Microsoft Dodges $1.5 Billion Bullet
The federal court yesterday dismissed
a $1.5 billion judgment
a jury had made against Microsoft for patent infringement.
Bill Gates breathed a sigh of relief, and immediately stopped looking in his
couch and car for spare change to cover the bill.
-- and the record-breaking, mind-boggling settlement amount -- stems from the
MP3 digital music file format standard. Microsoft and Apple, which should also
be heaving a sigh of relief, license MP3 usage from a consortium that includes
the German research group Fraunhofer Institute and other companies that were
involved in developing the format.
What was at issue were the timing of the MP3 development and who now actually
owns it after a series of mergers. The jury determined the amount of the monstrous
settlement by calculating a small percentage of the sale of every copy of Windows
that uses the MP3 format in its Media Player.
Naturally, Microsoft's senior vice president and general counsel Brad Smith
praised the fed's ruling as a "victory for consumers of digital music and
a triumph for common sense in the patent system." Also naturally, Alcatel-Lucent
plans to appeal the ruling.
Here's another copyright and intellectual property ruling involving Microsoft
-- what's your take on this? Just another round of going after the big guy?
Or do you feel Microsoft is prone to "borrowing" a bit from here and
there? Where should the intellectual property lines be drawn? Drop me a line
at [email protected].
Sun just keeps getting hotter. It just announced a forthcoming new
version of its Niagara processor. The new chip, dubbed the UltraSPARC T2,
is said to be twice as fast as the earlier iteration. Expect this blazing-fast
sun to shine later this year.
Sun will also license the chip to other manufacturers, which is becoming a
whole new line of business for the solar-powered chipmaker. It fired up a new
business unit last March to handle the licensing biz. Networking and storage
device vendors are the likely target customers, says chief exec Jonathan Schwartz.
What's the makeup of your company's server farms? Using Sun-based servers?
Still an Intel shop? Some combo thereof? How does the new Niagara technology
affect your plans? Rise up and let me know at [email protected].
Global Warming Up -- To Linux
Dell's computers will be spreading the word and the code of Linux. Those feisty
Texans will be loading up systems bound for the U.K., France, Germany and China
instead of Windows.
In May, the Round Rock rebels started selling PCs
loaded with Ubuntu Linux, but that was just in the States.
The European Dells will have Ubuntu, while the Dells bound for China will
run Novell's SuSE Linux. I don't think Dell's plans are causing Bill to lose
any sleep, though. Windows is still running on somewhere north of 90 percent
of the world's PCs.
In other Linux news, you'll have to wait a bit longer for Red Hat's latest.
Red Hat Global Desktop Linux won't
be available until September.
In May, Red Hat said it was working on this new version with Intel so it could
better develop a Windows-comparable feature set. The delay is said to buy time
to check out adding video compatibility that may include DVDs and streaming
video (that really does start kicking in on Windows territory). Red Hat Global
Desktop Linux will be targeted toward small businesses in other countries that
may not be able to afford licenses for Windows, but may need a bit more than
Have you made the switch to Linux at any level? Have you taken it out for any
test drives? How is it coexisting in your world? Think globally, operate locally
and let me know right here at [email protected].
RDN Launches .NET Survival Guide
Our sister publication, Redmond
Developer News, is coming to the aid of .NET developers everywhere by
launching the .NET Survival Guide. Here are a few words from RDN Editor
Any developer can tell you that it's a jungle out there, especially if you're
a busy coder trying to stay on top of multiple Microsoft platforms and technologies.
Whether it's constant refreshes to the .NET Framework or new approaches to
managing programmatic data access, there just never seems to be time to master
and consolidate skills. You need look no further than the nearly feature-complete
beta 2 of Visual Studio 2008, the second beta of.NET Framework 3.5 and the
latest CTP of SQL Server 2008 to know what I'm talking about. Between November
and February, you can expect a veritable blizzard of new products and technologies
to blow in from Redmond.
This is where the .NET Survival Guide comes in. In our Sept. 1 issue, we'll
pull together expert insight and useful resources into a concise package so
you can quickly judge your exposure across a range of categories and disciplines.
Worried about moving to multi-core savvy parallelized code? Have questions
about emerging security practices? Need to make decisions about moving to
rich Internet application development? The .NET Survival Guide will offer
both answers and context for these questions.
We need input from you. What technologies and issues should we explore? Is
there a specific topic expert you'd like to hear from? E-mail me at [email protected]
and help us shape our first annual .NET Survival Guide.
Mailbag: Yahoo's China Syndrome, Xbox Still Not Cheap
In his piece about Yahoo's
current China troubles -- with Congress investigating the extent of the
company's involvement in the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist -- Lafe asked
readers this question: Would you pass on a market with a fifth of the world's
population? Here are some of your answers:
Yes. In a minute. China would re-negotiate. Yahoo is the world leader
in portal traffic. Google is the world leader in search. China knows this.
Obey the laws of a client nation unless that requires breaking U.S. law. Australian
software vendors do NOT break Australian law by assisting China in this manner.
But China also knows that U.S. companies have become commerce whores and would
sell their own children for a stake in any new market. Blame us, the boomer
generation, for raising a sloth generation.
Personally, it is my position that I would pass on doing commerce with
any country or entity that doesn't openly and honestly protect the human rights
of those within its oversight. Realistically, in an economy that is driven
by greed and the fatness of the bottom line, human rights, unfortunately,
take a rung pretty low on that ladder. It is with regret that I see most siding
with the standard view that the dollar to be won far outweighs the human rights
Without the slightest hesitation, yes. Which is worth more: money or human
In lighter news, Microsoft has recently dropped
the price of the Xbox to $349. Some of you still aren't very impressed:
The Xbox can drop to $99 and the PC would still rule for gaming.
Lowering the price of an Xbox 360 will NOT lead me to buy one. The price
was too high (at least for me) in the first place and second, as long as it
has a reputation for failure, then I will NEVER buy one.
No one should ever rush to get a product to market before it is ready
for the consumer. I don't consider known hardware failures to be consumer-ready.
Who ever got the bonus for putting the console out before it was ready should
have to pay it back (at a minimum) to those consumers whose units failed.
Those of you who rushed to be the first are the ones who suffered. That's
why I always wait a bit. I can't afford to throw away what little entertainment
money I have.
There's not a snowball's chance in hell of me throwing away $349, plus
tax, plus more money spent in games.
Microsoft + hardware = TROUBLE, as in Microsoft + Windows = PAIN!
And Angus offers Nokia a word of advice after hearing about the company's plan
to use Microsoft DRM software for its platform:
After many experiences with DRM, I have only one word for Nokia: Don't!
If DRM actually worked, then I wouldn't be quite so offended by it, but when
your legally purchased media won't play in your legally purchased device because
that device does not support that DRM, then customer interest in the silly
Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to [email protected]
or leave a comment below.
Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.