08.23.10

Microsoft and Facebook Share Data, Advertisements, and Bad Practices

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft at 8:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scoble and Zuckerberg
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg
with a former Microsoft evangelist who more recently joined Rackspace only to see it aligning with Microsoft a year and half later (source: Robert Scoble)

Summary: How Microsoft and Facebook continue to disrespect people following their alliances and partnerships which lead to incredible distrust

IN OUR previous posts about Facebook we showed that Microsoft gets direct access to Facebook data. Well, more data will soon be attainable by Microsoft which links Facebook Chat to Windows Live Messenger for IM.

Microsoft says it will roll out Facebook Chat as part of Windows Live Messenger initially in the U.S., U.K., France, Brazil, Germany and Russia. New countries and geographies will be added over time.

A few years ago Microsoft tried to buy Facebook; instead, they eventually became close partners and Facebook is partly owned by Microsoft now. One person has passed us information about what is potentially Microsoft guerrilla marketing in Facebook. To quote with appropriate redactions that keep the parties safe:

Is Microsoft ghost writing Facebook pages for their partner’s employees? I’ve got a hunch that they are and it will be easy to check up on. [...]

An acquaintance’s Facebook page is all about Microsoft these days. He’s given himself a middle name of “Mr. [Microsoft product]” and all of his messages are about Microsoft junk. I thought that was strange because the last time I talked to him he was down on Microsoft because someone rooted his NT based ftp server.

I’m going to give the guy a call tonight to find out what’s up. It’s possible the guy has been converted to a walking Microsoft advertisement after years of work for a Microsoft partner. I’ll take a screenshot to share with you if it turns out that he’s unaware or if the page is ghostwritten. If it is ghost written, he might not be able to say so and he might not want to be a published example but you should see what I mean even if you should not share it. Chances are that you won’t need anything about my friend at all.

You can verify my hunch yourself. Lack of originality is a signature of Microsoft campaigns, so it should be easy to find hundreds of people named after Microsoft junk. If my hunch is right, these ghostwritten accounts will all have the same lame Microsoft copy paste comments and talking points. Have a look and let me know if you find anything.

If my hunch is right, Microsoft has sunk to new lows in Astroturf and another danger of Microsoft controlled social media has been exposed. Exploiting the trust people have in their friends and neighbors is the Facebook business model and it would not be surprising for 15% investor Microsoft to take advantage of Facebook sneaky ways. Microsoft’s PR department writes blogs for Microsoft’s employees and they were caught sending snail mail on behalf of others, even dead people, to the US Congress. Microsoft has impersonated people like Bruce Perens and Roy Schestowitz on bulletin boards and other social media. We also know Microsoft people promote Microsoft friendly opinion and discourage everything else. Sticking opinions into the mouths of people’s friends would be a new low but an entirely predictable one. Free software social networking will avoid this pitfall with public key infrastructure.

If my hunch is wrong, well, shame on my friend for being such a tool.

Facebook is now tracking people too and Microsoft receives a copy of this data:

It should come as no surprise that Facebook is using Microsoft’s Bing Maps to pinpoint locations in Places.

Microsoft made a considerable investment in Facebook several years ago, and other Microsoft services such as Bing search and Microsoft Docs are already integrated with Facebook.

Facebook may be using Free software as the underlying stack for its operations, but everything else is proprietary and to make things worse, Facebook violates Free software licences to make proprietary software for proprietary platforms:

Facebook Caught Plagiarizing Open Source Code in the Official iPhone App

[...]

One of the many nifty features present in the official Facebook app for iPhone is the “Pull to Refresh” functionality, which was pioneered by Tweetie. This UI (user interface) element is derived from the open source TTTableHeaderDragRefreshView class created by Enormogo. Unfortunately, it appears that Facebook was using third party open source code without proper attribution.

Microsoft did this too and it got caught several times last year. Bad minds think alike. “Microsoft pulls a ‘Facebook’ by exposing Windows Live users’ names,” says the sceptical Microsoft booster:

I have to point out, it’s not the fact that a relatively small number of users are vocally complaining across more than a half-dozen help forum strings that caused me to write about this. It’s the fact that Microsoft pulled a “Facebook” and exposed users names and other info that was previously not visible to anyone.

How tactless. Is it not hypocritical for Microsoft to accuse Google of privacy violations?

Bill Gates Dumps His Microsoft Shares and Buys Shares Of Goldman Sachs, Monsanto, and Exxon Mobil

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Microsoft at 8:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Exxon

Summary: Financial contributions from the Gates Foundation go to some of the very same companies whose actions this foundation pretends to counter

THE Gates Foundation, a big investor of BP [1, 2, 3] and other companies that destroy the planet, the economy, and even retail (CocaCola and Wal-Mart, for example, are receiving extra funding from Gates) continues to reveal a rather disturbing agenda. At the end of last year we explained that Gates was busy creating more monopolies, thereby taking more power over the entire system. He seems to be following Rockefeller’s footsteps, not just actively working with Rockefeller descendants. Oil, monopolies, and lots of power. What’s not to like? By putting money in Exxon, for example, Gates actually contributes to global warming denial.

Based on several new articles [1, 2], Gates continues to sell his Microsoft shares (not much confidence in the company’s future).

Since the beginning of the year, Gates has reduced his stake in the Bellevue, Wash. based company by nearly 150 million shares. To me, this seems like more than diversifying your portfolio, or selling some shares to buy another house.

Another house is what the Gates Foundation recently built itself. This foundation operates just like a business and it invests in some really vicious companies that are detrimental to solidarity and to the environment. But hey, it makes a lot of money so what’s not to like?

One journalist asks, “Has Microsoft lost its edge?”

Bill Gates continues to sell his stock in the company. Between the beginning of May and today, Gates has sold more than 20 million shares. He still owns an enormous 620 million shares though, so stock analyst Roger Nachman’s suggestion that maybe other stock holders should sell too is a bit off.

In relation to Microsoft’s stock, CNN asks (in the headline): “Why does everyone hate Microsoft?”

“Jefferies Lowers Estimates, Price Target for Microsoft” says another headline and one last headline says that “S&P Downgrades Microsoft to Hold”:

Just a few months ago S&P were touting technology stocks. They said that tech stocks tend to do well in the 2nd year of a bull market. Now they think that the slower growth expected in the 2nd half of this year will affect tech and Microsoft.

Earlier today we wrote about Microsoft approaching new lows. In order for Gates’ money to be future-proof, he increasingly diversifies. How so?

First of all, Gates is increasing his investments in Monsanto:

Bill Gates buys Ecolab Inc., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The, Monsanto Company, during the 3-months ended 06/30/2010, according to the most recent filings of his investment company, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust.

For background, also see:

We previously explained how Gates relates to the World Bank, IMF, and the rest of those controversial/notorious establishments (ask the Greek about these debt predators). The Gates Foundation must really not give a damn about its image anymore. Now it invests in criminals in suits (with many impending charges pressed against them). Yes, that would be Goldman:

The Gates Foundation Buys Shares Of Goldman Sachs

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation took advantage of sagging stock prices in the second quarter to add Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), one of the most storied names in finance, to its portfolio, according to a 13F regulatory filing

When one thinks of the Gates Foundation, one should think more about BP, Goldman Sachs, and Wal-Mart, not hungry children in Africa. Need it be added that Goldman Sachs recently got slammed for contributing to world hunger, just for profit? The Gates Foundation is now contributing financially to the very same establishment that causes starvation. But hey, it’s all about power, ego, and money, right?

“Bill Gates says banks are dinosaurs, well, some dinosaurs run real fast and bite the hell out of you.”

Unknown

Gates Foundation Joins Microsoft and Attacks Free Software in Greece

Posted in America, Bill Gates, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The proud flag of Greece

Summary: In the troubled economy of Europe Bill Gates and Microsoft try to make the population more Redmond dependent and in the United States too the Gates Foundation shapes (changes) public library policies

WHAT clearly contributed to financial problems in Greece was Microsoft dependency and outrageous deals with this monopolist. A couple of years ago Bill Gates traveled to Greece in order to ensure that the country stays stuck with Microsoft. We also wrote about Greece in relation to software patents and in relation to OOXML. Microsoft clearly knows which politicians to exploit there.

“Microsoft clearly knows which politicians to exploit there.”According to this new press release, Bill Gates is now using his foundation to attack the Greek’s right to software freedom. Only weeks ago we showed Gates doing the same thing in Vietnam. He was using his foundation along with Microsoft to jointly derail that country’s migration to Free software. How inappropriate and unethical, especially for someone who claims his foundation strives to help rather than to harm (or serve a personal agenda and ego). It’s a similar situation in Greece now that they try to cut costs. Consider recent articles like [1]-[8] (links at the bottom).

The announcement makes it clear that Gates’ foundation is once again ‘donating’ Microsoft indoctrination in public institutes. To quote the news:

The Seattle foundation presented the library with its 2010 Access to Learning Award. In addition to the prize, Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT) will provide the library with donated software and technology training curriculum. Bill Gates is chairman and co-founder of Microsoft.

Software has no concrete value (Free software is typically gratis) and this so-called ‘training’ too is worth money to Microsoft, not to Greek people. It creates leverage to Microsoft and dependency to Greece.

For those who want to learn more about this travesty, we have gathered the remainder of the articles in English (it’s written like PR for Gates):

Notice what they really do here. It might seem subtle, but they are lobbying to change other libraries using the “models” trick, just like in schools. Basically, they try to present some “model” library or school (the Gates and Microsoft way) and then offer rewards to those who follow this model. To quote one more article:

The award, which is accompanied by a one million dollar cash prize, was bestowed to the Veria National Library as the “most successful library model in Greece and throughout the world”.

It is the “change to get a treat” lobbying tactic. How distasteful.

Libraries from the United States have more to teach about what Gates and Microsoft are doing in Greece right now. See for example:

The whole “libraries” spiel is shameless PR for self-serving deeds and it is still being done in the United States too. Earlier this month we found this article about Gates giving computers (with Windows of course) to more libraries while lobbying with his so-called ‘studies’ that he funded to serve his agenda in public libraries. To quote the Denver Post:

Responding to a rush of recession-time visitors, 88 percent of our libraries now offer access to job databases. And at least two-thirds of library staffs are helping applicants complete online job applications, according to a national survey by the American Library Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates is ‘injecting’ himself into many articles about libraries this way. It’s lobbying. Watch what Gates is doing in Kentucky public libraries this month. The underprivileged citizens are pushed into using Microsoft Office (“write resumes and learn computer skills,” says the article).

The article also says: “Kentucky participated in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Opportunity Online broadband grant program and received technical and consulting assistance to develop a competitive funding proposal for BTOP.”

See this report for more details. In Idaho they have just made up some euphemisms:

The ICFL will also receive $942,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. All the funding will go to the Online@YourLibrary project the commission is running.

What shocks us about Greece is that rarely do we see this lobbying going beyond US libraries. What next? Will Gates attempt to hijack the education systems worldwide, having already taken a lot of control over the US system [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]?

To Greece, Bill Gates is a threat as big as Goldman Sachs. As we’ll show in a later post, Gates has just invested a lot of money in Goldman Sachs too (using his foundation). It’s all about the money, but it’s marketed as goodwill.

“Get me into that and goddam, we’ll make so much money!”

Bill Gates, Microsoft

_____
[1] GR: Municipalities to get open source platform for electronic services

Greek municipalities are building an open source platform to offer citizens and small and medium sized business access to their services. This Local Government Application Framework (LGAF) will be developed by the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece (Kedke).

Sixteen cities and municipalites will begin the development project, including Imathia, Ithaca, Konitsa and Chios.

[2] Athens schools promote ‘open source’ computing

Athens was invited because it is one of few districts in Michigan teaching on Linux operating systems. Linux is a cost-free alternative to proprietary systems, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple’s Mac O.S. While some open source software applications, such as e-mail programs, come at a cost, Linux is almost entirely free. Windows or Mac systems can cost up to $400 per machine.    

Open source means the source code for an operating system cannot be owned and is available for free.

[3] Open source tour of Europe: Greece

There are isolated examples of public open source adoption projects, such as Heraklion on the island of Crete expressing a preference for open source software for its e-Government portal, Athens using Linux, Apache and PHP, and Toperos Xanthis using Linux and Joomla.

[4] Agreement between Microsoft and the Greek government

On 1 February 2006, the Greek government and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership agreement (the “Agreement”). At least 6 questions by the parliament remained unanswered by the government. On 10 January 2008, the government created a law proposal that would make the Agreement have the power of law. The law was approved by the Parliament on 29 January 2008. The FFII and the Hellenic Linux Users Group filed a complaint to the European Commission, which is still (as of 28 December 2008) under investigation.

[5] Let’s set the ERT audiovisual archive free (manifesto – draft)

Greek citizens, but also citizens of other countries, we jointly sign this text on the occasion of ERT’s choice to distribute its audiovisual archive non-freely to the public. Our aim and ambition is to publicize our propositions so that they become the starting point of an open dialog among the Greek society, the European and global public audience and to signal the revision of backward policies and the creation of common political wealth.

Few days ago, the ERT administration presented the beginning of the availability, only via Internet streaming, of a part of its audiovisual archive. This move constitutes an important first step, which, however, in our opinion, is tarnished by the fact that the public availability of the archive is not made free, although the Greek and European citizens have paid their money to make the production and digitization of the archive feasible.

[6] Hot stuffin’ in Greece?

After the voting of the Greek HoD you may ask why the votes were 14 in total, when the organisations appointed to the committee are just 12. That’s only the latest of the magical wonders around OpenXML.

[...]

New voting members are joining the committee at the last minute:

However, during the discussion, the representative of the Information Society showed the fax he had received, to which was attached the decision 19103/08 of the ELOT administration, dated 1 February 2008, which modifies the composition of the Committee by adding four new organisations: the Ministry of Education, two departments of the Ministry of Economics, and Information Society S.A. The representatives of NTUA had not been informed of this decision.

[7] Greece sell-out Proposal

Microsoft Hellas proposes a contract that will take over control of the sovereign European state. Greece would lose the right to speak about other products its government uses and gain the right to support the business interests of the vendor and its policy goals.

[...]

Nice proposal, Microsoft will help Greece to spy on its ICT infrastructure in order to weaken the procurement power of Greece for the benefit of the supplier. Win-Win, right?

[8] GR: Open Source developers protest access restrictions public broadcast

Greek Open Source developers are protesting that ERT, Greece’s national broadcaster, will make its online archive available only for users of Microsoft Windows and Apple Mac OSX.  
 
The Hellenic Linux User Group six months ago approached ERT, after finding out the public broadcaster was restricting their access to a new archive. ERT  is a public organisation, the developers argue, and should not discriminate 
against users of Open Source.   
 
[...]
 
ERT is developing an archive of its broadcast material, digitising film, video, pictures and hosting them online. The archive is going to be developed in a 1.95 million euro project, the major part of which is funded by the  European Union, the Open Source developers say.   

Latest Signs That Xbox 360 is a Dying Product, Ignored Even by Game Developers, Banned in China

Posted in Asia, Hardware at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dangling red lanterns

Summary: The latest news which puts Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in a tough position while Nintendo is clearly a leader

XBOX 360 is a financial fiasco that cost Microsoft billions of dollars in losses. Now that game sales stall and games like FarmVille vanish from MSN Games [1, 2], maybe it’s time for Microsoft to stop sniffing Halo ‘leaks’ and producing more vapourware/fake ‘leaks’ of Office.

Maybe it’s time for Microsoft to realise that much of the world (except the United States) does not care about the Xbox franchise and Xbox 360 will remain banned in China [1, 2] (covered here before for the irony of Chinese manufactured cargo being banned in China) because it’s too late in this game and it’s too aggressive/dangerous. This strategy won't work for phones, either.

Watch Microsoft go into ‘damage control’ mode [1, 2, 3, 4] after Xbox 360 lost an "exclusive" and Kinect got downgraded in some ways, further strengthening the suspicion that KINect will fail just like KIN [1, 2]. Losing an “exclusive” is bad enough, but what happens when Xbox 360 gets abandoned altogether?

Final Fantasy XIV for Xbox 360 ‘paused’

Recent rumors have suggested that the Xbox 360 version of Square Enix’s wildly anticipated Final Fantasy XIV has been canceled.

Even the silly hype about KINect is being shot down already [1, 2], not to mention the fact that KINect is merely a “me too” move, not an “innovation”. The first console to make proper use of such smart peripherals was the Wii and 45 months after it came to the market it sold 30 million units in a nation of about 300 million citizens. From the news;

The Wii took approximately 45 months to reach the “30 million units sold” milestone, making it the fastest-selling console of all time. The best-selling console of all time is Sony’s Playstation 2, which took 60 months to reach the 30 million mark.

Microsoft lost the consoles war a long time ago. The Xbox 360 might be the last product to ever come out of Microsoft to test absorption of DRM in the mass market. What a hallmark of restrictions in one’s own living room.

Microsoft is running out of steam in this market too. “Man who run behind car get exhausted,” Confucius says. “Man who run in front of car get tired.”

Shanghai world trade center

Bizarre Story of the Day: United Arab Emirates (UAE) Turns to Microsoft to “Strengthen the Security of Information Systems and Networks”

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Burj al Arab
What if Microsoft built their skyscrapers too?

Summary: Despite Microsoft’s utter failures in security (examples given from this month), UAE turns to Microsoft to bolster security

THIS SEEMS LIKE another great example of black comedy. “Microsoft to strengthen cyber security in UAE,” says this headline of an article which says that despite bad security record “Microsoft Inc. will work towards strengthening the security of information systems and networks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).”

No sarcasm here.

Well, for those who know about Microsoft's relationship with UAE this would not be entirely shocking. But still, here we have a company that wilfully neglects to patch critical vulnerabilities until they are actively exploited (at which point it’s too late to do something about it). Microsoft’s nonchalance about security (and belated new patches) is a sign of its sheer arrogance. Here is Windows’ very latest zero-day flaw:

Zero-day Windows bug problem worse than first thought, says expert

Today, Kolsek said that Acros has been digging into a new class of vulnerabilities for months. It has found more than 200 flawed applications harboring more than 500 separate bugs, he added, noting that the company had reported its findings to Microsoft more than four months ago.

This is an issue that we mentioned before and it’s all over the news.

“Nobody knows the real number of flaws except Microsoft, which is often caught lying as long as it’s more profitable than truth.”Microsoft is not being frank about its patches (it’s shrouded in secrecy) and it admitted silent patching some months ago. It’s the practice of fixing serious flaws without ever announcing it, even after these flaws get patched. Did this month bring Microsoft’s biggest-ever patch? Well, not for sure. Nobody knows the real number of flaws except Microsoft, which is often caught lying as long as it’s more profitable than truth.

There is a good deal of news right now (e.g. [1, 2]) about Microsoft trying to increase profit by providing “mission-critical” support. That does include “critical” flaws, right? Either way, the thing about mission-critical support is it’s going to be needed and will be an alternative source of Microsoft revenue until customers find more reliable software stacks (Microsoft’s VLSC is/was ironically still down, as we mentioned last week for the fourth time [1, 2, 3]). But it’s another situation where Microsoft takes away business from so-called ‘partners’. This was already done when Microsoft launched stores, hardware products like a phone, anti-virus software, and so and so forth. Microsoft pretends to support its broken products and offer security services for its insecure software. UAE, please pay attention to the facts.

British Police Can Improve Security by Dumping Microsoft

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, UNIX, Windows at 4:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

NPIA

Summary: By getting rid of Windows and other Microsoft software, not only will the police improve security of its systems but it will also be able to employ more cops

THE OTHER day we named PCS for the issue of Windows in the British public sector. It’s a money drain which surely results in unnecessary layoffs and degradation in services that the public pays for.

“I have some details about the computer system,” wrote to us one anonymous reader. “I’ve found a Wiki page giving the details [so] it’s public knowledge [...] The system is Unix for the PNC” (Police National Computer). To quote:

“The PNC currently is based on a Fujitsu Siemens S-190 mainframe running the BS2000 operating system with recent PNC applications held on UNIX servers. Currently there are around 26,000 directly connected terminals and 25,000 terminals which are connected via local police force computer systems. The mainframe is connected to the end user by a multitude of ways, for high volume users (i.e. other police forces) via secure IP network, for low volume users a secure dial-up link provided by Cable & Wireless. Another connection method is via an X.25 packet-switched network, this method is currently being phased out. Databases for vehicles and driver licences are copied from the DVLA databases in the early morning (there is no service loss when an update is in progress). The mainframe server is located at the Hendon Data Centre with back-up servers located around the UK.”

“It is absolutely not acceptable to hide the bill from the very same people who pay this bill.”Well, at least they are smart enough not to put Windows in the back end. But what about the front end? What do the terminals use? Wouldn’t the “Windows link” on the desktop be the biggest weakness, especially since (as documented in the public domain) government bodies are still using Internet Explorer 6?

As the next step we wish to inquire about how much police forces are spending on Microsoft licences. This is well within one’s right to request under the FOIA (freedom of information act) unless they too ‘pull a BECTA’ by signing Microsoft deals where part of the deals is that the deals must absolutely remain secret/cryptic when it comes to cost. It is absolutely not acceptable to hide the bill from the very same people who pay this bill. Can anyone access information about the cost of Windows in the British police (not just/necessarily PNC)? In these times of belt-tightening this figure would probably be relatively astronomical, especially for software which requires a lot of maintenance and occasionally exposes sensitive data. Based on some general information that’s out there, nation-wide there would be at least 200,000 machines owned by the police, all requiring licensed software from Microsoft (not just Windows). People outside the UK probably have the exact same problem, so it’s worth investigating and speaking out about.

Microsoft and Yahoo! Continue Losing to Google, Microsoft Resorts to Regulators to Complain About “Monopoly”

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Deception, Europe, Google, Microsoft, Search at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Angry

Summary: Microsoft whines about Google because it cannot compete, not even with armies of AstroTurfers, fake statistics it pays for, and spurious complaints about Google “monopoly”

Microsoft is a top lobbyist in its area, but the “official” numbers [1, 2] hardly tell the whole story. Associated Press says: “Microsoft Corp. spent $1.85 million in the second quarter to lobby the federal government on software piracy, technology in health care and other issues, according to a disclosure report.”

“Not so long ago we saw Microsoft hiring secretive AstroTurfers in D.C. to shoot down Yahoo’s deal with Google.”Microsoft does not disclose a lot of lobbying and it has unregistered lobbyists (which makes comparative analysis of lobbying budgets highly irrelevant). It’s a subject we covered here many times before. The figures above are just symbolic numbers, intended to give the public an illusion of transparency and thus raise confidence in the government.

Not so long ago we saw Microsoft hiring secretive AstroTurfers in D.C. to shoot down Yahoo’s deal with Google. Right now we see something similar going on in Japan [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft has the nerve to complain to regulators about “monopoly” (in order to do this in Europe Microsoft uses “satellite proxies” as IBM calls them). Here is the latest about that:

Yahoo Inc. is committed to churning out Internet search innovations, including at Yahoo Japan, even after the independent affiliate’s decision to start using a search engine provided by rival Google Inc., a Yahoo executive said Tuesday.

According to Experian Hitwise (one of the few search engine market share assessors which are not paid by Microsoft), Microsoft and Yahoo! (Microsoft proxy) gain nothing on Google.

While Google continued to dominate the U.S. search market in July, Microsoft Bing outpaced the search giant in several verticals, including shopping. Statistically, the shares of the top four search engines for the four weeks ending Aug. 1 were unchanged from the previous four weeks, Experian Hitwise reported Wednesday. Google had a share of 71.43%, Yahoo 14.43%, Bing 9.86% and Ask 2.32%. The remaining 70 search engines accounted for 1.94% of U.S. searches.

Even comScore, which is paid by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], is finally changing its method to no longer be gamed by Microsoft/Yahoo (and thus both Yahoo and Microsoft take a tumble and descend sharply). It’s well overdue because comScore knew it was being gamed but did nothing about it. It gave ammunition to its partner, Microsoft.

“It will be interesting to see how Microsoft uses Oracle to further cause damage to Google.”As further sign that Microsoft ‘search’ is going nowhere but down while Microsoft loses billions in this area, notice the strategic ‘revamp’/shake-up, which usually indicates that things are not working at present. Whenever Microsoft uses the term “reorganization” it’s just a euphemism that comes up because something went wrong, usually someone quitting (we gave examples of “reorganization” or “reorg” before and then explained the witty use of the term).

“Google Locks Horns With Oracle, Microsoft Watches Gleefully,” says this article about Oracle’s lawsuit [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. It will be interesting to see how Microsoft uses Oracle to further cause damage to Google. We have already given examples where Microsoft takes advantage of it.

Techrights Announces TechCHOICES Initiative: Get Your Vista 7 Refund and Show the World How to Do It

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tech choices

Vista 7 sticker
“The hardest thing about replacing Windows 7 with Linux is getting the damn sticker off,” Tim wrote yesterday. (credit: OpenBytes)

Summary: Calling for everyone with an undesired Vista 7 [sic] licence to return it to the shop, claim a refund, and then post instructions for others to achieve the same thing

AN OLD talking point from Microsoft propagandists is that many people “choose” Windows and that Windows is “popular”. The truth of the matter is that people choose a computer, they don’t choose Windows (it just comes with it), so Windows is ubiquitous, not popular. To quote Intel exhibits, “There are simply too many folks at Intel who use/love the [Linux] stuff and want to improve it. We can *not* stop trying to win this project.”

“The principal issue here is that Microsoft fights against choice and diversity.”GNU/Linux is an exceptionally popular operating system. People who have actually used it for a considerable amount of time really like it. The same probably goes for Mac OS X, but that’s another story. The principal issue here is that Microsoft fights against choice and diversity. It actively discriminates and it promotes monoculture. The OEMs are not the sole example (some would label them “accomplices”).

Bear this in mind now that Microsoft exploits journalists who spread its “diversity” PR [1, 2, 3, 4], which is similar to “Imagine Cup” [1, 2, 3, 4] (Microsoft PR which is intended to make Microsoft look like a children’s friend). To quote one new example:

Microsoft employees volunteer to work the camp, according to MaryLynn Hilton, account technology strategist. It’s a fun three days for both employees and students, capped by a lively closing ceremony and goodie bags for the girls filled with Microsoft treats.

PR aside, Microsoft is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to diversity. See the Polish incident, Microsoft homophobia, and a variety of other recent examples.

This leads us to returning to the other day's discussion about Tim from Openbytes. He is actively working to get a Vista 7 refund and he posts publicly about his progress. It’s a tiring task. Here is how the refund is coming along so far. Microsoft and its partners give him a hard time, as expected. They don’t honour the law and they tried to drive the caller/complainer into desperation (patience battles and expensive calls), at which points they can be left alone rather than open the floodgates to similar refund requestors in the UK.

My first port of call was Microsoft customer services for the UK. After one of the all too common automated lines, I discovered that on a Saturday I was not going to get any human customer service on this number (unless, apparently, I am a Onecare customer – presumably paying more money to Microsoft. What I did find amusing whilst looking for the customer services number was that Microsoft has a sponsored link that will answer your questions online.

After getting no joy with the phone I was confident that my question could be answered quite simply, after all it was merely “How do I go about getting a refund on an unwanted Windows 7?”. After entering the question I was told there were advisors waiting to answer my question….for a price. Typical. Whilst it was a 3rd party company offering this “service” I should have known – when it comes to Microsoft products, you can never spend enough money.

[...]

I won’t delve into issues of Microsoft Tax. The subject has been covered enough.

I feel rather resentful that I have to buy a product with no choice as to if Windows is pre-installed. If that in itself was not bad enough, the fact that it’s not obvious on how you go about getting a refund. I wonder if Europe should have been looking into the OEM issue instead of messing around with browsers and ballot screens? Lets get our priorities right eh?

I am unsure when/if I will get a refund, but I will continue this quest until I get an answer (and update in future articles). Should I be successful I will be donating the refund to the FSF and at least then it won’t feel as if my great purchase has been slightly tainted by having to pay for unwanted Microsoft software.

One thing about the refund is, shovelware sometimes subsidises Vista 7, but it’s a real nuisance. There is a true cost to shovelware and one blogger calls for shovelware to be made illegal right now:

There oughta be a law against shovelware on new PCs

It’s been about three years since I’ve bought a pre-packaged PC. Normally, I build my own machines, switching out mobos, graphics cards, processors, and all the rest whenever I need. I also install my own clean OS, so what’s running on any given machine is what I purposely put on the machine.

But about every three years or so, it’s time to buy a new laptop. In this case, I’m doing coding, and the laptop I bought three years ago won’t accept any more RAM and I need a LOT more RAM (I’m running a bunch of simultaneous VMs, different browsers, local servers, IDEs, etc., and that all eats RAM like a stoner eats Cheetos).

My current laptop is also making some bad fan clacking noises that imply something’s about to break real-soon-now.

So I bought and took delivery of a machine that can handle up to 16GB of RAM (yep, cool, eh?). The thing is, this is a pre-packaged machine — you know, the way the typical consumer gets his computer.

After waiting forever for the new laptop to boot up for the first time, I finally had a desktop, a desktop filled with icons.

Shovelware.

Without shovelware, Microsoft would quickly become irrelevant because GNU/Linux as a preinstalled option would be highly appealing. Microsoft too has its share of shovelware, such as Internet Explorer which it puts on all new PCs (that run Windows). “Microsoft is running a monopoly and abusing customers,” says this new article.

For the last twelve years Microsoft has been running a monopoly and abusing customers. In their MSN email accounts they ask customers to verify their accounts by giving a mobile phone number even though some customers don’t have a mobile phone. This is discrimination and a violation of freedom of speech against account holders and the monopoly they hold is responsible because when they don’t have to compete they become abusive.

[...]

Microsoft lied by stating that the merging of Microsoft Windows and Internet Explorer was the result of innovation and competition.

The prosecution should have expanded their case into other areas of Microsoft and they should have documented abuses against customers.

The European Commission has attempted to address Web browser bundling, but why not operating system bundling? If you paid for a Vista 7 licence that is not being used, do try to get a refund and make a fuss about it in public. People should be given that option, but precedence is needed to make that fast and simple for others to replicate by citing prior incidents.

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