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Microsoft Taking Heat For Patent Stance

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the what-balance-sheet-liability? dept.

226

Yesterday Novell released a statement disavowing Steve Ballmer's claim that Linux infringes Microsoft's IP. Linux-watch.com reports that Microsoft quickly responded with a statement of its own that softened, but did not entirely back away from, Ballmer's claim (but the article offers no link to such a statement). xtaski writes, "Everyone took notice when Ballmer spewed forth FUD about Microsoft and Linux IP. Now CIOs are asking just what did Ballmer think he was doing? They are not fooled — but rather, a little angry. ComputerWorld covers the news including one CIO who says 'There were some applications I had been thinking about moving to a Microsoft platform, but this has now totally alienated me from Microsoft.'" And an anonymous reader points us to the statement by the Open Invention Network — whose investors include IBM, Novell, Sony, Red Hat, Philips and NEC — on the Microsoft-Novell agreement. From the statement: "OIN continues to support the Linux community's ability to collaborate and innovate. Through the accumulation of patents that may be used to shield the Linux environment, including users of Linux software, OIN has obviated the need for offers of protection from others."

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226 comments

Are they feeling pressure? (5, Interesting)

filenavigator (944290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943226)

It is interesting to see that they are starting to posture themselves in this way now. For all these years they really have not gone after anyone for patent violations - maybe that was because the going was good. Now that they have implemented all of their fancy piracy protection they need to keep others from providing alternative solutions that really are easier for a paying customer to use.

Kinda reminds me of communist Russia and their fences and guns keeping their people from leaving the country.


http://www.windows-admin-tools.com [windows-admin-tools.com]

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (2, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943488)

``Kinda reminds me of communist Russia and their fences and guns keeping their people from leaving the country.''

In SOVIET RUSSIA, coutry abandons YOU!

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943732)

Kinda makes you wonder what would happen if lots of people bought a few thousand stocks in Microsoft, went to the annual meeting and demanded that Microsoft immediately enforce their patents.. after all, Microsoft currently claims their patent portfolio as an "asset". How about making that asset pay already?

Oh, what? You can't?

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944414)

It's still an asset, in exactly the same sense that the USA & USSR nuclear arsenals were assets. You have to have them, but you don't want to have to use them. Patent portfilios for the Microsoft/IBM/Oracle/Sun/HP crowd (or Intel/AMD/nVidia/ATI for that matter) have become exactly the same kind of "Mutually Assured Desctruction" scenario. The only way that OSS really plays into this is to give Ballmer some FUD ammo. Just ignore him - he can't pull the trigger, because everyone else would pull the trigger on him.

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (3, Insightful)

Ridcully (121813) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943792)

Well, the SCO gambit seems to have failed. So I guess they have to take more direct action.

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (1)

snakecoder (235259) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943880)

"...posture themselves in this way now. For all these years they really have not gone after anyone for patent violations ..."

You know, that makes me wonder if we are seeing the difference between Gates at the helm and Balmer at the helm.

While all my knowledge of balmer is superficial, he just scares me. Looking at the monkey boy video and looking at his face, he really seems psychotic.

Re:Are they feeling pressure? (2, Funny)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945054)

While all my knowledge of balmer is superficial, he just scares me.

Well, he is the only CEO of a major company who is also a potty-mouthed chair-throwing monkey dancer who threatens to kill his business opponents.

Other than that, he might be mostly harmless.

On a more serious vein: isn't it about time for the Microsoft Corporation to evaluate whether their current CEO might be a hindrance to continued profitability, rather than some kind of weird unmeasurable asset?

Why would they? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943914)

I think it's pretty well established that Microsoft has a huge heatsink when it comes to "taking heat". I don't see anything aside from a few big vendors or government agencies that could apply measurable pressure to change Microsoft's behavior.

I think you're right about Microsoft. It looks like another move to prolong their OS dominance. However, I wonder if the IP landscape is different now than it was back then too. I know IP has been used for decades to secure market share, but I wonder if it's getting more intense in recent years. Ie, if Microsoft were losing the same kind of market share in 1996 to linux that they are experiencing now, would they attempt to constrain linux via IP?

Re:Why would they? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944462)

Microsoft really has no 'heat shield' when it comes to IP. Microsoft has been a company since 1975. They have been going after patents since about 1986 or there abouts. IBM has been a company for 118 years. They have been going after about 1000 patents per year since their founding. Many of IBM's patents cover very fundamental computing. Even switches and 'electrical computing'. Microsoft has no place to stand here. If they were to try and follow their threats with actual action, they would be dead inside of a week (I'm not kidding, I mean 7 days).

Re:Why would they? (2, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945052)

You picked a poor comparison. IBM's foolish actions in the 80's included some epic IP blunders. In fact, those blunders are a large part of the reason Microsoft has its dominant market position today. Further, a lot of IBM's patents are obselete or irrelevant. And there's no action that IBM can undertake that would remove a legal threat from Microsoft in seven days. I'll admit that I don't see any true Microsoft legal action going anywhere, but this sort of train wreck would take more than seven days to go through. Look at the SCO mess which really is Microsoft acting through SCO as a proxy. It's not going anywhere fast despite years of pointless legal maneuvering.

The heat in question was the supposed ire of Microsoft customers (or perhaps rather linux advocates). That's why I mention the "heatsink". Microsoft is fairly immune to that sort of criticism right now.

Re:Why would they? (1)

carl0ski (838038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944830)

you know of a terrifying historical event regarding IP The Automotive indistry the Steering Wheel the Tyre wheel diff steering box patents were all owned by different car makers in the 30s they needed to come to a Patent Sharing amnesty otherwise nothing would have ever been built

Re:Why would they? (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944924)

You are indeed correct. But given your deeper understanding of this history, what your take that perhaps the software industry is reaching the same point as the automotive industry was back then?

ISR: (-1, Offtopic)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943964)

Kinda reminds me of communist Russia and their fences and guns keeping their people from leaving the country.

In Soviet Russia, Windows uses YOU!

Posturing (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944324)

What might be more interesting is the way that all these other companies are beginning to posture themselves around openness, Free patents, and some kind of IP commons. Maybe it's starting to become obvious to them just how destructive and costly these policies of using arsenals of patents to protect themselves and destroy rivals are. Vastly greater profits are possible with an intellectual commons from which everyone can benefit. It destabilizes the winner-takes-all dynamic, and allows a more diverse and competitive market to take its place.

Re:Posturing (1)

fourchannel (946359) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944570)

What might be more interesting is the way that all these other companies are beginning to posture themselves around openness, Free patents, and some kind of IP commons. Maybe it's starting to become obvious to them just how destructive and costly these policies of using arsenals of patents to protect themselves and destroy rivals are. Vastly greater profits are possible with an intellectual commons from which everyone can benefit. It destabilizes the winner-takes-all dynamic, and allows a more diverse and competitive market to take its place.
When I read things like this, I can't keep from thinking to myself: the wonderful possiblity of being alive during the years that Humanity decided to take its next step to utopia.

And it reaffirms my far-fetched hope and dream that maybe Humanity wasn't doomed from the start. You've got my support guys, and I urge you to keep going in this direction: Lowering the barriers that limit the actions of others, encouraging them to do well, and eventually people will evolve to a state in which those barriers will serve no purpose.

$348 million (1)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944624)

Does anyone know *specifically* what Microsoft's $348 million *actually* purchased?

ticrosoft making seats for satin pants! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943266)

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orly (1)

r3st2 (987153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943272)

yarly

Hello? (-1, Troll)

Quantam (870027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943276)

This is Slashdot! Of COURSE Microsoft is taking heat!

It'll never happen (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943310)

Everyone is infringing on everyone else's patents (if only in the most technical of senses).

The Windows vs Linux battle is a perfect example of mutually assured destruction.

Nobody will win if the lawsuits start flying back and forth. It wouldn't even be good for business.

If MS really thinks there are patent issues, then MS should either try to work out cross licensing deals that benefit or have the offending IP removed. Anything else is just FUD.

Re:It'll never happen (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943410)

Well Maybe the BSD will finally stop dying. It's the only good thing i can think of. That and people will finally be able to own a computer and not worry about such things as drivers, memory leaks, and poorly desgined UI's

Re:It'll never happen (3, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943766)

how will a BSD resurgence magically save us from memory leaks and bad UIs, which are userland issues?

Re:It'll never happen (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944020)

I don't think this affects BSD one way or the other; they will keep doing what they do best.

As for the rest of us, the question is will we be seduced into upgrading with Microsoft [slashdot.org] , or will we exercise our free choice?

Do we cave to a monolithic oligarchy, or lean towards community-accepted standards?

Ultimately, the question may be, do we accept commercialized, obfuscated and ill-purported functionality or do we turn to the experts?

Re:It'll never happen (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944120)

BSD alive [google.com] ?
Another year or five.
Who would want
Monoculture jive?
Burma Shave

Re:It'll never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944104)

"Nobody will win if the lawsuits start flying back and forth."

Well, maybe if this happens the US will finally realize how stupid patents are.

Re:It'll never happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944328)


It wouldn't even be good for business.


That depends on whether your business is law or software.

Re:It'll never happen (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944402)

Exactly. MS does not want to piss of IBM as far as patents go. I'm sure IBM could make life rather difficult for MS if they were to get involved with in a patent war. On the bright side, if something like that happened, we might actually see some sanity come to the way patents are given out (or not have software patents all together - they're already "protected" by copyright).

Re:It'll never happen (2, Insightful)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944456)

If MS really thinks there are patent issues, then MS should either try to work out cross licensing deals that benefit or have the offending IP removed. Anything else is just FUD.

First, Microsoft has "invented" nothing we use today. Have they?

I would suspect, even a California judge would have to find in Linux and FOSS favor with regards to patents. Take for example the tabbed Firefox browser with a close button on the top right? How long do you think it will be before Microsoft files a patent on it, then implements it then extorts for it?

What protocols does Microsoft use today that we commonly use (securely) on the internet?

Lets expand on FUD, FFUF, Fiction, Fear, Uncertainty and Fraud from M$.

Ever notice how Firefox 2.0 get both Microsoft and Linux spelling mistakes?

No wonder why everything is going offshore in innovation, you get you ass sued off for doing in in the USA.

Backing away from the agreement? (2, Interesting)

Salvance (1014001) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943314)

I wonder if this is one of the first moves that Microsoft is making to back away from the agreement, or rather ... to back away from their original intentions (whatever they may have been).

possible goals here (3, Interesting)

kevintron (1024817) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943326)

These vague claims of "infringement" have certainly led to heavy discussion of Microsoft's deal with Novell. Ballmer has always been good at generating free publicity for Microsoft, and has never been too worried about whether Linux users liked him or not.

But that's just one possible goal here. It's also possible the resulting discussions will be closely watched by Redmond's intellectual property lawyers. Perhaps they hope to learn of new potential legal vulnerabilities they hadn't previously considered.

computer world uses jsp... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943352)

Ok, now I know computer world is using jsp. But why do they show all those exceptions? I thought jsp was meant to serve articles...

cb

Obviated (0, Offtopic)

JerkyBoy (455854) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943394)

From Webster.com: obviated: "Etymology: Late Latin obviatus, past participle of obviare to meet, withstand, from Latin obviam : to anticipate and prevent (as a situation) or make unnecessary (as an action)"

Key: "...OIN has [made unnecessary] the need for offers of protection from others."

Re:Obviated (-1, Troll)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943860)

Too bad the moderators don't get that the word obvious should have been used instead of Obviated.

It should have read:
OIN has [made obvious] the need for offers of protection from others

Maybe the editor is a HS drop-out ;)

Re:Obviated (4, Interesting)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944052)

No, it is correctly stated as "obviated" as in

To anticipate and dispose of effectively; render unnecessary.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/obviated [reference.com]

They're saying that the companies supporting Linux have enough of a patent library that should MS try to go after Linux, Microsoft will find itself in hot water.

Who, exactly, is the high school dropout?

Re:Obviated (2, Funny)

dcam (615646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944606)

Bill Gates. Oh wait, he was the college drop out...

wow... (4, Funny)

crankshot999 (975406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943400)

Microsoft is now so rich that they are trying to get rid of their money by trying (and soon enough failing) to sue linux.

Linux throwing chairs (5, Funny)

Tiger Smile (78220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943446)

When Linux started throwing chairs around the office like a spoiled child denied, then it crossed the patent line! Balmer is not amused!

Microsoft has a problem enforcing their patents. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943472)

There is a legal doctrine known as "unclean hands". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_hands [wikipedia.org] It means that a plaintiff who behaves in a certain way can not get certain legal remedies. The most they can expect is actual damages. What actual damage (other than loss of a sale) does it do to Microsoft if my use of Linux violates one of their patents? Almost none.

Any plaintiff has a duty to mitigate damages. A plaintiff who does not mitigate damages is coming to the court with unclean hands. Microsoft also has the problem that it is convicted on antitrust charges.

If Microsoft wanted to sue someone for violating one of its patents by using Linux, it should have done so a long time ago. All it has now is the weapon of every bully; intimidation.

On a side note, every time I have heard a company talk about monetizing its IP, it has nothing left. SCO is the classic case of that.

Re:Microsoft has a problem enforcing their patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944040)

Are you the same person that posted this [groklaw.net] ?

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944192)

Also the one below: "The desperate are clinging together"

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944256)

Glad to meet you fellow anonymous cross-poster. :)

Re:Microsoft has a problem enforcing their patents (1)

Dunkirk (238653) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944394)

Tell that to NTP, the company that successfully sued RIM, the makers of the Blackberry. They had an idea, and "squatted" on it. No, wait, they probably PATENTED the idea, squatted on it, waiting for someone else to bring it to market and be successful, then they probably tried to extort RIM, and, failing that, took it to the courts, and made out like bandits. It was basically a software patent. Latest estimates on how this will shake out put the award at one (1) BILLION dollars. So, yeah, they had nothing left, but it still worked out pretty well for them.

Re:Microsoft has a problem enforcing their patents (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945064)

And to cap the joke, NTP doesn't appear to have had a valid patent to complain about. That must have left all their lawyers rolling on the floor.

Re:Microsoft has a problem enforcing their patents (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945118)

I don't know; if you can prove that an actual sale was lost because somebody ripped off your product, I'd call that pretty significant damage. We're not talking about *potential* sales, but actually having sales abruptly drop off because somebody stole somebody else's idea. I'm not advocating the "I haven't actually implemented it, but I've THOUGHT about it," style of idea, of course.

Emotionalism (4, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943482)

one CIO who says 'There were some applications I had been thinking about moving to a Microsoft platform, but this has now totally alienated me from Microsoft.'"
Should someone who makes technology decisions based on his emotional reaction to Steve Balmer's FUD really be a CIO?

Re:Emotionalism (2, Informative)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943594)

Should someone who makes technology decisions based on his emotional reaction to Steve Balmer's FUD really be a CIO?

Who says it's emotional?
You can look at the "benefit" that is being reaped from this deal with Microsoft and say: "Do I really want my company to be assosciated with these guys? Can I trust them?"

Of course a decent CIO should know that you can't trust Microsoft at all. this should be obvious from all the charred, burned-out corpses of former Microsoft "partners" littering the IT landscape.

Re:Emotionalism (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943926)

Who says it's emotional?
He's not looking at the platform on its technical merits but on the hot air spit out by someone who's job is to spew hot air. It would be like choosing to run or not choosing to run Linux based on Linus statement that he thinks the BSD's are programed by morons. It has nothing to do with the ability of the platform

Of course a decent CIO should know that you can't trust Microsoft at all. this should be obvious from all the charred, burned-out corpses of former Microsoft "partners" littering the IT landscape.
There's a tiny difference between partnering with someone and simply using their product.

Re:Emotionalism (2, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944346)

He's not looking at the platform on its technical merits but on the hot air spit out by someone who's job is to spew hot air

Allow me to fix this for your...

He's not looking at the platform on its technical merits but at the threat of litigation posed by someone who's job is to administer the fortune of the largest software company on Earth.

Re:Emotionalism (1)

spwolfx (1029734) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943624)

you are right bro, i found it quite interesting... So he was about to port application to Windows, but MS statement turned him off.
I do hope that he doesnt work for company that has shareholders...

Re:Emotionalism (4, Insightful)

tsm_sf (545316) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943666)

It's not an "is this the best software package for our company right now" issue, it's an "is this vendor likely to fuck us over in the future" issue.

Re:Emotionalism (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943870)

...or Rationalism? Hmmmmm...?

I don't believe that the CIO in-question made that statement as a reaction to Steve's veiled threats, but rather to the overall gesture that the B-man and Microsoft have made to the community, market and industry as a whole.

This is my take on Steve's little escapade:

STEVE: Hey, you're shoes untied.
ME: They're z-straps! They don't come untied.
STEVE: Oh... huhehehhuh... I see now. [...] Hey, those are MY shoes!
ME: Huh? [looking down]
STEVE: Oooh! You looked! You looked! You gotta give me your shoes, now!
ME: What?!
STEVE: You looked. If you look, it means you thought they might be my shoes... so they're mine. Gimme!
ME: No.
STEVE: I'm gonna tell! I'm gonna tell everyone that you stole my shoes! (waaaaa-aaaaah!)

etc... etc...

So, the question is; do you take your business to a company—no matter how much leverage they have—being led by someone willing to make such a gesture?

I think that's what our CIO friend was really saying.

Re:Emotionalism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943890)

Decisions on technology aren't just on the merits of the underlying technology. (I'm a computer engineer and I hate having to say that.) Ballmer has just made it painfully clear that no matter what Microsoft's carefully orchestrated PR campaign says about being more open, they only intend their interoperable programs as trojan horses that will break compatibility in the future and give you the options of a) painstakingly pulling MS's barbs out of your infrastructure and migrate to another solution (that's probably following the standard to the letter while your code has become less so in the name of easing developer headaches [even though these developer headaches are because of bugs in MS's standards implementation they never fixed {ie: C++}]), at a huge cost of time and money, or b) switching to a full MS solution with a (pre-engineered) migration path already laid out for you with minimal time loss.

In the past, the business people would end up praising MS for such a quick and easy solution to their tech ills and will gladly be squeezed by them for license fees, even though they were the cause of the sickness to begin with! Only because Ballmer fumbled have people realized (only partially for most) that Microsoft is up to no good (always).

Decisions (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944418)

So you're saying that it's somehow a ... good idea to make long-term contracts with companies that are run by unstable lunatics like Ballmer? With companies that sic the BSA on their customers and sue them? That are circling the drain?

If anything, Steve Ballmer's behaviour is a great reason to avoid Microsoft. No one wants to be near a giant in its death throes. Would you go to the local cornerstore if you knew it was run by a paranoid schizophrenic that might put a couple of rounds of buckshot in your face if you walk into the store at the wrong moment?

Re:Emotionalism (1)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945120)

Should someone who makes technology decisions based on his emotional reaction to Steve Balmer's FUD really be a CIO?

Should someone as fucking emotionally reactive (and foul-mouthed) as Steve Ballmer really be a CEO?

Microsoft is in need of some big changes if it is going to survive the transition to Vista.

CIO's response is logical (4, Interesting)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943486)

Many CIO's probably did not realize the theoretical risks of using Linux prior to Ballmer's statement. I know I didn't. Unfortunately Ballmer was right to a degree ... and while CIO's and other tech professionals can deny the validity of his statement, it will be a matter for the courts to decide at some point.

Since most companies that use Linux typically have at least some Windows machines, Microsoft's perceived threat to either sue or enforce licenses for all Linux users was highly alienating and rather disrespectful of their customer base. 'What was he thinking' is right. A smart company woudn't form a half Billion dollar agreement then tell the target client base of the agreement that they're gonna be sued ... but then again, that's Microsoft's M.O. A monopoly in today's global regulatory environment takes an immensely powerful, and often ruthless, legal team. This is just Microsoft rattling that (hopefully unusable) saber ...

Re:CIO's response is logical (4, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943750)

while CIO's and other tech professionals can deny the validity of his statement, it will be a matter for the courts to decide at some point.

In theory... but in theory, Microsoft could patent swinging sideways on a tire swing and start suing kids on playgrounds. And kindergarden teachers can deny the validity of that statement, but it will be a matter for the courts to decide at some point.

Balmer is posturing. Microsoft's lawyers have assuredly already told the big hothead that there is slim to none chance that Microsoft could possibly win any such lawsuit. Why do we know that? Because they haven't sued anybody.

If MS thought it could have won such a lawsuit, it would have sued years ago, before or during the height of the SCO fiasco, when the public's perception that Linux might contain compromising intellectual property was strongest. They didn't, though, for all of their talk and FUD and veiled threats.

Think of what a successful MS lawsuit would have done to Linux market penetration, too. Even an unsuccessful, or settled lawsuit that dragged on long enough, would have sent CIOs and execs running scared from Linux... Right into the arms of Windows.

Even Balmer listens to his lawyers.

Re:CIO's response is logical (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944068)

Think of what a successful MS lawsuit would have done to Linux market penetration, too. Even an unsuccessful, or settled lawsuit that dragged on long enough, would have sent CIOs and execs running scared from Linux... Right into the arms of Windows.

The primary reason that didn't and won't happen is that one of the backers of Linux also happens to be the largest patent holder in the entire software sector (IBM). If Microsoft wants to bring a handful of patents to the war, IBM can roll out the machine guns. I guarantee you Microsoft and most other companies are infringing on one IBM patent or another.

Re:CIO's response is logical (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944138)

Think of what a successful MS lawsuit would have done to Linux market penetration, too
Actualy, that is the reason why Microsoft is NOT going to sue. They probably can sue, and win. But at what cost? They are a convicted monopoly. From a legal point of view, that is horrible for them. The best choice, economicaly speaking for them, is to keep Linux around, the same way they helped keep Macs around back then. What I'm getting at is, let say they sue for Linux, and let say they win. Big freagin woohoo. 2 days layer they get owned by the EU. Thats why they rather use FUD. It IS most likely true they can sue and would win. They want people to be afraid of it. They just won't tell anyone what they know damn well would happen after they win :)

Re:CIO's response is logical (1)

avdp (22065) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943820)

Well, I have news for you... That's the theoretical risk of using any software in a society where software patents for trivialities are handed out like hot cakes. It only takes one NTP-like(1) company on a nothing-to-loose suicide quest to have the balls to say Company X - I am going to sue you because you use Microsoft Office which has some of our patented technologies in it. Regardless of the merit of the case, and regardless of whether Microsoft might come and help you - it's going to cost you time and money to properly defend yourself.

(1) the IP company that nearly shutdown the entire Blackberry network a few months ago

Re:CIO's response is logical (1)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944090)

This is the third of your posts today that while having read half of it I was about to disagree with, when you turned the direction of your post completely around and made some insightful observations. Stop confusing me, man! ;)

Legal (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944540)

Is there such a thing as a legal team that isn't ruthless?

Seriously though, this is so true. The bigger an animal, the worse its death throes. It's not surprising that companies want to avoid being close to that. And a half-billion dollar contract is pretty fucking close.

I'll bet that Microsoft will pull something out of the bag and wind up a functional company again, but right now they're circling the drain.

To hell with them both. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943524)

At the company I work for, we've been using a mix of SuSE Linux (pre-Novell SuSE), FreeBSD, and Windows 2000 for years now. There's been some interest in upgrading some of the systems. It was suggested that the SuSE systems be upgraded to SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, and that the Windows 2000 systems be moved to Windows Server 2003.

Several days ago I had to submit a report to management regarding these proposed transitions. Put simply, I had to recommend against the use of the offerings from Novell and Microsoft. I don't feel that these companies are worth dealing with. Instead of putting money towards the development and improvement of their products, they've gotten themselves involved in this stupid deal. I'm sure a number of contract lawyers made quite a bit off of this arrangement. And for us, we don't need the uncertainty this deal brings.

I had to recommend that we migrate much of our corporate network to FreeBSD, with Solaris or Debian Linux being my second choices. Thankfully, we write most of our Windows software in-house using wxWidgets for the GUI and PostgreSQL as the relational database of choice, so the transition should go fairly well.

Re:To hell with them both. (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944482)

I had to recommend that we migrate much of our corporate network to FreeBSD, with Solaris or Debian Linux being my second choices. Thankfully, we write most of our Windows software in-house using wxWidgets for the GUI and PostgreSQL as the relational database of choice, so the transition should go fairly well.

Your well set to be free of M$ and Oracle. Well done.

Re:To hell with them both. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944886)

At the company I work for, we've been using a mix of SuSE Linux (pre-Novell SuSE), FreeBSD, and Windows 2000 for years now. There's been some interest in upgrading some of the systems. It was suggested that the SuSE systems be upgraded to SUSE Linux Enterprise 10, and that the Windows 2000 systems be moved to Windows Server 2003.

So your company has experience with SuSE and Windows. But you would squander all of that because of your own ill-conceived notions that Novell and Microsoft spend too much money on lawyers and not enough money on R&D.

You're an idiot.

There's no doubt that Linux violates patents (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943566)

that are in Microsoft's portfolio.. but 1) exactly which patents are these Microsoft? and 2) What are you gunna do about it? Nothin', that's what.

Re:There's no doubt that Linux violates patents (3, Interesting)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943788)

There's no doubt that Linux violates patents that are in Microsoft's portfolio
Actually, I think there's a shitload and a half of doubt. Especially that nobody's ever seen or given evidence of a *single* microsoft violation - and precious few violations of any sort. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'm not willing to SAY that there's never been one. Because as soon as I do, somebody's gonna post links pointing to them :-)

Patents (0)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944648)

I think the problem with Microsoft pointing out violations of their patents in Linux is that they would be simultaneously pointing out that many of their commercial competitors are also violating those patents. That would require them to sue those competitors, or else the patent would become invalid. Then the competitor can point out how Microsoft violates their patents.

It's like spraying poison to kill some insect. Sure, the targeted insect may die, but a lot of other things get poisoned too. Mice for instance. But mice have this nasty tendency to survive poisonings, eat up the poison, and become super toxic to their predators. The weasels, cats, owls, and snakes all die from eating toxic mice, and the mouse population explodes. So you've eliminated a moderately annoying insect and replaced it with a massive plague of toxic mice that are way worse than the insects ever were.

Re:Patents (2, Insightful)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944696)

I think the problem with Microsoft pointing out violations of their patents in Linux is that they would be simultaneously pointing out that many of their commercial competitors are also violating those patents. That would require them to sue those competitors, or else the patent would become invalid. Then the competitor can point out how Microsoft violates their patents.
I'm sorry, but I consider that to be a bit of a bogus argument.

If you don't intend to sue, or protect your IP, then it's just FUD. And to reiterate - as far as I know, nobody, anywhere, has pointed to a single example of a Microsoft patent being in Linux.

The only difference between Microsoft at this point and SCO is that Microsoft is trying to not have to spend a fortune on lawyers. But I think their claims are just as baseless.

Re:Patents (3, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945112)

That would require them to sue those competitors, or else the patent would become invalid.

Nope, that only applies to trademarks - defend them or lose them.

Patents and copyrights you can selectively enforce. Patent trolls frequently do this, going after the easily intimidated companies first to build up a warchest before tackling someone who is more likely to fight back. There are some limitations on damages if you can be shown to have known about the infringement for a while before suing, but that in no way invalidates the patent.

Re:There's no doubt that Linux violates patents (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945094)

Didn't MS get a patent on adding two numbers together in basic? I think Gambas violates that.

and... (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943810)

3) Are those patents actually valid? Or will they vanish when exposed to prior art?

Re:and... (2, Funny)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944176)

i would think its more of a burn to ash kind of thing like when Blade runs his sword through a vampire (or any of his other silver weapons)

Re:There's no doubt that Linux violates patents (1)

jlarocco (851450) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944454)

Escuse me? I'd be a lot more worried about closed source software being in violation of Microsoft's patents than anything open source. Open source projects are usually pretty careful about this kind of thing.

Anyone can view the source, so if there are violations, the patent holder doesn't even have to get a court order to check.

Second, quite a few closed source companies feel threatened by open source software. It's cheaper, and the quality is usually "good enough", or better than closed soure alternatives. So companies with patents have incentive to bury open source projects in litigation.

And, like somebody else said, if they were serious, Microsoft would be suing. There's really no point in fucking around and making threats. But since there are no patent violations, they're just trying to scare people into thinking there might be.

Threats and FUD can intimidate: Steve lip-farts (4, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943682)

Keep your matches away when he talks.

As clear as mud... (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943694)

The other shoe has dropped indeed.

Ballmer's remarks through this fiasco are evasive enough, but at least seem to be comprehensible. Bullying us into thinking, "OMG! If I use Linux, the MicroNazis will come to my door with a bill for such-a-bunch-a-dollars!" Please, Mr. B. The latest stats on school dropouts [slashdot.org] don't speak for all of us.

Speaking of dropouts, I peeked at this interview with Bill Gates [com.com] and-- is it just me, or does he not make a lick of sense? It's so filled with contra-semantics and double-speak that I can't make heads or tails of what he's really saying. If MS wants him to lead their projects, then they're being led by senility.

Now that the smoke is clearing, I can get behind Novell's take on this; inter-operability is the key to making everything work in the end. (stuff works... goo-ood.)

When it comes down to it, having a working PC, and having the stuff you need to work on a PC work, is what really matters.

Ballmer's little "made ya look!" trick has done nothing but cause a huge ruckus. It's as FUD as FUD can get.

I might even re-install OpenSuSE after all is said and done. (using Gnome this time)

it is good news for Open Source (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943700)

If you use ANY non-trivial piece of software, you are likely violating someone's patent in the USA. With open source software, if a patent violation is discovered (and it is not fundamental to computing), the code can quickly be rewritten to work differently. With non-open software, I doubt the re-writing could be done as quickly, and you would remain in violation longer.

Doesn't matter (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944128)

What happens if you discover that you've been infringing a patent for 6months+ and millions of people have downloaded the product? A commercial company would be able to just retroactively licence the IP and absorb the cost. Naturally you can't do that with OSS so legally speaking the makers are breaking the law as are all of its users. Releasing a patch that fixes it only prevents future charges being brought against you or lessens the infringement.

With OSS, as there is no option to purchase a licence you're relying on 'goodwill' of IP holders if something comes up that infringes on their properties. If Microsoft truely do have a big IP violation they have found in Linux then frankly, as long as they've initiate legal proceedings by the book the big linux distros would be in major trouble and it'd send huge ripples throughout the OSS community.

By the same token... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944340)

By the same token, if some corporate whistle blower were to come forward, and show that Microsoft has used even one small piece of GPL'ed code in it's Windows product, the entire product would then be bound by the GPL, and their entire monopoly would collapse. Given the number of times that MS has been caught committing acts of copyright violation in, or in the production of their OS, this does not seem to be completely unrealistic. This would put MS in major trouble and it'd send huge ripples throughout the closed source software community.

Novells patents are now void (2, Informative)

phrostie (121428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943736)

they list Novell as part of the OIN, but any patents that Novell has filed are now void because they have signed a promise not to sue.

Another confirmation about Mr. Ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16943842)

Mr. Ballmer seems to be incredibly stupid. I guess that he is little more than a boor who happened to be on the right place at the right time. I bet that MS's obnoxious image will change significantly once he and Mr. Gates (half gone, thank goodness) stop calling the shots in MS.

Re:Another confirmation about Mr. Ballmer (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944520)

Mr. Ballmer seems to be incredibly stupid. I guess that he is little more than a boor who happened to be on the right place at the right time. I bet that MS's obnoxious image will change significantly once he and Mr. Gates (half gone, thank goodness) stop calling the shots in MS.

I am sure Ballmer (or is that bomber) is getting paid well. The question is does he believe his BS.

It cuts the other way too! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16943916)

...They are not fooled -- but rather, a little angry. ComputerWorld covers the news including one CIO who says 'There were some applications I had been thinking about moving to a Microsoft platform, but this has now totally alienated me from Microsoft...(emphasis mine)

I guess it is also safe to say that there are those that have been totally alienated from Linux and are contemplating to moving to the Microsoft platform.

Re:It cuts the other way too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944290)

I guess it is also safe to say that there are those that have been totally alienated from Linux and are contemplating to moving to the Microsoft platform.


Thanks, Steve.

Eben Moglen on the Novell-Microsoft deal and GPLv3 (4, Informative)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944008)

Prof. Eben Moglen says that GPLv3 will prevent a user's loss of freedom [theregister.co.uk] in light of the details of the Novell-Microsoft deal. He also takes the open source movement's lack of focus on user's freedom to task by ignoring "the politics" of the situation, leaving it ripe for being moved closer to what proprietors want.

MS can just claim (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944036)

That Steve forgot to take his anti-psychotic medications that day.
Massive PR Damage - Undone!
Problem - Solved!

why hasn't anyone just found out for themselves? (2, Interesting)

daniel.ronin (910733) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944080)

It isn't that hard for someone to write a shell script that, oh say, spidered the USPTO for every patent microsoft has ever filed. I know for a fact that it is very possible, and out of the about 2000 of 5000 patents that I've seen downloaded from the database so far, I've seen some very frightening results. We're not simply talking patents on code, here people. It gets much much worse. Downright fucking scary even.

I'd gladly post the link to the USPTO for you all to see for yourselves, but I've been sworn to secrecy by my friend that wrote it, not to reveal or link the info on his site itself (because he's talking with some serious gurus about what can be done in the meantime)
Before everyone rallies the troops for a war against M$, it might be wise to learn what they have up their sleeve. Otherwise we might be leading the penguins to the slaughter, and that might be exactly what they're counting on. The information IS available to anyone with enough shell scripting know-how. Find out everything you can before you make an uninformed plan of action, because this has huge implications.

I'm not saying anyone's right or wrong so far, I'm advocating knowledge of fact. Take the time and find out for yourselves. Why speculate when you can know?

Re:why hasn't anyone just found out for themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944524)

I'd imagine that there's a number of patents that Microsoft controls that were actually filed by companies they bought out; so just searching for Microsoft "innovations" is probably not enough.

Re:why hasn't anyone just found out for themselves (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944558)

Before everyone rallies the troops for a war against M$, it might be wise to learn what they have up their sleeve.

Name me one top of the heap tech company that has stayed there? M$ does not need Linux to take it down, it is doing quite a good job all by itself.

Re:why hasn't anyone just found out for themselves (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944566)

Do you know what Senator McCarthy was holding in his hands when he made his famous speech about knowing exactly which members of Congress were "card-holding Communists"? His shopping list. In other words he had nothing except for the desire to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

This holds true for what Steve Ballmer said (although realistically such discovery is certainly inappropriate during an interview,) and it holds true for your pointless diatribe. If you've got the goods then ante up. Otherwise, shut the fuck up and sit the fuck down.

It's frustration talking (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944178)

And the way they've been executing on the corporate level the last few years they'd probably screw it up anyway. MSFT is way overdue for a change at the top. The only reason he's been able to hang on for so long is that, up to now, MSFT has been able to paper their mistakes with money. But that margin will get squeezed going forward. And if the OEM's start offering a choice, they'll go downhill in a hurry.

It's going to take something big to get Steveo booted out of there, something massively bad. He's not going to get the hint and leave before the company gets dragged down to pathetic mediocrity. Not that it's a long trip from where they are today. ;)

Re:It's frustration talking (2, Insightful)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945138)

Wouldn't mediocrity be an improvement?

This is going to backfire on Novell (1)

rainhill (86347) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944194)

This deal is going to backfire on Novell, this, no doubt will cost them dearly sooner or later, but I guess thats for another Novell CEO to deal with.

Re:This is going to backfire on Novell (1)

Duggeek (1015705) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944486)

Do you know something we don't? Is Hovsepian [novell.com] going to resign anytime soon?

In the meantime, Novell has netted 400 mega-bills on the deal. Are you saying that's bad for business?

The only thing worse than mega-corp FUD is when the community piles despair on top of it.

They'll hang in there. They've been through worse [wikipedia.org] .

After all, there's no such thing as bad publicity!

This is only logical (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944318)

In any battle where goliath is predicted to fall, there has to be a point where the goliath tries to fight harder, and dirtier than before. MS has nothing to lose by 'seeming' to be more open and more F/OSS friendly, and they have everything to gain, including hearts and minds.

The problem is that when it comes to patents, everyone, including the USPTO is looking at them more skeptically. Look at what the final outcome of this could or should be; MS looks better than before the situation, or MS gains credit with people who pay real money for MS products. MS currently doesn't have too many worries about home users switching to Linux. Its businesses and governments and educational institutions that MS has to keep on board the MS wagon. By acting open, or F/OSS friendly, they get to keep customers that were wavering... that can be billions of dollars per year. By actually pulling this off, they do more than keep money, they harm their competition in terms of market share. Every battle is not won simply on brute force, but often on preventing such force from being brought to bear against you.

The trouble here is that nobody on /. or any blog has a clue what was really said in the boardrooms, on guessing based on historically valid impressions. The end value of any of this posturing is that one side or the other will seem more valid, more honest, more useful for doing business with...

Ballmer is a greed zealot (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16944396)

Which is why we need people like RMS, to balance people like Ballmer.

Two wrongs don't make a right (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944996)

Which is why we need people like RMS, to balance people like Ballmer.

No. They're both wrong, they're both unbalanced, they're both divisive, and they're both destructive.

In terms of what the FSF started out as being, I might have agreed with you. Stallman however in recent years has, to paraphrase Castro, "betrayed the revolution." As such, he is no longer part of the solution...and he may yet have the potential to do just as much damage as Microsoft themselves.

Somebody call SCO... (5, Funny)

tclark (140640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944820)

It looks like Microsoft is infringing on their "using bogus lawsuit threats to spread FUD" patent.

The missing link (2, Informative)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945018)

Portions of Microsoft's response quoted on groklaw [groklaw.net] and David Berlind's blog. [zdnet.com]

This is part of Microsoft's DNA (5, Interesting)

surfdaddy (930829) | more than 7 years ago | (#16945042)

Microsoft has dropped to a new low. What of substance has Microsoft invented anytime lately? Perhaps the XBox. They've been riding their early entry into the PC market for 20 years. Their software is nothing great, and their entire growth M.O. is to shut out competition by virtue of their monopoly on the Windows OS. They are scared shitless that Linux is going to eventually kill much of their business.

Microsoft did this to Netscape. They tried to kill Apple years ago and only let Apple survive to prove that they were not monopolists. They funded SCO through a back door third company in their lawsuit against Linux. Now that that has failed, Microsoft is going directly against Linux. In the meantime, very little innovation has been realized from the massive profits that the company generates. Contrast with Apple. They first popularized the GUI. The 3.5 inch floppy. SCSI. PDA (Newton). Built-in networking. Hyperlinking. MP3 player with integrated software on the computer/synchronization paradigm. And they've translated their entire operating system and hardware line into a new technical architecture in less than half the time Microsoft has needed to upgrade their piss poor OS to a newer resource hogging OS with few significantly newer features.

What is so funny is that Microsoft coming out with the Zune! They see Apple with a big new music market. Microsoft wants a piece of this action! And they are going to fail, because Apple has a huge ecosystem of hardware, software, accessories, and ever car makers putting iPod interfaces in! Did you see that even the airlines are working on iPod interfaces for power, audio, and video in their airplanes?! Hahaha to Microsoft - Apple is doing the same thing to Microsoft that Microsoft has done to them in the PC OS! And I'm glad!

So I'm not usually highly emotional about these things, but Microsoft is scum! Microsoft - up yours!

Dante's Inferno (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16945104)

Like in Dante's Inferno there is a special ring of Hell for people like Balmer.
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