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Eye on Microsoft: Week of Hardships, a Digest

Catching up with the past week

Crippled by Design



Microsoft's consumer-hostile and anti-GNU/Linux move still stands.

Microsoft retains 1GB RAM limit on netbooks



[...]

Another limit that Microsoft has in place is a hard limit on the amount of RAM you can have in a “Netbook”, or more specifically how much RAM the “netbook” edition of Windows will tolerate. In this case, it'll allow an absolute maximum of 1GB. You might think that's plenty for a “Netbook” - but we all know that the hardware demands of systems change rapidly, and when a “netbook” version of Vista is released I am sure it'll be anything but RAM-friendly.

Microsoft could change this restriction in the future, but why have it in the first place? In today's world, 1GB of RAM is really not that much. Even a desktop user with an office suite, an IM app, a few minor programs and content-laden web pages can push themselves up to the wall with a mere 1GB available.


Vista Problems



Another large-scope Vista rejection story:

Londoners can sleep safe in their beds tonight after the London Ambulance Service confirmed that it has no plans whatsoever to migrate to Windows Vista anytime soon.


It appears that, based on Microsoft, the advertisements for Vista were indeed a failure.

Microsoft has confirmed to Pocket-lint that the Seinfeld ads will never appear in the UK and that Americans are unlikely to get any more either.


ZDNet's "Between the Lines" explains why Windows Vista failed so badly that Microsoft starts speaking about not just one piece of vapourware.

On Friday, Microsoft gave computer makers a six-month extension for offering Windows XP on newly-shipped PCs. While this doesn’t impact enterprise IT — because volume licensing agreements will allow IT to keep installing Windows XP for many years to come — the move is another symbolic nail in Vista’s coffin.

The public reputation of Windows Vista is in shambles, as Microsoft itself tacitly acknowledged in its Mojave ad campaign.

[...]

5. Apple successfully demonized Vista

[...]

4. Windows XP is too entrenched

[...]

3. Vista is too slow

[...]

2. There wasn’t supposed to be a Vista

[...]

1. It broke too much stuff


Microsoft already has "7", "Midori" and "Strata" as vapourware, indicating that it is facing very intense pressure from the competition. It replaces products with mere promises, with imaginary products. From the horse's own mouth:

"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 [PDF]



CEO Problems



As we pointed out some days ago, Steve Ballmer was dragged into the Vista lawsuit and ComputerWorld has a nice column about it.

Sometimes Microsoft makes it too easy to point out how slow and stupid the company has gotten with little Stevie Ballmer in charge. Take, for example, Microsoft's claim that Ballmer knew next to nothing about his company's "Vista Capable" marketing campaign. And, therefore he shouldn't have to testify in the Vista class-action lawsuit that accuses the company of deceiving customers with the campaign.

In a statement to the court, Ballmer said, "I was not involved in any of the operational decisions about the Windows Vista Capable program I was not involved in establishing the requirements computers must satisfy to qualify for the Windows Vista Capable program. I was not involved in formulating any marketing strategy or any public messaging surrounding the Windows Vista Capable program. To the best of my recollection, I do not have any unique knowledge of, nor did I have any unique involvement in any decisions regarding the Windows Vista Capable program."

[...]

All-in-all, I'm willing to believe Ballmer really didn't know. I mean this is the same company where Mike Nash, Microsoft's corporate VP of Windows Product Management e-mailed Microsoft's top brass on Feb. 25, 2007 that "I personally got burned by the Intel 915 chip set issue that I bought PERSONALLY (eg with my own $$$)." "I know that I chose my laptop (a Sony TX770P) because it had the Vista logo and was pretty disappointed that not only wouldn't it run [Aero] Glass, but more importantly it wouldn't run Movie Maker." Nash felt that he had bought a "$2,100 e-mail machine."

Hey guy, a lot of other early Vista buyers felt exactly the same way. That's why they're suing you.


Mac Daily News has found out that Microsoft's CEO is like Novell's CEO in the sense that he is not keeping up on the competition.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer doesn’t know that Macs can run Windows



[...]

Only Apple Macs run Mac OS X, Windows, Linux, etc. and their attendant applications. In other words, not only is the Mac able to run the world's most advanced operating system, Mac OS X, it can also slum it as a fast PC when the user so desires (or is forced to by Microsoft's many attempts at lock-in). Because Apple Macs also offer the full "PC experience," Ballmer's criticisms — and $300 million ad campaign — fail completely.


Technical Failures



Looking back at the end of an era, IDG has this list of worst Windows flaws. It starts thusly:

June 25, 1998, and June 30, 2008, marked two important milestones in Microsoft's evolution of the Windows OS -- the passing of the torch from Windows 95 to Windows 98, and the less seemly transition from XP to Vista.


It gets worse further down the list. Pingdom provides more visual evidence of the problems.

The infamous Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) probably hasn’t escaped the notice of anyone who has used a computer in the last decade or so. If you haven’t seen it on your own PC, you probably know someone it has happened to.


There is a gallery of incidents there, including the recent one from the Olympic games.

Law



On several occasions in the past, we've already mentioned Bill Gates' lobby for foreign workers [1, 2]. He was lying.

Now it turns out that this H-1B visa scheme is turning into a fraud. Given the economic climate, it's a bad time for this to be revealed.

A report released Oct. 8 by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) reveals that 13% of petitions filed for H-1B visas on behalf of employers are fraudulent. Another 8% contain some sort of technical violations.

[...]

Technology companies, in particular, have come to rely on the H-1B visa program to bring in skilled foreign workers to fill jobs that employers claim can't be filled with U.S.

[...]

Microsoft Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates has twice testified in front of Congress on the issue.


Speaking of fraud, there is some more in Seattle.

Two former top executives from Seattle software provider Entellium were arrested on Tuesday night after allegedly inflating their company's revenues to attract investments.


Remember what a certain someone once said:

"There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks that it is absurd. I would include our stock in that category. It is bad for the long-term worth of the economy."

--Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO



Real Networks, the company which Microsoft schemed to 'pull a Netscape' on, is struggling like many others. Here is a new reminder from the past:

Real Networks had more success with an antitrust lawsuit it filed against Microsoft to compel the software giant to include the RealPlayer streaming media software in Windows. In 2005, Microsoft agreed to settle the case and paid its smaller adversary $761 million.


Finance



Fearing for the welfare of its savings, Microsoft starts digging down its bank account.

Microsoft wants to be kept abreast of the latest developments in Washington Mutual's bankruptcy.


Meanwhile, to many people's surprise, Bill Gates ceases to be the richest American. Despite selling $billions in Microsoft shares over the past few years, his worth declines significantly. Gates is heavily invested in some tobacco, alcohol and oil companies, among other iffy businesses, not to mention media companies that he owns and therefore controls (be nice to Microsoft!).

BILL GATES has been the richest American on the Forbes 400 list for 15 years - well not any more, as this crown has been handed over to none other than insurance and jewellery flogger Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett.


Gamer Blorge opines that Microsoft's XBox/entertainment division is already feeling the pinch, having shut down parts of its operations.

One of the silliest arguments fanboys like to make is that Microsoft has a vast reserve of unlimited resources, all of which can be thrown at the Xbox division. Just like any other business, Microsoft is in the console market to make money and not to fuel useless fanboy fancies.

According to Silicon Alley Insider, Microsoft is in a hiring freeze and slowing down spending for the time being. Initially, it was reported that all of Microsoft would be doing this, but a clarification from a spokesperson indicated that this was false. According to an email sent out by Robbie Bach, head of Entertainment and Devices (Xbox and Zune), only his division will be enforcing a freeze on hiring.


This division has already lost billions of dollars. The myth of Microsoft becoming profitable everywhere it goes is just a tired myth. Period.

Yahoo!



In another major blow to Microsoft, one of its key investors abandons the ship blaming the company's obsession with on-line business.

A well-known hedge-fund manager has hit out at Microsoft’s “overaggressive and almost panicky” attempts to plump up its online investments.

[...]

Meanwhile, Microsoft shares have tanked over the past few weeks forcing Ballmer to admit on his recent tour of Europe that no one was safe from the dollar meltdown on Wall Street.


Is Yahoo still safe from Microsoft? We sure hope so, but Yahoo is currently exploring its options.

Nine months after Yahoo first rejected a takeover bid from Microsoft, the Sunnyvale, Calif., Web search and advertising concern still is looking for a deal to solve its troubles.


As we recently pointed out, the Microsoft-influenced government and those Microsoft-hired LawMedia AstroTurfers were largely responsible for the Yahoo-Google pact temporarily falling through (put on hold).

The pact was brokered in the wake of Microsoft's withdrawn takeover bid for Yahoo. At the time, Microsoft had changed course to try and buy Yahoo's search biz, but Yahoo wasn't interested in such an arrangement.

Since then, Google's share of the Web search market has widened to 63% as of August, according to Internet tracking firm comScore. Yahoo dropped to 19.6% and Microsoft slipped to 8.3%.


Yahoo is reportedly talking with AOL now.

Yahoo is continuing its marathon merger discussions with AOL, sources close to the negotiations have whispered to us, and a deal could happen as early as this month. Is this just a rehash of the reported discussions in February and then again in April?


One of Yahoo's large shareholders is also pushing for a Microsoft takeover.

The investment firm Mithras Capital, a large Yahoo Inc. shareholder, has renewed its push to get the Web-search company to sell itself to Microsoft Corp., according to press reports.


Security



There's a lot on the security front too. A very large number of serious security flaws were reported in Microsoft software. This includes no less than 4 "critical" vulnerabilities, which enable crackers to hijack Windows computers remotely.

On Thursday, Microsoft announced four security bulletins for next week. The announcement is intended as a heads-up for IT departments before Patch Tuesday. Four fixes are considered critical, six important, and one is moderate as ranked by the software giant.


It's worth remembering that almost 1 in 2 Windows PCs is already a zombie PC. Windows makes botnets. Such computers are being used to dispatch about 150 billion SPAM per day and Virgin's server is now collapsing under the pressure.

Tens of thousands of Virgin customers have spent four days cut off from, or with little access to, their e-mail accounts after a suspected spam attack.

The problem affected a company which processes messages delivered through the Virgin.net platform.


Virgin's E-mail service was down not so long ago due to Microsoft-related issues. [article from February]

Virgin Media customers have been suffering email outages for several days, prompting the firm to call in Microsoft engineers to help with an urgent upgrade.


Also in the UK, those brute-force E-mail floods lead to a phishing catastrophe.

Hi-tech fraudsters are taking advantage of the global financial turmoil, say governments and security experts.


Most scary among the security headaches is this news from the World bank:

World Bank Under Cyber Siege in 'Unprecedented Crisis'



The World Bank Group's computer network — one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation — has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year, FOX News has learned.

It is still not known how much information was stolen. But sources inside the bank confirm that servers in the institution's highly-restricted treasury unit were deeply penetrated with spy software last April. Invaders also had full access to the rest of the bank's network for nearly a month in June and July.


Spyware. Which operating system were they running?

BSoD for Novell

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