08.27.09

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Microsoft Teaches the Public That Free is Illegal

Posted in Europe, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenOffice at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Shameless tactics from Microsoft describe Free software as “piracy” and now an “endemic problem”

THE PREVIOUS POST showed that Microsoft is hoping to eradicate software which is available free of charge. Specifically, it was about Free software. The freedom enabled by this software is less relevant to Microsoft and is therefore less of a concern. Microsoft must introduce scarcity, or else people might — God forbid — realise that they do not need to pay for an operating system and office suite.

Get legal. Get OpenOffice.orgA disinformation campaign seems to be a weapon of choice. Microsoft’s "Delta Team" presentation still requires a point-by-point rebuttal. “It’s telling that slide 2 shows the definition used by Microsoft, and thus F.A.S.T. and B.S.A., for piracy means any and all non-Microsoft software,” tells us one reader. We have already shown examples where the BSA is doing this. Another person writes:

Seems obvious to me what’s going on here, but I’ll bite.

They’re simply trying to make it seem like using anything for free (in their terminology, pirating) is wrong. They want to create this (false) impression that all software directly has some form of strictly monetary value because when people realize that there’s no sensible reason to pay for basic software (like operating system, desktop environment, productivity apps), they’ll all of a sudden realize how (stupid) it is to pay hundreds of dollars when it’s so easy to make. So they try to brand it as badly as they can by calling it pirating so they can hang on to their outdated business model.

It’s not the first time MS has used this truth-distorting tactic. They’ve also tried to redefine open standards to allow for patent-protected software. See: http://politics.slashdot.org/story/09/08/03/130254/Micro…

Of course, even they know that it’s wrong, but the audience they’re preaching to is probably too dumb to realize and/or enamored by those dirty marketing bastards. And if it were actually true, it wouldn’t be so vague anyways

Similarly, Microsoft seeks to create confusion by substituting cost with suitability for work. It’s the old “commercial” versus “proprietary” lie, which is spread by Bill Gates.

“This also leads to locking down of the Internet and banning of media/protocols that are used for perfectly-legitimate purposes like distribution of Free software.”The FSF complained about these tactics in a recent RIAA case, saying the people were (mis)educated so as to believe that sharing was inherently wrong. This also leads to locking down of the Internet and banning of media/protocols that are used for perfectly-legitimate purposes like distribution of Free software.

Guess who else has just joined this campaign against “free” — one that portrays “free” as bad? It’s Microsoft’s mouthpiece [1, 2] Rob Enderle, who says that there is an “Endemic Problem with Free Products.”

It’s important to be aware that Microsoft is knowingly engaging in this type of propaganda whose aim is to daemonise not only “libre” but “free of charge” too. The same applies to Microsoft's own ecosystem where inexpensive applications are now frowned upon.

The Inquirer writes about Microsoft’s rather suicidal move. It will start charging more British people for the use of Office. For a long time, Microsoft has relied on illegal copying as means of spreading its software even amongst impoverished populations, but not anymore, apparently.

The benevolent programme (*cough*) will see the firm offer Office users in the UK and twelve other countries the chance to validate their copy through official sources, while also regularly asking whether that’s something they would like to do, you know, just in case.

[...]

The upcoming release of Microsoft Office has additional anti-piracy measures designed to stop over-licensing, including volume activation tools for IT managers. This is pitched as better enabling firms to manage their applications software inventories, but we all know what the Vole means.

It’s not really “piracy”, which means something else altogether. And based on coverage from The Register, John McCreesh rightly suggests that this is a huge opportunity for Free software. [via Glyn Moody]

Microsoft reveals huge potential market for open source

According to Microsoft anti-piracy guru Keith Beeman quoted in El Reg:

In 2008, 41 percent of software on the world’s PCs was obtained illegally or used without a license… That equates to more than $50bn in losses for the global software ecosystem.

Microsoft makes a mistake by “cracking down” right now. As Bill Gates put it, “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.” The same applies to OpenOffice.org.

OpenOffice.org has long campaigned for Microsoft to put more effort into stamping out software piracy, especially through effective anti-piracy controls in its software,” concludes McCreesh.

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18 Comments

  1. aeshna23 said,

    August 27, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Gravatar

    My take on the Rob Enderle is different than Roy’s. I took him to be presenting a different viewpoint instead of an opposing viewpoint to FLOSS. The “Wrapping Up” section at the end is something that should be considered by a large group of GNU/Linux developers.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    No, “Talking Point” Enderle successfully deceived you too. That’s what he’s there for and that’s why Microsoft is grooming and hiring him.

    Mind you, the MPAA/RIAA recently adopted a similar strategy when they insinuated or explicitly claimed that giving something for free is “unamerican”.

    Jose_X Reply:

    [Job security] A significant thrust of the article seems to be to scare people working for or with plans to work for Google or similar companies and also to encourage these people to demand from their employer that they be moved to projects where money is charged directly.

    [Quality of free] The other major aim, and on which the above depends, is to argue that “free” is a bad thing wrt quality.

    Reality demonstrates that, though he may be saying things that have worth, the above two themes are way off.

    To address the first myth…

    Google and many other companies appear to realize the value of cost centers. In Google’s case, they actually leverage the FOSS community a lot so they are absorbing a small fraction of the total cost (in some cases). If you need to produce or buy lubrication for your plant, you will do so and those whose jobs revolve around lubrication acquisition or production have as sure a job as anyone else in the company. In many cases, you will have a surer job. It depends on the value of lubrication to the overall product and what alternatives exist.

    To take a different example to demonstrate another aspect of this, Red Hat knows the value in employing a workforce that is competent in the products and services they sell.

    Other companies focus on services even more than does Red Hat, and for some of these services even to be possible, you have to have good understanding of the software source code. The further act of contributing back changes you make to the software, not only can benefit your business in a number of ways (it depends on the business), but is actually required by law in some cases. Though there are ways to avoiding contributing upstream. It’s frequently a strategically useful (and cost-effective) thing to do and grows you visibility and marketability as well.

    To address the second myth…

    Some of the best work (and/or best value) is achieved freely by people who are servicing themselves and others like themselves (by users, for users).

    Oftentimes, those that work on mature FOSS products do have a salary and/or a serious business that is really dependent on the quality of the products on which they work.

    We all know that there is plenty that is high-priced yet not nearly worth the money (at least not to most potential buyers). This tends to be true when you are dealing with monopolized markets and single vendor solutions.

    We also know that proprietary products don’t give you certain things that open source products give you. Many sophisticated buyers into FOSS find the included (almost always) no-charge source code and the liberal licenses to be almost invaluable. Only users in their position, with source code, can cost-effectively solve certain types of problems (eg, from diagnosing and fixing some problems, to adding specialized extensions, to building similar products or borrowing components for other products, to auditing for security or privacy reasons, to being able to give their customers certain types of “guarantees”, to knowing others are doing these things on your behalf).

    We also know from looking at things like the Olympics that people can accomplish an awful lot of very high quality work for a prolonged period of time without pay or simply in anticipation of pay later on.

    We also know from looking at people with gargantuan and almost guaranteed salaries that this can lower their level of quality output and intensity. [Not always, but frequently yes when it comes to "work". Alternatively, quality output can increase then towards "play", "hobby", or other projects which you control.]

    Yielding credit and control to someone else (eg, to your employer) tends to affect quality negatively.

    Not reusing the wheel as much as possible and missing the insight of many experts around the world also impacts the quality/value of a product negatively.

    We know many people do amazing work for nonprofits or as volunteers.

    And don’t forget the “cost center” that is parenting.

    Many of the free products have the potential to have more work going into them when one considers all the contributions and testing done by everyone. These costs are distributed among a wider base of people/users.

    Remember that FOSS is still not mainstream. When it becomes so and draws in many more users and money, closed source competitors will suffer. At least if we are dealing with a fair playing field.

    [BTW, I didn't read the whole article.]

  2. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Gravatar

    Quote: “The Inquirer writes about Microsoft’s rather suicidal move. It will start charging more British people for the use of Office.”
    ——————————————————————————————————————-
    Actually I am in favor of Microsoft raising its prices and increasing its WGA-like control in both MS Office and Seven. The more the Vole squeezes its fist shut to keep the sand in, the more the sand will slip through its fingers. And the sand will go to GNU/Linux and open source. Users will be better off using GNU/Linux and any of the alternative free Office Suites that come with it, than struggling with the Malware Target MS Windows.

    MS had so far gone after only commercial pirates, except for that poor School teacher/headmaster in Russia that put Windows on school computers, with no monetary gain in it for himself. But if you look at the last two quarters, you notice a trend of cutting and raising of prices by MS. And now cracking down again on those using less than “genuine” has begun again. Where will this lead, as MS starts to lose even more profit? Could they become like the RIAA and sue individuals when and if they become somewhat insolvent in the future? Nay everyone says, MS will never do that, but I say they will, and the Media companies are their role models. MS will never sue anyone directly, they will use a front company like the BSA (for businesses) to do their dirty work when the time comes. WGA and the checks for genuine for certain products/updates, and the massive spying, are all data collected for when the time comes to go after the “pirates.” But this is a small point, which most of us may disagree on.

    Roy says: “Microsoft makes a mistake by “cracking down” right now. As Bill Gates put it, “It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”
    —————————————————————————————————————
    Very true, but the “cracking down” is being done to increase short term revenue. Profits as we have seen have taken a major beating lately for MS. Also, if you really look at Vista and then Seven, you start to see that MS only added DRM and lipstick, there was nothing of real value added. Why? Could it be that MS knows it cannot compete with Free and Better? Is the MS strategy now one of milking the dying cash cow to death, while at the same time doing everything (FUD etc.) to delay the raise of open source, thereby prolonging the Cash Cow life for as long as possible? Why try to “FIX” a dying product that even when fixed as best it can be, still cannot compete?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Is the MS strategy now one of milking the dying cash cow to death, while at the same time doing everything (FUD etc.) to delay the raise of open source…

    They also try to milk someone else’s cow (using software patents).

  3. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy Schestowitz: Agreed on the patents cow.

    As far as MS suing their users for piracy in the future, here is a little quote, most likely from B. Gates:

    “What we’re really after is simply that people acquire a legal license for Windows for each computer they own before they move on to Linux or Sun Solaris or BSD or OS/2 or whatever.
    Microsoft saying”

    Source: http://www.billgatesmicrosoft.com/

    I deem it likely that MS will use a proxy to sue “windows pirates” in the future, while trying to maintain a sense of not being the ones to actually do the suing. After all, look at the laws in the USA, it might actually be profitable for them to do this in the USA. Other countries maybe not. But MS is working hard on the laws to change them in those countries, and on software patents.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    That saying it new to me. I’ve added it to my little DB.

  4. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Gravatar

    Here is another source for that quotation, that does attribute it to Bill Gates:

    http://www.icelebz.com/quotes/bill_gates/

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Thanks. I accidentally picked up some fake quotes from him before.

    Good day today for Redmond (impending post). How will the Nicks spin this one?

    Microsoft Loses a Zune Exec
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/08/25/microsoft-loses-an-exec-in-its-zune-business/

    Report: Zune executive is leaving
    http://www.techflash.com/microsoft/Zune_executive_is_leaving_55116262.html

    Zune marketing boss jumps ship weeks before Zune HD launch
    http://www.mobile-ent.biz/news/34141/Zune-marketing-boss-jumps-ship-weeks-before-Zune-HD-launch

    Microsoft loses top Zune exec to Universal
    http://digitalmedia.strategyeye.com/article/7fdd5b4ab3/2009/08/26/Microsoft_loses_top_Zune_exec_to_Universal/

  5. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Gravatar

    @Roy,
    I have not read you posts yet on the ZuneHD or Zune. So here is my take on the Zune. Its Dead dead dead, deader than a doornail. The ZuneHD was already in production when the last two quarters came with declining profits and the resulting product cuts. Zune is simply dead man walking. The folks working for MS Zune, should be out looking for a job right now, as their time is most likely coming. Of course, I could be wrong, as Ballmer likes to waste shareholder money on complete lost causes, as such the Zune is perfect.

    Consider the impact of Zune, I believe it was only sold new in the USA, and it came in third or fourth in sales, even with a sales promotion. It was never a competitor to Ipod, and I believe it was Scandisk was in second place (almost never mentioned by the MS press) that was still several times ahead in sales of the Zune. Then there is the cheap Sansa, which most likely outsell Zune now. The Zune’s only future might be to incorporate some of the technology into a MS Zunephone (cellphone), should MS decide to throw (waste) more money going “broadly down the field, forever forward (Ballmer).”

    As far as the Nicks, they get there money at the tit of M$ advertising. So expect the best possible spin from them. While not about the Zune, here is an example of a Nick that attacks the FSF and GNU/Linux, and try to put it in a dual article hoping nobody would notice:
    microsoft-watch.com/content/marketing/microsofts_marketing_snafu_is_a_black_and_white_issue.html
    —————————————————————————————————————
    One more comment on MS suing its Windows/Office users. My guess it would be insane for MS to sue regular users, unless, the amount of users switching to alternatives, reaches a “tipping point.” What that tipping points is, one can only guess. A lose of 20% with an accelerated projected future loss perhaps? At some point, MS, if it is on the fast track of losing desktop market share, has little to lose by using a proxy to sue non-genuine users. And look and their buddies in the Media companies, I doubt MS have any ethical problems suing in the future.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They are busy threatening* and suing the distributors (like TomTom or Melco) to elevate the price of the competition. Worry not, it’s backfiring.

    ____
    *aka “racketeering”.

  6. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy Schestowitz says:
    “They are busy threatening* and suing the distributors (like TomTom or Melco) to elevate the price of the competition. Worry not, it’s backfiring.”
    ——————————————————————————————————————-
    MS goes after commercial interests first. But some of the patents, like Fat32 long file name with TomTom may affect GNU/Linux community users more as a matter of convenience, than legal. As the software will change ever so slightly, that nobody will notice to become patent compliant.

    MS’s commercial strategy is only backfiring so far because they cannot yet make Red Hat cave in. MS has gone against the weakest link here, weaker commercial companies, in order to make deals or attack GNU/Linux. At some point they will run out of companies to make deal and attack with. Expect them to further bankroll their proxy SCO. Expect them to try to find a way to attack with patents community GNU/Linux, or the Linux kernel, wine, OpenOffice, etc, parts of GNU/Linux itself with patents, if GNU/linux continues to gain desktop market share. Which is what is happening at this time and I doubt the release of the NewVista, Seven will stop that trend.

    As MS continues to lose both home desktop market share and commercial share, expect them to become desperate and sue both businesses and users. Myself, of course I have legit licenses, but seldom use Windows, in fact not for months, and then only in a VM.
    It should not be overlooked that MS going after users in the future is a very real possibility.

  7. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Gravatar

    correction to my comment:
    “It should not be overlooked that MS going after users in the future is a very real possibility.”

    should have read:
    “It should not be overlooked that MS going after non-legit WINDOWS users in the future is a very real possibility.”

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It doesn’t have to literally go after them now that it has WGA and remote kill switches embedded in the software (e.g. Black Screens of Death, as seen in Asia last year).

  8. Chips B. Malroy said,

    August 27, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Gravatar

    Roy Schestowitzsays:

    “It doesn’t have to literally go after them now that it has WGA and remote kill switches embedded in the software (e.g. Black Screens of Death, as seen in Asia last year).”
    ——————————————————————————————————————-
    Of course MS doesn’t have to go after (sue or use a proxy to sue) its own Windows and Office users. And you make a good point about the WGA kill switches in Vista and Seven. However, XP was not so hard to get around, thereby there is great resistance to change, for that reason among other reasons. Its XP large pirates that are being sued right now. Why because XP is still the best product that MS makes, and also the easiest to crack. And most likely if MS ever does decide to sue or go after home users, it will be those using non-legit XP in countries where they actually have the money and the laws, like the USA. Britain, I am not up on the laws there, to see if MS would be successful doing so there.

    My point being that it is more than 50/50 likely that if at some point that MS is losing desktop market share at even more of an accelerated rate than now, it has little to lose suing users through a proxy like the Music industry did with the RIAA in countries with laws and money like the USA, especially Non-legit XP users. Its not an ethical question about MS, they are only about the bottom line and short term profit.

  9. Charles Oliver said,

    August 28, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Gravatar

    I have to agree with Chips, the more Microsoft add restrictions and anti-piracy “features” to their software, the better. I can think of nothing better than Microsoft increasing the DRM in their products.

    Maybe a program should check to see if it’s a legitimate copy every few microseconds or something, just in case.

    It might be a good idea to extend the parameters of how Windows decides if it’s running on the box it was installed on too. Just checking the CPU type, motherboard, GPU etc seems limiting. Maybe they should consider the computer to be markedly different enough to require relicensing if a USB flash drive is plugged in or if the mouse is changed for a different model. It shouldn’t be free to extend your computer over time and keep the same Windows OS, using the same Licence. I’m sure Microsoft understand this and will be working towards a culture where users are perpetually buying Windows thus ensuring their revenue stream.

  10. Yuhong Bao said,

    August 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Gravatar

    “Microsoft must introduce scarcity, or else people might — God forbid — realise that they do not need to pay for an operating system and office suite.”
    Yep, it dates back to Bill Gates’ Open Letter to Hobbyists back in 1976, where Gates groaned that MS was not paid for all the software sharing common back then. It was only 7 years after this letter that Stallman decided that not being able to share software with your neighbour was wrong and started the free software movement. The reason MS was trying to stop software sharing is to introduce artificial scarcity that MS can then profit on. The fundamental problem in economics here was that anyone can easily copy anything digital without paying the owner, but it cost money for the owner to create that thing. And it applies not only to software, but to anything digital.

  11. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Gravatar

    According to Plaintiff’s Exhibit 9346 from Comes v Microsoft, the assertion “Apps are easier to pirate” makes for a strange definition of “piracy”

    When M$ was engaged in false advertising against the old Novell (before Noorda died suddenly), the BSA was strong arming small businesses. The definition they appeared to use at the time was that any and all non-M$ software was “pirated”

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