“What we’re really after is simply that people acquire a legal license for Windows for each computer they own before they move on to Linux or Sun Solaris or BSD or OS/2 or whatever.”
Summary: A conceited corporation, Microsoft, shows not only that it exploits its botnet to forcibly download massive binaries without consent but also that it vainly overrides people’s privacy settings to spy on these people, sometimes with help from malicious hardware vendors such as Dell or Lenovo
THE topic we have neglected as of late is Vista 10, which is still doing pretty poorly in the market. Its whole purpose seem to be data collection and Microsoft will not tolerate barriers to: 1) adoption of Vista 10 and 2) data collection from each Vista 10 user.
Microsoft is aggressively trying to impose downloads of Vista 10, even without consent from users. One ought to wonder, when will there be class action lawsuits? Microsoft pretended this was done in error, but later it became clear that this was not an accident. Microsoft is really desperate to make everyone adopt this malicious spyware, which acts as a keylogger with a lot of other nasty features.
According to reports from earlier this week, Microsoft’s special ally Dell helps snooping on users in more than one way. Not many reports mention this, but it’s a problem that affects Windows only , just like in the case of Lenovo, which took all the blame for Microsoft's bad behaviour.
According to reports from the British media, Microsoft is now overriding users’ preferences not only when it comes to downloading Vista 10. It not only ignores privacy settings, either. Microsoft is now using Windows updates to actually alter privacy settings , showing once again that anything privacy-related is a farce under Windows . Remember that Microsoft works closely with the NSA.
One article rightly recalled Microsoft’s hypocritical AstroTurfing against Google and wrote: “Microsoft spent millions portraying Google as a greedy and amoral data marauder. Redmond doesn’t need to read your email, it told everyone. The Scroogled campaign positioned Microsoft itself as the ethical alternative; the occupier of the moral high ground.”
As one person put it in Twitter, “now that they’ve apparently “given away” Windows 10, the die is cast. Vast majority of people have no idea of privacy loss/laws” (it is only a ‘free’ ‘upgrade’, it is not “given away”).
The press will likely find yet more of Dell’s serious privacy violations , including this second one [5,6], but rarely will it bother to mention that only Windows is affected. This whole bunch of stories comes to show that Dell and Microsoft Windows are more like NSA incorporated. They are designed to erode privacy. Surveillance is a built-in goal. Just like in the case of Lenovo, however, Microsoft received none of the blame. Lenovo and Dell get all the negative publicity, but it is a Windows issue, not just a Lenovo or a Dell issue.
We wish to remind readers that now is a good time to leave Windows. The decks in the proprietary software world are stacked against privacy. They guard the watchers, not the users. Windows sometimes puts people in prison [1, 2]. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
News came out on Tuesday that since August Dell computers have been coming out-of-the-box with a root certificate preinstalled that is an “unintended security vulnerability.” The source of the quote, by the way, is Dell itself.
And you thought all you had to worry about was Superfish, the adware Lenovo installed on its computers that left users vulnerable to man-in the-middle attacks — even when running Linux. At least the latest dumb move by Dell seems to be Windows specific, meaning most readers of FOSS Force can breath easy and repeat the official Linux mantra rewritten from an old Dial soap campaign.
According to Redmond on Tuesday, “when the November update was installed, a few settings preferences may have inadvertently not been retained for advertising ID, Background apps, SmartScreen Filter, and Sync with devices.”
Fair play to Microsoft for shedding light on the blunder. Basically, its operating system allowed apps to access people’s unique advertising ID numbers; the SmartScreen Filter that sends executables to Microsoft servers to analyze was enabled; software was allowed to run in the background; and settings and passwords would be backed up the cloud. If you previously disabled any of those, they would be reenabled by the MCT-derived upgrade over a previous Windows 10 install.
Microsoft pulled a major update for Windows after it blew away the user’s privacy settings, allowing app developers and advertisers to glean the user’s identity.
But that’s only part of the story, which gets murkier by the day.
We already knew Windows 10 Threshold deleted third-party data monitoring tools and cleanup tools, including stalwarts like Spybot and CCleaner. It even disabled Cisco’s VPN software. Just a bug, said Microsoft.
Two bugs would be a puzzling coincidence – but something else makes it altogether more troubling.
This year Microsoft introduced background tracking services called DiagTrack, or the Diagnostics Tracking Service. It was added to Windows 8.1 installations as well as betas of Windows 10. It arrived without much fanfare in May 14, in the shape of a patch, KB3022345.
It was just one of several slurping enhancements added via the back door.
Microsoft spent millions portraying Google as a greedy and amoral data marauder. Redmond doesn’t need to read your email, it told everyone. The Scroogled campaign positioned Microsoft itself as the ethical alternative; the occupier of the moral high ground.
Dell customers have turned up a second root certificate installed on some Dell machines, which could make them easy prey for malicious attacks on public Wi-Fi networks.
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“A man never lies as much as after a hunt, during a war, and before an election.”
–Otto von Bismarck
Summary: Free/Open Source software (FOSS) is under attack again, and it’s the proprietary software lobby that’s responsible for that
EVERY now and then we see claims that Free software is very dangerous because of licensing obligations, as if proprietary software comes with no licensing obligations and potentially severe fines (if not a jail term!). We also occasionally hear about Free software being dangerous on the security side, despite proprietary software being far worse, merely hiding flaws and rarely patching them (or patching them when it’s too late). Several Web sites published this biased ‘analysis’ composed by two proprietary software ‘sales’ people (HeBS Digital’s Max Starkov and Jaan Paljasma) only a few days ago. They rely on non-technical people actually believing that there are no downsides to proprietary software. It should also be noted that, while several sites distribute this ‘article’ as though it’s an original report, it is actually more like a press release commissioned by a stakeholder. It’s not journalism and some sites fail to flag it accordingly.
In my professional capacity I have built sites using FOSS content management systems (e.g. Drupal, WordPress) for commerce, education, and more. These frameworks are so flexible and so full of modules/plug-ins that virtually everything is possible. Not even once have such sites been compromised due to security bugs (even when some existed and remained unpatched for a while).
“It should also be noted that, while several sites distribute this ‘article’ as though it’s an original report, it is actually more like a press release commissioned by a stakeholder.”Speaking of proprietary software salespeople, the Microsoft-connected Black Duck is at it again. “The study’s findings also highlighted a number of other specific ways the adoption of appropriate internal controls has not kept pace with the increasing use of open source software, leaving many organizations exposed to significant potential risks,” wrote a lawyers’ site, based on this self-promotional press release from Black Duck.
“As highlighted in the Information Week blog DARKReading,” the lawyers’ site said, actually referring to a press release, not a blog. We shall guess that it takes more than average levels of intelligence to distinguish blog posts from press releases. We can also safely assume that Black Duck hasn’t changed its ways. It’s a de facto FUD firm which uses scare tactics for sales of its proprietary software (with software patents on it).
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Summary: The reaction of patent profiteers to scope/boundary restrictions, the FRAND lobby by Microsoft’s longtime front group, FRAND matters in Korea (affecting Android), Google’s response to patent threats, and Red Hat still keeping quiet about its patent agreement with Microsoft
THERE is nothing exceptionally surprising in the news today, so we are going to focus on the EPO, which is in a very poor state right now. The management is so frail that the only language it understand is aggression. We shall write several articles about it this afternoon. Before we start, however, here is a potpourri of updates about the patent situation and how it relates to Free/Open Source software (FOSS).
“When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.”Patent lawyers’ Web sites are still bemoaning the death of many software patents in the United States (death by Alice). One of the better known ones says that “many software patent holders must feel ─ like they were walking along merrily through the woods when they fell suddenly into a blinding, winding rabbit hole. Where once their patents stood bold and tall, they have now shrunk to a seemingly indefensible size. Whether they can defend their so-called “abstract” patents in court is now as unclear as the Mad Hatter’s riddles. The famed Alice decision has certainly left many in the patent world wondering.”
When they say “patent world” they mean the corners of the world where people pursue patents — those who try to profit from patents without necessarily creating anything.
Remember FRAND lobbying in Europe back in the days (nearly a decade ago)? Well, ACT‘s new face just got mentioned by another who was paid by Microsoft, and also regularly pushes along the FRAND front (against FOSS, relying on Korea at the moment). “ACT | The App Association,” he explained, “has announced a new web resource for innovators, policy-makers, and academics. It’s called All Things FRAND and supported by significant players including Cisco, Intel, and Microsoft. ACT is headquartered in the U.S. but also quite active abroad.”
Well, historically ACT had been little more than a Microsoft lobbyist. Then there is CCIA, which seemingly changed its position after being paid a lot of money by Microsoft. CCIA‘s Matt Levy, who now runs an anti-trolls site, has just released this new video. Don’t expect Levy to criticise CCIA’s funders, which include Microsoft. This monopolist, Microsoft, is acting in ways that resemble patent trolls.
“Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.”Google, in the mean time, claims to be against patent trolls. As IEEE Spectrum put it some weeks ago: “Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion, which the company says received “thousands” of submissions during a three-week window, may prompt similar experiments in keeping patents out of the hands of what it considers the bad guys of intellectual property.”
Well, right now many of the “bad guys” also use FRAND against Android, which Google distributes as Free/Open Source software.
In other news, we are still pressuring Red Hat to reveal what it did with Microsoft regarding patents. We haven’t forgotten about this and we are not going to give up. The Free/Open Source software world deserves some answers. █
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Paid by Microsoft, still serving Microsoft’s agenda under misleading organisational names, hoping nobody will notice
Summary: The Microsoft-connected ACT has just morphed into another entity, in an apparent effort to derail Android (as well as other Linux-powered mobile operating systems boasting Free/libre code) with patent tax in ‘thicket’ form
SO, Microsoft’s most infamous lobbyists are still around and they use patents as a weapon, not just lock-in such as OOXML. There is now a new mask for this particular group of lobbyists, and a new Web site too. Watch who follows and promotes this site (and Twitter account), it’s just people from ACT. This is yet another campaign Web site (one of many) belonging to this longtime Microsoft AstroTurfing group.
“The name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.”See our Wiki for some background on Association for Competitive Technology, formerly known as ATL. It had previous names, but evidently it saw the need to keep renaming/rebranding because its agenda and clients become public knowledge, compromising its ability to operate effectively as a lobbying group.
In recent years these lobbyists were trying to masquerade as an alliance for ‘apps’ developers, disguising the anti-Linux and anti-FOSS agenda as ‘apps’. “Today marks the launch of http://AllThingsFRAND.com,” they announced in Twitter. “Follow our site for the latest news & analysis on patents, standards, and FRAND licensing” (the inherent foes of FOSS, Android, and Linux).
Anyone who follows this site will basically be following lobbyists. They are selling something. They sell agenda, not information.
“[W]hen you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind”
–Benjamin HenrionThe name of their site/campaign is probably designed to imitate or borrow the reputation of AllThingsD (Wall Street Journal) or All Things Open (ATO), a conference about FOSS.
André Rebentisch (FFII) noticed this and said that “ACT [had] launched a #FRAND web site” (FRAND in this context are patents — mostly software patents — that act as a tax that’s virtually impossible to avoid).
“ACT launched a FRAND web site…”
–André RebentischSomeone should perhaps tell the not-so-open-anymore Red Hat that Microsoft is still attacking FOSS (via front groups), with patents inside so-called ‘industry standards’ (thickets/cartels Microsoft is in). Well, so much for ‘standstill’… they are still on the offensive, albeit discreetly (through satellites).
Benjamin Henrion (FFII) told André that “ACT is still ACT. [Is] Zuck still around?” (he was one of their leading lobbyists even back in the ATL days)
Henrion added that “when you see all the complains at the EU level against Google, some company is pulling the strings from behind” (indeed, and we have covered this many times before).
“Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else.”Henrion has noticed yet another curious thing about lobbyists. “Patent lawyers are forming working groups,” he wrote, citing Patent Watchtroll, a longtime prominent booster of software patents, “in order to draft law for software patents in the US after the Alice storm” (Alicestorm is a term used to refer to the avalanche of software patents after the Alice case).
Patent lawyers are basically the equivalent of weapons companies with their pro-war lobbying groups, set aside their soft bribes to people in Congress (to ensure politicians become hawkish or that only hawks are electable). This is why US Congress supports militaristic policies which in turn pass public money to weapons companies. Here too we have patent lawyers trying to pressure politicians to support misguided policies that enrich lawyers and their big clients (multinational monopolies/oligopolies) at the expense of everybody else. █
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Microsoft is openwashing its lock-in (like greenwashing or whitewashing)
Summary: Ill-informed journalists are helping Microsoft disseminate false messages (or half-truths) about Visual Studio
MICROSOFT finally addressed a criticism we made here before, but it wants the world to misinterpret that and wrongly extrapolate. The following criticisms are still applicable:
Remember that Visual Studio is not “open source” and is not “cross-platform”. Microsoft probably hopes to mislead or confuse the public by opening up and then merely compiling for other platforms just a portion, whereupon it can use misleading headlines to give people the impression that Visual Studio is on equal footing with Eclipse, for instance. It’s the “just enough” openwashing strategy.
It might actually work!
See this week’s news headlines.
Cynthia Harvey  deemed .NET “open source” even though it’s still proprietary and patented (we have more promises than deeds), Apple-oriented sites covered it from a Mac-centric point of view , some Linux sites [3-5] focused on just one small component of a large proprietary bundle (with no plans of becoming “open source”), and Microsoft apologists  or dedicated boosters [7-9] did their best to openwash Microsoft because this tiny portion of a proprietary software suite, Visual Studio (with a proprietary compiler that can potentially sneak in back doors into a lot of programs), had its source code liberated.
This might help get some non-Windows developers ‘addicted’ to Microsoft’s tool and if they later want the full (complete) bundle they’ll need to buy a Windows licence, buy a Visual Studio licence, and then rely on proprietary software from an NSA partner.
Is the world really better off with yet another code editor? One that is Microsoft-leaning? █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A version of the clang/C2 compiler is already used for Project Islandwood. Extending it to all Visual Studio C++ development is an exciting prospect for C++ developers; although Microsoft’s own compiler has made great strides in recent years, clang offers superior standards support in a number of areas. Being able to take advantage of that in Visual Studio will be very welcome indeed.
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via Wikipedia but with the GIMP treatment
Summary: The de facto Microsoft satellite known as Xamarin reveals that it is still little more than a Microsoft mobile division
LAST MONTH we wrote about Xamarin‘s absorption of a FOSS Android tool, which quickly turned proprietary (almost instantaneously while takeover negotiations took place). Xamarin Studio, like a lot of Xamarin’s proprietary software, does nor even run on GNU/Linux. There is hardly any pretence anymore that Miguel de Icaza and his Microsoft-connected ilk even care about FOSS. These traitors show their true colours and disdain for anything FOSS.
“There is hardly any pretence anymore that Miguel de Icaza and his Microsoft-connected ilk even care about FOSS.”According to Microsoft's booster at El Reg (Anderson), the latest release from Xamarin still has no Java, just Microsoft lock-in like .NET, XAML, etc. To quote his piece:
Xamarin releases version 4.0 of its cross-platform mobile developer suite
The company has grown rapidly, since it solves a problem for Microsoft-platform developers who now need to target mobile, especially following the failure of Windows Phone to achieve significant market share. “We have over 10,000 customers, 350 consulting partners and 2,000 integration partners,” Friedman told the Reg.
When will everyone recognise that the real motivation at Xamarin is serving as some kind of Microsoft satellite or proxy? Nothing good has come of Xamarin since Novell dumped (laid off all the employees of) Mono and a firm/VC connected to Microsoft became its sugar daddy. █
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Still in pursuit of answers from the “Open Organization” [sic]
Summary: Quick progress report about the effort to convince Red Hat to explain its patent standstill — whatever that practically means — with Microsoft
IN THE political spheres or most political media it is widely recognised that in order to discourage certain policies and certain types of behaviour one might need to shame those who propose or exercise any such policy or action, respectively. This, for example, is why we criticise proponents of software patents and even Red Hat’s patent agreement with Microsoft. The example they give to others is dangerous and without public challenge it can carry on and even expand.
“The example they give to others is dangerous and without public challenge it can carry on and even expand.”Red Hat should be based in Raleigh, not Red Mond [sic], where Red Hat now sends its engineers to work under Microsoft leadership while receiving salaries from Red Hat. We had a long chat about this with someone from Red Hat last night. We still hope that Red Hat will decide to do the right thing. Like Novell’s Cambridge lab, which it used along with Microsoft to promote Microsoft’s agenda, now we have Red Hat staff sharing space with Microsoft staff. Microsoft is a proponent of software patents and still insists that Linux players should pay Microsoft for patents. So how can one reconcile or compromise? In our Open Letter to Red Hat’s new CEO (Jim Whitehurst) 8 years ago we told him that it is “hard to name companies that have benefited from a Microsoft pact” (this is still true).
We will continue to wait and give Red Hat an opportunity to explain what was done with Microsoft regarding patents. We encourage others to ask Red Hat those questions as well. If public pressure is sufficient to influence Red Hat’s PR/marketing experts, Red Hat will decide to open up. For a company steered by shareholders it all boils down to money and reputation. █
“What we [Novell and Microsoft] agreed, which is true, is we’ll continue to try to grow Windows share at the expense of Linux. That’s kind of our job. But to the degree that people are going to deploy Linux, we want Suse Linux to have the highest percent share of that, because only a customer who has Suse Linux actually has paid properly for the use of intellectual property from Microsoft. And we took a quota, you could say, to help them sell so much Suse Linux. That’s part of the deal. We are willing to do the same deal with Red Hat and other Linux distributors, it’s not an exclusive thing. But after a few years of working on this problem, Novell actually saw the business opportunity, because there’s so many customers who say, ‘Hey look, we don’t want problems. We don’t want any intellectual property problem or anything else. There’s just a variety of workloads where we, today, feel like we want to run Linux. Please help us Microsoft and please work with the distributors to solve this
problem, don’t come try to license this individually.’ So customer push drove us to where we got.”
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“If you (Senator Wellstone) vote against the war in Iraq, the Bush administration will do whatever is necessary to get you. There will be severe ramifications for you and the state of Minnesota.” –Vice President Dick Cheney to Senator Paul Wellstone (D), October, 2002, just days before Wellstone’s death in an airplane accident
Summary: The involvement of Microsoft Windows in mission-critical systems (where many lives are on the line) shows extreme negligence and lack of foresight
FRANCE appears to have had problems other than terrorism. Headlines today serve to confirm, with Russia’s acceptance too, that its plane was recently taken down by terrorists, killing about twice as many people as died in Paris on Friday. Days ago the British media ran some scare stories about a French person in a British airport (a lot of misreporting about that, see our daily links for more), but how about basic technological errors? Remember what happened to a Spanair flight and also the poor judgment of British aviation. More planes crash due to technical malfunction than due to terrorism.
“Microsoft seems to be good at nothing these days, perhaps other than back doors and back room deals.”Based on a new report, France is still running mission-critical systems with Windows, even really ancient versions of it, as ancient as 3.1 (see “Windows 3.1 Is Still Alive, And It Just Killed a French Airport” in  below). What are they thinking? This is just nuts! It’s not from The Onion and it’s definitely no satire.
Microsoft seems to be good at nothing these days, perhaps other than back doors and back room deals. Recall Microsoft’s new body cameras partnership with TASER, which we mentioned a few times, then see [2,3] below. Conficker, a Windows virus, is now being preinstalled on body cameras. How many lives will likely be sacrificed as a result of this? Police brutality too needlessly kills a lot of people.
“Haven’t Snowden’s leaks shown enough to convince everyone that genuine security is not the goal at Microsoft but actually somewhat of a foe?”Windows is not suitable for anything that requires security because Windows is simply not designed to be secure. It’s designed for “national security” (meaning back doors and bogus encryption that the state can crack). Proprietary software in general is bad, including firmware , based on new reports. Microsoft is now silently modifying its patches after it bricked Outlook, which has back doors. To quote the British media: “Many IT managers and normal folks held off on last week’s patching cycle after one Microsoft fix – KB 3097877 – broke several versions of Outlook. The error came in how the software handled fonts, and resulted in the email client crashing as soon as some emails were scrolled through.”
We have already covered this here the other day, in relation to back doors in Microsoft data encryption. It is unthikable and rather unbelievable that some people still get away with putting Windows in mission-critical systems, even in governments and businesses. Haven’t Snowden’s leaks shown enough to convince everyone that genuine security is not the goal at Microsoft but actually somewhat of a foe? █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A computer glitch that brought the Paris airport of Orly to a standstill Saturday has been traced back to the airport’s “prehistoric” operating system. In an article published Wednesday, French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné (which often writes serious stories, such as this one) said the computer failure had affected a system known as DECOR, which is used by air traffic controllers to communicate weather information to pilots. Pilots rely on the system when weather conditions are poor.
DECOR, which is used in takeoff and landings, runs on Windows 3.1, an operating system that came onto the market in 1992. Hardly state-of-the-art technology. One of the highlights of Windows 3.1 when it came out was the inclusion of Minesweeper — a single-player video game that was responsible for wasting hours of PC owners’ time in the early ’90s.
US-based iPower Technologies has discovered that body cameras sold by Martel Electronics come pre-infected with the Conficker worm (Win32/Conficker.B!inf).
At the end of October this year, 14,000 police officials from around the world gathered in a Chicago conference center for the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference. It was equal parts political convention and trade show, with panels on crisis response splitting time with hundreds of small companies selling bomb-disposal robots and guns.
There were more than a dozen body camera companies on the show floor, but Taser made the biggest splash, constructing a Disney-style amphitheater called the USS Axon Enterprise. The show began with a white-jacketed captain, who announced he had traveled back in time from the year 2055, where lethal force has been eliminated and police are respected and loved by their communities. To explain how to get there, he ran through a history of policing tech. Approaching the present moment, he fell into a kind of disappointed sadness.
This is really no surprise: embedded system vendors aren’t good at carrying out quality assurance on their firmware images, and their embedded Web server software is what you’d expect from something written in the last 20 minutes of Friday afternoon.
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