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Re: Astroturfing by Comcast and Microsoft

On Aug 17, 11:17 pm, "Moshe Goldfarb." <brick_n_st...@xxxxxxxxx>
> On Sun, 17 Aug 2008 13:10:15 -0700 (PDT), ness...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> wrote:

> These are private companies and can offer or refuse to offer whatever they
> want. Verizon just cut the binary groups from their news servers, at least for
> FIOS users.

Remember when there was a huge outrage because Comcast was providing
Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, "right wing" networks to New York but wouldn't carry
CNN, CNN-FN, and several other "Liberal" networks?

I didn't think so.  As a concession, they carried CNN.  If you want
the other services, you have to switch to DirectTV.

> Don't like it?

> Find another provider.

I decided not to go for FIOS because of all the restrictions.
Instead, I went with Optimum Online, and I didn't mind paying a little
extra for more bandwidth.  For $10/month I get 30 megabit download and
10 megabyte upload speed.

One of the problems the cable providers are seeing these days is
people want to pipe 4-8 megabit/second television signals from their
cable box to their PC at work, or at a hotel.

> If you Linux freedom fighters spent more time coding and less time whining
> and blaming others for Linux's obvious desktop failures, maybe Linux would
> be increasing desktop market share.

History has shown this to be absolutely false.  When the best
Microsoft had to offer was Windows 3.1, and it crashed or hung every
hour or two, and didn't have true multitasking, and had absolutely no
security, and viruses were coming in through the floppies and
circulating through the corporate networks, Slackware Linux had all
the capabilities of a $10,000 Sun workstation, but with slightly lower
resolution (because most PC monitors were 800x600 or even 640x480.
The performance was quite fast and most of the key functions were
available.  To better support Windows users, Slackware could be
installed in "dual-boot" mode and could even be installed on a FAT-16
file system.

Microsoft responded by pulling full page advertisements from any
publication that covered these capabilities.  The had similar
reactions to coverage of Sun workstations, OS/2, and even the

When Microsoft's Windows NT 3.1 and 3.5 were struggling to run Win32
applicaitons on 32 megabytes of RAM (cost $3000), and Pentium 100
processors that would melt the motherboard, Ydraggasil Linux, and
later Red Hat Linux had "plug-and-play" that could automatically
configure itself to ISA, EISA, MicroChannel, and VESA PCs, and when
running on an 80486/DX50 and 8 megabytes of RAM, could run circles
around the Windows box, and was even faster than Windows 3.1 on the
same hardware.  There were even Web Browsers and servers included in
the distribution, all for $20.  Red Hat offered quantity discounts -
order 1000 or more and you could get it for $2 per copy.  The CEO even
contacted the CEOs of Dell, HP, Compaq, IBM, and Toshiba, offering
them even lower prices.  They even offered them permission to install
it in a dual-boot environment and let the user decide each time they
booted, which system they liked best.

Microsoft retaliated by demanding that all hardware vendors switch to
PCI, use vendor and device IDs assigned by Microsoft, and not
permitted to disclose those numbers to anyone else.  Windows 95 also
wiped the hard drive clean, removing all user partitions, including
all windows partitions, before installing Windows 95 in the sole
partition on the drive.  In addition, the OEMs were forbidden to make
any change to the boot sequence without getting Microsoft's written
permission prior to shipping the changes.  For some reason, all
requests for boot managers (for OS/2, Linux, BSD, or UnixWare) seemed
to be "in review" for several years.  Since Microsoft didn't
explicitly say "No you can't do it" nobody could prove that the
purpose was to exclude competitors like Linux, OS/2, BSD, or
UnixWare.  It actually took almost a full year for the "Stable"
Windows 95-B to make it into the market, but the OEMs were bamboozled
by the vapor-ware.

When Windows NT 4.0 came out, InfoWorld named Red Hat Linux 4.0 to be
the "Product of the Year", and many others found that Linux was far
more capable than Linux.  3 months later, Red Hat released 4.1, which
was even better, and then Red Hat 4.2.  Corel provided an office suite
for this version of Linux, and so did Applix.  A bit later Corel even
created their own Linux distribution, and sold licenses to motherboard
manufacturers at 50 cents per copy.  Since these motherboards were
used in the PCs created by the major PC makers, they had a free copy
of Linux, and nothing in the Linux license to exclude a dual-boot
scenario.  In addition, Corel Linux had a robust WINE library that
could be used with Windows 95 libraries, which meant there was value
in the combination that let Linux users run Wnidows 95 applications on
OEM licensed Windows 95 machines.

Microsoft retailiated by publicly making an example of Compaq,
revoking their licenses for placing the Netscape Icon on the desktop
where the IE icon used to be.  This way they could avoid actually
refusing to permit the dual-boot configuration, which would have been
a real problem with the DOJ, but they could send a clear message to
anyone who wanted to risk not waiting.  In addition, Microsoft started
a proxy war and misinformation campaign to get the CEO fired, and then
had him replaced by someone who was not only "Microsoft friendly", but
didn't seem to care that the stock "crashed".  He cancelled all Linux
products, and shifted the companies focus away from Linux and Office
to Paint, DVD, and other "niche" markets.

And in 2000, when Windows ME was falling on it's face, a LOT of people
were looking very seriously at Linux.  Many corporations were happy
with Windows 2000 and were looking at ways to add Linux to the mix.
They had service contracts that included free upgrades to Windows, so
they though they had plenty of money to explore Linux as an
alternative for both servers and desktops.

Microsoft retaliated by tripling the price for support contracts,
giving corporate customers 30 days to accept the upgraded contracts,
or Microsoft would terminate all support and they would have to buy
new licenses if they wanted XP.  In addition, XP attempted to break
the boot managers of Linux, and added "security" that was intended to
make it harder to add Linux to the PC.  In addition, Microsoft asked
all hardware vendors who wanted to be on the "Supported Platform" to
sign for a certificate to authenticate the driver.  The certificate
also included a condition that prevented them from disclosing chip
details or driver information, and required them to sue anyone who
tried to write Linux drivers - usually for 3-6 months.

Linux distributors found ways to make it easier for users to take a
"test drive" on Linux, and to find out if the a PC they were looking
to purchase would run Linux or not.  The Live-CD, started by Knoppix,
also became a handy system recovery tool.  Soon many other
distributors were making Live-CDs and even Live-DVDs.  Adding a USB
"Flash drive" or external USB drive, you could have a fully functional
Linux system without having to partition the hard drive.  Furthermore,
you could turn almost any PC into a Linux PC using the live-DVD.

Microsoft retaliated by telling the retailers to put brackets around
the CD/DVD cover, to make sure that the drives were "locked".  In
addition, Microsoft started encouraging hardware vendors to make
"Linux Hostile" devices, that were specifically designed NOT to run
with the known Linux drivers.  This was especially effective for
certain DirectX graphics cards and several WiFi cards.  Ironically,
the OEMs quickly began to discover that "Linux Hostile" PCs weren't
selling, especially in the corporate market.  And retailers were
finding it harder to sell PCs now that users couldn't "test drive" the
machines.  Most of the "Windows Only" machines with Linux hostile
hardware were so unwanted that prices had to be cut to clearance
prices as much as 1/2 the actual cost.  Gateway tried to stay loyal to
Microsoft, and after 8 out of 10 losing quarters, the price dropped to
almost $1 per share, and the entire company was purchased by Acer at
bargain basement prices.

To make it even easier for Windows users to test drive Linux, they
turned to virtualization.  New virtual machines like Bochs, Xen, and
VMWare made it possible for users who liked Linux to install a
virtualized version of Windows, so that users who purchased OEM
licensed Windows machines wouldn't have to give up their favorite
applications.  In addition, Linux ran very well on multicore
processors and 64 bit chips, allowing them to manage much more memory
much more efficiently.  Users could get the "best of both worlds".

Microsoft retaliated by trying to lock out virtual kernels by
demanding kernel level control, which was designed to prevent booting
as a VM.  In addition, the Vista Home Basic and Vista Home Premium
licenses expressly forbade the use of these systems as virtual
machines.  Eventually, Microsoft had to backpedal.  They added an
option to disable the strict ring-zero control, and they revised the
license of Vista Home Premium to permit it's use as a virtual
machine.  It seems that the demand for Vista Home Premium as a VM was
much greater than they expected.  Even so, the greater demand was for
downgrades to XP, which took less virtual memory and ran faster as a
Linux VM.

Now, ASUS and other motherboard makers are including "Linux in
Flash".  All the user has to do to turn a Windows machine into a Linux
machine is replace the factory installed hard drive, with an empty
drive.  Linux will boot up, and if there is a drive, Linux will offer
to configure the drive as a Linux drive.

VMWare has "converter" which will let a PC user create a VM
"appliance" stored on an external USB drive.  After Linux is
installed, the VM can be installed and run on Linux.  Many of these
"NetBooks" use this "Linux in Flash" capability.

Microsoft has retaliated by telling the Retailers that they have to
turn off all of the Windows machines if any of the Linux machines are
turned on, or Microsoft will revoke their license to the trademarks,
including those running on the Windows machines.

Microsoft should be careful what they ask for.  More and more stores
with PC departments, office supply stores, and PC stores are turning
off ALL the Windows machines ALL the time.  What the customers see is
a Linux machine for $400 and a Windows machine for $1000.

> Moshe Goldfarb
> Collector of soaps from around the globe.
> Please visit The Hall of Linux Idiots:http://linuxidiots.blogspot.com/

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