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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property"

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the oh-it-is-so-on-now dept.

Patents 820

Stony Stevenson writes "In comments confirming the open-source community's suspicions, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property." From the ComputerWorld article: "In a question-and-answer session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, Ballmer said Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell earlier this month because Linux 'uses our intellectual property' and Microsoft wanted to 'get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.'" His exact wording is available at the Seattle Intelligencer, which has a transcript of the interview. Groklaw had an article up Wednesday giving some perspective on the Novell/Microsoft deal. Guess we'll have something to talk about in 2007, huh?

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Alright, own up (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882772)

Who merged the Linux Genuine Advantage code into the tree?
Come on, speak up - I know it was one of you.

Re:Alright, own up (5, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882820)

Sorry. That was me. I also added the module that executes arbitrary code downloaded by a network application, and the code that requires root access for trivial applications. Did I do something wrong?

Re:Alright, own up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882856)

I also added the module that executes arbitrary code downloaded by a network application

Nobody said anything about Firefox.

Re:Alright, own up (5, Funny)

sfled (231432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883146)

Steve Ballmer
Microsoft Corp.
Redmond, WA

Dear Mr. Ballmer,

I am forwarding my old SuSE 8.1 Pro CDs & DVD to you, along with appropriate instruction on where you can put them (including facilitation of the process with a sharpened poker.)



Samba (5, Interesting)

Ice Wewe (936718) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882784)

This coming from the guy that's requiring SMB2 in Vista so that people using Samba on Linux server's can't use them for file storage.

Re:Samba (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882848)

Who the fuck wants to store its precious data on such a filthy hole? They can shove Vista up their dirty asses.

Re:Samba (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882870)

I know it wasn't the best, but I happen to like Super Mario Brothers 2. ...what?

Re:Samba (4, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882914)

So Microsoft is infringing on Nintendo's intellectual property? I think a certain chair-thrower is going to lose his video game priviliges.

Re:Samba (5, Interesting)

udderly (890305) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883014)

Is it just me or does it sound like MS is going to charge a per seat charge for some enhanced ability to connect from a Windows machine to Linux servers? Or is it just straight blackmail for exemption for future litigation? Or both? I can't tell.

Listen closely (5, Funny)

deadhammer (576762) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882788)

That rhythmic thudding sound you hear is the sound of every computer professional on the planet simultaneously laughing their balls off.

Re:Listen closely (5, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882882)

"That rhythmic thudding sound you hear is the sound of every computer professional on the planet simultaneously laughing their balls off."

Damn, sure isn't a good day to be a janitor at an IT firm. Running around yelling "Don't step on and SQUISH the things! Makes it a lot harder to sweep them up!"

Re:Listen closely (0)

l_bratch (865693) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883078)

If only I had some mod points left.


Re:Listen closely (4, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883128)

The sound of your balls falling on the floor is better than mod points.

Re:Listen closely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882886)

and that gasp for air you hear is all the Financial Savvy Linux users realizing Microsoft may not have a case but has enough money to buy one if they want to.

Re:Listen closely (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882994)

No kidding! I'd usually post a joke here, but I really can't think of anything that makes me laugh anywhere near as much as TFA does. Good thing I'm wearing snug pants today.

Re:Listen closely (1)

bigbird (40392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883056)

This really is a male dominated industry then isn't it?

Re:Listen closely (4, Funny)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883162)

"This really is a male dominated industry then isn't it?"

thud thud Not thud thud anymore thud thud thud thud

Microsoft Brand FUD (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882790)

"Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SUSE Linux is appropriately covered," Ballmer said. This "is important to us, because [otherwise] we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability."
Do me a favor, disclose your 'undisclosed balance-sheet liability' and then we'll listen to you bitch about Linux.

I haven't seen patent one infringed upon let alone a whole balance sheet's worth so you'll have to excuse me if I seem a bit pessimistic about you strong arming me into using SuSE.

That's right, you can spin it anyway you want ... but what I see is that Novell just lost all their street cred by selling out to you. What they sold was their future in the open source community. Why do I have this strange view of it all? Well, because I have this sinking feeling that a year or two from now you're going to package some form of Linux (maybe with Windows maybe separately) and you aren't going to release the source code & you're going to earn a profit on supporting it. And people will be pissed and there will be a court case. But you'll hire a thousand and one lawyers and they'll show up and they'll point out to the judge that Linux kernel "infringed upon Windows anyway" and the deal you made with Novell only confirmed it and admitted that they were facing lawsuits from you. The whole time, there won't be any patents cited, no logic will be used but at the end of the day the judge, bless his computer ignorance, will probably agree with you and allow you to continue to release & profit from Linux. But that won't be enough, you'll go after ever user using non-Microsoft-mutated-SuSE Linux and sue every other Linux distro. If that's not your motive, why are you already issuing warnings to users of other distros?

It's not just any old regular FUD, it's new improved Microsoft FUD.

Enjoy your $500 million, Novell.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (4, Insightful)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882898)

> but what I see is that Novell just lost all their street cred by selling out to you.

I agree with you, but I think it is worse than that. I think the deal changes the perception of Linux, which is what the point of it was all the time.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (1)

SanderDJ (1004445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882908)

I guess it's justified to say that Novell = Judas and Linux = Christ?

We all know what happened to Judas, don't we?

(no need to state the equivalent of Ballmer, BTW)

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883036)

He stayed alive while the other guy hung up on a cross?

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883098)

Going by Wikipedia here:

# The Gospel of Matthew says that, after Jesus' arrest by the Roman authorities (but before his execution), the guilt-ridden Judas returned the bribe to the priests and committed suicide by hanging himself.
# The Acts of the Apostles (1:18) says that Judas used the bribe (or Judas' returned bribe was used) to buy a field, but fell down, and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. This field is called Akeldama or Field Of Blood.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883172)

Actually, Judas is said to have commited suicide soon after... hmm.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (4, Insightful)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882924)

the judge, bless his computer ignorance, will probably agree with you and allow you to continue to release & profit from Linux.

I don't believe they will have any more success than SCO has had. Microsoft's biggest mistake is not understanding how well the GPL resonates with developers and how poorly DRM resonates with users. They are stuck with a DOS mindset.

Their second biggest mistakes was proxying SCO to do their dirty work. The SCO case has shown how poorly this infringement idea flies [] , and it is going to make it incredibly hard for Microsoft to get any traction with the general public and with Wall Street when they take their turn. The legal traction won't be there either, but they can afford far more lawyering than SCO and will manage to drag out Son of SCO for a long time. But the end result will be even better for Linux.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (5, Interesting)

jackbird (721605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883050)

Bear in mind that Boies Schiller Flexner, SCO's law firm, is really, really good. They're the firm that defeated Microsoft in the antitrust trial. The fact that they've been able to drag this case out as long as they have with no evidence whatsoever is testament to that.

But IBM has some fantastic lawyers as well, and they are not going to take Microsoft intimidating and/or suing their customers lying down. The nightmare scenario is IBM, MS, and Novell collaborating on a plan to monetize Linux, but with Red Hat already having line in the sand, and Sun and most of the developers unlikely to play ball, that could end well, too.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883034)

Knowing Ballmer he probably thinks that Microsoft invented the TCP/IP stack and Other things that Microsoft stole from BSD...

Personally I think the Linux community needs to with one very loud voice say...

"Bring it fat man!"

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (5, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883164)

Well, Novell said "bring it." But they were bent over at the time.


Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (4, Interesting)

14CharUsername (972311) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883140)

This deal won't have any influence on the courts. Its all about PR and thats as far as it goes. And everyone in the know knows how this is complete bullshit. If Linux is infringing on MS patents, then why is MS paying Novell, a linux distributer? Shouldn't Novell be paying MS? What is MS paying for? FUD, thats what. But FUD doesn't work in courts. FUD is about muddying the waters and the law is all about very specific little details.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (5, Interesting)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883158)

It seems they are referring to the interoperability features. Things like NTFS support and even Samba. Of course as we speak the EU is forcing MS to disclose these interoperability secrets and saying they don't belong to MS. A lot of this stuff was also covered in the initial trial here in the US. They got let off, but the political climate is changing. They might be figuring, hey we need to license this stuff quickly before the government forces us to give it away..

What intoxicant is Ballmer consuming? (4, Interesting)

msobkow (48369) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883160)

What is it about monopolists that they end up thinking no one else could possibly be as good as them and their team, that no one could possibly compete, that no one could come up with an idea on their own?

Why do monopolists assume they own the world when their fragment is a paltry slice compared to the whole?

Why would someone whose anti-trust investigation mysteriously evaporated shortly after the Bush election be flapping their gums when the Democrats are on the rise and looking into any and all events for influence, connections, and blame? Instead of worrying about Linux, Ballmer should be worrying about the spectre of renewed anti-trust investigations.

The Linux code is up for public review. The straw-dog SCO attempt to tear it down is all but done. Let Microsoft publish their code and identify the purported IP conflicts. They don't and won't because they can't, and they know it.

Re:Microsoft Brand FUD (5, Interesting)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883168)

Also from Ballmer:

We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it's not an exclusive thing.

My, how nice of you. So you're willing to include others in your protection racket? You're much too gracious.

Seriously, this is f*cked up, in a disturbingly devious way. Basically, Ballmer's philosophy here seems to be: "Microsoft deserves money for every single computer out there, and we will get it one way or the other."

No need to wait for netcraft... (5, Insightful)

SlashDread (38969) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882792)

SuSE is dead.

Re:No need to wait for netcraft... (2, Funny)

blcamp (211756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883166)

SuSE is dead.

After the dust has settled, Novell will follow... suit.

I think you'll find... (4, Funny)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882800)

Microsoft infringes on our patience sometimes, as well.

Never send a boy to do a man's job (5, Funny)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882812)

If you want a job done right, do it yourself, eh Balmer? SCO just wasn't up to the task.

Re:Never send a boy to do a man's job (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883130)

After seeing what MS did to Compu-Global Hyper Meganet, is anyone surprised?


Mail just received.... (1, Interesting)

Lissajous (989738) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882818)

Please find enclosed a pre-paid airline ticket to Redmond, WA, where I'd like you to give a talk to our employees on the benefits of open-source development.

Seating will be provided.

Respectfully yours,

Steve Ballmer.

really, he should have said... (5, Funny)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882840)

GNU/Linux infringes on our IP

Surprised? (4, Insightful)

bitserf (756357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882842)

To quote South Park: Novell just got F'd in the A.

Okay... (5, Insightful)

urbanradar (1001140) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882852)

Pretty much any Linux geek will tell you that's a load of jibberish, not unlike the SCO case. But, should it come to Microsoft and Novell going to court over this, couldn't this still spell trouble for Novell? A lengthy trial isn't cheap (and neither are out-of-court settlements). And the worst case scenario - maybe this could even spell trouble for Linux itself? It certainly makes for some excellent FUD for Microsoft to feed to the CIOs and managers of the world.

With Microsoft's track history, I wonder why people trust them at all. Especially when the stakes are high, like in this situation.

Re:Okay... (4, Interesting)

walt-sjc (145127) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882974)

Oh, I believe that Linux (especially when you look at an entire distribution) DOES infringe on some MS patents. Wasn't it a year or so ago where 20 some odd MS patents were dug up by Linux proponents as a concern?

I think a couple of things have been holding MS back however. IBM and THEIR patent war-chest, and the EU / DOJ with the anti-trust / abusive monopoly issue.

MS wouldn't go after individuals in any case, they would go after businesses.

We shall see!

Re:Okay... (5, Funny)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882978)

So what I'm gathering from this is that it's going to be a behemoth of a battle between IBM and MS, with hopefully many lawyers dying in the middle.

Re:Okay... (4, Insightful)

miyako (632510) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883040)

I think this will certainly spell trouble for Linux. Not "the end of Linux" - but certainly trouble. Mostly it comes down to the fact that, when MS gets around to sueing people, some retarded judge is going to look at Novell signing a deal with MS as "admission of guilt" and - while it might not win the case for MS - it will lend a lot more creadance to their FUD for a lot of people.
As for Novell, I don't think Microsoft will take them to court, but I don't think they need to. I don't really know of anyone who was supportive of the Novell/Microsoft deal- and very few were even willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This whole thing is going to really deamonize Novell in the eyes of the open source community. The way I see it, and a lot of other people too, is that basically Novell had the idea that Microsoft was going to start suing people over Linux, and rather than stand up for Linux and the community, they decided to become another MS lapdog.

M$ takes and does not appreciate (1)

cdn-programmer (468978) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882862)

So just how much code from the *BSD (unix) projects have shown up in M$ products.

Then they threaten us! Seems we have the dogs biting the hands who fed them.

Re:M$ takes and does not appreciate (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883016)

Well yeah but the difference is that that BSD code has been explicitley licensed to use in whichever way you want meanwhile Microsoft's (code?, how did Open source developers got it?) is not licensed at all...

Re:M$ takes and does not appreciate (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883038)

So just how much code from the *BSD (unix) projects have shown up in M$ products.

I'm sure the appreciate it. The probably appreciated it so much they went out and patented parts of it because the *BSD people didn't. Now they feel they own it (not the code, but the concepts). The patent office probably agreed because they seem completely staffed with drolling morons these days, and the lawyers will certainly agree. I imagine the US government will also agree because MS gives more money to them than Redhat/debian/etc.


SCO did it! (5, Interesting)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882864)

But seriously, when the first SCO thing came about, the Linux people said, "We don't want to infringe on anyone's IP, so tell us where it we are infringing, and we will rewrite the code."

Same applies here. Open source takes a little of the fun out of these things, now doesn't it?

Re:SCO did it! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883188)

It is kind of hard re-code infinging sections of software to be non-infringing when your opponent is claiming a patent on things like the double-click.

Company motto (4, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882868)

If you can't beat 'em sue 'em.

worst case solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882890)

Buy a copy of MSWindows and put the box under the monitor.

Open Source Drives the Technical Economy (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882896)

As a nation (USA) we need to nip this type of behavior in the bud. While F500 companies have made Linux an important part of the data center (too important to be incumbered), startups have used Linux and open source to drive most of the innovation and change over the last 5-10 years. The first internet boom people used venture capital to buy tons of proprietary hardware and software. The sustained growth has come from white boxes, open standards and open source.

The economy is on the line when open source is threatened.

Re:Open Source Drives the Technical Economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882910)

Jesus Christ, You fucking yanks and your fucking companies...

Microsoft Inovates? (1)

tyrnight (633534) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882902)

Microsoft does not inovate.. they immitate.. Microsoft has very little ground on inovation other then the way they make money. Balmers pockets cant get any fuller. Jeez this irritates me.

Put up or Shut up (4, Insightful)

Cadallin (863437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882906)

Alright, enough of this bullshit. Isn't there some kind of Libel suit that can be filed about this kind of garbage? I know I, as a private citizen can't go around telling newspapers that the Coca-Cola company kills a kitten for every can of drink they sell, without getting sued nine ways from breakfast. Why is Microsoft any different? If they've got something, let's see it, if not, can't they be forced to stop spreading FUD on pain big nasty fine-y death? Surely Redhat, and the other corporate Linux entities have some interest in trying this?

Re:Put up or Shut up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882950)

I really agree! Let's put up some website to join our efforts! Let's even spend money on this!

Re:Put up or Shut up (5, Funny)

Bemopolis (698691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883048)

I dunno, Ballmer might be right on this one. I know several Linux users who have a BSoD screensaver...


Re:Put up or Shut up (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883054)

Why is Microsoft any different?
'Cause of all the cash they have! Remember that the US has the best judicial system money can buy.

Hey Ballmer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882912)

Hey Ballmer...I've got your intellectual property...right here
{gesture to groin}

This doesn't work as well in the electronic world as it does in person, does it?


Re:Hey Ballmer... (1)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883046)

Uh, did you just offer to become Ballmer's cam whore?

I'll never be able to laugh at the Monkey Dance the same way again!

BSD too (4, Funny)

Lord_Slepnir (585350) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882926)

Ballmer added later in the speech "You'll notice that BSD also infringes on our Intellectual Property. You'll notice that the BSD network stack is identical to the one Microsoft created. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been brainwashed by the Great Satan [] "

So what happens (4, Interesting)

Epeeist (2682) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882928)

When it is shown to be Mono that is infringing?

Re:So what happens (1)

Blob Pet (86206) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883148)

I have doubts about that. As I understand it, Mono is an implementation of an ECMA standard.

I'm always a little suspicious (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882930)

Of any comapany that asserts that another is violating its intellectual property, but refuses to say exactly what. SCO and :CueCat both tried this and were widely ridiculed.

Re:I'm always a little suspicious (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883102)

The difference would be that Microsoft has a HUGE patent portfolio. The SCO case was about COPYRIGHT. And you'll notice that OSS has exactly zero patents, so the playing field is completely different. Microsoft doesn't have to disclose code to prove patent infringement, all they have to do is produce their patent, and the OSS code in question.

Re:I'm always a little suspicious (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883174)

But surely they know what patents Linux infringes on, or at least the ones that it might do. Why can't they tell us? Don;t they have some responsibility to minimise their damages?

I'll bite (3, Interesting)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882938)

"Linux operating system"
Ballmer's meat puppet McBride couldn't win in court on the specious SCO claims about foreign code polluting the Linux kernel.
Not clear how, if Windows code had been magically grafted into the Linux kernel, that such Frankencode would a) work and b) go unnoticed. Linus himself is the ulitmate commiter to the sources, no?
As a society, we need to stigmatize people who say such wrongheaded things in public, and clueless publications that circulate such tripe.

LOLZ @ MSFT... (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882952)

Coming from the company who stole the gui from PARC, the IP stack from BSD, the new theme from Apple, the ...

I see a lot of things in GNU/Linux that I don't see in Windows. Like a modern scheduler, a UNIX/POSIX compatible standard set of libraries, a competent collection of userland tools (coreutils), a free and commercially viable set of compilers, various desktop window managers based on X11, etc, etc, etc....

If GNU/Linux *did* copy things from Windows (like the shitty scheduler, memory manager, lack of user land tools, etc) I wouldn't use it. I might as well run Windows.

I think we can all sit back and laugh at MSFT for squirming into oblivion. Vista will be a hoot of a failure. I for one am going to sit back and laugh.


Re:LOLZ @ MSFT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883060)

The interface. Linux is rock-solid, but KDE does mimic Windows. That's why I, being a Mac user, like Gnome better!

Re:LOLZ @ MSFT... (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883080)

stole the gui from PARC, the IP stack from BSD, the new theme from Apple

I thought that kind of stuff couldn't be stolen?

BAHAHAHA!!!! (1)

dubiago (841235) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882956)

Microsoft?! Innovate?!?! *falls out of chair, sides hurting*

Ha! (1)

singingjim (957822) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882960)

Busted! Linux geeks are criminals!

Patent numbers and licence fees ? (5, Insightful)

quiberon2 (986274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882964)

Microsoft need to be specific; what are the patent numbers, which countries are they valid in, and what is the licence fee that Microsoft would like from an individual user ?

Without that essential information, Microsoft are behaving in a commercially-inappropriate way. Intimidating and destructive to creativity.

I need the chance to way either that the patent does not apply where I live; or that there is prior art; or that I will do something in a different way. Or to find a patent of mine (or of my employer's) that they would like to cross-licence. I also need to know when the patent expires.

To quote someone somehow involved in this.. (4, Insightful)

kan0r (805166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882966)

"Talk is cheap, show me the code!"

a million slashdotters just screamed in despair (1)

continuouslife (934428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882968)

Oh Christ, here we go.... nice job Steve.

questioning innovation (1)

edis (266347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882980)

'get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.' - as much, as it is innovation, and not speculation on market dominance.

So THIS it was all about ah ? forcing to suse ? (3, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16882992)

it appears that with the passing years the microsoft top brass is getting old, and surprisingly losing their sanity before their due time.

arent they already aware that eu is bashing them because of their similar behaviour ?

do they think that eu will just let them force people to use their own 'partner''s distro just like that ?

i can see fines raining down like hell.

What innovation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16882996)

I see nothing innovative from MS period, what is he talking about. What patents or copyrights does the linux kernel infringe? If anything I have installed infringes MS "IP", I want to know so that I can remove it. Never mind vague threats, show us where the problem is or STFU!

MS Windows infringes thousands of patents too, funny how he doesn't mention that.

is this going to force a fork? (5, Interesting)

hedrick (701605) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883008)

With this license agreement, Novell has a license to put MS patented technology into their Linux. Is it safe to permit Novell engineers to submit code to common Linux repositories? It seems to me that they would need to certify that none of their code contains any of the MS IP that they now have access to. Unless MS is willing to identify which portions of SuSE are covered by their patents, this could be difficult.

Better = Infringement ? (2, Insightful)

wahman143 (1025119) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883018)

I love when someone creates something better (be it a product, a technology, etc) that it automagically becomes "Infringement".

Mantra of the 2000's - "If it ain't yours, and it's better than's 'Intellectual Property Infringement'"

Damn, worst scenario happens... (3, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883024)

I hoped that Novell/MS deal was really something meaningful, not yet another PR/Marketing stunt from Microsoft. Putting all that "protection racket" bullshit aside, which I can buy a little bit, this Balmer speech asks for more serious investigation, because it just roars "antitrust".

only in the USA (1)

mmjcon147 (1027846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883026)

good thing this doesn't affect most of the world
no software patents = teh win!

Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883028)

A use for a robotic chair!!!

Remember Stac Electronics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883044)

Yeah, you kids may not remember this one, but MS STOLE Stac Electronics' disk compression scheme. MS ended up paying Stac something like $170 million for this theft. Yeah, MS should talk about stealing IP -NOT!

Phase 2 Engaged. (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883052)

MS is a company. I don't MS would say something like that without checking with the lawyers. I'm sure what Ballmer says is technically true. After all, MS must have so many patents. Whether those patents should have been granted is another story. They might have patents on stupid, obvious things with tons of prior art. MS can't go after Linux directly because IBM undoubtedly has a larger patent portfolio. So they get SCO to plant seeds of doubt in every PHB. Now it's their turn. The SCO thing was merely the opening salvo.

The coming war (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883058)

It all makes sense - MS is starting to worry. Not about the "boom in linux in just a few years" - that has been "just a few years" for over a decade now. What they are worried about is the "Big War" on the very immediate horizon. Computing is about to undergo a huge revolution.

Now that (as far as a lot of the top end guys at MS are concerned) Vista is out of the door they are looking at what is next. Customers (home, but most especially business) are not going to pay for another OS - many might not even buy Vista. There is little else MS can put into an OS that sells - stability and modularisation don't sell. They tried the "eye candy" route for Vista - because if they didn't it wouldn't sell one copy. The thing is they can't do the same thing again "Windows Corumo - just another coat of paint on the same OS" - nobody will buy it.

The future? Subscription based economics - they don't have to produce another OS - they just continually charge for the current one. That too goes for MS Office etc.

Why the current turn by MS - because linux really does cause them difficulties in that business model. $30 per month for windows or $0 for a flavour of linux.

The big battle is ahead - the business model that has held firm with computers (both software and hardware) over the past 20 years is being broken up. This can be proven in the easiest way imaginable. Ask yourself this question. As a member of the "bulk" of computer users (ie not high end gamers or 3D designers - home "write an email and watch a dvd"'ers or business "write a spreadsheet or create a presentation"er's) - why would you *want* to buy a new machine/new OS? - the old one does everything just fine - super fast and relatively trouble free. That has not been the case for the past 20 years - it is now.

What IP? (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883062)

I don't understand completely what Intellectual Property Ballmer is talking about. SMB? Or is there more? And is he right about Linux using MS's IP, or is he just bullshitting?

Fermat's Last IP Infringement (3, Insightful)

Ada_Rules (260218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883068)

I have discovered the most interesting proof that Microsoft has infringed on MY intellectual property. Unfortunately, this web space is too small to contain it.

This is getting really old and although many here will probably disagree, it will eventually have an impact. I can just hear my legal department now "We keep hearing case after case of Linux infringing on someone's IP. We better ban it. Microsoft is a big secure company that would never do anything like that and if they did, there is no way the effects of it could ever impact the end user"...Oh wait.. .. Scratch that. []

Winning quote (4, Funny)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883084)

Quoth Ballmer:

At the end of the day for basically the whole 18, 19 years that we've been pursuing the server and enterprise opportunity, our number one competitor in the data center for new applications has been Unix. Unix, Unix, Unix, Unix.

So they need lots of developers, developers, developers, developers to keep up ...

This is a good thing, actually... gon bluescreen (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883100)

Theyre hurt by Linux so bad and without any other defense than resorting to
FUDge. Not a smart move Ballmer, with hundreds of thousands of Linux evangelists
out there putting that into perspective for the customers. Linux is taking over
hard and the Solaris people feel it (even though if you got Solaris youre imho
downgrading). Then theres IBM, ORACLE etc. to contend with... theyll whip your
lawsuits out of court until you "blue screen".

Microsoft is infringing upon my Human Rights (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883112)

With the monopolist pressure they are forcing my relatives, my employers, my contractees, my government to use their own software and wont let them bail out, limiting me on what i can or cant do with my audio&visual equipment in my own house, increasingly deciding what i can or cannot see on the internet, oppressing my open source community, suing people to the extent of harrassment, causing my relatives, friends, close ones to get into pain over their lacking&incapable&insecure softare and me to run fix-up errands for them, trying to funnel cash into decision makers to influence political decisions against my democratic wishes.

In short, they are using me and all the people i know for their own personal profit against their wishes.

i request that microsoft cease and desist immediately

Yeah, but... (1)

krell (896769) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883190)

"limiting me on what i can or cant do with my audio&visual equipment in my own house"

The rest of this is good and all, but about this particular item: How is Microsoft doing this unless you were one of the drooling early-adopters who bought a Zune earlier this week? I know they aren't responsible for that damn region system that makes DVDs a hassle.

How Embarrassing (1)

blacknblu (988181) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883136)

Even if LINUX was infringing upon Microsoft's intellectual property, I wouldn't want to draw too many people's attention to this issue. Based upon the security issues plaguing Microsoft, it would give the impression that LINUX understands Microsoft's intellectual property better than Microsoft.

Ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883138)

Hey Ballmer - suck my balls.

Linux is not an OS (1)

Nikademus (631739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883144)

Linux is not an Operating System. It is a kernel dot .

What Patents? (1)

SpaceTaxi (170395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883154)

Baller saying "the fact that that product uses our patented intellectual property is a problem for our shareholders" implies patent infringement, but the truth is probably that they've freely contributed some of their ip into interoperability and networking with other operating systems, and this has been picked up by Linux. The problem is that nobody owns Linux, so they can't leverage this. The next best thing is to pick one of the commercial distributions (Suse/Novell) and turn them to the dark side.

Now, the idea is to make it so that if you want Linux to fully work with Windows, you'll need to use Novell's distribution. Or at least that is the idea.

that fat jerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16883156)

qualifies as a clear and present danger. OK, ya'all lawyers. What law can be invoked by a class action to get him to put up or shutup, and to explicitly list the patents that infringe? This is clearly market manipulation at a minimum. He is also claiming that all linux end users are in violation of the law.

Which M$ IP is this idiot talking about? (1)

Eggplant62 (120514) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883170)

I want to see the list of what Ballmer and cohorts assert is infringed in Linux. I want to see what components of the Linux OS are supposedly infringing. Until I see that, Ballmer's words are so much FUD and bullshit that I'm ready to vomit.

Pirates O' The Valley (5, Funny)

Tarlus (1000874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883178)

Hey, Steve, Apple of the 1980's called. They want their reactions to your OS stealing their ideas back.

So what's the big deal? (1)

ivoras (455934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883182)

If you believe him switch to BSD, if you don't, sit back and enjoy the popcorn.

OK, Microsoft, it's official. The war is ON. (1)

OmniGeek (72743) | more than 7 years ago | (#16883186)

I'd feel some regret for some of the folks at Microsoft, now that their leaders have started a war they cannot win, but then, if *I* worked there, I'd leave, taking my soul with me.

OK, so even if MS *does* hold software patents that are *actually* valid (or are not declared INvalid for a significant length of time) and that cover significant elements within Linux; what then? Can they seriously expect the rest of the world (like, say, India, China, Brazil, and most of Europe) to stop promoting, developing, and using Linux, or even seriously pause in that effort? Get a life, Redmond, it isn't ever going to happen. Those nations will push Open Source forward even harder precisely in order to escape your grasping digits. You can't stop the Penguin Army(TM).

MS may be able to cause some annoyance and inconvenience to some folks in the US with this attack, but there are several limits on how far that'll go, and it WON'T go far enough. At most, it'll slow Linux uptake slightly while further blackening MS reputation everywhere (invent new category of ultra-darkness here...)

Ultimately, the US' competive position in the world would be what suffers most in the long run even if MS were to succeed. Open Source proponents will simply route around the problem or ignore it, and US efforts to prevent "infringing" Open Source use will be about as effective as the RIAA's effort to stamp out filesharing. (I *was* going to say, "As effective as Prohibition," but that's too high a standard.)
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