03.19.10

Unsolicited Mail from Microsoft Canada Wants Developers to Create/Increase Government’s Windows Lock-in

Posted in America, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu, Windows at 7:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ogg Theora

Summary: Microsoft wants volunteers to help their countries become hostages of Redmond

Back in 2008 we recalled an incident where Microsoft scraped the names of Austrian GNU/Linux users and then sent them unsolicited/bulk mail trying to ‘convert’ them. One reader of ours, an avid user of GNU/Linux, has just been sent such a message by Microsoft, perhaps because they found out that he can also develop.

This happened in Canada, where Microsoft’s trouble with the law is a subject that we wrote about several times over the past week [1, 2]. Parts of the public sector in Canada move to GNU/Linux, so Microsoft probably wants the Canadian government (which Gates invests in for unknown reasons) to become more Windows dependent. Microsoft depends on developers. As Steve Ballmer stressed in his eccentric fashion (see video at the top, it’s somewhat reminiscent of the nürnberg rally), it’s all about developers. It’s also why Mono and Moonlight are so beneficial to Microsoft; they give Microsoft control over developers, not mere users. They want more control even over KDE developers, but fortunately, they never quite got there.

By contrast, yesterday in the news we found this post about Gnome Do, which is a case of Canonical employees manufacturing more Mono for GNOME. Novell’s staff has this new project called Pinta (mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]), which is built by the same guy who worked on Paint.NET (and a Novell employee, which means that some of the income comes from Microsoft's investments in Novell). Earlier this week in OStatic, Pinta was promoted as a Mono-based substitute for the GIMP.

Pinta is a Solid Image Editing Alternative to GIMP

[...]

Modeled after Paint.NET, Pinta makes a great lightweight alternative to GIMP. It works on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, and has enough features to get all but the heaviest of editing jobs done.

We have already written enough about what Pinta may mean for Microsoft’s strategy around developers and around patents, so we won’t be discussing this again. Instead, let us look at what Microsoft is doing in Canada. Here is a screenshot of part of the E-mail it sent out to many people (even GNU/Linux users).

Make Web war

To quote the text (bar the hyperlinks, for obvious reasons):

The ultimate coding competition has returned.
Are You A Talented .Net Developper?

Want to try your hand at developing on Windows Azure or Windows Server ®? There’s over $15k worth of prizes up for grabs if you do.

Now’s your chance to put your skills to the test, going toe-to-toe with Canada’s best and brightest web developers during the FTW! Coding Competition.
Here’s The Deal

Show us your web applications deployed on Windows ® + IIS or Windows Azure and enter the competition in either of the following two categories:

Best Windows Azure Application:
Write a new application to run on the Windows Azure cloud platform.

Best Open Government Application:
Create an app that uses any of the existing Canadian Open Data Catalogues, such as those published by Vancouver, Toronto or Edmonton.

That’s it! So sign up, and may the best developer win!
Prizes

The winners will walk away with $15,000 worth of top-of-the-line DELL products, with the 1st place prize being the ultimate Dell Office Computer Make Over. Plus you could win 1 of 4 bonus prizes.

The competition’s Grand Finale will be taking place this spring during Microsoft’s Make Web, Not War 2010 conference in Montreal.
Prizes
Find Out More!

Follow us on Twitter @ webnotwar

List prizes

SponsorsDelliWeb Microsoft SQL Server 2008 ExpressWindows AzurePHP Québec
Finals taking place at Make Web Not War

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Microsoft Canada Inc.
1950 Meadowvale Blvd,
Mississauga, ON L5N 8L9 Canada

What’s with the slogan “Make Web Not War”? What is “War” in this context? Microsoft insists that “Evangelism is WAR!” [1, 2]

At first sight, there was nothing too rogue about the E-mail, but our reader who received it said that “it’s a .NET programming competition for an app that accesses “open” government records. [...] They say any language for one, except its for a windows app.”

It also gives Microsoft control of the citizens’ data (because of Azure and the so-called 'cloud' option for government), just like in NASA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], which is a travesty.

What we found most curious is the use of a “competition”. This is how the greedy control freaks from Microsoft always do something they don’t want to be seen as doing. Basically, they look for free labour which also achieves something that the company wants no direct involvement in (like AstroTurfing, which it externalises to outside agencies). In Japan, for instance, they organised some competitions for porting L[inux]AMP applications to Windows. Microsoft paid almost nothing for people to discriminate against and harm GNU/Linux.

Elinor Mills Finally Calls Out Windows

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Security, Windows at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: CNET’s (CBS) Elinor Mills, who improved her coverage by naming Microsoft and Windows as part of the problem, deserves some credit

IN preparation for the “Call Out Windows” campaign, we are trying to see which reporters routinely describe Windows-only problems as “computer problems”. After much pressure, John Markoff from New York Times was finally willing to call out "Windows" (when the problems he described were obviously specific to Windows). We mustn’t assume that every “PC” owner uses Windows because according to Microsoft’s own charts, GNU/Linux is bigger on the desktop than Apple, which admittedly has a niche market in rich countries.

People deserve to be told where the problems that they are experiencing actually come from. Some problems can rightly be called “computer problems”, but very few deserve that labeling (usually tied to an industry standard rather than an implementation of it, DNS poisoning being an example). As we pointed out last week, Toyota problems are not being described as general problems with cars because Toyota has no monopoly on the automobiles market. The same line of reasoning ought to be applied to computing.

In any event, here is the latest rather serious Microsoft flaw.

An exploit writer at Core Security Technologies has discovered a serious vulnerability that exposes users of Microsoft’s Virtual PC virtualization software to malicious hacker attacks.

Microsoft disputes this, but as we showed last month, Microsoft’s gymnastics in logic rarely compute. Microsoft is the boy who cried “Wolf!” Using PR tactics, Microsoft often blames crackers rather than its own incompetence (which allowed crackers to intrude in the first place).

Given Elinor Mills’ history of not mentioning Windows when it comes to Windows problems, we were encouraged so see her at least alluding to Windows in her coverage of the above. Here is another new article where Windows specificity is made implicit by her:

PandaLabs connected the S21Sec employee’s microSD card to his PC and found that the smartphone was loaded with the malware on March 1, more than a week before he had received the phone from Vodafone.

“This Mariposa botnet client is also loaded in the same hidden NADFOLDER directory. It is also named as AUTORUN.EXE and will automatically run when connected into a Windows machine unless you have autorun disabled (download USB Vaccine to disable autorun if you haven’t done so yet),” the PandaLabs blog item says.

The article’s headline is “Malware found on second Vodafone HTC Magic”; a better headline would be: “Windows malware found on second Vodafone HTC Magic”

“Notice the slogan of IE 9. Is Microsoft really in a state of thinking that improved security is its market distinguisher in Web browsers?”There are many more examples that we could give of such reporting and it hopefully remains civil and polite. Informers of the public do have a responsibility and we know for a fact (based on evidence such as this) that Microsoft interferes with reporting that names Windows as the source of problems. In previous posts about Internet Explorer 9 (IE 9) [1, 2, 3] we wrote about security problems it may have (worse and less secure than predecessors in some ways). A reader of ours, a former Microsoft MVP who sometimes participates, told us last night that “IE 9 preview sucks.” He actually tried it.

Earlier this year we found a lot of Microsoft spin about Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer was found to be the cause for many Web attacks, including some against Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Microsoft used this as an opportunity to advocate IE 8 (an ‘upgrade’), of course not telling the public that IE 8 too was vulnerable at the time (without patches available yet). Notice the slogan of IE 9. Is Microsoft really in a state of thinking that improved security is its market distinguisher in Web browsers?

Doors locked
“It’s really secure this time. We promise!”

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