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04.15.14

Microsoft Gets Its Money’s Worth From Xamarin: PlayStation 4 Now Polluted by Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Mono at 4:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Trojan horse of Microsoft, Xamarin, is pushing .NET into Microsoft’s console competitor

EARLIER this month we learned about Xamarin signing deals with Microsoft after receiving funds from the firm of ‘former’ Microsoft executives. Those two entities not only collaborate on code inside Mono but they also collaborate on many other things, including, based on Phoronix, infecting the PlayStation 4 like they tried to infect Android for years. “For those wanting to work on console games in C#, Mono’s PlayStation 4 support work appears to be progressing well,” Phoronix explains, citing Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza, who has more to say.

Never think that people who work for Microsoft will do anything other than promote Microsoft’s agenda. The firm Black Duck, created by a Microsoft manager (and now enjoying a special partnership with Microsoft), is still pretending to be a spokesperson for FOSS. How gross is that?

04.08.14

No Need For ‘Disclosure’ of Security Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Software as Microsoft Helps NSA Crack Microsoft Software and Freely Access Data/PCs

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft software has back doors by design

Back doors

Summary: A sense of perspective in the debate over security, especially now that Windows XP is left open to crackers (other than the NSA) and Microsoft is known to be ratting on so-called ‘customers’

LAST year it was confirmed that Microsoft had been telling the NSA how to crack its software before this software could even be patched. In other words, Microsoft gave back doors to the NSA. Microsoft gave a bunch of government-sanctioned crackers monopoly or preferential access to the data and computers of Microsoft’s so-called ‘customers’. Microsoft went further than this by providing the NSA with direct access to data of so-called ‘customers’ who put their data on Microsoft servers or used Microsoft networks such as Skype or Hotmail for communication.

“Microsoft gave a bunch of government-sanctioned crackers monopoly or preferential access to the data and computers of Microsoft’s so-called ‘customers’.”Microsoft hardly behaves like a software company. Microsoft is an informant. As one article put it some days ago: “The Snowden documents also revealed that Microsoft allegedly helped the NSA intercept web chats on its new Outlook.com portal.”

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s stuff such as this which CIOs and CTOs must remember when moving away from Windows and from Microsoft (altogether).

Now that we know there’s 'former' Microsoft staff behind the new Heartbleed® publicity blitz (maybe the latest of or an extension of the security smears against GNU/Linux, which basically accompany that end of Windows XP patches) we should remember what the alternative to GNU/Linux (and BSD) is. The main alternative is PRISM club — a club which conspires with the NSA against computer users.

Trending in Twitter right now is the hashtag “openssl” and the reason for this is Heartbleed®, which was released strategically on this date by a company managed by Microsoft’s ‘former’ security chief. It is a sure way to distract from GNU/Linux as the solution for security woes (associated with Windows XP). Instead of talking about how and why GNU/Linux is great for people to move to after Windows XP (for security reasons) people now talk about security vulnerabilities in GNU/Linux.

Another company which was founded by a ‘former’ Microsoft manager (Black Duck) is now promoting Fog Computing (surveillance-friendly computing in ‘clouds’) under the guise of “Future of Open Source”. How typical.

What needs to be done right now is activity. We must not be passive in the face of what seems like a smear campaign and publicity stunt, well timed and well managed by allies of Microsoft. We need to remind people that Microsoft is by far the worst thing that can happen to security because Microsoft not only has security holes but it also has security lapses by design. These security lapses were designed to facilitate illegal mass surveillance by entities that pay Microsoft in bribes and favours (as emerged in the press last year). This is not exclusive to the US. We saw stories about this even in Russia. “The discussion is getting really mainstream,” iophk writes about this.

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.

04.05.14

As the World Moves to GNU/Linux Propaganda From Microsoft-funded Proxies Claims Opposite of What Microsoft Intended

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU/Linux is rapidly gaining, partly because of Microsoft’s mistakes

Chart

Summary: Reports about new Microsoft-funded propaganda are easily serving as yet more proof that Windows and other Microsoft software ought to be abandoned

EVERY YEAR we are told the same lies. The propaganda is coordinated by Microsoft-funded entities like IDC and the Business Software Alliance (BSA). We tackled this propaganda year after year, also noting that IDG (the parent of IDC) helps disseminate the propaganda in the corporate press. It’s disgusting and it really ought to stop. It’s like the classic routine of rogue think tanks.

Glyn Moody has done a good job tackling the propaganda in two blogs. One of them was his Open Enterprise blog (ironically hosted by IDG), where he wrote: “As those make clear, we are talking here about Windows malware, found on purchased PCs, Web sites, in P2P downloads and CDs bought on the street. Moreover, it’s evident the infected software is proprietary, paid-for software. Why do we know that? Well, for the simple reason that nobody pirates open source software, because it’s always free of charge, by definition. So Microsoft’s report is about closed-source code, running on Windows.

“This means that IDC/Microsoft’s disturbingly high figure of $500 billion for 2014 is not so much the projected worldwide cost for enterprises of using pirated software, as the cost of running non-free programs on Windows. Most of that $500 billion could be saved – pretty much at a stroke – simply by switching to free software. ”

Glyn Moody also wrote about it in TechDirt (very large audience), under the headline “Microsoft-Sponsored Study Says Problems Caused By Using Windows Software Will Cost Businesses $500 Billion In 2014″ (similar to the other headline he chose). To quote his arguments: “Although the report doesn’t say so explicitly, we are clearly dealing with Windows systems here — computers are referred to throughout as “PCs,” never as Macs, and some of the malware is named as “Win32/Enosch.A, Win32/Sality.AT, Win32/Pramro.F,” which attack Windows systems exclusively. We can also be pretty sure that none of the infected programs was open source. Why? Because pirating software that is already freely available makes no sense — and is certainly unlikely to be as profitable as offering black market versions of costly closed-source programs.

“Putting this information together — in order to “Get The Facts” as Microsoft always liked to say — we arrive at the interesting conclusion that the use of commercial closed-source programs running on Microsoft Windows will cost businesses around $500 billion in 2014 alone because of the wasted time, lost data and reputational damage that will result from associated malware infections.”

Moody did a good job breaking down the arguments, so we need not do this again (we do this every year). Instead, let’s look at the situation Microsoft is in.

Yesterday and the day before that we wrote about the rise of Chromebooks, which led to a massive campaign of FUD and AstroTurfing from Microsoft. It’s always the same. Moody links to this article from the British press [via], stating that “London Council Dumping Windows For Chromebooks To Save £400,000″ (this was later covered in [1]). There’s no denying the fact that Vista 8 is driving many enterprises away from Windows and Vista 8.1 won’t change much, based on SJVN’s analysis that says: “By this time next year we’ll know if Microsoft has managed to reclaim its users’ and vendors’ mind-share, or if we really are seeing the end of the PC computing market in favor of a mobile, cloud-based computing paradigm.”

A state with 70 million people is now moving to GNU/Linux [2], so it’s rather clear where we’re heading. “Microsoft finally admits defeat,” says a Microsoft-friendly site [3] regarding the future Windows 8 update and based on numerous reports, Microsoft now drops the price of Windows to 0 for some device types [4]. “Apple already made the move to free-of-charge operating systems,” explains iophk. “Between that and FOSS, the OS has become a commodity. This is good, without charging, Microsoft cannot give kickbacks or similar financial incentives, at least not for much longer.”

You really know that Microsoft is deep in trouble when even its peripheral PR, such as Microsoft Peter [5], projects worry about the number of XP users (people who still use a version of Windows from 2001). Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ quotes US figures and says [6] that “[a]bout 95% of the 211,000 ATMs owned by financial institutions, run some version of XP. But some of those machines run on a unique version Microsoft will support until 2016, according to a Department of Homeland Security memo sent in March. Independent companies, such as gas stations, own another 210,000.”

Many of them will move to Linux. Even Rupert Murdoch’s company, despite being anti-Google, is dumping Microsoft for Google. Interesting times.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. London borough drops Windows, goes with Chromebooks, saves around £400,000

    Microsoft has more reasons to worry about Linux. After reports that an Indian state switched from Windows XP to Linux, now a UK-based organization is ditching Windows and going for Linux-based Chromebooks. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is going the open source way as it shifts away from Windows XP desktops in favor of 2,000 Samsung 303Cs Chromebooks for employees and 300 Chromeboxes for reception desks and shared work areas across the borough.

  2. Tamil Nadu’s XP migration plan: Go Linux like a BOSS

    The Indian State of Tamil Nadu will solve its Windows XP problem by adopting Linux.

    Tamil Nadu is home to over 70 million people and its capital city is Chennai, a hub for India’s business process outsourcing industry second only to Bangalore.

  3. Microsoft finally admits defeat, will bring Start menu back in future Windows 8 update
  4. Will free Windows make Microsoft bleed to death?
  5. One week before its end of life, 28 percent of Web users are still on Windows XP
  6. Windows XP: Old Platforms Die Hard, Security Risks Live On

Don’t Be Fooled by Microsoft: .NET is Proprietary Software, Still

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “open” circus returns

Clown

Summary: Publicity stunt from Microsoft strives to bamboozle the gullible, leading to the false perception that .NET is now “open”

Microsoft was caught openwashing DOS and other Microsoft "crown jewels" (that it had bought) some days ago. The OSI’s President was far from impressed, having watched Microsoft pulling these stunts to also openwash Azure and other such NSA-friendly proprietary software traps.

“I wonder why they don’t just skin FreeBSD or GNU/Linux and throw in Wine and Samba…”
      –MinceR
As we have argued over the years, Microsoft used Mono to openwash .NET and having created several openwashing proxies, including CodePlex and Outercurve (there are more), Microsoft goes further in trying to paint .NET “open”, blurring the gap between proprietary and Open Source (basically just creating confusion).

The Microsoft-friendly news sites helped advance Microsoft’s agenda with PR puff pieces like this one or that one. To quote one example: “For years, Microsoft has flirted with the open-source movement, trying to build bridges with developers that favor publicly released code over proprietary software. This week, the software giant finally made the big moves skeptics of its commitment to open source have been looking for.”

Nonsense. Hogwash.

As Lirodon put it in our IRC channels, they have “just released a few components (i.e. the Roslyn C# compiler, WinJS) under Apache license” and “perhaps they feel the end,” MinceR added.

MinceR also joked: “I wonder why they don’t just skin FreeBSD or GNU/Linux and throw in Wine and Samba… and maybe KVM/QEMU with a stripped-down winblows image for “legacy applications”.”

Well, Microsoft cannot afford to really embrace GNU/Linux, only to try to extort it and make it more expensive. It should be emphasised that nothing really changed with the above openwashing move, which is not even the first of its kind.

04.01.14

False Spokespeople for Free Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 5:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Still speaking ‘on behalf’ of Free/Open Source software (FOSS)

Future of Open Source Forum

Summary: Companies with a history of FOSS bashing are presenting themselves as representatives of FOSS

Last year we wrote about some relatively new entity called WhiteSource spreading FUD against FOSS. It is now running something called “Open Source Usage Practices Survey” [1] while presenting itself as “a leading provider of automated tools for open-source license compliance and security risk management” (misleading).

WhiteSource has nothing to do with Open Source, it is just exploiting FOSS and uses fear of FOSS to make money. It is similar to Microsoft-tied entities like Black Duck, which is also claiming to be running a survey under the banner “Future of Open Source” (we showed what it really is about). The only new (ish) thing here is the involvement of another entity, North Bridge. To quote the press release: “North Bridge Venture Partners, an early-stage venture capital firm, together with Black Duck Software, the trusted partner for open source software adoption, management and governance, will unveil the findings of the eighth annual Future of Open Source survey during a webinar, “2014 Future of Open Source Survey Results Revealed,” scheduled for Thursday, April 3rd, at 2 p.m. ET.”

So later this week we will be told what to think about FOSS based on a proprietary software company and a financial firm. How apt. This is becoming a real issue and more journalists should look into it. Since real journalism is dying whereas corporate press is thriving, it is likely that many sites will just parrot whatever Black Duck says.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open Source Usage Practices Survey: Last Chance to Participate

03.27.14

OSI Strikes Back Against Microsoft Deception, Which Keeps Distorting the Meaning of Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Microsoft Movement is once again polluting the Internet with disinformation, very much as intended

Truth

Summary: The President of the Open Source Initiative chastises Microsoft (and press/media) for promoting the lie that Microsoft products have been made Open Source or anything along those lines

A COUPLE of days ago we quoted some tweets which were posted by Simon Phipps, the head of the Open Source Initiative and a friend of the Free Software Foundation (he has done a fantastic job bridging the gap between those two camps). Phipps quickly rebutted appealing reports that Microsoft had manufactured to make it sound as though Windows was being open-sourced. The average, non-technical person would be susceptible to accepting the lie, especially when Microsoft-friendly magazines amplify it. What Microsoft did should hardly be treated as news at all. It’s a non-event. The code which was proprietary is still proprietary, it’s just being imposed on the public through a public museum.

A short while ago Phipps followed it up, turning the messages from his tweets into an article at IDG. “Look all you want, but don’t think about touching Microsoft’s source code for MS-DOS v1.1/v2.0 and Microsoft Word v1.1″ says the summary of the article “Microsoft didn’t really open-source MS-DOS” (the word “really” is spurious).

We have already identified some silly headlines that falsely argued Microsoft “open-sourced” the software, but we won’t link to them as that would only serve as a megaphone to falsehoods.

Well done, Microsoft. You sure managed to coordinate message injection into the media, with lots of lies posted all over the Internet (to be absorbed by lesser-technical people). This is why Microsoft can never be a friend of Free/Open Source software. All that Microsoft seems to be doing is openwashing proprietary software using plugs and hooks that may or may not be genuinely “open” (unlike the software they are tied to or depend on, e.g. Hyper-V). The confusion created by Microsoft serves Microsoft in numerous ways: 1) it weakens the label “Open Source”; 2) it makes Microsoft products seem indistinguishable from FOSS; 3) it helps careless adoption of patent-encumbered concepts such as .NET (e.g. Mono) and FAT, which in turn facilitates litigation (extortion) against companies that adopt GNU/Linux, passing Microsoft tax to customers who never chose Microsoft.

ASA Should Issue a Fine and Immediately Stop Deception/FUD Campaign From Microsoft, Falsely Claiming That Google Reads Mail While Microsoft (Implicitly) Does Not

Posted in Deception, Europe, FUD, Google, Microsoft at 6:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Misinformed by Microsoft in attack ads

Couch potato

Summary: New leaks, and not just leaks from Edward Snowden, show that Microsoft is abusing people’s privacy in E-mail, so the ASA should put an end to Microsoft’s anti-Google ads

IN THE UK we have the ASA, which helps crack down on excessively deceiving advertising (almost all commercials are deceiving by design, but some are very blatantly lying). In the past we wrote about the ASA in relation to Microsoft. Microsoft is lying in a very gross way.

There is one particular type of adverts in the UK these days which can annoy me quite a lot. They are not Microsoft ads, they are anti-Google ads, sponsored by Microsoft (as Microsoft is promoting Penn, this is now their strategy). I heard those ads and complained about them before, citing the ASA as the body that needs to receive formal complaints about this. Well, what I didn’t know is that several Brits had already reported these to the ASA, noting that FUD campaigns as the business model are not acceptable, especially when the smears/FUD are untrue, or even libelous. According to a new report from the British media: “”At issue was a radio advertisement that limped onto the air as part of Microsoft’s hoary Scroogled campaign. In a voice-over, Microsoft used Pig Latin to disguise its criticism of its rival and then dwelled on that to make Outlook look like the better option.

“”A radio ad, for Microsoft Outlook, began with a character who stated, ‘may ivatepray e-mailway isway onway ofway eirthay usinessbay’,” explained the ASA.

“”The voice-over then stated ‘Pig Latin may be hard to understand, but you probably need it if you use Gmail, because Gmail scans every word of your emails to sell ads. But Outlook.com doesn’t. And you can choose to opt out of personalised ads. To stop Gmail from using your e-mails, use Outlook.com. Learn more at KeepYourEmailPrivate.com and keep your e-mails ivatepray’.”

“Catchy, snappy stuff, but it did not sit nicely with a couple of people who complained to the ASA about the ad taking liberties with the truth. It was suggested that while Microsoft did not make this clear, it scans its users’ emails too.”

Now, guess what? The ASA did nothing! Microsoft was allowed to get away with it because “the ad made no claims (whether explicit or implied) that Outlook.com did not use any other form of e-mail scanning.” (source)

This is “bizarre in light of recent revelations about Microsoft mail and chat,” said iophk, alluding to revelations that we covered earlier this month.

Perhaps it’s time to resubmit (or amend) the complaints to the ASA, citing documents leaked after Syrian crackers showed FBI-Microsoft relationships, in addition (consequently) to Microsoft’s admission that it is snooping on people and their E-mails for business reasons, not even national security reasons. This can at least lead Microsoft to dropping these false (or at best hypocritical) ads that pollute the British media and aggravate many Brits (rightly so).

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