Summary: More Microsoft ties to some of the latest FUD about Free/Open Source software (FOSS)
THE OTHER day we wrote about how a company of a Microsoft veteran, OpenLogic, helped spread the familiar myth/propaganda that only FOSS has risk associated with its licences. The series of FUD continues under the banner of “FOSS Knowledge” (like “Get the Facts”) and another new article, this one citing Black Duck (Microsoft ties) and Univa [1, 2, 3], tells us that FOSS is “Eating the Software World”. The article ends with the following sentence: “The Univa report found that among users of Open Source, 75 percent have experienced some sort of problem. Businesses worry about the stability of Open Source software — whether there will be problems with how the software can be used. 25 percent of users said that they view the stability of the software as the biggest reason to pay for a support contract.”
This is FUD and several people in the FOSS world have already explained why those claims are bunk. But let the proprietary software companies just continue to tell us how the FOSS world works and embed their FUD in the media. That’s their business model. █
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Barnes and Noble: From hero to zero; Legitimising Microsoft FUD rather than challenging it, eventually selling out
Summary: The Barnes and Noble (B & N) saga continues following disclosure of a typically-NDA’d nastygram and a formal complaint to the government
There have been little concrete exhibits which show how much Microsoft profits from Android patent extortion. The figures may be negligible, but the goal of Microsoft is to discourage use of Android, not just to tax it. FUD has been a tool of choice. It’s effective to a degree, but it has hardly stopped Android’s explosive growth.
“Barnes & Noble was essentially passed a large bribe after it litigated against Microsoft’s extortion of Android (reverse-SLAPP by Microsoft).”There is this new post which attempts to quantity the cost of extortion. “Microsoft has had trouble getting people to use its Windows Phone operating systems, however, it might make as much as $3.4 billion on Android phones,” Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes.
This is based on conjectures and speculations. We oughtn’t help legitimise those. Remember the FUD about royalties allegedly paid by HTC [1, 2].
One should generally avoid certain companies not for paying Microsoft for Linux but for legitimising the claim that Linux has a debt to Microsoft. It’s a crucial point to grasp.
There is an interesting twist in the business of B & N, which we coincidentally wrote about earlier this week. “Shares of Barnes & Noble skyrocketed in early trading on Thursday after a report said Microsoft was offering $1 billion for the digital assets of the bookseller’s e-reader business.” That is what the trend-setting media says. Recall that “Microsoft already owns about 17.6 percent of the Nook division, having paid $300 million last year. According to TechCrunch, the company would seek to take over the unit’s e-books and devices operations.”
Barnes & Noble was essentially passed a large bribe after it litigated against Microsoft's extortion of Android (reverse-SLAPP by Microsoft). This was a threat to the perceived legitimacy of the extortion, so Microsoft paid up for the silence. Corruption indeed. Followed by coverup. There is not much for B & N to gain except money and in fact it continues to sell Android devices, not Windows. We showed it earlier in the week. Microsoft may already be extorting those devices through complicated-to-analyse extortion deals which target the manufacturer.
Swapnil Bhartiya, writing about AstroTurfing by Microsoft (“perception management”), has this to say: “The amount of resources Microsoft is investing in PR stunts – whether it be bogus patent signing deals with Android players (which could be about things like FAT partitions – B&N case already showed that all of Microsoft’s accusations were bogus and bluff and that’s why the company settled out side the court just before it moved forward and ‘paid’ B&N in the name of ‘investment) or these ad campaigns. The amount of experience Microsoft is gaining in smear campaigns Microsoft may actually have a better career as a video ad company than a software maker.”
Fortunately, the three Android tablets that my parents and I use are not part of the patent extortion blanket of Microsoft. Vote with your wallet and never buy anything at all from Barnes and Noble. it’s the only way for your voice to count. █
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Summary: Misinformation and selective reporting on software risks sometimes come from Microsoft-tied firms
There seems to have been a growing level of deception/reality distortion field, seeking to establish a consensus that FOSS is dangerous to adopt (security and compliance are the two strands). This distortion of the truth, or accentuation of perceived pitfalls, is nothing new. The recent growth, however, is noteworthy. Maybe it is proportional to the growth of FOSS, which is viewed as an opportunity for proprietary software houses like Black Duck to cash in on. Not just Microsoft-connected entities are part of this (Black Duck is Microsoft-connected in several ways). Lesser known firms, White Source and others, are starting to show up. We do not know the professional background of the managers there, but none of these firms can be described as FOSS-oriented.
“This distortion of the truth, or accentuation of perceived pitfalls, is nothing new.”Univa and Sonatype are some of the examples we named more recently because they helped generate FOSS-hostile coverage using the ‘risk’ theme. I saw about 4 such articles in the past 2 weeks (omitting stories about the same topic), which is far more than the average. I’ve watched this closely for almost a decade.
IDG repeatedly posted (in several sites) some article which cites/references/promotes OpenLogic, a company run by a Microsoft veteran who started it. It also quotes him and describes his ventures as follows: “Steven Grandchamp has seen companies face serious problems because of lax oversight of open-source software.”
“A lot of information about FOSS these days is being manufactured by proprietary entities, some of which are founded and run by people from Microsoft.”So he worked for Microsoft and then decided to change careers to focus on proprietary software which makes FOSS look bad. The proprietary code analysers are being openwashed by stating that they are being used on FOSS and one report about it says: “The service, which began as the largest public-private sector research project focused on open source software integrity, was initiated between Coverity and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006 and is now managed by Coverity.”
Coverity is not a foe of FOSS and much of its output has been favourable to FOSS. However, let us not lose sight of motives, which are quite independent from truth. A lot of information about FOSS these days is being manufactured by proprietary entities, some of which are founded and run by people from Microsoft. Opportunism? That might be an understatement. They mostly legitimise the fiction that proprietary software comes with no risk (e.g. licenses expiration, projects dying, going the wrong way), whereas it’s FOSS — only FOSS — that involves high risk. █
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Scaring home and business users who explore Free/Open Source Software (FOSS)
Summary: A Zeitgeist of FOSS hostility, with strong links to proprietary software and sometimes to Microsoft too
WHEN SOMEONE invests time and effort collecting data with which to demonise FOSS, one should expect a lot of output (publication) effort to follow. Attention whore Florian Müller would know the feeling as it’s about driving business (lobbying), not pushing a point of view. It did not take Xuxian Jiang (and some colleagues) too long to rear that ugly heads again, pretending that Android has a big malware (or even “virus”) issue, mischaracterising the system under the flawed assumption that anti-virus is needed at all (this myth is being spread to salespeople too). Watch this article and notice that the authors are never named. Some worked for Microsoft. Isn’t that relevant? They are overlooking the real problem, Microsoft Windows, instead picking on Android. It is noteworthy that ISPs start disconnecting customers for using Microsoft Windows, based on this new story which says:
A few days ago I talked with a young woman whose ISP had notified her of disconnection if she did not take care of her malware spamming the network. Over the phone we discovered that she had managed to install an anti-virus application but had not even her firewall running… She did not need this stress during the last couple of weeks of her school year.
This is not FUD but a real issue associated with Windows, and only Windows. Speaking of the FUD business, recently we compared Univa to Black Duck, which came from Microsoft and liaised with Microsoft. We see a similar pattern in this proprietary software sympathiser (Sonatype) which spreads security-themed FUD about FOSS. A FOSS-hostile site [1, 2] covered it as follows:
Sonatype’s annual survey of 3,500 software developers and shows struggle in setting corporate policy on open source and enforcing it
Last but not least, see this proprietary software player contributing to FOSS FUD:
CAST Software is a software analysis and measurement firm that uses an automated approach to capture and quantify the reliability, security, complexity and size of business applications. A main company objective is increasing software assurance around reliability and security of applications delivered to the U.S. government.
CAST is proprietary, like all the above. How come they get a near-monopoly on information regarding FOSS? We must work hard to prevent the proprietary software business taking over the voice of FOSS [1, 2]. █
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Summary: Black Duck and now Univa too are making FUD part of their business model
A COMPANY called Univa is not new on the block (there is a Novell connection) and its proprietary software products are not new either. But it recently paid to smear FOSS (Free/Open Source Software) for the sake of making some sales, and that is just not ethical. Here are some resultant articles:
The survey was commissioned by Univa, which develops automation and management tools for data centers. The company is thus not a completely neutral player when it comes to managing demand for better support services for open source platforms (although the survey itself was conducted by an independent organization).
While nearly all businesses are using some kind of open source software at this point, the bulk also report having issues with open source programs. Problems which can lead to down time and lost revenue for businesses.
What we basically have here is Univa paying for some third party to say negative things about FOSS, which is supposed to result in press coverage that channels frightened readers to Univa, which offers proprietary software. This is the same business model as Black Duck‘s; just the other day we saw this press release [1, 2] and resultant coverage where Black Duck is trying to gain position of authority in the FOSS community (“Future Of Open Source Survey” is a Microsoft/Black Duck thing [1, 2]), despite having nothing to do with FOSS, just like Univa. Don’t let proprietary software-centric and FOSS-exploiting entities control information and data about FOSS. They would love to do just that. They monetise ill-acquired authority. █
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Wave of GNU/Linux scare-mongering
Summary: Percoco chooses to chastise Linux over security issues, even though upon pressure he admits that he is not aware of any particular issues
Recently we saw some remarkable GNU/Linux FUD coming from Trustwave [1, 2, 3], which is a Microsoft pal. Watch this new article which says: “eSecurity Planet met up with Nicholas Percoco, senior VP at Trustwave SpiderlLabs, during the RSA conference last week to discuss the state of PaaS security. Percoco specifically took aim at the Red Hat OpenShift PaaS in his demo, though he cautioned that OpenShift is not necessarily vulnerable.”
Why did he pick Red hat as his target? Sounds like deliberate FUD. The author is the article is a Linux proponent, so with the above interview he helped show what we consider to be selective criticism. Trustwave works with Microsoft, so it would not be smart for it to say negative things about Windows. THis is not a sole example of such FUD patterns. █
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Summary: ‘Security’-themed FUD against Red Hat is back, despite the fact that Microsoft admits gaming the numbers it uses to make its case
LAST WEEK we saw Trustwave, a Microsoft partner [1, 2], spreading some Linux FUD and there is still dissemination of this Linux FUD in Web sites which seem not to know the background and instead go by press releases (lazy ‘journalism’). To quote this one example which was found yesterday:
According to a recent report by the security firm Trustwave: Vulnerabilities in the Linux kernel fixed in 2012 went unpatched for more than two years on average, more than twice as long as it took to fix unpatched flaws in current Windows Operating Systems.
No, Microsoft uses the strategy of hidden patches to game the numbers, which is possible because Windows is proprietary (hidden source code). Those claims should be dismissed and the Microsoft partner treated with extreme suspicion. When Microsoft talks about “security” it does not mean real security (see what Torvalds said) but about financial security for Microsoft. UEFI is a good example of the misuse of the word security, which is more about making it inconvenient to use GNU/Linux (Dedoimedo is the latest to address the subject). █
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Pointing the finger at the real culprit
Summary: Spin regarding UEFI and complicity among some has been responsible for tarnishing the name of Microsoft’s competition (Linux), not just suppress or altogether block its adoption
Linux developers who are serving Microsoft’s agenda with UEFI restricted boot are typically former Novell staff. These are people who in the past too worked on Microsoft software, interjecting Microsoft agenda into Linux because Microsoft was paying Novell for it.
This damaging work is reinforcing the weird notion of “Windows 8 PCs”, as if hardware should no longer be software-agnostic, even on desktops. A more reasonable response would have been an antitrust complaint, not legitimisation of anti-competitive practices that brick hardware. A FOSS basher and occasional Microsoft booster writes about it as though it’s good news, leading others to parrot the official line that has Microsoft controlling the platform, containing the competition (Linux).
We should really be smarter about it. Once Microsoft controls Linux at boot time it can abuse Linux at will. Here is a memorable lesson from WordPerfect, which had to depend on Windows (needless to say, Windows clearly discriminated against WordPerfect). The trial still goes on and here is the latest:
It’s going to be David Boies himself speaking for Novell in the Novell v. Microsoft WordPerfect antitrust appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
The basis of this antitrust trial is, Microsoft used its API control (similar to restricted boot control) to penalise and suppress WordPerfect. UEFI restricted boot enables similar abuse of power, so pundits who give their opinions about it should take into account Microsoft’s historical behaviour. Dr. Garrett too should be aware that his work is helping Microsoft, more recently generating coverage like this or this, blaming Samsung rather than Microsoft (which masterminded the whole thing) after it helped generate negative publicity for Linux, the kernel (later it turned out that Linux [can be] acquitted in Samsung laptop UEFI deaths). Sure, Samsung is Ballnux (Microsoft-taxed Linux) anyway, so it oughtn’t be endorsed, but with coverage like this we lose sight of the real culprit. Microsoft is guilty for shoving this nonsense down OEMs’ throats and the Linux Foundation’s endorsement for Microsoft’s tactics is in no way helpful. More fiascos are surely on their way and we must remember to blame the company which pushed for it, not those who failed to follow orders from Redmond. █
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