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Patents Software Linux

Microsoft Getting Paid for Patents in Linux? 377

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-wait-a-minute dept.
kripkenstein noted an Interview with Jeremy Allison where the interviewer asks 'One of the persistent rumors that's going around is that certain large IT customers have already been paying Microsoft for patent licensing to cover their use of Linux, Samba and other free software projects.' and Jeremy responds "Yes, that's true, actually. I mean I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using [...] But they're not telling anyone about it. They're completely doing it off the record."
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Microsoft Getting Paid for Patents in Linux?

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  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:33PM (#17973016) Journal

    Yes, I know, software patents are the spawn of Satan, no-one (not even me, actually :-) likes them. The point is, though, that software patents are currently completely legal, and any owner of such is going to exploit that. Why would anyone expect anything different ?

    I'm nowhere near a fanboy for Microsoft (quite the opposite, if you read my posting history), but in this case, I can't see they've done anything *wrong*. You can argue that software patents are bad - yes, agreed. You can argue that these particular patents are flawed, perhaps they are. You can argue that it's just not moral to profit from the work of others, and yes I agree with that too.

    But, sadly, what they're doing appears to be legal, so perhaps the ire ought to be directed at what makes it legal, rather than shooting the messenger (dammit :-).

    Simon (ducking)
    • by numbski (515011) *
      I've not used Google. Sorry.

      If SMB protocol is patented (wouldn't suprise me) apple would be in trouble too.

      Then again, BeOS back in the day (hey, the free version in 99 quickly became my primary OS!) used CIFS (common internetwork file share) and apparently was inter-operable with SMB somehow? I've always been a bit vague on that point.

      Anyhoo. If CIFS is "available" and "interoperable", why does everyone insist on SMB vs CIFS?
      • At least, as far as I'm aware it is. They may have added stuff to the SMB protocol to make it "CIFS", but I thought it was purely a marketing exercise, designed to allow MS to licence it to others.

        It wouldn't surprise me to find that Apple had paid a licence fee to MS...

        Simon
      • by numbski (515011) * <numbski@@@hksilver...net> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:57PM (#17973226) Homepage Journal
        D'oh. Found my answer:

        http://ubiqx.org/cifs/SMB.html [ubiqx.org]

        "Like NetBIOS, the Server Message Block protocol originated a long time ago at IBM. Microsoft embraced it, extended it, and in 1996 gave it a marketing upgrade by renaming it "CIFS"."

        Short answer: I have it backwards. SMB is the "open" one. CIFS is what you get after MS does their embrace and extend act on it. Ooops. Sorry for the misinformation!
        • What is wrong... (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          ...is that MICRO$OFT extends things which are not considered "prior art"; yet, if you want to extend M$' things, you're in for serious "legal" threats.

          Corporate bullying should never be tolerated in a mature nation. Also, corporation profit compromising as a motive for prosecution tells a lot about (lack of) respect for humans.
      • by linuxci (3530) *
        CIFS is just another name for SMB. I think Microsoft started using the name CIFS rather than SMB for a while but the SMB name stuck (probably due to Samba).
    • by Canordis (826884) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:42PM (#17973090)
      Legal isn't the same as moral. Just because there's no law against something doesn't make it morally acceptable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Teun (17872)
      I would say (if true) Microsoft is trying to make money of the OSS developers by claiming it's their own.
      If MS has found their IP in OSS stuff they ought to come forward and give the programmer a chance to fix it.
      But then MS might only have SCO-type of proof...

      Makes me wonder, if ever someone gets dragged into court by MS claiming their IP is being infringes upon and that someone could prove MS knew about it for a long time, even charges for it, would/should that make it a difficult case for MS?
      • by babbling (952366)
        I'm not a lawyer, but from what I understand, it would make the case more difficult. Once Microsoft learns of someone infringing their patents, they have to act on it within a reasonable amount of time.
        • by evilviper (135110)

          Once Microsoft learns of someone infringing their patents, they have to act on it within a reasonable amount of time.

          You're thinking of trademarks.

          Patents have no such limitations.
        • You don't need to be a lawyer. You just need to know Novell has SOLD OUT the linux community to M$.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by growse (928427)

            No, No they havn't.

            Unless selling out = working with microsoft to provide non-GPL proprietory tools which allow better linux/windows interoperability and agreeing that both microsoft and linux code probably infringe on each other's patents and therefore agreeing not to sue each others' customers.

            To me, that's not selling out, that's being sensible and making your product more attractive to corporates with $$$. Some would even say it was a smart business move.

            • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @07:01PM (#17976312) Homepage Journal

              Unless selling out = working with microsoft to provide non-GPL proprietory tools which allow better linux/windows interoperability and agreeing that both microsoft and linux code probably infringe on each other's patents and therefore agreeing not to sue each others' customers.

              No, selling out == doing an end-run around the GPL by exploiting a legal technicality that subverts the intent of the license and leaves other Linux vendors in a position of increased liability. At one and the same time, it also subverts Novell's position in the market, because GPL 3 is virtually guaranteed to block this hole, making Novell's future status (and therefore its clients' as well) quite uncertain.

              To my knowledge, there is no admission of infringement - or statement of non-infringement - of patents. The only thing it contains is an agreement not sue the others' customers. And this is the most insidious element of the agreement. It creates an atmosphere of FUD, and does nothing to clarify the two parties' relative positions.

              Make no mistake - the only winner in this debacle is Microsoft.

    • by twitter (104583) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:33PM (#17973582) Homepage Journal

      But, sadly, what they're doing appears to be legal, so perhaps the ire ought to be directed at what makes it legal, rather than shooting the messenger (dammit :-).


      In this case, the messenger is also the guilty party. M$ is one of the largest proponents of software patents and other bogus "IP" laws.


      The reason you should be outraged is that they now own your code. Without any further effort than paying off a bunch of lawmakers and lawyers, they have secured an income on .... everything. They also grant themselves the power to shut down projects they don't like. Make no mistake, a little control for M$ is total control when it gets in the way of your software freedoms. Long after Vista bombs in the market place, M$ will be profiting from your work and using it to cause you further harm in any way they please.


      This is why anti-patent language in GPL 3 is so important and why everyone should support it. The true cost of supporting M$ though judicial extortion will only be revealed if we hang together. The internet itself would not function without GPL'd code. Laws will change if suddenly that code is unavailable.


      I'm nowhere near a fanboy for Microsoft (quite the opposite, if you read my posting history)


      I will do exactly that. See you in half an hour or so.


      • The internet itself would not function without GPL'd code. Laws will change if suddenly that code is unavailable.

        Yes, and the keyword there is suddenly. If the code is slowly, quietly and profitably (to the right folks) swapped out, it will happen.

        And that's why we've got to raise a ruckus.
    • But, sadly, what they're doing appears to be legal,

      With this off the record business, I wonder if they are claiming it on taxes? Both on the giving and recieveing end of the "patent extortion". Basically just how under the table is this?
    • I do agree with you 100%, however, Microsoft did say on the record they wouldnt pull this exact stunt.. So yes, we can bitch at them for going back on their word, if its true.
    • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:51PM (#17974222) Homepage

      Contributory copyright infringement.

      Quoting GPLv2 section 7:

      For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

      If you take out a Microsoft patent license, then you make copies of a Fedora CD to install throughout your organization, you are guilty of copyright infringement. Microsoft knows this.

      (If you argue that making copies of Fedora CDs in violation of the GPL isn't actually copyright infringement, then neither is making copies of Windows 2000 CDs. I doubt that's Microsoft's position.)

      • by shaitand (626655)
        IANAL But actually you aren't. It is a single organization so you aren't distributing the software. A business sending a copy to their Dallas office from their NY office is no different than an individual moving the cd from their right hand to their left. The only thing that prevents you from installing it on every pc is the EULA. Breaking the EULA is a breach of contract, not copyright infringment.

        The terms of the GPL only kick in for distribution. There are no GPL restrictions on how you use the software
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:56PM (#17974278) Homepage
      But, sadly, what they're doing appears to be legal, so perhaps the ire ought to be directed at what makes it legal, rather than shooting the messenger (dammit :-).
      Allison's argument is that it's not legal for the companies that are paying the money to MS. Those companies are only licensed to use Linux under the GPL. The GPL forbids what they're doing. (I'm sure that's a vast oversimplification, but that seems to be the general idea.)
    • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:58PM (#17974836) Homepage
      It's legal? It sounds like blackmail to me.

      "Pay us under the table and we'll not sue you into the ground on the basis of something which has never been proven before - but you'd rather not have to risk it, wouldn't you?"
    • by MECC (8478) *
      but in this case, I can't see they've done anything *wrong*

      Haven't done anything illegal

      wrong and illegal are often two different things.

    • by Sparr0 (451780)
      What I don't get is how software patents affect *USERS* at all? If you patent a mechanical device and someone infringes on your patent to sell me a knockoff, you can sue them and make them stop selling it, but you can't sue me and make me stop using the one that I bought. How is it different with software patents? Assuming their patents are completely legit, they could sue the linux distro and developers, but why do companies using the software need licenses?
      • patents (Score:3, Interesting)

        by falconwolf (725481)

        If you patent a mechanical device and someone infringes on your patent to sell me a knockoff, you can sue them and make them stop selling it, but you can't sue me and make me stop using the one that I bought.

        Something like this happened years ago. Kodak came out with an instamatic camera, one that ejected the photo paper when a picture was taken then slowly develops. Polaroid had a patent on this and sued Kodak, Kodak lost and was required to either issue a refund for those who bought the camera or exc

    • In this case, blaming Microsoft for this (assuming the claims are real) is not shooting the messenger.

      Microsoft refuses to reveal which code is infringing so that it could either be rewritten or (more likely) have the patent struck down due to prior art.

      They're basically saying "You did something wrong but I'm not telling you what you did and you have to make up for it or else.". This is just plain extortion and should be dealt with as such.

      As the old saying goes, when messenger is the message it's okay to
  • by daeg (828071) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:36PM (#17973030)
    While the idea is plausible and scary, where's the proof? If I were being threatened by Microsoft, I'd sure as hell make it public. What better way to defend yourself than getting support of the entire Linux/Free Software community?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I'd make it public too , but you and i have (in comparison) nothing to lose.
      If it is true than Microsoft sure as hell selects his targets by who they
      think will pay up offcourse and selects a target (victem) that doesn't want
      to see this information out in public. I mean if some Windows only shop A
      has customers that are trusting the company A because they only use Microsoft
      products. Microsoft discovers that company A actually runs on Linux on his
      internal network, i would say company A is a perfect candidate t
    • by DarkOx (621550) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:54PM (#17973190) Journal
      Its a nice thought and as a private organization or individual it might make sense but its not going to make sense to lots of corporate decision makers. Publicly admiting the Microsoft is threating to sue you is *Not* going to help your stock price any. Changes are you own some stock in the business yourself, so there is even a personal motiviation. Also there is going to be a long and costly legal battle if you decide to go the mat with M$. You can't afford to half ass your defense, if you lose its gonna really hurt so the only option is win, that is going to take dollars that you may not want to spend, because you could use them to be otherwise competivie, or you might not even have those dollars.

      No for most public companies its going to be cheaper to bow to M$ extortion, hint M$ will customize their demands so that is the case, then to fight them. Its no surpise at all M$ can basically shake down corporate FOSS users. Until the patent/copyright situation is really resolved and sadly I don't think the SCO case is going to fully resolve it, especially the patent side, M$ can bully anyone they want.

      Which is exactly what Novell was trying to stop ostensibly, although I think their motives were far less pure personaly.
      • by plopez (54068)
        Publicly admiting the Microsoft is threating to sue you is *Not* going to help your stock price any

        OTOH, publicly traded companies are required to list all liabilities including those from law suits or potential law suits. If they are hushing it up, they may be violating exchange rules or SEC regs.
      • If you do that.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jotaeleemeese (303437) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:46PM (#17974684) Homepage Journal
        ... you can as well hand over your company to Microsoft and do something else. Like flipping burgers.

        If you think the shares of a company going open about something like this would tank, I would like to see what would be the result for MS shares (whose price had remained pretty flat for some time now).

        I think this article is baseless, but it is nice weekend speculation, conspiracy theories and all that.

        But then again, if somebody would have described SCO's actions before they started their disgraceful charade, few would have believed it.

    • by ms1234 (211056)
      Actually you only need to tell IBM that someone is messing with their investment...
    • While the idea is plausible and scary, where's the proof?

      Well, for starters, how about a statement from Microsoft, stating that such things do not occur?

      If we don't get such a statement, that will mean something in itself.
    • by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @06:42PM (#17976170) Homepage

      While the idea is plausible and scary, where's the proof?

      I'd like to know that, too. Name some of these companies. Because I work with a lot of big end users, most of them running Linux in some fashion, and they all seem to enjoy telling the MSFT rep they lost those sales. I've been in the meetings, MSFT has questioned Linux IP but not in any specific fashion. When I asked them point blank if that was a threat they backed right off it.

      You'd think if MSFT was really trying to muscle companies someone would be talking. Anyone have a copy of the letter? I'd be posting mine on Groklaw, then turn the stories in for here and Digg. I'd be amazed if MSFT could keep anything this big a secret as disorganized as they are.

      Or maybe a couple wise guys show up at the office and say if they don't pay bad "tings" might happen?

      Let's see some proof or this is FUD.

  • so do home users (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CaptnMArk (9003) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:40PM (#17973076)
    Most home users have been forced to buy XP home anyway.
  • by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gm a i l .com> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:52PM (#17973168) Homepage
    No big loss. NFS is easier to use, has real file permissions, etc.

    Just another "innovation" from MSFT [smb] that they'll try to horde instead of playing the "let's weigh in on technical merits" game.

    And for fuck sake, why doesn't Windows support NFS? It makes mixing boxes on a lan such a bitch ... oh wait ... I get it.

    Tom
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by realmolo (574068)
      NFS is a joke. The security model is broken in version 3, and in version 4, it's a complicated mess. Not that Samba is a lot better. But it's still better than NFS. As in, if I was networking a bunch of Linux machines together, I'd use Samba, even if I didn't have any Windows clients.

      Linux in general isn't good at LAN-level networking. It's hard to manage network users, and it's hard to get permissions set correctly. It's getting better, but right now, for heavy-duty LAN stuff, Windows and Active Directo
      • by johnw (3725) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:54PM (#17973752)

        NFS is a joke. The security model is broken in version 3, and in version 4, it's a complicated mess.
        This misses the point of the differences between NFS and SMB.

        NFS was designed for use in an environment where both client and server boxes were secure, multi-user systems. One logical connection per share would serve for multiple users. Of course, if you allow insecure clients into the equation then all your security is blown out of the water.

        SMB was designed on the assumption that the client would be an insecure single-user system. All the security is on the server, and connections are on a per-user basis.

        Neither system is really ideal for the situations which we have today. What is needed is a secure system which copes with multi-user client boxes.

        John
        • by macemoneta (154740) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:38PM (#17974108) Homepage
          What is needed is a secure system which copes with multi-user client boxes.

          FUSE and sshfs [sourceforge.net] meet your requirements. I've been using sshfs between 5 systems for a year now, and its operation has been flawless.

        • by msh104 (620136)
          nfsv4 has this, with kerberos as it is quite nice, but currently also quite unstable
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by init100 (915886)

          Neither system is really ideal for the situations which we have today. What is needed is a secure system which copes with multi-user client boxes.

          AFS [wikipedia.org]? This system is used by several large sites, such as universities (including mine), governmental and corporate sites.

        • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @05:00PM (#17975424)
          "NFS was designed for use in an environment where both client and server boxes were secure, multi-user systems. One logical connection per share would serve for multiple users. Of course, if you allow insecure clients into the equation then all your security is blown out of the water."

          And in a world where network jacks are in every wall, it is trivially easy to bring in an "insecure client" and even easier to bring in a LiveCD with you favorite flavor of Linux, NFS is secure how? NFS's default "security" and "authentication" is trivial to circumvent in a practical sense in most corporate environments.
          SMB has many drawbacks. However, it's out-of-the-box authentication + ACL mechanism is vastly superior to what NFS (v2 & v3) has to offer. That is why NFSv4 ACLs look alot like Windows ACLs and why RPCSEC_GSS (aka Secure NFS) went from being an option to a MUST in RFC 3010.
    • by undertow3886 (605537) <geoffNO@SPAMamsa.info> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:19PM (#17973420)

      First of all, Windows does support NFS. Secondly, NFS security is a joke. All you have to do is change the user ID of your user on your machine to the user ID of the person you want to steal files from on the file server. Gods help your server admin if he doesn't have root_squash enabled. Then all you have to do is su to root on your machine, and you have access to everything on the file server.

      SMB has actual security and checks on the server side. Hence you have to type a password with mount -t smb, but not with mount -t nfs. Doesn't it seem kind of suspect when you don't have to enter a password with NFS?

      • You can only use it in a remotely secure fashion when you have complete control of both the client and server. i.e. only within the datacenter, if a client is out on the shop floor, it's insecure.

        SMB it seems may be patent encumbered, which leaves the rather unpalatable alternative that there is a need for a ground up free, open standard network filesystem which can be implemented on all platforms.

         
      • This includes measures like:

        -Not allowing users to change uid (or using mechanisms to make sure they do it only to a handful of them)
        -Removing all external media from personal computers. Clog the USB ports. No laptops on the network (laptops go to a firewalled network considered hostile).
        -Having restriction lists of machines allowed to mount filesystems remotely.
        -Constantly generating reports of who is mounting what and when.
        -And so on and so forth.

        Security is a way of life, not a protocol. NFS may be shite
    • by kv9 (697238)

      And for fuck sake, why doesn't Windows support NFS? It makes mixing boxes on a lan such a bitch ... oh wait ... I get it.

      it does thru SFU [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MemoryDragon (544441)
      Actually SMB not even is Microsofts invention it was once an open protocol under the umbrella of IBM. Microsoft blatantly stole it!
    • by caseih (160668) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:21PM (#17975062)
      NFS is easier, but until NFSv4 is widely deployed, SMB may actually be more flexible and more secure. Right now with NFSv3 (which was the default until the last year or two) if I wanted to export NFS shares to clients, I had to make sure I trusted those clients. Even with root squashing, all you have to do is masquerade the uidNumber and the NFSv3 server would happily give you full access. There were no user/password authentication and credentials at all. In fact at one time I was seriously looking at using a special pam module/daemon that would automount the user's home directory via cifs. In fact if you'll look at what Samba has done with CIFS (CIFS - an ironic name, no? What's common about it?) to add unix semantics including symlinks, you'll see that Samba is a possibility to replace NFS servers in some cases.

      Even in the mac world, rather than mess with AFP (which isn't difficult to use or set up), we just tell our mac users to connect using smb to our servers to get shares when they are not logging into the Apple Domain. It just works and it can communicate with all our OSs.

      That said, I feel that NFSv4 is likely a more secure, more open solution. Alas, though, I doubt we'll ever see Windows support it fully, including permission mappings.
    • by oohshiny (998054) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @05:04PM (#17975456)
      No big loss. NFS is easier to use, has real file permissions, etc.

      NFS has been a joke from day one. The design itself had poorly thought out identity mapping, complete lack of authentication, failure to implement UNIX file system semantics, incredible inefficiency, and a useless RPC layer. I think Sun has done a grave disservice to the UNIX world with NFS. To this day, we still don't have a widely used, decent, secure network file system on UNIX.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:54PM (#17973200)
    Write a free cross platform client and server network filesystem which runs on Windows, OSX, Unix, Linux and which uses an open standard for locking, authentication, encryption, ACLs etc.

    Leaving file serving in MS's control simply leaves you open to patent infringement etc.

     
    • That's been my thought for a while. It would be a big job, of course, but one that would give a true alternative to Microsoft.
    • Write a free cross platform client and server network filesystem which runs on Windows, OSX, Unix, Linux and which uses an open standard for locking, authentication, encryption, ACLs etc.

      Well, that was the idea with CIFS. Microsoft embraced it, and then extended it to become SMB. [samba-tng.org]

      • by Colin Smith (2679)
        Thing is, that's the problem. It seems that MS are essentially blackmailing people who use "their" technology in Samba. What they've done is destroy any trust that the SMB and CIFS technology can be used without being sued into oblivion...

        With an independently controlled and standard network file system that wouldn't be the case.

         
    • Write a free cross platform client and server network filesystem which runs on Windows, OSX, Unix, Linux and whi...

      And how do you hook that into Windows such that the Kernel can efficiently make access control decisions and everything else it needs to do?
      • by Colin Smith (2679)

        such that the Kernel can efficiently make access control decisions and everything else it needs to do?
        In exactly the same way you would with any file system.

         
    • by shaitand (626655) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:28PM (#17975114) Journal
      There is a huge problem with this.

      'Write a free cross platform client and server network filesystem which runs on...'
      Here is the catch.

      '...OSX'
      Only Apple can make OSX natively support your new standard. They probably will since it is an open standard.

      '...Unix'
      Unix is modular and you could plug in your solution even if vendors didn't ship it. You probably wouldn't have much trouble getting vendors to include an implementation of your protocol since it only benefits them to do so.

      '...Linux'
      Duh

      '...Windows'
      And here is the show stopper. Only Microsoft can integrate native support for your protocol in windows. Further Microsoft has complete control of the API's that would be required to hook support into windows after installation and can change them at will and break your solution's installed base.

      Since Microsoft is a monopoly they don't have to play ball and interoperate with you. For the same reason, in order to have a chance of success you must interoperate with them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Colin Smith (2679)

        Only Microsoft can integrate native support for your protocol in windows.
        So you're saying OpenAFS doesn't exist? Admittedly it's overkill but it's an example of an independant open network filesystem which has both clients and servers for Windows.

         
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jimithing DMB (29796)

        Wow. Your post shows a lot of ignorance. OS X has a kernel API for implementing new filesystems which is similar to BSDs although using opaque structures with accessor "methods" rather than direct access to structure data. It was apparently good enough for Amit Singh to implement FUSE on top of which now allows any Linux FS that can run under FUSE to be readily ported.

        UNIX of course depends on what variant but at the very worst they all have some sort of NFS client so you could theoretically run a local

  • Do they pay Microsoft when you buy a CIFS license for a filer?
  • Any of these putative companies purchasing a patent license cannot distribute any of the relevant code under the gpl. So maybe that's why they are keeping quiet, or maybe they are not re-distributing any software. If the former, then Jeremy Allison has a moral and legal duty to "out" those companies.
  • by Frankie70 (803801)
    This smells like FUD.
  • by mikelieman (35628) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:10PM (#17973338) Homepage
    Would like to discuss your annual donation...

    Rocco and Knuckles will be by to pick up the envelope.
  • this sucks... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Grinin (1050028)
    Every time I think of Microsoft and the harm they are causing the end user, and the consumer, it just irritates me beyond belief. Nothing they do benefits the consumer, NOTHING. And yet, the government applauds them for their fine efforts at being completely monopolistic in our modern day capitalistic society.

    Makes me want to puke.
  • by virtigex (323685) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:14PM (#17973368)
    Do publicly traded companies have to report this kind of thing? I would be quite concerned if a company whose stock I own was paying money under the table to organizations that had been found guilty of criminal acts [wikipedia.org]. Does anybody have an idea of what companies are doing this, so that they can be asked in a stockholders' meeting.
  • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:27PM (#17973520)
    I heard the illuminadi made them pay Microsoft because these companies know about the Venus base! NOBODY IS SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VENUS BASE! Anyway, the aliens in the Venus base don't use Windows because they know the French government has installed electron bugs in it which can enter your brain and make you like blueberry bagels, and really, who wants that?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by brxndxn (461473)
      I don't have mod points.. but this is important!!! Please someone, for the love of God, MOD PARENT UP! Our lives depend on it - both our own offspring and the offspring of the alien Mother Womb!

      If we don't do something soon, Necrosaro may awake!!! Run for your lives!
  • by libkarl2 (1010619) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:47PM (#17973702)
    I have yet to hear of any evidence, *ever* in the history of computing, where software patents were anything more than the proverbial Turd In The Swimming Pool(tm). You CAN'T polish a turd! Plate it with gold and voila -- it's STILL a turd!

    As Floaters ensure that only the most discusting little kids ever use the swimming pool, Software Patents ensure that only the biggest, most amoral lawyer infested companies thrive in the tech industry.
  • by Looce (1062620)
    You guys totally missed the point of the article. It was about the burrito command.

    Mmm, burrito.
  • by segedunum (883035) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @02:42PM (#17974152)
    Now we can see that Microsoft's deal with Novell was explicitly designed to create and solidify this impression amongst companies using Linux. Novell were well and truly bent over the table, despite the fact that they so innocently claim that they have not admitted any IP issues with Linux or the software they use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Now we can see that Microsoft's deal with Novell was explicitly designed to create and solidify this impression amongst companies using Linux.

      When a business deal is made, the involved parties don't always understand what each side is getting out of it. It's not outside the realm of reason to take Novell's claims at face value. So let's assume Novell went in to negotiations with the best intentions - a real agreement to better compatibility and functionality. Microsoft enters negotiations with an entir

  • by javacowboy (222023) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @03:46PM (#17974696)
    Wouldn't you think that IBM, HP, and other large Linux server sellers would be a little annoyed at Microsoft shaking down their customers? The more their customers get shaken down, the less like IBM and all would get repeat business, right?

    I would think that IBM could charge Microsoft with Racketeering (which is essentially what MS is doing) on behalf of their Linux customers.

    Maybe the average corporation doesn't have the clout to stand up to Microsoft, but IBM does.

    (Note: I'm not really a big IBM fan. I'm just pointing out that Microsoft isn't infallible).
  • I don't doubt... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eric Damron (553630) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @04:58PM (#17975406)
    I would not doubt that Microsoft would try to extort its own customers in a SCO-like shake down. I'm pretty sure they paid SCO to do it as a sort of trial balloon. An insignificant piss ant like SCO first attacks giant like IBM, drags the litigation out for years and then Microsoft comes in: "See what SCO is doing to IBM? Nice little company you have here... Be a shame if Microsoft had to destroy it through litigation..."

    I also don't doubt that some businesses may have capitulated. That does not, however, give any validity to their patent claims.

    As an IT community we need to respond to Microsoft's aggression in several ways.

    First we must start screaming for the justice department to once again prosecute them for their continued anti-trust violations. They must be held accountable for the damage they are doing through leveraging their monopolies. We must insist that they be broken apart into at least three and probably four separate companies.

    Second, we must not cooperate with Microsoft in any way. Any "gifts" that they offer always turn out to have strings attached. Do not support any part of their dot-net strategy. I use "dot-net" in a loose way to cover many different things like their libraries, ASP.NET etc. The Mono project should die. Don't support it, don't use it.

    Third, we should work to make Java, PHP, etc the defacto standards in delivering active server pages.

    We all need to work together to make Microsoft irrelevant. It won't be quick, it won't be easy but it must be done. This company has shown again and again and again that it is not interested in coexistence.
  • comes a time... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 11, 2007 @07:14PM (#17976398)
    ...society just needs to revolt against the "company store" mindset. Corporations are not ever supposed to have gotten so important as to be so thoroughly entrenched into society that they become an obnoxious threat.

    It is way past the time with that despicable company. There are a few out there that are the epitome of sleaze and greed, enron, exxon, haliburton/kbr, the media companies represented by the MAFIAA price fixing cartel come to mind.

    And Microsoft.

    I applaud the foreign nations who are actively resisting and moving away from them as much as possible. Regrettably, I know the USA will be the last to see the light on how they are dragging down and ruining the computer scene, they are well past any sort of usefulness for society. All they represent now is economic inertia and "the big skim".

    For the past several years now I have expected nothing from them other than severely restrictive, over priced buggy bloatware, being pushed in the sleaziest manner possible-and I certainly haven't been disappointed in the least, they nail it every chance they get. And what is worse-you can't "vote with your wallet". You as an individual can decide to not use their stuff, but that doesn't stop some piece of all your tax money and some piece of the cost of everything you buy winding its way back into their already stuffed to the seams bursting wallets.

    That is a clear sign when some corporation has just gotten too large and too intrusive and too greedy and too powerful, when you can't even avoid them when you want to.

    The original icon with bill the borg was just so right-on. In fact, it's worse, imagine a corporate society that took the worst they could find from ferengi society and the borg and combined them, that's MS.

    The only people I feel sorry for are the ones stuck working there in this economy, because they need a job that can pay the bills. I know there has to be a lot of folks there who know full well that "things are just not right", but are stuck for a handy alternative.

    Perhaps those folks and any non-greed filled stockholders can turn that company around back to being useful and ethically straight-not just "profitable", I mean ethically straight. No one really minds honest decent companies, and no one really minds if someone makes a buck, but people do mind and do notice once companies have gone off the deep end into uncontrolled spasms of pure greed.

    Yes, Balmer, someone does need to "take the food off your plate", you and your slobbering yes-men are overstuffed bullies and just plain rude and obnoxious in my opinion.

    Put the damn fork down and push away from the table, haven't you gorged enough? Is society now supposed to fund your computing vomitorium so you can keep eating at the economic trough well past any semblance of normalcy and decency? Did you ever stop to think that yes, it IS possible to be civil in our civilization?
  • by guruevi (827432) <evi@@@smokingcube...be> on Sunday February 11, 2007 @11:24PM (#17978332) Homepage
    Go work for ANY Microsoft 'Gold Partner' and you'll see how far a company has to open it's behind to get the cheaper licensing. And oh I forgot to mention, they can always come around and change stuff or make a 'friendly request' to implement a solution using their software (and friendly request as in, if you don't we'll pull your status). This is especially true in Gold Partners that provide services to other customers (like hosting companies).

    My record: I have worked so far for 5 Gold Partners in Europe and the US and they all have the same 'problem'.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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