03.23.09

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Microsoft Buys Market Share, But Still Loses Due to Technical Problems

Posted in Google, Mail, Microsoft at 6:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

1064580_paying_debt
Microsoft’s upper hand

Summary: Microsoft uses MSPs and incentives for stranglehold on students; technical errors persist

LAST WEEK we leaked information about Microsoft's Live@Edu, which offers gentle bribes to those who help ‘infect’ their academic institution with more Microsoft lock-in. Another document, regarding ELMS, was leaked quite recently and we finally have some example of MSDNAA [ODF], with a plain text version at the bottom. We possess 4 more large documents that are copyrighted. These too are interesting but cannot be safely shared.

This whole thing is very timely because Queensland University of Technology has just fallen a victim to Live@Edu, so who is it that cashed in?

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) will migrate some 40,000 student user accounts to Microsoft’s Live@edu hosted messaging and storage platform providing an alternative to the successful Google Apps education surge.

This seems like a war of incentives, but we know nothing about Google offering any money merely to be chosen. Microsoft has a proven track record of paying companies to ditch competitors’ technology and thereby starve these competitors of Microsoft . Adobe has already complained about it because Microsoft is paying — not charging — for companies to choose Silverlight, which is on a route to nowhere nonetheless.

Given the choice, businesses sometimes choose Google over Microsoft; GNU/Linux is being favoured also. It turns out that the opposition leader in India is promising $200 ‘Microsoft-free’ laptops if he gets elected to become prime minister.

Indian PM Candidate Promises $200 ‘Microsoft-Free’ Laptop

To secure votes, BJP leader LK Advani is pledging open source computers for 10 million students in his country.

The existing prime minister is no fan of Microsoft products, either. EDGI in India was apparently not enough. One reader sent to our attention the following article about the prime minister's bitter experience with Microsoft software.

The e-mail system of the Indian Prime Ministers Office was crippled by a virus that devoured nearly all of its incoming mail for three months last year, according to a recent report in the Times of India.

Apparently the virus affected the PMO’s Microsoft Outlook Express program, and consequently the office received almost none of the e-mail it was sent from February to April. Which, really, is the kind of thing you think someone would have noticed, because presumably the PMO usually gets a fair bit of e-mail, here in the worlds biggest democracy.

This was covered in many other Web sites, such as this one.

Our reader adds: “I’d posit that a large portion of people do notice mail lost due to the Exchange / Outlook pox. However, nearly all of them take the “it’s not my job” approach or are soil-their-britches scared of the Microsoft sales representatives working in their IT dept. For the latter, how many times a day do we see in the press that it’s the user’s fault that the software does not perform as advertised.”

The person who sent us this pointer thought that the following old article was also worth reviewing:

“A lot of people are sick of Microsoft and Bill Gates,” he said in an interview. “They hate that their computers crash once a week. They hate viruses. They hate paying so much for Microsoft software.”

On Friday, Silverman announced that his Toronto-based store will begin an intense marketing campaign of its Sub300.com Ultralite Laptop for $799. The 2.9-pound laptop has the Linspire Linux operating system and OpenOffice software including word processor, spreadsheet and data base filer.

“We are avoiding the ‘Microsoft tax,’” said Silverman, adding that Microsoft software can add from $200 to $400 to the cost of a PC or laptop. He said customers have been drawn to the store and its offerings for a variety of reasons, most of which are based in a dislike of Microsoft products.

Well, what else is new? Conficker is alive and well.

An extraordinary behind-the-scenes struggle is taking place between computer security groups around the world and the brazen author of a malicious software program called Conficker.

This PR disaster is not quite over yet. There is no real end in sight, so for the time being, we might as well accept that about 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie. Everyone is affected somehow.


Appendix: MSDNAA — A typical mail to an MSP, as text


***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

[...]

ELMS for MSDNAA Software Center: This message has been generated
automatically from your ELMS. Please do not reply to this message
as you will not receive a response. Please click on the SUPPORT
link in your MSDNAA Online Software System for support contact
information on your campus.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Hello,

Welcome! You have been registered in your university/college ELMS
for MSDNAA online software system. Here you can download and
access a wide range of Microsoft developer tools, servers, and
platforms. There is no charge to download the software as long
as you are an eligible user in the System. 
 
How Does it Work?

Your university/college is licensed under the MSDN Academic
Alliance Program which enables eligible students and faculty
members to access software available under the Program. e-academy
Inc., a partner of Microsoft, is providing ELMS for MSDNAA to you.
Simply log into the System using your username and password
included below and start browsing/ordering the software
available to you. 
 
Your MSDNAA Online Software System can be found at:

http://msdn70.e-academy.com/[...]

Your username is : xxxxx@xxx.com
Your password is : xxxxxx

Technical Support

If you have any technical difficulties while downloading the
software, please go to the support section in the website and
click on Request Customer Support. Technical support is
provided by your MSDNAA Program Administrator at your school. 

General Information

If you have general questions about the MSDNAA Program, who
is eligible, general rules and regulations, etc., please go
to the support section in the website for contact information.

Please keep this e-mail for future reference, as you will
need your username and password in order access the online
software system.

Remember, by accessing the Microsoft software through this
system you are stating that you are authorized, and are
agreeing to comply with all usage guidelines. 

Sincerely,
ELMS for MSDNAA Staff
e-academy Inc.

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19 Comments

  1. Yggdrasil said,

    March 23, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Gravatar

    You keep throwing around this 40% infection rate, but it doesn’t seem to be a reliable figure. That percentage was given by the Rick Wesson, the CEO of a company called Support Intelligence. No article I could find mentions just how Support Intelligence gathered this data or any other details about it. Even their own website lacks details about their study. One thing is for certain, 40% certainly makes for a scary headline and a great way to boost sales for the company.

    Competitors like Damballa suggest 3% to 5% of enterprise assets are compromised by bot-driven targeted attack malware. Others like PandaLabs report an 11% infection rate across the board. These seem to be much more sensible figures. How do you account for these discrepancies? When a company is selling security, can you really trust them to tell you just how safe you are without their paid protection?

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Gravatar

    Yggdrasil,

    The highly respected Mr. Geer set his estimate at 25% several years ago.

    Around 2007, Vint Cerf said that his estimate was 150 million. This was covered in many publications including the BBC.

    The 40% figure was covered in several publications including USA Today.

    Yggdrasil Reply:

    Highly respected by who, you? That isn’t enough to be considered credible. Again, we need to know the methods used and the motivation behind the research.

    Vint Cerf’s actual estimate was between 100 and 150 million. That’s a pretty rough estimate, and it’s safe to assume this was done without any real research.

    The 40% figure was repeated by several news publications, but again, none of them questioned the reliability of this figure, nor did they compare it to other estimates.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @Yggdrasil

    Dan Geer is well known to his peers.

    Yggdrasil Reply:

    Hmm… “peers” is a highly subjective term. Looks to me he’s only respected by anti-microsoft zealots. While he was critical of Microsoft’s “monopoly”, his paper was light on real technical details. Some of his arguments, “patching adds more complexity = more bugs”, are only applied to Microsoft while ignoring everyone else. A highly engineered troll paper to be sure, but still a troll. I can see why he was fired. Research with bias isn’t research at all, it’s deceptive propaganda. While I’m certain this was the reason he was terminated, I’m sure you can cook up a good conspiracy theory to refute it.

    What I find cute, is his argument that windows is a security risk because of it’s dominance. I actually agree with this, but it is in direct conflict with many Linux zealots who claim that Linux security does NOT come from it’s obscurity. Maybe just sweep that one under the carpet.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @Yggdrasil

    GNU/Linux is not obscure. It powers many servers for example.

    “Forty percent of servers run Windows, 60 percent run Linux…”

    Steve Ballmer (September 2008)

    Yggdrasil Reply:

    60% of servers run Linux. That’s interesting, but I wasn’t talking only about servers and neither was Dan Geer. Let’s keep going though….

    Let’s look at this CNET article from 2002 (http://news.cnet.com/2100-1040-940713.html)

    1 billion PCs shipped worldwide since the mid 1970s:
    81.5 % Desktops
    16.4 % Laptops
    2.1 % Servers

    Of those 2.1% that were servers, 60% could be have been running Linux (or some other Unix variant). Impressive, but only when looking solely at servers and ignoring the rest.

    This is why Linux can be called obscure, because like many, including Dan Geer, I was looking at the entire spectrum of computers when I used this adjective.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    @Yggdrasil

    Billions of devices were sold. Many run Linux.

    According to one source that I came across, only 2% of the chips (processors) target desktops.

  3. twitter said,

    March 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Gravatar

    Windows infection rates have been estimated by M$ themselves as 66%, but there is no practical difference between 25, 40 or 99%. What matters is that Windows is a security failure that can’t be trusted. Retailers can never be sure if their visitors are real customers or criminals who have collected credentials. Customers can never be sure their computer is worthy of trust. Many of the problems hampering electronic commerce can be traced back to Windows on the desktop. It is a weak link in privacy as well. No reasonable person will trust such a flawed OS with their money or personal details.

    There’s really no excuse for this. As covered by the link above, M$ likes to blame the user. They also like to blame the “popularity” of their OS, but exploits peculiar to Vista and Windows 7 prove this a lie because both have low market share and prospects of gaining any. M$ has had all the money in the word for decades and they proclaim each new version of Windows to be safe for commerce. Their continued failure to make an OS that people can trust can be attributed to their tremendous arrogance and the non sustainable nature of non free software as a development model. For decades they have ripped off the software world and crammed the pieces into their ancient Windows framework. Others have done better with free software, even at creating DOS (Free DOS) and Windows (ReactOS). Shame on M$ for squandering their position and everyone else time and money.

    Yggdrasil Reply:

    Wait a minute. You seriously claim that Microsoft told the public 66% of Windows machines were part of a bot-net? Can you provide a single citation for this? Where did you get this number from? If Microsoft is as evil, sneaky, and vindictive as you claim…. why would they release such a damaging figure as 66%? Wouldn’t they try to cover it up?

    Also, as noted by another comment below, ReactOS is alpha software. I’ve used it myself. It’s not stable enough, nor is it compatible enough to be used for anything serious, much less a full replacement for WindowsNT based systems. Your comments tend to suggest you have no practical experience using ReactOS, but since it’s not made by Microsoft that automatically makes it superior.

  4. David Gerard said,

    March 23, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Gravatar

    Calling ReactOS a better Windows is just a little premature, considering it’s officially a developer alpha not yet for user consumption. Even Wine is just getting there. They will get there, by the inexorable march of science over alchemy … but not yet.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    David,

    But Wine is more of a complement, not an environment to crucially rely on. ReactOS uses Wine too.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Ooh, nested comments? What’s the extension for this?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The goods are here.

    twitter Reply:

    It is better to be free when you can be. When Wine works, it is superior to an OS that requires licensing, network registration and other headaches. It is true that M$ and non free software companies make it hard to use their software outside of Windows, but even difficult programs like AutoCAD and World of Warcraft now work with Wine. It has been a while since I looked at freeDOS, but it was already “Not your fathers” DOS back in 2004. I expect ReactOS to eclipse XP sooner than later. For many practical purposes, Wine is already there.

    It is a shame to hear that ReactOS is not “ready”. It looks good in Wikipedia. It will be nice when ReactOS is a reasonable substitute for W2K or XP for VM legacy program support.

  5. jocaferro said,

    March 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Gravatar

    Nice. :)

  6. aBNreader said,

    March 23, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    Gravatar

    Hi Rod, this is OT, but I just wanted to mention, I was taking a look to google SoC projects and ideas, seems plenty of google money will go into making OSS more dependent on .net. This is however a notable one:
    http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/DevelopmentTeam/ProjectIdeas

    Yeah sugar wants more Mono.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    March 23, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Had it been OLPC, I would not have been shocked because of the Microsoft influence, but Sugar?!?!

    Look no further than TomTom and FAT.

  8. aBNreader said,

    March 23, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy* Sorry for the typo.

    Hey, Go-ooo is also in the list of summer of code-benefited projects.

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