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.comment: Your Voice - page 4

A Remarkable Response

  • December 26, 2001
  • By Dennis E. Powell

From Rick Hohensee of the cLIeNUX distribution comes a substitute remedy. He does not make it clear whether he has submitted this to the government; if he hasn't, he should:

"The Court declares Microsoft operating system products 'criminally compromised intellectual property'. This is a special state of copyright protection vacancy, under which Microsoft operating system products lose their patent and copyright protections exactly five years after their release dates. . . .

"First off, it has one essential characteristic of anything that will be effective upon Microsoft, simplicity. They feed on loopholes. There are none in the above. There's nothing they can do about the Fed not protecting the copyrights thier existence depends upon.

"There is nothing for them to cooperate with.

"This doesn't require any cooperation or good faith from Microsoft, which is also crucial. (They may actually favor this remedy, however.) . . .

"It does actually partially break thier monopoly. The AOLs and Oracles and Rick Hohensees of the world can produce thier own alternatives to Windows, based on older versions of Windows. (I personally have to be very well paid to look at a Windows desktop, but distastes vary. I use Linux.)

"The focus is on the software others are dependant on, operating systems. This leaves Microsoft untouched as to application products such as Office. . . .

"What goes in an OS, where they expend thier energies, all product design decisions and so on remain with Microsoft. Federal micromanagement of Microsoft is avoided, to everyone's benefit. . . ."

Another correspondent, from England, commented to me, and those comments ought to go to Washington:

"MS is desperate to stop Linux from competing in the client /server market by enforcing an MS client/MS server strategy. An example of this is the recent non-standard extensions to Kerberos so that if companies have MS clients they will find the encryption protocols may only work properly when they're talking to MS servers. This is to be expected from the company that continuously muddied the waters on SMB.

".NET is really an extension of the same principle, though the spinmeisters at Redmond make sickening paeans to Open Standards with their 'XML Foundations' nonsense.

"Let me give you an example of Microsoft's commitment to XML as an open standard for data exchange - taken from the December 2001 issue of Linux User in an interview with OperaSoft's Haakon Lie:

"MS office claims to support XML but it writes the XML tags inside HTML comments so that they can not be found (by non-MS software). Even if the software then knew how to find the XML tags it would not know how to interpret them as the format used for the tags is proprietary!

"I think this tells you all you need to know about Microsoft's conversion to

XML.

"What about those of us who do not live in the US? Microsoft's policies affect the entire world - how do the rest of us try and have a say in this? I speak as someone who lives in a country whose government has decided to hive off the public sector IT infrastructure lock, stock and barrel to Microsoft, and whose leader, Tony Blair, goes weak-kneed in the presence of Bill Gates. Britain is about to become the first reference site in the world for .Net, if Gates gets approval from the government to roll out a multi-billion dollar 100% MS solution for the tax authorities. In the last month it has been

announced that the National Health Service and the Ministry of Defence have signed deals to put *all* of their desktops under one MS licensing contract. In three years time, if they want to carry on using the software they will have to pay whatever amount MS demands (the joys of software rental). The lion's share of government contracts (in pound sterling terms) have gone to EDS, a company which makes no secret of the fact that it is little more than a value added reseller for Microsoft (all of EDS's costly 'solutions' are 100% MS)."

Again, I think that overseas residence or citizenship should not be a bar to commenting during the current period. The U.S. government has made much of globalization, and it is a good idea for the government to understand that in cases such as this one, which have a global impact, this means responsibility for one's companies. Additionally, parties injured by the actions of American companies, which actions took place in the U.S., have standing by every standard I can find.

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