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All Your Kernals Are Belong to Us
November 17, 2006 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Ballmer: Linux Users Owe Microsoft. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer stated at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle yesterday, that Linux infringes upon his company's intellectual property. Does this signal preparations for all out war against the open source community? Microsoft's recent acquisition of Novell was seen as an ominous sign. Or perhaps it's a sign that user friendly versions of linux such as Ubuntu threaten sales of Microsoft's problematic new VISTA OS, scheduled for release Nov. 30th for businesses and Jan. 30, 2007 for consumers?
posted by Skygazer (79 comments total)

 
Great - I run SUSE and it's probably kind of childish, but I feel like switching to another flavor now.
posted by 2sheets at 12:06 PM on November 17, 2006


Microsoft didn't acquire Novell.
posted by chunking express at 12:09 PM on November 17, 2006


Article about Microsoft FUD actually full of FUD!
posted by Artw at 12:18 PM on November 17, 2006


So, you've got several outdated articles, a couple of anti M$ Vi$ta screeds from neckbeardy linux doods, and the mistaken assertion that Microsoft bought Novell.

AWESOME POST, WOULD READ AGAIN A++
posted by stenseng at 12:20 PM on November 17, 2006


="http://images.appleinsider.com/ms-zune-stupidity-061114s.jpg">
posted by phaedon at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2006


well, that looked a lot cooler in preview...
posted by phaedon at 12:21 PM on November 17, 2006


MetaDot? SlashFilter?
Score 5: Insightful
posted by bashos_frog at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2006


Evidence please, Mr. Ballmer. A bald assertion does not a intellectual property infringement make.
posted by moonbiter at 12:23 PM on November 17, 2006


Novell Outlines Details of Agreement with Microsoft, November 7, 2006.
posted by cenoxo at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2006


Ballmer. Bald assertion.

Heh.
posted by mazola at 12:27 PM on November 17, 2006


Fanboys on all sides: commence flamewar!

I think news like this makes me very happy that I've finally bitten the bullet, and stopped using their software.

I don't pay for it, I don't pirate it, I don't use it.

I've really been digging open source for a while now, and if this is what M$ is going to do, then I'm going to start FULLY supporting open source and actually donate to them.
posted by bobjohnsonmilw at 12:31 PM on November 17, 2006


FIRST NATALIE BEOWULF HOT PORT KNOCKED POST GRITS CLUSTER PANTS
posted by loquacious at 12:34 PM on November 17, 2006


"Software is something to share." -- Bill Gates
posted by dhartung at 12:38 PM on November 17, 2006


I got news for you. Linux infringes a lot of patents. The gimp alone infringes a large number of Adobe image processing patents.

The OSS approach of copying the function and operation of commercially successful software invariably infringes patents on those very functions and operations.

A lot of people snark that Microsoft copies Apple. Well legally they can, because the two companies have a broad IP corss-license agreement. You don't think Apple has interface patents that GNOME and KDE infringe?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2006


Microsoft says something negative about Linux.
Someone makes post about obvious, non-notable, uninteresting thing.
I masturbate.
posted by cellphone at 12:41 PM on November 17, 2006


Also, Balmer declaws cats.
posted by boo_radley at 12:42 PM on November 17, 2006


it's 'kernel' by the way.
posted by cellphone at 12:44 PM on November 17, 2006


Further to my previous comment:

In June, the company amended its suit to include an August 2001 email in which Torvalds admits he abides by a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it comes to patent issues: "I do not look up any patents on principle because (a) it's a horrible waste of time and (b) I don't want to know," he wrote to fellow Linux hackers.

So the guy wrote launched linux never bothered to check whether UNIX companies like SGI, IBM, HP, DEC, AT&T, et al. had patents covering the very functions he was trying to duplicate. Brilliant.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:46 PM on November 17, 2006


Ballmer. Bald assertion.

Heh.


Double heh, the man's schtick is indeed one big Bald Assertion.

Do people like this actually do anything for a living or are they just more or less 'personalities in residence'?
posted by scheptech at 12:50 PM on November 17, 2006


2sheets said: ...I run SUSE and it's probably kind of childish, but I feel like switching to another flavor now.

You might just be the first kid on your block to "Wake up, little SUSE, wake up."
posted by cenoxo at 12:51 PM on November 17, 2006


We all owe Microsoft for their "innovations" and I think we should all just send them all our money right now.

But wait, didn't MS steal their original OS idea from Apple? Dammit, who do I send all of my worldly possessions to? Cupertino's alot closer.
posted by fenriq at 12:55 PM on November 17, 2006


The problem trying to go after Linux for infringement is that you risk waking the slumbering giant, IBM. IBM is backing Linux, and if this turns into a patent war rest assured IBM has plenty of nukes.

I say bring it, MS, let's see what you've got and what you're willing to risk.
posted by mullingitover at 12:55 PM on November 17, 2006


You don't think Apple has interface patents that GNOME and KDE infringe?

Gnome and KDE != Linux.

Does the kernel infringe, or do pieces of software which happen to run (and possibly be included in SuSE) infringe? That's the question. They are very different, and very separate things.
posted by public at 12:58 PM on November 17, 2006


I'm pretty sure that Ubuntu -- or any flavor/distribution/whatever of linux -- isn't threatening sales of Vista. Linux is still pretty much only appealing to a small (and pretty nerdy) segment of the population.
posted by kdar at 12:59 PM on November 17, 2006


Pastabagel: I got news for you. Linux infringes a lot of patents. The gimp alone infringes [...]

I've got news for you. The GIMP is not Linux. Linux is a kernel.

BTW, software patents are assinine to begin with.
posted by oncogenesis at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2006


So the guy wrote launched linux never bothered to check whether UNIX companies like SGI, IBM, HP, DEC, AT&T, et al. had patents covering the very functions he was trying to duplicate. Brilliant.

Why should he research every change to see if it infringes on someone's (questionable) patent? If he researches it and it turns out that he missed a possible infringement, then he's probably on the hook. On the other hand, if he just doesn't bother to look into *any* infringement then he's probably fine.

If the kernel is infringing on someone's patent then they can verify that by looking at the source code. Handy, that.

If they want it removed, then I'm sure there's someone (Linus) they can talk to about getting it removed from his canonical source. Good luck getting it removed everywhere, though.

Also, who would the patent holder possibly sue? How would they prove that they suffered financial loss? The source code is given away. Anyone can make any change to it they like.
posted by bshort at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2006


It doesn't make any sense for MS to antagonize the open source community, not with .NET making serious inroads into the server market, and desktop linux still a total joke.

My guess is that Ballmer was just mouthing off. He's not going to be CEO for that much longer, anyway. From what I understand, he's thought of as being part of the "old guard."
posted by Afroblanco at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2006


kdar: Threatening Vista as a desktop... nope. Threatening Vista in the datacenter? Linux is a *very* significant threat to MSFT there.

Without control of the datacenter, Microsoft has very little lock-in ability, and far less leverage from their desktop monopoly. So, that's what they fear losing.

But regarding this deal, Novell has signed a deal with the devil, and quite possibly violated the GPL in the process (See, section 7: Judgements and Patent Infringement). Read cenoxo's link, and be informed. (Odd, Nicholas Petreley is normally a blowhard... I guess even a stopped clock...)
posted by zeypher at 1:09 PM on November 17, 2006


Neckbeardy Linux d00ds! I love it.
posted by mistermoore at 1:11 PM on November 17, 2006


My estimate: this does not matter. No one of consequence will give a shit about MS and Novell huffing and puffing, just as none did with SCO.
posted by Anything at 1:14 PM on November 17, 2006


The problem trying to go after Linux for infringement is that you risk waking the slumbering giant, IBM.

So I went to find out how the SCO vs. IBM case turned out. Like most users of Linux, I'd forgotten all about it. Turns out it's still not over! Oh, what a "frolic and a detour into the irrelevant" it's been. Groklaw also has some commentary on the Novel / Microsoft thing.
posted by sfenders at 1:15 PM on November 17, 2006


Somebody Has to Say It - by Smart Dalek (Score: 4, Insightful) Thread
It's not like the topic here isn't worth discussing, but it's as if the poster was in too much of a hurry
to get a reaction from everyone else to RTFAs. And does FOSS/OSDN really need a Wikipedia link?
The truly sad part about this OH NOES WINBLOWZ thread is that I'm reading it on MetaFilter.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:36 PM on November 17, 2006


Microsoft is shit, and anyone who willing supports Microsoft is a coprophile.
posted by keswick at 1:42 PM on November 17, 2006


The gimp alone infringes a large number of Adobe image processing patents.

I am dubious. The GIMP's main limitations are generally specifically those issues where patent worries discourage development. Thank god for independent plug-in developers. The only potential issues I am aware of are with the JPEG patent (can be handled by third-party plugins, like the GIF one was) and tabbed widgets, which is a dubious claim considering that the exact same design can be found as far back as OS/2.

So the guy wrote launched linux never bothered to check whether UNIX companies like SGI, IBM, HP, DEC, AT&T, et al. had patents covering the very functions he was trying to duplicate. Brilliant.

As you know, hobbyists do not need to concern themselves with patents, and Linus never intended for his hobby to blow up. Also, the burden of enforcement is always on the patent holder, they will need to explain in court why they never bothered to enforce their claim to property before now.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:44 PM on November 17, 2006


Ubuntu threaten sales of Microsoft's problematic new VISTA OS

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

*snort*

Good one.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:44 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ballmer is the tech-world's response to Paris Hilton. He's a celebrity for being a celebrity. Or for his over-the-top hilarious sales-pitch for Winv1.0. Either of the two. But mostly the first one.
posted by forwebsites at 1:47 PM on November 17, 2006


zeypher: granted; I took the implication to be desktops, especially because of the choice of Ubuntu. Most enterprises will go for a more-established brand like RedHat because of support services and technical certifications. It's funny, though -- I don't think Microsoft when I think servers. I know that they have a significant share of the server market; they just never come to mind.
posted by kdar at 1:54 PM on November 17, 2006


Turns out it's still not over!

Much like WWII wasn't over in March of 1945. We've gone from SCO asserting to SCO defending a motion of summary judgement, which they are almost certainly going to lose.

Indeed, SCO's actions of late are very obviously those of someone who's very afraid of the judge, and is trying to squirm into a quiet deal to end it -- but IBM isn't playing games anymore, and they've made it clear that they want SCO dead.

Mullingitover nails it. Most companies don't play this game, because of the Mutually Assured Patent Destruction. Ballmer apparently thought that the Open Source Gang was like Iraq -- no patents, therefore, attackable at will.

But IBM wants to ditch AIX, and has been working hard to whip Linux into shape enough that they can do so. If MS decided to pull a patent strike on one of the distros, IBM will make a little phone call to Microsoft, and say "Drop this, or lawyer up."

If you think Microsoft can lawyer up, you've never, ever seen IBM in action. Actually, to be honest, I'm praying that Microsoft plays this card right now. The one way to end the software patent madness is for someone big to lose hard in a patent war -- and if it's patents, MS vs. IBM, I know exactly how I'm betting.
posted by eriko at 1:55 PM on November 17, 2006


Uh, something everyone seems to be forgetting - patents are not forever. Unlike copyright, which gets extended every time someone somewhere buys a share of Disney, pattents have a relativly short life span.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:13 PM on November 17, 2006


So the guy wrote launched linux never bothered to check whether UNIX companies like SGI, IBM, HP, DEC, AT&T, et al. had patents covering the very functions he was trying to duplicate. Brilliant.

And why should he have? It wasn't until years later that his country even decided to recognize software patents (largely due to pressure from Nokia, from what I understand).
posted by JaredSeth at 2:19 PM on November 17, 2006


This VISTA OS, is it anything like MAC OS?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:36 PM on November 17, 2006


Problem: A thread about Microsoft and Linux
Solution: Bring back the image tag.
Result: End of civilization as we know it.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:38 PM on November 17, 2006


After following some of the links, I'll revise my estimate: due to a loophole in GPLv2, open source is fucked, and the only thing left to do to minimize damage is to isolate SuSE and get GPLv3 going.

Shit.
posted by Anything at 2:40 PM on November 17, 2006


Ugh, what an idiot:


Now, let's see what my colleagues at ExtremeTech have to say in Vista's defense ...

Vista is much safer and more secure. "The whole kernel has been reorganized and rewritten to help prevent software from affecting the system in unsavory ways."

Well, yes, this is certainly what Microsoft would have to do to make it truly secure. I've say that myself. Unfortunately, while Microsoft has worked hard on improving Vista's security, it's still pretty much the same old rickety kernel underneath it.

Need proof? In January, Microsoft shipped the first security patch for Vista. It was for the WMF (Windows Metafile) hole. You know, the one, that my security guru friend Larry Seltzer called, "one of those careless things Microsoft did years ago with little or no consideration for the security consequences."
The WMF vulnerability was not in the kernel. Also the old windows kernel was fine for most things, the problem was everyone ran as admin.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:46 PM on November 17, 2006


Uh, something everyone seems to be forgetting - patents are not forever. Unlike copyright, which gets extended every time someone somewhere buys a share of Disney, pattents have a relativly short life span.

About 30 years, which is "forever" in the computer world, although Unix is more then 30 years old.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:47 PM on November 17, 2006


Please can there be a moratorium on discussing operating system software on MeFi? It's as painful as watching people on slashdot attempt to debate politics or art.
posted by imbecile at 2:54 PM on November 17, 2006


As you know, hobbyists do not need to concern themselves with patents, and Linus never intended for his hobby to blow up. Also, the burden of enforcement is always on the patent holder, they will need to explain in court why they never bothered to enforce their claim to property before now.

Right, like Unisys and the GIF patent, which they didn't start licensing until two years before it expired?

Patents are not like trademarks, you don't need to protect them at all, and once it's filed you can do whatever you want.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:57 PM on November 17, 2006


Please can there be a moratorium on discussing operating system software on MeFi? It's as painful as watching people on Slashdot attempt to debate politics or art.

Watching people debate anything on Slashdot is painful. It's full of idiots.
posted by Paris Hilton at 2:58 PM on November 17, 2006


Microsoft's problem: its new OS is shit, offers little to no new functionality but hogs resources like crazy. Its only realistic purpose is to increase OS revenue for Microsoft.

Microsoft's response to critics: instead of making a better product, sue.

My response: Ballmer can go fuck himself with a Zune.
posted by clevershark at 2:58 PM on November 17, 2006


Right, like Unisys and the GIF patent, which they didn't start licensing until two years before it expired?

Patents are not like trademarks, you don't need to protect them at all, and once it's filed you can do whatever you want.


Of course, you are right, I don't know what I was thinking. I just got done talking about Unisys and still got it wrong.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:02 PM on November 17, 2006


Ubuntu threaten sales of Microsoft's problematic new VISTA OS

Microsoft is the biggest threat to Vista. I use XP and it works fine for me. Except I updated to WMP11 and after 5 minutes it pegs my processor at 100% forever until I kill it. If that is their new and improved media player I certainly don't want to touch Vista until I have a 128 bit liquid nitrogen cooled DecaCore system.
posted by srboisvert at 3:33 PM on November 17, 2006


So the guy wrote launched linux never bothered to check whether UNIX companies like SGI, IBM, HP, DEC, AT&T, et al. had patents covering the very functions he was trying to duplicate. Brilliant.

If he knows about a patent and infringes it anyway, he's liable for enormous damages. If he violated it accidentally, then generally he just has to stop infringing. Not knowing that a patent exists is a very strong defense.
posted by Malor at 4:04 PM on November 17, 2006


Very few linux contirubtors would rip off Microsoft code. Because generally the codes suck, and it's also the wrong thing to do.

Microsoft on the other hand is believed to have scads of BSD code in its products, especially in the network stack.
posted by aerotive at 4:10 PM on November 17, 2006


I think this is great. The more Microsoft rattle the software patents sabre, the stronger the EU anti-software-patent lobby becomes.

Perhaps they're starting to show their fangs now because they've given up hope of being able to buy their way into a similar scam in Europe. They fear that Vista's not going to be as successful as XP was, and they need to start plugging the hole in their growth curve or the investors will start to bail out.

/slashdot
posted by mr. strange at 4:11 PM on November 17, 2006


Every time you buy a new PC, or a game for your Xbox, or even renew your Xbox Live account, you finance Microsoft's bullying innovation out of the software industry. Recently I was thinking about getting an Xbox 360, but decided against it. I have no wish to fund these bastards in any way whatsoever.
posted by clevershark at 4:28 PM on November 17, 2006


They fear that Vista's not going to be as successful as XP was

well, it's not, and they have no one to blame but themselves for that ... it's too little, too late ... no new file system, ineffective security and a lot of overblown eye candy

i'm not ditching xp for it ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:34 PM on November 17, 2006


Here's the thing. Microsoft just bent over and took it from Universal, agreeing to pay them $1 for every Zune they sell. This is going to cut dozens of dollars from their bottom line, but more importantly, it makes them feel cheap and used.

So, in their anger and shame, they lash out and try to pull the same crap on someone in a weaker position than them. Whose weaker than MS? Apparently a loosely organized community of people who give away software.

Sad, really.
posted by adamrice at 4:38 PM on November 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


people keep appearing to miss that Linux was written to be POSIX compatible. POSIX is a bunch of software standards.. Linux is is like other operating systems the same way cars have similar features... because they are trying to follow the same set of standards. If there are patent issues maybe it should be blamed on the people who created POSIX.

Rest of this article reads like some of the whiny handwringing that came out at the time the SCO legal stuff first hit.
posted by zog at 4:43 PM on November 17, 2006


Regarding Ubuntu, here's my totally anecdotal contribution. I just suffered a total hard drive melt down on my trusty compaq presario x1000, and as I didn't want to spend the money on a new laptop (i.e. did not have the money for a new laptop), I went and grabbed myself a nice new laptop HD and set about running my system recovery disks and the MS recovery console. On a whim, while Windows was installing I used a mac desktop to download and burn an ubuntu install disk and decided to give it a whirl, splitting the hard drive between the two OS. That was 3 days ago, I haven't booted into Windows in at least 48 hours. Ubuntu works great, completely free, with less setup hassle than Windows. I'm not so much praising or preaching adoption, just noting that for my needs (a lot of writing and web work), Ubuntu has been great so far. And the main reason I decided to give it a try was that when I looked into new laptop prices I saw the approximate size of the new Vista OS (which would consume a third of my hard drive), and the 2 gigabyte recommended RAM and thought "why the hell would I ever want to feed that bloated mess?" I like Windows XP just fine, and it does some things much better than Ubuntu, but for me at least, seeing the future direction for Windows, I was pretty interested in exploring alternatives.

Just a 2-cent contribution.
posted by hank_14 at 4:53 PM on November 17, 2006


Microsoft just bent over and took it from Universal, agreeing to pay them $1 for every Zune they sell. This is going to cut dozens of dollars from their bottom line

Nice.
posted by hoborg at 5:02 PM on November 17, 2006


If he researches it and it turns out that he missed a possible infringement, then he's probably on the hook. On the other hand, if he just doesn't bother to look into *any* infringement then he's probably fine.

That's how copyrights work, but not patents. At least that's my understanding.

With a copyright, you can get away with infringing on it, at least until you find out about the original work. With patents, you can be born on a desert island and if you happen to invent something that's already patented, you're on the hook.
posted by swift at 5:06 PM on November 17, 2006


... as has already been pointed out. Sorry.
posted by swift at 5:07 PM on November 17, 2006


swift, I think you're backwards. With the absolutely insane copyright laws in this country, you can go to prison for giving someone a copy of a movie. You can't, generally, argue that you "didn't know" that something wasn't in copyright. So you're liable whether you 'knew' it was copyrighted or not.

Patents are quite different. For the big damage awards, it requires knowing infringement. So you CAN indeed get away with infringing a patent, as long as you don't know the patent exists. You can be forced to stop violating the patent, but as long as the violation is inadvertent, I believe that's as far as it goes.... particularly if you're just giving away your code (ie, not gaining monetarily from it.)
posted by Malor at 5:42 PM on November 17, 2006


If you think Microsoft can lawyer up, you've never, ever seen IBM in action. Actually, to be honest, I'm praying that Microsoft plays this card right now. The one way to end the software patent madness is for someone big to lose hard in a patent war -- and if it's patents, MS vs. IBM, I know exactly how I'm betting.

Which, on one hand, makes me happy because I agree IBM would probably win, but on the other hand, makes me sad that apparently the only causes that'll ever see the light of fair and sane thinking are those with huge moneyed interests behind them.
posted by namespan at 6:38 PM on November 17, 2006


If you think Microsoft can lawyer up, you've never, ever seen IBM in action. Actually, to be honest, I'm praying that Microsoft plays this card right now. The one way to end the software patent madness is for someone big to lose hard in a patent war -- and if it's patents, MS vs. IBM, I know exactly how I'm betting.

A couple years ago I interviewed for a job as a patent attorney at a fancy west coast (U.S.) law firm. During one of the day's interviews the subject of IBM came up and the interviewing attorney, a fairly senior partner at the firm, told me a story.

About ten years ago, he said, a client of the firm, Company X, approached him about a software technology IBM was practicing that they thought infringed one of their patents. This was something, said the client, that they wanted to pursue. And so IBM was contacted by my interviewer in the form of a polite letter stating that his client had some curiosity about in these IBM technologies and perhaps some discussion could ensue with respect to licensing or the like. In due course, IBM responded and a meeting was arranged.

At this meeting, the lead IBM attorney on the matter said that although he thought it unlikely, perhaps there was something further to discuss related to Company X's letter but more investigation would be required. As a threshold issue to further negotiations, he continued, there was something else to discuss. Whereuon he announced that IBM in its preliminary invesigation had taken a look not only at what Company X had specifically put in play with its letter, but in Company X's software in general as well, and he placed before Company X a bundle of 20 or so patents issued to IBM which he thought it might behoove Company X and its counsel to take a hard look at.

My interviewer returned to his office and furiously worked through the IBM patents for several long days into nights with each hour spent billed at over $200.00 (he actually had a small team; I am abstracting a bit here). Eventually he produced plausible arguments that much contained in these IBM patents was not actually relevant and/or not actually a threat to Company X, which was great news to the ears of his client who still thought pursuing IBM's deep pockets was a fabulous idea.

Soon the time came for the next meeting with IBM's attorneys. When everyone had sat themselves around the table, voided of bowel and rosy of cheek, my interviewer addressed and tried to dispatch the issue of the IBM art in order to get to his client's patent, which was the whole point of this exercise from the beginning. The IBM attorneys took him in stride and smilingly thanked him for addressing their potential concerns. After some further analysis however, said the lead IBM attorney, they had discovered other troubling aspects of Company X's technology. And once again out of the lead IBM attorney's briefcase came a stack of issued IBM patents, all different from before, which my interviewer and his client were informed also, it turned out, might be interesting for them to take a look at in light of various tehnologies Company X was practicing. And by the way, the IBM attorney said, expect more where those came from as we continue to investigate the patent relationship between IBM and Company X generally.

Company X decided not to irritate IBM further.

IBM has a patent portfolio that is simply astonishing.
posted by psmith at 7:29 PM on November 17, 2006 [8 favorites]


(i like mac os x!)
posted by clyde at 7:42 PM on November 17, 2006


Pastabagel, this is standard practice for developers at proprietary software companies. They leave the patent research up to the legal departments.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:29 PM on November 17, 2006


...and what Malor said.
posted by owhydididoit at 8:33 PM on November 17, 2006


owhydididoit: it is standard practice for companies to outsource their patent searches, so the search itself cannot be traced back to them and used against them. Linus' statement was the absolute industry standard behavior. Problem is, he said something out loud that most people are afraid to say. That's why he's getting heat for it.
posted by e40 at 9:08 PM on November 17, 2006


[A]nyone who willing supports Microsoft is a coprophile.

Would that include folks who post on MetaFilter, as it is hosted on a Windows server?
posted by owhydididoit at 10:09 PM on November 17, 2006


Maybe this is Microsoft's reaction to the direction the SCO debacle (which is loosely coupled back to Microsoft) has taken, out of fear that IBM is setting its sights on freeing the OS from a monopoly (ie. everything uses open standards), so that competition can be rightly fought out on a battlefield of innovative UI/functionality/personality. Which are, in the end, the things that are really going to drive the next evolution of technology.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on November 17, 2006


MS vs. IBM, I know exactly how I'm betting.

Sidebet on Steve Ballmer being the first to hemorrhage neurally?
posted by Sparx at 11:56 PM on November 17, 2006


psmith: IBM has a patent portfolio that is simply astonishing.

Year after year they are at #1 in terms of patents filed at the USPTO, and they take great pride in it. If M$ wakes that sleeping giant, (who as pointed out above has made a major commitment to Linux) they'll be in big trouble. I mean I know there's still a lot of bad blood between the two companies considering M$ made it's fortune off of an IBM platform.

Stenseng: So, you've got several outdated articles, a couple of anti M$ Vi$ta screeds from neckbeardy linux doods, and the mistaken assertion that Microsoft bought Novell.

My mistake and I'll stand in the corner for a while, but even if they haven't outright bought them out, I don't think anyone would dispute that M$ now pretty much owns (i.e., to have by the balls) Novell.

I don't pretend to be an admin or tech guy (I'm on front end design). My concern is that intellectual property claims have gotten completely out of hand as have attempts by big Co's like M$ and Sony to lock consumers into their products. What the statement by Ballmer seems like to me, and admittedly this may the wrong metaphor (as I'm sure will be pointed out), it's like publishing the King Jame's bible and saying all publishers of the bible are infringing on copyright. The nature of open source implies that M$ had plenty of opportunity to address any patent problems when linux was in it's more formative stages. As for Vi$ta vs Ubuntu (or some other desktop OS), it may seem ridiculous now, but everyone who goes to Ubuntu/Mac in the coming years when M$ has stopped supporting XP and has imposed greater draconian attempts to lock consumers into its bloated restrictive OS, is money out of their pocket and at $300 or $400 a pop, that's not inconsiderable. As hank_14 mentioned above, most people just need to access the web and do some word processing and who other than gamers and web/software designers, need a dual core intel chip and 2 Gigs of RAM to do that? It's one of those perfect examples where the technology is overkill and outpacing what the consumer needs or even wants. Prices of computers with more than enough power to address word processing and web surfing will come down considerably and they don't really need to have the Vista OS if M$ fail to address that market. The desktop OS is not as important as it used to be, Google has already made a bunch of excellent applications (writerly,gmail etc.) that don't need to run natively and it's only going to take that one killer app to cut into the M$ OS monopoly. So to sum up, if Ballmer's statement and Vi$ta are any indication of where the thinking is at M$ these days, it seems to me they're painting themselves into a corner and what was once their strength can become a liability.
posted by Skygazer at 9:28 AM on November 18, 2006


Heh Paris, regarding WMF:

Remember how NT4 moved the entire graphical subsystem into the kernel, for speed purposes?
posted by effugas at 1:06 PM on November 18, 2006


IBM has a patent portfolio that is simply astonishing.

That's because of the Thomas J. Watson Research center...and Almaden, and Austin, and Hafia, and another four or five centers.

Bell Labs and PARC are gone, but IBM still has a well funded research division. Thus, IBM doesn't have to buy patent portfolios. IBM makes patent portfolios.

Anybody foolish to get into a Patent War with IBM will lose -- even if you assume that only one in a hundred patents is actually valid and will stand up in court, IBM will still have thousands of valid patents to enforce.
posted by eriko at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2006


eriko: Anybody foolish to get into a Patent War with IBM will lose

Agreed. When I was a programmer we all knew this and, at all the various places I worked, we joked occasionally about IBM's might. But it was only when I was doing more generalized IP stuff after going to law school that I realized the full scope of IBM's portfolio. And god damn it's amazing.
posted by psmith at 8:52 PM on November 18, 2006


You can have all the nukes in the world, but if your enemy lacks territory, what are you going to do?

IBM has a mighty patent portfolio that can take any product off the market. What do you do when you're fighting companies without products on the market?
posted by effugas at 12:13 PM on November 19, 2006


effugas: are you talking about patent trolling? Patent trolling is a huge problem (duh), and fighting with a patent troll often involves legal tactics different from when not, just because the troll's interests and vulnerabilities are different.

From a practical perspective, it depends on the facts. For one example, I spent a lot of time this weekend working with a company that is being threatened aggressively by a patent troll, and we're probably going to provoke both a patent interference and a re-examination of various stuff at issue.

From a policy perspective, if you ask me the law needs to change.
posted by psmith at 4:07 PM on November 19, 2006


IBM's enormous patent portfolio notwithstanding, IBM and MS have a gigantic cross-licensing agreement (the IP equivalent of a mutual non-agression pact) which would make it difficult for IBM to deter MS simply by beating them over the head with its portfolio. MS is probably one of the few tech companies around today who could reasonably think about engaging IBM in a legal war.
posted by ubiquity at 5:16 AM on November 24, 2006


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