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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property" 820

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-it-is-so-on-now dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "In comments confirming the open-source community's suspicions, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday declared his belief that the Linux operating system infringes on Microsoft's intellectual property." From the ComputerWorld article: "In a question-and-answer session after his keynote speech at the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) conference in Seattle, Ballmer said Microsoft was motivated to sign a deal with SUSE Linux distributor Novell earlier this month because Linux 'uses our intellectual property' and Microsoft wanted to 'get the appropriate economic return for our shareholders from our innovation.'" His exact wording is available at the Seattle Intelligencer, which has a transcript of the interview. Groklaw had an article up Wednesday giving some perspective on the Novell/Microsoft deal. Guess we'll have something to talk about in 2007, huh?
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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property"

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:40AM (#16882790) Journal
    "Novell pays us some money for the right to tell customers that anybody who uses SUSE Linux is appropriately covered," Ballmer said. This "is important to us, because [otherwise] we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability."
    Do me a favor, disclose your 'undisclosed balance-sheet liability' and then we'll listen to you bitch about Linux.

    I haven't seen patent one infringed upon let alone a whole balance sheet's worth so you'll have to excuse me if I seem a bit pessimistic about you strong arming me into using SuSE.

    That's right, you can spin it anyway you want ... but what I see is that Novell just lost all their street cred by selling out to you. What they sold was their future in the open source community. Why do I have this strange view of it all? Well, because I have this sinking feeling that a year or two from now you're going to package some form of Linux (maybe with Windows maybe separately) and you aren't going to release the source code & you're going to earn a profit on supporting it. And people will be pissed and there will be a court case. But you'll hire a thousand and one lawyers and they'll show up and they'll point out to the judge that Linux kernel "infringed upon Windows anyway" and the deal you made with Novell only confirmed it and admitted that they were facing lawsuits from you. The whole time, there won't be any patents cited, no logic will be used but at the end of the day the judge, bless his computer ignorance, will probably agree with you and allow you to continue to release & profit from Linux. But that won't be enough, you'll go after ever user using non-Microsoft-mutated-SuSE Linux and sue every other Linux distro. If that's not your motive, why are you already issuing warnings to users of other distros?

    It's not just any old regular FUD, it's new improved Microsoft FUD.

    Enjoy your $500 million, Novell.
  • by SlashDread (38969) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:41AM (#16882792)
    SuSE is dead.
  • Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bitserf (756357) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:44AM (#16882842)
    To quote South Park: Novell just got F'd in the A.
  • Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by urbanradar (1001140) <timothyfielding@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:45AM (#16882852) Homepage
    Pretty much any Linux geek will tell you that's a load of jibberish, not unlike the SCO case. But, should it come to Microsoft and Novell going to court over this, couldn't this still spell trouble for Novell? A lengthy trial isn't cheap (and neither are out-of-court settlements). And the worst case scenario - maybe this could even spell trouble for Linux itself? It certainly makes for some excellent FUD for Microsoft to feed to the CIOs and managers of the world.

    With Microsoft's track history, I wonder why people trust them at all. Especially when the stakes are high, like in this situation.
  • Company motto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#16882868)
    If you can't beat 'em sue 'em.
  • by Epeeist (2682) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:50AM (#16882898) Homepage
    > but what I see is that Novell just lost all their street cred by selling out to you.

    I agree with you, but I think it is worse than that. I think the deal changes the perception of Linux, which is what the point of it was all the time.
  • Put up or Shut up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cadallin (863437) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:51AM (#16882906)
    Alright, enough of this bullshit. Isn't there some kind of Libel suit that can be filed about this kind of garbage? I know I, as a private citizen can't go around telling newspapers that the Coca-Cola company kills a kitten for every can of drink they sell, without getting sued nine ways from breakfast. Why is Microsoft any different? If they've got something, let's see it, if not, can't they be forced to stop spreading FUD on pain big nasty fine-y death? Surely Redhat, and the other corporate Linux entities have some interest in trying this?
  • by A nonymous Coward (7548) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:52AM (#16882924)
    the judge, bless his computer ignorance, will probably agree with you and allow you to continue to release & profit from Linux.

    I don't believe they will have any more success than SCO has had. Microsoft's biggest mistake is not understanding how well the GPL resonates with developers and how poorly DRM resonates with users. They are stuck with a DOS mindset.

    Their second biggest mistakes was proxying SCO to do their dirty work. The SCO case has shown how poorly this infringement idea flies [wikipedia.org], and it is going to make it incredibly hard for Microsoft to get any traction with the general public and with Wall Street when they take their turn. The legal traction won't be there either, but they can afford far more lawyering than SCO and will manage to drag out Son of SCO for a long time. But the end result will be even better for Linux.
  • by quiberon2 (986274) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:56AM (#16882964)
    Microsoft need to be specific; what are the patent numbers, which countries are they valid in, and what is the licence fee that Microsoft would like from an individual user ?

    Without that essential information, Microsoft are behaving in a commercially-inappropriate way. Intimidating and destructive to creativity.

    I need the chance to way either that the patent does not apply where I live; or that there is prior art; or that I will do something in a different way. Or to find a patent of mine (or of my employer's) that they would like to cross-licence. I also need to know when the patent expires.

  • by kan0r (805166) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:56AM (#16882966)
    "Talk is cheap, show me the code!"
  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:58AM (#16882992) Homepage Journal
    it appears that with the passing years the microsoft top brass is getting old, and surprisingly losing their sanity before their due time.

    arent they already aware that eu is bashing them because of their similar behaviour ?

    do they think that eu will just let them force people to use their own 'partner''s distro just like that ?

    i can see fines raining down like hell.
  • by wahman143 (1025119) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:00AM (#16883018)
    I love when someone creates something better (be it a product, a technology, etc) that it automagically becomes "Infringement".

    Mantra of the 2000's - "If it ain't yours, and it's better than yours...it's 'Intellectual Property Infringement'"
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:00AM (#16883024)
    I hoped that Novell/MS deal was really something meaningful, not yet another PR/Marketing stunt from Microsoft. Putting all that "protection racket" bullshit aside, which I can buy a little bit, this Balmer speech asks for more serious investigation, because it just roars "antitrust".
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:01AM (#16883034) Homepage
    Knowing Ballmer he probably thinks that Microsoft invented the TCP/IP stack and Other things that Microsoft stole from BSD...

    Personally I think the Linux community needs to with one very loud voice say...

    "Bring it fat man!"
  • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miyako (632510) <miyako@NospaM.gmail.com> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:01AM (#16883040) Homepage Journal
    I think this will certainly spell trouble for Linux. Not "the end of Linux" - but certainly trouble. Mostly it comes down to the fact that, when MS gets around to sueing people, some retarded judge is going to look at Novell signing a deal with MS as "admission of guilt" and - while it might not win the case for MS - it will lend a lot more creadance to their FUD for a lot of people.
    As for Novell, I don't think Microsoft will take them to court, but I don't think they need to. I don't really know of anyone who was supportive of the Novell/Microsoft deal- and very few were even willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This whole thing is going to really deamonize Novell in the eyes of the open source community. The way I see it, and a lot of other people too, is that basically Novell had the idea that Microsoft was going to start suing people over Linux, and rather than stand up for Linux and the community, they decided to become another MS lapdog.
  • The coming war (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:03AM (#16883058)
    It all makes sense - MS is starting to worry. Not about the "boom in linux in just a few years" - that has been "just a few years" for over a decade now. What they are worried about is the "Big War" on the very immediate horizon. Computing is about to undergo a huge revolution.

    Now that (as far as a lot of the top end guys at MS are concerned) Vista is out of the door they are looking at what is next. Customers (home, but most especially business) are not going to pay for another OS - many might not even buy Vista. There is little else MS can put into an OS that sells - stability and modularisation don't sell. They tried the "eye candy" route for Vista - because if they didn't it wouldn't sell one copy. The thing is they can't do the same thing again "Windows Corumo - just another coat of paint on the same OS" - nobody will buy it.

    The future? Subscription based economics - they don't have to produce another OS - they just continually charge for the current one. That too goes for MS Office etc.

    Why the current turn by MS - because linux really does cause them difficulties in that business model. $30 per month for windows or $0 for a flavour of linux.

    The big battle is ahead - the business model that has held firm with computers (both software and hardware) over the past 20 years is being broken up. This can be proven in the easiest way imaginable. Ask yourself this question. As a member of the "bulk" of computer users (ie not high end gamers or 3D designers - home "write an email and watch a dvd"'ers or business "write a spreadsheet or create a presentation"er's) - why would you *want* to buy a new machine/new OS? - the old one does everything just fine - super fast and relatively trouble free. That has not been the case for the past 20 years - it is now.
  • by Ada_Rules (260218) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:04AM (#16883068) Homepage Journal
    I have discovered the most interesting proof that Microsoft has infringed on MY intellectual property. Unfortunately, this web space is too small to contain it.

    This is getting really old and although many here will probably disagree, it will eventually have an impact. I can just hear my legal department now "We keep hearing case after case of Linux infringing on someone's IP. We better ban it. Microsoft is a big secure company that would never do anything like that and if they did, there is no way the effects of it could ever impact the end user"...Oh wait.. .. Scratch that. [com.com]

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:07AM (#16883112) Homepage Journal
    With the monopolist pressure they are forcing my relatives, my employers, my contractees, my government to use their own software and wont let them bail out, limiting me on what i can or cant do with my audio&visual equipment in my own house, increasingly deciding what i can or cannot see on the internet, oppressing my open source community, suing people to the extent of harrassment, causing my relatives, friends, close ones to get into pain over their lacking&incapable&insecure softare and me to run fix-up errands for them, trying to funnel cash into decision makers to influence political decisions against my democratic wishes.

    In short, they are using me and all the people i know for their own personal profit against their wishes.

    i request that microsoft cease and desist immediately
  • Re:SCO did it! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:14AM (#16883188)
    It is kind of hard re-code infinging sections of software to be non-infringing when your opponent is claiming a patent on things like the double-click.
  • Re:SCO did it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miyako (632510) <miyako@NospaM.gmail.com> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:15AM (#16883206) Homepage Journal
    I think the difference will be that SCO was claiming their actual code was in the kernel, while MS is claiming that it "infringes on their IP".
    For all we know MS has some patent on Operating Systems or taking input, processing it, and giving output, or the color blue, or something.
    That's the problem with software patents, as it stands right now, if Linux really is infringing on some MS patent then the functionality will have to be removed, not simply re-implemented in a different way. If this patent is on something core to the operation of Linux, then it could be very bad.
    Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Linux does violate some MS patent- not because the kernel developers have been stealing from MS, but because software patents are far to broad in nature. The best possible scenario would be that Linux is violating some MS patents and that is used as a stepping stone in order to reorganize that entire software patent system so it's not so stupid. More likely is that either Linux isn't violating any MS patents, or it is but MS doesn't do anything about it in court because they are afraid of having to fight IBM on one side, and Antitrust lawsuits from the EU (and possibly the US, though we saw how effective that was the last time) on another side.
  • Interoperability (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:16AM (#16883222)
    Interoperability... Are they are putting in decent VT100 terminal support for a mere few 100 M$ ? Sure.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:21AM (#16883262)
    Novell can cram all the MS crap they want into the common Linux repositories,
    but it doesn't mean that we - the Linux community - have to accept it. I think
    snapping the Novell tine off of the fork is the ultimate answer, and we do that
    by simply turning our backs to Novell and treat it as a non-entity in the Linux
    community from now on. Its value to Linux has plummeted to zero this week, period.

    I'm planning to migrate to either Fedora Core 6 or Debian Etch over the next few
    weeks, depending on which seems to fare better during my personal bake-off. And,
    Microsoft will not have any say whatsoever about what I run on *MY* computer. It's
    mine, and not Ballmer's and he will not dictate what I can and cannot run or store
    on my hardware in any way, shape or form.
  • by cloudkiller (877302) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:27AM (#16883350) Homepage Journal
    the day i learned of the SUSE/M$ deal, I removed SUSE from my triple booting laptop. before the deal I would switch between ubuntu, fedora and SUSE and enjoy each of the distros' strong points. now, i look at SUSE and i just see a lamer version of windows in its early stages. its partition has now been replaced with freeBSD. sure i lost some polish but i saved my soul.
  • by markovg (991625) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:34AM (#16883438)

    The only person liable here should be the author who claims to hold the copyright, like any type of publication. If there are others who wish to the challenge the claim, they would have to demonstrate prior publication and an opportunity for the offending author to have plagiarized the source.

    If demonstrated, the source could be removed from distribution and replaced with non-plagiarized code.

    If I write a scientific article, I don't believe I am liable for citing work which later turns out to be plagiarized. Why should it be any different with code?

    Thus I would say only Novell has any serious liabilities here. It would be, however, important to get some legal advice here, perhaps the FSF could be asked to make a statement on this wrt the GPL, otherwise Microsoft might find itself a legal way to cause OSS alot of trouble.

  • Not really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:35AM (#16883450) Journal
    I think the deal changes the perception of Linux

    Funny thing. SCO tried this same thing about 3 years ago. It started with a reporter "viewing" the evidence and then reporting it as being a credible violation. After 3 years, NOTHING has come from it. I suspect that we will soon see a reporter reporting that they have seen numerous IP violations from Linux, but will not show the evidence and will soon say that it is credable. My guess is that it will be Dvorack or some other idiot inside of PC Mag.

  • by Pink Tinkletini (978889) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:40AM (#16883544) Homepage
    The whole point of the BSD license is that the code may be used freely, by anyone, anywhere, for any purpose. BSD programmers care more about seeing their code put to good use than about getting something back in return. I'd just be happy to see my code being used to improve such a widely-used product, thereby improving the lives of millions. Much less likely with the GPL, you must admit.
  • by symbolic (11752) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:57AM (#16883842)
    This is laughable, because this interoperability stuff is exactly what makes Microsoft an anti-competitive monopoly. I personally believe that since Linux tools like SAMBA and NTFS offer users means to access their own data, these should in no way be subject to claims of infringement. It's equivalent to selling a live-sustaining or life-saving medical device with a heavily DRMed, copy-protected switch that ONLY works under the conditions established by its manufacturer. This is serious enough to warrant consideration of logic that goes something like this..."you can have a monopoly, OR patented IP, but not both." There is simply too much at stake - especially with Microsoft's track record.

    Patents, were, after all, designed to spur innovation, and the only way you can do that is to provide opportunities for other players in the market. You can't have other players if they can never quite get their foot in the door, fearing that they'll be sued into oblivion by monolithic, entrenched interests.
  • by DannyO152 (544940) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:59AM (#16883858)
    This, btw, was Ballmer speaking to predominantly to his customers. He led off by asking who was running Microsoft stuff and who was running Linux as well. Reportedly, a "surprising" number of hands (described as many outside of the quote) went up as well, and Ballmer asks about interoperating problems, some of the audience were having them, and on he goes with Microsoft's solution. While the ip in Linux is a legitimate lede, isn't another take-away that Linux is getting into the datacenter whether or not Microsoft cooperates, i.e., there are problems Linux is solving? And didn't he tell his customers that they are infringing Microsoft's ip if they were using the wrong flavor of Enterprise Linux? And isn't he saying that in order to help solve the interoperating problem, RHEL-using customer of ours, we're going to sell you some vouchers so you can get the other brand, waste time adapting to its differences, have you write off that support subscription to RedHat and make you go get more money for your budget, and that way, after we huddle with Novell, you won't have interoperability problems later (maybe). So, everyone keeps asking the FOSS world -- what's your reaction, what are you going to do. Well, Microsoft customers who also use Enterprise Linux or who are thinking about checking into it, what are you going to do, now that Microsoft has decided that it should you cost you more money to do your job?
  • Re:Okay... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dosquatch (924618) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:05AM (#16883942) Journal

    A US software patent war would show what a disaster they are.

    But, carnage aside, isn't this otherwise a Good Thing? Given the absurd things that the patent office approves under the flag of "[something common], but with a computer!", this might be the most expedient way to have software patents revoked across the board.

    Maybe it's time for the Linux community to pull the trigger first for a change.

  • But think of this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jlebrech (810586) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:06AM (#16883960) Homepage
    Microsoft Windows infringes on our intelligence.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:07AM (#16883966) Homepage Journal
    This move by Microsoft was pretty obviously in the works when they announced their patent cross-licensing scheme with Novell. But the Novell deal isn't absolutely committed yet. And Microsoft, like other submarine patent strategists, usually waits awhile to announce their target, to fool more people into forgetting the way they set up the target, and fool more people into thinking the original transaction was executed for its intrinsic business merits.

    So this whole campaign to screw Linux with patent attacks looks desperate. And since the Novell deal isn't absolutely committed, the strategy is in jeopardy, without its foundation properly laid. With IBM already whipping Novell's last created Frankenstein, SCO, into harmless foam after years in court, Microsoft's attempt looks less likely to succeed every few days. When will Oracle come out of the woods? Does RedHat have a patent arsenal to match its brand and budgets?
  • Re:Samba (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:07AM (#16883970)
    Don't you think that's what this is about? I mean, Gates knows and respects unix; and they know it predates Windows and does not infringe on Microsoft intellectual property. The Linux kernel itself is almost certainly not infringing on anything of Microsoft's at all. I'm guessing that Microsoft can only be referring to projects like Samba and Mono.

    Both projects are basically reverse engineering of Microsoft protocols or APIs with the goal of interopability, or cross-platform deployment. I think reverse engineering is perfectly legitimate. It's been supported by the courts before.

    Listen to what Ballmer is saying: "Therefore, our job has got to be to help our customers get interoperability. And, of course, all vendors secretly are wondering when they do interoperability, did I do something that's going to help me win more of their customers, or something that's going to help them win more of my own customers."

    The other Microsoft related headline is that Europe is trying to force Microsoft to share information about Windows protocols with open-source projects like Samba, to allow and improve interoperability with other operating systems. Microsoft's initial response was to only offer that information to other businesses at a high price. Europe persisted, and Microsoft has adopted this new strategy; still insisting they be paid for compliance with government regulation.
  • by swanriversean (928620) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:10AM (#16884010)
    I wonder if it would be possible to "force the deal" by suing MS for some sort of slander?
    Certainly, if Linux were a person it could, I think. It is like MS saying, "Oh, don't let that Linux get near your family, he molested my children." If Ballmer said what he said about Linux about a person, with no evidence, he would likely end up in court.
    Is there a case here? Is it possible to have a case? I'd love to see someone (or better, a group of someones ... but I think Red Hat may be the only one) take this up.
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pNutz (45478) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:12AM (#16884034)
    Eh? Novell scores.

    They give Novell a wad of cash and gave Suse and Mono MS's blessing. MS will allow a handful of Linux distros to operate (read: suse, rh) and send cease and desist letters to every other distro because Linux and its various popular applications infringe on 326,038 MS-owned software patents. Novell sees this as good since 12,000 somewhat incompatible distributions devalue their product. Wouldn't it be nice if linux came in only 2 or 3 flavors... if you owned one of those flavors?

    It's extortion. Big linux players who play ball will have MS's approval to operate, but the FUD will limit their business (or put them out of business). Since they make up a majority of linux users, and a vast majority of linux servers, this will seal linux's place in the market. All they have to do is keep IBM and/or Sun in court for a couple of years (soon!) and get the big linux players on board (done!) and the FUD will do the rest (started!).

    What will stop it?
    • Patent reform
    • New Congress pushes MS antitrust (I know, funny stuff. Oh man.)

    and... well, that's it. Winning in court won't matter if it drags on for another couple of years. The SCO fiasco has hurt linux adoption (not that it's the only thing). This will be worse. There's no "just show me the code" in a software patent case.
  • Re:Samba (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Earl (1894) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:19AM (#16884166) Homepage Journal

    Actually, Microsoft's plan is even stupider than that. Microsoft wants to charge a per seat license for Linux users, but they aren't really offering enhanced interoperability. Novell and Red Hat are both going to include the same software. It's not like Novell is going to have its own version of Samba, for instance. The primary difference is that Novell customers are going to be able to "sleep easy" because Novell is paying Microsoft so that Microsoft won't sue Novell's Linux customers.

    Microsoft isn't going to sue Red Hat's customers either, but that's only because suing Red Hat customers would be ridiculously foolish. At its heart the real issue is that Microsoft has such a poor relationship with its customers that many customers are worried that Microsoft will drag them into patent court. These customers are willing to pay money, not for any sort of patent license, but for a short term commitment from Microsoft that they won't be sued.

    Next thing you know Microsoft execs will be brutalizing school kids for their lunch money.

    The truly ironic bit is that Microsoft is not going to sue anyone over patents. Microsoft execs know that if they did this the various organizations that have a stake in the success of Linux (which is essentially everyone but Microsoft) would pay for a well-funded defense. Millions of dollars would be spent, and in the end the patents in question would either be shot down or removed from the Free Software product in question. Depending on who Microsoft chose to attack it could even trigger retaliation from other large players with huge patent repositories. What's more, Microsoft's patent aggression would start a wholesale migration away from Microsoft's technologies.

    If Microsoft started suing folks using its technology then its technology would become much less popular virtually overnight.

    This is why Microsoft has wisely chosen a middle road. Instead of actually taking people to court, it is simply going to threaten to take people to court and hope that they'll throw money Microsoft's way.

  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by canuck57 (662392) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:19AM (#16884172)

    Who merged the Linux Genuine Advantage code into the tree? Come on, speak up - I know it was one of you.

    Funny, but the wrong thing to ask.

    The right thing to ask is how much open and public domain source made it to Windows? Was not Linux preemptive multitasking before Windows, POP3, SMTP/sendmail, DNS/BIND, Kerberos, telnet, ftp, http, ssl, TCP/IP itself, and probably more. At least in concept everything in Windows even windows itself is borrowed from other peoples works. Windows itself is an extrapolation of other people's prior works at best.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:21AM (#16884220)
    The lack of specificity is the most damaging. Clearly msft's game is to flood the media with vauge innuendo about linux being a legal mine field. A lie told often enough is the truth. If msft were specific, their claims could be evaluted and appropriate actions taken.

    Msft = the fud factory.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:38AM (#16884496) Homepage Journal

    hopefully many lawyers dying in the middle.

    You misspelled "getting rich".

  • by greg_barton (5551) * <<moc.oohay> <ta> <notrab_gerg>> on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:39AM (#16884526) Homepage Journal
    Brazil [imdb.com] directed by Terry Gilliam

    One of the characters is a guy (played by Robert De Niro) who runs around repairing the horribly broken machines that everyone's required to use, but are forbidden to fix. He's hunted down as a terrorist.

    Seemed pretty crazy when I first saw it.

    Doesn't seem so far fetched anymore.
  • by suggsjc (726146) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:41AM (#16884566) Homepage
    Lets not get into a spiritual/biblical debate here on /. But here is the definition of a fact
    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
    5. Law. Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.
    --Idioms
    6. after the fact, Law. after the commission of a crime: an accessory after the fact.
    7. before the fact, Law. prior to the commission of a crime: an accessory before the fact.
    8. in fact, actually; really; indeed: In fact, it was a wonder that anyone survived.
    I don't know what you consider the Bible to be, but at worst it could be considered a history book. One that is just a recollection by normal people of the events they had witnessed (see #3).

    Unless you can prove any of the accounts of the Bible false, then I will consider them facts.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:2, Insightful)

    by M1FCJ (586251) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#16884620)
    Almost all of that is either open standards or outright BSD implementation and last time I looked, MS honoured the BSD licence.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:45AM (#16884654)
    Ah, but those decent human beings didn't patent their work. And in this world, the validity of the patent only matters if the one being sued has enough money to hold out for a non-speedy civil trial for 2-5 years while the prosecutor stalls, trying to bleed the smaller company dry on law costs.
  • by Locutus (9039) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:49AM (#16884738)
    Their shareholders should be pretty pissed at THAT kind of money making scheme. But me thinks it's more like their money making scheme with regard to WindowsCE and Xbox. You know, the scheme to take profits from the Windows monopoly( around $10 billion so far ) and keep the WindowsCE and Xbox products on the market so nobody else jumps in and grows to threaten the Windows monopoly/gravy train.

    IMO, in the next few years we are going to see the public finally seeing Microsoft for what they really are. After all, FOSS and GNU/Linux must be doing SOMETHING or else Microsoft would not be doing so much in the public and financial markets regarding them. Unfortunately, I don't see very much of this in the United States so it must be going on elsewhere or outside of my sight.

    'Gozer' has now, or will soon be, materialized and Novell could be our 'Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man'. Will it be IBM, Oracle, RedHat, or others who bust this party up? Or will the US become to knowns as "The land of Gozer", if it isn't already?

    So, "Who you gonna call?".

    LoB
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by diamondsw (685967) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#16884778)
    Doesn't a lot of the networking code mentioned come from BSD, which is MIT-licensed? Microsoft would be completely free to use that if they wanted.

    Another reason to prefer the MIT license to the GPL - a rising tide raises ALL ships. And I don't see BSD dying (despite Netcraft) due to lack of contributions and effort.
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:03PM (#16884990) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't it be nice if linux came in only 2 or 3 flavors... if you owned one of those flavors?

    I think you've found the genius of it: The problem for MS is that open source is so slippery. For instance, every time they turn around there's a new linux distribution, and they can become popular quickly - e.g. Ubuntu. If an open-source business goes under, it's code assets are still out there for any hobbysit or business to improve.

    But if there were only 2 or 3 legitimate flavours of Linux from large vendors, then those can be contained or attacked by conventional tactics. And the best thing is that the big Linux vendors won't object at first, since by going after their smaller competitors you're doing them a favour.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by l4m3z0r (799504) <kevinNO@SPAMuberstyle.net> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#16885066)

    Was not Linux preemptive multitasking before Windows, POP3, SMTP/sendmail, DNS/BIND, Kerberos, telnet, ftp, http, ssl, TCP/IP itself, and probably more.

    Are you seriously suggesting that Linux is the originator of all these technologies? or is that just the implication of your words without it being your intent?

    Furthermore what does that matter, some people gave their code away with the intent that companies use it how they see fit. So don't go suggesting this is wrong or bad or in any way hypocritical of any company that protects its own IP while using the IP of others who freely give it away.

  • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:35PM (#16885548)
    Microsoft need to be specific; what are the patent numbers, which countries are they valid in, and what is the licence fee that Microsoft would like from an individual user ?

    No, they would need to be specific if they intended to file suit against anyone associated with the development of Linux in court.

    If they're just going to make public statements with the intent of spreading FUD about Linux, it's in their interest to be as NON-specific as possible.
  • by kabloom (755503) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:37PM (#16885582) Homepage
    These days, you can patent anything. Linux probably violates some of Microsoft's patents -- but they're probably stupid patents that will be overturned by a court.

    That doesn't mean it's not expensive to litigate.
  • Re:Okay... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronl (43811) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:42PM (#16885670) Homepage
    Either that, or Linux development leaves the US, just as much OpenBSD development left because of our ill-conceived laws. It would further the US decline in technology dramatically, and make Microsoft a huge enemy of all business. Their software would likely become taboo around the world, for fear of giving them enough influence to pull the same stunts in other countries.
  • by Knuckles (8964) <knuckles@daTIGERntian.org minus cat> on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:19PM (#16886322)
    but at worst it could be considered a history book.

    No, at worst it is a book of made-up stories.

    One that is just a recollection by normal people of the events they had witnessed (see #3).

    You do realize that it is simply not true that all or even most bible parts are eyewitness accounts, yes?

    Unless you can prove any of the accounts of the Bible false, then I will consider them facts.

    That's a bad choice IMHO. At most you should consider them as accounts that were not disproved. Or do you also consider it fact until disproved if I tell you that a friend of mine can make his head explode?
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:55PM (#16887018)
    No, he's suggesting that if Linux had these before Windows, then Linux can't be violating any MS IP (at least W.R.T. the things he mentioned).

    That parenthetical note is key here. Linux didn't have an SMB server before Microsoft did; no, Samba isn't part of the Linux kernel, but it is part of a lot of Linux distributions (as well as being used on other UN*X OSes), and Microsoft do have a licensing process for SMB and various protocols that run atop it [microsoft.com], so that might be what Ballmer was referring to.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Friday November 17, 2006 @01:56PM (#16887042)
    With the Novell deal, Microsoft pretends to 'embrace' Novell SUSE Linux and casts a FUD shadow over non-SUSE Linux but that's not the whole thing. Next will come the Microsoft products that extend SUSE Linux to 'interoperate' with Windows and, guess what, they might actually become popular and useful for both Windows and Novell SUSE Linux users. Finally comes 'extinguish' where the new products become obstacles to using other OSS software and non-SUSE linux.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stoanhart (876182) on Friday November 17, 2006 @02:07PM (#16887280)
    While this approach isn't what the FOSS community would like, it at least provides a possible method of closed and open sourced software to coexist. Take drivers for example. Since the linux kernel will never have a stable internal API, it becomes impossible for a closed-source vendor to simply write a driver and then leave it at that, like in Windows. The vendor must continue to update the driver basically forever, as the internal structure of the kernel continues to change. Using the intel open-source-kernel-module-communicating-with-binar y-blob method allows the vendor to basically stabalize a small part of the kernel, since it will continue to be updated by the FOSS community as the kernel evolves. Development on the binary blob can be discontinued, and it will still work years down the line. It's not perfect, but at least it's a solution.
  • Re:Alright, own up (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DevoPhl (702812) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:25PM (#16888576)
    I think this all nothing more than carefully placed FUD. It comes a couple of days after Red Hat thumbed its nose at Microsoft for not caving in to its demands of pay MS money for the use of Linux or MS will sue it for copyright and patent infringement. This is SCO all over again and I can't help but believe IBM and others won't step up again to fight this.

    Also, keep in mind that Microsoft reinvented itself back in the early 90s. MS wanted a product line that would win in the desktop AND the server markets. It crafted the desktop off of what Apple had done and it wan't to use the leverage they'd get from the desktop to win over the server market as well. The only way to do that was to create a propriety system from the ground up. The OS design was an "anything but Unix" design. It wanted to make sure no other system could talk to Windows and no Windows desktop could talk to anything other than another Windows computer. It developed its own networking protocol, its own file sharing protocols, its own Windows API. The idea was if you have a Windows desktop, it could only talk to a Windows server and that was how MS was going to win over the server market as well.

    But an interesting thing happened on the way to total market dominance... There was the Internet and the WWW. Remember, Microsoft didn't originally support TCP/IP but was forced to when the Internet became widely popular in the mid 90s. There was the web browser which allow people to run applications on Unix servers and have the output displayed on their desktop screens. And worse of all, there was reverse engineering. Oh wow, the very tactic Microsoft used to become powerful in the first place was being used against it to chip away at its dominance.

    Now that everyone has figured out how to get Windows computers to interact with non-Windows computers, Microsoft is feeling the pinch. Its losing the server market as the Linux market is a more efficient and more cost effective platform to put a server application on. Its losing the desktop market as low cost applications are replacing the big cash cows like Microsoft Office.

    So about the time we're feeling comfortable about how everything is one big happy family, Microsoft is going to throw a monkey wrench into all of this. Vista appears to be a BIG blow to interoperability as MS vows to reinforce its proprietary dominance. A new set of protocols and a new DRM layer will make applications tougher to run and data harder to use. Now, Microsoft is going to the next level... using its near monopoly status and huge cash coffers to shut down its competition. If Vista is a failure, Microsoft could very well wither away. It's betting its future on Vista and its new line of products wrapped around Vista. It's betting Vista will bring back the Microsoft only universe. But if MS thinks Vista is going to be a slam dunk winner, why is it bothering to put out all this propaganda about Linux. Maybe its covering all the bases in that by forcing the hand of Linux and FOSS, it will convince users that the risks of using OSS are too high and they will run back to proprietary Microsoft.

    Its amazing how this has flipped 180 degrees. Twenty five years ago, Microsoft was using DOS and Basic to allow people to develop software to get out from underneath the proprietary world of the large mainframes of IBM, Dec and others. Now, Linux, supported by IBM and others is offering FOSS to allow people to get out from underneath the proprietary world of Microsoft.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:27PM (#16893124)
    I've got five words for you Steve Ballmer: Tortious interference with business relationships [wikipedia.org]. Red Hat, among a number of others, was damaged by this statement, to the extent of lost profits due to customer and business partner fears over patent infringement, as well as costs to shield its customers from lawsuits. I'm sure Mark Webbink is looking over possible options right now.

    If Red Hat filed this lawsuit, in order to defend itself, Microsoft would have the affirmative defense of speaking the truth, but to prove it they'd have to file a counterclaim for patent infringement, then win. In other words, put their money where their big fat mouthpiece went. Then we'd really get some answers. My guess is they're trying to buy out everyone, starting with Novell, rather than sue and lose, because that would set a precedent.

  • SO SUE ME!!! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 18, 2006 @03:33PM (#16898124)
    Note to Ballmer:

    1. I run a non-Suse copy of Linux. If you have any patents that I may be infringing, please sue me, and please specify exactly which patents I am supposedly infringing.

    2. I also have a copy of Novell Linux. Once you have identified your patents, I will sue Novell for violating article 7 of the GPL v.2

    You want a fight? Bring it on.

    Moron.

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