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01.18.08

Secunia’s Latest Red Hat FUD Debunked

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Red Hat, Security, Windows at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two days ago we created a credibility index and earlier today someone suggested that we add Secunia to it.

Secunia seems to be spreading some Linux/Red Hat FUD at the moment. As Peter Judge shrewdly explains:

Red Hat’s Mark Cox quickly pointed out in a blog that a) the number was wrong, b) it counted flaws in all the third party products associated with Red Hat’s OS, and worst of all c) it counted several bugs six times, since it added up fixes made for the same bug, on multiple Red Hat products.

[...]

Even if there were a greater number of reported bugs on these open source products, that would not equal lower security. It could just mean that there is more publicity for known bugs in the open source world (as we saw recently, when code-checker Coverity announced it had found around 8000 bugs in open source projects, I commented here that this was actually good news for open source).

Obviously, whether or not Secunia deliberately got its sums wrong, it remains the case that “open source security flaws” is a much more arresting headline than “Microsoft security flaws” – for exactly the sam reason that “man bites dog” is more interesting than “dog bites man”.

That is a lovely analogy. This is far from the first time security experts try to draw attention by standing out from the crowd. It’s sometimes a publicity stunt. In another article at ZDNet, in Secunia’s defense, the company refers to this as a case of comparing apples and oranges. If that’s the case, then why these headlines and why these figures which basically beg for the deceiving headlines?

Peter Judge wrote some other good blog items in the past, so he’ll be added to our credibility index as well.

The Effect of Burton Group FUD and the Source of the FUD (Microsoft?)

Posted in Asia, Deception, Formats, FUD, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If you are new to the Burton Group saga, you are encouraged to read some background on this [1, 2, 3, 4]. These are not primers or introductions to the issue, but the gist of it all is that proxies appear to be disseminating disinformation. Presented below are a few of the responses generated from that FUD piece from the Burton Group. It came from what seems like a secret ally of Microsoft.

Report fuels OpenOffice vs. OOXML debate

OpenOffice.org has dismissed an analyst report from Burton Group which claims that Microsoft’s Office Open XML document format is preferable to the OpenDocument Format.

[...]

Burton Group also attracted controversy in August 2007 when it warned businesses against the use of Google Apps, another free software competitor to Microsoft Office.

Read that last sentence again, if necessary. We stressed that point before. And just look at the gross bias here: [via Andy Updegrove]

In some ways, [the Burton Group's] O’Kelly and Creese’s analysis hinges on this inevitability, implying that the ODF camp might be better off lying down in the face of Microsoft’s will and market dominance and instead tap into OOXML’s openness to create other “productivity ecosystem” opportunities. Many, however, question Microsoft’s commitment to keeping the standard “open.” Burton’s analysts err on the side of taking Microsoft at its word, depicting Microsoft’s go-to-alone OOXML standards stance with regard to openness as well-intentioned.

“The debate and scrutiny are not surprising, given Microsoft’s historical track record as an extremely aggressive competitor and convicted monopolist, but it’s important to understand that Microsoft appears to be sincerely committed to making OOXML a substantive standard,” O’Kelly and Creese write.

This says nothing about Microsoft intentions to deviate from OOXML as (partially) documented. It also says nothing about the endless crimes which show that the “historical track record as an extremely aggressive competitor and convicted monopolist” (to use Burton’s own words) continues to this date. Just moments ago we showed some new examples from Croatia.

From BetaNews:

Rather than attack some of their more questionable arguments, such as ODF being a political statement rather than as the platform for Lotus’ next possible software suite for Mac OS, the ODF Alliance issued a treatise (PDF available here) taking apart many of the Burton Group’s claims one-by-one, including the notion that theirs is the latest “everybody-but-Microsoft” standard to fail to attain momentum.

From the press in the Philippines:

“The openXML criticisms has no backing,” said Tom Robertson, general manager of corporate interoperability and standards group of Microsoft Corp. in a briefing here, who said that Microsoft products are also going to support ODF through a translator.

We covered these affairs in the Philippines quite recently and it’s funny how Microsoft mentions Novell’s work on OOXML rather than support it natively, which it probably will do anyway. Microsoft and the Burton Burton are trying to create uncertainty at the moment. Just look at the article above in its entirety. In general, many of the articles that speak about the new ‘study’ (all the above) are pure FUD because they are based on wrong assumptions and suppositions that serve Microsoft. They echo incorrect statements.

“The press is being deceived by incorrect information, which is truly unfortunate and by all means deliberately planned (by those who unleashed the paper at a tactical moment).”We are continuing to collect more and more evidence of the ties between this research firm and Microsoft. We apologise if it’s seen as ‘strong’ content for this Web site, but if you keep track of our posts, you’ll see how profoundly these issues can be explored. When it comes to OOXML/ODF studies, it’s sometimes the money which talks most loudly, as opposed to reality doing its work. We spoke about this problem only a couple of weeks back.

The future still looks very bright for OpenDocument Format. The press is being deceived by incorrect information, which is truly unfortunate and by all means deliberately planned (by those who unleashed the paper at a tactical moment).

Quote of the Day: Novell Still Clueless

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Novell, Quote at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microvell

The quote of the day comes from Phil C at LinuxToday:

Novell has been clueless for a while now and nobody seems to be able to wise them up. I don’t hold out much hope for them.

The deal with Microsoft was an in you face we don’t have a clue about our business. We don’t know our market, our suppliers or how we want to position ourselves. We don’t have a clue how to make money in the current and future IT marketplace. (Their year over year returns high light this.) Further, we don’t think this is a problem. (Their PR releases high light this.)

If you spot other interesting comments or articles, please do let us know so that they get shared with a wider audience.

Who Threatens the Patent Troll Tracker or the Patent Trolls?

Posted in Europe, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent trolling as ugly a business as trolls

TrollTracker, an anonymous blogger who keeps track of patent trolls, has had a bounty on his head for quite a while, thanks to scum like Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. S/he appears to be complaining about cyber-threats at the moment.

It is absolutely unacceptable for people to post threats in the comments. They will be deleted as soon as I see them. I was just made aware of one such threat posted over a month ago, and was appalled. I don’t care if the threats are meant to be sympathetic towards me, it will be deleted.

A commenter adds:

Do you have any idea what $10,000 bounty on a person will buy on the street?

This truly makes the world of patent trolls look like the mafia, does it now? As quick reminder of what started most of this mess:

Ray Niro Offers $5,000 Bounty For Information On My Identity

[...]

Yes, Ray Niro has decided to offer $5,000 to find out who I am. According to the article, he wants to know “who is saying all those nasty things” about him. I don’t think that’s fair. I may have disparaged the validity of Acacia U.S. Patent 5,253,341, and I may have claimed that Niro was asserting the ’341 patent against me just to shut me up, as he did to Greg Aharonian so many years ago (something that the article’s author also implies), but that’s not nasty. Is it?

At least it says “identity” and not “kneecaps”. :-)

Anyway, on the European front, several changes are made and Alberto Barrionuevo will apparently become the new President of FFII. We are sad to see Pieter Hintjens walking away because he has been truly brilliant.

According to the report cited above, FFII Vice-President Mr Barrionuevo (Spain) follows Mr Hintjens as FFII President.

Also on the issue of software patents, digitalmajority.org points to web a page which contains a Google and a Microsoft patent. Google’s patent is seriously bizarre because it the title reads: “Document compression scheme that supports searching and partial decompression”. Does such an ‘invention’ not predate Google’s existence? Are portfolios being compiled just for numbers and not for their quality? Are they usable at all? Are their value associated with their potential in the hands of folks like Ray Niro, who make a living out of making other people miserable?

Has Microsoft Fired Its CIO Because Hotmail Secretly Runs on Free Software?

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 6:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s secret love affair with Linux comes to light

Some time ago we saw Microsoft pressuring to force the departure of two consecutive state CIOs in Massachusetts for 'daring' to support OpenDocument format. We suspect that we caught one similar incident in Finland. Surely, there are many more such occurrences, but finding ‘smoking gun’ proof can be difficult. Remember the “nobody ever gets fired for choosing Microsoft” motto? There are well-disguised political forces working behind the scenes.

“Bad morale at Microsoft is only to be expected.”As we mentioned briefly on a couple of occasions in recent days, Microsoft loses a lot of top staff at the moment and it’s important that we stress the severity of the exodus. This is major! Bad morale at Microsoft is only to be expected.

Mary Jo Foley mentioned Stuart Scott’s highly mysterious departure last night. It is beginning to seem like this CIO, which Microsoft fired some time ago for reasons that it tried very hard to hide, was… well, in fact just doing his job. I have just received the following E-mail:


This one is in Danish, but you might be able to grasp
some of the last line:

http://www.comon.dk/index.php/news/show/id=34420

It looks like there is a rumor that the fellow was fired for doing his
job, which means setting up a FOSS infrastructure. I suppose HotMail
still runs on FreeBSD, though it’d be hard to find out for sure. The
front end is obfuscated.


This is perhaps far from confirmed, but having seen accusations of “paranoia and parochialism” (which are associated/connotated with aliments) it’s worth repeating something. Being alert and watching out for things isn’t over the line, especially given some of the stuff which is found in the Halloween Memos/Documents. The above may be just rumours, but there is basis for trust given the status of the publication and some of Microsoft’s existing (and sometimes secret) hidden deployments of GNU/Linux. Examples include:

It’s unofficial: Microsoft bets business on Linux

What the press statement didn’t mention is that Aruba mobility controllers run the Linux operating system which Microsoft has aggressively targeted as being inferior to Windows as part of its “Get the Facts” marketing campaign.

[...]

Pandey’s appraisal of Aruba’s technology is in stark contrast to Microsoft’s “Get the Facts” rhetoric which places Windows as a more secure and higher-performing choice over Linux.

Top secret: Microsoft’s $6 billion open source play

This month’s announcement by Microsoft to acquire digital marketing services firm aQuantive has revealed little on how the companies will integrate their IT, but inside information indicates the deal may be Redmond’s largest commitment to free software.

[...]

Whether the businesses are complementary or not, Microsoft’s integration work will no doubt involve a lot of open source software used by aQuantive.

Information available from Atlas’ Web site indicates the Internet software company employs extensive use of open source software including Linux Apache, MySQL, and Solaris.

Software engineers at Atlas’ Raleigh office do client/server development in C and C++, software maintenance and “scripting”, and developing and maintaining custom reporting capabilities.

Debian Powers the world

Looks like Microsoft Researches new website InkblotPasswords[.com] , aimed at helping users come up with hard to crack passwords ( while at the same time saving them in a database ) is powered by Debian and Python :)

Breaking: Newsvine Acquired By Microsoft — What is Microsoft going to do with the Linux Hosted site they just bought?

The funny thing is, The site is hosted on Debian Linux…

Microsoft Hypocrites – Pro MS sites that run open source

There are some sites out there that claim to be pro-Microsoft, anti-Linux, anti-open source, or simply appear to favor Microsoft and closed source. That’s fine with me, but then why isn’t closed source good enough for your website? Here is a list of sites that ironically run open source, and even Linux.

There are many Web sites that could be added to the list cited above, including Microsoft Watch, which moved from Windows to Red Hat some months ago.

This may no longer be the case, but several months ago the Flash preloader at https://www.microsoft.com/servers/faces/default.aspx used the Fedora Spinner. Fedora is used elsewhere on the site. There’s apparently a whole MSN block which uses GNU/Linux with Apache (again, this may have changed since I last checked). Need one even mention Akamai? For several years, pretty much all of Microsoft’s big servers were sheltered behind GNU/Linux clusters which were spread worldwide.

Quick Mention: Novell’s WordPerfect Lawsuit Against Microsoft Resurfaces

Posted in Antitrust, Corel, Courtroom, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Pearly Gates and Em-Ballmer
One promises you heaven and the other prepares you for the grave”

Ray Noorda, Novell

It was rather surprising to find this in Bloomberg. A quick look at the datestamp and content suggests that it’s breaking news.

WordPerfect, a once-popular software program, is making something of a comeback — this time as Exhibit A in Novell Inc.’s multibillion-dollar antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp.

The lawsuit is a byproduct of the U.S. government’s landmark case against Microsoft that was settled more than six years ago after the world’s biggest software maker was declared an illegal monopolist. A handful of other private suits against Microsoft still await resolution, and no claim is bigger than Novell’s.

If the development is significant, Shane and I are likely to cover and explore this more closely. It remains rather shocking that Novell chose to become a vassal to a company that betrayed it so many times in the past. To use the words of Steve Stites (just under a day ago):

Such an arrangement would leave Novell with a pile of money and a dying Netware business. Obviously Novell would have to develop a new business strategy. I would like to suggest that Novell has already found one possibility. Microsoft’s ability to do software development has died. Microsoft contracted with Novell to produce open source software written to include Microsoft’s patents, software interfaces, data formats, and network interfaces. Novell is executing this contract with a proficiency in developing software that Microsoft cannot hope to match. I suggest that Novell develop a business in contracting with Microsoft to develop Microsoft proprietary software and Microsoft can lay off their bloated, ineffective software development bureaucracy.

It is very unfortunate to see Novell ending up this way.

Jim Allchin on Novell

Quick Mention: ODF Adoption Leads to More Microsoft Abuses in Croatia

Posted in Europe, Formats, Fraud, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 1:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It ought to be clear by now that Croatia adopted ODF, but back in November we showed that Microsoft could face lawsuits for its OOXML-related corruptions, specifically in Croatia. We also tracked and documented other abuses of OOXML votes in Croatia. It is more than clear that fraudulent activity (not just ‘political’ activity) is taking place there. More details have just arrived:

In April 2007. Office for e-Croatia (governmental body responsible for all things e-related) proposed introduction of ODF format as a national standard.

[...]

However, in this particular case, Microsoft announced objections shortly before the deadline, thus delaying the resolution of the proposal, and maybe even forcing rejection of the proposal. Due to the secrecy that shrouds the work of CSI, I can’t tell what the objections are, nor whether Microsoft has majority of its business partners as members of the panel (although it is very likely so), but the last minute objections are confirmed.

[...]

Even if things don’t turn out that way, there’s the possibility that Microsoft might force OOXML acceptance by sheer voting power within the panel, although I believe that in the case of OOXML failing ISO approval, Microsoft would not dare to display such power over entire nation, at least not while in the limelight.

[...]

What does, however, is the fact that Microsoft and business partners are clearly abusing CSI panel for their own selfish interests, where they as members should think only of the benefit for the people of Croatia.

As the author of the above asks, why would Microsoft abuse its power in Croatia so badly? The country is clearly determined to rid itself from monopoly abuse. It’s also worth adding that Croatia has just signed up to EPO arguing in need of a reform.

Related articles:

OOXML is fraud

Uh Oh! Microsoft Already Supports OpenDocument Format?

Posted in ECMA, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 12:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We should dedicate a cross-group team to come up with ways to leverage Windows technically more.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft

How quickly things change. Several months ago, Stephen Walli, a former a Microsoft manager and also a consultant/advisor to them, said that Microsoft would need to support ODF. He argued that this was inevitable. Are we beginning to see first signs of this prophecy materialising? It sure looks like it. [via Andy Updegrove]

Also, if individual governments mandate the use of ODF instead of Open XML, Microsoft would adapt, Knowlton said. The company would then implement the missing functionality that ODF doesn’t support. However, those extensions would be custom-designed and outside of the standard, which is counter to the idea of an open document standard, Knowlton said. “Disastrous? No. But definitely not preferable,” he said.

It is worth adding that Microsoft took a similar approach in the adoption of next-generation DVD formats. Even though it backed Toshiba’s HDDVD and may have issued a fat cheque (bribe) to support Toshiba, Microsoft also said that if Sony’s Blu-ray wins, it will support it. These claims were made earlier this year and then again approximately a week ago. The funny thing is that earlier this week Microsoft jumped at the press again and claimed this a to be mistake made by a Microsoft spokesman. Microsoft surely realised that this was damaging to its attempt to save HDDVD amid a stunning defeat.

OOXML is badThe same goes for ODF and OOXML in this case. The quote above shows that Microsoft is already looking at the possibility of supporting, implementing and incorporating ODF. It makes it clear that this is doable, but the company is very cautious with its use of words. If it utters something which can be perceived as ODF endorsement, ISO can reject OOXML and claim that ODF (plus the extensions that Microsoft speaks about in this case) may be sufficient, rendering OOXML totally obsolete. Standards should be unified, single, universal. By putting opaque extensions in a "deprecated basket", Microsoft has just made ECMA-OOXML simply a duplicate candidate, which surely should be rejected.

Mark those word from Microsoft’s Knowlton. They will be very handy in the future. Essentially, Microsoft has just shown willingness to deviate from its broken formats (OOXML). The aim is of course to keep its cash cow (Microsoft Office) relevant to a wider audience. It hopes to conquer even countries where ODF is strictly required. What this means to interoperability is a separate matter worth discussing in isolation.

Early in the week we spoke about the Dutch group which demanded access to old and increasingly-deprecated binary formats. This is required for easing the migration from Microsoft Office binaries to ODF. The group appears to be getting its way at the moment if Groklaw’s suppositions are in fact correct. But there is also a big catch.

There’s nothing like an EU Commission investigation to get Microsoft to open up a little, is there?

[...]

Microsoft says it will make the release of the binary formats by February 15th. I don’t see how that gives anyone time to evaluate before the ballot resolution meeting at the end of February.

Whatever happens at the end, ODF is here to stay and thrive. Andy Updegrove’s words on this matter are very reassuring.

The unexpected success of ODF in the marketplace is a symptom of fundamental shifts in a maturing IT ecosystem, characterized by increasingly sophisticated and demanding end users, resurgent competition, new enabling technologies, and other forces that are largely beyond Microsoft’s control.

History teaches that monopolies in the marketplace, like empires in the broader world, are rarely sustainable over long periods of time, and ultimately fall victim to both external attack and internal weaknesses. The degree to which Microsoft’s competitors have embraced, and many Microsoft customers and national governments alike have resonated, with ODF are strong indications that the foundations upon which Microsoft’s historical dominance has been based may at last be weakening.

The most important message of this post is that Microsoft has just admitted that it can graft its ECMA-OOXML ‘extensions’ and mount them on top of the international standard, ODF. Microsoft has given yet another reason to reject simplified OOXML, which is a case of reinventing the wheel and unnecessarily fragmenting the industry.

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