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Openwashing Report: Microsoft’s Proprietary Software is ‘Open’, Surveillance is ‘Open’, Real Open Source® is ‘Dangerous’ and Paid Media Celebrates the Term’s Distortion

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 3:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Weekly openwashing report

Summary: The attack on the legitimacy and credibility of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) carries on; we’re supposed to celebrate proprietary software (deeming it “open”) while fearing actual FOSS and striving to make it more proprietary (whereupon it becomes “stronger”)

THIS is the very first of what's going to become a weekly (or biweekly) feature. We’ve had such features before, e.g. our weekly OpenSUSE summaries more than a decade ago. Our goal here is to show the erosion of the Open Source brand, courtesy of companies hostile towards it (and still eager to just misuse the brand). This isn’t about any company in particular; if Microsoft gets mentioned a lot, it’s likely because it’s by far the biggest offender in that regard. We’ll start with Microsoft.


InfoQ publishes quite a few Microsoft puff pieces, but it’s not alone. Last week it said that “Microsoft Research open-sourced TensorWatch, their debugging tool for AI and deep-learning.”

“…if Microsoft gets mentioned a lot, it’s likely because it’s by far the biggest offender in that regard.”If you release code of a little bit of the whole as “open-source”, then it might make it a case of openwashing of what you keep secret and proprietary. It’s not Free software and it’s hardly even Open Source. Microsoft isn’t alone in this. Here’s a new example from Google, “Google’s AI Team Open-Sources Brain Mapping Visualisation Technology” (similar to the above).

Google wants surveillance to ‘seem’ or ‘feel’ ethical, so it resorts to openwashing tactics. IBM does this also. It still wants people’s medical records (a serious privacy violation committed here before).

“Google wants surveillance to ‘seem’ or ‘feel’ ethical, so it resorts to openwashing tactics.”Sadly, the above from Microsoft, a PAC member, was promoted by Linux.com (noted elsewhere earlier this month) by this PAC. It calls itself the “Linux Foundation” and it’s in the business of openwashing. As a result of this, as we noted a week ago, people who search for "Linux" will get the opposite of that. It’s a Microsoft marketing tactic and it’s one that ZDNet helped with about a week ago. This technology tabloid of CBS had a piece entitled “Linux to get Teams client? Microsoft says ‘stay tuned’,” seeking to associate proprietary software from Microsoft with Linux (in the “open source” section). Later in the week ZDNet also published “Enterprise vendors increasingly dominate the open source software scene”. To quote: “Everyone has been enamored with cloud computing in recent years, but it’s another software revolution that has made cloud so ubiquitous and accessible — open source software. The interesting news is that the open source revolution, chugging along for two decades now, is still going strong — to the point where it’s now a huge industry, led by large, non-open-source vendors.”

ZDNet means to say that proprietary software giants increasingly control the term “open source” and it’s based on very biased data: “The consultancy’s analysis of GitHub participation also finds Microsoft to be the largest contributor of talent and expertise to the open source space.”

So this whole ZDNet piece is based on Microsoft data alone; we’re supposed to believe that any FOSS project that isn’t controlled by Microsoft (hosted on GitHub) does not exist or does not count. This has become a common problem with today’s media.

“…we’re supposed to believe that any FOSS project that isn’t controlled by Microsoft (hosted on GitHub) does not exist or does not count. This has become a common problem with today’s media.”Meanwhile, over at Analytics Insight, in a truly bloated page (over 20 MB for one article!), there’s this piece entitled “7 Best Free and Open Source Business Intelligence Tools”. Why is proprietary software from Microsoft listed under “Free and Open Source”? Is this a joke or something? How bad is media becoming?

Also, promoted by Linux.com the other day was this ZDNet article that is similar to few others, e.g. [1, 2]. There’s a profound issue here; corporate media should very well understand that GitHub is proprietary software, but it won’t stop filing more of that proprietary code of this Microsoft trap under “Open Source” sections; that distorts the meaning of “open” anything. We worry that Linux Foundation people keep openwashing GitHub, which is actually proprietary software. Isn’t that in direct defiance of the Foundation’s stated goals? Sure it is.


We’ve meanwhile noticed this couple of new articles about DeepCode. “To use it,” said one article, “developers connect DeepCode with their GitHub or Bitbucket accounts…”

“So basically, DeepCode is a facilitator of Microsoft lock-in.”So DeepCode is shilling Microsoft’s trap and proprietary software. To quote another article: “The bot is now free for enterprise teams of up to 30 developers, open source software, and educational use. Developers get started by connecting DeepCode with their GitHub or Bitbucket accounts…”

Need to become Microsoft serfs to get service? So basically, DeepCode is a facilitator of Microsoft lock-in. Will Microsoft pays them for this betrayal? We’ve seen similar things over the years and took note of them in daily links. We’re led to assume that FOSS projects and developers don’t exist or don’t count unless Microsoft controls them. Never mind the racist and bigoted nature of the platform. Here’s one more article about it. DeepCode is just a big trap. Avoid DeepCode. It’s proprietary, too.

Surveillance… is OPEN!

Days ago proprietary software giant Amazon was openwashing its surveillance operations, just like Google and Facebook do. Check out this piece about PartiQL. Similarly, Facebook outsourced a little bit of code to Microsoft’s proprietary software trap (GitHub) and media thus rushed to paint Facebook as “moral” or “ethical”. This is classic(al) openwashing and its intended effect. MediaNama said “Facebook to open source technologies to curb spread of abusive content” (double marketing). We saw more such openwashing from the site managed by a former editor of ZDNet. In prior weeks there were dozens of puff pieces of this kind (about Facebook).


We’re supposed to also think that being open and transparent is a great risk. Arun Balakrishnan published this piece (copy of something he had published months prior) entitled “The looming threat of malicious backdoors in software source code”. This is the problem with proprietary software where, unlike what one does with FOSS, code cannot be audited by end users. Then there was Sonatype combining the rude language of Donald Trump and Microsoft to come up with appalling FUD against FOSS: “Activate Your Shield Against Open Source Invasions”

“All sorts of FUD pieces (against FOSS) are nowadays syndicated and inserted into Google News by Security Boulevard — a site created by a manic anti-FOSS person.”We’ve mentioned these because both of the above were pushed by an anti-FOSS site, Security Boulevard, which was founded by a longtime FOSS basher. It does nothing original; it just amplifies/repeats anti-FOSS pieces. It’s pushing lots of Black Duck FUD pieces, as recently as days ago. It’s like a front group of that firm and the ‘sibling’ White Source. That site seems to exist mostly/solely to attack FOSS. It’s pretty damning when one considers who created the site. Is Microsoft meddling with the media here?

All sorts of FUD pieces (against FOSS) are nowadays syndicated and inserted into Google News by Security Boulevard — a site created by a manic anti-FOSS person. And “these are the Microsoft shills’ talking points,” a reader told me days ago (about the above). The connection between these firms to Microsoft and less directly even to the Linux Foundation should disturb everyone.

Mac Asay and the Sold (Out) Press

Meanwhile, there’s more FUD from Mac Asay, whose employer, Adobe, pays the media for paid placements, e.g. in IDG. We’ve mentioned Asay many times in the past. He had sought employment at Microsoft and he’s the one who brought Microsoft to OSI more than a decade ago (we did not forget). So anyway, Adobe pays media companies and now its employee spreads anti-FOSS rhetoric. He does so in CBS too (does Adobe pay them too?).

“IDG was sold to China (a firm that doesn’t care about publishing), which fired almost all the staff, and now it’s selling away its credibility.”It gets yet worse. Check out [1, 2, 3] and ignore the headline. Mac Asay doesn’t want readers to know it, but his employer Adobe paid this publisher (IDG) to post his spin pieces, which the publisher posted in at least three domains this past week! He says “Open source has never been stronger”; what he means to say is that the closing of “open source” is a strength; it’s a reversal of the truth. We greatly worry that IDG now makes money by taking funds from proprietary software giants (such as Microsoft and Adobe). It then lets them warp/distort/hijack the narrative of FOSS, mostly by telling us that openwashing is fantastic. Deception is the business model. Here’s another new example from IDG. “The DBA’s Guide to the Cloud, Open Source and DevOps” is the title, but it’s not actually an article, it’s not journalism. “SPONSOR: QUEST SOFTWARE” says the top of the page. So IDG is just selling space. IDG was sold to a company in China (a firm that doesn’t care about publishing), which fired almost all the staff, and now it’s selling away its credibility. It’s one form of liquidation.

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