CyberTech Rambler

June 26, 2009

Microsoft appears to be picking a fight with EC, a public fight…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:13 pm

When Microsoft announce that Windows 7 will not be shipped with IE in Europe, quite frankly, I do not know how to interpret this move. Microsoft finally bowing to EC without fighting to the bitter end? Microsoft acknowledging EC has a case against it on IE? or another tactic Microsoft is using to fight EC? I think we know the answer now, it is the last option on the list.

What we have today is Microsoft announcing that “EC is stopping it from permitting user to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 because of IE“. Quite frankly, I cannot see EC doing this. EC is know to be in favour of wanting alternative web browser to be delivered alongside IE in windows. It did not ask Microsoft to strip IE completely from Windows. If it does, this act will probably be thrown back by the EC’s own court of appeal. It is Microsoft who choose to strip IE instead of having rival web browser installed for EU bound Windows 7. And since a copy of EU-bound Windows 7 is going to be in store soon, I cannot see how an upgrade from Vista cannot be performed via this copy of Windows, unless of course Microsoft doesn’t want you to.

What I see is Microsoft trying to get PC makers to set pressure on EC in its favour in its war with it over IE. PC makers will be hurted by this no-upgrade decision. However, let’s make it clear: Microsoft has the ability and resources and given EC’s coverage, the incentive and market size consideration,  to remaster any upgrade disk to remove IE if need be. It choose not to. If PC makers are hurted, then it is Microsoft they should be blaming.

I don’t think Microsoft is hoping that when you and I go into store asking for Vista to Windows 7 upgrade, the shopkeeper will tell you and I that “EC stop Microsoft from selling you an upgrade”. Why? Most sales assistants are stock pusher, they don’t care about the politics behind it.

Perhaps you Vista cloud is so small that Microsoft is willing to use you as a pawn in its war against EC. In any case, I hope this decision of Microsoft comes back to hurt it with people going onto alternative operating systems instead of Windows.

June 20, 2009

Silver lining?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 2:54 pm

Dana Blankenhorn’s post on why Linux appears to be disappearing from Netbooks starts the next round on the internet on about Microsoft killing Linux on Netbooks.

In a sense, nothing new here, i.e., a big company using its market muscle to try to stop a smaller rival. We are all expecting it.

That of course bring back memory of DoJ’s antitrust case against Microsoft. However, I think this time there is a small, but significant difference: Manufacturers appear to be willing to spill the beans, if you asked the right question, like Blankenhorn did. Previously, they “suffer” in silence.

It will probably take another anti-trust suit to  tell us whether this is happening. If we follow the anti-trust convention, it would had been too late, as the damage is already done. That is why it is interesting to see how the European Commission is changing the anti-trust game from remedying the damage to preventing the abuse in the first place. It is going to be difficult, but lets see whether this will lead the way in a change in anti-trust cases.

Most interesting, and perhaps the silver lining, is the fact that even if we accepted that Microsoft had been strong-arming manufacturers, it still had not stopped them from experimenting with non-Microsoft operating system. This fact, to me, has been the objective for this round of Windows vs the world. I think to ask that Linux be accepted by the joe public today is too much to ask. What this round has to do is to raise awareness that there are alternatives, and the alternatives are viable.

If the rumour that Windows 7 Netbook edition is going to cost much more than Windows XP is true, manufacturer will probably want to maintain the capability of taking potshots at Microsoft if only to keep the price they pay for Netbook down.

As Blankenhorn’s post shows, even computer manufacturers are clear that the attack on the Netbook market comes not only from scaling down laptops, but also smartphones beefing up. Everyone, including Microsoft, is aware that we live in interesting time.

June 15, 2009

Microsoft to ship Window 7 without IE

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:03 am

The news last Friday is Microsoft is to ship Window 7 without IE. You get the traditional Groklaw, ECIS and Opera (Ina Fried article) complaining that this is not enough. EC itself “reminds” us that this is a unilateral action by Microsoft that might not be itself be enough. EC’s statement is by far the most impartial, short and straight to the point.

Microsoft acknowledging the current EC antitrust action against IE has merit? Likely. I am  glad that Microsoft did not want to regain the title of the biggest fine by EC from Intel.

EU put the fear of god into Microsoft? At least on the surface, yes.

Marketing ploy to ensure IE’s continue dominant? I do not think Microsoft dare to do so. It will make the potential fine much larger. EC is competent enough and will use it in the appeal process to boaster it case. It is a losing situation for Microsoft if it even attempted.

Legal maneuver to pull the eye over EC or appeal judges? Like my comment about marketing ploy, it will only backfire.

One thing is sure: IE is now a separate component from Windows. Whether it was is still the subject of debate. I do not think the Window Engineering Team intermingle the two sets of code. But if they did, they undid it and deserve to go through it for the bad decision.

June 9, 2009

Mozilla to let enterprise customize Firefox? Good idea

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 5:49 pm

Customizing Mozilla is nothing new. A lot of distributions do it. Look at Debian, they did so much work in it that the cannot call their browser Firefox!

However, customizing Mozilla is stiill not for the faint-hearted. Most joe user would just want a box-standard firefox and can find no reason to customize the browser specifically for our own use even if we have the technical capability. With distribution, the number of users makes it a worthwhile effort, especially if you want Firefox to play nice with your system, or simply wants to give your user a better experience by pre-installing some modules etc.

What Mozilla is planning to do is to lower the barrier to customize Firefox. That is a good thing. At present, it is slightly out of the reach of organization (or enterprise if you must) to customize Firefox when it comes to potential gains vs the cost of doing it.

I am sure the web app to build the browser will take one through the step-by-step process of creating a unique customized browser. What will be really nice is the customized installer is then delivered over the web to the user and there is a “setting file” that allows you to upload your setting the next time for your next custom-build job.

Give Alex Brown some credit please!

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 5:39 pm

BoycottNovell posted something I just cannot agreed with: It is complaining that Alex Brown was made editor for wikipedia’s article on ODF.

Alex Brown’s blog and his past activity certainly shown that he is biased towards OOXML, mainly for business reasons. However, compared to others in the ODF vs OOXML debate, he is one of the those who you cannot say to be radical/zealot.  Therefore, in my opinion, he is the best choice for editorship of the wikipedia article. Rob Weir, Rick Jelliffe, Doug McHugh need not apply. Brian Jones? His is more a overall manager instead of technical man. Before you flame me on this, please take note that I am a pro-ODF guy.

June 5, 2009

Smart astroturfing … You cannot tell whether is it real experience or not

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:03 pm

Carla Schroder of LinuxToday identified an insideous form of astroturfing: Pretending to write a review that trash other people’s product. She believe a non insignificant amount of information on the internet about “I like Linux, but Linux is not ready for the masses” are manufactured.

To be fair, it is nothing new. A lot of companies had been  “sexing up” their products. Some, like this one, actually need not had done it. In fact, being found out damaged the brand name. Trashing someone else’s product is just a logical, but insideous extension to the logic.

Think about it, there are rumours that people you meet in pubs recommending a drink to you without revealing (s)he is working for the company and is actually there to advertise and entice you to buy the product. Most people won’t not like this to happen to them. You feel deceived. All will agree it is a totally different ball game if (s)he trashes other people’s product to get you to buy their product.

As for whether Linux is ready for the masses, i.e., you. It is not for me to say. All I say is you need to try it out. Go to the most famous distributions and download and burn a copy of Live CD. Boot your computer from your CDROM drive. Have a play with it. There is no risk to your computer at all as it does not modify your system at all. Who knows? You might like it!

June 2, 2009

Not a victory over Microsoft, but is it a victory for government accountability?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:25 am

The H-Open is reporting that a Swiss court rules a government procurement procedure for Microsoft licensing extension without putting it out to public tender. The headline is Microsoft partially lose. My problem? I cannot see how.

Any government will need licenses from Microsoft for their software use. So, more procedural barrier, but Microsoft will still see the majority of the money.

The question: At the volume the Swiss government is purchasing, can any Microsoft licensing deal with a reseller cheaper than getting from the beast itself? I doubt that.

Initially, I thought it is a win for government accountability. Basically it means no open tender, no contract. Unfortunately, it does not stand up to closer scrutiny. If the government had decided to use Microsoft product, given that Microsoft is likely to be the cheapest deal and the license provider of choice for not only Swiss government but a lot of other reputatble governments, what is the point of an open tender? It is a waste of time.

Unless, of course, the challenge is actually about the decision to use Microsoft product in the first place. If it is a license extension, the argument for questioning this decision diminishes. If you need a license to use existing software, then regardless of the moral question of why should I get a license again, you simply have to. Unfortunately, as usual, things are not  that straight forward. Here is where the procurement backdoor comes in. During the license extension period, newer version of the software will be installed, and this  will be covered by the license extension in question. If this is the case, for the newer version of software, it is technically new procurement and the standard open tender process will have to take place.

Is this good enough to call it a victory for government accountability? Your choice.

Salvo 2 of BBC iPlayer vs ISP

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 10:42 am

“Throttling” is salvo 2 in the ISP (BT in this case) vs BBC battle over iPlayer. That is not really unexpected since ISPs had been threatening to do so if their consultation with BBC went no where.

The fundamental reason  I am blogging it here is I see this as the “Net Neutrality” debate finally hit home in UK. I see throttling “to protect other users of the service” as the first thing ISP will use to justify slowing someone’s internet speed down. It is an excuse, I do not think it is about protecting customers but a ruse to  get us used to throttling.  If it were about customers then why did they sign up to Phorm? If it were about protectting customers, shouldn’t they be installing a bigger pipe? Surely those customers that wants to use iPlayer should be protectted as well? With P2P their argument for throttling is that a  few people is clogging up the pipe. That reasoning is flimsy but in joe public’s eye, since they do not do P2P, they might just accept it. With the popular BBC iPlayer they can no longer hide behind a few rotten apples.

Their aim is to get us to accept throttling. When this becomes “accepted” by the wider community, we will start to see more commercially oriented throttling, i.e., asking Google to pay for fatter pipe to its customers for example. That is why I am supporting BBC’s battle to tell ISPs that throttling is unacceptable.

Fundamentally, I believe ISPs are simply communication providers that must relay messages from A to B without discrimination. They advertised and offer a certain speed of connection which I expects them to deliver exactly that, regardless of content. This is totally unacceptable that popular contents are throttled. If they cannot sustain that speed for popular content, then in my opinion, it is false advertising.

June 1, 2009

Jeremy Allison’s characterization of Microsoft’s ODF support

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:13 am

That’s one of the best characterization of Microsoft’s ODF support. I did not want to write any more about it, but this one is good.

I must admit I used “Work to Rules” selectively when I have difficult customers.

Windows 7 Starter Edition concession from Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 11:10 am

Microsoft had just made the concession of allowing unlimited applications to be run on Windows 7 Starter edition. I guess telling consumers in developed country that their netbook can only run three applications at any one time is not as easy as ramming down the same into those in developing countries.

Now on to my next few grievances  for Windows 7 Starter Edition.

First: No DVD playback. I think it ought to have this function. It is true that most do not come with DVD drive, but one can buy an external DVD drive and attached to it. If Microsoft don’t want to give DVD playback ability, it only stand out to lose to other players, like VLC. To tell the truth, [I am surprised at VLC popularity among Windows users. Microsoft's lost is our gain]

Second: Multi-monitor support. This is a personal one. I quite like the idea of Office productivity software using two monitors, displaying two different screen during a presentation. One way of acheiving this is obviously multi-monitor support. This is not the only way, but I believe that to do this one will need some form of multi monitor support.

Third : Domain support for business. Might be a problem, if you plan to use it in a window setting.

Grievance 2 and 3 is business oriented grievance. The way Microsoft tried to segment the market means they probably don’t care about it, as Windows 7 Starter Edition is not targetted as business. However, the distinction between business and consumers isn’t that clear cut. From a technological point of view, the distinction between the two is something only a business people will think worthwhile distinguishing.

As for grievance 1, and the fact that you cannot do some of the things that Windows Media Centre can, it is obvious that Microsoft wants to limit Windows 7 Starter Edition to not compete with its media centre business by limitting what they can do.

To a technical person like me, these restriction are not about technology, but about business. If I were running Microsoft, I probably starts with Windows CE and allow manufacturers to bolt on any windows module (DVD playback, etc) at a fee instead.

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