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back to article Study: Users pay for Microsoft patent woes

Each copy of Windows cost users an additional $21.50 "patent tax" to cover Microsoft litigation bills, the Software Freedom Law Center claims. The SFLC, which provides legal representation and services to promote free and open source software, said customers are the ones splitting the bill for Microsoft's ceaseless patent- …

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Silver badge

So What?

Of course the cost of patent litigation is passed on to the user. As are the costs of sales, marketing, R&D, office prostitutes, etc.... Isn't that how business is supposed to work? It'd be sort of hard to stay in business if the costs of doing business weren't passed on to the customer. I hope the people that put this study together have more important "discoveries" forthcoming.

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Yes you are right

Yes of course that is how business works. The point is that it is the customer who pays for Microsoft breaking the law. That is the point.

Such recuperation is not part of any other OS and therefore this is a negative for Windows.

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Oh really, this is total bullshit.

I have no doubt that the authors of this study are a bunch of Mac Apple Kool-Aid Drinkers. How about all the times that Apple has been sued by disgruntled owners and other companies for stealing their technologies? There is a running list of current Apple lawsuits at www.techedgeezine.com and owner complaints on www.appledefects.com.

Considering the value/sales magnitude of the two companies, MS and Apple, just who do you think has their product costs impacted by the costs of Lawsuits??? Oh but you won't see this in the majority of the Apple Whore Media.

With Microsofts VERY deep financial pockets, the costs of lawsuits are chump change!

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Almost!

"With Microsofts VERY deep financial pockets, the costs of lawsuits are chump change!"

You know, you had me until that last line... because the only reason MS has such deep financial pockets is because they overprice they product on a per-unit basis.

Frankly, it's the same problems that allows Telstra (local telco) to tell us one the one hand that it's had a record-breaking-profit year and that (on the other hand) it *has* to raise its fees to cover costs... this, in the same PR release!

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Tim

RE: Oh really, this is total bullshit.

If you read the article it doesn't say anything about Apple. It says they recommend Linux.....which the last time I looked, was free.

Hard to argue with THAT now isn't it, Webster?

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Bronze badge

Surprising...

...No.

m$ is a money making machine first and a software developer second. Pay witness to the massive profits, yet flaky software. This should give a true indication of where m$' priorities lie.

The words "altruistic", "fair" and "micro$oft" will never appear together in the same sentence. Unless that sentence is the basis of satire.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux recommended

Why do so many people overlook the one massive drawback that linux has. For power users and sys admins who understand how to make it work it is a very good powerful OS, but for the very large majority of end users it still IS NOT ready for the desktop. It is too complex to configure and run for the average user. With a lot more work done on being bog standard user friendly it will be a serious competitor to microsoft, but it isn't yet. And before people start raving on about the likes of Ubuntu, which is a good distribution, have a look at the ubuntu forums and you will see that many people, power users included have problems installing and configuring it.

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Re: Yes you are right

"Yes of course that is how business works. The point is that it is the customer who pays for Microsoft breaking the law. That is the point.

Such recuperation is not part of any other OS and therefore this is a negative for Windows."

Microsoft aren't been charged patent royalties because they are breaking the law, it's because the patent owner invented something they want or need to make use of.

For instance, Windows Media needs to license patents for their codecs and their DRM. If the Linux community developed a similar DRM solution or included codecs such as H.264 or MP3, they would also have to pay for the patents too. Developing something as open-source or in a 'clean room' environment doesn't make it exempt from patent law (it only really helps with copyright law).

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3 or 4 Years

If you average the FOUR years of patent licenses/litigation costs over the THREE years of installs, then yes, its about $21.50. If you assume windows sales were constant over a FOUR year period (at the same level as before), then the cost per user drops to $16.10.

Does the author explain the mismatch in time periods? If not then this is a pretty poor piece of research. I could equally claim that MS is amortising $4.3b over all the copies of Windows Vista sold today (or over all the Windows Vista sales in China... http://www.newlaunches.com/archives/only_244_copies_of_genuine_windows_vista_sold_in_china.php).

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lawsuits Not royalties... and other things

Trog,

this calculation is based on "patent-related lawsuits and settlements." not royalty payments, which are a valid part of the OS if included. If M$ want to pass the charge on to customers, then they can, and nobody is arguing with that.

Re Linux:

"power users included have problems installing and configuring it." .. Yes, but once it is configured it doesn't need to be reinstalled every 6 months. Normal everyday users should not need to "Install or configure" Windows never mind Linux, end of. new ideas like the Zero configuration Linux Distros are testement to this.

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Neither does Windows...

Windows doesn't need re-installing every six months either. I'm sat posting this comment from a machine that was last formatted over a year ago, installed with Windows XP and has since had a Vista Upgrade install done on it as well and it's working perfectly fine (and no, I'm not some Windows zealot either, I spend most of my day working with Linux).

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How much do we get fined for monopilistic practices?

OK, so that's how much we get charge for patent infringements.

How much do we get fined by governments for anti-competitive practices?

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Risible level of research

Really this is total crap. I don't think there is any company that hasn't been in litigation. And doing simplistic mathematics to try and prove X amount of what you pay for Windows goes into the costs of lawsuits is absolute shite. Not to mention the whole study is being peddled by free software evangelists, it's about as objective as Fox News.

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RE:Risible level of research

As opposed to all those M$ Sponsored secirty consultants..that assert Windows is more secure etc etc etc

TBH its a non-story, tat wont effect anything More worrying the fact that the £1 is now worth $2 ... and we still pay the same numerical price as in the states for Windows...

So in fact its us poor brits who are sub-sidising M$ ..

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Gold badge

Linux forums?

"And before people start raving on about the likes of Ubuntu, which is a good distribution, have a look at the ubuntu forums and you will see that many people, power users included have problems installing and configuring it."

Erm, just because you have to visit forums for Linux problems doesn't mean there aren't any technical issues for Windows.

I would estimate there are more users with Windows problems than Linux ones simply based on the sheer number of Windows users. It's just a lot easier to find the Linux forums.

Linux actually works better than Vista out of the box these days, hardware is detected better.

Michael Dell even runs Linux:

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/global.aspx/corp/biographies/en/msd_computers?c=us&l=en&s=corp

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Err..

"Windows doesn't need re-installing every six months either. I'm sat posting this comment from a machine that was last formatted over a year ago, installed with Windows XP and has since had a Vista Upgrade install done on it as well and it's working perfectly fine (and no, I'm not some Windows zealot either, I spend most of my day working with Linux)."

So what you're saying is.. you had XP for presumably around 6 months, then Vista too.. so you've kinda re-installed Windows on average every 6 months.

You do need to reinstall Windows at least every couple of years if you install/uninstall lots of stuff.. it just gets clogged up with crap. Admittedly that could be attributed to the third party app developers, but it still holds true that you have to do that in Windows in normal use (in my experience). Obviously for those that aren't always installing games etc then it won't be so bad, but for normal family or gaming use, machines tend to work a lot better with a fresh start every so often. Even a couple of machines here at work are in desperate need of a fresh install of Windows..

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Linux v Windows ease of use

When it comes to installing PCs my recent experience is that installing Linux is much easier. The various installs I've done, the different flavours of Linux have recognised all my hardware and installed it correctly. Where as I still can't get several bits of one of my HP laptops to work correctly under XP, even using the special Windows recovery media provided.

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Ease of use

Just for a nice little example, on my Fujitsu Siemens laptop, Ubuntu installs pretty much by itself, mentions it doesn't have certain drivers and requests that I select which ethernet adapter I wish to use, after which it downloads what little it didn't already have.

Windows XP Pro installs, moans about not recognising my videocard, not recognising my wireless network card, doesn't know what my on-board sound is and lacks the drivers for USB 2.0. Windows does not automatically look those drivers up when I hook up to my LAN, it tries to using the Windows update, but I have yet to find any drivers that I need there.

Total time it took me to get Ubuntu running on my laptop? 4 hours, about 3 and a half of which I could do other things, because the install can run itself once it gets to compiling and installing.

Total time it took me to get Windows XP pro running on my laptop? Slightly over 3 hours. Of that, about 30 minutes were used to install Windows, the other 2 and a half hours were spent beating myself senseless trying to get the right drivers.

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Anonymous Coward

.

It's always the customer who pays no matter which company. I suspect the shareholder hardly notices.

Maybe company fines should be applied to the individuals responsible, not the company: that'd at least ensure it takes them a while to get it back in future salary increases and expenses.

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Explain this then...

Ref: One Laptop Per Child / Patent taxes

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6571139.stm

...Microsoft's student Innovation Suite...

The package includes Windows XP Starter Edition, Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, as well as other educational software.

Cost: *** $3 ***

OK, so how do the rest of the world buy this ?

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Silver badge

Probably paying over the odds too .....

Since many of those 200 000 000 new Windows installations are taking place in jurisdictions where software is not legally patentable (e.g. EU, UK), yet Windows isn't any cheaper in the UK or Europe, millions of people must be being penalised unnecessarily. Europeans need not pay licence fees for (e.g.) MP3 or H.264 codecs, because European law does not recognise mathematical processes as patentable -- and Microsoft owe the "patent holders" nothing in respect of any software sold in Europe, or any other jurisdiction where software is not patentable.

Isn't asking people for money in exchange for goods or services which are not delivered (e.g. licence fees for bogus patents) also called fraud? Why isn't this being investigated?

In the meantime, it's just another reason not to use Microsoft.

To all those who say Linux isn't ready for the desktop and "even power users have difficulties", grow up already! Windows "power users" are probably just deeply entrenched in the Windows Way. They're bound to have difficulties. People who have never used a computer before take to Linux like ducks to water.

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Anonymous Coward

More crap from the FOSS evangelists...

Jesus H Christ if you're reinstalling Windows every few years you're doing something terribly wrong. I have never reinstalled any NT-based version of Windows because it "gets clogged up with crap."

It's funny how some people defend the bullshit coming out of the FOSS world by using Microsoft's own propaganda. I never said anything about Microsoft's white papers on security because anyone with a brain knows its all payola. It doesn't matter which company you're talking about.

As for subsidising MS (and please, stop using the "M$" thing and start communicating like a grown up) no one is putting a gun to your head and making you but it; you don't have a right to anything they produce and as far as I see they can charge any amount of money they want to it. You don't have to buy it, after all.

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Silver badge

Oh yes they are

"As for subsidising MS (and please, stop using the "M$" thing and start communicating like a grown up) no one is putting a gun to your head and making you but it; you don't have a right to anything they produce and as far as I see they can charge any amount of money they want to it. You don't have to buy it, after all." -- Anonymous Coward

Right. Please tell me where I can buy a notebook computer with a 230V UK power pack and no Operating System installed. They may not be physically holding a gun to my head, but the net effect is much the same -- I have to pay for Microsoft Windows, including bogus patent royalties, whether or not I am going to use it.

As for the M$ thing, how about a deal: We'll stop using a dollar sign for the S in "Microsoft" when they stop using an S for the second C in "licence". (That is actually a misnomer; a licence traditionally gives someone permission to do something that ordinarily would not be allowed. Microsoft's "licence" agreement appears to restrict the rights given to users by the Law of the Land, which is at best misleading [since users could be made to believe they are forbidden to do things which the Law of the Land actually allows] and at worst downright illegal.)

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Speaking of crap -- you don't know Shinola either, eh?

Quote: "As for subsidising MS (and please, stop using the "M$" thing and start communicating like a grown up) no one is putting a gun to your head and making you but [sic] it; you don't have a right to anything they produce and as far as I see they can charge any amount of money they want to it. You don't have to buy it, after all."

When I purchased my Fujitsu Lifebook P2120, not only was I *forced* to purchase MicroFlaccid (is that better than M$?) Windows XP Pro with it, I was told that my hardware warranty was void if I removed it! M$ tells OEMs that if they give end users a choice of OS, they'll revoke *all* the OEM's Winders licenses. How is that not "forcing" people to purchase Winders?

Yes, the laptop runs Linux (that's my job) and yes, I'm glad I had the foresight to ghost the hard drive before I installed it, because I did have a warranty issue with the LCD, and I had to restore the original partitions on the drive before I sent it in for repair.

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RE: lawsuits Not royalties... and other things

Simon,

'this calculation is based on "patent-related lawsuits and settlements." not royalty payments, which are a valid part of the OS if included. If M$ want to pass the charge on to customers, then they can, and nobody is arguing with that.'

I think people are arguing with that. If the charges they've added related purely to legal fees and fines ('punitive damages'), then I'd agree with you. However I don't think the charges do - for instance the report cites M$ settled with InterTrust which was announced as a single one-time payment of $440m granting a perpertual license for InterTrust's patents in Microsoft's technology.

Unless the lawsuits is settled publicly in court there's often no breakdown of how much of an out-of-court settlement is punitive and how much is for royalties past and future and so there's simply no way of splitting the money between necessary royalty payments and unnecessary punitive and legal costs.

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