Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Jan 2010 23:51 UTC
Microsoft Late last year, news got out that an infamous Chinese pirate has moved beyond pirating Windows, moving on to creating an Ubuntu distribution that is almost a pixel-perfect copy of Windows XP, called Ylmf OS. Ars Technica contacted Microsoft about possible legal actions, but it seems Microsoft isn't really bothered by all this.
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Comment by Stephen!
by Stephen! on Wed 6th Jan 2010 00:43 UTC
Stephen!
Member since:
2007-11-24

Well, as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

Reply Score: 1

no big deal
by ozonehole on Wed 6th Jan 2010 01:09 UTC
ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

I think this is no big deal. I use Linux, and I personally have no need for a Windows-interface clone. However, if somebody else feels more comfortable seeing that familiar Windows look-and-feel, so be it.

It should be noted that when Microsoft came out with Windows 1.0 (real crap, by the way), Apple was thinking about suing. Anyway, Microsoft has "cloned" everyone else's technology ever since - everything from FreeBSD's FTP utility to Netscape and Firefox. Microsoft is the world's most notorious copycat.

Would I like it if Microsoft cloned the Gnome or KDE interface? Maybe I wouldn't like it, but don't think it should be illegal. It might actually be good publicity for Linux.

Of course, there isn't just one interface for Linux. I'm using LXDE myself. So which interface is the "correct" one for Linux?

cheers,
Oz

Edited 2010-01-06 01:13 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: no big deal
by Laurence on Wed 6th Jan 2010 01:56 UTC in reply to "no big deal"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26


It should be noted that when Microsoft came out with Windows 1.0 (real crap, by the way), Apple was thinking about suing.


Apple DID sue MS over Windows. OK, granted not over Windows 1, but they did over the GUI in Windows 2 and 3

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: no big deal
by lemur2 on Wed 6th Jan 2010 08:59 UTC in reply to "RE: no big deal"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"
It should be noted that when Microsoft came out with Windows 1.0 (real crap, by the way), Apple was thinking about suing.


Apple DID sue MS over Windows. OK, granted not over Windows 1, but they did over the GUI in Windows 2 and 3
"

Apple did indeed sue Microsoft over Windows 2 and 3 GUI. If I recall correctly, Microsoft won this case but NOT by arguing that look and feel were not protectable elememnts under copyright ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_and_feel#Lawsuits_over

The legal precedent in the US appear to be set by the case of Lotus vs Borland.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a copyright claim on the feel of a user interface in Lotus v. Borland.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_v._Borland

This case established that copyright does not extend to the text or layout of a program's menus.


Edited 2010-01-06 09:03 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: no big deal
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 6th Jan 2010 09:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: no big deal"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

This isn't abut layout or feel

This is about icons, among other things. Microsoft holds the copyright over those, and reproducing them this way constitutes copyright infringement. Same thing for the wallpapers, title bar designs, and so on.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: no big deal
by lemur2 on Wed 6th Jan 2010 10:09 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: no big deal"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

This isn't abut layout or feel

This is about icons, among other things. Microsoft holds the copyright over those, and reproducing them this way constitutes copyright infringement. Same thing for the wallpapers, title bar designs, and so on.


The damages for copying of icons and wallpapers would amount to ... what exactly?

Microsoft themselves say it just isn't worth it to persue anything they actually legally could persue.

Remember also: precedent in the US has it that "copyright does not extend to the text or layout of a program's menus". The text or layout of menus actually IS important, but the shape and colour of an icon? Pffft. Its worth only peanuts.

Edited 2010-01-06 10:12 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: no big deal
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 6th Jan 2010 10:37 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: no big deal"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Well, America is messed up enough to hand over millions in damages for sharing a few songs, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft handed over millions, too, in this case. Of course, this is China, so that point is moot.

I was just pointing out that we're not talking about layout and feel, but about what amounts to... "Art".

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: no big deal
by lemur2 on Wed 6th Jan 2010 13:50 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: no big deal"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Well, America is messed up enough to hand over millions in damages for sharing a few songs, so I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft handed over millions, too, in this case. Of course, this is China, so that point is moot.

I was just pointing out that we're not talking about layout and feel, but about what amounts to... "Art".


Fair enough.

However, suppose that someone made an XP look-alike with SVG icons (which would work with a KDE desktop). Now the defendant can clealry say that although the icons look a bit like the Windows XP ones at a certain apparent size on certain screens, the new icons are actually more functional because, unlike Windows XP icons, they can be shown at any number of sizes. By default, they could be displayed either bigger, or smaller, without getting "jaggies".

http://ourlan.homelinux.net/qdig/?Qwd=./KDE4_desktop&Qif=variable-i...

Clearly, this is functionality that Windows desktop icons don't have.

Therefore, despite looking somewhat similar in shape, they most demonstrably aren't copies because they are different sizes, and they have different functionality.

Edited 2010-01-06 13:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: no big deal
by Laurence on Wed 6th Jan 2010 15:14 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: no big deal"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

Fair enough.

However, suppose that someone made an XP look-alike with SVG icons (which would work with a KDE desktop). Now the defendant can clealry say that although the icons look a bit like the Windows XP ones at a certain apparent size on certain screens, the new icons are actually more functional because, unlike Windows XP icons, they can be shown at any number of sizes. By default, they could be displayed either bigger, or smaller, without getting "jaggies".

http://ourlan.homelinux.net/qdig/?Qwd=./KDE4_desktop&Qif=variable-i.....

Clearly, this is functionality that Windows desktop icons don't have.

Therefore, despite looking somewhat similar in shape, they most demonstrably aren't copies because they are different sizes, and they have different functionality.


They don't have to be copies to infringe on copyright law.

Take music for example, the record label (typically, but not always) would hold the rights to the recording and the song writer would hold the rights to the song.

So band x could do a cover of band y's song (changing a few elements to make it "their own") and although the end product is not an exact replica of band x's original, it's still enough of a copy where they would need to source permission from band x (though not necessarily from band x's record label)

In fact, it's not uncommon for bands/managers to chase after other bands when they think other songs have borrowed too much "influence" - one high profile case was Joe Satriani vs Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2008/12/05/joe-satr... )

The funny thing about that last example was Yusuf Islam also contemplated (can't recall if he followed through or not) taking Coldplay to court over their same track saying it sounded like one of Yusuf's tracks of old (when he was performing as Cat Stevens). Anyhow, I digress...


While I'm not sure of the exact wording of the law, as I understand it, artists (be them musical or otherwise) have grounds to sue if they believe their work have been plagiarised regardless of how identical the two products in question are.

So relating this to Microsoft XP vs Ylmf OS - MS do have grounds to sue (even if it's not financially worth the trouble) as their "art" (aka the XP motif) has clearly been plagiarised.

(sorry for the length post)

Reply Score: 4

RE[5]: no big deal
by Laurence on Wed 6th Jan 2010 11:00 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: no big deal"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

The damages for copying of icons and wallpapers would amount to ... what exactly?

Microsoft themselves say it just isn't worth it to persue anything they actually legally could persue.


Could part of the problem be the fact that infringing party is Chinese? (as AFAIK China has a more relaxed outlook on the digital rights of western meterial)

Sorry if I come across a little ignorant here - I've heard stories about piracy in China (which I know this specific article isn't about) but, in truth, I know very little about Chinese law.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: no big deal
by Laurence on Wed 6th Jan 2010 11:01 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: no big deal"
Laurence Member since:
2007-03-26

I always thought Apple were successful with their claims (thus MS paying damages to them).

Clearly I got the facts all skewed - so thanks for the correction ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: no big deal
by BluenoseJake on Wed 6th Jan 2010 11:29 UTC in reply to "RE: no big deal"
BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

And Apple lost.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: no big deal
by jabbotts on Wed 6th Jan 2010 13:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: no big deal"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The judged decided that infringement was the only way that GUI could proliferate or something like that wasn't it? (the good old days when Judges knew about the technology they where ruling on.. oh wait..)

Wasn't there another case later in which part of MS settlement was to buy Apple shares? I don't remember the particular complaint involved in that one at the moment though.

Reply Score: 2

Or...
by Anonymous Coward on Wed 6th Jan 2010 01:42 UTC
Anonymous Coward
Member since:
2005-07-06

Get plain vanilla Ubuntu and apply the XPLuna theme to it.

<a href="http://ubuntu.online02.com/node/14">ubuntu.online02.com/node/14...

I have Virtualbox with an English localized version of Ylmf OS running next to this patch, and everything basically matches other than a few different base packages.

Reply Score: 2

Apple
by OSGuy on Wed 6th Jan 2010 02:09 UTC
OSGuy
Member since:
2006-01-01

Imagine if Apple OS X was the one that was being copied ;)

Reply Score: 5

Why would Microsoft care?
by tomcat on Wed 6th Jan 2010 02:10 UTC
tomcat
Member since:
2006-01-06

I mean, seriously, this isn't going to result in people moving to Ubuntu for a Windows XP lookalike desktop. It's a non-issue.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Why would Microsoft care?
by Gone fishing on Wed 6th Jan 2010 05:24 UTC in reply to "Why would Microsoft care? "
Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Where I live, half the shops (at least) load pirate Windows as standard and Office - the punters don't even know, some times they come to get there genuine advantage fixed and then are told, it often comes as quite a shock.

I guarantee that if they were given this and Office preloaded with crossover 60% wouldn't even know they weren't using XP.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Why would Microsoft care?
by tomcat on Wed 6th Jan 2010 20:38 UTC in reply to "RE: Why would Microsoft care? "
tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Where I live, half the shops (at least) load pirate Windows as standard and Office - the punters don't even know, some times they come to get there genuine advantage fixed and then are told, it often comes as quite a shock. I guarantee that if they were given this and Office preloaded with crossover 60% wouldn't even know they weren't using XP.


Right, but given that Windows pirating is so rampant, anyway, there's practically little benefit to deploying Ubuntu. Particularly for pirates, themselves.

Reply Score: 2

Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

Apart from the ubiquitous virus infections - if the flash disks at the college are representative somewhere between 75% and 90%

Reply Score: 2

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

yes, isn't it wonderfully ironic how much Microsoft have benefited from the rampant piracy over the years?

Reply Score: 3

Gone fishing Member since:
2006-02-22

yes, isn't it wonderfully ironic how much Microsoft have benefited from the rampant piracy over the years?


Too true

I'd mod you up but I've posted so can't

Reply Score: 2

No reason to sue
by Alleister on Wed 6th Jan 2010 02:42 UTC
Alleister
Member since:
2006-05-29

Why would they sue? It is application compatibility that slaves users to Microsoft, not the OS look. This will only run Windows software that Wine can run which is about zero.

If this gets people who are afraid of Linux to try Ubuntu, I'm all for it.
I have to say though, I'm very surprised over the numerous XP lookalikes out there, since XP is imho the most ugly Windows version Microsoft released since Win1.0/2.0.
Are all designers at Microsoft colorblind? People are actually copying that look? Why on earth?

Reply Score: 3

RE: No reason to sue - "look"
by jabbotts on Wed 6th Jan 2010 14:05 UTC in reply to "No reason to sue"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Often referred to as "familiar" and leveraged with fear of change. Turn off the theme service in WindowsXP for a few of your average users and see how fast they scream because the pretty crayola look isn't there.

Reply Score: 2

.
by eksasol on Wed 6th Jan 2010 03:01 UTC
eksasol
Member since:
2009-04-05

I don't know about colorblinded, but definition discriminatory against old and color blinded people with their Windows 7 themes with the white font.

Here's my version: http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b233/eksasol/desktopubuntu.jpg

Reply Score: 2

Storm, meet tea cup...
by bornagainenguin on Wed 6th Jan 2010 05:48 UTC
bornagainenguin
Member since:
2005-08-07

This whole thing was a nonstarter from the very start if you ask me. The article where most of the discussion over this "YLMF OS" started used a picture of WinXP and claimed it was Ubuntu. The real truth of the matter is these guys didn't even do a good job with their clone. You or I could do a better job ourselves if we wanted to, and have it look more authentic.

Wake me up though if some one decides to pull together XPDE and make a distro based around that, which really makes use of cloning the various Windows XP elements and making them work well with *nix applications using the QT, GTK, and misc other tool kits. Then maybe there might be some concern in Redmond, until then... This isn't even a good clone!

--bornagainpenguin

PS: XPDE can be seen here: http://www.xpde.com/

Reply Score: 2

Totally Pointless
by pezzonovante on Wed 6th Jan 2010 09:49 UTC
pezzonovante
Member since:
2010-01-06

Windows XP is ugly as hell. Why would anyone want to copy the XP UI in 2010? Windows 7 is beautiful. Won't touch XP/XP look-alikes with a ten foot pole.

Reply Score: 1

XP
by marcp on Wed 6th Jan 2010 12:12 UTC
marcp
Member since:
2007-11-23

This is so terrible. I know that most of the casual users don't even change their WinXP theme to something more "eye-friendly" so this might suite them perfectly, but this toyish-like interface was always a pain to watch. Go, "pirates", go and clone the crap, d'oh!

P.S an only reasonable interface of XP was XP silver.

Reply Score: 1

RE: XP - silver
by jabbotts on Wed 6th Jan 2010 14:10 UTC in reply to "XP"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Ick.. my first stop is the services list to disable Theme. Silver is just as bubble-gum toyish as the blue/green version. Pretty doesn't make my programs run faster so I'm happy with the lesser resource usage with themes disabled and the vanilla windows widgets (change your windows colours, set a background.. just as good as crayola-windows; for me anyhow).

Each to there own perferences of course. Theme selection is mostly subjective after all.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: XP - silver
by Frobozz on Fri 8th Jan 2010 13:00 UTC in reply to "RE: XP - silver"
Frobozz Member since:
2005-12-04

Wait? You get enough of a speed increase from turning off themes for it to be noticeable? I stopped seeing any major improvement around the time I switch to a budget dual-core and a halfway decent video card.

Reply Score: 1

What is the big deal here??
by cmost on Wed 6th Jan 2010 12:14 UTC
cmost
Member since:
2006-07-16

The last few days I've seen a big brouhaha being made on myriad popular technical sites over the appearance of Ylmf OS, as if this Chinese company has done something truly sacrilegious in daring to imitate Windows. The truth of the matter is that everything anyone needs to transform any Linux distribution, either Gnome or KDE based, into looking like any version of Windows from 95 to Windows 7; or Macintosh OS-X, down to every detail already exists on Gnome-look.org or KDE-look.org. Theming Linux to resemble other popular operating systems is certainly nothing new and this China based company is hardly the first to do it. Remember Lycoris OS anyone? It must really be a slow news week.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by dumdiddydum
by dumdiddydum on Wed 6th Jan 2010 12:49 UTC
dumdiddydum
Member since:
2009-10-29

Ubuntu... now also available in fugly!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by dumdiddydum
by KLU9 on Thu 7th Jan 2010 15:55 UTC in reply to "Comment by dumdiddydum"
KLU9 Member since:
2006-12-06

Hasn't Ubuntu always been available in fugly?

;)

[Pulls Shipit Hedgehog CD out of drawer] Yup, definitely.

Reply Score: 1

Clone longhorn instead
by zegenie on Wed 6th Jan 2010 13:20 UTC
zegenie
Member since:
2005-12-31

I remember for a while during Longhorn/Vista development, cloning the upcoming longhorn theme was the hottest you could do. I still think the concept videos look awesome:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9ifQvQCO7Y

Now if someone can clone that in a linux distro I wouldn't care if it's Microsoft who invented the look - I'd use it!

Reply Score: 1

Who cares
by Xaero_Vincent on Wed 6th Jan 2010 16:52 UTC
Xaero_Vincent
Member since:
2006-08-18

This isn't the only distribution that copies the Windows look. Vixta copies Vista and Linux XP once copied XP as well.

This is probably not a particularly great theme anyway. The file manager (file roller) probably looks nothing like Explorer and neither does any control panel.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by glamdring
by glamdring on Wed 6th Jan 2010 23:05 UTC
glamdring
Member since:
2010-01-04

You don't need to know chine's

http://liveinformant.com/software/ylmf-ubuntu-english-chinese/


And MS shouldn't need to worry much if the user wanted to switch to Linux why would they care if it looked like XP? I prefer the look of some of the linux distros over XP

Reply Score: 1

Why is this such a big deal?
by eco2geek on Thu 7th Jan 2010 07:26 UTC
eco2geek
Member since:
2009-09-23

If you download it, switch the locale to US English, and check it out, you'll discover it's an Ubuntu live CD remaster with a few icons stolen from MS Office 2003 to represent OpenOffice.org apps and some Internet applications that are different than the Ubuntu norm. It has a WinXP skin which you can download and install on your own copy of GNOME from here: http://ubuntu.online02.com/node/14 (that's probably where they got their artwork from, too, from the looks of it).

It hardly qualifies as a "distro." So why is this getting so much free advertising?

Reply Score: 1

bornagainenguin Member since:
2005-08-07

eco2geek asked...

It hardly qualifies as a "distro." So why is this getting so much free advertising?


Because the interest is there for a Windows clone that is Linux but apes Windows XP completely enough to fool non-technical people. Unfortunately this isn't it, and most likely we'll never see a real good clone because of legal and cultural issues. Just look over at gnome-look at some of the responses even slightly Vista or Luna seeming themes get! (The legal issues are obvious and need not be restated here.)

Then too, there is the misleading advertising the group did when they released this "distro" of theirs... Take a look at this picture:

http://www.ylmf.org/static/images/banner.jpg

Now contrast that with what you really get:

http://liveinformant.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/03-ylmf-languag...

Not hardly the same thing is it? So this is a complete bait and switch operation in effect here, when people were expecting a clone and getting a half-baked theme instead. Me, I say someone should take XPDE and start hacking away to get GTK and QT apps to behave like "native" Windows apps in that desktop, and see how well it goes over. I imagine it would be better than we'd expect...

--bornagainpenguin

Reply Score: 2

eco2geek Member since:
2009-09-23

bornagainpenguin said...

Because the interest is there for a Windows clone that is Linux but apes Windows XP completely enough to fool non-technical people.


You're apparently right about that, but the theme of these stories about Ylmf OS have all been about Microsoft's reaction to it. "Will Microsoft sue?" is the main question. That's kind of a silly question to ask when you already know that Ylmf OS is an Ubuntu 9.10 remaster.

The stories haven't been about consumer demand for a free copy of Windows.

bornagainpenguin said...
So this is a complete bait and switch operation in effect here, when people were expecting a clone and getting a half-baked theme instead.


Not exactly. The picture on the company's home page is misleading, but if you read the text (use Google Translate), it says, "Based on Ubuntu 9.10" right up front.

Reply Score: 1