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Eye on Microsoft: Anti-GNU/Linux Move, Pressure to Downgrade to Vista

There are some news items which are worth covering, but time is limited, so here are a few quickies.

The Fight Against GNU/Linux and ODF in South Africa



As background, it is important to be reminded of what happened a month ago in South Africa. Microsoft seems desperate to stop the country's fast adoption of GNU/Linux and standards like ODF.

Microsoft not only provided 'free' (gratis) proprietary software to people who have no computers. Now it appears to be reaching out to Intel for help. We saw this before, so the pattern is too familiar. The following article requires subscription, but the excerpt drops a clue.

South Africa's retail bank Absa has teamed with Intel and Microsoft to offer students PC and notebook finance packages.


It's not unusual for Intel to sidlie with Microsoft in these 'anti-GNU/Linux crusades'. Remember the OLPC outrage and stories from China and Russia.

As part of the fight against ODF and Free software, Microsoft also approaches young people with lower barriers to harmful addition.

Microsoft Aggravates Windows XP Users to Push Them to Vista?



Microsoft really loves what it arrogantly calls 'piracy', but only as long as those 'pirates' use what the company wants them to use. Watch what Microsoft has just begun doing.

Microsoft Corp. today said it will update the antipiracy software in Windows XP Professional to make nagging more prominent for those running bogus copies and -- assuming the user approves the update -- to skip any future notification of an impending update to the tool.


It's time to upgrade, no? John Dvorak has something to say about the Windows upgrade treadmill.

The release of a new OS begins both a new hardware buying cycle and an upgrade cycle. Since the buying cycle is stretched to six years or more, you end up with an interesting phenomenon: The upgrade cycle is contaminated with machines too old to upgrade. This causes the entire system to break down because the upgrade cycle immediately feeds back into the perception of the new product. In the situation with Vista, too many old clunkers couldn't be upgraded and the OS was given a bad reputation. This was worsened by Microsoft itself discouraging upgrades and admitting to problems.


Going back to the start, this is why Intel loves Microsoft and it's the reasons they collaborate like this.

Don't Count on Your Vote



Reports have been circulating recently which spoke about Windows-based voting machines losing count. The database engine from Microsoft was reported to have led to data corruption in Diebold machines over a year ago. If observers thought such glitches are the exception, how about this from the news?

Shacknews discovered something strange while testing out Microsoft’s “Rock The Vote” section on Xbox Live: Silver users can’t register to vote.

That seemed like a one-time glitch.


Security



Another day, another serious problem.

iViZ ,a company that specializes in on-demand penetration testing, announced its discovery of a new class of vulnerability. This vulnerability lets attackers steal computer boot passwords and reach the pre-boot authentication software like hard disk encryption tools. It can result in unauthorized access and theft of confidential data, contributing to an already big problem; for 2007, the global loss due to data theft was estimated at $40 billion.


And here is the article "Security Researcher Warns of Vista Vulnerabilities." We covered Vista and security before, as well as the consequences.

A New Zealand security researcher is exploring several scenarios in which Windows Vista could be attacked and warns more protection is needed for users.

Ben Hawkes presented his findings at the Black Hat conference, held in Las Vegas this month, and will also present them at the Kiwicon conference, to be held in Wellington in the end of September.

Hawkes' research has uncovered hacking techniques for attacking the Vista heap, which is a dynamic memory management component, used by every single application, from Microsoft Word to web applications, he says.


Now look at this. Windows viruses are going out of planet Earth and are now infecting computers in space. Amusing picture here. Hopefully, for the aliens' safety, Microsoft does not yet stock its software in other galaxies.

Legal



More legal settlements with Microsoft. It's about patents.

Immersion Corp, which develops and licenses touch feedback technology, said it will pay $20.75 million to software maker Microsoft Corp as part of the settlement of a litigation.

The companies agreed to resolve Microsoft's claim under a 2003 sublicense agreement, as well as Immersion's counterclaim that Microsoft breached a confidentiality agreement dated May 2007, Immersion said in a statement.


Microsoft could face lawsuits from China in the coming years. Learn how Microsoft operates in China.

Dong Zhengwei, a partner with Beijing-based Zhongyin law firm, has attracted the attention of multinational corporate executives and the legal community alike, after he filed a complaint against Microsoft with China’s anti-monopoly regulators and proposed that a US$1bn fine be imposed on the global software giant.


Apple Rivalry



Microsoft viciously sabotaged PlayStation 3 launch parties around the world when Sony launched the product back in 2006. Apple advocates suspect that Microsoft will try to become Apple's party pooper.

The Mac rumour machine is predicting Apple will introduce new products at a special event on 9 September - but now it appears Microsoft plans to flex its muscle to spoil Apple's game.


That would be typical. Remember what happened on Document Freedom Day.

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