“Software patents are a huge potential threat to the ability of people to work together on open source.”
Summary: The real patent battle is fought not in Congress (with corporate lobbyists) but in the courtroom, with a growing number of outcomes which are favourable to Free/libre software
SOFTWARE PATENTS are severely damaged in the US, especially following the Alice case (ruled by SCOTUS one year ago). The latest cases, which we covered this month, serve to show that software patents are dropping like flies in the courtrooms, even when landing on courts that are historically very friendly towards software patents.
“District courts used Great Atlantic to invalidate patents en masse, much like is done today after Alice,” Patent Buddy wrote the other day. Nevertheless, the corporate media focuses on other matters.
“It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying.”Joe Mullin has revealed that yet more software patents have just died and not a patent troll was behind them. “Rovi,” he explains, “provides digital entertainment guides to cable companies and others and has long used its patents to enforce its dominant position in the market. That strategy has come in for criticism, with Rovi’s patents being viewed as covering the basic idea of an electronic TV Guide. That was especially true when Rovi used its patents to go after Internet companies that wanted to make their own guides and not take Rovi content, like Hulu and Amazon.”
Well, these patents are now dead and Wall Street-centric media says that the company is downgraded. “Multichannel video programming distributors may face the same struggles in court,” says the author, “but those patents are less abstract than software patents, according to analysts.”
Mullin wrote also about Newegg (yet again), showing that it won a patent case that had been brought against it by TQP. “Two weeks after online retailer Newegg filed a petition complaining about “excessive and unreasonable” delays in getting a final judgment in its patent case,” explains Mullin, “the judge in that case has handed Newegg a big win.”
It looks as though software patents are rapidly dying. Every death of a software patents can become precedent for future cases involving software patents and the higher the court, the higher the impact. One lawyers’ site tries to frame this as a “troll” issue, talking about “the projected cost [7 billion dollars] of litigation filed by non-practicing entities, or patent trolls, in 2015.”
What about non-trolls (or very big trolls that the media won’t call “trolls”)? Some media circles are trying to tell us that Microsoft alone makes billions of dollars from extortion against Android alone. The main problem is the patents, not the entity asserting these patents.
Speaking of Google, which is an important example because Microsoft is still attacking it using patents (trying to force Android makers to bundle Microsoft software), there is a new effort to combat patents using prior art. As corporate media put it, “Google is bringing its search powers to bear in hopes of doing what Washington seemingly can’t — roll back a wave of abusive litigation from companies that, according to their critics, simply want to line their pockets with ill-gotten settlement money.” There are many articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. In the form of sourse code, not just publications, it ought to be possible to demonstrate prior art and invalidate a lot of software patents. There is plenty of prior art and duplication in the field of software because a lot of people are able to practice it (requires just a keyboard, no manufacturing).
“It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance).”When patent maximalists (IAM) covered it they said Google’s “mission” it to “help raise quality standards”, but that’s nonsense. Google just doesn’t want this patent mess that is looming over Free software like Android. It’s not about “quality” of patents, it’s about patents. Google is still wrestling with Oracle (patents and copyrights) and as this new post put it a couple of days ago: “Out in the real world, the lawsuit between Google and Oracle is preparing to head back to a lower court after the Supreme Court said it would not take the case. At UC Berkeley yesterday, the repercussions of that decision were discussed, along with many other topics around patents and copyright law as they pertain to software, art and more.”
It sure looks like this whole cult of “IP” proves problematic not just for Free software but for software in general (monopoly on APIs for instance). Large proprietary software corporations such as Microsoft and Oracle are abusing so-called ‘IP’ to impede if not altogether destroy their emerging rivals. █
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Summary: The efforts to empower Microsoft’s APIs, even if by lies and strongarming
THE MEDIA, including Microsoft-connected sites, is openwashing Visual Studio right now [1, 2]. A mixture of misleading headlines and half-truths are the means. We recently showed a lot of Visual Studio openwashing [1, 2, 3]. This in itself is disturbing and it is part of a trend to watch out for.
Will Hill points out that “Something odd is happening between Oracle and Xamarin. Oracle is strong arming customers into “the cloud” with license audit threats. What’s really weird is psycho babble about Xamarin being some sort of force in mobile and that silly cloud stuff with millions of developers. As far as I remembered Xamarin was a nasty little Microsoft shell designed to keep Mono around after Novell collapsed (2).
“I’ve asked Christine Hall on G+ what she knows about Xamarin and Oracle. Oracle pushing their customers onto Mono sounds like a suicide pact to me.
“Maybe they were dumb enough to push C# tools onto their database used [sic].”
–Will HillRemember that Xamarin has been one of Microsoft’s tools for openwashing both .NET and Visual Studio.
“No response from Christine Hall yet,” Hill added today. “The name Xamarin left an unpleasant buzz in my head, so I did a Techrights search and remembered who they were. I thought, “that can’t be those Mono monkeys, they don’t do that.” Then I dug to the stock fraud site and, yep, that’s who they are talking about. There’s still room for it to be a typo, but I’d laugh and laugh if Oracle were to saddle their “cloud” with C# or Mono via Xamarin.
“Maybe they were dumb enough to push C# tools onto their database used [sic]. I’ve seen it in medical software because one of the vendors is a terminal Microsoft used.” [sic]
We shall update this post with any additional information or clarification. █
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Summary: CIO, a Web site of IDG, smears Microsoft’s competition by quoting sources that are closely aligned with and/or subservient to Microsoft
AN old ‘friend’, a branch of Microsoft AstroTurfing ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’, has just reared its ugly head again with help from IDG‘s “CIO” (a misleading site name). Consumer Watchdog is not a watchdog and it’s not for consumers. IDG should know better than that by now. Consumer Watchdog is an attack dog and a front group against Google. Right now it complains that Google is not censoring enough (as if censorship is a good thing). Remember that censorship is not privacy and “Consumer Watchdog” cares only about making Google look bad, it never cared about privacy at all.
To quote the nonsense from IDG’s “CIO” site (neglecting to correctly identify the messenger): “Consumer Watchdog will file a complaint against Google with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission Tuesday, said John Simpson, director of the group’s Privacy Project. The complaint will ask the FTC to rule that Google, by declining to delete search engine links on request from U.S. residents, is an unfair business practice that violates the U.S. FTC Act.”
‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’ has a Privacy Project? That’s just hilarious. That’s would be like BP forming a “green group”. Moreover, it is hilarious that IDG covers “privacy” and pretends that it cares about the concept because CIO, for example, based on NoScript, want to run a massive number of scripts on my machine from just about thirty different domains! Holy cow! The reader is the product and browsing habits are up for sale to so many entities at the same time. The same is true for other sites of IDG (there are many of them).
“The original source of that really bad scraper site is a CIO trash opinion piece,” wrote someone to us. IDG has become complicit in lobbying and AstroTurfing, whether it realises this or not.
Another new piece of garbage came from IDG only a short while ago, quoting XenSource (Microsoft-friendly as we have shown many times in past years) as some kind of authority on FOSS. This is again mischaracterising the messenger to give the messenger undeserved credibility. That’s like calling Richard Stallman an “open core” proponent. The headline boldly states that “open source business model is a failure” and the body belatedly adds vital context to this headline: “That’s the conclusion of Peter Levine, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, the Silicon Valley venture capital firm that backed Facebook, Skype, Twitter and Box as startups. Levine is also former CEO of XenSource, a company that commercialized products based on the open source Xen hypervisor.”
“…sites that pretend to offer ‘news’ often just treat readers (audience) as the product, selling the audience to the real client (the advertiser or agenda setter).”Levine is not a truly technical person and he ignores plenty of evidence that open source as a business model works, and often works very well. A lot of people can easily claim that the proprietary software business model is inherently flawed because very few proprietary software companies sell stuff (only a few giants do). A lot of those claiming that no open source business model can work also say FOSS is sexist, racist, not secure, brings licence/liceinsing risk, etc. — the very same things that can be said about proprietary software. If only 10% of Free/libre software companies manage to survive in the long term (based on level of sustainable income) it might not be any different, statistically, from their proprietary counterparts. The company my wife and I work for does manage to make income from Free/libre software development and maintenance. This company is far from the only one in Europe and many are doing very well. Proprietary software is not a business model. Free/libre software development is not a business model either. It’s modality of distribution/development. People buy services, not zeros and ones. For IDG to publish and republish misleading headlines like “Why the open source business model is a failure” is merely to provoke. For IDG to call ‘Consumer’ ‘Watchdog’ a “privacy group” (even in the headline) and to label censorship “right to be forgotten” is to reveal sheer bias. Remember that Microsoft is a huge client of IDG (advertising, IDC contracts and so on), so maybe we oughtn’t be very shocked by that. Here is a great new example of proprietary software advertment disguised as an article. It bashes Free/libre software as a whole, too, while promoting one particular piece of proprietary software in Computer Weekly.
Watch out what you read because there is plenty of agenda on sale everywhere. Moreover, sites that pretend to offer ‘news’ often just treat readers (audience) as the product, selling the audience to the real client (the advertiser or agenda setter). That’s their business model. Very unethical. █
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Summary: Black Duck uses gullible (or easy to manipulate) journalists to spread its marketing talking points, which grossly overstate risks of using Free software
THE Microsoft-connected firm Black Duck was started as an anti-GPL entity, by its very own admission. This firm which keeps openwashing itself at every opportunity is purely proprietary and it holds patents on software. So how can one be fooled into characterising it as “the open source vendor”, as this new article does? ChannelWeb calls it “open source”. That’s like calling a demolition company “builder”. This article is basically a container of typical FUD, not checked for accuracy but just parroted, based on the vendor’s claims (trying to sell its own proprietary software): “He said 80 per cent of enterprises using open source do not know what type of open source code they have, where it is located or if there are any vulnerabilities in it – something his firm’s offering helps with.”
What about vulnerabilities in proprietary software? Many of them cannot be fixed, they are not remediable. What about proprietary software licences? Have they decided to ignore what the BSA does to British businesses?
“Black Duck is just trying to make money by scaring businesses and making them dependent on proprietary snake oil.”ChannelBiz, at the same time (also in the UK) published similar nonsense which may suggest that Black Duck is quite probably pressuring British journalists to print (or reprint) Black Duck nonsense. Here is how the latter put it: “Bland said that while nearly 80 percent of enterprise companies are using open source, a majority acknowledge that they don’t know what open source code they have, where it is located, or if it has known security vulnerabilities. And few, he said, have any open source management processes.”
Taking points again. Not even an independent study.
Black Duck is an ugly parasite that should be shunned by the Free software community. Black Duck is just trying to make money by scaring businesses and making them dependent on proprietary snake oil. █
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Indian CEO, but still bullying India, just like Steve Ballmer
Superimposing Nadella and Ballmer
Summary: Microsoft continues to bully Indian politicians who merely ‘dare’ to prefer software that India can modify, maintain, extend, audit, etc.
Back in May we wrote about Microsoft's lobbying India (both directly and by proxy) because it ended up weakening a Free software policy. Microsoft is single-handedly attacking India’s independence, albeit it is sometimes assisted/accompanied by IBM, Oracle, Cisco, etc. Microsoft is by far most prominent in this line-up because it is even eager to go public in the press, trash-talking Free software in cheeky/sleazy ways (accusing/ridiculing messengers), whereas IBM is more careful not to be seen doing that. All of these companies are hoping to water down India’s Free software-favouring policy to just about nothing, but Microsoft now has the nerve to talk trash [1, 2, 3], including a quote that led to the headline “I am a firm believer of open source, says Microsoft’s Bhaskar Pramanik” (don’t laugh yet!).
This is the most misleading headline (click-bait) we have found, possible chosen by the editor for an interview that has nothing at all to do with “open source” and was already refuted by other sources in India anyway. Here is the key part:
Q. Your comment the government almost mandating open source technologies for projects? Any response from the government to your communications?
A. I am a firm believer of open source. I feel it creates innovation and leads to lots of opportunities for new startups. But it’s not the only solution and to believe that it is the only solution for India is, which the current policy seems to imply, I think is incorrect. My position is very clear – you go anywhere in the world the policy is all about technology neutrality. I think the challenge is to make it mandatory for somebody to used open source. While the government is saying we have not made it mandatory under the optional, they have said very clearly that if you don’t use open source, you have to justify. As far as the government is concerned, in this in this day and age, which government offices is going to say otherwise. There has been no formal response from the government so far.
Basically the quote in the headline is just a preparatory lie. The truth starts after the word “but”. He basically says that “the only solution” is to maintain the status quo of being prisoner of Microsoft (India as a client state, effectively colonised in the digital sense as if it lacks engineering talent). He would have us believe that allowing proprietary lock-in with no qualms would level the competition by continuing to assure Microsoft monopoly and Free software a few scraps (if anything). Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.
“Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.”Expect Microsoft to continue to bully the government of India, directly and by proxy (as it has already done so). Given how Microsoft was caught blackmailing British politicians only months ago (while Microsoft claims to have changed), expect much of the same to be at least attempted in India. Putting in virtual charge an Indian liar in chief without tact won’t be enough for Microsoft to win back India, perhaps the world’s biggest hub of software developers. Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government is quickly eroding because truly talented developers want code, not binary blobs with BRIC-hostile back doors. █
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Image courtesy of Red Hat, demonstrating lack of correlation between severity and logos/brands
Summary: Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software
The corporate media is in the business of selling (for corporations), not informing. Advertising is the business model, as well as media ‘partnerships’ (euphemism for PR). Security firms too are in the business of selling, not informing. Misinformation often helps improve sales. We have already ranted quite a lot about media misdirection, designed to sell products or malign the competitors of those who try to sell unnecessary products. We must assume that this is happening because it has always been happening; it’s just that it got a lot more frequent now that Free/libre is more widely used.
The other day IDG published some promotion of Veracode. To quote one paragraph: “The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.”
This is not an independent security researcher; it is the Black Duck-connected Veracode (Black Duck came from Microsoft and VeraCode’s co-founder recently joined Black Duck), which overlooks security issues with proprietary software. Veracode is not an objective observer; it is trying to sell something. Sonatype too, a nasty company which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], rears its ugly head in the media, in an article provocatively titled “Open-Source Code Can Be More Dangerous Than Useful”.
So Sonatype has launched yet another FUD attack on Free software, using myths and rhetoric, capitalising on gullible ‘journalists’ who would print just about anything, along with clueless pasting of bugs with logos (for extra fear), no discussion about severe bugs in proprietary software, and many other issues. This article is relaying marketing from Sonatype and dramatises it even further. “It gets worse,” says the writer, “according to Sonatype: Many of the software companies that have built insecurities right into their products wouldn’t be able to tell which of their applications are affected by a known component flaw because of poor inventory practices.”
Well, proprietary software deliberately adds flaws to act as secret back doors. How about that in the discussion? The article totally omits that. The article then adds some talking points from the FOSS-hostile Symantec, another company which tries to sell its proprietary software based on perceptions of insecurity.
Thankfully, there are a couple of comments there (below the article) that highlight the issues with the article; both are titled “Not only open source…”
As Free/libre software becomes more mainstream we should expect more parasites like Sonatype to look out for fools who are willing to do their marketing, monetising trash-talk. █
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“Well the initial impression is how much it [Windows 7] looks like Vista. Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.”
Summary: Jack Schofield, writing for a Bill Gates-funded paper despite claiming to have retired, promotes Microsoft Office and insults all those readers who do not agree with him
Jack Schofield is no stranger to us. He rewrites the past in favour of Microsoft (facts disregarded) and has been accused of "lack of professionalism". His Microsoft boosting has become so epic that many people all around the Web refer to him as “Microsoft Jack” (we cannot claim credit for this label). He now writes in The Guardian again. He never quite retired as he had claimed ages ago. Well, unfortunately he still smokes his pipe and curses at his screen after he writes Microsoft screed.
The Guardian is a suitable (if not ideal) home for Microsoft Jack. It is paid by Bill Gates and renowned for Microsoft propaganda since these considerable (but undisclosed) payments. It’s a sham publication which refuses to even acknowledge financial dependence on ‘Sugar Daddies’ like Bill Gates, with clear impact on editorial control (so gross that ads are disguised as articles or parts of articles).
Microsoft Jack claimed to be retiring several years ago, but it was purely nonsense. He later wrote in another Microsoft propaganda rag (ZDNet) and he even continues writing for The Guardian, where bashing Microsoft’s competitors is OK (even for the same behaviour as Microsoft’s) and criticising Microsoft or Bill Gates is very rare (they are literally funding the paper).
“Microsoft Jack claimed to be retiring several years ago, but it was purely nonsense.”Some might deem it AstroTurfing, but “reading Microsoft Jack’s responses to the commenters who dare suggest Openoffice or Libreoffice is revealing,” Alex Barker wrote to me. Looking at the article in full, it reads like a Microsoft advertisement where nothing but Microsoft is even an option. The only provided option or question is, which version/edition? It’s a pretty clever way for Microsoft to disseminate propaganda (making the competition disappear, an exclusion by design), which is does a lot of at the moment, as we pointed out some days ago (the timing is strategic), alluding to some British Web sites. Some of these sites Microsoft literally subsidised in exchange for Microsoft propaganda and advertisements (e.g. Ars Technica UK).
Looking at the comments, it is clear that many readers are not interested in Microsoft Office. Readers of the papers are using and are happy to recommend Free software, but here is how Microsoft Jack responds:
I think they’re brainless trolls.
I find idiocy gets a bit wearing after the first 15 years or so
Otherwise, I wonder if there’s anything you can take for verbal diarrhea?
Stop kidding yourself. It’s because you didn’t bother to read the answer and/or some of the many comments above, which show that LibreOffice (a) is not a practical alternative and (b) it’s not cheaper
Most trolls are by now smart enough to have figured out that Microsoft Office is already free for the vast majority of UK students. And, by the way, it also works on Macs.
Otherwise, I’m not quite sure how saving £0 on Office 365 — or, at the very worst, £15 a year on Office 365 University — fits with expecting students to shell out £1,000 or so to get totally unnecessary proprietary software on an Apple-shaped dongle. I guess logic is not one of your stronger points…..
Free as in ‘free sample’, right? Microsoft Jack can only pretend that he doesn’t know how lock-in works. What happens when one is no longer a student? Well, Microsoft Jack is smart enough to know what he’s doing here. He cannot use ignorance as an excuse.
Microsoft Jack then calls Google “biggest proprietary spyware and surveillance company”. Yeah, because Chromium, ChromeOS, Android etc. are all proprietary, right? Unlike the platforms from the NSA’s #1 (first) PRISM partner, Microsoft. It is clear, based on numerous yardsticks, that Microsoft is far worse than Google, but Microsoft started high-budget PR campaigns (e.g. “Scroogled”) to convince the public otherwise and lobby politicians to cripple Google over it. Microsoft is one of the worst. The company’s managers even have security clearances with the spies. But why not blame it all on Google? This is acceptable propaganda for the Bill Gates-funded paper, which likes to accuse Google of tax evasion but not Microsoft (especially so after Gates gave a lot of money for the newspaper to look the other way while regularly planting Gates Foundation PR and endorsements across letterheads of entire sections).
Let’s press on with more insults from Microsoft Jack (accusing others of “verbal diarrhea” while it’s mostly him who has it). Let’s start with some revisionism, as Jack surely knows better than judges that dealt with Microsoft in court for many years. Here is what he wrote:
An area I followed closely, and there was no “dirty dealing,” as far as I know. Microsoft simply produced much better products
OK, so either he has bad memory or he has gone senile. It is well-documented and it is common knowledge that Microsoft resorted to “dirty dealing”. We have plenty of original documents to prove it right here in this site.
Here is some more ‘wisdom’ of Microsoft Jack:
Using the 1997-2003 file formats is mostly stupid as the newer formats are more robust, take up less space with large files (they’re zipped), and are ratified open standards.
Bribing officials makes “open standard”, according to Microsoft Jack’s lies-by-omission world. Or blackmailing British politicians perhaps [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft Office still cannot deal properly with ODF, only proprietary OOXML (its secret, ad hoc, undocumented format). Microsoft does not adhere to its own documentation. It’s all a big lie and many people foresaw that all along.
Here are some decent comments from one who refutes Microsoft Jack’s promotional article in a very polite way:
“Pity we don’t have an award for the most (clueless) trollING of the week.”
MS does NOT have the answer for everything.
MS is marketing smart. They provide ‘access’ so they can inculcate new users to their line of software. They hope that new entries will to the work place will provide an internal dynamic for future sales.
‘Popular’ software is usually the lead software that gets ‘hacked’.
Some MS stuff is good (especially with languages) and other stuff is pure doggerel. Many survive but equally many pieces of software end up in the Bit Bucket of history. MS does NOT have the answer for everything.
Much university work (thesis, research) is archived for posterity and Apps/online software gets ‘modded’ and features removed. Copy, on your own PC, is advisable.
For example, I just watched Samsung download an ‘upgrade’ that changes many OS menus to a white on blue background – a combination that is near fatal for colour-blind users.
An associate company of my employer handles orphaned archive material. They have a couple of CP/M operating system – Digital Research – computers with 8 and 5.25 inch drives. They can also read/convert WANG format disks!
And if you need some work done, their systems are booked solid for the next 5 weeks. They operate on a 24/5 basis – they need the weekends for maintenance.
Remember, university students have especial needs and ‘cloud’ is not always the best solution. This also applies to businesses.
Saving documents is plain TEXT is often the best answer almost anything can read TEXT! Even from years ago.
Skype is popular feature with GCHQ and NSA.
‘Free’ doesn’t exist. MS rarely does anything ‘free’ without an ulterior motive.
And what happens when you leave your ‘free’ domain at the conclusion of your courses?
Buy a software package that resides ON YOUR HARD DRIVE – not ‘somewhere ‘.
The problem with Office is that every Version has numerous features that few use, unless you are a type setter.
My employer has licences for 2003, 2007 and, I think 2010. Employees are free to use whatever they like.
Hands down winner is 2007 with most people using Win2003/97 as the format to save in.
As for PowerPoint, it’s clunky, inhibited and a waste of disk space. There are better, free, compatible options. But essential if interacting with the US military!
Remember, using cloud based software is fine, until you are out of InterNet range. Can’t beat software mounted on your hard drive!
Those who don’t agree with Jack, according to Jack, just “post obviously pointless trolls in a topic about Microsoft Office.”
Here are insults and generalisations: “Of course, some of that hostility could be prompted by the long-winded, self-interested piffle posted by here OO fans, who are — to put it kindly — little more than trolls in a topic devoted to Microsoft Office.
“Isn’t it odd how open source supporters are generally so lacking in social skills?”
So people who care about software freedom, open standards, or like OpenOffice are “fans…so lacking in social skills” (according to Jack). He later uses the term “OpenOffice fanboy.” So they’re all just “trolls and “fanboys”. He refers to every pro-LibreOffice comment collectively as “mostly-mindless LibreOffice comments”.
Here is another response to a commenter: “Pity we don’t have an award for the most clueless troll of the week ;-)”
Just because someone adds a recommendation of freedom-respecting alternatives doesn’t make one a “troll”. Jack gamed the debate by limiting it only to Microsoft Office (or versions of it) and then he frames anyone who goes outside the boundry of his silly game a “troll”.
He later repeats the nonsense that “Microsoft’s office formats are ratified open standards.” By bribing and bullying? Like Jack himself? He too is a bully when one confronts him. We gave examples before.
What Microsoft Jack does is unethical because he helps Microsoft get young people addicted to (locked in to) Office. It’s like the drug dealer’s mentality. “They’ll get sort of addicted,” Bill Gates explained, “and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
In the comments we can see Microsoft Jack relaying Microsoft’s FUD about Munich. He writes: “Good luck to the Germans. I hope they do better than Munich, which spent a decade trying to get rid of Office and Windows (and didn’t make it), saved no money, and probably lost a huge amount of productivity. And now it’s considering switching back….”
Not true, but Jack doesn’t care about what’s true. He calls LibreOffice a “pile of crap” (how professional a language from the man who accuses others of having “verbal diarrhea”). He says it is “slow, bug-ridden, and very imperfectly compatible with Microsoft Office” (as if being compatible with Microsoft Office with its proprietary formats is the goal). There is actually a large number of comments that recommend LibreOffice and OpenOffice. No wonder Jack feels a little marginalised and threatened/intimidated. His article is revealed as biased and unpopular among readers. Now he need to cope with it.
Jack spreads a common lie, along the lines of needing Microsoft to get a job. He writes: “There are, after all, many reasons why it makes much more sense to become proficient in Microsoft Office, such as your future employability.”
Complete nonsense. The world has moved on, so the myths like “nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft” needs a boost from the likes of Jack (for Microsoft’s sake). He also wrote: “Unless you don’t have a job and really can’t afford Office, life’s too short.”
So free software is just for the unemployed, according to Jack. Nice stigma he spreads there.
Jack also finds the time to trash-talk LATEX. He says: “They should be learning their course topics rather than, say, LaTeX…. ;-)” (actually, LATEX has several very good front ends that are easier to use than Microsoft Office). One can also hand-pick XML files to manipulate Word files, but in reality one uses front ends, right? So it’s another straw man argument from Jack. Nothing but Microsoft, not even Google’s offerings, is allowed any acceptance. Even the mention of alternatives is verboten.
Notice the update on Microsoft Jack’s ‘article’ (puff piece/ad). It’s like he’s working in coordination with Microsoft UK. He speaks to them and adds: “Microsoft UK says that students can get the full Office 365 free if their school or university has a site-licensing agreement, and that “most universities in the UK are part of the scheme”. Students can find out if they qualify by going to Office 365 and clicking the green “Find out if you’re eligible” button.”
Nice ad you got there, Microsoft Jack. Does the paymaster of the employer, The Guardian, endorse this kind of behaviour towards readers who comment? Since Bill Gates is one of the paymasters, surely the answer can be “yes”. To close off with Jack’s own words, “I handle a lot of documents from large professional companies, fancy PR agencies, pseufo-academic [sic] white papers etc.” Yes, Jack, we can tell… █
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“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”
–Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive
Summary: Remarks on the recent revelations about code and communication interceptions targeting insecurity firms and Microsoft’s claim that ‘transparency’ alone would be enough to assure security
RECENT reports about state surveillance on anti-malware/virus software (which could not detect Stuxnet, for example, making this more like snake oil) have led to the claim that Microsoft Windows cannot be made secure, not even with additional ‘security’ software. “Security by obscurity” does not work when the state can see everything and also sponsors the world’s biggest (and best funded) cybercrime operations. Windows is simply not designed to be secure and security is not the goal as the underlying design serves to prove. As Pogson put it this week:
Given That Other OS is just about everywhere and is helpless without anti-malware software, the NSA and others have studied the anti-malware software to exploit it as a back door to TOOS… Ironic, isn’t it?
Microsoft and security don’t belong in the same sentence. As FOSS Force reminds us, this NSA ally with worst of spyware uses the “transparency centers”  sham that we wrote about earlier this month. They are replacing software freedom with “transparency” nonsense. They pretend that “transparency” somehow improves security. It doesn’t.
The only way to perpetually and universally verify (by audit) the security of software, or pressure its maker/distributor to pursue genuine security at all times, is to ensure the software is Free software. Microsoft’s longtime employee (on and off for years at a time) and occasional mole inside FOSS [1, 2, 3, 4] says that Free software has not won and even uses a picture of a pig to prove it or at least make his case (crass, but typical of him). Don’t let these people shape the consensus; after the NSA leaks a lot of semi-technical people can easily understand that Free software is the only way to go. Secrecy, like secret (proprietary) code, is as trustworthy as politicians. It’s time for proprietary software to go. Backbone infrastructure sure is heading towards Free software-only (as a matter of policy), as several consortia already serve to demonstrate. It’s going to be a harsh reality for Microsoft. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Poor Microsoft. The beleaguered company just can’t catch a break. We’ve already told you about how Snowden’s revelations have forced the pride of Redmond to spend who knows how many millions opening two “transparency centers” to allow government IT experts to pore through source code to prove there’s no back doors baked into Windows or other Microsoft products. Trouble is, while its engineers have been busy plastering over all traces of old back doors, they’ve left a side door standing wide open, waiting to be exploited.
The spooks have been reverse engineering. They’ve been dismantling Karpersky’s software, searching for weaknesses. They’ve been mining sensitive data by monitoring the email chatter between Kaspersky client and server software. In other words, while IT security folks outside the U.S. have been keeping a wary eye on their Windows servers while trusting their antivirus to be a tool to help them secure the unsecurable…well, their antivirus software has been being a Trojan in the truly Homeric sense of the word.
In the meantime, Windows becomes less safe by the minute for corporations and governments hoping to keep private data private. I’m certain that Red Hat, SUSE, and even Ubuntu are taking advantage.
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