Archive for the ‘microsoft’ Category

Nick and Greg are right. If you want to kill Google (not that this would be a good thing) you need to go after their air supply.

Google is doing this to Microsoft with their online office suite. Microsoft makes the bulk of their cash from MS Office and Google is trying to choke them here. Turn about is fair play and this would be a logical decision for Microsoft to launch a counterattack.

I think Microsoft could outlast Google here if they wanted. Advertisers and site owners would win in this war of attrition no matter who wins battle (Google or Microsoft).

You wouldn’t be able to take ALL their air away but you’d be able to take a significant chunk of their revenue. It would also take a few years to kick in since sites would have to convert from Adsense or Microsoft/Yahoo ads.

There’s been a lot of talk today about the end of the Microsoft tax.

If you bought a desktop PC from Dell, you got — and paid for — a copy of Windows, whether you wanted it or not. This is commonly referred to as “The Microsoft Tax”.

It was NEVER a tax – it was a REBATE!

Yes. A rebate. If you buy a PC and don’t need Windows you’re basically given a copy of Windows for only $50. A new copy of Windows Vista Home Basic is about $200. What you do is when your new PC comes you put your copy of Vista on Craigslist for $150 (and settle for $100).

You’ve just received your Microsoft rebate of $50. Thanks Microsoft for helping subsidize Linux!

Is this illegal? Is it piracy? NO. You’re not using the version of Windows they gave you. You never signed any license agreement saying you wouldn’t sell it. Even the media is still sealed. It’s a perfectly legit copy of Windows that you’re not going to use.

It’s called the first-sale doctrine:

The first-sale doctrine is a limitation upon copyright that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109. The doctrine of first sale allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e. sell or give away) a particular, lawfully made copy of the protected work without permission once it has been obtained. That means the distribution rights of a copyright holder end on that particular copy once the copy is sold.

The trick is to NOT sign the license:

The first-sale doctrine as it relates to computer software is an area of legal confusion. Software publishers claim the first-sale doctrine does not apply because software is licensed, not sold, under the terms of an End User License Agreement (EULA). The courts have issued contrary decisions regarding the first-sale rights of consumers. Bauer & Cie. v. O’Donnell and Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus are two US Supreme Court cases that deal with copyright holders trying to enforce terms beyond the scope of copyright and patent, by calling it a license.

Microsoft is finally throwing down the gauntlet. Apparently, they’re now saying that Linux violates hundreds of software patents:

But now there’s a shadow hanging over Linux and other free software, and it’s being cast by Microsoft. The Redmond behemoth asserts that one reason free software is of such high quality is that it violates more than 200 of Microsoft’s patents. And as a mature company facing unfavorable market trends and fearsome competitors like Google , Microsoft is pulling no punches: It wants royalties. If the company gets its way, free software won’t be free anymore

Let me get this straight. Microsoft couldn’t win in the free market so they’re using a limited government monopoly to force corporations to show them the money.

Do they really want to initiate the patent armageddon? Oracle, IBM, SUN, etc have a lot more patents than Microsoft does – all of whom have a strong vested interest in defending Linux.

We’ve had patent peace to date only because of a mutually assured destruction among all players. You sue me and we’ll countersue.

The hidden secret in the valley is that most corporations like Microsoft are in violation of hundreds/thousands of patents owned by other companies like Sun. The only thing preventing a huge lawsuit war is the fact that the countersuits would yield no profit.

Microsoft is bluffing.

The privacy implications of Google are starting to become really frightening. Gmail, Calendar, Search, Chat. They could (if they wanted) spy on nearly every aspect of my life.

How do we know that this isn’t happening right now? The Patriot Act blocks companies from disclosing the fact that information has been given to the government. What if there were a rogue Google employee with access to backups?

What ever every Yahoo employee migrated to using Gmail? Would Google be able to resist spying on them?

200612231729This last week there’s been a great deal of talk about Microsoft’s theft of RSS technology which has been available to the public in various forms over the last few years.

I’m all in favor of technology patents that are actually innovative. There are situations where a company spends time and effort developing a technology that they want to protect. The framers of our Constitution were right to want to protect innovation.

This isn’t an example of a company with innovative patents. This is theft.

One could argue that these patents are defensive but if this was the intention then Microsoft should provide patent licenses for the Open Source community and all corporations not pursing patent litigation against Microsoft in the RSS arena.

Right now, MS has a gun pointed at the heads of every RSS company and developer and I’m not willing to work with them on public standards and specifications until this situation is resolved.

What else are they going to patent? Microformats? Atom?

Niall has done a good job of reviewing the patent. I’ve reviewed it as well and I’m going to include sections from the patent here as well as Niall’s commentary.

I want to document the prior art that I’ve developed here to hopefully invalidate this patent moving forward. Microsoft clearly didn’t perform a prior art search because these technologies were available from a simple Google search.

If you’d like to read the full patent applications they are available here and here.

Central Access to Shared Feed Subscriptions

I started developing Newsmonster in early 2003. We have a blog from the period and the last blog post was from July 2003.

NewsMonster is clear prior art to the majority of their patent claims. NewsMonster was the first RSS aggregator integrated directly into the browser and predates RSS support in Safari and Internet Explorer by nearly three years.

I’m sure there are other RSS aggregators that have prior art as well as I don’t find this technology particularly patent-worthy. In fact it’s patently obvious (pun intended) to anyone who’s ever developed a library or consumed an RSS feed.

All feeds in NewsMonster were kept in an RDF data store and available natively to all Mozilla extensions. The RDF API is extremely robust and can also be used by external applications running on the same machine via the Mozilla XPCOM infrastructure.

This provided a central repository for all user feeds within the system. Any application could have used this mechanism. In fact, the NewsMonster source from this time was public with a license encouraging users to extend the RSS technology we developed.

In late 2003 I co-founded Rojo and incorporated some of this technology during the acquisition. Unfortunately I never found time to continue developing NewsMonster.

One important note is that since NewsMonster was a browser-based RSS aggregator it should invalidate MS’s innovation claims in this area.

Process web feed data supplied in various syndication formats (Jakarta FeedParser)

Rojo contributed the work that I developed on NewsMonster to the Apache Software Foundation in late 2004. The project was called the Jakarta FeedParser (not to be confused with the excellent Universal Feedparser) and has since moved outside Apache.

You can see the announcement for version 0.5 on the Atom Syntax list from Jan 2005 (a full 6 months before Microsoft’s patent filing).

NewsMonster used a generic XSLT framework to support all RSS versions and we refactored the work into a generic event API when we released FeedParser.

FeedParser is a Java RSS/Atom parser designed to elegantly support all versions of RSS (0.9, 0.91, 0.92, 1.0, and 2.0), Atom 0.5 (and future versions) as well as easy ad hoc extension and RSS 1.0 modules capability.

Developers place all their logic in a FeedParserListener which then receives callbacks from the FeedParser which knows about specific XML formats. They then pass the FeedParser an InputStream and they are ready to get events:

The FeedParser then allows the developer parse an XML feed without having to worry about the details of RSS, Atom or even FOAF.

Microsoft patent application says:

[0003] In addition, web feeds come in several different file formats, with the popular ones being RSS 0.91, 0.92, 1.0, 2.0 and Atom. Each RSS-enabled application has to support most of these formats and possibly even more in the future. Implementing parsers for use in the RSS context for some applications is more difficult than for others. Given that not all application developers are RSS experts who possess experience and knowledge with regard to the intricacies of each format, it is unlikely that all application developers will implement the parsers correctly. Hence, it is likely given the rich number of file formats that some application developers will opt to not develop applications in this space or, if they do, the applications will not be configured to fully exploit all of the features that are available across the different file formats.

Sound familiar?

Again, clear prior art.

What in the world are they thinking? Were they so far outside of the loop that they weren’t even aware of technology already developed by the Open Source community?

RSS Autodiscovery in a Browser-based RSS Platform

Patent application 0060288011 attempts to patent RSS autodiscovery.

NewsMonster implemented RSS autodiscovery as well as liberal feed location and given that Microsoft’s patent applications includes browser references should provide clear prior art.

The Jakarta FeedParser also implements RSS discovery and liberal feed location. I implemented the initial version of autodiscovery and Brad Neuberg implemented the (awesome) liberal feed location support.

Both of these technologies were available before Microsoft’s patent application.


By now Microsoft has had time to respond:

Applying for a patent on your innovation is common industry practice, and one which, by incenting and protecting the companies and people involved, encourages everyone to contribute to the community.

It’s not the common practice of small companies or Open Source developers. Most startups are small and underfunded and don’t have the time or money to file a patent on their innovative technology.

How are you encouraging the RSS community if we have to worry about Microsoft stealing our intellectual property?

The fact of the matter is that Microsoft invented nothing here yet is applying for patents which could potentially exclude the entire RSS industry.

You could argue that innovation should be rewarded with patents but this would assume a USPTO which can correctly judge patent novelty and innovation. Arguing whether these types of obvious software patents are valid is a bit like arguing over the shade of the emperor’s new clothes.


I went back and reviewed the MS talking points from the RSS announcement at Gnomedex:

The best part is that we’re showing a deep commitment to the RSS community by making the specification for these extensions available under the Creative Commons license, the same license under which the RSS 2.0 specification was released. You can read the Simple List Extension specification on the MSDN site linked below. In layman’s terms, we’re saying that anyone can implement these extensions on their site or in their application. Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons had some nice things to say about this announcement

This was published on June 24, 2005 nearly three days after they applied for patents on RSS.

They’re clearly aware that contributing to the community is important but they have no problem stabbing us in the back at the same time.

Et tu Brute?

Niall Pranks Microsoft

Niall Goatse’d Microsoft:

One Microsoft group received a rather harsh lesson in Creative Commons licensing today: For a while this morning, Microsoft’s RSS Team Blog featured a partially censored pornographic image, which has since been removed.

How did it get there in the first place? As the note at the bottom of the post now indicates, the blog originally contained a much more wholesome image that was being drawn from former Microsoft employee Niall Kennedy’s Flickr account. But when Kennedy saw that the blog was using that image without permission, he replaced the photo in his account with another one he found online, making that unsavory image appear smack in the middle of the Microsoft RSS blog.

I told him he should threaten to sue Microsoft for using his copyrighted work without permission. He could have probably made $5-10k out of the deal (especially since MS had used the work without negotiating a price).

Wow. Check this out. IE 7.0 (21%) is rapidly rising on Firefox 2.0 (4%)

This is good and bad. I’m a big Firefox fan but if IE 7.0 can gain market share at the expense of IE 6.0 then I’m all happy.

IE 6.0 is the new Netscape 4.7…



Here’s the snapshot from last month. Firefox is really starting to hurt in comparison. Looks like IE 7.0 is taking a good chunk from both IE 6.0 and Firefox 2.0.


Update 2: Tailrank traffic is really taking off so maybe this is just a reflection of Tailrank going mainstream (which is a good thing).

Nice. If you buy links you’ll get kicked off MSN search:

Your site is acquiring links through posting to or exchanging links with sites unrelated to your site content. Techniques which attempt to acquire unrelated spam links in order to increase ranking are considered spam and your site has been excluded from our index as results. Please contact us once you’ve removed these links and we will reevaluate.

Live Search

Awesome. We haven’t had to do this yet but if you buy or sell links we’ll kick you off Tailrank as well. Just wear a white hat and you’ll be fine!

Update: Link buying and other behavior can actually prevent you from being indexed by Tailrank in the first place.

There are only five tickets left for Widgets Live. I got in right under the radar. At only $100 a ticket it’s pretty affordable!

Get your ticket now before they’re sold out!


Check this out… Firefox 2.0 is edging out IE 7.0. IE 6.0 is still beating out all of Firefox though.


Rumor has it that IE 7.0 has been released.

I’d really appreciate it if someone could tell me if it’s broken with Tailrank.

This just dawned on me…

Apple users will buy software but not vice versa.

Windows users will click on ads but not vice versa.

Web 3.0 in 2007

Just a thought… with Firefox 2.0 due out sometime in Sept followed by IE 7.0 we should really start to see some another round of innovation here shortly.

This should help all those Ajax guys out there from tearing their hair out. I wonder how long it will take for IE 6.0 people to upgrade…

I need to get a Windows machine to play with IE 7.0. Time to buy a MacBook…

Can any CSS geeks out there confirm that my blog is broken on IE 6.0? I don’t think I’ll have access to an IE box for a few days due to work but I’d like to get this fixed soon. Any advice would be super appreciated!

It took Scoble years to leave Microsoft and join a startup. Niall Kennedy was smart enough to do it in only four months.

I was able to borrow resources here and there, but there was no team being built around the platform in the foreseeable future. I could have stayed at Microsoft, waited for the other 85% of the company to ship their products, and then hope support for my group might be back on track again, but I didn’t want to sit around doing little to nothing until Vista, Office, and Exchange ship. It’s easier to get funding outside Microsoft than inside at the moment, so I am stepping out and doing my own thing.

The startup is the thing my friends. It’s a lot easier to convince the market that your idea is brilliant than it is to appease the gods inside Microsoft.


Scoble blogs this too…

Update 2:

Niall makes the front page of tech.tailrank… w00t!

Calacanis is pissed that his corporate overlords released the data they accumulated while spying on us.

Of course this would be equivalent to your phone provider recording all the phone numbers you’re calling.

Oh wait. This is already happening.

And now with the Patriot Act even when the company legally spies on us we have no right to know about it. If the US govt. were to serve AOL with a wide reaching request for search data it would be illegal for AOL to talk about it (assuming they used a national security letter).

What’s the solution? There isn’t one. AOL, Google, and Microsoft will never stop logging their traffic. The govt will always insist on spying on you and the American people are too stupid to do anything about it.

It isn’t a question of if the data will be abused but when. The Nazi’s used phone records in WWII to execute political dissidents. They went two degrees out and killed innocent people. The FBI spied on Martin Luther King – tax payer dollars well spent.

What’s really frightening is what happens to the data we don’t know about. When I was working at Digex (10 years ago for god sakes) I had access to hundreds of thousands of credit cards, gigs of apache logs, and hundreds of thousands of passwords (in the clear text).

What you don’t know can really hurt you.

Could this be Microsoft’s Project Argo (iPod Killer)? I have no idea but it got your attention!

I doubt anything Microsoft wanted to do in this space could compete with Apple.


First some background. KLOC (or SLOC) is the number of lines of code in a software product. KLOC stands for Thousands of Lines of Code.

In the 80s when Microsoft and IBM were working together IBM would gauge Microsoft’s progress by the number of KLOCs per interval. KLOCs per week for example.

Steve Ballmer apparently was really upset by this because KLOCs are a horrible way to judge code progress. If you delete 10 KLOCs and reduce bug count bug 50% this is a good thing not a bad thing.

I’m starting to experience this a bit with Tailrank and the number of blogs in the larger blogosphere. In Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere posts they’re constantly quoting how their index is doubling every week and how many hundreds of millions of blogs they’re indexing.

(Not trying to pick on Technorati here of course)

This doesn’t work. It’s not about quantity its about quality. If you’re indexing garbage you might as well be indexing spam.

Looks like Robert Scoble has finally left Microsoft.

Robert is a great guy and always amazingly nice but what bothered me about him was that he put so much time and effort into a company that didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. Microsoft needs to really rethink where they are in the industry. Honestly I think it needs to get worse before it can get better.

Good win for Podtech of course and it sounds like his efforts will be better spent here.

It looks like Microsoft has finally made Beta versions of Windows available for public download.

What’s really shocking about this whole thing is how amazingly slow Microsoft is when it comes do doing the right thing for the company.

What they haven’t been able to admit (until now apparently) is that beta version of Windows have been available on warez sites for years.

When I was just in high school I was downloading beta versions of Windows 95 at least once a week and installing them on my desktop. Good times. Downloading 1.44M disk images one by one over my 28.8kbps modem I would dial into the local university with QModem PRO and let the download complete overnight. Fourty – fifty megabytes later I’d have a new and fresh version of 95 to play with.

With this one decision Microsoft can gather more developers, crush the piracy problem (at least for betas), and get feedback to improve the quality of the final release.

What’s really sad is that they didn’t decide to take this path years ago.

I for one plan on downloading the thing and installing it on a free desktop somewhere in my house. Maybe I’ll use a 28.8k modem just for old times sake.