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In a move that's going to raise a lot of eyebrows, Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network to 'protect Linux and other important open source workloads from patent assertions'.

For those who haven't heard of the OIN, their mission statement is quite a simple and honourable one "The Open Invention Network is a shared defensive patent pool with the mission to protect Linux.". To find out more about the OIN see here.

Hold the phone, this isn't gaming news?

Correct. However, this is still very interesting and extremely surprising from a company that has been pretty hostile to Linux in the past. It's the kind of move that could result in some big shifts in the entire industry.

We know Microsoft’s decision to join OIN may be viewed as surprising to some; it is no secret that there has been friction in the past between Microsoft and the open source community over the issue of patents. For others who have followed our evolution, we hope this announcement will be viewed as the next logical step for a company that is listening to customers and developers and is firmly committed to Linux and other open source programs. 

Surprising is one word for it! Honestly, I'm in shock at this news. Does this mean we can firmly put the "Embrace, extend, and extinguish" phrase to rest and replace it with Embrace, extend, and protect? With Microsoft joining, they're bringing with them around 60,000 patents.

Moves like that, makes me seriously think about how Microsoft have changed, especially since their previous CEO Steve Ballmer called Linux "a cancer".

I think it also shows how far Linux has come as a platform for all things too, especially with Microsoft having a "Windows Subsystem for Linux" along with their support for running Linux on their Azure cloud computing platform.

What do you think to this?

24 Likes, Who?
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128 comments
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amatai 13 October 2018 at 4:11 pm UTC
http://techrights.org/2018/10/10/lotnetwork-msft-and-now-oin/
A more in depth answer about what it is not a good news as it may seems superficially.
Basically, Microsoft still does tons of patent trolling, he does not have given to OIN the patent used on patent trolling and the move can be seen as a way to legitimate software patent.
Purple Library Guy 13 October 2018 at 4:26 pm UTC
amataihttp://techrights.org/2018/10/10/lotnetwork-msft-and-now-oin/
A more in depth answer about what it is not a good news as it may seems superficially.
Basically, Microsoft still does tons of patent trolling, he does not have given to OIN the patent used on patent trolling and the move can be seen as a way to legitimate software patent.
I'm never sure about techrights. Their basic position tends to agree with my prejudices, but the style is ranty and the articles always seem mostly to link to other techrights articles; generally it comes off too dodgy for me to trust even though it caters to me.
amatai 13 October 2018 at 5:09 pm UTC
The style is ranty as hell, but I never saw them lying and even if they mostly source themselves, when they write their articles, the info used are everywhere on the news.
So I'm still cautious about them but no more than with mainstream newspaper from my country
Purple Library Guy 13 October 2018 at 7:25 pm UTC
So I looked at the techrights article. It spends a whole lot of words saying little, and it's hard to tease out exactly what it's saying is bad about this. Frankly I think it's quite bad writing. But ultimately it seems to come down to a few things:

1. The OIN itself is problematic because it gets everyone to treat software patents like they're OK. I can see that point, but that isn't Microsoft's fault and I'm not going to consider Microsoft unusually bad just because they're not coming out backing software patent abolition.
2. Microsoft is holding back certain key patents, noticeably FAT-related ones. I'm not quite sure that's actually true, we've talked about the FAT issue, he seems to be relying on the same source, and what it says is not that Microsoft is holding back those patents but rather that relevant FAT-related code is not in the Linux kernel proper and so not protected by what OIN technically does. This again is not Microsoft's fault. If they are holding back those key patents, that is an issue. But it doesn't make all the other patents they are including in OIN irrelevant.
3. Microsoft have been systematically funneling patents to sort of deniably-affiliated patent trolls and siccing those patent trolls on its opponents rather than getting its own hands dirty, thus allowing it to have its propaganda cake and eat its enemies too. Joining the OIN makes no difference whatsoever to use of this tactic. This is a very important point if true, and would indeed make MS joining the OIN a worthless and deeply cynical move. I have seen techrights articles making this claim before. I've never seen anyone else discussing it, whether to agree or debunk it, so I'm not sure if it's true or not.

Side note . . . shouldn't all that FAT stuff be running out at some point? It's friggin' ancient! Have they been pulling those tricks like the pharma companies do where you tweak it a little and get a bunch of extra time?
DrMcCoy 13 October 2018 at 7:38 pm UTC
Purple Library Guyshouldn't all that FAT stuff be running out at some point? It's friggin' ancient!

[url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT"]exFAT[/url] != FAT. Their patents are still effective for at least 10 years.
Purple Library Guy 13 October 2018 at 8:34 pm UTC
DrMcCoy
Purple Library Guyshouldn't all that FAT stuff be running out at some point? It's friggin' ancient!

[url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT"]exFAT[/url] != FAT. Their patents are still effective for at least 10 years.
DrMcCoy
Purple Library Guyshouldn't all that FAT stuff be running out at some point? It's friggin' ancient!

[url="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExFAT"]exFAT[/url] != FAT. Their patents are still effective for at least 10 years.
Oh well.
amatai 14 October 2018 at 10:22 am UTC
Purple Library Guy3. Microsoft have been systematically funneling patents to sort of deniably-affiliated patent trolls and siccing those patent trolls on its opponents rather than getting its own hands dirty, thus allowing it to have its propaganda cake and eat its enemies too. Joining the OIN makes no difference whatsoever to use of this tactic. This is a very important point if true, and would indeed make MS joining the OIN a worthless and deeply cynical move. I have seen techrights articles making this claim before. I've never seen anyone else discussing it, whether to agree or debunk it, so I'm not sure if it's true or not.
They sometimes link to legal decisions https://www.leagle.com/decision/infco20180904118 it's legal stuff so it mostly available but hard to find. Who have founded which patent troll is an info available on wikipedia or on legal site about society creation. Techrigths mostly link second hand sources, but it is still possible to go to the legal source by following links. But then, the legal stuff is pretty much unreadable
cprn 16 October 2018 at 11:34 am UTC
Kristian
cprnI'll believe they've "changed" when they make all their new DirectX releases just thin open source wrappers around Vulkan and only support GPUs with open drivers. Now that would raise a lot of eyebrows. Mostly in Nvidia corner.

But just open sourcing their current(and future) DX versions wouldn't be enough? Even if they ported it to Linux? It has to be on top of Vulkan?

What would access to DirectX source give us? We'd be able to make DirectX better by finding bugs and submitting fixes. That's it. DirectX can't be ported to Linux per se, it's a bunch of Windows core calls. Its API can be re-implemented on Linux, that's what wine does and yeah, maybe wine folks would benefit but nobody else, really. On the other hand the overhead that GPU drivers have just to support all possible APIs is huge. Vulkan solves this and it is a standard. IMHO we don't need Microsoft opening their code, we need them to comply with open standards instead of inventing their own concurrent solution each time new technology comes around.
Kristian 16 October 2018 at 11:40 am UTC
cprn
Kristian
cprnI'll believe they've "changed" when they make all their new DirectX releases just thin open source wrappers around Vulkan and only support GPUs with open drivers. Now that would raise a lot of eyebrows. Mostly in Nvidia corner.

But just open sourcing their current(and future) DX versions wouldn't be enough? Even if they ported it to Linux? It has to be on top of Vulkan?

What would access to DirectX source give us? We'd be able to make DirectX better by finding bugs and submitting fixes. That's it. DirectX can't be ported to Linux per se, it's a bunch of Windows core calls. Its API can be re-implemented on Linux, that's what wine does and yeah, maybe wine folks would benefit but nobody else, really. On the other hand the overhead that GPU drivers have just to support all possible APIs is huge. Vulkan solves this and it is a standard. IMHO we don't need Microsoft opening their code, we need them to comply with open standards instead of inventing their own concurrent solution each time new technology comes around.

Hypothetically DirectX would be suitable as an open standard, replacing Vulkan, right? I mean from a purely technical stand point, they could open source it and turn it over to some standard's body or something. I ask because I am not well informed enough on the technical aspects.

Edit:

Could you imagine the DX12(or 13 or whatever) equivalent of anv, radv etc?


Last edited by Kristian at 16 October 2018 at 11:43 am UTC
Kandarihu 16 October 2018 at 10:38 pm UTC
I don't trust Microsoft any more than I can throw them. We know how they work. All the platitudes they have about Linux shouldn't be taken at face value. Maybe they just want to take over the Linux kernel, and make it prohibitively inconvenient to use a forked or older kernel that predates the addition of some really nasty spyware or something like that.

I switched to Linux to get away from Microsoft. And I won't stand for their encroachment on our Operating System of choice.
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