Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft Breaks the Web and Linux

Coffee time



Summary: How Microsoft uses 'security' to exclude Web sites and GNU Linux distributions

Microsoft does not comply with the Web. It does not adhere to standards, either. It rejects fine keys and prominent Web folks complain about it.



One writer explains that "[a]s of Oct. 9, 2012, longer key lengths are mandatory for all digital encryption certificates that touch Windows systems.

"That must make Microsoft some new foes.""This means that Internet Explorer will refuse to access websites that do not have RSA keys with minimum lengths of 1024 bits. You won't be able to exchange encrypted emails, run ActiveX controls or install applications on Windows. This isn't new, as Microsoft started making announcements about this well over a year ago."

Then there is this about Microsoft blocking Flash based on a private whitelist: "Yeah you read that right. I just received an interesting email from Brightcove (the video delivery guys) about issues with their Flash based solution and Windows 8 running the new Internet Explorer 10."

That must make Microsoft some new foes.

These things are actually less malicious than plugging proprietary software hooks into Linux to discourage use of Free and open source virtualisation even in GNU/Linux, not to mention UEFI, which Debian agrees is a very malicious move (there is no solution to it yet). Microsoft is knowingly complicating the process of installing GNU/Linux and ways exist for spinning it as benign or beneficial.

James Bottomley, who used to work on some Microsoft stuff on behalf of his former employer Novell (e.g. on Hyper-V), speaks of a new workaround that bloggers try to grasp.

Pogson states correctly that this should not be legal. Stallman agrees. To quote Pogson: "I don’t like any solution that depends on M$. If they can revoke that key, GNU/Linux falls down. They have messed up keys before either deliberately or through incompetence. Someone should sue M$ over this mess. It’s clearly anti-competitive. Also, this doesn’t look like a solution for servers."

Why should anyone be asking Microsoft for permission to use a computer which does not even have Windows?

"Pogson states correctly that this should not be legal."News about it sometimes misses the point, but Varghese writes: "Fifteen days from today, Windows 8 will go on sale; only hardware that is certified to work with this system will be able to boot it, with signed keys being used to determine whether a genuine system is being booted.

"This will put those who boot other operating systems at a disadvantage. Given this, the Linux Foundation has come up with a means of bypassing secure boot to enable users of open source operating systems to continue to boot on hardware certified for Windows 8."

He later criticises this, as he did several times in the past. It is an important issue that even conferences cover. Here is what one UEFI apologist wrote: "The plan for supporting UEFI Secure Boot in Fedora is still pretty much as originally planned, but it's dependent upon building a binary which has the Fedora key embedded, and then getting that binary signed by Microsoft. Easy enough for us to do, but not necessarily practical for smaller distributions. There's a few possible solutions for them."

Techrights' position on this is that UEFI is anticompetitive and antitrust should therefore be pursued. Let is all remind us that there is no reformed Microsoft, it is still the same unethical corporation.

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