Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 9th Oct 2007 16:14 UTC, submitted by Rahul
Microsoft Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has warned users of Red Hat Linux that they will have to pay Microsoft for its intellectual property. "People who use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us," Ballmer said last week at a company event in London discussing online services in the UK.
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RE[4]: definition of extortion
by elsewhere on Wed 10th Oct 2007 19:44 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: definition of extortion"
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All they need to do is plant enough doubt in the minds of purchasing and tech managers to get more customers.

I suspect he's more than likely targeting the general counsels and C-level execs that need to sign off on Sarbox-mandated quarterlies. The IP concerns of GPL-software with regards to SOX-compliance were addressed ages ago, but execs are still jittery, I suspect this is simply trying to dredge up that poor dead horse and exploit the fear of nervous executives still squeamish about SOX violations.

Realistically, they're the only people that would even care about Microsoft's empty threats. IT-savvy people know that Microsoft has been on a merciless linux witchhunt for years now, and non IT-savvy people don't understand the issues and don't really care, it's a vendor concern in their eyes.

In the end, MS don't want a patent war as they would lose to the likes of IBM, OIN and Oracle. But as long as they don't take it to court, they don't need to prove that what they are saying is true.

It's interesting to note that Ballmer is very clever in his accusations. "We believe linux violates our IP" is an ambiguous, non-commital statement. There's nothing slanderous, and yet nothing that MS can have held against them or disproven. It's no different than the anti-trust trial, where Microsoft was taken to task for using vaporware to combat competitiors releasing actual products, but it was found to be a ethically-questionable yet perfectly legal tactic.

And, of course, although the meaning is often lost on people that throw the term "FUD" around, it is a perfectly legitimate marketing technique, and hardly unique to the tech industry.

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