Last week, I took Apple to task for launching the patent nukes against HTC. This week, I try to explain why patents are so corrosive within a software development context.
A Developer's View
At the intersection between technology and economic policy, John Carroll brings years of experience as a software developer to bear on the latest issues affecting the technology industry.
<p>John Carroll has programmed in a wide variety of computing domains, including servers, client PCs, mobile phones and even mainframes. His current specialties are C#, .NET, Java, WIN32/COM and C++, and he has applied those skills in everything from distributed web-based systems to embedded devices. In his spare time, he enjoys the world of digital video, and served as director of photography and editor on a feature-length film produced in Limerick, Ireland, as well as a low-budget production filmed in Los Angeles that used Panavision digital cameras (the same ones used by George Lucas in the later Star Wars episodes).</p> <p>John worked in Microsoft's Mediaroom division from May, 2005 to May, 2008. He is co-founder of <a href="http://www.forgetmenotafrica.com">ForgetMeNot Software</a>, a creator of unified messaging software targeted at telecommunications providers, where he currently works as Director of Technology.
In the past, I merely favored non-Apple platforms. With Apple's recent decision to sue HTC over patent violations, mere preference for other products has turned into an active dislike of a company with a clear flair for hardware design.
Microsoft's has had great difficulty creating new businesses that replace Windows and Office from a revenue standpoint. This is largely due to internal organization that makes it very hard for Microsoft to bring to market the good ideas that Microsoft develops in-house.
The GSMA World Congress was this week in Barcelona. Though its difficult to identify themes in a conference as large as the GMSA extravaganza, the sense I got from four days wandering its halls was that fragmentation will rule the smartphone market for many, many years to come.
The US Congress wants to include "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill. I say "no thanks." Protected industries aren't going to pull America out of recession.
A recent post by Brian Sommer noted that H-1B visa holders might be in for a rough ride in 2009 as the weakening economy invites calls for special preferences for the accidental citizens of the United States of America (I say "accidental," as most of us were bestowed our rights as citizens by accident of birth).
Not that I think crowds of angry people will descend on my West Hollywood apartment because of this, but I am going to be off until January. As noted three weeks ago in my last post (I am a very bad blogger), a startup I co-founded recently received an important dose of financing.
I'd been using Media Center as my primary DVR since shortly after the release of Windows Vista several years ago. At the time, my intention was to learn more about the other TV-oriented technology at Microsoft, which was of particular interest to me as I worked, at the time, in Microsoft's IPTV division.
The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) is starting a fight over union rules as they apply to Internet-only productions. If they win, they are likely to shift even more content creation opportunities away from major studios in a futile attempt to hinder evolution in a market changed dramatically by technology.
The United States has long been sliding towards trade skepticism, a process that has merely been exaggerated by the recent troubles in financial markets. Low-cost computers and its associated market size makes one of the best cases for globalization, however. Most of us wouldn't have jobs if computers hadn't plugged themselves into a global supply chain for parts.
Microsoft's attempts to shame Chinese users of illegal copies of Windows by turning their backgrounds black every hour is reflective of a wider problem of copyright enforcement in China. As Henry Paulson, Secretary of the US Treasury, notes in a recent "Foreign Affairs" article, it contributes to America's trade deficit with China and limits business opportunities, both for American companies and Chinese citizens hoping to create their own software companies.
Windows 7 gets all the blogger attention, which makes sense to some extent, as much revenue and developer mindshare is bound up in the success of Windows. Microsoft, however, clearly gave Windows Azure priority at last week's PDC, which is indicative of the importance the company places on its "cloud-based" future.
Last week's PDC was about more than just Microsoft's new cloud initiative (Windows Azure) and the next version of Windows (Windows 7). It also concentrated on what Microsoft is doing to assist programmers to tackle the big shift to multi-core computers. Harnessing the power of multi-threaded programming will be critical to achieving higher software performance in future.
Windows 7 places user interface design at the center of the Windows 7 development effort. WPF - Microsoft's new .NET API for Windows user interface development - will also truly come into its own in Windows 7 timeframes. Oh, and WordPad in Windows 7 supports ODF.
Windows Azure is a Microsoft hosting framework that makes it easy to scale from 10 users to 10 million users with no additional effort. Though it's a good idea, I do think they should consider allowing third party hosting providers to compete with Microsoft's Azure data farm.