12.21.09

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Google and Microsoft Fight Over Data and Contracts

Posted in Australia, GNU/Linux, Google, Mail, Microsoft, Novell at 6:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sun rays

Summary: The race to refine people’s digital profiles (for personalised/targeted advertising) reaches E-mail and Free/libre substitutes do exist

MICROSOFT is hoping to destroy Google, which is a big user of GNU/Linux. Microsoft has managed to wrap its tentacles around Yahoo! in hopes of harming Google’s main source of revenue (search and advertisements), but as the Wall Street Journal puts it, the value of Yahoo! to Microsoft keeps declining.

Drop In Yahoo Search Share May Trim Microsoft Deal’s Benefits

Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) expects to close its search deal with Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) early next year, but the benefits of that partnership might already be eroding as Yahoo’s search share slips with each passing month.

An interesting battle where neither Google nor Microsoft deserve a place is E-mail. Sadly enough, institutions and businesses are gradually selling their staff and students to a monopolist, passing all their mail to an untrusted third party which will be scanning people’s communication and profiling based on it. The Chicago Tribune has this new article about it, titled “Microsoft vs. Google”

With university endowments and public school budgets still feeling the pinch, the competition between Google and Microsoft to convert the nation’s colleges, universities and schools to the companies’ free e-mail and other information technology services that run on the Internet “cloud” has grown fiercer.

The common choice these days has become somewhat of a duopoly, with quite a few Australian universities surrendering their personal data to Microsoft. We wrote about a few of them before and we have already explained why universities should use neither if they care about the autonomy and privacy of those who pay tuition [1, 2]. For the time being, it seems safer to cautiously accept Google, rather than give Microsoft a penny.

“For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me. It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time.”

Richard Stallman

When it comes to online office suites, there is a third player that does not receive much attention because it’s not a big brand.

Zoho Reports, the web-based productivity suite’s business and data intelligence tool, is ripping off the beta tag and officially launching today with a new pricing model and set of features. Zoho Reports, which was formerly known as Zoho DB, provides developers and database administrators with better ways to manage, digest and understand their data. It’s similar in theory to Microsoft Access but that the application is online.

Those who want a hosted service of this kind should preferably use Feng (formerly OpenGoo). It is Free software, so the server side can be deployed locally, modified, and redistributed too. Here is another article about Los Angeles moving to Google Apps (and away from Novell). We wrote about that before, but for other reasons with emphasis on Groupwise.

Lastly, we have been trying to determine whether this video of a Bing firing was real or just staged. According to this Seattle-based site:

Apparently, this guy was just a little too laidback in his response for Ballmer, who screamed “You’re Fired!” and without skipping a beat pointed at another guy.

Unfortunately, the video is unverified. The chap who uploaded hasn’t responded yet for comment, and this piece will be updated when I know more. What do you think: real or fake?

There is a really embarrassing (and authentic) video of Steve Ballmer taken in September, but it was pulled and we never found it. Microsoft tried to limit footage of Steve Ballmer on stage, maybe because he is very tactless (and candidate for exit).

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13 Comments

  1. Robotron 2084 said,

    December 21, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Gravatar

    Great quote by Richard Stallman showing how out completely out of touch he is with the needs and desires of everyday computer users. Notice that he doesn’t expand on “personal reasons”, but I suspect the reason is that Stallman doesn’t want to defile himself by viewing a webpage hosted using proprietary software, for that is a great sin.

    your_friend Reply:

    RMS does not “browse” because he is in touch with real people through email. Why would he bother poking around at random when he has hundreds of people sharing personal insight and news? Stallman shares much of this insight in his political notes and, of course, through writings at GNU and the FSF.

    Proper privacy in email and other personal communication will only come through the use of encryption and roll backs of terrible laws. Every ISP is an “untrusted” third party that can store your communications even if you run your own servers. Encryption and TOR offer some small measure of protection. Evil laws like the Patriot act require email storage for later privacy violation and US law allows ISPs to sell their customers with impunity. The main difference between Google and other ISPs now is that Google lets the user browse much of their stored information. There should be laws against collecting email and other private communications, much less mining and selling it, without user consent.

    dyfet Reply:

    In recent years I have chosen to work on problems related to applied cryptography to enable people to communicate securely and privately. Privacy is ultimately about human freedom while surveillance is always about control. I see the two as fundamentally incompatible, and I believe it is essential for people to be able to communicate and collaborate privately.

    My recent work has been on GNU SIP Witch, which is free (as in freedom) software that was developed to fit in a very specific role to better facilitate people to communicate privately. It does so by enabling people to locate and call each other using standard compliant PC telephone applications or even SIP telephone devices while maintaining pure peer-to-peer media connections between endpoints. This enables it to manage and connect users directly who use the ZRTP protocol, and hence facilitates the wider use of intercept-free communications.

    your_friend Reply:

    Thank you for your work.

  2. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 21, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Gravatar

    “For the time being, it seems safer to cautiously accept Google, rather than give Microsoft a penny.”
    I have repeated it before: Google isn’t perfect, but it is definitely much better than MS in many ways.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    No company is perfect (it is obliged to just maximise revenue, so it is not a person with remorse). But I’m more concerned about those who directly attack me and those whom I care about.

    Microsoft — being a sociopath — happens to have attacked a lot of companies throughout its history. That was a corporate choice. Other companies realise that being respected is important to revenue too.

  3. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 22, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Gravatar

    On Google and open source, here is a quote from an interview:
    But Tesla was a very generous man and he shared everything, and he
    died destitute and bitter that Thomas Edison got all the credit and all the
    riches and he got nothing.

    And Larry Page took from that a lesson that you have to keep your
    secrets close. You don’t share the algorithm of Google. And you need to
    create a powerful business in order to protect and advance those secrets.
    The funny thing is, the original BSD license had a clause requiring users of the code to give credit (that is for example how we know there is BSD code in Windows), but that was later ditched (for one reason, it was incompatible with the GPL):
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Notice that it’s about credit, not just wealth.

    Different cultures and mindsets value money differently.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “Notice that it’s about credit, not just wealth.”
    I know, that is why I mention the original BSD license.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Science and arts are usually like that.

  4. Yuhong Bao said,

    December 22, 2009 at 1:51 am

    Gravatar

    On Google and open source, here is a quote from an interview:
    “But Tesla was a very generous man and he shared everything, and he
    died destitute and bitter that Thomas Edison got all the credit and all the
    riches and he got nothing.

    And Larry Page took from that a lesson that you have to keep your
    secrets close. You don’t share the algorithm of Google. And you need to
    create a powerful business in order to protect and advance those secrets.”

    The funny thing is, the original BSD license had a clause requiring users of the code to give credit (that is for example how we know there is BSD code in Windows), but that was later ditched (for one reason, it was incompatible with the GPL):
    http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/bsd.html

  5. thenixedreport said,

    December 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, according to the description of the video of the “ex-Microsoft employee” it was nothing more than a teaser for a comedy that the people in question are working on. So it probably isn’t real. Don’t feel bad, because the media publication in question didn’t bother to read the description of the video on YouTube.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    IIRC, I watched the video description and it was blank or not informative. Maybe they added a clarification later.

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