Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Microsoft's Claims on Open Source

Somewhat recently Microsoft came forth to claim that Linux infringed on 235 patents that Microsoft owns. The validity of these claims depends on whether its willing to disclose those claims. According to Microsoft they do not wish to sue but to make licensing for the infringing patents. Anyone who doesn't see that its like blackmail without proof of the offensive behavior that someone is claiming to have seen you do. Granted when is IBM and others going to start a licensing program to have Microsoft pay up for that its infringing on. Microsoft can't be the only one who doesn't infringe on patents. Linus Torlvolds stated something to that fact in the last few days about how Microsoft needs to publicly disclose its claims for any amount of validity. further more they need to open their source to show that they themselves haven't infringed on age old patents. This is the only way that Microsoft's claims will be taken seriously. It should be pointed out that patents usually have a few requirements two of which I will get into for the purpose of this post. One requirement is that the patent in question not be obvious. For example a patent for jumping, people have been doing that for years and its a natural thought to jump. Second requirement I will mention is that there not be an occasion of prior art. Which basically means that if someone did it before and its published or there is proof then you can't patent it. Of course jumping is a good example of this as well because of all the people that jump and have proof in some way. Double click patent is one of the most infamous of such patents that should never have been granted. On both of those requirements I mentioned it fails miserably but its still a patent, owned by Microsoft in case you didn't know. Microsoft has been bullying people in this fashion for quite sometime and frankly people are tired of it. This is such a transparent attempt at keeping it's stake as a industry leader. Which is starting to fail before it began. For once in the history of Microsoft they are running scared. No more are they the sole leader that sets all the trends. Its become a more fair environment. There are those now willing to oppose Microsoft in its dealing without fear of repercussion. Dell is one who has started to oppose but needs to get off the ground by not bowing to the will of Microsoft. Recently they announced that they were going to offer Ubuntu pre-loaded PC's and not but a week or so later Microsoft was announcing at a Dell press conference that Dell and Microsoft were offering Linux Certificates for Suse Server environment in a partnership. Dell needed to just say no and start the trend of bucking the system so that maybe people will get their choice of environment they run specific to their needs. Maybe its time for Microsoft to become competitive in markets it doesn't dominate like every other company. If Steve Ballmer doesn't take Microsoft back to the basics of making good software they will flounder and die. If they don't stop with the ridiculous claims so as to try to get a strangle hold on the industry Companies will grow tired, drop Microsoft all together and call their bluff. One last thing I will say to Ballmer and Gutierrez is to put up or shut up, be open about the claims or stop making them not one is amused any longer.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Viability to Dell's option of Linux

For once an OEM has decided to offer Linux to users on a pre-built computer. There have been many debates and arguments on why windows is the better choice to cram down the consumers throats. On the idea storm site I witnessed every argument to why this would be bad. None of which had any validity.

First of which was that Users wont buy it if they haven't heard of Linux. Duh, of course but thats not who Dell is trying to cater to! They are trying to cater to well, me. Or more the point Users like me. Dell sees numbers in the amount of people willing to either use Linux or try Linux. Michael Dell himself uses Linux. So its no surprise that an OEM is finally willing to try out letting users decide on trying Linux or using it period to sell computers.

Second argument I saw was that Linux isn't ready for the desktop. This is true in only one respect that there wasn't an OEM that was willing to take the chance of hurting their position with Microsoft over installing an OS besides windows. If windows hadn't spent so many years being pre-installed it would be considered in the same manor as the current state of Linux. Linux has made great strides to make a move to get the credit it deserves. I wont say that Linux is windows, that just simply isn't true. But Linux is getting better and needs to be given the chance to be offered by an OEM. Some of the same reasons that people argue that Linux isn't ready obviously don't remember that windows wasn't in the greatest shape in it's beginning either. Really I can honestly say that people have forgotten what a hassle every Windows edition was until XP. The main thing that makes Linux so difficult is its not Windows. When you are used to an environment its hard to learn the new environment. Linux has its challenges but not ready for the desktop, hardly.

Lastly I have read the comments about distro choice. This is such and old argument its silly. I can understand that everyone has their favorite but its simply about numbers. Dell has a responsibility to customers to provide support. They opted for Ubuntu because of the level of support that its community offers and what Canonical offers itself. Other distro's haven't given support the kind of attention that Ubuntu has. I do mean of course commercial distro's. Dell in its responsibility isn't going to count on Suse or Red Hat to provide support for Newbie users. And community supported distro's don't have the reputation to sway a company to adopt it either. Ubuntu is rare in that its able to offer both a huge community support and even enough commercial support to be viable to use.

Linux has been ready for sometime to be a pre-installed option regardless of whether your grandmother can use it or if its a more tech savvy crowd. basically it amounts to whether it will be supported and supported well. There is not a reason you cant buy a Linux system for your grandmother her get the same usage from it that she would from windows. There has been the consumer presence to validate it but it needed to be reciprocal from the hardware, software manufacturers. There will always be the dissenters in the crowd who wish to see a truly open system and not be in the mainstream but that is the beauty of the choice you get with Linux. There can be the Linux for everyone and the Linux for one. I for one appreciate Dell's Choice in letting some of us who want either a pre-built system or a system that you can't build yourself like a laptop have an OS of our choice. Not having a choice is against the US way of consumerism and competition.