CyberTech Rambler

February 27, 2009

Both side will be spinning it they way the like, but the bottom line is …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:39 pm

In Larry Dignan’s report on Novell’s Linux Business Performance, I see one point that the blogosphere is going to jump on:

“Novell CFO Dana Russell noted:

Linux invoicing was $23 million, down 42%. As we have stated before, our Linux business is dependent on large deals which may result in some fluctuations of our quarterly invoicing. This quarter we did not sign any large deals, many of which have been historically fulfilled by Microsoft certificates. Today we have invoiced $199 million or 83% of our original $240 million agreement.”

[Emphasis mine]

Some are bound to see it Novell “sell out” coming back to bite Novell. They will note that many large deals are “subsidised” by Microsoft. Those deals are drying out. Novell now cannot depends on the subsidy and the bad will it attracted will now hurt Novell.

My view is some of the fall in sales must be attributed to the economic downturn. Using the presumption that downturn hits RedHat and Novell equally, it is therefore the differences between RedHat and Novell’s Linux business performance for the same period, after removing the effect of the downturn, that is the more important financial indicator on whether Novell is indeed sufferring from the “sell out”.

Pro-Microsoft-Novell’s people will instead point out the fact that a lot of Novell’s large deals had been coming from its Microsoft’s relationship. That validates the deal as a good deal for Novell.

Bottom line: Novell had pocketed money it would otherwise had not without the Microsoft-Novell deal. Moreover, Larry Dignan is correct that the the Microsoft-Novell’s deal had “played itself out”, it appears Novell did it in the good time, where money is awash and more free flowing.

February 24, 2009

Oh dear, that’s not going to be easy

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:27 pm

EurActiv.com and ComputerWorld UK is reporting that EC is exploring the possibility to force Microsoft to offer alternative browser as a remedy to the recent browser complaint investigation.

Initially, I thought it is going to be simple, just carry another browser. The problem is which browser and who chooses it. According to EurActiv.com, it can means computer equipment manufacturers choose the alternative browser “in agreement with Microsoft”. I find the “in agreement” part troubling as I do not think Microsoft should have any say in which browser manufacturers carry.  If this route is chosen it is certainly a “remedy” in all sense of the word, but smell like punishing manufacturers for Window’s misdeed. Just doesn’t sound right.

What really caught my attention is what I perceived to be the preferred option. Acorrding to EurActiv.com, it is

“[...] Microsoft will be obliged to design Windows in a way that allows users “to choose which competing web browser(s) instead of, or in addition to, Internet Explorer they want to install and which one they want to have as default,” [EC spokeperson] Todd explained. A possible solution could be to present Windows users with a so-called “ballot screen” from which they would choose their browser.”

Looks innocent? Perhaps not. When we talk about replacing browsers, we normally talk only about browsing the internet. At the bare minimum, that is what I had in mind until I read the sentence. What caught my eye is the word “instead of”. Let’s not forget Microsoft purposefully and against all IT wisedom, wired in Internet Explorer to provide functionalities to other parts of Windows. Does this means Microsoft must now rewrite Windows so that other browser can take over these functions as well? Furthermore, will other browsers want to take over these functions from IE?

While the comment can be read as ripping Internet Explorer’s out from other window components, I think it will be a step too far. After all, the complaint is about internet access using browser, not other functions that Windows ask IE to perform which does not involve the browsing role of IE.

I think a likely compromise is the “instead of” will be define to still allow components of IE to survive on the Windows computer, but restricts it to a non-browsing role.

In any case, it probably means reengineering of Windows architecture to what it should had been: clearly separate IE roles from that of other parts. The tie-in was a business decision overriding sound architectural judgement. I am sure part of the decision process envisaged the tie-in as being a defense for Windows Media Player and IE inclusion in Windows. Now that it is proven it is not accepted as a defense, its time to undo it properly.

Just a ploy to get Microsoft to reduce price?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:51 am

Technically, it is interesting to see an EeePC running Google’s Andriod software. There are advantages: smaller foot print, better power management and definitely easier to modify than other operating systems so far to fit the computer since an EeePC is likely to have more resources than you most high spec glorified PDA, i.e., smartphone). That is why Brighthand’s report on Asus working on an Andriod-powered Eee PC is interesting.

The business side of me thinks that the product stands a chance of becoming a reality. I believe one model will go to market, if only to test whether there is a market for it. However, I still feel that it is going more as a tool to put pressure on Microsoft and other vendors to lower their price.

Microsoft is known to compete really agressively if need be. It is part of the strength of that company that it reverse its decision really quickly if it senses that it might be losing. Witness the resurrection of Windows XP from death and the price slash for this market segment.

Asus might be hoping to repeat this feat again. To do this it must have a credible threat. This means ability to put other operating systems on their computers. First stop? Building up expertise in using alternative operating systems. It started with Linux, now it is trying its hand on Android. That is why the management tolerate experimentation with other operating systems, given the threat to other lines of more expensive PC Asus sells that Microsoft can put to bear.

It is a risky game for a hardware builder to antagonise its major and bigger supplier, but might just succeed. If any, might put a cross hair on itself as a Microsoft acquisition target to get it out of business and protect Microsoft’s interest. Business is business and that is certainly a good way to go out of business, as far as shareholders are concerned.

February 18, 2009

I do not think Microsoft profitted from Vista to XP “Upgrade”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:36 pm

It is only a matter of time, Microsoft is slapped with a lawsuit alleging it profitted from Vista to XP Upgrade.

Did it? I doubt. There is a possibility that some of the money were remitted to Microsoft, but it is very remote. First of all, I done a lot of downgrade with a lot of software. In all cases, the vendor did not get anything extra. HP once said that not offerring XP directly but as a downgrade saved it on administration cost and the fact that the main theme of the article is to cast doubt on Microsoft Vista sales figure, strongly implying that Microsoft got nothing out of the downgrade, sales figure excepted.

It is manufacturer that make a killing at Microsoft expense. For preloaded XP, most simply has an additional line of harddisk comes with it preloaded. This cost can be easily absorbed through normal operational overhead, but they sensed that they can make money out of thin air and did it. This is especially true for manufacturers such as Dell that pride that it can offer different configuration of the same basic computer.

February 10, 2009

Nothing like a lawsuit that will force you to wash your dirty linen in public

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:02 am

BoycottNovell website continues its quest in exposing Microsoft’s dirty linen by mining Microsoft documents, the very documents they are forced to disclose in various lawsuit. I thought those documents are interesting coz they give us a peek into how big companies operate. Not very nice if you are the one who has your documents/emails exposed, it will feel like someone forcing you to wash your dirty linen in public.

I must say I am inexperience enough to say whether Microsoft tactics is the “industry norm” or they went way above the top. However, this titbit is interesting, if there is a question on whether you should trust study compiled by a company but financed by another, this will put the final nail in the coffin: One internal email says “If the IDC report won’t cut it [,i.e., don't put Windows on top] , then we get another one done.”

The fall out for Microsoft is obvious. How about IDC? Interestingly, on the surface it is easy to claim that IDC is a hired gun, but look a bit closer you can argue that IDC does maintain some independence or otherwise there will not be any worry that the report won’t cut it.

February 6, 2009

Interesting strategy to reduce confusion, but might just work

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:17 am

ComputerWorld’s report on how Microsoft plans to just concentrates on 2 out-of 7 editions of Windows 7 is interesting. First, it is a tacit acknowledgement that 7 editions are confusing. Concentrating on two editions makes life easier to joe consumers, especially when the difference is easy to explain, i.e. one for business, another for home. However, it is clear that Windows still thinks there is a good business reason to have 7 editions. Perhaps it is easier to sell a more expensive windows edition then to sell  a standard windows edition then tell you to buy the additional bells and whistle which together will do the same thing. It is hoping to have its cake and eat it. It is a brilliant strategy. It might just work.

As for Linugadgetech claim that the fact that Windows Starter Edition only allows three applications at any time is an openning for Linux. I am not so sure. First, those computers are very low specs. It might have problems running more than three applications if you want satisfactory performance. Second, consumers might just be willing to accept this limitation because it is cheap, even if they were naive enough to think that it a limitation of their cheap computer and not the operating system.

February 2, 2009

Not following standard practices … not good

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:17 pm

What do you call an extension to Firefox, IE, eclipse or any software that you can name, which

  1. Does not tell you that it is installing itself
  2. Changed something on the software it “extended”
  3. Cannot be uninstalled
  4. Perhaps use some EULA “cover up” to make itself legal

MALWARE

While it is understandable (but not condoned) that people selling enlargement services for parts that you do not own and their friends to do this type of things, you do not really expect reputable companies to do it. Hold on a minute … They do. First it was Sony’s RootKit, now it appears that Microsoft is also jumping on the wagon, with a firefox extension that alter your user agent setting (used by webservers to optimise their webpage for your browser)

Microsoft’s extension, compared to Sony’s Rootkit, is relatively harmless. It does not actually hide it from you. Firefox’s extension safety mechanism will catch it and you have to click the enable button to install it. Some will even argue that because it add a “ClickOnce” installer to work with Firefox it qualifies as an extension.

I don’t see it that way unfortunately. First of all, any Firefox extension must be uninstallable, or otherwise it should prominently inform the user, and let him/her choose whether to install it. Having an “Enabled” button is good, but installing without permission is bad. Second, I believe that any installer should not be installed unless the user explicitly authorized its installation, i.e., not hiding authorisation inside EULA or the sort, because it is designed to run outside the browser environment and has serious security implication.

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