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03.02.10

The Sad State of the British Technology Press

Posted in Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Snapper

Summary: A look at some major technology publications in the UK and where they leave us, the readers

TWO weeks ago we explained why The Register had turned bitter on Google [1, 2]. We also provided specific examples and cited examples where Microsoft was paying The Register for a webcast with Freeform Dynamics. Watch this new whitepaper/webcast that The Register started running yesterday. It claims to be about desktop virtualisation, but once again it seems like an advertisement that involves the host, Freeform Dynamics, and Microsoft.

They come from Lancashire Constabulary and – joined by our usual panel of experts, Tim Phillips from The Register, Tony Lock from Freeform Dynamics and Neil Sanderson from Microsoft – they run through all aspects of a desktop virtualisation project. The theoretical and the real practicalities courtesy of their significant experiences.

People will hopefully become aware of where money comes from and events that have shifted bias at The Register, which was once exceptionally critical of the abusive monopolist (it deserved that criticism). A lot of the bold writers have left since then, sometimes to be replaced by Microsoft boosters who hardly hide their convictions.

“This isn’t about slamming the BBC as much as it is about explaining to people what forces are at play.”Then consider the BBC. Yesterday we wrote about it blocking GNU/Linux users from entering some BBC content just because of their software preferences [1, 2] (refusal of secret, user-hostile code that requires renting for money). In the BBC’s case, we gathered a huge amount of evidence that explains the bias. This isn’t about slamming the BBC as much as it is about explaining to people what forces are at play.

It sometimes seems like the only British technology site (among the big three, namely the BBC, The Inquirer, and The Register) is The Inquirer. Here is what it wrote about the BBC over the past few days:

i. BBC shuts out open source software

At the heart of the problem is Adobe which is not allowing its RTMP content protection measures to become open source. This makes it impossible to create a fully compatible open source RTMP client.

ii. BBC slashes its website operation

EXECUTIVES AT THE BBC are making huge cuts to the outfit’s website in an admission it has become too large.

According to AFP, a strategic review to be announced next month will admit that the BBC must give space to its commercial rivals, which have been hard hit by an advertising downturn.

The Inquirer too has its moments of failure and it is written a bit like a tabloid. That said, it’s impossible to pinpoint anyone at the The Inquirer who is a known Microsoft booster (meaning people whose main purpose is to increase sales of Microsoft products). The same cannot be said about the BBC and The Register.

Two weeks ago, one of our British readers asked us to recommend a British news site for technology. The only recommendation I could safely make was Glyn Moody’s blog, but it’s not a news site. Can anyone recommend more sites that adhere to facts and justice rather than trends and popular culture (e.g. iPod, Facebook, and disinformation about “hackers” and “pirates”)?

Browser Ballot Critique

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Windows at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballot box

Summary: Press coverage about the ‘browser choice’ update and further confirmation that Microsoft is cheating and escaping cheaply

THE British press wrote quite a lot about Microsoft’s Web browser ballot (see The BBC, The Inquirer, and The Register for example) because it affects Europeans and the UK is the country that speaks English. For reasons that we explained before [1, 2, 3], this ballot misses the point, but it is probably called “controversial” for all the wrong reasons. For example:

Secondly, the controversial Windows Browser Ballot screen goes live today across all versions of Windows for users around the EU. Only those who have Internet Explorer (any edition) setup as their primary browser will see the notice which displays the four most popular alternatives (Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera) along with IE8.

“Does it allow you to have more than the one browser on the computer at any one time,” asks one of our readers. “And is the quality of the screen an accident?”

Microsoft’s ballot cheating is an issue that we raised last week. Rob Weir from IBM has run extensive tests to show that Microsoft is indeed cheating:

The story first hit in last week on the Slovakian tech site DSL.sk. Since I am not linguistically equipped to follow the Slovakian tech scene, I didn’t hear about the story until it was brought up in English on TechCrunch. The gist of these reports is this: DSL.sk did a test of the “ballot” screen at www.browserchoice.eu, used in Microsoft Windows 7 to prompt the user to install a browser. It was a Microsoft concession to the EU, to provide a randomized ballot screen for users to select a browser. However, the DSL.sk test suggested that the ordering of the browsers was far from random.

But this wasn’t a simple case of Internet Explorer showing up more in the first position. The non-randomness was pronounced, but more complicated. For example, Chrome was more likely to show up in one of the first 3 positions. And Internet Explorer showed up 50% of the time in the last position. This has lead to various theories, made on the likely mistaken theory that this is an intentional non-randomness. Does Microsoft have secret research showing that the 5th position is actually chosen more often? Is the Internet Explorer random number generator not random? There were also comments asserting that the tests proved nothing, and the results were just chance, and others saying that the results are expected to be non-random because computers can only make pseudo-random numbers, not genuinely random numbers.

Did anyone expect any better from Microsoft?

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