Chris J Powell

Micro$oft and its History of FUD Campaigns

When it comes to all things Open Source, Microsoft tends not to pull any punches and uses all the dirty tricks and Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt Tactics that is can to gain or maintain its competitive advantage.  Last week the Microsoft led Fairsearch Europe filed an antitrust case in the European Union against Google.  In looking at the press release surrounding the complaint though, I would agree with many experts that this is not just about how Google leverages its own products within its Search Engine (because Bing would never do that)…it is all about the future of Open Source.

Over at Ars Technica, Timothy B. Lee draws the line in the sand that this is NOT about Android…it is about Open Source in general.

Fairsearch believes that it’s “predatory” for a company to gain market share by giving its software away for free.

The thin veil of Uncertainty that creates both Fear and Doubt with the complaint itself is that it starts off with a concern over the “bundling of Google Services” with the OS.  I have been using Android phones and tablets for several years now…and the reality is…I never really thought about the Google Services that come bundled with it…but I know that the weakness of Apple Maps would be a reason that I would not use an iPhone…and the connection to Microsoft Office applications would be a use case for using a Windows Phone device…so what is the point here?

In an effort to understand how “unfair” the market place is…I decided to check out several Mobile Carriers (because it is they who decide what devices we have access to) and see if there is fair coverage when it comes to Mobile Devices on their websites.

Rogers (Canada):

On the front page of the Devices Landing Page…Blackberry is the only device that has direct links…so no advantage for Android…ok, now to dive into their Smartphone offerings.  No iPhone listed at all and an even split between Android and its other competitors (15 Android, 7 Windows and 7 Blackberry)…so the 70% of the market looks like that is what the consumer wants…not being pushed!

Verizon (USA):

The front page of the Smartphone Landing Page allows the choice to be made by the consumer…interesting.  2 devices each for Droid, Motorola, LG, Windows Phone, Apple, Samsung, Blackberry.   Now there is more weight to the Android options here…then then again there are more options for devices…so that actually makes sense…but each “class or category” for me as a consumer…is fairly represented.

Orange (UK):

Diving into the options for Smartphones with Orange UK was a bit confusing…but it is also not what I am used to (the world of Contracts and Subsidized phones is the norm here in North America) but I was quickly faced with a long scroll to find any Windows Phones…now is this based on popularity, alphabetical placement or a market strategy by Orange that it does not promote Windows Phones until the bottom of the page???

Telefonica O2 Online (Germany):

Again on the front page, Windows Phone is at the bottom of the list but the default is set to “Popularity” so I am thinking there is starting to be a common theme here that Windows Phone is not ranking higher because…it just is not that good of a device or not one that people actually want.

Sure Google gives away Android for Free.  So does Red Hat, Firefox, Canonical and countless other Open Source Vendors.  Many do so in hopes of getting subscriptions of full service sales for their products at a later time.  This is not in my opinion “Predatory” it is meeting market demand!  I use Free and Open Source software not because I have been sucked in…or because of a favorable Google Search…but because in my opinion it is a better option than the alternatives.

What does this Antitrust claim mean to Open Source?

That stance would have sweeping implications for the software industry because so many software companies distribute software for free. Red Hat gives away its version of Linux (in source code form, at least) as a way to generate interest in its subscriptions and support services. Other popular software packages, such as the Eclipse development environment and the OpenOffice productivity suite, have been maintained at times by commercial sponsors.

Tim B. Lee over at Ars Technica hits the nail right on the head with that statement.  Open Source and Free Software is under attack…it is just under the guise of a Mobile Phone complaint against Google.

This is not the first time that Microsoft has lead the Charge of FUD against Open Source though:

  • 1998 some FUD against Novell Netware
  • 2001 Steve Ballmer of Microsoft called Linux a Cancer.
  • 2007 to present the Claim that Linux violates 235 Patents and partners with many Open Source and Linux companies for “protection” but never says what patents are violated
  • 2009 Netbook Attacks by Microsoft
  • 2009 Microsoft Training to Best Buy Employees
  • 2011 Microsoft Tax has them making more off of each Android phone sold than Google does in direct sales

Will this ever end and allow us to just peacefully co-exist…not likely.  To Quote the great Mahatma Gandhi:

“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”


Chris J Powell

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