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09.15.08

Eye on Microsoft: Loads of Flak for Vista, Microsoft ‘Extends’ CSS, and Much More

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Servers, Standard, Vista, Windows at 7:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vista and GNU/Linux

Hard times for Microsoft in the press, especially because of Windows Vista and those ‘siblings’ which came with it (e.g. Server 2008 and Home Server). It backfires badly and gives ever-rising attraction to GNU/Linux. John Spencer wrote the following article.

I am happy to say Microsoft has run square into the self same unfamiliarity problem with Vista and Office 2007. They are a bit too different to the ‘finished work’ without offering any must-have extras.

It gets even harder for Microsoft when even official Governmental bodies like BECTA advise the public sector procurers not to change. Ironically this stricture appears not to apply to other Government organisations in education such as the QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority) who have clearly more money than sense.

Microsoft though has enough clout to follow alternative strategies for persuading its customers to change when they show signs of dragging their feet. The most obvious is by not allowing vendors to install XP on new machines and making sure lots of stuff, bit by bit, won’t work on the old machines (allegedly).

The Open Source world in contrast with its plethora of cool Linux distributions and manifest lack of clout (on the desktop) only has the ‘hey that’s a cool desktop – I must change’ strategy to fall back on and that’s a pretty weak opener in the desktop wars.

Why indeed would one now change desktops, why in the past were we so willing, eager even, to do just that and now are so reluctant?

Also in the news:

Inquirer: Vista suffers a dose of Linuxitis

1. [noun] – an affliction of the Operating System, whose only symptom is that the OS has problems in being accepted by the masses. This symptom, in turn, is caused by insufficient support from the developer community, especially the entertainment sector 2. linuxite [adj.] – not being hip enough, applicable to an OS. Etymology: the word has its roots in Linux’ long hard road towards popularity, but in the very recent history Linux started to overcome this affliction.

Linux Loop: Microsoft’s Biggest Weakness

In many ways, Microsoft has little to worry about, at least not for now. Sure, they are losing market share steadily, but for their lead to be toppled it would take years and years, or would it?

Microsoft’s agreements with major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) such as Dell and HP are highly confidential (which is a warning sign in itself), but by most accounts, the agreements give Microsoft a lot of power over these OEMs. This is part of what gives Microsoft so much power. As long as OEMs continue to sell Windows exclusively, which Microsoft essentially ensures with their agreements, they have a large part of the market all to themselves. These strangle-hold agreements may also be a weakness, though.

Crunch Gear: Microsoft’s Vista armor starting to fade

HP denies that they are making an OS to rival Vista, but, they do acknowledge that they are developing software that would bypass some of its functions altogether. HP formed the “customer experience” group nine months ago in an effort to give customers a quick and easy alternative to certain applications. The team is focusing on touchscreen technology where users can watch movies or view pictures.

IT Vibe: Will Windows Vista be the death of Microsoft?

The last few weeks has seen a steady increase in the number of rumours about the Windows Vista operating system and the potential for new operating systems to hit the market over the next couple of years. The latest rumours relate to a suggestion that Hewlett Packard (HP) is on the verge of beginning work on a new Linux based operating system which they hope will eventually compete in the open market with Windows Vista. Fact or fiction?

DaniWeb: Microsoft Remains a Company on the Defensive

Microsoft even went so far recently as to mask Vista as a new operating system called Mojave, and showed people’s reaction on hidden camera. Apparently, people who claimed they wouldn’t buy Vista were wowed by it when they saw it in action under a different name. The blind taste test might work for soft drinks, but there’s more to an operating system than a quick taste. Let’s let these people live with Vista for a few weeks, then record their reactions. Something tells me it wouldn’t be very flattering.

Tech Crunch: Microsoft’s Real Problem: Facebook is the New Outlook, and Other ways that Redmond is not Listening to Generation Y

Until Microsoft starts listening to young people and creating products and services that simply work, and that means no crashes, no blue screens, and a dead simple user interface, it will not surprise me that a melancholy mood will hang over Microsoft, and its share price.

Microsoft sure drew the ire of some of some mainstream press, which is rare.

Microsoft Insiders

Watch out for a company called Momail. It has just appointed a new CEO. That CEO is a long-time Microsoft employee, so there's likely to be impact.

After a ten year stint at Microsoft, where amongst other tasks he oversaw the launch of the Asian windows Vista, Kenneth Lundin has made a move to Momail.

Here is the irony of a Microsoft executive bemoaning and striving to address spin in the media, having come from a company that controls and restrains the media through actual ownership.

Republican convention delegates, liberal bloggers, lipstick-wearing hockey moms and anarchists unite: Rooting out media bias is now just a mouse click away.

Hoping to invite news consumers behind the information-gathering curtain, a Seattle entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive has created a new user-driven Web tool he claims helps track media spin.

Speaking of bias or advertising, the (MS)NBC, which we criticised before, is still paying constant lip service to Microsoft. Case of point from the news: Microsoft Surface headlining on MSNBC (with video)

It smells like a commercial more than an actual report.

Security and Privacy

The hundreds of millions of zombie PCs — and particularly their respective users out there — deserve an explanation, one which may be the ease at which Windows viruses can be created and replicated. Anti-virus software has become snake oil. NewsWeek reports:

If college students can beat the best antivirus programs, why do people spend nearly $5 billion a year on them?

Zombie PCs give a tremendous rise to DDoS attacks and SPAM. The impact of the flood of SPAM (well over 100 billion per day) may lead to erosion of privacy on the World Wide Web, which is a shame because it’s caused by the insecurities of one particular operating system.

Finding ways to limit DoS attacks and SMS spam by making it harder to spoof the origin of electronic communications is on the agenda at a telecommunications standards meeting next week — but civil rights advocates worry it could put an end to anonymity on the Internet.

Glyn Moody has just explained the importance of Web anonymity and this new study suggests that privacy is very important to people — far more important than data harvester conveniently choose to believe.

Pew’s study found that 68% of people who use Web mail or other Web data storage services would be “very concerned” if companies analyzed their information to display advertisements close to their interests. Another 19% said they would be “somewhat concerned.”

As for Microsoft, well… Microsoft never gave a flip about privacy. Its Web browser, which is bolted onto the operating system as an anti-competitive measure, is in fact spyware.

[Microsoft] Needs to phone home but keeps it short

Standard Contamination

Microsoft’s vain attitude towards standards was clear to see throughout the OOXML scandals. Now they proceed to ruining cascading style sheets too, and not just using fonts.

Microsoft has outlined the CSS extensions whose support has changed in IE 8. These extensions, all prefixed with “-ms-” can be divided into two groups. The first group is to support the work in progress, CSS 3.

Vendor acronyms and names inside Web pages? Browser-specific markup and directives? Has Microsoft not caused enough harm with XAML? It goes out of its way to ruin (X)HTML/CSS/JavaScript [1, 2, 3] as well.

Potential… to Lose One’s Freedom

“Unlimited Potential”, a codename for the fight against Free software, is once again rearing its ugly head and targeting the already-exploited African population.

Microsoft channel manager for East and Southern Africa (ESA), David Ndung’u, said the price reduction was in line with the aim of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential programme, which wants to make technology more accessible to those at the middle and bottom of the world’s economic pyramid.

They sure try to get poor students addicted and locked in.

GLOBAL software giant Microsoft is planning to increase volumes for its wide range of products, among them the Microsoft Office and Student 2007, in Zimbabwe.

Cloudy Microsoft

After the LSE disaster comes another major crash.

On Thursday September 11, I — like many of my IM contacts around the world — couldn’t sign into Live Messenger for a number of hours.

Another day, another downtime.

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15 Comments

  1. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 3:13 am

    Gravatar

    Without commenting on the other stuff, Microsoft’s changes to CSS are no different to any other browser. Compare their changes with Firefox’s, for example, and you’ll see that they’re basically doing the same thing.

    The vast majority of what both of them are doing are implementing CSS3 properties. They are forced to put those in the vendor namespace, because they spec. hasn’t been fixed yet and the standard may change. The non-CSS3 stuff they’re doing is also fine, because it’s rounding out stuff the CSS people should be addressing – like scrollbars.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 3:24 am

    Gravatar

    I see, Alex. So once again you use the “he did it first”/”he does that too” defense to cleanse Microsoft of guilt.

  3. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:17 am

    Gravatar

    Er, no. I use the “free software does this too, for very good reasons, and it’s not a bad thing” argument to show that no defence is needed.

    Simple question: would you prefer that they use the CSS3 descriptors for these features?

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Gravatar

    Coming from the company that disobeyed CSS and other things deliberately, I wouldn’t expect much.

    Yeah. More broken websites in the name of “standards!” So essentially, I need to update all of my websites from overflow-y to -ms-overflow-y. But I can’t remove the overflow-y because IE6 and IE7 need that. Then of course when IE8.1 or IE9 (whatever is next) comes around and supports CSS3, I need to revert back to overflow-y because now it will be standardized. But I can’t remove -ms-overflow-y because IE8 needs it. Essentially, this change guarantees that websites will NOT be standards compliant for years! If you just leave it at overflow-y maybe people will complain until CSS3 is standardized, but at least after that the madness ends rather than just continuing for years to come.

  5. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:33 am

    Gravatar

    I’m not arguing that their history of web standards support is anything other than poor.

    In this specific case, though, what do you want them to do? Do you want them to use the CSS3 names?

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:38 am

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    [sarcasm] They should quit the Web browsers business in disgrace [/sarcasm]

  7. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:40 am

    Gravatar

    I’m asking a serious question, Roy.

    You’re saying they’re damaging web standards because of vendor extensions to CSS. How would you prefer them to implement these features?

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:44 am

    Gravatar

    To answer it more seriously, this is similar to Microsoft’s claims that Ballmer is the “bad cop” and Linux is no longer “cancer”. Then, in 2007, they carried on attacking GNU/Linux and they still have anti-Linux advertisements in relevant Web sites. The comparison here is to do with what they say and what they do. One side of the mouth pretends commitment to Web standards while another is infecting the WWW with Silverlight. In the same way, Microsoft uses Ramji, Galli and other voodoo dolls to absorb criticism poorly while Microsoft lawyers engage in racketeering with businesses that use GNU/Linux. They do this discreetly, but people should know better.

    You would be naive, Alex, to believe whatever Microsoft tells you. To make matters worse, you try to spread this ‘trust’, imposing it onto others.

  9. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Gravatar

    I agree that MS’s standards history is poor, I agree that they attack free software, I agree with much of what you write.

    But please, don’t side-step a serious question: how should Microsoft implement this functionality?

  10. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 4:55 am

    Gravatar

    This relates to an lder discussion. For Microsoft to show its commitment to Web standards, it will need to phase out problems it has already created, such as ActiveX controls and Silverlight. Speaking for myself, I am hardly interested in Microsoft’s approach towards Web standards if it does not even obey them. And it’s no accident. [PDF].

    From: Bill Gates
    Sent: Saturday, December 05, 1998 9:44 AM
    To: Bob Muglia (Exchange); Jon DeVaan; Steven Sinofsky
    Cc: Paul Mariz
    Subject: Office rendering

    One thing we have got to change is our strategy — allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by OTHER PEOPLES BROWSERS is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company.

    We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities.

    Anything else is suicide for our platform. This is a case where Office has to to destroy Windows.

    “We’re disheartened because Microsoft helped W3C develop the very standards that they’ve failed to implement in their browser. We’re also dismayed to see Microsoft continue adding proprietary extensions to these standards when support for the essentials remains unfinished.”

    George Olsen, Web Standards Project

  11. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 5:00 am

    Gravatar

    Again, I’m talking about your criticism of their CSS vendor extensions.

    Should they be using the CSS3 names or not?

  12. landofbind said,

    September 16, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Gravatar

    He will never answer your question. Like I said before arguing with him is like watching a Monty Python sketch.

    Hey, Roy, how about you stop promoting proprietary technologies and pass on Press Releases and Advertisements as articles.

    He’s uses blank criticism. For him it’s not important what Microsoft does. If Microsoft did find a cure for cancer tomorrow he would still be criticizing them. If Microsoft does something is must evil. So a blank criticism by Roy. Because he doesn’t understand even 1% of what he writes about it ends up likes this post.

    The same thing happens with Novell. Not only the actions of the company but also of it’s employees against whom he launches a smear campaign with some really despicable insinuations.

    Every ex-Microsoft employee that’s hired by some company is part of worldwide conspiracy to help out Microsoft take over the world. The guy saw to many episodes of Pinky and Brain.

    Note: comment has been flagged for arriving from an incarnation of a known (eet), pseudonymous, forever-nymshifting, abusive Internet troll that posts from open proxies and relays around the world.

  13. Needs Sunlight said,

    September 16, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Gravatar

    @AlexH: Actually, Roy’s somewhat sarcastic response that MS should quite the web market completely has merits. MSIE by itself has to be the largest single cause of security problems, incompatibility problems and maintenance problems and is constantly giving the company a black eye. If MSFTers were at all interested in actually providing a service, rather than lock-in, they’d chuck MSIE completely and either package a skinned Firefox or sign a contract with Opera.

    At this point it’s not important why or how MS goes away and quits the market, it’s enough that it just goes away.

  14. AlexH said,

    September 16, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Gravatar

    @Sunlight:

    Well, I do suspect that’s Roy’s actual point of view, in so far as MS can do nothing right when developing IE.

    It would nice to be able to ignore IE, but we can’t atm.

  15. Roy Schestowitz said,

    September 16, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Gravatar

    AlexH: it’s almost a recursive thing. You asked a question, I answered it, but you were not happy with the answer, so you asked again.

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