02.03.09

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United States of Microsoft?

Posted in America, Antitrust, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 7:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Land of the Fee

Gift giving
Politics of incentives

IN MANY PLACES where companies drive the national governance, there is a great danger that public rights will be compromised to advance the interests of unaccountable private tyrannies. Truth be told, as CIO Magazine put it last year, “Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”

Last week we wrote about Microsoft’s neglect of American workers [1, 2]. Like many other such companies, Microsoft sees them as pampered and expensive. This is not good for shareholders.

The business press that’s better renowned by intellectuals for its pro-corporate interests agenda published this article some days ago:

Microsoft: Layoffs for Some, Visas for Others

The software giant that has pushed for more H-1B visas faces tough questions as it lays off 5,000

The Microsoft-friendly press (Seattle and neighbouring regions) did a lot of “damage control” by spreading a dozen or so articles about Microsoft’s layoffs affecting the ranks that rely on H-1B visas. They get critics off Microsoft’s back.

There has actually been a chockful of “damage control” coming from these outlets ever since the layoffs rumours began. The latest new theme is “Microsoft hires despite layoffs,” previous ones being “Microsoft workforce continued to grow,” “there were layoffs before” or “the rumours are false.” These people are merely defending their careers, which depend on Microsoft surviving (never mind thriving, which Microsoft is not [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).

Microsoft’s Pleas to Obama

Returning to this issue of H-1B visas, here is a jaw-dropping report (depends on what the reader already knows about the ways these systems are run) about Microsoft lobbying for yet more visas (foreign workers enduring worse job conditions) just before the layoffs and the controversy that came from a state senator of Iowa. They once again pressured Obama.

Microsoft lobbied Obama transition team on high-skilled immigration weeks before announcing layoffs

Microsoft urged the government to “remove caps that bar entry into the U.S. by high-skilled immigrants,” about three weeks before announcing its first companywide layoff, according to a report in BusinessWeek.

The request, part of a policy brief written in June 2008 and posted to the Obama-Biden Transition Project Web site in early January, does not represent a new stance for the company, which has long lobbied for changes in U.S. immigration policy around high-skilled workers. But its posting on the new administration’s transition Web site came at a sensitive time, against the backdrop of layoffs — which hit a “significant number” of guest workers at the company — and pressure on Microsoft by Sen. Chuck Grassley to retain U.S. citizens over similarly qualified guest workers.

We have seen a lot of that recently [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft, as opposed to the public, is instructing the government whose campaign it funded. In fact, according to an E-mail sent to us last night “Microsoft has now a blog for their lobbying.”

Last week there was also this report whose headline is “Microsoft’s advice to the Obama administration.”

One of the biggest challenges facing the federal government is it doesn’t really understand the current state of its IT departments…

[...]

Q: What did you think upon learning that Obama’s administration tapped Sun’s Scott McNeely to compile a report on open source for the government?

A: First of all, Microsoft’s stance on open source is not “we hate it.” Typically, people think that Microsoft and open source are oil and water. That’s not the case. As for McNeely’s comments, it’s an interesting concept, the document, and we’re very interested in reading it when it comes out .

Microsoft even tried to tell Obama which phone to use.

Department of “Justice” at Microsoft’s Service

Vista 7 needed scrutiny, but as we emphasised last week, this is more of a symbolic gesture from a department so filled with cronies, by the admission from respectable journals. This doesn’t seem rigorous:

Technical advisers to the antitrust regulators who monitor Microsoft Corp.’s compliance with a 2002 antitrust settlement will test Windows 7 “more thoroughly” than earlier versions of the operating system, according to a recently-released status report filed with the federal judge watching over the company.

The three-member panel of computer experts that works for state antitrust officials has had a copy of Windows 7 since at least last March , but in December 2008, Microsoft delivered additional documentation to the Technical Committee.

And at the same time comes this report:

Antitrust Officials Unsure On More Oversight Of Microsoft

Microsoft, meanwhile, assured U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly in Washington, D.C., that none of its recent announced layoffs will reduce the number of employees working to satisfy the company’s antitrust obligations.

This direction is preposterous, as we showed in the month of January for example.

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