Category Archives: patent


I think I’ve pretty much given up expecting to end up hating Microsoft.  I’m still watching the battle from the fence,  and I guess the urge to conform has been, as usual for me, supplanted by the knee-jerk reflex to pretend I’m not conforming even though I know in the end I’m just another faceless blob in the sea of humanity.

Actually,  I’ve decided that I’ve got a feeling more akin to pity when I think about Microsoft.  Kind of like the feeling of pity you get for Frankenstein’s monster — it’s not his fault he can kill people,  he’s big boned.   And really,  it’s not as if we didn’t create it ourselves, with our “free” economy driving us to the moral high ground of “profit profit profit”.

Microsoft is really the natural outcome of the kind of economic environment we’ve put it in.   Kind of like a lot of economic simulation games,  where at the end when you’ve won, you’ve got all the money, all the power and you’ve crushed the opposition completely.  Except, of course, the game doesn’t end.  A game isn’t much fun (i.e. the designer should have had it end earlier) if the obvious winner gets round after round of crushing the already obvious losers with the ever-increasingly mighty assets. Usually, you’ll concede and play a new game.  Of course, that’s not really a solution here.  It’s not as if you can reset the economy every couple of years,  saying “Thanks for the game,  next session starting in 15 minutes.  Hope everyone does better next time”.

As for the patent game, with the Linux “coupon” bribe money exchanging and threats of patent Armageddon…I’m not really convinced this is anything other than corporate business as usual.   After thinking a bit,  it’s probably not even as bold and far-reaching as fun JPEG patent,  or the MP3 patent.  Really, I think this is mostly fun publicity for Microsoft and FSF…turning the usually dull, back-room deal-cutting into front page almost news.   After all,  Microsoft almost sued someone for something.  And Free Software was almost indirectly attacked.  Really, lots of bits of paper were pushed around and signed,  and then both parties got lots more bits of paper to take home.  Mostly things that neither were really all that interested in, with the one or two items of actual interest buried deep inside.  Business as usual.  After all, software corporations can’t sneeze without inciting the wrath of Free Software…for some, the very existence of companies that live off making money from software is anathema.  It’s no wonder they’re not really agreeing all that often.

Reminds me a bit of the World of Warcraft Southpark Episode, where some overpowered character goes around killing everyone else.  There, at least, the board of directors at Blizzard are willing to admit that “This could be the end of the world…of warcraft”.  Then again, the solution there was to give up your life, become a fat disgusting slob and use some backdoor hack to win.  Hmm…not sure if I want to comment on how this kind of analogy/morality should go…