When is Open Source Not Open Source? When Oracle Owns the Patent

So, Oracle has sued Google over the use of Java in Android, and man, is Larry Ellison and his fiefdom taking it on the chin.

It's bad enough, apparently, that Oracle seems to be killing OpenSolaris, a move that has helped earn the company the nasty little nickname "SCOracle" (plus a comparison to Darth Vader—and, as you might imagine, we're not finished with those yet).

No, the Google suit has vaulted Oracle into full...well, into full Microsoft mode as the tech company to hate. Ellison and his not-so-merry band are all about "ego, money and power" now (Really? Larry Ellison, ego?), and have "raised [their] game to Sith level" with the Google suit. (See, there's the other Vader reference, and we're sure that there are more. We didn't even bother looking for Star Trek-related anti-Oracle rants.)

But we at RCPU aren't vilifying Oracle, even if, to be perfectly blunt, it has never been RCPU's favorite vendor. Quite the contrary, in fact. We're glad that Larry Ellison is taking legal action to prove that intellectual property should have monetary value -- even if all Oracle did was buy the intellectual property by purchasing the company that developed it and, incidentally, didn't really seem to care what other vendors did with it. (Maybe that's why Sun went down with the Oracle buyout.)

Besides that, we love Larry's willingness to play the bad guy and, in doing so, possibly perform the impossible and Microsoft's flailing mobile operating system relevant again. Oh, yes. You see, there are a couple of spectators laughing and doing high-fives over this whole thing. (Well, OK, they're probably not doing high-fives, but they are laughing.) One is Apple -- maker of the iPhone and the most proprietary software company ever. Whatever hurts Android is good for the iPhone, generally speaking.

The other is Microsoft, which, first of all, must be glad that somebody else is taking a beating in the press for once. Beyond that, a possibly weaker Android could bring Windows Phone 7 and the whole, mostly convoluted, Microsoft mobile strategy back to prominence -- if it was ever there to begin with. Oh, and, as the last article linked above points out, instability for Java is a potential bonus for .NET development.    

So, we're not here to compare Oracle to Darth Vader, Khan or any other sci-fi villain (especially since those are the only two we can think of). No, we at RCPU applaud Oracle for its litigiousness, no matter how unnecessary, ill-conceived and ridiculous it might be. Any partner who works with Windows Phone 7 probably feels the same way.

What's your take on Oracle's Java patent suit? Send it to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on August 16, 201012 comments

IE: 15 Years Already? Oh Yes

So, Internet Explorer is 15 years old, and here we were thinking, "Really, 15 years? Are you sure is hasn't been 20? Maybe 25?" IE seems about as fresh as that milk we accidentally left on the counter before we took a two-week vacation last summer.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 16, 20101 comments

Firing Hurd Round the World Continues To Haunt HP

Mark Hurd, you sly devil, you. Not only did you hire a kind-of, sort-of adult actress as a "marketing consultant" of some sort, you also -- allegedly -- went behind your board's back to settle her sexual harassment claim. HP's board wanted to probe (don't make a joke...don't make a joke) the claim itself, but you took care of it on the down low -- according to the Wall Street Journal, anyway.

This story just gets better all the time, especially now that it has led to a fantastic round of "respectful" (always respectful, of course) sniping in the press about why Hurd really got canned. The New York Times claims to have gotten to the bottom of things (oh, don't make a joke...), but SiliconBeat, which we think is part of the San Jose Mercury-News, has shot back with a respectful "columnist, please."

Who's right? We don't care. We just hope that know-it-all insiders will keep arguing over this stuff so that we'll have enough RCPU fodder to get through the month of August. (By the way, HP, call me.)

Posted on August 16, 20101 comments

Reader Feedback: The New Microsoft Partner Network

So, Microsoft changes the name of its partner program and then jettisons its leader, Allison Watson, in favor of Jonathan Roskill. For serial e-mailer and RCPU legend Peter, things could be going better with the new Microsoft Partner Network:

"I thought it was time to look at renewing our partnership agreement, so I logged onto our Microsoft partner space. Even though we have seen no measurable value from participating in the Microsoft Partner Program as a Certified (certifiable?) Member, I thought we'd hang in there!

I was quite stunned to find that all our historical Microsoft client reference information has been deleted by Microsoft. It's like we never existed. I spoke to some support girl in the Philippines who basically said there's no way to get it back. It's Microsoft policy. Bad luck.

All our people's certifications have expired, too (sure, we knew this was coming, but it's still a shock when it happens).

I have been unable to figure out who is running the certification training, although there are probably several outfits that provide some kind of training services. The Philippines girl said, 'Your people just have to sit the new exams, and everything will be good.'

So, the bottom line is, even thought we are experts in our discipline, we are not qualified to re-enroll in the Microsoft Network Program (or whatever it's called this week). I feel like we've been totally wiped out for no good reason.

So, good luck to Roskill sorting out this mess..."

You know, Peter, it's funny. We've heard more negative whispers about the MPP -- sorry, MPN -- since the Worldwide Partner Conference than we'd heard in a really long time before that. That's obviously not an indictment of Mr. Roskill, who is just getting started in his role. But the whole change to MPN from MPP, the shifting of classifications, Microsoft's cloud arm-twisting and maybe even the departure of Allison Watson seem to have made people nervous, if not a big aggravated. Let us know how things play out. The Partner Network has always been a strength for Microsoft; the company can ill afford to let it slide.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 12, 20100 comments

Reader Feedback: A Windows 8 Wish List

We asked readers to send us features that they'd like to see in Windows 8 (back in June...ahem), and wow, did Jon respond. This e-mail so is worth reading, but it's really long, so we're not going to comment at the end the way we usually do. So, enjoy, gentle readers, thanks again for your participation, and we'll see you next week.

"Thanks for asking about readers' wish-lists for Windows 8.

  • When you open and modify an attachment, then Return or Forward it, your edits should not die somewhere in Windows' large intestine. Simply relay the edits, as intuition would suggest, then also ask if the user wants to Save/Save As the document.
  • Retain common (and lost!) keyboard shortcuts from Word, and then propagate them throughout Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint -- because those aren't just all Windows programs. They're all in the same SUITE, so a command that works in Program A should do the same in Program B!
    • (E.g., in Word, ALT-O, P opens up the Paragraph formatting box. In Outlook, it's ALT-O, K, P.) There are many other inconsistencies. Standardize on Word, not Excel, as Word is most widely used.
  • Any user-defined Autotype or AutoCorrect entry should work in any/every Windows program.
  • Windows 8 should require every Windows-compatible program to contain an understandable, popup, functional description of itself and what it does! That will tell us what the heck we're affecting when we're clearing out junk with Remove Programs, or switching off/demoting running services.
    • E.g., since I will never buy a tablet PC, I removed the 'Tablet PC' listing. But doing so deleted Microsoft's very useful "Snipping Tool"—because obviously only people with tablet PCs will ever want to snip, paste and store copies of parts of their monitor screens.  Grrr.
  • In Remove Programs, Microsoft's idiot meter advising you whether a program is used Frequently, Occasionally, Seldom or Never needs its digital head examined. I could do better counting hash-marks on my wall. I don't see how so simple a function could be bonkers, but it is.
  • The Windows EasyTransfer function from old to new PC, from old O/S to new O/S, from Outlook Express (or its new equivalent) to the newer, grander versions should actually retain email contacts' addresses.
  • For Office: Outlook should automate the quick de-duping of addressees after one's second or third botched-up import from EasyTransfer.
  • All e-mail clients should contain a warning telling senders when their precious graphics are most likely to be stripped out or turned into Deadly Red X's.  Whatever 'Magical Rules' control that e-mail emasculation, senders should be pre-advised before sending, enabling (perhaps) one to remedy one's unintentional offense.
  • Microsoft shouldn't be so giddy-up eager to run small companies out of business by writing others' good ideas for Windows improvements into each new version of Windows. It's okay if a few small forest animals survive the meteor.
  • In Windows Explorer (or whatever more-fashionable new name it may have), when I define a certain viewing configuration for a folder -- including column widths and size-shape of the Explorer window -- please stop telling me I must be foolish by ignoring my preferences and returning it to a Windows default view each new time I open it.
  • In Windows Explorer, allow a user to apply a viewing configuration -- all of it, including column width and size-shape of the Explorer window -- to an entire tree by a top-down definition capability.

Thanks! I feel better already!"

So do we, Jon. So do we.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 12, 20108 comments

Reader Feedback: Windows Phone 7

Yes! It's finally happening. We're finally doing it. We're going to let reader feedback slide into your inbox like that JetBlue guy zooming down the escape slide.

Why? Well, because we love you and we appreciate what you have to say. Also, it's the middle of August, and Google News's Sci-Tech section is serving up headlines such as "Iceberg Four Times Size of Manhattan May Hamper Atlantic Ships." OK, granted, that's not uninteresting, but it would be a stretch to comment on it as IT news.

So, as your editor waits for a call from HP, he's going to copy and paste some of the best of recent reader e-mails. Enjoy.

We start with Windows Phone 7, not to be confused with the successful Windows 7. We've been a little rough on the still-morphing OS, but reader Brad says that it might very well work for businesses:

"I appreciated your article on Microsoft's challenges in this area. I would point to the Xbox as a device that Microsoft got right in a hypercompetitive environment but these days, that too may be falling behind.

In my role, we need devices that are designed to play strongly in the enterprise, and while Windows Mobile 6.1 and 6.5 are very dated, they do work seamlessly with our network management tools, and that is important to us. The iPhone and Android devices, at this point, are trying to infiltrate the corporate world via consumers. BlackBerry and Microsoft are trying to play in both areas, which is very hard to do. The same features that users love are not often part of the business environment's needs.

The saga of Palm illustrates how quickly market ownership can shift. Just because a company owns market today does not guarantee that you can keep that position. Droid has some glaring security issues, and iPhones have their own challenges these days.

I doubt Microsoft will get high grades for Windows 7 mobile, if for no other reason than it is still trendy to take shots at them. But if they can use this as a launching point for a more aggressive feature build and release schedule, they 'should' be able to vault back into the market and grow their share."

Brad, you make some superb points. The mobile market is not the operating-system market. It's still wide open, and it shifts constantly. (Look at Android making a run at the iPhone.) Microsoft has made a lot of money by providing the easiest platform for businesses to work with, and if companies decide that Windows Phone 7 is the only mobile OS they'll allow in their environment then Microsoft will be sitting in the catbird seat again. Hey, it could happen.

The question remains, though: Which providers will carry Windows Phone 7 devices? We know that AT&T will, as some sort of "premier" provider. Wally shares our confusion as to exactly what that means:

"I don't understand the logic behind exclusive deals with providers. Would it have not been better for Apple if the iPhone goodness was spread to Verizon? I think you are right; 'premiere' means exactly squat -- I can't imagine Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile not participating."

Wally, we couldn't have said it better. In fact, for once, we have nothing to add.

Add your voice to whichever discussion interests you at [email protected]. See, we really do run your e-mails!

Posted by Lee Pender on August 12, 20107 comments

A Modest Proposal: Hurd Is Out, Here's Why I Should Be HP's Next CEO

Not since John Hinckley took a shot at President Reagan in 1981 has Jodie Foster been at the epicenter of such scandal... Wait, what? It's not Jodie Foster? It's Jodie Fisher? Oh, she's Pam from The Office, right? No, that's Jenna Fischer? Well, who on earth is this Jodie Fisher, then?

As you probably know by now, she's the woman who accused ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd of sexual harassment, even though there evidently was no sexual harassment (according to HP) --or even any sex (according to Fisher). (There was, however, a settlement between Hurd and Fisher.)

Fisher, who had roles in such classic films as Intimate Obsession and Body of Influence, was just employed by HP to meet and greet CEOs...or something like that. For some reason, though, Hurd evidently found it necessary to keep his relationship (such as it was) with Fisher a secret -- going so far as to fudge expense reports in the process. (Really, Mark? Expense reports? That is such an amateur move. It's very mailroom of you, if there are mailrooms in companies anymore. Couldn't you have come up with something more creative? Honestly...)

For her part, Fisher just feels awful about the whole thing and says that she never meant to get Hurd fired. (Draw your own conclusions as to what she wanted the result of her sexual-harassment claim to be if it didn't have anything to do with Hurd losing his job.) Hurd is, no doubt, somewhat nonplussed about the situation, and HP isn't feeling so great either -- at least in a financial sense.

So, with the scandal mostly done and dusted, and Hurd headed down to the local unemployment office, who can pick up the pieces and put HP back together again? Speculation is rampant, but RCPU has one answer: Your editor -- Me. Lee Pender.

Oh, yes. I'm the man for HP. Sure, I've never been a CEO, but I've got all the qualifications HP is looking for. For instance, I...

  • Am not Carly Fiorina, and that's still the No. 1 pre-requisite for becoming HP CEO, as far as I can tell
  • Don't watch reality TV or movies with names like Intimate Obsession and didn't know who Jodie Fisher was until this morning (hey, I took Friday off last week)
  • Don't fake expense reports (in part because I don't really travel for business anymore, but still...)
  • Have never been accused of sexual harassment (although I hope that I'm not tempting fate by typing that)
  • Am accustomed to working for organizations that mostly go by initials only (CRN, CIO, RCP, RCPU... I even went to school at TCU and married at PhD from BC)
  • Don't have a degree beyond BS (make your own joke here) but am married to a PhD, as mentioned above
  • Have owned several HP printers
  • Am willing to live in California, although I'd prefer Southern to Northern (but that's negotiable, maybe)

Hey, HP, what's the worst that could happen? Your stock price might tank? Already happening. I could be completely incompetent as CEO? Highly likely, but at least I wouldn't bring (much) scandal to the office or, as mentioned before, be Carly Fiorina. I could create brand confusion by changing the name of the company from HP to LP? Hang on, I've revealed too much...

On second thought, though, my work here at RCPU is probably too important for me to abandon. What would our readers do without this kind of hard-hitting, insightful commentary hitting their in-boxes three times per week? So, HP, I am entering, and then immediately withdrawing, my candidacy to become your next CEO. However, if you want to discuss a multi-million-dollar consulting deal with me, you can reach me, as always, at [email protected].

Who do you think the next CEO of HP should be? Should it be you? Make your case at [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on August 09, 20103 comments

Huge Patch Tuesday on Tap

(Imagine the voice of one of those monster-truck commercial announcers.) Tuesday, TUESDAY, Tuesday! It's Microsoft's biggest Patch Tuesday (deep, guttural voice here) EVER! Redmond is revving up six important patches and eight (loud emphasis) CRITICAL PATCHES. You've never seen anything like this! Fourteen huge patches fixing (echo effect) 34 vulnerabilities! That's Tuesday, August 10, at the DCU Center in Worcester! Get your tickets now online or by calling...

Sorry, I got carried away there. Anyway, big Patch Tuesday tomorrow.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 09, 20101 comments

Best Buy Working on Tablet

Retailer Best Buy, pretty much the only electronics store we can think of that still has physical locations, is apparently developing its own tablet. Preliminary names include Cheap but Lame Alternative to the iPad, Off-Brand Tablet You'd Be Embarrassed to Pull out at a Conference, and At Least It's Not a Microsoft-Branded Tablet. OK, not really. But Best Buy really is apparently working on a tablet.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 09, 20100 comments

Polycom and Microsoft Strike UC Deal

Let's see here... "Streamlining communications," "standards-based unified communications products," "a broad base of hardware and software products..." Yeah, it's the standard UC drivel. But there is some news here: Polycom is going to develop UC applications for Microsoft Communications Server 14 (and beyond!).

Posted by Lee Pender on August 09, 20100 comments

Microsoft Releases Development Tool for Non-Developers

Have you ever wanted to write code all night long, give up all hope of dating, wear ironic t-shirts and be a PhD-level expert on Battlestar Galactica? Well, Microsoft's Visual Studio LightSwitch might not help you do all that, but it'll get you started on the right path by making a developer out of you, even if you don't have development skills. Skittles and Mountain Dew are not included.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 05, 20100 comments

Intel Settles with FTC

Intel reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that, apparently, really could open competition up a little bit in the chip market for companies such as Texas Instruments, Nvidia and, of course, AMD.

Posted by Lee Pender on August 05, 20100 comments