05.03.15

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Openwashing of Binary Blobs That Microsoft Uses to Attack Free Software and GNU/Linux From the Inside

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘Gifts’ from Microsoft

Trojan

Summary: Media which is either willfully ignorant or complicit has successfully, based on volume of coverage, framed Microsoft’s proprietary software as openness and nicety

THERE is a truly disturbing thing going on in the media right now. News that Microsoft announced last year resurfaces again and it only serves to mislead the public.

The Microsoft BUILD event would be better off named BLOB. There’s no build process (for the public at least) when the end product is only binary, like Visual Studio Code or blobs for open/free/modular/hacker-friendly computer boards (Arduino and Raspberry Pi). The latest moves which Microsoft tries to paint as “open” are actually Microsoft injecting proprietary software into open platforms that aren’t Microsoft’s. It’s a form of abduction and ‘bastardisation’. Linux is replaced by Windows. Some “openness”, eh? Why does the media cover it so poorly and what’s with all the promotional language? The ‘newsflash’ here is that Microsoft gives a proprietary code editor to developers. Why would they need that? Because there aren’t any good code editors that are FOSS? There are plenty of them, including versatile ones like Eclipse, which also function as complete IDEs and support many hardware architectures.

According to this article from Phoronix (which has been helping Microsoft’s PR efforts a little too much as of late), “Ubuntu Make Adds Support For Visual Studio Code”. The original and the links to it (Softpedia covered this too) remind tell that “Ubuntu Make 0.7 is available via a PPA for users of Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10, and 15.04.”

So what’s the big deal? Do they really want us to download this? It’s proprietary software. It’s serves Microsoft, just like Skype, a malicious surveillance program. It is understandable that people like Adrian Bridgwater cover it because of their history of Microsoft apologetics (also see this new article from him), but why do FOSS- or GNU/Linux-leaning sites give Microsoft a platform/space? Here is Linux Veda treating as ‘news’ (from last year) proprietary software for several platforms (to help promote Microsoft APIs). This proprietary software story is receiving more publicity than Free software equivalents, even in GNU/Linux-focused sites. Why is that? Are they just parroting what they see on corporate media, which is actively being manipulated by Microsoft PR agencies? This is not important news and it’s not FOSS news.

Softpedia went further by reviewing this proprietary software in the GNU/Linux section. The author wrote: “After extracting the ZIP package, you’ll see a new folder that has the same name as the archive. To start Visual Studio Code on your Linux box, open the extracted folder and double-click the “Code” executable file.”

Microsoft’s Trojan horse for .NET is distributed as a binary blob and given Microsoft’s track record on back doors, surveillance, DRM and so forth it’s not a good idea to encourage others to run such programs. Here is OMG! Ubuntu doing the same thing, telling people how to install this blob in Ubuntu.

What was probably must frustrating would have to be this post from the body representing Linux. The Linux Foundation should know that Microsoft releasing a proprietary software binary (blob) is not “Microsoft Opens Up” (as the headline puts it, referring to just two links about proprietary software from Microsoft).

Our article about this was mentioned in Soylent News the other day, countering Microsoft’s self-serving (and misleading) narrative. This is what openwashing looks like: calling Microsoft “open source” because it released a binary blob. See the headline “Say goodbye to Micro$oft – the new Microsoft is all about openness”. Yes, blobs are “all about openness”. White is the new black.

Microsoft is also trying to make FOSS compilers more Windows-oriented, i.e. tied to proprietary platforms, based on Phoronix and Linux Veda [1, 2]. If this is “opening up”, then proprietary software is the new “Open Source” and ultimately, it’s all about Windows.

Phoronix, incidentally, also published this article about Mono, Microsoft’s Trojan horse for .NET promotion and dependency on Microsoft’s software patents. Why focus on such bits of software? They are part of the proprietary software stack which is actively attacking GNU/Linux in all sorts of ways, e.g. ‘secure’ boot (preventing people from using kernels of their choice or modifying and then executing them). This is an attack on Free software. Why help Microsoft’s agenda? Stockholm syndrome?

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols believes that “Windows embracing Android and iOS is a bad idea”. Well, if it’s an "embrace, extend, extinguish" approach, then it’s not such a bad idea. It’s evil and potentially effective (Microsoft destroyed competition this way many times before). Vaughan-Nichols asks: “How can there be a future for Windows on smartphones and tablets when Microsoft is encouraging developers to bring its apps from Apple and Google’s ecosystem?”

The basic idea is, take away all the applications and make them Windows applications while at the same time replacing applications from Apple or Google with Microsoft applications. Microsoft's booster Tim Anderson explained how it’s supposed to work and several other sites covered it [1, 2] as though it’s a nice gesture rather than an aggressive coup. Microsoft must be salivating at the sight of many who actually believe Microsoft wants peace.

“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”

Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

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