Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 17th Sep 2007 15:17 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Legal Microsoft suffered a stunning defeat on Monday when a European Union court backed a European Commission ruling that the US software giant illegally abused its market power to crush competitors. The European Union's second-highest court dismissed the company's appeal on all substantive points of the 2004 antitrustruling. The court said Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, was unjustified in tying new applications to its Windows operating system in a way that harmed consumer choice. The verdict, which may be appealed only on points of law and not of fact, could force Microsoft to change its business practices.
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lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

Linux is the only real threat to Microsoft here, and it won't get the benefits of this ruling because there will still be a patent license, and it won't be royalty-free.


Making this assumption about a patent license is, I think, where the Windows cheerleaders get it wrong.

Here is the fact: Windows networking does not have patent protection.

How do I know?

The underlying protocol is an IBM invention, not Microsoft's:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_Message_Block#History

What happened was that originally, Windows networking was a minor player, competing against Netware. Microsoft got everybody to interoperate, even going so far as to share specifications with the early Samba project. Then, after some time Netware began to fail, and Windows networking became dominant, suddenly Microsoft stopped the co-operation and deliberately obscured the protocol.

Microsoft did not invent SMB, they just obscured it.

Microsoft have no patents here. You need to reveal how an invention of yours works in order to get a patent. Windows networking is neither revealed, nor is it an invention of Microsoft's.

The interesting question is if you can charge a royalty for something which another company invented, and you just obscured, and for which you hold no patents.

I don't believe you can charge a royalty for that ... especially if you are a monopoly.

Reply Parent Score: 4

sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Here is the fact: Windows networking does not have patent protection.

How do I know?

The underlying protocol is an IBM invention, not Microsoft's:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Server_Message_Block#History
"""

Where it confirms that MS has added much to the original protocol. A couple of examples from your linked Wikipedia article:

"but the most common version is modified heavily by Microsoft."

"Microsoft has added several extensions to its own SMB implementation."


Plenty of room for new patents there, I should say.

I've lost count of how many times you have repeated this falsehood about the current Microsoft SMB protocol being owned by IBM. Please stop. The current form of the protocol suite just isn't. No matter how much you would like us to think so.

Reply Parent Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"but the most common version is modified heavily by Microsoft."

"Microsoft has added several extensions to its own SMB implementation."


Plenty of room for new patents there, I should say.

I've lost count of how many times you have repeated this falsehood about the current Microsoft SMB protocol being owned by IBM. Please stop. The current form of the protocol suite just isn't. No matter how much you would like us to think so.


"Heavily modified by" does not mean "invented by", nor does it mean "patented".

In this case, "heavily modified by" actually only means "obscured by". How do I know? Because the Samba team has largely reverse-engineered the obfuscation.

In order to have a patent, you must describe how an invention works on the patent application, and the invention must be new and innovative.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent
"A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state to a patentee for a fixed period of time in exchange for a disclosure of an invention."


Since Microsoft "secretly obscured" IBM's SMB protocol to derive recent variations of Windows networking, then clearly neither of those conditions for a patent apply to Microsoft's obscuring modifications.

Firstly, they are clearly not innovative because SMB itself is IBM's invention, and because Windows networking itself is merely a latecomer to PC networking trying to usurp Novell's Netware (which it succeeded in doing).

Secondly, they are not disclosed on any patent application, because they are secret obscurations. Indeed, the whole outcome of this process in the EU was to get Microsoft to disclose the obscurations.

So, no matter how much you would like us to think otherwise, Microsoft can have no valid patent on its networking technology, and hence royalties cannot apply.

Oh, BTW, Microsoft already claimed "innovation" about their netwroking. The EU had experts look at it, and the outcome was that it is not innovative at all. Merely obscured.

Edited 2007-09-18 05:26

Reply Parent Score: 4

PlatformAgnostic Member since:
2006-01-02

SMB(2) is not the only protocol we're talking about here. All that covers is file and printer sharing (I'm not really clear on if it even does authentication and NETLOGIN). There are a lot of server-server protocols necessary for proper replication of information on a domain. And it gets even more complicated when you consider replication across domains in an Active Directory. There are literally near 50 sub-protocols involved in this.

It's not really clear to me why Microsoft needs to release this and why you'd want to use many of these protocols except with multiple Windows servers. It makes sense to force the release of the server-client protocols so that you could use Linux servers to serve Windows clients and vice-versa. The EC also wanted server-server protocols though. In my opinon, these are a fundamental feature of the server system as a whole and that there should be no requirement on licensing these out for free (it's not particularly monopolistic to make multiple copies of your server work well together and perform useful connected roles).

Here's a patent on this sort of server-server communication that would be of particular relevance to someone trying to interoperate with Windows Server (password synchronization): http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d...

Reply Parent Score: 3