I'm the increasingly discontent owner of an Hotmail account (don't laugh, I subscribed back when Hotmail wasn't owned by Microsoft). Recently, in order to compete with Google on the Web, Hotmail's interface was overhauled: it now has a "classic" interface, which works reasonably well but is still rather limited, and a supposedly "Full" interface that should make it the equal of sites like Google Apps and Yahoo Mail/Calendar/etc.
I recently read an interview with Bill Hilf  (thanks to a link from Groklaw).As I read it, I realised that it needed clarifications to anybody left wondering whether Mr. Hilf’s answers are indeed objective. This article will go through the most interesting questions and answers, and will try to clarify some important points
Few events have created more fodder for the blogosphere, more fuel for Microsoft critics and more emotional responses than the Microsoft patent deals with Novell, Linspire and Xandros. While putting together a list of things people hate about these deals is easy, generating a list of positive aspects is much harder. So I tried to take a more balanced approach and put together a love/hate list about these deals.
The free software world is being attacked by a large, wealthy, brutal monopolist, who I’ll call “Megatron” for today. As I wrote last month, Megatron is driving its OOXML tank through the village church of open standards, doing unspeakable things to the ISO process, with the intention of locking in a generation of computer users to its stack of patented, restricted, and undocumented formats. It’s about freedom, some of us want it, others want to take it away from us.
A first draft of this article has been sitting for months in my hard disk. I decided to finish it after reading that Microsoft will offer its operating system and office suite for $3 per machine to developing countries. That made me think of the way the giant software company “helps” these countries by giving licenses of its proprietary software almost for free, and that in turn made me think of free milk. Let me tell you about it.
The Nestlé boycott
In August 2005 Peter Quinn, now retired Chief Information Officer of Massachusetts, decided that OpenDocument was the best way to store documents with the guarantee that they would be able to be opened 10, 30, 50 years from now. For a state government, this is particularly important. He led Massachusetts toward OpenDocument and OpenOffice.org. The move, which sparked controversy and ferocious lobbying, is likely to end-up in history books (and while we’re at it, I’ll mention that history books in particular ought to be accessible 50, 100, 1000 years from now!).
I won this great big lottery the other day. I rushed around and bought new houses and all the usual stuff, then I had enough left over to get a new sports car. Before I went to look at the latest Porsches and Ferraris, I thought I might have a look at the new MicroKlapt V16 F1 GT Ultimate. They had all these ads with everyone dancing around going, “Wow”, so it looked pretty good.
For any specialist interest, be it trade or hobbyist, it is the norm to find at least one specialist magazine. If you are into selling comics and games you are probably an avid reader of the Comic and Games Retailer publication. Where would the world's tissue vendors be without their Tissue World Magazine? Also I cannot imagine the problems caused if the machine lubricators were deprived of their monthly Machine Lubrication Magazine.
Those of us who are proponents of free software, and follow it in the technical press, also have our weird and wonderful publications. Though being IT oriented these tend to be on-line based rather than paper based (such as Free Software Magazine), but often have to undergo an experience that is distasteful and nauseating...
Microsoft. Open-Source Certification. This is not an April Fools, apparently. According to various news feeds (this was brought to my attention from PCWorld, but YMMV as these stories are periodic) they will be submitting some of their "shared source" licenses to the OSI. This is genuinely fantastic news, as after years of FUDing us around, they finally admit that Open Source exists, is a good thing, non-cancerous, and something with which they want to get involved. It's also very flattering, because since they're submitting to the OSI it tells us that they acknowledge the term "Open Source" (and by its implication "Free Software") and that its definition is vested and controlled. By someone else.
But now they've built the bridge, they need to know how to cross it. There's a cultural divide that has been fostered through the years. So listen up Microsoft, this is your next step in allowing shared source to become compatible with FOSS licenses and - more importantly - its inherent ideals!
Kevin Rose founded Digg in late 2004. It was the beginning of something phenomenal... to be precise, the Digg phenomenon. Digg was all about the tight-knit community of techies who wanted to get in there, share relevant tech news, vote for it, and talk about it. And what a fabulous idea it was.
The normally boring world of international standards has turned into a bloody fist fight between the most brutal monopolist of modern times, and the Community. Just the name, “Office Open XML” makes my head spin, and when I start to read Microsoft’s so-sincere explanations that “users demand multiple standards”, my blood begins to boil. But before I turn green and rip off my shirt, let me take a deep breath and look calmly at how Microsoft is trying to do to ISO what Borat wanted to do to Pamela.
When we consider the situation Microsoft finds itself in with regard to the GNU General Public License (GPL), it is important to consider how one determines when someone has accepted the GNU GPL and, hence, when someone is actually bound by its terms. Many people receive software that has been licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL all the time. However, simply receiving software licensed under the GNU GPL does not, in itself, mean that one has accepted the terms. Indeed, there is no contract to sign when receiving said software and certainly no “End User License Agreement”.
Allow me to set the scene: There I was this morning, reading The Melbourne Age online and drinking a cup of decaffeinated coffee (just don’t ask), when suddenly, I saw it. Again. An advertisement in the technology section that any first year media student worth their salt could trample all over. And I wondered, how do these travesties of advertising happen?
[Cue fade-out and chimes; cut to (day)dream sequence; fade-in...]
A long time ago in a classroom far, far away...
Here, we have a mug-shot of Steven Anthony Ballmer—the same Ballmer who has been ranting and raving that the Free Software Movement has “stolen” code from his precious Microsoft Windows OS, and incorporated it into software which we... uh... “give away” for free.
Question please, Mr Ballmer;
If we “stole” our operating systems from Microsoft, then how come our operating systems never “crash” in the monotonously regular fashion that every Windows OS has done since Windows 3.11?
It is now official.FSM is dead. Send no flowers. It is time for us to pack up our keyboards, reassign our internet links to catty cable TV, give up bags and to spend our time doing something constructive like playing MS Windows Mines or Solitaire. Time for us to reformat out computers with GNU/Linux on them and pay for a operating system where we need not spend all those hours worrying about source code. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted....
In April, the Supreme Court issued two rulings with respect to patents that will have significant ramifications for software companies. The first case dealt directly with Microsoft, which won big, staving off millions in damages for patent infringement. But in the second ruling, dealing with the design of a gas pedal control system for cars, Microsoft (and the whole software industry) lost big time. However, in one of those rare cosmic moments, the FOSS movement was a major winner in both cases.
That’s right, they’re the top dogs in the business; with “unprecedented control” in the technology industry and “access to a huge amount of consumer information”. And a concerned member of the technology community recently put out the call for scrutiny on the new big boys in town “from regulatory authorities to ensure a competitive... market”. Sounds like old news, huh? You know which big dirty corporate bad guys I’m referring to? The baddest of the lot... Google of course.
People are real creatures of habit, aren’t they? It’s true, change is a stressful thing. There are all those statistics that say events like divorce and moving house are as stressful as a death in the family. However, none of those stress therapists ever predicted the suffering that it seems thousands of people are slogging through at this very minute, mouths forced open in silent screams of distress... the stress of switching from trusty, faithful first wife XP to that slinky young blonde upstart Vista. Who knew something so desirable could be so high maintenance?
The answer to that question is probably not, though the thought had crossed my mind. In a way they already have done in a small way, they have given Novell approximately a quater's worth of net profit in return for what appears to be a cut of all Open Enterprise and SUSE Linux sales. Although no shares have changed hands, this, in itself, seems to me to be a kind of "virtual" company sale. This is even not considering the palaver regarding the patent covenants....
I had a massive argument with my brother the other day over an IT issue close to my heart. I had to be careful because he is a member of the Metropolitan Police, part of the Domestic Violence Policy Unit. To clarify, his department is responsible for the policy of policing domestic violence.
What he was saying was that he, and the entire metropolitan police force, use Microsoft Word, all the police departments and stations he deals with do as well, as do all organizations he needs to interact with outside the police including the name drop-able big-wig departments in the UK government. He said they had "standardized" on Microsoft Office formats and did not see a problem with that, nor did he see my objections.