back to article On Microsoft's feeble Fortune-based nastygram to Red Hat

Microsoft has lost its guts. Maybe they're on the floor of Bill Gates's "think week" cabin. Chairman Gates owned a steel sack once upon a time. You all remember the missive deriding computer hobbyists as software stealing criminals. "I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment," …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely that supposed to be Recording Industry Ass. of America?

  2. Greg Nelson

    Apologies to Flanders and Swann

    FUD, FUD, vainglorious FUD

    Nothing quite like it for roiling the blood

    So follow me down, down to the hollow

    And there let me wallow in vainglorious FUD

  3. Carl

    Why does Linux do such a better job!

    If Linux is using all this patented Mugrosoft code why are they so much better?! Apparently Mugrosoft views Linux as a threat since they would not bother unless there really is a viable business/GPL model for Linux. The sad fact is Mugrosoft is on the way out, Vista is a Blackhole, the security problems are interfering with other software releases. The gaming side of things is notably unprofitable. Visual Studio and C# are not attracting as many developers as python and php unless you count corporate shills onboard for all the freebies. Mugrosoft Server software is apparently working now but with this kind of irresponsible market behavior why would an IT department spend the cash to become dependent on the unwieldy and seemingly abusive Mugrosoft model of programming and corporate bullying?

  4. JimC


    Linux isn't using any Mugrosoft Code. That's not what patents are about. Code isn't patented: ideas are patented. If I nick Xcos code I breach copyright. If Xco has an idea for something really different to do with computers and patents it then I'm still in breach of the patent if I wrote all my own code to do the same thing in the same way. I just wish I could think of a radically new thing to do with a computer as an example [grin].

    Of course whether Linux contains any ideas that are genuinely and originally Microsoft's and were legitimately patented is quite another discussion. I suspect not!

  5. TJ

    SCO is Copyright & Contract, not Patent

    "We all know how well SCO's patent attack on IBM and Linux has played out"

    Actually no, the SCO case is primarily about contracts and copyright.

    Patent and Copyright are two very different things, especially when it comes to potential court action. Patent is the attempt to enforce a restrictive monopoly on a process, whereas Copyright is stopping the reproduction of something already created.

    Microsoft would run the very real risk of having any patents it identifies invalidated by discovery of prior-art by FOSS advocates, as well as being declared invalid by virtue of being obvious.

  6. Rob

    Look on the bright side....

    ...Whilst the smoke screen from all this babbling holds, we all get a well-deserved break from the "how Vista has broken our software" discussion.

  7. Ashlee Vance (Written by Reg staff)

    I've been to TJ

    Good catch there, TJ. I've struck through the patent line. My fault there, obviously.


  8. Dave Page

    M$ Fears Disclosure

    Have you ever wondered why M$ has failed to meet the EU's demands for disclosure? The biggest problem M$ will have in a patent fight is that they will be forced to revel their own code base. We know from the last 20 years that M$ freely lifts what it wants from any source to get ahead, Stacker in the 90's for compression, BSD for the XP code base. Any lawsuit would open a Pandora's box of revealing the extent of outright theft that M$ has engaged in to get ahead since they could be forced to open their development records and any 'prior art' they may have forgotten to mention to get their patents.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Methods and concepts

    SCO might not be about specific patents but neither is it purely down to copied lines of code. SCO have brought up, on more than one occasion, that it is also about "Methods and Concepts".

    Methods and Concepts is maybe not exactly patents but it is a lot more than just copyright.

    To be honest the SCO case has been going on for so long and so much ground has been covered that the exact reason for it has been forgotten by a lot of people.

    Even if they are different the fact that Microsoft's latest bluster is being compared to SCO is not exactly good news for Microsoft.

    Looking round the net and the articles being written I think its fair to say that from Microsoft's point of view this has been a complete PR nightmare.

  10. Dave Page

    BSD in XP

    In reply to Dave Page (which is a bit weird):

    It's worth noting that the BSD licenses aren't copyleft, and there's no legal restriction on Microsoft including them in proprietary code.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    M$ fears disclosure - why?

    The biggest problem M$ will have in a patent fight is that they will be forced to reveal their own code base.

    Not true. If MS claim to hold a patent that is being infringed then all they need to do is point to their registration and indicate where they think the infringement is. They don't need to show any of their code demonstrating that they implemented it (that would be a copyright claim). The whole patent process is public. If you want to try to invalidate MS patents, then you can look them up and start looking for prior art, obviousness etc. The actual invalidation process will likely cost you money, but the research you can do yourself. I think Tim O'Reilly offered a bounty for doing this a while back.

  12. Mike

    Sources of Source

    @Dave Page:

    "...BSD for the XP code base..."?

    While MSFT TCP/IP did start off with the BSD network stack, and IE started off from Mosaic sources (You think they were bug-for-bug compatible by chance or effort?), XP is a Teletubby front-end to WNT, and we all know how to subtract one from each letter, right?


  13. Paul

    Empty threats from a cornered bully

    Notice how Microsoft are being very vague and won't specify what the actual infringements are? They know as soon as they identify the patents in question, thousands of highly-motivated, intelligent people would be all over them, looking for prior art and obviousness, and rendering them worthless in what I'd bet is a lot of cases.

    That's before you even consider counter-claims from IBM, Sun, etc..

    The fact that SteveB is waffling about it in "Fortune" instead of just calling the legal department and having them start litigation is proof enough that their threats are hollow, intended to scare people. In light of SCO's miserable failure to do that, you'd think even Ballmer would know better than to try.

    I can't help but picture a once-feared playground bully, making threatening noises at the former victims who've now ganged up and have him cornered, in the hope that it'll somehow stop them from taking turns to kick his head in...

  14. Reg Wells


    Microsoft hMicrosoft have obviously realised that their proxy attack on Open Source via SCO is all but dead in the water and have taken the offensive themselves. If this is any example of what the ammunition they have then Bill Gates is firing blanks, and not for the first time.

  15. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Microsoft don't life open source

    When the Windows 2000 source code was stolen, people analysed it and found no open source code.

    In reply to Dave Page, XP is based on Windows 2000 not BSD. Windows 2000 was based on NT which was written by the developers of VMS.

    A story about the 2000 source code here:

    While they only were able to look at 15% of the code, you would expect them to find some open source if Microsoft was that keen on stealing it.

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