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10.17.08

Eye on Microsoft: Failed Products, Security Issues, and “7” Sins

Posted in Apple, DRM, FUD, Hardware, Microsoft, Security, Vista, Windows at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There is a lot to cover today, so we group articles by topic and comment on them very briefly.

Dying (or Dead) Products

In recent weeks we presented several examples of products or divisions that Microsoft decided to shut down. The latest addition to this list (reduction rather) is MSN Groups, which is getting the chop.

An e-mail snafu has led to the leak of Microsoft’s decision to shutter its MSN Groups service, according to LiveSide.net.

It is now confirmed.

Confirmed: Microsoft Gives Up On MSN Groups, Hands It Off To Multiply

[...]

The rumor was originally reported earlier today after a series of emails were posted to a MSN Discussion newsgroup, and has since been confirmed by both Multiply and Microsoft through a blog post.

Another burdensome business for Microsoft is XBox (360). The company has lost several billions of dollars there and iTWire can attest to bad experiences in this latest article about an overdue fix

I have experienced just how frustrating owning an Xbox 360 can be, with my console being repaired for a second time after being returned from the first repair in a totally broken state.

There is one clear winner in this round of ‘console wars’. It continues to be Nintendo with sales that rise sharply.

Nintendo’s Wii Sales Rise 37 Percent During September

[...]

Nintendo also led in sales of handheld game players. Consumers purchased 536,800 of the company’s DS machines, compared with 238,100 units of Sony’s PSP, NPD said.

That’s where the gamers’ money is going. Sony, much like Microsoft, is losing a lot of money, but it distributes many Blu-Ray-capable devices in the process.

Om Malik, who previously AstroTurfed for Microsoft (as covered here), wrote a piece suggesting that Windows Mobile is in trouble. This appeared in the New York Times, despite its pro-Microsoft bias.

Recently it was revealed that the newest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Mobile 7.0, would be delayed until as late as 2010. The updated version, which the company’s partners had reportedly been hoping to have by early 2009, was aimed at giving Microsoft a bigger presence on the mobile stage. But delay or no delay, I don’t think it would have been enough. With competition from a resurgent BlackBerry platform from Research in Motion, Apple’s iPhone and most importantly, the Google Phone platform (I will analyze Nokia’s Symbian platform in a separate post at a later date), Microsoft’s mobile platform is facing its toughest environment yet.

[...]

Sometime later this month, the G-1 will go on sale and people (at least those in the U.S.) will be able to experience the difference between a Windows Mobile- and an Android-based phone for themselves. Of course, some will find the shortcomings of the Google Phone — and according to Mossberg, there are many — grating. Others, like me, will be suitably impressed. And if they’re impressed enough, most handset makers will want to join the party.

If the troubles of Windows Mobile are recognised and even shared by a Microsoft AstroTurfer in a Microsoft-oriented publication, then something must really be wrong with Windows Mobile. We wrote about the specifics of this before and included many supportive references.

Security

ASUS Eee PCs which contain Windows XP are being taken off the shelves and recalled in Japan. The reason: viruses.

Taiwan’s ASUSTek Computer has announced a recall of its Eee Box PCs that were sold in Japan because they contain a virus.

The virus, known as recycled.exe, resides on the D drive of the machine and once opened, the virus will be activated and copy itself to the C drive as well as any other removable or USB drives. Affected by the virus, the running of the computer will become slow and it may download harmful malware programs from the Internet.

ASUS is hopefully watching and learning from this incident. In other news, yet another benchmark shows that anti-virus software is a futile attempt at creating or restoring system’s security. This latest one from Secunia agrees with several independent studies that precede it.

Security software suites are doing a poor job of detecting when a PC’s software is under attack, according to Danish vendor Secunia.

Secunia tested how well a dozen Internet security suites could identify when a software vulnerability was being exploited, said Thomas Kristensen, Secunia’s CTO.

Bruce Schneier says that a lot of anti-virus software is just ‘snake oil’.

Moving on and into the news, Microsoft has no less than 20 security holes to patch this month. It’s a lower bound because Microsoft just hides a lot of serious deficiencies to brag about perceived security. At least 4 “critical” vulnerabilities (remotely compromisable) are included:

Microsoft on Tuesday issued updates plugging at least 20 security holes in Windows, Office, and other products. They came as miscreants sent out phony emails urging people to download malware that masqueraded as critical Windows alerts.

Ushering Microsoft’s ‘Panic Tuesday’ was indeed a surge of Trojan horses masqueraded as something benign.

Along with the vulnerabilities posed by the flaws for which Microsoft released patches on Tuesday, users of the software giant’s products have a new obstacle to grapple with: a fake notification mailing that looks remarkably legitimate.

Some people may wonder how these dangerous E-mails reach so many people without their origin being blacklisted. It’s the fault of Microsoft Windows botnets — a problem so colossal which could reportedly affect phones, too.

The same week one of the world’s worst spam operations is being shut down, security researchers are warning the next big threat may not be for PCs at all — but rather for cell phones.

If it were not for the massive amounts of SPAM arriving from Windows botnets (about 150 billion per day), phishing attacks would be a lot less practical. But botnets are returning.

After laying low for the better part of a year, the Warezov botnet is back – with some new tricks up its sleeve.

[...]

Stewart says Warezov is more of a payload delivery system than an actual bot. It is in essence a backdoor that installs any software its operator wants. In recent times, the payload of choice is a fast-flux hosting platform that turns compromised PCs into servers that host spoof sites used in phishing campaigns. Fast-flux networks are much harder to shut down because there’s no central channel to defeat. If a single node hosting, say, a fraudulent Bank of America website is taken down, there are still thousands of other infected machines ready to take its place.

According to reports like this, even mainframes running Windows can now be turned into zombies.

Hackers have released code that could be used to take control of a server running Microsoft’s Host Integration Server 2006, used to connect mainframe applications to Windows PCs.

In a world where roughly 40% of the computers are zombies, none of this should be surprising. There needs to be a serious overhaul which involves a mass departure from Windows.

Here is an article about attempts to turn Microsoft’s security mechanism into a compensations mechanism. The EULA permits this.

Microsoft is objecting to a plan that would force the company to use its Windows Update service to notify potential members in the “Windows Vista Capable” class-action lawsuit, according to documents filed in federal court Wednesday.

Shane wrote about it earlier in the week.

Lawsuits

On that same subject of the "Vista capable" collusion/s, some time ago we wrote about Steve Ballmer being approached for a deposition. The investigation is going deeper now because it turns out that he spoke to Intel’s CEO on a very significant day.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers in the ‘Vista Capable’ case want to know what Steve Ballmer said to Intel CEO Paul Otellini during a phone conversation the two men had on the same day that Microsoft decided to loosen the requirements needed for a PC to get a ‘Vista Capable’ sticker.

Never forget what Intel and Microsoft did to OLPC.

While Microsoft battles one class action lawsuit, it gets hit by another. The skeleton in the wardrobe has proven overly troublesome.

Just four words can send a Microsoft Xbox 360 executive running for the hills. And they’ll be getting their trainers on now, because a Red Ring of Death lawsuit has been filed against Microsoft.

A report by DailyGamesNews states that the lawsuit alleges Microsoft knew about the infamous RRoD problem as far back as 2005, but that the firm chose to hide Xbox 360 RRoD failure rates so that sales wouldn’t suffer.

This was also covered here.

The infamous red ring of death rears its head again, this time resulting in a lawsuit over recent revelations made in the press.

Some of these class action lawsuits typically result in nothing but ‘Funny Money’ (compensation money that returns to Microsoft). Here is a new short article about it.

Microsoft settled the suit back in 2005 that alleged they engaged in anti-trust and consumer fraud practices from 1994 to 2004.

If you purchased any products made by the company during that time, you were able to sign up for this settlement.

Now, finally, you can get reimbursed for new microsoft products you buy.

Just Microsoft products? That’s feeding the prosecuted party instead of depriving it from market share.

FUD

If you replace “Micro” with “Tele”, then you can get TeleSoft, which sounds like tele (from distance) Microsoft, i.e. Microsoft proxy. That’s where a lot of open source FUD has just come from. Matt Asay reports:

Perhaps recognizing that not everyone will buy into its FUD, TeleSoft claims to support the popular Linux operating system, but with a kernel-loadable module approach that keeps its IP safe from that voracious appetite of IP-stealing Linux. Nice. TeleSoft wants to have its cake (“open source is terrible!”) and eat it, too (“but our open source is not so terrible!”).

TeleSoft provides protocol stacks to the telecom industry, and from the sound of things it’s getting sick of losing to open source. I used to work in this embedded Network and Communications market years ago and open-source adoption was exceptionally high. Threatened by open source’s low price and high functionality, it’s not surprising to see TeleSoft fight back.

But it might want to use factual information next time. The developers it’s targeting with this FUD campaign will struggle to understand TeleSoft’s point that “no documentation and quality testing means no guarantee of interoperability.” (What does quality testing have to do with interoperability?) They’ll scoff at the notion that open source isn’t (or can’t be) “tailored for [customers'] unique hardware and operating system.” In fact, the opposite is, or can be, true.

Microsoft and TeleSoft are no strangers, but there’s probably no string-pulling here.

Under greater competitive pressure, Microsoft goes on the offence again. It is throwing slime at Apple just days after the last time.

Microsoft has promised for some time now to finally fire back against Apple’s marketing onslaught. Beyond a pleasant surprise of the company’s new “I’m a PC” ads, Microsoft and CEO Steve Ballmer are also mounting a grassroots assault on Apple and its products through good ol’ internal memos and interviews.

According to Associated Press, Microsoft plans to sabotage yet another launch event. This time it’s to do with Apple and we recently summarised examples of similar behaviour.

DRM

We wrote quite a lot about the British Library in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Its preoccupation with DRM was one among the many problems as it taints public assets with unknown vendor-specific digital locks. There is a good new rant about it over at ZDNet UK.

As my correspondent says: “After all that I still couldn’t open the document (which I’ve only opened once before) and got this. Now I know I haven’t opened the document at another computer because this is my only computer with a printer – so I didn’t open it anywhere else. I am never using this service again. The British Library, Microsoft and Adobe can go shove their DRM up their document delivery service exit. ”

This, let me reiterate, is a public body providing publicly paid-for research to a highly-qualified professional engaged in impeccable work for the public service.

It is hard to imagine something more expensive, condescending, inaccurate, frustrating and enraging – nor something better calculated to restrict knowledge and broadcast ignorance.

It’s almost as if the parties involved actively want to prevent people learning. It certainly feels that way.

To borrow a favourite analogy, they take important rights away from people and then sell these rights back to them, for a price and only temporarily.

The BBC is still playing with Microsoft DRM.

BBC iPlayer downloads coming to Mac and Linux

[...]

However, the Beeb’s downloadable content will come with strings attached: content for all platforms will include DRM.

We covered some of this in [1, 2].

Love and Hate

There are some more short articles that may be of interest to some readers:

1. Who does Microsoft hate the most?

Wow! Now that really is a hard question to answer isn’t it? If you listen to what ‘Barmy’ Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO and 43rd richest person on Earth, has to say then you might be forgiven for thinking it is Google (I’m going to f****** kill Google), or maybe Apple (I’ve got my kids brainwashed… you don’t use an iPod) or even Linux (… a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.)

2. Best and Worst Microsoft Products?

Worst Products – ActiveX, Bob, Hotmail, IIS 5, Internet Explorer 6, Outlook Express, SQL Server 2000, SMS 2.0, Windows ME, Windows Registry

3. Top 10 Microsoft Windows 7 rants

Vnunet.com’s recent articles on ‘Windows 7′ being unveiled as the official name for the next version of Windows, and Microsoft’s follow-up explanation for the choice, have generated a huge response from our readers.

Many of those who posted comments wanted to share their views on the number of Windows versions so far, having taken affront at Microsoft’s tally of six.

Windows 7 is a good example… of vapourware tactics. Microsoft’s CEO is already insinuating that customers might as well forget about Vista.

Office Suites

Now that OpenOffice.org 3.0 is out there for a crowd of skeptical Office users to consider, it’s worth pointing to this new IDG column that’s also a complaint about usability issues in Microsoft Office 2007.

Arrogance or efficiency? Why Microsoft redesigned the Office user interface, Part 1

Earlier this year, I was writing an e-mail message using Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 and clicked on the button for adding one of my signature blocks.

Presto! Most of my message disappeared! Investigation and testing showed that the behavior was unpredictable; sometimes, only the existing default signature was replaced by the new signature but occasionally the program became confused and wiped out portions of the text as well.

Some months ago we showed fairly new examples of serious mathematical bugs in Microsoft Excel. Amid the financial crisis, this item from the news stood out.

Lehman Excel snafu could cost Barclays dear

A formatting fubar involving an Excel spreadsheet has left Barclays Capital with contracts involving collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers than it never meant to acquire.

Finance

Speaking of financial danger, Microsoft and its good friends at Intel are both feeling the pinch.

Intel, Microsoft Squeezed by $170 Billion Budget Cuts

Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and the technology companies that so far have escaped the credit crisis relatively unscathed will lose out on as much as $170 billion in sales next year as the crunch catches up with them.

Corporate spending on computers, software and communications equipment may be little changed or fall as much as 5 percent next year as the lending freeze spooks clients, said Jane Snorek, an analyst at First American Funds in Minneapolis who has followed the industry for 13 years. It would be the first decline in the $3.41 trillion market since 2001 after the dot-com bubble burst.

Microsoft is also chasing payments now.

As economy falters, Microsoft scrambles for payment

[...]

[N]ow that some of the largest of those companies have fallen on harder times, the software giant Microsoft is making a concerted legal effort to ensure that it gets paid.

Microsoft has filed motions in bankruptcy court to monitor proceedings and prevent potential losses on large software licensing and consulting deals with collapsed Wall Street brokerage Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., embattled retailer Mervyn’s LLC and failed thrift Washington Mutual Inc.

MSFT is down over 1% today. Heavy buybacks prevent the stock from falling further.

King of Hypocrisy(ahoo!)

Posted in Antitrust, Google, Law, Microsoft, Search, Servers at 3:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft: “no” to Yahoo/Google deal, “yes” to Yahoo/Microsoft acquisition?

Political Manipulation Returns

THE Yahoo-Google-Microsoft saga has a lot to teach us about intervention and manipulation at levels as high up as the government, so we have been keeping track of it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. In this latest summary, we bring together events gathered throughout the past week. The intention is to show what tricks Microsoft in particular has been up to.

As shown before (see links further up at the top), Microsoft has been working very hard to intercept a sensible deal between Yahoo and Google. Such a deal would be a ‘posion pill’ that deters against another hostile takeover bid from Microsoft.

Now far did Microsoft go? Well, it was never shy about AstroTurfing, but that’s ‘small potatoes’ in comparison to the control Microsoft exerts at government level, and not just in the United States by the way. From the new guy at the Seattle Times (Todd Bishop jumped ship):

In an article Tuesday, Roll Call quoted a “knowledgeable tech industry source” as saying:

“Microsoft is pulling out every favor it’s got … It has a very close relationship with DOJ and the White House, and all of that pressure is being brought to bear.”

It is no secret that Microsoft has 'planted' some of its own cronies in various influential places. In many spots among our 4,000+ posts we have provided and shown concrete examples. Regarding the DOJ (US Department of Justice) which is mentioned above, we have covered some examples here.

Wired has this short post about what it calls “The Lobbying Wars” between Google and Microsoft.

Google may have Microsoft beat in the search innovation game, but Microsoft has more practice in lobbying Congress and knows how the throw its weight around in Washington. Microsoft has been hard at work trying to thwart Google’s proposed search partnership with Yahoo, and it looks as though their experience in DC is coming in handy.

Glenn Manishin, a partner in Duane Morris’ antitrust and technology practice, tells Roll Call today that Microsoft isn’t so much trying to protect its search business as it is looking to create roadblocks to Google’s growth:

“Microsoft’s opposition has very little to do with online advertising and is part of a broader, longer-term strategic battle between two visions of where technology is going to be… I think Microsoft’s concern isn’t directly with the competitive effect of online advertising, because Microsoft doesn’t do a lot of online advertising.”

When it comes to lobbying and political brunt, Microsoft has more maturation/maturity (state) while Google is still maturing (process) because Washington has already appointed people who are in Microsoft's pocket. Google is therefore in a position of disadvantage in such a corruptible environment. As the post above rightly states, “Microsoft isn’t so much trying to protect its search business as it is looking to create roadblocks to Google’s growth.”

According to this report from The Register, Google fights fire with fire. It’s just lobbying.

Google is holding secret negotiations with the US Department of Justice to head off a full investigation into its ad-sharing deal with Yahoo!.

In a state such as this (“secret negotiations with the US Department of Justice”), no wonder the whole system is collapsing under the weight of long-charged corruption.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

CIO.com

This is not sustainable.

Microsoft Tortures Yahoo!

Some days ago, a Microsoft investor pressured the company to sell out to Microsoft. It caused great harm.

The shares haven’t dipped below $12 since the summer of 2003.

This pressure was bound to have no real effect, according to IDG.

A relatively small Yahoo shareholder is proposing a new Microsoft takeover offer, but analysts don’t think it’s enough to entice the companies back to the negotiating table.

On Thursday, Mithras Capital, a California investor and Yahoo shareholder, issued a statement proposing that Microsoft buy Yahoo at US$22 per share, $11 less per share than Microsoft’s last offer for the entire company, but still a premium over the current price.

Several days later came Microsoft’s CEO playing those old pursuit games with Yahoo! (yes, again).

Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said a deal with Yahoo! Inc. may still make economic sense for shareholders of both companies, pushing Yahoo stock up as much as 17 percent.

[...]

Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler didn’t immediately return calls seeking about Ballmer’s remarks today. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw had no immediate comment.

Apparently, regulators won’t allow Yahoo to sign an innocent deal with Google, but for an abusive monopolist to buy a competitor in order to destroy another is absolutely fine. It’s all just a matter of who controls the government. Anyway, soon afterwards Microsoft refuted what Steve Ballmer had said:

Microsoft said Thursday it is not pursuing an acquisition of Yahoo, despite public comments by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Thursday suggesting a deal between the two companies might still be on the table.

Here is another post which discusses this wild manipulation of stock prices using false promises. This up-and-down of emotions is unhealthy and definitely unhelpful.

[W]ithin an hour of the news, Microsoft (MSFT) spokesman Frank Shaw issued an statement to retract Ballmer’s comments. “Our position hasn’t changed. Microsoft has no interest in acquiring Yahoo!; there are no discussions between the companies,” Microsoft said.

The Fear of Google

Is Microsoft’s obsession with Google justified? Well, Google seems to be doing pretty well now, unlike Microsoft which relies on buybacks.

Google has defied the skeptics. The Web search leader reported third-quarter earnings that far exceeded the expectations of analysts, especially those who thought the company might finally fall victim to the slumping economy.

For Google, it’s revenue up 31% and profit up 26%.

The notoriously free-spending Google Inc. cinched its belt in the third quarter and delivered another strong financial performance Thursday, defying fears that it would fall prey to the growing economic turmoil.

MarketWatch published this article about Google-Microsoft rivalry and their latest political tiffs.

It’s no secret that Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. have been engaged in a war for the hearts and minds of the average Internet user, with both companies taking different approaches to undermine the other and chart the direction of the Web.

As pointed out a few days ago, Microsoft is already losing some lucrative contracts in the enterprise space because of Google. Alley insider has some more details.

Google Docs is often talked about as a competitor to Microsoft’s cash cow – the Office Suite – but the talks usually refer to some point in the future when everyone’s running their applications in the cloud. That day is coming.

The Crime

Speaking of enterprise and search, guess how that fraud investigation is coming along. It’s pretty much confirmed now. From IDG:

Norwegian police on Thursday charged Fast Search & Transfer with accounting fraud, an enterprise search company bought by Microsoft in January for US$1.2 billion.

More in The Register:

Norwegian economic crime police have raided the headquarters of Microsoft-owned Fast Search and Transfer and charged the firm with accounting fraud.

Although it seems highly improbable, one reader wondered if this company might serve as a place for Microsoft to launder money in. It’s not as though Microsoft was never caught engaging in fraud before.

The Nomo GNU/Linux Distribution and Another Silver Lie

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nomo
No Mo’ Poisonware, Please

MARTI van Lin has some valuable tips to share about creating Mono-free distributions of GNU/Linux. This comes at a fairly important time when Microsoft is hoping to force-feed everyone, including KDE users, a "clone" package called Mono. It’s using the SIlver Lie in order to deceive Web developers and quietly advance Poisonware [1, 2] into people’s Web browsers. The whole argument about Mono being complementary or peripheral to GNU/Linux is therefore becoming pointless and moot.

It was exceptionally hard to ignore the following news article about Microsoft considering Silverlight for Android.

On the other hand, Microsoft will consider developing something for Google’s Android operating system, which is open-source and therefore easier to work with.

Say what?!?!

Android is GNU/Linux. Microsoft says that, being open source, it’s easier to work with. Well, so why didn’t Microsoft port Silverlight to GNU/Linux desktops? As far as we are aware, no person uses Android at the moment. It has only just been fornally announced. The article quotes Microsoft’s Guthrie, who loves to lie about "cross platform" (Silverlight is not cross-platform, despite deception from Microsoft and 'the media').

According to past articles, Microsoft used Novell (and Moonlight) as an excuse to leave GNU/Linux out in the cold, i.e. totally neglected, without Silverlight. Another ‘warm’ thank-you goes out to Novell. It’s more manipulation by Microsoft, thanks to Novell’s assistance. This pair plays the same games and uses the same routine in hypervisors.

“It’s more manipulation by Microsoft, thanks to Novell’s assistance.”Why would anyone expect or actually want Silverlight for GNU/Linux? For starters, Moonlight is not Silverlight. There is no parity and there never will be. Moreover, had Microsoft given GNU/Linux users a binary to run for Silverlight, patent liability would not exist. But by having Novell copy (‘steal’ or reverse-engineer) Silverlight, Microsoft can later whine and complain about violation of software patents or other ludicrous rights. Moonlight is only for Novell. Fedora won't touch it, for legal as opposed to philosophical reasons.

Going back to the Washington Post article, why would Microsoft support an insignificant mobile device platform while ignoring its sworn #1 competitor? In the same vein and also very similarly, why did the Microsoft-captured BBC support almost every platform including phones and gaming consoles when it comes to iPlayer while at the same time ignoring and even shunning a popular Free platform that Microsoft admits is its most fierce rival? We have been through this before.

Silverlight puke, barf

Microsoft Tries Squeezing the ‘L’ Out of LAMP Stacks

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 1:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Awareness of the strategy enables fast response

AS WE showed before [1, 2, 3], SpikeSource has become a Microsoft ally that assists the movement of Free software programs over to the Windows platform. It’s actually supported by both Microsoft and Intel, which makes one wonder about Intel’s attitude towards Free software and GNU/Linux in particular. The collusions and the assault on OLPC don’t help.

Anyway, there is no mentioning of SpikeSource in the following news, but there are signs of the same strategy against GNU/Linux. Microsoft is trying to displace the “L” in LAMP and it’s a development we may wish to refer to in the future, so here are 3 articles about it:

1. Microsoft introduces installers for open-source apps

If you can’t beat them, join them, and make certain that people notice. Microsoft has introduced an installer that streamlines installations of free components from its Web application platform, and another to guide its customers in the installation of popular .NET and PHP open-source applications that are compatible with Windows.

2. Microsoft, OpenLogic Further Open-Source Efforts

Microsoft and OpenLogic both made moves Oct. 15 to further their open-source initiatives, with Microsoft releasing new software for Web developers and OpenLogic announcing new professional services to help companies increase their usage of open-source software.

Microsoft delivered the beta of a download manager and packaged open-source applications to make it easier for Web developers to install Web products and tools for building next-generation Web applications. The new software from Microsoft includes Web PI (Web Platform Installer), a free download manager that simplifies the installation of Microsoft’s development tools, from .NET Framework 3.5 to ASP.NET to Silverlight, for building Web applications.

3. Microsoft Puts Weight Behind Open Source Projects With Web Platform Installer

The platform is capable of running both ASP and PHP-based applications, and it consists of a suite of tools including Visual Web Developer for creating websites, Microsoft SQL Server for administering databases, and IIS7 for serving webpages. As such, the bundling of these open source packages is a rather clever way for Microsoft to promote the use of its proprietary server software over popular open source alternatives such as Apache and MySQL. Ironic, yes, but selective promotion of open source is better than none at all.

There is also an opinion about it here.

‘Addiction’ Battles for Microsoft in China and Africa

Posted in Africa, Asia, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OLPC, OpenDocument, Windows at 12:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

In terms of actual sales, Microsoft is doing more poorly than before. It has lost its thunder, so even Microsoft mouthpieces like Ina Fried [1, 2] are clearly concerned about measurable indicators.

Vista laptops not top sellers on Amazon

[...]

That one is an HP mini-notebook that ranked No. 18, trailing behind a gaggle of Macs and Netbooks running either Windows XP or Linux.

There are many new examples of Microsoft’s response to the lack of adoption of its crown jewel products. We’ll cover some of them later today.

Over in China, Microsoft is lobbying for the use of Windows at all costs (even $0) and there are antitrust threats due to this. It’s predatory pricing, which is an offence.

It was not entirely new or surprising that Microsoft permits people in China to ‘steal’ Windows, provided that it’s Vista, i.e. provided it helps the perception of Vista adoption and tightens lock-in on the user. Here is the opinion of someone who agrees.

A new campaign announced by Microsoft China on Oct. 16 to combat piracy of its Windows XP operating system has been met with fury by Chinese software users, and according to one analyst, is more about forcing people to upgrade to Windows Vista.

Perhaps more disturbing though is Microsoft’s intrusion into South African schools, which are/were on their route to GNU/Linux and ODF. Microsoft just won’t leave them alone, as we showed in greater detail before. Here is the latest dump:

FIFTY colleges of Further Education and Training (FET) will become accredited Microsoft Information Technology (IT) Academies so that students can receive internationally accredited training and certifications in addition to local qualifications.

The agreement to introduce the training in all of SA’s FETs was signed last week by Microsoft and the communications department’s Meraka e-Skills Institute. The aim is to give students some skills that will increase their immediate chance of employment and to give them a foundation to pursue further studies in the field. The curriculum will be designed to give students the chance to experience real-world challenges in the classroom, with courses due to start next year.

It’s worth getting the record straight. This is about capturing minds while they are young and making them dependent on a single foreign vendor. This actually comes at a very interesting time because an ODF workshop has just ended and it took place in South Africa. There is a report about it from Brazil.

I attended last week’s ODF Workshop in South Africa, and I really enjoyed the event. It was an excellent opportunity to meet people who work with ODF in governments around the world, exchange experiences on migration, talk about the new features on ODF 1.2 and talk a lot about other things that I really appreciate as interoperability and open standards adoption worldwide.

Brazil was represented by Paul Maia, from Caixa Economica Federal and Carlos Machado of SERPRO. I had the opportunity to make a brief presentation about the main features of ODF 1.2 that we’re developing at the OASIS ODF TC.

For those who are interested, there is also an OpenDocument API now. [via Bob Sutor]

ODFDOM is the name of the new free OpenDocument framework sponsored by Sun Microsystems Inc.

[Its] purpose is to provide an easy common way to create, access and manipulate OpenDocument files, without requiring detailed knowledge of the OpenDocument specification.

It is the successor of AODL and Odf4j, designed together with their architects to provide the ODF developer community an easy lightwork programming API, portable to any object-oriented language.

Shills Protect Shills

Speaking of document standards and abuse the poor, Rick Jelliffe [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18] is alluded to in the following new post which brings back his involvement (on Microsoft’s payroll) in Wikipedia. Guess who defends him?

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

Dare Obasanjo, a Microsoft employee and the son of a former President of Nigeria, doesn’t like it when people disagree with him. I found that out in 2007 when Obasanjo vandalized the TechCrunch Wikipedia page in response to a post we wrote that was mildly critical of Microsoft’s hiring of a blogger to edit certain Wikipedia entries relating to Open Office standards. His actions as an individual and as a representative of Microsoft were outrageous.

Considering this ‘special’ position at Microsoft Nigeria (government connection), it’s worth remembering the OLPC incidents which took place in the country. A lawsuit by a convicted criminal, dumping by Intel, and bribery by Microsoft (of Nigerian officials) all come to mind [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. Whether the country is more tolerant of crime or not is a separate question.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: October 16th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 17/10/2008: Exposition of Android, OpenOffice.org Success in Italy

Posted in News Roundup at 3:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

BSD

F/OSS

Leftovers

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