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03.16.09

Quote of the Day: Ziff-Davis and Microsoft

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft, Quote at 6:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This from the news may explain why Ziff-Davis is sometimes called “Ziff|Gates”.

During the 1990s, I was the director of corporate communications at Ziff-Davis. And our relationship with Microsoft was also — ah — “complex.” On the “church” side of Ziff-Davis, our 400 editors and reporters wrote comparative, lab-based, product reviews that treated Microsoft “without fear or favor,” like any other vendor. On the “state” side of Ziff-Davis, Microsoft bought a ton of advertising in our magazines, on our websites and for our cable TV channel. Plus, Bill Gates was a frequent keynote speaker at our conferences, and Microsoft paid a chunk of money for big booths at our trade shows.

Internally, Microsoft has explained what it's doing to influence such publications.

Older articles about Ziff-Davis:

The Seven Kinds of Ziff-Davis or CNET anti-Linux FUD Pundits

By co-incidence, Ziff-Davis (aka ZD-NET) is the company behind something like 50% of what the media has to say about computers, through various tentacles. CNET was the Pepsi to ZD-NET’s Coke (or Coke to Pepsi?), but now they merged. But of course this list applies to the bloggage of corporate A-listers, no matter who they work for.

Other Underreported Stories: Analyst Integrity?.

Others saying they have heard from someone who heard from someone that once they started paying their exposure improved. Others saying it’s just like the rumors that magazine advertisers get better reviews, an accusation that has been levied to Ziff-Davis publications, as well as photography and stereo equipment magazines for years.

Microsoft Hopes a Tickbox Will Restore Fair Competition in Europe; Opera Disagrees

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 6:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft tries to sneak out of the wrath of browser justice, but does not go far enough

MICROSOFT’S crimes against Netscape are many and we will cover them in great depth later this year. For Microsoft to pretend that it’s all ‘just’ part of the past would be conceited. For the authorities to undo the damage caused by these crimes would only be sensible and long overdue.

“For the authorities to undo the damage caused by these crimes would only be sensible and long overdue.”The European Commission thought about having Internet Explorer removed from Windows or at least having Windows preinstalled on computers (at the assembly level, i.e. OEMs) with competing Web browsers already loaded.

More recently, however, Microsoft seemed to have sparked a media blitz that’s misportraying, micharacterising and crediting Microsoft for some sort of generosity while often missing the point that Microsoft involuntarily admits lying about inability to remove Internet Explorer from Windows (as debated back in the Netscape trial). Yes, Microsoft says it’ll offer an “option” to “remove” Internet Explorer, even though it’s not real removal and very few people are likely to do this anyway.

This doesn’t go far enough, so Microsoft is trying to escape this cheaply and claim goodwill for it in the process. Opera’s CEO, Jon S. von Tetzchner, is far from impressed.

Over the weekend, Microsoft revealed that in its latest private beta build of Windows 7, it will allow users to uninstall the Internet Explorer 8 Web browser front end — a choice it has never offered to consumers since version 3.0. The fact that since 1996, the presence of IE in Windows was elevated to such an extent that users could not completely uninstall it, nor could they ever entirely avoid it, has been credited by many as the real reason for Microsoft being perceived as having won the browser war against Netscape.

[...]

Oslo, Norway-based Opera Software’s stance against Microsoft on the topic of Web browser competition is very well known, especially after having filed an antitrust complaint against it in December 2007. Microsoft’s latest move could give Opera a bit of a break. But as Opera CEO Jon S. von Tetzchner told Betanews this evening from overseas, he sees this move as a positive signal, but not anywhere close to a reparation for the years of damage he believes Internet Explorer has caused to the browser market, as well as to the Web as a whole.

The author, whose background is in Microsoft, is almost vilifying Opera and that’s exactly what Microsoft wanted to achieve with the recent media blitz. Microsoft is daemonising those who want justice. It does the same thing against Google, against TomTom, and against IBM. Some sympthetic ears fall into the traps set up by spin doctors.

For whatever reason, Microsoft is given more time to respond (just over a month). Beauracracy is too slow and it works in Microsoft’s favour.

The European Commission has extended a deadline for Microsoft (MSFT.O) to reply to charges that the U.S. software giant stymied rivals by bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with Windows systems.

There is more coverage of this in:

In other news from the European Commission, following Korea’s recent verdict on Intel's crimes there is a new type of probe.

Intel Corp (INTC.O) could face a hefty fine from EU regulators over charges it fiddled with retail channels to suppress competitors, but of more concern could be any fresh rules imposed by the EU.

Even if the world’s largest chipmaker is slapped with the maximum possible fine of 10 percent of its annual revenue, the greatest risk for the company would be if the EU imposes remedies which would change its pricing model.

The European Commission has already said Intel’s pricing practices — in particular rebates to computer makers and retailers — were a bid to drive rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD.N) out of the market and is set to rule soon on the issue.

The uninitiated can learn about Intel’s crimes using the links below.

Intel puppy

Entire Nation of Estonia Was Downed by Microsoft Windows Zombies

Posted in Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Estonia's flag

Summary: Estonia a victim of Windows botnets, Conficker set to explode, the media distorts stories, and Microsoft fails to patch properly

GIVEN THAT almost 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie, it’s not exactly a surprise that nations get paralysed every now and then. This is not a “computer problem” but a “Windows problem”, even if the Microsoft-influenced press neglects to mention some of these crucial details.

Some time ago we mentioned the damage caused to Estonia by Windows zombies. According to this report from Heise, kids too are empowered by the ease at which Windows can be hijacked, due to poor engineering.

Russian youth movement claims to have carried out cyber attacks on Estonia

[...]

“We taught the Estonian regime the lesson that if they act illegally, we will respond in an adequate way,” boasted Goloskokov in the FT interview. They didn’t do anything illegal, he said. “We just visited the various internet sites, over and over, and they stopped working.” The Estonians’ plight was caused by their own technological limitations in handling the traffic volume, he explained. During the attacks on the Estonian IT infrastructure two years ago, the country was largely cut off from the global internet, and domestic government and banking sites became inaccessible.

As we keep stating, Conficker is far from over and in fact it’s scheduled to exacerbate. IDG has this report:

The third Conficker malware variant in infected machines is set to activate April 1, says the director of threat research at CA where the malware sample first discovered last week by Symantec is being examined.

“It’s set to go off April 1, 2009 and Conficker will generate 50,000 URLS daily,” says Don DeBolt, CA’s director of threat research.

This is neither a joke nor a prank, despite the date.

We already know that Microsoft bothers journalists who criticise Windows for poor security. It does make a difference.

There is a bothersome pattern in media coverage where reporters/editors are somehow spinning Conficker to make Microsoft seem like the good guy, the brave cowboy (for example, see this and this). Microsoft’s sloppiness is responsible for these attacks, but parts of the press portray Microsoft as the white knight, a hero that protects the unwashed crowds from a problem of its own making. The same thing happens in Facebook where Microsoft is attributed with “fighting” those evil worms, but how come no-one is asking why these worms exist in the first place? UNIX/Linux users don't have these problems.

Lastly, regarding Microsoft’s patches to vulnerabilities, these turn out to be flawed too.

Recent Microsoft patch useless if previously exploited (Update 2)

[...]

Tyler Reguly, a researcher on nCircle’s VERT team, recently made a post to the company blog that reported a unique discovery. The patch issued by Microsoft on Tuesday to address Man-In-The-Middles attacks on Windows DNS and WINS (MS09-008) is flawed. The flaw is that if a system was exploited before the patch was applied, it remained exploited. The fix didn’t work.

Why won’t journalist make a mention of secure platforms like GNU/Linux?

More on Conficker:

Microsoft Literally Buys Its Way Into OSBC; Open Source India Tech Days ‘09 and Open Source Symposium Likewise

Posted in Asia, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Java, Microsoft at 5:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Here’s some money, pretend we’re friends”

Counting money

Summary: A glimpse into Microsoft’s latest “open source” infiltrations

A LOT has already been said about OSBC 2009, which will be opened up by a Microsoft ally. The company which is suing the heart of Free or "Open Source" software (the GNU and Linux projects) and is constantly trying to change the meaning of these terms is also trying to crash these events by merely attending. And here is its story:

Microsoft is once again a Platinum Level sponsor of the annual Open Source Business Conference, which is being held at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

As part of this sponsorship, Robert Youngjohns, the president for Microsoft North America, will also be delivering a keynote address to attendees on Wednesday, March 25 from 09h00 to 09h30 ..

That latter part suggests that Microsoft will be speaking “as part of this sponsorship.” It’s almost as though they pay specifically in order to acquire a position, a spotlight.

Similar things are happening in India where Microsoft has invaded Open Source India Tech Days ‘09. Here is a portion of an overview:

Then Mr. Srivathsa of Dell, Mr Anil of Microsoft, Ashok krish of TCS and Mr. Shrinivasan of Cloudversity had a pannel discussion about the Career trends in FOSS, which was very much useful for the students( both school and college)

From the comments:

LOL who allowed those idiots inside? Nobody there registered a protest? damn man

Microsoft does not mean well. It is trying to dilute or hijack “open source” and by its very own admission, ruining such events by merely attending is a goal too.

Here is another recent example:

Hi, this is Brian Gorbett and I am an Architect in Microsoft’s Developer & Platform Evangelism group. This week I had the privilege to speak on a panel at the Saper Law Open Source Symposium in Chicago.

Who is guarding this event from ill interests? Well, according to the site, “To serve as a panelist or to sponsor the event, please contact Daliah Saper as soon as possible.”

When Microsoft attends such events it is pitching in favour of software patents and “hybrid”. That’s just what it’s doing in these conferences, just like their lobbying arms that infiltrate European panels on open source. They also promote what one of our readers calls “the Ms-PL trojan.” He explains: “Given the nature of Open Source and how it is designed to keep a level-playing field for all contributors, it’s patently obvious that the Ms-PL is a trojan horse concocted by the lawyers who’s sole function to pollute the code and render it useless in GPL type projects.

“When Microsoft attends such events it is pitching in favour of software patents and “hybrid”.”“The merist hint of Ms-PL code will pollute any such ‘open source’ projects and leave them liable to litigation. Ms-PL, a transparent attempt to con foolish open source developers into destroying FOSS from the inside.”

In other related news, Microsoft is fighting against Java, as it always has. But it was invading their conferences too, despite the many offences which Microsoft had committed against Java. Microsoft employees got caught messing about with polls, which they gamed against Java. Someone with high credibility has just notified us that “Astroturfers are dropping fake developer comments all over the forums lately promoting a proprietary alternative to Java. This serves to highlight the activity and growth of Java.

“There are also articles slamming Sun and Java. While there are some imperfections that must get addressed soon, these articles contrast sharply to the reality which shows active cooperation.

“Another area which confuses me regarding Sun and Red Hat is server hardware. Sun along with Fujitsu and a few others make server systems using open hardware.

“It would then make more sense for Red Hat and Sun to be offering joint solutions, such as pre-loaded Red Hat on SPARC, than for Sun to be offering anti-trust problem child Intel’s chips.”

We have seen similar attacks on OpenOffice.org [1, 2, 3].

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Reader’s Article: Microsoft On-my-way in Germany

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Open XML at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft reaches Spiegel with its attempt to capture German children

SOME months ago we mentioned Microsoft’s On-my-way programme in Europe [1, 2] because it seems like it could be related to the OOXML fiasco. Well, yesterday we wrote about Fraunhofer Fokus and DIN and one person informs us that when it comes to On-my-way, Germany is among the victims (page is in German).

Microsoft in Spiegel

Microsoft places this advertisement in German news Magazine Der Spiegel 11/2009, page 16. It is part of the European On-my-way image campaign that shows Microsoft as a corporate responsible company which helps European citizens to get training (in Sharepoint). The training cooperation with the German government was criticised by a German parliament group. The placement of the advertisement into German seems to be a fail:

Unsicher – unsecure
Unaufhaltsam – unstoppable

Both slogans remind you of Microsoft products as a Vista-powered laptop:

  • unsecure and you cannot shut’em down properly.
  • Both slogans remind you of Microsoft business practice: a security mess but you cannot stop them.
  • Both slogans remind you of Microsoft lobbying: a national security problem but unstoppable.

“Ihr Potential – Unser Antrieb” – Your potential [is]- Our gear.

A slogan which refers to the phrase “human resources” that denigrates working citizens to gears and livestock, and remind Spiegel readers in Germany of Fritz Lang’s famous scene.

In the Cebit 2009 report we find: “In der Innovation Lounge präsentieren sieben High-Tech-Gründer, die durch Microsoft gefördert werden, ihre Technologien. Unter dem Motto “Interaktion von Mensch und Maschine” werden dabei verschiedene Anwendungsbeispiele gezeigt, welche die innovativen Lösungen der Gründer miteinander kombinieren.”

Which translates to:

“In the innovation lounge seven high tech founders supported by Microsoft present their technologies. Under the Slogan “interaction of man and machine” also applied examples are shown which combine the innovative solutions of the founders.”

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 15th, 2009 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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