02.15.10

Has Microsoft Gently Bribed the British Press?

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Marketing, Microsoft at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“They can’t outright bribe them. That’s illegal and probably wouldn’t work anyway – people would feel insulted. So what they need to do is ensure that the “thought leader”‘s economic interest is aligned with their own.”

“How this kind of thing works – Soft Bribery”

Summary: Writers at The Register and The Guardian sing Microsoft’s tune and turn more hostile towards Google, on whom they rely for readers (site visitors)

LAST YEAR we showed that The Register was selling out to Microsoft and Novell. Several of our readers independently point out that something went rotten at The Register after it had signed some deals with Microsoft. It’s really hard to ignore the change because The Register used to be very critical of Microsoft before Microsoft money landed on its table. One reader in particular is repeatedly showing us that The Register has become a Google-hostile powerhouse (The Register was a search partner of Microsoft). We’ll come to this in a moment.

First of all, here is The Register writing about free travel/dinners from Microsoft — ones that the monopolist intends to give to an ID cards group (it gives Microsoft more control by proxy). Those who know something about ID cards will resist the very notion of them; they are mechanisms of control, whereby the public gets managed by a few self-appointed “adults”. If we have not learned anything about privacy, now is an important time to learn. For insight into the vested interests of Microsoft in ID cards, see what Microsoft is doing this year in India.

ID card campaign group No2ID has – with a little financial backing from Microsoft – won admission to the industry working group of Project STORK, the EU programme for devising interoperability standards for electronic ID systems across Europe.

[...]

The Microsoft backing will cover travel expenses, and comes from the company’s corporate social responsibility fund, bless.

Influence. See what we wrote about Microsoft money on Apache’s table [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18]. Because of the one-sidedness in The Register’s coverage, there are mostly apologists in the comments. And actually, the staff writing for The Register nowadays includes some persistent apologists/boosters of Microsoft, who according to some readers of ours, are attacking Google quite a lot and often defending Microsoft, whereas it used to be the other way around when other people ‘ran’ The Register.

“This impacts Ubuntu (GNU/Linux) 10.04, which still ‘sells’ to its users the illusion that Yahoo! is just Yahoo!”There are some exceptions, but taken on a statistical basis, the bias lends to the perception that The Register no longer stands out from the crowd like it used to. It would require a long time to accumulate and analyse headlines, but one could definitely do this, then show the difference. This type of analysis is often being conducted in order to judge the political spectrum of particular newspapers or channels (assessing balance and spotting omissions).

Here, for example, is a new free advertisements for Windows Mobile, courtesy of Gavin Clarke who is citing his colleague Mary Jo Foley. Clarke also covers the next step of Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo!, which the EU Commission seems unable to stop. This impacts Ubuntu (GNU/Linux) 10.04, which still ‘sells’ to its users the illusion that Yahoo! is just Yahoo!

“But the legal battle wasn’t just about Microsoft. It was about two completely different ideas of what the Web should be”.

BBC, rewriting World Wide Web history in 2010

Another British publication which has served Microsoft’s interests for longer than The Register would be The Guardian (well, with the BBC it’s totally obvious and blatant [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]). We gave recent examples of The Guardian’s Microsoft disinformation in [1, 2, 3, 4] and the editor of The Guardian contacted us, obviously trying to stop this negative publicity that The Guardian receives for advancing a convicted monopolist and repeating its lies. “With Buzz, Google takes another giant step towards turning into Microsoft,” says this new headline from The Guardian.

The search engine’s answer to Facebook and Twitter is breathtakingly intrusive and takes astonishing liberties with your privacy

What The Guardian does here belittles Microsoft’s crimes. The long-standing talking point from Microsoft’s apologists is that other companies are “equally evil”, or something along those lines. “Guardian trashes Google, again,” wrote to us a reader who sent the above pointer.

Now, to be fair, Google is not perfect; far from it. But to compare Microsoft's serial abuse of the law to Google’s privacy stance? Come on!

Simon Phipps (from Oracle) had something interesting to say regarding Google’s secrecy. It is the opposite of what Google offers users of Buzz, namely there’s the lack/contempt of privacy. Android had Phipps write:

Serious break-down of trust here, as seemingly the fusion of pragmatism and secrecy at Google is leading them to treat their community responsibilities as a low priority. We’ll see much more of this from corporate FOSS users in the future, which is why I’m convinced we need to grade projects on more than just their license choice (or the warmness towards the FOSS communities of their out-of-band programmes).

Now that Simon Phipps works for Oracle rather than Sun, such statements might become harder to make (due to hypocrisy). Either way, Google’s obligations to the GPL or its balance between features and privacy are hardly comparable to Microsoft’s long series of serious offences.

The above was said in relation to an issue which was brought up here before:

What makes Android so special? Well, that depends on who you ask and since you are reading this, I would say Android is special because it is built on the Linux Kernel. The whosit-whatsit?

Without delving too deeply into computer science, let’s just say that the “kernel” is the central component of most operating systems. The kernel acts like a bridge between the applications and the actual data manipulation that occurs at the hardware and processor level. The Linux Kernel is considered to be Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), software that you, the user, are allowed to fiddle with to change, improve, or add functionality.

Here is Motorola being pressured to open up its Android implementation (which could be a GPL violation):

But what currently is deeply upsetting a lot of Milestone customers is that Motorola advertises the Milestone as an open device without limits and compromises. With openness being a major factor for a lot of customers for choosing the Milestone over other phones. Recognizing that they effectively ended up with a totally closed device currently is a very rude awakening for a lot Motorola Milestone customers.

What are Motorola responses?

Motorola seems to be utterly surprised from the uproar they have created and till now has only come up with very short and inconclusive answers.

* Motodev comments about kernel signatures
* Motodev comments about developer phones
* Motorola Europe Facebook comments about Custom ROMs

In summary, Motorola Europe tells customers that they either should get a developer phone from a competitor or join the Motorola developer program, and reasons that the boot loader lock up because people otherwise “may void the warranty on a consumer device or violate the copyright on the applications”.

In this case, it’s a Motorola issue, not a Google issue. Motorola has never been a Free software-friendly company, not even when it built Java+Linux phones. Hopefully that can change.

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9 Comments

  1. BrownieBoy said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Your “new headline” from the Guardian is actually from the Observer. Yes, the Observer is owned by GNM (Guardian News & Media) but there is zero interaction between the two paper’s Editorial departments, as far as I’m aware.

    And it’s strange that you should quote John Naughton of all people. Your should read his other work, and you’ll soon see that he’s been one of Microsoft’s harshest critics over the years. For example, check out his article “Slavish reporters join Microsoft in cloud cuckoo land” http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/oct/05/media.microsoft.ballmer and you’ll soon see that you’re barking up the wrong tree with him. When he says, in the article that you’ve quoted from, that Google “is well on its way to becoming the next Microsoft”, he doesn’t mean that as a compliment.

    I’d be interested to know what Alan Rusbridger, the Editor of the Guardian, actually said when he contacted you.

  2. BrownieBoy said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Your “new headline” from the Guardian is actually from the Observer. Yes, the Observer is owned by GNM (Guardian News & Media) but there is zero interaction between the two paper’s Editorial departments, as far as I’m aware.

    And it’s strange that you should quote John Naughton of all people. Your should read his other work, and you’ll soon see that he’s been one of Microsoft’s harshest critics over the years. For example, check out his article “Slavish reporters join Microsoft in cloud cuckoo land” http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/oct/05/media.microsoft.ballmer and you’ll soon see that you’re barking up the wrong tree with him. When he says, in the article that you’ve quoted from, that Google “is well on its way to becoming the next Microsoft”, he doesn’t mean that as a compliment. He’s about as far removed from “Microsoft Jack” Schofield as you could wish.

    I’d be interested to know what Alan Rusbridger, the Editor of the Guardian, actually said when he contacted you.

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Gravatar

    The technology editor.

  4. BrownieBoy said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    Please delete my double-post. I posted using Chrome, and it gave me a “page not found error”.

  5. satipera said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Gravatar

    The more subtle the corruption the longer it goes on for. Separately, I have had emails from the guardian slating articles in BN the last one was from Special.Sections.Mail. Now they want you to be nice and ignore their behaviour, I trust you will not ignore it.

    clayclamp Reply:

    When BoycottNovell can’t prove something, then it’s because it’s “subtle”. The allegations made are “gentle reminders” and the attacks are “constructive criticism”. But when things flow the other way, everything is a “smear” and “fabrications” by “agents of evil”.

  6. BrownieBoy said,

    February 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy,

    >> The technology editor.

    Not quite the same thing! Are you going to correct in your article?

    So, it was Charles Arthur then, was it? Perhaps you can share what he had to say?

  7. Danielh said,

    February 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Gravatar

    The Register used to be very critical against pretty much anything and i very much enjoyed it. Even when they lambasted open source they did hit the right notes and made it readable.

    I cant say what happened but i did notice a very apparent change in their reporting and left the site after a while.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There are only a few decent British IT sites left (Inquirer went up in flames too). One of them is Glyn Moody’s.

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