Fooling just the dummies?
Summary: Yet again, a new version of proprietary software from Microsoft is being grossly mischaracterised in order to give the illusion that it’s not all about Microsoft lock-in
THE world is changing and Microsoft is not prepared for this change. Free software (or “Open Source”, or FOSS) is gradually becoming a requirement in more and more places. In India, for example, the government moved toward adoption of FOSS, so Microsoft crushed policies, primarily by lobbying (both directly and by proxy). In some cases Microsoft simply pretends that it is now an “Open Source” company, or something along those lines, openwashing (characterising as “open” proprietary software) its ‘crown jewels’, e.g. Windows and Office (remember that OOXML stands for “Office Open XML”). We need to counter that, or else Microsoft will succeed at changing perceptions (making them all distorted and false). It’s about systematic, induced confusion and ultimately about making it hard to distinguish between FOSS and proprietary.
“It’s about systematic, induced confusion and ultimately about making it hard to distinguish between FOSS and proprietary.”One Microsoft advocacy site openwashes Microsoft because some people threw/slapped software that not many people are likely to find useful (not even Microsoft) at GitHub. Worse, however, is what Microsoft does yet again as a piece of proprietary software from Microsoft reaches a new version. We recently gave one example of that (the BI product) and now we see it in Visual Studio. We saw that done five years ago, earlier this year, and earlier this month. It’s a Big Lie.
Here is Microsoft’s official announcement. Phoronix did some Linuxwashing of Visual Studio and Microsoft Peter painted Visual Studio as an “Android, iOS, and even Apple Watch” thing. There are just two examples among many. There is also openwashing that typically latches onto .NET for weak support of the false insinuations. This is just proprietary software (compiler in this case, which makes it worse as it can potentially add back doors to compiled software).
Speaking of Windows, Microsoft, and Openwashing, watch Marius Maronilla (with a Windows-like avatar) marketing Windows as ‘free’, pretending that people choose GNU/Linux for price and that Free/libre is the same as gratis (the headline alone is calling it Linux, mistaking free for gratis, and assuming it’s all down to price). Propaganda efforts will likely escalate if not exacerbate in the coming days becase of the Vista 10 hype — a subject we shall cover in the next post. █
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“Well the initial impression is how much it [Windows 7] looks like Vista. Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.”
Summary: Jack Schofield, writing for a Bill Gates-funded paper despite claiming to have retired, promotes Microsoft Office and insults all those readers who do not agree with him
Jack Schofield is no stranger to us. He rewrites the past in favour of Microsoft (facts disregarded) and has been accused of "lack of professionalism". His Microsoft boosting has become so epic that many people all around the Web refer to him as “Microsoft Jack” (we cannot claim credit for this label). He now writes in The Guardian again. He never quite retired as he had claimed ages ago. Well, unfortunately he still smokes his pipe and curses at his screen after he writes Microsoft screed.
The Guardian is a suitable (if not ideal) home for Microsoft Jack. It is paid by Bill Gates and renowned for Microsoft propaganda since these considerable (but undisclosed) payments. It’s a sham publication which refuses to even acknowledge financial dependence on ‘Sugar Daddies’ like Bill Gates, with clear impact on editorial control (so gross that ads are disguised as articles or parts of articles).
Microsoft Jack claimed to be retiring several years ago, but it was purely nonsense. He later wrote in another Microsoft propaganda rag (ZDNet) and he even continues writing for The Guardian, where bashing Microsoft’s competitors is OK (even for the same behaviour as Microsoft’s) and criticising Microsoft or Bill Gates is very rare (they are literally funding the paper).
“Microsoft Jack claimed to be retiring several years ago, but it was purely nonsense.”Some might deem it AstroTurfing, but “reading Microsoft Jack’s responses to the commenters who dare suggest Openoffice or Libreoffice is revealing,” Alex Barker wrote to me. Looking at the article in full, it reads like a Microsoft advertisement where nothing but Microsoft is even an option. The only provided option or question is, which version/edition? It’s a pretty clever way for Microsoft to disseminate propaganda (making the competition disappear, an exclusion by design), which is does a lot of at the moment, as we pointed out some days ago (the timing is strategic), alluding to some British Web sites. Some of these sites Microsoft literally subsidised in exchange for Microsoft propaganda and advertisements (e.g. Ars Technica UK).
Looking at the comments, it is clear that many readers are not interested in Microsoft Office. Readers of the papers are using and are happy to recommend Free software, but here is how Microsoft Jack responds:
I think they’re brainless trolls.
I find idiocy gets a bit wearing after the first 15 years or so
Otherwise, I wonder if there’s anything you can take for verbal diarrhea?
Stop kidding yourself. It’s because you didn’t bother to read the answer and/or some of the many comments above, which show that LibreOffice (a) is not a practical alternative and (b) it’s not cheaper
Most trolls are by now smart enough to have figured out that Microsoft Office is already free for the vast majority of UK students. And, by the way, it also works on Macs.
Otherwise, I’m not quite sure how saving £0 on Office 365 — or, at the very worst, £15 a year on Office 365 University — fits with expecting students to shell out £1,000 or so to get totally unnecessary proprietary software on an Apple-shaped dongle. I guess logic is not one of your stronger points…..
Free as in ‘free sample’, right? Microsoft Jack can only pretend that he doesn’t know how lock-in works. What happens when one is no longer a student? Well, Microsoft Jack is smart enough to know what he’s doing here. He cannot use ignorance as an excuse.
Microsoft Jack then calls Google “biggest proprietary spyware and surveillance company”. Yeah, because Chromium, ChromeOS, Android etc. are all proprietary, right? Unlike the platforms from the NSA’s #1 (first) PRISM partner, Microsoft. It is clear, based on numerous yardsticks, that Microsoft is far worse than Google, but Microsoft started high-budget PR campaigns (e.g. “Scroogled”) to convince the public otherwise and lobby politicians to cripple Google over it. Microsoft is one of the worst. The company’s managers even have security clearances with the spies. But why not blame it all on Google? This is acceptable propaganda for the Bill Gates-funded paper, which likes to accuse Google of tax evasion but not Microsoft (especially so after Gates gave a lot of money for the newspaper to look the other way while regularly planting Gates Foundation PR and endorsements across letterheads of entire sections).
Let’s press on with more insults from Microsoft Jack (accusing others of “verbal diarrhea” while it’s mostly him who has it). Let’s start with some revisionism, as Jack surely knows better than judges that dealt with Microsoft in court for many years. Here is what he wrote:
An area I followed closely, and there was no “dirty dealing,” as far as I know. Microsoft simply produced much better products
OK, so either he has bad memory or he has gone senile. It is well-documented and it is common knowledge that Microsoft resorted to “dirty dealing”. We have plenty of original documents to prove it right here in this site.
Here is some more ‘wisdom’ of Microsoft Jack:
Using the 1997-2003 file formats is mostly stupid as the newer formats are more robust, take up less space with large files (they’re zipped), and are ratified open standards.
Bribing officials makes “open standard”, according to Microsoft Jack’s lies-by-omission world. Or blackmailing British politicians perhaps [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft Office still cannot deal properly with ODF, only proprietary OOXML (its secret, ad hoc, undocumented format). Microsoft does not adhere to its own documentation. It’s all a big lie and many people foresaw that all along.
Here are some decent comments from one who refutes Microsoft Jack’s promotional article in a very polite way:
“Pity we don’t have an award for the most (clueless) trollING of the week.”
MS does NOT have the answer for everything.
MS is marketing smart. They provide ‘access’ so they can inculcate new users to their line of software. They hope that new entries will to the work place will provide an internal dynamic for future sales.
‘Popular’ software is usually the lead software that gets ‘hacked’.
Some MS stuff is good (especially with languages) and other stuff is pure doggerel. Many survive but equally many pieces of software end up in the Bit Bucket of history. MS does NOT have the answer for everything.
Much university work (thesis, research) is archived for posterity and Apps/online software gets ‘modded’ and features removed. Copy, on your own PC, is advisable.
For example, I just watched Samsung download an ‘upgrade’ that changes many OS menus to a white on blue background – a combination that is near fatal for colour-blind users.
An associate company of my employer handles orphaned archive material. They have a couple of CP/M operating system – Digital Research – computers with 8 and 5.25 inch drives. They can also read/convert WANG format disks!
And if you need some work done, their systems are booked solid for the next 5 weeks. They operate on a 24/5 basis – they need the weekends for maintenance.
Remember, university students have especial needs and ‘cloud’ is not always the best solution. This also applies to businesses.
Saving documents is plain TEXT is often the best answer almost anything can read TEXT! Even from years ago.
Skype is popular feature with GCHQ and NSA.
‘Free’ doesn’t exist. MS rarely does anything ‘free’ without an ulterior motive.
And what happens when you leave your ‘free’ domain at the conclusion of your courses?
Buy a software package that resides ON YOUR HARD DRIVE – not ‘somewhere ‘.
The problem with Office is that every Version has numerous features that few use, unless you are a type setter.
My employer has licences for 2003, 2007 and, I think 2010. Employees are free to use whatever they like.
Hands down winner is 2007 with most people using Win2003/97 as the format to save in.
As for PowerPoint, it’s clunky, inhibited and a waste of disk space. There are better, free, compatible options. But essential if interacting with the US military!
Remember, using cloud based software is fine, until you are out of InterNet range. Can’t beat software mounted on your hard drive!
Those who don’t agree with Jack, according to Jack, just “post obviously pointless trolls in a topic about Microsoft Office.”
Here are insults and generalisations: “Of course, some of that hostility could be prompted by the long-winded, self-interested piffle posted by here OO fans, who are — to put it kindly — little more than trolls in a topic devoted to Microsoft Office.
“Isn’t it odd how open source supporters are generally so lacking in social skills?”
So people who care about software freedom, open standards, or like OpenOffice are “fans…so lacking in social skills” (according to Jack). He later uses the term “OpenOffice fanboy.” So they’re all just “trolls and “fanboys”. He refers to every pro-LibreOffice comment collectively as “mostly-mindless LibreOffice comments”.
Here is another response to a commenter: “Pity we don’t have an award for the most clueless troll of the week ;-)”
Just because someone adds a recommendation of freedom-respecting alternatives doesn’t make one a “troll”. Jack gamed the debate by limiting it only to Microsoft Office (or versions of it) and then he frames anyone who goes outside the boundry of his silly game a “troll”.
He later repeats the nonsense that “Microsoft’s office formats are ratified open standards.” By bribing and bullying? Like Jack himself? He too is a bully when one confronts him. We gave examples before.
What Microsoft Jack does is unethical because he helps Microsoft get young people addicted to (locked in to) Office. It’s like the drug dealer’s mentality. “They’ll get sort of addicted,” Bill Gates explained, “and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”
In the comments we can see Microsoft Jack relaying Microsoft’s FUD about Munich. He writes: “Good luck to the Germans. I hope they do better than Munich, which spent a decade trying to get rid of Office and Windows (and didn’t make it), saved no money, and probably lost a huge amount of productivity. And now it’s considering switching back….”
Not true, but Jack doesn’t care about what’s true. He calls LibreOffice a “pile of crap” (how professional a language from the man who accuses others of having “verbal diarrhea”). He says it is “slow, bug-ridden, and very imperfectly compatible with Microsoft Office” (as if being compatible with Microsoft Office with its proprietary formats is the goal). There is actually a large number of comments that recommend LibreOffice and OpenOffice. No wonder Jack feels a little marginalised and threatened/intimidated. His article is revealed as biased and unpopular among readers. Now he need to cope with it.
Jack spreads a common lie, along the lines of needing Microsoft to get a job. He writes: “There are, after all, many reasons why it makes much more sense to become proficient in Microsoft Office, such as your future employability.”
Complete nonsense. The world has moved on, so the myths like “nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft” needs a boost from the likes of Jack (for Microsoft’s sake). He also wrote: “Unless you don’t have a job and really can’t afford Office, life’s too short.”
So free software is just for the unemployed, according to Jack. Nice stigma he spreads there.
Jack also finds the time to trash-talk LATEX. He says: “They should be learning their course topics rather than, say, LaTeX…. ;-)” (actually, LATEX has several very good front ends that are easier to use than Microsoft Office). One can also hand-pick XML files to manipulate Word files, but in reality one uses front ends, right? So it’s another straw man argument from Jack. Nothing but Microsoft, not even Google’s offerings, is allowed any acceptance. Even the mention of alternatives is verboten.
Notice the update on Microsoft Jack’s ‘article’ (puff piece/ad). It’s like he’s working in coordination with Microsoft UK. He speaks to them and adds: “Microsoft UK says that students can get the full Office 365 free if their school or university has a site-licensing agreement, and that “most universities in the UK are part of the scheme”. Students can find out if they qualify by going to Office 365 and clicking the green “Find out if you’re eligible” button.”
Nice ad you got there, Microsoft Jack. Does the paymaster of the employer, The Guardian, endorse this kind of behaviour towards readers who comment? Since Bill Gates is one of the paymasters, surely the answer can be “yes”. To close off with Jack’s own words, “I handle a lot of documents from large professional companies, fancy PR agencies, pseufo-academic [sic] white papers etc.” Yes, Jack, we can tell… █
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Summary: The spreading of fear of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is now a growth industry, so proprietary opportunists are eager to capitalise on it, even if by distorting the truth
EARLIER THIS month some Black Duck publicity stunt fooled some journalists into promotion of Black Duck FUD. We saw that persisting until April 20th (one week ago), even in pro-FOSS sites (blogs) that did this days later. IDG made a slideshow out of it. Well, sadly, it cites Black Duck, which tries to sell proprietary software under the guise of Free software promotion.
In reality, Black Duck is not just selling fear of GPL violations — the original 'product' which was 'sold' by this firm. It’s a two-faced firm masquerading as pro-FOSS whilst attacking FOSS. Black Duck and Duck Duck Go both give a bad name to ducks. They pretend to be FOSS or at least openwash themselves (a lie) and they pretend to defend users (also a lie, they merely exploit or monetise users).
In other news, Sonatype reportedly compared FOSS to “Public Health Hazard”. To quote one report: “That’s the assessment of Joshua Corman, CTO at Sonatype, who took to the stage at RSA 2015 to characterize insecure software as a kind of “cyber-asbestos,” widely deployed, inherently dangerous, and eventually carrying an astronomical cost in terms of human suffering and cost to clean up because …we just didn’t know how dangerous it was at the time when we embraced it.”
So Sonatype is again on an anti-Free software binge. It is not the first time (see examples in [1, 2, 3, 4]) and it is easy to see why it is doing this. It’s trying to sell its products, which are nothing to do with Free software. Sonatype’s track record of FOSS FUD is expanding and may one day rival the Microsoft-connected Symantec, which continues its FUD campaign against Android, generating misleading headlines such as “One in Five Android Apps Is Malware” in this case. When people install software from Google Play, then there is virtually no risk, but don’t expect Symantec to properly analyse this. Symantec sells insecurity. To quote the misleading article: “According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, “17 percent of all Android apps (nearly one million total) were actually malware in disguise.” In 2013, Symantec uncovered roughly 700,000 virus-laden apps.”
But where are they found? Are any accessible to most Android users? No, so Symantec is defining it wrongly and framing the issue by saying that many applications’ “primary purpose is to bombard you with ads.” That’s not malware, but they made up a new word.
Google has already responded mostly by removing apps with too many ads (that’s not malware) and saying that Android “antivirus” is snake oil, as Google said before (responding to the likes of Symantec several years ago).
Android now has an industry of snake oil around it because there is a lot of market share there. The same can be said about FOSS, which is why Black Duck and Sonatype are busy badmouthing security aspects of it. They’re all just looking for a quick buck; FUD and reputation damage to FOSS are “collateral damage”. █
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Summary: CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing
PROPAGANDA giant CBS (notoriously selling to the public wars of conquest and mass surveillance) has been a target of our criticism also because it hires people who have worked or are still working for Microsoft to cover Microsoft positively and slam Microsoft’s competition. It’s not news, it’s advertising or agenda, if not propaganda.
Microsoft boosters are everywhere at CBS, with several in CNET and several in ZDNet; some are still Microsoft employees, not former employees. They are attacking Microsoft rivals and planting PR for Microsoft. Later on when they chat to me in Twitter they still pretend to be “objective”. They don’t say much; they just know they got caught in a conflict of interest.
Anyway, CBS has apparently just hired yet another (there are many more) “former” Softer to put Microsoft puff pieces disguised as articles. This guy, Dave Johnson, works neither in CNET nor ZDNet (CBS-owned) but more directly writes for CBS sites. There are quite a few articles like this one and it’s an epidemic that ought to raise concerns and draw criticism. Watch his stream of Microsoft propaganda (even vapourware at the moment).
Meanwhile it’s reported that Microsoft paid almost half a billion dollars for NFL to pretend to endorse Microsoft (advertisement disguised as recommendation), but even this has not worked like Microsoft hoped. As TechDirt (among other publications) put it, “Marketing Failure: Microsoft Pays NFL To Use Its Surface Tablets — And People Still Call Them ‘iPad-Like Tools’”:
Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov has an amusing post about how NFL announcers this weekend referred to the sideline tablets that players are using as “iPad-like tools.” Microsoft Surface tablets are being allowed on the sidelines as part of a $400 million deal between Microsoft and the NFL. And Microsoft is promoting the Surface as “the official tablet of the NFL.” And, in the end, all anyone remembers is that it’s an “iPad-like tool.” I wonder if the guy who signed that deal for Microsoft has lined up a new job yet…
There have been quite a few articles like this one.
Embedded advertisements or fake endorsements are only some of the tools in Microsoft’s arsenal of AstroTurfing tools, used by proxy much of the time. But again, what CBS is doing is much worse than most. It’s corrupt means of providing what CBS pretends to be “news”.
CBS is not news; neither in politics nor in technology. It needs to be shunned. It’s corporate press, not news. █
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Summary: An appointment of Penn to the role of “chief strategy officer” says a lot about Microsoft’s strategy
IN ADDITION to trolling Google with patents (via proxies) Microsoft is running smear campaigns against Google. Microsoft is a political movement, not a technology company, and now it is hiring political astroturf figures and promoting them to the very top . To quote this new report: “For Washingtonians, Penn’s appointment is of particular interest, given his time on the Clinton presidential campaign and his subsequent resignation after his public relations work raised conflict-of-interest issues. During his year and half at Microsoft, he has helped the firm use his penchant for negative advertising against tech competitors.”
Writing about this man’s promotion to “chief strategy officer”, Glyn Moody says that “if Nadella thinks “scroogled” is strategy, MS is truly in finished” (Nadella is not really in charge, Ballmer and Gates still control him behind the scenes and he serves mostly as a public face).
So the official Microsoft strategy now revolves around throwing libel at Google, based on Penn’s promotion. Sam Dean, often an apologist for Microsoft, asked yesterday : “How Will Microsoft Respond to the Success of Chromebooks?”
Well, we think it’s very clear now: smears and patent litigation/extortion.
Welcome the ‘new’ Microsoft. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s newly-appointed Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, in an effort to reignite growth, is shuffling management and putting former political operative Mark Penn in the new role of chief strategy officer, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
As we’ve reported, although market research findings have been very bleak for PCs and PC equipment makers, Chromebooks–portable computers based on Google’s Chrome OS platform–have continued to sell well, and did especially well during the 2013 holiday season. These devices feature low prices, with some of the them going for $200, and a cloud-centric approach to working with apps and data. They also increasingly come with freebies, such as large amounts of free, online storage.
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Summary: The latest lies from Canalys are basically Microsoft promotion disguised as “just statistics”
WE HAVE REPEATEDLY seen and reported dubious claims of Microsoft “success” in mobile because it always turns out to be baseless propaganda, often from Microsoft-paid entities.
We are again seeing all sorts of ridiculous claims about Microsoft mobile “success” (tiny gains) — claims that are mostly thrown around for promotion by Microsoft booster and shameless (at times AstroTurfing) PR agencies. The Microsoft boosters really need some source to cite if they sell an illusion and ZDNet (part of ) is a popular source because there’s lots of Microsoft staff and boosters there, masquerading as “journalists” (Microsoft Zack, for example, plays the Microsoft “privacy” card at ZDNet these days, omitting his employment at Microsoft). ZDNet‘s worst writer, Rachel King (we covered her for propaganda and PR before), writes that “Windows Mobile is coming on the strongest, poised to be the biggest disruptor in 2014.” 
This reminds us of familiar deception from Microsoft- and Apple-funded firms like Net Applications (no longer cited anymore; maybe after a while they stop funding disgraced entities and move on to another, just as they do with their lobbyists).
Canalys and its shameless lies are already debunked thoroughly by Tomi Ahonen . “On Mythbusters today,” he wrote, “did Windows Phone really grow more last year than Android and iOS? We put Canalys to the test. And also in today’s program the Microsoft way to cook your books. Mythbusters team tires to turn a yes into a no. How can you tell the opposite of the truth through the magic of statistics.”
Remember when IDC was paid by Microsoft to make fake market share studies and also to push out to the press (not just IDG) bogus claims? Microsoft did the same with Gartner. So the question remains, what is the relationship (if any) between Canalys and Microsoft? We might never know. It took a long while to discover that Microsoft had paid Net Applications and also had former staff there (prolonging the myths around market share). It was not an isolated incident or example. We covered many more. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
For quite awhile now, there has been no question about which operating system dominates the smartphone market, domestic or worldwide. Android’s reach is not slowing down either, based on a new report from global market research firm Canalys.
Mark Twain quoted Benjamin Disraeli saying that there were three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. This is the mythbusters edition about Canalys the supposedly professional mobile industry analyst house who would like to sell you their expensive reports. its been a while since we’ve had to do some work as the industry’s stats police but unfortunately for the supposedly trustworthy Canalys, this is already the second time they are on our agenda.
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