Microsoft censors Windows Live users. Gives free speech a treatment that would make any tyrant dictator proud.
You’ll have to wait until May to see Sacha Baron Cohen’s new movie, The Dictator, but in the mean time, Sweaty Ballmer wants to show us how being a petty tyrant is done.
When the user enters a link and it’s to a site that Microsoft doesn’t like, Microsoft’s new approach is to block it at their server and report back to the user that the site is “dangerous”.
So far they seem to do it with The Pirate Bay, which probably hosts and serves less malware and spyware than Microsoft itself (source source source) or sites that aren’t being blocked by them, such as CNET Download.com which delivers crapware bundles with legitimate software.
Since the censorship of links is done at the server level, it means that (not shockingly), Microsoft is monitoring, logging, and spying on everything you say or do while connected to their chat service. It also means that users of alternative messenger software which doesn’t come bundled with the ability to display malicious advertisements like Microsoft’s official client does will not escape the Microsoft server spying on them and kicking back any links that Microsoft doesn’t like. If Microsoft can’t keep their own software and websites from installing malicious software onto Windows PCs, they shouldn’t be blocking anyone else under that excuse.
The penalty for being caught doing any of this is the worst kind of censorship that Microsoft can impose on their users, total account deletion. Some choice excerpts from the EULA for Microsoft’s instant messaging service.
” In particular, we may access or disclose information about you, including the content of your communications”
“We may cancel or suspend your service and your access to the Windows Live ID network at any time without notice and for any reason.”
In addition, the terms point to a separate obnoxious Code of Conduct with such gems as:
“You will not use any form of automated device or computer program that enables the submission of postings without the express written consent of Microsoft Corporation.”
Among other things, you agree that you won’t post links on how to bypass the security of computer software or break DRM, piracy, “pornography” (which even the Supreme Court has been unable to define, but thank god we have Microsoft as the arbiter of all things wholesome), and of course you are responsible for anything that malicious Windows software decides to do once it has taken over your computer and starts spamming all your friends. (which is bound to happen sooner or later considering you’re using Windows).
Of course, Microsoft includes the clause that lets them delete your account for no reason at all, so really anything you do can (at their whim) be grounds for suspending or deleting your account.
Bottom line: Microsoft is malicious and abusive and anyone who bothers to read their burdensome, obnoxious, and dangerously open-ended and one-sided policies and licensing agreements would have already known this.
If anything, this should serve as another wake up call to ditch Microsoft and their abusive policies and a reminder that if you think Microsoft can be trusted, you’re living in a dream world.
There’s news that Mozilla is considering supporting the patent-encumbered and dangerous MPEG-4 formats known as “h264″ and “aac”. LINK (As reported by The H Online)
It’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but I am in favor of doing it in the way they have described. Albeit unenthusiastically…
We know that there is a dangerous and criminal organization out there called the “MPEG-LA” that doesn’t innovate or produce anything, but acts as a “patent pool” to sue victims who try to implement media codecs without their permission. They “own” several thousand “essential” patents (meaning that you can’t implement the spec without violating them) describing what h264 with aac does.
Microsoft and Apple, which are also criminal cartels, are also members of the MPEG-LA, and are trying to wipe out the open and unencumbered VP8 and Ogg Vorbis combination known as WebM by refusing to support it in Safari and Internet Explorer.
Mozilla and Opera have so far not implemented MPEG codecs because they would be gouged by the MPEG-LA’s innovation tax.
The problem for the user, which is caught in the middle, is that sites that are out there today and insisting on MPEG-4, such as Vimeo, won’t work in Firefox or Opera in HTML 5 mode, and require the proprietary binary blob with gazillions of security problems known as “Adobe Flash” to play their content.
Mozilla is not proposing to ship the offending codecs themselves, but to just use the ones on the system, if any. On Windows, they can hook into DirectShow, on OS X they can hook into Quicktime, and on Linux they can hook into and use anything Gstreamer can play. Of course Android, iOS, and Windows Phone (with all three people who have one) all have their own media codecs.
The problem with this is that it shifts the responsibility to the user to make sure they have codecs. In most cases, the platform in question is promoted by some big company that sees the MPEG-LA siphoning their profits as a cost of doing business, but the codecs are there nonetheless and Firefox is currently not making use of them. It’s the case where a person uses free and open source software, such as a Linux distribution, and doesn’t want top be gouged and run nonfree MPEG Cartel-sponsored gstreamer codecs (from Fluendo), that they have to make a choice about whether to use the codecs that infringe US patents (such as the free and open source gstreamer codecs). In the case of proprietary software, the choice was already made for them, as most choices usually are.
Therefore, my position is… With the objection to the MPEG-LA cartel even being allowed to exist at all. That Firefox should use whatever the user has installed. Refusing to play formats for which the user already has codecs is ridiculous. The user should ideally be using software that respects his or her freedom (such as the gstreamer-bad and gstreamer-ugly codecs, which is where ones with patent problems end up). Even more ideally, the laws should be changed to invalidate every last software patent out there so that the user is free to do what they wish with their own computer, and programmers are free to make software that can compete with established monopolies like Microsoft and Apple. Until then, a couple of minority browsers ignoring those codecs won’t make those codecs go away any more than some Linux distributions not officially providing MP3 codecs has made MP3 go away. Those sites are out there, and users should not feel compelled to use proprietary software such as Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome to simply view them. Just as users who encounter MP3s, while this is unfortunate, should not have to use proprietary software to play those MP3s.
As a second point for this position, we know Microsoft slips trojan horses into competing browsers on Windows, and so if Mozilla doesn’t do it, Microsoft will wedge in another broken plug-in that is full of security problems to Firefox users on Windows. By making the change in Firefox, they can preempt Microsoft infecting Firefox with more things the user may not have approved of.
It’s unfortunate that this method will make it the user’s problem to decide if they care about using untaxed codecs, but you can thank Microsoft and Apple that someone is going to be stuck with the check.
They did something like this when Vista and Vista 7 went out. In that case, they sent out Alienware laptops to bribe favorable reviews for Vista from the people that got one. LINK (Archive.org copy, the original was disappeared)
Now it appears they are promoting Vista 8 like this as well, only it’s tablets this time.
Kubuntu forums administrator Steve Riley claims he got a “free” tablet at Microsoft’s Vista 8 promotional event called “build”, and that he subsequently removed it and installed Kubuntu.
The intention of Microsoft is that once a “reviewer” (journalist, shill, whatever) gets such a pricey gift, they’ll feel like they owe Microsoft a favor.
It obviously works or they wouldn’t still be doing it. Next time you see a favorable review of Microsoft’s Vista-based operating systems, ask the person what kind of expensive computer Microsoft gave him to pay for that review with.
Just a short post to anyone considering Spotify, don’t.
List of reasons (for me anyway):
Their Linux support is a joke. To access their API you have to agree to have proprietary software installed which can’t legally be bundled with software under the GPL. Their official statement appears to be “use Wine”. My reply: “Fuck that.”
Their monthly fee is several times more expensive than Last FM’s.
The artists get basically nothing from the fee you pay. (Same is true for other internet radio services though. The MAFIAA keeps most of the money and gives the rest to the Billboard Top 10, so Justin Bieber gets paid for your listening to Alice In Chains.)
Oh yeah, their Android app crashed my tablet several times.
They require you to sign up with the voluntary spyware company called Facebook to get a Spotify account.
I scrubbed and I scrubbed, but they just don’t make water hot enough!