[lug] Bruce Perens's open letter to Novell

D. Stimits stimits at comcast.net
Fri Nov 24 12:04:34 MST 2006

Ferdinand Schmid wrote:

>On Fri, 2006-11-24 at 01:11 +0000, D. Stimits wrote:
>>When MS can't own the market, or can't own the software, they try to own 
>>the standards. The old joke about Bill Gates patenting 1 and 0 applies. 
>>I'm guessing that what we'll see are a set of intercommunication 
>>standards, and that in some way MS will let the software grow, then 
>>charge for the protocols, API's, so on. They can easily be open 
>>standards and open API's, but not free. Hmm, reminds me of a slashdot 
>>story about someone patenting doubly-linked lists :P
>Look at the EU.  MS is forced to open their standards for
>interoperability if it wants to remain in that market.  Maybe it would
>be time for our government to wake up and see how much economic damage
>proprietary communication standards can cause.
You're right about this, but it is limited greatly. MS still gets to 
charge fees for all kinds of things, regardless of whether it is open or 
not (they can still force free software out by licensing fees, MS still 
owns its kernel and the intellectual property associated with it). I 
don't think this would stop attempts to own standards and formats, even 
if the government forced making those standards available (available is 
not necessarily the same as free or unchallenged use).

Take for example that MS owns some image software patents, e.g., 
compression or file formats...you would still have to license their 
product to write software which produces competing products, although 
they might not care if you create a product which makes their standard 
more popular without competing with the part which  makes money for them.

For a much more dangerous and recent example, consider MS's  recent 
attempts to create Internet authentication schemes which would allow 
ISPs to charge a fee based on amount of bandwidth used at various points 
along a route, and to force user identification...MS would force anyone 
issuing IDs to use an operating system which MS supports, and the 
software which unlocks and uses those keys for transmission (the end 
home user) would run only on systems with their special program 
(everyone could run linux, you just wouldn't be able to use it over the 

>I am secretly hoping that this other huge software empire called Google
>is going to beat Microsoft at its own game by draining their customers
>into their services based world ;)

I'd like to see that too, but if some of the current legislation (the 
whole net neutrality thing) goes wrong, there will be all kinds of 
catches which will make for an Interesting (in a bad way) future for 
competition between google and MS (possibly "heads they win, tails we 

D. Stimits, stimits AT comcast DOT net

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