Monday, May 14, 2007

The Big Blue Screen.

The world's largest purveyor of crappy, bloated and corruptible software is belching about litigation to bring Linux and free and open software to heel. Microsnot is threatening patent actions against the open source movement. Elizabeth Montalbano's article in PCWorld speculates that it might have to do with the lack of consumer enthusiasm for the Vista inoperative system.

"There may be a link between the timing of Microsoft's claims against open source and the release of its Windows Vista product, said Stuart Meyer, partner at Fenwick & West in Mountain View, California. Rather than add features to Vista that would make business users want to adopt it, the OS' distinguishing characteristic is the addition of an engine that will shut down users access to Vista if they are using a counterfeit or pirated version of the software, he said.
"Why do people want to want to switch to an OS that just includes new hurdles that have to be cleared?" he said. Microsoft may have decided that enforcing its IP through litigation is more important than offering innovative software that can compete on its own merits, a strategy that may leave many users unimpressed, Meyer suggested."

Thus far, Microsnot is refusing to specify exactly which patents they believe are being infringed. It looks like the blue screen of greed is rolling out the threat machine in the hope that folks will knuckle under and pay royalties rather than get dragged into costly litigation. I switched from PC to Mac years ago, to escape the stranglehold of their shitty OS after viruses ate one machine and after losing work to endless crashes. I'm not surprised that they're looking at every possible means to cling to their marketshare but perhaps they'd be better off if they made a quality product and stopped acting like shit heads.

To celebrate the panic in Redmond, in the next few weeks I'll be loading Ubuntu Linux and Open Office onto my old G3 laptop. In the meantime, I'll enjoy thinking of Steve Ballmer sweating through another pile of shirts.


thwap said...

Is there any genuine threat to Linux out of this? Somehow i think not, but know squat about computers and intellectual property rights.

Lindsay Stewart said...

my understanding is that the threat may not fly in a court of law. but, microsnot has very deep pockets and can file motion upon motion, suit upon suit and very few people can afford to maintain endless litigation. they are also threatening to go after end users, which would put a significant chill in the marketplace for potential converts to open source software.

thwap said...

That's nasty. Hopefully, a judge with half a brain will punish them for abusing the courts that way.

Anonymous said...


This is pure FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) on Microsoft's part. They are trying to keep people away from the competition, and using the threat of being forced to pay for stealing Microsoft's "intellectual property" is nothing more then a idle threat. They cannot sue for patent infingement because they will be counter sued over the same.

IBM holds a large number of patents and IBM is also a large player in the FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) world. They contribute to many projects because they get a benefit from helping develop some of this software. If Microsoft threatens the community, they are also threatening IBM, who may be holding on to a patent or a thousand that Microsoft is somehow infringing upon. That could be deadly to Microsoft. And that is just one possibility.

There is also good chance that if they take some of their "patent" infringement suits to court that it will cost them dearly.

A patent can be thrown out if someone can prove that the patent is actually someone else's innovation, if it is "prior art" (the legal term IIRC).

They have just patented their UAC with the language in that patent basically covering anyway of escalating user privileges.

Microsoft is touting as their wonderful new invention for security of a computer. The thing is this user escalation has been around for at least 40 years kicking around in Unix based OSs (at the very least) and possibly in MULTICS (which is what UNIX is based on, and UNIX is what Linux is based on).

If they go to court to "protect" this patent being infringed upon the person they are suing just has to demonstrate that the patent is invalid due to prior art and the case is summarily dismissed with prejudice, which would effect any other suits Microsoft is bringing over its patents, making it easier for other defendants to introduce evidence of prior art