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12.16.14

Bill Gates’ Pet Troll Intellectual Ventures is Collapsing as Founder Quits

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 4:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gates and his friend are not having the last laugh

Bill and Nathan

Summary: Intellectual Ventures founder leaves after an exceptionally large round of layoffs, despite recent subsidies from Sony and Microsoft

As noted in the previous post, software patents are gradually going away (if trends are to be judged). Not too long ago we showed how Intellectual Ventures laid off much of its staff after the Alice ruling (amid other ongoing issues). The layoffs were widely reported on and now we learn that Detkin is leaving while saying that “market is tough right now”. It is hilarious because he refers to extortion as a “market”. The news about his departure is excellent news, but he probably won’t go to prison for extortion and a pyramid scheme.

Here is the word from the site which targets trolls but not patent scope:

Here’s some schadenfreude for your Monday: seems that Peter Detkin is leaving Intellectual Ventures. As I noted about a year ago, IV has been having a tough time, although it’s not clear why Detkin is stepping down.

It is worth noting that Sony and Microsoft recently paid more money to Intellectual Ventures in order to keep it afloat. It is also worth noting that Microsoft and Sony share investments in other massive patent trolls and they also share a role in crimes, outlined in part by [1,2,3] (below) and revelations about Sony threatening journalists while launching DDOS attacks. As Will Hill put it the other day:

Inside the Perception Management and Censorship Machine: The Sony Crack Yields Evidence of More Sony Criminal Conduct

Techdirt reports political corruption and bribery against Google by all the major movie studios, all missed by the incompetence or malice of The Verge, a Microsoft mouthpiece. Big publishers are insatiable censors interested only in maintaining their dominant position as determiners of world culture. Google’s efforts to please them only served evil.

The Microsoft press also focuses on Hollywood celebrities and personalized trivia. While it’s nice to learn that Sony executives are racist pigs with a 0.01% sense of privilege and power, hundreds of articles like this will pollute the name space and make it difficult to find real news later.

email exchanges also included racially insensitive remarks about President Obama and derisive comments about Hollywood heavyweights like Kevin Hart and Adam Sandler.

Microsoft often pollutes name spaces and is probably coming to the rescue of their big publisher pals. Microsoft is also persistent censorship threat. They are the biggest issuer of DMCA take down requests, a prolific briber of public officials, university professors, and they created an entire search engine by spying on Windows users to know what results scrape from Google. If you want to know just how dishonest a company they are read their training manuals about subverting the press [2]

Sony themselves are using every botnet and cracking tool at their disposal to stop people from sharing their leaked emails. Amazon Web Services is also being used to censor the files. It’s not about movies, it’s about the embarrassment of power.

The company is using hundreds of computers in Asia to execute what’s known as a denial of service attack on sites where its pilfered data is available … Sony is using Amazon Web Services, the Internet retailer’s cloud computing unit, which operates data centers in Tokyo and Singapore, to carry out the counterattack … individuals who attempted to access the torrent file encountered bogus “seeds” — or computers — that sapped the resources of their software …

There’s a great deal of fear mongering and BS going on. While the attack was typical Windows malware, the FBI is reported to say it’s really sophisticated and that 90% of businesses and governments are open to similar attacks. If you don’t use Windows, you don’t have to worry about this one. The FBI also says there is no connection to North Korea, but that’s being brought up about as often as Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Sony is a criminal company as has been obvious since their nasty music CD root kit fiasco. Not only did they root millions of computers, which must have included sensitive “protected” military, government and health care systems, they committed criminal copyright infringement by using GNU software to make it. As Richard Stallman noted at the time,

Sony didn’t comply with all that [the GPL]. That’s commercial copyright infringement, which is a felony. They’re both felonies, but Sony wasn’t prosecuted because the government understands that the purpose of the government and the law is to maintain the power of those companies over us, not to help defend our freedom in any way.

If you did not believe him then, Snowden and other brave people are providing you with plenty of proof.

One more area where Sony and Microsoft intersect is patent attacks on Google, among other attacks of other types. See the new report titled “Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google”. A lot of companies, including Facebook which uses the same lobbyists as Microsoft, pressure politicians to harm Google, a steward or guardian of some important FOSS projects, including Linux-based operating systems.

In other news from the above site (the original is unfortunately behind a paywall), there is a new breed of troll which Matt Levy explains as follows:

Here’s the scenario: a patent troll files a suit (or suits) and wins a big judgment. Another company then files an inter partes review petition with the PTAB against the patent troll’s patent and demands a payoff from the patent troll in exchange for withdrawing the petition. If the troll doesn’t pay, it risks losing its patent in the IPR.

I would be more upset about this if I could stop laughing, although it’s hardly a positive development. It can’t be good to have more trolls, even if their victims are patent trolls. Unless of course this new twist helps spotlight dysfunctionality in the patent system for the new Congress.

It’s like extortion against extortion and it is not going to work (blackmail is inherently a problem). It’s like trying to extinguish terrorism using terrorism.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Sony Leak: The Secret Meetings That Set Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy War Plan

    Every year, legal representatives from seven of the biggest movie studios in the country gather in Sherman Oaks, California to talk about all things anti-piracy. Which isn’t surprising; it’s their livelihood, after all. But what does leaves a sour taste in your mouth is their plan to spread the DMCA-dispensing gospel: With shadowy back room dealings and skewed facts.

    According to an email in the leaked inbox of Sony Pictures General Counsel Leah Weil, the meeting is facilitated by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as a way for the top lawyers at Sony, Time Warner, Viacom, Paramount, Disney, NBC Universal, and Fox to put their heads together and talk global strategy.

  2. Sony Hackers Threaten to Release a Huge ‘Christmas Gift’ of Secrets

    As leaks from the recent Sony hack continue to make headlines and company executives apologize for insensitive comments made in exposed emails, we still don’t know how the hack occurred or the exact nature of the demands made by the attackers. But we’ve learned a bit about Sony’s security practices. And we’ve learned that the attackers may have tried to extort Sony before releasing its secrets. We’ve also learned that attempts by Sony to rally public support from rival studios has failed.

  3. News Agencies Are Within Their Rights to Report on the Leaked Sony Data

    On Sunday, a lawyer from Sony Pictures Entertainment sent a strongly-worded letter to news organizations, including The New York Times and Hollywood Reporter, demanding that they not report on the vast quantity of data in the Sony leak.

12.13.14

Time to Take Microsoft Out of British Aviation Before Planes Crash Into Buildings

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 7:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fault-intolerant systems with back doors a recipe for disaster

Takeoff

Summary: London’s mighty Heathrow Airport among those affected by a Microsoft-reliant air traffic control system which is not being able to properly recover from an outage, and not for the first time either

BRITS were aviation pioneers and arguably the fathers of aviation (depending on which version of history and definitions one picks). But British aviation, which is well beyond just British Airways in this globalised world, lost the confidence of much of the world yesterday. That’s for two reasons. First, an incident was reported where a drone came just 6 meters away from physical collision with a civilians-filled commercial plane (high capacity with many passengers) and simultaneously there were reports like [1, 2, 3, 4] about the computer system in of of the busiest airports in the whole world malfunctioning or altogether failing to operate while planes come (or are supposed to leave) at a pace of about one per minute. Everyone keeps asking, who is responsible for this? Curiously enough almost nobody calls out Windows. The press should know that a Windows error is not “computer error” (even The Independent, which is relatively decent British press, failed to note this). London must have been nuts to have chosen NATS, which heavily relies on Microsoft and Windows. National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is, according to a Microsoft booster, a huge Microsoft client:

Gavin Clarke writes: National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at Swanwick in Hampshire, is a major customer of Microsoft with Windows on PCs and servers, and Office 2010 under a volume Enterprise Agreement.

NATS has upgraded to Windows 7 from XP on the desktop. It also has a load of RISC boxes and IBM gear, we’re told. There’s no indication what component of the network was at fault at this time.

Air traffic services are run by a relatively small IT team with knowhow and support from Lockheed Martin. Common-or-garden tech is outsourced to Serco, Capgemini, Amore Group Attenda, BT and Vodafone.

So blame everyone except Microsoft, right? This has become an International embarrassment for London, a tourists magnet that truly helps the British economy, and it’s due to dependence on Microsoft Windows. This is the second time it happens in about a year, so how safe are tourists going to feel? There is no need for terrorists to crash planes into buildings when Microsoft Windows crashes, leaving pilots and ground control unable to properly navigate in very busy skies (many planes fly over London all day long). NATS “is a major customer of Microsoft Windows on PCs and servers,” based on a person close to Microsoft, so what can one deduce from this? NATS has no technical skills for having chosen a platform with back doors and no resilience/error recovery comparable to that of Linux (and GNU). London’s airport authorities should take a lesson from LSE (London Stock Exchange) and move to GNU/Linux. “In December 2013, a computer problem at Swanwick took 12 hours to fix,” says one of the articles above, so it’s a recurring issue, much like LSE’s issues, which used to fall offline repeatedly for long periods of time because of Microsoft (there is no news about LSE crashes since it moved to GNU/Linux). Windows is clearly not fault-resilient, just like in LSE’s case, as the Windows-based systems failed to recover from a short outage. Microsoft’s file systems are ancient and there are other factors that make Windows too immature for real-world applications. Pilots reportedly lost persistent contact with staff on the ground, for the second time in about a year. Planes may not run Windows (there is Linux in parts of them), but they depend on what is used on the ground. Each country each its own system/s, but overlap exists,.

“Do we need to see passenger planes falling down on a city with about 10 million people (daytime population is even greater) before action is demanded and change is implemented?”Do we need to see passenger planes falling down on a city with about 10 million people (daytime population is even greater) before action is demanded and change is implemented? Judging by some of the latest news about the latest build of Windows, quality control is still worse than anything. Useds [sics] of Vista 10 are now forced to go back to last month’s back doors, demonstrating that Microsoft Windows is still one of the worst operating systems one can put on a PC (never mind a server):

USERS OF THE WINDOWS 10 Technical Preview have been advised to uninstall Microsoft Office before applying this month’s Patch Tuesday security updates, then to reinstall it.

Testers have been warned since the announcement and release of the Preview to expect complications and irregularities with the operating system as it is in no way considered finished.

It is rather an opportunity for people to feed back on its development before consumer release in the second half of 2015.

Also worthy of note in the December 2014 Patch Tuesday is that none of the seven updates affects users of the Microsoft Surface tablet range.

The seven updates provide fixes for 24 vulnerabilities, four rated critical and three rated important.

Do not let aviation system become on an operation system with NSA back doors (meaning that mission-critical systems can be hijacked and manipulated for sabotage, as in the case of Stuxnet). It is worse than irresponsible and in some circumstances it can put people with suits in jail, just like that boat incident in South Korea. Ignorance is not an excuse and we needn’t wait for a disaster (actual death, not just blue screen of death) before the Trojan horse is dumped. Remember the cause of the Spanair crash and also what sank BP's platform and contaminated the Gulf of Mexico. Then too the blue screen of death meant deaths; Many deaths, not just of people, and not only short-term.

12.11.14

Ubuntu Core Announcement is Not About Microsoft and Hosting Ubuntu on Azure is Worse Than Stupid

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Servers, Ubuntu at 12:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The power of media spin makes the idea of hosting Free software under the control of an NSA PRISM and back doors partner seem alluring

IN the spirit of tackling FUD we thought it would be worthwhile to tackle spin regarding the news of Ubuntu Core (news that already appears in our daily links).

Microsoft boosters such as Microsoft Gavin try to frame it as Microsoft news, saying: “A smartphone-inspired version of Ubuntu Server for Docker minimalists has been revealed with initial backing from Microsoft.” The headline is even worse. It’s deceiving for the sake of drama.

The news is not about Microsoft. This is what is called bias by omission or selection — similar to this lousy piece from Lance Whitney, former staff of Microsoft media whose latest propaganda is now omitting an old disclosure saying that he is Microsoft’s ‘former’ staff and uses US-only spin to make Android look bad (the US is not the whole world and economic advantage favours overpriced phones).

Several readers have told us that the article “Canonical restructures Ubuntu in mobile mode; Microsoft is first partner” had been removed (we searched the site to verify this) before it was reinstated. How odd. No explanation was given and while it was gone we made a copy from the Google cache of the article, very shortly after it had been deleted, then created permanent archive of the removed version. We wrote publicly at around noon yesterday about how this article vanished after it had been posted (just shortly before we made copies from Google cache and also used archive.is). We later compared the version we had archived with what was reinstated and found no obvious differences in the text. Well, maybe the problem was purely technical, but the content of the article from Paul Gillin was curious, not just the angle. A reader of ours explained: “Below is the text of an article which just disappeared. It was online for only a few hours but contains some very incriminating statements. More might show up later, but for now this is all I have. It sure explains why the Ubuntu forums moderators/staff have been slamming RMS and censoring critique of Microsoft and His Billness – in any context.”

“The situation is bad,” explained our reader. “The previous article was not a mistake” because there is other coverage although it does not provide the Microsoft spin, including phrases such as those highlighted in Diaspora. The factual part is this:

Ubuntu Core is now available on Microsoft’s Azure cloud.

This, however, is not the main news. A lot of effort was put into injecting some pro-Microsoft angle. Here is where promotional spin got injected (apart from the headline):

“Ubuntu Core is the smallest, leanest Ubuntu ever, perfect for ultra-dense computing in cloud container farms,” the company said in a press release. In a twist that’s sure to prompt a double-take from many industry veterans, Canonical chose the Azure cloud from longtime Linux foe Microsoft as its first deployment platform. “Microsoft loves Linux,” said Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.

“Microsoft has been a terrific steward of Ubuntu,” said Dustin Kirkland, product manager for Ubuntu Core, in an interview. “We have a very tight relationship.” The deal with Microsoft is exclusive for ”a couple of weeks,” after which Ubuntu Core is expected to be available on all public clouds that currently support the operating system.

So ‘“Microsoft loves Linux,” said Bob Kelly, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft, in a prepared statement.’

This is part of the new lie which we wrote about in articles such as:

The problem with articles like the above is the pursuit for talking points to lull the victim into passivity, pretending that Microsoft is now like a “best friend” of GNU/Linux. All that Microsoft does with Ubuntu Core is put it under surveillance and back door control. That’s what Azure is about, as NSA leaks serve to demonstrate.

We could of course tackle some other propaganda if we had more time for writing (I am working full time myself). Consider this new UBM spin which pretends TrueCrypt is FOSS (it’s definitely not) and cites one bug (in OpenSSL) to pretend FOSS as a whole is less secure than proprietary software blobs. There is another ugly story making the rounds about a so-called attack on GNU/Linux machines (attributing it to a government, possibly Russia’s); all the stories we have found (over a dozen so far) neglect to say that the victim must install the rogue code himself or herself, it cannot really propagate except by the user’s stupidity or recklessness. Finally, there is another batch of stories about DCOS, which is backed by a Microsoft thug who boasted about “tilting into a death spiral” competitors of Microsoft and bankrolled Microsoft proxies. DCOS — like Azure — is attempting to control GNU/Linux guests at a higher level. IDG called it a “data center OS” that “allows single-source command for Linux servers”, potentially providing a back door. I have personally seen companies that manage hundreds of GNU/Linux servers from VSphere (proprietary from EMC, which is connected to RSA and hence NSA back doors) on top of Microsoft Windows (also back doors). Can EMC be trusted to not allow intrusion? Can Microsoft? These are rhetorical questions.

Anyone who is reckless enough to put a Ubuntu machine under Microsoft hosting sure has not been keeping up with news. Canonical too would be reckless to recommend such a thing, but perhaps it has short-term thinking, pursuing Microsoft dollars at the expense of customers’ security.

12.07.14

CBS Brushing Aside and Away Microsoft’s History of Blackmail and Bribes Against Linux

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 10:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Putting in context some of the poor reporting (or whitewash) regarding Microsoft’s bribe (disguised as “partnership”) to Barnes & Noble

TECHRIGHTS sincerely regrets to report that the media is letting down the historical record, letting down facts, and ultimately letting down Free software, which has been under a massive patent attack from Microsoft since the Microsoft-Novell deal (November of 2006). While the corporate press would have us believe that Microsoft now “loves” GNU/Linux and is embracing FOSS (like a python embraces sheep maybe), the truth could not be further from that. Day after day this form of propaganda or conditioning would have us believe that white is black and black is white. It’s the same in technology as it is in politics.

Microsoft’s hatred of GNU/Linux and FOSS is best understood, objectively, by looking at Microsoft’s actions, especially backroom deals that it hides from journalists or prevents (through abuse and trolling) journalists from revealing to the public. One cannot judge an action by assessing only what the subject of scrutiny presents. Microsoft is great at media manipulation and today’s example is an excellent one. History is being rewritten before our eyes.

“Several years down the line the press suffers amnesia and something that resembles Nokia revisionism (blaming Nokia rather than Microsoft for Nokia’s demise).”Several years ago we explained why Microsoft’s ‘partnership’ with Barnes & Noble was essentially a bribe against Linux. Groklaw covered this repeatedly in about half a dozen long articles. Several years down the line the press suffers amnesia and something that resembles Nokia revisionism (blaming Nokia rather than Microsoft for Nokia’s demise).

Truthfully, we have already said almost everything that there is to be said about the latest news, but the CBS-owned CNET has just published a peculiar piece with Microsoft’s statement embedded. It’s revisionism from Don Reisinger, who relays the most omissions-filled story we have found so far (no need for an extensive articles roundup here). Absolutely nothing is said about the patent battle that Microsoft tried to end as it put in jeopardy the whole racket operation that Microsoft had been running against many companies. Nothing! It makes it sound like an innocent ‘deal’ where Barnes & Noble is the loser and Microsoft is the supposed ‘rescuer’.

In our assessment, which may seem blunt, Barnes & Noble should take Microsoft to court again, both for extortion and for bribery (intended to hide the extortion and keep it going). Here is Reisinger’s ‘article’ acting as a Microsoft platform with Microsoft taking points:

“As the respective business strategies of each company evolved, we mutually agreed that it made sense to terminate the agreement,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement, providing little insignt into the decision to nix the marriage with Barnes & Noble.

Translation: we no longer needed to suppress our victim, which we had been blackmailing, so we swiftly went away, having left in tatters yet another so-called ‘partner’. We successfully completed a “divide and rule” Mafia routine, accomplishing sustainable of our profitable, fear-inducing racket.

This it was not a “partnership” as Microsoft boosters try to label it; it’s a disguise for a bribe to be passed over and stay in tact while the company dies and is no longer willing to battle Microsoft in court over the blackmail from Microsoft’s Mafia thugs.

Will Hill wrote about that report (and ones like it) as well, noting that it’s a form of bribe. He pieced together older bits of coverage about that.

Microsoft Damage to Barnes and Noble

News about the end of Microsoft’s software patent extortion schemes is being used to broadcast old talking points. OEMs big and small are ending their “deals” with Microsoft in the wake of recent US court decisions and the complete failure of Apple’s “thermonuclear” patent assault on Android. Now that we start to hear about Barnes and Noble, the Microsoft press is cranking up and people might be tempted to wade through endless chains of Microsoft nonsense. Go straight to your favorite search engine and read through Groklaw or Techrights instead.

Microsoft booster, Peter Bright, reports the end of the Barnes and Noble software patent extortion. The article is relatively fact and history free but the news has stirred up all sorts of misinformation, as is always the case when Microsoft destroys things. That’s a shame because the B&N case taught us a great deal about Microsoft’s extortion tactics and how they ruin companies.

Barnes and Noble was unusual because the company initially refused Microsoft and refused to sign a non disclosure agreement. When they fought Microsoft’s advances, they were free to tell the world what was happening. Groklaw and Techrights followed the case closely. It only ended when Microsoft paid B&N a $300 million dollar bribe to settle.

Two damaging pieces of misinformation showing up are that Microsoft made a billion dollars a year from Samsung over software patents and that Nook was always a loser. This was an estimate irresponsibly presented as fact by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols,

What we didn’t know was just how much Microsoft profits from its patent deals from any single vendor. Now we do. In 2013 alone, Microsoft made a billion dollars from its Samsung Android patent licensing deal alone.

If you click through the author’s self cite, you see the same number presented as an estimate, along with quotes from the paid Microsoft shill, Florian Mueller. Behind that is six levels of Microsoft press obfuscation and self referencing nonsense. There’s a a Yahoo reprint of a BGR article which itself references a Digital Trends article from August 2013, rife with wild guesses and misinformation from Garner, $1 per device, and crazier estimates from Goldman Sachs (2011) and Trefis (2012). That’s the way the Microsoft pres works to establish complete bullshit as common knowledge and smear competitors with wild talking points like, “Google’s message to device makers has been Android is free and open, but you’re on your own if someone sues,” while Google was working with Motorola to fight the same lawsuits.

The bit about Nook being a loser is presented as a fact without citations but is easily disproved. Techrights documented the precipitous decline that followed the Microsoft deal. Microsoft boosters say the same things about Nokia before Elop and every other company Microsoft destroys.

What B&N really showed us is conveniently hidden behind a cloud of Microsoft press bullshit. They proved it was better to fight Microsoft’s flimsy patents and that licensing deal speculation is pure hogwash. How could anyone believe Microsoft is paid some money per device when it’s obvious that B&N was paid to shut up and no one else is talking? That’s the magic of Microsoft press perception management.

I have a feeling that the only thing keeping Microsoft out of bankruptcy is US government money. Besides the usual flow of government and big dumb company spending, we know that Microsoft got their share of “bail out” in the 2008 mortgage fraud meltdown and wealth transfer. We also know that Microsoft has been getting their share of NSA money which, of course, was carefully obfuscated in annual reports.

Thanks, Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊) for following B&N so well over the years.

To summarise, Barnes & Noble is not just a victim of a Microsoft ‘partnership’. It was first the victim of Microsoft racketeering, whereupon it challenged Microsoft in court and then received a large bribe from Microsoft to allow Microsoft to carry on the racket (against companies other than Barnes & Noble).

And some say (and even insist) that Microsoft has changed…

Microsoft and the Mafia share a lot more than the first letter.

12.06.14

The Threat is Not Over: Microsoft Bribes Against Linux Adoption and in Favour of Extortion Against Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A reminder of the fact that Microsoft actively and even illegally challenges the adoption of GNU/Linux

TECHRIGHTS agrees with Christine Hall (FOSS Force) nearly all the time, except when it comes to DRM and this new piece which downplays Microsoft’s threat to FOSS. A lot of people foolishly choose to believe that Microsoft has changed, but all that has changed is Microsoft’s public face. The lawsuits, the abuses, the sabotage etc. continue to this day and so do the AstroTurfing tactics. We cover a lot of examples and we occasionally show that Microsoft is worse and more abusive than before. It just hides it better from many more people. It’s about visibility.

A lot of people seem to have forgotten (or are not taking for granted) that Microsoft extorts GNU/Linux. It’s not just about Android but also SUSE, which is busy bribing its critics to create positive coverage for itself (we don’t know if Bryan Lunduke too was bribed, but we know about several others). Microsoft is still a powerhouse of media manipulation, owing to PR agencies that it has harassing journalists. Let’s look at a timely example. If you criticise the CBS-owned ZDNet (technology propaganda site) in any of its sites over its propaganda pact with Microsoft, then they will censor (delete) your comments. It’s about visibility; even its pact with Microsoft is hard to come by. As we have shown before, there is a rogue relationship there, with staff that works for ZDNet and Microsoft simultaneously, commenters who anonymously post from Microsoft, commenters whom Microsoft is paying, etc. ZDNet is so utterly determined to spew out Microsoft propaganda that it hires Microsoft staff, publishes ads as “articles”, and even resorts to bullying innocent people (women too) who write negative reviews about Microsoft-branded products (yes, Ed Bott has just done that too). Microsoft Jack is now fudging numbers to make the utterly terrible Vista 8 (worst ever Windows) look like a “success”. Well, that’s ZDNet: Veiled advertising/agenda disguised as “news” from Microsoft boosters like Ed Bott et al. as well as past and present Microsoft staff. But it’s not just ZDNet though. Look who advertises Microsoft in AOL articles. Yes, it’s still Sarah Perez, who does not disclose her past salaries from Microsoft. This is just one aspect among many which remind us of Microsoft’s exceptional evil, witch-hunting critics of its products, firing (or causing the firing) of critics, and injecting propaganda into the media. There has been a big dispute over at Twitter about this. ZDNet is finally receiving some heat.

“This is just one aspect among many which remind us of Microsoft’s exceptional evil, witch-hunting critics of its products, firing (or causing the firing) of critics, and injecting propaganda into the media.”Over at Condé Nast, Microsoft Peter is now covering the Microsoft-Barnes & Noble ‘deal’, which was essentially a bribe against Linux. As Jim Lynch correctly pointed out: “Suspicious minds might think that Microsoft cut the deal just to shut Barnes and Noble up about the patent issues involved. After all, it would have been very tough for a company like Barnes and Noble to say no to $300 million dollars from Microsoft. Who cares about patents when you get handed that kind of cash?”

Yes, it was a bribe. We said it all along. They just don’t call it “bribe”, they rename it. As for Microsoft’s rival to Android, it is pretty much dead. As IDG put it the other day: “The first three Windows Phone versions were pathetically backward compared to iOS and Android, but Windows Phone 8.1 — whose release began this summer in a series of fits and starts based on carriers’ and device makers’ whims — started to make Windows Phone a credible platform. However, buyers don’t seem impressed. Maybe they’ve given up on Windows Phone after four years of ineptitude; maybe they’re waiting for next year’s Windows 10, which Microsoft says this time — we promise! — will be really good (as it always does).

“Whatever the reason — and despite Microsoft making the Windows Phone OS free for smartphone makers last winter, to boost adoption — Windows Phone’s market share is shrinking.

“But Windows Phone’s issues aren’t merely the state of the mobile OS. Jan Dawson, principal analyst at Jackdaw Research, has analyzed Windows Phone and in a report released today has concluded that the platform is unlikely to rebound. Dawson is not a partisan of any platform, so his conclusions carry serious weight.

“Windows Phone is in a downward spiral — without a strong underlying operating system, developers can’t create compelling apps. Without a reasonable market share, developers won’t create reasonable apps, even if the OS supports them. Without a compelling device, OS, and app combination, users won’t buy Windows Phone in any significant quantities, so developers have no incentive.”

The amazing thing is that Microsoft managed to impose this garbage on mobile giant Nokia, this time too using a bribe (to Nokia and to Elop), derailing the company’s huge Linux push. Elop, according to this new analysis from Ahonen, was the worst Nokia CEO of all time and this was part of the plan because “Elop had a personal bonus clause that rewarded him for destroying the Nokia handset business.” Here is an expanded quote from Ahonen:

Elop wiped that all out with a rampage of destroying Nokia. Three years after the new Windows Phone based Lumia smartphones were released, Nokia’s smartphone market share was down to 3%. Yes Elop had managed to wipe out nine out of ten customers for the most loyal dumbphone customer base on the planet and the second highest loyalty smartphone brand (behind only iPhone). It was kterally a world record in market leader destruction. No industry has ever seen this rapid collapse of its market leader, not even under catastrophic conditions like Toyota’s brakes failures in cars, or from sheer management stupdity before like Coca Cola’s launch of New Coke. Never has any company collapsed its global leadership position as fast as Elop demolished Nokia. And note, when Toyota hit its brakes or Coca Cola decided to go New, they were not twice as big as their nearest rival. Nokia’s smartphone unit was more than twice as big as Apple in smartphones, and the unit was four times as big as Samsung’s smartphone business. (PS we found out after he was ousted from Nokia’s CEO job as the shortest-duration biggest failure Nokia CEO of all time, that Elop had a personal bonus clause that rewarded him for destroying the Nokia handset business… yeah, irony of ironies. The Financial Times calculated that Elop was rewarded an extra 1.5 million dollars for every biillion dollars he wiped out of Nokia shareholder value. The FT compared Elop’s heist with the worst of Wall Street criminals like Bernie Madoff)

If you thought the Windows Phone strategy was right but Nokia was just inept at implementing it, nobody should be able to do it better than Microsoft. So now we have six months of Microsoft ownership of Nokia’s handset business. How is the smartphone business? The Lumia business market share under full Microsoft control now is… 3%. And mind you, in four years since Elop announced his Windows strategy the Nokia smartphone business has not managed one quarter of a profit. Yes now its been 18 quarters straight, launching Lumia, launching Windows Phone 8, and switching ownership from Nokia to Microsoft and nothing helped. Not one quarter of profit. The Microsoft handset business dream is utterly dead.

[...]

But what Microsoft did not want, when it spent 7 billion dollars to buy Nokia’s handset business, is to see Nokia compete against it. The exclusive licence to the Nokia brand was a long term thing for dumbphones but only a short-term thing for smartphones (and apparently, tablets). Nokia already pulled a dirty trck on Microsoft when it launched the short-lived X series that ran on Android. Microsoft killed off that project soon after they took over the handset business this year. But that was further confusion to the minds of consumers on what is the ‘Nokia’ (brand) intending to do. Is that Windows Phone -thingy, the whats-it-called-operation-system is it viable or not. If Nokia already launches on Android. So yeah, Microsoft had to kill it.

Now Microsoft has stopped using the Nokia branding on its newest smartphones. They are just branded Microsoft Lumia. And just months later, appears a brand new Nokia branded gadget, a tablet. This.. running Android. Even before we hear any rumors of a Nokia branded smartphone again from Finland, this is bad news for Microsoft’s tablet strategy.

Will the N1 Tablet sell in enough numbers to show any relevance to Nokia’s business? No, of course not. It will be the squeak of a mouse in the noise of a thunderstorm, but it is Nokia’s first salvo. It does signal first of all, that Nokia wants to return. Secondly, it signals the total break from Windows. If any device by Finland’s ‘real’ Nokia made sense to do on Windows, more than a smartphone, that would be a tablet. That Nokia now clearly spits in the eye of its ‘partner’ Microsoft, and does the tablet on Android is clear signal, Nokia is finished with Windows. For good. Forever.

To all those who so hastily claim that Microsoft is no longer against GNU/Linux (and by extension FOSS) or is no longer criminal, well… check the facts more carefully. The worst thing is becoming unable to recognise that who is attacking you in various ways, usually by proxy.

12.04.14

Microsoft .NET Still a Patent Trap, Many Bamboozled by Media-Coordinating Announcement

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like Microsoft’s OOXML (“open” only by name), .NET remains a patent liability and an attempt to ‘standardise’ lock-in

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Summary: Microsoft’s openwashing of proprietary lock-in serves to bamboozle much of the technical media, including some who support Free/libre software

A few weeks ago we wrote about what was essentially the openwashing of .NET lock-in with remaining patent threats (if one forks/deviates). It is the same thing with Mono; when the Mono boosters claimed that Microsoft had promised them patent peace they neglected to say that it assumed no deviation from Microsoft’s “true” .NET. It’s “look but don’t touch”, or “touch and get sued”. Always remember Java’s situation and Oracle attacking Dalvik through Google. There was a patent lawsuit despite Java being FOSS and Oracle being a member of OIN. Promises are not necessarily legally-binding. Few people bothered to read the fine prints. It is the same with .NET (both then and now) and no matter what the press says (we lost count of how many deceiving articles were published), .NET is still private and closed; Microsoft totally controls it.

A fortnight ago Microsoft showed us that it tries to control GNU/Linux through Windows, Hyper-V, and Azure. Even Docker is now being EEE’d. There should be no confusion about Microsoft’s interests here. There is no ambiguity. It is about imposing Microsoft’s agenda on everyone, including the competition.

That said, even some FOSS people helped Microsoft’s openwashing of .NET last month. The Linux Foundation helped openwashing of Microsoft by promoting Microsoft’s message (giving it a platform). How gullible can one get?

Along the way we also found nonsense headlines that misinform the public and some came from FOSS sites and blogs (not just Microsoft apologists). “Missing facts,” a reader of ours labelled it. “The closing sentence is spot on though,” he added.

Links like the above are easy to debunk. Microsoft is now trying to impose patent lockin on the world. There are lapses in the so-called “promise”, so it is not good, except for Microsoft.

IDG and other Microsoft-grooming media following the usual routine for the sponsor, Microsoft. Here is a disgusting puff piece from IDG in NZ about Microsoft blessing itself. There was a similar piece elsewhere in the country. Here is more from ZDNet (CBS), which played a significant role in the openwashing of .NET. Suffice to see, it was easy to find also in Microsoft boosting sites masquerading as “development” sites (we named them before), the ECT network, and Microsoft-affiliated sites (we gave some examples last month).

What we have here is Microsoft’s attempt to make .NET the ‘standard’. As we were reminded the other day, standards can be used as a weapon and we already saw Microsoft doing that to ODF by trying to pretend OOXML was on equal footing. “My humble experience in the field of digital standards,” explains a key person from the Document Foundation, “makes me think that no standard is ever innocent, not in itself but by the intent of its authors or implementors. Even a nice and deeply useful standard such as ODF is a big stone thrown in the backyard of Microsoft.”

For Microsoft, the goal is to hurt Java and Eclipse, not to promote .NET based on any real merit. .NET is not Free software and Microsoft reserves the right to sue using patents. Yes, there is still a very obvious patent threat if one does not use the implementation of Microsoft. We found this out thanks to some legal analysis that received little or no media coverage, after we had discovered the same thing in relation to the useless promise for Mono some years back. As some people pointed out in Ubuntu Forums, Microsoft made similar promises with regards to FAT but later sued or extorted many companies, starting with TomTom 5.5 years ago. Here is a useful reminder:

Microsoft decided a long time ago that its battle for world domination would be fought with patents. They published the specs for FAT, remember. Then years later they began suing everyone who used it. Open sourcing .net is just inviting people to paint a target on their backs.

The analogy is useful. To embrace .NET as though it’s “open” and “safe” is about as clueless as adopting exFAT and other such patent traps. As long as the US has patents on software, genetics, etc. (these patents are spreading to other nations) .NET is definitely dangerous. Ignore the openwashing.

The reality of the matter is, as even a Microsoft booster (Tim Anderson) put it, development on Windows remains a fragmented experience [via] and to quote Anderson himself, “recent post by Microsoft’s WPF team, and the comments it provoked, has revealed the unhappy state of Windows desktop development. Presented as a roadmap, the post promises investment in WPF to improve performance, DirectX interoperability, tooling, and support for touch input and high density displays.”

Do not rely on Microsoft for development tools. There is no compelling reason to believe that .NET (just like WPF or DirectX) is cross-platform and the development tools are as proprietary as they can get.

.NET is the proprietary software choice, nothing whatsoever to do with openness.

11.29.14

The Latest Bug Door in Windows ‘Patched’, But the Patch Breaks Systems

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

AND THEN WE TOLD CHINA THEY CAN SEE WINDOWS CODE WHILE INVITING THE NSA TO THE FINAL BUILD PROCESS

Summary: Errors in Windows that facilitate remote access and privilege escalation (affecting every version of Windows) continue to surface and those who fix these errors risk bricking their systems/services

Having just made (generated rather, using an online tool) the above meme to make an important point (pardon the “Windows” typo), we wish to bring together some recent news about Microsoft Windows, probably the least secure operating system in the world (by design). The NSA is involved in finalising Windows development and knowing what many people finally know about the NSA, it oughtn’t be shocking that Windows uses weakened/flawed encryption, enables remote access, etc.

Earlier this month there was a lot of press coverage about a massive flaw and an “emergency” patch for Windows. The NSA, for a fact (based on Snowden’s leaks), already knew about this. It knew about before it was patched, as Microsoft tells the NSA about every flaw before patches are applied and flaws become common knowledge.

Stephen Withers, a booster of Microsoft from Australia, said that a “very old but only just fixed Windows vulnerability is the key to a new in-the-wild attack.

“Security vendor ESET says it has detected a real-life exploit for a vulnerability that’s been part of Windows for nearly two decades.”

So it’s not just exploitable by the NSA anymore.

Over at IDG, this flaw was said to have a botched ‘solution’. As the author put it: “Last Tuesday’s MS14-066 causes some servers to inexplicably hang, AWS or IIS to break, and Microsoft Access to roll over and play dead”

So patch or don’t patch, you are in a serious problem either way. Welcome to the “professional” and “enterprise-ready” world of Microsoft.

As Microsoft boosters put it, “Microsoft has announced that they will be pushing an out-of-band security patch today. The patch, which affects nearly all of the company’s major platforms, is rated ‘critical’ and it is recommended that you install the patch immediately.”

To brick one’s system?

Here is what British press wrote about it:

MICROSOFT HAS ISSUED an emergency patch for the Kerberos Bug that could allow an attacker to perform privilege escalation in several versions of Windows.

In what will be the firm’s third emergency patch in the past three months, the fix arrives just a week after the monthly Patch Tuesday release.

In other curious news from the same source, British taxpayers’ money has just been wasted cleaning up the mess of Microsoft Windows with its baked-in back doors. Windows is being hijacked en masse, but the corporate media refers to it as “PC”, not Windows. This is a crucial omission. The insecurity of Windows is not always accidental. It was designed to be easy to access (only by the “Good Guys”, of course!). “THE UK NATIONAL CRIME AGENCY (NCA) has arrested five people,” said the British press, “as part of a crackdown on hackers who hijack computers using Remote Access Trojans (RATs).” It’s a shame that they don’t point out that it’s a Windows-only problem. It doesn’t even take much in terms of skill to hijack Windows, as many hackers and crackers can attest to. To quote this report: “The NCA said on Friday that it has arrested two 33-year-old men and a 30-year-old woman from Leeds, along with a 20 year-old man from Chatham in Kent and a 40-year-old from Darlington in Yorkshire.”

This 20 year-old cracker is about as old as the latest bug door from Microsoft. With 19-year-old flaws in Windows (“critical” too) it oughtn’t be hard to hijack Windows-running PCs by the millions and even by the billions. As this article put it, the flaw is very severe and “Microsoft’s out-of-band update yesterday fixes a profoundly serious bug: Any user logged into the domain can elevate their own privilege to any other, up to and including Domain Administrator.”

Robert Pogson wrote that Microsoft “told the world they were naked and now system administrators are scurrying around to make sure every system running InActive Directory has a patch.”

As usual, no logos and brand names for this bug, not even the huge media hype that we saw when GNU Bash and OpenSSL had a bug in them. Perhaps the media learned to accept that Windows is Swiss cheese, or more likely it is unconsciously complicit in Microsoft’s PR.

11.28.14

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

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

The fall of the Gecko (Mozilla)

Gecko

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

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

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

The Ads

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

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

The NSA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microsoft?

Choice?

Independence?

That’s a joke, right?

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

It’s Not About Yahoo, It’s Microsoft

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

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

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

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

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

Christine Hall wrote:

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

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

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