"The appeaser is the one who feeds the crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."

-- Winston Churchill

Brett Roberts from MicrosoftCorporation spoke on a number of topics, including the recent deal that they signed with Novell.

The meeting was at 7:30pm, TW.2.05.

Brett claimed that most users didn't need to access source code. Lawrence tried to point out the SealedBonnetFallacy. Not sure if the point was understood.

Brett said Microsoft was trying to become more of an IP-licensing company. In this case, "IP" seemed to mean "patents". He claimed that they were paying 10 times as much for licenses for IP than they received at present. But this didn't seem to include payouts for patent lawsuits against Microsoft.

Brett agreed the US patent system sucked. (Someone else pointed out that the NZ patent system was just as bad.) But change would take a very long time, a decade or more.

He did actually mention the Microsoft-Novell agreement, and about the covenant-not-to-sue. He didn't deny that the form of this "covenant" was to get around the language of the GPLv2. Asked all those who thought the GPLv3 would come out this year to put their hands up--only Lawrence did.

Brett tried to claim that about half of the PCs sold through NZ retailers like Harvey Norman were "media centre" PCs. When pressed as to what this meant--did they include special hardware like TV tuners?--he had to admit it simply meant they were being bundled with Windows XP Media Center Edition.

When various questionable comments by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer were mentioned, like claims that Linux violates Microsoft's intellectual property, or that Windows Vista isn't selling well because of "piracy" so they'd better tighten the WGA screws, he had an interesting defence: that there were other behind-the-scenes aspects to these utterances, that Brett was privy to but could not tell us about, that if revealed would cast those statements in an entirely different (and presumably less uncomplimentary) light. He brought up the old adage, "never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity", but then had to back off the conclusion that these remarks from Microsoft's top management were evidence of stupidity.