Respecting AstroTurfers?

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Site News at 6:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Smears and Vested Interests

Our frustration and criticisms in this Web site are directed mostly at Microsoft’s management, which is increasingly mirrored in Novell’s (because of staff changes). On numerous occasions we were contacted by Novell engineers, but never by the management. Microsoft never formally corresponded with us directly regarding this Web site.

Frequent anonymous flamings and smear campaigns would be considered informal communications. They sometimes come from Microsoft employee (past and present). We encourage readers to consider Web scrubbings, as once described by Bruce Perens. This one page describes how they wrote to professors to discredit and cause trouble to yours sincerely. Those were not formal communications and some are impossible to associate with a particular company.

Microsoft’s habis of AstroTurfing are not a myth but a reality. It goes a long way back and it is well documented, for example:

Newsgroups: comp.os.os2.advocacy
From: jmur…@shell.portal.com (John – Murphy)
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 1994 18:49:10 GMT
Local: Sun, Mar 20 1994 6:49 pm
Subject: Newspaper exposes “Steve Barkto” as MS agent

Sunday, March 20, the San Jose Mercury News published a front page article on the agent provocatour, alias, Steve Barkto. The article quotes William Zachmann as saying he tracked down Mr. “Barkto” on his Compuserve forum, after this new member made disparaging remarks about IBM, and in particular, OS/2.

Mr. “Barkto” is not a major customer of IBM, but an employee or agent of Microsoft. The account which this mole used, was paid for by the good old folks at MS.

I wrote an letter to Congressman Norm Mineta (D-San Jose) asking that the U.S. Dept. of Justice look into unfair trade practices of MS. In particular, the relationship between computer system manufactures, and MS.

I wonder how many messages we get on this USENET and others, that originate from the corporate headquarters of Microsoft?

John Murphy
Commerical Brokers Insurance
San Jose, CA

More examples of this can be found here.

Funny man

New in Boycott Novell: Site FAQ

Posted in Boycott Novell, Novell, Site News at 6:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We assume that regular readers are well aware of what Novell did in the past. In a nutshell, however, we summarised some of the more recent developments and impacts of the Novell deal.

More Microsoft Abuses in Italy and Europe

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

KOffice Logo
Foreign tyrant back in Italy

IN yesterday’s news we found this article about shyness among European schools about the use of Free software, despite repeated attempts to bring constructive change.

The Italian city of Pontedera has just installed 45 new PCs running open source in computer labs in three schools. Teachers are being instructed how to use the GNU/Linux based systems, according to a report on the website of Radio Nostalgia. It quotes analyst Stefano Tognarelli: “Our goal is to increase the use of open source software by young people and by public administrations.”

The overall message of this article is that there is antagonism though. Microsoft can never let it be easy for people to make decisions and follow them through.

Why all this resistance anyway? We decided to explore and discover whether Italy is subjected to the same Microsoft pressure/influence on education as in France. It typically ascends to a tier of corruptible politicians, as we showed some days ago in reference to Italy (see the Italian government coming under fire following another, much older Microsoft agreement). We have also shared many examples over the past couple of months [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and they transcend the borders of Europe, by far.

“It typically ascends to a tier of corruptible politicians…”An informant of ours wanted to draw readers’ attention to universities in Italy. “Microsoft helped them with millions,” he said, “[in order] to help [the] Italian government open 2-3 Microsoft research centers in some universities. The most part will be paid by the government by the way [and] the code won’t be open.”

Further to this, we were told that, “apparently, in Piemonte they promised to make code public. In Trento we’re are still waiting for an answer, that won’t come.”

Given that the code is written using taxpayers’ money, i.e. public subsidies, this makes little or no sense.

Moreover, “they don’t only retain the copyright on the code. Patents allow them to annoy you even if you re-write from scratch,” says the informant.

Corporations must not taint public institutions like academia, but they increasingly do. Microsoft is a major culprit in that respect.

The University of Trento is one to be named and possibly shamed for this. Their site does not run Windows, so it’s definitely not a ‘Microsoft shop’ (well, not yet). But there are apparently at least 3 centers in 3 regions apart from the one in Trento. “There are nice links departing from that article,” we are told, but it’s not in English.

Since articles of value and substance are difficult for a non-Italian speaker to understand (even with an automated translation), this one reader of ours provided a translation, as follows:

May 2007 – Brunetta (minister of Public functions and Innovation) signs a deal with Microsoft for the opening of 3 centers in Italy (generic locations: Piemonte, Tuscany and Campania)

Following protests from free software associations, Professor Profumo (director of the university “Politecnico di Torino”) stated publicly that “since the money is be public, so will be the results”

The Microsoft research center in trento, though, is not part of the above deal, it’s just a different thing.

In Trento, the situation is different, even if the results of the research are 50% Microsoft’s property, the costs of “Centro di Ricerca di Trento” will be substained wholly by citizens (see: http://softwarelibero.it/delucidazioni-sul-trasferimento-di-fondi/).

The “Associazione per il Software Libero” points the following:

  • Microsoft’s (financial) involvement not only is less than the public involvment, but is provided in form of “versamenti in conto capitale” which may go back to Microsoft at the end of agreement (note: probably it would happen in the case the Center has not debts at the end of agreement)
  • Even if many people from Microsoft and the government talk (about the agreement as a way to) about avoid “Brains escape from italy” seems like the researchers earning will be a little more than a tenth (1/10) respect their English colleagues.
  • Even worse, the results of the center’s research won’t be freely available. In fact, terms to avoid commercial use are already in place (nothing forbids them to be patented in the time to come, anyway).

We also accumulated many examples of Microsoft OOXML-related misconduct in Italy. As the country increasingly adopts Free software and GNU/Linux [1-20], there will be resistances that knows no ethical boundaries, particularly from Microsoft.

Other News from Europe

Over at Groklaw, one of their readers points out an incident from Holland, titling it “Accused of Illegal Sale of Microsoft Software, Dutch Co. Files EU Commission Complaint.” The report is in Dutch, but the core of the complaint is: “Microsoft abusing its monopoly to artificially inflate prices in the EU as compared to the ones in the US.”

“…Microsoft uses its monopoly to elevate the prices as much as the market can bear”As many people are probably aware, Microsoft’s software products are hugely expensive in Holland and in other part of Europe where Microsoft uses its monopoly to elevate the prices as much as the market can bear. Explanations from Microsoft UK were far from satisfactory. They found excuses, trying to place blame on local GDP, which is not only absurd but also incorrect.

Also in the news at the moment is this latest Portuguese government concession to Microsoft (yes, yet another [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]). According to this article (English), they permit themselves to get locked in without exploring better alternatives which the government has control over. The gist of it (thanks to Tony Manco): “The Institute of Employment and Vocational Training of Portugal will pay, by 2011, more than three million for 3700 licences to Microsoft, according to the authorization published yesterday in the Daily Republic.”

[1] Europe’s schools remain shy about open source

The Italian city of Pontedera has just installed 45 new PCs running open source in computer labs in three schools. Teachers are being instructed how to use the GNU/Linux based systems, according to a report on the website of Radio Nostalgia. It quotes analyst Stefano Tognarelli: “Our goal is to increase the use of open source software by young people and by public administrations.”

[2] Italians Vote: Give Us Linux on System z!

Region Calabria, one of the largest regions in all of Italy with more than 2 million people, today announced that it has gone live with a new IBM information infrastructure of servers and storage as a means to transform its data processing center.

[3] Open Source Events: Linux Day is today!

Linux Day 2008 – ILS, the Italian Linux Association today runs its eighth annual Linux Day all over Italy, in 119 cities. Enjoy!

[4] OpenOffice.org: The Italian Linux Day foster the creation of “MS Office Angels”!

In occasion of the Linux Day 2008, that will take place on Saturday in 119 Italian cities, the Italian Linux Society and the Italian OpenOffice.org Association are launching a campaign for a special endangered specie.

[5] IT: University starts Open Source master course

The University of Perugia is offering a master course on Open Source. “Software developers and IT policy makers need to understand the importance and potential of this type of software and how to combine it with proprietary IT systems.”

The ‘Master di I° Livello in Sistemi e Tecnologie Free Libre Open Source per la Società dell’Informazione e della Comunicazione’ (First level master in Open Source systems and technology for the Information Society) was presented during a seminar on Open Source in the city of Orvieto, on 13 September.

[6] Open source tour of Europe: Italy

In July 2007 the IT department of the Italian Parliament presented plans for the migration of 200 servers and more than 3,500 desktop PCs to Linux and OpenOffice. The migration was due to begin in September and take two years.

Regional government projects include Cremona, Foggia, Rome, Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Genoa, Bologna, Balzano, Savona, Umbria, and Tuscany again.

More details are available of Rome’s open source policy, Genova’s OpenOffice trials, Bologna’s open source projects, and Bolzano’s FUSS project.

[7] Just a coincidence?

According to Davide Dozza, Chairman of Associazione PLIO: “The numbers are exactly the same. If it’s just a coincidence, it’s a very strange one. Downloads of the Italian version of OpenOffice.org were 800.000 in 2006 and 1.800.000 in 2007: the difference is exactly in the million of Italians that – according to Microsoft – have downloaded the trial version of Office 2007. We think that these users have decided to switch to OpenOffice.org as soon as they have realized that the effort to get used to the new ribbon interface is higher than the effort to migrate to the open source suite. In 2007, the majority of information requests has been about the compatibility with Windows Vista, and the trend stays unchanged in 2008″.

[8] Italian Ministry of Justice Adopts Red Hat Solutions

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that the Italian Ministry of Justice has selected Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the platform for its web-based Civil Justice applications, including those used for general cognizance, for civil execution and for the offices of the Small Claims courts.

[9] Commission to MEP: We are able to accept and generate ODF

An assistent of Italian MEP Marco Cappato (ALDE) contacted us with the news that an answer to a parliament question has arrived.

[10] Italian TV talks about Ubuntu

In this video an Italian TV program, NeaPòlis, talks about ubuntu as a very stable, high performance and easy to install operative system.

[11] Telecom Italia Rejects Microsoft IPTV

For Microsoft, Telecom Italia’s decision is clearly a blow.

[12] Plone: Official launch of PloneGov in Italy

The Chamber of Commerce of Ferrara, the first PloneGov Italian member, invites 100 representatives from the public sector and open source experts to participate to the official launch of PloneGov in Italy on September 16, 2008.

[13] Linux reaches the Italian Parliament

As reported by the Italian newspaper Repubblica on July 10th, 2007, a plan suggested by the left deputies Pietro Folena and Franco Grillini to migrate all the computers of the Parliament from Windows to Linux was approved by the Chamber.

The migration will affect about 3500 boxes of the Chamber, both desktops and servers, and each Deputy/Party may also ask to migrate his/its (private) computers to the Free System.

[14] Linux certification comes to Italy

A non-profit organization devoted to Linux training and certification has established an affiliate organization in Italy.

[15] Free software in free elections

A new initiative promoted by the italian association for free software for the next italian political elections (provided that they will actually take place…). The initiative consists in asking the candidates to sign a letter where they engage themselves, in case they will be elected, to promote the use of free software through their political activity.

[16] Italy adopts OpenDocument as a National Standard

Italy has adopted The OpenDocument Format (ISO/IEC 23600) as a national standard. The decision was made by UNI, the Italian Organization for Standardization, which is responsible, under appointment from the Italian Government and the EU, to develop, approve and publish technical standards in all economic sectors (industry, trade and services) except for electric and electro-technical ones.

[17] 2006 Italian Linux Day: A nationwide success

The 2006 edition of Italian Linux Day on October 28 was the first in the six-year history of the event to be celebrated in more than 100 cities in every corner of the country.

[18] User-friendly Free Software for Senior Citizens

The project has deep roots in open source: it was developed in accordance with a set of rules and with the support of the open source community; Eldy was released freeware in order to guarantee the feasibility of the project, but it will have an open future and a self-installing Linux distribution.

[19] Historic victory of the “Associazione per il Software Libero”! [in Italy]

WE WON. Therefore 4.5 million Euros of public money will not be spent on proprietary software licenses, since the Ministry failed to consider free software options.

[20] Italian Company Debuts Petit ARM9 CPU With Linux

Elpa, based in Italy, has debuted the RD129, an ARM9-based module delivered with Linux kernel

While the World is Asleep, Mono with Microsoft-patented WinForms Slips into Ubuntu 9.04

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 1:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sobering message after a drunken thanksgiving day

THERE IS still a chance to stop it.

1 week after my initial message, phase 1 of the Mono 2.0 transition, the
core stack, is now complete (or near enough, anyway).

We have already explained why Mono 2.0 is even worse. For how long will Ubuntu be inheriting the Microsoft/Novell DNA? This is not a new problem.

Mono is all about the money

The OOXML Trap Bites British Parliament

Posted in Europe, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, Windows at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML data vacuum

“Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don’t evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, ‘how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?’”

Bill Gates, The Seattle Weekly, (April 30, 1998)

Observers have warned for quite a long time that not only will OOXML lead to confusion, legal problems and corruption of the process but it will also lead to eternal incompatibilities. The latest victim which finds this out the hard way is the the UK parliament, which is unable to exchange documents even when the same program from the very same vendor is in wide use.

Microsoft is working with Westminster technology chiefs after politicians and peers complained of being unable to open the latest Word documents.

The [Microsoft] Office 2003 software used by the UK’s 646 MPs and 742 peers is incompatible with Microsoft Word 2007 document formats, leaving politicians and civil servants unable to read some correspondence.

It’s worth adding that the same version of Office on different platform is also incompatible. That’s how bad it is. And for Microsoft to have adopted OOXML means that many products which used to work fairly well with (binary) Office files are no longer able to do so. This means that Microsoft’s move to proprietary XML is doing more harm than good, i.e. it’s reducing inter-application compatibility rather than improving it.

The likely solution? Upgrade treadmill. Buy more software. Everyone must purchase the latest versions of Windows and Office. If it’s demanding, buy a new computer too (there will hardly be a choice of anything but Vista, which even Microsoft seniors passionately hate).

The SoftMaker Insult

“This means that Microsoft’s move to proprietary XML is doing more harm than good, i.e. it’s reducing inter-application compatibility rather than improving it.”One reader wrote to us a few days ago, arguing that “Linux.com has published an advertisement dressed as an article and featuring a Microsoft talking point.

“It’s that old canard about “interop.” It’s popped up in that article, and several business communities nearby. The baseless assertion is that OpenOffice.org (OOo) has difficulty reading and rendering Microsoft Office documents whereas Softmaker, for a fee, can.”

Softmaker even insists that ODF is not the focus of its agenda (see comment).

Further, says our reader, “Obviously the article is simply a disguised advertisement and the author either has never run OOo or else is pretending to never have heard of how it performs.

“Myself, I cannot recall a time when OOo had trouble reading or rendering Microsoft Office documents, but then again my full time usage of OOo only goes back to 2002. One of my main reasons for moving to OOo from Microsoft Office was that it was far superior at reading and rendering Microsoft Office documents than Microsoft Office itself.”

Similar argument are sometimes made w.r.t. Wine, which some say offers superior backward compatibility (win32 APIs) to Windows Vista. Going back to the reader, he concludes:

“Many have kept OOo around for rescuing files that Microsoft Office corrupts and renders unreadable. OOo can read and fix most of those. Also, it has always had superior support for old Microsoft Office formats. Now that Microsoft has pulled the plug on its own old formats, it is not just a hands down win for OOo, but also no contest.

“I guess that explains why during the first 4 weeks, OpenOffice.org 3.0 had 10 million Windows and Macintosh downloads from the official Web site. Most GNU/Linux users and most mirror sites are not included in that figure.”

Microsoft ‘Extends’ Open Source Scope

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[More Open Than Open]: “I am constantly amazed at the flexibility of this single word.”

Jason Matusow, Microsoft (for background see [1, 2, 3])

Microsoft favours licences that are incompatible with things that are not beneficial to its shareholders. Public investments come before developers and the better example from this week is probably Singularity, which is a Microsoft project begging for free labour. The agenda is disguised under more inviting terms like “open source”, which it is not (Microsoft’s confusion was nonetheless fruitful).

As with the image of blind justice to the right, you can look but you better not touch.


It is true that some academics who like to play with Microsoft code, and support Microsoft technologies like .Net, will find value here.

But everyone else needs to be wary. Lawyers bite. And Microsoft’s are hungry.

This is not the first time that Microsoft plays games with pseudo-open source licences. In fact, the company routinely lies about open source, causing the ‘brand’ to suffer as a whole. The question is, will Michael Tiemann take note of this pattern and respond?

Michael Tiemann

Novell Linux: Another Platform (as in Kernel) for Windows?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Java, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Windows at 7:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows is an operating system. It refers to the whole, it represents a complete product. Linux, on the other hand, is not an operating system. It’s a program, it’s a component. It is exceptionally good at what it does, being a very large and vital compartment in products like Fedora or Mandriva.

Novell maintains its own variant (or branch) of Linux and when Microsoft accused GNU/Linux of patent infringement it concentrated on the kernel’s space. Microsoft knows that virtually all other components can be run seamlessly on Windows, whose security, stability and other factors may be vastly inferior. It is also more expensive and restrictive.

“Microsoft fuels Novell in order to increase the number of enterprise that use SUSE, mostly at the expense of Red Hat.”Microsoft faces some tough choices as Windows continues to lose mind share and market share. Its main cash cows are applications that run on Windows. Without Windows, how can high revenues be sustained?

Well, if GNU/Linux was able to natively run programs using the Microsoft API and Linux was a revenue stream to Microsoft (as is already the case with SUSE), then Microsoft would win irrespective of whether people use Linux or Windows. People would run ‘Microsoft applications’ and developers choose the ‘Microsoft tool sets”, all of which are encumbered by Microsoft’s so-called “IP”.

Mono is a Novell project that benefits from peace with Microsoft, provided you are a paying customer of Novell (i.e. someone who compensates Microsoft for the use of SUSE). Microsoft fuels Novell in order to increase the number of enterprise that use SUSE, mostly at the expense of Red Hat. It is deliberate.

As pointed out yesterday in ITWire, Microsoft does not exactly “hate” Linux; it merely tries to embrace and ‘extend’ it at the moment, just as it once tried with Java (it's still trying).

I Wonder: Who is Scared of Linux?


The long answer is Microsoft, but what it is they’re afraid of isn’t Linux.

What they’re afraid of is Linux + Novell (kinda solved that one), Linux + Oracle, Linux + Hewlett Packard, :Linux + Dell and the biggie, Linux + IBM.

Welcome another new combination, which is Linux + .NET, courtesy of Novell and Microsoft. It contains Novell’s own version of the Linux kernel, topped by the Microsoft-enhanced SUSE (with so-called ‘interoperability’ shims). It also has control and exclusivity for Mono, which mimics the Microsoft API and thus enables Microsoft to control the operating system as a whole, using both technical and legal means.

NindowsBoycott Novell is not alone in voicing its concerns about Mono. Criticisms of Mono predate the existence of this Web site and just a few days ago, in reference to this article about the Mono-filled Ubuntu 9.04, said Groklaw: “Forewarned is forearmed. Many of us prefer to avoid Mono, and so it’s helpful to have news like this, so we can do some hopping around it.”

With Mono, Microsoft can make GNU/Linux just an underlying platform for Windows (.NET applications). This is not as far fetched as typical critics of Boycott Novell wish to make it seem. Fortunately, there is another new motion to remove Mono from GNU/Linux (specifically Ubuntu), and it’s independent from us. People have begun understanding what goals of the Mono projects involve not necessarily from developers’ perspective but from Microsoft’s perspective.

How quickly some people forget that Novell merely elevates a convicted monopolist and makes GNU/Linux no longer free.

“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

“[The partnership with Microsoft is] going very well insofar as we originally agreed to co-operate on three distinct projects and now we’re working on nine projects and there’s a good list of 19 other projects that we plan to co-operate on.”

Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO

Just say no to Mono

Intel Wants the World to Know That It’s Above the Law

Posted in Courtroom, Europe, Fraud, Hardware, Law, Microsoft at 6:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Intel: criminal inside

Intel’s revisionism in major publications is an important issue that was covered here several months ago, just after the company had sabotaged a charitable project. Intel would deny involvement or claim to have done so in self defense, but keeping one’s price-fixing schemes in tact is no excuse. Moreover, there are human victims at play.

“…[K]eeping one’s price-fixing schemes in tact is no excuse.”Intel’s crimes, however, are better characterised using the Vista collusion, which is the most recent and thus freshest example of a pattern that went on for many years. Intel’s long history of misconduct can be found in the literature. It is not deniable that Intel bribed companies like Dell in order for them not to stock the competitors’ products. This is similar to what Microsoft was doing illegally. It ended up in court for it.

About a year ago, Intel attempted to exempt itself by dismissing its resistors in Europe as “anti-American”. It’s a bit like the “Microsoft hater” label, which is a cheap attempt at discrediting legitimate critics using derogatory labels [1-8].

As we mentioned briefly a couple of days ago, Intel had the chutzpah to not only wiggle its way out of punishment for the crimes it had committed but also to demand reimbursement.

According (PDF) to the Official Journal of the European Union, Intel wants the EC to pay for all its court costs, extend the filing deadline to 30 days after Intel receives certain documents it’s seeking, and annul two previous decisions in the case. Santa Clara claims that its ability to defend itself has been weakened by the EC’s refusal to grant it access to certain documents AMD has filed as evidence in the case. It argues that the Commission’s Hearing Officer (roughly analogous to a judge) acted improperly when he ruled that Intel did not need access to these documents in order to mount a vigorous defense.

This optimistic (almost euphoric) viewpoint from Intel completely neglects the severity of the evidence at hand. Intel has been resorting to delaying tactics and was missing many deadlines recently, thus showing nothing but contempt for the process — one that’s akin to another company that comes from Redmond, Washington.

Although this post is clearly unrelated to the primary subject of the Web site, it was seen as important by some readers that awareness of Intel is increased. Intel exploits nasty tactics in attempt to achieve a monopoly in audio cards, storage (SSD), graphics cards, processors, motherboards, network cards, USB, and so forth. So-called “Netbooks” are a good example. In the process, Intel not only attacks AMD; using FUD, Intel recently slammed (publicly) Apple, ARM, and even NVIDIA, whose CEO was furious. The industry needs more competition and less bullies.

In conclusion or summary, someone ought to point out the truth and remind Intel that collusion and bribery are violations of European law. There are no exceptions and concession for multi-national monopolists.


  1. Discrediting Legitimate Critics with Reimposed Problems, Derogatory Labels
  2. Bruce Byfield at it Again with “Conspiracy Theorists”
  3. A Look Back at Well-documented Microsoft Briberies
  4. There is No Community and There is No Communism, Either
  5. Bruce Byfield Misattributes Quotes (Updatedx4)
  6. Speaking of So-called ‘Conspiracy Theories’ and ‘Coincidences’
  7. Fighting Inconveinient Truths Using Labels and Stereotypes.
  8. Since When Does Microsoft Not Sabotage GNU/Linux?

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