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11.06.08

Eye on Microsoft: Windows Under Attack from Critics, Cyber Criminals; Yahoo! Besieged by Microsoft

Posted in Antitrust, Google, Hardware, Microsoft, Security, Servers, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 3:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open mouse
Vulnerabilities and weaknesses exposed

Windows in Trouble

NOT MUCH HAS changed for the better since the last roundup. This is just a rushed-up update.

Vista 7, an unpolished alpha, is weak on arrival and it still resembles its very basis and codebase, which is Windows Vista.

Microsoft is trying to kick aside Vista and have it replaced by Vista 7, which is merely a touched-up version of Vista. The coverage out there is misleading due to Microsoft bribery, but the strategy it very telling.

It’s clear that Microsoft has thrown in the towel on the woeful Vista. Maybe that’s why Microsoft’s love fest, aka the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last week in Los Angeles, provided a 24/7 forum to discuss a future without Vista, but like a political convention (which it resembled), it’s time to sweep up the confetti and take a clear-eyed look at what we witnessed.

According to this, there is no interest in Windows Vista and sales figures speak for themselves about the effect of this disappointment.

Also, Vista sales have fallen short of expectations lately: For the fiscal first quarter of 2009, Microsoft’s Windows client division revenue increased a mere 2 percent in year-over-year growth, while operating income dropped by 4 percent.

Watch what happens in Amazon.

Case in point: As of this moment, Amazon.com’s “Bestsellers in Computers & PC Hardware” list, packed from the top with XP laptops and Macs and even Linux subnotebooks, has on its first-page list of 25 items… not one Vista PC. None.

The following article ponders the possibility that Vista 7 is the end of the road.

If Windows 7 is more of the same, then maybe it’s time to conclude that Windows is a technology dead end. Last spring, Gartner warned that Microsoft had to radically change Windows or watch it fade into irrelevancy. Windows 7 is not that radical change.

A more pictorial article brings up the grave analogy to make its point.

Microsoft Partners Kicking Dirt On Vista’s Grave

[...]

But this week at its Professional Developer Conference, Microsoft started talking about Windows 7, the successor to Vista, in a way that suggests it may be scaling back efforts to defend Vista’s honor. Microsoft’s recent launch of Windows 7-related blogs, and its removal of the word ‘Vista’ from the Windows Vista Team blog, also support the notion that Microsoft wants to put the Vista experience behind it.

A month ago we wondered if Microsoft's CEO would be deposed for the Vista collusion. It seems to be getting more likely that information will be disclosed as the case develops and turns uglier.

Microsoft is opposing the Ballmer deposition and that proposed method of distribution. But based on the principles applied previously in the case, it appears likely that many of the documents will be unsealed.

What else would be discovered?

Vista is not the only disappointment, however. As we pointed out before, Windows Mobile is gaining prominent critics, some of whom believe it may be dying. This humourous post sure does not help, either.

Windows Mobile – Like Being Dropped in a Toilet

[...]

[I]t wasn’t until the gal was dumped into the soup that I noticed the Windows Mobile ad. Because Microsoft, having failed to win hearts and minds with the drug-induced Seinfeld episodes (they were way too long to be mere commercials), figured that the next best thing was to buy ad space on the rim of something that reminds you of a potty. Stay classy, Microsoft!

Margins Under Siege

As the economy suffers (mostly due to the toll of corruption and deregulation), shops are unable to afford some software and they explore alternatives. As such, prices of proprietary software are said to be dropping, at least in some sectors.

Are You Getting 70 Percent Off List Price from Your ERP Software Vendor?

[..]

Pity the poor software vendors these days. The economy is in full meltdown, IT budgets and workforces have been slashed, and buyers of ERP, CRM and supply chain management software have become even more demanding regarding their application purchases, especially during 2008.

There was more than one report on the subject. The Seattle press covered just one example.

The report says that software sales to enterprise clients are being clinched largely because of sharp discounts of up to 70 percent of the list price. In addition, the report says that increasingly there are thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs) for each product, making it difficult to adjust prices quickly, a problem exacerbated in an economic downturn.

Another examples is here.

Laclede says federal government agencies typically feel the effects of an economic downturn at a slower pace than the private sector and state and local governments. That’s because federal agencies run on yearly budgets, and they already have the money to spend on IT projects, he says.

This will probably hurt Microsoft's profits some more.

Security

Microsoft’s own report confirms that Windows Vista is under attack, but Microsoft prefers to just blame everybody else.

Although computers running Windows Vista are significantly less likely to be infected with attack code than machines running Windows XP, the newer operating system continues to be threatened by Microsoft Corp.’s own ActiveX browser plug-in technology, according to a report issued Monday by the company.

Based on the same Microsoft report, which is always filled with lies and spin anyway, there is a sharp rise in Windows malware.

Malware and unwanted software made strides in the first half of 2008, according to the latest security intelligence report from Microsoft, which tallied a 43 percent increase in the number of programs exorcised by the the company’s malicious software removal tool.

This is also covered here, but they toss most of blame at third-party developers because it’s easier.

The new numbers suggest malware threats on Microsoft are up 43% this year. If this trend continues, maybe people will pay more attention to this. It should already be cumbersome that Windows machines already have a need to keep anti-virus software running, which is a major drag on performance.

There is an even greater menace at the moment: the RPC flaw.

At first, Microsoft seemed to suggest that the recent critical flaw had been discovered internally. Perhaps it tried to deny the truth and reduce panic. It’s not what this new report seems to suggest.

The Trojan horse whose attacks convinced Microsoft Corp. to issue an emergency patch for Windows had infected only about 200 computers prior to the fix’s Oct. 23 release, a security researcher said Tuesday.

So, it was reactionary. Machines were already attacked and compromised. The patch was therefore not proactive.

There are actual attacks targeting this flaw and many machines are being turned into zombies, for sure. Here is one report about on the problem.

Miscreants are taking advantage of slowness in patching systems with an emergency Windows security fix issued late last month to spread malware.

There is some more information about the attacks, as well as shocking figures about the general effect of zombies on on-line banking.

RSA says the most remarkable feature of this trojan is that its authors have managed to maintain the communications infrastructure between the trojan and its database for as long as three years, registering several thousand domains to look after Sinowal’s communications.

Microsoft Windows servers are now being hijacked without user intervention.

A worm designed to exploit the recently patched vulnerability covered in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 has been detected, US-CERT, the government’s cybersecurity organization, warned Monday.

Even Microsoft’s own servers (services) are being used to scatter the Web with SPAM.

Let us now understand how spammers and their recent developments have been targeting Microsoft services with a wide range of attacks.
Earlier this year (2008), as reported by Websense Security Labs, spammers defeated Microsoft’s CAPTCHA system targeting Microsoft’s Live Mail to sign up and create their accounts. Spammers widely used these accounts to advertise their products and services, and carry out a different range of attacks, using the trusted reputation of Microsoft’s Live Mail systems. Realizing spammers were abusing Live Mail services, Microsoft improved the Live Mail account signup and creation process, while preserving their CAPTCHA system for usability.

Boycott XBox360 Launched

All those harsh realities, which Microsoft tried hard to hide and suppress (sometimes by sacking people), are coming out and into the open, resulting not just in brand name value erosion but also in class action lawsuits. A look at YouTube reveals a new boycott action [language warning]. Here are a couple of older ones:

  1. I Am Boycotting the Xbox 360 (Reasons Why Inside)”
  2. F*** xbox360 buy PS3 its reliable#1

This is not good for business.

Google and Yahoo

Microsoft is losing some major customers to Google and its ‘cloud’ future remains poorly defined. The Register adds this sarcastic article to the pool of existing criticisms.

What Ray Ozzie didn’t tell you about Microsoft Azure

[...]

Fortunately for Microsoft, decision makers don’t choose a hosted application platform based on specifications. They choose based on the number of stock photos of clouds and the amount of sans-serif blue typeface you have on your webpage. In that regard, Redmond is the clear winner.

Promises and achievements are separate things. Microsoft is still messing about in an areas where GNU/Linux is dominant.

All of the cloud offerings thus far have been Linux-oriented and required Linux-oriented skills. This has been fine for the first generation of cloud developers: they’re early adopters most likely to have advanced skills.

In the mean time, Google carries on grabbing business away from Microsoft and there is evidence.

He claimed Google Apps are posing a challenge to Microsoft, with 3,000 new business customers each day. He was careful to draw the distinction with consumer users of its services. “Our friends up in Redmond like to dismiss the impact Google Apps is having. I hope he [sic] believes it. The numbers speak for themselves – the numbers are unbelievable,” Gigourard said.

As Shane pointed out earlier, there is no Yahoo/Google deal. Microsoft was hypocritically playing political games [1, 2, 3, 4] and even hiring voices.

A Microsoft funded PR firm is backing an odd collection of “community” groups against cooperation between Google and Yahoo. If Justice is blind, they should have a hard time blocking anything.

The substance of this post can be found here.

The 16 groups wrote to Assistant Attorney General Thomas Barnett, warning that such mega-mergers usually work to the detriment of consumers and minority groups. It was Barnett who warned that European antitrust action against Microsoft might chill innovation and discourage competition.

Microsoft still seems to working together with Carl Icahn to harm Yahoo! and Soften the board [pun intended]. Here is a report from CNN, which is followed by some interpretation.

Billionaire investor and Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) board member Carl Icahn on Monday reiterated his position that the Internet giant should consider striking a search agreement with rival Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).

Yahoo feeling the Microsoft nudge

Yahoo shares edged up Tuesday as analysts and the company’s own major shareholder and director Carl Icahn said they longed for the Internet search pioneer to entertain a search-only deal with Microsoft.

Apple Aggravation

Known Microsoft ‘mouthpieces’ like Enderle and Microsoft Jack are actively promoting Microsoft at the moment (several examples so far this week). They are even slamming the competition, not just promoting Microsoft. Mac users don’t take it well and who could blame them? A one-man ‘group’ is used to compare Apple to Republicans.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, a division of Enderle Global Enterprises, represented by Enderle, Enderle & Enderle, and a block south of Enderle Toyota*, says Apple has made mistakes with its marketing that mirror those of the Republican party in this year’s presidential race.

It’s reassuring to see that people are catching up and realising who is who.

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