Wednesday, November 22, 2006

How Microsoft plans to appropriate Linux

The state of affairs right now is that Linux is a highly desirable and free technology, and any Microsoft of this world would love to "embrace, extend, extinguish" it from the landscape. This however is problematic because Linux, including the kernel, are licensed under GPL, and GPL says "if you agree to this license you agree to distribute the source code of YOUR programs you distribute with this product [in our case Linux] under GPL as well. if you do not agree, you may not distribute this product." This is the biggest obstacle for Microsoft, because they are too afraid to open source their code.

Or is it? Turns out, not so much. What would happen if customer Z to whom company X wants to sell a closed-sourse product running on Linux, already had Linux? Then company X could get away with not distributing Linux, but still selling their product on top of it. Now, what would happen if Z obtained a copy of Linux just for that purpose from another company Y? The scheme would still work, except that two companies are now involved with Z which means double responsibility for the final product for X and Y (and Z does not likes this), and split profits for X and Y (and X does not likes this). Now assume that X and Y enter into agreement, under which they promise to "integrate" their technology (but not bundle it together), and integrate their customer support (keeping it technically separate, but providing the customer with a single "phone number") as well as advocate each other when negotiating a deal. Now Z is happy, the proprietary product is effectively distributed with Linux but not GPLed, and X and Y are laughing all the way to the bank. The one thing remains? For either X or Y to try to screw the other over the profits.

Unlikely scenario? If you think about it, this is pretty much what Microsoft just did with their deals with Xen and Novell, and you can guess which one is X yourself. Welcome to the New Order.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Stealing from the honey pot

So, in face of Apple's wildly succesful iPod, Microsoft, as always trying to get a piece of action anywere there is money, ditched it's old strategy of developing software for an "ecosystem" of 3rd party devices, and built one itself. The device is called Zune, has nice touches, but is generally infirior to similarly priced iPods. What's really interesting though is that Microsoft stroke a deal with Universal, to distribute their music (much like Apple) and agreed to pay Universal royalties on each Zune player sold. Not just on each song (which is a given) but on each device. Universal's reasoning? Quoting Times,
"it is only fair to receive payment on devices that may be repositories for stolen music".
Excuse me?! First, this assumes that any customer is a pirate. Nicely done, Universal and Microsoft. Second, if I am not pirating, should I get a refund? Third, and most critical, what about my personal computer? My cellphone? They all may serve as repositories for stolen music. Should music industry get to tax me for owning a computer? What about the movie industry? The software industry (hello Microsoft)? Ah, my bad. That last one we already paying, every time we buy a new computer and shell out cash for copy of Windows we already have at home or don't need.

Finally, there is a good idea I want to give Universal. People also have memory to reposit stolen music in, and lips to reproduce it. In the spirit of things, you should be taxing our heads.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

War of Intellects

As is already known, Kerry made his first self-described joke compaigning for Democrats:
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."

Mr. Kerry should know better. In his freshmen year in Yale he got four (4) D grades out of 10 curses, but look at him now, a US senator getting to joke about how dum Bush is. Incidentally, the "dum" G.W.Bush, also Yale graduate, had a higher GPA.