Meg Whitman talks nonsense
Author: Max Morse
Summary: HP says Microsoft is a rival, but evidence suggests that HP is being occupied by Microsoft managers and that it attacks GNU/Linux, not Windows
People should not be taking HP’s claims at face value. Realising what the cash cows are, HP is trying to sell as many servers as possible (many will use GNU/Linux), so it tries to appeal to system administrators while quietly spreading Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux FUD [1, 2] to derail government migrations to GNU/Linux. Perhaps the inefficiently of Windows helps sell more such servers (for the same task).
Either way, HP sure is suffering from the decline of Microsoft’s desktop empire, but publicly HP wants us to think that “Microsoft Is At War With Its OEM Partners” (such as HP). More “sock puppetry,” calls it iophk, saying that “Microsoft Hilf is still inside HP, Ray Ozzie is still on the board, so this is just noise.” There are more such examples, including Vice Presidents. HP is gradually becoming somewhat of a proxy to Microsoft — a bit like Nokia.
Microsoft is hardly a competitor of HP; those two are partners and actions at the management level show this. Here is another article which blindly repeats HP’s claims:
APPARENTLY NOT CONTENT with making her employees draw lots or arm-wrestle for desks by banning telecommuting, HP CEO Meg Whitman has decided to let loose the hounds on Microsoft, declaring that it and Intel have changed from being “partners to outright competitors”.
HP is still using x86 and Windows, so how are Intel and Microsoft competitors really? Sheer nonsense.
Speaking of Microsoft and pretense, the company pretended to be “nice” to FOSS while essentially banning particular FOSS licence — an action which it quietly steps away from:
With little fanfare, Microsoft — or at least one part of it — has gone from considering the GNU General Public License v.3 (GPLv3) “evil” to “acceptable.”
That’s because this licence is popular, unlike Microsoft. “A company spokesperson didn’t provide a direct answer,” says Microsoft Mary, whose inquiry helps show just how Microsoft really feels about the GPLv3. Public statements are the area controlled by marketing people and professional spinners. In order to find out what’s true we need to investigate actions — not words — for ourselves. █
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Working for the b0rg more effectively through another company
Summary: Bill Hilf is joining several other Microsoft executives who now occupy key positions inside HP; the ugly details behind Elop’s entryism begin to lay bear
HP, a massive company in the desktops and servers sectors (and back doors facilitator [1, 2]), has already had some Microsoft executives occupy key positions in recent years (Ozzie is a recent example). Remember this when HP is rationalising FOSS-hostile decisions inside the company. HP recently collaborated in Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux FUD [1, 2] and based on this reported it hired Microsoft’s anti-Linux and pro-patents, fear-mongering bully Bill Hilf [1, 2]. The conflict of interest is clear because this man pushed hard for Windows on servers and patent tax on GNU/Linux servers. Several years ago he was probably the most hated guy (alongside Ballmer) to have come from Microsoft, as viewed by the GNU/Linux community.
We really ought to learn from experience the threat of Microsoft moles and entryism.
“San Francisco investment firm takes more active role as CEO Steve Ballmer plans retirement,” says this report. But as one of our readers put it, “who is behind ValueAct Capital?” Gates-funded sites (with Microsoft spyware on page) say “Microsoft averts proxy battle” and Microsoft friends like Dina Bass call ValueAct an “activist”. The timing was interesting: “Redmond announced the “cooperation agreement” in the late hours of Friday afternoon in San Francisco before the Labor Day three day weekend, which is an ideal time to bury news.”
Let’s also recall the case of Nokia, where Elop’s involvement now starts to smell like fraud.
Nokia Admits Giving Misleading Information About Elop’s Compensation
Nokia’s board of directors seems caught in a tragicomedy of epic proportions. The latest twist is Finland’s largest newspaper claiming that Nokia made a false statement about CEO’s bonus package last Friday. Pressed by Finnish and international media last week, chairman Siilasmaa had claimed then that the bonus structure of Stephen Elop’s contract in 2010 was “essentially the same” as the one the previous CEO had received. But the largest daily of the country, “Helsingin Sanomat”, decided to dig into SEC filings to investigate the matter. By early Tuesday morning, the newspaper had uncovered evidence that Nokia’s board had made fundamental changes in Elop’s contract compared to his predecessors.
Check out this other article about Elop, who wants to be compensated having totally destroyed Nokia. To quote an English version: “According to the early Wednesday morning edition of Finland’s biggest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia has pleaded with former CEO Stephen Elop to accept a smaller bonus in order to silence the roar of disapproval and protest now roiling Finland. Drama in Nokia’s home country escalated on Tuesday as it was revealed that Risto Siilasmaa, Nokiia’s chairman of the board, had misrepresented facts last weeks when he claimed that Elop’s bonus arrangements were similar to those of previous chief executives. Nokia was forced to admit on Tuesday morning that Elop had in fact received a contract that seemed to have been designed to guarantee a quick $25 million pay-off if Elop was able to sell the handset unit. According to Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia is now scrambling to contain the public relations damage the ongoing drama is causing. Asking Elop to accept a smaller bonus might silence some of the critics — on Tuesday, the head of Finland’s Equity Investor Association called Siilasmaa’s mistaken claims about Elop’s bonus package “unforgivable.””
Elop should be sued for more than $25 million. He pretended to serve Nokia, but in reality he was a Microsoft investor, whose house remains near Microsoft and whose only goal is to feed Nokia to Microsoft and feed patent trolls who pose a threat to Android/Linux. There should be prosecution here, not compensation. If anyone deserves compensation here, it’s Nokia’s shareholders. Elop should personally compensate them. He was Ballmer’s henchman. █
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Binary-only printer drivers can also be trusted no longer
Summary: More revelations about back doors which go beyond ‘the cloud’ and into people’s desks or offices
HP has betrayed people’s trust, not just because it helps Microsoft suppress Free software adoption in the German government [1, 2] but also because its hardware has remotely-accessible back doors. Never again should you trust hardware from HP.
Not only Microsoft Skype is a horrific piece of spyware on people’s desk (with microphone and webcam). As it turns out, HP backup servers too have back doors. As one article put it, “StoreOnce backup systems are not low-end products: the version with twelve 1TB disks (with a usable capacity of 6TB) costs more than €12,000. The price premium compared to a normal server of this size is explained by the StoreOnce Catalyst software included with the server. According to HP, the product’s deduplication functionality reduces the size of data backups by up to 95 per cent.”
“These primarily US-based or Anglo-Saxon companies seem to have total disregard for privacy, as their spy agencies reveal”Towards the end it says: “The disclosure is given added spice by Technion’s decision to publish the SHA1 hash for the password for accessing the hidden administrator account. Hashes can be brute forced to obtain the actual password. It will not be long before the decrypted string is circulating on the usual forums. The password is just seven characters long and draws on a ten-year old meme.”
These primarily US-based or Anglo-Saxon companies seem to have total disregard for privacy, as their spy agencies reveal. It seems like Germany is finally taking note of this. A major German newspaper says: “Overzealous data collectors in the US and Great Britain have no right to investigate German citizens. The German government must protect people from unauthorized access by foreign intelligence agencies, and it must act now. This is a matter of national security.”
They should be dumping Windows in Germany, following Munich's lead. Christine Hall talks about back door access by the NSA into Windows when she writes:
Time to Take Advantage of Microsoft’s Vulnerabilities
It wasn’t news to most of us in the FOSS world that Microsoft was one of the companies shoveling information over to the NSA’s project PRISM. As much as we’d like, we can’t fault them any more than anyone else in that sordid affair. Only Yahoo comes out with any degree of redemption, since they at least bothered to go to court to try to stop the No-Such-Agency guys.
Nor were many of us surprised to discover Microsoft was making it easy for U.S. spooks to monitor traffic on Skype. That news probably damaged the folks in Redmond a little more than the plain vanilla NSA/PRISM story, but there was still some wiggle room for Ballmer. It started before Microsoft’s ownership. My people hardly knew what was going on. We’ll fix it. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
The latest news though, which so far seems to have little to do with the NSA scandal but plenty to do with espionage, might be a Windows breaker. Ballmer & Friends might not be able to squirm their way out of this, especially if the commercial GNU/Linux players get in gear and get moving.
This is definitely going to change how people view Windows. The latest TechBytes episode covers that as well. It’s reassuring to see what we covered for years becoming common knowledge, affecting people’s judgment. Free software is going to capitalise on all this. █
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Summary: The largest freedom-in-software advocacy group offers advice regarding UEFI while large computer makers like HP move towards snubbing the Microsoft plot
AT THE END of the week the Free Software Foundation took an important step forward in its fight against UEFI.
Quoting the FSF Web site:
In the paper, the FSF outlines the difficulties Secure Boot poses for the free software movement and free software adoption, warns against the threat of Restricted Boot, and gives recommendations for how free software developers and users can best address the issues.
Red Hat is meanwhile finding new ways to embrace UEFI:
Gummiboot, which is German for rubber dinghy, was released on the same day as version 2 of the GRUB boot loader. Unlike GRUB, however, it only works with EFI systems. Poettering has proposed the project as the boot loader that Linux distributions should use where UEFI Secure Booting support requires a signed boot loader; this support being planned by both Red Hat and Canonical but neither are currently planning to use gummiboot.
There is more coverage in, e.g.:
Red Hat developers Kay Sievers and Harald Hoyer have create a new EFI bootloader called, Gummiboot, which ‘just works.’
Lennart Poettering, best known for PulseAudio cross-platform sound server and systemd, posted on Google +, “It’s tiny (< 64K), can show a menu, discovers all kernel configurations automatically (no wacky autogeneration of boot loader scripts), and can chain-load another boot loader if necessary.”
Related to this we have the release of the boot loader Microsoft has shrewdly marginalised:
The mistake Red Hat and Canonical have made is assume that hardware makers will just swallow UEFI because Microsoft tells them to. Based on new articles such as this one, Microsoft’s devilish plot is not taking off:
Microsoft Offends OEMs With Surface, HP Refusing To Build Windows ARM Devices
If this rumor is true – and it certainly sounds true – then HP and other OEMs are about to pull the plug on their own Windows on ARM RT (WART) devices thanks to Microsoft essentially beating them to market with potentially superior hardware.
Here is the source and some damage control from Microsoft, delivered by the longtime Microsoft booster, who gets “Reporter” status at CNET, not just ZDNet. She writes about the half (or less) that’s full, ignoring the rest (i.e. biased ‘journalism’):
Reports circulating on June 29 about Hewlett-Packard’s plans regarding Windows on ARM — or lack of such plans — got me thinking about which PC makers have committed to producing ARM-based Windows hardware.
Bloomberg helps confirm that Vista 8 is being shunned by HP and the OEMs bigwig at Microsoft steps down. How timely. █
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Nosediving after the software chief from Microsoft lets Linux die
Summary: Not so long after Microsoft had called HP a competitive threat (in its SEC filings) for exploring Linux on the desktop, Hurd mysteriously got fired and his purchase of WebOS thrown down the ashtray, sending HP’s stock into a downward spiral
SEVERAL months ago we continued to comment about the departure of Hurd from HP. It happened under mysterious circumstances [1, 2, 3, 4]. A former Microsoft ally took his place after HP’s new software chief had been appointed from Microsoft.
There is something iffy about HP giving up on its Linux-based operating system which Hurd spent billions on. This was not taken too lightly by prominent bloggers, who wrote:
I liked webOS, HP’s Linux-based take on a tablet operating system. I thought it had a shot to be a tablet player. But, then, Leo Apotheker, HP’s new CEO, along with spinning off HP’s PC business, killed webOS. Was it because, as Apotheker said, the tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” and that the TouchPad was quickly becoming a money pit? No, no it wasn’t.
Yes, webOS and the TouchPad were doing badly on the market. But, so what? A company the size of HP doesn’t get out of the consumer PC market and new tablets and spin around on a dime because it can’t be as “as cool as Apple.” No, it does so because Apotheker and his cronies had planned for months to try to transform HP into their old company, SAP, and go head to head not so much with IBM, but his old sparring partner, Oracle.
In the same year that Microsoft added cut and paste to its mobile feature set, HP added cut and run, announcing last week that it would no longer produce webOS hardware, then dumping its failed HP TouchPad tablet in a $99 fire sale. At the same time, the number-one PC maker signaled its intent to spin off, sell, and otherwise dump its Personal Systems Group—the division that makes all of its computers for business and consumer markets—within 12 to 18 months. Unless a buyer like Samsung is waiting in the wings already, that’s a long time to go without a mobile strategy.
Well, investors agree. They “flee HP” (see the chart):
Hewlett-Packard shares have slumped as investors respond to last week’s announcement of a radical shift in strategy.
From a high of US$32.59 on Thursday, shares fell to US$22.89 on Friday before closing at US$23.60.
Wow. And this made sense why exactly? Microsoft is already trying to sort of bribe WebOS developers away from Linux. The remaining units of TouchPad are getting a new life because the hardware is great and the price is very low. Both Ubuntu [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and TouchDroid [1, 2] are being made available for these devices that HP bought just to kill (after Hurd had been fired and Microsoft-friendly people put in charge). Guess who is happy about this whole deal? Microsoft booster Ed Bott is now comparing TouchPad to KIN, which is said to have sold only 503 units. Just before Hurd got canned Microsoft listed HP as a competitive threat on the desktop because HP was exploring GNU/Linux, even its own distributions of it. █
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Summary: New article about software patents reveals that HP, under new leadership, has quietly bought a group of Microsoft allies (Fortify)
Following Hurd’s departure [1, 2, 3, 4] a former Microsoft ally was made the CEO of HP [1, 2, 3, 4] and this is important because of HP’s leading position in the desktops/servers market, not to mention all of its patents. “Every time a software patent is registered, an angel is bludgeoned to death with a shoe,” wrote “MrAlanCooper” to a former Microsoft employee. Yesterday we noticed this article about software patents in security, in which it’s mentioned that Fortify has just been acquired by HP. It’s important because Fortify too is a Microsoft ally, as we noted in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. The article says:
Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can. Gary McGraw explains how another party may get a patent on a technique he had a hand in inventing.
The notion of software patents is extremely controversial. The basic idea is simple and mirrors “regular” patents. An inventor invents something and files a number of claims about the invention. The Patent Office reviews the filing and determines whether to grant a patent for the invention. Holding a patent guarantees the inventor some rights to enjoy the fruits of the invention for a fixed period of time. Not so bad if you invent the next great inside-the-peel Tomato twaddler, but a bit harder to understand in the software space.
Can you patent the obvious? Apparently when it comes to software security, maybe you can.
On to patent land. Apparently the security testing firm Cenzic believes that they deserve a patent for software fault injection. In February 2007 (a decade after our book was published) Cenzic was awarded patent number 7185232 for “fault injection methods and apparatus.” The basic claims in the patent involve injecting some faulty input into a web program (thing one) and watching for error responses (thing two). Very nice. Or maybe not. A grass roots effort to collect prior art and dispute the patent is being spearheaded on the net byEnrique A. Sanchez Montellano.
As an inventor of security technology, I am not completely opposed to the idea of software patents. In fact, we hold eight patents in various aspects of software security at Cigital (some of which are likely to be infringed upon). We like the idea of licensing our ideas and our prototypes to others. In fact, that’s exactly what happened with Fortify which was recently acquired by HP. We licensed our code scanning ideas and prototypes to Kleiner-Perkins who went on to found Fortify, build a real commercial product, and sell the heck out of it. So the notion of protecting our ideas with patents is not foreign to us.
A lot could be said about the article’s attitude w.r.t. software patents, but the news that we missed about Fortify may be important in the future. Fortify attacks Free software quite routinely, so it’s unclear why HP would want this culture to become ‘in-house’. Incidentally, considering that Hurd was fired after Microsoft had pointed out that his work on a homebrew Linux-based operating system was a major threat (c/f SEC filing), one ought to watch carefully what Apotheker does at HP. Microsoft also named Intel’s work on MeeGo as a major threat (alongside HP) and we all know what Microsoft did to Nokia [1, 2, 3, 4], harming MeeGo a great deal using entryism (a manager from BT privately told us by mail that it was probably illegal, he called it “100% corrupt”). Yesterday we wrote about the contractual obligations of Micromoles. Watch out, HP. █
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Summary: The companies behind the Linux-powered MeeGo and the Linux-powered WebOS are occupied by friends of Microsoft (CEO positions), but what will they do in the face of the Linux-powered Android?
IT increasingly seems like Microsoft’s Elop (a former president) will have Microsoft and Nokia wed each other, just like we feared. As a recap of previous posts about this issue, consider:
- If You Can’t Beat Them, Hijack Them (Microsoft Joins Nokia and It Already Shows)
- Linux Battle in Mobile Phones Becomes Primarily Legal, Not Technical, Due to Software Patents
- Taking Over Linux, by Proxy
- Microsoft Passes More of Its Executives to the MSBBC. What About Nokia?
- Microsoft President Quits, But is Nokia the Next Victim?
- Microsoft Insiders Galore: BBC, Nokia, Others Already Damaged by Microsoft Hires
- Linspire/Ballnux in Tablets; HP Possibly Experiments With Vista 7 in Slate After Abandoning It, Then Hiring From Microsoft
- New Article Says Nokia Might be Bought by Microsoft After Appointing Microsoft President as CEO
- Entryism Watch: Yahoo! Keeps Being Abducted by Microsoft Executives, HP Cancels Android Projects After CEO Appointment From SAP
- As Expected, Nokia and HP Betray Linux Under Microsoft-sympathetic New Leadership
- Head of Microsoft Romania Quits, Entryism Revisited
- Microsoft’s Favourite ‘Reporters’ Are Attacking Nokia, Pushing it Into Microsoft’s Arms
- Will Elop Choose the Future (Linux) or His Past (Microsoft) for Nokia?
- Analyst Wants Microsoft’s Elop (Now Nokia CEO) to Shoot Down Linux Programmes
Engadget has the headline “Nokia, Microsoft announcing partnership next week, possibly involving Windows Phone 7?”
This time around, it’s said that Microsoft will be the partner announced on the 11th — and though Nokia’s uptake of Windows Phone 7 would be the obvious strategic shift, it’s important to note that these companies have actually partnered before with pretty trivial consequences for the market; it’s entirely possible they could be ramping up to do that again, sharing apps and services between Windows Phone 7 and Symbian / MeeGo. We doubt it, but it’s within the realm of reason.
First off, the elephant in the room: recently-appointed CEO Stephen Elop comes from Microsoft on good terms and has clearly been given marching orders to take Nokia in a new, more profitable direction; the Symbian Foundation’s gutting happened on Elop’s watch, for example, and he just hinted a few days ago that joining an existing ecosystem could make sense.
These two companies signed some of their previous deals around communication applications and a sub-notebook (which never seemed to materialise really). It will be interesting to see what their announcement will be all about. In any event, the fact that they partner shows what a disastrous entryism we have here. Another company which builds phones with Linux is HP, which is run by Apotheker (a former Microsoft ally [1, 2, 3]). He became CEO and Hurd bought some Linux-related assets before he was ousted [1, 2, 3, 4]. What will Apotheker do with that? Well, first of all he “asks employees to get rid of iPhones”. We don’t know what comes next. Will they all be pressured or maybe forced to use WebOS-powered phones (with Linux)?
At the end of the day, all those ownership changes and cases of entryism should bother everyone involved. SCO too is said to be passing its business to another company:
In an email, SCO today (Friday) informed its partners that UnXis Inc. was chosen as the successful bidder for SCO’s Unix software business on 26 January. The slightly convoluted phrasing is probably due to SCO’s current reorganisation under Chapter 11. On 16 February, the transaction is to be submitted for approval to the bankruptcy court where SCO’s case is pending. The email also quotes Hans Bayer, SCO’s Vice President Worldwide Sales, as saying that “We are delighted that after years of shifting targets, that under the UnXis ownership, we now will be prepared to create a truly customer driven, fully supported, open systems platform for high reliability enterprise computing”.
We have already mentioned UnXis in the following old posts:
It is worth seeing what it all leads to. Microsoft is sometimes compared to a cult and whatever helps Microsoft make a profit — even if these are lawsuits against Android (lawsuits from former Microsoft employees) — cannot be ruled out. One need not look far to see how the Gates Foundation, for example, sometimes promotes Microsoft directly in all sorts of ways. It’s not as though Microsoft’s history lacks examples of dirty tricks and entryism, or even payments to SCO which sued Linux. █
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Summary: Another sign that Linux is winning against Windows comes from HP, which has had enough of Windows Home Server
WE ARE almost back to normal coverage (yours truly has been coding more than usual recently) and one reader sent us this pointer which shows that Microsoft’s dead products continue to pile up. It was around Thanksgiving, i.e. just very recently, that we spoke about Windows Home Server (WHS) being a candidate for deletion. HP has been essential for Microsoft in this space [1, 2]. It is their main if not only hope in this area and that’s about to end too:
“HP has told us they do not plan to provide a platform for Windows Home Server code name ‘Vail’. HP has told us they will continue to sell the existing version of MediaSmart Server through the end of the calendar year 2010 and will honour service and support agreements,” said Microsoft in a blog post yesterday.
“This news is in no way related to recent announcements about feature changes in Windows Home Server ‘Vail.’”
According to MediaSmartServer.net, which quotes HP marketing manager Allen Buckner, the move away from Vail was due to “shifting additional resources to focus on webOS initiatives”.
All of which has got to hurt Microsoft, which already took a sizeable bruising from customers following its decision to kill the Drive Extender feature.
That’s despite Apotheker being in charge [1, 2] after Hurd got ousted by HP [1, 2, 3, 4]. As another reader, Ziomatrix, put it last night in IRC: “Dell starts selling laptops bundled with Linux again (look under Tech Specs): http://dell.to/idOer6 and HP drops its Windows Home Server line amid feature crisis and claims to focus more efforts on WebOS based Linux: http://engt.co/i8PsuP” (which further confirms that other report). █
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