03.16.13

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Microsoft Control Over Users

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Locked in at more levels

Lockers

Summary: Hardware and communications — not just software — increasingly a target of Microsoft power grab

With UEFI Restricted Boot, Microsoft controls many new PCs at hardware level. We wrote about it many times and we hope to see formal complaints being made by some large companies, even though — to be realistic — players like IBM are very much in the same TPM conspiracy, so we are unlikely to see open computing defended by anyone with sufficient clout. There has been UEFI PR at IDG (talking points from UEFI staff) and now a piece from Jamie Watson in CBS (or ZDNet). Critics of UEFI Restricted Boot are told/sold some talking points, leading to this type of output from Fedora staff:

Some key problems according to Mo:

1. The Grub2 theme out of date (leftover from F17)
2. Confusing Grub timeout bar, looks like boot progress
3. Mismatched and disproportioned logos
4. “It takes too long a time to load the desktop from GDM login”
5. Newly-installed kernels added to main Grub2 menu rather advanced options
6. No Braille display at install boot
7. “Changing video modes makes the screen flash”
8. Error display issues
9. “We may not be adhering to the bootloader spec”
10. Grub2 menu not hiding extraneous entries

It’s not about GRUB, which in itself is an issue because UEFI helps marginalise it (along with the GPLv3); the problem is boot control. Let’s not lose sight of the big issues. To say, as Fedora does, that GRUB can be abandoned, is to play into Microsoft’s hands, just as Canonical was going to.

Meanwhile we learn from an expert that Microsoft back-doored Skype after the acquisition and now there is this:

  • Skype may face criminal charges if it doesn’t let French police listen in on calls

    ARCEP, the French telecom authorities, have informed the Paris state prosecutor (the State Attorney) that, since Skype provides communication capabilities to French citizens, they must submit to the French laws concerning electronic communications operators – one such law requires operators to allow the French police to listen in on any calls.

So basically, they want what Germany/Austria (and possibly China) have pretty much got already. We wrote about lack of privacy in Skype before and we urge people to remember what Skype in the hands of a US-based company means to privacy. Our daily links under the section “Privacy” ought to provide some legal context.

Microsoft used to abuse control of software. Now it is also abusing our (VoIP-based/virtual) phonelines and the hardware which is no longer made OS-agnostic or generic. Where is the outrage? Have the financial meltdown (passage of wealth) forced many activists into silence, apathy, and perhaps lack of time for activism? This has become rather disheartening.

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