When they write the history of the computer history 10 years from now, the date May 14, 2007 will be marked in red: it's the day when everyone knew that Microsoft was starting to go down the tube.
Far-fetched? Biased? Silly? Stupid? No, none of those things, it's the only sane conclusion to draw. When the schoolyard bully has to actually describe what he plans to do to you to get your lunch and cannot demonstrate it, then his bolt has been shot.
As the late US president F.D. Roosevelt once said, the only thing people have to fear is fear itself. Why do the biggest and most powerful armies in the world fear suicide bombers? It's precisely because people who are willing to blow themselves up have lost the fear of dying - or are able to temporarily subdue it. They have overcome the most basic human instinct, that of self-preservation, and you can't fight people who have done that.
A certain amount of fear is evident among those who have commented on the claims by Microsoft officials - that they hold 235 patents which have been violated by Linux and other open source software. That same sense of fear was present in much greater degree when the SCO Corporation filed its breach of contract case against IBM in March 2003.
But now SCO has become a joke. IBM has made it plain that its intention is to see that the company is totally destroyed and the case is dragging on. Everyone and his dog has lost interest in it - apart from the paralegal Pamela Jones who probably even keeps track of the number of bowel movements at SCO - as all the bluster indulged in by SCO chief Darl McBride and his spinmeister Blake Stowell have been shown up as merely a grand contribution to the problem of global warming and nothing else.
Some SCO officials have benefitted by cashing in their stock when the price went up - this happened during the early stages of the case - and moving off to the Bahamas (or wherever people move once they have made a pile). At Microsoft, they won't be able to do that as the market has learnt from the SCO debacle.
Patent threats will only be taken seriously in the US - and probably in Australia where the government is so far up the American nether end that it has to use a torch in the daytime. US corporations like Monsanto are actually trying to collect a levy on pigs - because Monsanto has obtained patents on a few porcine genes. Patent trolls are everywhere in the US because of the potential earnings and the ignorance which is widespread. Where else will people get agitated over this kind of patent threat - China? India? Brazil? the EU? the rest of Asia? the Middle East?
A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.