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10.11.09

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: October 11th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Apple’s, Microsoft’s and the Gates Foundation’s Games with Intellectual Monopolies

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rotten apple

Summary: Apple’s software patents harm/distract the Web and Linux; Microsoft’s software patents harm/distract Linux; The Gates Foundation makes more investments in patents

EARLIER THIS year we wrote about Apple's abuse of the Web using software patents (Apple also threatened to sue over Linux devices). What’s troubling is that both Apple and Microsoft have a chair at the HTML Working Group (W3C) and Apple can be quite a bit of a bully, which now leads the W3C to modifying APIs.

The W3C has spent the last three months poring over Apple’s patent on remote updating, and the web standards organization thinks the patent can be avoided by careful wording and tweaking a couple of APIs.

Software should not be patentable in the first place and the above is a waste of the W3C’s time. What is Apple trying to ‘protect’ anyway? It also publicly attacked Ogg.

NewsWeek has this new report which targets the hype behind the iPhone and the reality behind developing for Apple [via].

Seeking fortune and fame, entrepreneurs rushed to create programs for Apple’s App Store. That’s not always what they found.

So basically, there may be no more money contributing to Apple’s ecosystem than there is in helping Free(dom) software. It was similar with Palm OS.

Moving on to some other software patents, our reader Yuhong Bao claims that Microsoft’s loadable module [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], which was originally a GPL violation, completely hid this important item of news about the workaround for Microsoft’s FAT LFN patent. From the summary:

Only hours after Microsoft’s Hyper-V Linux patch, tridge submitted a revised workaround patch for MS’s FAT LFN patents. If you don’t remember, the original patch was in response to MS suing TomTom over these patents. This revised version provides better compatiblity, particularly with Windows 98, portable MP3 players, as well as mtools.

More and more people are becoming uncomfortable with the patent system, which a writer at Information Week is now denouncing. His complaint is summarised as follows:

Let’s remember the original purpose of the patent system: to encourage innovation and its broader benefits, not to make people rich.

As Gates and Microsoft grow closer to bankers, worth noticing is this item in the news about JPMorgan and the Gates Foundation hooking up. The Gates Foundation also does more of its notorious investments in patents (i.e. monopolies).

The Gates Foundation funding is for a global decision facility for patents and how they impact on innovation.

The Gates Foundation also invests heavily in patents on life, patents on agriculture (GM crops/foods), and Gates himself started a patent-hoarding firm.

This relates rather nicely to what we wrote this morning about Mirosoft and swine flu. The following segment of a talk provides more insight into the real impact of patents. Patents are not what people are led to believe they are.

“While I recognize the great value and importance of prescription drugs and strongly support a continued U.S. focus on pharmaceutical research and development, our nation’s seniors cannot be asked to subsidize the drug costs of other wealthy industrialized nations any longer.”

Michael K. Simpson

Microsoft, Google, and the Impact on Free Software Revisited

Posted in Antitrust, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Search at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google logo

Summary: Microsoft fails to slow Google down; Google harms Microsoft’s profits; Windows-only Microsoft Web rationalises temporary support of Google

IN ITS brutal fight against Google, Microsoft continues to rely on PR and lies. Fortunately, however, Microsoft makes little or no headway, despite huge investments.

Microsoft relies heavily on unethical deals (e.g. destroying Yahoo! [1, 2]) and miracles.

“Microsoft’s Bing fails to ping as Google continues to take search market share

[...]

The Yahoo!-Microsoft deal remains subject to regulatory approval.

Regardless of antitrust barriers, Microsoft has already caused great damage to Yahoo! — damage which is also a problem to Free software.

Microsoft’s CEO rules out further destruction of companies, except Google. Microsoft’s trouble is that with Google dominating many parts of the Web (new study, which the Gerson Lehrman Group agrees with), Microsoft’s main cash cow is unable to compete, especially if attempts are made to preserve huge operating margins.

Either way, Google Apps remains a dominant force with more than 1 million businesses using the application already and no sign of slowing down. Cloud computing is here to stay and Google and Microsoft will be fighting this out for years especially after the launch of Office Web Apps.

At the moment, as TechCrunch reminds us all, Microsoft fights Google using regulators.

Brin’s attitude is that if Microsoft or Amazon want a similar corpus of digital information, they should go scan their own out-of-print books.

Microsoft has already tried this and failed (it subsequently killed the product), so its whining about Google here is a case of sheer hypocrisy. Yahoo! is also being used to promote this agenda.

For those who wonder why Microsoft would be a disaster on-line, recall why Microsoft was found guilty in Korea twice this year [1, 2]. There is apparently a bit of a reversal this week, but the details are revealing nonetheless.

Court Defends Microsoft Browser Monoculture

[...]

The South Korean government insists that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE) Web browser should be the only option for doing encrypted communications online and the Supreme Court has no problem with it.

[...]

So basically, Linux, Firefox, Chrome and Opera users will continue to be prevented from banking or purchasing products online, and Mac users will have to buy Windows CDs to keep their devices from being reduced to fashion items.

[...]

It is estimated that around 99 percent of Korean computers run on Microsoft’s Windows operating system, and a similar rate of Internet users rely on the company’s IE. The main reason behind the dominance is that virtually all encrypted online communications here are made to rely on Microsoft’s Active-X controls. The tool, introduced in 1996, is designed to work only on IE.

Microsoft not only spreads ActiveX controls; it also spreads Silver Lie these days (while harming Web standards along with Novell). This is why Microsoft should ideally be kept off the Web. A Web without Microsoft is a Web that GNU/Linux computers and devices can access at ease.

“There has recently been an exchange on email with people in the Office group about Office and HTML.

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Hotmail and Gmail Data Breach Potentially Due to Windows Trojan

Posted in Google, Mail, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World war two tank

Summary: Mary Landesman from ScanSafe argues that accounts compromise is more likely the result of a combination of phishing and Windows Trojans

Hotmail’s E-mail accounts fiasco is one that we wrote about several days ago, but there is more to the news than was initially reported. The whole thing apparently began with a disclosure at Microsoft's pet site, Neowin.

Yesterday, Neowin’s Tom Warren discovered a list of what appeared to be Windows Live Hotmail account credentials, posted last weekend to a location where you wouldn’t expect such a list to appear: a collaborative debugging code sharing site for low-level software developers called pastebin.com. Warren reported the news to the world at the same time he reported it to Microsoft.

IT Pro has this important update which suggests the incident has symptoms of Trojans, not just phishing.

Landesman said that there were a lot of indicators in the password lists that are consistent with data theft rather than phishing.

Microsoft conveniently blames phishing attacks, which too are enabled by Windows botnets (brute force), as we noted some days ago. Another interesting factoid is to do with how Microsoft handled the problem. Reports suggest that Microsoft blocked the compromised accounts, but Heise contradicts this:

Contrary to previous statements, Microsoft and Yahoo have by no means blocked all the accounts whose access credentials were recently published on the internet. On the list, The H’s associates at heise Security found several Hotmail and Yahoo accounts that are still accessible and seem to show some suspicious activity.

It’s not just Hotmail that’s being compromised. Microsoft claims that Xbox Live (specifically Modern Warfare 2) has the same type of problem at the moment.

Unfortunately, some individuals are trying to take advantage of the hype from the upcoming title by scamming Xbox Live users to reveal their passwords to their accounts.

Given this obvious incompetence, how come Ohio lets Microsoft inherit control of university accounts? This is a recipe for trouble. From the press release.

Ohio Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut today announced at the University System of Ohio Efficiency Council meeting, an agreement between the University System of Ohio’s technology infrastructure and operations arm, OARnet, and Microsoft Corporation that will leverage the System’s group purchasing power to bring additional messaging solutions to Ohio’s higher education and K-12 communities.

This is just the latest example of the Live@edu scam in action. It’s about imprisoning students [1, 2, 3].

“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so irritating.”

Bill Gates

OpenSUSE Adds to Novell’s Hostility Towards the Free Software Foundation

Posted in FSF, GNU/Linux, GPL, OpenSUSE at 8:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Soldiers

Summary: OpenSUSE community manager disagrees with RMS-style philosophy in practice

Novell’s vice president Miguel de Icaza is daemonising Richard Stallman and the FSF. It turns out that he is not alone because the community manager of OpenSUSE is doing something similar at the moment.

Most people aren’t willing to embrace a “monastic” lifestyle on their computer. The RMS style philosophy of “if it’s not Free, I won’t do it,” isn’t going to get it done folks — try to have the conversation with the average user of how they should reject anything that’s non-free and hold out for a free equivalent.

We have already attempted to show that most people in the GNU/Linux world take Stallman's side (whether by adherence to Free software, i.e. action, or by mere respect for his leadership and message) and yesterday we showed a new poll about de Icaza. This poll now reveals a good majority labeling de Icaza a “traitor” (as Stallman did). Does Novell really want to position itself in opposition to the FSF? Novell’s de Icaza works for Microsoft now. Who’s next?

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Related posts:

T3 is Partly Owned by Microsoft Now

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Servers at 8:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man and kid

Summary: Company that challenges GNU/Linux-powered mainframes using lawsuits is greatly connected to Microsoft

IN CHRONOLOGICAL order, previous posts that talked about T3′s action against GNU/Linux on IBM mainframes are:

Groklaw has found the following little gem (highlighted in red) in a new IDG report: “T3, partly owned by Microsoft, had accused IBM of yanking its IBM reseller agreement when T3 refused to stop selling technology that allowed customers to end older versions of IBM’s mainframe operating systems on Intel-based servers. The T3 dispute with IBM is part of CCIA’s complaint filed with the DOJ, as well as part of an antitrust investigation against IBM launched by the European Union in mid-2008.”

“Back in 2004, Black received millions in Microsoft money personally…”
      –Pamela Jones
To the above, adds Groklaw: “CCIA and Ed Black, you’ll recall from the EU Commission antitrust case against Microsoft. Back in 2004, Black received millions in Microsoft money personally, half of the settlement, it was reported, when the CCIA settled its complaint against Microsoft, leaving the SAMBA guys standing alone as complainants, though they ultimately prevailed. So now a company partly owned by Microsoft raises antitrust allegations against IBM and Black supports the partly-Microsoft-owned company. It might all be legitimate and completely coincidental. Who knows? But Microsoft says it will be putting its efforts into making sure everyone plays by the same antitrust rules, and I have begun to see more activity in the antitrust complaint department against Microsoft competitors.”

How fascinating. Groklaw has also pointed at this Bilski post from Patently-O, adding: “Guess whose brief agrees with Lee Hollaar’s? Yes. Microsoft’s. Surprised?”

Hollaar is no stranger to the SCO case, either. Groklaw wrote about him recently and we saw him involved even in 2008. It’s a small world after all.

Microsoft Pink is Already Declared Dead and Danger Dies with Permanent Data Loss

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft, Servers at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Danger sign for Microsoft

Summary: Writers agree that Windows Mobile and Pink are lost causes; Danger data gets trashed under T-Mobile’s and Microsoft’s watch

IN MOBILE phones — like in E-readers — Microsoft is losing to Linux. Based on reviews that we showed, Windows Mobile 6.5 is a disaster and the fact that Microsoft wants to make its own phones (Pink) is making things worse as it alienates existing Windows Mobile partners. Dell has already moved to Linux and Slashgear suggests that “Microsoft Pink [is] dying & taking Windows Mobile with it.”

After mediocre feedback to the leaked Microsoft Pink handsets, Turtle and Pure, now comes word from inside the project itself that the whole house of cards may be close to tumbling. An ex-team member has been talking to Apple Insider about the Pink “skunkworks” project and its mismanagement, including attempting to develop too many SKUs simultaneously, potentially misleading hardware and carrier partners, and in the process pulling the rug out from the already-ailing Windows Mobile. In fact, he reckons the Pink project is “near death and probably will be canceled”.

The headline at the Washington Post is: “Microsoft’s Project Pink Might Be Dead In The Water”

We were recently contacted by a source with a seemingly exhaustive knowledge of Microsoft’s Project Pink, and what they’ve shared with us doesn’t sound good. If what they’ve shared is true, it seems that the project as a whole began — and will likely end — in vain.

The Wall Street Journal is also negative about the whole thing, leaving the Microsoft press unable to spin very much. Even CNET mocks the poor product.

Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT) line of smartphones equipped with an upgraded version of its Windows Mobile software won’t do much to shore up the company’s position in the hyper-competitive smartphone market.

Blodget argues that Microsoft should acquire RIM (as though it never acquired Danger). This was pondered before and it makes little practical sense.

And here comes the bomb.

Microsoft may have acquired Danger, but only now does it justify the brand name. The service collapsed in Microsoft’s hands, leaving the carriers to apologise for something that’s probably not their fault.

A top exec for T-Mobile has offered an apology and a credit to U.S. Sidekick users, who are still dealing with the effects of a massive data outage that first hit late last week. However, more than a few Sidekick owners just want their contacts, e-mail, and Web browsing back already.

That was a few days ago. It turns out that Microsoft lost all the data and has no backups. Here is what TechCrunch wrote:

Wow. T-Mobile and Danger, the Microsoft-owned subsidiary that makes the Sidekick, has just announced that they’ve likely lost all user data that was being stored on Microsoft’s servers due to a server failure. That means that any contacts, photos, calendars, or to-do lists that haven’t been locally backed up are gone. Apparently if you don’t turn off your Sidekick and make sure its battery doesn’t run out you can salvage what’s currently stored on the device, otherwise you’re out of luck: Microsoft/Danger is describing the likelihood of recovering the data from their servers as “extremely low”.

This is a moment to remember. It is a moment to “get the facts” — so to speak — and remember why the London Stock Exchange dumped Windows for GNU/Linux.

This spells the destruction of the Sidekick and Danger brand names. If this is the future of Microsoft in phones (hardware), then it is rather grim. Microsoft’s ‘sibling’ gadget, the Zune HD, is also disappointing. Here are two of the latest reviews in the press:

i. Jonathan Takiff: Little zing in Zune: Microsoft HD player has glitches, quirks

All I know is, you Microsoft guys had better not send this player out again as refurbished. And fix the Zune HD’s glitches faster than you did with the Xbox 360, a game system still suffering from a ridiculously high return rate.

ii. Microsoft’s Zune HD is OK, but it’s no iPod

There is nothing truly awful about the Zune, but there is nothing great, either. It works well enough and looks OK, but its appeal is limited by mediocre software and online services – handicaps that the Zune’s big competitor doesn’t suffer.

How much is Microsoft willing to lose before it calls off the Zune? Xbox 360 is also in the gutter.

Sales for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360 stayed tepid in Japan in the latest retail data.

Media Create Co. on Fri. reported that the Xbox 360 sold 4,854 units between Sept. 21 to Sept. 27 to rank No. 5 in overall hardware sales.

The Xbox 360, Windows Mobile and the Zune have been very effective at weakening Microsoft, which is left borrowing money.

Even Some Big Windows Fans Worry About Vista 7

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 6:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Few weeks before its arrival, Vista 7 receives the thumbs-down from some major supporters

THE leaks of realities behind Vista 7 probably culminated when Microsoft's CEO admitted that it would not sell additional PCs (or at least that it’s unlikely to).

This report from Sky News (UK) agrees with Microsoft's CEO regarding the crucial role of Vista 7 in Microsoft’s future and the Telegraph (also UK-based) shows Microsoft’s CEO admitting that Microsoft never recovered from Vista.

Mr Ballmer said: “We got some uneven reception when [Vista] first launched in large part because we made some design decisions to improve security at the expense of compatibility. I don’t think from a word-of-mouth perspective we ever recovered from that.”

Well, the very same problems persist with Vista 7. The article neglects to mention this. Vista 7 inherits the compatibility nightmares from Vista.

Looking at news from the past week, only 3 sets of headlines are about Vista, all in a negative context. Compare that with about 20 sets of headlines regarding Vista 7. These include Ballmer’s discouraging words, which are also covered here.

Microsoft’s Ballmer: Windows 7 software won’t increase PC sales

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer has indicated that the October 22 release of the Windows 7 operating system won’t increase PC sales significantly. That’s quite a statement from the CEO of the world’s most influential software company on a new flagship piece of software that is said to be a truly shining product.

Jack Wallen has already listed 10 reasons why Vista “could flop”. To quote the opening:

I, and a few others, think Windows 7 will not be the success most pundits are proclaiming. Here are 10 reasons why Windows 7 could easily fail.

1. Too much like Vista
I have yet to run into a PC user who likes Vista. There may be a few who have decided that Aero is the prettiest of all interfaces and that the User Access Control is the be-all-end-all of security.

[...]

That first point is important and it’s the reason why we insistently call it “Vista 7″. We are trying to get across the message that Windows 7 is just the “real Mojave”, or Vista renamed.

At Datamation, a self-professed “Windows guy” is now asking, “Is Microsoft Already Failing with Windows 7?”

But will Microsoft screw up the Windows 7 launch like it did Windows Vista?

So far, it’s not looking good.

Weeks ahead of the release of Vista 7 there are many negative signs appearing. John Dvorak claims that a massive PR campaign is the reason Vista 7 received good publicity. This deception campaign is running out of steam now.

Vista 7 PR error

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