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11.08.09

Phone to Avoid: LG GW620

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, LG, Microsoft, Patents at 10:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LG

Summary: An Android phone which is affected by Microsoft’s patent tax will be better off ignored in favour of other Linux phones

LG is a corrupt company which signed a Novell-type patent deal with Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The last time we wrote about its offences was here and now it brings Microsoft tax to Android (Linux) in Canada.

LG has launched its first Android phone, a QWERTY slider called the “Eve,” on Rogers Wireless’ network in Canada. In other Android news, LG is prepping a second Android phone, this time with a Snapdragon processor, for Korea, and Philips has launched a V808 oPhone handset in China.

This is a phone to avoid because of the company which makes it (legitimising Microsoft’s invalid accusations against Linux).

Windows Mobile Down to Single-Digit Market Share as Linux Grows

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Microsoft, Windows at 10:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft on the rapid decline, especially in particular areas where Linux gains quickly

WINDOWS is unable to deliver on mobile devices, even with its very latest release. That leaves the door open to Apple and GNU/Linux. As this new post puts it:

If the iPhone didn’t finish off Windows Mobile in the smartphone market, the Motorola Droid may.

Windows Mobile is losing the last vestiges of its mojo–if it really had any to begin with–as the Droid and other phones based on the Android 2.0 operating system push the buzz meter needle into the red zone. Many in the media–which can play a big role in steering users to one technology platform or another–sense that Windows Mobile has now been relegated resolutely to has-been status.

Here are some figures that we did not see or mention before.

But Microsoft, with its deep pockets, worked away at it and by last year, after first launching in 2002, Windows Mobile had a respectable 13.9 percent of worldwide smartphone market share, according to researchers at Canalys.

This year brought an abrupt backward slide. By the second quarter 2009, Windows Mobile had slipped to just 9 percent market share, its lowest since early 2006, Canalys said.

It is simple to measure market share on phones because brands (components) and operating systems do not change. Outside the desktop, it’s an entirely different (and scary) world to Microsoft.

Linux Market Share
Edited in response to a similar figure with
inversed shares from Digg (click to enlarge)

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 8th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 10:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Windows Back Doors Spin Out of Control, End up in Black Market

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everyone is a forensic expert now

Tank

Summary: Free access for everybody; Microsoft’s back-door keys are now available for everyone to download and new issues about Windows security raise serious questions about liability

Credit goes to Bruce Schneier, who warned about this when it was first introduced publicly. He predicted exactly what would happen with Microsoft's back doors (also learn about CIPAV), which it foolishly believed it could keep under exclusive police control. According to this from Gizmodo:

Apparently Microsoft’s COFEE software that helps law enforcement grab data from password protected or encrypted sources is leaking all over the internet. So not only can you steal the software, but break the law by using it too.

More here:

Siren.gif: Microsoft COFEE law enforcement tool leaks all over the Internet~!

[..]

It was one of the most sought after applications on the Internet until it was leaked earlier today. And now that it’s out there—and it is all over the place, easily findable by anyone able to use a search engine—we can all move on with our lives. Yes, Microsoft COFEE, the law enforcement tool that mystified so many of us (including Gizmodo~! and Ars Technica~!), is now available to download. If only there were a “bay” of some sort where, I don’t know, pirates hang out…

Law does not directly interfere with behaviour, so mere threats against COFEE downloaders will not undo the damage which is coming.

The amusing thing is that Robert Scoble mocked me for writing about this back in 2006 when it was secret. Being a Microsoft evangelist (lead AstroTurfer), it was probably his duty to deny the existence of such back doors, which are now available for access by anyone who is interested and determined enough to find the trap door binaries.

The police is said to be carrying the software on USB drives, so how inevitable was such a leak really? It’s a stupid idea to begin with, just like AutoRun, which was removed by Microsoft for doing more harm than good (infection upon insertion). That was Microsoft’s admission of failure with its security approach and the Washington Post has a whole new article about it:

What Windows Autorun Has Wrought

[...]

A new report by Microsoft shows that the two most prevalent threats to Windows PCs in the first half of 2009 were malicious programs that have been aided mightily in their spread by a decision by Microsoft to allow the contents of removable media — such as USB thumb drives — to load automatically when inserted into Windows machines.

In its latest “Security Intelligence Report,” Microsoft counted the number of threats detected by its anti-malware desktop products, and found that the Conficker worm, along with a Trojan horse program called Taterf which steals passwords and license keys for popular computer games, were detected on 5.21 million and 4.91 million Windows computers, respectively.

NASA’s operations in space were affected by this (computer viruses passing via USB drives in Windows, maybe with AutoRun doing its magic). It’s even too much for the FBI. Free Software Magazine now asks: “Are Microsoft to blame for ‘hidden’ malware costs and will Windows 7 make any difference?”

A couple of stories have hit the headlines this year concerning the huge cost that some UK Local Governments incurred when dealing with malware attack on their Windows machines. If you missed them, Manchester City Council had a single USB infected with the infamous Conficker worm and it cost them — brace yourself — £1.5m ($2.4m) of which £1.2m (US$1.9m) was spent on IT, of which a staggering £600,000 (US$980k) went on consultancy fees including money to Microsoft. A while later, Ealing Borough Council were hit with a cost of £500000 (about US$ 800k) when they were also hit by a single USB stick containing conficker. Some in the industry tweeted and blogged this as being a “hidden cost of using Microsoft Windows”. In the ensuing discussion, many pointed out that the high cost was really due to the lack of a proper patching and disaster recovery policy at the council. So which is right? Is dealing with malware a hidden cost of using Windows or of a poor IT strategy?

[...]

Regardless of your software choice, a poor patching policy is a very bad idea if you value system integrity. But if you going to argue your case on TCO, Microsoft, don’t then try to dodge talk of the additional costs for maintaining, patching and clearing a Windows-based system.

To answer the main question, Vista 7 will make no difference. It is just as insecure as predecessors (one might say it is even less secure). Evidence includes:

  1. Cybercrime Rises and Vista 7 is Already Open to Hijackers
  2. Vista 7: Broken Apart Before Arrival
  3. Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again
  4. Vista 7 Security “Cannot be Fixed. It’s a Design Problem.”
  5. Why Vista 7 Could be the Least Secure Operating System Ever
  6. Journalists Suggest Banning Windows, Maybe Suing Microsoft Over DDoS Attacks
  7. Vista 7 Vulnerable to Latest “Critical” Flaws
  8. Vista 7 Seemingly Affected by Several More “Critical” Flaws This Month
  9. Reason #1 to Avoid Vista 7: Insecurity
  10. Vista 7 Left Hijackable Again (Almost a Monthly Recurrence)

To address the question of liability, here we have a collection of external references. Some journalists say that Microsoft should be held accountable for these damages.

Mozilla and Opera Still Object to Microsoft’s Deal with the Commission

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flag of Slovenia

Summary: Dissatisfaction made more vocal regarding Microsoft’s ballot proposal

AN employee of Mozilla, Jenny Boriss, has informally stated her thoughts on Microsoft’s provisional deal with the European Commission.

Another important factor is how much physical space on the ballot each item is designated. The current design runs into some problems with designated space per item, swayed in favor of IE. For instance, in the current design:

- The user must double-click on an Internet Explorer icon, labeled “Internet Explorer”, to launch the ballot
- The ballot appears within Internet Explorer browser chrome
- Internet Explorer is mentioned repeatedly within the ballot, Bing is shown as the default search engine, and the IE logo appears as a favicon multiple times

The current space allocation for IE is roughly 3.35 times as much as the other browsers.

Here is Opera’s latest response:

Report: Browser makers contest Microsoft browser ballot deal

[...]

Opera Software, which sparked the investigation into Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla and Google will each send separate letters to the European Commission suggesting changes to the proposal put forward by Microsoft last summer, said the newspaper.

“We hope the commission is open to fixing the remedy,” Hakon Wium Lie, Opera’s chief technology officer, told the New York Times Wednesday. “It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure there is a working market for browsers. I don’t think we are going to get another chance.”

Posts like the above led to some coverage which agrees with what we mentioned before. Information about this we have already accumulated in:

The above new articles are about the browser issue alone, not the patent issues which the following new item wrongly mixes together:

Microsoft’s antitrust settlement offer to the European Commission needs minor, often cosmetic changes in order to restore fair competition to the market for Internet browsers, said some of the software giant’s main rivals Thursday. Their concerns about the settlement are echoed by ECIS, a trade group representing Oracle, IBM, Red Hat and others, as well as by consumer organizations following the Microsoft antitrust case. Microsoft has proposed that Windows operating systems should show users a ballot screen inviting them to choose a Web browser from among the most popular ones when they first attempt to access the Internet. Consumer organizations and the company’s rivals generally approve of the idea, but believe the way Microsoft’s ballot screen is designed is biased and will deter people from replacing Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser with another.

Two important points ought to be stressed:

  1. The browser case is concerned with restoring competition because Microsoft broke the law to achieve monoculture (the Microsoft talking point is that Evil Commission wants to ‘steal’ market from Microsoft)
  2. The browser case is separate from the patent issue, which is the main issue affecting Free software

The sad thing is that the Commission is reaching an end of term and therefore it’s rushing its decision while allowing Microsoft to buy more time and get away with past crimes (showing that crime simply pays off more).

“The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”

Government official

Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Standard at 8:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

European rights/freedom groups rise up against proprietary multinationals

Copenhagen demonstration

Summary: Malicious, self-serving intervention in the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) leads to “protest against EIFv2 day”

THE European Interoperability Framework (EIF) was derailed by what seems like lobbyists of Microsoft and proprietary allies such as SAP. We wrote about the subject in:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft

Some people have called for “protest against EIFv2 day”. To quote a retweet from Glyn Moody, one of those few who formally submitted input to EIF on behalf of citizens (not companies): “RT @ggreve RD @jwildeboer Today is protest against EIFv2 day. > Indeed. I protest! !FSFE !GNU >>me too: won’t do any good, but me too #EIF

ggreve is Georg Greve, founder of the FSFE. His heir at the FSFE has written a formal and lengthy response to EIFv2, which Georg then promoted. It says, in part:

This week, Dutch journalist Brenno de Winter published a leaked draft for a new version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF).

[...]

The reaction to the draft has been very strong. FSFE has sent a letter (below) to the people in member states of the EU who are in charge of eGovernment, telling them that this draft is unacceptable, that it will hurt the public sector (along with European citizens), and discredit the European institutions. The FFII has joined in with 10 recommendations to improve the draft.

[...]

The current text is not a viable successor to version 1 of the EIF. Instead of leading Europe forward into an interoperable future, it will promote vendor lock-in, block interoperability of eGovernment services, and damage the European software economy. If adopted, it will be a testament to the power which is exerted outside democratic and transparent processes, and will give rise to Euro-scepticism.

FSFE appeals to you to urge the European Commission to withdraw the current draft, in order to avoid replacing the sound and and widely accepted EIF version 1 with an extremely weak text prepared in an intransparent process. At stake are both interoperability in the public sector and the credibility of European institutions.

Glyn Moody wrote some more about EIF 2.0 and so did the FFII, whose statement includes:

“Microsoft and other larger companies went to lobby the European Commission and DG Enterprise in order to ask for the removal of the open standards definition, in order to exclude Free Software with patent royalties”, explains FFII President Benjamin Henrion, who followed the lobby debates in Brussels. While some lobbyists want to water the European Interoperability Framework down, others aim for better interoperability enforcement and full support for open standards with public ICT services.

It gets even more curious if one looks back at the lobbying from Microsoft front groups like CompTIA, BSA, and ACT [1, 2, 3]. For background, here is the information that IDABC makes available.

Is Microsoft Lobbying to Burn Sun?

Posted in Antitrust, Database, Europe, Java, Microsoft, Oracle, SUN at 7:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Letters - cities

Summary: A person from Pappas & Associates, which has history with Microsoft, tries to derail the Oracle deal and thus leave Sun altogether abandoned

TWO weeks ago we showed that Microsoft was lobbying behind the scenes in order to cause trouble for Oracle, Sun, and projects that Sun currently possesses. Groklaw has just scooped up the following gem:

“Neither path Ms. Kroes faces is a pretty one, and yet this is the decision she might end up being remembered by,” said Spyros Pappas of the law firm Pappas & Associates in Brussels. “Probably the best escape for her would be for Oracle to cancel the deal.”

Mr. Pappas has in the past represented Microsoft, an Oracle rival, but is not currently representing any companies involved in the case.

Remember the role of Ed Black and CCIA in T3/Microsoft's lawsuit-by-proxy against IBM for its GNU/Linux-running mainframes. It’s a familiar story.

Microsoft might wish to delay the deal in order to ruin projects like Java and OpenOffice.org, making Sun suffer in the mean time, mostly of uncertainties, lost market share, erosion of market cap (value), and layoffs, i.e. workforce. Groklaw points out the following opinion:

Oracle might use the cover of the EC delay as an excuse to abandon the deal altogether. But history suggests that when Mr Ellison wants something he sticks with it to the end, so dropping Sun at this point would be surprising.

In recent weeks we also showed how Microsoft was gaining influence inside the European Commission. It’s all about people.

“Microsoft is now talking about the digital nervous system. I guess I would be nervous if my system was built on their technology, too.”

Sun Microsystems President Scott McNealy

Reader’s Post: “Microsoft and Unicode – Unicode is No Longer Open Standard?”

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Standard at 7:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Metal A

Summary: Microsoft accused of harming Unicode, causing problems for the Indian population

A reader from India informs us about the following incident:

Recent issues in Malayalam Language encoding associated with Unicode are getting worser. The Unicode decisions are not at all open and meeting minutes not published on time (see http://www.unicode.org/consortium/utc-minutes). Recently a Microsoft representative argued for a change in encoding of a letter sequence in Malayalam to hide the big in their Kartika font and UTC approved it.

And it broke all backward compatibility policy of Unicode, violated the linguistic rules of language and completely contrary to what being taught in schools.

More details available in Praveen’s blog post linked [below].

[The] Blog post questions the “open standard” status of Unicode

From the post our reader cites:

A standardization body like UTC or ISO earns respect and trust based on the integrity of the process. After Microsoft was able to push OOXML through ISO resorting to all kind of underground tactics, ISO cannot expect to receive the same kind of respect and trust from users of their standards. Some of the recent decisions made by UTC (Microsoft nta for example) have contributed to this erosion of trust in standardization bodies.

[...]

7. No consideration for logic of the language

‘nta’ was encoded to be compatible with Microsoft’s Karthika font which did not recognise the logical sequence of ‘na chandrakala rra’. Instead it was encoded as ‘chillu na chandrakala rra’ forgetting the very function of a chillu character, which is to prevent forming conjucts when a sequence would otherwise form a conjunct.

A lot more information is available in the original post. This is a very important issue which has not been noticed by the English-speaking press.

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