Is Microsoft Buying Anti-Virus Companies to Undermine Linux? You Decide

Posted by tadelste on Jan 12, 2006 4:36 PM EDT
LXer; By Tom Adelstein
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By Quashing Linux Anti-Virus Software Support, has Microsoft Taken to Tactics in Restraint of Trade?

In 2001, my company had bundled anti-virus and spam protection with our Linux replacement for Microsoft Exchange which ran on IBM zSeries and S/390 mainframes. In an attempt to replace Exchange in large enterprises, we found a need for a product comparable to McAfee GroupShield for Exchange. Our choice, RAV anti-virus software from GeCAD.



In addition to signing an agreement to include their product with ours, we assisted the company in porting their product to the IBM Mainframe. I literally walked them into White Plains and provided them the resources to port their product to zOS.



Months later, the principals of GeCAD called me to explain they had sold their anti-virus engine to Microsoft. They hadn't sold the company, just their industry leading technology and revolutionary anti-virus engine for Linux servers. The deal left distributors in over 60 countries and 10 million RAV AntiVirus users without a product.



Today, Microsoft has completed its acquisition of anti-virus company Sybari Software and announced the end of the company's Unix and Linux versions. Sound familiar? Sybari provides virus signature updates using anti-virus engines from other vendors including Sophos, Computer Associates and Kaspersky Labs.



Whatever Happened to the Federal Trade Commission?



Has Microsoft ever resolved its status as a monopoly? If not, who regulates this company? Do you consider buying up anti-virus companies that offer products for Linux anti-competitive?



Not too long ago, I saw a panel discussion on Neil Cavuto's Saturday morning show on Fox News where the panelists discussed the US balance of trade deficits. One of the panelists said Microsoft was critical to our trade balance because they were the engine of US technology and the rest of the world had no other choice but to buy their software. If that's the thinking in financial circles and with our Federal Government, you have to wonder if the inmates are really running the assylum.



If the above represents the thinking of US Policy makers, then the time has come for some grass roots questions. In Dallas, FBI agents swarmed over the offices and possibly the careers of City Hall officials yesterday. CEO's and business people seem like the targets of government probes on a weekly basis. How much money did the Federal Government spend on the Martha Stewart case? And did she do anything closely akin to what Microsoft has done in the past?



I'm not trying to justify the illegal actions of any individuals found guilty of a crime. I am wondering why the same law enforcement agencies that spend so much money on small cases do not investigate the possible anti-competitive tactics of the largest software company in the world.



The Ugliest American of Them All?



We see and hear reports from around the world that people hate Americans. If you didn't see the television reports of street cheering when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center on 9/11, then maybe you don't know about hatred of American in parts of the world.



One day before the 9/11 attacks, some of my foreign employees told me that HB-1 visa holders and foreign workers have incredible disdain for Americans. They said the sentiment was nearly universal. So I asked them why they came here. They provided a simple answer: For the money.



Why would they tell me this? I have studied their languages and cultures and gained rapport with them. I treated them just like anyone else without prejudice. They considered me safe.



Frankly, sometimes I don't feel safe. And I don't feel comfortable heading out to make speeches in countries where Microsoft owns the market. They play differently in other countries.

So whose the ugliest American of them all? I report, you decide. And while you're deciding look into the relationship of Microsoft, Preston, Gates and Ellis and the Business Software Alliance. Would you do that?

Meanwhile, here's some grist for the mill - something I posted in February 2000.



Dateline February 10, Ilopango - The crisis in El Salvador can be summed up in a few simple words from Mario Arriza - The penalties begin with $1,200 and criminal charges. Many people are afraid.



Mario also says that Microsoft and the Business Software Alliance are putting a lot of pressure on the people to buy licenses with TV ads and newspaper ads.



Mario asks for help with Cheap CDs, Advertisements and Email support. He mentions his web site at linux.org.sv



Kent Nguyen says that he will be posting a web site at http://www.nt2linux.com . Also, we're reactivating lcsrc.org and will link sites together.



The later sites will need content and may not be live for 24-48 hours.



Some people have commented that it is too late to help. But, it's not too late. We have to act and act now. This story should be carried by CNN, AP, Reuters and we need to start writing people. Some recommendations include talk show hosts, Congress, magazines, newsgroups, yahoo boards, Red Hat and other distributors and whoever else you can think of.



Following is the letter received that alerted me to the situation:



Dear Sir.



I have been looking for Linux products on the Internet. They seem to be a great solution for the needs that as a country we actually have.



Last year our Government approved a new law against piracy. El Salvador has, shame on us, one of the higher rates for piracy in Latin America.



The new law will take effect on February the 15th. Prison is offered to those who violate the new law and also higher fines in cash will be given.



I need you to help me because we do not have the financial capacity to solve the license problems with the Microsoft software.



Can you send me some software to substitute applications such as: Microsoft 2000, (Excel, Word, Access, etc), Front Page, Outlook, Auto Cad?



Maybe you have the solutions for me and for thousands of PC users around here. There are a lot of opportunities for you, not only here, but also in Honduras and Nicaragua, because all of us are on the same situation.



If you are able to send me something do it to the following address:



Name withheld for obvious reasons





After the post, I got some email. Here's excerpts from some emails and comments to the article:



Subject: Some countries involved:



I didn't realize until I got a phone call a few moments ago that at a minimum El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras are affected. We will be getting more information from our contacts in CA soon.



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Subject: Re: The international face of Microsoft



This is very true. I am writing from Malaysia and this happened to us a few years ago and is continuing even up till now. Our company, a multinational oil company was served with a letter by a Malaysian government body just last month to produce photocopies of licenses of all software that we use. I have no doubt that they were coerced by BSA ...



When they started a few years ago, they put up whole page advertisements in the local papers that depict a man with his hands handcuffed behind him in prison garb. He was hanging his head in shame. The background was dark (in fact black) with threatening slogans. Later, they offered $10,000 (or 20,000, I forget) local currency to people to snitch on others. I'm sure not a few disgruntled employees got rich. Many coughed up rather than go to jail.



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Klaus - Subject: Fact: MS & BSA only go after little guys!



I work for a local government who uses pirated MS software such as NT, Exchange, SQL, Office and SMS. I reported this to the BSA along with all the data of how many licenses we actually have and how many we are using, the numbers were staggering. I spent over an hour on the phone with the BSA giving them every single detail they asked for. What was the result of all this you ask? Nothing! Now I'm sure if I would have reported a business or some kid on a cable modem the BSA would have come down on them with a vengance but I guess U.S. government both local and federal dont need to follow the laws they make or enforce.



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Subject: Dominican Republic may be next.



The news we are receiving from El Salvador makes me worried. In Dominican Republic, BSA (Bussiness Software Alliance) has worked as Microsoft GESTAPO police, and they've been pushing some strong arms tactics with the bleesing of the Dominican Goverment.



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Subject: Same as in Turkey



And we pay it ... No time to convert (Microsoft) to Linux. BSA try to treathen every one, licence it or goto jail.



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With our esteemed Secretary of State discussing the shift in American policy in the Middle East from stability to the support of freedom, perhaps the US Administration might consider doing something like that, here at home. What do people say, "Charity begins at home". Some of us might find it embarrassing for our representatives to the world community to encourage other nations to clean up their human rights policies when we don't investigate the tactics of companies like Microsoft.



You decide...



Respectfully submitted







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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
I said it in 2003 :) fernandocassia 3 2,122 Jun 23, 2005 11:33 AM
How would they set about buying ClamAV? AnonymousCoward 0 2,012 Jun 23, 2005 1:26 AM
It's all about the money qcimushroom 6 1,880 Jun 22, 2005 8:26 PM

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