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IBM Backs OOo, Evil Empire in Decline & Apple Bakes Patent Pie

Friday FOSS Week in Review

Lots of interesting news this week as we reboot Friday FOSS Week in Review – so let’s get going.

IBM Lines-up Behind OpenOffice.org

Is it really a news story that IBM has decided to support OpenOffice.org? Considering the fact that Oracle’s move to push the project over to Apache was at Big Blue’s prodding, I’d say not. Still, at least now the players are clearly defined. In addition to lending moral support and giving Larry Ellison a shoulder to cry on, IBM is also donating the code from IBM Lotus Symphony.


According to an article posted today by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols & Paula Rooney on ZDNet, the Symphony giveaway was accidentally announced by IBM’s ODF architect Rob Weir in an email to Apache that somehow went public, in which Weir does some pretty fancy footwork trying to wiggle his way through the fact that Big Blue hadn’t been sharing until now:

“IBM [has] not been exemplary community members when it came to OpenOffice.org. This wasn’t necessarily by design, but for various reasons, that was the effect. Yes, we participated in various community councils, and sponsored conferences and worked together on standards. But when it came down to the code, we maintained Symphony essentially as a fork, and although we occasionally contributed code back, we did not do this well, or often.”

I think what Weir was really trying to say was, “We didn’t much like the folks at Sun, and we certainly didn’t trust Larry Ellison, but we don’t mind sharing with the folks at Apache.”

The good news about this is that anything worthwhile in the Symphony code will be able to be rolled into LibreOffice. Also, as much as I enjoy picking on IBM, I think they made exactly the right move. I’ll explain why on Monday.

Microsoft to Open 75 New Retail Stores

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to your local shopping mall, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday that Redmond is planning on expanding their chain of Evil Empire Stores from eleven to eighty-six, meaning they’ll be adding 75 new stores to the mix:

“This news couldn’t be any more timely. Just today a USA Today report hit that stated Apple was the fastest growing retailer in the US. Apple’s sales rose by $4.6 billion during the first three months of the year for a whooping 80% increase over last year’s numbers. Their retail numbers are so large that USA Today quotes retail sales expert David Berman on stating Apple Stores alone accounted for one-fifth by publicly traded retailers in the U.S [sic]. iPhone sales alone rose 113% over last year.

“Microsoft is going to lag behind the sheer number of Apple Store locations for sometime if not forever. That likely doesn’t matter as Microsoft is probably looking at conquering certain regions rather than the whole world. But don’t think for a minute that world domination is out of the question. This is Microsoft.”

I think this would be a great opportunity for the penguinistas. Think of it, every hour one of us could run into a MS store and loudly proclaim, “I’m a PC…and I run Linux!”

HP to Push WebOS on PCs

If you need any more evidence that Microsoft is losing the control they’ve always held over the major OEMs, all you have to do is look at this snippet from an article published on Bloomberg Businessweek on Tuesday:

“Hewlett-Packard is counting on the integration of WebOS to differentiate its products from rival machines, including Apple Inc.’s iPad and those using Google Inc.’s Android. Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker said in February that all of the company’s PCs will feature WebOS by the end of next year, a shift away from machines that only run Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system.”

This is big news, folks, because it means that HP is no longer running scared when it comes to their dealings with Redmond. It also means it’s only a matter of time before we see the Windows installed base begin to slip in the same way we saw Internet Explorer’s numbers slip after Mozilla revolutionized the browser game. Don’t forget, WebOS runs on the Linux kernel.

Ooops! Microsoft Accidentally Unveils Their Facebook Killer

Or is it supposed to be a Google killer? Hard to tell. Anyway, it wasn’t a working model and it was only there for a moment, but was discovered by chance when a techie checking to see who owned the name socl.com found this:

I don’t want to be critical of the Microsofties, but doesn’t that just look exactly like a Microsoft site? And the name, Tulalip, is almost as good as Zune or Kin. Folks, expect this one to go far…not.

Apple Patents Portrait/Landscape Flipping

The other evil empire, Apple, has managed to obtain a patent on the gee-whiz portrait/landscape flipping feature on the iPhone (and about all other mobile devices these days). Does anybody besides me smell a bunch of lawsuits in the works?

Before Apple’s lawyers become too sue happy, I suggest they check out a post that was on Slashdot yesterday. It seems there’s plenty of prior art on this one, as the poster links to a circa 1991 video of something called Radius Pivot monitor as well as a link to a page with photos and this text:

In April 1982, Corvus launched a computer called the Corvus Concept. This was a pizza-box computer with a monitor mounted on its top, the first that could be rotated between landscape and portrait modes. The failure of the Concept was mostly related to the rise of the IBM PC, introduced the previous August.

If you run across anyone from Google who’s worried about this, give them the URL to this page. Tell em I’ll be expecting a check.

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Well, that does it for this week. I’ll see you on Monday. In the meantime, may the FOSS be with you.

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Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux.

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