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11.15.14

Debunking Several Days of Never-Ending Lies About Microsoft and .NET

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: .NET is not “Open Source”, it cannot be forked (there remains patent threat), Visual Studio is still completely proprietary and it is expected to come to other platforms only because Windows has lost its dominance and Microsoft wants to perpetually control APIs (with software patents) and hence reign over developers

We correctly foresaw a barrage of misinformation about Microsoft and .NET and now it’s time to tackle it all. Very few journalists have been getting the .NET story right. Although they do exist, they have been massively outweighed and outnumbered by sheer misinformation. This post will hopefully be comprehensive enough to name those who got the story right and those who got it wrong. We will end with some truths and clarifications.

The signal (as in signal-to-noise ratio) was lost in a vortex of many Microsoft lies that got posted and reposted in the news this week (since Wednesday night); some were utter lies, but there were semi-truths in some cases. We probably ought to clean up the mess/web of lies after Microsoft spilled out PR and its minions happily relayed it to bamboozle journalists into calling .NET "open source" (many did exactly that). To be fair, there are definitely exceptions and there are some who got the story right, so we will give them credit and tell them apart rather than collectively refer to them all as though they serve the same establishment.

Let’s start with the simple facts. Microsoft has not had a change of heart; it uses publicity stunts. There are better yardsticks by which we can assess Microsoft’s intentions. Let’s see, for example, if Microsoft joins OIN (non-aggressive patent pact/collective) and stops assaulting Free software directly and by proxy. It just won’t happen any time soon and it is a point that Simon Phipps made in his somewhat belated article which states: “How does this affect Microsoft’s status in the open source community? The OSI Board (of which I am a member) welcomed Microsoft’s news as as “continued progress toward full embrace of open source” and there’s no doubt this, like the news about Linux support in Azure, signals great progress. We welcome each new initiative, but the rehabilitation process is not completed by any individual act or even by a sequence of them.

“To move beyond stage five of the journey to open source, Microsoft needs to take a holistic view and ensure every business unit of its famously divided company treats open source with respect. While Microsoft continues to tolerate sociopathy in the business units not yet embracing open source – such as the patent attacks on Linux community members by its patent portfolio group or the covert politics to undermine Open Document Format – it’s hard to treat the company with the full respect it believes it deserves.

“As the inevitability of open source gradually pervades Microsoft like Aslan’s breath, hope increases that the company will choose to act as a full member of the Linux community – for example, by joining OIN as a way to forswear patent attacks on open source community members. I sincerely hope Microsoft completes this journey.”

Phipps is being too optimistic and overly kind (perhaps he must because of his diplomatic role at OSI and because of his publisher), whereas Larry Cafiero uses a Nazi-era analogy (FOSS as Chamberlain) to negatively characterise this kind of optimism. He insinuates that unless Microsoft turns everything into GPL then it can “get the fuck out”. His post is relatively polite (unlike the headline) and it says: “One of the issues this week that has had the FOSS press all atwitter — literally and figuratively — and has had a lot of smart FOSS people uncharacteristically swooning is the fact that Microsoft is “open sourcing” .NET and other software (For example, .NET is released under the MIT license, whatever that may be).

“One subtext here, of course, regarding the misplaced euphoria by some begs the question, “Is Microsoft trustworthy?” The answer is clearly, “No. Absolutely not.” Despite the fact that Redmond has been playing nice with FOSS lately, we should not trust Microsoft any farther than former CEO and Stasi agent look-alike Steve Ballmer can throw a chair.”

He continues: “Let’s not forget — let’s never forget — Microsoft has reveled in their role as digital brownshirts since one of their many ill-conceived, all-conquering goals was to strangle FOSS and Linux in its proverbial cradle. It continues to this day, and for the foreseeable future, in patent shakedowns and insistence on locked-in interfaces no one else can use, among other digital inconsistencies aimed at providing only one option: theirs.

“So we’re just supposed to forget the fact that we were once considered a “cancer” by this company — letting bygones be bygones — solely because they say they “love Linux” and because they open-sourced some of their software under some obscure license?

“Seriously?”

One part-time booster of Microsoft says that Microsoft is now neglecting Windows, which lost its dominance in many areas. To quote his analysis: “Windows Phone users are used to waiting for Microsoft to deliver on its promises, but the company has been testing their patience recently. Microsoft has abandoned its “first and best on Windows” strategy in favor of cross-platform apps that are nearly always better on Android and iOS than their Windows tablet and phone counterparts. Office is the latest proof of a continuous trend that’s leaving Microsoft’s most-loyal Windows customers out in the cold.

“After shipping Office for iPad earlier this year, way ahead of a touch-optimized Windows release, Microsoft followed up with an even better version for the iPhone last week. While the initial Office for iPhone app, released last year, offered basic editing like its Windows Phone counterpart, the new app goes way above and beyond the functionality Microsoft ships on Windows Phone. Comparing the two almost feels unfair at this stage. Microsoft is working on new touch-optimized versions of Office for Windows tablets and phones, but the company won’t deliver them until Windows 10 is ready next year. It’s another period of waiting for Windows fans.”

That is just more vapurware talk, along the lines of another bit of spin (naming Vista 10 years before it even exists). This same vapourware about Vista 10 can be found in the post “With a new platform-neutral Microsoft, why go Windows?” (by Microsoft booster Mary Jo Foley), summarised thusly: “The days of counting on Microsoft to deliver first and best on Windows are gone. Will Windows 10 bring them back next year?”

Windows is becoming obsolete in the schools market too, so Pablo Valerio at UBM floats similar vapourware from Microsoft. They acknowledge that Windows is quickly going away, but then they start naming Vista 10 as if that vapourware will change everything. What it all shows us is that Microsoft becomes more receptive to the idea of cross-platform not because the company is suddenly nice but because Windows is rapidly losing market share. For Microsoft it’s merely a survival strategy. Microsoft would rather we all view it as goodwill, just as it tried to portray a driver release (under the terms of the GPL) as a deliberate act of goodwill when it fact it was a GPL violation that Microsoft was caught committing (hence it could go to court to compel Microsoft to do the same thing).

As we noted the other day, just after Microsoft deception’s campaign had started, the company opened not .NET but only parts of it. The headlines even in FOSS-leaning sites did not get this right most of the time, e.g. in this one example quoting Microsoft Peter as the source (with another inaccurate and misleading report). We’re mentioned in then 2nd comment there. “Any time there are these sorts of “open source” claims from Microsoft,” said one commenter, “just wander over to TechRights and see what Roy Schestowitz has to say. If there’s any doubt, he’ll set you straight.”

The lies were spread by bamboozled journalists or Microsoft boosters whom these journalists followed as their principal sources. Truth got lost early on and the lies now dominate the wire. It’s hard to challenge the message which was so broadly broadcast.

What we have here is an attack on Eclipse, which unlike Visual Studio is free software and wins in opinion polls over criteria like these of cross-platform and openness (or freedom). Self-serving acts are not goodwill and bringing to more platforms Visual Studio (which remains to be done and we do not know to which level of quality it will be done) is just spreading of malicious, non-free software.

Microsoft is doing a perception distortion campaign in order to reduce openness among developers, but as expected, lots and lots of misleading headlines (Microsoft PR) appeared in the news this week. It’s a shameful charade. It targets both developers and software users.

Consider the misleading claims from Microsoft booster Paul Thurrott that can percolate into less informed sites (less technical), including the British press that tends to be better than most. Many sites portray this as complete opening, whereas few say that it is core only, meaning that .NET is merely a mixture and thus still proprietary or “open core”. The .NET boosters and Bill Gates-funded papers mislead readers as usual, so the lies propagate and make it into decent sites that now make misleading statements in the British press, the Australian press, and plenty of north American sites. One British news site got it right, but many others did not, so it does not matter what is true, what matters is what developers think or feel. With help from poor journalism Microsoft has just fooled a lot of people.

We could go on and on collecting examples of relatively benign and not so inaccurate reports, but they are few and they are outweighed by falsehoods. The freeware nature of the tools makes them not Open Source as some sites online to claim but basically proprietary for other platforms. The South African press got it wrong and it is too late to correct all this. It’s a bit depressing to watch because whenever witnessing a lot of lies and almost nobody to counter them effectively (as in the days of the Microsoft-Novell patent deal) a lot of clean-up work remains to be done.

Some sites correctly paint this .NET nonsense as open core, but Microsoft sites and Microsoft-affiliated sites keep fighting against the truth. Even Microsoft Peter is relaying the lies from the Microsoft press release while pro-Microsoft ‘journalists’, as expected (Microsoft must be pressuring them to repeat the lie in order to change perceptions), put these lies in widely distributed newspapers. Microsoft's tool Dina Bass got it wrong and other writers in corporate media (full of Microsoft spinners with a long track record of it) do a great service to Microsoft. They rewrite the truth. A lot of readers will never know they’re being brainwashed.

There is something curious (but expected) if one looks who claims .NET is “open source”. Most of them are known Microsoft boosters. Microsoft lover Brian Fagioli is repeating the lie and an article by Sam Dean continues his tiring Nadella fawning.

“Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.”One Australian news site was clarifying that it’s more like “open core” and less inaccurate headlines at least say .NET is partly proprietary, hence proprietary, still.

The whole .NET nonsense from Microsoft serves to show the corporate media is as accurate as Microsoft minion de Icaza (one of the most widely cited source of misinformation here). Facts don’t matter and journalism systematically fails. There is no fact-checking.

Here is what a British site, the biggest news sites in the UK (for technology), wrote about this endlessly. Some of these articles are from known Microsoft boosters. They are advertising .NET. There are no disclosures. Here is the misleading headline from Microsoft booster Andrew Binstock. It’s high time for mass deception.

One of the best articles came from the Australian journalist Sam Varghese, who actually asked some real questions. Well, those who ask such questions often get the most flack because they’re actually doing their job. He recalled Silverlight and wrote that “some time back, Microsoft announced that Silverlight development would effectively end and De Icaza was left with a lot of code that was of no use. There was no beacon left to follow, no light in the sky to guide his way.” Now Microsoft can now hire/absorb Xamarin or alternatively dismantle it. It remains to be seen what actually happens.

Late on Friday (2 days later) we kept seeing poor reporting in the media, so not even two days of research were apparently enough for journalists to get the facts right. Here is a misleading headline from the rich people’s paper of glory. It is sad to see false claims perpetuated even by Jim Lynch, who is pro-FOSS. Some people do issue corrections in the comments, e.g. this comment at the bottom. The comment says “.NET Microsoft isn’t MIT. .NET is not Open Source” and it cites the article “Microsoft Legally Contradicts Itself”. The article says: “The PATENTS.TXT file contains Microsoft’s legally binding promise not to sue anybody for patent infringement if they use the code. Sort of. The problem is that the wording of the document opens a potential loophole that would allow Microsoft to sue a third party that took parts of the .NET code and built or included it into another application for patent infringement.”

This kind of point was also debated in Twitter, involving Microsoft minions and the head of the OSI. It shows that the patent mess remains and to highlight some key remarks, Carlo Piana (a FOSS lawyer) writes: “What about any patents MS claims (IIRC there are a few). MIT does not pass any through.” Benjamin Henrion (FFII) responds with: “Just as the Java patent story, the Microsoft patent pledge is not enough… the promise should be made to other .net implementations, not just the implementation they control.” Simon Phipps checked the details and confronted de Icaza over his misinformation, saying: “It appears to only protect use of ‘Covered Code’, not third-party .NET implementations… It is a covenant linked to the Git repo, not to the .NET specification… It also does not cover use of the code in anything but “a compliant implementation”… the language excludes subsetting and code repurposing.”

Yes, so much for “Open Source”! You cannot even fork it safely.

Here is what maddog wrote [via]:

Of course some people will point out some of the more recent things that Microsoft has done:

Microsoft has made money off “Open Source”. Taking technologies mostly from MIT or BSD licensed software, they took code written and contributed by other people and worked them into Microsoft products. They are not alone in this, and I do not “blame them” for doing it. They obeyed the letter of the law.

Threatening to sue other companies for patent infringement, but not willing to tell the Android/Linux community what patents they feel were being violated so we could avoid them…or dismiss them.

Contribute patches to the Linux kernel, but usually in the areas of hypervisors, to allow Microsoft’s hypervisors to work well on top of the Linux kernel….the same kernel for which they are blackmailing….er, ah, charging patent royalties.

As usual, people who accept Microsoft’s claims at face value are most likely going to find out that they have been misled. None of the above publications is likely to issue corrections, neither in-place or in a follow-up article. Microsoft has successfully made a falsehood be seen as “truth”. A lot of people will not be made aware of the dangers of .NET.

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