Fedorans are still very common here and so are Ubuntu users. The main news is that, other than the continued and monotonic increase in pageviews, there was a big leap last month, which carried on this month as well (the bars for November are not complete yet, but they should stand at about 3.2 million). █
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“There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks that it is absurd. I would include our stock in that category. It is bad for the long-term worth of the economy.”
Microsoft’s stock does not perform too well [1, 2], despite the massive buybacks. In addition to all that, RBC has just dealt another blow to Microsoft.
Analyst cuts estimates, price target on Microsoft
An RBC Capital Markets analyst lowered his estimates and price target for Microsoft Corp. Tuesday, citing “uncertain” end-of-the-year consumer and enterprise spending and a lack of upcoming stock catalysts.
In a client note, Robert Breza cut his fiscal 2009 earnings-per-share estimate for the world’s largest software company to $2.01 from $2.04 and his revenue estimate to $64.6 billion from $65.3 billion. The analyst also decreased his fiscal 2010 estimates.
This is also covered by Associated Press, haters of fair use doctrine. The outlook ahead does not look all that bright, either.
Holiday sales look uncertain for Microsoft and PC sellers
The only real question is how bad it will get.
Microsoft is still trying to evolve and it plays "hard to get" with Yahoo! (a reversal of roles) despite or because of the shortage of funds. According to this Microsoft shareholder, Microsoft’s chances of staying heavyweight after a migration to the Web are fairly slim.
The majority of Microsoft’s revenue and profits still comes from Windows and Office. There is no way the company can afford to encourage users to emigrate from Office to a cheaper, Web-based alternative. Sure, Microsoft will roll out a new version of Windows Live that includes Web-based apps, but you can bet they’ll be very lightweight. Google, on the other hand, has core business built on the Web that will only be enhanced by its efforts in cloud computing.
One Microsoft-friendly magazine that we have come to know and disrespect is attempting to maintain optimism while admitting that Microsoft is unable to make profit on the Web.
As for Microsoft, which has been at this online thing for a decade, give or take, losses continue to mount. The division in question is Microsoft’s Online Services Business, which includes the online portal MSN, the aQuantive ad agency Microsoft bought last year for $6 billion, and Live Search.
The leader and big gainer continues to be Google, which also appears to be inheriting lost clients that Microsoft ‘acquired’ along with Hotmail.
United States Internet users conducted 2 percent fewer searches in October 2008 than the year earlier, but used Google more often for those searches, according to data Nielsen Online released Tuesday.
If Microsoft anticipates a bright future on the so-called ‘cloud’, then it’s nowhere near progress. It’s a known fact that those who are not able to move forward are gradually falling behind. They sometimes don’t even realise it. Sometimes they enter a stage of denial or they try to swallow the ocean of change. █
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“LH [Longhorn/Vista] is a pig and I don’t see any solution to this problem. If we are to rise to the challenge of Linux…”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft
The idiom “lipstick on a pig” was probably made more popular during the 2008 US elections because of a certain “phony” argument. But either way, we have written quite extensively about Windows Mobile and predictions of its doom, e.g. here. As rumours about a Microsoft phone started to swirl (Microsoft seems to be denying it, labeling this mythical phone “phony”), GigaOM, the site owned by a temporary Microsoft Munchkin, once again took a shot at it, saying it would be like “lipstick on a pig.”
When I read an Inquirer piece about Microsoft launching its own branded phone with a Tegra chipset by Nvidia, it struck me that this would truly be putting lipstick on a pig.
Better known for its porky attributes is actually Windows Vista, whose early incarnation was called “a pig” by the manager of the project (a quote is prepended above to serve as proof). It’s looking worse and worse for Vista, based on Glyn Moody’s report.
As someone who has been following Microsoft for over 25 years, I remain staggered by the completeness of the Vista fiasco. Microsoft’s constant backtracking on the phasing out of Windows XP is perhaps the most evident proof of the fact that people do not want to be forced to “upgrade” to something that has been memorably described as DRM masquerading as an operating system.
Microsoft remains with just lies and vapourware at the moment. Even the crown jewel known as “Windows” has become frail in a much more competitive market that favours UNIX/Linux. █
“Every time you use Google, you’re using a machine running the Linux kernel.”
–Chris DiBona, Google
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HAVE a look at this thing. A seemingly-innocent event has just ended and it was totally stuffed by prime cronies of Microsoft. It’s full of Microsoft lobbyists such as ACT, CompTIA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], and the BSA [1, 2, 3, 4]. This is just one among a string of conferences that we highlighted recently due to Microsoft’s role in them, via pressure groups it sponsors. Even one of the chief cronies, Mr. Jonathan Zuck [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], was there.
Earlier today we saw South Africa falling prey to this disturbing trend. Watch how it happens, based on today’s news.
“There’s been a lot of room for growth here,” Reynolds said, adding that one of his 2008 highlights was attending the weakling Microsoft Technical Education Conference in Orlando, Fla., with Bill Gates as keynote speaker.
It was 2 years ago that this incident was documented and then filed by us.
Changing the Report, After the Vote
That agreement was nearly imperiled last weekend, though. Gerri Elliott, corporate vice president at Microsoft’s Worldwide Public Sector division, sent an e-mail message to fellow commissioners Friday evening saying that she “vigorously” objected to a paragraph in which the panel embraced and encouraged the development of open source software and open content projects in higher education. The paragraph read like this:
Yes, Microsoft sets the rules for education. This story in its entirety is even more fascinating and reminiscent of the tactics Microsoft used against ODF around the same time.
The following analysis contains no ‘smoking gun’, but a little investigation by Mr. Moody netted an interesting finding about something that’s called “2008 EuroSoftware100.”
And the aim of this is precisely what?
PricewaterhouseCoopers, in association with the European National Software and Associations: Europe (ESA), France (AFDEL), UK (BASDA) and Pierre Audoin Consultants as technical advisors, is pleased to present the 2008 EuroSoftware100.
Interestingly, all of the four “partners” of this whizzo scheme either have Microsoft as a member or customer (ESA, AFDEL, BASDA, Pierre Audoin Consultants), but open source companies are conspicuously thin on the ground. Just thought I’d mention it.
Analysts and Anal Yeasts?
The deposition of Steve Ballmer (another newer article about it here) had us mention his relationship with Rob Enderle, the poisonous character that attacks GNU/Linux in the press.
“Over at IDG, Eric Lai’s current tagline (in his blog) is “Regarding Redmond”, which is rather telling.”Over at IDG, Eric Lai’s current tagline (in his blog) is “Regarding Redmond”, which is rather telling. A couple of weeks ago he took a little shot at Boycott Novell. And now he’s defending Enderle in subtle ways, using his blog.
Speaking of sellout ‘analysts’, the Gartner Group has had a lot of fully-packed agenda recently and its insult to F/OSS has just reached India as well. There is a lot of poison to watch out for. We are thankful to 2 readers who brought to our attention 2 of the interventions detailed above. █
Weasel??? Who, me?
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The state of the botnet is a reality that can’t be immediately escaped unless there is a large-scale disconnection of Windows-running PCs. However, rather than making steps in the right direction, the situation appears to be worsening.
This post is a quick roundup (due to time constraints) of the past week’s developments, with special emphasis on complete comprise that brings the world SPAM, DDOS attacks, espionage, ransom, and wasted productivity.
Rise of the Zombies
Halloween is far behind, but the zombies are back.
Most of Srizbi’s new command and control servers were located in Estonia and all of its domains were registered in Russia. For about 13 hours, some 100,000 or so infected machines had the ability to connect to those servers, though it’s not clear exactly how many of them did so, since many of them were likely not powered on, Lanstein said.
IDG covered this too.
The zombie computers used to send spam are coming back to life.
Security vendors say spammers are reconnecting with hacked PCs used for sending spam as evidenced by a rising number of spam messages circulating on the Internet the last few days. Spam levels suddenly dropped two weeks ago after the shutdown of McColo, a rogue ISP (Internet Service Provider) based in San Jose, California, whose connectivity was used to control networks of hundreds of thousands of computers to send spam, known as botnets.
According to the following report, these botnets can easily increase their size by recruiting more nodes.
A new analysis of botnets has come up with a possible reason for their prodigious ability to infect PCs — many anti-virus programs are near to useless in blocking the binaries used to spread them.
SPAM on the Rise Again
A recent statistic suggested that over 150 billion SPAM messages are sent per day. Biblical proportions by all means! Some of this can be intercepted at server level, but it increases load on the servers (and thus everyone’s connection fees), not to mention the severe issue of false positives (especially affecting businesses that rely on E-mail).
With increase in botnet activity comes increase in SPAM that threatens small businesses.
The fight against spam rages on after a spike in spam levels following the shut-down of hosting service McColo. SMBs are particularly vulnerable to malware and spam; ensuring secure, spam-free email should be a prominent security interest.
This was also covered by the BBC.
Spam on rise after brief reprieve
Some 450,000 infected computers have been spotted trying to connect to the largest of the networks McColo hosted.
Worms Warming Up
More worm problems emerge:
1. Vulnerable Windows Machines Sitting Ducks for the Conficker Worm
First Microsoft, and now McAfee is warning Windows users to expedite the process of applying a patch for a Critical vulnerability in Server Service affecting both client and server versions of the operating system.
According to the Redmond company, all supported platforms are vulnerable, including Windows 2000, Windows XP (even SP3), Windows Vista RTM/SP1, Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7. McAfee has indicated that users not deploying the patch are vulnerable, while Microsoft has already informed that it had detected active attacks and infections in the wild, following a period when exploits were just targeted.
2. Windows worm infection accelerates
Microsoft is currently observing an increase in the spread of a new Windows worm that exploits the known vulnerability in the RPC functions of the Server service to penetrate systems. The infection rate of Conficker.A worm is reported to be accelerating over company networks in particular. The Microsoft Malware Protection Center says most reports are coming from the USA, but customers in Europe, Asia and South America too are affected, and reports have also been received from several hundred home users.
3. Microsoft Warns of Worm Attack on Windows
Security researchers at Microsoft Corp. last week warned of a significant climb in exploits of a Windows bug it patched with an emergency fix last month, confirming earlier reports by Symantec Corp.
Microsoft again urged users to apply the MS08-067 patch if they have not already done so.
4. Microsoft Warns Of Attack Exploiting Windows Vulnerability
Specifically, the worm deletes any use-created System Restore points, and attempts to contact numerous sites, including those of Google, Yahoo, MSN and ask.com, to obtain the current date, according to researchers at the SANS Institute. The worm then uses the date information to generate a list of domain names, which it then contacts in an attempt to download additional malicious files onto a user’s affected computer.
5. Microsoft warns of new Windows attacks
The new attacks, which Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center said began over the weekend but spiked during the past two days, use the same worm that Symantec first spotted last Friday.
6. Microsoft: Worm Exploiting Networked Computers via HTTP
Microsoft informed in its most recent security bulletin that a worm dubbed Win32/Conficker.gen!A is messing around with computers across a network by exploiting a vulnerability in the Windows Server service, allowing remote code execution to take place while file sharing is enabled.
How did computing fall into this mess? Well, the following article magically vanished (we did try to find it again, to no avail), but its headline was (is) “Microsoft Not Rushing To Fix Vista Kernel Vulnerability.” The disappearance of this article might be innocent, but it still raises a brow.
We covered this last week. Even when severe flaws are found, Microsoft will leave them unpatched unless or until there is an attack exploiting them, i.e. when it’s too late. It is not only vain but it’s also irresponsible. It also enables Microsoft to ‘massage’ and lie about security using meaningless figures [1, 2, 3].
Once infected, nothing on a machine can be trusted, as proven by this new report.
A DANGEROUS new variant of malware is attacking PCs in the UK, the INQ has discovered. It hijacks the victim’s browser and directs them to a fake site masquerading as AVG’s own front page.
Needless to say, without radical change, things are bound to get worse before they get better. It’s time for consideration of secure platforms. █
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“You don’t need to buy the company, just destroy them and then take their business.”
–Duncan ‘Dragons Den’ Bannatyne
In this latest chapter, there are negotiations for the acquisition of Yahoo’s search business. A reader of ours once again points out that a patent which acts as anti-Google kryptonite might be the motive. The patent can be found here and some analysis here: “Google’s SEC filings mention a “fully-paid, perpetual license,” but they omit the word non-revocable. Patent license terms often include non-revocable in addition to perpetual. Perpetual seems to indicate non-revocability but it really does not. It is unreasonable to expect Google’s high-powered lawyers to miss the word non-revocable, so Google’s license to the ’361 patent is revocable.”
For background about this Yahoo! saga, see our previous coverage and analysis, which includes:
There is a lot more in the posts above (including evidence of control being seized from the inside), so that won’t be repeated here.
It was probably predictable. This type of deal was coming following a lot of agitation from Microsoft and ‘injection’ of its own people into Yahoo. Here is another lost boss for Yahoo (from Friday).
Coppel will stay for the handover to his replacement and leave the company in the first quarter of 2009.
Sue Decker, president of Yahoo! Inc, said, “The appointment of Rich Riley represents the next phase in the evolution of our European and Canadian businesses, enabling us to build on the great foundations laid by Toby Coppel.
Microsoft must be aiming at overthrowing the opposition from Yahoo and taking control from the inside rather than from the outside. Yang jumped in after Terry Semel had shown signs of weakness.
Speculations grew just before the American holiday began, particularly because Icahn, whom Microsoft communicates with and probably uses in what’s known as a “proxy battle”, made his move.
Talks with Microsoft are rumoured to be still going on – possibly just for its search business. And presumably Steve Ballmer is offering a lot less than $33 a share.
Yang’s supposed preferred response, an ad deal with Google, has also fallen through.
Here is MarketWatch’s report about it.
According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Icahn purchased roughly 6.8 million shares in Yahoo…
Lastly, from the Los Angeles Times: Yahoo stock rallies after Carl Icahn increases stake
The company’s stock surged 93 cents, or nearly 9%, to $11.51 in the shortened trading session after Icahn, a Yahoo board member who has been pushing a strategy shift or a sale to Microsoft Corp., said he had bought about 6.8 million shares.
There are some other new sightings of Microsoft/Yahoo.
All in all, this has been a brutal and despicable display of power. Some of the moves involved should be illegal and considered white-collar crime. █
Update: that original report is being challenged and even refuted now.
A report in the Sunday Times that Microsoft Inc is in talks with Yahoo Inc to buy the U.S. internet company’s online search business for $20 billion is “total fiction,” according to a key executive cited by an influential U.S. blog.
The Sunday Times, which did not cite its sources, said the proposal under discussion involves a complex transaction that would see the U.S. software giant support a new management team to take control of Yahoo.
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It is worth correcting chronic claims that Boycott Novell is unique in its analysis, which is mostly inherited from concerns of others. Examples:
2004 (gnome.org): Why Mono is Currently An Unacceptable Risk
Argument In Brief
1. Microsoft’s C#/CLI licensing people, at high levels, are aware of us.
2. Microsoft can choose to do damaging things in the current C#/CLI licensing ambiguity.
3. Microsoft considers the free software / Linux community to be a major competitive threat
4. Microsoft does not “compete” gently
5. A + B + C + D = ?
2006 (harnvi.net): Who would use Mono now?
You can call it FUD, but for me it’s a question of investing my time and energy in technology that are and will be available on the platforms I use (Mac OS X and Linux). I don’t trust Microsoft and I don’t trust Novell anymore either. Who knows when Microsot will bring out it’s patents and kill Mono use outside of Novell? I think .NET is good if you want to develop for Windows only. For cross platform development I would not use it – I would go for Java.
The problem is not GNU/Linux which is not free (gratis). The key problem is a division between GNU/Linux that’s free and one that’s treated differently by Microsoft and its ally. █
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- BT In Trouble Over Secret Behavioral Ad Tests
Did BT illegally test a new online advertising system on their customers without consent? That’s currently what British prosecutors are trying to determine.
BT GroupAll the fuss stems from a document that was leaked back in June which showed that BT had held a two-week test, which involved 18,000 subscribers back in September and October 2006 without them knowing.
- What might end Apple’s open source pass
Apple has replaced Microsoft as the chief foe of open source. (Picture from a student assignment sheet at Bodine High School in Pennsylvania.)
This was in part a matter of necessity. Apple had to put DRM on its iPod or it would get nothing to sell. It had to become a big advocate of the DMCA to keep its suppliers.
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