Microsoft is trying to hammer the competition
Summary: Vista 8 is reportedly including interception of GRUB as part of the update process, in the name of ‘security’ of course; Microsoft also offers money for people not to embrace GNU/Linux
EARLIER this year we published the post "When Microsoft Deletes Windows and GNU/Linux" and it was about UEFI — the appalling ‘innovation’ which does nothing beneficial for Linux. On the same month we showed that "Microsoft Remotely Deletes Free/Open Source Software From Windows". Almost exactly one year ago we called for antitrust action, noting that "Microsoft's Vista 8 Deletes Competition" (with UEFI), so there is clearly a pattern here. We have accumulated evidence over time. In 2010 we showed that "Microsoft Continues to Sabotage GNU/Linux Installations Using 'Updates'" and it seems to be happening again.
Last night Susan Linton noted that someone found “Windows update deleted his GRUB boot loader and turned on secure boot”.
This is clearly technical sabotage, not increasing security. It is only increasing Microsoft’s financial security, by means of sabotage. In the name of “security” many tyrants take extreme actions, not just in computing. Here is another take on the report from Reddit: “He claims that after the Windows System Update GRUB 2 was removed, and UEFI booting was set to “secure boot” which it wasn’t prior to the update. During the update, Windows 8 mentioned “there is a security problem with your computer” that needed to be “fixed”.”
Here is a report predating it, this time from a Romanian news site: “A user who was dual-booting Xubuntu and Windows 8 has reported that one of the latest updates for Windows 8 has actually deleted the GRUB and switched UEFI to secure boot.
“Linux users are not strangers to the problems caused by dual-booting. It’s a well-known fact that if you install Windows on a PC or laptop that already has a Linux operating system it will delete the boot loader. It can be fixed easily, but the GRUB, for example, recognizes Windows operating systems and integrates them so that the user is not affected.
“A Linux and Windows 8 user has reported on Reddit that one of the updates performed by Microsoft’s operating system deleted the GRUB boot loader and set UEFI to secure boot. Moreover, after he restored GRUB2 (which is done pretty easily, as illustrated in our tutorial) now there are three entries besides the Linux one.”
If this true (which it most likely is, based on comments), then Microsoft will surely try to pretend it’s just an accident. Plausible deniability is Microsoft’s similarity to the CIA. Violence trumps moral values.
The same site says that “Microsoft’s Website Thinks That All Linux Systems Are Windows 8.1″ (unlikely to be happening by accident, probably by design).
Perhaps what we are witnessing here is a serial criminal, Microsoft, trying quite aggressively to promote Vista 8 because large companies move to GNU/Linux rather than Vista 8 when they abandon Windows XP. According to this other new report, “Microsoft has dished out a $100 on-the-spot discount to make you switch on over to a new operating system.” Guess which one?
So now there are subsidies (or bribes) too. Typical Microsoft, And when these don’t work they resort to FUD and media infiltration.
Microsoft should not be allowed to get away with this. There should be lawsuits and antitrust actions. Don’t believe that because Microsoft changed its public face/mask (CEO) it actually changed its way or its real leadership (behind the scenes). The company has a long track record of abusive behaviour and you cannot deal with thugs gently, you must react rather aggressively. █
Send this to a friend
Microsoft thinks about the children
Summary: How CBS is promoting Microsoft agenda and even removing articles critical of Microsoft
Someone amongst our readers sent to us a link to an advertisement from a Microsoft booster. An article by Lance Whitney/CNET is not much different from habitual advertisements, but it is disguised as news. This former Microsoft press writer, Lance Whitney, has been doing this type of thing for years, so promotion of Microsoft’s latest little scam is only to be expected. Almost every Microsoft marketing scam gets promoted in CNET and one just needs to review the authors’ background to understand why. “A special version of Bing will be offered to schools later this year,” says the booster, “one that promises no ads, no adult content, and special learning features.”
“An article by Lance Whitney/CNET is not much different from habitual advertisements, but it is disguised as news”The only learning is machine learning. Microsoft will be profiling children along with the NSA. The same author is also advertising Vista 8, embedded in something that has little to do with Windows, where Microsoft is barely even a contender. Watch him injecting his Microsoft agenda into artticles that actually speak about tablets — an area where Microsoft does so poorly that some expect Microsoft to give up altogether and dump Windows RT (we covered this earlier this week).
CBS is not a news network and coverage of the NSA leaks helps prove it. It’s no better than the embarrassing CNN. It’s mostly propaganda and agenda, shrewdly disguised as balanced reporting.
ZDNet, another CBS site, has just spiked an article titled “Is Microsoft Abandoning Its Mobile Operating Systems?”
Yes, the article has been deleted and censorship is likely the cause.
“The original article which started this whole investigation is helping Microsoft to infiltrate schools and spy on everyone’s children (clients).”The author told me “It’s in the middle of an editorial fight that has nothing to do with the content.”
I asked: “If it has nothing to do with the content, what does it have to do with, the author?”
“One way or the other it will see the light of day again,” the author told me. This author is responsible for the little Microsoft criticism that’s left in the site. ZDNet seems to be in bed with Microsoft in the sense that Microsoft pays for the editorial structure to be altered (I gave examples over the years, notably Microsoft Windows 7/8 promotion in designated editorial sections). A lot of ZDNet writers are also associated with Microsoft. CBS does a similar thing in CNET, so watch out. Generally, the very act of challenging a critic can lead to self-censorship. It interferes with independence of writers. I am not naming the author, for his own protection.
The original article which started this whole investigation is helping Microsoft to infiltrate schools and spy on everyone’s children (clients). Any spying for toddlers or children disguised as “education” is fundamentally malicious. “In the past,” says iophk, “if M$ gave hard cash to schools, they just turned around and used to buy Apple to avoid M$ garbage.” He points to this article which uses the word “pushing” (like a drug deal) to describe what Microsoft does here, gathering data on children and schools and then selling it, just like Gates and Murdoch [1, 2].
It is not nice when privacy abuses are marketed as helping poor kids. This is crude. █
Send this to a friend
Leaving Windows in droves…
Summary: Actions of measurable effect (e.g. antitrust, campaigns) against the operation system version which is killing Microsoft’s common carrier, Windows®
Microsoft is destroying Windows by taking over machines and sending them faulty binaries. Microsoft is breaking Windows, “causing some PCs to blue screen,” says the report. This is not a matter of deliberate sabotage, but Microsoft is driving users away with its own negligence as people already flock away to alternatives, not Vista 8 (Claudio from Linux Basement says: “Holy crap, #Microsoft! Really? In 2013??”). Vista 9 vapourware has begun because Vista 8 is probably worse than Windows ME, not just Vista. This is a very big deal and the corporate press is starting to catch on.
Despite Microsoft-induced downtimes and technical incompetence (yes, even this week, leading to official probes at government level*), in the Indian public sector there seem to be new EDGI moves whose intention is to kill Free software in favour of total lock-in, Fog Computing that Microsoft controls entirely (from data to binaries). One reader wrote to say to us:
Colleges running Free software in India have been asked to move to Microsoft cloud
This basically means that students will be forced to give Microsoft™ their data. Fair deal? And bear this in mind in light of Microsoft’s claims about Google. Microsoft is meanwhile attacking Android with an antitrust complaint that’s called ‘an attack on open source’, as we noted the other day. Hypocrisy here is impossible to overlook.
The FSF, to its credit, has started this action which calls people to abolish Vista 8. It is an infographic (appended below) and it says: “Sometimes, proprietary software actually helps us fight for freedom. Windows 8 is so bad it’s almost funny–it’s not only proprietary software full of spyware and security vulnerabilities, but it’s also confusing for would-be users. Lucky for us, Microsoft’s spectacular failure is the perfect time to help people switch to free software.”
Given what Microsoft has done with UEFI, this is getting more difficult, but there are those who try to help. This new article says: “The UEFI boot specification offers new capabilities – and new headaches if you aren’t ready for it.”
Fortunately there is an antitrust complaint about it. █
* The said infrastructure is very Microsoft-reliant, even if the articles about it don’t say so. I know this as a customer for 13 years (RBS and NatWest are connected).
Send this to a friend
Windows monopoly is near the cliff
Summary: OEMs are hurt by Windows and Microsoft is unable to do much to change this; gradually, migration to Linux is seen (preinstalls), so UEFI dirty tactics are too little, too late
The corporate press relays some new study from IDC about Vista 8 (Microsoft already advertises Vista 9) and Microsoft-friendly sites like ReadWrite react passionately to it, even MSBBC covers it by quoting:
Recession had also led companies to put back renewal of their PCs, IDC said.
The firm’s vice president, Bob O’Donnell, said: “Unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only didn’t provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market.”
Charles Arthur says this Microsoft-dominated sector “slumps for fourth quarter in a row,” but who is being blamed? Microsoft apologists can blame everything but Microsoft. The problem is not the recession, the problem is that companies see reason to adopt Vista 8. UEFI is not a feature. ZDNet, incidentally, says that there are calls to kill UEFI in light of antitrust complaints [1, 2]:
Hispalinux, a Spanish Linux group pushing for a European Commission probe into Microsoft’s Windows 8 Secure Boot requirements, wants all Windows 8 PC makers to outline deactivation options for the security measure.
Hispalinux, which represents 8,000 Linux users, first filed a complaint with Europe’s competition commission late last month.
According to the complaint seen by ZDNet, it has demanded a preliminary injunction that forces Microsoft to remove all wording that requires hardware makers to implement UEFI Secure Boot to gain ‘Windows 8 Hardware Certification’. The group accuses Microsoft of using this certification to maintain its monopoly and stifling Linux.
UEFI restricted boot is the last attempt — however desperate — to depress GNU/Linux growth. Microsoft fails to convince OEMs to sell devices with Vista 8 and Microsoft even tried to enter the hardware business without success (Surface is a huge failure despite a lot of marketing), except when it comes to selling peripherals like “Microsoft”-branded keyboards which are made by other companies. Here is a rant about what Microsoft did to keyboards:
In my dreams, I have keyboards like this at every desk This is a model M13, a sturdy IBM model M with a trackpoint. In reality, they cost $200 on Ebay and the ones you can get over at Unicomp have white keys, a not so graceful logo and an infuriating set of Windows keys. Clickey Keyboards is always sold out.
On Tablets there is no Windows key. The only key is usually the power button and optionally volume controls. This is the future and this is how Windows is getting phased out. █
Send this to a friend
Miscommunication and incoordination
Summary: Microsoft partners such as Gartner are walking away from Microsoft promotion; Microsoft increasingly alienated and isolated
“PC market begins to slip and tablets will outsell desktops and laptops combined by 2015, as Android ascendancy means challenge to relevance of Microsoft,” says The Guardian about the latest Gartner output which is influenced by Gartner partners, including Bill Gates himself. Gartner previously predicted success for Windows Vista, in alignment with its funding sources.
The report comes at a time when Linux outsells Windows if one counts devices that have all the components of a modern computer, smartphones for example. There is laughter at Microsoft’s failure with Vista 8 (Vista 9 vapourware is already out the gate*). This laughter comes from pro-Microsoft sites, to make matters worse. Even the technology tabloid ZDNet is not impressed, despite its business relations with Microsoft. For the first time ever we see Microsoft trying to qualify as an OEM, which only annoys many OEMs/hardware allies. Even Microsoft’s best allies show signs of defection and Microsoft is trying to bribe new friends and developers, begging only for this type of caricature which says: “Apparently Microsoft has decided to expand it’s pay for apps program to cover just about anything. Up until now they were a bit more selective about providing support only to more popular apps.”
This is not going to work. It can upset developers who don’t receive the rewards from Microsoft. It’s not a sustainable strategy. Microsoft has been trying to reinvent itself as a hardware company, always in vain though. The hardware sales were always extremely poor and in the case of XBox billions of dollars were lost. A lot of Microsoft hardware projects are dead now, but Xbox persists despite losses and technical issues that CBS covers as follows:
Don’t want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? “Deal with it,” says Microsoft Studio’s creative director.
There is backlash against what Microsoft is doing there. A lot of Xbox managers quit the company in recent years as the Luddites still don’t get it. Like Apple with its fake reviews, Microsoft continues to rely on censoring negative reviews of its hardware projects/products. Microsoft PR agencies are doing this behind the scenes and my cohost recently researched some of the tactics behind it. He shows why Microsoft and its AstroTurfing may prove counterproductive:
And I suggest that’s why positive reviews can often be viewed with suspicion and maybe getting any 3rd party involved in your online perception is a bad idea. Good products and services will always shine and are not shouted down by a minority. If many people are complaining about your product, then its you with the problem and doing anything but rectifying the product/service is not the direction you should be heading, lest you end up in the situation many Microsoft product posts are where good remarks are always labelled “shill”.
If a lot of people are labelled “Microsoft shill”, then it is Microsoft’s fault. Had the company not engaged in the practice of hiring AstroTurfing agencies so routinely, people would not be quite so suspicious. █
* Interesting fact (from memory): Vista 8 vapourware began in April 2010, about 6 months after Vista 7 was released. Vista 9 vapourware began in April 2013, about 6 months after Vista 8 was released.
Send this to a friend
Vista 8 is dead, long live vapourware!
Summary: As Microsoft realises that Vista 8 is worse than Vista and there is nothing to be done to change this, focus gets shifted to a yet-inexistent, mythical operating system
Amid OEM hatred of Windows Hate, or Windows 8 (developers hate it too, with Steam and Valve giving vapourware the finger and now releasing a GNU/Linux distro) Microsoft has been trying to take over the fragile Dell (perhaps with a proxy), but it is not finalised yet. According to reports such as this, Vista 8 is already killing Dell. The thing about Mr. Dell is, he also wishes to diverge away from desktops. He should know that Microsoft fails there. There is a lot of vapourvare for Vista 9 right now, as well as PR for Vista 8. Here is a Microsoft booster citing a Microsoft partner for figures that boost Internet Explorer and Vista 8. Even those biased numbers don’t look too good for Microsoft, which is why UEFI tricks get employed, tying hardware to Microsoft. Katherine Noyes wrote about it the other day:
Linux Girl was comfortably ensconced on her favorite barstool down at the blogosphere’s Broken Windows Lounge when the news broke on Tuesday.
Let’s just say there was no more peace to be had after that.
Linux bloggers fairly tripped over themselves with excitement on PCWorld, on Slashdot and beyond, generating a din that could be heard throughout the Linux blogosphere and its surrounding territories. Linux Girl jumped to attention and began taking down as much as she could.
“‘Secure boot’ does not prevent viruses from writing to the (pre)bootloader, it just notices if it has happened,” noted Slashdot blogger jhol13, for example. “Then the ‘notification’ or ‘failure mode’ is DoS, your computer won’t boot. I’d rather boot with a virus than not boot.
Microsoft Windows is struggling. Only months after Vista 8 was released Microsoft is already talking about future versions. And we’re talking about a 3-year (or thereabouts) release cycle for Windows. These dirty tricks which are intended to buy Microsoft some time without GNU/Linux gaining ground must be tackled as an antitrust issue. Microsoft moles in the press (former staff and the likes of them) are trying very hard right now to demonise the complainers and rescue Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny. █
Send this to a friend