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03.25.14

Nobody Sent to Prison After Microsoft Abused Privacy of Customers

Posted in Microsoft at 7:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Another reason to stop using Windows and other Microsoft products/services

Summary: Microsoft’s above-the-law attitude well demonstrated by the snooping scandal and FBI collusion, which was not only violating human rights but also proved profitable to Microsoft (at the expense of taxpayers)

WE NOW know that Microsoft profited from its own privacy violations, pocketing taxpayers’ money through the FBI. Robber baron Bill Gates recently defended mass surveillance, characterising it as essential (for him) and generally confirming what many people already suspected (that he defends the NSA). He does something similar for a profit. Microsoft’s exceptionally strong relationship with the NSA should therefore be seen as ideological, too. Microsoft is not the victim here. The victim is the public, which governments and Microsoft are in essence colluding against.

“Violating the rights of citizens is now the equivalent of a Microsoft product and Microsoft cannot lose any money in this area.”US taxpayers pay Microsoft for US taxpayers to be spied on and Microsoft profits from the FBI (i.e. US taxpayers) as long as nobody puts up a resistance strong enough, e.g. by boycotting Microsoft. One bit of original coverage said: “In December 2012, for instance, Microsoft emailed DITU a PDF invoice for $145,100, broken down to $100 per request for information, the documents appear to show. In August 2013, Microsoft allegedly emailed a similar invoice, this time for $352,200, at a rate of $200 per request. The latest invoice provided, from November 2013, is for $281,000.”

Notice how Microsoft is charging. It’s becoming like a profitable business area. Violating the rights of citizens is now the equivalent of a Microsoft product and Microsoft cannot lose any money in this area. There was other such coverage, even in political sites [1]. As one of the sites that broke the news put it: “These documents show how frequently the government calls on tech companies for information, and how nonchalantly they do business. The DITU allegedly requested information from Microsoft hundreds of times a month, and it appears that the government can buy customer information by simply shooting the right person an email.”

Yes, it’s that simple. There is not even a court order. The illusion of justice defending the innocent is no more. Reading Skype messages is another thing that Microsoft habitually does, as we discovered about a year ago. This is done indiscriminately. Everyone is under surveillance.

Now, consider the fact that nobody at Microsoft has been sent to jail for it. Contrast that with what happened in Germany: “To illustrate the direction in which they are leading debate, I would like to juxtapose the Microsoft claim that it is entitled to examine hotmail traffic to find a leak with what happened when a former Deutsche Telekom security manager undertook similar activities over their networks to also identify a leak. He went to jail.”

This was said in reference to another revelation: Microsoft used surveillance on customers for business reasons [2]. These two latest revelations say something very simple; Regarding arrest of ‘ex’ Microsoft staff that abused access to data, he got fired because he’s ‘ex’, not because of abuse — the abuse is standard practice at Microsoft. According to this, “the software giant, on its own initiative, leafed through the blogger’s Hotmail account and instant-messenger chatter logs…”

This means that “chat logs as well,” as iophk put it, are now targeted. He added that “nothing passing through Redmond is safe. This is the very thing they loudly accuse Google of. No wonder any more where they get the ideas for those accusations.” Microsoft has already admitted doing this (it did not even try to deny or spin it). So who will be sent to jail? Nobody of course. Microsoft is above the law. But also, as some put it, “Microsoft Doesn’t Need a Court Order to Search Your Hotmail” (so nobody should ever use Hotmail or any of these other silly services that host E-mail for ‘free’).

For Microsoft, ‘free’ hosting is an opportunity for espionage, copying, framing, blackmail of competitors etc.

Ballmer shamelessly lied when he said “Google reads your mail, we don’t.” The very opposite seems to be true. Google was found innocent very recently [3].

Michael Arrington, writing in his personal blog, said: “I’m reading about how Microsoft read a blogger’s Hotmail (or other Microsoft hosted email) to determine who leaked Microsoft information to that blogger. Microsoft’s response is pathetic, stating that “the privacy of our customers is incredibly important to us” in the same post that explains that they’ll keep doing it.

“While I think that doing this is both evil and shortsighted (they lose trust and users), the only thing that surprised me was that they admitted it.”

Indeed. But they did.

As Dr. Matt Blaze put it in Twitter: “So I wonder what other activities MS looks through your Hotmail account for? Do they look for people thinking of installing Linux?”

Or worse: how about companies or government departments? Some of them try to keep it secret to avoid retribution or intervention by Microsoft.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. This is how much Microsoft charges the FBI for your info
  2. Microsoft scanned French blogger’s email account to find Windows 8 leaker
  3. Google scores major victory in Gmail-scanning case

    It was a major victory for Google this week after US District Judge Lucy Koh turned down a class-action lawsuit against the search giant over allegedly scanning the contents of peoples’ emails. Had the class-action suit been allowed to proceed, the world’s largest search engine would have faced shelling out an astronomical amount in damages.

OpenDocument Format Celebrated Tomorrow

Posted in Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 6:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White dove

Summary: A look at some recent reports about office suites and standards, one day ahead of the annual event that celebrates document freedom

NOW that businesses and governments gradually move away from Microsoft they often find themselves assessing alternatives to Microsoft Office. There are several articles that cover it these days [1] and some have “[n]o mention of Apache OpenOffice or LibreOffice,” as iophk put it in relation to CNET/CBS coverage [2] (the article is titled “Why I’m quitting Microsoft Office forever”).

“The only way out of this mess is to embrace ODF, not to adapt to Microsoft proprietary formats.”Contrary to myth which mostly prevails among the young generation, Microsoft did not invent office suites and Microsoft Office was far from the first in its area. It was made up from software that Microsoft had acquired and crimes from Microsoft made it dominant (there are still court cases dealing with it). There was also deviation from industry standards, which is how Microsoft made it hard for people to use anything other than Microsoft or even keep using old versions. This is why we need ODF now.

In a multi-part series from Andy Updegrove, titled “ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words” [3,4,5], a little bit of history is provided and there are also recent articles about standards [6,7], which Microsoft never obeyed, not even when it comes to the Web (and this causes huge headaches to many Web developers, who are even willing to pay people [8] to ditch Microsoft’s Web browser).

As we showed some years ago, Microsoft tied Office to its browser too, as part of ongoing attempts to extend the Office monopoly to the Web. These are all serious violations — the consequence of which we continue to suffer from to this date. The only way out of this mess is to embrace ODF, not to adapt to Microsoft proprietary formats.

Tomorrow, which is a special day for OpenDocument Format (Document Freedom Day [9]), we are planning to publish a long article about the long battle for ODF in the UK.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Best Free Office Suites: Microsoft Office Alternatives

    For small businesses, every red cent counts. Sometimes, that means getting creative with your tech decisions. There’s no doubt that Microsoft Office is the most widely used office productivity suite, but if you’re purchasing new computers or replacing old software, buying new copies is going to cost you. Before you pony up for new software, these free Microsoft Office alternatives might be the money-saving solutions you’re looking for.

  2. Why I’m quitting Microsoft Office forever

    It’s not just about the money. Well, okay, it’s mostly about the money, but there are other reasons I’m bidding goodbye to Microsoft’s not-so-sweet suite.

  3. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words

    The story has other notable features as well: ODF is the first IT standard to be taken up as a popular cause, and also represents the first “cross over” standards issue that has attracted the broad support of the open source community. Then there are the societal dimensions: open formats are needed to safeguard our culture and our history from oblivion. And when implemented in open source software and deployed on Linux-based systems (not to mention One Laptop Per Child computers), the benefits and opportunities of IT become more available to those throughout the third world.

  4. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 2
  5. ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 3 – What a Difference a Decade Can Make

    Moreover, in the years to come, PC-based word processing products like WordStar, and then WordPerfect, would become far more popular than Microsoft’s own first word processing (originally called Multitool Word), providing low-cost alternatives to the proprietary minicomputer based software offerings of vendors like Wang Laboratories. IBM, too, provided a word processing program for the PC called DisplayWriter. That software was based on a similar program that IBM had developed for its mainframe systems customers. More importantly, another program was launched at just the right time to dramatically accelerate the sale of IBM PCs and their clones. That product was the legendary “killer app” of the IBM PC clone market: Lotus 1-2-3, the spreadsheet software upon which Mitch Kapor built the fortunes of his Lotus Development Corporation.

  6. The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory

    Maybe, thanks to open source, the sausage days of standard making will be behind us. I hope so.

  7. Open Standards and Open Source make a great pairing

    While open source advocates are fond of pointing out the freedom of open source –that is, the freedom to share and modify it –it’s only part of the equation for companies taking advantage of open source in their businesses.

  8. Ditch IE7 and we’ll give you a FREE COMPUTER, says incautious US firm

    Internet Explorer 7 holdouts are being offered a brand new computer by a US company sick of working to support Microsoft’s legacy browser.

  9. Document Freedom Matters

    As the Document Freedom Day is approaching I realized that we don’t push ODF and open standards as loudly as before. Certainly most of the battles for the mind and market share are past, at least when it comes to office file formats. But the recent public consultation of the UK government brought back some of the most crucial issues surrounding ODF and it’s useful, I think, to check where stand these days on these matters.

03.24.14

Business Software Alliance (BSA) Should Snitch on Itself for So-called ‘Piracy’

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Maze of proprietary licences

License wall

Summary: The BSA helps prove that using proprietary licences is a dumb idea, for even the BSA is not obeying proprietary licences

THE Business Software Alliance (BSA) is a lobbyist against Free software, not just an aggressive enforcer of unethical licences. We wrote quite a lot about the evil actions of the BSA. We have done so for almost a decade (Techrights turns 8 later this year) and focused on its lobbying for software patents, against Free software policies, etc.

“Watch the BSA getting into a mess by illegally (blatant infringement) using a photo and getting caught.”Mr. Pogson explains why he rejected proprietary software when he was a teacher. “I needed to keep track of “stickers” and OS versions when all I wanted to do was use IT in education,” he says. “Is that too much to ask? Then there was the malware. We had to put up with that and pay (blood, sweat, tears, my time) for re-imaging systems every week. The EULA? It wanted to forbid networking of our PCs without a licence for a server…”

Pogson cites this bit of news that says “Microsoft is pledging dramatic improvements to its notoriously complex enterprise licensing, but experts are skeptical about the potential impact of the plan.”

This must be a response to migrations to Free software. It is a lot easier (let alone safer) to procure and manage Free software. The BSA promotes the idea that Free software is somehow “dirty” or “illegal”, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. The opposite is true.

Watch the BSA getting into a mess by illegally (blatant infringement) using a photo and getting caught [1,2]. The headlines say it all: “BSA Caught Using Infringing Image For Its ‘Snitch’ On Your Colleagues Anti-Piracy Campaign” and “Busted: BSA Steals Photo For “Snitch On a Pirate” Campaign” (published today).

Next time, perhaps but quite improbably, the BSA should use non-proprietary stocks of images. Nobody should ever accept draconian licences in the first place, The BSA proves this rather well itself.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Busted: BSA Steals Photo For “Snitch On a Pirate” Campaign

    The Business Software Alliance, a trade group representing Adobe, Apple and Microsoft, has been caught using a “stolen” photo in one of their anti-piracy campaigns. The group is running various Facebook ads to convince people to snitch on pirates, but this effort has backfired terribly.

  2. BSA Caught Using Infringing Image For Its ‘Snitch’ On Your Colleagues Anti-Piracy Campaign

    For many years, we’ve written about the Business Software Alliance’s (BSA) ridiculous snitch program. This is where the organization (which represents a bunch of software companies, but more or less takes its orders from Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and Autodesk) promises to give people large cash rewards for snitching on friends and colleagues who happen to be using unlicensed software. The BSA insists that this is one of their best tools — which they then use to raid small companies for questionable “audits” that often completely destroy those businesses. The BSA forces those companies to pay huge sums of money — all of which the BSA keeps. As for the claims of big rewards for snitches, the BSA is incredibly misleading on that front. A few years back, they started promising “up to $1 million” for snitching. In exchange, we promised “up to $1 million” if anyone could show the BSA actually paying out $1 million. Someone looking into the BSA’s payments found that the highest they’d paid out to snitches at the time was around $5,000 with many getting less than that. In other words, the BSA has never had much of a reputation for intellectual honesty.

Thou Shalt Not ‘Disparage’: How Apple and Microsoft Really Work

Posted in Apple, Microsoft at 3:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shhh

Summary: The pressure against truth-telling, courtesy of proprietary software aggressors such as Apple and Microsoft

LAST week was a fairly slow news week, but Muktware covered an upcoming film where the role of glorified bully Steve Jobs may be assigned to the same guy who portrayed American Psycho. That would be a good fit, wouldn’t it? Jobs’ successor continues to treat Apple like some kind of religion, dismissing any sort of criticism as though it’s blasphemous. As Muktware put it: “It’s not unusual for Apple CEO Tim Cook to blast anything that is not pro Apple. As a result, few were surprised when Tim Cook labeled Yukari Iwatani Kane’s book “Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs” as “nonsense.” Iwatani Kane claims that Apple is no longer the company they were under Jobs, and that we have already seen the best that they have to offer.”

Meanwhile, tells us a reader, Microsoft spinner “Enderle is still around. Who paid him to write that and why?”

He has a history of Apple bashing and his latest column says that “Apple’s Problem [is] It Can’t Handle the Truth” (don’t feed Enderle by clicking). What Enderle conveniently ignores is that his darling Microsoft is not much better. We’ll provide examples in a moment.

Apple, like Microsoft, hardly ever ported any applications to GNU/Linux, but Muktware says that iTunes might be coming to Android (hence Linux). This is significant because Apple hardly ever ported anything to GNU/Linux and “Apple broke the monopoly of record labels, which forced users to buy entire album even if a user wanted just one song. It made music affordable, which brought down ‘piracy’. Apple actually shook the entire music industry with its iTunes, the way it changed the mobile industry with iPhone.”

Here is another report about “Apple considering releasing an iTunes app for Android” (it’s not final yet).

Apple and Microsoft both thrive in marketing and commercial propaganda, as well as revisionism (fairly new example in [1]). Just watch this disgraceful deceit (placement) which speaks of “redemption” but is actually about subjugation. “Neocolonialism, keeping a foot on Africa’s neck” is what iopkh calls it. It’s gross beyond words. Africa has long been exploited not just by Microsoft but also by Bill Gates. To say this is sometimes a taboo (especially for the latter).

In addition, iophk asks: “Do Microsoft EULAs still forbid product evaluation, benchmarking and comparison to competing products? Almost none of the XP or MSO articles mention better options.” He refers to old articles [1, 2] which say people “may not without Microsoft’s prior written approval disclose to any third party the results of any benchmark test.”

We covered that several years ago.

The bottom line is, proprietary software not only forbids access to information (such as source code); it often also forbids expression of certain ideas. It is a form of tyranny.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it’s serious

    Stephen is plainly unaware, to begin with, that CP/M was not a piece of IBM software. It was actually created by Digital Research founder Dr Gary Kildall. With CP/M Dr Kildall (not Bill Gates) had truly pioneered the portable operating system for microcomputers – an operating system capable of running on different kinds of hardware that created a common platform for application developers and users – and the low-cost licensing model that went with it.

    Worse, it seems clear that Mr Fry is also unaware that the QDOS which Gates so hastily bought up to offer to IBM under the name MS-DOS was a poor-quality effort (QDOS actually stands for Quick and Dirty Operating System) which had been created by simply copying code straight out of CP/M.

Links 24/3/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 12:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 24/3/2014: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 24/3/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Says It Will Reward ‘Open Source’ Code That Helps Microsoft Sell Proprietary Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft behind the mask

Gas mask

Summary: Microsoft’s disdain and intolerance of software freedom continues to be shown, but one must look behind the mask of spin and rhetoric

THE SHAM which is Microsoft “open source”, notably projects that help proprietary software but are described as “open source” (Microsoft’s code hosting sites are notorious for that), continues to exist but not to thrive. We hardly hear about those things anymore (they don’t make the press as much as they used to). We are talking about projects that are portrayed as “open” but actually require .NET, Microsoft SQL Server, or something along those lines. iophk calls it “poisoning the wells,” alluding to the fact that such projects really help dilute the term “Open Source”.

According to this new article, Microsoft takes its deceptive strategy further. The author asks: “Is Microsoft really just still saying that the only valuable open source is that which extends Microsoft products in its own view?”

Yes, indeed.

Adrian Bridgwater writes something to that effect as well. The headline is “Microsoft: open source developers not yet fully recognised by Microsoft MVP Programme,” but this is not true.

Consider Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza, who created Mono for Microsoft API infection in FOSS. His company is rumoured to be in the process of becoming part of Microsoft and he was a Microsoft MVP.

“The Microsoft spinner wants to pretend that Microsoft is a friend of Free/Open Source software even though Microsoft is still actively attacking Free/Open Source software.”Looking at where this spin originally came from, it it that annoying Microsoft revisionist Scott Hanselman. The Microsoft spinner wants to pretend that Microsoft is a friend of Free/Open Source software even though Microsoft is still actively attacking Free/Open Source software.

Speaking of the spin, watch how ex-Microsoft manager Neela Jacques frames Open Source as “Collaborative Development”. This is familiar spin that we saw coming from Microsoft itself, reducing Freedom and even Openness to just “Collaboration” or “Choice”. Neela Jacques also frames this as “Freedom from Vendors”, which is a little similar to the “Choice” line. Those who are accustomed to hearing Stallman’s views on Freedom (here is how he put them last month on television) will pick this up easily. Neela Jacques writes: “Do you want free software or do you want supported, enterprise grade software? Many people think that’s the question. It’s not.”

He does not mean Free/libre software, he means gratis software. Sadly, the Linux Foundation put this man in charge. He does not grasp freedom.

“Microsoft hates freedom. It’s not in its business model and not in its ‘DNA’.”Now, let’s look at another new example from Nokia and Microsoft, which are pretending to be embracing Free software through Android but are actually turning it into proprietary surveillance that people can foolishly install to replace Free software with lesser privacy violations. Nokia and Microsoft are trying to make this the norm now [1] and yesterday we saw Microsoft unleashing yet more FUD about Android (the ‘security’ FUD flavour) along with Indiana University, showing of course that Microsoft does not care about Android, except the turning of Android into proprietary Microsoft system (with Microsoft blobs) and patent shakedown against Android vendors.

Do not believe for even one second that Microsoft likes or is willing to change for Free software. Microsoft hates freedom. It’s not in its business model and not in its ‘DNA’. Microsoft’s co-founder Bill Gates makes it clear repeatedly and consistently when he misrepresents and demonises Free software, as he first did back in the 70s, moving us from a world of Free software into a world dominated by proprietary (especially in the 90s).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Nokia tries to lure Android porters with free Nokia X mobes

    Nokia has started encouraging Android developers to support its Nokia X platform. The phones, primarily aimed at developing markets, run a highly customised version of Android and to ensure compatibility Nokia has wound up its developer outreach programme.

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