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Ballmer Says Linux "Infringes Our Intellectual Property" 820

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 LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:39AM (#16882772) Homepage Journal
    Who merged the Linux Genuine Advantage code into the tree?
    Come on, speak up - I know it was one of you.
  • Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ice Wewe ( 936718 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:40AM (#16882784)
    This coming from the guy that's requiring SMB2 in Vista so that people using Samba on Linux server's can't use them for file storage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I know it wasn't the best, but I happen to like Super Mario Brothers 2. ...what?
    • Re:Samba (Score:5, Interesting)

      by udderly ( 890305 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:00AM (#16883014)
      Is it just me or does it sound like MS is going to charge a per seat charge for some enhanced ability to connect from a Windows machine to Linux servers? Or is it just straight blackmail for exemption for future litigation? Or both? I can't tell.
      • 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.

        • by Captain Sarcastic ( 109765 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:47AM (#16884706)
          Next thing you know Microsoft execs will be brutalizing school kids for their lunch money.

          That remark touches a nerve for me. There was a girl in my elementary school who kept taking my lunch money. Worse yet, she took it from other kids in the school.

          However, I was the first one to stand up to her, and tell her that she wasn't going to get MY money, and that I was going to keep it!

          So she told me to put my tray back, and turned to the next kid in line.

          But I could tell that I'd had some effect from the way she kept looking at me funny for the rest of the year, and the whispering of the other kids told me that I'd made an impression on them as well.

          • Re:OT: Lunch money (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:42PM (#16885684)
            Microsoft has gone after "lunch money" before. When they were attempting to get as many school systems on Microsofts License 6 scheme, they used the BSA to trigger clauses in the Microsoft Windows EULA to force expensive audits on various school systems across the US. Many caved in and paid for MS License 6 instead of the 10's to 100's of thousands it would cost for th audit only to have a handful of illegal copies still cost them millions. But, a few fought back and dumped MS Windows for GNU/Linux and then started telling other school systems about it and how it was much cheaper than MS License 6 or the audit.

            Google for Oregon school Linux Microsoft BSA or similar terms and you should get some hits on the topic.

            Microsoft just might be forcing an 'event' in the market they really don't want to occur. The fact that they are even using the "L" word and signing/paying off a "L" word company is amazing enough and shows they are having a 'problem' with GNU/Linux and probably FOSS too. IMO.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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
  • by deadhammer ( 576762 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:40AM (#16882788)
    That rhythmic thudding sound you hear is the sound of every computer professional on the planet simultaneously laughing their balls off.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> 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 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.
      • Not really (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WindBourne ( 631190 )
        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 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 [], 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 jackbird ( 721605 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:03AM (#16883050)
        Bear in mind that Boies Schiller Flexner, SCO's law firm, is really, really good. They're the firm that defeated Microsoft in the antitrust trial. The fact that they've been able to drag this case out as long as they have with no evidence whatsoever is testament to that.

        But IBM has some fantastic lawyers as well, and they are not going to take Microsoft intimidating and/or suing their customers lying down. The nightmare scenario is IBM, MS, and Novell collaborating on a plan to monetize Linux, but with Red Hat already having line in the sand, and Sun and most of the developers unlikely to play ball, that could end well, too.

    • 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!"
    • by 14CharUsername ( 972311 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:09AM (#16883140)
      This deal won't have any influence on the courts. Its all about PR and thats as far as it goes. And everyone in the know knows how this is complete bullshit. If Linux is infringing on MS patents, then why is MS paying Novell, a linux distributer? Shouldn't Novell be paying MS? What is MS paying for? FUD, thats what. But FUD doesn't work in courts. FUD is about muddying the waters and the law is all about very specific little details.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jimicus ( 737525 )
        If Linux is infringing on MS patents, then why is MS paying Novell, a linux distributer?

        No idea who's paying who, but you've alluded to a very good point here.

        As I see it, there are two possible scenarios:

        1. Linux really does infringe on Microsoft's patents.

        Redhat have already announced that they have no intention of making a similar deal. If there really was infringement going on, Microsoft should have taken Redhat to court immediately - it would have just as much of a PR effect, if not greater, and woul
    • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:10AM (#16883158) Journal
      It seems they are referring to the interoperability features. Things like NTFS support and even Samba. Of course as we speak the EU is forcing MS to disclose these interoperability secrets and saying they don't belong to MS. A lot of this stuff was also covered in the initial trial here in the US. They got let off, but the political climate is changing. They might be figuring, hey we need to license this stuff quickly before the government forces us to give it away..
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by symbolic ( 11752 )
        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 con
    • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:11AM (#16883160) Homepage Journal

      What is it about monopolists that they end up thinking no one else could possibly be as good as them and their team, that no one could possibly compete, that no one could come up with an idea on their own?

      Why do monopolists assume they own the world when their fragment is a paltry slice compared to the whole?

      Why would someone whose anti-trust investigation mysteriously evaporated shortly after the Bush election be flapping their gums when the Democrats are on the rise and looking into any and all events for influence, connections, and blame? Instead of worrying about Linux, Ballmer should be worrying about the spectre of renewed anti-trust investigations.

      The Linux code is up for public review. The straw-dog SCO attempt to tear it down is all but done. Let Microsoft publish their code and identify the purported IP conflicts. They don't and won't because they can't, and they know it.

    • by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:11AM (#16883168) Journal

      Also from Ballmer:

      We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it's not an exclusive thing.

      My, how nice of you. So you're willing to include others in your protection racket? You're much too gracious.

      Seriously, this is f*cked up, in a disturbingly devious way. Basically, Ballmer's philosophy here seems to be: "Microsoft deserves money for every single computer out there, and we will get it one way or the other."

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord Ender ( 156273 )
      I haven't seen patent one infringed upon let alone a whole balance sheet's worth

      Patent one? The patent for making Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process []? Yeah, you're right, I don't think that's the method Linux uses to generate its pot ash.
    • by dilute ( 74234 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:57AM (#16883830)
      This is a total bluff on Microsoft's part. Yes, you can sue end users for patent infringement, but it only makes sense to do that if you have no customers and no products (i.e., only a paper patent).

      It would be suicidal for Microsoft to sue true end users for patent infringement. It will never happen. IT managers have nothing to fear on that point. It's Microsoft that fears the collective power of the IT managers. It's just SO good when there is real competition. And that's what we have now, due to Linux, Oracle, Sun, etc. So Microsoft is forced to respond.

      Balmer addressed this at the end of his answer: "[our customers are saying '] don't come try to license this individually.' So customer push drove us to where we got"

      SCO was a much more credible threat, while it lasted, because you could see a company like that, which had nothing much to lose, actually going out and suing end users (at one point I believe they did).

      If Microsoft can find (another) way to do this through a proxy, maybe that will work (if people don't immediately see through it).

      But Microsoft has no practical ability to enforce its patents against end users without SERIOUSLY damaging their brand.

      Sure, they can go after distributors, but then what - sue ALL of them? Shut down all Linux distros? Can you imagine the antitrust backlash from that? Trying to extinguish the competition en masse based on vague patent claims? Forget about it.

      Then there is the question of what the patents are, whether they are valid, and whether they can be worked around.

      Conventional wisdom, which probably holds true here, is that for companies like Microsoft, patents largely have defensive value. Any attempt to go out and wield them offensively usually has unbearable associated risks and/or costs.

      Get a good laugh, because Microsoft is very far from accomplishing anything on these fronts, other than further validating Linux and open source.
  • by SlashDread ( 38969 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:41AM (#16882792)
    SuSE is dead.
  • by tttonyyy ( 726776 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:41AM (#16882800) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft infringes on our patience sometimes, as well.
  • by A nonymous Coward ( 7548 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:42AM (#16882812)
    If you want a job done right, do it yourself, eh Balmer? SCO just wasn't up to the task.
  • by MancunianMaskMan ( 701642 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:44AM (#16882840)
    GNU/Linux infringes on our IP
  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pNutz ( 45478 )
      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 extor
      • 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.
  • Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by urbanradar ( 1001140 ) <> 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.
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:57AM (#16882974)
      Oh, I believe that Linux (especially when you look at an entire distribution) DOES infringe on some MS patents. Wasn't it a year or so ago where 20 some odd MS patents were dug up by Linux proponents as a concern?

      I think a couple of things have been holding MS back however. IBM and THEIR patent war-chest, and the EU / DOJ with the anti-trust / abusive monopoly issue.

      MS wouldn't go after individuals in any case, they would go after businesses.

      We shall see!
      • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:22AM (#16883294)
        Well said. It's likely that every non-trivial piece of software infringes on some patent somewhere. But there are two reasons nobody wants a patent war:
        • It would be carnage. The only certain outcome would be lawyers getting rich.
        • Software patents are still disallowed in Europe, but there is intense lobbying to get them introduced. A US software patent war would show what a disaster they are.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Mutually Assured Litigation? MAL is bad. (pun)
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Funny)

      by chrismcdirty ( 677039 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:58AM (#16882978) Homepage
      So what I'm gathering from this is that it's going to be a behemoth of a battle between IBM and MS, with hopefully many lawyers dying in the middle.
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by miyako ( 632510 ) <(miyako) (at) (> 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ynohoo ( 234463 )
      instead of Linux distributors worrying about Ballmer suing them, surely Ballmer has just laid himself open to a liable and defamation suit?
  • SCO did it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#16882864)

    But seriously, when the first SCO thing came about, the Linux people said, "We don't want to infringe on anyone's IP, so tell us where it we are infringing, and we will rewrite the code."

    Same applies here. Open source takes a little of the fun out of these things, now doesn't it?

    • Re:SCO did it! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by miyako ( 632510 ) <(miyako) (at) (> 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.
  • Company motto (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:47AM (#16882868)
    If you can't beat 'em sue 'em.
  • 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?
  • BSD too (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lord_Slepnir ( 585350 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:53AM (#16882926) Journal
    Ballmer added later in the speech "You'll notice that BSD also infringes on our Intellectual Property. You'll notice that the BSD network stack is identical to the one Microsoft created. Anyone who thinks otherwise has been brainwashed by the Great Satan []"
  • So what happens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Epeeist ( 2682 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:53AM (#16882928) Homepage
    When it is shown to be Mono that is infringing?
  • I'll bite (Score:4, Interesting)

    by smittyoneeach ( 243267 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @09:54AM (#16882938) Homepage Journal
    "Linux operating system"
    Ballmer's meat puppet McBride couldn't win in court on the specious SCO claims about foreign code polluting the Linux kernel.
    Not clear how, if Windows code had been magically grafted into the Linux kernel, that such Frankencode would a) work and b) go unnoticed. Linus himself is the ulitmate commiter to the sources, no?
    As a society, we need to stigmatize people who say such wrongheaded things in public, and clueless publications that circulate such tripe.
  • 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 hedrick ( 701605 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:00AM (#16883008)
    With this license agreement, Novell has a license to put MS patented technology into their Linux. Is it safe to permit Novell engineers to submit code to common Linux repositories? It seems to me that they would need to certify that none of their code contains any of the MS IP that they now have access to. Unless MS is willing to identify which portions of SuSE are covered by their patents, this could be difficult.
  • 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".
  • 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. []

  • by spellraiser ( 764337 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:05AM (#16883084) Journal

    Quoth Ballmer:

    At the end of the day for basically the whole 18, 19 years that we've been pursuing the server and enterprise opportunity, our number one competitor in the data center for new applications has been Unix. Unix, Unix, Unix, Unix.

    So they need lots of developers, developers, developers, developers to keep up ...

  • 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
  • by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:13AM (#16883178)
    Hey, Steve, Apple of the 1980's called. They want their reactions to your OS stealing their ideas back.
  • 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 Russ Nelson ( 33911 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:30AM (#16883386) Homepage
    Ahhhhh, so Microsoft owns IP that's in Linux, eh? So that explains why they paid Novell All That Much Money.
  • by Dystopian Rebel ( 714995 ) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:37AM (#16883494) Journal
    Really, he is a genius. Think about it.

    IT Shop: We need some robust 24/7 uptime servers.

    Ballmer: Great, I'll send you some Windows licences. Misa or VasterCard?

    IT Shop: No, we need a well-architected, secure OS that's designed for networking.

    Ballmer: Great! I'll send you some Vista licences. You should see Aero. Wow!

    IT Shop: No, in the last 10 years, Windows has cost billions of dollars in lost time because of security flaws in Microsoft software.

    Ballmer: Um... well... er... heh...

    IT Shop: We're going with Linux.

    Ballmer: Did you know? All the good parts of Linux were designed by us. Novell even admits it. We release so much great code every day that we let the hippies have some for free. So, in fact, when you buy Vista, you get all the good parts of Linux. Plus... you get Aero! Wow! Will that be Misa or VasterCard?

  • by aauu ( 46157 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#16883648) Homepage
    All this patent noise is hiding the real agenda. Microsoft is having Novell create a Linux compatibility layer for Windows to replace the aging/ailing Services For Unix/Services for Unix Applications. Services for Linux in Vista/Longhorn by SP2. Novell has the skills to hack Linux interface into Windows, since this is how Netware integrates. Remember FreeBSD has a Linux compatibilty layer so there is an existing shim already that can be adapted.
  • by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @10:47AM (#16883658) Homepage Journal
    Didn't SCO already did that? Why can't Microsoft be original? What's next; are they going to try to erect a huge sunshade over Seattle? Steal the head off of a statue of George Washington? Come on now, Microsoft, you can do better than that! But then, I suppose this is so typical of your idea of "innovation."

    Seriously though, if they claim Linux infringes on its IP, it's 99.999% likely that every other *nix variant out there does as well, since Linux is merely a clone of Unix. So, go after the likes of Sun, IBM, SCO (Yeah, I know SCO and Microsoft are lovers, but bear with me here), the BSDs, HP (HP/UX and Dec Unix), and so forth. I don't think even Microsoft has the resources to prove to the courts that an OS architecture which predates theirs by over a decade infringes on their so-called "intellectual property."
  • 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?
  • by NullProg ( 70833 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:04AM (#16883938) Homepage Journal []

    We all know that Windows most innovative feature is the BSOD. They want thier royalties.


  • 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?
  • OSX question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:17AM (#16884128) Journal
    So, if there is "infringing" IP in Linux, is there a liklihood that similar infringements have been made in Apple's code?

    Really, I'm not trolling. It sounds like Ballmer is saying that MS has so much of the system tied up in IP that effectively everybody who writes an OS which can interact with MS software is infringing. Does Apple have cross licensing?
  • 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.
  • by qazwart ( 261667 ) on Friday November 17, 2006 @11:25AM (#16884286) Homepage
    > 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.

    Well, look at the facts.

    * Linux uses Microsoft's technology of taking input from a keyboard and displaying it on a monitor.
    * Both Linux and Windows run programs that can help you create documents and run a webserver.
    * Both Linux and Windows need "programs" written in "source code" that must be "compiled" in order to operate. Even worse, these "programs" need to be downloaded either over the Internet or from a CD.
    * Both Linux and Windows communicate with computers that use the Windows OS.

    That's pretty damning evidence! The only technology Linux hasn't stolen yet is Window's ability to bloat up with malware causing the system to come crashing down and displaying the Blue Screen of Death.
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#16885282) Homepage Journal

    Steven, when you use a Trojan Horse strategy, you have to remember to wait to attack until the doors are closed, night has fallen, and the city inhabitants are all asleep in their beds.

    Overall grade: C+

    Great execution of a sneaky plan at the beginning. Strong-arming Novell was a masterstroke. Then you brought the whole plan down because you were too impatient. Reread The Prince before our next assignment.

  • Cry havoc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by quag7 ( 462196 ) <> on Friday November 17, 2006 @12:32PM (#16885494) Homepage
    In a way we should be thanking Ballmer. A lot of people run Linux now and the thrill of simply putting it on one's machine is long gone.

    Ballmer's comments, and the presumable legal action which will follow them in the future, lets us feel like outlaws, non-conformists, and rebels again. SCO was never really a thrilling nemesis

    SCO is...well...SCO is...pathetic.

    I never really had that thrill of running something as unlikely as Linux; by the time I got it installed (2001), it was pretty popular, installers had made it simple, and it wasn't a big deal. But now, not only will my 5 years of Linux usage be a functional and utilitarian experience (which is the sum total of what it has been thus far)-- but also one of spite and defiance going forward.

    I enjoy spite and defiance. Don't you? I'd rather be dragging down kings and military regimes, but this will do as a small snack in my comfortable suburban kitchen.

    A small thrill, but it feels good, nonetheless.

    I can't be the only one who felt *good* to be a Linux user when I read this.

    The chances of me downgrading to something like Vista were null to begin with, but now, well...

    The only thing I have to say about Windows is, well, bitch if I need to, I'll run your OS in a *window*.
  • 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.
  • I thought I'd do a quick Google search and see if good ol' Microsoft has ever "appropriated" any code themselves. In just a few minutes, I found eight instances where Microsoft lost court battles over the code they stole. Here you go:

    As a response to Digital Research's DR-DOS 6.0, which bundled SuperStor disk compression, Microsoft opened negotiations with Stac Electronics, vendor of the most popular DOS disk compression tool, Stacker. Stac was unwilling to meet Microsoft's terms for licensing Stacker and withdrew from the negotiations. In the due diligence process, Stac engineers had shown Microsoft some Stacker source code. However, Microsoft chose to license Vertisoft's DoubleDisk instead of Stacker.[2]

    Soon, MS-DOS 6.0 was released, including the Microsoft DoubleSpace disk compression utility program. Stac successfully sued Microsoft for patent infringement regarding the compression algorithm used in DoubleSpace. This resulted in the release of MS-DOS 6.21, which had disk-compression removed. Shortly afterwards came version 6.22, with a new version of the disk compression system, DriveSpace, rewritten to avoid the infringing code. []

    A new patent battle is brewing -- this time over Microsoft's (Quote) claim over Caller ID for E-Mail.

    F. Scott Deaver, owner of Failsafe Designs, says Microsoft is guilty of the "outright theft" of his product name and intellectual property (IP), and will seek legal and financial redress from the Redmond, Wash., software giant and anyone else that uses his technology that verifies e-mail is coming from the domain it claims. 393891 []

    Alacritech® Inc., the innovator of Dynamic TCP Offload(TM) data acceleration solutions that enable the highest performance and efficiency in networked systems, today announced a U.S. District Court granted Alacritech's motion for preliminary injunction to prevent Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq: MSFT) from making, using, offering for sale, selling, importing or inducing others to use Microsoft's "Chimney" TCP offload architecture slated to be available in both the "Longhorn" version of the Windows® operating system and in the Scalable Networking Pack for Windows Server(TM) 2003.

    Alacritech sued Microsoft in Federal District Court on August 11, 2004, alleging that Microsoft's existing and future operating systems containing the "Chimney" TCP offload architecture uses Alacritech's proprietary SLIC Technology® architecture. The suit is based on two of Alacritech's fundamental patents relating to scalable networking, U.S. Patent No. 6,427,171 and U.S. Patent No. 6,987,868, both entitled "Protocol Processing Stack for use with Intelligent Network Interface Device." anted_PI.shtml []

    In April 2001, Intertrust initiated a lawsuit against Microsoft. The lawsuit ultimately accused Microsoft of infringing 11 of Intertrust's patents and almost 130 of the company's patent claims.

    The lawsuit centered on accused products based on the following technologies:

    DRM and product activation technologies .NET and related security technologies
    Trusted and reliable operating system technologies
    In bringing the patent infringement lawsuit, Intertrust believed that Microsoft's forward-going technology infrastructure significantly relied on Intertrust's inventions for DRM and trusted computing. []

    (Redwood Shores, CA, December 15, 2005) - Visto Corporation has filed a legal action against Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) for misappropriating Visto's intellectual property. The complaint ass

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel