11.26.08

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Eye on Microsoft: Fun with Windows, Malware, XBox360

Posted in Courtroom, Hardware, Microsoft, Security, Videos, Windows at 3:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GameZ for Windows

Microsoft’s (and Intel’s) gaming of the market will put Steve Ballmer on the pew some time before Christmas. He will attempt to defend himself after the collusion with Intel — a company that in its own right commits a lot of business crimes, with convictions under its belt too.

While we won’t delve into the Intel antitrust saga (we mustn’t be distracted by covering the hardware industry in this Web site, but here is one of the latest reports on Intel’s investigation/interrogation in Europe), worth reading is the following new article from pseudonym Cringely.

So far, Ballmer has employed the Sergeant Schultz “I know nothink” defence.

Attorneys for the litigants want to find out what Ballmer didn’t know and when he didn’t know it. Of particular interest is what Ballmer and Intel honcho Paul Otellini discussed in a phone call back in January 2006, when Intel was chomping at the bit to get Microsoft to change its labeling requirements.

[...]

Like OJ, Microsoft might yet win the case — despite what the evidence suggests. When you can afford to hire Wolfram & Hart as your attorneys, you can fend off anything but the apocalypse. But in the minds of anyone who’s read those emails, they’ve already lost. And ultimately that’s the bigger battle.

Moving Backwards Fast

Whether capable of Vista or not, not many PC users are likely (nor willing) to use Windows Vista. Here is the latest example among many rants that have been written since Vista was RTM-ed 2 years ago.

People who only understand English should refer to a quick presentation in a press review: «Umberto Eco has long believed that technology is regressing and progress is looping back on itself. Microsoft has added the latest fuel to this theory and now PC-consumer Eco wants to abandon his problem-ridden Windows Vista and revert to good old XP. A move that comes at a price, he discovers: “Downgrading is the chance to treat your own computer to some old programmes. And pay for the pleasure. Before this wonderful neologism was invented online, under the noun ‘downgrade’ in your average Italian-English dictionary, you would also find downfall, decline or reduced version, whereas the verb was followed by retreat, reduce and devalue. In other words we are being offered to invest not insubstantial amount of times and money in devaluing and reducing something for which we have already paid a not insubstantial sum. This would sound fantastical were it not true.”»

For readers’ amusement, one of our casual IRC participants pointed out the following old clip.

Ogg Theora

Direct link

Malware Ruins Lives

How harmful can malware be? What’s the worst that can happen?

Loss of data? Loss of privacy? Reparable damage to a peripherals? Need to reinstall the software? The operating system? An infected network setup?

How about life in prison? Or years of agitation in the courtroom? Or total humiliation and damage to reputation?

When people lose control of their computers, as hundreds of millions do, that’s a recipe for trouble. Miss Amero can attest to this experience.

The case stems from an incident in 2004 when a PC in Amero’s class, later found to be infected with smut-serving malware, displayed pornographic images to her seventh-grade students. The incident at Kelly Middle School in Norwich, Connecticut in October 2004 led to charges against the then pregnant substitute teacher.

Equally disturbing is people’s ability to excuse themselves from crime (e.g. possession of child pornography) using “malware” as a reason. How can law enforcement be restored when so many computers are under the control of merciless botmasters?

Networks may turn into a disarray of liability and many people are therefore treated as guilty before proven innocent. This also explains ISP-adopted discrimination against peer-shared data, banning of security research tools, imposition of DRM as a requirement from hardware and some software, tiering and so on.

X B0rks 360

Windows is not the only Microsoft product that suffers from poor quality assurance. As pointed out before, XBox360 provides an example of almost-criminal negligence that may have already led to deaths.

Over a year after publicly acknowledging this problem, Microsoft’s gaming console continues to suffer from severe production problems and here is a new story of one person whose XBox360 has seen five returns (and counting).

Unlucky INQ reader on 5th Xbox 360

Unfortunately, his local store had no 360s left upon this incident, and he had to take a train to another store to get his fifth Xbox 360, since the console was released.

Simon now states his fifth console has some odd start-up problems where he has to reset his console several times before it works.

This is a tale of woe, familiar to many Xbox 360 owners, yet the majority of his problems aren’t even the standard bug-bear – the RROD issue. We feel your pain.

Readers may recall that there are class action lawsuits due to the unacceptable quality of this particular Microsoft product.

“Fat operating systems spend most of their energy supporting their own fat.”

Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab, rediff.com, Apr 2006

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