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07.27.07

Bill Hilf and Microsoft’s ‘Terror Culture’

Posted in America, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 1:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apparently, some people take pride in attacking Free software. With statements such aswe would like to strike similar patent deals with all the Linux vendors, but we had to start somewhere” or eventhe Free Software movement is dead. Linux doesn’t exist in 2007. Even Linus has got a job today,” Bill Hilf is no popular figure these days. In fact, in a very controversial fashion, Bill has just announced that Microsoft will soon invade ‘our side’ (“the Free World”, as they called it in Forbes Magazine) even further.

In his keynote at OSCON, Microsoft General Manager of Platform Strategy Bill Hilf announced that Microsoft is submitting its shared source licenses to the Open Source Initiative.

This will definitely corrupt the meaning and value of “Open Source” (if it passes). Have a look at this other observation made at OSCON:

What Will Change at Microsoft with Regard to F/OSS Patents

Hilf’s response was… priceless. “I get a lot of e-mail.” “People like to subscribe me to crazy newsletters and spam.”

So essentially, Bill escaped the question and actually admitted that he is loathed. This is by no means the first time that he angers the Linux community. There is reason to suspect that a lot of Microsoft’s recent anti-Linux strategy came from this man, who apparently replaced and inherited the place of Martin Taylor. Martin quit Microsoft last year, having spearheaded the anti-Linux propaganda (“Get the Facts” and all the rest). Propaganda and Big Lies aside, what is even worse is terrorisation.

Personally, I am getting a little fed up. I am not alone in assuming that Bill Hilf, along with the division that he manages, has resorted to nothing more than distortion, extortion, embrace-and-destroy strategies and — shall I say — corporate terrorism. I am not the only person to have come up with such as assessment. Here are a few articles that concur.

Microsoft, the art of Corporate Terrorism

Microsoft, no longer the technological leader in the Computer Desktop market, is taking on a terrorist role in its attempt remain in power at all costs.

Convicted Monopolist Terrorizes Software Industry

That headline is designed to grab your attention. Sensationalistic as it may be, it also happens to be true, if what you mean by ‘terrorize’ is to provoke fear.

Sun exec accuses Microsoft of ‘patent terrorism’

The efforts of Microsoft to pressure the Linux community over alleged and unspecified patents is akin to “patent terrorism”, according to a local executive for Sun Microsystems.

Well, of course it’s patent terrorism

Do not let yourself be terrorised and be aware that the RICO ACT might have validity here. But, who will ever challenge Microsoft in court? They also have the support of the American government. Selected citation follow (just to prove the point).

Decide for yourself if you are looking at an above-the-law monarchy or what has essentially become a ‘country’ within country.

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10 Comments

  1. akf said,

    July 27, 2007 at 2:19 am

    Gravatar

    I don’t like Microsoft either. But we shouldn’t reject everything, just because it is from them. They say that we are unreasonable and when we just reject everything without thinking, we really are. But of course we should be cautious!

    Even the FSFE said that some of the Shared Source licenses could be okay:
    http://mail.fsfeurope.org/pipermail/press-release/2005q4/000120.html

    But they also say:

    Naturally, it is not the publication of licenses, but the publication
    of software under a Free Software license, that gives people freedom:

  2. SubSónica said,

    July 27, 2007 at 3:06 am

    Gravatar

    My “spider-sense” tells me there is a patern here, let me elaborate a little bit on it:
    First, Microsoft is going after some Linux distros, in order to try to divide the FOSS community and to subvert the 4 freedoms that the GPL is designed to guarantee (remember that MSFT has been relentlessly attacking the GPLv3 and the FSF long before the last version of the license was actually released)
    Now they want to throat-feed its locking-in fake standard MSOOXML through the ISO in order to subvert the stablished standard document format (ODF/ISO23600) that, incidentally, they are the only company not willing to support in their office suite offerings. They are stuffing the technical commitees at the ISO (and astruturfing with fake support letters sent by their gold certified partners who depend on MSFT for their livelyhood)in order to force a favourable decission for MSOOXML.
    As soon as they get the standard they will shout everywhere they’re “THE” standard.
    It is the same so with the Open Source Initiative:
    They badly want its backing so it allows them to go all around shouting they are also “Open”. In this case, it is the community collaborative development what the corporate structure of MSFT cannot imitate, and which is outpacing, both in quantity and in quality the development and offerings of the monopoly: Compare for example Sourceforge.net or Freshmeat with Codeplex… well, they are not even in the same league: that is the kind of difference you get with genuine free, open and collaborative development communities VS an astruturfing experiment leaded by a control-freak corporation (Codeplex)

    This “me too” strategy is deep rooted in Microsoft behaviour: whenever
    a product, service, development model or standard that they do not control, is successful they go out with their own second class offering and try to use their desktop monopoly leverage to impose their “clone” in the market, while
    at the same time eroding and subverting the original/competing one. (It already worked with DRDOS, OS2, Novell, WordPerfect, Borland, Netscape, Palm… and they keep trying against PlayStation -Xbox mkI & mkII-, Ipod -Zune mkI & mkII- …etc)
    Aditionally, I suspect that if they get the standard and the open “certification” they will go around shouting they are THE standard and THE open way to go, but it won’t take long for them to change some details in the standard or in the licence that make them double-edged and they will be used exclusively (in ways that are neither standard nor open) against any competing player in the market. You can bet the licence Microsoft submits to the OSI will be carefully designed to be fully incompatible and toxic with the GPLv3: In fact many of these exclusive-proprietary-non-standard flaws are alredy incorporated in their MSOOXML format or, for example, in their “covenants not to sue” devised to attack-threaten any Gnu/Linux distros /users not caving to Microsoft’s wishes.
    On the other hand, if they cannot get their way and the ISO rejects the MSOOXML format and the OSI rejects their “open” licence, I expect a harsh campaign from Microsoft to discredit these intitutions as “irrelevant”.
    So far this strategy has worked with many products and some services. Let’s hope it doesn’t work so well with international standards or with community
    development models and licences, actually no, let’s not only hope, let’s fight for it.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Gravatar

    Have a look at this new report.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/27/osi_fury_badgerware/

    One has to wonder if Microsoft could attempt to create a ‘civil war’, essentially dividing the ‘open source’ world further. Their deals have already led to a storm in OSDL, so why not OSI?

    As SubSónica points out, making their licences incompatible with GPL(v3) would be be convenient. It’s akin to joining the Web, ‘extending’ a few things, and then bringing over some userbase (e.g. developers), whose old stuff is no longer compatible with the new rules.

  4. mcintosh said,

    July 27, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    Gravatar

    >>I don’t like Microsoft either. But we shouldn’t reject everything, just >>because it is from them.

    Even though a broken clock is right twice a day, I’m going to look elsewhere for my time checks.

  5. Tel said,

    July 28, 2007 at 12:41 am

    Gravatar

    The world is big, the options are numerous and thinking about the legal details of the latest Microsoft offering takes time away from other, more important things. One fact has been proven by history… you don’t partner up with Microsoft and walk away alive. Ask Stacker.

    At the end of the day, Microsoft’s current business plan depends on maintaining market dominance. Linux, by its nature, does not allow one company (or any single distro) to squeeze the market like Microsoft has done. The only rational conclusion is that Microsoft behaviour is designed to maintain their position of power and to stifle Linux adoption. Spend your thinking time on the next killer Linux app or a cool game for Linux or building that online business. Microsoft have had more than a reasonable measure of slack cut to them — trusting them now is a fool’s errand.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 28, 2007 at 1:14 am

    Gravatar

    To name some Microsoft ‘partners’: Lotus, WordPerfect, Corel, DBase, Netscape, and Novell (pre Linux).

    I have the suspicion that while many of these companies take the dive, some people at the top end up with big bucks. It is sad when an excecutive’s interests do not intersect with the well-being of the company s/he run.

    Discover the ‘benefits’ of the latest deals:

    How Much Did Mr. Typaldos, Mr. Carmony, and Mr. Hovsepian Get Paid to Stomp on Linux?

    The ‘Cost’ of GPLv3 is the Loss of All Threats to Free Software

  7. akf said,

    July 29, 2007 at 6:55 am

    Gravatar

    Maybe I should explain my first posting. Of course I would not like Microsoft licenses to be accepted by the OSI. But the OSI has to find a very convincing explanation for the rejection. Just saying “because we don’t like you” could be turned against us. If they can’t find a convincing explanation, it is better to approve the licenses. There are other OSI approved licenses, which I would never use…

    And the OSI has to make very clear, that it is not about all Shared Source licenses. I fear Microsoft will try to lump them together, if they get the approval.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 29, 2007 at 8:26 am

    Gravatar

    But the OSI has to find a very convincing explanation for the rejection. Just saying “because we don’t like you” could be turned against us.

    I agree with you entirely and therein lies the rub. Be aware that Microsoft was a Diamond Sponsor of OSCON. It’s slush money for Microsoft. It’s a pattern. It’s assimilation with malevolent/self-serving intent. See the following recent story.

    “Microsoft seems to have hijacked Linux Asia”

    ,—-[ Quote ]
    | Was the general feel amongst the attendees at Linux Asia 2007;
    | MS however, just wanted to say ”let us walk hand-in-hand”
    `—-

    http://www.ciol.com/content/developer/Linux/2007/107020104.asp

    I have many more such examples, just in case you need any.

    If you watch this closely, you’ll see that Microsoft poisons the minds of the attendants. The attendants are unhappy about this. The attraction is lost and the conference loses focus. It is not an isolated incident. Linux and Open Source conferences require funding, but given the wrong funding source, agendae get ‘corrupted’. A recent conference in Germany came under a lot of scrutiny.

    At the end of the day, tensions are unhealthy.

  9. Roy Schestowitz said,

    July 29, 2007 at 8:39 am

    Gravatar

    a little addendum…

    A quick search on “bill hilf” immediately brought up the following, which is a prominent reference connecting Martin Taylor to Bill Hilf.

    “Martin Taylor and Bill Hilf – Linux at Microsoft, Part I”

    http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=64981

    God save us. If these two minds think alike, then I would be surprised if Bill uses Tux toys as a voodoo dolls. These are very poisonous people whose position is, as I suspected, to destroy GNU/Linux (and Free software).

    Taylor used very questionable propaganda techniques to achieve this. He worked closely with Steve Ballmer at the time. The product of the “Get the Facts” smear campaign is, as I only recently found out, banned in the United Kingdom because it’s considered misleading advertising, which increasingly invades more of the Web. Recently, LinuxWorld started the placement of not one but two large and animated banners with anti-Linux ads from Microsoft.

  10. Matthew Flaschen said,

    July 29, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Gravatar

    I’m far from a fan of Microsoft’s licensing policies, but rejecting a license from them /just/ because it comes from them is ridiculous. I am fairly familiar with the Open Source Definition (http://opensource.org/docs/osd) and I think both the Microsoft Permissive License (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sharedsource/licensingbasics/permissivelicense.mspx) and Microsoft Community License (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/sharedsource/licensingbasics/communitylicense.mspx) comply (Note: Microsoft Limited Permissive License and Microsoft Limited Community Licenses clearly don’t). Others on the OSI list have expressed this opinion, and OSI has held off formal consideration only because Microsoft had not submitted the license. Should the open source community use the Microsoft licenses if they get approved by OSI?? Maybe, maybe not. I see no benefits to these licenses compared to existing ones. But I would have no problem with OSI approving them, since it would clarify that a significant and growing body of work is in fact open source.

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