

Speaking as a longtime Mac user who's tired of seeing neat/useful peripherals that are Windows-only, I think this is a great move.

Re:Depends on your viewpoint (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626432)

ditto, the more cool gadgets that get adapted to plug in to GNU/Linux based PCs the better, (Apple's Mac too)...

sounds like Microsoft could paint themselves in to a corner with a move like this...

Wasn't the OSS movement a "bunch of hobbyists"? (2, Insightful)

valentyn (248783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626189)

As far as I remember, Microsoft has been calling the OSS community a bunch of hobbyists since the OSS movement appeared on their radar (as a threat, of course). The article agrees, as MS tells "the intention is to reduce the number of licensors [...] to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with", the article says this is plain anticompetitive: "I was pretty surprised to hear an executive from Microsoft describe his company's strategy as intentionally anti-competitive and intended solely to freeze out certain classes of operators [...]"

Linux: Hobbyist wanted reformatted or alive! (1)

Elixon (832904) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626233)

But it looks like Microsoft is unable to manage swarms of Windows fans
so they decided to make a "WinSelection":

Microsoft Certification Test:

1) Are you a windows hobbyist? [YES: 1 point, NO: 0 points]
2) Do you have a planty of cash? [YES: 2 point, NO: 0 points]

Test results:
0-1 points - useless windows community member (possible linux hacker)
2-3 points - usefull windows community member

Gates: Small reminder... (1)

HaydnH (877214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626283)

I understand that Bill Gates has a business to run these days, but blocking out the hobbysists isn't the answer - that's where the most innovation happens, most great inventions have come from "hobbyists." (Think TV, Phone, Linux...)

Perhaps someone should remind Bill Gates where MS came from, wasn't he (and co) a hobbyist at Uni where MS started??

Haydn.

Depends on how do you define "hobbyist". (2, Interesting)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626356)

A lot of DVDs made in Finland get region code 0. I can understand that (some noble but ultimately futile dreams on Finnish cinema getting big on foreign market, I guess =). But most of the DVDs don't seem to have CSS either, which kind of puzzles me.

I'm not familiar with how CSS licensing works for content authors, but maybe, maybe some Finnish producers said "hey, let's copy protect these things" and another producer said "well, that's not going to happen, have you seen what prices they're asking for that?" (that's just for the sake of argument, I guess in real life, it's more likely the other guy is saying "but that doesn't work anyway - why bother..." =)

The point is, if you're using DRM licensing fees to fend out "hobbyists", you're also likely fending out smaller players. In an analogy that hopefully makes it all clear (even when I think DRM in general is such a failure that it practically fails in this goal, too): what use, really, is a protection that is just intended to keep rich people richer and poor people poor?

Hobbyists, Or ...? (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626367)

The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with.

I find it way too easy to replace "hobbyists" with "independent music producers" in that quote. And lock them out to benefit who? Organized Music? Almost certainly. MS wants to play nice with Big Music, get their content, and make a few more tens of billions in the process. Get government to close the so called "Analog Hole". Lock struggling producers out of a standard for DRM. Nothing here to hurt the big players at all. All this is just another reason why MS must die.

(As a company, you idiot lawyers.)

Irony (3, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626384)

Is it just me or is it a little ironic for them to say this. I mean after all, didn't MS, along with most of the other modern computing giants, start as a couple of geek hobbyists in a garage somewhere? The Quest for Cash is getting a little beyond stupid these days. It is one thing to be cutthroat, unethical, and often illegal in business, but more and more the trends are following more along the lines of head in the sand, or pure insanity. At least when they are being cutthroat, unethical, and often illegal, they are a little more stable and predictable.

TranslatorBot To The Rescue (3, Funny)

ElboRuum (946542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626403)

The intention is to reduce the number of licensees to a manageable level, to lock out 'hobbyists' and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

*BEEP* *BOP* *BOOP* CHICKACHICKACHICKA *ZIP* *BOOP*

Readout:

We write software! NOT YOU!

This is not an MS apology (2, Informative)

brontus3927 (865730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626417)

However, this is done quiet often in the distribution world. Most software distributors I've dealt with require an application payment. I don't actually agree with the strategy, but it's done so that they only have to deal with "serious" companies.

Now the major difference is these distributors have competition, but the only competetion to protected WMA/V DRM is Apple's FairPlay, which only Apple gets to use.

Also realize that, in effect, this is exactly what the DVD-CCA does. Only issues liscences to people who agree to play by their restrictive terms.

On a certain level MS probably also believes that their DRM will be cracked more easily/quickly if smaller, less "ethical" coders could get their hands on it. But it didn't do the DVD people much good. IIRC, DVD Jon was able to crack CSS after the cypher was anonymously leaked to him

Statement taken out of context (2, Insightful)

bushidocoder (550265) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626420)

The statement in the article does not mean that Microsoft does not like hobbyists producing software - indeed, if you look at the billions of dollars Microsoft has invested in hobbyist level tools, I think its pretty clear that they encourage hobbyist developers. What they don't encourage is hobbyist developers distributing DRM keys on devices in an unmanageable way.

Whatever you may feel about DRM, Microsoft's position on the potential use of DRM is pretty clear - they believe, right or wrong, that consumers can have access to the best content if and only if that content can be protected.

Honestly, what would hobbyists do with a truly open DRM SDK for devices? The secure path audio only applies to media sources LEAVING the PC, not input sources, so it doesn't affect microphones, instruments and the types of devices that casual users might actually be developing. Hobbyists won't have the substantial financial backing to produce their own playback device. Any small company who has the desire and financial resources is going to have the cash to spend on this liscensing scheme, especially considering that Microsoft has always employed hefty discounts for small ISVs. This doesn't prevent hobbyists from working with DRM'd media streams on devices they purchased - if the device manufacturer liscensed the DRM from Microsoft (which it would have to, or you couldn't enjoy media on the device), then you can still use a healthy amount of the Windows Media SDK to work with media stream, limitted to some extent by the secure path, but that's a different gripe.

Given the financial difficulty of building a full device capable of full media playback, what would hobbyists do with an SDK that allowed raw access to protected content - most of them would write software the emulates a virtual device to circumvent the DRM. That's exactly what Microsoft is attempting to prevent.

Let's just boycott as much MS Software as possible (1)

SuperBug (200913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626424)

Let's not buy any hardware that *has* to have windows drivers, Windows logos, Made for Microsoft, and all that rot. Let's also ensure that we don't plan to write drivers, own drivers, or use drivers for any hardware requiring MS.

That said, I happen to have a version of win32 source code that will be fully obsolete as soon as the WIN64 platform is "done." And I'll sell it to all you hobbyists cheap! It's 100% royalty laden! What more could anyone ask for you say?

Well, it runs on Linux, Entirely DRM free, and can perform such tasks as running "calc", mspaint, and even possibly, maybe, some of your other favorite programs like MS Excel, MS Word, Internet Explorer, and maybe more!

As a matter of fact, it acts just like Windows! You might even be able to run a popular game or two!!! Yes! The future of Windows-like OSes is here and you can be part of history by owning this hobby based, royalty laden, DRM free, semi-windows-like OS for a fraction of the cost.

With Win-o-dows, you can go wrong!

(Did I mention I can't stand Bill and his Billions? Screw that guy. I can't wait till my new laptop get's here and I dont' have to run Windows anymore)

On behalf of all hobbyists... (1)

CodeMoney (951487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626430)

I had no idea you were managing us. Don't try anymore.

Check this absolutely professional Windows 1.0 ad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626459)

Priceless [google.com] .

Change of headline (2, Interesting)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626511)

Microsoft says: don't try to write better drivers. Linux fan-base grows.

Balancing openness with business reality (3, Interesting)

juanfe (466699) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626534)

I work in Developer Relations for a big wireless carrier, so this is close to my heart. While I've been a Mac user since 1985 ('nuff said), I do have a lot of respect of Microsoft when it comes to Developer Relations... they do know what they're doing in that area.I can understand the source of the Microsoft's VP's statement, although if his wording was close to what was paraphrased in the article, it was a poor choice of words.

If Microsoft is hoping to get real devices out there that include their DRM component, then what they're doing is putting up a barrier to entry to ensure that only those who are truly committed to building a mass-market product get the attention of internal staff so that MS can make money indirectly through devices that use and license the DRM component.

Whether or not that's a sound business practice is their decision to make. But it's not a unique model. If you want to release a game on PlayStation, Gamecube or XBox, you license the development kits from Sony, Nintendo or XBox. They do this because they're in a mass market and need to ensure that the companies they work with and who use their name are equipped for what happens when something succeeds massively or has major problems. Microsoft's approach for their DRM is no different--the only difference is that a VP went out and actually set realistic expectations for what it takes to be a developer for those platforms in a forum that pissed boingBoing off--enough of a commitment and a financial stake in the game to make sure that something useful comes out of all the work people put into it.

It's true that hobbyists are often the source of completely original, unexpected innovations, and any company that is serious about innovation encourages that. Developer programs that embrace this open themselves up to very new ideas. But let's make a clear distinction between encouraging hobbyists and the business drive behind encouraging real applications, services or devices that make money for a developer and the company that makes money from the platform.

Please don't get me wrong: I stay at my job managing a developer program because I love answering developer questions. I love helping someone out and seeing them succeed, particularly if they have a great idea and the nads to see it through. I also believe that developers should have as many tools freely available as they can have. Where I work, I always try to argue for making information, APIs and toolkits open and accessible to every developer. I often get into some very heated discussions with people who argue that we should only make this API or that piece of documentation available to existing partners because they don't want to deal with hobbyists--in fact, I'm actively lobbying for something like that as I type. I tell internal resistors that by staying closed off they're never going to hear of the new stuff, they'll only hear from the same people over and over again and they'll still have to deal with hobbyists. I also help hobbyists and independent developers figure out ways of selling their product without having to build a business relationship with MegaCorp and dealing with what can be a bureaucratic process.

Being on the support side of things, I also contend with the reality of this internal advocacy--I often have to guide hobbyists and amateurs who are dabbling and who can consume hours of my day while clearly showing me that they're very unlikely to actually come up with something that could be a marketable product even if they go it alone.

Hobbyists-cum-entrepreneurs often have very unrealistic expectations regarding what they need to do to succeed. Some hobbyists tend to consume an inordinate amount of time from a company's developer relations and business development staff and don't turn out something that can actually become a product--and honestly, my business is to get developers from idea to market. These things include adequate support staff, sales teams, marketing funds, technical acumen and enough wherewithal to deal with contract negotiations--basically, anything you think you might need when doing business with MegaCorp. Simply going to a company and saying "Let me be your partner because information must be free" or "I'm a hobbyist, bow down to me" won't pay anyone's salary. At that point, my own tendency to be helpful to anyone who asks gives way to a mental calculus regarding whether or not I really want to spend the next five days of my life sucked into whatever strange world that person lives in.

I wonder what would Bill (1)

NullProg (70833) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626564)

have done had DEC locked the system from hobbyist?

The first computer he used was a DEC PDP-10 that was owned by General Electric. His high school paid General Electric for time that the students could use to program the computer. Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen spent many hours at the computer, eventually causing their grades to suffer from skipped classes and late homework. When they were given a new system to work with, they hacked into the system to make it so that the computer did not record the time that they spent on it, causing them to be banned from it for weeks.
 

Excerpt from here, http://www.freeinfosociety.com/site.php?postnum=97 [freeinfosociety.com]

Bill Gates would not be where he is today if it weren't for open systems.

Enjoy,

Don't take their position as just a nuisance ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14626567)

Ever since PS/2 fiasco, Microsoft backstabbing IBM on account of OS/2 and rise of Wintel trust, Microsoft was having the last word in design of PC hardware and controlled the evolution of PC.

It is still so, because, unfortunately, various Windows are still most ubiquituous, despite recent explosive proliferation of free OS's. I am certain they are cospiring to, using DRM as an excuse, lock free competition out, by bullying hardware vendors into ever tighter subjugation to themselves. In the end (and I suppose that is where MS is trying to get us), it may become illegal (under DMCA) to run non-MS OSes on latest, greatest and cheapest PC hardware. With IBM bailing out of PC hardware business, I don't see anyone with large back to cover for us.

Then, we'll have to make our own "free (as in free speech) hardware" (Wheee!!!) and it will get expensive, or have inferior performance. It depends of how deep are they going to dig to uproot us. What are we going to do if something at very basic level, i.e. memory chips or modules, get access control (lock) that will be illegal to circumvent? There are limits to practical avoidance. RMS was right in his insight that free OS is prerequisite for free software, but he had overseen that OS is not a basic layer of computing. Then again, at the time, hardware was far less "alive" and blackboxed then today and no one could predict that someday hardware could turn against its owner and side with some remote corporate bigbrother.

They are beyond selling to us what we can't do ourselves. Now it is preventing us from doing ourselves what they can sell to us. I feel like if the sky was closing each day a little bit more. And it is all caused by IP monopolies and creeping consent that someone has right to my money so if they don't take it from me, it's like I robbed them. Are we going to lay down and just die?

What Microsoft is really saying ... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14626607)

is, "We don't want to be bothered with you unless you have a lot of money we can transfer from your bank accounts to ours.
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  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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