Summary: Microsoft shrewdly resorts to steps which make the government’s operations a lot more Microsoft dependent and to some extent Free software-excluding
A couple of posts from yesterday morning [1, 2] spoke about Microsoft influence in the US government. This type of influence in government is extremely valuable to any corporation, which can exploit it by having itself treated like an essential component of the country. We all saw how it works 2 years ago when Big Banks received a government bailout for failing to operate based on simple rules.
David Sugar from GNU Telephony has just shown us the article “Obama-FBI-Microsoft collusion: warrantless snooping on the Internet.” We totally missed the following article two months ago, so here are just some fragments which show that Microsoft has mutual relationships with the government.
Microsoft, Obama, the FBI and Homeland Security want less secure, free hand Internet monitoring. This is an old story with a new chapter. The big push for Internet monitoring is alive and well in Washington, and Microsoft is a cohort for different reasons.
Obama and the FBI are trying to amend the intelligence authorization bill to allow indiscriminate snooping on the Internet.
We must fight to stop this unconstitutional, disturbing trend.
This administration seems to demand knowledge about every aspect of our lives and the Internet is a convenient, cozy way of accomplishing the task.
Back in 2008, Microsoft provided the U.S. government a technical “backdoor” to its browser, which serves the majority of users (over 60%). Backdoor access is undetectable by security software—it bypasses normal authentication (passwords, etc.), firewalls and other computer security devices. In other terms, the Department of Justice, Homeland Security, the FBI and other security agencies can already eavesdrop on anyone using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser.
In its infinite greed and fierce competitiveness, Microsoft opts for advertising dollars over providing customers easy access to privacy tools–a de facto, covert compromise of our constitutional rights. Although the computer giant has an effective tool (“InPrivate Filtering”), you have to know about it and then turn it on every time you start up the Explorer browser.
Getting back to the issue of bailout, years ago we began explaining very repeatedly that Microsoft wanted to control healthcare data so that when it goes out of business (all businesses die at one stage, the question is how long it takes), people’s lives will depend on its existence and therefore there will be a federal handout.
General Motors (GM), which some people humourously named “Federal Motors” for the tricks they all pulled after the economic collapse, recently picked Microsoft's CFO to become its own (and he was paid millions by Microsoft just to keep his month shut). Newly-published items continue to scrutinise GM for all sorts of reasons (well, at least GM chooses Linux after its collapse). Our reader Satipera posted the following message: “Former owner of company bought by Microsoft, equates MS to US steel companies and General Motors.” Here is the article at hand:
Charles Ferguson: Well, the biggest opportunity that it has, I would say, is to reform itself.
Hill: How so?
Ferguson: Microsoft is in many ways reminiscent of General Motors five or 10 years ago or IBM (NYSE: IBM) in the 1980s.
Hill: Wow, I have got to tell you, as a Microsoft shareholder, I am just so sad that you are saying this.
Ferguson: Well, it seems increasingly evident, and it is a recurring pattern in American industrial history, and in other industries it is potentially a very troubling one. We saw what happened to the American automobile industry in the wake of the financial crisis because these firms had been very poorly managed for a very long time and were completely dependent on SUVs for their profitability.
We cannot help seeing Microsoft using the same type of old tricks to appeal to the government (American EDGI [1, 2, 3, 4] is one notable example). The other day we wrote about what Microsoft did in Minnesota, noting that Minnesota schools too are being hijacked by Gates. As noted by our reader “twitter” and moments ago in the IRC channel because of Slashdot, this is an attack on Free/open source software too. Joab Jackson writes that “Minnesota’s deal with Microsoft to use BPOS prevents the state from using any open source, Slashdot asserts”
“[Microsoft] Tries Cloudy Lock-in,” said the title of this blog post from yesterday. It’s about a similar subject.
Instead of providing wonders in the clouds via a browser, M$ is attempting to add to the features/bloat of “7″ with new client apps tied to M$’s piece of the cloud. The discerning user will see that their options are reduced by this generosity. The more they depend on added features from M$, the harder it is to migrate away. M$ is getting its partners, the OEMs, to install the bloatware in the factory, just as they did the blue “e”. Fortunately there is a choice. Instead of using “7″, a wise user can choose GNU/Linux
BPOS is very unreliable [1, 2, 3] and citizens of Minnesota should challenge the decision already approved by their elected officials. To what extent do Microsoft’s connections with the government contribute to the signing of such deals? It makes several states too Microsoft dependent and only Free software can change/remove such unacceptable dependencies. █
“The danger is that Microsoft is using strategic monopolistic pricing in the education market, with the government’s assistance, to turn our state university systems into private workforce training programs for Microsoft.”
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“In the United States, for example, about one sixth of the gross national product, over a trillion dollars per year, is devoted to marketing. Marketing is manipulation and deceit. It tries to turn people into something they aren’t — individuals focused solely on themselves, maximising their consumption of goods that they don’t need.”
Summary: Propaganda for Bill Gates is being used to turn children into captives of the Microsoft monopoly; other distasteful deeds of Gates are publicly discussed
USING a business disguised as a charity, the control freak who co-established Microsoft continues to make Microsoft stronger, by ensuring that young people never get to choose what software to use; the schools simply force them to use products from Microsoft. Along the lines of reasoning from Richard Dawkins, this is akin to child abuse. Toddlers too are being labelled “Windows users” before they even know what an operating system is, let alone get exposed to any other than Windows. For other reasons, Dr. Diane Ravitch recently warned in her book that what Gates does to schools is to be treated as menacing [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Ballmer Youth anyone?
“Microsoft continue to push their business interests in education systems”
–SatiperaFor his adventures in mis-educating the United States’ Generation Y, an article recently labelled Gates “the most dangerous man in America” (this was the headline of the article). Gates is now involved in the making or promotion of propaganda films (films to help Bill Gates’ lobby), as we mentioned in [1, 2, 3] (Guggenheim should be ashamed).
To the education system which Gates wants to privatise under his control, it’s all about Microsoft. And guess what? Microsoft Nick is helping him with this shallow new article, posted in the Seattle P-I‘s Microsoft Blog. Satipera gave us the pointer and added that “Microsoft continue to push their business interests in education systems”:
One, he said, was Geoffrey Canada, president of a charter school network in Harlem. The other was Bill Gates.
That’s the goal of “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” which opened today in theaters nationwide: fixing what Guggenheim says is a broken system of training teachers and helping students. Guggenheim hopes this film, like his last (“An Inconvenient Truth”), spurs change — or, at least, deep thought — about how we prepare children for college and real life.
Like Microsoft’s recruiting of engineers, schools should search for the very best teachers, he said. Like any corporation, school principals should be effective leaders instead of, say, teachers who were just promoted through the ranks. And, of course, companies like Microsoft — and their well-off employees — could contribute monetarily.
“It’s always exciting when I go to these things,” Guggenheim said of screenings, “and I learn something.”
For more about Microsoft’s education initiatives, go here. The Gates Foundation outlines its education work here.
Despite it being a Microsoft blog, the comments are overwhelming hostile towards Microsoft and Gates, as they ought to be in a sober society. See comments like: “Only if they give the money with no strings attached and absolutely no advertising.”
“Whoa. If we’re waiting for Microsoft employees to step up and fix our education system, this country is REALLY in trouble.”
–Microsoft Blog commenterHow about: “Obviously, the answer is to outsource our entire education system to India. At the very least, we should import low-paid immigrant workers to teach our children because there’s such a shortage of qualified teachers in this country. That’s the Microsoft way of doing things, right?”
And there’s this one too: “Whoa. If we’re waiting for Microsoft employees to step up and fix our education system, this country is REALLY in trouble.”
Also: “Whoa. If we’re waiting for Microsoft employees to step up and fix our education system, this country is REALLY in trouble.Microsoft competency wheels? Can’t…breath. Laughing…too…hard.”
Another longer one:
…..ever notice when Bill Gates is invited to a “technology summit” where you hope to get digested insight into the true profile of current and future cutting edge technologies, it always becomes centered on what Microsoft is developing–whether or not they are a leader in that particular venue.
I agree with the above, any assistance will come from a Microsoft angle, i.e., notice they have recently announced free on-line training for all their software, as a service to the public/unemployment.
What is really needed is emphasis on digital basics like circuitry and A+ fundamentals; not just for our youth but for the masses of unemployed in their 30′s, 40′s and 50′s.
Word, Excel, and Powerpoint will not put many back to work.
One more comment: “The saddest thing is, while Bill Gates may be the richest man around, he’s also a college drop-out – who is HE to say what is wrong with education? Aside from the fact they prefer Apple tech over Microsoft?”
“[P]rivate school vouchers can’t fix our problem. they’re making the problem worse. money that would normally go towards public schools and teachers is instead funneled to for-profit private schools.”
–Microsoft Blog commenterJust as Gates wants to fire under-performing engineers (maybe they got older), some think that it’s okay to let Gates decide to fire weak/older teachers (recall the “death panel” remark he made in reference to it last month [1, 2, 3]).
To quote one last comment: “private school vouchers can’t fix our problem. they’re making the problem worse. money that would normally go towards public schools and teachers is instead funneled to for-profit private schools.” Someone is going to earn a lot of money here. Does Gates know that someone (or some ones)?
Gates was called “the most dangerous man in America” and he deserves this titles not just because of Microsoft and what he is doing to children (everyone is a child at one point). The man is also promoting highly monopolistic (and arguably very dangerous) crops on behalf of multinational corporations like Monsanto (Gates is investing in their patents, for profit). He also invests heavily in companies like Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, BP, Exxon, and more recently Goldman Sachs. The threat of Microsoft is further personified by the arrival of the world’s largest patent troll Nathan Myhrvold and the other Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, who also turned into a patent troll. █
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Summary: HP has been poisoned by Apotheker, whose long career took place in the “Microsoft of Europe” (SAP)
AS FAR as GNU/Linux at HP goes, the latest news (CEO appointment) is terrible for reasons we gave yesterday, but Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke pretends that the Windows versus GNU/Linux dimension does not exist at all (HP is a platforms company too) and instead he just apparently tries to make Oracle look bad (Oracle picked Hurd right after HP had ejected him under mysterious circumstances [1, 2, 3, 4]). Clarke for example suggests:
Apotheker’s hiring would suggest HP hasn’t forgiven Ellison’s remarks or forgotten. In fact, it has put a big fat reminder in Ellison’s face about who it’s dealing with by hiring some SAP blue blood. Apotheker’s presence reminds Oracle that HP is its own company and his presence suggests HP will leverage its business’ relationship with SAP in joint customers and work to deliver SAP apps on HP hardware as an alternative to Oracle.
Citing articles like the above and also this one, Mr. Pogson is surprisingly optimistic. He thinks that “Apotheker will no doubt have a global view of IT and may be friendly to GNU/Linux on desktop and server. They could increase margins by pushing GNU/Linux instead of that other OS. At SAP, Apotheker had no problem with customers running SAP on GNU/Linux.” (as long as it was Microsoft’s GNU/Linux, aka “Ballnux”). As the only comment on the post puts it, “If anything, I think Apotheker will make HP more unfriendly to free software. It is really debatable why Hurd was ousted. I happen to think he is removed by Microsoft because he engaged HP in free software “too much”. Acquisitions of Palm and Phoenix Linux BIOS tech as well contributions to GNOME and Linux kernel put HP on Microsoft’s hit list. Microsoft declared HP a threat in SEC fillings. Now Apotheker comes from proprietary company which is Microsoft ally. Make no mistake, SAP is enemy of free software. They feel the burn, and their business practices are incompatible with free software as much as Microsoft’s. SAP had a try when they released MaxDB under GPL, but they abandoned it after some time and continued supporting proprietary version. Since Apotheker lack experience with being a CEO (he was SAP CEO for only about a year) he will probably leave lots decision making to his underlings. And chief of HP software division is a Microsoft guy, appointed right about after Palm acquisition.” █
“Where are we on this Jihad?”
–Bill Gates talking about eliminating Linux at Intel
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Summary: A truly mystifying response/spin from Microsoft claims that the company bought 15 companies in the past year (but none of those companies can be named, let alone identified)
“Microsoft Hasn’t Acquired Any Companies This Year” screamed this headline from Business Insider a few days ago. A lot of damage control soon came from the Microsoft boosters, who could not handle the embarrassing fact about the failure of Microsoft. We wrote about evidence of it and also remarked on the management exodus, layoffs, deaths of many products, Microsoft’s growing debt, and several other indicators which supported a “do not acquire” policy. Microsoft is just busy extorting its competitors right now, by threatening and sometimes suing them (the latest victim is Motorola). Shades of SCO.
Here is an undisputed fact: Not a single announcement from Microsoft this year talks about an acquisition by Microsoft; Nevertheless, Microsoft has ‘injected’ an update that’s hardly believable at all into the press, claiming to have just bought 15 companies it cannot name.
“[I]n an age of blogs, such things cannot be kept secret, especially if 15 companies are involved.”David Sugar from GNU Telephony showed us the spin earlier today in IRC and in the site’s comments. Without naming a single company Microsoft claims to have silently acquired 15 companies in this past year. Things just don’t add up.
Citing the Microsoft booster Joseph Tartakoff and the Microsoft-sponsored TechFlash, Business Insider says that: “One theory, which makes sense to us, from Joesph Tartakoff at paidContent: Microsoft doesn’t want investors to think it’s just freely spending money. The company is trying to be conservative.” As pointed out in IRC, in an age of blogs, such things cannot be kept secret, especially if 15 companies are involved.
Watch what actually happened in TechFlash. Microsoft contacted the site to change the article, which is typical:
[Posted updated below with clarification on Microsoft's M&A deals.]
Microsoft just loves changing (or altogether removing) damaging articles from other people. What is the truth then? Which 15 companies did Microsoft buy? Was the claim forged perhaps? People like Microsoft shareholders should demand answers. █
“After issuing several press releases on PR Newswire, Microsoft told the service to stop issuing my press releases. Microsoft is PR Newswire’s largest client. [...] Microsoft fired its internal auditor, regularly bullies reporters and has told numerous publications that I am an extremist. This might explain why reporters are afraid to print the facts, for instance that Microsoft took a $9 billion tax deduction for wages in 1999 and didn’t charge a dime of this amount against earnings.”
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Mayo Clinic’s St. Mary’s Hospital
Summary: A huge fan of Microsoft software is significantly limiting its dangerous spendings on proprietary Novell and Microsoft products
AS we reported last week, the British National Health Service (NHS) has finally popped its collar and made it easier for software freedom to literally guard people’s lives. Microsoft’s stack was far too unreliable and reports that we gathered over the years shed light on the human toll.
“The only way to ensure the safety of patients is to ensure the code which looks after them is open to auditing (and modifications, if any are found to be necessary).”Key sufferers from the Department of Health's new decision are Novell and Microsoft. The contract Novell had with the NHS accounted for as much of 1% of its entire revenue. Here is some coverage from ZDNet UK (mentioning Novell) and another new article (from
publicservice.co.uk) which claims that a spokesperson for the department said: “The current national Enterprise Wide Agreement with Novell will expire on 30 October 2010. Future investment decisions will be taken at a local level in line with the proposals set out in the white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS.”
“Liberating” indeed. The only way to ensure the safety of patients is to ensure the code which looks after them is open to auditing (and modifications, if any are found to be necessary). We found four more articles about it and they mention Novell:
i. DH scraps Novell enterprise agreement
NHS Connecting for Health signed the EwA with Novell in December 2005. At the time, it said it would make it easier for the NHS to use open source products and software.
ii. NHS ends enterprise contract with Novell
iii. Local NHS Trusts Can Rely On Trustmarque For Help
iv. MicroScope’s top stories, week ending 1 October 2010
It affects Novell just like it affects Microsoft. In principle, this does not mean that the HNS will no longer buy from Microsoft and Novell (proprietary), but procurement will be more limited and open to Free/libre software options. This is a major victory coming from the NHS, which has historically been a staunch supporter of the One Microsoft Way. Is this a sign of the changing times? █
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Eat not from the fruit of Microsoft patenting
Summary: Owner of several Microsoft-oriented ‘news’ sites (1105 Media) was promoting forbidden fruit like Mono quite a lot in recent days
1105 Media, which produces some pro-Microsoft Web sites, is doing it again. For quite a few years it has been promoting projects like Mono and Moonlight, which are beneficial to Microsoft. This silly promotion leads to other promotion by GNU/Linux sites of programs like Banshee, which is a Novell-developed patent trap (using parts of Mono that the MCP explicitly excludes), not to mention other programs and games that covertly bring Mono with them. In recent days we’ve been seeing a lot of promotion for OpenRA (here is the latest example). To quote the official Web site, OpenRA “Requires Microsoft .NET Framework v3.5 SP1 or later; or an up-to-date version of Mono…”
For those who really want to see the Mono promotion (and Microsoft virtualisation promotion) from 1105 Media, here is the part where it promotes MonoTouch. This ‘Microsoft press’ also keeps grooming Mono celebrity Miguel de Icaza, who is a Microsoft MVP. Michael Desmond interviews him and touches subjects like Vista Phone 7 [sic]. To quote Miguel de Icaza:
When we started Mono with Mono for Linux, we had absolutely no relationship with Microsoft. And I think that some people at Microsoft liked it, from the early days, but that some people didn’t like it from the early days.
Microsoft didn’t have an official position about it back in 2000 or 20001. But today we have a fairly good relationship with them and we collaborate with them on Moonlight, which is our Silverlight implementation for Linux today. We’re hoping to put it into other systems and devices in the future.
What devices? They try to put Mono inside Android [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15], which is already being sued by Microsoft for API-type patents (like Mono), multiple times even!
Microsoft’s flippant CEO claims that “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.” However, sometimes it seems like FAT and Mono are a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. Now, if only the ‘Microsoft press’ stopped promoting Mono so much… █
“I saw that internally inside Microsoft many times when I was told to stay away from supporting Mono in public. They reserve the right to sue”
–Robert Scoble, former Microsoft evangelist
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Summary: Myths about public stoning and speculation about punishment for those who are accused of attacking Windows computers that belong to Iran’s nuclear programme
PUBLIC stoning is an extremely rarely sight in Iran (contrary to reports from the West or the impression they try to get across), but recently it made a lot of press because of an incident which produced daemonisation opportunities against an entire nation/regime (never mind the hypocrisy, such as the United States executing women in gas chambers until a few decades ago). Techrights is not a political Web site, but it never in the IRC channel condoned execution, either (not the editors anyway). The “
-social” IRC channel is where political discussion is more openly received.
For those who have been living under a rock, there is a Windows worm called “Stuxnet” (maybe an ‘umbrella’ for some variants with commonality) and we wrote about it in the following recent posts:
Techrights has also reported about Stuxnet specifically in Iran, under the following posts:
According to the MSBBC, which is not entirely reliable on political issues (their blogs are better), Iran arrests “nuclear spies” accused of cyber attacks “after the complex worm Stuxnet infected staff computers at Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr.”
Iran has arrested “nuclear spies” on suspicion of being behind cyber attacks on its nuclear programme, Iranian state media report.
Press TV says “a number” of people have been apprehended as part of an operation by Iran to counter “massive enemy schemes”.
The report comes after the complex worm Stuxnet infected staff computers at Iran’s first nuclear power station at Bushehr.
No details of the arrests were given.
It will be interesting to know the crime and the punishment. Many expert reports have suggested that Stuxnet was actually designed by a foreign government to take advantage of Microsoft Windows in enemy territories, and perhaps even specifically to derail Iran’s nuclear programme. █
Eric Blair’s memo of resignation from the BBC
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