back to article Microsoft and TomTom settle 'Linux' kerfuffle

Microsoft and TomTom have settled the much-discussed patent infringement suits they tossed at each other earlier this year. As Microsoft announced this morning, the two companies have entered a five-year agreement that will see GPS maker TomTom pay Microsoft for coverage under the five car navigation and three file management …

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Anonymous Coward

Title required: $1

Let me guess the fee.... $1

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Gates Horns

About time

That manufacturers moved away from FAT and started sticking something freer on their devices I suppose.

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Jobs Horns

...who next?

Only Microsoft could get away with what would be considered a criminal act in other countries around the world, only in America.

For me Microsoft are the embodiment of pure evil. It's about time those politicians stopped taking bribes and back handers and uphold the law, they expect the rest of us to.

If they where wiped of the face of the planet by a direct asteroid hit, I wouldn't give a shit.

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Gold badge

LFN

LFN=Long File Name support (i.e., longer than 8.3 file name format.) My recollection is they may not even use long names. (After googling).. they do use a few long names, but it's stuff like smsreceive.ogg and mercedes_slk.bmp where it'd be real easy to just make it smsrecv.ogg and mercslk.bmp instead, for instance...

They "could" use UMSDOS, but most likely, it's easier just to shorten up those names and remove LFN. It should take WAAAAY less than 2 years.

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Joke

Amazing

Someone finally got caught stealing/reverse engineering software that the originator never agreed to make open. The FOSS Nazis must be enraged :) Will there be website graffiti reprisals do you suppose?

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Anonymous Coward

"I wouldn't give a shit."

I would. Right in the crater.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Gates Horns

WOW

Microsoft sucks. Anyone concurs?

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Flame

@Lager and Crisps

"For me Microsoft are the embodiment of pure evil. It's about time those politicians stopped taking bribes and back handers and uphold the law, they expect the rest of us to."

boo hoo...I bet you use apple products...pot/kettle/black...

...and if you're using loonix then shut up and get back to your 0.1%-of-the-market-desktop-broken-driver-always-10yrs-behind rubbish.

Meanwhile I'll get on with my usual highly productive day using my lovely MS tools.

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Happy

...is that you Bill?

@Anonymous Hero

LOL!!!

I'm surprised you can use a keyboard let alone operate a computer, your usual way of expressing yourself is probably done with crayons. Run along now theres a good boy, the grown-ups want to talk.

Your comment did cheer me up, even if it was somewhat moronic. ;-)

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@Anon Hero re: Lager and Crisps

You mean like the really productive day my clients have had recently with their windows boxes? Four repeating blue screens on boot (thank you driver updates), 3 virus infestations (fucking I.E. shite and the asshats who create websites that require its use), and a corrupted file system (cause unknown, happens regularly). Meanwhile, the "loonix" boxes fun by the majority of my clients (because it significantly reduces their TCO) just kept on running, and the folks using those were much more productive.

Pity it didn't make it to court. I'd have loved to see the MS FAT patents dragged out from under their rocks and had a bit of legal light shined on them.

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Stop

TomTom is potentially another patent troll

While, I believe software patents are very wrong and has to be dealt with, TomTom is by no means any different. They have deserved to get their fingers burned. Only a few years ago, they have acquired an research project based on AR navigation and applied for a patent for it. There is some info here:

http://www.engadget.com/2007/07/03/tomtom-patent-reveals-camera-based-gps-unit/

The problem is, why and how a company could patent such a common idea and especially when it was an active field of reasearch with other projects that can be used as prior art? While Microsofts action is quite risky for their own good, TomTom surely deserves such action from any company that might have a chance.

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Gates Horns

Boo Yeah - I haz linux wallets!

Told you that linux violates all my patents. I made it first, I invented it first, I haz yo money foolz!

Payz up or bowz out.

Free Windows 7 beta for anyone that turns in their linux powered netbooks too!

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Anonymous Coward

@ the MS haters

(again, and el reg PLEASE actually moderate these comments as seeing every MS article full of "MS are evil" with no real backup is annoying and destroying the credability of your site)

"Only Microsoft could get away with what would be considered a criminal act in other countries around the world, only in America."

Actually the people in the wrong here were Tom-Tom, lots of other companies had already licenced the technology in question , Tom-Tom jsut decided that they wanted to use it but not pay for it. Software patents are (in my opinion) a bad idea because of situations like this but that fact of the matter is, they should have either paid to begin with, or used different tech.

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@MS haters

"Meanwhile, the "loonix" boxes fun by the majority of my clients (because it significantly reduces their TCO) just kept on running, and the folks using those were much more productive."

Interestingly, I had to restart my Ubuntu box this morning after a security update, yet Windows XP just kept on running.

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Linux

Unisys and GIFS

Nobody in their right mind in industry is going to adopt a MS "standard" in the future, as they are mostly crap and poorly engineered anyway. It would be interesting to see how many copyright/patent breaches there are in the MS source code.

Read Jason Perlow's discussion over at ZDnet about Unisys and GIFS

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Bronze badge

fat32 LFN

Is FAT32 both patent free and fully usable and compatible without LFN support?

If so then just sticking to 8.3 names would probably be best.

If not, then cards would be limited to 4GB (although some OSes will only fully support 2GB), in that case, perhaps the best option would be for the opensource community to create a simple to install addon to windows for an existing OS file system.

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Linux

Re: TomTom is potentially another patent troll

No, that's not being a patent troll, that's just acquiring a software patent. Whether the idea behind that patent is worthy of a patent, software or otherwise, I won't comment on but they're not being a patent troll.

In the US (in particular) software patents are used as currency and a company in possession of a patent can use that patent to extract cash from another company. That other company has three choices: fight the claim in court, pay up or counter-sue with a patent or patents of their own. Fighting the claim would seem to be the most obvious course of action for some of these screwy patents but it's expensive and carries with it a certain degree of risk. Paying up -- "reaching an amicable agreement" -- is often the cheapest solution. In Tom Tom's case they had a collection of patents that Microsoft supposedly infringe and can use those to reduce the overall cost.

The whole software patent thing sucks. Using a translation table to get longer file names is something that's been done several times. Both the Rockridge and Joliet CD extensions do that.

Hmm. Does that mean that the VFAT LFN patent is covered by prior art or does it mean that Microsoft should be suing itself? Wouldn't it be nice if they did sue themselves?

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Anonymous Coward

@raving angry loony

By clients do you mean people you do tech support for? If so, you should get down off the high horse and support your users equally, instead of using some of them to advance your own manifesto. Or quit and just support Linux. Of course, less money in that, huh? Not to mention less awed thanks when you show up to rescue 'Joe Sixpack Windoze Luser.'

Here's a question for all you 'Why doesn't everyone just move to Linux' guys. It's from User Friendly, which you no doubt love. When everyone's using Linux, what are you going to use to make yourself think you look cool?

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@Anonymous Hero

Funny, last I heard it was Vista that had driver compatibility problems. Last week I bought a cheap (and I do mean *cheap*) USB WiFi adaptor, plugged it into my Ubuntu box and was connected within 5s without any hassle - just entered my network encryption key and away it went. Tried to set up a Windows XP box - two hours of hassle and it still won't 'activate' for some reason, necessitating a phone call to MS, who'll treat me like a pirate even though I own a CoA. Once I eventually squeeze activation out of them (he said optimistically) I'll still only have a borderline useful toaster whose entire purpose in life is to work with their proprietary formats every now and then while my 'loonix' boxes get on with the real work.

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TIme to use EXT3?

Does this mean that Microsoft should be forced to include EXT3 drivers in all supported Windows versions so that they can't use their market share to force manufacturers to pay them to make USB mass storage devices?

This actually pisses me off highly as it means I am now unable to buy any storage product without paying Microsoft -- am I allowed to demand the MS patent money back if I demonstrate that I formatted the medium with EXT3 or MurdererFS?

As for having a "productive day" using Microsoft -- you're taking the piss surely? Microsoft can't even make products that are compatible with their other products, and their obsession with cobbled-together, proprietary formats and inability to write tools that work with them correctly causes nothing but wasted time.

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Flame

Urf

Why did TomTom cave in? Atcually, why the hell are they still using DOS FFS? There's much better file systems availables (a driver popped in during the TomTom clinet install would see windows navigate it OK).

As to the Lin v Win tards....yesterday my Linux box froze up. It needed a hard reset (Update Manager seemed to be the culprit and Gnome was non-responsive to the keyboard, so CTRl-ATL-BKSPC was no help). To be fair to the little thing, that is the first jot of trouble from it in, ohhh, 3 months or so? But Linux fanbois, it does happen.

As to the Windows boxes...no virii, no trojans, no nasties at all. Then again, I have them firewalled and AV protected, plus they run weekly clean-ups, defrags etc. However, they do sometimes blue screen and cause me other grief. I would say this happens more than on the Linux box, but I have not kept a diary.

I use the Windows boxes more as I have to use .Net (Mono is not yet stable nor feature complete and cannot be used to run anything serious on Linux; I checked last week!), MS Office, and a few other MS bits-n-bobs, so it is probably to be expected that Windows suffers more trouble. Yes, I know there are F/OSS alternatives (I use them at home), but our customers do not use them so I do not use them. I *HAVE* to use MS tools at work. No choice.

I could be equally productive on Linux, sure. But what I would produce would be bugger all use to our customers a they do not use Linux, OpenOffice etc. so there would be no point. basic economics people.

As to market penetration. Linux has 0.1%-4% on the desktop, depending on who you ask. And I know people who are switching to Linux, so expect that figure to slowly rise of the next few years. If the EU ever go after MS for their anti-competitive contracts with the likes of Dell - expect that figure to jump as they cna then offer Linux on decent hardware, pre-installed.

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Silver badge

@Amazing

Why is it that a lot of the hate rants are from people who do not have the courage to put their names to what they say ?

Anyway: reverse engineering is NOT stealing. The LFN patent covers a simple transformation of long file names to something that will fit in 8.3. There is nothing particularly clever in it, but it is arbitrary (quite reasonably so). To patent something simple like this has got nothing to do with protecting a large engineering investment (it is no great work) but all about locking out the competition.

FLOSS people are not interested in taking any one else's code (they are good at writing their own), they are interested in having computers work with each other. This means using compatible methods of doing things. The best of these are standardised (eg Internet RFCs) and so the method is published, others we need to reverse engineer.

Why would an ''originator never agreed to make open'' something simple - except to keep others away ?

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Flame

Re: @ the MS haters

Another anonymous coward: "(again, and el reg PLEASE actually moderate these comments as seeing every MS article full of "MS are evil" with no real backup is annoying and destroying the credability of your site)"

"Whine, whine! Please censor other people so that my views are the only ones to be seen!" Interesting how this attitude matches up with a certain company's end-user licence agreements which forbid users from criticising their glorious vendor. Search for "Microsoft FrontPage EULA" for details and come back with more *credibility* yourself.

Meanwhile, it's fair game to regard MS as "evil" if, in addition to denying users basic freedoms, one regards extortion via illegitimate instruments of monopoly as in any way undesirable behaviour. Or stacking international standards organisations with paid stooges. Or perpetuating a retail monopoly on the grounds of "preventing piracy".

AC: "Software patents are (in my opinion) a bad idea because of situations like this but that fact of the matter is, they should have either paid to begin with, or used different tech."

Only "because of situations like this"? That's just the tip of the iceberg! And since patents are highly artificial constructs - not widely accepted instruments of justice - the best thing to do is to contest their validity at every turn, just like Sun did with a patent troll not that long ago. Sadly, there aren't too many vendors who are that far-sighted, and TomTom's lawyers probably haven't learned their lesson even now.

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Silver badge

"virii"

I keep seeing the word "virii". What is a virius?

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Happy

Get back under your bridge, guys

Whozat trip trapping on my bridge?

MS works most of the time. I personally prefer Linux because I'm a developer and don't want to buy state of the art kit to get average results.

But whatever works.

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Paris Hilton

@ everyone

i think you all need to have a lie down, your making paris cry....

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Linux

@ Brett Glasson

Sir, you are a prick.

http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/usn-750-1

===========================================================

Ubuntu Security Notice USN-750-1 March 30, 2009

openssl vulnerability

CVE-2009-0590

===========================================================

After a standard system upgrade you need to reboot your computer to

effect the necessary changes.

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Linux

@Toastan Buttar

I was about to reply that a recent update did need a restart, you beat me to it.

I am sure that some uber-geeks would know which services/daemons/whatever to bounce/drop-and-reload in order to get past some restarts; and Linux certianly needs less restarts than Windows after an update/install.

But sometimes...well...it just needs restarted. usually after the kernel gets monkeyed around with.

[Written by a Linux newb, not a fanboi, not a geek]

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@ all the X is "Evil" people

That siren noise you can all hear in the background is the hyperbole police, they're coming to get you.

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Gates Halo

@ Lintards

I regard Linux as the 'root' (geddit?) of all evil. No, seriously. All the Linux fanbois ever seem to do is bleat on about how evil/crap MS are and that Linux is sweeter than sweet and holiest of holies.

Personally, you can stick it up you holiest of holies. It's unfriendly: Sure, you put a nice smiley Gnome or KDE over the top (like MS-DOS and WFWG), but you still end up raiding the CLI for the odd daft configuration setting. Windows has a tried and tested UI (with the exception of Vista, I grant you) that works fine. There's a CLI if you want it, but you don't have to resort to it.

How about supporting it. Troubleshooting Linux invariably means rafts of seperate logs and cfg files, god help you if you have different distros as well. Troubleshooting a Windows box is a piece of cake, and if you're sensible and firewall, patch and AV it, you'll be fine. So fine, in fact that TCO wise it's muck cheap as you can use less skilled staff instead of pony tailed hippies with PhDs. This is why desktop penetration in business is so low. Oh, and as for drivers, WLAN is a poor example to use (see above). I don't have to recompile the kernel everytime a .0001 release of a driver comes out, or go through pain when it fails to install. Windows drivers install straight from an inf file or even a nice executable installer - so easy, anyone can do it, most often without a reboot these days too.

Personally, I steer well clear of recommending Linux to end users (particularly home users). I push them down the Mac or Windows route. Both have much easier support paths and are easier to maintain.

And before anyone asks, I work with SLES, RHEL (including the Service Console in VMware ESX) and Windows.

Bad mouthing Linux always reminds me of the old 'if you live in glass houses, don't throw stones' line. And for all the moralising, a fanboy poorly cobbled together OS based on a reverse engineered 30-odd year old OS, is never going to be pure as the driven snow.

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@ AC 16:54

Windows easier to maintain? Only if you never boot into it...

There is no "perfect OS", they all have their problems and quirks and yes, strong points. I just happen to get more productive work done in the ones that aren't called "Windows".

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Happy

@Anonymous Hero

> "...and if you're using loonix then shut up and get back to your 0.1%-of-the-market-desktop-broken-driver-always-10yrs-behind rubbish."

...of which the last time AH sat down and had a go with it was what year? With what distro?

Yes, this one is aware of what Mr. Eric S. Raymond published to the Net re his own experience setting up CUPS and a remote printer Back In Them Days. But gee, that was a long time back. The KDE GUI wizards are pretty darn good about such things these days, one finds. (The Mandriva product's pretty good with the wizards, too; just think like one is a just little bit French et voilá.)

Really, quite entirely unlike in a certain other well-known world, community response time to Real Problems in the luxy Tux-y world is, to my own sense of it, right snappy these days. Serious problems solved within days of detection and in full public view; a few weeks at most, not months. No organizationally-oriented walls of official denial and all, which I for one do find entirely palatable.

BTW & FWIW: The most recent printer installations I have done with Linux have breezed right through. Oddly, in one case, although the (very nice tho' pre-owned) printer itself produced a test page via its own ROM indicating a great lack of ink (expensive to remedy and unwelcome timing too), the "stupid" "looney" (ohgimmeabreak) system-generated one blazed out in full living detail and color. (Might not last so very long and I told the customer so, but my oh my what a delightful and useful immediate result anyway.)

I for one do think it is important to keep 'em out of the landfill as long as can be, especially if still electrically perfect. (Others' mileage still varies on that point.) So having a decades-of-cybertech-aware hardware recognition algo built right into O/S on the Whirling Metal ain't all that bad, izzit? The HD that the system's written on just migrates cheerily forward in time to plug into the disc interface on the Newer and Faster Box with very little if any tweeking.

I have done that move time after time with three or four major Linux distros, some from necessity and others just to see if it was so. (But I would not dare attempt such a thing with Slackware, or even attempt Slackware Itself, BOB help me...)

Last couple of times I tried that selfsame move with a Redmond product on the metal, I ended up perforce reverting to the Old Box just to keep the embedded functionality available to the upgrade-hungry owner. "I'm sorry, Ma'am - seems best to just enjoy the box you have for the money we are talking; most of your useful and familiar (Win98) apps just won't run on what they sell these days (XP); neither will your hard drive itself boot up at all on any newer mainboard or box I might provide you, without installing the system all over again, which will reliably wipe out all your apps and documents too. It's because of differences in the two boards' hardware that are apparently detected only at the time of installation, and there go all your apps and work files if we do that...".

It went just as poorly with an early XP Pro migration attempt in another later instance. (That customer at least had saved the app CDs, but to no avail since the O/S CD was no longer functional due to inadvertent prior scuffing.) But have things improved in that field from that prior sad-making point, these days?

Boffin. Because on this score, I have already been there too much already. Not likely to return; asking just to know, is all. No, Alien this time. Been treated as one all my life; have developed fine substantive countermeasures from the years of it... Ah, well, happyface'll do and next item... It's a tangent anyway.

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Gold badge
Stop

So if I ask TomTom for a copy of their source code?

What will they say.

Its closed source now?

Here it is minus the LFN support?

It was interesting that only TomTom forced MS to start listing which in car navigation mfg had done cross-licensing deals on 28 year old patents under an NDA.

I am highly suspicious of MS behaviour in this case. They have never relied on technical superiority before, why should they start now. Not all Trojan's are software.

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@AC re: Lintards

"Troubleshooting Linux invariably means rafts of seperate logs and cfg files"

Oh, so tailing apache.log is somehow far more difficult than filtering IIS events in Event Viewer? Have you never tried any of the Linux GUI based programs for searching or viewing logs? You say you recommend Macs, surely you must be aware how easy it is to get the log data you need from Console? What's the difference between that and a KDE log app?

I'd rather grep through a log in a terminal session than use Event Viewer in a Remote Desktop session any day of the week.

Have you noticed that M$ is reducing the amount of junk it shoves into the registry in favour of individual config files? Finally they are learning that a bloated central repository for all configs is a stupid idea.

As for the topic, I really think TomTom should use a better filesystem than FAT. Even ext2 would be far better.

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Unhappy

vector623

How many times did Microsoft have to apply for their FAT patent again before it finally passed? Can't remember exactly, but several, at least.

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