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02.06.10

Canonical Gets New Chief Operating Officer Who Already Defends Microsoft’s Biased ‘Search’

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 6:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“But rather than a search engine or even a “decision engine”, Bing also appears to be a spin engine, in that it provides partisan answers to controversial topics, such as Steve Ballmer’s propensity to throw chairs to blow off stress.”

Christian Einfeldt

Summary: Shortly after deciding to send users’ search queries to Microsoft datacentres, Canonical hires a man who defends Microsoft for “options and competition”

THE chief operating officer (COO) of Canonical, Jane Silber, recently became the company’s CEO, replacing Mark Shuttleworth. Coming in to fill Silber’s COO gap is Matt Asay, as announced by Canonical and by Asay himself.

After more than four years at Alfresco, I have joined Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, as its chief operating officer.

It is worth understanding Asay’s background. He is an Apple enthusiast (Apple proponents are a subject we’ll address in the next post on DRM and Apple’s role in it) who also defended the GPL for a long time (these days he is promoting Apache and sometimes joining the the anti-GPL noise). He does not like Richard Stallman’s philosophy, he insisted that Microsoft should be allowed the enter the OSI (he was on its board at the time), and he also used to work for Novell (in addition to Alfresco and Lineo). He has a background in law, but on the technical side he understands matters as a computer user. This is hopefully an accurate representation of his views and background. Others wrote about that from a different perspective. Last night Asay told me that he would move to GNU/Linux on the desktop (he tried SUSE when he worked at Novell, but eventually ended up moving from Windows to Mac OS X, sometimes experimenting with Ubuntu afterwards).

“I’d estimate that the Yahell deal nets them at least a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of a year.”
      –Ryan
Ubuntu had a relatively weak last release (Fedora, for an opposite example, did well in the sense that reviews got better, not worse). Even this detailed review from a couple of days ago confirmed this. More recently, Canonical’s decision to send search requests to Microsoft’s Bong [sic] led to some controversy that we covered in [1, 2].

Well, we are somewhat saddened to see that Asay is perhaps trying to justify the company’s new policy by making a new post about “the importance of Bing”. Therein he writes: “It’s not about loving Microsoft. It’s about preserving options…and competition.”

This does not defend competition because it promotes a serial offender — a company that we already know manipulates its search results to advance its lies and business interests (and put competitors in positions of disadvantage). Asay will hopefully not defend Mono (.NET), which is about making Microsoft stronger (and making Novell, his former employer, stronger). It’s not “about preserving options…and competition.”

Microsoft is the antithesis of options and competition. Everyone knows that.

Jokingly, our reader Ryan twisted the above quote to say: “It’s not about loving Microsoft, it’s about loving their money and selling out our users.” He went on to describe it as “Inferior search engine but it makes Canonical some $$$’s. Ubuntu probably has several million users. I’d estimate that the Yahell deal nets them at least a few hundred thousand dollars over the course of a year. That money comes at the direct cost to Mozilla and detracts from Firefox development, so now Ubuntu is worse than a passive consumer of FOSS, they are another parasite. Well, Mandriva defaults to Ask, but I seriously doubt anyone keeps that. Yahoo might be passable enough to keep users content with it.”

MinceR called it “ridiculous” and stated: “apparently Canonical’s leaders have decided it would be fun for them to turn into another Novell”

That’s just too big a leap, which I disagree with. Novell is very different because it directly harms its competitors by legitimising software patents and using them to trash other vendors.

By the way, Asay comes from Alfresco, which is competing against Google, not just Microsoft SharePoint that Novell helps promote under the guise of “interoperability”.

According to the Var Guy (from last week), Google is trying to win disgruntled SharePoint users at the expense of Alfresco. Might this also explain Asay’s fear of Google?

No doubt, Microsoft and Google are waging a software as a service (SaaS) war. But the latest shot fired comes from a surprising source: LTech, an enterprise cloud service provider, is helping customers automate document migrations from Microsoft SharePoint to Google Apps. Here’s how.

As we stressed before, Google can help Free software by weakening or eliminating the industry's bully. Canonical should stand behind Google, not Microsoft. Google already collaborates with Canonical on Chrome OS, doesn’t it?

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2 Comments

  1. a v said,

    February 6, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Gravatar

    The man isn’t that bad.
    Look at this part of his intervew with LWN.net at 2007 july 6.

    http://lwn.net/Articles/240877/

    What were your first thoughts when you heard about the Microsoft-Novell deal?

    I was extremely disappointed because if there’s any company that didn’t need to do that, it was actually Novell. Because Novell has patents that go to the heart of both Microsoft’s Windows Server business and its Office business. Novell was under absolutely no threat of ever being sued by Microsoft, period.

    The reason they did it is to try to club Red Hat. Novell thinks it has an interest in destroying Red Hat; really what Novell needs is for Red Hat to continue to be successful and for Novell to learn how to be successful with Linux.

    I just remember thinking: Here’s Novell. It’s best chance of surviving in the future is to move toward more of an open source model, and it’s just basically told the very community that could feed it that it didn’t want it. It was cutting itself off from its future. I think it’s done itself irreparable harm now. I just think Novell will have a very hard time ever gaining credibility again as an open source vendor.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 7, 2010 at 4:30 am

    Gravatar

    Novell was put in the wrong hands when people like Hovsepian and Steinman started attacking Red Hat rather than collaborating with it (instead collaborating with Microsoft).

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