Holy cow, the EC has now fined Microsoft a cumulative figure of £1.27bn (~$2.6bn) for what they say is the worst case of non-compliance with antitrust / competition law in 50 years. Even when set against the quadzillion dollars Microsoft makes every waking second that’s a pretty robust kick in the knackers if I ever saw one. The latest round covers the period where MS finally opened up some specs about desktop interoperability, but charged competitors disproportionate royalties to use them - supposedly because APIs now represent ‘significant innovation’ if you’re Microsoft, although in my opinion an API spec represents about as much innovation as my next shopping list.
Big news today - Microsoft’s top executives have held a press conference, stating on record that they will be opening up access to APIs and protocols associated with Windows and related technologies to an unprecedented level. That means, among other things: It will publish full API documentation for Vista, Windows Server, .Net, SQL Server, Office, Exchange, Sharepoint and such It won’t sue open source developers working on non-commercial projects over patents It will charge “reasonable and non-discriminatory” royalty levels over patents for writers of commercial software implementing Microsoft APIs and protocols They will allow developers to plug-in new document formats to Office One of the key factors here is what “reasonable and non-discriminatory” royalty levels actually means - after all, non-commercial outfits aren’t a direct competitor for Microsoft’s core business customers, the offices which require that their infrastructure is provided by professional, commercial outfits.
I talked a few days back about my preferred Eclipse plugins, and that my chosen Subversion plugin was Subclipse. Subclipse has been going for many years which is why I instantly gravitated to it without really thinking about it, but David was good enough to recommend in the comments that I should take a look at an alternative: Subversive. Since Subclipse has been working just fine for me it took me a while to get around to doing it, but I finally did today.
A friend blogged yesterday about Microsoft finally releasing the specifications for the binary Office formats recently - I welcome that Microsoft is finally opening up on these formats, even if it’s largely irrelevant from a technical perspective now all the reverse-engineering has mostly been done, the patent protection for reimplementations is a major boon. It kinda made me think that maybe, just maybe Microsoft are starting to realise that opening all standards related to critical business data is what customers really want.
I’ve been thinking about subscribing to an online backup service for a little while; after all while a scheduled backup system to an external drive / NAS is all very well, if something should go seriously wrong (heaven forbid), you really need an offsite backup of your most critical data. There’s only so long you can go burning DVDs or removing hard drives and persuading friends / family to keep them at their houses before it starts to get unwieldy.
I like Eclipse a lot. As many of you know, I’ve developed business software for just as long as I’ve been doing graphics software (and learned a lot from both worlds), and through that I’ve used Eclipse in various forms over a number of years - it’s really quite incredible how far it’s come in that time. If you discount the language dimension (Visual Studio is still my preferred C++ development environment) Eclipse is easily my favourite IDE to use - although in practice you have to be a Java developer to really get the best out of it.
I don’t have as much time with it as I’d like, but over the last six months or so I’ve grown to like OS X. It’s slick, easy to use and generally just gets out of my way, and I keep finding neat little tricks I don’t expect (like dragging the icon on the title bar of the current window to create a shortcut to the document you’re viewing - nice).
A lot of people have been getting their panties in a bunch over the last 24 hours because of the Beta 5 drop of Google Toolbar - which can now present a custom 404 page to its users, which contains a Google search button. My reaction was ‘so what?’, but it appears that the typical Internet misinformation train had already kicked in and people are claiming it’s an evil act that is deliberately set up to harvest people away from websites to ad-driven pages, and that webmasters are powerless to stop it.
I haven’t had a lot of time to play with much lately, but while I processed some OGRE patches (ie during the times I was waiting for builds) this morning I finally got around to installing the latest Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on my new test box. It already has XP and Vista on it, so it’s getting quite cosy in there, but since the box is only for testing I can afford to burn a fair amount of space on OS overhead.
In the last week or so, the amount of comment spam being fired at this blog has been getting out of hand - it’s now averaging at about 100 every hour (or one every 36 seconds). Askimet does a pretty good job and automatically junks all but about 2% of these, but the remainder end up in my manual moderation queue and are starting to get really annoying (25 in the last 10 hours).