I've been writing about free software for nearly 20 years, and about Microsoft for over 30 years. Observing the latter deal with the former has been fascinating. At first, the US software giant simply dismissed free software as unworthy even of its attention, but by the early years of this millennium, that was clearly no longer a viable position.
As I've charted elsewhere in my "Brief History of Microsoft FUD", it made various attempts to discredit open source, all of which were dismal failures. As it became clear that this strategy would not work, it adopted another, somewhat more sophisticated. This involved trying to match aspects of open source without actually embracing it. The first manifestation of this was "shared source":
Windows and Linux communities used to virtually battle each other regarding the superiority of one platform or the other, but that is no longer happening, at least not at the same scale. One of the reasons for that might be that Linux is actually gaining ground.
When it comes to control systems, a common question has long been: Is Linux inherently more secure than Windows? Being a fan of Linux/Unix systems, I desperately want to answer “yes” to this question. During the 1980s and 1990s, so much of the work I was involved in ran under Unix. These days I run Linux on my home computer, and once a year I boot up a Windows XP virtual machine running under Virtual Box, to run my tax software. In the office, I rant about the lousy Windows operating system (OS) and ask why the world doesn’t switch to Linux. And as much as I hate to admit it, as a system integrator I am mostly locked into dealing with Microsoft’s flavor of the month operating system because of customer standards and the tools available.
From the appearance of “Brain,” which is recognized as the first computer virus, in 1986, to Stuxnet to the Zotob worm (the virus that knocked 13 of DaimlerChrysler’s U.S. automobile manufacturing plants offline), one thing all these viruses have in common is that they were directed at Microsoft’s operating systems. However, according to Zone-H (an archive of defaced websites), in a statistics report for the period 2005-2007: “In the past the most attacked operating system was Windows, but many servers were migrated from Windows to Linux… Therefore the attacks migrated as well, as Linux is now the most attacked operating system with 1, 485,280 defacements against 815,119 in Windows systems (numbers calculated since 2000).”
The result is that up to 60 percent of PCs shipped in the emerging markets of Asia, says IDC research manager Handoko Andi, have no Windows operating system pre-installed - so-called 'naked PCs', which usually instead carry some free, open source operating system like Linux. That compares with about 25 percent in the region's developed markets like Japan and Australia.
This is really one of the most ridiculous get-out clauses, because it is so wide. The whole point of the FOI system is so that we can see precisely what is being said in these discussions, and to find out what companies are saying behind closed doors - and what ministers are replying. Although it's laudable that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills got in touch to correct its response to me, it's rather rich to do so and then simply refuse point-blank to release any of the information it has just found.
The only consolation is that whatever Microsoft whispered in the corridors of power to de-rail the move to ODF - since I hardly imagine it was a fervent supporter of the idea - it didn't work. However, there are doubtless many other occasions when it did, but we will never know. That's just unacceptable in a modern democracy.
The downside of this for Microsoft/Skype is that they can't get people to use all their new services - or see their new ads - if there are so many older versions.
Similarly, they can't move to new technical architectures that may provide better service when they have to also support a long history of past releases. (For example, their move awayfrom the peer-to-peer architecture that was their original highlight to more of a centralized "cloud" architecture to provide better support for mobile clients.)
Ed: does not mention surveillance aspects of Skype (as confirmed by Snowden) and does not mention FOSS or surveillance-free alternatives.
The Wine development release 1.7.23 is now available.
What's new in this release (see below for details):
- Better support for files drag & drop.
- Improvements to the HTTP cookie management.
- Initial support for 64-bit Android builds.
- Fixes to crypto certificates management.
- Various bug fixes.
Microsoft is seeking a ruling as to whether its acquisition of Nokia's handset and services business negates its intellectual-property licensing agreement with Samsung that dates back to 2011. Microsoft also is seeking unpaid interest from Samsung, resulting from the period of time last year when Samsung withheld patent royalties from Microsoft -- royalties which Samsung later paid.
Cornell University’s “Gemini” AUV will compete in next week’s 2014 RoboSub competition. The sub runs Debian Linux on an Intel Core-based computer-on-module.
The Cornell University Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (CUAUV) team’s Gemini AUV will enter next week’s 17th Annual International RoboSub competition with the help of Adlink, whose “Express-HL” COM Express style computer-on-module will power the autonomous sub using a stripped down version of Debian “Wheezy” Linux. The competition will be held at the Space and Naval Warfare Command Research facility in San Diego, from July 28 through August 3.