Summary: Western Digital and other hardware companies help turn general-purpose machinery into Windows-expecting machinery
Our criticism of UEFI Restricted Boot is not just to do with GNU/Linux and BSD. It’s to do with a troubling trend where hardware gets closely tied to software. It’s an artificial limitation which is dangerous and costly. Tech tabloid ZDNet has this post which says “ARM now recommends UEFI as the preferred boot loader for its 64-bit processors that are based on the ARMv8 AArch64 architecture, silicon that is finding its way into all sorts of devices, from smartphones to servers and introduced a new raft of features, including a larger register file, enhanced addressing range and support for cryptography instructions.”
“With FAT preinstalled, Microsoft comes knocking to demand payments, even if support for FAT is implemented by Linux.”This is not good. And not just because of Microsoft. On devices there is no option for disabling Restricted Boot. Microsoft can exploit that for unfair advantage, or an antitrust violation. Moreover, says Claudio in D*, “First it was Winmodems, and now it’s Windrives? WTF?!? This is 2013, guys.”
To quote the article he references: “PC makers using the Black SSHD will be able to choose between WD’s proprietary driver and one provided by Intel. The drivers behave similarly, according to Rutledge, but they’re not identical. The WD driver was developed in-house and works with both Windows 7 and 8. In an interesting twist, that driver also employs system memory as part of the caching scheme. We’ll probably have to wait until the Haswell launch next month to find out exactly what Intel is bringing to the table.” (source)
As TomTom found out, there is another problem with storage devices. With FAT preinstalled, Microsoft comes knocking to demand payments, even if support for FAT is implemented by Linux. There is also preinstalled NTFS on Seagate, which makes it no better than Western Digital with built-in DRM (all magnetic drives seem to be Microsoft-infected). These are issues we need to protest against. It’s the beginning of the slippery slope. Hardware, unlike software. cannot be re-imaged (like replacing Windows with GNU/Linux). █
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Great example of Microsoft PR agencies distorting the news via moles
Summary: A timely look at how ‘former’ Microsoft writers — not just current ones — help manage perceptions at Microsoft’s behalf, infiltrating the media and even forums
AS WE last explained yesterday, there is some ugly pattern of deception emanating from Microsoft boosters. They try to shift liability for the failure of Vista 8 — a failure that not even they cannot deny any longer. There are ‘former’ Microsoft writers (as in, people who used to work for Microsoft) who continue to promote Vista 8 in various ways. This one, who works for CBS right now, does this trick by saying that low-cost gadgets are “to energize the PC market”. This may be true and Microsoft is totally out of this game, right? Well, not based on his framing. The article by this Microsoft booster mentions “touch-screen laptops” to give the illusion that Microsoft is still relevant in the future. This is how propaganda works. And by citing numbers from Microsoft’s partner Net Applications in the former article he also helps give the illusion that Vista 8 adoption is wonderful. Lies so big that they can make one vomit, eh? With Windows Blue (vapourware) being the focus of Microsoft right now, it is clear that Microsoft is already giving up on Vista 8 (retreat), but the boosters carry on with their deceptive ‘reports’. Well, there are more examples like that, involving many other writers, but we just focus on this one writer (formerly of Microsoft) with his two latest articles which are flawed in order to make the point. Vista 7 relied on similar tactics, including bribery of bloggers.
There is a fairly new article which covers this fascinating and troublesome phenomenon as a whole. Charlie Demerjian’s analysis is summarised as “Unleash the astroturfers to blacken the forums ASAP” (AstroTurfing is perpetually a strategy at Microsoft).
“Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”
–Charlie DemerjianTo quote: “So when Microsoft has good news, they shout it from the rooftops loudly. It is usually picked up by anyone that will listen and printed in just about every news outlet out there. Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”
Microsoft moles in the media are managed by Microsoft PR agencies which pass them material to publish in respective publications. That’s how it works. Demerjian continues as follows: “If change in PCs was needed to spur sales, that didn’t happen during the launches of Vista and 7. Sales rose. It did happen during the launch of Windows 8 and sales plummeted. Before you point out that change may be the actual cause of this plunge, think about one other little thing. You can still get Vista/7 form factor PCs now, you just can’t get them with those OSes. See the logical problem?
“Sadly though the damage control team, agency more likely, did their market research right. The whole fairy tale about PC makers being at fault seem to be getting some legs if not showing early signs of going viral. This is a really well thought out campaign given what they have to work with, cynical, unethical and anti-consumer though it is. Make no mistake though, it isn’t organic and is very manufactured. Things like this don’t go from nowhere to everywhere overnight without lots of backing and low wage forum drones to astroturf on your behalf. That said, it seems to be money well spent on Microsoft’s behalf.”
Be wary of the well-coordinated disinformation campaign, the deception centred around the idea that hardware companies — not Microsoft — are to blame for Vista 8′s poor adoption. Microsoft is trying to play with people’s minds, as always. █
“The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free.”
–Brian Valentine, Microsoft
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Summary: Dell complains about lack of hardware sales due to Vista 8
Dell is under fire from a notorious Microsoft proxy and it may already be a Microsoft proxy itself, just like Nokia.
Vista 7 and Vista 8 represent the gradual decline of Windows (Vista 8 sped that up) — a failure which is killing Nokia. According to this report, Dell is already complaining about Windows:
Dell blames ‘uncertain adoption’ of Windows 8 for some of its financial woes
Paints a gloomy picture of the PC business, emphasizes Windows 8 troubles and a decrease in Windows 7 sales
Why, in that case, is Michael Dell selling out to Microsoft? Faster corporate suicide? █
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Forcing payments to Microsoft upon shipment of every device, including many Android devices (patent extortion)
Summary: Microsoft and its tax mischiefs continue to worry some who recognise that Microsoft does not pay tax, collects taxpayers’ money, and now puts Windows tax on hardware by interfering with the process of hardware assembly, with help from UEFI
Following Microsoft's evasion of tax in Denmark, adding to what we already knew, Reuters got linked or cited by many more sites, not just news syndicators that stated “Denmark wants Microsoft to pay $1 billion in back taxes in one of the biggest tax cases in the country’s history, local media reported on Monday.”
Microsoft has been embezzling and stealing a lot of tax money in other ways, e.g. with government contracts. A lot of dirty tactics get used there and fines are not enough to act as a deterrent.
Microsoft has another form of tax which is the OEM tax. Almost every new PC comes with Windows tax and Microsoft pressures OEMs to embrace UEFI now. The president of UEFI wants more OEMs in this scandal and he says:
For Windows 8, Microsoft required OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to support Secure Boot in their machines. This immediately created a problem for other operating systems, most notably Linux-based ones, that many users routinely install on machines in place of Windows. Many viewed Microsoft’s embrace of Secure Boot as anticompetitive behavior because it makes it more difficult for users to install other operating systems on a machine with Secure Boot enabled.
IDG News Service spoke with the UEFI Forum President Mark Doran, who is also an Intel senior principal engineer, about what UEFI does, how Secure Boot works, and the reaction that Microsoft has gotten from its use of UEFI.
Ignoring ARM systems and all kinds of exceptions, he says: “If you read the requirements Microsoft published on what it takes to build a platform that is ready for Windows 8, it actually specifies that an end user must be able to turn off Secure Boot as a feature. The vast majority of general-purpose platforms that have Secure Boot have a way to disable that. And many have a way to install new keys. So when you get one of these things, you have a choice.”
“Vast majority” is not all and he does not give numbers. So many machines are shipped as Windows-only and Microsoft-controlled. This is not a legal way by which to tax PCs and someone in European regulation agencies should step in. Microsoft should not be allowed to bake Windows into silicon and CMOS (or equivalents). █
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Summary: Surface has design issues, which many complain about; the team behind it is breaking apart
Microsoft has lost billions trying to become a hardware maker in vain, mice and keyboards aside (those are not needed for non-desktop machines, so these too may pass). Notable failures include Xbox, which is reportedly still operating at a massive loss, not to mention phones and media players. Hardware is a big loss leader for the company [1, 2, 3], unless the online business outpaces it in terms of losses.
KIN had many flaws, but those didn’t get so much coverage because hardly anyone had such a device. Despite denials, Surface seems to have serious hardware issues, not just Windows issues. May we see class action lawsuits at some stage? Hardware problems often lead to that.
Microsoft’s booster Gavin Clarke does some PR for Microsoft’s last attempt to seem legitimate as a player in hardware. He cites this vague nonsense from Ballmer.
Sales of Microsoft’s Windows RT-based Surface tablet are off to a “modest” start according to chief executive Steve Ballmer.
This Vista 8 machine failed so miserably to work when Sinofsky demonstrated it. For those who want proof that the Surface is dying in the market (Microsoft refuses to give sales figures), watch the news about Sinofsky quickly quitting the company. Sinofsky was already filling a gap left by many fleeing Microsoft executives (specially Windows at the time). The man who replaced fleeping executives is now fleeing too. Surface is a “modest” failure. Microsoft spent a lot of money advertising it in the UK, only to deepen the losses. Will Surface be more short-lived than the KIN (less than 2 months)? █
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“Fat operating systems spend most of their energy supporting their own fat.”
–Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab, rediff.com, Apr 2006
Summary: Wintel is conspiring to take over kids’ future, this time battling to eliminate Linux and ARM, not Linux and AMD
It is hard to forget how OLPC got sabotaged after Wintel had conspired to shoot it down. We saw hard evidence of this. Now that Apple considers leaving Intel, the very abusive firm, and Android gives a boost to ARM, we are not shocked to see another conspiracy, this time countering Linux and ARM, not Linux and AMD. To quote this one report:
Clearly spooked by the success of the low-cost Linux-based Raspberry Pi, Microsoft and Intel have teamed up with RM to launch the Shape the Future UK programme.
Here is more:
Microsoft, Intel and RM Education have announced the Shape the Future UK programme through which they aim to promote UK computing education.
Announced today, the programme sees the three companies partner up to provide hardware and software at a hefty discount – over 30 per cent, it’s claimed – to all government-funded schools across the UK. Those signing up to the scheme will provide one-to-one access to computing resources for their pupils – meaning everybody gets a tablet or laptop of their very own.
As long as kids depend on monopolistic, closed-source resource hogs, the Wintel collusion approves. UK education should deny Wintel for reasons we’ve covered for years. █
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Summary: Windows is having a hard time getting bundled with tomorrow’s hardware, suggest reports
The Vista 8 crisis and the collapse of the Windows monopoly sure affect OEMs. They are turning the other way and citing this report, BGR says:
Microsoft’s Surface tablet continues to ruffle feathers ahead of its imminent launch next week. According to a report on Friday from Digitimes, Microsoft’s partners feel their software supplier “will no longer be concerned about its downstream partners’ thoughts or complaints” following the launch of the Redmond, Washington-based company’s debut tablet. Instead Microsoft is focused on establishing its own hardware business and breaking into the tablet market that has eluded it thus far.
This is driving many companies to Android and GNU with Linux, e.g. ChromeOS or Ubuntu. Benioff says that this is the end for Windows [1, 2]:
Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 will mark “the end” of the computer industry’s dominant OS due to increasing competition and choice sparked by alternatives, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff predicted Friday.
Windows 8 is a catalyst or “gambit” for CIOs, forcing them to say “am I going to Windows 8, or am I going to something else,” Benioff said during a question-and-answer session at Salesforce.com’s Cloudforce event in New York, which was webcast.
There is already fragmentation in Windows, not just in Windows file systems, and in turn this removes the inertia/advantage of applications compatibility. Hardware became a game changer. “Windows RT does not support running XNA applications,” quotes Patrick from Techrights. “You can still write an XNA game for Windows 8, but it won’t run on the Windows RT devices.”
“Microsoft,” he writes, “meet thy iceberg!”
There are other issues emerging:
Some claim confusion by consumers may have killed off GNU/Linux on netbooks. What will “8″ and “not 8″ do for WARM? I certainly cannot tell them apart from the “notStarting Up” and the “notStart” screens. I think */Linux on ARM is safe for now. I wonder if x86 is safe from GNU/Linux though? Consumers who will buy a PC with rectangular regions of the screen with widgets may well prefer it. If I were a retailer, I would stock up on GNU/Linux PCs just in case consumers run away from “8″.
We are at the cusp of change. The client side will soon be dominated by Linux.
Intel and Microsoft are so scared of ARM/Linux that they play dirty again, according to a blogger in Asia who writes:
As a government agency, SKMM has no rights in determining which software vendor’s solution should be used. Interestingly enough, it does not prescribe a preferred broadband service provider – which is the way it should be done.
The tender stinks of suspicion, especially looking at Microsoft’s poor records in using underhand tactics to promote it’s products. See for example, Microsoft’s indirect lobbying against OpenDocument Format (ODF) back in 2008, in Malaysia and the Phillipines.
Interestingly enough, Microsoft’s annual report declares how much of contribution to politicians it gives, down to individual House of Representatives and Senators’ names. Surely it can do the same on lobbying on a per-country basis?
Something similar happened in Thailand [1, 2, 3]. █
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Summary: Intel is unhappy with the state of Windows, so it explores alternatives with Google and Android
Microsoft went to great lengths to kill Linux development at Intel. We provided hard evidence in posts such as these. The relic known as Vista 8 was slammed by Intel in September and it is now confirmed that even the CEO disses it. As SJVN put it: “It’s been reported — and Intel isn’t denying it — that Intel CEO Paul Otellini told his Taiwanese staff that Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system is being released before it’s fully ready. This is shocking only in that it suggests that there were people who thought otherwise.
“Yes, it is somewhat shocking that Intel is talking smack about its biggest partner, though Otellini softened the blow by adding that he was sure Microsoft would patch Windows 8 up to acceptable levels after its release. But then you consider how Microsoft has been treating all its hardware partners lately.”
Intel flirts with Android or Google (Motorola) and tries to make money that way (expectations were recently lowered as x86 sales fall).
Matt Asay speaks of more who slammed Vista 8: “Of course there are doubters. Valve CEO Gabe Newell called Windows 8 a “catastrophe” for gaming, citing the Metro interface and Microsoft’s closed app store. The former concern is overblown – you don’t have to use the Metro interface if you don’t want to – and the latter is head scratching: doesn’t Apple do pretty well with a closed app ecosystem?”
So game makers hate what’s happening with Windows and then they turn to Linux [1, 2, 3], now it is Intel doing something similar. As we’ll show later, Microsoft has some self-evident collapse at the top. The Windows monopoly is hurt by almost half a billion Android devices and this, in turn, rattles Office because of self-destructive platform discrimination. █
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