8 May 2010

Microsoft Linux

As i've mentioned before; Microsoft has quite an impressive patent portfolio but instead of being a safeguard against devious copycats, those patents contribute to an aggressive anti-competitive strategy. I am aware of three agreements that have recently been entered into regarding Linux and it's "infringements" on Microsoft's intellectual property. Firstly; after a couple of sessions in the courtroom TomTom gave into to pressure and signed an agreement with Microsoft and effectively paid them to use Linux on it's devices. Amazon runs Linux on it's Kindles and agreed to pay Microsoft for it before any lawyers got involved. HTC has also agreed to pay royalties to Microsoft for the use of Google Android on some of it's phones.

It's a win/win situation for Microsoft because the companies that are willing to use Linux instead of Windows will be forced to pay Microsoft anyway. It seems Google has woken up the the fact that Linux is slowly becoming a Microsoft product. Although the Nexus One is built by HTC it is effectively a Google product and Microsoft would therefore have to approach Google directly. I could be wrong about this but i'll bet that Google would outright refuse to pay Microsoft for something that is open source and i don't think Microsoft is strong enough to take on Google. If Google doesn't have to pay then HTC doesn't have to pay and Amazon and TomTom don't have to pay either.

Microsoft has built it's fortunes on shady strategies such as this, we have to accept that this is how things currently work in big business but that doesn't mean that this is how things should be. Patents once served to protect the vulnerable inventor but are now used as monopolistic weapons. In the global society we live in today, where ideas and information is shared and built upon, patents no longer serve a purpose and are actually stunting technological growth. Companies like Microsoft and Apple certainly got the ball rolling back in the 80's but they jealously hold on to their precious patents because they want to hold on the the perception that they are still the innovators in the information sector but that is just not the case any more.