Now That's More Like The Microsoft We Know

from the hatin'-linux dept

A lot of people were initially surprised by Microsoft’s deal with Novell that effectively admitted that some companies might actually want to use Linux. However, in the days following the deal, as more people dissected it, they began to realize that perhaps it was a trojan horse. While it “protected” users of Suse Linux, many people pointed out that suggested that Microsoft might believe that users of any other Linux were open to a lawsuit. Of course, it didn’t take long for Steve Ballmer to confirm this for everyone. In a recent talk, he clearly stated that he believes Microsoft owns intellectual property that is in Linux. Microsoft has hinted at this in the past, so it’s really not a huge surprise — but if he’s going to say such things, he ought to back it up by actually showing what’s infringing or filing a lawsuit. Otherwise it’s idle talk. And, paying someone else to make the same claims doesn’t really count. Either way, for a news story that originally came out as Microsoft becoming more friendly with Linux, it’s certainly turned 180 degrees pretty fast.


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Comments on “Now That's More Like The Microsoft We Know”

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32 Comments
googly_eyes says:

Re: Ummm no

It has nothing to do with pirating – it has to do with patent violation and being an accessory after the fact.

Microsoft *could* sue you, the good little user, but unless you have deep pockets, the likelihood is low. But it is still a threat.

Perhaps they should do a deal with the xxAA and get them to expand their blackmail lawsuits to cover Linux/FOSS users. The machinery is in place…

If ever anyone doubted that M$ was an evil empire run by power hungry and greedy people, I beg of you, open your eyes and see the truth…..

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: DUH!

No, the scary part is that Microsoft has enough money to drag down every Linux enterprise for years, or start paying them all off like they did Novell. The good news is that they’d be taking on the likes of Oracle and IBM.

How ironic that Big Blue could end up being the “underdog” against Microsoft in this deal. At least you can compliment Steve “MonkeyBoy” Ballmer for no longer pretending that Microsoft is going to continue trying to compete on quality or technology. At least he’s now willing enough to be just transparent enough to let people know (or at least fear) that he will start trying to use the legal system do accomplish what years of massive, bloated, (and often failed) projects and billions in marketing spending could not.

I’m afraid this is an opening salvo of a war that will go on for the next decade or more. Microsoft has realized that they can’t compete with, and never will be able to compete with, OSS, and after a years long campaign of FUD, it is time to heat up the Cold War. Microsoft has realized that they are no longer the “IBM” of software and that a critical mass is being reached in the consciousness of the public that Microsoft is not the be-all and end-all of software, which can (and in fact is) much more flexible and cheaper than Microsoft would have us believe. The public consciousness is starting to be affected by the idea that software development can be a tool to benefit everyone, rather than a necessary evil of modern life that only enriches a group of single-minded, arrogant and perhaps corrupt executives. Microsoft is afraid that people are beginning to realize that their computers can work for them rather than the other way around, which is what it always was in the past.

Firefox has gained a lot of public mindshare, and the public is starting to learn that OSS can do things Microsoft with all its billions and its army of software engineers led by ineffectual middle-management suckups can’t. Microsoft would like us to forget the good old days, where one really smart guy, or a small number of really smart guys, can change the world.

Microsoft wants you to live in the software equivalent of North Korea, where everyone is imprisoned (i.e., locked into their software) and starving (for quality, functionality and security) but Microsoft rules supreme, and you can either pay their price, march to their tune or simply do without, locked in a gulag of alternative technology with which MS refuses to interoperate.

But lucky for us, the users and independent software developers and companies devoted to contributing to OSS have power that the poor, oppressed North Koreans can only dream about. We do have a choice, and it’s possible to break free of the Microsoft chains when you want to. I’m not opposed to using MS software, some of which is good, particularly Windows 2000, but in other cases (like Word) it is a nightmare of bugs and poor usability that decimates productivity for the sole reason of “everyone else uses it”. In the case of Word, I recently learned that Restructured Text allows me to create documentation about three times faster than with Word, is far more flexible, and doesn’t require hours upon hours to achieve consistently good-looking output on Web pages, PDF’s or any other format. I have become an evangelist for its use at the place I work, but have been warned against disrupting the political correctness of the cult of Microsoft.

Unfortunately, Microsoft also has power, much in the same way as Kim Jong Il: an army of lawyers, prisons of DRM, EULA’s that absolve them of any defect, no matter how severe, a nuclear arsenal of billions of dollars and the corruption of a U.S.-government-sanctioned monopoly status (i.e. convicted but never really punished).

It’s going to be a long war against a ruthless enemy (gee I sound like a representative of President Bush). Of course, unlike the “war on Terrorism” this enemy isn’t always evil, but it is committed to domination over us nonetheless, and if there’s any chance of striking a blow against the corporatocracy that America, and the rest of the world, is coming to, this could be no less than the “shot heard ’round the world.”

Let’s make sure what gets heard is the shot of independence, creativity and true innovation. Let’s make sure the shot that gets heard is that computers and software, rather than the users, are the tools. Let’s make sure that the shot gets heard that big ideas, hard work, creativity, and true freedom can still win over lawyers, guns and money.

Anthony Papillion (user link) says:

Re: DUH!

Actually, the scary part is that Novell was stupid enough to make this deal in the first place. Who is stupid enough to believe that a sworn enemy of your entire philosophy who’s spread lies, rumors, and FUD, about you for years has suddenly turned around and wants a warm, cuddly, relationship? Novell went for a money grab and it’s going to come back and bite them on the butt.

Anonymous Coward says:

If they beleive M$ code is in Linux...

they should have already pointed it out. It’s not like they have to go court to get code from Linux, they just need to download it.

I’m doubting their claims of M$ code in Linux and believe its just an idle threat that they can’t backup in court but can make the business managers wonder and worry.

Haven’t the Linux communities in the past asked M$ what parts of Linux infringes on M$ code? If this has been done and M$ now decides to go to court, the courts might not look favorably on their actions since it can be pointed out that people were trying to find out what code was infringing and M$ wouldn’t comply. The courts might even say M$ gave up their right to sue because of the fact Linux users were seeking information about infringing code from M$ in the past and M$ didn’t comply and/or weren’t worried about it at that time.

ConceptJunkie (profile) says:

Re: If they beleive M$ code is in Linux...

The thing is, if MS tips their hand to early, it will be a fairly simple matter for the offending code to be removed from Linux, and then we’d have, say, a 2.8 Linux kernel against which MS has no patent claims. Of course, they can drag this fight out for years, and whether or not their patent claims are legitimate won’t really matter. Besides, the fact that you can patent virtually anything imaginable will allow MS to patent (after the fact if necessary) some feature used by Linux, OSX or anything else, and simply bleed its victims dry regardless of the existence of prior art or anything else that would prevent their winning in a fair world.

I see this as the gauntless being thrown down. I see this as an admission that MS isn’t going to even pretend they can or are going to compete. I see this as the true test of whether or not the United States, and the rest of the world, has become a corporatocracy, or whether the Rule of Law still has any power left.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Biggest Crime of All...

For many companies planning to implement a new system there is one major choice to be made; Windows or Linux. Both have pro’s and con’s. However, with these baseless comments from M$, the potential future lawsuits would count heavily against Linux. After all, who wants to be forced by a court to remove a well ‘bedded-in’ OS after 1 or 2 years. It may require hugely expensive code re-writes and hours/days of down-time. This uncertainty alone will ensure M$ sell a lot more copies of Windows.

Simply having these comments floating in the ether will be very profitable for M$. To take it to court would remove this profitability as either the Linux code would be found in breach of copyright and changed or M$ would have to back down and concede that Linux is free of M$ IP.

Not going to court (and backing-up their claims) is by far the best option for M$.

Some Jerk says:

Re-read Ballmer’s original quote. He never said MS technology is in Linux and that it is infringing. He only recognized that there are customers worried about it and looking for indemnification, and this is a way to offer that.

I also got the sense that this allows MS to innovate interoperability components on the Windows AND Linux side, without infringing on the GPL and without having Linux users worry about whether they can legally use or interact with it.

I think it’s hilarious how everyone is overreacting to one sentence, miscontrued, to make MS look like SCO. If Ballmer thinks there’s MS technology in Linux he would have said so, and he didn’t. Period.

Jonathan says:

Re: Re:

Quote: “Re-read Ballmer’s original quote. He never said MS technology is in Linux and that it is infringing. “

Steve-o couldn’t have been clearer when he stated: Linux “uses our intellectual property”.

Whether you agree with what Ballmer said or not, don’t disregard everything but a single sentence then accuse people of misconstruing and hilariously overreacting.

Maybe Ballmer truly thinks that Linux contains MS IP, maybe he doesn’t but uses the threat as a weapon, wither way, he said what he said. Period.

Adam says:

RE some jerk's post

so.. i have one thing to say.

RTFA fool.

from TFA:
“Only customers that use SUSE have paid properly for intellectual property from Microsoft,” he said. “We are willing to do a deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors.” The deal with SUSE Linux “is not exclusive,” Ballmer added.

so… what was that again that steve didnt say?

Jim Gramze (user link) says:

Who's Zoomin' Who?

Ignoring this new information about MS blaming Linux for stealing code for a moment . . .

Whatever happened to all the accusations that MS was stealing tons of Linux code and inserting it into Windows? Seems to me that they could steal all that code, wait a while, and now show that the identical code that is in Windows is also in Linux, even though this code was taken FROM Linux, not the other way around.

Is Carl Rove now director of propaganda and dirty tricks for Microsoft? Only he could have come up with something like this.

Alex Fairley says:

This isn't going to go anywhere

First of all, Microsoft isn’t imitating SCO. It did eventually come out that there was a big venture capital infusion into SCO at the time of their Linux patent trolling, and this venture capital infusion was traceable back to Microsoft. So clearly, all that’s happening is that they’re now doing openly what they were previously doing through proxies. Secondly, while this is something of a threat to linux, it is far more a declaration of defeat by Microsoft. Face it, they’re sitting on a bloated, expensive software project that is hardly offering radical new functionality to motivate upgrades. XP, and Server 2003 are far from great, but they’re functional enough for most people to keep using, especially when more and more of the computer’s functionality is coming in through the web browser, and hence is pretty much OS independant. The traditional forced upgrade trick of not supporting the old OS on snazzy new hardware won’t work, because people can just run Linux on their snazzy new hardware for free. Finally, Linux is starting to get very user friendly( without talking paper clips!), and with Compiz/Beryl, is probably the coolest looking GUI out there. Microsoft has made a great deal of money, and I doubt they’ll be going out of business anytime soon, but their days as the scuzzy kings of corporate computing are numbered. Amen.

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