Ashley Vance had a story on theregister last week about Microsoft's use of an article in Fortune Magazine to communicate a patent threat. Here's his summary paragraph:
It would seem that Microsoft now relies on the likes of Fortune to perform scoldings. The software maker, as you've no doubt heard, placed a terse article with the publication. In the piece, both Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and top lawyer Brad Smith go after the free/open source crowd, saying 235 Redmond patents have been violated - 42 of them in the Linux kernel, 65 in the GUI (graphical user interface), 45 in OpenOffice, 15 in e-mail and another 68 scattered across various other packages.
What caught my eye in the comments was a heading "Apologies to Flanders and Swann" which, sadly, did not live up to its billing. The one below it, however, has much to recommend it:
Posted Monday 14th May 2007 21:13 GMT
If Linux is using all this patented Mugrosoft code why are they so much better?! Apparently Mugrosoft views Linux as a threat since they would not bother unless there really is a viable business/GPL model for Linux. The sad fact is Mugrosoft is on the way out, Vista is a Blackhole, the security problems are interfering with other software releases. The gaming side of things is notably unprofitable. Visual Studio and C# are not attracting as many developers as python and php unless you count corporate shills onboard for all the freebies. Mugrosoft Server software is apparently working now but with this kind of irresponsible market behavior why would an IT department spend the cash to become dependent on the unwieldy and seemingly abusive Mugrosoft model of programming and corporate bullying?
I liked this for two main reasons: first, it's true that I'm not big fan of "Windoze" but "Mugrosoft" has appeal - and not least because I can forcibly mis-pronounce it as "mugyourself." Secondly, I was intrigued because the mistake he makes in the first sentence - confusing patent infringement with code copying - is interesting. Is this just sloppy thinking or an off-shoot of what I see as the Groklaw campaign to misrepresent the SCO case to its constituency?
Equally hilarious in the mouth meets foot category were Torvald's comments as reported by information week in which he first asserts that all the fundamental OS design work was done well before both Linux and Windows, and then contradicts his own logic by asserting that any Microsoft patents revealed by Microsoft could be worked around in the code.
All irony aside, however, I think people are missing the big picture here - many of Microsoft's recent actions respond to a strategic threat: that posed by Red Hat's support for the Gelernter inspired interface on the $150, hundred dollar laptop. When Red Hat announced OLPC support Microsoft lowered third world Windows prices, various Wintel hardware contractors raised prices to the laptop project (and lowered them for Intel's non lifestreams based "classmate"), and now Microsoft is again rattling the patent sabre - why? because both sides are taking hostages as they face off over whether or not to bring Lifestreams to the market.
And that's important, because Lifestreams is simply better: not another GUI on the MacOS, KDE, or Windows model, but a better interface idea expressed quite differently - and were it to come to the mass market it could easily blow Windows away - and take Microsoft's strategy of letting Apple educate the market and then selling a me-too version to the masses with it.