‘Gifts’ from Microsoft
Summary: Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft’s proprietary software as openness and nicety
THERE is a truly disturbing thing going on in the media right now. News that Microsoft announced last year resurfaces again and it only serves to mislead the public.
The Microsoft BUILD event would be better off named BLOB. There’s no build process (for the public at least) when the end product is only binary, like Visual Studio Code or blobs for open/free/modular/hacker-friendly computer boards (Arduino and Raspberry Pi). The latest moves which Microsoft tries to paint as “open” are actually Microsoft injecting proprietary software into open platforms that aren’t Microsoft’s. It’s a form of abduction and ‘bastardisation’. Linux is replaced by Windows. Some “openness”, eh? Why does the media cover it so poorly and what’s with all the promotional language? The ‘newsflash’ here is that Microsoft gives a proprietary code editor to developers. Why would they need that? Because there aren’t any good code editors that are FOSS? There are plenty of them, including versatile ones like Eclipse, which also function as complete IDEs and support many hardware architectures.
According to this article from Phoronix (which has been helping Microsoft’s PR efforts a little too much as of late), “Ubuntu Make Adds Support For Visual Studio Code”. The original and the links to it (Softpedia covered this too) remind tell that “Ubuntu Make 0.7 is available via a PPA for users of Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10, and 15.04.”
So what’s the big deal? Do they really want us to download this? It’s proprietary software. It’s serves Microsoft, just like Skype, a malicious surveillance program. It is understandable that people like Adrian Bridgwater cover it because of their history of Microsoft apologetics (also see this new article from him), but why do FOSS- or GNU/Linux-leaning sites give Microsoft a platform/space? Here is Linux Veda treating as ‘news’ (from last year) proprietary software for several platforms (to help promote Microsoft APIs). This proprietary software story is receiving more publicity than Free software equivalents, even in GNU/Linux-focused sites. Why is that? Are they just parroting what they see on corporate media, which is actively being manipulated by Microsoft PR agencies? This is not important news and it’s not FOSS news.
Softpedia went further by reviewing this proprietary software in the GNU/Linux section. The author wrote: “After extracting the ZIP package, you’ll see a new folder that has the same name as the archive. To start Visual Studio Code on your Linux box, open the extracted folder and double-click the “Code” executable file.”
Microsoft’s Trojan horse for .NET is distributed as a binary blob and given Microsoft’s track record on back doors, surveillance, DRM and so forth it’s not a good idea to encourage others to run such programs. Here is OMG! Ubuntu doing the same thing, telling people how to install this blob in Ubuntu.
What was probably must frustrating would have to be this post from the body representing Linux. The Linux Foundation should know that Microsoft releasing a proprietary software binary (blob) is not “Microsoft Opens Up” (as the headline puts it, referring to just two links about proprietary software from Microsoft).
Our article about this was mentioned in Soylent News the other day, countering Microsoft’s self-serving (and misleading) narrative. This is what openwashing looks like: calling Microsoft “open source” because it released a binary blob. See the headline “Say goodbye to Micro$oft – the new Microsoft is all about openness”. Yes, blobs are “all about openness”. White is the new black.
Microsoft is also trying to make FOSS compilers more Windows-oriented, i.e. tied to proprietary platforms, based on Phoronix and Linux Veda [1, 2]. If this is “opening up”, then proprietary software is the new “Open Source” and ultimately, it’s all about Windows.
Phoronix, incidentally, also published this article about Mono, Microsoft’s Trojan horse for .NET promotion and dependency on Microsoft’s software patents. Why focus on such bits of software? They are part of the proprietary software stack which is actively attacking GNU/Linux in all sorts of ways, e.g. ‘secure’ boot (preventing people from using kernels of their choice or modifying and then executing them). This is an attack on Free software. Why help Microsoft’s agenda? Stockholm syndrome?
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols believes that “Windows embracing Android and iOS is a bad idea”. Well, if it’s an "embrace, extend, extinguish" approach, then it’s not such a bad idea. It’s evil and potentially effective (Microsoft destroyed competition this way many times before). Vaughan-Nichols asks: “How can there be a future for Windows on smartphones and tablets when Microsoft is encouraging developers to bring its apps from Apple and Google’s ecosystem?”
The basic idea is, take away all the applications and make them Windows applications while at the same time replacing applications from Apple or Google with Microsoft applications. Microsoft's booster Tim Anderson explained how it’s supposed to work and several other sites covered it [1, 2] as though it’s a nice gesture rather than an aggressive coup. Microsoft must be salivating at the sight of many who actually believe Microsoft wants peace. █
“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”
–Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée
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Book burning time
Summary: Microsoft’s embarrassing crimes against Netscape — the ones that put Bill Gates on trial and nearly split Microsoft — virtually forgotten as Netscape itself is made to ‘disappear’
THE grooming of Microsoft has gotten pretty bad, but it’s not nearly as bad as gross distortion of facts. The ToryGraph, an oftentimes pro-Microsoft paper, does some professional revisionism in the “Microsoft” section today, disguised quite shrewdly as “a brief history” of “Web browsers”. It’s really just a Microsoft ad, as one can instantaneously see.
“If often seems like Microsoft’s PR campaigns know no boundaries; they make what is perhaps the most famous Web browser in history just vanish, and not just once.”“Somehow they manage to leave out Netscape,” iophk wrote to us. Watch the comments and especially those commenters who allude to Netscape. One comment says: “Bloody rubbish. Internet Explorer was based on Mosiac and where is Netscape in the list?!”
This is disgusting. Microsoft propaganda that distorts history like this is something we have become accustomed to and have seen in the British media before. Having committed crimes against Netscape (see this petition text), Microsoft is yet again deleting it from history, like the Microsoft-connected BBC did for Microsoft half a decade ago in a TV programme. If often seems like Microsoft’s PR campaigns know no boundaries; they make what is perhaps the most famous Web browser in history just vanish, and not just once. We have shown more examples of this over the years. It’s not accidental. It’s extremely likely to be deliberate and conscious because only a fool or a self-deceiving journalist can make gross omissions like that. █
“Microsoft is, I think, fundamentally an evil company.”
–Former Netscape Chairman James H. Clark
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Disinformation system of Microsoft
Summary: Infosys, which is best known for its promotion of Microsoft in India, is distorting the meaning of ‘Open Source’ and joins a non-profit that is supposed to promote programming, not binary blobs
Open Source software, which is basically another label for Free/libre software (but with a different agenda), is essential for distinguishing not between brands but between development and distribution philosophies. Attacking the meaning of “Open Source” is means for confusing and impeding rational judgment. It is quickly becoming essential for proprietary software players in India. The government is increasingly stubborn on issues like software freedom and this government sometimes makes it imperative to share code.
Infosys is generally loathed here for all the dirty work it did for Microsoft in India over the years. It’s like Accenture in the UK. They may both seem like independent and local companies, but they are de facto salespeople or distributors of Microsoft. They are like channel partners. They are middlemen.
Yesterday we saw that “Infosys partners with Microsoft to offer Finacle on Azure”. Well, Infosys does not need to “partner with Microsoft”, it is already an integral part of Microsoft in many ways (Microsoft even outsources some of its jobs to Infosys). Finacle is therefore a horrible trap that not only makes people dependent on proprietary software but also spies on the users all across in India (Microsoft works with the NSA, so it is foreign surveillance via Microsoft/PRISM). In the midst of many articles about it — basically a load of promotional rubbish with minimal variation in wording [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] — we found ourselves distracted by a non-Indian news site going with the headline “Infosys turns to open source to drive data innovation”. So many buzzwords must mean it’s more like promotional rubbish and it most likely is. To quote the opening: “Infosys has released details of its Infosys Information Platform (IIP), which includes new pre-packaged solutions from Infosys Finacle and Infosys BPO.”
“Infosys is about code and non-profit to the same degree that BP is about ecology and charity.”Why does the headline say “open source”? It’s nothing of that kind. There is nothing at all that is Open Source about it. Infosys is doing something disgusting by even trying to exploit that angle. Claiming to make an “Open Source” platform when in fact using proprietary software with spying is beyond shameless, it is not just false marketing. Alas, being a Microsoft proxy in India, Infosys’ openwashing of proprietary software is only to be expected, especially because of new government policies in India (favouring Free/Open Source software, as we noted here before and above).
Watch another appalling move from Infosys, mimicking the likes of Facebook. Yet another Microsoft pusher, Infosys (also see what its Web site runs), makes code.org (Computer Science education push) a proprietary software plot. Infosys is about code and non-profit to the same degree that BP is about ecology and charity.
In order for Microsoft to fail in India it is probably very important that activists take action against Infosys. It’s a parasite and a leech. It harms India’s interests, not just the interests of Free/Open Source communities. █
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When food becomes FUD
Summary: Raspberry Pi and Arduino carry water for Microsoft as part of the publicity stunts for Vista 10, the operating system which Microsoft tells investors is “marketing”
More Microsoft infiltrations (the "embrace, extend extinguish" type) were announced in this week’s Microsoft conference. They’re paying for it. It goes further than Android, which Microsoft is now trying to engulf by assimilation (this article from a Microsoft-leaning site called it “huge news”).
Today’s other news (not about Android) says “Microsoft woos makers: Windows 10 for RPi 2, Arduino”, which means taking them away from Linux. Microsoft is “Embracing, Extending, Extinguishing” (the old trick), as was done previously to OLPC. Arduino and Raspberry Pi are making a huge mistake here, but Microsoft is almost certainly paying them to play along. Back in the days we wrote that “Raspberry Pi Represents the Rise of Freedom-Respecting Embedded GNU/Linux” and months ago, right after Raspberry Pi climbed to Microsoft’s bed we wrote that “OLPC Lessons Not Learned: Imposing Microsoft Windows on Young Students Using Embrace, Extend and Extinguish of Raspberry Pi“.
Microsoft is still bribing (or ‘incentivising’, to use a euphemism) those who are spreading Linux, using the guise of ‘deals’. The bribed are selling out for a quick buck, just as Novell did back in 2006.
Raspberry Pi may soon be increasingly used as just a Windows terminal, based on articles from Microsoft boosters [1, 2, 3]. Is this a good thing? If Raspberry Pi becomes just a terminal for Windows, then what’s the point of Linux? Microsoft is now working to remove Linux altogether, making Raspberry Pi just another Windows computer. See articles like “Get your Windows 10 preview for Raspberry Pi 2 while it’s hot”, among others [1, 3, 4, 5, 6]. “Microsoft releases Windows 10 IoT developer tool for Raspberry Pi 2,” according to one source, so it’s all about spreading Windows to a lot of devices.
Arduino sells out just like Raspberry Pi, based on reports like this . To quote: “During Build 2015 this week Microsoft and Arduino have announced a new partnership that will provide makers, hobbyists and developers with the ability to use an “Arduino Certified” Windows 10 software package.”
What a misuse of the word “Certified”. Nothing needs to be Linux-certified, it’s just Microsoft marketing jargon. Also see articles like “Microsoft goes big on Arduino boards” and “Windows 10 gets ‘Arduino-certified’ with two new open source libraries”. There is nothing “open source” about it. Gross openwashing.
This is all part of the Vista 10 marketing blitz, which Microsoft itself admits is all about marketing, not substance. It’s a big pile of lies. █
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Summary: Canonical’s Ubuntu is now used as the bait by which to seduce developers in the GNU/Linux world into Microsoft dependencies, surveillance, and software patents
MANY PEOPLE’S FAVOURITE DISTRIBUTION UBUNTU (many do prefer it the most, or at least its derivatives, owing to alleged ease of use) has reportedly been used by Microsoft to advance the latest campaign of Visual Studio openwashing. Visual Studio is proprietary Microsoft lock-in, nothing to do with Free/Open Source, so this is very sneaky and crude. Nevertheless, some in the Free/Open Source world are easily fooled. “Microsoft seems to take a more friendly approach towards the Linux community,” said one journalist, “and now they’ve done something that might have seemed impossible a couple years back. They demoed an app running in a Linux distro at the BUILD 2015 developer conference that takes place in San Francisco, California.”
What is this app though? Microsoft either releases software that promotes its proprietary stack of its surveillance network (‘cloud’). Remember when Novell stood side by side with Microsoft while helping it infiltrate and divide Free/Open Source software with patents? This is what Canonical should keep in mind now that it’s jumping into Microsoft's 'cloud'.
According to [1,2], Microsoft is now copying Canonical’s ideas. Ubuntu does not need Visual Studio, but Microsoft truly needs developers, developers, developers, especially now that many are migrating to (or have already migrated to) Free/libre software that empowers them and emancipates them, as well as users. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Remember a couple years back when Canonical was showing us how you could transform your phone into a full-fledged Ubuntu PC? That was a more of a concept, but it’s 2015 and that hasn’t been made possible yet, at least not by Canonical. Microsoft just demoed the same thing with its Windows phone.
Microsoft’s ploy to transform Windows Phones into full-blown Windows PCs when connected to an external monitor may seem revolutionary, but it’s nothing new. At least not in theory.
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Summary: Microsoft Windows mentality and strong dependencies continue to cause immeasurable damage that costs people a lot in terms money and in terms of health
London police (Met Police) continues to waste money on a platform with back doors (accessible by a foreign nation), according to this report from The Inquirer.
“THE UK METROPOLITAN POLICE,” it says, “has confirmed it will be seeking an extended support deal with Microsoft, after it was revealed that it is still running a staggering 35,000-plus machines powered by Windows XP almost 13 months after the operating system was degraded to end of life.” They are paying vast amounts of money to merely maintain a terrible operating system which is unfit for purpose. What a heist! Microsoft makes a lot of money from obsolescence. It’s the same in the NHS. They must both migrate to GNU/Linux to justify the amount of money they cost British taxpayers, never mind privacy aspects. London police has been stuck with Microsoft Windows for quite some time and there have been security-related incidents due to it. How much is too much? It’s a matter of national security, not just cost.
In other news, Fukushima’s nuclear facilities used a 10 year-old operating system, Windows XP, during the meltdown in 2011, according to this other report from The Inquirer. “Fukushima nuclear plant ordered to upgrade from Windows XP” says the headline, so presumably they mean other versions of Windows rather than GNU/Linux. People who think that it’s acceptable to run Windows in nuclear facilities should recall BP, whose platform caught on fire due to Windows (at least the alerting failed, due to Windows blue screens of death). With GE’s involvement in Fukushima’s nuclear facilities it might be worth noting that GE recently dumped Windows when it comes to its CT scanners, which emit a lot of radiation. Someone who works at GE told me about this migration some months ago. They are moving to GNU/Linux.
“These need to be looking at FOSS,” wrote to us iophk, “including transitioning suites like Zentyal The exit costs need to be included in any upcoming assessments of considerations.” █
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Summary: Another publicity stunt from Microsoft, this time going under the name ‘Visual Studio Code’, which is basically proprietary lock-in
DESPITE an openwashing campaign and an effort to deceive the public (as chronicled here before), Visual Studio is (and will remain) proprietary. There is currently yet another PR blitz from Microsoft, which at the moment is trying to openwash it and pretend that it’s ‘news’ (it’s not, it goes back to last year).
Sadly, some FOSS proponents have already fallen for it and Phoronix is doing marketing for Microsoft [1, 2]. This is not really news and it’s not even a surprise. It’s just some publicity stunt which got Microsoft boosters and Microsoft-friendly sites on board. There is a press release and a lot of what looks like ‘prepared’ coverage (ghost-written or written in advance with a so-called ‘embargo’) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, , 12, 13, 14, 15, 16].
Microsoft may be good at marketing, even when it comes to proprietary software whose aim is to promote Microsoft APIs, i.e. Microsoft lock-in. █
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“The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues”
Summary: Omission of important developments around Microsoft’s war on GNU/Linux and Free software, notably against Android and ChromeOS as of late
II IS HARD to remain apathetic or even maintain neutrally towards the corporate (or “mainstream”) media when it shamelessly does so much Microsoft promotion, including dissemination of utter lies, which Microsoft calls "marketing" (nice euphemism for lies). Here is Eric Knorr, IDG’s editor of InfoWorld (one of several IDG technology ‘news’ sites), continuing to act more like a Microsoft salesman. If Microsoft can get away with gross distortion of facts, like saying that it “loves Linux”, then truth is a primary casualty and the press/media becomes complicit in Microsoft’s war.
Here is Microsoft’s propagandist Paul Thurrott writing about the "embrace extend extinguish" endeavor bu Microsoft against Android and Linux. Microsoft loves neither of them; it hates both of them and it is busy trying to destroy them from the inside (because attacks from the outside have not worked so far). Where is the media in all this and why is it not covering Microsoft’s patent war on Android and Linux? It’s nowhere to be seen, even when new extortion deals are announced (almost nobody covered this at all!). We only find a lot of comments about it, but nowhere in the corporate press is there sign of that. It’s like there’s an effort to hide evidence that Microsoft is viciously attacking Android and Linux using patents and other subversive means.
Microsoft is trying to stay relevant and keep Windows within the game by mixing it with the platform which is now most dominant and Linux-based (Android) while at the same time attempting to devour GNU/Linux in its ‘cloud’ (Azure). Remember what Microsoft did to Netscape and Java in the 1990s. Any such “embrace” by Microsoft usually means an embrace of a python; the ultimate goal is to kill.
What we found rather disturbing was the degree to which the narrative of Microsoft of the victim got pushed into the media. “Microsoft loses mobile patent infringement lawsuit,” said a Microsoft-friendly site. It is not about patent extortion failing but about Microsoft being the target of a troll, much like itself and its own trolls. “A U.S. International Trade Commission judge,” says the report, “has ruled against Microsoft in a patent infringement lawsuit, finding the company used patented software from InterDigital Inc. in its mobile phones.
“The judge ruled Microsoft infringed on two wireless cellular patents, which date back to original patent infringement claims against Nokia in 2007, which Microsoft acquired in 2013. The judge said it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft devices from being imported into the United States, though the full trade commission must review the decision before any ban takes place.
“In a statement, Microsoft confirmed it would continue to challenge the patent infringement claims as an ongoing part of the process.”
ITC rulings do not immediately take effect, so Microsoft will most likely get its way at the end (see I4i vs Microsoft for similarities). Why is this even such massive news? We wrote about InterDigital before and there is nothing exceptional about it. It has been around for a long time (it used to fight with Nokia), Google wanted to buy it, and it hired an executive from Mozilla. Reuters considered that to be top news with subsequent updates (at least two of them). It said that “Microsoft Corp lost a round in a potentially costly patent battle when a U.S. International Trade Commission judge on Monday found that the software giant used InterDigital Inc’s technology in its mobile phones without permission.
“The judge, Theodore Essex, said that Microsoft infringed two wireless cellular patents owned by InterDigital, a patent licensor, and said it would not be against the public interest to ban the Microsoft devices from being imported into the United States.”
That’s about it. No real reports, i.e. reports which add something new, have since then arrived. There have since then been many dozens of superficial (PR-like) articles about this [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36], despite the fact that almost nobody ever buys these phones and Microsoft barely even counts in the mobile market. There is not even a ban, expect an appeal to come.
By contrast, here is some of this week’s coverage about Apple in China [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Apple, unlike Microsoft, at least has some market share. Why is it that corporate media only ever covers patents-related news when giants like Google, Apple or Microsoft are in some way involved and pro-patents slant is possible?
As we mentioned the other day, Google is not looking for a real patent reform anymore, it just wants to buy a lot of patents. We found about a hundred different articles about this, including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18].
Where are the stories about Microsoft’s patent attacks on Android and GNU/Linux? Why is there such deafening silence on this important matter? There is seemingly no interest in investigative/original journalism anymore, just promotion of brands. █
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