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The Microsoft Botnet Goes Bonkers and ATMs Running Windows Spew Out Cash

Posted in GNU/Linux, Security, Vista 10, Vista 7, Windows at 5:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Mission-critical” and “Windows” are not possible to mention in the same sentence

Manchester Airport

Summary: The terrible security (by design) of Microsoft Windows is causing all sorts of very serious and collectively expensive issues

NOW that Rianne and I are back from vacation (Manchester Airport is shown above) we are amused to see even Dan Goodin, a selective basher of Free software, covering this latest blunder from Microsoft (affecting Vista 7). Sosumi dropped this pointer last night in the #techrights IRC channel and since then the word has been spreading rather quickly. Dan Goodin finally writes about the Microsoft Windows botnet (Windows Update, for a change) and Microsoft rushes to do ‘damage control’ by going after journalists. To quote Goodin:

“Microsoft said a highly suspicious Windows update that was delivered to customers around the world was the result of a test that wasn’t correctly implemented.

“We incorrectly published a test update and are in the process of removing it,” a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to Ars. The message included no other information.”

Yeah, whatever. It’s hard to refute something like that, but it may as well be a lie. It would be hard to prove what actually happened unless someone from the inside (like a whistleblower) got contacted. It’s all secretive and proprietary. Here is what the British media (Goodin’s former employer) wrote: “The Register poked Microsoft about the issue, and a spokesman told us: “We incorrectly published a test update and are in the process of removing it.”

“How that sort of thing happens, though, we’re not totally clear on. The bizarre update has certainly confused a load of Windows users, who hit the support forums in search of answers.

“Beginning with Windows 10, Microsoft has begun touting a new strategy of “Windows as a service,” where updates are continuous and automatic, and only enterprise customers are given the option of refusing them.”

When the Microsoft botnet (commandeered by the NSA and not just Microsoft, which grants the NSA access) goes awry we should all be reminded of the importance of software freedom. Windows Update, with automatic invocation in particular, is a truly terrible thing (even in Free software). Not only state-sanction spies but crackers too can exploit it, through back doors for example.

The monopolist knows that people are increasingly worried about all this remote control-like functionality. Microsoft Peter now comments [1] on mass surveillance (even on keystrokes) in Vista 10 after Microsoft admitted that mass surveillance is very much intentional, not a glitch. People inside Microsoft told me that it’s only getting worse (at development stages) and bound to get worse by the next release of Windows.

In other news, proprietary Windows and proprietary RAR now facilitate remote access by secret agencies (see this discussion). To quote Net Security: “A critical vulnerability has been found in the latest version of WinRAR, the popular file archiver and compressor utility for Windows, and can be exploited by remote attackers to compromise a machine on which the software is installed.”

The press hardly covered this. Instead it got obsessed with “XOR DDOS”. Weak passwords are to blame, not GNU/Linux, but all the headlines name “Linux”. There are finally some decent articles about it, not FUD from Microsoft boosters and insecurity firms (looking to sell their services).

Another bit of FUD came from The Inquirer last week (mentioned in our daily links). The Inquirer changed the headline after falsely accusing/blaming Linux, merely because the acronym XFS was mentioned (purely Windows in this case, not related to the Linux file system). Here are some articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14]. In short, lots of ATMs are being exploited not because of Linux but because they don’t use Linux. This is because of Windows. What kind of company STILL uses Windows in ATMs and banking in general? This is a platform of botnets and back doors, it’s simply unfit for purpose. Guess who pays the price for clueless technologists who put Windows in banks (which can receive bailout from taxpayers)? Just imagine where we would be if airplanes ran Windows…

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Microsoft reaffirms privacy commitment, but Windows will keep collecting data

    The second category is personalization data, the things Windows—and especially Cortana—knows regarding what your handwriting looks like, what your voice sounds like, which sports teams you follow, and so on. Nothing is changing here. Microsoft says that users are in control, but our own testing suggests that the situation is murkier. Even when set to use the most private settings, there is unexpected communication between Windows 10 and Microsoft. We continue to advocate settings that are both clearer and stricter in their effect.


Microsoft Lies About Vista 10 and Increases Microsoft Surveillance (Even Beyond Vista 10 and Into Android, Vista 7/8)

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Vista 10, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 10:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bad Vista

Daily Express

Summary: Windows surveillance expands retroactively, making its way into platforms other than Windows and also expanding to predecessors of Vista 10

IN TERMS of sales and technical weaknesses, Vista 10 is a huge disaster, doing probably worse than its predecessor, which also did worse than the mythically ‘great’ Windows Vista. It really is a total disaster, but Microsoft employees won’t say this to the media for fear of personal retribution (firing).

“…Microsoft is putting Bing inside Cyanogen OS, not just from the company Cyanogen but also in OnePlus.”The unprecedented spyware problem is no longer limited to just Vista 10, so users of Windows on PCs are all affected. They should escape all of Windows as soon as possible because even older versions have spying features silently added to them. Well, this has actually been known for a while and we wrote about it several weeks ago. Now it appears as though more people become aware of it (the latest headline says “Updates Make Windows 7 and 8 Spy On You Like Windows 10″). Based on [1-3], Microsoft is putting Bing inside Cyanogen OS, not just from the company Cyanogen but also in OnePlus. This company, OnePlus, should dump Cyanogen OS, for reasons we covered here before [1, 2].

Mind this new article titled “Windows 10 automatically sends parents detailed dossier of their children’s internet history and computer use”. To quote just the opening paragraphs: “Windows 10 sends a weekly “activity update” on childrens’ internet browsing and computer history to parents, by default and without telling anyone. The feature could be dangerous as well as embarrassing, users have pointed out, allowing parents to watch everything their children do on the computer.

“Microsoft has become just a surveillance company and Windows the surveillance platform.”“The operating system sends a weekly note that includes a list of websites children have visited, how many hours per day they have spent on the computer, and for how long they have used their favourite apps, according to reports.”

Microsoft has become just a surveillance company and Windows the surveillance platform.

Vista 10 lies (“marketing”) now grow in lieu with Munich propaganda (anti-GNU/Linux myth-making, in order to scare CIOs who are fed up with Windows). Beware Microsoft’s fake vista 10 figures. These are being pushed by Microsoft into its boosters and moles in the media right now. The company has a long history gaming numbers to lie about number of ‘sales’ or ‘useds’ [sic]. Here is one Microsoft booster disseminating what it essentially Microsoft marketing with a sloppily-made image that cement the Big Lie (carving it in stone, within an image that cannot be edited for correction). “The only question,” wrote to us iopkh, “is how they are fiddling the stats.”

These claims are pulled directly from Microsoft, or rather, they are being pushed by Microsoft onto gullible journalists or complicit ‘journalists’. The author is a known Microsoft booster with history. Microsoft’s own figures hysterically debunk some early claims that the media cited a lot (between 45 million and 55 million ‘upgrades’ after 3 days). We warned that these were baseless claims from the rumour mill and Microsoft’s trolls army.

This time too we cannot trust the figures since they come from Microsoft. Based on how it has always gamed the numbers (‘sales’ not meaning actual sales or even users), we know these are lies. Look at web statistics from some of the more respected sources. Maybe 5% market share (or less) is what Microsoft’s latest beast has got at the moment, which given the price and other exceptional factors, is truly (and quite frankly) pathetic.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. OnePlus Rolls Out Cyanogen OS 12.1 Based On Android 5.1.1 Lollipop To OnePlus One Users Via OTA Update
  2. OnePlus One Now Receiving Cyanogen OS 12.1 Based on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  3. [Update: New Links] Cyanogen OS 12.1 OTA Update (Based On Android 5.1.1) Now Available To Download For The OnePlus One


Microsoft Windows and Desktops Are Not Dominant Anymore, GNU/Linux is Growing

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 4:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft cannot compete with zero-cost Free/libre software anymore


Summary: Microsoft is failing to convince people to ‘upgrade’ Windows, whereupon business models are being altered and migration to Linux-based platforms (like Android) continues uninterrupted

WHILE Microsoft-connected media like the BBC persists with Microsoft propaganda like this nonsense or this one puff piece (a couple among several articles we found, all singing along the lines of Vista 10 being the last version of Windows), it is becoming abundantly clear that the era of Windows is ending. People refuse to adopt the latest versions of Windows, so now comes spin like this: “Reiterating the company’s “Windows as a service” philosophy, Nixon said the firm is planning no new OS version launches in the future. “Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10,” he added.”

The name Nixon is just so perfect here. Trust Nixon.

Vista 8 was so bad (worse than ME and Vista in terms of adoption) that only a fool would think Vista 10 can change that. Remember that hype/PR ahead of Vista 8; it’s all promises and bribed-for reviews. Several years after Vista 8 came out there is still a rush towards an operating system more than half a decade old (Vista 7) or some variants of GNU/Linux. The largest branches of the British government are still struggling with a 14-year-old version of Windows and refuse to move on with the upgrade treadmill. See this new report which says: “UK government departments still running Windows XP are now doing so entirely on their own. A framework support agreement between the Crown and Microsoft guaranteeing the release of special security patches for PCs still on Windows XP has ended after one year. That deal – revealed here – expired on April 14 and it’s been decided it will not be rolled into a second year, Microsoft has told The Reg.”

For Microsoft it has become impossible to charge for Windows and expect to gain at the expense of GNU/Linux, Android, etc. Now, as Pogson put it, they need to compete on price. “No longer will the price be hidden,” he wrote. “Consumers who can do the maths will seek alternatives if for no other reason than comparison shopping. GNU/Linux will prevail because there’s no OS out there that gives as great a service for $0 as GNU/Linux. Amen.”

The “PC” is dying based on figures that are derived from sales and Google, whose flagship platform (Android) now commands the lion’s share of the mobile market, says that mobile search tops desktop “Google says that more people now use Google Search on mobile devices than they do on desktops,” to quote just one report. The delusion that Windows will always be around and be used by a majority is a sort of paid propaganda Microsoft still relies on.


Microsoft Propaganda (Managed by Microsoft Moles) to Blame Hardware Companies for Vista 8′s Failures

Posted in Hardware, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Great example of Microsoft PR agencies distorting the news via moles


Summary: A timely look at how ‘former’ Microsoft writers — not just current ones — help manage perceptions at Microsoft’s behalf, infiltrating the media and even forums

AS WE last explained yesterday, there is some ugly pattern of deception emanating from Microsoft boosters. They try to shift liability for the failure of Vista 8 — a failure that not even they cannot deny any longer. There are ‘former’ Microsoft writers (as in, people who used to work for Microsoft) who continue to promote Vista 8 in various ways. This one, who works for CBS right now, does this trick by saying that low-cost gadgets are “to energize the PC market”. This may be true and Microsoft is totally out of this game, right? Well, not based on his framing. The article by this Microsoft booster mentions “touch-screen laptops” to give the illusion that Microsoft is still relevant in the future. This is how propaganda works. And by citing numbers from Microsoft’s partner Net Applications in the former article he also helps give the illusion that Vista 8 adoption is wonderful. Lies so big that they can make one vomit, eh? With Windows Blue (vapourware) being the focus of Microsoft right now, it is clear that Microsoft is already giving up on Vista 8 (retreat), but the boosters carry on with their deceptive ‘reports’. Well, there are more examples like that, involving many other writers, but we just focus on this one writer (formerly of Microsoft) with his two latest articles which are flawed in order to make the point. Vista 7 relied on similar tactics, including bribery of bloggers.

There is a fairly new article which covers this fascinating and troublesome phenomenon as a whole. Charlie Demerjian’s analysis is summarised as “Unleash the astroturfers to blacken the forums ASAP” (AstroTurfing is perpetually a strategy at Microsoft).

“Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”
      –Charlie Demerjian
To quote: “So when Microsoft has good news, they shout it from the rooftops loudly. It is usually picked up by anyone that will listen and printed in just about every news outlet out there. Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”

Microsoft moles in the media are managed by Microsoft PR agencies which pass them material to publish in respective publications. That’s how it works. Demerjian continues as follows: “If change in PCs was needed to spur sales, that didn’t happen during the launches of Vista and 7. Sales rose. It did happen during the launch of Windows 8 and sales plummeted. Before you point out that change may be the actual cause of this plunge, think about one other little thing. You can still get Vista/7 form factor PCs now, you just can’t get them with those OSes. See the logical problem?

“Sadly though the damage control team, agency more likely, did their market research right. The whole fairy tale about PC makers being at fault seem to be getting some legs if not showing early signs of going viral. This is a really well thought out campaign given what they have to work with, cynical, unethical and anti-consumer though it is. Make no mistake though, it isn’t organic and is very manufactured. Things like this don’t go from nowhere to everywhere overnight without lots of backing and low wage forum drones to astroturf on your behalf. That said, it seems to be money well spent on Microsoft’s behalf.”

Be wary of the well-coordinated disinformation campaign, the deception centred around the idea that hardware companies — not Microsoft — are to blame for Vista 8′s poor adoption. Microsoft is trying to play with people’s minds, as always.

“The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft



$125 to Remove Vista 8, Which One Already Paid For

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista 7 downgrade

Summary: People charged twice for rejecting what they never asked for in the first place

CONVICTED MONOPOLIST Microsoft has lost staff and money because Vista 7 and Vista 8 are not changing anything and because Windows generally assumes the ‘desktop’ will always dominate. Android proved otherwise, so Microsoft tries to profit from Android via extortion. A big news item in blogs these days is this stampede:

Hey, Microsoft? Just a little heads up. If customers despise your latest and ostensibly greatest operating system so much that businesses are offering a downgrade service, you might want to take that as a sign that something has gone wrong. Because while we can understand having to pay for an upgrade, ponying up cash just to take a step back on your new laptop with pre-installed software is well, it’s a step back.

People pay a lot of money to escape Vista 8 while Microsoft calls it a ‘sale’ and make more money this way, claiming two sales for one PC Valve now urges Windows users to install Ubuntu.


Microsoft is AstroTurfing for Vista 8

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Desperate and expensive measures include AstroTurfing tactics and blocking of Linux by subversive technical means

IN ORDER to avoid clutter and repetition we no longer post many articles about Vista 8 like we did Vista 7. Vista 8 is also self-destroying (there’s some short burst of links about it in Twitter, Identi.ca, etc. for those who follow me more closely).

As Cringely put it over the weekend, “Windows is doomed.”

To quote further: “Having not invented any of the products it is known for, why should we expect Microsoft to invent its way out of declining markets? We shouldn’t.”

Microsoft has begun doing what it does best with a budget of (reportedly) a billion and a half dollars. Through its PR proxies, which have astroturf patents, it is planting favourable coverage and there is aid from former Microsoft staff with a “journalist” hat (offering no disclosure of that conflict of interests). Microsoft also fakes excitement. It knows it won’t get sued for it.

Additionally, Microsoft has made it harder to install or run GNU/Linux and it shows:

This is how SecureBoot is managed in Ubuntu and Fedora. Debian is still unclear as how they will manage SecureBoot.

The second stage features a GURB2 bootloader which does usual tasks as before. Earlier Canonical had plans to use a non GPL bootloader here, but they were thrashed.

Langasek says that they will backport the secure boot mechanism to Ubuntu 12.04 release as well, so that the LTS version can be installed in Secure Boot devices. So the next major service pack of Ubuntu Precise (12.04.2) will include support for SecureBoot.

Steam, in the mean time, targets Ubuntu because Vista 8 sucks. Microsoft is alienating developers further and further on all fronts, not just the desktop:

Microsoft annoys developers with Windows Phone 8 secrecy

The company is accepting requests for the Windows Phone 8 software development kit (SDK), but only from a select few. The rest will have to wait, as Microsoft is trying to keep some of the OS’s features secret for now.

This closed-source nonsense in due course annoys developers, many of whom already move to Android. Open Source and Free software empower developers. giving them greater advantages. No wonder Android is taking over and becoming the dominant OS. Windows revenue is down sharply.


Vista 8 is Worse Spyware Than Predecessors

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Antifeatures that are associated with spying have been included in Vista 8, raising concerns for those who need protection in their private lives

THERE are many reasons to believe that Vista 8 will fail just like its predecessors (after XP).

Vista was not just horrible but it also introduced massive violations of privacy, which ought to deter and scare businesses. Having Vista or later installed is like having Stalin on your hard-drive. It ‘phones home’ a lot, gathering information about the users. This information is stored remotely and indefinitely.

“It ‘phones home’ a lot, gathering information about the users.”Now we learn that Vista 8 goes much further than Vista. It uses insecure means to help Microsoft spy on the users’ activity. To quote: “There are a few serious problems here. The big problem is that Windows 8 is configured to immediately tell Microsoft about every app you download and install. This is a very serious privacy problem, specifically because Microsoft is the central point of authority and data collection/retention here and therefore becomes vulnerable to being served judicial subpoenas or National Security Letters intended to monitor targeted users. This situation is exacerbated when Windows 8 is deployed in countries experiencing political turmoil or repressive political situations.”

See what Microsoft did in Russia. Remember the sound bite: Stalin on your hard-drive.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana


Vista 8 Will Fail for Businesses, Says Dell

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 10:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: After very poor adoption of Vista and Vista 7 (especially in businesses) it is expected that Vista 8 will bring more of the same

THE failure of Vista 8 is foreseen by many. It is profound enough for OEMs to complain about it already [1, 2] and Dell joins the antagonists by making its stance known.”In the earnings call to discuss its latest financial results,” says The Register, “Dell’s CFO Brian Gladden said the introduction of Windows 8 in October would have a limited effect on Dell’s results at first, since the company is really focusing on enterprise systems, and he expects the new OS to have limited appeal early on in that sector.”

“Our guess is that Linux, the kernel, which is common to all these platforms, will thrive on desktops just as it does on phones, servers, and increasingly tablets too.”The interface of Vista 8 makes it unsuitable for serious use. To quote another new article: “Though Windows 8 is winning rave reviews for its touch-friendly tablet experience, many feel that the operating system’s “Modern-style” UI makes life more difficult for PC users. Count usability expert Raluca Budiu of the Nielsen Norman Group among these critics. Though she has not conducted any formal studies on Windows 8, the former Xerox PARC researcher and user experience specialist has used the new OS enough to conclude that, for productivity tasks on the PC at least, Windows 8 is less user friendly than its predecessors.”

GNU/Linux is alive and well, but Android too is looking for growth at the expense of Windows while Chrome OS gains a more favourable position among OEMs. Our guess is that Linux, the kernel, which is common to all these platforms, will thrive on desktops just as it does on phones, servers, and increasingly tablets too.

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