Microsoft Launches New FUD Season

by Chris Howard May 23, 2007

Wabbit season! Duck season! Wabbit season! Duck Season! Elmer season! Elmer FUD that is.

Along with many other news outlets, The Age newspaper reported last week that “Open source infringes our patents: Microsoft.”

Seems MS is up to old FUD tricks again. If you can’t beat ‘em, kick ‘em.

This story reverberates with a similar case that caused a bit of fun a few years ago when SCO sued IBM. (No, not for having a better three letter acronym.)  What was interesting in that case was Microsoft’s funding of SCO in various ways, and so, indirectly contributing to SCO’s fighting fund.

But that was four years ago, so Microsoft must have figured another patent-infringement FUD season was overdue.

According to The Age article:

“Microsoft has given the most detailed description to date of the number of open-source computer programs it says infringe on its patents, but the company says it still prefers licensing deals with open-source developers, software distributors, and users instead of legal action against them.”

I feel a cynical “lol” would be appropriate here. How much of a veiled threat is that from an 800 pound gorilla? “Play nice with us because we don’t want to have to break your legs.”

The article also notes: “Open-source proponents are frustrated by Microsoft’s repeated allusions to patent violations.“

It’s the old subtle intimidation using allusions of violations. It’s like telling someone to back off because you know karate. You just hope they never call your bluff and discover it’s *Phil* Karate you know, a guy you went to school with.

But these are the noughties, not the nineties. Intimidation of small fish doesn’t always pay, because small fish swim in large schools. Actually, “surf” might be a more appropriate term in our internet connected world. The internet this decade has been shown to be a very powerful rallying force. Just ask Don Imus.

And the open source community as a whole is very powerful and will not let Microsoft tickle its belly.

However, note the last target of Microsoft’s threat: users.

In a world where many users are looking at open source alternatives after seeing Firefox achieve mainstream acceptance, a little gentle FUDing from Microsoft to sow the seeds of fear, uncertainty, and doubt in users’ minds is par for the course for MS.

Unfortunately, FUD is almost always exclusively aimed at the user end of the market. And it’s not just because they are buying the end product, it’s because they are easiest in the chain to sway. That is, without incurring attention from the DOJ.

The greatest concern is not the Joe Average at home, but Jack IT Manager at work diligently trying to stay squeaky clean in regards to using legitimate software. Sure he’s meant to be smarter than Joe Average, but sometimes in a busy IT department, the smart route is the the easy route. And so he sticks with Microsoft. It’s pretty easy to justify. Does anyone get fired for buying Microsoft?

The pivotal point of power in IT purchasing is with the IT manager. His decisions affect more than his company. Generally speaking, what he buys, his organization’s staff buys. It occurs in both Windows and Mac environments.

Microsoft can’t spend all its time FUDing, so these things are cyclical. Whether this one comes to anything bigger will be interesting to see.

But really, roll on wabbit season.


  • MS give me a good reason to stop using Ubuntu. A simple laundry list of alleged MS crud inside many open source applications would do.

    How ‘bout it, Balmer?

    Robomac had this to say on May 23, 2007 Posts: 846
  • It’s notable that, to my knowledge, MS hasn’t named one single patent that has been violated.  They are putting that burden on the open source developers.  Yeah, that’ll work.

    This goes back to an earlier thread of the ridiculousness of the current patent system.  How long before Apple makes vague claims to the “over 200” patents in the iPhone the way MS has over its software?  This nonsense from these bullying corporations has got to stop.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on May 23, 2007 Posts: 2220
  • Well, MS figured SCO is dead however many million$ in MS aid is handed over.

    So, to continue the FUD and oblivious claims that were used as the old SCO tactics to extort billion$ from IBM.

    MS, you know damn well that didn’t work and I hope your clueless leadership knows that that scare tactics will not work on a community as diverse and widespread as the Free & Open Source Community.

    And that would include Apple, Inc.

    Robomac had this to say on May 23, 2007 Posts: 846
  • I am not surprised. They sue those on the cutting edge such as, open source developers, because they can’t innovate due to bloat.

    I can’t think of one product that MS has developed that was not a copy of something someone else developed first. They either just copied the idea and made minor changes or just purchased it outright. They can afford to spend billions in legal fees defending their actions in court.

    Unfortunately, the US federal court did not have the guts to break up MS when they lost the browser case a few years ago.

    flyboy had this to say on May 27, 2007 Posts: 30
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