back to article Microsoft 'showers gold' on anti-Google Cyanogen and its Android alternative

Microsoft will invest in alternative Android firmware startup Cyanogen, a report claims. Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Microsoft is slated to become a minority investor in an approximately $70m funding round that will see Cyanogen valued "in the high hundreds of millions." The …

  1. hplasm Silver badge
    Pint

    ow!

    Fucking cognitive dissonance....

    Cyanogen good, MS... well you know...

    Time for beer.

    1. MrDamage

      Re: ow!

      May I expand on your comment?

      Cyanogen + MS Financial Backing = Good

      Cyanogen run by MS = Bad

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        Re: ow!

        That was my thought, too.

        As long as MS is only investing, all is well and good. If they start sticking their oar in....

  2. auburnman

    That'll please Google

    Saves them from funding Cyanogen like they do with Firefox. Keeping another player in the game should help to keep the various competition commissions away for a bit.

    1. Zacherynuk

      Re: That'll please Google

      Doesn't BING (MS), at least in the US, now fund Firefox ?

      1. dogged

        Re: That'll please Google

        No, Yahoo! does.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: That'll please Google

          Yahoo Search == Bing

          1. dogged

            Re: That'll please Google

            > Yahoo Search == Bing

            True, but Yahoo! pays Bing for search and also pays Mozilla to keep on building Firefox.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: That'll please Google

      Two ways to go here:

      1) Brand proliferation. A non-Google Android will keep privacy advocates away from MS which might offer a more business-friendly, non-snooping option.

      2) If I were MS, I might well consider giving up the phone market to concentrate on tablets where Office strengths lie. Do proper Outlook on Android (done), make sure there is a non-google android on the market which can host Outlook and pick up the license payments from Android phones. Its an ego hit, but MS already seem to have abandoned Windows Phone as a Tier 1 platform. This would be a proper "third place" strategy rather than continuing the emperor’s new clothes charade. They can always degrade the Android experience if their own mobile strategy takes off. No-one expects great things of office on a phone anyway, so not having Windows underneath is no great loss.

      The downside to (2) is if phones take off as pocket computers with attachments to larger screens. MS can counter this by license bundling - if you have a Windows desktop, you get cheap android outlook. If you don't, you have to pay for a Windows desktop license on top of your Outlook license.

      One thing is for certain, in the long term, you will not be able to save money by putting Linux or OSX under an MS application. That would be unacceptable to MS.

      Remember Linux with multiple user GUI logins? That wasn't too hard was it? With those 8-core phones coming online can't we virtualise things? In-coming phone functions hold meta-contact lists (without slurp-send capabilities) and can check CLI data etc against both logins' phonebooks and the one with the matching contact data wins screen access. If both match or neither match, one login is designated "preferred" or "high security" and that one wins. Google needs to do this if it wants to get the business market. Each user doesn't need different security features, its just so users can allow one login to be managed by the company without giving up control and privacy (haha) on their phone.

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Biting the hand the feeds you

    It was always my understanding that the codebase for CM was the official "Google" provided code.

    Won't this piss Google off to the point where the will stop making code available?

    1. Chewi

      Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

      They're practically doing that already. The gap between AOSP and Google's offering is widening. In fact, that was quite a good unintentional pun given that the Google extras are commonly referred to as GApps! What remains in AOSP will always be subject to the GPL so they can't take that away from us.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

      I expect if that ever happens, they'd just fork the last free version.

      Acording to the CM site, google has used some of their enhancements in their own 'vanilla' build on occassion, so I'd guess its more along the lines of those little birds and crocodiles/alligators.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

        "I expect if that ever happens, they'd just fork the last free version."

        That is exactly the situation that is the most worrying, the "last free version" will quickly become unusable on newer phones and I can't see how CM will be able to cope with that situation.

        [Ok $70 million gives a lot of coping power but MS is then the Sugar Daddy ]

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

          Weeelllll, there is always tizen, Sailfish or even Ubuntu (by then, I hope) (or Firefox) they could hack on instead...

          Microsoft still might pay (and might [REDACTED] them later as Suger Daddys often do).

          Nothing is totally irreplacable (companies certainly view people that way, even if people don't, so it is a sad world if that is not true for mobile phone Operating Systems/UIs

        2. Chewi

          Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

          As I understand it, once a project is GPL'd, only the copyright holder can make subsequent changes closed source. On some projects, contributors are asked to surrender their copyright in the form of a CLA. This is the case for AOSP and Google themselves actually handle the CLA submissions but it is not clear to me who the copyright holder actually is in this case.

          1. Jordan Davenport

            Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

            As far as I'm aware, the only parts of Android that are subject to the GPL are not written by Google aside from patches to existing projects, such as the Linux kernel. The majority of what Google contributes as open source is under the Apache Software License 2.0. Unless Google decide to write a new kernel (incredibly unlikely) or adapt one under a more permissive license than the GPL (less unlikely but would still require cutting compatibility with existing drivers and APIs or writing compatibility shims), they will always be bound to release their modifications to Linux but not to the things they've authored under other licenses.

        3. midcapwarrior

          Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

          It's a 70 million funding round not a 70 million MS investment. A round generally has multiple investors.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Biting the hand the feeds you

          > the "last free version" will quickly become unusable on newer phones

          It doesn't quite work like that.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2) Embrace

  5. Mikel

    Spending more time with family

    The Microsoft exec who thought this up and leaked it will soon have more time to prune his rhodies. This is old Ballmer Microsoft, not new Nadella Microsoft.

  6. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Result of the many problems with Android...

    ... that make it a rather unfree system.

    Android just takes up a great amount of development resources. Not only does it need to be ported to every single model you want to support, but the code is a huge mess far more complicated that it needs to be.

    In order to survive freely, FOSS needs to be simple, plus you need to have a common hardware so you can run it on different devices without wasting your time on porting.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Result of the many problems with Android...

      I would like to know the reasoning behind the downvotes to Berger's post.

  7. petur

    strategy?

    To cause more fragmentation (real or perception)? Look, there's two big Android distributions now...

    (yes I know the details, so mostly perception, but what does the average phone buyer know)

    1. dogged

      Re: strategy?

      >what does the average phone buyer know

      Not enough for this to even register with them.

      Is it a Samsung? Does it do Maps? Can I get my emailz? Will it run Tindr? WhatsApp? Okay.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      Re: 'take Android away from Google'

      While I agree that the permission system needs an overhaul, the 4.3 "accident" was not the answer. It basically broke most apps to which it was applied.

      CM has a privacy guard feature, which has worked much better from what I can see. I believe that, rather than just stopping the app from using those permissions, it fakes the responses somehow. The app believes it is accessing your files/camera etc. but it isn't.

      To be honest, I think it was a mistake on Google's part from day one. The permission system should have been set up so that an app requested a permission, but the user had a right to deny it. The current system is that the app demands permission, and the only way to avoid it is not to install it.

      Of course, if you deny an app permission for something it needs for core functionality, then it can flag that up, explaining why, and ask the user to give it back. For example, if you deny a web browser access to the internet, there's not much point. Another option would be to separate mandatory and optional permissions, and bring in a policy of only having permissions mandatory for core functionality.

      I doubt this will get put in place. It would require a lot of reworking of both apps and OS. The alternative from CM seems to do the job well enough.

  9. Alan Denman

    That is capitalism for you

    A sure fire 'buy it to stop it' move if I ever saw one.

    " F**k you consumers, just count to '10' and we will make Android a disappearing act"

  10. Alan Denman

    "is maintained by some 9,000 volunteer developers."

    Give them £10,000 each to stay quiet and you then have about 8,500 or so left willing.

    That is a very cheap £90 million cost saving on the understandable outrage from 8,999 of them

  11. Adam Inistrator

    unstable platform

    I wish phones were as stable as pc's. Cyanogen doesnt install on any of the phones I could use. Come to think of it - possibly Linux has been coat-tailing on MS success in keeping PC hardware standardised.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: unstable platform

      Some phones are as stable as most PCs.

      Mine is up for weeks at a time - without any noticeable effect on performance. It is almost always (manually) rebooted because something doesn't seem to work. More often than not a reboot doesn't fix it because the external entity is at fault - not always though. Sometimes it is just quicker to reboot than muck about wondering.

      The camera app is the only app that has crashed the phone (locked it up in fact). That was a long time ago and the camera is unique in the phone range anyway.

      To be fair, my laptop can run for weeks sometimes but it is long in the tooth and the video driver seems unstable and so it often fails before that. The WiFi sometimes lets me down such a restart is needed.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. AJ MacLeod

      Re: unstable platform (@ Adam inistrator)

      Whilst there's no doubt standardised hardware is a good thing, you should have a look at the number of platforms Linux runs on... it hasn't and won't require Microsoft to survive and thrive.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft and disruptive practice

    Goes hand in hand. Typical for them, when they are on the ropes, they do dirty stuff like this - trying to fragment android from the inside.

    True evil and anti consumer.

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