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Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Friday, November 21 2003 @ 03:37 AM EST

You may have noted Cringeley's column about Microsoft and its DRM plans. If even half of what he writes is true, then it represents a clear picture of the real reason why people and businesses and governments are switching to GNU/Linux.

By the way, just today the San Antonio Business Journal reports another big switch:

"The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has awarded Fairfax, Va.-based PEC Solutions Inc. (Nasdaq: NM: PECS) a $9 million contract to provide technology support to the government.

"Specifically, PEC Solutions will help the federal courts migrate its national information technologyinfrastructure to a Linux/Intel platform.

"Professional services will be provided at the Administrative Office in the U.S. Court's Washington D.C. offices, its national technology, training and support facility in San Antonio and the government's independent test facility in Phoenix."

In case you were the least bit influenced by the nonsensical reports of SCO needing bodyguards, you might be glad to know what this Linux company specializes in:

"PEC Solutions specializes in providing secure, interoperable technology solutions for clients in law enforcement, intelligence, defense and civilian agencies at the local, state and federal government levels."

Because the issue of DRM and customer lock-in is facing everyone thinking of upgrading to Microsoft's newest announced offerings, we thought it would be useful to explain exactly how it all works. Paul Rouleau has produced exactly such an analysis for Groklaw. As you will see, if you are ever thinking of switching to Linux, now is probably a good time.

For those interested in a study done on interoperability between Word, Excel and Powerpoint and open source office applications, there is one here, in addition to the study Paul mentions in his article.

You can read more on Microsoft's plans for Longhorn and for DRM here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. I believe after you take a look at all the links and then read the article, you will not need anyone to tell you what advantages open source provides to its users. Here, then, is Paul's article, "Microsoft Customer Lock-in, Lock-out Analysis."


Microsoft Customer Lock-in, Lock-out Analysis
--- by Paul Rouleau

Why would Microsoft tacitly support SCO? Does the SCO case fit into a grander scheme of things at Microsoft? Let's take a look at some publicly available information on customer lock-in and competition lock-out. A picture will emerge and SCO's role will explain itself.

For starters, let's look at how effective Microsoft customer lock-in currently is. A good source of reference material is the European Union migration guidelines. They have conducted extensive research on how European administrations could migrate to a Free/Open Source software environment and there is no reason why their research could not be applied to other organizations.

File Format Lock-in

Customers are sometimes said to be "locked into" the Microsoft Office suite by the format of their document. Is that so? Not really. See the European Union migration guidelines, referenced above, Section 11.1 Page 35:

"OpenOffice is quite good at reading and writing Microsoft Office documents and can be used with confidence. Most incoming or archived documents are intended only to be read and not edited, which reduces compatibility problems further. The few documents that are not compatible with OpenOffice can be converted to PDF format; a server running a single copy of Microsoft Office can be set to perform this function."

The report mentions a few problematic cases. Templates and VBScript macros must be converted. In collaborative projects sometimes a third party insists on using Microsoft Office. In these cases some anomalies may occur in  documents that are authored in both Microsoft and OpenOffice. These problems are rarely serious and can be considered as a typical migration issue.

Conclusion: at present, file format lock-in is more a matter of customer perception than a technical reality.

Application Lock-In

This is the lock-in caused by the need to continue to run the customer's required applications in any alternative environment. How effective is it? On the server, Microsoft never had a monopoly and Linux is winning the battle. On the desktop their lock-in is still somewhat working but it is far from being as effective as it used to be.

See the European Union migration guidelines, all of chapter 13 starting page 59. They mention a whole range of options available to migrate Windows applications to Linux. Let's take a look at a couple of them.

Some applications have Open Source counterparts and can be replaced. Other applications have a Linux version and cause no problem. Wine and Crossover Office are effective in many circumstances and come in handy when they are applicable. But they are not comprehensive solutions.

The thin-client approach based on products like Citrix is quite robust because Windows applications would run on a Windows server and not on some re-implementation or emulation of Windows. Desktop users remotely access the applications with Citrix. This approach is being by used by Telstra. There are limitations: Not all applications work in a thin-client environment; for instance, desktop video editing applications require direct access to peripherals such as video and sound cards, which is not compatible with thin-client products.

Although none of the migration approaches is perfect, it is still possible for a Microsoft customer to migrate a large number of users to Linux by using a combination of all applicable approaches. The method requires three major steps.
  1. To make an inventory of the users and identify the applications each user is using.  
  2. To identify which application can be migrated and assign to each application the appropriate approach to do so.
  3. Then to identify those users that can be migrated based on the application they use. Users that require one or more non-migratable application must be left on Windows for the time being. 

Telstra is aiming to migrate 85% of its Windows desktops in this fashion.

Conclusion: There is still customer lock-in for some applications where none of the above approaches currently work, but nevertheless a large proportion of users can be migrated without any problem.

Software Vendor Lock-In

This is the flip side of application lock-in. This time we concentrate not on the applications that are installed but on the applications available in the market. Several customers are reluctant to purchase any OS other than Windows because they want to have access to the widest choice of applications in the marketplace. On the other hand, commercial developers support Windows because this is what customers have. This is a well known catch-22.

The thin client approach allows Windows applications to run on a Windows server and still be accessible by Linux users. Customers may require that new applications must be thin-client compatible. So the impact of this particular lock-in has been severely weakened as well. If customers migrate a portion of their users to Linux, then the software vendors will start to support Linux and the lock-in would vanish.

It would appear that Microsoft's customer lock-in is crumbling, although Microsoft's market share has not been affected by the lack of lock-in yet. Still, enterprises have much more flexibility to migrate to Linux than most people usually think. How might Microsoft be planning to counter this? We can't read their minds, but we can look for clues in the public record.

A Note on Interoperability and Reverse Engineering

The European Union migration guidelines, page 19, indicates that migration plans whereby all users change to open source software on the same day are to be avoided for all but the smallest organisations. This so-called "Big Bang" migration requires too much in the way of resources in the changeover and there is too great a risk of bringing havoc to the entreprise. A much preferable strategy is to transition users in smaller and more manageable groups.

This kind of migration requires some form of coexistence of Microsoft products with the open source software during the time period where both systems are in simulatenous use. This need is further emphasised by the number of Windows applications that are not migratable to Linux and that may require some users to stay on Windows until a migration strategy becomes available. Coexistence implies a need for interoperability between Microsoft products and open source software.

A recurring theme in customer lock-in attempts is to place obstacles to developers of interoperability products, or at least to put some form of burden that increase the costs and risks of implementing interoperability solutions. If there is no reasonable mean to implement interoperability, then Microsoft customers have no practical migration path to alternative solutions, even if such alternatives exist in the marketplace.

Proprietary and confidential file formats and APIs are examples of obstacles impairing interoperability. Developers need to perform reverse engineering to overcome these obstacles. Anything that delays or impose a burden on developers performing reverse engineering contributes to increased Microsoft customer lock-in. One must pay particular attention to various forms of burdens specifically applicable to FOSS development. This type of burden escapes the attention of regulators and business analysts because practices that are intolerable to FOSS are often acceptable in the commercial world. However the current weakness of  Microsoft customer lock-in is primarily attributable to the vitality of the FOSS alternatives. This kind of selective burden impacts Microsoft's primary competition while retaining a varnish of legitimacy.

Without discussing the legalities, the question here is simply whether Microsoft customers have or do not have a usable migration path and if developers can or cannot develop interoperable software.

File format lock-in : Office 2003

After a period of relative stability in the Office file formats, Microsoft again began playing the incompatible file format game. Although the file formats were based on the XML standard, they used an undisclosed and proprietary schema (as opposed to, for example, the format which is a published schema.) Files using  this format could only be manipulated using the Microsoft Office API. The EULA for this API contains interesting clauses:

you must not permit further redistribution of the Redistributable Components by your end-user customers; ...

4. LIMITATIONS ON REVERSE ENGINEERING, DECOMPILATION, AND DISASSEMBLY. You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the Software, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation.

The restriction on redistribution effectively prevents distributing any software that uses this API under any form of FOSS license. The limitations on reverse engineering need not be discussed again. Together, the two clauses help enforce a file format lock-in.

Its appears that Microsoft have now changed their mind. They seem to no longer want to keep the schema secret. On Monday November 17th 2003, Microsoft has allowed the publication of their schema, thereby effectively opening the Office file formats. However, this publication has strings attached. For instance, the schema may be patented:

"Microsoft may have patents and/or patent applications that are necessary for you to license in order to make, sell, or distribute software programs that read or write files that comply with the Microsoft specifications for the Office Schemas."

Does Microsoft own patents on the schemas or not? Are schemas patentable? A schema is a data format, not an algorithm or process, so the question deserves to be raised. There is more. If a developer makes use of the schema, Microsoft requires the resulting software to be licensed from them:

"If you distribute, license or sell a Licensed Implementation, this license is conditioned upon you requiring that the following notice be prominently displayed in all copies and derivative works of your source code and in copies of the documentation and licenses associated with your Licensed Implementation:

"This product may incorporate intellectual property owned by Microsoft Corporation. The terms and conditions upon which Microsoft is licensing such intellectual property may be found at

"By including the above notice in a Licensed Implementation, you will be deemed to have accepted the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to distribute a Licensed Implementation under license terms and conditions that prohibit the terms and conditions of this license. You are not licensed to sublicense or transfer your rights."

The BSD-style advertising clause is well-known to be incompatible with the GPL but that is the least of the problems.

• The developer is required to acknowledge some undisclosed "intellectual property" that may or may not be present in his own code.

• The developer is not licensed to transfer or sublicense his rights. The recipient of the software must obtain a license directly from Microsoft under terms and conditions that may be found though an hyperlink. Microsoft has complete control on the page referred to by the link. Might they change it? Can they stop offering the license, thereby halting the licensees from further distributing their products? What guarantees are there?

• Note also that the developer is not licensed to distribute software that prohibits Microsoft's own terms and conditions. Would Microsoft choose license terms and conditions to invalidate any distribution license they dislike? Combined with the hyperlink, does that mean Microsoft has some kind of after-the-fact veto power on the developer's preferred license?

• Now that the specifications are public, how could developers code applications without requiring Microsoft's license? Does this publication impose on developers some burden to prove clean-room reverse engineering? Is Microsoft positioning itself for future litigation?

A patent available under a royalty-free license is better than a patent that requires a royalty. But there is more than a patent involved in this license. Under the guise of promoting openness, they seem to have created a legal quagmire that may put in jeopardy any software using the schema. The file format may no longer be secret, but using it will scare your lawyer. These terms are  most damaging to FOSS developers. I don't see a way to write open source code under these conditions.The Open Source Definition clause 3 states:

"The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software."

How could that be, if Microsoft can change the terms and conditions at will? Read also clauses Clause 7:

"The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties."

This is clear. Microsoft is attempting to force the execution of an additional license on top of the base, open source license. A true open source license can't allow that. For those of you that prefer the concept of Free Software, the FSF puts it this way:

"In order for these freedoms to be real, they must be irrevocable as long as you do nothing wrong; if the developer of the software has the power to revoke the license, without your doing anything to give cause, the software is not free."

Windows Rights Management

Microsoft Office 2003 supports an add-on called "Windows Rights Management" that provides DRM features. This means files subject to rights management are "protected" using cryptography, more specifically PKI. Anyone developing code to support interoperability with WRM is also entering a legal minefield. In the US and elsewhere, there are laws against circumvention of access-restriction devices, including cryptography. The DMCA has a safe harbour allowing circumvention for interoperability purposes, but what if some user relied on DRM to restrict access to content and the circumvention code is used to break the restriction? Could the user sue the developer? Would the DMCA safe harbour apply if the restriction is not enforced? How would a judge view open source in this context? The code has been published. DeCSS anyone?

This appears to be fertile ground for lawsuits; any developer would be advised to budget appropriately.

Patents and Licensing Attacks

Last time I checked, PKI meant patents. This means independent developers are locked out unless they are properly licensed. It could be argued that Microsoft would be forced to provide the license because of the anti-trust settlement. You can see how that worked out if you read Groklaw's October 31st article on Microsoft's API licensing offers that were required by the anti-trust settlement. The story is also covered here.

"To entice more companies to license its technology, Microsoft previously agreed to reduce from $100,000 to $50,000 a prepayment from rivals and reduce the price it charges so that it collects 1 percent to 5 percent of the revenues of the software that includes its technology.

That is it. Microsoft is allowed to collect a tax on the competition revenue. Licensing also brings an implicit requirement that APIs can only be licensed to parties legally entitled to enter contractual agreements. That would rule out all open source projects that have no legal incorporation. Of course one must assume the competition is willing to get a license when they never had to. I guess the effect of patents on APIs would be to legally force them to.

Are the licensing deals public documents? It would be interesting to know if there are some other restricting clauses, like a confidentiality agreement.

Windows Media Player

Microsoft is facing antitrust hearings from the EU for the bundling of Windows Media Player with the Windows operatiing system. See the reports here and here. Does this not seem to be the same technique that was used to establish IE dominance in the browser market and that was found to be illegal in the US antri-trust trial?

If Windows Media Player becomes the dominant player, there is a real possibility that the file format will become the dominant format for video content, resulting into further customer lock-in based on file format. At least this is what the EU research suggests.

Relying on its own corporate survey, the commission argued that once Microsoft Media Player is on every desktop, companies will no longer spend the extra money to offer data that can also run on rival media players, in particular RealPlayer and Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime.

The file format is proprietary and includes DRM features. The format specifications have been published, at least partially, here. The specifications are copyrighted and can only be used if the developer accepts a EULA that includes the following clauses:

"(a)    Specification. Provided you comply with all terms and conditions of this Agreement, including without limitation Section 2 below, Microsoft grants you the following limited, non-exclusive, world-wide, royalty-free, non-assignable, nontransferable, non-sublicenseable license during the Term (defined below), under any copyrights owned or licensable by Microsoft without payment of consideration to unaffiliated third parties, to: (i) reproduce and internally use a reasonable number of copies of the Specification in its entirety as a reference for the sole purpose of implementing ASF in your hardware, application, or utilities (your “Solutions”); (ii) reproduce and internally use your implementations of ASF made pursuant to the terms of this Agreement (your “Implementations”) in source code form solely for internal development and testing of your Solutions, and (iii) reproduce and have reproduced in object code form only, your Implementations and distribute, directly and indirectly, your Implementations (only in object code form) solely as part of and for use with your Solutions.... [emphasis added]

"2.    DESCRIPTION OF ADDITIONAL LIMITATIONS.   Without limiting the conditions set forth in Section 1 above, your rights under Section 1 are expressly conditioned upon your compliance with each of the following limitations: (a)    You may not use, nor authorize any third party to use, the Specification to build Solutions whose primary purpose is to distribute content (including without limitation a cache, proxy, gateway or streaming server)." [emphasis added]

The Windows Media format is not exactly an open, no-strings-attached specification. The requirement for binary-only distributions and the provision forbidding sublicensing specifically rule out open source implementations. It appears that open source developers would be have to reverse engineer the format to bypass the EULA that comes with the official specifications, and of course, this approach would run into the following provision of the EULA of the player software:

"* You may not reverse engineer, decompile, or disassemble the OS Components, including any codecs or protocols associated with the OS Components, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation."

This illustrates again how EULAs can be used to turn the development of interoperable solutions into a legal mine field that imposes obstacles and limitations on the developers.

Application lock-in: Longhorn

Gartner Group sums it all up here (also available here as PDF):

"Many of the features Microsoft is adding in Longhorn will result in increased lock-in to Windows. Microsoft has reached its dominant position in the OS and productivity software markets by controlling application programming interfaces (APIs) and file formats...

"Microsoft wants enterprises to write browser applications that take advantage of Longhorn APIs, which means they won't work on non-Longhorn browsers. Microsoft also wants more types of data stored directly in the file system. It envisions address books, calendar events and e-mail as data replicated directly into the file system. While some vendors may appreciate this, others may not, as it means moving data out of their own proprietary store and into one controlled by Microsoft." [emphasis added]

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Next Generation Secure Computing Base

Longhorn also includes Next Generation Secure Computing Base, aka NGSCB and Palladium. This again is based around strong cryptography, which was discussed earlier. NGSCB also serves as a foundation to DRM.

According to the NGSCB FAQ there are patented APIs in NGSCB:

"The nexus is a new Windows-based component that will be introduced as part of NGSCB. The nexus is essentially the kernel of an isolated software stack that runs alongside the existing OS software stack. The nexus provides a limited set of APIs and services for applications, including sealed storage and attestation functions....

"From a technology perspective, it will be possible to develop a nexus that interoperates with other operating systems on the hardware of a nexus-aware PC. Much of the NGSCB architecture design is covered by patents, and there will be intellectual property issues to be resolved. It is too early to speculate on how those issues might be addressed."

NGSCB also gets in the way of reverse engineering of applications. According to the FAQ, NGSCB provides the following functions:

  • "Strong process isolation. Users can wall off and hide pages of main memory so that each nexus-aware application can be assured that it is not modified or observed by any other application or even the operating system.
  • "Sealed storage. Information can be stored in such a way that only the application from which data is saved (or a trusted designated application or entity) can open it. With sealed storage, a nexus-aware application or module can mandate that the information be accessible only to itself or to a set of other trusted components that can be identified in a cryptographically secure manner.
  • "Secure path to and from the user. Secure channels allow data to move safely from the keyboard/mouse to nexus-aware applications, and for data to move from nexus-aware applications to a region of the screen.
  •  "Attestation. Users have the ability to authenticate software or a combination of software and hardware. With attestation, a piece of code can digitally sign or otherwise attest to a piece of data and thus assure the recipient that the data was constructed by an unforgeable, cryptographically identified trusted software stack."

There you have it. Only the original application can access the data. And there is no way to peek into "secure" program's memory. Those file formats will be impenetrable.

Is it possible that Microsoft will have access to reverse engineering tools that bypass NGSCB? I don't really know but considering that Microsoft has ability to debug the nexus itself, I don't see what would stop them.


According to this story Microsoft has a deal with Phoenix to increase the integration of the BIOS with the OS. This integration is dependent on NGSCB:

"Both Microsoft and Phoenix are currently arguing for closer integration of Windows with PC hardware, and DRM integrated throughout. Microsoft is planning to tie Windows DRM features to the hardware platform via its controversial Next Generation Secure Computing Base (NGSCB) project, formerly known as Palladium."

According to the NGSCB FAQ, the hardware integration would be the following:

"To make NGSCB possible, both the software and the hardware will evolve. On the hardware side, the CPU, chipset, USB I/O and GPU hardware components will be redesigned, and a new component will be added, called the Security Support Component (SSC). On the software side, a new operating system component will be added, called the nexus, along with some associated code to enable the NGSCB environment. Collectively, this software comprises the trusted computing base (TCB) for NGSCB."

Some questions are left unanswered. Would other OSes have equal access to the hardware? If another OS tried to support the hardware, would NGSCB patents get in the way?

The following tidbit of this same story is intriguing:

"Microsoft said integration should mean simpler and more reliable computers. 'This is a pivotal change for the industry, and it will rapidly advance serviceability, deployment, and management for servers, mobile devices, and desktops,' said Microsoft general manager of Windows hardware Tom Phillips, in a statement. 'Effectively, Phoenix is creating an entirely new category of system software.'"

A "new category of system software". What does that mean? Will there be Windows-specific APIs in the BIOS? Are they available to other operating systems? Are these APIs cryptographically hidden from reverse engineering? Legally, do these APIs belong to Microsoft or to Phoenix? Is this a loophole with respects to the anti-trust settlement?

This raises a lot of questions about the ability of hardware that includes this new Phoenix BIOS to run non-Microsoft operating systems. Would they run? Would they be crippled it they run? Would Microsoft customers switching to Linux have to change hardware as well, if their PCs run this BIOS?

This completes the list of customer lock-in and vendor lock-out strategies. As you can see, there is no shortage of items for the list. On top of the usual proprietary file formats and APIs, we have cryptography, legal risks, patents, licensing deals, NGSCB obstruction to reverse engineering, and tighter hardware/OS integration.

However, even if all these strategies were to prove successful, Microsoft can't completely lock the market again until the release of Longhorn. Once customers are upgraded to Longhorn, however, their ability to migrate out of Windows will quickly degrade as they implement Longhorn-specific applications.

This gives Microsoft customers two or three years to migrate to Linux.

Of course these two or three years are probably Microsoft's worst fear. They need something to deter migrations in the meantime. This is where we need to recall this bit of the Halloween document VII.

  • “'Linux patent violations/risk of being sued' struck a chord with US and Swedish respondents. Seventy-four percent (74%) of Americans and 82% of Swedes stated that the risk of being sued over Linux patent violations made them feel less favorable towards Linux. This was the only message that had a strong impact with any audience."
And also this one:
  • "Messages that rely on an abstract discussion of intellectual property rights are not effective.
    • "The discussion of IP rights needs to be tied to concrete actions."

Does that sound familiar?

Here we have a motivation for Microsoft. SCO may have their own separate motivations, but they still play into Microsoft's hands. Watch the FUD. What matters is not the exact word that is being said. It is the innuendo. People in the acting profession call that the "subtext" hidden under the text of their script. The FUD is saying to decision-makers something like: "Did you check your liabilities? You are going to be sued. Did you cover your bases?" From this perspective, SCO's lawsuit is a scarecrow to give the illusion that these questions are relevant.

No need to have a viable legal case. Smoke and mirrors will do perfectly well, for this purpose.

We see that subtext recurring in the repeated appeals from G. Weiss, vice-president of Gartner Group to chicken out. For example herehere and here where he says:

So what should enterprises do while SCO's suit winds its way through the courts, a process that, including appeals, could take several years? George Weiss, analyst for high-tech researcher Gartner, advises companies using, or deploying Linux, to keep a low profile and avoid publicizing their use of open source software.

To his credit we can see his opinions changing over time, but it seems Mr. Weiss still doesn't fully understand the game. Which is the greater risk, a SCO lawsuit or a new Microsoft licensing deal? This is no time for indecision. The clock is ticking. Desktop OS migrations in large enterprises are multi-year projects. Gartner's customers must start planning and doing pilot projects immediately or risk facing Microsoft's Next Generation Secure Licensing Agreement a few years from now. CIOs can avoid much trouble if they talk to each other and give references about their Linux experiences. This will ensure they move in a large and visible enough group to attract software vendors and remove one more threathening lock upon themselves. This also means enterprises must talk openly about their successes. Keeping a "low profile" to hide from SCO will indirectly help perpetuate Microsoft software vendor lock-in.

The Monkey and the Peanut

I am reminded of the fable where one tries to capture a monkey. Bolt a vase on a shelf and drop a peanut in the vase. The vase opening is tight; the monkey can slip in an open hand but cannot pull out a closed fist. When he closes his hand on the peanut, the hand is caught into the vase, and the monkey is trapped. Of course he can just open the hand to free himself but that means dropping the peanut. The monkey keeps his hand closed and is caught by his own desire.

The desire to be safe from lawsuits is like the peanut in the fable. Want to seize it? You are caught. Freedom means forgetting about the peanut.

Let's take indemnification for example. Indemnification is not such a bad thing in itself. It is a desirable thing to have someone that takes some legal  liabilities off your back. Arguing to CIOs that indemnification is bad is useless. It is like trying to convince the monkey to free himself by telling him the peanut is no good; any monkey can tell a good peanut when he sees one.

It is much better to talk about the vase. Indemnification FUD tricks the customer into demanding a number of things that lock much of FOSS out of the picture.
  1. You need a supplier that can sign the contract and provide indemnification. You can't just download the software.
  2. Economically, indemnification must be funded like an insurance policy. It imposes an extra costs on the open source model.
  3. The indemnification supplier wants to know what code is indemnified. The customer must agree to restrictions on his ability to change the code or risk the indemnification being voided.

As long as the customer wants indemnification, he will either not be able to get Linux or will get a crippled version and be disappointed. Like the monkey of the fable, the customer is locked into Windows by his own desire.

From Microsoft's point of view, the weakness with that approach is that CIOs don't grab for peanuts just because they are told to. They want to understand the issues, the entire picture. They are briefed by their staff. They can read licensing agreements too. They will ask questions. Why IP indemnification only? Why not indemnifying for virus damage and other security issues? How about liability due to software malfunction? They may even ask about the "vase".

This is why the Halloween document VII says that talk about IP rights must be linked with concrete actions. It helps CIOs to want the peanut.


Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out | 170 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: piskozub on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 04:30 AM EST
The correct link to the European Union IDA Open Source Migration Guildlines document is int/ISPO/ida/export/files/en/1618.pdf

[ Reply to This | # ]

Formatting glitch
Authored by: eibhear on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 04:45 AM EST
In the section "File format lock-in : Office 2003", the second block
quote is not formatted as such, and the emphasis has not been added:

"Microsoft may have patents and/or patent...
... specifications for the Office Schemas.[emphasis added]"


[ Reply to This | # ]

MS lock-in and the Microsoft settlement
Authored by: sela on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 05:33 AM EST

The lock-in into MS is the crux of the matter indeed.

All people involved in the settlement against Microsoft were way off the mark.
The problem with Microsoft's unticompetitive behavior was never going to be
solved by allowing chosen few outside the company to access their code, and even
not by splitting up MS, as judge Jackson ruled.

There is only one way to ensure fair competition: forcing Microsoft to open up
their standards using the following restrictions:
1. All docomentation regarding file formats must be publicly available.
2. All API documentation should be publicly available.
3. MS must not use patents to restrict access to any of its proprietary file
formats to ensure interoperability.
4. Microsoft must avoid breaking internet-related standards in a way that would
prevent access to web sites using non-MS web browsers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Doesn't NGSCB destroy IP protection?
Authored by: Jude on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 06:20 AM EST
It seems that the "sealed storage" and "process
isolation" features of NGSCB offer a way for application writers to
infringe patents or copyrights with impunity.

How could a patent or copyright holder ever prove infringement if neither the
source code nor the executable code can be examined by anyone but the
application writer?

[ Reply to This | # ]

File format lock in
Authored by: markus on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 06:31 AM EST

The Microsoft Office 2003 XML Schema is now published and availabe (see Slashdot: Microsoft Word Document ML Schemas Published)

As I understood it, the license is not too bad either.


Markus Baertschi, Switzerland

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • RTA - Authored by: jez_f on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 07:44 AM EST
    • RTA - Authored by: aug24 on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:47 AM EST
      • RTA - Authored by: midav on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 02:25 PM EST
  • File format lock in - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 02:34 PM EST
  • File format lock in - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 06:05 PM EST
"Secure" is not necessarily "Trustworthy"
Authored by: Jude on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 06:51 AM EST
If a user cannot examine the code of an application, and also cannot directly
examine the files it creates, how can the user ever be sure that the application
is doing what, and ONLY what, the user wants?

For example, how would a user know that a tax-preparation application isn't
covertly sending copies of their tax information to parties other than the IRS?

I realize that network monitoring can detect traffic to unexpected destinations,
but it is not difficult to contrive an excuse for such traffic. The
hypothetical tax package mentioned above might claim it was communicating with
its maker's servers in order to validate the user's license. If such traffic
is strongly encrypted, it could easily include information that the user might
not want passed to the maker.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: eibhear on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 07:00 AM EST
While it's not hand-over-fist, a lot of reports suggest that Microsoft is
losing market to open source alternatives. Governments move more slowly than the
private sector, but there have been large gains in that area too.

The fact that the European Commission has put a great deal of effort and money
into developing a migration plan screams to public sector technology officers:
here's something you can do, and your organisation's budget may be healthier
in the long run.

What happens when it gains a critical mass before longhorn becomes widely
adopted? Remember, enterprise take up of a new operation system is slower than
personal take up. It could be two years after Longhorn's release before it will
be described as a mainstream operating system. When revenue collection agencies
insist on accounts being submitted in open formats, when industry regulation
organisations require submissions to be in non-proprietary formats, and so on,
enterprises will be required to keep an installation of an alternative to the
lock-in applications before longhorn makes that solution impossible.

When that becomes the case people will start to make comparisons: Open Office
can do all that MS Office can do, but cheaper, and still can do more, and when I
upgrade I don't have to upgrade the OS as well! GNU Cash can out-Quicken my
Microsoft Money!

There will be resistance, I anticipate, to the lock-in tactics (if not the
strategy) from those public sector bodies that have recognised the value of free
software solutions. The best way to assist this resistance, is to campaign for
rules and statutes that say that documents in electronic format must be readable
by easily available software for a period of time no less than ...

Personally, I would like to say 1000 years. I think it's fascinating that
documents like the Magna Carta and others from that era are still with us and
available. It would be a disgrace to lose important documents because the file
format was designed by a company that went out of business 9500 years ago and
took all it technologies with it out of spite.

Sin é,

I am a wannabe historian.

[ Reply to This | # ]

MS XAML lock-in
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 07:27 AM EST
This is also an interesting article about the Microsoft lock-in with XAML. Have also a look at the refereced articles by Simon and Eric.

This should be added to the links if it is not already discussed elsewhere.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: jez_f on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 07:55 AM EST
I am starting to wonder how much of a direct response to Linux NGSCB is? It
would seem that most of the features are not the sort of thing that your average
user is going to care about. We all want secure computers but this is complete
overkill. It will reduce the performance and increase the cost of your PC. There
will be no perceved benifit to 90% of the users. It will make it much more
difficult to migrate to and implement an OSS OS.

It just seems like a deliberate ploy to wipe out interoperability unless a
developer wants to give M$ lots of money to pay for licences and certificates.

This is a case of the market shoving what they want us to have down our throats
weather we like it or not. Surely this is an abuse of Monopoly power!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Is Microsoft Linux in the Wind? - NEWSFACTOR SPECIAL REPORT
Authored by: cybervegan on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 08:30 AM EST

More inaccuracies and misconceptions from the journalistic computer non-cognoscenti...

Have a laugh at this one - though there are serious undertones, the reporter is obviously just regurgitating received 'wisdom':

I particularly like the quote 'The GPL is a very viral license' , which, although old, still infers that all FOSS is tantamount to viruses. It even implies that, for instance, if I were to write a Linux version of my (mythical) Windows application, I'd have to give away the original windows-version code. Stuff and nonsense! Just more FUD. Don't they know that the GPL only applies to code which incorporates other GPL code? You'd think they might say "Hey, you just ran our Windows app under Wine! You've just open-sourced it without asking us!", bet *we* know different! :-D


[ Reply to This | # ]

MS, Google, Linux and....
Authored by: ricerocket on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 08:56 AM EST
I am no conspiricy theorist, but, after Reading Cringeley's column...

Hmm. SCO's been dropping big hints about sueing Large scale end users.

MS has a multimillion dollar investment in SCO "Licenses"

Google happens to be an large scale Linux shop...

Wonder if SCO would pick Google to bring into the Litigation front.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: apessos on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:04 AM EST
What is the legality of Microsoft trying to enforce a ban on reverse
engineering? I thought that was one of our rights, if we wanted to reverse
engineer it, we could. Am I wrong in assuming this? It seems nearly impossible
(and quite laughable) to try to force people to use the software as Microsoft
deems fit.

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT: More from Weiss/Gartner with Register parody
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:23 AM EST

Weiss/Gartner recommends Linux users 'keep a low profile' and 'Pressure high-profile Linux vendors to contractually guarantee against infringement claims by covering court costs' here

Register parody here

Why one should seek indemnity from a vendor, rather than buy insurance against barratry, I don't know.

[ Reply to This | # ]

off-topic - court hearing?
Authored by: maxhrk on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:25 AM EST
am i correct that SCO and IBM is in hearing in the court today? suppose it is
11/21 now. :)


Richard M.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A further lockin- hardware drivers
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:28 AM EST
Maybe I missed it, but one of the more immediate hurdles facing users who wish
to migrate from Windows to Linux has been put in place by hardware vendors.
Whilst some vendors actively support Linux and write drivers, some of which are
even released as open source themselves, drivers are often not available. This
can be because a small vendor does not have resources, and often in this case
they will be open with their specification and protocols in order to allow the
open source community to write their own drivers. However there remain vendors
who refuse to provide a driver and retain tight control of their protocols,
whether through collusion with Microsoft or not, making it extremely difficult
to operate their hardware on any OS other than Windows. If I buy a Wi-Fi card
with a Texas Instruments chipset, who are they to to decide I can only use it on
windows? I am not sure how much of this is dictated by the political agenda
described, but it is a serious issue which is encountered long before you have
to worry about file formats and application functionality.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: dburns on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:29 AM EST
In addition to Citrix, Tarantella can be used to access Windows application running on a Windows server. I also point out this article about Tarantella supporting SuSE and Red Hat Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Lock in or Break out - the choice is yours
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:32 AM EST
"Ultimately, we're the company that believes in the power of the local hard disk," said Gordon Mangione, corporate vice president of Microsoft's SQL Server team. "It's been the thing that has driven the PC revolution for many, many years."

Clever, clever quote. Sounds nice, but disect it and its not so innocuous. It's pandering to people who have now got to the stage of understanding the existence of security issues, but can't see past MS as the cause of those issues.

It seems to me to be a reaction against the demonstrable power of networks - that a massively distributed multi angle approach will out perform a dedicated single target approach.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's TS & Citrix's Customer Lock-in... OPTIONS are available.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:41 AM EST
There are usable, evolving, and improving OPTIONs to the MS Terminal Server and
Citrix "LOCK-IN" related problem(s).
Some (there may be others) Thin Client options to MS Terminal Server and Citrix

For Schools: (a 1st stop for anyone learning about Linux Terminal
Server and open source use in schools)

For Others: (This Linux Terminal Server Project is for geeks, as it is
not a highly polished site! Version 4 of LTSP is close and is well worth a
short wait for the final version, as LTSP v4 will make it easier to turn most
any installed distro into a Linux Terminal Server) (for down to 9600 baud modem use,
this level of compression brings this GPL'd software directly into competition
with Citrix) (well established commercial option)

Note: there are some Linux distributions that are now including the Linux
Terminal Server features as an option during install. The LTSP site has had
other information about OpenMosix and other useable technologies.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Be careful even when Microsoft appears to support an open format...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:21 AM EST
Personal experience from some time ago:
Investigated how to get my e-mails out of an Exchange server in some textual
format that I could easily parse.

Looking at the export options in a Windows Outlook client, I spotted
"comma-separated text" as one choice. This is a common enough export
format for databases and spreadsheets, where the records are single lines and
fields within records are delimited by commas. Quotes are used to escape data
that contains commas. It is easy to write a program for parsing this.

"Ha," I thought, "Microsoft is not so bad after all",
and went using the Outlook client, confident that I could get the data out.

Until I actually tried. It turned out that yes, the comma-separated format did
contain the e-mail message texts, and lots of header data like sender and

I generally subscribe to the Hanlon's Razor principle: "Never attribute
to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.". But this
was something that was explainable only by a malicious lock-in strategy. There
is no technical reason for omitting the dates, and they are obviously very
important information, so I am sure the Microsoft programmers could not have
done this by accident.

The only possible explanation is that the comma-separated format was there only
for show, never meant to be actually used. The customer, flipping throught the
menus and options of the Outlook mail program, gets the impression that the mail
data base is easily retrivable for processing by other programs. Only if you
look a bit deeper you notice the glaring omission!

Actually there were also some other non-Microsoft export database formats. I did
not have programs handy for properly reading them, but from dumping the
contents, it appeared to me that they, too, lacked the dates. So it was probably
not just the comma-separated format that was crippled.

If you have Outlook handly (I saw this in both "97" and
"2002" versions), you can try to reproduce this:
Go to File -> Import and Export.
In the dialog choose "Export to a file". Then select file type
"Comma-separated values (DOS)" or "Comma-separated values
(Windows)" (this just chooses how accented characters are encoded). The
pick the folder to export and the file name.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Tecweb Article
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:22 AM EST
it's about what you would expect. I like the quote from Scott Urbatsch: "It seems SCO's case is not very solid, but recent developments seem to add a tiny bit of validity to their case. The end result will be fewer SCO clients and a changed Linux kernel."

uh . . . which developments would THOSE be then?
(boldface added)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:38 AM EST
The article did miss the relative lockin provided by the heavier reliance on
.NET IL and framework in the future. Although some consider that the 'Mono'
framework will enable .NET across other platforms, there isn't a chance on
earth that Microsoft is letting this development occur out of the goodness of
their hearts. The Samba team had to contend with changes to the SMB format
including undocumented 'features', and although these can be adequately
explained by terrible programming practices, it's not outside the remit of
Microsoft to undertake in poisoning wells whereever it suits them.

MSXML and whatever godawful mutated mess that ASP.NET puts out that claims to
have some relationship with X/HTML are 'extensions' to agreed and produced
standards; in many cases Microsoft directly had a hand in getting these
standards off the ground.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not really a Microsoft hater; I reserve hatred for any
entity that seeks to make vassals of it's customers; but the whole .NET
framework is scaring me because I'm probably going to have to develop in it
(pressures of the workplace) and it represents a huge level of inertia to the
small and medium software companies out there.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Knocked off or knocked up?
Authored by: gumout on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:43 AM EST
"In some sense, Linux is a knock-off of Unix and intended to be compatible
with software designed to run on Unix," said Tom Carey, an attorney with
Bromberg & Sunstein , a law firm in Boston. "But SCO has to prove that
Novell is using the code it sold to SCO in that competitive [SUSE Linux]

A knock off in some sense?
Is this like being partly pregnant in some sense?

How do 99% of all lawyers end up graduating in the
bottom 1% of their class in some sense?

PJ you can be wife #2 but wife #1 says she still drives the Cadillac.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Where are the international standards bodies?
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:49 AM EST
So, why don't we yet have international document standards that mandate the
default application format for use within governments? This would push the
application developers in the direction of having to support open standards.
The changes to the various document formats have been small in recent years.
And the benefits of a universally supported format outweighs the insignificant
enhancements we've seen of late. We obviously need standards for text
documents, spreadsheets, database (dbm- or access-like DBs) presentations,
audio, video, and scripting language.

Imagine if we let each television network broadcast in their own format, and let
them change the format every 3 years so that people would have to upgrade their
TVs. It's insane to let this issue with document formats go on without clear
standards much longer.

The internet does not change everything!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Boies Schiller Accused Of Conflict, Fees Challenged
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 11:00 AM EST
Homer contends that class attorney Mark Heise, a partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner, cannot serve as plaintiff counsel in the case because his law firm is a member of the class. Click here for the full article.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 11:53 AM EST
It's great to see research validating my own views.

Thanks for the effort. Great work!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Irony in San Antonio
Authored by: stend on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 12:04 PM EST
I find the story about PEC Solutions somewhat ironic. When I was in the Air
Force, I was assigned to the Armstrong Laboratory on Brooks AFB, in San Antonio,
from 1990-95. Amongst the R&D projects I supported was one which ran on SCO
Open Desktop. The only formal training I received on Unix while in the Air
Force was SCO ODT training conducted by...PEC Solutions. (Before I left, most
of the in-lab and field testing on this project had moved from SCO to Linux,
although the development was still done on SCO. The initial motivation was
financial, but Linux performed well enough that when classic SCO started
offering free licenses for educational purposes, the captain in charge of the
project wasn't interested in seeing if the training centers used for field
testing would qualify.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 12:22 PM EST

Regarding all this discussion about lock in and reverse engineering. Its my understanding that reverse engineering for compatibility purposes is NOT a violation. This understanding is partly formed from this which is dated 1993.

Is this no longer true in the US? Did the DCMA act change things? Does the license override the law? From some stuff Ive read on theregister specifically the comment by Gwen Hinze from the EFF:

Clearly, Congress didn't intend on the DMCA being used to prevent interoperable consumer products."

It would seem that the DCMA doesnt restrict reverse engineering for interoperability purposes.

Anybody have more info?

Also it seems that a chunk of the text in the root node of this thread is improperly emphasized. Maybe there is a missing close tag? And many thanks to all and sundry here. This is a great site. Cheers.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 12:42 PM EST
Isn't it sad that MS has changed into this?

I still remmeber the times when I run the Mac SE, and I loved MS programs
because it was the only ones where you could really run the same file in a Mac
and a PC. Compatibility was all that the first office were about, you could rely
on MS filters to read any document from almost any other format...

Oh the good old times!. But I suppose that with age, some turn greedy, and some
turn open.

[ Reply to This | # ]

You Missed Process Lock-in
Authored by: John Goodwin on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 01:21 PM EST

Excellent summary. There is more lock in than "applications, OS's, and
servers" which you outline. You could extend your analysis to other areas
of lock-in, that will be even more significant for enterprises, even if they
have no analogy to the home client DRM issues most readers will be familiar
with, like the RIAA issues, or copyrights and software patents vs.
shrink-wrapped applications as a business model for retailing software.

Most companies are not only "consumers" of servers, OSs, and
clients, but producers of integrated processes. Businesses live or die on
process performance--in the end customer wait time, number of glitches, and cost
of process.

One driver of process cost is not the cost of the components, assembly, and
maintenance, but the cost of producing the process itself, replicating it,
controlling it, improving it. These costs lead to process being
"productized"--which is the major transition happening in the
enterprise world today. Think: outsourcing, web application server models, thin
clients vs. thick (which you do mention).

The tools to make commodity software and hardware into business process are like
the "machine tool capital" of yore. Controlling that Capital is
what it's all about, not just controlling commodity costs. Think Rational Tool
Chain or Mercury interactive--10k or more per developer seat--and you see the
problem. Even when the server side is Unix or Linux, the developer workstation
still has lock in--and specifically process lock in.

If you don't own your process, you own nothing. Free software threatens
proprietary tool vendors in precisely this area of vulnerability--if your
"machine tools" are free, you can work smart, pay your labor force
more, and still run lean compared to an outsourced, cheap labor but high capital
cost model.

I think American enterprises are under such cost pressure from labor costs,
relative to other markets, that they will be forced to transition to
"free" tool sets, simply because if they are capable at all they are
superior. The problem is not "I have to use Windows because I have to use
Word", it's "I have to use Windows because I have to use

[ Reply to This | # ]

It is *ALL* about the *API*
Authored by: blhseawa on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 01:38 PM EST
As a longtime enterprise developer, and a pre the existence of Micro$oft,
enterprise software developer. I think I am qualified to make the following

Micro$oft has shown time and time again that it intends to destroy API's that
allow interoperability with non-Windows systems.

Just look what it did 1992 to Netscape as example.
1) Offered the Internet Explorer web browser for free, while raising the price
of the Windows OS at the same time.
2) Once it penetrated the market (IE 5.0 and greater), it discontinued the
Netscape browser pluign API, (plugin.ocx) without notice to developers.
3) Created the browser control, and specefically told developers that they did
not need to worry about distributing IE to use the web browser control, once
developers started using the control, the discontiued the ability to distribute
the web browser control.

The federal and state governments clearly let Microsoft off the hook for it's
clearly illegal activities.

At least the EU understands Micro$oft'$ behavior.

This is why developers talk about software as freedom, not as free, becuase it
is the freedom to use, modify and distribute the software of *THIER* choice
rather than some enterprise!

You have been warned about using Micro$oft product$!


[ Reply to This | # ]

Lock-in will never happen
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 02:40 PM EST
Reasons why lock-in will not happen:
1) Developers tend to comply with standards. E.g.
- Programmers prefer the C-family language as opposed to VB, C# or other
platform based language.
- Most webdevelopers test on several browsers/OS to validate their results,
despite IE being the 'standard' browser
- MS-frontpage (garbage) HTML never got accepted since it didn't comply with
the standard.
- Programmers hate rewriting software or create software that gets outdated.
e.g. convert asp pages to asp.NET, and in Longhorn probably rewrite it again.
Some applies to VB. Using standards makes any program run
'a lifetime'

2) Government(s) determine the 'standard'
- A government is the foundation of any economical infrastructure. This
structure directly affects all businesses and the way they use software and
standards.And the home-user itself is influenced on the way business use
software and methods. Asia(India China Korea Japan), Brazil, and to some extend
Europe avoid microsoft. This letter
( written by
Congressman Villanueva's of Peru is perhaps the most destructive letter,
well written, I've ever read!
- The desire to use standards will, with backing of 'trustworthy' companies
like Novell-IBM-Suse, be accelerated

3) People are running away from Microsoft
- trust,. Also one of the reasons .NET
is not broadly adopted as hoped by Microsoft.
- licensing (expensive and the concept of using software as a
- Their continuous vomitable press releases where they wrap lies in
rediculous rethoric. The more vague or confusing a statement is, the further
it must be from the truth.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Boies is a busy boy...
Authored by: geoff lane on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 03:00 PM EST
Apparently Boies is to represent Conrad Black in his problems with Hollinger International.

Turning into a right little rainmaker.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Document Formats
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 03:06 PM EST
I am not a ludite, I use Open Office and am dabbling in Linux looking at moving
away from M$. However a point needs to be made about all electronic formats.

M$ seem to be taking the approach, if only our software can read the document,
we own the user lock, stock and barrel, assuming they support all previous

However, all electronic documents are replaced/changed meaning that older
documents can no longer be read unless you stck to a specific program at a
moment in time. This is why all UK Parliament Acts are written on paper, as well
as having electronic versions (I believe that the paper copy is the only legally
binding version of the act and all electronic copies are reference/infomation
only, please advise if this is wrong).

In the UK a modern Doomsday book was created in the 80's it used a laser disc
format. When they wanted to read the data in the late 90's they had to find a
working reader as the dept doing the conversion did not have a
"working" laser disc reader and evelop new software to read the old
format, see

The only "global" formats seem to be raw ASCII and the Adobe PDF
approach. Will these formats last? Ultimately the only way to ensure that data
is available to all or will be accessed in the future is either on paper or
through open document formats woith software that can ensure compatability.

Regards to you all and PJ thanks for creating this site it has been an


[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Document Formats - Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 03:21 PM EST
BSD Advertising Clause
Authored by: Trepalium on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 03:12 PM EST
What was quoted above is not the BSD advertising clause. That clause is in all BSD software to this day, and isn't a particular problem for the GPL.

The following clause is the advertising clause that is a problem:

3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software must display the following acknowledgement: This product includes software developed by the University of California, Berkeley and its contributors.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Dec 5 meeting still stands
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 05:04 PM EST
As reported on Yahoo's SCOX board, there's a new case document up (80)
confirming the Dec 5 meeting.

I take it that IBM is still unhappy with the discovery.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Beyonder on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 05:31 PM EST
I can tell you with absolute certainty that the plans are a little more
restrictive than what's being presented here.

For example, office 2003 documents will ONLY be "shareable" with
other people who also use office 2003. That's right, you won't be able to
export to any other format, or open them up in any other format, not that
"files" will be on your hard drive anyhow (they'll be on .Net),
you're locked-in (or locked-out depending on your point of view).

Thus it will be for ALL windows 2003 (and future) documents.

and before you think this is as bad as it gets, think again!
here's some other goodies for you to munch on...
Microsoft is very soon (actually already started) to do remote
monitoring/tracking of everything you do, once again:

Sources inside Microsoft say that the announcement from Lindows, that there's
extra, and extreme controls, giving Microsoft control of your computer remotely,
as has been promised for years, is in Office 2003, and will also be coming to an
XP update near you...

well, it's already out for windows-xp, here's a link for ya:

be afraid, be very afraid...
ie: no wonder everyone and their brother is switching to Linux...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Nick Bridge on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 05:36 PM EST
I think it's about time to move away from Intel.

Microsoft no longer supports other architectures (once DEC, but no more...)

Make sure that software and hardware vendors know that we will not stand for
lock-in of any kind - it's too costly.

It will be cheaper to move to a less restrictive more expensive hardware.

Free us from the DRM prison.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Nick Bridge on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 05:53 PM EST
Customers may want to question whether their fees are being put to good use by

They have been accused of innovation - I merely see them reinventing the wheel,
and elaborate means for extending their monopoly - at a huge cost.

They want to remove our freedom in the digital arena - the cost here is

They break the law - the cost here rather large too.

While I have a choice I will never pay anything to Microsoft.

With any luck enough people will come to realize the real cost of doing business
with Microsoft.

[ Reply to This | # ]

A few unpleasant facts about Longhorn
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 08:50 PM EST
Longhorn is a big MS release, actually brave attempt this
time (as opposed to 98,ME and XP).

Everything there is new.
- A new, completely managed (as in ".Net Virtual Machine"
managed) API, WinFX
- Totaly revamped UI, with composition engine and 3D
interface (Avalon)
- Extremely easy XML based API for controling new UI
- Extremely easy built in secure API for services oriented
arhitecture (including randevouz like P2P) called Indigo
(replacing com+ and other ugliness)
- Central repository of decomposed and indexed data on top
of file system, based on MSSQL (WinFS)
- Totaly new shell, object oriented scripting language
with full access to all OS API-s
- AI backend in form of natural language interfaces, spell
checkers etc.
- one click install
- registry is going away
- all of that sitting over NGSCB

This is a very serious situation. It shows what MS is
capable to do when feeling cornered. It also shows they
way of thinking when being cornered. Control as much as
you can.

Unfortunatelly This time they actually have a chance to
make tehnically a VERY good OS.

Longhorn will be EXTREMELY easy to program for. No
brainer. Adobe is writting some stuff that will enable
designers to quickly make very appealing GUI's that will
be wired to buisiness logic service easilly and securely.
MS has something called "sparkle" that sounds awful like
Flash on steroids. It is going to be an ultimate rich
client platform. Rich, rich, rich clients. Basically,
they have no web browser in there at all. You can mix HTML
with all of other accelerated flashy goodies like there's
no tommorow.
There are five selling points that MS will use in a mother
of all campains, which will probbably last over a two
years and swallow few bil $.

1) secure OS (for bussines and goverments)
2) extremely easy and visually rich (for ma and pa)
3) EXTREMELY easy and secure to program (for programmers)
4) profit making reborner of IT industry, every hardware
component must be bought again (heaven for hardware
manufactorers and developers again, apps must be rewriten
to use new features)
5) Hollywood. That's the killer app. Movies will finaly go
online. They are working with Hollywood all of this time.
Entertainment guys have been promissed total security of
their digital content. And huge profits. That's why DRM is
in. Period.

Drawbacks? Well, implications will be huge. Everything, I
mean every single thing in there is lock in. And probably
a permanent one. Writting cross platform app becomes
impossible (if one wants to use even some of that new
stuff). They do have a problem of bassically new OS, so
they must make sure developers will follow, and they will
be vulnerable till late 2005/06 when (if) they deliver,
and probbably a year or two after, until it becames
accepted. OSS should have an answer in that timeframe, or
it will stay locked out permanetly. 3, 4 and 5 will be
very hard to fight, I'm afraid. But, if we manage to slow
down the hype, and take them significant number of
developers in that timeframe, combined with attacks on
DRM, and FOCUSED and EASY and COMPLETE desktop targeted on
win 98 (over 35 %) users, we might have a chance. In next
2-4 years linux must have 15+% desktop users. Otherwise,
well, you can all imagine what will happen in a brave new
DRM world.

PS. Oh I forgot, they have a fucking location API in there
too. All we need now is fuckinf RFID tags all around.

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Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 09:11 PM EST
This is not just a great article and good investigative journalism, this is PULLITZER MATERIAL!

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Lock in US
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 10:32 PM EST
There are nations, even entire contenants, that will not demean themselves to MS
holding the keys to their security, business and economy. Do you think the
Japanese will stand for it? Or the Chinese? or Asia? How about France? Or
Germany? or Europe?

M$ will settle down simply to become another intractable tax on the US economy -
just like the drug companies.

Five years from now, when a US business tries to send someone in China or the
Netherlands a MS2003 document, they will look at it as if it were from a Wang
Wordprocessor Pro.

And yes, many cool things in Longhorn. If done ethically, a time to celebrate.
As it is, a time for another huge evolution in open source, this time with
entire contries participating. We will have our fun!

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Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: hairball on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 11:33 PM EST
I have been concerned about Microsoft's moves for some time. The real problem
for me is that Microsoft is trying to play Kingmaker. The systems that they are
working on are intended to control the flow and storage of information within
the goverment institutions of sovereign states.

This will pose some major problems for Microsoft - Governmental agencies usually
have statuatory requirements to preserve and protect information in the public
interest - the information needed to run a country - birth records, title deeds
and so on. This kind of information will have to be stored in a way that a)
CANNOT be lost and B) will always be available.

At the moment it is not too much of a problem. Unencrypted data can be
recovered from the surface of a disk via a range of tools. I have recovered the
content of more that a few corrupted windows systems using basic tools.

In the worst case I have recovered the ascii text equivalent of important
documents that have been munged or accidently deleted.

If the data had been encrypted it could not have been recovered - I have also
encountered this problem and at least one user I know has suffered badly when he
lost data that could not be recovered.

Under Longhorn this will no longer be possible. This alone will give sovereign
states major problems. It may not be legally possible for government agencies
to use Longhorn and if the governmental agencies cannot use it then other users
will have compatibility problems.

We need to examine in detail the characteristics of the new Microsoft systems in
this context - the preservation of data. There will be major FUD in this arena
- as we already know having the source code to the encryption systems is useless
if we do not have the keys to go with it so simply opening the source will not
protect the information.

We need to be able to demonstrate in simple but effective language that the kind
of systems that microsoft are proposing to build cannot be used by governments
as the information governments hold is being held in trust for their citizens.

I do not really care about private industry. If they cannot recover their tax
records because a system crash or software upgrade they can simply go bankrupt -
If they do not show due diligence they can suffer for it.

Hairball Lightspeed

From Here to Eternity in 15 seconds.

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Microsoft as competition
Authored by: JMonroy on Friday, November 21 2003 @ 11:59 PM EST
We don't Windoze to die completely. I for one don't. It maintains the competition that further prods OSS developers world-wide to keep up with the proprietary operating systems. That's part of what makes Linux distributions so great. It has stuff that Microsoft never imagined to put into Windoze (for free). Glade. Qt3. Samba. gFTP. OpenOffice. gnuPlot. gimp. xsane. xmms. Multiple CD-burning wares. Shall I go on?

In a few years, Microsoft may jump back in the lead as far as features and reliability. For now, Linux has Microsoft beat. Someone will always be doing the chasing, and that's great for innovation.

As far as public perception, if Microsoft adopted a GNU-style competition mentality, maybe they wouldn't be so despised. It needs to go with the flow and stop trying to spear and roast the competition. Like that will ever happen!?

Res ipsa loquitur

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Microsoft is encouraging the migration to Linux
Authored by: Thomas Frayne on Saturday, November 22 2003 @ 03:39 AM EST
The various techniques that Microsoft is using to lock in customers and lock out
competitors have been well described in the story and the earlier comments.

In my opinion, we are already seeing signs that Microsoft's strategy is
backfiring, due mainly to the justifiable fear most have that they will be
locked in to an endless cycle of ever more expensive combined hardware and
software upgrades with ever more onerous licensing requirements:
1. Linux is starting to dominate the server market.
2. Governments and large corporations are starting large deployments of Linux
desktops and will develop facilities they need to ease migration from Windows,
and ask Linux distributors to incorporate them.
3. Those using Linux at the office or in school will consider trying it at home
as well. They can use products like Wine or Win4Lin to ease the transition, or
get the facilities needed from Windows-only applications by calling them on a
server running Windows.
4. Linux distributors are starting to focus on the desktop, and are making great
strides (e.g., the Yum program manager). This will attract many who now think
that migrating to Linux is too hard.
5. Many of the growing number of Linux users (like me) will be so disenchanted
with Microsoft that they will refuse to buy any hardware or software that is
associated with a Microsoft license. Vendors are beginning to take notice.
6. The EU is investigating Microsoft for illegal monopoly practices. The
current lock-in/lock-out practices will be scrutinized, and severe sanctions in
Europe will probably get the attention of even the Bush administration. The US
cannot afford to let a superior Linux dominate the rest of the world while
letting Microsoft try to crush Linux in the US.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Microsoft is trying its best to
lock in the Windows market with Longhorn, which is two years out, but it is
already too late. I think it will be obvious to everyone within a year that
Windows is rapidly losing market share to Linux, and this will cause still more
rapid migration to Linux.

More users will demand or develop more facilities, more applications, and more
Linux compatible hardware. More vendors will develop and distribute those
facilities, applications, and hardware. Applications and hardware that will not
support Linux will not be bought.

Linux is experiencing an acceleration of an accelerating growth pattern that
will not stop in the foreseeable future.

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Microsoft's Customer Lock-in and Competition Lock-out
Authored by: old joe on Saturday, November 22 2003 @ 06:00 AM EST
So the Microsoft file format is viral!


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Another good read on MS lockout
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, November 22 2003 @ 07:17 PM EST
There is an absolutely charming letter from DR. EDGAR DAVID VILLANUEVA NU¥EZ, Congressman of the Republica of Peru, responding to an MS complaint about Peru's choices relative to open source, at it996.html. Readers who enjoyed reading this page will enjoy this letter, I think.

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