“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
–Bill Gates of the 'Crusade for Software Addiction'
The previous post ought to have shown you that Microsoft is gradually losing its grip on Europe. Microsoft does not give up without a fight though. To re-use that phrase from the previous post’s title, when Microsoft fights, it’s willing to deal punches below the belt.
A reader has brought to our attention the following new discovery about Microsoft interfering with a state that migrates to GNU/Linux.
Microsoft will be signing up Malayalam movie star Mammootty as one of the brand ambassadors for the Computer Literacy programme that is to be organized soon in Kerala, a Southern Indian State well known for its pro-free software policies.
This is far from the first time Microsoft uses Bollywood to promote its products. It did the same thing when Windows Vista was released (videos and songs produced, as well as coffees named using known Microsoft brands). Many innocent bystanders were unhappy, some were utterly disgusted.
More recently, over in the United States, we saw Microsoft even approaching the star of the program “Jackass” to buy itself some “cool factor” . And then there’s NASCAR also , but it fell through a few days ago . Top it all up with insulting the customers’ intelligence, as demonstrated last week  and about a year ago . Links are appended to show you how ‘extreme’ Microsoft marketing can be. More examples of viral marketing you will find in this older post, whose focus was viral marketing for OOXML.
“If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”
This isn’t the first Microsoft tries to use its money to fight adoption of GNU/Linux in Kerala. We provided examples of this (from the local press) several months ago. Scroll down to the section about Kerala.
As was said in a comment some hours ago:
“That one really is sick – I have a lot of good Indian friends, and the Bollywood stars are seen with an almost god-like status amongst the less educated Indians (of which there are, sadly, many in Kerala). Microsoft are just cynically exploiting this…”
“Let’s face it – the average computer user has the brain of a Spider Monkey.”
We can combat unethical marketing techniques by at least highlighting their existence and explaining to the general population why they are misjudged. █
 Microsoft apparently hopes that a “Jackass” can up its hip quotient and increase market share
This came to my inbox this morning from a reader who shall remain nameless. I found it sort of interesting.
Perhaps this new campaign is the opening salvo to be launched by Microsoft’s newly hired advertising agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, the “it” agency of the moment in the advertising world.
 Feeling Dumb? Microsoft Says MSN Can Help
Google’s informal code of conduct is ‘Don’t Be Evil,’ a reflection of its commitment to not exploiting its users. But a new Microsoft ad campaign is sending an altogether different message: ‘Don’t Be Dumb.’
 [Microsoft:] WhatsWrongWithU
The site is targetted to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Korea, with an abrasive attempt at in your face attitude. However, one has to wonder if the whole thing will come off as more than a little insulting.
 Microsoft’s latest marketing vehicle: NASCAR
Microsoft plans to sponsor a NASCAR team for the 2008 season in a bid to boost the profile of its offerings for small businesses.
 Microsoft NASCAR sponsorship takes bad turn
The BAM Racing #49 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car, partially sponsored by Microsoft Small Business, is being taken out of commission, for now, because a sponsorship deal with another company fell through, according to a message on the BAM Racing site from owner Beth Ann Morgenthau.
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The monopolist is gradually losing it, despite dirty maneuvers
Last week we saw Microsoft coming under fire in Europe. When one talks about the EU, however, there’s a distinction to be made. Brits tend to think of the EU as continental Europe, whose attitude and response to Microsoft has been lukewarm for quite some time, unlike Britain which happily lets itself be shackled by Microsoft.
We won’t delve into the politics at play, but if you are curious about what Richard Stallman recently called the “special relationship,” referring to Tony Blair and the United States, then do some research on the Bilderberg Group. Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are members of it and so is the Gates family.
“This has also been a ‘Microsoft Shop’ budget drain that affects all taxpayers (in terms of wealth and service, which can be a matter of life or death).”While the Microsoft brand name sinks rather badly in most places, Microsoft’s brand value in the Britain is still positioned rather highly, according to most surveys. That, however, might begin to change.
We previously covered the British Library fiasco, the BBC’s media division (whose head dropped this week), National Archives and even BECTA, whose role has become almost synonymous with “Microsoft training courses” (funded by all taxpayers).
A lot more coverage of Microsoft’s grip on the British public sector you will find in this long post from January. We hope never to find another NHS in the making, i.e. one of the worst-ever IT disasters. This has also been a ‘Microsoft Shop’ budget drain that affects all taxpayers (in terms of wealth and service, which can be a matter of life or death).
Here come the big news reports from London:
London council dumps Microsoft, may go open source instead
NEWHAM LONDON Borough Council has scrapped the controversial 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with Microsoft in 2004 and drawn up a new agreement with a new set of deliverables.
Below we present just a little exposé of those who are typically involved. We try to keep track of Microsoft’s corporate ‘troopers’, not just so-called ‘analysts’, whom we last addressed yesterday.
The news story above happens to have very high impact, almost in par with that of the London Stock Exchange, which is a total disaster. Only recently they had an outage (yes, the stock market!). To give some self-explanatory information:
London Stock Exchange blames outage on Infolect
Infolect was launched two years ago in place of the exchange’s London Market Information Link platform. It uses Microsoft .net technology and a SQL Server database, and runs on more than 100 Intel-based 32-bit Proliant servers.
Compare with other recent articles such as these two from last week:
Among article that are just over a year old:
And here is the impact of roughly 320,000,000 Windows PCs that are currently zombies (according to this recent report from USA Today):
The significance of the news from London is great. This happens to be the council which Microsoft used in its notorious “Get the Facts” roadshow around the UK.
They were the first UK Council to pretend they were interested in Open Source, then dump it to get a nice deal out of Microsoft. The MoU they signed formed the basis of the MoU the OGC signed for the Public Sector as a whole. Seems it hasn’t worked out quite how Microsoft told them.
Still, Richard Steele’s career has prospered. CIO of the year in 2005, Senior Vice President of Socitm, and Microsoft’s main mouthpiece (as agreed with them in the MoU) in the UK Public Sector
At Boycott Novell we are still determined to ‘Get the Facts’ about Newham and Birmingham and the nice little deals Microsoft has done in the UK Public Sector out into the Public Domain. Richard Steele is the centrepiece of Microsoft’s game on the Council scene. He’s pretty much the most influential guy there and they currently own him.
More recently we also saw Microsoft’s [P|G]artner Group fooling others in the UK, which led to backlash. Keep your eyes open. Microsoft is very busy behind the scenes. It has never changed its ways, it just happened to have become more secretive, as far as adopting some strict E-mail-shredding policies in the process. █
Recent and related articles:
Recent press release:
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Camel comes ‘knocking’ on your tent
Several months ago we began to more systematically track Microsoft’s invasion into anything “open” and anything “nix”. A year ago we wrote to mention that the Open Solutions Alliance had rejected Microsoft’s attempt to join. Microsoft, as you already know, sticks its finger in any *NIX and OSS pie out there, hoping to become an integral part of it and then pull developers until they get entrapped inside the Microsoft stack, which is of course proprietary.
The Open Solutions Alliance has been struggling for a while for a variety of reasons, but those reasons are not the point worth focusing on. What’s worth looking at are Microsoft’s continued, relentless and seemingly never-ending intrusion attempts. it’s almost like a spoiled 5-year-old at the back seat yelling “are we THERE yet”?
Politics of a familiar sort has reared its head as well, according to Sartorio. While many companies want to integrate open-source elements with the Microsoft stack, that reality has clashed somewhat within the OSA’s ranks, he said. “They say, ‘Look, be careful what you do with Microsoft. … I don’t want to be part of an open-source movement that is working closely with Microsoft.’”
“The challenge at Microsoft is the old guard is trying to keep Wall Street happy and their revenues flowing in a predictable way,” he said, but the company is on the whole “not monolithic” in its thinking regarding open source.
“There aren’t any specific plans between OSA and Microsoft,” he added. “It’s a matter of ongoing dialogue.”
“Ongoing dialogue,” eh? You can read on by viewing the article as a whole. The article is about the OSA’s need for a momentum boost, which brings back worrisome memories of Microsoft’s attempts to ‘buy’ those who are frail, such as Novell and even OLPC (prepare for ugly news later this month, which follows Microsoft's systematic sabotage of the project, along with Intel).
“Microsoft rarely explains its goals, but those who listen carefully know the truth about Microsoft viewing FOSS as its to-be ISV.”Microsoft just loves to approach those who are feeble. Remember OSBC? If not, then you are strongly encouraged to look back at many posts that include [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. I seem to have finally opened up Matt Asay’s eyes a little bit because he has recently been more vocal with criticism about Microsoft’s real intent. He is no longer on the OSI’s board either, but this probably has nothing to do with Microsoft becoming part of it and more a question of time management (he publishes and communicates at a high pace). He sort of explained this himself last week. His relevance to this debate lies in the fact that he is the motor behind the birth of the Open Solutions Alliance.
There is a bunch of nonesense in the news at the moment about Ozzie uttering the term “open-source”, which foolishly enough, too many journalists and bloggers have fallen for. Microsoft rarely explains its goals, but those who listen carefully know the truth about Microsoft viewing FOSS as its to-be ISV. █
“I would love to see all open source innovation happen on top of Windows”
–Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (2007)
“[If I ask you who is Microsoft's biggest competitor now, who would it be?] Open…Linux. I don’t want to say open source. Linux, certainly have to go with that.”
–Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft (February 28th, 2008)
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One of Microsoft’s lesser-known partners, which also signed a software patent deal involving Linux, is Samsung. We wrote about Samsung's corruption allegations just a fortnight ago and also provided many contextual links for background about this deal.
The New York Times has more information at the moment. It is suggesting that the chairman of the company is personally involved and also charged. This looks bad for this gigantic company as a whole.
The chairman of the Samsung Group, Lee Kun-hee, has been indicted on charges of evading taxes on billions of dollars that he hid in stock accounts under the names of his aides, a special prosecutor announced on Thursday.
The weaker and less credible Microsoft’s partners become, the better it is for freedom of software. The abuse of the GPL must end and the GPLv3 is one possible solution to these deals.
While on the subject of GPLv3, some readers are likely to recall the AGPL-Google kerkuffle [1, 2, 3] because it led to a few discussions in this Web site. As it turns out, Google’s AGPLv3 snub is no accident and there’s more to it.
Actually, we think that creating individual pools of software that cannot be shared amongst other licenses is less open, which is why we are against license proliferation.
SoC isn’t much about recruiting, but more about creating more open source code and developers.
mtg [Milking The Gnu]:
So the argument is that of compatibility? (e.g. creating less ‘pools’) but then by the same token you could have only the X/MIT license …
It raises another issue though: does it mean Google doesn’t really trust the OSI?
What if OSI starts delivering say an “Open Choice Repository” label to those repositories offering all OSI-approved licenses; does Google code want to end-up next to Microsoft CodePlex which denies hosting to GPLv3 projects?
Bear in mind that Chris DiBona used to be a very active participant in the OSI. We corresponded on several occasions. In this blog post (correspondence), DiBona says that he likes beer and wine. Well, it’s time to sober up.
The AGPLv3 is a reality and it’s extremely important to defend it. If Google disregards even the OSI’s approval (never mind the FSF’s principles), then Google will further complicate status issues amongst some developers. Time to face reality, Google. Your shareholders need the faith of the geeks. █
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“The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”
–Martin Bryan, ISO
Former Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1 (OOXML)
We have been hearing that more legal action might be on its way, but it is too early for details to be revealed. As you may recall from yesterday, the credibility of the BSI and ISO was put to the task. They face new challenges as conflicting interests continue to be found.
You can probably still remember that ISO’s FAQ was pointless at best, if not plainly outrageous [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The BSI's FAQ was self contradictory. The response was consistent in fact and by no means equivocal, although Updegrove used sarcasm to get the point across. some folks went as far as doing scientific rebuttals that should make ISO blush for deceiving the public. Here is the conclusion from Rob Weir:
For ISO, in a public relations pitch, to blithely suggest that several thousand page Fast Tracks are “not unusual” shows an audacious disregard for the truth and a lack of respect for a public that is looking for ISO to correct its errors, not blow smoke at them in a revisionist attempt to portray the DIS 29500 approval process as normal, acceptable or even legitimate. We should expect better from ISO and we should express disappointment in them when they let us down in our reasonable expectations of honesty. We don’t expect this from Ecma. We don’t expect this from Microsoft. But we should expect this from ISO.
Watch the figures in the page. A lot of work must have gone into producing them and they illustrate just how statistically impossible it is for OOXML to go through, unless something rotten was happening.
Criticism of ISO — despite its great reverence — is not something which only a few bloggers and 'courageous' journalists are willing to do. In fact, there are many comments from the public which support this. For example:
Re: ISO calls for end to OOXML ‘personal attacks’
To accept OOXML is to live in the dank slimy hell of bureaucracy. To shaft ourselves. To fight it and push for clean and implementable standards is to boldly and generously begin an adventure into a brighter successful and enormously more effective future.
“It’s time to chuck OOXML back at ECMA and Microsoft, both of which view this as a global game of money and power.”There are many more comments just like this. Heaps in fact. The small portion of the public that actually understands these matters has gone very vocal. Remember Norway and other street protests? When was the last time you saw people getting so passionate over standards, let alone about technology?
You may also wish to look back at the fiasco in India, where Microsoft’s business partners are still being slammed for supporting the monopoly that suppresses many people. One of our readers, CoolGuy, lives in India and in light of Microsoft-enslaved (also slavery-imposing) companies voting blindly in favours of OOXML he warned about the reality behind such companies. They are reportedly misusing their workforce and the following brand-new article from India Daily says more about this.
Wipro Microsoft alliance is a shame for all Indians – alliance or slavery?
The alliance uses Microsoft technologies instead of challenging Gates in his own game. Wipro is just a servant of Microsoft facilitating Indian cyber slavery under the American corporate banners.
Remember that Wipro is among those who voted in favour of OOXML. Is there any crumb of decency and ethics left in such companies? It sure makes you wonder who makes decisions ‘on behalf’ of entire nations, whose government departments and academia vote more sensible (insistence on unilateral “No” to OOXML, at least in India). Look back at the beginning of this post and ponder the famous “follow the money” meme.
It’s time to chuck OOXML back at ECMA and Microsoft, both of which view this as a global game of money and power. And lest we forget Jan "you are well paid, shut up" van den Beld from a Microsoft lobbying arm. ISO should do the right thing. It still can. It is a moral obligation. █
ODF as the only
ISO standard: this battle
is not over yet
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Proxies, lobbyists, threats… and proud of it!
Our site seems to suffer from a minor software bug that sometimes leads to posts going private and thus temporarily inaccessible. Our previous coverage of the Yahoo/Microsoft bid, which was quite a comprehensive overview in fact, was among those not seen by many. We encourage you to read it now as you probably haven’t (it’s a summary):
Microsoft Fires Up Proxy War Against Yahoo as Debt Looms Over
Having gone through the history of the threats and the proxy war at hand, come to consider this latest report about Microsoft resorting to playing politics.
Microsoft hires firm to lobby on proposed Yahoo takeover
The firm disclosed the information on a registration form filed online Tuesday by the Senate’s public records office.
A message to one of the lobbyists was not returned while Google spokesman Adam Kovacevich said the company does not comment on its lobbying activities.
We have covered before incidents where Microsoft gets disturbingly close to the government in order to get its way. This just happens to be the latest example among so many. █
“I thanked Rose for all of his trips to Seattle and his willingness to distract a lot of time for the lawsuit.”
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OOXML: open as in “open for negotiation on patent tax tariff”
The SFLC has already informed us all that OOXML is clearly incompatible with the GNU GPL. But Microsoft seems to have just picked itself another smaller target (it’s a pattern that we last mentioned days ago). It insulted the intelligence of the Groklaw crowd with some rude remarks on this issue. Pamela has just responded:
I wrote yesterday that RAND terms can be discriminatory, and that in fact due to the Microsoft OSP, OOXML is discriminatory against the GPL and Open Source licenses, despite being made available under RAND terms. Microsoft’s Jason Matusow responded with a blog entry suggesting I need to bone up on standards and licenses. Why Microsoft folks can’t be polite is a mystery to me, but I persist in responding with decency. He thought it would be helpful to hear from lawyers on the subject. So, I did some research for him, and I find that there are quite a number of lawyers who agree with me.
So here you are, Jason: what is wrong with RAND from folks whose credentials you will respect. They are not radical or extreme, and neither is Groklaw, as you will see. The problem, rather, is that Microsoft is wishing that time would stand still for it, and that the old, proprietary software model were all that there was in the world. However, like the music industry, Microsoft — and standards bodies — now have to cope with the new and modern software development model and licenses that foster and underpin it, not just the old-fashioned, closed, and patent-licensed model that Microsoft represents. And isn’t it you at Microsoft, and your friends at CompTIA, who have told the governments of the world that one business model should not be favored over any other? How much less should a standard?
Since Jason Matusow made it personal, let’s make a thing or two clear. Matusow seems like an unpleasant character [1, 2] for the lies he told in the past and also for defending Microsoft’s ‘aggressive’ (to use the gentlest of words) push for OOXML. It’s hard to understand why Microsoft continues to bully and to corrupt governments with lobbyists at a time when it has so much to lose.
You will probably be pleased (or relived) to hear that OpenOffice.org 3.0 has just been officially switched over to the LGPLv3, which addresses possible software patent issues. This was actually announced over a month ago, but changed have only just been implemented. Those who receive the nightly build will probably see the modifications that have been applied.
On a regular basis we provide developer snapshots to gather feedback on features and fixes that have been implemented on the way to OpenOffice.org 3.0.
Going back to patents in a standard, OOXML is not the only such problem. Yesterday we exemplified this problem using 4G technology. Something must change and in the mean time OOXML must be shunned by FOSS users and developers alike.
As ugly secrets and truths about ISO begin to come loose, there’s hope that OOXML will get trashed. Without the many corruptions, it would never have stood a chance of joining an existing standard that is a real one (ODF) as well as widely supported by the entire industry, as opposed to a single highly abusive company, a spoiled brat. █
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