Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Saturday 22 April 2006

French consumers associations finally start...

UFC-Que Choisir open the file of OS bundling (article in French). About time. The biggest consumers association in France has decided to finally open the file about OS bundling with PC. I hope it create a precedent.

And in an off-the-record discussion recently, I got told that the Microsoft anti-trust trial ruling in the US was also valid in Canada. IANAL, but that sounds interesting.

Wednesday 19 April 2006

The bad news comes from China

Some people were wondering why the Chinese president was visiting Bill Gates en route to visit President Bush... I think this is to attempt to reinforce Microsoft monopoly (see reuters for more details).

Saturday 8 April 2006

Windows refund

ZDNet has an interesting article about Microsoft asking UK resellers to always sell Windows, clainming that these 5% or PC sold without Microsoft "tax" are missed business opportunities. I think that Microsoft is starting to get worried. When the FUD starts, that means the current direction is good.

On the side, I just got an e-mail from a fellow Linuxer in Québec. He tried in January to buy a laptop PC advertised without OS by a local reseller/OEM accross the river. The advertising said "no OS installed" and he called to get confirmation from a sales person that the price was really without Operating System. When the buyer told it was ok because he wanted to run Linux, the seller refused, because he was actually require to sell him a Microsoft operating, for a mere.... CAD$250 !!!!

In 2004, the AFUL (Association Francaise des Utilisateur de Logiciels-libres) has requested through a communiqué de presse that the governement support the BSA in reinforcing the fight against counterfeit software, including rogue copy (aka software piracy), and requesting the governement to require the true display of the price of software when sold with hardware. Take it like a joke, but I take it humoristically like a way to express his discontent with the current situation.

Tuesday 28 February 2006

The deep secret of the Windows OEM licensing...

...or actually what we know already.

Dell recently released, for the US market, some high end Linux desktops. This is their second attempt as they ditched the first in 2001. Note that Dell is still one of these major vendor that refuse to sell you a machine without the "recommended" operating system. The same vendor that in some jurisdicition refund people for that illegally bundled software. But these 3 models are highly selected. We are talking about workstations, the one where the work stops, not about servers.

But Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wonders about why Dell does not really push these workstation. Apparently it is not unrelated to Microsft OEM licensing condition for which Tangent, an OEM, is taking to court Microsoft for abuse their monopolistic position by leveraging high fees for the right to license. Microsoft defense about that is:

"No court has ever found that Microsoft charged too much for its products."

That is exactly the problem: immunity should stop.

But how would that impact in the open source world? It impacts it more than you think.

First of all to have wider adoption of open source operating system and software, they should be bundled (as an option) with hardware, and the current OEM contract just prevent the top tier vendors to do it. The settlement with Be Inc. is just a good evidence of what happened: nobody ever took the free license for one year to bundle BeOS with the PC along with the default OS.

Second, to have Linux become more popular, we need better support for hardware. The current hardware support of Linux is really good, but sometime too good: it supports obsolete hardware that even the manufacturer no longer support. But that is not what users want. They want to be able to go the consumer electronic store, but some device, and have it work on their PC. And that currently only work with the OS that the manufacturer supports (usually only the last versions). When you ask that manufacturer about Linux support he says that there is no interest. We all know that you need software to have users and users to have software (at least the one on which you venture being paid by selling it). Back to square one.

Friday 20 January 2006

Quote of the day

We can't separate the software from the hardware, we would be breaking the Microsoft - IBM agreement. -- IBM/Lenovo Canada Customer Relation representative when I requested the refund of the Windows operating system that came with my computer, software I don't agree the licence of.

That is not suprising, nor hot news, but that gives ammunition for the fight. I wish I had a recorder.