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11.28.14

Mozilla Will Relay Firefox User Input (Even Keystrokes) to Microsoft and the NSA Through Yahoo in the US

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Search at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The fall of the Gecko (Mozilla)

Gecko

Summary: Mozilla is letting Microsoft manage users’ data in Firefox, including keystrokes in the address bar

TECHRIGHTS has published plenty of pro-Mozilla and pro-Firefox articles over the years. Speaking for myself, I have posted literally thousands of pro-Firefox links over the past decade as I viewed Firefox as the software that rescued the Web from Microsoft’s monopoly and iron grip. It was Firefox that had Web developers cease their Internet Explorer-only mentality (or dogma). It is with deep regrets that I have to revoke my support for Firefox, not just because of its treatment of Eich, the company’s pro-DRM apologists, the ads, and now the privacy compromises. This post is an accumulation of a fortnight of sad news about Mozilla. The saddest thing is that Mozilla does not view this as sad news, or at least doesn’t want the public to view it that way.

Let us agree that the relationship between surveillance and ads is a close one, but one must not be treated as interchangeable with the other. This post is not a rant about ads, which to be realistic is truly a growing business model, especially on the Web. That alone is not the problem. This post is also not provocation or trolling but the expression of genuine concern for a project and a company I have loved and wish to still love (if they rectify their act, despite the seemingly irrevocable nature of some recent moves).

The Ads

Ads are not the main problem with Mozilla, even though it sure helps discredit Free software projects like Fedora, so Fedora is planning to dump Firefox (except if one installs it from the repositories). Free software does not go well with ads (Linux Mint received flak for a controversial approach to such a business model), so it is not too shocking that Fedorans are unhappy with the move. This serves to show that Mozilla’s appeal to advertisers is in fact backfiring. They’re losing market share that way. As Internet News put it, “Fedora Linux [is] Set to Abandon Firefox over Advertising Issue”. Not everyone has a problem with ads, especially when these can be blocked. As one pro-GNU/Linux and BSD site put it: “That Sponsored Tiles program from Mozilla, which I first wrote about in Mozilla to sell ads in Firefox browser via the Directory Tiles program, has gone live.”

One might have to download a cutting-edge build to see it. Again, it’s not the ads that we’re worried about.

The NSA

Putting aside the fact that spies use ads for surveillance (a good example might be something along the lines of Angry Birds), the NSA sure works very closely with Microsoft. It’s a strong relationship that goes back to the 1990s. A lot of people, perhaps influenced by Microsoft’s massive (multi-million) anti-Google PR campaign, look the other way and accuse only Google of privacy violations in search, E-mail etc. There is news right now that says Google allows privacy for a fee (or at least removal of privacy-infringing ads). It’s a substitute for the ads business model. To quote the Romania-based SoftPedia: “Google is always looking to diversify its online advertising policy and you might think that there is little left to do in this regard. It appears that Google has found yet another way to monetize ads, both for itself and for the website, but this time the power rests in the users’ hands.”

That is actually a good thing, no matter how Microsoft’s anti-Google PR tries to spin it.

Then comes the news about Mozilla breaking up with Google despite the fact that “Mozilla gets more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google” (which was a good thing, as it helped fund Free software).

One longtime Firefox observer wrote that “Firefox maker remains ‘utterly confident’ as revenue growth sputters”. What are they so confident about? Firefox has been Google-reliant for quite some time; it’s no secret. To remove that reliance one needs to find hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (or otherwise shrink considerably). What other than selling out to the “devil we don’t know” (or the devil we do know in the case of Microsoft) can possibly achieve that? Thunderbird already sold its users out in that horrible way by linking to Microsoft (“Bing”) just before Mozilla abandoned Thunderbird development. Firefox is now going down a similar route, putting aside attempts to raise donations (now in Bitcoin form, too). According to this article, Mozilla was really loaded with money up until now. A reader of ours asked us: “What is the money spent on? Not Thunderbird or Firefox, obviously.”

Marketing, or perhaps even face-saving projects, used up much of the budget, not important projects (with PGP support) such as Thunderbird. As Mozilla had hundreds of millions of dollars coming in, the old excuses about not maintaining Thunderbird because people use GMail (PRISM) are utter nonsense. Yes, when Mozilla stopped Thunderbird development (with easy-to-use PGP support through Enigmail) it said people were moving to to hosted mail (PRISM/NSA), naming GMail by name. Guess who bankrolled Mozilla at the time…

Either way, the problem with the move away from Google is that Mozilla now actively helps a sworn enemy of FOSS and GNU/Linux (ignore the PR nonsense about Microsoft “loving” Linux and other such self-serving lies that we debunked last month and earlier this month). In addition there’s the privacy factor, but it’s not the main point. “Why Mozilla is scared of Google” was one headline of interest and the respective article said: “For the last 10 years, Google has had that business almost entirely to itself. Every time you make a search through that bar, Google makes a little bit of money from ads and passes a piece of that money on to the browser through AdSense’s revenue sharing deal. That adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars for companies like Mozilla, but the money can produce some strange incentives. Google’s making a browser too, and it may not want to support Chrome’s competitors forever. Suddenly, the short-term money starts to look like a long-term liability.”

But Microsoft makes a Web browser too. There’s no point using “Chrome” as a reason for Mozilla to fear Google but not Microsoft, which makes the much worse and standards-hostile Internet Explorer that Windows imposes on PC buyers. Chrome is at least based on Free software (which Chormium is), whereas Internet Explorer is purely proprietary. Firefox can reuse code from Chrome.

According to this article, things are getting worse with the shift to Microsoft because Mozilla now lets Microsoft log keystrokes in the address bar (see the screenshot). How ridiculous is that (even if that behaviour can be disabled)? Very sad.

One pundit says that “despite losing Google as its cash cow, Mozilla isn’t dead yet”, noting: “Its Google advertising contract was coming to an end. With 90 percent of Mozilla’s income coming from Google, it was far from good news. With the contract ending in November, and no reason for Google to renew the deal with its Chrome Web browser success, things were looking dark as an overcast, moonless night for Mozilla.”

So what? Moving to Microsoft (through Yahoo) is not independence, it’s even worse than before. Mozilla cannot assert independence by becoming dependent on Microsoft and the NSA through Yahoo. Microsoft is not “Choice and Innovation” (as Mozilla tries to frame it), it’s espionage and blackmail (with patents). The company’s head said: “In evaluating our search partnerships, our primary consideration was to ensure our strategy aligned with our values of choice and independence”

Microsoft?

Choice?

Independence?

That’s a joke, right?

Yahoo is now just a front end of “Bing” (in the US, where the Mozilla deal was signed for), so we might as well just speak about Microsoft here, not Yahoo (the covert façade). If Mozilla continues to sell out its users, now by diverting users’ searches to Microsoft (via Yahoo) like Canonical tried several years ago, then we as users need to speak out. The boosters of the monopolist, people like Microsoft Peter, sure love this deal. It is good for Microsoft.

It’s Not About Yahoo, It’s Microsoft

Mozilla has clearly learned nothing about Ubuntu’s mistake with Yahoo — a mistake that was realised later and the plan undone. As Lirodon put it in our IRC channels, “Microsoft’s Yahoo-branded front-end of Bing is going to be Firefox’s new default search engine,” but we do not see enough people willing to chastise Mozilla over this. Microsoft only (by default) is not “multiple-search-partner” as LWN put it, and this should be rather clear. Putting aside the DRM, the ads and other controversies and scandals, this is quite serious and merely the latest step. It is just one among other misguided decisions that turned a once-awesome company into a one that compromises and even abandons principles, hopelessly thinking it would help it gain market share rather than the very opposite.

Sam Dean wrote about this deal and recalled that Mozilla “has historically gotten more than 90 percent of its revenues from Google, to the tune of $300 million recently, in exchange for search placement in the Firefox browser. That has completely changed, and now Mozilla has struck a similar five-year deal with Yahoo.”

5 years being stuck with Microsoft. And they probably cannot even revoke this deal. It’s similar to the 5-year (since 2006) Microsoft-Novell deal (also irrevocable, despite huge amounts of criticism). Some years ago Mozilla put some pressure on Google by flirting with the idea of a Microsoft deal. Can Google perhaps still save Mozilla from this horrible dependency? Press reports make that seem unlikely and few articles even point out that Yahoo is a relay for Microsoft (US searches done purely by Microsoft, meaning that Yahoo search is essentially just “Bing” in the US), after a corruptions parade and a corporate coup. Those who are implying that Google is in Yahoo because of the CEO (see the sneaky remarks about the CEO) must not have followed recent events closely enough. To quote one take on this:

It had been reported that Google and Mozilla were still negotiating on renewing their deal, but apparently that has failed (in the U.S) at least. No word (yet) on how much the Yahoo deal is worth to Mozilla, but it’s likely a good deal for Yahoo.

No, for Microsoft. Yahoo searches in the US are Microsoft’s business.

Christine Hall wrote:

There’s just one teeny-tiny little problem. For the last several years, Yahoo has been obtaining its search results from Bing, owned by Microsoft, with no indication this will change. I’m not exactly sure how the Microsoft/Yahoo deal works, but you can be sure that some money goes to Redmond each and every time a search is done via the web portal, something that many FOSS supporters might find unacceptable.

She is right. If only more people got this story right, perhaps there would be an uproar big enough and Mozilla would cancel the Microsoft (through Yahoo!) deal. Tell Mozilla what you think; get this mess undone before it’s too late and even incorporated into new stable releases.

11.10.14

When Courts in the US Attack the Right to Reuse APIs

Posted in Courtroom, Google, Oracle, Patents at 4:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Challenging the clueless ruling from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the United States (very pro-software patents and anti-computer science), notable programmers write to the highest court

The SCOTUS and CAFC don’t often agree about patents. One possible (and commonly named) explanation is that the CAFC is inherently corrupt after patent maximalists got hold of positions of power, whereupon hid their conflicts of interest. CAFC, especially in its current form, should not be allowed to exist. It’s rogue.

Ruling in favour of Oracle, CAFC recently made copyrights on APIs a dangerous precedent and computer scientists are rightly fuming, seeing how a bunch of ignorant lawyers make a mockery of anyone who understands how computers work. As IDG put it:

Computer scientists have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision that Java APIs, the specifications that let programs communicate with each other, can be copyrighted.

In a dispute between Oracle and Google, the 77 scientists argue that the free and open use of the application programming interfaces has been both routine and essential in the computer industry since its beginning, and depended on the “sensible assumption” that APIs and other interfaces were not copyrightable.

“When Google wrote its program-interface (API) for Android, the company made a strategic decision to mimic the method call structure of Java,” writes Dennis Crouch under a misleading headline. “In the Copyright [CAFC] lawsuit,” explains Crouch, “the district court held that the API method headers were not protectable under copyright. However, the Federal Circuit reversed on appeal — finding the Java API taxonomy copyrightable as a whole. In particular, the appellate panel led by Judge O’Malley rejected the idea/expression merger doctrine since there are many other ways that functionally equivalent method-calls could have been constructed besides those found in Java. “Merger cannot bar copyright protection for any lines of declaring source code unless Sun/Oracle had only one way, or a limited number of ways, to write them.””

Anyone with a bit of a clue about programming (which makes about every patent lawyers or judge unsuitable to comment) can say that this is a ridiculous case with pretty much no basis at all. Many famous computer scientists have already written to the Court about this. As TechDirt put it:

Perhaps the most interesting was put together by the EFF, and was signed by 77 computer scientists, including many of the most well-known and most respected computer scientists around, including Hal Abelson, Brian Behlendorf, Ward Cunningham, Peter Deutsch, David Dill, Dave Farber, Ed Felten, Mitch Kapor, Alan Kay, Brian Kernighan, Guido van Rossum, Avi Rubin, Bruce Schneier and Bjarne Stroustrup among others. There are a lot more, obviously, but those were just a few of the names that stood out.

Perhaps realising that fellow OIN members and Android users can attack Android itself, Google has meanwhile signed this defensive deal with LG:

LG Electronics and Google sign a 10-year cross-licensing agreement that gives Google access to wearable device patents while encouraging LG to continue marketing Android mobile devices.

Android is by far the best selling platform right now, so no wonder it comes under fire. Since it is inherently Open Source (AOSP) and even Free software for the most part (it uses and contributes to Linux), we do care about this case a great deal and will keep on following it as a matter of priority.

11.01.14

Microsoft Still Engages in Criminal Activities Against Linux, Openwashing Efforts Continue Nonetheless

Posted in Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 5:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell coupons

Image from Wikimedia

Summary: Microsoft collusion with patent extortion (as in the early days of the Microsoft-Novell deal) continues to this date, reveals Samsung

MICROSOFT must be in a state of panic. It does irrational things, like a stranded criminal. Microsoft's lie about 'loving' Linux was facing sheer resistance from FOSS luminaries because the lie is just outrageous beyond words]. It is the very inversion of the truth and it is as ridiculous as saying that BP loves Shell and Shell loves BP, to give just one hypothetical example. It makes no sense at all, so why does Microsoft bother trying?

This new article titled “Samsung says Microsoft deal invites ‘charges of collusion’: filing” has been rather fascinating. Microsoft is apparently ‘loving’ Linux so much that it colludes against it. Well, will Nadella go to prison? Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer perhaps? What silly questions! Rich people don’t get sent to prison for rich people’s (white-collar) crimes. Microsoft pretends to “love” Linux while quite clearly attacking it, still. Android uses the Linux kernel, just as a reminder.

“This is beyond extortion. It’s an antitrust violation and even collusion/corruption.”To quote the article: “Samsung said its collaboration with Microsoft on Windows phones raised antitrust problems once Microsoft completed its acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, according to a court filing.”

So here we have a criminal company using collusion and abuses under the guise and cover of NDAs. As SJVN put it in his blog: “Samsung fires another shot at Microsoft in Android patent battle”

SJVN’s argument is that “[t]his move came as no surprise to lawyers who’ve been following the case. One intellectual property (IP) attorney whose firm is covering the case closely said that Samsung is simply adding another argument to their contention that their existing Microsoft Android patent deal is invalid on business contract grounds.

“According to Reuters, Samsung said it agreed to pay Microsoft Android patent license royalties in 2011, but the deal also stated that Samsung would develop Windows phones and share confidential business information with Microsoft. If Samsung were to sell a certain number of Windows phones, then Microsoft would reduce the Android royalty payments.”

This is beyond extortion. It’s an antitrust violation and even collusion/corruption. Will criminal charges be brought against anyone? Will anyone in government bother trying to press charges? Not likely.

As Mr. Pogson put it the other day, Windows is in very serious trouble and therefore Microsoft is too. GNU/Linux, on the other hand, keeps growing, especially in smaller devices such as phones and tablet, notably owing to Android. To quote Pogson’s conclusion:

So, XP is dead, “7” is dying, “8” is a zombie, and “10” is vapourware with nowhere to call home. M$ continues layoffs. POOF! It all falls down. In the meantime Google and the OEMs will crank out many millions of ChromeBooks. Canonical, Linpus, RedHat, Suse… and the OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux PCs. Several OEMs will crank out many millions of GNU/Linux thin clients. Android/Linux will reverberate with another billion or so units of small cheap computers(tablets, smartphones). This looks like good news to me.

Yes, well, Microsoft too realises that Linux is winning, so it is left with either the option to demonise it or to monetise it, e.g. through hosting or patent extortion. In a sense, Microsoft needs Linux more than Linux needs Microsoft. Linux needs none of Microsoft. All that Microsoft does is commit crimes against Linux, so Linux proponents can only hope for total elimination of Microsoft.

There are layoffs at Microsoft, as Pogson pointed out, and this includes salespeople. To quote Value Walk: “According to knowledgeable sources who spoke to Business Insider on Friday, October 31st, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is laying off its entire global advertising sales team. The reduction in force comes as the ad sales positions have become largely redundant as individual divisions are handling their own ad sales today.”

Here again we see that these layoffs were not about Nokia. Microsoft tried hard to paint that sort of picture to save face.

When it comes to Microsoft, the more layoffs, the merrier. This company destoryed many jobs using its crimes and these sorts of crimes clearly continue to this date. In a sense, GNU and Linux won’t be safe until Microsoft is totally gone.

10.20.14

Is It Google’s Turn to Head the USPTO Corporation?

Posted in America, Google, IBM, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Michelle Lee
Photo from Asian Pacific Fund

Summary: The industry-led USPTO continues to be coordinated by some of its biggest clients, despite issues associated with conflicting interests

IT IS no longer just rumour or suspicion that USPTO nominates Lee as new director. This is possibly going to result in an appointment, showing us yet again that corporate stewards are truly in charge of the government, not just in the United States. Industrial bodies are full of “revolving door”-type scenarios and altercations.

This probably is not as bad as nominating Philip Johnson (it didn't go down well) or David Kappos from IBM (both big and vocal proponents of software patents), but it’s still not a good thing, either. As we showed in past years, Google had hired many patent lawyers rather than fight software patents; Michelle Lee may therefore be part of the problem. Not much is known about her to Wikipedia. He career at Google was very short (going back to when Google hired patent lawyers) and her career before this is not even mentioned. We wrote about her when she was appointed and even in 2012 when sources said she might lead a Silicon Valley patent office (hence software patents). According to a USPTO press releases, “Lee worked as a computer scientist at Hewlett-Packard” (a proponent of software patents). But much of the private sector stuff is usually omitted. To quote this press release: “Prior to becoming Director of the Silicon Valley USPTO, Lee served two terms on the USPTO’s Patent Public Advisory Committee, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Commerce Secretary and serve to advise the USPTO on its policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees.”

A site that acts as a CCIA front (as well as CCIA itself) and which wrote about her before has worked with Google and for Google, so no wonder it endorses Michelle Lee. CCIA is more concerned about patent trolls but not about abuse by its members (such as Microsoft), so it continues to treat only small abusive companies as the problem, e.g. for lack of evidence. Here is what the CCIA front said:

The White House announced yesterday that it’s nominating current Deputy Director Michelle Lee to be Director of the USPTO. By all accounts, she’s done a good job during a difficult time at the USPTO. This is definitely a smart move by the Administration.

How about appointing someone who is not supporting software patents and has not come from companies that accumulate software patents? Well, that might be too “revolutionary” for the USPTO and for the White House to do.

10.13.14

SCOTUS May Soon Put an End to the ‘Copyrights on APIs’ Question While Proprietary Giants Continue to Harass Android/Linux in Every Way Conceivable

Posted in Google, Oracle, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Google takes its fight over API freedom to the Supreme Court in the Unites States and it also takes that longstanding patent harassment from the Microsoft- and Apple-backed troll (Rockstar) out of East Texas

“Google makes a series of compelling points in its petition,” writes Simon Phipps in relation to Google’s defence against Oracle (SCOracle, continuing the tradition of SCO’s copyrights misrepresentation). Google has found some material errors in interpretation of laws/cases, citing the corrupt CAFC with its utterly ridiculous ruling that we covered at the time. “These points alone seem strong to me,” says Phipps, “[b]ut Google also says CAFC has made a serious error that ignores the precedent of earlier SCOTUS decisions and violates the distinction between copyright and patent as monopolies.

“On the first point, Google refers back to the SCOTUS Lotus v Borland case in 1996. Google points out that “methods of operation embodied in computer programs are not entitled to copyright protection,” then asserts that the Java class APIs are a method of operating the Java class implementations. Since Android’s implementations of the Java APIs are Google’s original work, the company claims copyright does not apply.”

Oracle in the mean time is grabbing some talent from Google and it is not yet clear if there will be a SCOTUS case (the request for appeal may be denied). It is clear that CAFC does not understand software APIs or maybe it is just too corrupt (which becomes an accepted view these day), so this appeal has merit. As Pogson explained: “Copyright should not apply to other’s works. If you write software to work with some API, no other authour should be able to forbid that or to tax that. Yet, that’s what Oracle wants to do and they found a lower court that agreed with that despite that being an illegal extension of copyright to others’ work. Stranger still, Java is FLOSS…”

Here is some of the earliest coverage:

The legal fracas started when Google copied certain elements—names, declaration, and header lines—of the Java APIs in Android, and Oracle sued. A San Francisco federal judge largely sided with Google in 2012, saying that the code in question could not be copyrighted. But the federal appeals court reversed, and ruled that the “declaring code and the structure, sequence, and organization of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection.

This goes beyond patents and into copyrights on ideas/words. Oracle should not be allowed to win this as the is not just about Android but about software development in general.

Do remember that Oracle is in a pact with Microsoft and Apple when it comes to patents. They share control over CPTN, which is made out of Novell’s patents. There is a similar arrangement around Rockstar, which also involves Apple and Microsoft (Apple, Microsoft, Ericsson, RIM and Sony is the complete list). Joe Mullin says that Rockstar too is still harassing Google (Android) and Google has just managed to take the lawsuit of of the capital of trolls, East Texas:

It’s been nearly one year since Rockstar Consortium, a patent holding company owned in part by Microsoft and Apple, launched a major patent assault against Google. Now, the issue of where the case will be heard has finally been resolved—in Google’s favor.

Google took the case to the nation’s top patent court to get it out of East Texas and back to its home state, California. The matter of venue isn’t a mere sideline skirmish. East Texas courts are generally considered tough on patent defendants, with few cases resolving on summary judgment, stringent discovery rules, and last-minute scheduling decisions. Google’s Texas case was scheduled to be heard in front of US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap, who hears far more patent cases than any other district court judge in the nation.

The war against Android is a big deal for those of us who care about Free software and GNU/Linux. Let’s not lose sight of the fight against this kind of abuse. Public apathy helps crooked judges and abusive companies like Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple.

09.03.14

Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jailed cats

Summary: Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition

OVER THE years we have covered very many examples of Microsoft crimes; it was rare to see Microsoft executives going to prison and when they were sent to prison — which did occasionally happen — it usually wasn’t for their activities inside Microsoft. It is abundantly clear that the company attracts anti-social people who are knowingly and consciously applying for a job in a company that's widely recognised for crimes and abuses.

Techrights is not unique with its views regarding Microsoft. We often agree with people like Robert Pogson who now says that “Admits Defeat” and shows that, based on this report, “Microsoft has recently reduced the number of chassis suppliers for its Surface tablets and is now outsourcing all the orders to Ju Teng. Microsoft stopped placing chassis orders with its China-based supplier in August, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.”

These products have been an utter failure in the market. Microsoft loses a lot of money on them. Microsoft would even sell them at a loss just to ensure that it can somehow impede the competition’s growth. Known as negative pricing, this strategy is illegal, especially for monopolists. Microsoft even resorted to bribes and technical sabotage, licensing restrictions (anti-competitive) and other means. Microsoft is more focused on destroying the competition itself than actually producing decent products.

We are saddened to see that a lot of the corporate press, which is often funded by Microsoft one way or another, continues blaming GNU/Linux for lack of growth (or for very slow growth) on the desktop. This biased media would conveniently ignore explosive leaks about Microsoft’s abuses — leaks which are publicly available. The corporate press likes blaming GNU/Linux itself, pretending that Free software has inherent technical issues or usability issues. As GNU/Linux does not have a vast marketing budget like Apple’s, the media can actually get away with it, too. Repetition leads almost to a complete acceptance, even by the victimised (learned hopelessness). It becomes challenging to challenge. Journalists in corporate press will therefore carry on bashing GNU/Linux rather than discussing all the sabotage directed against its adoption, including the latest in Munich.

Pogson has just put together a compact list of Microsoft’s abuses against GNU/Linux adoption and the adoption of competition in general, starting with:

M[icrosoft] has deliberately violated the laws of competition in USA and elsewhere repeatedly, systematically and with malice. They are out to get us. At first they got an exclusive deal with IBM to get their foot in the door, piggybacking on IBM’s branding with business, then they demanded exclusive deals with ISVs and manufacturers, then they punished any manufacturer who stepped out of line and installed competing products, then they created an endless chain of incompatible file-format changes and created whole industries based on the existence of overly complex secret protocols and finally forced the world to accept a closed standard as an open standard… That whole burden has served to render IT more expensive to own and to operate and much more fragile than it should be just on technical merits.

Based on this new article by Swapnil Bhartiya, dumping (selling at a loss) continues to be somewhat of a strategy at Microsoft. As he puts it: “Microsoft is taking a page from its history to counter Chromebooks, an increasing threat to Microsoft’s PC market. They are getting their hardware partners to flood the market with ‘cheap‘ netbooks to combat Google’s Chromebooks. We earlier reported HP’s plans to bring really cheap netbook and now ASUS is also joining the rag-race.”

The funny thing is that Microsoft spent so much time and money on negative advertising, slinging mud at Chromebooks for being too cheap to be workable. Here we have Microsoft putting itself in the same cage it used to rattle, as if it chalked around some carcass and is now laying itself right within the chalk’s boundaries.

One day, one can only hope, Microsoft will get sued severely for its anti-Google tactics and its anti-GNU/Linux tactics. For now it still seems like Microsoft has greased up (i.e. bribed) enough politicians to make itself immune to much-deserved prosecution.

08.27.14

FUD Against Google and FOSS Security Amid Microsoft Windows Security Blunders

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Security at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: In the age of widespread fraud due to Microsoft Windows with its back doors there is an attempt to shift focus to already-fixed flaws/deficiencies in competitors of Microsoft

A Microsoft Windows (exclusively) infection is having a colossal impact on businesses right now, but corporate press coverage fails to name Windows [1, 2, 3], not to mention any possibility of blaming it. The name of an operating system is only mentioned for negative news when it’s not Windows. This is typical and it matches a pattern we have covered her under the “call out Windows” banner. IDG, the liars’ den, put it like this:

The Target data breach was one of the largest in recent memory, resulting in tens of millions of credit and debit cards being compromised. In the last couple of weeks, SuperValu said that at least 180 of its stores had been hit by a data breach and earlier this week UPS said 51 of it UPS Store locations had been hit.

We wrote about this last week because Windows was not being named, despite it being a critical part of this scenario. Instead, there was deflection to FOSS. It helped distract from Windows, which is insecure by design. It is an architectural problem because since 15 years ago, by some estimates, Windows has been a back doors carrier (for the NSA). Here is one British writer complaining about the approach Microsoft takes to composition as well:

In August last year, one-time-sysadmin and now SciFi author Charles Stross declared Microsoft Word ”a tyrant of the imagination” and bemoaned its use in the publishing world.

“Major publishers have been browbeaten into believing that Word is the sine qua non of document production systems,” he wrote. “And they expect me to integrate myself into a Word-centric workflow, even though it’s an inappropriate, damaging, and laborious tool for the job. It is, quite simply, unavoidable.”

To make matters worse, it facilitates surveillance and sabotage, as more stories from last years served to show (Snowden Files at the Guardian for instance). For security reasons Germany and Russia have moved back to typewriters; we can assume they were using Office and Windows beforehand.

Trust the spinners of Microsoft to create and disseminate some “Heartbleed” FUD, an OpenSSL bug that Microsoft likes to hype up and use to generalise so as to create an illusion that FOSS is inherently less secure. This has become Microsoft’s main propaganda against FOSS, based on just one single bug. The FUD started on the day that XP support (patches) came to an end; this timing is unlikely to be a coincidence for reasons we outlined before.

Jason Thompson writes an offensive piece titled “After Heartbleed, Is Open Source More Trouble Than It’s Worth?”

It starts with the following important disclosure:

Jason Thompson, formerly of Q1 Labs, is the vice president of worldwide marketing at SSH Communications Security.

Marketing for proprietary software (for Windows)? This is the type of thing we saw last week when issues in proprietary VPN software were unfairly blamed on OpenSSL. As we pointed out last week, there is also an attack on Android security (usually rogue apps at to blame) and then there is the recent security FUD against Android from former employees of Microsoft. Mind this new article which highlights Microsoft’s hypocrisy:

The Biggest Problem with the Windows Store: Scams Everywhere

Windows 8′s “Windows Store” is a great idea, but unfortunately, it’s a disaster. It’s full of scam apps, designed to trick you into buying an app you don’t need.

Our friends over at the How-To Geek recently wrote a great piece about the biggest problem with the Windows Store, and how Microsoft has apparently done nothing to address it (despite claiming they would over a year ago). For example, here’s what happens if you search for VLC, a popular free video player

Microsoft is creating some new FUD against Google at the moment and Google has responded as follows:

In Worldwide Partner Conference 2014, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) claimed that more than seven hundred and eighty five customers have switched to Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)’s Office 365 from Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Apps. Microsoft didn’t give any proofs for this claim, but shown a slide having the names of the pronounced customers who made the switch. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) immediately started investigating this claim and has recently come up with a response. According to Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), 5,000+ companies sign up for Google Apps on a daily basis and thousands of these companies switch from Microsoft. In a Forbes article, Ben Kepes mentioned Google’s response and said that it was already expected that Google will come up with a befitting response on Microsoft’s claims.

Microsoft is a malicious, criminal company. Its ability to manipulate the press into writing negative stories about the competition is quite flabbergasting. Microsoft’s key strategy right now is badmouthing the competition. AstroTurf and press manipulation is how that's done, as we showed in the previous post.

08.23.14

Microsoft-Funded Attacks on Android Security and Patent/Copyright

Posted in FUD, Google, Microsoft at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look back at examples of people who smear Android and are receiving (or received) money from Microsoft

OVER THE years we have demonstrated that payments from Microsoft have a strong correlation to Android and/or Google FUD. Examples included Ben Edelman, Microsoft Florian, and Edward Naughton. Microsoft either pays people to publicly smear the biggest competition or rewards people for smearing Microsoft’s biggest competition. Sometimes the source of the smear is a Microsoft-connected company; we gave some examples of these over the years. These connections are a lot more transparent.

There were many cases where Xuxian Jiang, who had worked for Microsoft, slammed Android, making that his hobby/academic goal. Now we are seeing yet another guy from Microsoft (see his resume that he makes available in his Web site) making a career out of Android FUD. His name is Zhiyun Qian. He worked for Microsoft 4 years ago. Suffice to say, not every criticism of Android and not every Chinese/Taiwanese critic of Android is Microsoft-connected (consider the complaint of Chih-Wei Huang for example), but the point we are making is that when one criticises Android it is worth checking if there have been payments from Microsoft because it very often turns out to be the case.

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