11.14.08

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Microsoft’s Sleight of Hands

Posted in Courtroom, Finance, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Microsoft, SCO at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

Well, it ain’t over ’til the fat lady sings.

SCO’s candidate Sugar Daddy, backed by potential funding from Bill Gates’ business partners, has not necessarily waved goodbye to SCO, which is currently in the process of:

  1. Filing for (or completing) bankruptcy
  2. Suing Linux
  3. Holding on to some very scarce UNIX business to keep up appearances
  4. Resurrecting the name "Caldera" (not confirmed yet)

Groklaw has an excellent report.

It turns out that Stephen Norris did attend SCO’s Tec Forum after all, at least according to SCO’s latest SCO Partner News newsletter someone sent me. He expressed that SCO’s strengths are its customers and its products. That’s why the investors he says he represents are “so excited about the business prospects of working with SCO” and in particular because of SCO’s commitment to backward compatibility of “all its products — going all the way back to Xenix”. Hmm.

Norris’ involvement in SCO (and potential connections with Microsoft) was previously discussed in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. The suspicion here, although it is not sufficiently substantiated, is that someone outside SCO (and Stephen Norris) might be involved. It’s not impossible.

Speaking of which, recall the Google/Yahoo deal, which was foiled almost single-handedly by Microsoft, although the company used diplomats and other people whom it hired to do the interception from a distance [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Google’s CEO and other seniors at Yahoo explicitly accused Microsoft of being the party to blame. Over that Associated Press (AP), which refuses to be quoted as part of its hatred of Fair Use Doctrine, Microsoft’s lobbying activities return to light. We wrote about this quite extensively in the past and in light of the report from AP, Matt Asay says that “technology becomes political.”

Over the past few years, the technology industry has discovered that those pesky bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. actually wield a lot of power. Microsoft, in particular, learned years ago that a little money goes a long way to stave off antitrust lawyers, as suggested by The New York Times.

[...]

There are good reasons for this: Microsoft has spent quite a bit of time (and, apparently, money) this year trying to convince Congress to put the kibosh on the Google-Yahoo advertising deal, as reported in The New York Times, and ultimately succeeding. Last week Google abandoned the deal in the face of an antitrust fight, one no doubt founded in part on Microsoft’s lobbying cash. Microsoft learned the hard way that money can make Washington, D.C. work for it…with just a few million dollars’ worth of influence.

Gone are the days of two entrepreneurs in a garage, changing the world. As technology becomes a critical part of the global economy, lobbying and lawyers have become de rigueur. This year Microsoft is the big spender on Capitol Hill, but as Google comes under fire for privacy and other concerns, it will no doubt be next.

Lobbyists are an appalling phenomenon and a threat to any morsel of democracy that’s left. There is a need to respond to them, but there remains little one can do, however, because regulatory bodies themselves are infested with lobbyists and corporate cronies, e.g. [1, 2].

Lobbyists

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