Microsoft "leaks" memos again

It seems the media didn't get it last week when Microsoft launched its Live products ... err, no services or is it strategy? Well, some internet-based stuff that'll bring in the ad dollars for Microsoft and save the company's bottom line from being chewed by the likes of Google.

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- Did you really agree to that?

- Microsoft “leaks” memos again

- Developers to pay for sins of users?

- Oooooh! Smash it up!

We all feel like that at times, but it takes three Norsemen in tracksuits to go on stage and actually do it.


Then again, aren’t the Torpedos just pale whiteware copies of Einstuerzende Neubauten, the very ancient teutonic for the industrial rock troops? I saw the collapsing new buildings many years ago, and have the tinnitus to prove it. Good grief, that pneumatic drill was murder.


Did you really agree to that?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation deciphers Sony’s 3,000 word end-user license that customers have to agree to before they can listen to the CDs they’ve paid for.

- EFF: Now the Legalese Rootkit: Sony-BMG's EULA

Microsoft “leaks” memos again

It seems the media didn’t get it last week when Microsoft launched its Live products … err, no services or is it strategy? Well, some internet-based stuff that’ll bring in the ad dollars for Microsoft and save the company’s bottom line from being chewed by the likes of Google.

Nobody was particularly impressed by Live because it seems mostly PR fluff with any possible substance at least year but most likely two or three away. So, perhaps to kill off the collective media yawning, two memos from Chairman Bill and CTO Ray Ozzie were “leaked” to several US publications.

The memos are an amusing read, Ozzie’s more so than Gates’. If either hoped to paint Microsoft as a company poised to pounce upon the exciting possibilities of an internet services-oriented world, well, they failed. Instead, we see Ozzie accurately point out that Microsoft has missed the boat several times over. There is a reason Google, Skype, Adobe PDF, Asterisk, or the virtual Entropia world with a real-money economy for that matter didn’t happen in Redmond but elsewhere.

That reason isn’t spelt out in the memos however. Ozzie isn’t brave enough to say that Microsoft needs to take risks and innovate far more. Its strategy of “embracing and extending” competitors’ technology once they start to make money has worked well for Microsoft until now, but with opponents like Google, it looks like Gates is getting nervous about the future and Ozzie will have a long slog ahead to turn the company around.

The timing for the “leaked” memos is a bit strange, because if it is a sly PR effort, it completely detracts from two rather cool pieces of MS technology that were actually launched this week, namely Visual Studio 2005 and SQL Server 2005. Developers I’ve talked to about VS05 love the nice new features that make coding a lot easier (and because of that, are willing to forgive that it’s still a bit buggy). You can also now get the free Express editions of Visual Studio 2005, which are scaled-down but still capable versions of the real thing. Well, the Express editions are free for a year at least, until November 2006, so get them while you can.

- Gates/Ozzie Memos-full text

- Gates memo puts services at heart of Microsoft

- MSDN: Visual Studio homepage

Developers to pay for sins of users?

The popular peer-to-peer file sharing service Grokster died this week, as the US Supreme Court said it was liable for the actions of its users – namely illegally downloading copyrighted material.

Although the RIAA chairman Mitch Bainwol thinks the whole thing ended on a “high note” for the recording industry, techies and consumers everywhere, the case opens up a worrisome vista of developers and software vendors being held responsible for what users of their products actually do with the stuff.

Nicking copyrighted content is clearly wrong, but did the US Supreme Court think its decision through? Peter Griffin in the Herald notes that the “encouragement” for illegal use to users from developers of P2P software wasn’t clearly defined – just giving away the P2P program could be construed as encouragement in fact.

(Ironically, you’re linking to a Herald premium content page that’s been copied. That could be construed as “nicking copyrighted content” couldn’t it? Hmm? I’ve added the link to the real premium page below – Ed)

Extrapolating on this, the Grokster case could set a precedent that would allow the courts to go after developers of other kinds of software. You can for instance use Microsoft and other vendors’ development tools to write viruses. However, finding the virus writers and suing them is difficult, so a more convenient solution would be to go after the vendors who make the tools available to create the illegal malware in the first place. Mmm… spamming could be handled the same way by suing mail server developers. And, the internet is a conduit for all this illegal activity, so sue the ISPs as well.

- Peter Griffin: Grokster judgment dooms free download P2P services

- Peter Griffin: Premium content version ($3 to read)

- Curtain falls on Grokster

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