Freely sharing is evil, apparently
“[T]here is this thing called the GPL, which we disagree with.”
–Bill Gates, April 2008
Summary: Bill Gates risks ejection from Microsoft, but the lobbying against sharing what’s freedom-respecting carries on
THE company of bribes, technical sabotage, extortion, etc. (with immunity to jail terms) is in the headlines again (celebrity criminal) because there is apparently an initiative to remove the most criminal elements, especially now that there are probes over alleged bribes all around the world (some high-level Microsoft executives risk going to prison). Some pundits think that Microsoft’s #1 criminal, Bill Gates, should be fired to be left working on his fake ‘charity. As IDG put it:
Steve Ballmer has been booted as CEO at Microsoft. Now should Bill Gates be removed from Microsoft’s board of directors? Datamation thinks he should be given his walking papers and sent on his way.
Many people prefer to forget Gates’ role in Microsoft’s competition crimes — crimes that he mostly dodged without a jail sentence, just as he escaped a jail term several decades earlier because his parents were very wealthy. But here is what’s most disgusting about it all; Using a lobbying front, Microsoft is now trying to call Linux/Android anti-competitive — a bogus allegation which KDE is the latest party to respond to. To quote the KDE Web site:
Open Letter to the European Commission: Free Software is competitive
The KDE community is deeply concerned by the wrong notion contained in a recent complaint to the European Commission. The Fairsearch initiative claims that “distribution of Android at below-cost” could constitute anti-competitive behaviour or predatory pricing. Mirko Böhm produced a response (PDF) for the KDE Community.
In part, the Fairsearch complaint is an attempt to reduce the strong competition of Free Software platforms with proprietary offerings. KDE and other free software projects would be adversely affected by a misinformed decision about Android. The Internet itself (a basis for the Fairsearch complaint) is largely a product of Free Software. The KDE Community in one of the largest Free Software communities in the world, a global collaboration of companies and individuals building a free platform and creating programs in an openly governed development process.
In a world where crime is “business” or “success”, it is not too shocking to see sharing and freedom characterised as some kind of a crime. Coming from the fiend who daemonised respecting one’s neighbour (see Letter to Hobbyists), it is not shocking to see those lobbyists. Whether Gates stays in Microsoft or not, he will continue to promote selfishness while pretending to do the very opposite. That’s how effective his PR campaign — just like the above “Fairsearch” (it’s the very opposite of fair) — has been. █
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Summary: Resistance to bogus (to most users) novelty which gives corporations rather than users power over computers all around the world
Some prominent operating system developers already complain about what they perceive to be an anticompetitive measure. Intel, which spearheads UEFI advocacy, needs Windows right now, especially because the best-selling devices, which run Linux, are based on non-x86 chipsets. We oughtn’t let Intel, a criminal company with a long track record at that, get its way.
Richard WM Jones mentioned UEFI/EFI the other day, alluding to problems it was causing him. He wants to bring back the BIOS and concludes as follows:
Anyhow, this explains how I’ve gone from 3 working Fedora ARM systems to 0 in the space of two days. This is also the reason I think EFI is a terrible mistake.
Now that we know of back doors for the NSA we know that with UEFI some motherboards can be bricked remotely (the US was concerned that the Chinese would do such things). UEFI is also a patent trap and a facilitator of antitrust abuses that merit it a boycott, Why again does an ordinary user need UEFI? Benefits do not outweigh the dangers, so we need to shun UEFI for now. █
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Adding a monopoly layer that nobody asked for
Summary: Another reason to boycott UEFI, which is a headache to many and benefit to almost nobody except Intel and Microsoft
As regular critics of UEFI, especially for its ‘secure’ boot enablement of Microsoft antitrust abuses, it seemed reasonable for us to point out this rant from a UEFI proponent, Dr. Garrett.
“Enable freedom, not lockdown.”“32-bit UEFI,” he rants “Just say what on earth were you thinking, please, no, can’t you find a solution that doesn’t involve me getting tetanus jabs.”
The rant is about shipping of inadequate UEFI implementations, which cause unnecessary problems. Why use UEFI anyway? What are the benefits to most users? Remote network booting? No. It’s just unwanted complications marketed as progress. To most users, less is more. Use Coreboot. Enable freedom, not lockdown. When I pointed this out to the President of the UEFI Forum he did not really have a counterpoint.
Given Microsoft’s strong relationship with the NSA we now know that the NSA can brick hardware with UEFI. Remotely even, provided it also runs Windows. That is a massive risk to tolerate. Boycott UEFI. █
Found circulating in JoinDiaspora
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Summary: Microsoft wants to befriend its prey, but antitrust complaints against Microsoft helps remind the prey of what it is
Microsoft has got unbelievable nerve trying to devour Java and GNU/Linux (see prior coverage in [1, 2]), which it files antitrust complaints against.
The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom. Here is an update about the UEFI antitrust complaint, which says progress is being made because “The European Commission is waiting for Microsoft’s comments on a complaint against secure boot in Windows 8 before it takes its next step, according to the lawyer who filed the complaint.
“The real antitrust abuser is Microsoft, not Free software, where free means freedom.”“José Maria Lancho, a Spanish lawyer who filed the plaint in March on behalf of 8,000 computer users who are part of Hispalinux, told iTWire that once the Commission heard back from Microsoft, the next step would be to review the company’s comments and then decide about the preliminary injunction request which he had lodged.”
As covered here before, there are additional reasons to worry about UEFI, patents included [1, 2], but the matter of fact is, there is an inherent incompatibility here with the concept of freedom, unless of course the user manages the keys on his/her computer hardware.
For Microsoft, UEFI is a victory on two levels; one is the fact that GNU and Linux become harder to explore and the other is that people become accustomed to having no freedom with devices they buy (Xbox One takes that further with the application layer and surveillance). █
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“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
Summary: The audacity of Microsoft, which files a bizarre complaint against the best-selling operating system, which is now Linux-based
Not too long ago, Microsoft used CPTN members like Oracle and proxies like Nokia to bolster another proxy, 'FairSearch', in an antitrust complaint against Android. The FSFE has written a response and noted who’s behind this odd proxy of Microsoft allies:
According to reports in specialist online media, the so-called “FairSearch” coalition – comprised of Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, and a number of online service providers – argues, in its latest submission to the European Commission, that the free-of-charge distribution of Android, a Free Software mobile operating system developed by Google, constitutes predatory pricing. Suggesting that the distribution of Free Software free of charge is harmful to competition is both wrong in substance, and dangerous to competition and innovation.
Microsoft has been dumping to prevent freedom, so don’t expect European press to buy this hypocritical move. An FSFE lawyer and paralegal Pamela Jones have both responded as well. Jones writes: “They tell the Commission that they are writing to “explain how the distribution of Free Software, whether gratis or for a fee, promotes competition, rather than damaging it.” For example, it’s not true that Google compels Android-based phones to exclusively use its own app store, and by releasing the code for free, Google is actually enabling others to easily compete with Google…”
Microsoft, which uses EDGI, has got a lot of nerve doing this. It’s like when Microsoft had chastised Google over privacy before the NSA leaks that showed much more than just hypocrisy (Microsoft far worse than the accused). █
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The criminal Microsoft
Summary: Microsoft’s extremely dirty tricks against Android/Linux and who is being used as proxy so as to avoid retaliatory or regulatory action
Microsoft is not an ordinary company. Apparently it is trying to get special treatment from governments by colluding with the oppressive, increasingly-globalised police state (NSA) and selling people out. Recently, Microsoft used an occupied Nokia to attack Android not just with patents but also with antitrust complaints.
It seems evident that Nokia is no longer a productive company or even an ethical company. It is rapidly collapsing as an entity and going bankrupt very rapidly too, despite attempts to mask that (Nokia is pursuing loans despite its “junk” status). There are more layoffs coming (thanks to Pamela Jones for all those
links about Nokia’s state after Microsoft occupation).
The other day Jones published this article about how Microsoft complains about Google by proxy. The proxy is old and largely unmasked, but it is still being reused:
Aha! Microsoft. So, it’s about *Microsoft’s* business model, not any other FairSearch member? Well, maybe Microsoft’s little partner, Nokia, but that is the same thing, having trouble competing against Android, and complaining to regulators that it’s not fair to distribute Android for free when others have proprietary products that they claim they have to charge for to recoup their investment. That makes this complaint yet another anti-Linux, anti-Open Source, anti-GPL attack from Microsoft, which has a long history of such behavior. It’s an attack against the Open Source development model itself. Free distribution is the norm for Open Source. It’s also, I believe, part of a coordinated smear campaign against Google. And while FairSearch claims it’s not dominated by Microsoft, this complaint demonstrates otherwise.
Microsoft also uses AstroTurfing against Google. It hired Florian Müller to blog against Google/Android/Linux and when it comes to Microsoft's latest patent terrorism this scummy man continues to deceive and mass-mail journalists to bamboozle the public (we have strong suspicions that many of his analyses are actually sourced from other companies that use him as a proxy messenger). As Patent Progress put it:
Florian Mueller, Microsoft’s paid consultant, weighed in on this last Friday. He seems to feel that Microsoft has suffered some kind of injustice.
Unlike Florian, I have litigated at the ITC; although I’m no expert, I do have some familiarity with the process. I can’t agree with his take.
First, some background. At the ITC, Microsoft accused Motorola of infringing 7 patents based on the calendar syncing in some of its Android phones. Microsoft lost on all but one of the patents. But Motorola’s smartphones were held to infringe one patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,370,566, which the Commission found was not invalid.
Meanwhile, reveals this new leak, Microsoft is using extreme business tactics:
A competitive strategist at Microsoft has told cloudy partners that competing with Google on price is proving to be commercial suicide, particularly in industries where firms are under financial constraint.
The confession was made at a breakout session at the Worldwide Partner Conference, which Microsoft plainly didn’t intend to go any further judging by the “private and confidential” wording heading the webcast.
As Will Hill put it: “Translation: Lie and Bribe.
“Organizations are better off doing like Munich, where Steve Ballmer ordered the company “under no circumstances, lose to Linux.”
“It’s funny to see Microsoft unable to compete with Google employing the same failed strategy. They can’t bribe the whole world forever.”
There is a recent eWEEK quiz (link omitted intentionally) that paints Microsoft as a friend of GNU/Linux in at least one of the questions. This is revisionism. Microsoft is more corrupt than ever and it relies on gullible people like Christopher Tozzi issuing silly claims like these:
But while Linux in general may still lack some features available in modern versions of Windows, and vice versa, drawing comparisons between the two operating systems is much more difficult today than it was a decade or two ago. The relationship between Microsoft and Linux has shifted fundamentally since then. Redmond is no longer so deeply at odds with the open source community.
Really? Some people are either blind or dishonest. Microsoft’s attacks on FOSS and Linux are everywhere to be seen, but those who latch onto systematic lying by Microsoft and those whom it pays to lie along (e.g. lobbyists whom deceivingly name themselves “FOSS” something) can easily miss that. Of course Canonical is not helping and neither is SUSE, which was bribed by Microsoft. They even help Microsoft and the NSA spy on GNU/Linux users. But the matter of fact is, Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux is more active than ever before. It’s just the PR that’s changing and the focus on Android. █
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Forced sales of Trojan horses-filled software must end
Summary: Europe should now limit or ban bundling of Microsoft Windows, which comes with back doors for foreign intelligence that admits engaging in cracking (illegal but commonplace, done with impunity and no accountability)
The British government spends almost $10,000 per year per desktop with a Swiss cheese-like operating system that allows foreign nations to intrude and collect citizens’ private data, e.g. criminal records in the British police. When they do this from abroad they’re unlikely to face criminal charges and extradition. The British military does the same thing, supposedly choosing an operating system which is simply not fit for purpose (unless the purpose is actually to let the US government take control of the British military). Now that there are massive issues with the computer systems responsible for airports in London it is time to seriously think about the risks taken here, especially after the crash in California (allegedly caused by a dysfunctional, out-of-operation system).
“The British military does the same thing, supposedly choosing an operating system which is simply not fit for purpose (unless the purpose is actually to let the US government take control of the British military).”Any British shop — or by extension European shop — which currently forces people to buy Windows with a computer is worth accusing of negligence for selling computers with NSA back doors preinstalled. Such shops cannot claim to have valid reasons other than collusion with Microsoft and backroom deals (we leaked evidence of bribes for endorsement and bundling). Shops can provide DVD images from which to load Windows, in a simple one-button/one-click fashion, for those who require it and pay for it. This would be simpler to implement than a browser ballot, which requires some operating system to already be loaded. An operating systems choice is very vital now because a faulty product with back doors simply should not be sold.
Microsoft is already trying to use hardware makers as a weapon against GNU/Linux because Vista 8 is widely loathed not just by pro-FOSS folks but also businesses. It is an unprecedented failure whose magnitude is disguised by apparent gaming of search results through Microsoft buddies like the The Guardian (bribed by Bill Gates). Microsoft also tried to gag Sinofsky with a $14 million bribe and it achieved it with “non-disparagement clauses” that can be seen here. As Pamela Jones put it: “I’d call that the operative sentence behind the agreement. I gather he was asserting claims, maybe not yet in court filings, but telling Microsoft he believed he had such claims. That would explain all the other language about not talking disparagingly about Microsoft. And what might this be? “(v) continue complying with certain provisions of the Microsoft Corporation Employee Non-Disclosure Agreement between Microsoft and him related to intellectual property rights and confidentiality of Microsoft and third-party information.” Third party as in who? Mr. Sinofsky won’t tell, now, but does he know about NSA PRISM details, one can’t help but wonder or is this referring to deals with Nokia and FairSearch and such types? If he were ever forced to testify in a court, this agreement wouldn’t keep him silent, of course.”
Microsoft tried to gag the outgoing CFOs [1, 2] in a similar way, ensuring they don’t speak out about Microsoft’s real financial situation.
For those who think that it’s only a matter of tilting the rules in favour of GNU/Linux, this is simply not true. It is not as though there are no viable alternatives available to Windows except GNU/Linux. Mark from our IRC channels published “Computers and Operating System Bundling” a few days ago, naming some alternative operating systems which get excluded in the market:
With the increased use and speed improvements of the internet we see a new phenomenon: open source operating systems are distributed via downloading. This includes operating systems such as GNU/Linux, the BSDs, Haiku, Plan 9, Inferno, AROS and many others. By 2008 the Jiangsu Lemote Tech Co releases the Lemote computer with Linux and PMON, a completely open source system.
Almost everything above — is not strictly everything — does not have NSA back doors, unlike Microsoft Windows. Why are these not offered as an option to buyers?
If OEMs want an operating system which respect buyers’ and developers’ freedom at all levels and is highly capable of serving just about every need, then GNU/Linux is a perfect fit. Several OEMs already offer it as a choice but de-ephasisise this option as if software which respects the users’ freedom (Free/libre software) is somehow less desirable and needs to be hidden at the corner or the back room (which is the equivalent of what they do online). █
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EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia. Credit: EU OPEN DAYS 2012
Summary: Reminder to defeatists who believe that we should all ride Microsoft’s coattails rather than challenge unjust behaviour that may also be illegal
THERE are people out there who want us to believe that to play along with Microsoft on schemes like UEFI restricted boot is a necessary evil and maybe just necessary, not even evil. These people are serving Microsoft’s interests because they weaken antitrust complaints which exist rather than bolster these complaints. Here is a recent tale, as covered by Mike Masnick, of how regulatory intervention did help justice.
The United States’ highest court, SCOTUS, recently shocked a few people by ruling against large corporations’ interests (patents on genes). It later said that patents (referring to pharmaceutical patents) can violate antitrust law. Now that very ridiculous patents get granted and sometimes get ISO endorsement, as in the case of MPEG-LA patents, FOSS is facing anticompetitive practices from the likes of Nokia, Microsoft, and Apple. Google, for instance, is being almost prevented from giving codecs for free, even though it has copyrights on all the code, which is Free/open source software. To quote one recent piece about this subject:
A couple of years back, Techdirt wrote about Google’s laudable attempt to open source its VP8 video codec, based around technologies it had acquired with the On2 company in 2009. That was not simply a matter of releasing the code, though, because of claims by some that VP8 infringed on their patents. MPEG-LA, the private company that manages the H.264 patent pool, even went so far as to put out a call for patents that might cover VP8, which in turn led to the US Justice Department investigating whether the move violated anti-trust law.
Remember that Nero had filed an antitrust complaint. That was before other complaints.
This is what led to a deal that makes YouTube videos, for example, mostly accessible (soon entirely accessible) using Free/libre software acquired at zero cost (and GPL-compatible). Nokia, led by Microsoft, is still trying to interfere with this.
When people insist that there is no point to antitrust complaints tell them that many things including sexual and racial (e.g. slavery) discrimination did not end by passive action and hardly even by civil disobedience. People do need to take action. It’s not “whining”, it’s just not complicit with the abuser. █
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