Microsoft takes on the free world


M

MICHAEL

http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fort...28/100033867/index.htm?postversion=2007051405
Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America,
violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you,
maybe. Fortune's Roger Parloff reports.

<quote>
(Fortune Magazine) -- Free software is great, and corporate America loves it. It's often
high-quality stuff that can be downloaded free off the Internet and then copied at will. It's
versatile - it can be customized to perform almost any large-scale computing task - and it's
blessedly crash-resistant.

A broad community of developers, from individuals to large companies like IBM, is constantly
working to improve it and introduce new features. No wonder the business world has embraced it
so enthusiastically: More than half the companies in the Fortune 500 are thought to be using
the free operating system Linux in their data centers.

But now there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it's being cast by
Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500). The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is
of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents. And as a mature
company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google (Charts, Fortune
500), Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free
software won't be free anymore.

The conflict pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the "free world" -
people who believe software is pure knowledge. The leader of that faction is Richard Matthew
Stallman, a computer visionary with the look and the intransigence of an Old Testament prophet.

Caught in the middle are big corporate Linux users like Wal-Mart, AIG, and Goldman Sachs.
Free-worlders say that if Microsoft prevails, the whole quirky ecosystem that produced Linux
and other free and open-source software (FOSS) will be undermined.

Microsoft counters that it is a matter of principle. "We live in a world where we honor, and
support the honoring of, intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are
going to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists. "What's fair
is fair."

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with
Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties. Revealing
the precise figure for the first time, they state that FOSS infringes on no fewer than 235
Microsoft patents.

It's a breathtaking number. (By comparison, for instance, Verizon's (Charts, Fortune 500)
patent suit against Vonage (Charts), which now threatens to bankrupt the latter, was based on
just seven patents, of which only three were found to be infringing.) "This is not a case of
some accidental, unknowing infringement," Gutierrez asserts. "There is an overwhelming number
of patents being infringed."

The free world appears to be uncowed by Microsoft's claims. Its master legal strategist is Eben
Moglen, longtime counsel to the Free Software Foundation and the head of the Software Freedom
Law Center, which counsels FOSS projects on how to protect themselves from patent aggression.
(He's also a professor on leave from Columbia Law School, where he teaches cyberlaw and the
history of political economy.)

Moglen contends that software is a mathematical algorithm and, as such, not patentable. (The
Supreme Court has never expressly ruled on the question.) In any case, the fact that Microsoft
might possess many relevant patents doesn't impress him. "Numbers aren't where the action is,"
he says. "The action is in very tight qualitative analysis of individual situations." Patents
can be invalidated in court on numerous grounds, he observes. Others can easily be "invented
around." Still others might be valid, yet not infringed under the particular circumstances.

Moglen's hand got stronger just last month when the Supreme Court stated in a unanimous opinion
that patents have been issued too readily for the past two decades, and lots are probably
invalid. For a variety of technical reasons, many dispassionate observers suspect that software
patents are especially vulnerable to court challenge.

Furthermore, FOSS has powerful corporate patrons and allies. In 2005, six of them - IBM
(Charts, Fortune 500), Sony, Philips, Novell, Red Hat (Charts) and NEC - set up the Open
Invention Network to acquire a portfolio of patents that might pose problems for companies like
Microsoft, which are known to pose a patent threat to Linux.

continued....
</quote>
 
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J

john

But now there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and
it's being cast by
Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500). The Redmond behemoth asserts that one
reason free software is
of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's
patents. And as a mature
company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like
Google (Charts, Fortune
500), Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company
gets its way, free
software won't be free anymore.

The conflict pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the
"free world" -
people who believe software is pure knowledge. The leader of that faction
is Richard Matthew
Stallman, a computer visionary with the look and the intransigence of an
Old Testament prophet.<snip>

yea, we all know how innovative MS is, they just want to protect their ideas
& intellectual property.

like this:
 
F

Frank

MICHAEL said:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fort...28/100033867/index.htm?postversion=2007051405
Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America,
violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you,
maybe. Fortune's Roger Parloff reports.

<quote>
(Fortune Magazine) -- Free software is great, and corporate America loves it. It's often
high-quality stuff that can be downloaded free off the Internet and then copied at will. It's
versatile - it can be customized to perform almost any large-scale computing task - and it's
blessedly crash-resistant.

A broad community of developers, from individuals to large companies like IBM, is constantly
working to improve it and introduce new features. No wonder the business world has embraced it
so enthusiastically: More than half the companies in the Fortune 500 are thought to be using
the free operating system Linux in their data centers.

But now there's a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it's being cast by
Microsoft (Charts, Fortune 500). The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is
of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft's patents. And as a mature
company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google (Charts, Fortune
500), Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free
software won't be free anymore.

The conflict pits Microsoft and its dogged CEO, Steve Ballmer, against the "free world" -
people who believe software is pure knowledge. The leader of that faction is Richard Matthew
Stallman, a computer visionary with the look and the intransigence of an Old Testament prophet.

Caught in the middle are big corporate Linux users like Wal-Mart, AIG, and Goldman Sachs.
Free-worlders say that if Microsoft prevails, the whole quirky ecosystem that produced Linux
and other free and open-source software (FOSS) will be undermined.

Microsoft counters that it is a matter of principle. "We live in a world where we honor, and
support the honoring of, intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are
going to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists. "What's fair
is fair."

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez sat down with
Fortune recently to map out their strategy for getting FOSS users to pay royalties. Revealing
the precise figure for the first time, they state that FOSS infringes on no fewer than 235
Microsoft patents.

It's a breathtaking number. (By comparison, for instance, Verizon's (Charts, Fortune 500)
patent suit against Vonage (Charts), which now threatens to bankrupt the latter, was based on
just seven patents, of which only three were found to be infringing.) "This is not a case of
some accidental, unknowing infringement," Gutierrez asserts. "There is an overwhelming number
of patents being infringed."

The free world appears to be uncowed by Microsoft's claims. Its master legal strategist is Eben
Moglen, longtime counsel to the Free Software Foundation and the head of the Software Freedom
Law Center, which counsels FOSS projects on how to protect themselves from patent aggression.
(He's also a professor on leave from Columbia Law School, where he teaches cyberlaw and the
history of political economy.)

Moglen contends that software is a mathematical algorithm and, as such, not patentable. (The
Supreme Court has never expressly ruled on the question.) In any case, the fact that Microsoft
might possess many relevant patents doesn't impress him. "Numbers aren't where the action is,"
he says. "The action is in very tight qualitative analysis of individual situations." Patents
can be invalidated in court on numerous grounds, he observes. Others can easily be "invented
around." Still others might be valid, yet not infringed under the particular circumstances.

Moglen's hand got stronger just last month when the Supreme Court stated in a unanimous opinion
that patents have been issued too readily for the past two decades, and lots are probably
invalid. For a variety of technical reasons, many dispassionate observers suspect that software
patents are especially vulnerable to court challenge.

Furthermore, FOSS has powerful corporate patrons and allies. In 2005, six of them - IBM
(Charts, Fortune 500), Sony, Philips, Novell, Red Hat (Charts) and NEC - set up the Open
Invention Network to acquire a portfolio of patents that might pose problems for companies like
Microsoft, which are known to pose a patent threat to Linux.

continued....
</quote>

So the chicken are finally coming home to roost. Who would of thunk such
a thing could happen when LT was reverse engineering Unix so he didn't
have to pay for it.
My, my.
Frank
 
D

Dale White

Not to be a Microsoft hater, but...

"We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of,
intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are going
to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists.
"What's fair is fair."

That really seems like the pot calling the kettle black. How many lawsuits
has Microsoft been in (and lost a few) for less than honorable behavior ?

It would sure give the impression that they realize they are losing market
share and can't handle it. Instead of releasing superior products (namely on
the server side) they simple take the easy route and try to kill the
competition off, it's why I'm not the Microsoft fanboi I was 10 years ago.
 
F

Frank

Dale said:
Not to be a Microsoft hater, but...

"We live in a world where we honor, and support the honoring of,
intellectual property," says Ballmer in an interview. FOSS patrons are going
to have to "play by the same rules as the rest of the business," he insists.
"What's fair is fair."

That really seems like the pot calling the kettle black. How many lawsuits
has Microsoft been in (and lost a few) for less than honorable behavior ?

It would sure give the impression that they realize they are losing market
share and can't handle it. Instead of releasing superior products (namely on
the server side) they simple take the easy route and try to kill the
competition off, it's why I'm not the Microsoft fanboi I was 10 years ago.
Sure...IBM is such an "honorable" company. They've never been sued by
other companies nor by governments for misuse of monopoly power.
Get serious!
Frank
 
D

Dale White

Sure...IBM is such an "honorable" company. They've never been sued by
other companies nor by governments for misuse of monopoly power.
Get serious!
Frank

Where did I mention IBM ? I was more referring to the Java suit and the IE
suit, and the EU's view of Microsoft and why there is a N version of
windows.

I don't hate Microsoft for being a monopoly, I hate that there is a
monopoly. To give that PR lecture about being a company of Honor and doing
the honorable thing, well that just seems a little hypocritical given their
very colorful history of Embracing, Extending and Exterminating
 
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J

Justin

Dale White said:
Where did I mention IBM ? I was more referring to the Java suit and the
IE suit, and the EU's view of Microsoft and why there is a N version of
windows.

I don't hate Microsoft for being a monopoly, I hate that there is a
monopoly. To give that PR lecture about being a company of Honor and doing
the honorable thing, well that just seems a little hypocritical given
their very colorful history of Embracing, Extending and Exterminating

"Microsoft a monopoly". In general how is that true if businesses and
consumers have other viable choices?
 
N

Nina DiBoy

john said:
yea, we all know how innovative MS is, they just want to protect their ideas
& intellectual property.

like this:

Excellent point. MS doesn't innovate and hasn't for years. They are
one of the biggest patent trolls who have heavily contributed to the yet
to be demise of the current patent and copyright system. Now it needs
reform bad!

--
Priceless quotes in m.p.w.vista.general group:
http://protectfreedom.tripod.com/kick.html

Most recent idiotic quote added to KICK (Klassic Idiotic Caption Kooks):
"Very simple Nothing I like better than insulting Linsux losers, fanboys
and trolls like you."

"Good poets borrow; great poets steal."
- T. S. Eliot
 
F

Frank

Dale said:
Where did I mention IBM ? I was more referring to the Java suit and the IE
suit, and the EU's view of Microsoft and why there is a N version of
windows.

I don't hate Microsoft for being a monopoly, I hate that there is a
monopoly. To give that PR lecture about being a company of Honor and doing
the honorable thing, well that just seems a little hypocritical given their
very colorful history of Embracing, Extending and Exterminating

The antitrust (monopoly) lawsuit against IBM lasted for years (decades?)
and preceded the one against MS.
Many large companies are routinely sued for antitrust violations while
their PR firms tout them as "benevolent" corps.
Frank
 
J

john

Justin said:
<snip>
"Microsoft a monopoly". In general how is that true if businesses and
consumers have other viable choices?

Such as?
MS currently controls about 93% of the desktop OS market.

So... you won't consider MS a monopoly until when? until they've acheived
95%? 98%?
Oh OK, that clears it up...

Primary characteristics of a monopoly
a.. Single Seller: For a pure monopoly to take place, only one company can
be selling the good. A company can have a monopoly on certain goods and not
on other goods.
b.. No close substitutes: Monopoly is not merely the state of having a
unique or recognizable product, but also that there are no close substitutes
available for the function the good fills.
c.. Price maker: Because a single firm controls the total supply in a pure
monopoly, it is able to exert a significant degree of control over the price
by changing the quantity supplied.
d.. Significant Barrier of Entry: In a monopoly, it is usually harder for
other firms to get into the industry to provide the same goods or services
as the company who is already the dominant firm of the industry.


-- hell, even monkeyboy Ballmer loves to play semantics:
=======================================
"We don't have a monopoly. We have market share. There's a difference."
- Steve Ballmer
=======================================
 
J

john

Justin said:
"Microsoft a monopoly". In general how is that true if businesses and
consumers have other viable choices?

from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly#Primary_characteristics_of_a_monopoly

==========
Monopoly and efficiency
According to standard economic theory (see analysis above), a monopoly will
sell a lower quantity of goods at a higher price than firms would in a
purely competitive market. In this way the monopoly will secure monopoly
profits by appropriating some or all of the consumer surplus: although the
higher price deters some consumers from purchasing, most are willing to pay
the higher price. Assuming that costs stay the same, this does not lead to
an outcome that is inefficient in the sense of Pareto efficiency; no one
could be made better off by shifting resources without making someone else
worse off. However, overall social welfare declines, because some consumers
must choose second-best products.

It is often argued that monopolies tend to become less efficient and
innovative over time, becoming "complacent giants", because they do not have
to be efficient or innovative to compete in the marketplace. Sometimes this
very loss of efficiency can raise a potential competitor's value enough to
overcome market entry barriers, or provide incentive for research and
investment into new alternatives. The theory of contestable markets argues
that in some circumstances (private) monopolies are forced to behave as if
there were competition because of the risk of losing their monopoly to new
entrants. This is likely to happen where a market's barriers to entry are
low. It might also be because of the availability in the longer term of
substitutes in other markets. For example, a canal monopoly, while worth a
great deal in the late eighteenth century United Kingdom, was worth much
less in the late nineteenth century because of the introduction of railways
as a substitute.

==========

"...a monopoly will sell a lower quantity of goods at a higher price than
firms would in a purely competitive market..."

"...It is often argued that monopolies tend to become less efficient and
innovative over time, becoming "complacent giants", because they do not have
to be efficient or innovative to compete in the marketplace. ..."

Sure sounds like Microsoft is a monopoly to me, by the above
definition....--
=======================================
MonkeyBoy says:
"I don't know what a monopoly is until somebody tells me."
- Steve Ballmer

(maybe someone should explain it to him then...)
=======================================
 
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R

Richard Urban

If Microsoft did not innovate, Vista would be "EXACTLY* the same as Windows
XP. It isn't!

I am not saying it is better or worse. I am just stating what you, so
obviously, miss.

--


Regards,

Richard Urban
Microsoft MVP Windows Shell/User
(For email, remove the obvious from my address)

Quote from George Ankner:
If you knew as much as you think you know,
You would realize that you don't know what you thought you knew!
 
D

Dale White

I don't care so much about who gets sued. But when you get sued and lose and
lose repeatedly (though not every time) I think that speaks to the character
of the company. The last I read, the EU is still complaining that Microsoft
is not following the rules of the last settlement. If Microsoft really
really was such a honorable company, they wouldn't need to walk the line,
the would be praised for going one step farther than necessary.

When I was a Microsoft fanboi, I believe that Microsoft would change it's
ways and would actually start doing what was right. Though this is from the
Inquirer and a couple of years old, it still says alot about Microsoft
http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=24621

9 Billion dollars in lawsuit settlements, it sure seems like they could have
avoided alot of that, if they really were a company of honor and doing what
was right.
 
J

Justin

Nina DiBoy said:
MS doesn't innovate and hasn't for years.

I disagree. The new System Center tools will make my work life much easier.
I'm starting with System Center Essentials as I don't need another OS
roll-out solution so this smaller all-in-one model will work out best until
we need the bigger father solution later.

I find this software to be VERY innovative.
 
D

Doris Day - MFB

Frank wrote:

Sure...IBM is such an "honorable" company. They've never been sued by
other companies nor by governments for misuse of monopoly power.
Get serious!
Frank

This move by MickeyMouse can certainly open up an interesting can of worms.
IP (intellectual property rights) is just so much bullshit. Nothing done
today hasn't been built on the intellectual knowledge that preceded it. IBM
holds the most patents of any company in the IT world. So if Microsoft
wants to assert it's IP rights, take a deep breathe and wait for IBM to
start exerting its patents. The whole software industry will be thrown into
total chaos and the lawyers will fight it out for decades. :)

Love and Kisses,
Doris

PS. Dr. Frank ... some snipping of quotes would help. <snort>
 
D

Doris Day - MFB

Justin said:
"Microsoft a monopoly". In general how is that true if businesses and
consumers have other viable choices?

Essentially the main determination was due to the tie in that Microsoft was
able to impose on its customers. They provided the operating system and
then purposely used it to both bundle a web browser that was totally tied
into that system along with refusing to provide enough information on the
inner workings of Windows to allow competitors like RealNetworks to build
an alternative.

Love and Kisses,
Doris
 
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D

Doris Day - MFB

Frank wrote:

So the chicken are finally coming home to roost. Who would of thunk such
a thing could happen when LT was reverse engineering Unix so he didn't
have to pay for it.
My, my.
Frank

Frankie dear, you're totally out to lunch on this one. MickeyMouse doesn't
hold a patent on Unix. SCO with the financial backing of MickeyMouse tried
to make the case that it did and Linux was abusing their patents. After
many years in the courts, SCO's case has essentially fallen apart. <snort>

Love and Kisses,
Doris

PS ... Dr. Frank, learn how to do some snipping besides the <snort>ing
you're already famous for.
 
J

Justin

john said:
Such as?
MS currently controls about 93% of the desktop OS market.

Whose fault is that? Linux and OSX are viable choices. They simply lack in
function.

In addition, the desktop market is not the only thing MS deals with.

Now for all the trolls who want to argue that OSX and Linux do not lack in
function, please note you will only enforce the fact that MS is NOT a
monopoly by doing as such. I believe you call that CHECK-MATE.
So... you won't consider MS a monopoly until when? until they've acheived
95%? 98%?

100% should do it.

Oh OK, that clears it up... Ok?

Primary characteristics of a monopoly
a.. Single Seller: For a pure monopoly to take place, only one company
can be selling the good. A company can have a monopoly on certain goods
and not on other goods.

This hasn't happened.
b.. No close substitutes: Monopoly is not merely the state of having a
unique or recognizable product, but also that there are no close
substitutes available for the function the good fills.

There are plenty of close substitutes.
c.. Price maker: Because a single firm controls the total supply in a
pure monopoly, it is able to exert a significant degree of control over
the price by changing the quantity supplied.

Funny! I'll play with this one. According to alias, Vista costs $800 USD.
So that makes Vista the most expensive OS on the market.

However, I can't escape reality. Vista has a price. Does OSX? Either way
Linux being FREE is a clear example of MS NOT taking advantage of this one.
d.. Significant Barrier of Entry: In a monopoly, it is usually harder for
other firms to get into the industry to provide the same goods or services
as the company who is already the dominant firm of the industry.

This doesn't hold true either. In fact multi-platform is becoming the norm.
 
N

Nina DiBoy

Richard said:
If Microsoft did not innovate, Vista would be "EXACTLY* the same as
Windows XP. It isn't!

I am not saying it is better or worse. I am just stating what you, so
obviously, miss.

At the moment, I'm not saying it's better or worse either. I'm saying
that most of the recent technologies that MS has released in the past
few years are from other smaller companies they have bought, then just
rebranded the software. Or imitate the UI features from competitors
(Visual Interface Similar To Apple), or imitate features of the security
model of more secure products (such as *.nix OSes).

--
Priceless quotes in m.p.w.vista.general group:
http://protectfreedom.tripod.com/kick.html

Most recent idiotic quote added to KICK (Klassic Idiotic Caption Kooks):
"Very simple Nothing I like better than insulting Linsux losers, fanboys
and trolls like you."

"Good poets borrow; great poets steal."
- T. S. Eliot
 
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D

Doris Day - MFB

Richard said:
If Microsoft did not innovate, Vista would be "EXACTLY* the same as
Windows XP. It isn't!
If you call "innovate" the same thing as purchasing companies that have
created innovative products, then you could call Microsoft an innovator.
But that's a stretch. Not much innovation has come out of Microsoft in a
long time, other than the innovations they've managed to purchase.

Love and Kisses,
Doris
 

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