EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

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.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. Bogdan Bivolaru said,

    October 18, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Gravatar

    “Bruce Schneier says that a lot of anti-virus software is just ’snake oil’.”
    Could you provide the link to that, please? This would allow me to promote Linux better.
    I know that first hand: I had a chronic infestation of malware on my Windows XP PC with updated antivirus software. After a fresh install of Windows it would have run nicely for a period and then it would slow down and spy on my browsing habits. I got annoyed as the period it would run nicely was growing smaller with each reinstall of the OS.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 18, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Gravatar

    Bogdan, here is the article I had in mind:

    Schneier: Lots of Security Software Is ‘snake Oil’
    http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/144938/schneier_lots_of_security_software_is_snake_oil.html

What Else is New


  1. Links 11/7/2020: Slackel 7.3 Openbox, Kiwi TCMS 8.5, Librem 5 Dogwood Update 3

    Links for the day



  2. Education Without Free Software is Training or Indoctrination

    Kids need to decide for themselves what they want to do and what they wish to use when they grow up; schools need to provide general tools and the mental capacity to make good decisions (rather than make these decisions for the kids, sometimes at the behest of foreign monopolists)



  3. Links 10/7/2020: Wayland-Info, diffoscope 151 and Tor 0.4.4.2-alpha

    Links for the day



  4. European FRAND (Related to SEP) Proponent and Famed Programmer Comes to Realise That It's Actually a “Scam”

    Even people who have long promoted the practice of mandatory "licensing" (in effect patent tax one is unable to work around) are apparently changing their minds and their tune



  5. Not Even a Single Corporate Journalist Has Written Anything About These Very Important Bits of News

    Constant propaganda from patent maximalists has long infested the media, which is sometimes controlled and even bribed to set the tone and the agenda; important developments are being tucked away and require very deep digging for ordinary citizens to find



  6. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 09, 2020

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 09, 2020



  7. Racism in Technology (and Who Typically Lectures Us About the Subject)

    Racism is a real problem; some approaches to tackling racism, however, can also be problematic and those who take the lead 'on behalf' of victims tend to be opportunistic and privileged few (piggybacking others' grievances to further advance their financial agenda)



  8. Links 10/7/2020: Debian 8 Long Term Support EOL, Mobian Project, Mesa 20.1.3

    Links for the day



  9. [Humour] COVID-19 is Very, Very Afraid of Human Beings Making More Monopolies Instead of Fighting Together

    The European Patent Office (EPO) to the rescue! Fighting a dangerous pandemic one profitable monopoly at a time!



  10. The News is Never 'Slow', It's Just Journalism That's Slowing Down (and Investigative Journalism Coming Under Attack)

    A mix of censorship and subtle mind control contribute to misinformed societies that shape their perception or misunderstanding of the world based on false measures of authority (where money can determine what is true and what is untrue); many topics remain completely untouched, leading to apathy in a vacuum; it's very much applicable to international organisations, which are presumed benign by virtue of being multi-national or supranational



  11. Social Control Media is About Social Control and If It Doesn't Ban You It'll Shut Down Everyone's Account (One Day)

    It’s time to leave the ‘Internet rot’ which is social control media well behind us; blogging and RSS/XML may seem like a thing of the past, but they may as well become the future (again; if we make the correct and informed choices)



  12. Microsoft's Fingers in Every Pie: The Cult Mentality That Society Needs to Become Wary of

    Microsoft and its co-founder (pretending to do his for-profit 'charity' via the Gates Foundation) are trying to control the world; in the process they've moved to control even their most potent competitor, according to Gates himself, which is GNU/Linux



  13. Links 9/7/2020: Google’s Open Usage Commons, GNOME 3.36.4, Neptune 6.5

    Links for the day



  14. IRC Proceedings: Wednesday, July 08, 2020

    IRC logs for Wednesday, July 08, 2020



  15. Links 8/7/2020: SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs, Btrfs as Default in Fedora, Qt Creator 4.12.4

    Links for the day



  16. Yes, Master

    When the Linux Foundation tells us to tone down our language we ought to remember what kind of hypocritical stance these people have (note: the above have nothing to do with slavery, either)



  17. Fraunhofer is Again Evergreening Software Patents to Maintain Its Codecs Cartel, Forcing Everyone to Pay to View/Stream Multimedia Files

    The roller-coaster of software patents on multimedia isn't stopping; we know the culprits who can be named for perpetuating this injustice



  18. [Humour/Meme] Focusing on the Bombings and Who's Included in the Bombings

    Supremacist agenda disguised as "tolerant and inclusive" is still objectionable supremacist agenda



  19. Manners Are a Good Thing. The Yardstick or the Standard of Manners Changes Over Time.

    Entirely legitimate grievances of African-Americans are being exploited by people who aren’t even African-American (and usually don’t speak for African-Americans) to warp the debate from one about software ethics and technical issues, not to mention war crimes of companies that employ many programmers, to something which is unlikely to really help African-Americans (also, they don't employ any African-Americans)



  20. IRC Proceedings: Tuesday, July 07, 2020

    IRC logs for Tuesday, July 07, 2020



  21. Links 8/7/2020: Huawei’s GNU/Linux PC, Sparky 5.12, and Endless OS 3.8.4 Released

    Links for the day



  22. [Humour] Television Channels That Don't Speak of Real Looting But Participate in Looting

    People may need to look beyond (or outside) the television screen to grasp what's going on



  23. (Software) Freedom is Elusive Without the Ability to Concentrate

    Software is consuming people's minds; to make matters worse, people have become so attached to such software that they're unable to see it and get away from it (they associate that software with "social life")



  24. Monopolies Erode Freedom, Freedom Erodes Monopolies

    "There are so many reasons that GitHub makes projects less free."



  25. Links 7/7/2020: NomadBSD 1.3.2, Clonezilla Live 2.6.7 and DRM Comes to Cars

    Links for the day



  26. [Humour] IAM Ranked Top for Quality of EPO Propaganda

    Contrary to what the European Patent Office (EPO) keeps saying, patent quality is slipping very fast in Europe (based on the EPO's own analysis!) but patent trolls-funded publishers deny that



  27. When They're Done With Patents on Foods and Recipes They'll Have Patents on Fashion, Taste and Smell

    The mental dysfunction — an infectious condition — that says everything in the world must be patented should be resisted; it overlooks the fact that patents were introduced to protect/promote actual invention, not thoughts, feelings, nature and art



  28. [Humour/Meme] IBM's Money is Unhealthy to the Free Software Foundation (FSF)

    IBM will never be happy as long as RMS (Richard Stallman) has a say in the FSF — directly or indirectly — or even in the GNU Project, both of which he himself created back when IBM was the biggest monopolist



  29. IRC Proceedings: Monday, July 06, 2020

    IRC logs for Monday, July 06, 2020



  30. Never Let IBM/Red Hat Lecture Us on Morality

    Ethics and morality should not be taught by those who themselves need a lesson; in the meantime we're losing the courage to speak freely and those who commit atrocious acts like it a lot better that way


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts