Archive 14

Even being the richest man in the world doesn't stop you from getting a pie in the face.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV).

The Borg Absorbs A Fellow Monopoly

Posted 16 November 2001.

In the joining of the two largest monopolies in New Zealand, Micro$oft and Telecom have recently partnered to create what is expected to be the most-visited NZ Internet portal. Telecom NZ Ltd runs the largest ISP in New Zealand, which it calls Xtra. The Xtra portal is now part of the M$ Network.

Update on US Govt vs M$

Posted 16 November 2001.

2 November: The US government reached an out of court settlement of a three-year battle to curtail the monopoly. Understandably, M$'s rivals weren't too happy.

6 November: Several of the 18 American states that sued M$ along with the government are heard to be gearing up to reject the settlement.

A previously unposted flashback:

... evidence from an internal email from Microsoft spokesman Greg Shaw, who wrote: What data can we find right away that shows Netscape browser share is still healthy? It would help if you could send me some reports showing their market share is healthy and holding. This is for press purposes.

The reply came from Robert Bennett, a product manager for Windows: All of the analysts have pretty well come to the same conclusion, which is that [Netscape's] share is declining and [Microsoft's] is gaining. Judge Jackson laughed when David Boies read these emails to the court.

And from MacWorld in June this year:

If you need any proof that the days when Netscape was synonymous with the World Wide Web are long gone, look no further than a story about the browser developer that hit the newswires earlier this month. Reuters reported that AOL Time Warner had decided to reposition its Netscape unit as a media company... But what's interesting about the news that Netscape will de-emphasize browser development is how little reaction it's provoked from the public... Back in 1995, the company's eponymous Web browser enjoyed an 80 percent market share of the Web-surfing audience.

"Netscape is not important for Web browsers anymore," Oliver Joppich [handles customer support for iCab] says. "They lost against Internet Explorer so they had to change their focus."

Win XP Ads Digitally Defaced

Posted 16 November 2001.

Situated in the East End of London, England. The original read "clicks" not "sucks".

Monopoly Rules

Posted 16 November 2001.

The most serious of Micro$oft's recent moves that I have only just learned of is yet another anti-competitive move that once again makes it very difficult for one of its competitors.

M$ has removed the option of having plug-ins in the latest two versions of M$'s Internet Explorer. Various technologies that compete with M$ technologies can no longer operate without some work-around.

For example, the html tag for embedding a movie Apple's QuickTime technology cannot run without the plugin, and required the QuickTime team to hastily write an Active X control, which in turn required more HTML code within the page. Instead of just the embed tag a web page creator now needs six to eight lines of HTML that will use the Active X control. Otherwise no movie, or (depending on the format) the Micro$oft player will be used. Anti-competitive practice at its worst.


Posted 29 November 2001.

From MacNN:

Thore Winther writes: "France is pushing out Microsoft. A new law that says that all goverment offices are not allowed to use Windows! Only open source like Linux... check it out. England is about to follow."

Unfortunately, the "check it out" was linked to a page in Norwegian, and since I can't read very much of that language, I can't confirm the above claims.

Say No to HTML Email

Posted 8 December 2001.

For all those people who don't have the guts or personal integrity to say no to Micro$oft Outlook for their email, there is now one more way of decreasing your virus risk while using that program.

No-HTML plug-in for Outlook available

By Thomas C Greene in Washington.

Posted: 06/12/2001 at 11:08 GMT

I've always believed that if the US Government were ever to get really serious about Internet security, the top players in Microsoft's management hierarchy would find themselves handcuffed, blindfolded, led onto a tarmac within some obscure Air Force base, and shot.

Witness if you will Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, the two most efficient virus propagation utilities ever devised by human intellectual failure.

Among the more ostentatious security pitfalls deliberately coded into Outlook is its determination to accommodate the mighty Direct Marketing Association (DMA) spam lobby by refusing to allow users to shut off HTML (which exposes us to myriad forms of malicious code in received messages), as this would have a devastating impact on advert click-throughs for hot, wet teens, scientific studies have shown.

You can decline to send HTML messages, as any decent Netizen does; but you can't decline to receive them. No, that would be downright hostile to the spam establishment, and Microsoft knows better than tangle with one of the few industries which dwarfs it.

However, some of us now have a nifty tool called NoHTML to disable HTML displays in Outlook, thanks to Russ Cooper of NTBugtraq. In Outlook 2000, NoHTML supposedly converts HTML to RTF. In Outlook 2002, it converts HTML to plain text. Pretty neat.


The plugin, regrettably, won't work with Outlook Express, whose users tend to be those most in need of this sort of protection.

But once it's adapted to OE and its little glitches are sorted out, I'd say we have a winner here. Too bad Microsoft couldn't manage something like this on its own, simply as a setup option. Heavens, had they done so, they might not now have to whine so piteously about devastating bug disclosures.

NoHTML.dll does not work with Outlook 98, either.

No Office 10 Product Keys

Posted 8 December 2001.

Frustration from Eric Cherry on MacNN:

... Yesterday I finally get Office v. X in the mail after 15 days of anxious waiting. Pop it in, do the install, go to put in my Product Key, didn't work. Checked it a few hundred times just to make sure I wasn't making a typo or reading it wrong. Finally convinced myself I wasn't blind/stupid, so I call up MS's tech line and this is what they've told me in a nutshell:

They've had a lot of the special upgrades of Office v. X ship with bad product keys. So I figure "Oh, no big deal. I could see that happening, they'll give me another key right?" Well they would, but not only do they have a supply/demand problem with the software, but get this: "We're out of product keys, call back in two hours and hopefully we will have more generated by then." 2 HOURS?!?!

Business politics I figured, 50 dipshits in administration, so I kept my cool and called back in 2 hours. Still no product keys! Now they've told me to call back in 24 hours! Absurd! Does it take WinXP that long to generate a key?

... Far as I can tell I've spent US$150 on a coaster with some ballbreaker copyrights attached. Figures, all this to stop piracy and MS can't even handle being legit.

Another comment:

I had that problem also. Fortunately for me, I was one of the first to experience it because it only took me 2 phone calls and 30 minutes on hold to get a working number.

And another comment on the top posting:

Just last week UPC (europe's biggest cable operator) dumped Microsoft because they couldn't deliver the promised software for their set-top boxes. King mediocrity rules in Redmond.

Emphasis added.

Sarah Sticks it to Bill?

Posted 8 December 2001.


The best thing about this interview with Bill Gates is that Sarah (the interviewer) is just 15 years old. Her questions included:

Your company is now a household name but some people claim you have a monopoly on the IT industry. How do you react to that?

How did you take the news that Microsoft were going to be taken to court over the supposed monopoly?

What do you think of the way some people seem to dislike the success you've had with Microsoft?

What do you think it is that they particularly dislike?

She got the non-answers that we have come to expect from Bill Gates. To finish with, she asked the following.

Sarah: And finally, does your computer ever crash?
Bill: Oh definitely...

More on the interview can be found at the BBC: An overview and the full transcript.

She's 15, Bill! Get those hands down and look her in the face!

The Peasants are Revolting

Posted 12 December 2001.

Well, that appears to be what Microsoft normally thinks of the general public. However, this time the general public has pointed out that Microsoft has got it wrong once again. From an article by By D. Ian Hopper (Associated Press):

Microsoft unveiled changes Monday to its offer to settle private antitrust lawsuits by donating reduced-price software, computers and training to schools. The changes are designed to answer criticism that the donations will extend the company's market dominance.


More than 200 educators, parents, technology experts and private citizens have written to the judge who is reviewing the proposal. The vast majority oppose the settlement's terms - although many say they would welcome some sort of plan to settle the case by giving schools badly needed technology resources.

"I believe Microsoft's intent was positive and they truly believed that they had a solution that would be acceptable and useful to schools," says Bill Fiske, the instructional technology coordinator for the Rhode Island Department of Education. "Sadly, you mix in a little bit of corporate arrogance and a misunderstanding of the educational environment and you end up with a solution that horrifies everyone."

Simply because someone believes they are doing a good thing does not mean they actually are. The same sort of misguided blind belief can be seen in cult groups.

Intel Stealth Moves

Posted 13 December 2001.

From CNet (by John G. Spooner, 11 December 2001, 2:55 p.m. PT):

Intel is planning the stealth introduction of a chipset that will let computer makers connect the Pentium 4 to speedy DDR (double data rate) memory. Intel will allow PC makers to quietly begin taking orders for computers fitted with a new version of its 845 chipset Dec. 17, CNET has learned. The official announcement of the chipset and the corresponding fanfare won't come until early January.

Intel declined to comment.


Intel began the shipments a couple of week ago to coordinate PC makers, motherboard makers and other companies that will sell the new chipset, sources said.

Intel follows chipset makers such as Via Technologies and Acer Labs in introducing DDR SDRAM for the Pentium 4. The Via chipset, however, is the subject of several lawsuits between Intel and Via.