By now everyone has heard about Microsoft making a huge carte blanche public statement about the over 235 patents being infringed upon by the open-source operating system Linux.
Linux has made huge inroads, particularly in the computer server market place, where the handling of online data and websites can be very effectively performed by a computer running Linux OS. Whereas, with users of Microsoft server software having to pay hundreds of dollars for software licenses has caused many of the large companies to start using the free Linux operating systems in the market place. Imagine hundreds or thousands of computers that a corporation does not have to pay the licensing fee for each computer license. The savings is substantial for these companies. But, the loss for Microsoft is equally huge when figured out over the entire globe and the millions of computers that will not have the Microsoft licenses tied to them.
So, what does Microsoft do? They have their legal department play a marketing ploy and try to scare the world into stop using Linux. Big business becomes a big game and Microsoft is no small player when it comes to playing this game. I find it extremely interesting that Microsoft can get upset with Apple Ads that poke fun at the comparisons between Windows Vista and Apple OS X and then go out and play the patent infringement gambit, without bringing a lawsuit against anyone. First off, anyone can make a blanket statement that says, “your company or institution may be infringing on 235 patents.” But, it is another thing to bring a lawsuit against a company with specifics of what patents are being infringed upon. Microsoft to this date has not filed a lawsuit. So, are they testing the waters?
In my estimation, Microsoft is worried about the impact that Linux and other open source programs such as Open Office by Sun Microsystems, Inc. are starting to have around the globe. It was just last year that the French parliament said good bye to Microsoft and “will start using desktops and and servers running Linux, Mozilla’s Firefox Web browser, and OpenOffice.org, a free open source alternative to Microsoft’s Office software.” See Newsfactor article. Additionally, as the open-source community builds on the designs of others, Linux comes in a number of flavors, and is becoming easier to use and install. See article on Ubuntu Linux Free and Easy Install OS.
The world is getting tired of being charged for every new round of software upgrades from Microsoft. People are retaliating against the stranglehold that Microsoft has had across the global computer world. Computer hardware has dropped like a rock in pricing over the years, but Microsoft still charges about the same prices or more for software and operating systems. Unlike Apple, where they have one software operating system, Microsoft has at least seven Vista software titles to choose from. Now, I know that every company is entitled to recoup their research and development costs, and no one should be able to dictate what will be charged to the end users, but Microsoft may have pushed the button a little too hard with the world.
It would not surprise me to find out that Microsoft actually was the one who copied the open-source software into their OS. Sometimes the ones that cry the loudest are actually the ones that are guilty of patent infringement. Part of this latest round of patent infringement claims come from a license agreement between Novell Suse Linux and Microsoft. Now, Microsoft is trying to flex it’s new muscles and try to claim that anyone distributing another version of Linux is guilty of patent infringement. However, in other articles online, there is something quite interesting in the open-source license called the GNU General Public License. Some are saying that Microsoft might have actually hurt themselves by entering into the agreement with Novell. Apparently, the license may have opened the door for protection to everyone, distributing any version of Linux or other open-source softwares.
If, pursuant to or in connection with a single transaction or arrangement, you convey, or propagate by procuring conveyance of, a covered work, and grant a patent license providing freedom to use, propagate, modify or convey a specific copy of the covered work to any of the parties receiving the covered work, then the patent license you grant is automatically extended to all recipients of the covered work and works based on it.
Time will tell what will happen on a larger scale. However, as a consumer, I get to vote. I can choose to try downloading open-source software and try it out. The Internet has made it easy to try out new software programs. I think open-source softwares are great and provide a means for new derivative works that build on the foundation of others. Firefox and Ubuntu Linux are but a few of the new software programs available for Windows OS and other operating systems.
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