What Microsoft wants from Google

Who is the real target of all this FUD? The guess here is it's the cellular carriers, not Motorola or HTC at all.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

Microsoft wants access to any technology that sells.

That appears to be what its suit against Motorola is all about. At issue, writes deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez (right, from CNET), are "key features that users have come to expect from every smartphone," specifically the ability to sync mail and contacts between the phone and the Web.

Of course, iPhones do that too, don't they?

As Florian Mueller notes at FOSSPatents, this seems part of a coordinated attack against Google lodged by incumbents in a variety of areas -- Oracle, Apple and now Microsoft. All are ostensibly attacks on Android, a Linux distro Google began developing before the iPhone came out.

One important fact I pointed out to Mueller is that this suit was not filed in the "patent troll" court -- the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler. Instead, it was filed in Seattle.

This is not a suit at a trial, in other words. As Paula noted Friday this is a business suit, The hope is that Google will cross-license its Android technology with Microsoft, just as Oracle and Apple hope to gain some control of Android with lawsuits.

It's unlikely these suits will go to trial, in part, due to Washington gridlock. There is an enormous, growing shortage of judges on the federal bench. Democrats slowed the approval process under Bush, and Republicans have slowed it further under Obama.

With the failure of the Roberts court to provide any clarity on software patents in Bilski vs. Kappos there is little hope for any side of decisions that will settle the question. It's open season for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).

Which leads us to a more intriguing question. Who is the real target of all this FUD? The guess here is it's the cellular carriers, not Motorola or HTC at all.

Advocates of Internet freedom should know, as I have learned, that carriers say "Android" when they really mean "carrier crapware." I was sold a Samsung Galaxy phone with AT&T crapware when I asked for an Android,, and as we've seen Google keeps its hands off the carriers.

Frankly, the Apple iPhone offers more freedom to do what you want than the AT&T Galaxy. You may be in Apple's walled garden, but you're not limited to buying Apple stuff there.

AT&T loaded the Galaxy with a ton of applications, including some requiring payment for functions there are free iPhone apps for, and tells users they're stuck. Eric Schmidt gives a Gallic shrug and says, "if I stopped them I would be violating the tenets of open source." Never mind that rootkitting or jailbreaking a phone is legal under the copyright law.

So if you want a free, open Internet experience on a mobile device, maybe you are better off for now rooting for the FUD. Apple will fight with the carriers for its interests, as I'm certain Oracle and Microsoft will go toe-to-toe with them for theirs.

Google seems interested in fighting for no one's interests -- not its own, certainly not the consumer's. Evil triumphs when good men do nothing. It's time for Google's passivity to end.

Editorial standards