Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ballmer out fear-mongering again

Ballmer is out telling the Microsoft faithful that Red Hat customers owe Microsoft compensation. Of course, he's not clear on what people owe Microsoft for, other than some vague allegation of "intellectual property." The details, of course, more like a Hitchcock film - cue the ominous music and make sure the camera is focused where you can't actually see anything. That always brings out the greatest fear in humans - that fear of something truly frightening that you can't actually see but are only led to belief that it must exist. But, just like with Hollywood, there seems to be nothing behind these allegations. Slide the camera down a few feet and you'll see the fake blood, the poor props, and the people with no wounds, much like the scene that Microsoft seems to have set up. Some props, some large scary numbers, a lot of repeating how scary it is, and of course, a lot of press to propogate a lot of nothing.

This big number came out originally around May and sounded oh so frightful. Of course what very few people looked at was the density of patents around a single piece of technology. For instance, 15 patents supposedly were implemented amongst several email programs. Of course, it could have been 15 email program each of which *might* have happened to implement something that bore some resemblence to one of the alleged patent. And, nothing looks at the scope of those alleged patents - are they for turning a high priority message's subject Bright Red? Gee, that's easy to work around or fix. Is it for some mailbox flag being raised when new mail arrives? And gee, if MS patented that, was there prior are back during the beginnings of the internet, back before MS was a player in the email field? And, let's assume there *is* some patent that might, just might be implemented by some mailer. And that's a big IF from what I've seen thus far, but assuming there were one, do you know what would happen in the Open Source community? Step 1: Remove the feature. Step 2: Implement it better.

So, what are MS's options with this dubious set of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that they are creating? Maybe they should sue some rich people who are using Linux, like the good Mr. Ballmer suggest. Oh, wait, look at that - most of those rich Linux customers are also running Microsoft products. OH, what kind of PR does *that* make, when you sue your own customers? I bet that's a great way to make them run from your company. Others speculated that MS could use the strategy of just ignoring those patents and IP. Of course, MS could never do something so simple, could they? No, what they are doing and going to continue to do is play the ominous Hitchcock movie music, wave a lot of props, jump around in the press exclaiming how scary this should be for everyone, and then extort "insurance" money in the form of cross licensing to put to rest their competitors' fears (yes, those same fears that they helped create, that have no substantiated basis).

I kind of wish someone could just tell MS to put up (the goods) or shut up. Playing on people's fears without any basis is really just immature and going to continue to cause their reputation to be affiliated with the dark side of the force.



At 10:54 AM, Blogger mdolan said...

Not sure if you saw this OIN article that ironically came out just before Ballmer's latest comments.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain:


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