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Eolas COO Says IE Changes A Shame

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the buh-wuh-huh dept.

235

capt turnpike writes "Hot on the heels of Microsoft's announcement of a 60-day period in which Web developers will have to change their pages' architecture, the COO of Eolas, the company whose suit forced these changes, gives an interview to eWEEK.com in which he says these changes are a disappointment. Confused? From the article: 'There is no court order forcing Microsoft to do anything. Anything that is being done is of Microsoft's own choosing,' His position is that publicizing these forced changes strengthens MS's case."

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235 comments

Very disappointing (5, Insightful)

blane.bramble (133160) | about 8 years ago | (#15036096)

From the point of view of his cash flow...

Re:Very disappointing (4, Informative)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#15036137)

Exactly. The summary doesn't make it clear that he is saying that the changes are not required because Microsoft could simply pay them for the privilege of not changing it. I say, you sue somebody for doing something, you forfeit your right to complain when they stop doing it!

Not only Microsoft (4, Insightful)

ray-auch (454705) | about 8 years ago | (#15036298)

It isn't just the microsoft fee.

Since IE is (unfortunately) the defacto standard browser, others (if they infringe at all) will follow the lead, and Microsoft will take all the pain of getting web developers to change to cope with the changes.

The Eolas guy is annoyed because MS routed around his toll bridge, and now everyone else will see the way to go round too, and all his future revenues just evaporated.

Re:Not only Microsoft (4, Insightful)

errxn (108621) | about 8 years ago | (#15036437)

...others (if they infringe at all) will follow the lead...

The only problem with this is that Eolas has freely admitted that they are not going to go after any other browser, only IE. As Mozilla, et. al gain popularity and market share, the possibility exists that we'll have a further fracturing of an already splintered HTML/Javascript implementation across browsers.

One question I have is whether Microsoft has any sort of case against Eolas for discriminatory behavior or extortion, since Eolas has admittedly singled them out. Obviously, IANAL.

Then again, there's always the wishful thinking that Eolas will realize that they're never gonna get a penny out of their predatory patent, give up, and release it to the public domain. Yeah, wishful thinking.

Re:Not only Microsoft (1)

geoffspear (692508) | about 8 years ago | (#15036483)

I doubt it. If Bill Gates and a homeless guy were equally responsible for a car accident, do you think the victim could be accused of extortion because they decided not to try suing the homeless guy?

What could they possibly hope to gain by suing open source developers? Mozilla was a lot less likely to buy a license than Microsoft was.

Re:Not only Microsoft (1)

ray-auch (454705) | about 8 years ago | (#15036641)


I doubt it. If Bill Gates and a homeless guy were equally responsible for a car accident, do you think the victim could be accused of extortion because they decided not to try suing the homeless guy?


No, but this is about letting the homeless guy keep on running over them afterwards.

In which case maybe Gates can argue down the damages because if being runover was so bad, how come they let the other guy carry on doing it...

Re:Not only Microsoft (1)

bsd4me (759597) | about 8 years ago | (#15036532)

The only problem with this is that Eolas has freely admitted that they are not going to go after any other browser, only IE. As Mozilla, et. al gain popularity and market share, the possibility exists that we'll have a further fracturing of an already splintered HTML/Javascript implementation across browsers.

The simplest way to implement the workaround just moves some HTML code into an external Javascript file that uses document.write() instead. You would have to go out of your way to make this incompatible with other browsers. The better solutions that are already available take this a step further to add feature detection and alternate content. IMHO, users are going to get a better experience as a result of this.

Re:Not only Microsoft (2, Informative)

Bill Dog (726542) | about 8 years ago | (#15036618)

The only problem with this is that Eolas has freely admitted that they are not going to go after any other browser, only IE.

Unless they've delivered to all other browser makers legal documents forfeiting the right to sue them for infringing this patent, that promise means nothing. IANAL but I doubt this could even be done in a legally valid way unless some consideration was involved.

how does that negate... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036651)

...previous past damages, just because they are "routing around" the issue now? Seems EOLAS could still wind up with money from them.

Re:Very disappointing (3, Funny)

JordanL (886154) | about 8 years ago | (#15036185)

It's just lucky for them that they didn't try to sue IBM over a patent this frivilous...

Re:Very disappointing (1)

drakaan (688386) | about 8 years ago | (#15036254)

no kidding:

'There is no court order forcing Microsoft to do anything. Anything that is being done is of Microsoft's own choosing,'

So, the court order didn't force anybody to do anything, I guess. Oh, except to pay Eolas bucketloads of cash forthe supposedly novel concept of being able to open up non-html content by clicking some arbitrarily low number of times.

I'm sure they weren't thinking this could *ever* happen [shock!]...

hi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036106)

microsoft is my friend

No, What's A Shame Is (5, Insightful)

Naked Chef (626614) | about 8 years ago | (#15036113)

the completely broken patent and copyright system in the U.S. that allows such ridiculous lawsuits to happen in the first place, which encourages companies like Microsoft to file thousands of "defensive" patents per year, exacerbating the problem. But nobody can figure out what stifles innovation....hmm.

Re:No, What's A Shame Is (3, Interesting)

heinousjay (683506) | about 8 years ago | (#15036181)

I've gotta say, I don't really see the innovation yet being stifled. Maybe it's a foregone conclusion, and maybe I'm just missing something, but things do seem to be proceeding apace. Honestly, it all seems a bit 'Chicken Little' to me.

Maybe the fact that people can't 'innovate' tiny little changes to other people's ideas is forcing creativity to higher levels.

I have nothing to back my opinions up, unfortunately, but I also have nothing refute them.

Re:No, What's A Shame Is (2, Informative)

NialScorva (213763) | about 8 years ago | (#15036279)

The fact that this company basically patented a software design pattern isn't evidence? Modular achitectures are one of the most basic ideas of software, and this company claims that it owns that idea in the area of web browsing.

Re:No, What's A Shame Is (5, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 8 years ago | (#15036350)

Damn you, you overflowed my ignore list. Now I must find the least vacuous contrarian to remove.

It's Not the Innovation That's Being Stifled (1)

raftpeople (844215) | about 8 years ago | (#15036381)

What is being stifled is the trivial application of routine usage of technologies. Here are a couple examples you may not be aware of:
1) Amazon is the only company that can have a web site where you click 1 time to purchase (as in, your name and address are read in from the cookie instead of you keying it in). Barnes and Noble was required to change their web site to 2 clicks. 2) RIM (Blackberry) both went after other companies successfully, and was a target themselves (NTP $600million) for violations of the patented method of sending text over a wire-less communications connection. There are tens of thousands of trivial examples like these that have been patented.

Re:It's Not the Innovation That's Being Stifled (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036474)

They're trivial *now* because the patentees taught you their inventions. Thankfully, the system doesn't work the way you'd like it to, otherwise everything would be obvious.

Re:No, What's A Shame Is (5, Interesting)

Jtheletter (686279) | about 8 years ago | (#15036413)

I've gotta say, I don't really see the innovation yet being stifled. [...] Maybe the fact that people can't 'innovate' tiny little changes to other people's ideas is forcing creativity to higher levels.

This has nothing to do with a lack of creativity or inventiveness on the inventor's part, this has to do with broad and vague patents that cover too much, or too obvious things. In addition the entire patent space is comepltely cluttered with these sorts of things making sorting out relevance from the noise frustrating, time consuming and expensive.

Being an engineer I've had quite a few ideas for new things, one of the biggest problems I have faced is trying to determine if it's even worth applying for a patent or spending time developing it. Unlike a huge corporation my funds are very limited, so I don't have an extra $1,000++ to just take a shot at patenting something that may not even be accepted, or even worse - is accepted but is later found to infringe on someone else's overly broad patent. Have you ever tried to research existing patents to determine if something you've come up with is new? Not only is it time consuming and difficult, the language of the patents makes it nearly impossible to figure out if something applies even when you think you may have found a hit. The solution is to hire a patent company/attorney to do the search for you, but now we're talking easily $150/hr in fees for the service, and on top of that your patent needs to be worded in the same obfuscated legalease to have a chance at actually providing your idea with protection.

Innovation is being stifled by the sharp increase in barriers to entry. I've looked into it and just applying for a patent and including search and support costs it easily costs $2500 on the cheap end. Sure you could just pay the patent office fees and give them what you've come up with on your own but you'd basically be throwing your money away since in all likelyhood you will need some sort of councel to get it through the system.

All of these huge corporations filing "defensive" patents is making it so difficult/expensive that the individual inventor who doesn't already have business funding capital is pretty much out of luck. :(

Re:No, What's A Shame Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036332)

Notice how much good their thousands of "defensive" patents did in this case?

OLE itself is the prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036428)

Object Embedding and Linking was created for one purpose - to embed live code into other programs. Enter a company who "patents" this idea after the fact, and now Microsoft must pay to license something that it has already invented for this exact purpose?! Wake up America! Remember innovation? Litigation will not help you maintain your high standards of living. Your laws are too bizarre for words.

Re:OLE itself is the prior art (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | about 8 years ago | (#15036631)

There are many things that may be the "prior art", but the idiotic judge refuse to allow any prior art evidence in the original case. So now Microsoft is left with fighting the patent during the appeals process. At one point during the appeals process a judge or the USPO invalidated the patent, but then later in the process it was reinstated for some reason. But the appeals process is still ongoing.

Millions for defence but not one penny to a patent (2, Interesting)

Jerry (6400) | about 8 years ago | (#15036115)

or something like that.

As much as I dislike Microsoft I am glad they told those patent lizards to take a hike.

Re:Millions for defence but not one penny to a pat (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 8 years ago | (#15036259)

Let's hope we can do the same when Microsoft starts going after Linux over patents. And you can bet they will if Linux puts a sigificant dent in their cash flow.

Re:Millions for defence but not one penny to a pat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036329)

Where have you been? There's an entire category on /. devoted to Microsoft's attempts at a legal offensive. They're just smart enough not to be doing it directly.

User experience (1)

vettemph (540399) | about 8 years ago | (#15036154)

If this tool licker gave an ass about the user experience he would give this phoney patent to "the internet".

For once in my life I agree with MS.

Out to get MS (1)

everphilski (877346) | about 8 years ago | (#15036188)

If this tool licker gave an ass about the user experience he would give this phoney patent to "the internet".

Eolas has said before they are just out to get Microsoft. They have said they won't come after Mozilla. All they care about is money. Regardless, Microsoft is doing the right thing given the position. Make the change, don't license to a crappy patent.

Re:Out to get MS (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 8 years ago | (#15036427)

MS is doing the only thing that can be done under the current system other than giving into blackmail. While I have no faith in MS not trying the same stunt if it sees Open Source starting to erode its dominance, at the moment they are the victim of an utterly meritless patent.

Re:User experience (1)

Jaseoldboss (650728) | about 8 years ago | (#15036678)

From the article: Microsoft is offering a one-time "compatibility patch" that will be deployed like a hotfix to let users turn off the changes through June.

Wouldn't it be funny if the mandatory upgrade just sets a registry key called EOLAS_Compatibility=1 which anyone can override. Then EOLAS would have to persue all users that set it to 0 for infringing their patent instead!

I hope this one is over with soon... (5, Funny)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 8 years ago | (#15036156)

This whole case makes me feel violated. Not only is it a patent-troll case, but it's one that makes me side with Microsoft on something. I feel so unclean...

You don't say (2, Interesting)

supra (888583) | about 8 years ago | (#15036157)

> Eolas Chief Operating Officer Mark Swords called on the software maker to purchase a patent license instead of worsening the browsing experience.
Gee, who would've guessed they're interesting in selling a patent license...

Hopefully MS' actions here will put a damper on all those ludicrous patents and their holders to collect.
I hope Eolas spent a bundle on litigation and gets nothing in return. That'll teach them.

But, But, MS paid $$$K to SCO for use of theirs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036215)

So why is it so hard to pay for this patent license, huh?

Re:But, But, MS paid $$$K to SCO for use of theirs (1)

supra (888583) | about 8 years ago | (#15036455)

MS + SCO is a different issue w/ different circumstances (read: OT here). Eolas has a bogus patent (anyone w/ 1/2 an IT brain cell knows that). I'm not a fan of software patents to begin w/, and this one is a real winner.
They're basically trying to extort $$$ from MS, not much from the GIF fiasco. An example needs to be set; let's hope it makes some big waves.

Re:You don't say (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036252)

Eolas Chief Operating Officer Mark Swords called on the software maker to purchase a patent license instead of worsening the browsing experience.
His compassion towards the end users of the world is... whelming.

Re:You don't say (1)

supra (888583) | about 8 years ago | (#15036373)

Of course they're going to respond from a perspective that is customer-centric. They certainly won't win any points by stating the same goal from their shareholders' perspective.
I think it was yesterday I read an article where the movie studios and theaters were arguing about the release time of movies to the theaters vs rental. And both ends cited "improved customer satisfaction" as their goal. Yeah, right...

Confused? Yes, I am. (2, Interesting)

misfit13b (572861) | about 8 years ago | (#15036160)

This text parses horribly.

"Some guy's suit forced MS to make changes of their own choosing which will cause web developers to change their architecture which are a dissapointment, yet strengthen MS's case."

What changes are the dissapointment? What the hell are you talking about? How about a link or two, or using a word other than "change"?

Yeah, I know. -1, Offtopic

Is this a bad thing? (4, Insightful)

hudson007 (739981) | about 8 years ago | (#15036166)

Is making ActiveX harder to use a bad thing? "By Microsoft's own admission, IE users will only be able to interact with Microsoft ActiveX controls loaded in certain Web pages after manually activating their user interfaces by clicking on it or using the Tab and Enter keys."

Re:Is this a bad thing? (1)

Shmooze (784340) | about 8 years ago | (#15036250)

Although doesn't Microsoft's own documentation [microsoft.com] say that you can use Javascript (in an external script file) to add the or tags to the document using document.write() (or something like that) and that the "click-to-activate" thing is circumvented by doing so? In which case, isn't the whole case pretty much a waste of time anyway?

Re:Is this a bad thing? (4, Insightful)

hal9000(jr) (316943) | about 8 years ago | (#15036251)

Is making ActiveX harder to use a bad thing?

Yeah, it is. Forcing users to manually approve every control just reinforces the reactive "Click OK" mentality that enables other bad shit to happen.

Re:Is this a bad thing? (1)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | about 8 years ago | (#15036485)

While I know this won't happen, it would be nice if web developers would move away from ActiveX because of this. That way the customer wouldn't have to just "Click OK" for stuff to work ...

I can dream though.

Re:Is this a bad thing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036519)

Redundant!

Asks why change? (4, Insightful)

nolife (233813) | about 8 years ago | (#15036168)

What I read...
Why would they change? They should just pay us and our layers instead. If they don't pay, we may actually have to take a risk and develop something based on our patent or we will go broke. So yes America, and all that is reading our press release, Microsoft is bad, not us. Repeat that 10 times to as many people as you know and it will eventually become the truth.

Litigation Positions (1)

digitaldc (879047) | about 8 years ago | (#15036198)

Microsoft is apparently of the position that this [IE modification] helps their litigation position.

My God I think he has stumbled upon something! I see now that most everything driving business- and further- the world is based on helping one's own litigation position, how can this be?

Interesting comments, so far. (2, Insightful)

DaveM753 (844913) | about 8 years ago | (#15036206)

I'm seeing a lot of these comments side with Microsoft here, stating that Eolas is patent trolling. But, if Linux were to really take off, don't you think Microsoft would start filing a bunch of infringement lawsuits against Linux (or other F-OSS), in the same way Eolas did to Microsoft?

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (4, Insightful)

Sneftel (15416) | about 8 years ago | (#15036236)

Probably, and then the same people here would in that instance not side with Microsoft. None of the comments here are "Microsoft is in the right here, and therefore we must agree with everything they do forever". It IS possible to support a position rather than an entity.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (1)

CottonEyedJoe (177704) | about 8 years ago | (#15036257)

With the likes of IBM and Novell behind linux and others such as Apple dependant on linux related technologies (webkit, gcc, etc.). Microsoft may not want to go slinging patents willy nilly in Linux's direction just yet. They may well find a few directed back at them.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (1)

aqfire (885545) | about 8 years ago | (#15036287)

I'm seeing a lot of these comments side with Microsoft here, stating that Eolas is patent trolling. But, if Linux were to really take off, don't you think Microsoft would start filing a bunch of infringement lawsuits against Linux (or other F-OSS), in the same way Eolas did to Microsoft?

Yes, probably, but clearly the high ground is to side with the company that is fighting against patent-trolling lawsuits. In this case, ironically, it's Microsoft.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036356)

It isn't ironic. Microsoft has never used patents aggressively. They prefer to manipulate the market through bundling, discounts, and inertia.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 8 years ago | (#15036311)

But, if Linux were to really take off, don't you think Microsoft would start filing a bunch of infringement lawsuits against Linux (or other F-OSS), in the same way Eolas did to Microsoft? And OpenSource developers would respond by modifying the alledgedly infringing code as soon as it was pointed out to no longer infringe, much as Microsoft has done. And your point is? Clearly Microsoft is doing the right thing in this case, and still being criticized for it. I despise Microsoft as much as anyone, but in this specific case we need to give the devil his due.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036344)

If and when that happens, be certain /. will complain.

Till then, MS is in the right on this one

you're a retard and amerinigger. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036406)

nT

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (1)

Kelson (129150) | about 8 years ago | (#15036491)

Entirely possible. And if that happened, most people here would be siding with Linux in that instance.

Patent abuse is still patent abuse, even when it's aimed at someone you dislike.

Re:Interesting comments, so far. (1)

szembek (948327) | about 8 years ago | (#15036560)

Probably yes, but at least Microsoft creates something. Eolas doesn't do shit other than patent vague ideas. At least that's all I can see that they do from their website. While I'm opposed to most software patents, the ones I am most opposed to are the ones which are never even used by the company that filed for them.

Did they say "shame"... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036210)

or "sham"?

Fools (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 8 years ago | (#15036212)

There is no court order forcing Microsoft to do anything. Anything that is being done is of Microsoft's own choosing,'

You sued them, and apparently won, resulting in two paths of action for Microsoft. Stop the infringing activity, or pay you to be allowed to continue.

They indeed made a choice. Too bad it wasn't the one you wanted.

the end of activex? (5, Interesting)

radical_dementia (922403) | about 8 years ago | (#15036229)

I think perhaps one reason they are avoiding buying a patent license is because they are planning on doing away with activex. I've already heard the xmlhttprequest used for Ajax will be built in to IE7 and not as an activex control. Its possible other things like Flash and Acrobat will do the same.

Re:the end of activex? (1)

mattyrobinson69 (751521) | about 8 years ago | (#15036394)

xmlhttprequest is a javascript object that was implemented as an activex control. unfortunately, since ms did-away-with/never-had netscape compatible plugins, ie's plugins all have to be activex.

they couldn't build flash or acrobat into ie, as theyre built by different companies

Re:the end of activex? (3, Informative)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | about 8 years ago | (#15036690)

Even if IE still used netscape's plugin architecture, it wouldn't matter. Any plug-in architecture that handles EMBED, OBJECT, or APPLET tags by loading the appropriate plugin when necessary is subject to the patent.

PR Stunt (2, Informative)

moochfish (822730) | about 8 years ago | (#15036234)

Sounds like a PR stunt trying to make MS look bad for going around their patent instead of paying royalties. He already got 500 million; he's upset he's not getting even more.

At least this will keep the other browsers safer from further litigation down the road. If MS had bent over backwards and paid, every other browser that ever gained any market share would have been next in line to pay retroactive royalties. Now that MS just changed the rules of the HTML world (as usual), it's not crazy to think other browser vendors won't be ready to follow just to avoid having to pay the costly lesson that MS had to pay.

Useful for firefox? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036235)

Those of us out there who advocate Firefox should take this as a great opportunity.
Currently there are only 186 hits in google [google.com] for the term "Click to activate and use this control".

If everyone here with a blog or similar puts up a post with that line, and says something to the effect that 'the best solution for this problem is to download firefox, as webmasters are never going to update all the sites out there', there's got to be a whole new batch of potential converts who get auto-updated and then think "Oh noes, what is this, I'll google..."

Just a thought.

Re:Useful for firefox? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036325)

Those of us out there who advocate Firefox should take this as a great opportunity.

I don't recommend jumping on that. You're going to be seen as forcing users to change. That strategy never works and always backfires. It will turn into, 'Eolas is forcing me to use Firefox because they are greedy'.

Eventually, this will erode any goodwill Firefox may gain. The webmasters will change their pages to work with IE, and the users will return to IE with a dislike for 'those greedy bastards who work with Firefox'.

Re:Useful for firefox? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15036569)

Forcing people to use particular programs doesn't seem to do microsoft any harm... Their marketshare would be a fraction of what it is now if people weren't forced by proprietary formats, apis, protocols or whatever else.

So he's disappointed... (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 8 years ago | (#15036238)

That Microsoft chooses not to control their own destiny at the cost of the consumer's experience?

How completlely predictably stupid. This chapter in the ever-continuing saga of "idea ownership" that was brought about by the terrible terrible legal precedent in 1998 [harvard.edu] (State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, Inc), is marking a major decline in both the freedom of the market as well as potentially, freedom of the individuals who participate in that market.

I'm very lacking of pity for Microsoft, IBM and other patent-warchest-holding companies... but this insanity with the submarine patents (esp. on business ideas) has got to stop.

Patent scum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036258)

I'm dissapointed this guy doesn't die in a horrible gardening accident.

I'm a Flash developer, this means that now my clients will have to have their customers click a button everytime they view my sites. This looks really unprofessional.

Re:Patent scum (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036292)

What a coincidence! I'm dissapointed there aren't more Flash developers dying in horrible gardening accidents.

Re:Patent scum (2, Informative)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | about 8 years ago | (#15036466)

You realize you can recode your sites to use JavaScript load the Flash objects from an external file, right, and thus avoid the "having to click a button" issue?
http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/?url=/workshop/a uthor/dhtml/overview/activating_activex.asp [microsoft.com]

So this is a payday for you. Your clients will pay you to recode the sites; and the recoding is pretty trivial, so it's almost like getting money for free. :-)

Re:Patent scum (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15036662)

Hopefully this will discourage the use of flash, and especially flash-only websites.

Search engines can't search inside flash
Some systems have no flash plugin (macromedia are too stubborn to compile 64bit versions)
A lot of companies have a policy of not allowing flash
Flash files are large, and load slowly on slow connections (and lots of people use slow mobile connections nowadays)

I hate the attitude of most flash developers, who think that everyone runs windows as administrator and on a fast connection, many a time i have been told to go and buy a windows box by a flash developer when i complained that their site wouldn't display. It's nice to see their blind obedience to microsoft come to bite them in the ass.

Don't Cheer for MS (4, Insightful)

algae (2196) | about 8 years ago | (#15036274)

It seems like by taking this action, Microsoft is actually *reenforcing* the validity of software patents. Yes, bully to them for refusing to pay licensing, but by dropping the disputed technology, Microsoft is tacitly admitting that the patent is valid.

Of course that makes total sense, giving the MS is patenting software techniques left and right, and has reserved the right to sue Free Software distributors over it. If they can get e.g. RedHat to devote person-hours to removing patented algorithms from their distribution, then that's time and money that they're essentially forcing RedHat to throw out the window.

Re:Don't Cheer for MS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036385)

Microsoft is tacitly admitting that the patent is valid.

What else could they do? The judge already said the patent was valid. Only a fool argues with a judge.

And Microsoft is doing with Eolas exactly what Linux will do if Microsoft claims a patent on something - engineer around the patent. See, that's the thing with computer programs, there are as many ways to write a program as there are programmers.

And this is pretty much how business operates in America. A friend of mine worked at a plant that made doodads and geegaws (physical, non-electrical gizmos). He said the boss would give him a competitor's product and ask "can you make one of these?" It didn't matter whether there was a patent or not, that's why they had lawyers. If a judge told them to stop, sometimes they could make the same gizmo out of, say aluminum instead of steel and no longer be infringing the patent.

What do you call 200 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?

Re:Don't Cheer for MS (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15036478)

Argue with the judge? that's exactly what microsoft does, and they drag it out as long as they can... They did it in the US antitrust trial, and now they're doing it in Europe.
They shouldn't be allowed to argue or negotiate their punishment once the court has found against them, they should simply be punished, and for that sentence to be carried out as it would with an individual who was found guilty by a court.

Re:Don't Cheer for MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036449)

And what choice, precisely, does MS have that would NOT reinforce software patents? Now that the courts have already decided for Eolas in this instance.

Seems to me their choices are 1) pay Eolas for a license or 2) circumvent the technology like they're doing or, maybe, 3) get a huge fine for contempt of court or failing to heed a court decision or some such (IANAL, obviously). Either of the first 2 could be said to 'reinforce software patents' and the 3rd is just plain stupid from a business perspective.

This far, and no farther. (2, Insightful)

bigtallmofo (695287) | about 8 years ago | (#15036283)

If every patent victim were to utter those words to the person or corporation attempting to shake them down, the incentive to perpetrate such frauds would be gone.

The problem is that corporations like Microsoft typically have a short-term mentality that tells them, "If we litigate, it will cost X. If we pay them off, it will cost Y." They then pay off the con artists if X > Y. Unfortunately this doesn't take into consideration the fact that this rewards bad behavior and leads to the paying of infinite more Ys in the future.

I applaud Microsoft's decision and I hope Eolas goes down in flames.

Re:This far, and no farther. (1)

lowe0 (136140) | about 8 years ago | (#15036706)

"If every patent victim were to utter those words to the person or corporation attempting to shake them down, the incentive to perpetrate such frauds would be gone."

Reduced, maybe, but not gone. The threat of litigation is very real, and it's not going to be hard to frame the case as big-bad-Microsoft vs. poor little Eolas. Boom, instant jackpot.

Worsening the user experience? (2, Insightful)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 8 years ago | (#15036286)

These changes sound a lot like a variant of Flashblock to me.

Yeah, that's right, these changes that "worsen the user experience" are almost identical to the functionality of a rather popular Firefox extension.

I consider requiring user input to run ActiveX controls to be a Good Thing. Thank you Eolas for finally forcing MS to make drive-by malware autoinstallation more difficult.

Re:Worsening the user experience? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 8 years ago | (#15036672)

No they don't.

Flashblock stops everything until you click, this just stops the user interactivity.
Movies and audio still play, code still runs, you just can't click pause or zoom or anything without first click to activate.

Worst of all, if the control is loaded dynamically during a page refresh (with onsite script) a wonderful message comes up saying "click to activate" (or similar)
The annoying part is theres no option to cancel.

Inconvenience? (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 8 years ago | (#15036289)

He said the IE modifications spelled out by Microsoft, which will reportedly disrupt the way online advertising and streaming media content is delivered over the Internet, is an inconvenience users could do without.

Not having ads shoved down your throat is an inconvenience? To whom, the users? That's a good thing!

Me thinks Swords is really reaching to say a disruption of online advertising is a bad thing.

So, when's the lawsuit against Mozilla? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036294)

After all, Firefox extensions work almost exactly the same way ActiveX controls do. When is Eolas planning on sueing the Mozilla Foundation for ripping off their patents?

Oh, that's right, they're just after money, and while Mozilla might be "raking in millions from Google" they just aren't quite the attractive target Microsoft is. What was I thinking.

Looking for a clue (3, Interesting)

LodCrappo (705968) | about 8 years ago | (#15036366)

I have read 5 articles on this whole thing now. I still am not sure exactly what it is that Eolas has patented... the ability to run activeX without clicking an extra button? or something about havign external applications of any kind able to process content inside the browser window? Can anyone explain?

Also, I found this quote from Eolas:

"We released our browser back in 1995 to the world free for non-commercial use, so that should be an indicator to people that the open-source community shouldn't have anything to fear from us. "

Does Firefox/mozilla use any of the disputed technology? I would guess not if it's only ActiveX we're dealing with, but I'm not sure.. quicktime and realplayer were mentioned in one article. Any then I wonder, if Eolas really won't go after open source projects that use their tech, then could Firefox be outfitted to do exactly what IE will no longer be able too, and so then save people the trouble of redesigning all these sites?

Re:Looking for a clue (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about 8 years ago | (#15036509)

They released a browser? what browser was that?

what did they release? (2, Insightful)

acroyear (5882) | about 8 years ago | (#15036658)

a version of the original open-source Mosaic with their embedded media plugin code. granted, that was before the term "Open Source" became vogue. Prior to that it was simply "well, is it GPL'ed or just BSD or MIT'ed?".

it got little attention outside the browser development world (Netscape 1.0 was out by then, and stealing the whole show), but it was demoed to Netscape and Sun in the lead-up to Java embedding in Netscape 2.0, so it is prior art to Java in the browser (and thus, flash, shockwave, and the whole ActiveX concept, much less Mozilla's plug-in architecture).

3 cheers for Microsoft and Ridiculous Patents (0)

MarkGriz (520778) | about 8 years ago | (#15036378)

"He said the IE modifications spelled out by Microsoft, which will reportedly disrupt the way online advertising and streaming media content is delivered over the Internet, is an inconvenience users could do without."

I, for one, welcome our patent subverting, advertising and streaming media content disrupting overlords.

Microsoft is being smart (3, Insightful)

ObligatoryUserName (126027) | about 8 years ago | (#15036389)

The Slashdot crowd continues to underestimate Microsoft and misunderstand the market. The reaction to all of this is proof of that.

Quick question: what's more important ease of use or openess of code? (Watch people talk about how you can have both and how their pet project will bring this about.)

Simply put, the web is the biggest threat to Microsoft and they're continuing to neutralize it. This is the same type of smart move they made when they stopped shipping Java because "they were forced to". Consistent ubiquitous client-side technologies that aren't controlled by Microsoft are dangerous to them. This move is all about neutralizing Flash by stacking on some FUD.

"We don't need Flash!", I hear you all scream "We have Ajax!" --- think about it, what's the difference between Flash and a browser? Microsoft controls the browser. (And it's very very unlikely that that will change as long as Windows is the dominant OS.) They're going to continue to make enchancements and include bugs in their browser that will make it less productive to do cross-browser development and then provide tools and features for Windows only use that will sidetrack people doing standards based development.

The web development community is falling into the same trap that Microsoft used to win the first browser war.

Re:Microsoft is being smart (1)

Silvers (196372) | about 8 years ago | (#15036590)

The less I see of Java the happier I am.

Personally I would be happy to have a 'click to load Java so this little app can cause your browser experience to hang for 10 seconds while we consume 30megs of your RAM'.

Re:Microsoft is being smart (1)

PastaLover (704500) | about 8 years ago | (#15036684)

Why should I prefer one propietary solution (Flash) over another one (ActiveX)? Several people here have pointed out that flashblock is one of the most popular firefox plugins. Why? Flash is used to deliver ads, bad music and possibly anything that can abuse the binary blob I am loading into my browser. What's most likely to happen with this development is that most flash developers will learn to use only one flash window on a site that only needs to be clicked once to activate. Sure, this might destroy advertising in flash. Is that a bad thing for the average slashdot user? I think not.

And ajax is not being used for anything people use flash for anyway, so it's not a real competitor. (video streaming in ajax? animations in ajax?) If you're seriously suggesting all sites should be coded in flash you have a thing or two to learn about accessibility and the end user experience.

Not Such a Big Deal (3, Informative)

MightyMait (787428) | about 8 years ago | (#15036435)

Well, having had a quick look at the MSDN article [microsoft.com] linked to from the eWeek article, it doesn't look like such a big deal.

If the object is instantiated by in-line code, it will still respond to scripting commands but will not respond to user commands until they click somewhere in particular. If an external "JScript" file (does it hurt that much to say "Java", M$?!?!), is used to instantiate the object, there is no change in the way the page will behave.

So, we can make minor changes to all our ActiveX control-embedding pages to keep them behaving the way they do now, or not. The world will not end.

Re:Not Such a Big Deal (2, Informative)

AeroIllini (726211) | about 8 years ago | (#15036650)

does it hurt that much to say "Java", M$?!?!

Someone needs a history lesson.

JavaScript, originally named Mocha and then LiveScript, was developed in 1995 by Netscape, and debuted in version 2.0. It was named JavaScript to coincide with Netscape's added Java support, even though the languages are not that similar.

JScript was added by Microsoft to Internet Explorer 3.0 in 1996, in response to Netscape's JavaScript. JScript originally used the Active Scripting engine, also known as ActiveX.

ECMAScript is the current, formal standardization (ECMA-262) of both JavaScript and JScript into a single unified language. Currently, both JavaScript and JScript are considered extensions of ECMAScript, since they are fully compliant with extra functionality. It is possible (and recommended) that all client-side J(ava)Scripting be written as fully compliant ECMAScript, as it will then be compatible with all browsers.

To this day, all Gecko-based browsers support JavaScript, and IE supports JScript (it is also available as part of .NET). Both are ECMAScript compatible, as are all the various versions used by other browsers.

Of *course* it's a shame, for Eolas (4, Interesting)

Xeger (20906) | about 8 years ago | (#15036468)

Consider Microsoft's alternatives:

(1) Continue to infringe on Eolas' patent. Eventually Eolas will sue again, causing MSFT to pay more damages.

(2) Buy a license from Eolas.

(3) Change IE so it no longer infringes. Pay Eolas nothing.

You see, #1 and #2 would make Eolas money. #3 makes Eolas no money. In this light, could we expect Eolas' executives to say anything else about Microsoft's decision? Apparently, they're not happy with $520 million -- and their attitude to Microsoft's decision to work around the patent tells us all we need to know about Eolas' motivations.

This is a shakedown for money, pure and simple. It's yet another abuse of the patent system. They'll take MSFT for as much as they can, and anything MSFT does to stop loss, Eolas will regard as "unfortunate."

I'm not a big fan of Microsoft -- but if a thief steals from an tyrant, that doesn't make the thief's transgression any less severe or more permissible.

More lawsuits on the way! (2, Insightful)

RedOregon (161027) | about 8 years ago | (#15036647)

Visit the puke's web site. They've trademarked the words "Invented Here".

(and no, I'm not going to link to it; it's obvious and it will prevent them from blocking referrals from Slashot)

Licensing (2, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 8 years ago | (#15036663)

Would the license fees have been charged on a per copy basis? If so, how could Microsoft let people download IE for free (as in beer)?

I think I see what's going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15036719)

1) MS play the game by announcing that web developers must change their code.
2) Very few or almost none of the developers do anything (think millions of legacy sites that noone can be arsed to alter)
3) Users get pissed becauses sites are now more complicated to navigate
4) Multitude 3rd parties release a wave of "toolbar accelerators" and "quick form helpers" that obviate the problem.
5) MS are happy, they complied, now EOLAS have to go after scores of little guys instead of MS. Problem shifted.

catch: (Of course lots of malware authors will jump into the fray to offer said "accelerator toolbars" replete with keyloggers.)
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