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12.01.08

Exploring the BECTA-Microsoft Relationship

Posted in Europe, Microsoft at 7:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BECTA’s mischiefs with Microsoft are a serious issue that was covered here before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. This morning we did some more research and came up with the following interesting findings.

We thought it would be interesting to see how many former Softies there are inside BECTA as it would make good business sense for Microsoft to push their ex-employees everywhere they can. Kent LEA, for example, are busy adopting everything Microsoft as fast as they can.

“We thought it would be interesting to see how many former Softies there are inside BECTA…”So we decided get a list of BECTA seniors and then do some googling for each. That, we assumed, would be handy in identifying suspicious appointments. Members of the board are listed here and those who attended a recent meeting [PDF] are: Andrew Pinder, John Roberts, Graham Moore, Stephen Gill, Derek Wise Stephen Crowne, Niel McLean, Tony Richardson, Ian Adams, Alan Cowie, Jane Williams, John Landeryou, Mark Wallbank, Roger Parr, Leigh Fish, John Newbigin, and Doug Brown.

On the agenda in that May 2008 meeting:

“Board members explored how Becta should engage with Microsoft, and secure benefits on behalf of the education sector, particularly around flexibility and price; and how the Board should support the Executive in the planned discussions with Microsoft.”

It also says: “Action: A small group of the Board (John Roberts, Steve Gill, Graham Moore and Andrew Pinder) to support the Executive in its discussions with Microsoft…”

Finally: “Summing up, the Chairman said the Board was broadly content with progress so far. The forthcoming meeting with Microsoft was an important opportunity to deal with the outstanding issues.”

Why is Free software hardly explored? We’ll come to this in a moment.

It is worth adding that they do not tell taxpayers how much is being paid to Microsoft. Part of the agreement is that it must remain secret in order to prevent comparisons or backlash. However, for purposes of public procurement it’s not only ludicrous but also illegal.

School boyHeading this body is Andrew Pinder, whose Wikipedia biography contains to a link to an article (“Government Gateway is not a ‘Microsoft puppet’”) where he tries to dissociate himself from Microsoft.

Here is how he describes “Open Source” in one context or another:

“Typically [teachers who run IT] would be people who have a real passion about Open Source — as if open source is any different from any other software — it’s just the pricing structure is different, that’s all. ”

He also compares it to a religion:

“It’s a religion, it’s a real belief, and again they have a belief about bits of technology that are going to change things. What they don’t do, however, is organize things properly.”

A known Microsoft puppet [1, 2, 3], the Yankee Group, uses similar analogies. Its founder, Howard Anderson Framingham, wrote in an article last year: “Open source is not a movement; it’s a religion. It is a set of principles and practices that let everyone share non-existent or semi-existent intellectual property. Remember the Communist Manifesto: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” It is this generation’s Woodstock.”

There seems to a shared foundation of open source insults and smears.

Going back to Andrew Pinder, Wikipedia states: “In this role, he gave a speech at the CBI in November 2001,[3] and spoke at a Microsoft-sponsored Government Leaders Conference in Seattle in April 2002, where he famously announced that the government’s target of putting all services online by 2005 could cost 800,000 public sector employees their jobs.[4]”

Also: “He oversaw the rushed implementation in 2001 of the Government Gateway, a project for putting all the government services on-line, which was built by Microsoft in just 15 weeks and initially locked out all browsers except Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer.

“The deal also involved Microsoft using UK government intellectual property to build products for other governments in order to recoup some of the costs of building the technology. The rate of return was to the tune of 22% of their gross sales of the intellectual property, which Pinder hoped would “give us quite a lot of money”.[6]”

“This makes BECTA seem a tad hostile towards Freedom, which it describes as “religion” instead.”Another BECTA board member, Ralph Tabberer, is seen in this article where he states: “We are looking forward to a productive working relationship with Microsoft over the next three years and we will work closely together…”

To sum up, as Wikipedia puts it, “The current chairman of Becta holds the view that “open source is [no] different from any other software — it’s just the pricing structure is different, that’s all. But [its supporters] have a passion. It’s a religion, it’s a real belief.”[2]”

Overall, it’s disappointing. This makes BECTA seem a tad hostile towards Freedom, which it describes as “religion” instead. It prefers training children for one foreign monopolist's pipeline rather than have them acquire actual skills. Education is about skills. If there is any clannish pattern here (“religion” so to speak), it appears to be this type of cronyism that’s so prevalent in BECTA’s decision-making.

A Gradual Fall of W|Intel… Thanks to OLPC?

Posted in Finance, GNU/Linux, Hardware, OLPC, Windows at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

It’s down to margins, not quantity

Here’s an article that seems innocent enough, but we do not link to it directly. In this article, Intel seems to be expressing regrets about its race to the bottom, notably sub-notebooks.

“The price-fixing era which the class action lawsuit has exposed is coming to an end.”As investors are probably aware, Intel’s (and Microsoft’s) stock sank sharply after Intel had issued warnings. It’s not reassuring. My brother-in-law, who works at Intel, says the company no longer hires. And why? Well, the whole collusion around Vista may have something to do with this (remember that Ballmer will have been deposed by the end of the year). The price-fixing era which the class action lawsuit has exposed is coming to an end. To quote comments that are attached to the above article:

“The netbook concept is the proof that for most needs (e-mail, web and basic office work) a processor and platform like the Atom is more than enough. Vista has been a failure, GNU/Linux is still widely unknown to many people, and Apple is out of reach ($$$).”

(Full comment here)

“The message is still the same: Are you sure that you want something like this? And if you really are, would you be willing to wait until ‘some time in the future’ (when W7 is out) instead of buying one now (which might be running Linux).”

(Full comment here)

“This product has low margins, so we really wish people wouldn’t buy them. And we really wish Asus had never been so dang insistent on . . . *competing* (horrid word) that they started selling them in the first place. We’d rather sell low-end chips than no chips at all so we’ll keep on supplying, but this is all just too terribly awful for words.”

(Full comment here)

Intel gave its wares to ASUS very cheaply in order to harm OLPC, among other reasons. It’s spinning out of control at the moment (margins decline) and ARM is entering this race with superior chips that are simply not as 'porky' as Intel or Windows.

Notebook

Leaked: Microsoft Pays Companies to Recommend Windows

Posted in Courtroom, Deception, Dell, Microsoft, Windows at 5:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“<vendor> recommends Windows” is an paid-for advert, not a recommendation

Kid with laptop

SOME weeks ago we wrote about how Microsoft fakes recommendations and deceives the public. Now we have solid proof.

Let’s take it one step at a time and see how this works.

In short, Microsoft informs computer shops that if they put some Vista advertising in their newspaper advertisements (or other forms of ads), there will be money in the bank for them, paid in the form of marketing money from Microsoft.

This is how Microsoft gets all those Vista advertisements all over the place, including big OEMs. They pay you for it. It’s an advert, not a sincere recommendation. This may also explain why Dell’s adverts for Ubuntu-powered PCs are accompanied by pro-Windows messages, as Ken Stark pointed out recently (Dell was subjected to bad and exclusionary deals before).

Here is how the stunt runs. It begins with a message like this one (which we anonymised):


Hi [company name omitted]

Your company can get [amount omitted] in vouchers if you utilize [proportion omitted] by [date omitted] on a preapproved offer and post the final claim by
[another date omitted]. I have enclosed details of the promotion with this email, and am including information on how to utilise coop as well.

It would be fantastic to see you qualify for the vouchers! Given the end of life with Windows XP and the steady sales of Vista (GFK tracks that over 89% of managed retailers are selling Vista PCs to consumers), it would be great to put this towards a Vista sales incentive for your staff or channel partners.

Included/Attached
· Terms and Conditions
· Quick Guide to running a COOP Customer Offer

Any questions, let me know.

Regards

[name of Microsoft employee omitted]


Here is the Terms and Conditions document:


OEM Cooperative Marketing Execution Promotion

If you are defined as a System Builder or a Named Account in the OEM Cooperative marketing program and have an active enrolment status, you could be eligible for vouchers which you may choose to use to support a Windows Vista PC sales incentive with your sales team.

[...]

Terms and Conditions:

1.Timing of promotion. In order to be eligible for an incentive, you must comply with the specified deadlines. Microsoft reserves the right in its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, recommence or suspend either or both parts of the promotion at any time.

2.Tax. Microsoft accepts no responsibility for any tax implications that may arise from this promotion. Microsoft will not remit any taxes on your behalf, nor will it provide any tax-related documentation to you. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any taxes arising from participation in the promotion are reported and paid to the appropriate tax authority. All amounts payable by Microsoft are inclusive of GST (if any). You should seek independent tax and financial advice.

3.Microsoft’s decision final. Microsoft’s decision in relation to all aspects of this promotion is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

4.Limitation and exclusion of liability. Subject to any applicable law which cannot be excluded, Microsoft and its related bodies corporate shall not be liable for any loss, damage or injury suffered or sustained (including but not limited to direct, indirect or consequential loss or loss arising from negligence) arising directly or indirectly out of or in connection with the promotion or any incentive.

5.Microsoft’s verification right. Microsoft may choose to verify any information provided by you in connection with this promotion (including, if Microsoft chooses to do so, by contacting your end-user customers), and if Microsoft reasonably believes that you have fabricated or altered any information, then Microsoft may determine that you are ineligible for either or both incentives. You must, if requested by Microsoft, promptly provide any requested information related to the promotion or your eligibility to receive an incentive.

6.Supply of incentives. If Microsoft is unable to supply the nominated incentive, Microsoft reserves the right, subject to the written direction of any competent legal authority, to supply another incentive of greater or equal value. For incentives that have a specified validity period, Microsoft and its associated agencies and companies accept no responsibility for your failure to take advantage of the incentive prior to it becoming invalid.

7.Information submitted by you. Information submitted by you will be used to determine eligibility for one or both parts of the promotion, provide fulfilment of the promotion, and for other Microsoft internal business purposes. Except as otherwise described in these terms and conditions, information provided by you will not be shared outside of Microsoft and its subsidiaries and affiliates without your permission.

8.Your participation. You may only participate once in the promotion, and any costs associated with your participation in the promotion is your responsibility. Microsoft may terminate your involvement in the promotion and/or withhold any incentives owing to you under this promotion if it believes, on reasonable grounds, that you have:
   a.breached any of these terms and conditions;
   b.not complied with the Microsoft Code of Ethics or
   c.otherwise infringed Microsoft’s copyright or trade marks.

9.Acceptance of these terms and conditions. Your submission of such “proof of execution” as required for Promotion means that you accept and agree to comply with these terms and conditions.


Also attached is this:


HOW TO Utilize Coop*

1.Decide on an offer.

2.Create the graphics (for e-DM or fliers or both) adhering to COOP guidelines which are:
   a.Relevant Tag line such as “We recommend genuine Microsoft Office 2007 SBE.”
   b.Company’s branding (logo) and contact details (this can just be an email or URL or phone#).
   c.30% of content supporting the sale of a fully assembled system preinstalled with genuine MS OEM product(s).

3.Send to your account manager for pre-approval.

4.Your account manager sends to US CORP for official pre-approval # (up to 3 working days)

5.Receive official pre-approval # from CORP.

6.Enter plan in the online tool https://www.microsoftcoop.com/default.aspx

7.Wait for online plan to be approved.

8.Buy give-aways and save your receipts for documentation.

9.Start offer (this date must be AFTER the dates the plan and advert were pre-approved officially by corp).

10.End offer (this date must be AFTER the start date).

11.Enter final claim for activity in online tool (this date must be AFTER the end date of the planned activity where you WILL NEED the following in digital file format to upload:
   a.Advert with pre-approval number from Microsoft corporate.
   b.Invoice for specific give-aways (the invoice date must be AFTER the dates the plan and advert were pre-approved officially by corporate but before the planned start date.)
   c.Digital pictures of the give-away item in your possession.

EXAMPLE FOR CURRENT INCENTIVE OFFER:
   – Start Date: 10th Nov 2008
   – End Date: 5th Dec 2008
   – Offer: “Buy any Vista Home Premium or Ultimate PC with Office 2007 before 5th Dec AND get a free <give-away-item>

* For complete information on how to utilize coop, please reference the Co-Op Partner Guidebook available here: https://www.microsoftcoop.com/aspx/additionalResources_SB.aspx


Attached is also the guidebook [PDF], which is labeled “Microsoft Confidential” (what are they trying to hide?).

For many shops these days, business is rather slow. Microsoft is exploiting pressure and/or greed to increase mind share (perception), as vividly described in the “Effective Evangelism” document which was 'leaked' out of Microsoft during a trial.

Can the ASA be lobbied to deal with Microsoft following allegations of market deception? This clearly distorts and confuses, does it not?

Links 01/12/2008: FreeBSD 6.4 Released; City Moves to OpenOffice.org

Posted in News Roundup at 8:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • Home Automation the Nokia Way

    Nokia has opened a home automation project based around a Linux platform. They say you will be able to control your home from a browser or tablet or a cellphone. Direct to the project page.

  • Why is Linux THE FASTEST operating system today?

    Now that I mentioned supercomputers at the time of this writing the worlds fastest supercomputer runs Linux. In fact most of them run Linux as you will see here in the list of the top 500 supercomputers. Out of all of the operating systems on these supercomputers Linux is a whopping 87.8% with windows only (giggle) 1% as can be seen here. The current worlds fastest supercomputer runs….. Redhat Linux and Fedora. The exact same ones you can download and install on your personal computer.

  • Macs, Linux to wait as ATO tenders e-tax
  • Creating your perfect Linux system.
  • The Best Gift This Christmas! Linux!
  • On File Systems
  • Just what does it take to switch to desktop Linux (part 1)?
  • KDE 4 Video Editor Kdenlive Released

    The promising nonlinear video editor Kdenlive has made its first non beta for KDE 4, version 0.7 is on us. This closes another gap of the free desktop world: a usable open source video editor. Kdenlive has the potential to become the Amarok or K3b of video editors, offering comfort and elegance so far not available in alternative programs. The feature set looks amazingly complete and far exceeds the KDE 3 version already. Check the release announcement.

  • Distributions (Also BSD)

  • Devices

    • KELLNER: Netbook or notebook: Valuable portability

      On the Linux side, and especially for the smaller computer users in your world, the OLPC, or One Laptop Per Child, XO model – which runs on electricity and a hand-cranked battery – is a great choice at just under $400 at Amazon.com. No, it’s not the world’s most sophisticated computer, but the only way you or I can buy one is to pay enough to let the OLPC folks give one to a child in the developing world. That alone makes it worthwhile.

    • Thumbs up for Android and the G1

      As much as I have lusted after an iPhone (my current plan would have been too expensive to dump) and longed to leave the clutches of T-Mobile (see my previous columns), having had the Android-based T-Mobile G1 in my sweaty hands for a couple of weeks has changed my mind about both staying with T-Mobile and wanting an iPhone.

F/OSS

Leftover

  • Anti-DRM campaign calls for MacBook boycott

    Each day for the next 35 days, the “Defective by Design” campaign by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) will name and shame a different product it says consumers should boycott because of the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM). The FSF has launched its campaign with an attack on Apple. Although Apple boss Steve Jobs spoke out against the use of DRM in iTunes Store in early 2007, most of the music sold through Apple’s online shop still comes with Apple’s FairPlay DRM. The iPhone and iPod Touch have been criticised by the FSF on a number of occasions for adding “even more layers of DRM”. With its new MacBooks, Apple takes protection even further.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 30th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

Antitrust Complaint About Microsoft, a So-called ‘Pirate’

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Europe, Microsoft at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sailor
“Arrrr… show me your genuine Vista”

Those who deserve to be called “pirates” are probably those behaving like ones. The party that’s looting and cracking down on businesses seems to be either Microsoft or its BSA equivalents, which do all the legwork and distance Microsoft from any distasteful action. The previous post mentioned the BSA, whose role was also explained and demonstrated using evidence in [1, 2, 3, 4]. The BSA is a front.

Squeezing the Goose

The following incident we wrote about a couple of days ago, but articles at the time were in Dutch. Here are a couple in English:

1. Microsoft faces anti-trust complaint from software trader

Dutch software trader, Samir Abdalla, has filed a broad anti-trust complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, charging that the firm’s pricing policies violate European Union treaties. The trader complains that Microsoft charges European users at least 30% higher prices than paid in the USA.

2. Dealer files antitrust complaint against Microsoft

A Dutch software dealer has filed a complaint against Microsoft with the European Commission, arguing that the company’s pricing policy in Europe violates antitrust laws.

Company owner Samir Abdalla’s complaint is that Microsoft charges at least a third more for its software in Europe than it does in the US. Abdalla’s lawyer, Gerard van der Wal of the Houthoff Buruma practice, said his client had begun a legal proceeding “this week” and was seeking clarification from the Commission.

Mr. Abdalla was right about overcharging because an unrestricted copy of Windows Vista cost about $710 in Holland (2007). Mr. Abdalla was probably a victim of Microsoft’s latest spree for revenue, which means cracking down and punishing those who spread the software as the company usually preferred. Here is another new incident:

Microsoft wins lawsuit

[...]

The lawsuit accused AllPro of distributing computer systems that were loaded with unauthorized copies of Windows XP Pro and Office 2003 software.

Microsoft needs money now, so it’s squeezing the goose.

The Propaganda Model

For Microsoft, it is very important never to publicly admit that counterfeited software is being spread with few hurdles (or none) because the company permits this to happen [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft prefers telling that world that it is a poor victim, an innocent angel. It even passes this type of arrogant message via the media, this time in India.

Microsoft Corporation India Pvt Ltd on Monday announced the availability of the Get Genuine Solution (GGS) for Windows Vista whereby Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) can easily legalize their counterfeit or unlicensed Windows Vista PCs.

Here is an example of propaganda language from the article:

With piracy levels in the Indian market as high as 69 per cent, there is a large number of businesses with existing PCs in need of legalization due to counterfeit, under-licensing, mis-licensing and version piracy scenarios. According to a study on The Economic Benefits of Lowering PC Software Piracy 2008 a ten point reduction in PC software piracy would deliver an additional 44,000 new jobs, 200 million dollars in tax revenues, and 3.1 billion dollars in economic growth in India.

There is no mentioning of Free software; instead, it’s just more lies (typically via BSA and/or IDC) about the supposed loss to the economy. Whenever necessary, Microsoft invokes something like “anti-piracy” day and then uses it as an excuse/opportunity to shed some more crocodile tears.

This is what people read in the paper. The writers rarely make an attempt to show that Free (gratis and libre) solutions do exist.

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates

In the Egyptian press, the article “Pirates of the IT World” has just been published. Only the late portion of it contains a refreshing change which is a rebuttal from those who know better.

The term ‘software piracy’ was first brought to life by software companies to connote crime. A more neutral term is ‘copyright infringement of software.’ There is widespread criticism of software companies for using the word ‘pirate’ to describe a user who makes an illegal copy of software, since it implies that the copyright violator is a serious criminal. Much of this criticism comes from advocates for ‘open source’ software, i.e. software that is free to own, distribute and edit.

[...]

Open source is a software development method where every program must have its source code available to developers to modify the program. This contrasts with the ‘closed source’ method of software development. Advocates of proprietary software accuse open source software of being less innovative because developers do not receive monetary rewards for their products and are therefore less motivated to improve their products.

Some advocates of open source software, especially activists and professionals in the software industry, think that software should not be treated like ‘property’ and human knowledge should be shared with the general public so it is available for everyone’s benefit. They also believe that the source code (the instructions, in human-readable code, that allow a program to run) should be ‘open’ for anyone to use, change or improve the software for personal use or redistribution. There is also a general belief that open source software is more secure because anyone can fix security defects that might later be discovered in the code.

The remainder is just BSA accusations, which include extensive use of words like “piracy” and various self-serving claims. That, as a matter of fact, is another example of things that make journalism junk.

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