Like ribbons on a pig
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Summary: Stating the obvious about an operating system that has not a single selling point of substantial value
“If Win 8 only includes the superficial features that are predicted, then it’s a tweak of Win 7, not a new OS, and we shouldn’t have to pay for it,” wrote John Dvorak last week. Microsoft is too busy trying to block Linux at OEM levels (Windows is dying in x86 land) and amid “Windows 8″ hype our reader Ryan, who is a former Microsoft MVP, says that the “same could be said of Windows 7″ as “it’s just superficial tweaks of Vista” (see our pages about 7 and 8, the better marketed versions of Vista). The promise of a ‘new’ operating system merely shows that Microsoft is nervous. █
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Summary: Apple’s latest blunder is its practice — either intentional or not — of eavesdropping on users, which leaves people’s entire travel history on any computer the “iDevices” synchronise with (even the police’s)
Apple, the anti-Linux aggressor (e.g. with software patents), is in hot water right now. In response to its ridiculously pathetic lawsuit against Samsung it is now being sued itself:
Samsung Electronics Co. said it sued Apple Inc. (AAPL) claiming patent infringement, a week after the iPhone maker filed a complaint in U.S. federal court alleging the South Korean company copied its products.
Samsung submitted complaints to courts in Seoul, Tokyo and Mannheim, Germany, alleging Apple infringed patents related to mobile-communications technologies, Suwon-based Samsung said in an e-mailed statement today. Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment and referred back to the company’s complaint filed last week.
However, the very latest blunder Apple found itself in has a lot to do with privacy, or lack thereof. Groklaw has assembled some links that include self-explanatory quotes:
Following widespread attention drawn by a file embedded on Apple iPhones and iPads that keeps a detailed log of the devices’ location, Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has sent Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs a letter asking him to explain the purpose of the file.
The Michigan Police Force has denied the unlawful use of a device that can extract all your cell phone information, the same technology that is embedded in many of our cell phones.
The data extraction devices (DED) are manufactured by CelleBrite and can quickly extract mobile data, such as contacts, photos, and deleted text messages, from your SD card. CelleBrite counts Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and other major carriers as customers; the technology is used to transfer data to a new phone when you upgrade.
The Michigan State Police have a high-tech mobile forensics device that can be used to extract information from cell phones belonging to motorists stopped for minor traffic violations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan last Wednesday demanded that state officials stop stonewalling freedom of information requests for information on the program.
ACLU learned that the police had acquired the cell phone scanning devices and in August 2008 filed an official request for records on the program, including logs of how the devices were used. The state police responded by saying they would provide the information only in return for a payment of $544,680. The ACLU found the charge outrageous.
Can police steal information from your cell phone? That’s the charge against the Michigan State Police by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.
The ACLU says the MSP is dodging its requests to disclose information on data extraction devices.
Police say they’re complying with the law and that the ACLU is stirring up controversy.
The ACLU of Michigan says the Michigan State Police is withholding information about its data extraction devices that can store all the information on your cell phone.
Mark Fancher, ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project staff attorney says, “The only thing that we have been asking is that they confirm for us by producing documents that demonstrates that they are complying with constitutional requirements.”
The Michigan State Police says turning over all of the documents would cost more than half a million dollars.
“If it’s true that this information is being collected, and it is being done without the approval and knowledge of the users, then it is definitely a violation of German privacy law,” Mr. Kranig said.
Separately, Groklaw posted a link to the following new item from Schneier, which ought to remind people of COFEE (Vista and other versions of Windows include surveillance bits):
Increasingly, chains of evidence include software steps. It’s not just the RIAA suing people — and getting it wrong — based on automatic systems to detect and identify file sharers. It’s forensic programs used to collect and analyze data from computers and smart phones. It’s audit logs saved and stored by ISPs and websites. It’s location data from cell phones. It’s e-mails and IMs and comments posted to social networking sites. It’s tallies from digital voting machines. It’s images and meta-data from surveillance cameras. The list goes on and on. We in the security field know the risks associated with trusting digital data, but this evidence is routinely assumed by courts to be accurate.
Here again is the Jobs video that we posted last night. Listen to what he says about privacy at Apple. Considering how secretive the company is, privacy at Apple applies only to its members of staff. For everyone else, Apple is just Big Brother software. What we need now is a free (as in liberty) phone platform and independent carriers that do not log calls/locations using signal triangulation. █
Steve Jobs on privacy, Steve Jobs at the D8 Conference (Video)
For context, see the “Privacy” links at the top. How foolish he must look now.
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Summary: Rants about Windows help people appreciate the ease of GNU/Linux
“I‘M installing Windows Vista Service Packs and online updates for more than 24 hours Can’t stand it no more,” wrote Razvan Sandu a few days ago, “Where’s Fedora?”
I’ve personally been very pleased with Fedora 14, which I use on my main PC at work. It impresses Windows users and it takes just minutes to install.
“Are people aware of other options at all?”Sandu is not a Windows user. He apparently installs Windows either for another person or for side reasons like the running of some stubborn, Windows-only application. Back around the time that Vista 7 was released, one reputable site said that installing it (with some basic software, no OEM as intermediate point) should take around 8 hours, which in many countries means an entire working day. Why would anyone accept this? Are people aware of other options at all? The task of installing 10 applications on Windows can take about 10 times as long as doing the same thing on GNU/Linux, assuming all the software needs to be downloaded using a Web browser, which also adds another layer of potential threat.
“Microsoft Genuine Disadvantage Strikes Again” rants our reader Wayne this week, having been lured into helping with an installation of Windows. To quote part of his story:
OK, so I got suckered into helping someone fix their computer. My son asked me, nicely, to help him. His friend had gotten virussed, and the computer wouldn’t boot. When I asked him why run Windows, it was the usual answer. World of Warcraft.
Mike’s pretty good with computers. He’s twenty-three years old. He has never lived in a house without at least one working computer. He’s installed every version of Windows from 3.0 on up to Windows 7 at least once.
But he’s not as good as the old man. So my promise to never touch another damned machine running Windows, ever again, goes out the Windows.
Actually he’d gotten everything right, which is exactly what I’d expected. There was only one problem. Microsoft uses poor quality stickers. They deteriorate because of CPU heat. They deteriorate because of sunlight. They deteriorate because of anything.
Making the move to GNU/Linux is a smart step for anyone who is not using it already. Making the move to GNU/Linux is also what people ought to propose to those who ask for help with Windows. More and more people seem to be making use of GNU/Linux a precondition for free technical support. Microsoft currently claims to have created “4,000 new UK jobs”, but jobs in this context means supporting a defective system. █
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Summary: Optimism with regards to the success of GNU/Linux on the ‘desktop’ (or whatever form factor becomes most commonplace)
SOME people are afraid of Vista 7. Some people are said to be in love with it, but they usually go under anonymous handles and some time in the near future we’ll have an investigative report linking such people to AstroTurfing. Those who listen to episodes of TechBytes (which we enjoy producing by the way) probably got a bit of a teaser because the subject was covered in TechBytes around Christmas time. OpenBytes has managed to expose a Microsoft agent cursing Linux and praising Microsoft products under multiple handles. Once the person was linked to his/her Facebook account it turned out that s/he worked for Microsoft, whereupon the Facebook page got deleted (evidence, be gone!).
I was personally amused to see just a few days ago how anonymous commenters pressure writers who are critical of Vista Phony 7 [sic] under pseudonyms. Remember that Microsoft spends about half a billion dollars just promoting this already-failed product and this money goes to peripheral agencies that use all sorts of tactics to shape the perception of Vista Phony 7. Watch what those alleged sympathisers of Vista Phony 7 (it hardly has any users) caused a Forbes writer to publish even as a headline: “Commenters Say Don’t Knock Windows Phone 7 Prematurely”
“In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM’s preinstallation.”Who are those commenters? Can they be named? The point of it all is that what we’re seeing here is exactly what we saw when Windows Vista and Vista 7 were released. There was retaliation against writers who criticised it. In the coming days we’ll do some dedicated posts about Vista Phony 7, whereas in this post we wish to address the myth of GNU/Linux being ‘hard’, ‘incompatible’, etc.
I’ve used Fedora 14 since its release and wrote about it almost a dozen times in my personal blog. It works for me. It works better than almost anything I’ve tried and I installed it for other people too. They stick with it. They even installed it themselves, having never installed a GNU/Linux distribution before. In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM’s preinstallation. Last night I found the post titled “Windows 7 fails to power down idle disks, Fedora 14 works”. This it the typical sort of example where Linux “just works” where Windows does not. People need to take it for granted that in certain areas GNU/Linux is far ahead of Windows (package management for instance). To quote a fragment from this new post:
After a while Windows 7 will power down my idle (Fedora 14) disk but then it will randomly power the disk back up. This process would then repeat, an endless cycle of power down, power up, power down, power up….
Why does Windows 7 feel the need to poll my idle disk and wake it up?
Not only is this behaviour irritating but it undermines the idea of spinning down idle disks to save power.
Fedora 14 on the other hand spins down my idle (Windows 7) disk perfectly and does not randomly power the drive back up again unless I intentionally access the drive.
“My morning in Microsoft hell” is another new post that I found last night. It also speaks about Vista 7:
I didn’t want to give up, so I took the plunge and called Microsoft. After a glorious 10 minutes on hold, I was told that as I had bought my copy of Windows 7 more than 90 days prior, I could not get support for less than $59. What? I could not believe it. I have to pay for when I can’t get your product to actually work? This is literally the exact opposite of a Genius Bar. Microsoft told me to go to their website and search for answers to my problem. I was blinking, so she repeated: “go to Microsoft.com.”
All I needed to know was, ‘is it possible to revert to factory like settings without reinstalling Windows 7?’ Is that so hard to divulge?
Then it hit me: I can’t reinstall Windows at all, because I don’t have a disk to reinstall from. I downloaded the OS from Microsoft, and thus have no physical media to use to restart. In short, I can’t restore, and I can’t reinstall, despite having paid for the damn OS. In other words, my main computer is for all intents and purposes dead.
It is important to see why people favour GNU/Linux here. It’s not price, it’s not the viruses in Windows, and it is not the belonging to a “side”, either. It’s technical merit and the notion of ownership/control. If one expands the scope of factors, cost can be seen as a nice bonus and as Microsoft Emil reluctantly admits, there is yet another unpatched Explorer flaw right now (we wrote about a couple more yesterday).
Details on the IE vulnerability are probably more widely known than Microsoft would like, especially given that the researcher in question, Michal Zalewski released the fuzzing tool to the public on New Years Day. It’s worth noting that a Google employee has done this before, disclosing an IE flaw that could allow attackers to steal private information from online services. Then and now, Microsoft argued that details should not be disclosed publicly until a patch is available.
How many people still remember that Google banned Windows for all internal use? That was less than a year ago. Google claims to be doing this for security reasons, but there are so many more reasons than that. Google starts pushing Linux-based Chrome OS and Android into a very large market and GNU/Linux in general is very mature at this stage. I never use Windows (neither at home or work) and this avoidance becomes ever more painless over time. Soon enough proprietary codecs and Flash won't be required, either (I have neither installed in Fedora) owing to changes on the Web, partly owing to Google.
So, in conclusion, 2011 looks like a bright year already. Mark Shuttleworth is becoming extremely active in the mailing lists this week, possibly because he too feels invigorated with enthusiasm. Here is an underwhelming short screencast I’ve just grabbed of my main desktop (just 1.4 megabytes in total size). We ought to have something better in the future. █
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Summary: Sangari sells antagonism to freedom, delivering to schools exactly the opposite of what Mark Shuttleworth had in mind when he supported Inkululeko Technologies, which now redirects to Sangari
“I found something fishy,” wrote to us a person who goes by the name SA dude, “Inkululeko Technologies, a company in South Africa that originated from the Shuttleworth tuxLabs linux-schools project’s site now redirects to a Sangari Worldwide website, a seller of closed source education software such as “how to use windows vista”" (we have looked at the sites to verify these claims).
Earlier in the year we transcribed a South African podcast where Microsoft’s dirty tricks in this nation were revisited and explained. We have already done a lot to show how Microsoft derailed GNU/Linux migrations in South African schools. To give some more links of relevance:
For background about the tuXlab project:
The tuXlab project was initiated by the Shuttleworth Foundation in 2002 aiming to open up new opportunities and to encourage sharing of information and resources in the education sector. Between 2004 and 2006, after the success of the pilot, tuXlabs were rolled out to more than a 100 Western Cape schools.
The Foundation encourages successful pilot projects to become self-sustainable and leave the Foundation stable. The tuXlab programme was identified as one such project. Inkululeko Technologies was formed in June 2006 and the tuXlab team moved to this new entity. Inkululeko became responsible for the day-to-day operational management of the tuXlab programme, including the sustainability of the tuXlab programme as a model. The Foundation exited from its direct involvement in the tuXlab programme at this point. Against this background the Shuttleworth Foundation commissioned a report on the state of tuXlabs.
Just look what happened after intervention from proprietary giants that want to indoctrinate children at taxpayers’ expense, with schoolteachers as their training staff whom they need not pay for. What an appalling sight. █
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Summary: Microsoft’s faking of Windows sales numbers and abuse of customers who buy a computer with an unwanted operating system lands it in hot legal waters
Microsoft has reportedly just been sued (hard to corroborate with other sources) for the Vista and Vista 7 abuse which we covered here before. To quote the short report from today:
A federal class action claims Microsoft illegally requires consumers to buy a more expensive Windows Vista or Windows 7 program, before they get “downgrade rights” to buy the Windows XP Professional operating system.
Someone from IBM has claimed that those who choose Windows XP (since around 2007) will have their purchase count as two Vista/Vista 7 sales. Not one sale of XP. Not one sale of Vista/Vista 7 but two. He called it “dipping” and it’s one of the tricks Microsoft uses to produce fake numbers, in addition to financial cheats.
Chips B. Malroy has just given us the pointer to it and he adds that he “can’t find any more information on that lawsuit” (if someone can, please alert us in comments/IRC). █
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Summary: Microsoft is playing a psychological numbers game to give an illusion of progress whilst in fact just marketing a mythical re-wrapped version of Vista
ACCORDING to Microsoft, Vista 7 is actually "Windows 6.1" (6.0 is Vista) and now it turns out that Vista 8 is “Windows 6.2″, as revealed by this article. The reader who alerted us about it asked: “Windows 8 will be only Windows Vista SP4?”
Windows 8 could reportedly sport Windows 6.2 as the version number, according to a third-party source.
Of course, Microsoft has yet to share any details related to the versioning of Windows vNext with the public, but there is a precedent indicating that the version of Windows 8 might end up as 6.x rather than Windows 8.0.
Windows8italia managed to come across a new driver from NVIDIA which apparently references a new Windows kernel, version 6.2, which can only be associated with the next major iteration of Windows.
This information needs to be taken with a grain of salt as there’s no official confirmation from the software giant, an aspect that is bound not to change, at least in the immediate future.
But believe it or not, it’s highly probable to have Windows 6.x as the version for Windows vNext.
Don’t believe the hype. Microsoft is just trying to suspend migration to other platforms. Mr. Pogson has just found a Windows Vista prediction from 2006 (when Vista was finalised):
I came across a prediction from 2006 that Vista would have 40% share by 2008. Now, we are in 2010 and Vista +”7″ is still less than 40%. Granted, predicting is an uncertain art because unknown events intervene. What has made this prediction fail?
* Vista was a dog ( I don’t like dogs)
* Vista and “7″ will not run on most hardware
* Vista and “7″ still welcome malware
* The netbook showed many millions of people GNU/Linux in action
* Snart-thingies showed millions there are other ways of doing things
* Dell and other started selling GNU/Linux to consumers
* A recession put a damper on spending
Vista 7 adoption has not really been good, but Microsoft is fudging numbers to make it look differently. █
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Summary: Vista 7 is unsuitable for form factors that customers increasingly adopt
WINDOWS is not doing well. Don’t believe the spinners. When it comes to profit, the numbers not only declined over the years; these turn out to be faked figures, too (the rest of the revenue comes from squeezing the goose, inflation, forced ‘upgrades’ and so on). Even Microsoft is now admitting that Windows has an innovator’s dilemma-type crisis. It just doesn’t scale, not even Vista 7 which Microsoft claims to be lighter than Vista (how inappropriate a basis for comparison).
According to this Microsoft booster, Vista 7 is too heavy for tablets. It’s implicit and subtle. By saying that Vista Phony 7 [sic] might be needed for tablets, Microsoft inadvertently admits that Vista 7 is too fat.
If Vista Phony 7 [sic] is Microsoft’s plan for the future, then no wonder we saw more and more people saying that Ballmer is already on the exit chair, awaiting ejection (and it won’t be Ballmer setting off this chair). As my colleague and friend Tim puts it, what Microsoft says is not reality and even its PR is suffering a lot this month. Examples are being given, including some from the overly-hyped KINect:
Today I thought that I would present a list of articles/links which hardly put Microsoft in the same light as its PR agents and boosters would want you to know.
Can Microsoft compete with the Nintendo with Kinect? – On the basis of this and other reports around the net, I wouldn’t think so.
It also seems Microsoft advocates/boosters will tell you that demand has it sold out. This doesn’t appear to be the case and at time of writing HMV had these in stock. Maybe Microsoft is trying to generate some interest? Maybe Kinect sales are suffering with the same type of lag that the device reports to have (as per the BBC Click review) . Maybe the people who part with cash for this contraption can let us all know.
“Will Microsoft ride Kinect tiger or go Wii Wii Wii all the way home,” asks one of ZDNet’s FOSS-leaning bloggers, who adds:
As I noted Friday, Microsoft has backed down from earlier legal and technological threats against the programmers who turned Kinect into a general computer interface. But now Google’s Matt Cutts has tweaked the Green Monster with his own contest for the best Linux and open source applications using the device.
Note that this is not a Google contest. It’s a Matt Cutts contest. He just happens to work at Google.
As our Adrian Kingsley-Hughes notes, the Kinect’s parts cost just $56. Even at $149, that’s a healthy profit margin, but he also notes that Microsoft’s research costs mean it must sell “a lot of Kinect devices to turn this one into a serious money spinner.”
Based on the billions (in losses) which Xbox cost Microsoft, one should not be too optimistic here. KINect will definitely sell better than KIN, but again, this is not a proper basis for comparison. Any Wii sold already contains the equivalent of KINect. Microsoft is playing catch-up here and allegedly spends half a billion dollars just marketing this thing. The same goes for Vista Phony 7 [sic] marketing, which — as we predicted — will be money down the toilet. The Register ponders: “So did Windows Phone 7 ‘bomb in US’?”
40,000 devices is still embarrassing, even if it’s just the USA and leaves out the 90,000 or so Microsoft employees who’ll be getting one, and even if figures elsewhere are rather better. But before drawing any conclusions it’s worth thinking about the numbers.
Charles Arthur, who is working for a Bill Gates-funded publication (where the sponsorship helps inject bias sometimes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), looks back at the early days of Windows and suggests that we are seeing the end of this era. His headline states: “Has Microsoft’s Windows had its day?”
The bald man in the ill-fitting check jacket doesn’t pause as he stands beside the beige 1980s-vintage PC. The words pour out of his mouth like the sharpest huckster you’ve ever seen. “How much do YOU think this advanced operating environment is worth? WAIT just ONE minute before you answer,” he instructs eagerly. “WATCH as Windows integrates Lotus 1-2-3 with” – he clutches his lapels – “MIAMI VICE!”
The screen shows picture of a Ferrari pasted into a document. “NOW we can take THIS Ferrari and paste it RIGHT INTO Windows Write,” the man gabbles. “NOW how much do you think Microsoft Windows is worth?… DON’T ANSWER. WAIT until you see Windows Write and Windows Paint and LISTEN to what else you get at NO EXTRA CHARGE!”
We’re only 15 seconds in but already you feel buffeted. “The MS-DOS executive, an appointment calendar, a cardfile, a notepad, a clock, a control panel, a terminal, printer, a RAM driver, AND CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, REVERSI, yes that’s right, ALL these features and Reversi, for just – HOOOOW much did you guess?”
Guess? We had to guess? ” FIVE HUNDRED? A THOUSAND? EVEN MORE? NOOOO it’s just 99 dollars, that’s right, it’s 99 dollars, it’s an incredible value but it’s true, it’s Windows from Microsoft, order TODAY! PO BOX 286-DOS,” he concludes as the address flashes on the screen, before adding weirdly, and without explanation, “…. Except in Nebraska.”
Arthur refers to the viral video below. Tim (of TechBytes and OpenBytes) does not expect Ballmer to survive next year at Microsoft. Vista Phony 7 [sic] is just one of his many recent failures. █
Steve Ballmer in Windows 1.0 advertisement
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