11.09.08

Tim Anderson Received Bribe for Vista 7 Review

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 8:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kid with laptop

THIS is part of a series of posts. For context, see:

Yes, it’s another laptops giveaway bonanza, designed and intended to seed a media blitz which has Vista 7 reviewed under unrealistic conditions, as well as with the expectation that journalists will repay for this $2,000 gift. According to IDG News Service, literally “several dozen of reviewers and analysts” received this schwag from Microsoft. The company gave it away under the disguise which is “loan” (no obligation to return it). It has been called “permanently loaned” in some places.

First in our series we have Tim Anderson, who has been writing in many publications, including The Register.

His review of Vista 7 does mention somewhere along the way that he is among those ‘VIP‘ laptop holders.

A day spent with a Windows 7 preview build – Milestone 3, running on a laptop loaned for the purpose (Dell XPS M1330, Core 2 Duo 2.3Ghz, with 3GB RAM) tends to confirm that view. Windows 7 feels more polished than Vista, even in the preview, and performance is good.

Positive review. What else would you expect from a bribed reporter?

Who is Tim Anderson?

A freelance journalist since 1992, Tim Anderson specializes in programming and internet development topics. He has columns in Personal Computer World and IT Week, and also contributes regularly to The Register. He writes from time to time for other periodicals including Developer Network Journal Online, and Hardcopy.

It was also spread around quite a bit, so Microsoft gets a lot of good publicity in exchange for that almost-negligible $2000 expenditure (not to mention future coverage too).

Vista 7 was preinstalled on a powerful machine and optimised for performance. It’s the same old story.

Tim has gone a little further already. Here he is writing in his personal Web site:

Here at PDC in Los Angeles, Microsoft’s Chief Architect Ray Ozzie and Windows VP Steven Sinofsky are introducing Windows 7. A couple of days ago, journalists were loaned Windows 7 laptops to try and I’ve been using this over the last day or so.

This also appears here, so the ‘story’ quickly finds legs. Other people haven’t the opportunity to contradict Tim or saturate the Web with information because Vista 7 is a super limited edition, handed out selectively only to ‘obedient’ reviewers.

From the comments in The Register:

There were other problems, but those two took the wind out of Vista’s sails very early on, and were the major cause of the perceived performance problems. So a “Vista Test” should check an OS against marginal hardware and to pass, the OS would have to perform well. But you played with it a little bit on a laptop “loaned for the purpose”. FAIL

From Slashdot:

Based on the announcements on Windows 7 and the reviews I thought too that they had improved the performance of Windows 7 vs. Vista. Then I found an article by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols that might explain the “glowing” reviews at Microsoft’s PDC. It seems that Microsoft may have permanently “loaned” $2,000 laptops with 2.4GHz Intel dual cores + 3GB ram to the “reviewers” to review Windows 7. If so, that’s not the first time they tried that stunt (Vista was the first that I recall). So in the answer to the question, “Can a leopard change its spots?” if the above is correct then the answer in Microsoft’s case seems to be “No.”

Here’s the url:
http://blogs.computerworld.com/microsoft_bribes_again

Tim received a $2000 gift from Microsoft. Expect him to write nice things about Microsoft in the future. He sold out.

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”

Former Microsoft manager

What is This… Munchkins Again?

Posted in Microsoft, Site News at 7:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The following conversation took place just minutes ago in the public IRC channel. It involved “yuhong”, who has been defending Microsoft or its products in this Web site for quite some time. He does this in other sites like Roughly Drafted. Here is a complete, as-is, log from his latest appearance (context here). His IRC software gave away the IP address.


*yuhong (n=chatzill@pool-71-188-245-175.sttlwa.dsl-w.verizon.net) has joined #boycottnovell Nov 10 00:12
yuhong Remember the “revisionist” thing? Nov 10 00:12
yuhong I think that it isn’t that it was revisionist, but it was that they are bad excuses. Nov 10 00:13
schestowitz What do you mean? Nov 10 00:13
schestowitz By the way, are you in Seattle? Nov 10 00:14
yuhong Yes, I am. Nov 10 00:14
schestowitz Any relation to some company there? Nov 10 00:14
schestowitz Just curious, that’s all.. Nov 10 00:14
yuhong No, but you said that the DR/MS thing was revisionist. Nov 10 00:14
schestowitz Wait. Nov 10 00:15
yuhong I think it was just a bad excuse. Nov 10 00:15
schestowitz Are you using Linux where you work? I’m curious. Nov 10 00:15
yuhong No. Nov 10 00:15
schestowitz Any connection to another company in WA? Nov 10 00:15
yuhong No. Nov 10 00:15
schestowitz Oh, okay. Nov 10 00:15
yuhong Anyway, back to DR/MS. Nov 10 00:16
yuhong you said that the DR/MS thing was revisionist. Nov 10 00:16
yuhong I think it was just a bad excuse. Nov 10 00:16
schestowitz Maybe just a coincidence then (that you always defend Microsoft and also connect from Seattle, Washington) Nov 10 00:16
schestowitz No, not back to DR-DOS. Nov 10 00:16
yuhong I don’t always defend MS. Nov 10 00:16
schestowitz You’re trying to change the subject, why? Nov 10 00:16
schestowitz When do you not defend them? Nov 10 00:16
yuhong I admit that freedom is a real advantage of open source software. Nov 10 00:16
schestowitz Have you tried GNU/Linux? Nov 10 00:17
yuhong Yes I did. Nov 10 00:17
schestowitz Which distros do you like? Nov 10 00:17
yuhong I am not sure yet. Nov 10 00:17
schestowitz Which did you try? Nov 10 00:17
yuhong Ubuntu. Nov 10 00:17
yuhong In a VM. Nov 10 00:18
schestowitz Nice. Nov 10 00:18
yuhong But I joined the channel in the first place because I was thinking of the DR/MS. Nov 10 00:18
yuhong I don’t think it was revisionist, just that it was a bad excuse. Nov 10 00:19
schestowitz I just notice that you also defend Microsoft in Roughly drafted. Nov 10 00:19
yuhong I often do. Nov 10 00:19
schestowitz E.g. in “You do have some good points about the limitations of security in modern OSes, but the comparison is fundementally unfair. The iPhone’s OS should really be compared against things like Windows Mobile and Windows CE, NOT desktop or server versions of Windows.” < http://www.roughlydrafted.com/2007/10/23/kim-z… > Nov 10 00:19
schestowitz Why? Nov 10 00:19
schestowitz It was not an excuse though. Nov 10 00:20
schestowitz It was technical sabotage. Nov 10 00:20
schestowitz I notice that you also blog in Microsoft’s space… http://yuhong386.spaces… Nov 10 00:21
schestowitz Oops. Nov 10 00:21
schestowitz That’s someone else. Nov 10 00:21
schestowitz Wait, is this you? http://yuhong386.spaces.live.com/?… Nov 10 00:23
schestowitz yuhong: are you there? Nov 10 00:23
schestowitz yuhong?? Nov 10 00:23
*yuhong has quit (“ChatZilla 0.9.83 [Firefox 3.0.3/2008092417]“) Nov 10 00:28

Novell’s Monthly Newsletter Seems Like Spyware

Posted in Novell at 4:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spyware

A few moments ago we mentioned Novell's newsletter. What’s inside? Remotely-loadable images with distinct URLs that not only track the opening of the message, but also tracks clicks on links contained therein. This enables Novell to assign reps and establish pairings of information for E-mail addresses (i.e. people) and their IP addresses. Novell can then track these people on Novell’s Web site, not just their behaviour inside the mail client (repeated message viewing and URL clicking).

We have performed some tests and this seems to pass muster. Is this true? Not a nice move from Novell.

Did they learn these tricks from some new partners? Have they no respect for their customers’ privacy?

Novell and Partners “License” SUSE, Just Like Linspire

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Novell, SLES/SLED at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Check out the latest Novell newsletter. A reader has just sent us a copy, highlighting some bits from it.

“BrainShare® March 8-13 2009 Novell® BrainShare® [...] Register today at the early-bird price of $1,695.00.”

“Novell and Microsoft have announced the availability of a joint virtualisation solution optimised for customers running mixed-source environments..”

Says the reader: “got that?

“It’s MIXED SOURCE.”

Additionally, our reader takes apart the bit which says:

“…educational institutions are entitled to a free 30-user Desktop Multiplier licence (hardware not included)…”

The reader summarises this as “Novell innovates the restricted user license.” To quote further from the newsletter:

“…with the Novell Teaming Starter Pack program, you can get 20 licenses of the product absolutely free…”

Linspire is no more, but it found itself in hot water after requesting that users license and never distribute the software. Novell treads in iffy territories.

SUSE Genuine Advantage

From SUSE Forums

Microsoft and National (In)Security; White House Cracked, Windows Botnets Play Politics with SPAM

Posted in Mail, Security, Servers, Windows at 10:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Internet? We are not interested in it.”

Bill Gates, 1993

“There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed.”

Bill Gates, 1995

“Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.”

Bill Gates, 2004

“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so irritating.”

Bill Gates

Earlier in the year, Associated Press revealed that the White House had moved its E-mail from Lotus to Microsoft Exchange servers. Why did they not evaluate and choose Free software? Either way, they receive their punishment now, butthe cost is suffered at a national level.

Chinese hackers have penetrated the White House computer network on multiple occasions, and obtained e-mails between government officials, a senior US official told the Financial Times.

It’s disappointing that the Financial Times refers to these intruders as “hackers”, as opposed to “crackers”.

In another new case, data espionage and theft turn to ransom and guess who pays the cost of damages? It’s collective.

These days, it’s probably best to just assume that any private data you’ve ever provided to a company is public. Given the pace at which the data you’ve entrusted to companies is leaked, whether via malicious hackers or via company carelessness, it’s almost as if the exception to the rule is a company that’s actually been able to keep your data safe. So it’s hardly surprising that Express Scripts, the massive medical benefits management company, has said that its records appear to have been compromised. Apparently, the company was sent a note, detailing the medical records of about 75 people, with an extortion threat telling the company to pay up or face the exposure of millions of patient records.

Using botnets, cyber-criminals also scatter lots of SPAM and exploit the presidential elections. Over 150 billion SPAM messages are sent each day because roughly 320 million zombie PCs exist.

The barrage of Obama-themed attacks are part of a broader trend of using current events to trick people into following links that lead to attacks. The US presidential election has been a favorite source of such attacks over the past year, with the names of candidates such as John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee all invoked.

More information can be found here.

Obama Win Spawns New E-Mail Attacks

[...]

Ballots aren’t the only thing Barack Obama is claiming the majority of this week. Just one day after the Democrat’s presidential win, his likeness is popping up on 60 percent of all malware sent across the Internet, one security firm reports.

This a brute-force attack, so it relies on large botnets and harvesting of addresses from compromised PCs. On the other side of the pond, one man uses GNU/Linux, so he’s not particularly worried.

Another close Microsoft partner, the BBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16], is now suffering from the plague of zombie PCs. It’s not just the White House then. In fact, Windows botnets seem to have brought the Beeb to its knees.

According to a missive we have seen, all its sites were slowed down considerably last night. For a while the BBC home page was either not responding or opening extremely slowly.

In a statement to the INQ, the BBC said the attack originated in a number of different countries but didn’t specify which. When the Beeb’s techies blocked international access to a limited subset of servers, it resulted in a marked improvement of the serving of bbc.co.uk.

The BBC promotes Windows and Microsoft. Good luck with that.

Zombie
Windows zombies running rampant

Microsoft Starts the Media Charade Ahead of Apache Conference

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 10:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Apache helicopter
Attacking Linux from Apache?

WE recently commented on Microsoft’s prominent participation in Apache’s big event. Microsoft is paying big bucks for the privilege (it’s a sponsor) and there are solid reasons for caution [2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17]. Microsoft wants to use this relationship with Apache as an attack on Linux and an attack on the GPL, which Microsoft hopes to substitute with Windows and other software licences, respectively. It gives Microsoft leverage.

We have already seen — quite recently in fact — how Microsoft uses its money to harm the competition and polish its increasingly-tarnished image [1, 2]. By allowing Microsoft to enter, Apache enables Microsoft to deceive developers some more, under headlines like “Microsoft jumps on open source bandwagon.” Here’s what it’s all about:

Microsoft’s quick approval of a major financial commitment to the conference is “quite significant” and reflects increasing collaboration between the two, with Microsoft most recently seeking ASF’s help to improve Apache Web server performance on its Vista operating system, he said.

Is that really about Free software? Or is it about the DRM-riddled operation system and about financial gain? Using ApacheCon as an opportunity, eWeek jumps right into the “i” word (interoperability), which is standards-hostile. It also says:

Ramji also said Microsoft has been working with open-source SOA (service-oriented architecture) infrastructure software provider WSO2 to demonstrate interoperability using Microsoft’s StockTrader reference application. “Today, the WSO2 announced they would build an open-source version of the sample application under ‘Project Stonehenge,’ which is a new Apache incubation project,” he said.

For those who are new to this WSO2 affair, it's also to do with Microsoft's .NET.

Sadly, Microsoft is successfully bending the media to sell the impression that it likes Open Source. Truthfully it concedes that it intends to simply devour it and it tries to recast “open source” as “collaborative development” [1, 2, 3.

The following article was spread all over the place in order to deceive and to do for Microsoft the PR work Bruce Perens recently referred to and warned about.

“Open source is not a product but an approach to software development,” said Matthew Hardman, platform strategy manager at Microsoft Singapore. “Microsoft does not compete with open source, just as Nike does not compete with running.”

Do Redmond’s sociopaths suddenly pretend to like the very same thing that they actively fight? Only media spin can achieve that.

Here is another new example of the media control we that speak of.

MICROSOFT GAVE US a call Tuesday asking whether we were interested in seeing their all new and improved dashboard. We took them up on the offer and this morning found out what all the fuss was about.

This is not the first time that Microsoft ‘invites’ journalists for coverage [1, 2]. It also does this to spread its confusing messages regarding patents and open source. By doing so, it must be hoping to lure in and to fool developers, letting them think that they can co-exist with Microsoft under Windows. History teaches that this would be naive. Microsoft is trying the infamous “embrace and extend” strategy it’s so familiar, not just at a technical level; they ‘extend’ open source with their own licences that they control (if only they are embraced first [1, 2]).

Paul Krill is helping Microsoft again [1, 2]. He posted this article with the headline “Microsoft’s openness stressed.”

Expressing a now-familiar theme, a Microsoft executive at the ApacheCon conference on Friday morning touted Microsoft’s efforts to be more open, highlighting moves such as offering the company’s “M” modeling language under the Microsoft “Open Specification Promise.”

The Open Specification Promise is no friend of Free software [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing and it’s misuse of the word open (or at least its connotation). It’s about road tolls

Speaking of the “M” language, Microsoft is once again spoiling the reputation of other innocent people.

Microsoft is in hot water again for again taking the name of someone else’s software for one of its fledgling products

It’s emerged Microsoft’s M programming language shares the same name as a 30-year-old open language used by the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) along with tens of thousands of users in medicine and business world wide. Even the former Soviet Union’s iron-fisted rulers and its KGB spooks used the language.

Microsoft did the same routine to harm OpenOffice.org, potentially the nation of Fiji and even the software called “VistA”. Does Microsoft just hate the US Department of Veteran Affairs? Or does it love it so much that it feels urgent need to nick its names?

“In this business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone.”

Bill Gates

Microsoft: Big Offender of Privacy

Posted in Google, Law, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A couple of days ago we wrote about Hotmail and GNU/Linux. Microsoft seems unwilling to adapt to the Web and also depart from a ‘Microsoft Web’. It’s more interested in Internet abduction [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Microsoft also hypocritically accuses Google of not honouring privacy, neglecting to account for its own behaviour which is far worse. As a timely example, here is a new Vista 7 story which spurred plenty of discussion.

Windows 7 Will Let Microsoft Track Your Every Move

[...]

While geo-aware locations are certain a hot item in the software world right now, they’re also at the heart of many ongoing privacy debates. Unfortunately Microsoft’s new feature is exactly the sort of thing that turns people’s mild suspicions into full, raging paranoia.

[...]

That strikes us as a recipe for disaster and something that will eventually blow up in Microsoft’s face (whether justified or not) because geo-tracking is a very sensitive issue and this implementation seems entirely ham-fisted and ill-conceived. Of course it’s a little better than past attempts by the company, which don’t even offer an on/off switch.

But why, for the love of all thing sane, would Microsoft not at least offer to notify you when an app is trying access geo-information? Indeed, that would be a good start. Then add the ability to deny the application access and you’re getting to the useful stage. Unfortunately, Microsoft reps tell CNet that such controls are “not currently on Microsoft’s roadmap for Windows 7.”

Windows already incorporates forensics (e.g. for police enforcement) under the guise — or excuse rather — of indexing and performance. Many of these issues were covered here before, accompanied with evidence. It’s a very broad and separate subject though.

Obeying laws and enforcing them obtrusively is one thing, but sometimes it goes too far. Sent to us last night was the following complaint about Microsoft’s behaviour:


I have an email which I cannot access. It is a free service called Hotmail.

“My lawyer said that I am entitled to compensation because they keep passing my sensitive private information with my address DOB photo around to third parties and now requesting more info from me.”For some reason, if the DOB has been entered incorrectly and needs updating, they REQUEST PERSONAL INFORMATION and they can use [it] to steal one’s identity.

I have sent them hundreds of emails and getting nowhere. I would like to go public to let others know what I am going through and they are in violation of privacy laws. They won’t provide a full contact name nor any contact details. I use the email for work and they simply send automated emails rather than getting off their butts and doing something about it. They say that it is Federal Trade Commission in US, I am not in the US I am in Australia and I have explained to them we do not have Federal Trade Commission and that they are requesting fictitious information. Well, I need my email address with all my work information and wondered if you know how I can go public with this as I feel this may be the only way to get something done about it. My lawyer said that I am entitled to compensation because they keep passing my sensitive private information with my address DOB photo around to third parties and now requesting more info from me.


Any thoughts?

ACTA: Like Lisbon Treaty, Only Far Worse (Videos)

Posted in DRM, Fraud at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ACTA is a big and atrocious secret [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13], but we might soon get our hands on some new ACTA leaks. In the mean time, here are a couple of videos to remind oneself of the Treaty of Lisbon, whose nature is very different but the secrecy involved a tad similar.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Why can’t the public see the ACTA? Is it too outrageous for elected people to show it to their electors, whom it affects?

Guard's feet
ACTA: whose crime is it anyway?

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