European taxpayers now subsidise Washington-based PR agencies
Summary: The increasing privatisation of the European Patent Office (EPO), resembling what happens in the UK to the NHS, shows that the real goal is to crush the quality of the service and instead serve a bunch of rich and powerful interests, in defiance of the original goals of this well-funded (by taxpayers) organisation
Battistelli is in China at the moment as tyrants unite. The Chinese state councilor meets the EPO‘s President, based on Chinese media, but what goes on in Europe? We think that the next big scandal is brewing and this will be the subject of tonight’s (late night) articles.
“The organisation which proclaims to be public is now contracting foreign private entities to help manipulate public perception of the organisation.”Two nights ago we started looking for an important document and then made a request for it. It very quickly yielded this document, which proves that the EPO was meddling with the media.
The European Patent Office ought to be called the European Private Office because essentially this op-called ‘public’ body is privatising parts of its ‘business’ while ensuring that people with occasional connections to the management can potentially make a lot of money (risk-free profit) at the expense of European taxpayers. The organisation which proclaims to be public is now contracting foreign private entities to help manipulate public perception of the organisation.
“FTI Consulting deals with “litigation consulting, strategic communications” and various other areas, which seem to match the EPO’s current media strategy](silencing opposing voices with legal threats while manipulating the media).”A firm which was commenting on the recent Volkswagen scandal and according to the Wall Street Journal “provides legal, financial and public-relations services”, has just been paid close to a million dollars by the EPO.
FTI Consulting is basically, according to its Web site, something rather mysterious and only superficially (on the surface) benign. Wikipedia says “FTI Consulting is a business advisory firm headquartered in Washington, DC.” With 4,400 employees and $1.76 billion in revenue last year (and rising), this is quite a giant and it is publicly traded as FCN (NYSE). It’s a decade younger than the EPO (1982) and about my age. FTI Consulting deals with “litigation consulting, strategic communications” and various other areas, which seem to match the EPO’s current media strategy (silencing opposing voices with legal threats while manipulating the media). “In January 2014, FTI Consulting acquired London-based TLG Partners,” which gives them presence in Europe. The EPO has already signed a contract with the London-based Control Risks Group (CRG) — a subject which we covered in the following posts:
While we are not sure if it’s factually true (Maggie Thatcher isn’t our area of expertise, unlike some UK-IPO-related issues), one new comment in IP Kat says that “Maggie [Thatcher] attempted to privatise the UK Patent Office in the late 1980’s”
Notice just how much of the EPO is now being privatised for profit (external agencies), just like Blackwater in relation to the US Army. First CRG, now PR firms… what next? Tax money from Europe is being shipped to large private companies overseas. And for what? Gaming the European media? █
“[A]fter analysing a five-day working week in the media, across 10 hard-copy papers, ACIJ and Crikey found that nearly 55% of stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations. The Daily Telegraph came out on top of the league ladder with 70% of stories analysed triggered by public relations. The Sydney Morning Herald gets the wooden spoon with (only) 42% PR-driven stories for that week.”
–“Over half your news is spin”
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Paid by Microsoft, still serving Microsoft’s agenda under misleading organisational names, hoping nobody will notice
Summary: The Microsoft-connected ACT has just morphed into another entity, in an apparent effort to derail Android (as well as other Linux-powered mobile operating systems boasting Free/libre code) with patent tax in ‘thicket’ form
SO, Microsoft’s most infamous lobbyists are still around and they use patents as a weapon, not just lock-in such as OOXML. There is now a new mask for this particular group of lobbyists, and a new Web site too. Watch who follows and promotes this site (and Twitter account), it’s just people from ACT. This is yet another campaign Web site (one of many) belonging to this longtime Microsoft AstroTurfing group.
“The name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.”See our Wiki for some background on Association for Competitive Technology, formerly known as ATL. It had previous names, but evidently it saw the need to keep renaming/rebranding because its agenda and clients become public knowledge, compromising its ability to operate effectively as a lobbying group.
In recent years these lobbyists were trying to masquerade as an alliance for ‘apps’ developers, disguising the anti-Linux and anti-FOSS agenda as ‘apps’. “Today marks the launch of http://AllThingsFRAND.com,” they announced in Twitter. “Follow our site for the latest news & analysis on patents, standards, and FRAND licensing” (the inherent foes of FOSS, Android, and Linux).
Anyone who follows this site will basically be following lobbyists. They are selling something. They sell agenda, not information.
“[W]hen you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind”
–Benjamin HenrionThe name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.
André Rebentisch (FFII) noticed this and said that “ACT [had] launched a #FRAND web site” (FRAND in this context are patents — mostly software patents — that act as a tax that’s virtually impossible to avoid).
“ACT launched a FRAND web site…”
–André RebentischSomeone should perhaps tell the not-so-open-anymore Red Hat that Microsoft is still attacking FOSS (via front groups), with patents inside so-called ‘industry standards’ (thickets/cartels Microsoft is in). Well, so much for ‘standstill’… they are still on the offensive, albeit discreetly (through satellites).
Benjamin Henrion (FFII) told André that “ACT is still ACT. [Is] Zuck still around?” (he was one of their leading lobbyists even back in the ATL days)
Henrion added that “when you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind” (indeed, and we have covered this many times before).
“Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else.”Henrion has noticed yet another curious thing about lobbyists. “Patent lawyers are forming working groups,” he wrote, citing Patent Watchtroll, a longtime prominent booster of software patents, “in order to draft law for software patents in the US after the Alice storm” (Alicestorm is a term used to refer to the avalanche of software patents after the Alice case).
Patent lawyers are basically the equivalent of weapons companies with their pro-war lobbying groups, set aside their soft bribes to people in Congress (to ensure politicians become hawkish or that only hawks are electable). This is why US Congress supports militaristic policies which in turn pass public money to weapons companies. Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else. █
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Summary: A review or a survey of media coverage about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal, which was generally appalling and very much misleading, not just deficient in the sense that it added nothing new
WE are very frustrated to have found very poor coverage about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal. It’s disappointing to go one article after another and find almost nothing new. It’s just echoing (or parroting) what the companies are saying. There is no real effort to do journalism, reporting, in-depth investigation. Media coverage about the EPO tends to be the same in the English-speaking media.
Katherine Noyes, who used to work for the Linux Foundation, wrote that “Microsoft finally ties the knot with Red Hat for Linux on Azure” (maybe this headline is the editor’s, not hers).
Microsoft finally ties the knot with Red Hat? Come on, what is this, a wedding? It’s hardly even a shotgun wedding. In an effort to go lyrical they’re turning this into a sham and a mockery. The article itself does not really add anything new. It says nothing about the patents [1, 2, 3] because it’s a soft piece, not investigative journalism. This article is complete with quotes from Microsoft mouthpieces like the Gartner Group and IDC (part of the employer of the writer, IDG).
“Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.”
–Simon PhippsWe have been having a bit of a deja vu today (and yesterday) because a lot of what’s said about the Microsoft-Red Hat deal deal is pure marketing. Shallow and inaccurate, with very few exceptions (usually not in the mainstream media).
Simon Phipps wrote some hours ago that he had “updated [his blog post] to include the patent standstill” (a crucial addition). To quote the amended text: “Red Hat, despite asserting they don’t believe Microsoft has any patents that read on their products, included a standstill agreement in the deal. Sources tell me it is carefully phrased to comply with the GPL. If Red Hat felt they had to do that with their new partner, there’s no doubt everyone else remains at risk.”
Yes, exactly. Red Hat has just sold us all out, just because it can help Red Hat attract some customers. This is selfish and even — if one dare say it — malicious.
Florian Müller, who used to work for Microsoft (for a while) after he had campaigned against software patents, wrote: “One could argue that challenging all those patents allegedly infringed by Linux in court would have done FOSS a greater service than a deal.”
He also wrote: “One *can* be more demanding than @webmink: Red Hat could have brought declaratory judgment actions against MSFT patents on that Chinese list [...] Simon Phipps applies a high standard to “MSFT loves Linux”: love should include giving up all related patent rights” (source).
Müller is actually right in this case and this agrees with what we wrote about Red Hat about half a decade ago. For those who forgot, here are some reminders:
The corporate media is full of complete nonsense (no depth at all) about this deal. Watch the coverage in the financial press, calling it “”Co-Location” Partnership” or a “Microsoft Tie-Up”. It’s more like a sellout.
A lot of such propaganda we have been seeing today while making a partial record of it. Why are the people who cover these issues not familiar with Free software and patents for instance? They’re clueless because their critical skills require some knowledge of the topics covered. They’re just so easy for marketers to bamboozle. These people should be told by their editor: If you don’t grasp it, don’t write about it. Just repeating what PR spokespeople and press releases (from notorious liars like Microsoft) say isn’t journalism. Sadly, a lot of people who do just that call themselves reporters.
Klint Finley, writing for a large publication, uses words like “Frenemy” and says this: “As recently as 2007, Microsoft was threatening to sue Linux users for patent infringement, though it soon backed down.”
With all due respect, this is nonsense. It’s revisionism and it’s a lie. Microsoft didn’t back down, it sued TomTom for instance and it still uses patents for extortion, even under the current leadership. Examples include Samsung, Kyocera, ASUS, and Dell.
Adrian Bridgwater, sometimes a Microsoft apologist (with the openwashing and all), chooses to go with “Microsoft Loves Linux” in his headline (also with an image at the top along those lines, just like Katherine Noyes). This isn’t journalism, it’s more like Microsoft marketing; why are these people helping Microsoft lie to the public? Do they think it’s just fun or funny? It’s very irresponsible ‘journalism’. Just like Noyes, Bridgwater quotes IDC, but to make matters worse, he quotes “IDC software analyst Al Hilwa”. Does he even know who Hilwa is? Did he check? Hilwa used to work for Microsoft, but there is no disclosure of this obvious conflict of interests and he habitually comments on Microsoft as an "analyst" without explaining that he actually came from Microsoft. Bridgwater’s article is shallow and nothing about patents gets mentioned. What is the reader supposed to conclude from it? The headline says “Microsoft Loves Linux”, the image at the top says “Microsoft Loves Linux”, and the article quotes as an ‘expert’ a person from Microsoft who pretends to be independent. What a coup!
One of the better articles we have found on this subject came from Sam Varghese and was titled “With Microsoft and Red Hat in bed, what happens to SUSE?”
To quote Varghese: “The Microsoft-Novell deal — SUSE was then a part of Novell — was initially signed in 2006 and, after its initial five-year term, was renewed in July 2011 for a further five years until the end of 2015. It has hardly two months left to run.
“There has been no word from either SUSE or Microsoft on what happens next. SUSE’s leaders are currently in Amsterdam attending the company’s annual national conference.”
It is a good article and it makes some valid points. It is rather reassuring to know that some real journalists still exist out there. They may not be loved by all (far from it), but therein lies a yardstick for success. Journalists who never piss anyone off are probably just cowards who don’t do the job they’re supposed to do, which is unearthing new information, not repeating talking points packaged and delivered in bite sizes for so-called ambitious ‘journalists’ to paste into a Microsoft Word document, then dispatch to a self-censoring editor (censorship based on the publisher’s sponsors’ expected reaction). Real journalism can hurt people’s feelings; ‘safe’ ‘journalism’ (puff pieces to appease or invite advertisers) does not.
Finally, as well as the important/enlightening quote below, we wish to remind readers that patent ‘peace’ with a company like Microsoft does not protect any entity from satellites of this company, e.g. patent trolls. Remember that shortly after Novell had signed its patent deal with Microsoft both itself and Red Hat got sued by the Microsoft-connected Acacia for patent infringement. It wasn’t the last time, not even from this one single satellite (there were settlements down the line even as recently as 2 years ago). █
“In a world where there are $500 million dollar patent infringement lawsuits imposed on OS companies (although this is not completely settled yet), how would somebody like Red Hat compete when 6 months ago they only had $80-$90 million in cash? At that point they could not even afford to settle a fraction of a single judgment without devastating their shareholders. I suspect Microsoft may have 50 or more of these lawsuits in the queue. All of them are not asking for hundreds of millions, but most would be large enough to ruin anything but the largest companies. Red Hat did recently raise several hundred million which certainly gives them more staying power. Ultimately, I do not think any company except a few of the largest companies can offer any reasonable insulation to their customers from these types of judgments. You would need a market cap of more than a couple billion to just survive in the OS space.”
–SCO’s Strategic Consultant Mike Anderer
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What a lovely company… it does photo ops like the Gates Foundation does.
“A photo op (sometimes written as photo opp), short for photograph opportunity (photo opportunity), is an arranged opportunity to take a photograph of a politician, a celebrity, or a notable event. [...] The term has acquired a negative connotation, referring to a carefully planned pseudo-event, often masqueraded as news. It is associated with politicians who perform tasks such as planting trees, picking up litter, and visiting senior citizens, often during election cycles, with the intent of photographers catching the events on film, generating positive publicity.” -Wikipedia
Summary: Apple is staging events and manufacturing misleading media reports that help portray Apple, a PRISM company, as a proponent of privacy
TRUTH be said, Apple has been cooling down its patent war against Android in recent years, so we don’t write about Apple as much as we used to. Apple’s main remaining battle now is against Samsung because Apple wants bans, extortion money, or both.
As I spend a lot of my weekends reading about privacy and security I was disturbed to see Tim Cook framed in the media (literally hundreds of articles) as fighting for people’s privacy when it fact it was him, after Steve Jobs had died, who added Apple to PRISM (Microsoft was the first to join — if not help create — PRISM). Last week and the week before that Cook presented himself and Apple as the anti-NSA (like Antichrist) when the fact of the matter is, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I ranted about this in ‘social’ media sites and maybe now is a good time to also write a short article about it. There is nothing more comical than seeing an Apple CEO ‘confronting’ Michael Rogers; it’s like a bogus, staged debate.
The NSA asked for (and got) front doors in proprietary operating systems like Vista 10 and Mac OS X, which according to the latest news  is full of holes.
“I don’t want a back door. I want a front door.” — Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), April 2015
BBC, a proponent of proprietary software and the “Mac versus PC” false dichotomy, has published this bizarre article which serves Apple’s promotional narrative and says: “Ordering Apple to access data against its will would be akin to making a reluctant drug company carry out a lethal injection, a US judge has said.”
Actually, this is a bogus analogy because Apple already gives the NSA access to its data and has done this for years, not because of pressure but because it hadn’t yet been found out by the public, hence the negative publicity (or “blowback”) wasn’t great enough. Right now Apple wants people to view itself as friendly to pregnant women (like the ones in China whom it ‘protects’ with suicide nets?) and a staunch support of privacy. Don’t believe this for even one second.
Proprietary operating systems such as Mac OS X and iOS have a lot of back doors, which Apple sometimes chooses to call “diagnostics”. By all means, the fiction of Apple as caring about privacy is just fiction. We need to antagonise it, or else people who really need privacy (whistleblowers for instance) will get in serious trouble. Earlier this week my sister in law in Singapore, who uses an iPhone, was mortified to learn that she was being spied on via her phone. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
GENTLEMEN ADJUST YOUR PC threat league tables. Apple has usurped Oracle as the top blight, according to security firm Secunia.
The picture is bleak across the board, and the firm found that a huge whack of PCs are are running old, beleaguered, unpatched and end-of-life versions of software. This presents a problem to the user and computers in general.
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Microsoft’s business model of snitching on customers has proven too costly
“Microsoft should put its own house in order on privacy rather than waving about a discredited blueprint as a model for others… This attempt to portray itself as a leader in consumer privacy is as preposterous as the notion that it has treated its competitors with high standards of business ethics.”
–Junkbusters President Jason Catlett
Summary: Amid losses of very large customers (and outright bans in some governments) Microsoft admits a collapse in revenue and proceeds to pretending — sometimes successfully — that it cares about privacy rather than a snitching operation (which it truly is, as Edward Snowden’s revelations serve to illustrate)
NOT a day goes by without Microsoft executives moving their mouths, i.e. lying. This post will quickly tackle some of the lastest lies.
“There is a Microsoft publicity stunt case going on, and journalists continue to quote the Microsoft executive who put together Microsoft’s patent war on Linux and recently got a promotion.”There is a Microsoft publicity stunt case going on, and journalists continue  to quote the Microsoft executive who put together Microsoft’s patent war on Linux and recently got a promotion. His goal is to portray Microsoft as a company that fights for people’s privacy when in fact Microsoft fought against people’s privacy like no other company, in collusion with the NSA. At the same time Microsoft is hypocritically using politicians and other companies to complain about and pressure Google , usually using the ‘privacy’ card.
IDG gave us a good laugh today. Microsoft’s shameless publicity stunt (lie) was promoted by Bill Snyder, who said he was a Microsoft shareholder while writing for IDG, and painted Microsoft as “activist” for privacy (seriously, don’t laugh). Here he goes:
Guess who’s leading the charge to replace the now-defunct Safe Harbor agreement with a new international framework to protect privacy? None other than Microsoft. Sounding more like an activist than the president and chief legal officer of the world’s largest software company, Brad Smith this week laid out a sweeping, four-point program in a blog post that explicitly values privacy over business and national security concerns.
If Microsoft is an “activist”, then Bill Gates is a “charity”, not a greedy profiteer who is marketing-conscious.
IDG has sadly been filled with a lot of Microsoft nonsense lately. Microsoft must have paid them a lot of money for Vista 10 advertising because this piece of malicious spyware sure needs a lot of advertising for people to foolishly adopt. 4 days ago we showed how yet another Microsoft MVP, Adam Bertram, had entered IDG. IDG’s tendency to hire Microsoft-connected people (sometimes existing employees, despite a conflict of interest) is not exactly news to us and here we see more Microsoft advertising from Bertram (one of our readers called it “spam”).
So anyway, Microsoft is now conveniently spreading (probably through its many PR agencies) the myth that Microsoft is fighting for people’s privacy. The matter of fact is, many businesses and even some of the world’s largest governments have been banning Microsoft software because of privacy violations. They adopt Free software and GNU/Linux instead, to the point where Microsoft’s revenue nosedives. Watch Microsoft Peter trying to spin very bad Microsoft results as “acceptable” (due to GNU/Linux and Free software growth, probably Android too), accentuating only positives and foolishly believing whatever Microsoft says despite its history of financial fraud. Accounting tricks are only to be assumed; that’s how Microsoft pretends to still be wealthy, e.g. when buying startups, using bogus figures, which is business as usual at Microsoft.
The Microsoft-led campaign to paint itself crusader for privacy really ought to stop or be stopped. Microsoft is trying to bamboozle overspending governments into deals that seriously compromise privacy and turn citizens into ‘products’ , with pretense that storing data locally somehow protects privacy. It doesn’t. Thankfully, over here in the UK, the British government ain’t buying it. It moves to real standards and real privacy (working from one’s own desktop with Free software, no so-called ‘cloud’) .
Microsoft claiming to fight for privacy is as ludicrous as claims that it “loves Linux”. People often believe that it’s acceptable to lie for one’s survival. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
The fact that Microsoft is espousing what are quite radical ideas for a US company shows the depth of concern over the collapse of the Safe Harbour framework. Smith’s post appears at a time when the US and EU authorities are urgently trying to come up with a replacement for Safe Harbour, which must be in place by the end of January 2016, when enforcement actions by European data protection authorities will begin if nothing has been agreed. Yesterday, the US House of Representatives approved the Judicial Redress Act, which would extend certain US privacy protection rights to citizens of European countries. However, on its own that approach is probably insufficient to satisfy the CJEU’s stringent requirements for protections that are “essentially equivalent” to those under EU law.
To enhance its regional strength, Microsoft recently partnered with Chinese search engine Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Russian search engine Yandex (NASDAQ:YNDX). In each market, the respective search engine will become the default homepage and search engine for the new Edge browser in Windows 10. Both companies will also launch “universal” Windows 10 apps for services like search, maps, and cloud storage.
The agreement, which Microsoft says is one of the largest of its kind in Australia, means NSW departments will be able to access a range of cloud and mobility services, including Microsoft Office 365, which are hosted in Microsoft’s local data centres.
THE UK GOVERNMENT has dealt a blow to Microsoft with the announcement that it will adopt open source LibreOffice software across the public sector.
The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) announced this week that the government has entered into a deal with open source software company Collabora Productivity to equip public sector organisations with its GovOffice software, based on LibreOffice, given its “considerable cost savings” compared with the likes of Microsoft Office.
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Promoting a swindle. Whose patent system is it anyway?
Summary: The USPTO, patent lawyers and the rest of the patents ‘industry’ carry on pushing for even more radical a system where parasites (like themselves) rather than inventors are financially rewarded, discouraging and retarding innovation in the process
THE USPTO has created a toxic environment for small businesses (and to a lesser degree medium- and large-sized businesses too) in the United States. In this new letter/column, published only yesterday, the author bemoans the current state of affairs:
Businesses large and small are unexpectedly receiving letters demanding money for alleged patent infringement.
“It leads to a false consensus, shaped for the most part by patent lawyers and other people who profit from the broken status quo.”This is not a bad interpretation/opinion, even though it focuses on patent trolls rather than patent scope (software patents for instance). There is clearly dissatisfaction with this state of affairs, but people from the USPTO shut their ears and pretend that everything is great. Last month we showed how David Kappos, the former head of the USPTO, became rather delusional because he is stuck in the echo chamber of patent lawyers and is now profiting from it (directly). Now we see the lobbyists’ favourite newspaper, The Hill, saying that “Attacks on patent system are unfounded” (that is the headline). Guess who wrote it… someone from an “intellectual property group” and the USPTO’s “former commissioner for patents”. No conflict of interests there? He pretends all fine and dandy at the USPTO and generally resists change. Quoting his own disclosure in full: “Stoll is a partner and co-chair of the intellectual property group at Drinker Biddle & Reath and a former commissioner for patents at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.”
Why are so many voices weighing in on these matters not scientists and people who actually apply for patents? Or people who actually create stuff (without necessarily applying for patents)? It leads to a false consensus, shaped for the most part by patent lawyers and other people who profit from the broken status quo.
“If readers thought witnessing the Unified Patent Court legislative package wheedle its way through European legislation was fun…”
–AmeriKatHere in Europe we are seeing more or less the same thing. “We are currently witnessing some patent owners enforcing their patent rights exclusively using the European courts,” wrote some US patent lawyers (this is a site of patent lawyers and vocal software patents proponents), referring to patent trolls that attack Europe as just “patent owners”. These people also want the UPC, as one can imagine, because it can help patent lawyers make more money, also from the US (they can sue or issue cross-continental injunctions). “Now with the Unified Patent Court on the horizon,” the author wrote, as if it is inevitable. Well, the EPO sure wants and lobbies for the UPC, which means more money and power to the EPO (at the expense of ordinary European citizens). It often seems like Europe allows itself to be the vassal not just of other countries but mostly corporations (not just European), with passage of TPP, potentially UPC, and perhaps yet more secret deals and laws that serve nobody except big businesses.
“If readers thought witnessing the Unified Patent Court legislative package wheedle its way through European legislation was fun,” wrote this longtime proponent of the UPC (so-called ‘IP’ lawyer, going by the pseudonym AmeriKat) just hours ago, “they will equally enjoy the saga of the draft EU Trade Secrets Directive proposed by the European Commission.”
It would be “fun” to “enjoy” only if one is sadistic, or an ‘IP’ lawyer perhaps.
Yes, well, at least we now know where we are heading if we continue to allow this whole ‘public’ debate to be managed by supposedly benevolent wolves, promising to guard misinformed or uninformed sheep. Practitioners in software and other disciplines need to rise up and speak up, or else things will only get worse. Patent examiners too needs to examine the impact of their work on society; who is ultimately being helped when large monopolists get the fast lane at the EPO? Who is this whole system really for? █
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Where is the profit to be made in impartiality anyway?
Summary: The profit-motivated IDG network continues to dish out Microsoft propaganda to its many readers in many different countries (with different languages)
TECHRIGHTS, a longtime critic of corporate media spin, will soon turn nine. Today we wish to tackle some of the latest nonsense from one of the largest (if not the largest) network of English-speaking technology news sites. It’s about IDG, which most people don’t even know about because the names of the sites owned by IDG are being advertised much better, hiding the funnel of corporate money into the network (mostly IDC contracts and advertising contracts).
Windows Secure? With Back Doors?
We wish to begin by highlighting the fanboyish (or fangirlish) article “Why Windows 10 is the most secure Windows ever”, published by a reasonably new recruit who promotes Microsoft ‘security’ while bashing Linux/Android security and Linux-led efforts to secure the World Wide Web (based on a misconception of how this works, or worse, a deliberate misdirection).
So, IDG’s relatively new writers want us to believe in some notion of ‘security’ in Vista 10. What kind of security? National security (state power), meaning back doors? Who owns your PC when you install Vista 10? Microsoft can now remotely render Vista 10 unbootable, based on this new article titled “Windows 10 preview on death row, will be executed on Thursday”. To quote the British press: “Those who downloaded many Windows 10 preview editions will have to upgrade by Thursday or face an unbootable PC.”
Microsoft will remotely kill people’s PCs. Some security, eh? Depends on how much you trust Microsoft and its government allies.
According to another new post, “Microsoft [is] Infecting Windows With Malware”. Yes, some security, eh? Wherein even the vendor that makes the operating system actively infects it, intentionally.
“All Windows affected by critical security flaws” , states a new headline, neglecting to say that this is essentially a back door because Microsoft tells the NSA how to exploit this before it’s even being patched (the classic zero-day back door). Another new article is titled “Microsoft Gave NSA Access To Encrypted Messages Including Skype, Says Snowden”  (we have already explained how Skype spies on everyone, making it worse and less secure than most other forms of calls).
Another IDG article, titled “Windows devices account for 80% of malware infections transmitted via mobile networks” (written by a longtime Microsoft sceptic, for a change), serves to debunk the aforementioned fiction. “Microsoft may have just a single-digit slice of the mobile market,” says the author, “but there’s one segment of mobile it’s winning: Malware infections delivered via mobile networks.”
“That’s all?” iophk asked. “I guess that’s because their market share is closer to 1% than 2%” (it is this low in this particular area, which is dominated by Linux and sometimes older UNIX/BSD).
A Microsoft propagandist (for decades), Paul Thurrott, gives Microsoft ideas for killing Android devices and other mobile devices running Linux in an E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish) fashion, as we explained earlier this year. One way or another, it turns out that efforts to discredit Linux and to create hype around Windows are largely based on a delusion and an agenda.
Open Microsoft? No, Proprietary. With Openwashing.
Speaking of agenda, Mac Asay, who once tried to get a job at Microsoft, has just posted an openwashing puff piece for Microsoft (E.E.E. for Windows lockin, with DCOS, which is proprietary). At around the same time IDG openwashed Microsoft. Microsoft is actively avoiding GPL/copyleft (GCC) by propping up BSD-style licences. We previously explained why .NET is not really becoming “Open Source” at all. It’s marketing.
More Microsoft in IDG
More Microsoft moles, like existing Microsoft employees, MVPs, shareholders and so on are now regular writers in IDG‘s supposed ‘news’ sites, writing about Microsoft itself and about its competition (positively and negatively, respectively)
“Adam is a Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVP,” says this biography of Adam Bertram. He pushed out what can be considered advertising (iophk called it “SPAM”). “Adam is a Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVP, 2015 powershell.org PowerShell hero, and has numerous Microsoft IT pro certifications.” Is there no issue here?
How many Microsoft employees (current or former) and MVPs are already right there inside IDG? Over a dozen by now? We have lost count. Is this site being taken over by one or very few large corporations? “To control mental output,” Microsoft’s internal document on evangelism stated
[PDF], “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!” █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft has issued a cumulative patch for a set of critical flaws affecting all supported versions of its Windows operating system, to protect against remote code execution flaw in its Internet Explorer web browser.
According to leaked internal memos given to The Guardian, the U.S. government’s National Security Agency (NSA) worked with Microsoft in order to enable them to read personal messages sent over Skype as well as Outlook email, and its predecessor Hotmail
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“It’s part of a continuing behavior pattern by Microsoft that I think it’s fair to call “dirty fighting.” GoDaddy was using Apache (I assume on Linux) because it was a great technical solution. They didn’t switch to IIS on Windows Server 2003 for any technical reason. The switch was accompanied by a press release by GoDaddy, containing Microsoft promotional language. Now, I’ve changed many servers from one thing to another, but I’ve never made a press release about it. GoDaddy wouldn’t be doing that unless Microsoft had offered them something valuable in return. There has been talk in the domain business that Microsoft has been offering the large domain registries a wad of cash to switch their parked sites. There is no other reason to do this than to influence the Netcraft figures.”
Summary: Microsoft continues to game Netcraft’s figures and graphs by amassing effectively dead domains, making itself (and IIS/Windows) look a lot bigger when it fact Microsoft only perishes on the Web, having long ago lost the game to GNU/Linux with Free/libre software on top of it (notably a L.A.M.P. stack)
Microsoft, being an opponent of facts and fair competition, continues to distort information on Netcraft, having done so for years [1, 2, 3, 4]. The principal dirty trick usually relies on back room deals with hosts/hosters and registrars, based on some speculations that make a lot of sense (see the above for instance). Literally millions of these newly-registered parked domains can be hosted by just a few desktops in one of Microsoft’s offices. A lot of these domains are scarcely known, so they won’t get a single hit in a whole day. A single desktop alone can manage a whole lot of them. Not even a dedicated server with a lot of RAM should be necessary. In fact, it is so cheap to do so — along with the registration costs (done wholesale) — that Microsoft can afford the equivalent of slush funds to basically register or to subsidise registration of many of these domains (e.g. at Microsoft’s so-called ‘cloud’ or services, e.g. Outlook) and once it successfully does this it can mislead journalists (to receive positive coverage) and then bamboozle some of the less technical managers in various companies so that they choose based on the false impression that Windows is dominant. Microsoft is eventually causing them to host on a Microsoft platform/stack, based on false information. What a marketing swindle.
“Microsoft is eventually causing them to host on a Microsoft platform/stack, based on false information.”There are many more examples (including Netcraft) in our Wiki. Microsoft just loves to rig statistics and it does a lot of this nowadays with Vista 10, as we pointed out earlier this month.
To Netcraft’s credit, it seems to be actively — pun intended — trying to make it harder for rich actors (like Microsoft) that famously game their system, as Linspire once did to DistroWatch. “Microsoft made by far the largest gain in hostnames this month,” it wrote, “with an additional 33.6 million sites bringing its total up to 265 million. Combined with a 15.9 million loss in Apache-powered sites, the difference between Microsoft’s and Apache’s market shares has now halved: Microsoft’s share went up by 3.22 percentage points to 29.68%, while Apache’s fell by 2.55 to 34.96%, reducing Apache’s lead to just over five percentage points.”
But the number of hostnames is misleading and for just a few millions of dollars one can acquire millions of hostnames. When it comes to actual hosting, the story is very different. Netcraft wrote: “Amongst the world’s top million websites, nginx has continued to increase its market share and now powers more than twice as many sites as Microsoft.” Powering a site and just sitting there behind a domain is a different story altogether. Watch what happens (in the charts) when it comes to active domains.
“Notice developer active sites vs “all” sites,” wrote iophk to us, and “also notice that the metrics have changed.” Microsoft will need to change the method by which it cheats this system. Time for a Microsoft alliance with Volkswagen? █
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