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04.07.14

Microsoft’s Manipulation of the Media Demonstrated

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amplifying the lies

A loudspeaker

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Seeding a lie in the press, or confusing readers by means of semantics, still a top skill championed by Microsoft and its PR agencies

MICROSOFT places more emphasis on PR and AstroTurfing than it does on technical work. One former Microsoft marketer created a firm that manages Microsoft-friendly think tanks (Black Duck, his proprietary software firm, is speaking ‘for’ FOSS this month [1]). Microsoft has been very effective when it comes to perception distortion (they call it “perception management”), so we need to counter this.

Just as Microsoft was openwashing Azure and is still openwashing it in the Microsoft media (trying to make it synonymous with openness although it is proprietary with surveillance), the company is now openwashing .NET. We decided to research this and find out how and why the press played along with this charade of PR, so we ended up with a sort of ‘post mortem’ of how it all came about. Simon Phipps, the President of the OSI (and hence an authority when it comes to classifying real Open Source), has already chastised Microsoft numerous times in recent weeks. Not only did he rebut claims that Microsoft DOS and other abandoned Microsoft products were open-sourced (they were not) but he also wrote about Microsoft's serious abuses of privacy in Hotmail, connecting that to the latest deceiving charade from Microsoft. Phipps writes: “it emerged that Microsoft, in pursuit of a copyright misuse mediated by an employee, discovered some of the evidence was to be obtained in someone else’s Hotmail account. Since the terms of use allow the company to read whatever mail it wishes, it went in to the mailbox and took a look. But many people felt “legal” was not equivalent to “ethical,” especially from a company trying to frame a competitor for the same attitude with its “Scroogled” campaign.”

So it’s clear that the OSI (or at least its President) was not particularly impressed by any of Microsoft’s latest PR stunts. Microsoft’s software is not just proprietary software but also spyware by design (in collusion with the NSA). We can assume that .NET inherits those same issues.

Phipps, who used to work at Sun (and hence promoted Java) writes: “Open-sourcing Java gave it a new lease on life. Why, then, did Microsoft insist on keeping .Net closed? My guess is it was a matter of leadership philosophy. Plenty of staff in Microsoft understood the power of open source to harness developer passion. It had to be a senior hand holding them back.”

The more important question is, why did a lot of the press call this move open-sourcing? We did a thorough search, going back in time, attempting to pinpoint where it all started; we have reviewed dozens of reports and sorting the reports chronologically (e.g. [2-12]), it’s easier to see how it’s basically seeded by Microsoft-friendly sites with deceiving headlines. It was more like a PR campaign where gratis gets equated with libre, components and the whole get blurred (there is no clarification to that effect), and platform dependence (Windows only) is not even discussed. As Phipps put it in his personal blog: “The caution relates to the news that Windows for mobile will be free of charge. Whilst unarguably a big move, it’s not open source — the license terms still restrict how you can use the software. This is important, as whilst a “first hit is free” approach to getting people using mobile Windows might bring some results, the key to sustained innovation and therefore sustained increase in the user base comes from removing the need to ask for permission before you can innovate.”

Therein lies another source of confusion. Some exploited the simultaneous announcement of gratis and libre to bamboozle readers — a tactic championed by Microsoft boosters posing as reporters, .NET-oriented news sites (there is not even an illusion of objectivity in Gates-funded papers and sites edited/managed by longtime friends of Microsoft), and dubious people like Brian Fagioli (writing for an historically Microsoft-friendly site), who appears not to know that Android has Linux in it but has started covering FOSS some months ago (and not done so well). This is the same guy who, based on our analysis at the early stages of the controversy, started pushing the “Mozilla CEO is anti-gay” line (we had seen no such coverage before he did that, just positive coverage about Eich becoming the CEO). Later we saw Microsoft-friendly news sites amplifying the same message, discrediting the Mozilla Foundation and also rewriting history of Netscape, not just Mozilla (we omit all the links which relate to this as we don’t wish to feed them). Never mind if those who were most vocal against Eich were themselves notably (if not extremely) anti-gay rights [13]. Microsoft itself is notoriously homophobic (against lesbians and gay males, not just marriages of them) — to the point of being sued by its own staff.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Eighth Annual Future of Open Source Survey Finds OSS Powering New Technologies, Reaching New People, and Creating New Economics
  2. Build 2014: Microsoft makes .NET Compiler Platform Roslyn open source
  3. Microsoft open sources .NET compiler platform “Roslyn” and announces open source .NET Foundation initiative
  4. Microsoft Makes ‘Roslyn’ Compiler Open Source
  5. Microsoft releases Windows Library for JavaScript as open source
  6. C# Compiler Released As Open Source
  7. Windows Library for JavaScript (WinJS) now open source, released under Apache 2.0 license
  8. Microsoft releases new developer tools, makes open source .NET commitment during the second day at Build Conference
  9. Microsoft releases new developer tools, makes open source .NET commitment at Build Conference
  10. Microsoft Build 2014: Microsoft open sources a slew of software with .NET Foundation
  11. Microsoft announces open source compiler platform ‘Roslyn’ and .NET Foundation initiative
  12. Microsoft offers .NET libraries to open source
  13. The Hypocrisy Of Sam Yagan & OkCupid

    OkCupid received a clear benefit, media attention, for trashing Eich. But their co-founder and ultimate CEO has shown strong anti-gay tendencies in the past. That’s hypocrisy, and worse.

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