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06.25.19

The Linux Foundation’s Staff Uses Windows and Microsoft. Now the Foundation Outsources the Coding and Hosting, Too (to Microsoft of Course).

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 4:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Who needs Git (a Linus Torvalds project) when there’s proprietary Microsoft GitHub?

Jim Zemlin, Microsoft and GitHub

LF, Microsoft and Github
Source: Microsoft, via

Summary: The disturbing turns of the self-described “Linux” Foundation, which seems to be promoting proprietary software and even Microsoft rather than Linux and Free/Open Source software while the role or capacity of Torvalds is being gradually diminished

THE Linux Foundation is sadly becoming a bridge to Microsoft, not to Linux. That’s like the Russian military hosting on AWS or GNU projects using Visual Studio. Projects that have nothing whatsoever to do with Linux, the kernel, are being ‘gifted’ to Microsoft. The following new (hours-old) press releases with our comments added hopefully sum things up (these are consortia that involve surveillance firms, including Palantir with its notorious, racist agenda):

  • The Linux Foundation’s Artificial Intelligence Community Announces New Acumos Release Focused on Creation of AI/ML Models [Ed: The "Linux" Foundation calls itself "collaboration platform" (or similar), but this new one shows that it's just outsourcing all this collaboration to Microsoft in GitHub (no kidding). The "Linux" Foundation pays a lot of money (salaries) to the father of Git, yet it cannot host its own Git instances and instead outsources it to Microsoft proprietary software, a centralised surveillance platform called GitHub?]

    The LF AI Foundation, the organization building an open AI community to drive open source innovation in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and deep learning (DL), today announced the new release of Acumos code named Boreas. This latest release of the open source framework and marketplace will enable the creation, training and license verification of AI, ML and DL models and apps, among other benefits to the community of developers and data scientists.

  • The Linux Foundation Will Host the Federated AI Enabler to Responsibly Advance Data Modeling [Ed: Original posted here, in tandem, by Craig Ross, not a familiar name (maybe external PR). This project is on GitHub (advertised in massive fonts on the front page). Yet another new example of the “Linux” Foundation outsourcing everything to Microsoft. Takeover complete? Only days ago the Linux Foundation announced its new Vice Chair, Wim Coekaerts, who had worked for Microsoft.]

    KubeCon + CloudNativeCon – The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced it will host the FATE (Federated AI Technology Enabler). It is a federated learning framework that fosters collaboration across companies and institutes to perform AI model training and inference in accordance with user privacy, data confidentiality and government regulations. 4Paradigm, CETC Big Data Research Institute, Clustar, JD Intelligent Cities Research, Squirrel AI Learning, Tencent and WeBank are among the first organizations committed to the new Foundation.

I’m at a loss for words. It’s all happening so fast. Those who know how E.E.E. works (and have seen many examples of it over the years) cannot simply ignore/dismiss all the evidence. Should we all sit aside until it’s too late? To avoid offending the culprits?

Some of the above sites, we should also note, give the visitors empty pages unless one enables JavaScript (e.g. https://www.fedai.org/) and it’s a sign of unsavory design that encourages surveillance (https://www.fedai.org/ has malware in it, there’s Google Analytics watching your every move).

“If Torvalds was to step down, we know who would take his place (the interim maintainer while he was away). He used to work on Microsoft projects and put Microsoft code inside Linux when Novell was his boss (and in turn bossed by Microsoft).”The staff of the Foundation hardly uses GNU/Linux. Some of them, who contacted me in the past, used Microsoft. Jim Zemlin uses Apple. How many people in the management of the “Linux” Foundation actually use GNU/Linux? Same question for the Board…

I reckon very few of these people care about GNU/Linux and/or have used it, based on what I know about some of them. The Linux Foundation is not about Linux; it is more about keeping GNU/Linux under corporate control than about spreading it. Today, June 25th, marks 2 months since the “Linux” Foundation effectively sacked all Linux.com staff (even the editors). No original work has been published there since (only a few links to the Linux Foundation’s site, e.g. the one about Wim Coekaerts). In our daily links we’ve meanwhile included the following link as well:

What has the Linux Foundation become? It protects Microsoft from its critics (saying that it’s “like kicking a puppy” while Microsoft staff 'greases' things up) and it’s slamming Torvalds — who stepped down temporarily — for exercising free speech and carrying out quality control, which may mean rejecting code that is like cow’s feces (‘bulls**t’) and yet repeatedly being pushed onto Torvalds, whose tone understandably escalates over time, seeing that polite messages aren’t getting across effectively enough. Are they trying to just weaken him as boss of his own project? If Torvalds was to step down, we know who would take his place (the interim maintainer while he was away). He used to work on Microsoft projects and put Microsoft code inside Linux when Novell was his boss (and in turn bossed by Microsoft).

So far everyone we’ve heard from shares our concerns on these matters. Everyone. Few are however willing to speak about it. No news site touched the subject. It’s all PR. And speaking of PR, watch what Slashdot published 3 days ago under the modified headline “How OIN’s Linux-Based Patent Non-Aggression Community Drove Open Source Growth” (it links to ZDNet).

“We expect things to get yet worse over time because the Foundation isn’t communicating any of these issues. It never airs these concerns and it hasn’t even said a thing about Linux.com being effectively disbanded.”This headline is nonsense (yet it was promoted by OIN staff in Twitter); in fact it’s a promotional lie. The growth coming from OIN is a software patents growth, not “Open Source Growth” (more on that in our next article about IBM, which pretends Open Source would not be possible without software patents) and there’s no evidence to support this title. It doesn’t take much research to see that OIN is about making FOSS more like large corporations with their software patents, not making those corporations more like FOSS. The same goes for the Linux Foundation. They both just misuse the “Linux” brand to promote the agenda of companies such as IBM. To say that the Foundation exists merely “to pay Torvalds’ salary” is also quite misleading because nowadays it pays dozens of people ~$300,000/year in salaries. They’re not technical people; few actual coders get paid; they’re the likes of Zemlin, riding the coattails of Linus Torvalds and his project, Linux, to get as much as a million bucks a year. It’s truly discouraging to see that in the same way oil companies thoroughly corrupt politics Microsoft corrupts FOSS groups like the Linux Foundation, OSI and so on. Money buys silence if not complicity. Over at Tux Machines we’ve shown (over the weekend) that Microsoft’s role inside the Foundation keeps growing yet more. They have a lot of power and influence inside this Foundation, so should we be shocked to see Jim Zemlin saying that being against Microsoft like “kicking a puppy” (his words)? Is self-defense like animal abuse? Violence against puppies? We’ve warned about this for well over a decade (e.g. Zemlin urged people to “respect Microsoft” more than a decade ago). Microsoft’s work for ICE doesn’t seem to bother him, but Trump does bother him. Palantir does not seem to bother him either (the Foundation now names it as a member, even in press releases, while acting as a front group to it). This is not good and it’s only a matter of time before the “Linux” Foundation gets associated with things like concentration camps (which Microsoft proudly profits from, it even brags about it in its blog and lies about it to employees).

“…for Azure training they have budget, but not for Linux.com.”Here’s another new ZDNet piece (same author, who is connected to the Foundation) that promotes the Foundation’s work for Facebook, a company that gives all its data to Microsoft and was nearly acquired by Microsoft (instead they became strategic ‘surveillance capitalism’ allies with a shared warehouse of people’s secrets). We expect things to get yet worse over time because the Foundation isn’t communicating any of these issues. It never airs these concerns and it hasn’t even said a thing about Linux.com being effectively disbanded. Yesterday they published a press release about training (Clyde Seepersad), highlighting a program that promotes Microsoft Azure; for Azure training they have budget, but not for Linux.com.

06.23.19

Bill Gates Said He Was on a “Jihad” Against GNU/Linux, But GNU/Linux Users/Developers Engaged in Self-Defense Are Foul-Mouthed ‘Microsoft Haters’?

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:00 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Where are we on this Jihad?”

Bill Gates

Jihadi John

Summary: Microsoft, which routinely commits very serious crimes, tries to come across as some sort of philanthropy whereas those who share their work with the public (for greater good) are described as erratic, rude and unworthy of respect from corporations (outcasts basically, deprived of income source)

THE manager of Microsoft is Bill Gates. He was always the manager of Microsoft (and cofounder, the other one is dead). This narcissist created a sham ‘charity’ (the Gates Foundation) and he’s on top of the Board of Microsoft, which means he can fire Nadella if he wants to (nobody else in the Board has got the clout he has and there’s a cult-like worship, if not of the person then his money, which nearly doubled in less than a decade). A lot of people still choose to ignore that. Nadella is to Gates What Dmitry Medvedev was to Vladimir Putin (it’s a tandemocracy).

“Bill Gates call call for a “Jihad” (his word), but we cannot use words like “bullshit”…”The chief of the Linux Foundation infamously said we need to “respect Microsoft” and that speaking negatively of Microsoft is like “kicking a puppy” (we’re not making this up, look it up!) and this is the kind of attitude that makes Microsoft more than happy with him being the boss of Linus Torvalds, whose face is far more familiar (he’s more popular and has more influence in general, so it threatens Bill Gates/Microsoft’s narrative). The same can be said about Richard Stallman, an atheist whose ‘beliefs’ (stances) on software are often compared, derogatorily, to religion.

Can Torvalds still use “slurs” against Microsoft? Well, he has not done anything to that effect since the Code of Conduct was put in place. He had definitely done so beforehand, e.g. here. On Friday The Register published this article entitled “‘Bulls%^t! Complete bull$h*t!’ Reset the clock on the last time woke Linus Torvalds exploded at a Linux kernel dev”. All this melodrama in the Microsoft-friendly rag is about Torvalds using the terms “bullshit,” “complete bullshit,” and “obviously garbage.” These aren’t sexist or racist or anything like that. But what we see here is corporate media playing the part of “language police”, trying to maintain Torvalds in a corporate-friendly ‘mode’ (like his boss, who poses for photo ops with Microsoft). This was the sole purpose of the article and even the headline alone makes Linux ‘stink’…

Bill Gates can call for a “Jihad” (his word), but we cannot use words like “bullshit”…

Microsoft executives, Gates included, have used far worse words (here’s a compilation from 12 years ago).

Microsoft’s de facto PR people (for a decade) can anally rape children, but we in the FOSS community are “dangerous” and “zealots”.

06.22.19

Microsoft Apparently Did a Patrick Durusau on Wim Coekaerts to Broaden Its Control Over GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patrick Durusau
Patrick Durusau. Source: Twitter (personal profile).

“This public orientation changed recently. As best I can figure it, on returning from a conference in Seattle in late January, Patrick was a changed man. Patrick is now an enthusiastic OOXML supporter and is eager to inform the world of his delight in OOXML at every opportunity. He posts his “open letters” on his web site, which are linked to, often within minutes, by the various Microsoft bloggers, and then sent around by Microsoft employees to the press and the various JTC1 NB’s. [...] Microsoft will not be so careful to distinguish Patrick’s personal opinions from his professional affiliations. So a post from Patrick’s personal web site is retold on a Microsoft blog as “The ODF Editor says….”, and then the next day is sent in an email to NB’s with a larger set of “endorsements”…”Rob Weir, 2008 (covered here at the time)

Summary: Microsoft tactics for defection and takeover of the competition (without coming across as hostile) aren’t new tactics; internal documents from Microsoft explain how to achieve this

It is difficult to forget what happened more than a decade ago, namely Patrick Durusau promoting the competition after he had met Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4] (similar to the ‘Linux’ Foundation promoting Microsoft Azure and sometimes Vista 10/WeaSeL). What would motivate something called “Linux Foundation” to help longtime opponents of GNU/Linux (who still try to sabotage GNU/Linux, e.g. by bribing officials)? Are people in key positions being bribed? Are promises made (e.g. post hoc favours)? We’ve long seen incidents like these in the European Patent Office (EPO) and it’s likely how António Campinos, for example, is being controlled (to perpetuate Battistelli’s policies, promoting software patents in Europe and so on).

“Then came a big money offer…”The other day we noted that "The Linux Foundation’s New Vice Chair, Wim Coekaerts, Worked for Microsoft" (that’s a fact); he had already served in a key position inside the Foundation, so why did Microsoft award him with a top position (Vice President)? Why did he join? We’ve asked around (people who might know because they know Coekaerts in person) and got this reply from the editor of FOSS Force. “I can’t remember all of the details,” she said, “but he was wined, dined, and seduced in a series of secret meetings in the Redmond area by two Microsofties. I wrote something about it at the time but can’t remember the details. Can’t find the article, but it’s on FOSS Force.”

She later recalled it was something she had written elsewhere and added this article from a dedicated Microsoft booster, Matt Weinberger.

“Earlier this year, Coekaerts met with Microsoft executives Scott Guthrie and Mike Neil in a Seattle-area Starbucks,” he wrote. Scott Guthrie is the man shown at the bottom with the Linux Foundation’s chief. On it goes: “So when Coekaerts, Guthrie, and Neil talked over coffee, Coekaerts was surprised to find that they actually had a lot in common, including their love of open source. Combined with the realization that he’d never really worked anywhere other than Oracle, he found himself receptive to what Microsoft was saying.”

“These tactics are described in leaked Microsoft presentations/manuals.”Then came a big money offer: “It resulted in a job offer: As of April 2016, Coekaerts, is officially Corporate VP of Enterprise Open Source at Microsoft, what he calls his “second career” after more than two decades at Oracle. And later in August, Coekaerts will be keynoting the LinuxCon mega-gathering of Linux fans worldwide, representing his new employer.”

It was then that I recalled what had happened with Durusau a very long time ago.

These tactics are described in leaked Microsoft presentations/manuals. Microsoft’s internal document [PDF] said it rather clearly. “Schmooze” is what they call it (to this date, even under Nadella!).

In their own words (as HTML):

“Any time you can make somebody feel cool, that’s good. The sig leaders are very important people. They are people who choose. They choose who speaks and who doesn’t speak at these sig conferences. They set up the agenda. They have influence over twenty, thirty, a hundred, however many people come to this sig. And however many people are on the mailing list, which is also a valuable commodity. So those sig leaders are like consultants. They are very valuable people that you want to schmooze with.”

“I don’t know if everybody recognizes that word “schmooze” there at the bottom. Schmooze is, I think, a Yiddish word. Basically it means suck up to, socialize with, take care of; love and so forth, go to dinner with, get drunk together, talk about your girlfriends and boyfriends and whatever. I mean, just socialize like crazy, and pump for information, and leak little bits of tidbits of information that think…make them feel special that they’re hearing it and work the crowd and so on. Schmoozing is a very important part of an evangelist’s job, and the better you are at it. the better, because everybody who meets you should think—you know. OK, I hate Microsoft like everybody else, I’m a good member of the Computing Society, I hate Microsoft, that’s what you have to do to get in. But, you know, I like the individual people I’ve met from Microsoft. You know, you’re all ambassadors of Microsoft, and they should…if we can’t help them hating Microsoft, at least we can have them like the individuals, and that’s a big step in the right direction.”

This hopefully helps explain scenarios like the one shown below.

Jim Zemlin, Microsoft and GitHub
Jim Schmoozemlin?

LF, Microsoft and Github
LF, Microsoft and GitHub years before the takeover (Source: Microsoft, via)

A Personal Note From Ted MacReilly (How Microsoft Works Against GNU/Linux)

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft actually wrote this:

Microsoft dirty tactics

Summary: A tongue-in-cheek write-up highlighting the ways Microsoft insiders think and how they strategise against GNU/Linux and Free/libre software

The pseudonym of the author of this series (written by a fictitious character to highlight yet again authentic Microsoft leaks) has this update:



I am writing this from Gedit in the “Disco Dingo” version of Ubuntu LTS. I should probably explain.

The Brazilian Python Association and Python Software Foundation are having an event in São Paulo. I was hoping to attend but I have conflicting obligations in October, so I decided to travel to Ribeirão Preto and meet with the community there. I wanted to look into the event preparations and get a feel for what will be going on later this year.

During the trip, I kept thinking back to a strange thing that happened while writing my handbook for destroying free software. For all my life, I have loved powerful corporations like Microsoft and IBM. I love technological marvels. I have always considered these free software developers to be ripoff artists: unoriginal, self-aggrandizing imposters and software engineer wannabes.

“Like Gates, Facebook talks like it’s running a charity– not a corporate platform for global surveillance.”I have always been steeped in corporate culture. My late mother worked in marketing, my father was an industry man and retired less than rich, but comfortable. Looking back at my career so far, I feel like I take more after my mother. My parents were both hard working but I think my father tolerated the industry, while mother was a true believer.

But back to Brazil– when I was writing the handbook, I thought about how the original Halloween documents were leaked, and wondered if that would ever happen to my handbook. What would people think of it? The Halloween documents are nearly forgotten, people don’t pay them much attention anymore. A lot of people think that they are an old playbook, that Microsoft has suddenly stopped trying to destroy its competitors.

That’s simply hilarious. As my mother would tell you, the job of corporations is to say and do whatever is necessary to succeed. There’s a certain obsessive focus in that regard, a fundamental selfishness. But it goes beyond that, because the definition of success for large corporations is to be at the very top of the game– both in competition with other businesses, and in terms of constantly moving upwards from quarter to financial quarter. YOU DO NOT CEDE. Cooperation is a diplomatic move, a tactical move, it is not a way of doing things in and of itself.

Sure, you may truly believe in cooperation. You may think of collaboration as something shared between participants. For a large company it is just another means to an end– a foot in the door, a place at the table. If you can reach across to the head of the table and stab your host and take his place, that’s what you do. Until then, you wait. You get away with a lot more being polite than always tipping your hand.

“They were reading an article from ZDNet about Microsoft and poking fun at it.”On that note, I completely understand if you do not trust the intentions of what I’m saying. I’ve given you no reason to do so. I have followed my heart through my career, even when it put more value on corporate success than personal integrity. I do not ask for your trust, I will not even beg for your attention.

When I was thinking about the possibility of the handbook getting leaked, a strange thought– as if from somewhere else– suddenly crossed my mind.

“Good.”

“Good?” What? What’s good, everyday people finding out more about these tactics? As I said in the book: “manipulation works more effectively if we are quiet about doing it– or even deny that it makes any sort of difference.” It’s important to appear as friendly as possible, and let shills and fans do our dirty campaigning for us.

It doesn’t help if people know our tactics. Microsoft has obviously continued moving forward with every working tactic in the original documents (and Techrights can certainly make this more apparent to anybody interested) but after stating their real intentions, Microsoft (as well as Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook) have shifted their rhetoric over time. Like Gates, Facebook talks like it’s running a charity– not a corporate platform for global surveillance. (Zuck the philanthropist? Dumb fucks!)

I realize you might think I’m playing the same game here. I want the legacy of being a philanthropist too. But I’m not looking for your money, or your trust. I’m only looking to for an opportunity to talk, if somebody wants to listen.

I still don’t know why I thought “good” at the prospect of the handbook getting leaked. But as I sat in a bar in São Paulo, trying to think of ways the Python convention could be exploited by various software companies, I saw some college kids on laptops, laughing and talking. They were reading an article from ZDNet about Microsoft and poking fun at it.

“For whatever reason, they thought if I was forced to tell the world that corporations work exactly the same now as they did 20 years ago when “Linux” was fairly new, I might reconsider my position.”At first I just listened, but I picked up my drink and cautiously made my way over, trying to decide whether I wanted to talk to them. When I finally asked what they thought of the article, it started a conversation that would go on for more than an hour. They showed me some articles they thought were more thoughtful, more honest. We debated a few minor points, the way you might in a bar or with friends, not a boardroom or editorial. I went back to my hotel and did some more reading.

I sent the handbook to Techrights myself, I knew they were going to get it eventually anyway. I knew through a friend of mine that it was going to be leaked anyway. But the people who had it gave me a heads up, and some advice.

“Why don’t you leak it yourself?” The email taunted. For whatever reason, they thought if I was forced to tell the world that corporations work exactly the same now as they did 20 years ago when “Linux” was fairly new, I might reconsider my position.

I still don’t know why even for a moment, part of me hoped this very thing would happen. Maybe it’s watching my father grow older, the memory of my mother’s cynical view of the world– maybe it really is worth a look at the other side of open source, for a change.

Maybe I feel bad, but I’m not telling you this by way of apology. I’m not even sure how I really feel about all this. But something has changed, and I’m not going to stop writing about the software world just because I lack the certainty I felt in my mission against Free software and Open source.

If you’ve ever felt this way, I don’t know what to tell you. There’s another side to this story. If you find it, you might want to tell someone about it. Your next job will then be to find out who’s interested in the other side of the story.

MacReilly, June 2019

“Apple was once a small company taking on giants from a garage.”

Previously in this series:

Introduction: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

Chapter 1: Know your enemies– Act like a friend [PDF]

Chapter 2: Work with the system– Use OEMs and your legal team [PDF]

Chapter 3: Playing the victim– Show the world that too much freedom hurts development [PDF]

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for– Getting skeptics to work for you [PDF]

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo– How to bribe the moderates to your side [PDF]

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise– Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything [PDF]

Chapter 7: Patent War– Use low-quality patents to prove that all software rips off your company [PDF]

Chapter 8: A foot in the door– how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects [PDF]

Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding– Change the names, and change the world [PDF]

Chapter 10: Moving forward– Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly [PDF]

06.21.19

The Linux Foundation’s New Vice Chair, Wim Coekaerts, Worked for Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wim Coekaerts

Summary: The Linux Foundation is boosting the Microsoft boosters (as above) and calls that “community”

More and more people, including very high-profile GNU/Linux publishers/advocates/developers, regularly ask us about the Linux Foundation (index in our wiki). Even as recently as last night. All the feedback is generally positive, i.e. they agree with what we say. I wrote about the demise of Linux.com in my blog the other day. Notice how the Foundation hasn’t said a single thing. Very secretive. Larry Augustin, who we’re told gave the Foundation control over the site, did not respond to my question about it.

“…perhaps the Foundation deemed it worthy/tactful to say something about “community” in a press release’s headline without demoting but actually promoting yet more corporate elements.”A relatively short time ago “LINUX.COM EDITORIAL STAFF” suddenty showed up (whoever that is). They haven’t posted a single article since April and this one too isn’t an article but a link. Is there any staff? Their staff told us that all writers and editors were, in effect, laid off or sacked. The staff (unnamed) linked to this new press release of the Foundation. According to this, the Linux Foundation Board (i.e. lots of proprietary software companies including Microsoft and Oracle) “Elects Longtime Community Members to Chair and Vice Chair”. Who are they? Community members? Not really. One millionaire comes from Oracle and until about a year ago he had worked for Microsoft. To be fair, it’s not clear why he left quite so fast, going back to his former employer, which isn’t FOSS-friendly either. Anyway, that’s the Vice Chair Wim Coekaerts. He worked for Microsoft. The Chair is Nithya Ruff, who is hardly “community”; she is a millionaire corporate executive (see career history). She hops from one proprietary giant to another.

We know some people who may know more about Coekaerts and his time at Microsoft because they spoke to him about it. But nobody wants to share information (they sort of acknowledge, but refrain from saying anything more). Why did he join? Why did he leave? Why does the Foundation call corporate people “community”? It just doesn’t want to understand what the GNU/Linux community really is. It can’t. There’s no community element in the Board anymore. Money talks. The Board is compromised. The likes of Oracle and Microsoft basically elected people who better suit their agenda and are unlikely to antagnise. In the Foundation’s own words:

The Linux Foundation today is announcing its new Board Chair Nithya Ruff and Vice Chair Wim Coekaerts, both of whom bring a long history of contribution, collaboration and developer advocacy to their new positions. Both existing board members, these new roles will allow them to deepen their stewardship and support for Linux and open source projects across industries.

How so? The Foundation now has “community” leadership that is only community by name. One of the two decided to go work for Microsoft and it’s an actual decision. It’s a choice, as nobody is born this way.

Our guess is as good as anybody else’s; perhaps the Foundation deemed it worthy/tactful to say something about “community” in a press release’s headline without demoting but actually promoting yet more corporate elements. They just don’t get it, do they?

06.20.19

Microsoft Attempting to Destroy the Careers of Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents

Posted in Microsoft at 12:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cult-like tactics. Or doxing to secure bug doors. Is this what “business intelligence” was all along for?

Microsoft bullying

Summary: Microsoft isn’t changing and has not changed; the tactics described above are still being used, even by its “Open Source” (or “Open at Microsoft”) people, who did this to me

IT IS a small world after all. Someone in the Fediverse pointed out to me this new tweet about Microsoft bullying, which reminded me of these cult-like tactics Microsoft used against myself and others. From the original thread (there are also many comments in there):

I think you must be talking about CVE-2010-0232, it wasn’t 90 days, it was more like 180. This was at a time when Microsoft refused to release kernel patches outside of service packs. I begged Microsoft at multiple in-person meetings at Redmond to reconsider and patch, they simply refused and said there were would be repercussions if I disobeyed.
After four months of negotiations, I told that I’m going to publish it whether a patch was available or not. This didn’t have the effect I had hoped, they started threatening me instead. They called me and told me my career would be destroyed. In one particularly memorable call they told me that their PR and legal department only had two settings, “off and destroy” and (in a rather menacing tone) that they would “air my dirty laundry in public”. I still don’t know what that means.

I was shaken, but told them I’m still going ahead. They responded by calling everyone they knew at my employer demanding I was terminated.

There was a trivial mitigation, just disabling a very rarely used feature (vdm support for 16 bit applications). I made detailed documentation explaining how to enable the mitigation for every supported platform, and even made tutorial videos for Administrators on how to apply and deploy group policy settings.

Here are the instructions I wrote:

https://seclists.org/fulldisclosure/2010/Jan/341

And here’s a video I made showing how to apply the policy to a Windows Server 2003 machine like yours:

I sent these detailed instructions to all the usual places that advisories are published. I included a test case so you could verify if the bug affected you and verify the mitigation was correctly deployed. As you can imagine, Microsoft were furious.

I know it’s little comfort, but through some hard fought battles over the last decade we have reached the point that Microsoft can reluctantly patch critical kernel security bugs if given around three months notice. They still pull some dirty tricks to this day, you wouldn’t believe some of the stories I could tell you, but those are war stories for sharing over beers :)

It sounds like your attackers compromised you with an outdated wordpress installation, then gained privileges with this vulnerability. I’m not sure I agree the blame here lies solely with me, but regardless, I would recommend subscribing to the announce lists for the software you’re deploying. You could also monitor the major security lists for advisories related to the software you use. It’s high volume and varies in quality, but you can usually identify the advisories that apply to you easily.

We’ve documented many examples like it for over a decade (we’ve lost count!) and we have some wiki indexes for these. Incidentally, we’ve just added the “Librethreat Database”, contributed by an anonymous reader who is also a software developer working on GNU/Linux.

It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to; it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of causing damage (from the inside). Earlier this month Dina Bass wrote a widely-syndicated (dozes of news sites) piece pretending that Microsoft was reaching peace and had already appeased its biggest critics. It’s a lie, but if the media keeps repeating this lie, then more and more people will believe it. To appease the Linux Foundation and OSI Microsoft just had to dump some money of them; that’s not about trust, it’s about corrupting people using money — not the same thing!

“Dina is on one,” Mitchel Lewis told us about this new tweet from Dina Bass. “She’s like their top 5 shill right now.”

“It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to; it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of causing damage (from the inside).”Notice Mitchel Lewis responding to her Microsoft revisionism and white-washing. She has long worked as Microsoft’s de facto PR person, as we noted here before. She’s a “media insider”, just like Microsoft Peter. Several of our readers and active members theorised that Microsoft had long known about his pedophilia (he raped children) and used that to control him; we lack evidence to show/prove this, so we never entertained that angle. Some people urged us to explore that angle, but we never did. Someone told us a story to that effect involving a relative who had worked at Microsoft (and Microsoft used sexual means to manipulate him). Mr. Lewis said so himself and his claim is supported by what people told us over E-mail and IRC. This seems to be an unreported or grossly underreported issue that may or may not relate to manipulation of people through Code of Conduct, NDAs and so on. Mr. Lewis has meanwhile just published “Digital Oxy”, comparing Microsoft’s tactics to those of “legalised” drug dealing. It’s part of his ongoing series of articles exposing the true nature of the Microsoft monopoly — a subject he understands as a former insider:

Despite maintaining a portfolio of aging products that have never been as complex, buggy, vulnerable, or costly to manage as they are today, IT professionals around the world maintain that Microsoft products remain the best in their class. To their credit, Microsoft is the largest company in the world when measured by market cap, the prevalence of their products is undeniable, and Windows is still the de facto gaming platform, so it’s easy to see why so many are under this impression. But market cap, prevalence, and gaming are not the measures of all things and a different narrative immediately becomes apparent when relying on metrics that actually take consumer and business welfare into account to determine which is the best.

Case in point and despite their prevalence or market cap, one would have to scrape the proverbial barrel in order to find a metric that favors Microsoft mainstays relative to their competition when evaluating them based on metrics emphasizing on business welfare that prioritize quality, productivity, simplicity, security, supportability, etc. This is so much the case that, IBM, the inventor of PCs, noticed a reduction in ownership costs to 1/3 that of Windows PC users by migrating users to the Apple ecosystem; which is significant amount of disparity in an industry where even a 1% savings will make executives randy.

[...]

Although many interpret the present complex, buggy, vulnerable, and costly state of Microsoft solutions as the product of ignorance and apathy, these aren’t the actions of a firm ignorant to software engineering best practices. It actually requires a high-level understanding of software to engineer it for entrenchment, dependence, and lock-in, let alone build an extensive partner network to distribute it through and Microsoft’s market performance is a testament to this, not an exception.

No differently than Purdue Pharmaceutical being dependent on a network of profiteering drug dealers masquerading as doctors, it seems as if Microsoft is dependent on a conflicted network of maladapted experts entrenching their own products throughout industry just the same. When combining such a conflict of interest with products streamlined for entrenchment in a woefully under-regulated industry, Microsoft’s success, the prevalence of Windows, and their staying power throughout industry instantly becomes much more palpable and markedly less ethical.

We can warmheartedly recommend his other writings, which we sometimes cite.

Don’t believe that because Microsoft changed (yet again) its logo and CEO it means different tactics and intents. Bill Gates is still in charge of Nadella and can fire him at any time (through the Board). The same people are in charge and they’re still ruthless and manipulative. The software and services are technically shoddy, but we prefer focusing on ethics.

06.11.19

Chapter 10: Moving Forward — Getting the Best Results From Open Source With Your Monopoly

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 1:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Table of Contents

Introduction: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

Chapter 1: Know your enemies– Act like a friend [PDF]

Chapter 2: Work with the system– Use OEMs and your legal team [PDF]

Chapter 3: Playing the victim– Show the world that too much freedom hurts development [PDF]

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for– Getting skeptics to work for you [PDF]

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo– How to bribe the moderates to your side [PDF]

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise– Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything [PDF]

Chapter 7: Patent War– Use low-quality patents to prove that all software rips off your company [PDF]

Chapter 8: A foot in the door– how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects [PDF]

Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding– Change the names, and change the world [PDF]

You are here ☞ Chapter 10: Moving forward– Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly [PDF]


In this chapter, there will be no more quotes from the original Halloween documents; hopefully we have already proven that the things that are working now are the same things we talked about doing 20 years ago.

Instead, we will look for ways to go forward from several of the ideas covered in previous chapters– we will take points from each chapter and add an idea to each point. You are encouraged to do the same.

“Developers have less control and less reward for their invaluable contributions than any other point in software history.”

Our companies are still growing, and are forced to adapt to the landscape as each new form of competition presents itself. We knew the Web posed a serious threat, and we fought Java with notable success using the same tactics we are using against Linux. Other companies such as Google have also exploited Java, and it is not dead, but it did not realize the potential that posed so much threat to our model.

The record industry plays victim by talking about the well-being of artists, who are doing fine. The movie industry plays victim by talking about the guys in charge of lighting and editing. The software industry pretends to care about developers. Of course each industry rewards its serfs, otherwise people would be hard-pressed to explain what the point of the industry is. But for example, Microsoft’s yearly growth from 2006 to 2019 is no sad story. We are still at it.

“Above all, the key strategy is not to destroy free software completely, but to break it in enough important places so that it poses less and less of a threat to your near-monopoly.”

We purchase and gut competitors whenever we can. Sometimes we go after a company as large as Red Hat or Nokia, but smaller acquisitions grow our IP and give us raw material to exploit for relatively cheap. Thomas Edison worked in the patent office, where people brought in half-baked, half-implemented ideas all day that were not patentable. He had the knowledge and experience to turn unmarketable and unfinished ideas into products. Very little of what we “innovate” is truly original. We transform useful things into products and IP.

“Marketing isn’t just about highlighting the good points of what you sell– it’s about inventing reasons that people want and need your product, and then convincing people of those reasons.”

People don’t need a good reason to buy our products. They only need a good-sounding reason. Certainly there is talent in leading people this way, but while free software types convince themselves that they should be ethical, we still have the advantage in making up reasons why everything we offer is better. A salesman does this on the storeroom floor, by improvising. We improvise too, but then test our made-up reasons with focus groups, to see what they will fall for.

“A company’s image is an important part of its brand, and you want an overall positive image no matter what… You must look like you care. And nobody knows more about fooling people into thinking you care, than your marketing team.”

Remember to smile. Your smile should come out in your message, the people who are the face of your company, and in the image of your company. Also, when making up reasons that people need your products– be sure to come up with many reasons that make your company look positive. They don’t all have to be convincing. Don’t just use creative spins on the truth to sell the products– use it to sell the company to the customers and the tech press.

Make everything look like a giveaway, even when it is just bait.

“the important thing is that your brand and marketing outweigh anything said by critics.”

Being able to afford saturation in advertising and press coverage is your best friend. Get people in the company to speak for you– get people in other companies to speak for you– get your customers to speak for you.

“find a way to focus on how the probably-unwanted or unneeded features are something the user gains rather than loses by choosing (or remaining stuck with) your product.”

There are no unwanted features– everything is an advantage (for us, if not for the customer.) You can tell people this all the time. They will find it difficult not to wonder if you really mean it, because you believe it yourself. That’s one route to something almost indistinguishable from sincerity.

“people who feel like they’re your friends will share more with you than people you treat like a competitor.“

This includes all the telemetry and handling of personal data that you exploit to reinforce your position in the market. The more people like your products, the more you can get away with.

“By working with hardware manufacturers and lawyers, you can help reinforce and update the rules that keep the world operating in a way that works for you.”

We still need more lobbying and more features in integrated chipsets that favor our companies over open source.

“Hardware and firmware make it possible to add unwanted features that the vast majority of free software users won’t be able to simply uninstall and replace.”

In the future, we may want to get more involved in firmware and move more features from software to hardware. So far, we have mostly used firmware as a way to reinforce our place in the software market. Meanwhile Lenovo has used firmware to actually reinstall unwanted software, features and surveillance directly. We need to learn from Lenovo– but as usual we need to make this look like a boon, not an attack.

“People are afraid to turn off features that sound as if they add security– won’t that make them less secure? Aha, Gotcha!”

Remember: there’s always room for more features related to “security.”

Without “free hardware” (and we know that won’t ever happen) the free software people are stuck reverse-engineering hardware and guessing how to write drivers based on trial-and-error.

Both in theory and in practice (USB, Android firmware) it is easier to attack hardware than software with patents, even if the patents are low-quality. We need to go after hardware more, to prevent free software users from leaving Intel (and their hooks) and becoming more independent.

Also what we failed to control in the server market, we need to work on controlling in server hardware, where we can be sure Intel retains monopoly power as it loses a small amount of ground to ARM and SBCs.

“always stress that to get the most of your hardware, you need industry software– not cottage or basement software.“

We have typically focused on attacking larger Linux distributions, because we are best positioned to complete with them on our terms. As we gain tools to position ourselves with IOT and cloudware, it’s about time to go after smaller, lower-power devices again as Microsoft did with CE and Apple did with iOS.

“When you have a monopoly… you can actually demand [features that favor your company] (or work out deals to get your way.)”

Our image as not just a ruthless industry powerhouse, but a company bridging together other industries with truly flexible and customizable solutions (which of course we will continue to drag people towards and away from again in endless, revenue-producing churn) is more positive now than in many years. We not only have a larger margin to play dirty with OEMs and the press (and customers) we have more plausibility than ever in scamming people to do things our way.

We will continue to make demands, but we are in a rare position to make even our demands and requirements look more like “offers” and “options.” Technically, when we “forced” OEMs with anti-competitive pricing, even that was an “offer” and an “option.” But that wasn’t built on top of the stellar reputation we enjoy now.

“So long as you have relationships with OEMs you can exploit, you have the upper hand any time the free software devs want to run their software on popular consumer hardware. That translates to their reduced marketshare, wasted time for free software developers, and ultimately– a well-guarded software monopoly.”

In the mobile market, the companies offering mobile platforms actually like having more control than their customers. iOS and Android have provided, we can still explore new deals with providers in countries where iOS and Android have farther from 100% saturation in the market.

Consumer network appliances have not done as well as IOT with focus groups or sales, as network appliances lost ground to mobile. Though we can still explore SmartTVs, Smarthome devices and we rare not remotely done with automotive. We need to work more with OEMs for all of these relatively new device categories– not just the PC.

“The point isn’t to keep them out entirely. It’s to be sure it takes them so long to get in, that by the time they’ve supported the hardware it is already obsolete.”

Being first is a lot like being only. We need to avoid being second in new markets.

“Leasing the use of your company’s intellectual property is the core of your software business– you need to protect that property to maintain control of your customer base.”

Instead of just selling IP, we can sell developer access. Of course we will still sell IP, but we have a new market to exploit (and the latest acquisitions are already helping.) People forget that we own multiple developer and business networks now. We can offer premium advantages within those networks– selling and reselling access, as well as aggregate/business intelligence data we did not previously own. We can maintain control of not only our customer base, but our competitors also.

“instead of fighting to prove that something is ours, we have it in writing– so when we stop bothering with their licenses and terms and co-opt the software in whatever way we choose, how are they going to stop us? We have an agreement! Even the largest Linux-based companies said this is ours! Who’s going to argue then– the little student coders that work for them?”

We need to start gradually explaining to people that we own these things. This has to be done slowly, because done too early or too quickly it will hurt our ability to exploit our allies in Open source. We can afford to take risks now, but not to be reckless.

Now that we have convinced the companies that we own their software, we need to convince the users. If we handle this slowly and with care and close monitoring of progress, they can’t stop us from convincing the world that these things belong more to us than anybody– we can turn their offerings into our next semi-exclusive platform, our brand, our control over details.

“And if somehow the lawyers have nothing else to do– you can always lobby to make new laws, for your legal team to exploit.”

“The important thing is that they’re working for us– and on our terms.”

We may need to preempt some GDPR-like regulations in the United States with neutered versions of the same, drafted by our own lobbyists. This will also help improve our image.

Look how well Mozilla can ramble about new privacy features all day and still drag their users through scandal after reputation-destroying scandal– and look like they still care about users.

“Without control, there is chaos. Even when a competing developer makes a terrible mistake– it hurts people’s trust in the digital connectivity and surveillance we want to put in every home”

We need a new campaign sort of like “better with Windows” but for “trust,” as long as we are doing more with Open source. We need people to know they can trust our “open source” more than theirs for certain applications. This needs to be more subtle than previous campaigns like it, because of our place in the middle of open source development– not the outskirts like before.

“If we want to sell the internet of things, we can’t have people thinking that a bunch of amateurs are creating their software– we want them to know that everything is under control.”

Trust and security and surveillance will be the hallmarks of our IOT strategy. People think they don’t like surveillance, but they do want security. Just as people will put Wi-Fi cameras in their own homes only to have them hacked and used against them, we need to sell our surveillance by making it look less like our technology, and more like their own. But we also need to remind people that our brand can be trusted more than these no-name baby monitor companies.

“Over the years, we have had great success getting people to accept subscriptions instead of purchases”

“A lot of people think that a subscription model is just about charging people over and over again for something they already bought legally. ..but there is a more important angle– we basically “own” (at least control) every machine that uses this model.“

We have developer licenses that give enormous options under what is basically a subscription model. We should create a new tier of subscription that lets customers do more business with us– not a complete subscription to everything, but a higher-tier “user subscription” akin to a season pass for more of our products.

We are not making full use of the subscription model yet, but we have proven that it works.

“this is one more reason that we don’t want software to be free and controlled by the user: if the user controls their files and programs, they can also copy media that the film industry and e-book publishers want to control after purchase.”

“By allying with the media companies and major publishers, we have an additional source of revenue that not only gives us an industry we can first tap into and then gradually become its vendors”

When are we going to get more into streaming, like hulu and netflix and youtube?

“we do it with guilt trips, with lobbying and public-service-like advertising, and (though it’s a subject for a later chapter) by working with schools to indoctrinate students with our pro-monopoly point of view.”

We (always) need more opportunities for education that involve our products. Obviously BillandM are working on the usual school takeover, but we also need our own training centers or tutoring centers– at least a pilot program.

“if your intention is to lead customers by the nose, then you don’t just want to come of as self-righteous. You want to actually make the people who differ from you look like worse people.”

“you’re doing it to protect the customers themselves.”

So far we have done very little to attack people for not giving us as many chances as other companies. We have Torvalds calling that “hate” though we are pulling so many punches about exclusion these days. We can push this a bit harder.

We can protect customers from so much more than lousy software from competitors. We can protect customers from the bigots in the freedom brigade.

“With a little finesse, we can also feed the customer’s fear of not getting enough– to make them afraid of being “ripped off” if they don’t pay anything. We want to take people who think they want to get something for free, and convince them to associate value with spending– not saving– their money.”

We can also explore the freemium model being used in the mobile app market. We should do this with application features, not miniature apps like the failed Metro nonsense. That was nothing but “Active Desktop”/IE4 all over again. People still want real applications.

“The internet allows us to focus more exclusively on the advantages of our products over free “competitors,” and outsource our attacks to fans and useful third parties.“

Considering that we have things like GitHub, we can play this up even more. We can also use it to introduce more advertising, as Microsoft did with Windows 10. We are pushing more advertising of products into Debian, Ubuntu, and open source outlets like Phoronix. Nothing is stopping us any longer in our new home.

“People will always point out that this is cynical. It doesn’t really matter, because this ‘cynical’ point of view is what continues to drive consumers to spend and overspend, year after year.”

We can probably do a little more to paint our critics as cynical– or encourage them to be more open.

“We can control updates; we don’t really care who pirates the ‘starter pack’ for our platform anymore, because we can monitor and update and deactivate whatever parts of the platform we want pirates to have or not have.”

Windows 10 was helped when we made it a free upgrade for a limited time. We could try that with some other things– we could start diluting the term “free” a bit more, now that “open” just means “with Microsoft and Apple.”

“As long as our proprietary and commercial offerings have more perceived value than the free counterparts, we can point out that these charities could do more for people by raising additional funds to send higher quality commercial software to the people they want to help”

Nothing to add to this, really. What are BillandM doing in this regard? What about Apple?

“If we involve ourselves just the right amount in open source, we can use it as a platform to upsell customers to whatever products we want them to purchase.“

“By accentuating the positive and outsourcing our attacks on the competition to sympathetic third parties, we can help people to remember that it’s silly to settle for less.”

“do you want the free version, or the great version? It’s your choice.”

Experience a free trial/free tier of our cloudware subscription. You’re going to fall in love and want more features!

“when we send press releases or hire copywriters, we can throw our values into the conversation and remind people why everything is better when our tools are included

Even when this isn’t true, the tech press has taken our side again and again. We can even push journalists– just like Microsoft did to push OEMs to cooperate– to lean favorably or lose our participation and cooperation.”

Special deals for Instagram / social media influencers? Sell “access–” bundled.

“they keep telling themselves that writers write their own stories. Sure they do– from whatever they glean from our press releases, press events, and corporate evangelists.”

“No matter where you go, you’re going to hear how great we are.”

We can teach more people in social media how to get readers by repackaging our message.

“A superior product is like a politician’s speech– the best way to sell a lie is to put a truth in it, so people assume the rest of it is also the truth. And when you want to sell a new product you can do the same thing: start with a feature people are desperate to have, and you can build a lot of garbage around it as long as the important features are satisfying enough.”

What are the features people don’t have that we can build new products on?

“We also need a ‘path forward’ to our products. Whenever we outline our strategies to feed to our shills and the tech press, they need to paint free software and its authors as true gems– from a bygone era.”

“The future is (always) us, and the products we want people to use.”

Every one of our products should be viewed as an “upgrade” to whatever else people are using.

“The lead developer is free to do basically whatever they want– keeping a project true to its roots.”

We need to keep fighting software stability or consistency by portraying it as selfishness and being close-minded, old-fashioned, uneducated, and uninformed.

“If their personality is not to the liking of other developers, it doesn’t necessarily matter– they don’t have to join and the lead developer doesn’t have to invite anybody. This works for many projects of small to medium size.”

There is no room for impolite or unattractive developers. We should work to get rid of them entirely.

“You can be the leader of your own project and do what you want to with it, but now you shouldn’t– every project should have a community, a code of conduct…“

And we should host it.

“Open source continues to pave the way forward for monopolies to own and direct free software– which was originally created to be independent of control by monopolies.”

Fortunately, most people don’t care about history lesson that would put our rewriting of it into perspective. That was old, this is new, and so on.

“Free software developers seem to care very little about this, because they have their stripped free software versions of everything open source. So what if we make things less modular, more brittle, more bloated, and more poorly designed? They only use projects with a license allows them to clean up after us, so they’re content no matter what we sabotage.”

They view this completely differently. Open source says that we have changed where we haven’t– we just keep getting better. Free software says that we haven’t changed where we have– we can just keep getting worse, and they won’t notice.

“We can overwhelm them and send them to clean up mess after mess, with the remaining effect of steering key projects to work more the way we want, and them accepting our changes.”

Are there any tools they rely on that we aren’t already “contributing” to in some way?

“In exchange for software with more churn, more bloat, less choice and less user control and reliability– they get “cooler” software tools, larger sponsorships, bigger marketing and events that feature their software– everything they would enjoy if we took over their world and did things our way. And we still get royalties and the chance to steer development away from things that help our competitors more than they help us.”

Maybe we can go further and have pages where they can donate…

“We de-commoditize protocols. We add features we want and deprecate ones that people rely on, and we tell them to get with the program. We create the same kind of lock-in (in practice) by decreasing the compatibility with trusted development tools and utilities, so we can move more quickly (and drag users along) from one industry fad to another.”

We could probably use more foothold in the maker/3D printing communities.

“We say this leads to more compatibility– but it’s more compatibility with the things we care about, and less compatibility among the free software ecosystem they created for themselves. Essentially we drag them out of their world, and back into ours.“

“Recently, a company used Wikipedia servers as a blank canvas for their own corporate advertising and message. They were called “bastards” and “vandals” and their changes were reverted.”

“It’s quite different in the world of Free and Open source software. We can behave exactly like The North Face, do just as much to vandalize and be bastardly, we can even stake claim to their work (and have them agree it is our own!) and become wealthier and gain a heroic reputation in the process.”

“Apple was once a small company taking on giants from a garage, and often cares little about compatibility with industry standards. It has used the image of being ‘different’ and rebellious to justify overpriced, more proprietary components in its products.”

“Microsoft, more than Apple, has worked on its reputation of being ruthless and having unfair practices that hurt the computer industry on several different levels.”

“While spying on users and selling their data mined by artificial intelligence and unscrupulous third parties, Facebook continues to work to make itself look like a philanthropic organization.”

“Like with these other companies, the real power is the power they have over the industry and the users of their products. But their brand is about the smaller amount of power they ‘share’ with users.”

“The goal for those fighting against Open source, against the true openness (let’s call it the yet unexploited opportunities) of Open source, has to be first to figuratively own the Linux brand, then literally own or destroy the brand, then to move the public awareness of the Linux brand to something like Azure, or whatever IBM is going to do with Red Hat.“

“Someday, Linux will be no more– we said in those Halloween memos that it’s just a kernel, but by making it into an Operating System we managed to make it stand for less, while making it look like more than it is.“

“the gradual shift in public consciousness from their branding towards our own, is the next best thing to owning them outright.”

Look at everything we said we wanted to do. Look at all we’ve managed from our list. If we had even tried to follow a 20-year plan, it didn’t come out too badly.

Here’s to the next 20 years!

Chapter 9: Ownership Through Branding — Change the Names, and Change the World

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft at 1:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Table of Contents

Introduction: Cover and quick Introduction [PDF]

Chapter 1: Know your enemies– Act like a friend [PDF]

Chapter 2: Work with the system– Use OEMs and your legal team [PDF]

Chapter 3: Playing the victim– Show the world that too much freedom hurts development [PDF]

Chapter 4: You get what you pay for– Getting skeptics to work for you [PDF]

Chapter 5: Open Source Judo– How to bribe the moderates to your side [PDF]

Chapter 6: Damning with faint praise– Take the right examples of free software and exploit them for everything [PDF]

Chapter 7: Patent War– Use low-quality patents to prove that all software rips off your company [PDF]

Chapter 8: A foot in the door– how to train sympathetic developers and infiltrate other projects [PDF]

You are here ☞ Chapter 9: Ownership through Branding– Change the names, and change the world [PDF]

Chapter 10: Moving forward– Getting the best results from Open source with your monopoly


When Adam was given the task of naming the animals, was it to make him their master or participate in their creation?

When Shakespeare wrote that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet– was he telling us to always look past labels to the true nature of a thing, or was this a sly nod to the power of words? The Bard himself coined many words still used today, including “luggage.”

“The point here is not about the Intellectual Property aspects of branding, but the utility and usefulness of it as part of business practices.”Whatever you think of these questions or their possible answers, names have great power and value, in both computing and corporate culture. The filename used to invoke a program or word used to call a subroutine is called a “command,” for something you order the computer to do– and a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet– but if you want to brand something with “Red Hat” in the name, it might cost more than 30 billion dollars.

The point here is not about the Intellectual Property aspects of branding, but the utility and usefulness of it as part of business practices. Companies can make money from their brands alone– shoe dealers will sometimes license their branding to other companies, allowing them to legally masquerade as a known or better-known business in exchange for royalties. But the effects of branding on the public consciousness are far more interesting.

In computing, politics and in human consciousness, names are objects of association. When men or women go out into the world to see what it has to offer in terms of opportunity, they are said to “make a name” for themselves. In security and also at certain venues, having your name on a list can grant you access (whitelists, VIP lists) or be used to deny it (blacklists, in both contexts.)

Although this handbook focuses primarily on names, objects of association include colors, shapes and context. Edward Bernays wished to fix the color of Lucky Strike packaging, because research had shown that women did not respond well to it. It was deemed too expensive to change the packaging itself, so instead Bernays worked with fashion designers to launch a campaign that associated the same color with current fashions. Diamonds were also built up as a business, via campaigns involving celebrities wearing them.

“In computing, politics and in human consciousness, names are objects of association.”These, along with countless other stories like them– demonstrate the great amount of trouble a company will go to in order to manipulate the public reaction to the smallest details associated with a product or company.

And the manipulation works more effectively if we are quiet about doing it– or even deny that it makes any sort of difference. The value of a trademark may outweigh the cost of your house or car by an order of magnitude, though it has more power still if we pretend it is arbitrary and unimportant. This is relevant to our relationship with Open source on multiple levels.

Every picture tells a story, and every name has a story. The building of a brand includes “making a name” (not just giving one) for a company or product. A large company will have several names– and this is extremely useful– because it allows that company to manage different aspects of its branding as separate entities.

Looking back at the history of Apple or Microsoft, you will find many names that are not part of the public consciousness either because they are no longer useful, or because they were “jettisoned” or put out to pasture for similar reasons. The truth is that having some brands you can distance yourself from can itself be useful.

To keep Microsoft a powerful brand is not only a matter of building, but of maintenance– of grooming. Just as the certain color of green was making women buy fewer cigarettes from a company, the best option at the time is not always to simply start over with a new brand or new package– brands need to be managed.

“To keep Microsoft a powerful brand is not only a matter of building, but of maintenance– of grooming.”The associations people make with the brand object (again, we are focusing on names as our primary example of a brand object) can be shifted from one overall perception to another. Both our Marketing teams and P.R. departments have a firm understanding of this concept. They both work to manage the associations that people make with companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook.

We are top brands, and you do not become a top brand without managing public perception. You do not remain a top brand without grooming the public consciousness and what it associates with your brand name. Today we have people dedicated to managing or salvaging the public image of individual celebrities, but for companies it is necessary to salvage and renew our top brands many times over the years.

Like Microsoft, Apple was once a small company taking on giants from a garage, and often cares little about compatibility with industry standards. It has used the image of being “different” and rebellious to justify overpriced, more proprietary components in its products.

Microsoft, more than Apple, has worked on its reputation of being ruthless and having unfair practices that hurt the computer industry on several different levels. Co-founder Bill Gates has rebranded himself a philanthropist, a common pastime among former ruthless company leaders that gives them an image of being less destructive or sociopathic– and gives them something to spend money on that makes it look like they care about something more than comfort, wealth and power.

“Microsoft, more than Apple, has worked on its reputation of being ruthless and having unfair practices that hurt the computer industry on several different levels. Co-founder Bill Gates has rebranded himself a philanthropist, a common pastime among former ruthless company leaders that gives them an image of being less destructive or sociopathic– and gives them something to spend money on that makes it look like they care about something more than comfort, wealth and power.”The great thing about philanthropy, is that no matter how you make your fortune, you can spread around a portion of it to buy back your image as a humanitarian. While spying on users and selling their data mined by artificial intelligence and unscrupulous third parties, Facebook continues to work to make itself look like a philanthropic organization.

For all of Apple’s white slabs and chrome accents, Google’s brand is more sterile and enigmatic. Google’s brand is perhaps simply about raw power. Like with these other companies, the real power is the power they have over the industry and the users of their products. But their brand is about the smaller amount of power they “share” with users (much like the smaller amount of money that many philanthropists spend on good causes, while helping to destroy the world and everything good in it.)

Of course there are sincerely good companies, and sincerely good people. None of this is to say that all philanthropists are bastards buying a good name, or that all companies exist primarily to sell their customers off to larger enterprise-level customers. The point here is that nearly anybody can buy a good name for themselves, if they have enough money and power to do so. And while some individuals have that kind of money– every top brand does, and must use money and influence (of customers, of other companies) to remain a top brand.

It should come as no surprise that this touches on several subjects already discussed– branding touches on everything we do because (at least in theory) everything we do has the potential to affect our brand.

But among the things relevant to the lessons here, are that we want to look like a friend even when we are ruthless– we want to put every failure behind us, both by jettisoning failed efforts and compartmentalizing key efforts using brands that can be jettisoned and forgotten by the public– do you use Internet Explorer, or Edge? Who funded The Santa Cruz Operation?

“The goal for those fighting against Open source, against the true openness (let’s call it the yet unexploited opportunities) of Open source, has to be first to figuratively own the Linux brand, then literally own or destroy the brand, then to move the public awareness of the Linux brand to something like Azure, or whatever IBM is going to do with Red Hat.”And who really loves Linux? The goal for those fighting against Open source, against the true openness (let’s call it the yet unexploited opportunities) of Open source, has to be first to figuratively own the Linux brand, then literally own or destroy the brand, then to move the public awareness of the Linux brand to something like Azure, or whatever IBM is going to do with Red Hat. (Don’t be silly, just like with Azure we all know it’s going to have something to with “The Cloud.”)

Someday, Linux will be no more– we said in those Halloween memos that it’s just a kernel, but by making it into an Operating System we managed to make it stand for less, while making it look like more than it is.

We can’t kill the GNU brand by owning it, because it always implies a lack of monopolistic ownership. Linux never meant that– like Apple it implied “something different” and like Google it implied raw power. That’s a brand we can rename, own, and reshape.

“And the gradual shift in public consciousness from their branding towards our own, is the next best thing to owning them outright.”Like Bernays helped Lucky Strike not by changing the branding but changing its association, we can still fight GNU not by owning the brand but changing its association– we will continue to work to make them has-beens, neckbeards, amateurs, ideologues, zealots, and even bigots.

Public consciousness is something we have to manage to stay on top. Research showed as far back as 20 years ago that attacking Linux (and free software) directly reinforces our image as ruthless monsters. We get more done using proxies and shills– but this is winner-take-all, and the destruction of their brand is the polish on our own image.

And the gradual shift in public consciousness from their branding towards our own, is the next best thing to owning them outright.

Relevant quotes from the Halloween documents:

“OSS poses a direct, short-term revenue and platform threat to Microsoft — particularly in server space. Additionally, the intrinsic parallelism and free idea exchange in OSS has benefits that are not replicable with our current licensing model and therefore present a long term developer mindshare threat.”

“other OSS process weaknesses provide an avenue for Microsoft to garner advantage”

“A key barrier to entry for OSS in many customer environments has been its perceived lack of quality.”

“Recent case studies (the Internet) provide very dramatic evidence in customer’s eyes that commercial quality can be achieved / exceeded by OSS projects. At this time, however there is no strong evidence of OSS code quality aside from anecdotal.”

“Open source software has roots in the hobbyist and the scientific community and was typified by ad hoc exchange of source code by developers/users.“

“Credit for the first instance of modern, organized OSS is generally given to Richard Stallman of MIT. In late 1983, Stallman created the Free Software Foundation (FSF) — http://www.gnu.ai.mit.edu/fsf/fsf.html — with the goal of creating a free version of the UNIX operating system.”

“since money is often not the (primary) motivation behind Open Source Software, understanding the nature of the threat posed requires a deep understanding of the process and motivation of Open Source development teams.”

“to understand how to compete against OSS, we must target a process rather than a company.”

“These individuals are more like hobbyists spending their free time / energy on OSS project development while maintaining other full time jobs.”

“This summarizes one of the core motivations of developers in the OSS process — solving an immediate problem at hand faced by an individual developer — this has allowed OSS to evolve complex projects without constant feedback from a marketing / support organization.”

“The Linux kernel grew out of an educational project at the University of Helsinki. Similarly, many of the components of Linux / GNU system (X windows GUI, shell utilities, clustering, networking, etc.) were extended by individuals at educational institutions.”

“Linus is considered by the development team to be a fair, well-reasoned code manager and his reputation within the Linux community is quite strong.”

“What are the core strengths of OSS products that Microsoft needs to be concerned with?”

“Like commercial software, the most viable single OSS project in many categories will, in the long run, kill competitive OSS projects and `acquire’ their IQ assets. For example, Linux is killing BSD Unix and has absorbed most of its core ideas (as well as ideas in the commercial UNIXes).”

“Loosely applied to the vernacular of the software industry, a product/process is long-term credible if FUD tactics can not be used to combat it.”

“The GPL and its aversion to code forking reassures customers that they aren’t riding an evolutionary `dead-end’ by subscribing to a particular commercial version of Linux.”

“The “evolutionary dead-end” is the core of the software FUD argument.”

“Linux and other OSS advocates are making a progressively more credible argument that OSS software is at least as robust — if not more — than commercial alternatives.”

“In particular, larger, more savvy, organizations who rely on OSS for business operations (e.g. ISPs) are comforted by the fact that they can potentially fix a work-stopping bug independent of a commercial provider’s schedule”

“OSS’s API evangelization / developer education is basically providing the developer with the underlying code. Whereas evangelization of API’s in a closed source model basically defaults to trust, OSS API evangelization lets the developer make up his own mind.”

“Up till now, Linux has greatly benefited from the integration / componentization model pushed by previous UNIX’s. Additionally, the organization of Apache was simplified by the relatively simple, fault tolerant specifications of the HTTP protocol and UNIX server application design.”

“because OSS doesn’t have an explicit marketing / customer feedback component, wishlists — and consequently feature development — are dominated by the most technically savvy users.”

“The interesting trend to observe here will be the effect that commercial OSS providers (such as RedHat in Linux space, C2Net in Apache space) will have on the feedback cycle.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween1.html

“The Linux OS is the highest visibility product of the Open Source Software (OSS) process.”

“Linux poses a significant near-term revenue threat to Windows NT Server in the commodity file, print and network services businesses.”

“In addition to a 80386-based kernel, Linus wrote keyboard and screen drivers to attach to PC hardware and provided this code under GNU’s Public License on an FTP site in the summer of 1991.”

“In contrast to the FSF/GNU work, which provided developers an open source abstraction above the underlying, commercial UNIX OS kernel, Linux’s team was creating a completely open source kernel. In time, more and more of the GNU user/shell work was ported to Linux to round out the platform for hackers.”

“Linux v2.0 [June 1996] was the first major release could effectively compete as a UNIX distribution. The kernel, system libraries, the GNU Unix tool, X11, various open source server applications such as BIND and sendmail, etc. were frozen and declared part of Linux 2.0.“

“’Linux’ is technically just a kernel, not the entire supporting OS. In order to create a usable product, Linux “distributions” are created which bundle the kernel, drivers, apps and many other components necessary for the full UNIX/GUI experience.”

“The kernel is the core part of Linux that is expressly managed by Linus and his lieutenants and is protected via the GPL.”

“Bob Young, president of Red Hat expects the 3-year old company to earn revenues of $10 million this year and to ship about 400,000 copies of Linux, ranging from $50 to near $1,000 for a supported version.”

“Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Red Hat’s business model is their extremely active and continuing contributions to the Linux community. Several prior initiatives spearheaded by RedHat have been released as OSS for modification. In most cases, these code releases were simple fixes or additional drivers.”

“Caldera is Ray Noorda’s latest company with its eye on the operating system marketplace. Caldera’s financials and sales are unpublished but it is widely believed to be the #2 commercial Linux vendor after RedHat.”

“Strict application and OS componentization coupled with readily exposed internals make Linux ideal.”

“Customers enjoy the simpler debugging and fault isolation of individual servers vs a monolithic server runing multiple services.”

“There are hundreds of stories on the web of Linux installations that have been in continuous production for over a year. Stability more than almost any other feature is the #1 goal of the Linux development community (and the #1 cited weakness of Windows)”

“Linux developers are generally wary of Sun’s Java. Most of the skepticism towards Java stems directly from Sun’s tight control over the language – and lack of OSS.”

Reliability – perception that non-Linux OS’s aren’t reliable or scalable enough (in particular Windows NT)”

Modularity & Small size – Because the OS was designed in a very nonintegrated, componentized manner from the outset, it’s very easy to build boxes that don’t have a monitor, keyboard, etc.”

“Systematically attacking UNIX in general helps attack Linux in particular.”

“Microsoft’s market power doesn’t stem from products as much as it does from our iterative process. The first release of a Microsoft product often fairs poorly in the market and primarily of generates fine granularity feedback from consumers.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween2.html

“Good. Good. Now we add the implication that, by comparison, Linux is the eccentric preoccupation of a tiny tribe of malcontents living in the software equivalent of tin shacks on a desert island.”

“Subtext: We at Microsoft will co-opt just as much of this magic as we can, providing it doesn’t require us to lower prices, reduce profit margins, or cede control of anything.”

“Perhaps this is understandable, giving Microsoft’s own long record of buying or outright stealing key technologies rather than innovating.”

“The interpretation of Ms. van den Berg’s parting shot kindest to Microsoft, then, is that it is a lie intended to frighten the gullible.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween3.html

“Microsoft executives dismiss open-source as hype. Complex future projects [will] require big teams and big capital, said Ed Muth, a Microsoft group marketing manager.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween4.html

“After months of silence out of Redmond, the themes of Microsoft’s coming FUD campaign against Linux are beginning to emerge like a zombie army from the fetid mists of Redmond.”

“We get to hear the “no applications” FUD – a tough one to sustain, given that the likes of Corel and Oracle and SAP are on board with Linux. We get to hear “no long-term development roadmap” from the company that can’t seem to decide how many versions of Windows 9x will intrude between now and the much-delayed promised land of Windows 2000.”

“what’s most notable about this article are the things Sheriff Ed didn’t say.”

“Microsoft has never been famous for reluctance to tell lies when that suits corporate purposes.”

“you can bet that after its recent PR blunders anything Sheriff Ed says about Linux at this point has been very carefully focus-grouped with representatives from Microsoft’s most important customers.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween5.html

“the Halloween Documents’ author has quit Microsoft to go to work for a Linux-based startup”

“the first Linux IPO rocketed Red Hat Software to a six-billion-dollar market capitalization.”

“perhaps the most dramatic development in the Halloween saga has been a change in the axis of Microsoft spin.”

“Sometime before 6 October, the Gartner Group published on its central corporate website, www.gartner.com, a series of five reports slamming Linux and predicting that its appeal would fade once the inevitable Service Pack 1 for Windows 2000 came out.”

“So. At first blush, these “Gartner Group” reports seem to have been a warm personal gesture from Microsoft Corporation to itself. That theory would fit both the copyright and the contents, which exactly repeats Microsoft marketing cant that we’ve seen before”

“While the Gartner Group was busily issuing denials, Microsoft was publishing yet another attack document, the Linux Myths page.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween6.html

“Microsoft’s FUD attacks on open source have not only failed, they have backfired strongly enough to show up in Microsoft’s own market research as a problem. This means we don’t need to put a lot of energy into anti-FUD defending the open-source way of doing things. Indications are we’ve won that battle; effort should now go elsewhere.”

“The risk that Microsoft will go on a patent-lawsuit rampage, designed more to scare potential open-source users than to actually shut down developers, is substantial.”

“The term ‘free software’ isn’t mentioned once, not even as an exploitable weakness. This contrasts strongly with the original Halloween Memoranda. I’m not sure what this means, but one strong possibility is that the term has simply fallen out of use both at Microsoft and in their survey population.”

“IT Pro
IT middle manager, what we’d call a PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss).“

“those who are familiar with OSS and Linux are favorably predisposed towards them. Linking this work with other on-point research, we can assume that in the majority of cases this reported ‘favorability’ is more emotional than it is rational.”

“French respondents exhibited a strong anti-Microsoft sentiment as sixty-one percent (61%) stated that ‘an alternative to Microsoft’ was the most compelling reason to support OSS. This sentiment was echoed to a lesser extent among the Germans (37%) and Swedes (35%).”

“Only 24% of IT respondents Worldwide were interested in broadly deploying Linux in their business.”

“Customers (non-IT IT professionals and BDMS) respond best to improvements in the feedback process, and being able to perform security checks.

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween7.html

“The plaintiff in this case, “SCO Group Inc.”, was originally the Linux vendor “Caldera Systems Inc.” It changed its name to “Caldera International Inc.” on October 11, 2000 after purchasing the server division of The Santa Cruz Operation, and changed its name again to “SCO Group Inc.” on May 15, 2003. The original SCO changed its name to “Tarantella Inc” on February 12, 2001 after divesting itself of its deteriorating Unix business to focus on its Tarantella application.”

“These are two distinct companies, one founded in 1979 and headquartered in California, and the other founded in 1994 and headquartered in Utah, which the plaintiff refers to interchangeably as SCO. To distinguish them, we refer to the plaintiff as SCO/Caldera and the older company the plaintiff purchased a server division from as SCO/Tarantella.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween9.html

“The document below was emailed to me by an anonymous whistleblower inside SCO. He tells me the typos and syntax bobbles were in the original. I could not, when I received it, certify its authenticity, but I presumed that IBM’s, Red Hat’s, Novell’s, AutoZone’s, and Daimler-Chryler’s lawyers could subpoena the original. On March 4th, within 24 hours of publication, SCO confirmed that the memo is legitimate.”

“Baystar Capital is a venture-capital firm. In 2003 SCO got about fifty million dollars from them in a deal that was rumored to have Microsoft’s hand behind it. This confirms the rumor.”

“My original commentary observed that IPX is a network stack developed by Novell. The implication was that Mike Anderer thinks SCO might be able to get a patent lock on it, so they were looking for IP leverage against Novell.”

“The ongoing lawsuit between Red Hat and SCO is documented here.”

“This is the smoking gun. We now know that Microsoft raised $86 million for SCO, but according to the SCO conference call this morning (03 Mar 2004) their cash reserves were $68.5 million. If not for Microsoft, SCO would be at least $15 million in debt today.”

“In other words, Microsoft wanted to funnel its anti-Linux payoff through third parties. Maybe in case the antitrust guys at the Department of Justice happen not to be asleep at the switch?”

“The bit about acquisitions seems more ominous when you remember that Caldera/SCO has a long history of lawsuits over obsolete technologies stripped out of dead companies — starting with DR-DOS from Digital Research and continuing through USL’s System V into the present with the IBM lawsuit.”

“There you have it. At least a third of SCO’s entire market capitalization, and their entire current cash reserves, is payoffs funnelled from Microsoft. Their 10Qs reveal that every other line of cash inflow is statistical noise by comparison.”

“This continues to be SCO’s party line. Their response acknowledges that the memo is authentic but claims that Anderer — the consultant they hired to find, handle, and brief the Board Of Directors about this kind of Transaction (see the Statement of Work in his contract with SCO), was mistaken about the deal.”

“We think the kindest interpretation we can put on these events is that Blake Stowell isn’t lying through his teeth, but was kept out of the loop so he could honestly deny all knowledge of Microsoft’s involvement.“

“So Microsoft used BayStar to do its dirty work, then stiffed ‘em.”

“November 2007 update: On July 18 2007 passed the WhatIf patent, gratis, to a shell company called Cattleback Holdings, less than 60 days before declaring bankruptcy. This certainly looks like an attempt to keep that patent out of the hands of the creditors’ committee so SCO can do more damage with it later.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween10.html

“The outlines of the next stage in Microsoft’s anti-open-source propaganda campaign are becoming clear.”

“Writing code that doesn’t suck always has to be our base-level and most important response, but the propaganda war matters too.”

“Anyone who thinks I’m being perfervid or overly melodramatic about this should review the direct long-term revenue and platform threat language from Halloween I. Other people may fool themselves about what this means, but Microsoft never has.”

“We have to assume that Microsoft’s long-term aim is to crush our culture”

“It seems to me very likely that Microsoft’s UK tour is designed as a trial run of themes that they’ll take to the U.S. to the extent they look successful. The UK is not a trivial market, of course, but 50% of all IT spending is still in the U.S., so from a Microsoft strategic planner’s point of view that’s where the main battle is.”

“They’ve quit claiming that Microsoft’s products are technically superior. Instead, they talk up transition costs.”

“Make a big deal about the migration costs of moving to Linux”

“Use the Forrester report to claim that Linux is insecure”

“Trying to neutralize open source by equating it with shared source implicitly concedes that open source is something customers want. Microsoft has given up a lot of ground here.”

“The choice of arguments in the Get The Facts campaign is an obvious circle-the-wagons move to defend Microsoft’s base of large corporate customers and governments. In itself, it is unlikely to accomplish much; at best, if they’re both lucky and persuasive, it may slow down the rate of defections temporarily.”

“So what is Microsoft going to do to try to claw back control after the Get The Facts campaign runs out of sufficiently gullible targets? I expect it to involve legal and political shenanigans much bigger and uglier than we’ve yet seen.”

“Most of us, most of the time, shouldn’t be distracted by worrying about beating Microsoft’s PR or countering their political moves, because writing good code is in the long run a far more potent weapon than flackery.”

From https://antitrust.slated.org/halloween/halloween11.html

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