Summary: Microsoft’s very latest tricks with schools around the world are dissected and explained
A couple of days ago we wrote about ‘funny money’ which Microsoft would supposedly give to Mississippi. The short story is that it’s not real money and it may actually help Microsoft elevate revenue rather than suffer from fines. Now, from Mississippi we move on to Missouri, which evidently turns its students to Microsoft customers, no matter if they like it or not. We have covered many similar stories recently [1, 2, 3, 4]. It’s a form of child abuse to assign a commercial master to youngsters/adolescents so early in their lives (and leaving them no choice).
Wisconsin schools in line for millions of dollars in Microsoft vouchers
The settlement lays out $75 million to $80 million in reimbursements for a wide range of technology products and services. The exact amount is still being determined.
Why can’t Microsoft be properly fined? Why can’t there be no real punishment to prove that markets rules are effective and thus discourage repeated offences? Those who consider it a win for Wisconsin simply don’t understand this simple old trick. Almost all journalists happily ignore the other side of the coin and instead deliver just the message which requires zero investigation. See for example:
Citizenship Manager for Microsoft in Nigeria, Jummai Umar-Ajijola said the Innovative Teachers Forum, which is a part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning (PiL) programme, is a reflection of Microsoft’s commitment to bridging the digital divide in Africa’s education.
The two-day Forum, hosted by Microsoft in association with SchoolNet was also an opportunity for participating teachers to exchange best practices and share experiences with their peers from across the various states of the country.
I sat there shaking my head in disbelief as I realized I had just witnessed possibly the most disheartening Apple keynote in recent memory. Three years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the adoption of Intel chips in Apple machines, a move that would send its market share soaring. A year later he walked up on stage and announced the phone that would change the mobile world forever.
When the new operating system arrives in September, it’ll work only on Intel-based Macs. That means Mac OS X 10.5, aka Leopard, will be the end of the line for those with Macs that use PowerPC processors.
So well done, Microsoft! You’ve released a browser that deletes a system file it shouldn’t even LOOK at! That’s true creativity, that is. Who wouldn’t think that a piece of software designed for looking at web pages might be deleting boot files even before it’s told to load and run?
This has got to be the most obscure error I’ve ever had to track down, bar none. Congratulations on that score, I guess, MS.
More recently we saw the BSA lobbying the government to put industry in charge of national security, so its no surprising that a Microsoft person was almost immediately put at the top of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [1, 2]. The government soon recruited Microsoft’s Mundie (who hates Free(dom) software) to assist with technology policy. According to new reports, President Barack Obama may make Microsoft’s security person a cybersecurity czar. This is not a joke. Yes, Microsoft and security.
Ex-government cyber official, exec mulled for czar job
Microsoft’s security chief and a veteran of Clinton’s and Bush’s national security teams are leading candidates for cybersecurity czar, a job that needs White House access and clout to protect networks that underpin the U.S. economy.
President Barack Obama promised last month that he would personally decide who would lead the fight against an epidemic of cybercrime and organize a response to any major cyber attack.
A leading candidate for the post is Scott Charney, head of Microsoft’s cybersecurity division, who has said he won’t take the job, according to a source who had direct knowledge of the matter but was not authorized to discuss it. The source said, however, that Charney would change his mind if pressed.
Two leading candidates have emerged for this job. The first is Scott Charney, head of Microsoft’s cybersecurity division.
Coming from the company which says that “[O]ur products just aren’t engineered for security,” this is black comedy.
One of our readers says: “It’s a bad joke to even consider putting an alleged cyber racketeer in charge of national security. There’s conflict of interest and he’s not qualified.
“Notice that from a business perspective, MS executives have been in constant trouble with both foreign and domestic courts for both unethical and illegal practices. These range from predatory marketing, contract violations, false advertising and They maintained that long-established reputation through lots of hard work and many decisions that could have easily gone the right direction instead. These are crooks.
“On qualifications, just look at MS security track record. Microsoft’s own “childish” executives(1) point out that their software is not designed with security in mind(2) and that some (which may very well be *all*) Microsoft code is so in secure that it endangers national security. Ongoing incidents demonstrate(3) that even Microsoft HQ can’t secure its own software from Windows worms. That conclusion is made final in their bid to enter the aftermarket anti- Windows-virus software.
“Security is also making sure that material is available when it’s needed. Microsoft-style write-only backups don’t cut it. So be sure to also look at the unmitigated disaster regarding turnover of the Bush administration’s electronic records.
“Ok, that’s the tip of the ice berg for Windows security. Then there is also a conflict of interest.
“The government post must be able to fight organized crime and it is dubitable whether an individual who has been part of the problem can suddenly, simply because he is “pressured” to do a 180 and start fighting organized crime.
“Law enforcement, including police, are one of several mechanisms to mitigate social or economic damage. Dams, powergrids, hospitals, and so on are protected because of the great social or economic damage that would come from their destruction or disabling. Unfortunately, MS products have been implicated in air traffic outages, suspected in the East Coast power grid failure, and appear responsible now for great numbers of hospital deaths due to Windows worms.
“Law enforcement in many countries is usually pretty good about community outreach and crime prevention. There are even special units that deal with organized crime. An old method has been to turn a blind eye to “lesser” crimes or criminals in return for something else. Traditionally this include the use of finks to rat on their cohorts. This makes a wide, gray area around a Faustian gamble that the returns at the end will justify the means. In some cases, the give-and-take becomes a way of life rather than a means to an end. However, add the clause “…with a computer” to any known crime and law enforcement becomes paralyzed and, at best, reluctant to help.
“It would be a bad position if law enforcement had somehow become beholden to MS, now that Windows botnets are bought, sold, trade, and fought over by other organized crime groups. These Windows worms are responsible for tens of billions of dollars of damage per Worm. With Windows entering hospitals and health care, this ideology means a real body count, just like another ideologically motivated group the Taliban. Deaths and/or major damage usually are indicators that intervention is needed.
“Really, Charney, and his cohorts at MS, should be considered for a special place in the government: Camp X-Ray.”█
“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
“[Microsoft's] Mr. Emerson and I discussed a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would ‘backstop,’ or guarantee in some way, BayStar’s investment…. Microsoft assured me that it would in some way guarantee BayStar’s investment in SCO.”
–Larry Goldfarb, Baystar, key investor in SCO
The Alexis de Tocqueville Institution is not new to us. It is a sort of lobbying vehicle that Microsoft too has been using, sometimes against Linux. We are also very interested Stephen Norris and the Carlyle Group, which is connected to him. In reverse-chronological order, we wrote about the SCO-funding saga in:
Gulf Capital Partners, LLC wants to be heard in the SCO bankruptcy, I gather. There is a pro hac vice Motion to Appear [PDF] filed by Gulf Capital Partners, LLC.
There’s more than one entity with that or a similar name, but I suspect that this one may be the Stephen Norris Gulf Capital Partners. Incidentally, or maybe not so incidentally, listed as a senior advisor on the principals page is Robert Kasten, who is also a consultant for the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, which you will recall attacked Linux — here’s the infamous “report” [PDF] — albeit unsuccessfully. Not that AdTI ever admitted defeat, as you can see on this incredible AdTI page, where they call Open Source software “open sores software” and reference both Maureen O’Gara and Paul Murphy — small world, isn’t it?
The think tank report on Linux was reportedly funded at least indirectly, by Microsoft. Microsoft admits funding AdTI, but not specific projects. And it called the report unhelpful. Of course, there are coincidences in life of the three degrees variety. So, just saying.
Max calls the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution “axis of evil”, adding that, based on Wikipedia, they are a “Washington, D.C.–based right-wing think tank that produces reports and policy research. [...] These detail how, after the Environmental Protection Agency moved in 1993 to have second-hand tobacco smoke declared a carcinogen, Philip Morris hired the AdTI to campaign against the move [...] AdTI is a member organization of the Cooler Heads Coalition which asserts that “the science of global warming is uncertain”…” █
“Microsoft hardly needs an SCO source license. Its license payment to SCO is simply a good-looking way to pass along a bribe…”
Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) has been asked to pay compensation of more than RMB 70 million by Shenzhen-based quality certification service provider Mowom for Microsoft’s failure to fulfill a 2005 contract, reports Sanxiang City Express quoting Mowom Chief Designer Matt Zhou.
Speaking of the WHO, Richard Stallman pointed to this article a couple of days ago. He summarised it as “US threats in 1995 made the World Health Organization cancel and bury a study which had found that cocaine was not very dangerous.”
In the case of cocaine there is an even more striking precedent for evidence being ignored: the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted what is probably the largest ever study of global use. In March 1995 they released a briefing kit which summarised their conclusions, with some tantalising bullet points.
“Health problems from the use of legal substances, particularly alcohol and tobacco, are greater than health problems from cocaine use,” they said. “Cocaine-related problems are widely perceived to be more common and more severe for intensive, high-dosage users and very rare and much less severe for occasional, low-dosage users.”
At the point where mild cocaine use was described in positive tones the Americans presumably blew some kind of outrage fuse. This report was never published because the US representative to the WHO threatened to withdraw US funding for all its research projects and interventions unless the organisation “dissociated itself from the study” and cancelled publication. According to the WHO this document does not exist, (although you can read a leaked copy at www.tdpf.org.uk/WHOleaked.pdf).
It does put the WHO in a different light, does it not? And to say more about Merck, there is nothing ethical about its dodgy pharmaceutical practices, let alone the fact that it is corrupting once-respectable journals. This is a true shame… or just shame because there is no truth or honesty. For some updates on the situation see:
Remember how Elsevier and Merck were caught putting out a fake journal that had articles favoring Merck drugs, implying peer reviewed articles that weren’t? Soon afterwards, it came out that Elsevier had a whole division for such things. However, following an internal investigation, it looks like Elsevier is backtracking a bit and saying that, while the group’s practices were problematic, most weren’t as egregious as the “Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine (AJBJM)” that was created by Merck and Elsevier.
Remember a week ago when we wrote about pharma giant Merck and publishing giant Elsevier working together to publish a fake journal that talked up various Merck drugs and was used by doctors to show that the drugs were safe and useful?
This ought to teach all of us to be critical of everything we read. █
EU Is Said to Ask PC Makers About Microsoft Influence (Update2)
The European Commission in Brussels sent questionnaires to PC makers asking about their communications with Microsoft, according to two people who have seen the queries and declined to be identified because the document is confidential.
The commission in January filed a complaint accusing Microsoft of possibly harming consumer choice and product innovation by including the Internet Explorer browser with its Windows operating system. Microsoft may be forced to disable some software code and offer PC users a choice of browsers when setting up a new PC on a so-called “ballot screen,” the company said in a U.S. regulatory filing on Jan. 18.
EC: Is Microsoft pressuring witnesses in antitrust case?
The European Commission is asking PC makers and software rivals if Microsoft has been pressuring them in connection with the ongoing antitrust case concerning Web browsers, one such company said Tuesday.
A South Korean court ruled Thursday that Microsoft violated anti-trust regulations by bundling programs with its Windows operating system, but dismissed demands for monetary compensation from rival companies.
Compensations are not being granted, but there is recognition that Microsoft broke the law. This is also covered in:
Microsoft has “substantially understated” its share of the browser market in its effort to combat charges by Europe’s antitrust watchdog that it illegally ties its Explorer browser to its Windows operating system, opponents of the US software company are alleging.
For Microsoft to allegedly influence statistics this would not be the first. See for example:
“Ideally, use of the competing technology becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, “he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2.” Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. Make the complete failure of the competition’s technology part of the mythology of the computer industry. We want to place selection pressure on those companies and individuals that show a genetic weakness for competitors’ technologies, to make the industry increasingly resistant to such unhealthy strains, over time.”