EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.19.09

MSNBC Manipulated Story to Hide Microsoft’s Extensive Use of Free Software

Posted in BSD, Deception, Free/Libre Software, Mail, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An interesting real-world example of Microsoft’s influence on the press

Microsoft’s use of Free software is a subject that we covered many times before, e.g. in [1, 2, 3, 4]. Hotmail, for example, was running BSD long after Microsoft had acquired it, but how far did a dishonest Microsoft go to deny it? Well, Slated has picked up some old links which nicely fit and explain a newer incident.

The first link he picked is this one where Microsoft admits being a BSD user.

Despite the company’s bitter campaign against open source software, Microsoft continues to use FreeBSD to power important functions of its Hotmail free e-mail service. Much to the chagrin of the folks at Redmond, FreeBSD and Apache continued to run Hotmail for several years after it was purchased in 1997. Microsoft publicly claimed to have removed all traces of FreeBSD last summer, and even published a case study documenting its experiences. Microsoft told BetaNews that solutions such as FreeBSD are in use throughout its IT infrastructure. A spokesperson also clarified the the software giant’s position on OSS technologies, and views on GPL licensing.

Microsoft maintains however, that it is migrating to its own proprietary software and any delays are meant to ensure a positive experience for its customers.

Contrary to recent claims, the popular Hotmail service does not run entirely on the Windows 2000 platform. First reported by the Wall Street Journal, FreeBSD developer Trevor Johnson determined that Microsoft was still using the open source operating system for DNS hosting and also for tracking advertisements. It has also been reported that FreeBSD software components are utilized in Microsoft products, such as Windows 2000. BSD’s TCP/IP stack, a vital communication protocol, is rumored to have been used in several Windows operating systems, enabling users to connect to the Internet.

Slated does not stop there. “The original WSJ article,” he points out, “has mysteriously disappeared, but fragments remain elsewhere.”

Wall St. Journal: Microsoft Uses Open-Source Code Despite Denying Use of Such Software

Lee Gomes, the reporter who wrote the friendly (and curiously MSNBC-edited) piece last week about “Microsoft’s Uphill Battle Against Linux” is back this week with an amplification on Microsoft’s use of open source software:

“Microsoft Corp., even while mounting a new campaign against open-source software, has quietly been using such free computer code in several major products, as well as on key portions of a popular Web site — despite denying last week that it did so.

Software connected with the FreeBSD open-source operating system is used in several places deep inside several versions of Microsoft’s Windows software, such as in the “TCP/IP” section that arranges all connections to the Internet. The company also uses FreeBSD on numerous “server” computers that manage major functions at its Hotmail free e-mail service, whose registered users exceed 100 million and make it one of the Web’s busiest sites.

Microsoft acknowledged its repeated use of open-source code Friday, in response to questions about the matter. Just two days earlier, it had specifically denied the existence of any such software at Hotmail.”

Also from LinuxToday (as per yesterday):

Why is the NY Times so Dumb About Linux and Windows?

The New York Times seems hard-wired to rarely identify any Windows malware as Windows malware, but rather as “computer malware.” They seem to share this illness with other people too, such as researchers and professors. Can it be that all these educated people who make their livings knowing things and uncovering new knowledge really don’t know that there are other computer operating systems besides Microsoft Windows?

Their latest failure at making this distinction is China Orders Patches to Planned Web Filter, and they also missed the real story: since this censoring software is required to be installed on all computers sold in China, does that mean that Mac, Linux, and Unix computers are banned? Because it’s a Windows program.

Microsoft and the New York Times are very close. Steve Ballmer publishes articles in there sometimes. A year ago we wrote about the New York Times promoting Silverlight and this was hardly surprising given the strong relationship between those two. Just months ago there was a rumour that Microsoft would buy the debt-saddled New York Times.

So, what Carla points out above is that the New York Times, which enjoys a wide daily distribution, consistently defends Microsoft through omission of critical details. The BBC too perpetuates the belief that computers and Windows are synonymous. We previously explained why the BBC and NBC cannot ever be trusted on Microsoft and Novell matters and returning to Slated’s links, he also shows that “The MSNBC even tried to censor the story [about Hotmail running on Free software].”

MSNBC has been caught doctoring copy originating from the Wall Street Journal to make it more favourable to the news channel’s co-owner Microsoft. The changes introduced by MSNBC also had the effect of removing references to Microsoft competitors.

Amongst many fairly harmless edits, designed to improve readability, were some more ominous changes.

The original WSJ report gave a harsh analysis of Microsoft’ offensive against open source software and the GNU General Public License, initiated six weeks ago by Craig Mundie. The WSJ cited Microsoft’s own dependence on open source software, and cited lawyers who were critical of its interpretation of the General Public License.

“Microsoft said that since last summer, Hotmail has been running on both Windows 2000 and the Solaris operating system from Sun Microsystems Inc.,” noted the original copy from the WSJ.

MSNBC amended this to:-

“Microsoft said Hotmail has been running on Windows since last summer.”

By Friday, the original version of the story that appeared in the WSJ had been restored to MSNBC.

“Here’s the best rebuttal I could find,” writes Slated, “although the author still does not actually deny that Microsoft benefited from “freeloading” the BSD code.”

I worked at Microsoft for ten years, most of it on the core Windows NT/2000 (hereafter referred to as NT) networking code. As such I briefly dealt with the Hotmail team, mostly to hear them complain about the lameness of the telnet daemon in NT (a valid point). I do know that when Microsoft bought Hotmail, the email system was entirely running on FreeBSD, and Microsoft immediately set about trying to migrate it to NT, and it took many years to do so. Now it seems that the transition is not complete. Well, what are you gonna do.

[...]

Now, some of Spider’s code (possibly all of it) was based on the TCP/IP stack in the BSD flavors of Unix. These are open source, but distributed under the BSD license, not the GPL that Linux is released under. Whereas the GPL states that any software derived from GPL’ed software must also be released under the GPL, the BSD license basically says, “here’s the source, you can do whatever you want, just give credit to the original author.”

Eventually the new, from scratch TCP/IP stack was done and shipped with NT 3.5 (the second version, despite the number) in late 1994. The same stack was also included with Windows 95.

However, it looks like some of those Unix utilities were never rewritten. If you look at the executables, you can still see the copyright notice from the regents of the University of California (BSD is short for Berkeley Software Distrubution, Berkeley being a branch of the University of California, for some reason referred to as “Berkeley” on the East Coast and “California” on the West Coast…and “Berkeley” is one of those words that starts to look real funny if you stare at it too long – but I digress).

Keep in mind there is no reason to rewrite that code. If your ftp client works fine (no comments from the peanut gallery!) then why change it? Microsoft has other fish to fry. And the software was licensed perfectly legally, since the inclusion of the copyright notice satisfied the BSD license.

To conclude, Slated writes:

Did Microsoft satisfy the BSD license?

Yes.

Are they “freetards”, according to [some] definition?

Yes.

Microsoft and their anti-Freedom supporters are a bunch of hypocrites. Or, to use the words of the above author, it’s “like the event horizon calling the kettle black”.

So when can we expect Microsoft (or even Spider Systems Ltd.) to compensate The Regents of the University of California for “all their hard work”?

It sure changes one’s perspective.

Steve Ballmer as penguin

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

5 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    June 19, 2009 at 6:56 am

    Gravatar

    This story squashed any remaining doubts that I had about the GPL being superior to BSD. FreeBSD has helped out Microsoft and Apple far too much.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    How timely (from today’s news): Microsoft lands deal with NBC for ad-campaign tool

    I’m starting to suspect that this whole “NBC” thing is not exactly impartial.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    June 20, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Gravatar

    “However, it looks like some of those Unix utilities were never rewritten. If you look at the executables, you can still see the copyright notice from the regents of the University of California”
    And the only reason why that copyright notice was even included is that the 4-clause BSD license required it. If the code was licensed under the 3-clause BSD license, MS could strip it making this harder to detect.

  3. anon said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:03 am

    Gravatar

    According to the Wiki MSNBC is a joint venture :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSNBC

  4. anon said,

    June 22, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Gravatar

    MSNBC is a joint venture of NBC and MS per the wiki (or at least was)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSNBC

What Else is New


  1. Inverting Narratives: IAM 'Magazine' Paints Massive Patent Bully Microsoft (Preying on the Weak) as a Defender of the Powerless

    Selective coverage and deliberate misinterpretation of Microsoft's tactics (patent settlement under threat, disguised as "pre-installation of some of the US company’s software products") as seen in IAM almost every week these days



  2. The Sickness of the EPO – Part I: Motivation for New Series of Articles

    An introduction or prelude to a long series of upcoming posts, whose purpose is to show governance by coercion, pressure, retribution and tribalism rather than professional relationship between human beings at the European Patent Office (EPO)



  3. Insensitivity at the EPO’s Management – Part VII: EPO Hypocrisy on Cancer and Lack of Feedback to and From ECPC

    The European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), which calls itself "the largest European cancer patients' umbrella organisation," fails to fulfill its duties, says a source of ours, and the EPO makes things even worse



  4. Links 21/2/2017: KDE Plasma 5.9.2 in Chakra GNU/Linux, pfSense 2.3.3

    Links for the day



  5. EPO Caricature: Battistelli's Wall

    Battistelli's solution to everything at the EPO is exclusion and barriers



  6. The 'New' Microsoft is Still Acting Like a Dangerous Cult in an Effort to Hijack and/or Undermine All Free/Open Source Software

    In an effort to combat any large deployment of non-Microsoft software, the company goes personal and attempts to overthrow even management that is not receptive to Microsoft's agenda



  7. PTAB Petitioned to Help Against Patent Troll InfoGation Corp., Which Goes After Linux/Android OEMs in China

    A new example of software patents against Free software, or trolls against companies that are distributing freedom-respecting software from a country where these patents are not even potent (they don't exist there)



  8. Links 20/2/2017: Linux 4.10, LineageOS Milestone

    Links for the day



  9. No, Doing Mathematical Operations on a Processor Does Not Make Algorithms Patent-Eligible

    Old and familiar tricks -- a method for tricking examiners into the idea that algorithms are actual machines -- are being peddled by Watchtroll again



  10. Paid-for UPC Proponent, IAM 'Magazine', Debunked on UPC Again

    The impact of the corrupted (by EPO money) media goes further than one might expect and even 'borrows' out-of-date news in order to promote the UPC



  11. Lack of Justice in and Around the EPO Drawing Scrutiny

    The status of the EPO as an entity above the law (in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and so on) is becoming the subject of press reports and staff is leaving in large numbers



  12. Links 19/2/2017: GParted 0.28.1, LibreOffice Donations Record

    Links for the day



  13. The EPO is Becoming an Embarrassment to Europe and a Growing Threat to the European Union

    The increasingly pathetic moves by Battistelli and the ever-declining image/status of the EPO (only 0% of polled stakeholders approve Battistelli's management) is causing damage to the reputation of the European Union, even if the EPO is not a European Union organ but an international one



  14. Patent Misconceptions Promoted by the Patent Meta-Industry

    Cherry-picking one's way into the perception of patent eligibility for software and the misguided belief that without patents there will be no innovation



  15. As the United States Shuts Its Door on Low-Quality Patents the Patent Trolls Move to Asia

    Disintegration of Intellectual Ventures (further shrinkage after losing software patents at CAFC), China's massive patent bubble, and Singapore's implicit invitation/facilitation of patent trolls (bubble economy)



  16. Links 17/2/2017: Wine 2.2, New Ubuntu LTS

    Links for the day



  17. Bad Advice From Mintz Levin and Bejin Bieneman PLC Would Have People Believe That Software Patents Are Still Worth Pursuing

    The latest examples of misleading articles which, in spite of the avalanche of software patents in the United States, continue to promote these



  18. Patents Are Not Property, They Are a Monopoly, and They Are Not Owned But Temporarily Granted

    Patent maximalism and distortion of concepts associated with patents tackled again, for terminology is being hijacked by those who turned patents into their "milking cows"



  19. SoftBank Group, New Owner of ARM, Could Potentially Become (in Part) a Patent Troll or an Aggressor Like Qualcomm

    SoftBank grabbed headlines (in the West at least) when it bought ARM, but will it soon grab headlines for going after practicing companies using a bunch of patents that it got from Inventergy, ARM, and beyond?



  20. Technicolor, Having Turned Into a Patent Troll, Attacks Android/Tizen/Linux With Patents in Europe

    Technicolor, which a lot of the media portrayed as a patent troll in previous years (especially after it had sued Apple, HTC and Samsung), is now taking action against Samsung in Europe (Paris, Dusseldorf and Mannheim)



  21. Michelle Lee is Still “in Charge” of the US Patent System

    Contrary to a malicious whispering campaign against Lee (a coup attempt, courtesy of patent maximalists who make a living from mass litigation), she is still in charge of the USPTO



  22. Our Assessment: EPO Wants a Lot of Low-Quality Patents and Low-Paid Staff With UPC (Prosecution Galore)

    The European Patent Office seems to be less interested in examination and more interested in facilitating overzealous prosecution all across Europe and beyond; The Administrative Council has shown no signs that it is interested in profound changes, except those proposed by Battistelli in the face of growing resistance from staff and from ordinary stakeholders



  23. Links 16/2/2017: HITMAN for GNU/Linux, Go 1.8

    Links for the day



  24. Yet More Complaints About the European Patent Office in the Bavarian Regional Government

    Some German politicians do care about the welfare of EPO staff, a lot more so than the EPO's management that is actively crushing this staff



  25. EPO Staff Representatives to Escalate Complaint About Severe Injustices to the EPO's Secretive Board 28

    In a new letter to President Benoît Battistelli it is made abundantly apparent -- however politely -- that Battistelli's gross abuses could further complicate things for Battistelli, who is already embroiled in a fight with his predecessor, Roland Grossenbacher



  26. New Survey Reveals That High Patent Quality, or Elimination of Bad Patents, is Desirable to Patent Holders

    A new survey from Bloomberg BNA and AIPLA reveals that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), which still grows in prominence, is supported by people who have themselves gotten patents (not those who are in the bureaucracy of patents and self-serving politics)



  27. Open Patent Office is Not the Solution; Ending Software Patents is the Solution

    Our remarks about the goals and methods of the newly-established Open Patent Office and what is instead needed in order to combat the menace that threatens software development



  28. New Scholarly Paper Says “UK’s Withdrawal From the EU Could Mean That the Entire (Unitary Patent) System Will Not Go Into Effect”

    A paper from academics -- not from the patent microcosm (for a change) -- provides a more sobering interpretation, suggesting quite rightly that the UPC can't happen in the UK (or in Europe), or simply not endure if some front groups such as CIPA somehow managed to bamboozle politicians into it (ratification in haste, before the facts are known)



  29. Patent Trolls Update: Rodney Gilstrap Maintains His Support for Trolls, MPEG-LA Goes Hunting in China, and Blackberry Hits Nokia

    A roundup of the latest news about patent trolls and what they are up to in the United States, Europe, and Asia



  30. Guest Post: EPO, an Idyllic Place to Work

    The true face of the EPO as explained by an insider, recalling the history that led to the negative image and toxic work atmosphere


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts