So, stop me if you’ve heard this one already:
In the 1950s — February 9, 1950 to be exact — Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin made a speech in Wheeling, W. Va., in which he said he had a list of 205 names of State Department employees “that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party.”
Fast forward 57 years and we have “Tail Gunner Steve” Ballmer with Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, playing McCarthy’s Roy Cohn legal sidekick in this modern drama, saying that the GNU/Linux operating system violates 235 Microsoft patents. Which are they? Microsoft won’t say.
McCarthy never named the names.
See a pattern here?
Sander Marechal writes an article on Linux News asking in an open letter to Novell to release the violating patents. While Microsoft may not be telling the public, they would be telling their GNU/Linux partner Novell. So Novell has the opportunity to come clean.
Anyone holding their breath? Well, don’t.
Here’s why: Tectonic, a South African open source news site, says in an article that Novell is distancing itself from Microsoft. From the article: “We disagree with the recent statements made by Microsoft on the topic of Linux and patents. Importantly, our agreement with Microsoft is in no way an acknowledgment that Linux infringes upon any Microsoft intellectual property.”
Linus Torvalds has weighed in at Information Week, saying that Microsoft has gotten it wrong — they violate more GNU/Linux patents than the other way around. Linux News backs it up by bringing up an article by Hans Kwint they published in 2005 outlining the patents that Microsoft might have violated.
So maybe the Washington Post is right when it says that this is all a smoke screen for the failures of Vista.
Direct from the “give me a freakin’ break” department . . .
Fortune magazine — a publication that I don’t usually read — wrote that (and I’m paraphrasing here) “Microsoft claims that free software like Linux, which runs a big chunk of corporate America, violates 235 of its patents. It wants royalties from distributors and users. Users like you, maybe.” (the CNN story about it is here)
On the face of it, that’s merely laughable. What makes this a world class, wet-your-pants screaming laugher is that Microsoft has the unmitigated audacity to actually imply, as outlined in the third paragraph of the CNN article, that “one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft’s patents.”
So let me see if I understand this: Free software is of such high quality because it violates Microsoft’s patents? Microsoft? The same Microsoft that historically and currently foists on an unsuspecting public a buggy and insecure operating system augmented by subpar programs? That Microsoft?
But it gets better: Darth Ballmer took time from his pod on the Death Star to tell CNN that the FOSS advocates “have to play by the same rules as the rest of the business.” Watch out, Darth: Your hypocrisy is showing. That sounds like it comes directly from the “do as I say, not as I do” department.
This software saber-rattling may be coming from Redmond because they are out of viable options, so says Danijel Orsolic in a very interesting column he writes on the subject on Libervis.com.
The Free/Libre Open Source Software movement is not going anywhere, no matter how many lawyers Microsoft wants to hire.