Fairness Is MIA in

It’s a good thing the tequila flows so freely here in the Linux blogosphere, or public health officials would have a lot more problems on their hands.

After all, between Secure Boot, Canonical’s wild moves and the Menace of Mordor — er, Redmond — Linux fans have more than their fair share of things to worry about in any given day, week or month.

It was particularly fortunate, then, that the blogosphere’s popular Broken Windows Lounge had just taken delivery of an extra-large shipment of Mexico’s finest when the news broke last Tuesday about the latest caper coming out of Microsoft’s “FairSearch” coalition.

‘Desktop Abuses of Dominance’

Linux Girl filed a complaint with the European Commission laying out Google’s anticompetitive strategy to dominate the mobile marketplace and cement its control over consumer Internet data for online advertising as usage shifts to mobile.

A collective groan could be heard throughout the land.

Google was using its Android mobile operating system as a “Trojan Horse” to deceive partners, monopolize the mobile marketplace, and control consumer data, the organization alleged.

“We are asking the Commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel to the FairSearch coalition.

Failure to act would embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance in the mobile realm as consumers increasingly turn to Google’s Android operating system, the organization maintained.

The news was quickly picked up by Groklaw’s esteemed Pamela Jones as well as PCWorld. The story also ran in Computerworld and Linux Advocates and beyond.

What began as a groan quickly erupted into a mixture of hilarity and disbelief. Then the dispensing of libations moved into high gear, further fueling the conversational flames.

‘A Pile of Bulldust’

“I can sum up my thoughts on Microsoft’s ‘FairSearch’ in two words,” offered Google+ blogger Brett Legree, for example. “1. Greed. 2. Lawyers.

“Eliminate those, and this goes away (with apologies to any nice lawyers reading this),” Legree added. “It is a pile of bulldust.”

Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone was actually happy to see Redmond make this move, he told Linux Girl.

“To me, this says nothing more than Microsoft is completely out of ideas,” Stone said.

‘It Stinks of Desperation’

Microsoft has “tried forcing people to license Android from them to try to kill Android, and they’ve tried putting out their own mobile OS to try to kill Android,” Stone explained. “Both initiatives have failed on every level. People are still buying Android devices as fast as they can be made.”

Now, “all that’s left is to follow in Apple’s footsteps and sue sue sue,” he added. “It stinks of desperation.”

In any case, “you have to give it to Microsoft on one thing: They can read the writing on the wall,” Stone concluded. “They’re finished, but they’re not going down without a fight. It’s almost too bad that the fight they’ve chosen is such a stinker — I seriously doubt that anybody is going to buy this turd.”

‘Bunch of Whining Losers’

And again: “How come Microsoft can, with a straight face, say it embraces Open Source, and then attack Android, citing that Google gives it away for free?” Google+ blogger Alessandro Ebersol exclaimed. “In what world of nonsense do the guys at MSFT live?”

Microsoft, of course, “has been giving [away] Internet Explorer for free since [FOREVER], and so what? What’s the excuse for IE?” Ebersol added. “That they did it to cut the air supply of Netscape? (I’m looking at you Paul Maritz…)

“Paraphrasing Stevie Ballmer, Google is being penalized for being successful,” he asserted.

“This ludicrous lawsuit only makes MSFT look worse than ever,” Ebersol concluded. “This Fairsearch front group proxy should be named: ‘Bunch of Whining Losers who can’t compete with Google nor Free Open Source Software.'”

‘There Is No Lock-In’

Indeed, “M$ will go to extreme lengths to mess with competition,” blogger Robert Pogson agreed. “They did it with operating systems, browsers, office suites, web servers and everything they touch.

“Accusing Google of anti-competitive practices by shipping a FLOSS product is asinine,” Pogson opined. “FLOSS, by its nature, can be run, examined, modified and distributed, so there is no lock-in for users.”

Rather, “users and OEMs and retailers keep Android/Linux because it works for them very well,” he added. “It’s a product sold entirely on its merits. No exclusive deals were required.”

In any case, “it is to be expected that a vile criminal organization like M$ sees everyone else as evil, and they spread a smoke-screen of FUD on the whole market to hide their own wickedness,” Pogson concluded.

‘Lock-In Is Lock-In’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet wasn’t so sure.

“A monopoly is a monopoly is a monopoly,” hairyfeet told Linux Girl, and “while some might enjoy the irony that it’s Microsoft being the little guy, the simple fact is, fair is fair.

“Everyone acts like Google is being a nice guy, but just because they use FOSS means exactly jack and squat — they are a billion dollar corporation, and they WILL make a ROI,” he charged.

“Any way you slice it, lock-in is lock-in, and it’s to Google’s advantage to tie in all this stuff so they can data-mine the heck out of you,” hairyfeet explained. “So why is it NOT fair for MSFT to bundle IE but it IS fair for Google to bundle … their OS?”

Hairyfeet’s suggestion: “I think they ALL should be forced to have ballot screens and let the USER make the choice — isn’t choice better?” he suggested. “If the EU can make Windows have a ballot screen, why not just carry that logic to its conclusion and make ALL these devices have a ballot? Sounds like a good idea to me.”

‘They Should Be Looking Internally’

Last but not least, consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack wasn’t convinced.

“This is a cynical move by Microsoft and it seems like an attack on FOSS in general,” Mack said.

“Quite frankly, Microsoft needs to stop blaming other people for its own failures,” he concluded. “They had a head start on both Google and Apple and dropped the ball, so they should be looking internally for the cause.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

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