06.03.07

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Microsoft’s Point of View: Selling GNU/Linux Through Novell, Defending Software Patents

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, Microsoft, Novell, SCO, SLES/SLED, Videos at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From the Microsoft-affiliated press comes the following short article, which simply cannot escape one’s attention. Here is the punch:

Why is Microsoft cranking the rudder hard over? They aren’t talking, but I’m guessing it comes down to General Public License (GPL) version 3. GPLv3 is still in the formative stages, but it could prohibit mixed marriages like the one between Microsoft and Novell. If GPLv3 happens, Microsoft’s lever into the corporate Linux market could get frozen. Novell (and by extension, Microsoft) will have to comply with its terms to take advantage of component technologies developed under the license. Unable to do that, Microsoft will be left with an aging (and ultimately incompatible) flavor of Linux.

The article makes it clear that Microsoft had plans which involve making big money out of software which volunteers are building. This is not new; and neither is the fact that Microsoft hates GPLv3 with passion. In fact, only yesterday, John Carroll who is a Microsoft employee that blogs at ZDNet had his own punch at the GPLv3 sandbag. The usual suspects take turns.

The same old story about exploiting and punishing ‘free labour’ is very resminiscent the story told by Groklaw today. It’s focused on a smaller company which you may know as SCO.

But the SCO dream as I see it is simply this: they’d like those volunteer Linux programmers, who didn’t charge one thin dime for their wonderful code, to, in effect, support SCO for life, based on alleged, but not specified, “infringement” that no one is allowed to fix. Does it get lower than that?

PJ’s article goes far beyond this and it is definitely worth reading. But the ‘take home’ message is that by following and reinforcing some elements of guilt, be it plagiarism or software patents, both Microsoft and SCO were hoping to get partial ownership of Linux and use it to cash in. Eben’s video interview, which we mentioned last week, is finally available on the Tube. It is worth embedding here because it is a perfect fit in this context.

Again , this isn’t anything new. Microsoft wants to control Linux (and yes, it already makes a lot of money out of SUSE Linux). GPLv3 will ends that.

Another new article does some maths and tells us some disturbing finanical figures.

In the two quarters since its hackles-raising deal with Microsoft was signed in November, some 49,000 SUSE certificates have been activated. They are worth $91 million. That’s 38% of the five-year $240 million agreement, which has no cap. Microsoft could buy more.

Unless of course the GPLv3 intervenes and the tentative grandfather clause currently protecting the deal gets dropped.

As a side note, pardon my poor writing style and the many errors. I imagine that my focus on pace (at the expense of quality) is sometimes easy to see and I can only beg you to correct me or expand where possible. This way we can make the most out of this (hopefully informative) Web site, which strives to keep abreast of all the events and glue them together through hyperlinks, shallow analysis, and a pinch of speculation.

Having defeated some concerns about comment spam, we have just opened all the items for feedback. Help us make this a good resource for those who do some research. Site traffic is at an all-time high.

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