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Microsoft's Charm Offensive Against GNU/Linux Uses the Same Media Strategy Donald Trump Uses

Harm offensive or charm offensive?“A campaign of flattery, friendliness, and cajolement designed to achieve the support or agreement of others” – Oxford Dictionary

“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”

Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

Microsoft's Charm Offensive Against GNU/Linux Uses the Same Media Strategy Donald Trump Uses Credit : unknown (Twitter)

Summary : An analysis of last week’s Microsoft media frenzy, which despite Microsoft’s persistence with and insistence on proprietary software (not to mention its perpetual war on GNU/Linux using software patents) truly succeeded and it looks a great deal like the media strategy championed by Donald Trump

H AVING studied Microsoft and its extensive network of external PR agencies for well over a decade, and having studied the latest PR charm offensive for a whole week (while patiently taking notes along the way), I now feel prepared (on a Sunday when it’s all said and done) to provide my explanation of what happened. In short, it’s a PR campaign. It’s not a new PR campaign; it’s continuation of an existing PR campaign, whose banner is typically “Microsoft loves Linux” (that’s the misleading motto). Those who have followed non-disclosure agreements probably know that Microsoft is still attacking Linux . It’s a demonstration of hatred, not love. The genius of this PR campaign is that it logically reverses what’s true. It’s like BP stating that it loves wind power, the Koch Brothers stating that they love Senator Sanders, and Clinton stating that she loves self-determination.

“The genius of this PR campaign is that it logically reverses what’s true.” At the moment, judging by the reaction of people to this PR campaign, I can see roughly three groups. There are those who are still distrusting Microsoft. There are those who are increasingly confused by what Microsoft is doing, not sure what they’re really up to. The third group is either people who are in the Microsoft camp (profiting from it) or those gullible enough to believe what Microsoft is saying, sometimes even repeating the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie.

In this article we shall break down last week’s ‘news’ into roughly three categories or strands. We are going to show the reality behind all this PR, which was emitted in big quantities (with help from lousy media) and in quick succession. Little time and space were left to respond to the PR.

Microsoft Hates Linux

Dozens of articles, some of which were very long, were published here in 2015 and in 2016 and therein we responded to the “Microsoft loves Linux” lie. We gave actual examples from the news (not old stories) which demonstrate Microsoft’s ongoing campaign of hatred towards GNU/Linux. Microsoft is, as usual (as per its notorious history), using its money in an effort to undermine the competition (GNU/Linux in this case), not justwith/through SCO, which it supported financially before dunking money into Novell (Microsoft used Novell to start a campaign of patent litigation and extortion, finally sweeping up Novell’s own patents as a grand finale ). We wrote about thisa few days ago and also one month ago when media wrongly claimed that it was all over . Here is what FOSS Force has just had to say about it . Don’t be easily fooled. There are no coincidences there. Microsoft-funded Linux kernel lawsuit: 13 years and counting (better headline for this article from Condé Nast ) because Microsoft just loves Linux…

“We are going to show the reality behind all this PR, which was emitted in big quantities (with help from lousy media) and in quick succession.” Microsoft hates Linux. It just needs people to believe otherwise whilst attacks go on. Microsoft tries to conceal its real intentions (in the minds of top management, not low-level developers).

Microsoft’s Media Strategy

Last week we explained how the "Tay" story (or non-story) got used as Microsoft opportunism, PR, a distraction, and propaganda . It was the Donald Trump kind of PR strategy. Just mention “Hitler” or something like that and the press will be all over you; and if there’s no such thing as “bad publicity” (as all such publicity can be spun positively given the skilled personnel), then you inevitably win hearts and minds.

“Tay” was not news at all… it was more of a PR stunt. Like the “Microsoft loves Linux” stunt, among other things, as we shall show in a moment. The more shocking the statement, the more press you are guaranteed to receive. Provocation or “rhetoric” is what some call this strategy (in relation to Trump in politics).

“It was the Donald Trump kind of PR strategy.” In a nutshell, all that happened last week was, the media got invited to play a role in a provocative media strategy that baits the reader (including misleading images with hearts in them), someone called Wim ended up being hired by Microsoft because he got offered a higher salary (so he moved from one evil proprietary software giant to another), and finally, as expected, Miguel de Icaza and his colleagues at Microsoft once again openwash .NET. That’s pretty much all that it boils down to. Not much to see here, so why not just move along?

No, Linux (or Ubuntu) Isn’t on Windows

There’s no news here ((2-19] below are headlines we didn’t include in our daily links because they added nothing new), except maybeVista 10 promotion. It now rides the wave or enjoys the positive publicity of the Linux brand. Some people ‘reviewed’ this supposedly ‘new’ thing [20-24] and some rightly criticised it [25-26].

I personally used Cygwin when I started university more than 15 years ago (one partition of mine ran Windows 98, the last version I ever had). At work and at university I was using GNU/Linux exclusively, so sometimes I needed somewhat of a ‘bridge’.

“The more shocking the statement, the more press you are guaranteed to receive.” Microsoft now claims credit for Cygwin, or sort of claims to have innovated/invented it. What a shame. Did the media not research this properly? Early coverage regarding this came from 3 Microsoft boosters (the night before the actual announcement) and it was highly misleading, probably by design. As we wrote at the time, they’re probably being gamed or fed by Microsoft’s PR agents (if not directly). They published highly misleading ‘teasers’ that set the tone to many misleading articles the following day.

“WSL doesn’t really let you do very much that you couldn’t already do for many years via Cygwin,” one person explained [1] (a reasonably good journalist), so it was all hype and lies. Some comments said the same : “Does anyone understand how this works? I thought Cygwin worked the same way.”

Microsoft is not really offering anything new, just putting Microsoft’s name on old stuff. This quickly raised questions about GPL compatibility .

“Microsoft is not really offering anything new, just putting Microsoft’s name on old stuff.” As FOSS Force put it : “Then there was the twelve hour scare, when news was leaked that Canonical and its newfound buddy Microsoft were bringing Ubuntu to Windows. At first look, that turned out to be something of a non-story, as the Windows version of the Linux-distro-that-would-be-Windows comes without just about everything you might expect to find in a GNU/Linux distribution. What you get, basically, is access to Ubuntu’s implementation of the Bash shell, which we now might call MS-Linux-DOS.”

Many journalists ended up mischaracterising it as “Ubuntu on Windows 10″ (that’s from today!). It’s not Ubuntu on Windows 10. That’s just a gross oversimplification.

“Mister Linux” Nonsense

“Mister Linux” is Mr. Torvalds. Everyone knows Torvalds, more so than people know or recognise Mr. Stallman. How many people even heard the name Wim Coekaerts? Surely not many. Yet Microsoft propaganda sites now make Wim sound like some kind of a huge celebrity; “Mister Linux” is what some of them dub/call him. Yes, someone who worked for a proprietary software firm that attacks Linux/Android using patents is apparently “Mister Linux”. Poppycock! Judge the total of 7 articles about it [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 ] and notice how many of them came from Microsoft boosters and/or apologists. Why is it “news” when a company the size of Microsoft hires someone? He’s not even that famous. They make it seem like he is. How convenient. They try to bolster that “Microsoft loves Linux” narrative rather desperately now. They give feet to a myth. What really happened here? Most likely Microsoft offered this man a lot of money. As we noted here over the years, Microsoft offered huge lumps of money to FOSS luminaries, in order for them to join Microsoft. Simon Phipps openly complained about it. Jono Bacon, who managed the Ubuntu community, was among those whom Microsoft offered a lot of money in an effort to poach him. He declined.

Shame on Canonical? No, on Greed and Self Interest.

Canonical is now doing Microsoft’s E.E.E. (embrace, extend, extinguish) for Microsoft. It actively helped the E.E.E. The Canonical employee who did this said in his blog that Microsoft had even sponsored him. What does that tell us in light of the situation Bacon was in? OMG Ubuntu was dumb enough to call E.E.E. (not FOSS) “lovefest” (this reminds us ofits Mono enthusiasm). A loaded headline, “Nothing To Worry About Microsoft Newly Found Love For Linux” , misleads the reader by reinforcing Microsoft lies amid E.E.E. There’s no love there. Microsoft has accelerated not only E.E.E. tactics. It also accelerated patent strikes against Linux and Android, but one (the former charm offensive) helps distract from the latter.

Microsoft’s Most Notorious Propagandists Come Out as ‘Experts’

“Speed and competition mean that a lot of so-called ‘journalists’ rush to write things based on hearsay and press releases, which typically means Microsoft and its confidants inside the media.” Mary Branscombe, whom we mentioned here recently , has spent many years acting like a Microsoft PR agent in ‘reporter’ clothing, habituallyattacking FOSS and openwashing Microsoft . “New Microsoft, new attitude” says her latest puff piece and she is not alone. Well, it’s clear what the strategy (as in media strategy) is because we quickly saw several of Microsoft’s other anti-Linux actors coming out from the shadow, along with Mary. They’re really attacking by pressing on with E.E.E. agenda. Suddenly, for the first time in months if not years, Rob Enderle rears his head regarding FOSS (he is also femmewashing Microsoft , not just openwashing it this/last week) and so does Al Hilwa. For those who don’t know who he is, it’s a Microsoft mouthpiece, previously salaried by Microsoft [1, 2 ,3]. Adrian Bridgwater cites and extensively quotes Hilwa without noting that he’s a person from Microsoft pretending to be an “analyst” now (Linux-hostile). Very disappointing level of journalism, that’s for sure. There’s even worse journalism out there, for example this article which is openwashing proprietary software from Microsoft. There’s no new FOSS, just E.E.E. of other people’s work. Some people may occasionally say, give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt. How can one do this while Microsoft is attacking (covertly) Linux behind the scenes every week? Selective vision works only because of media omission (e.g. of patent deals). Microsoft has managed to blur the gap between journalism and PR by paying large network to have writers who are de facto Microsoft PR people (we named some of them before) and they game the media by quoting people who are close to Microsoft, shifting the focus of news before it’s even announced, and so on and so forth. This post/article about Microsoft E.E.E. thus focuses not on technical issues but on how Microsoft manipulated the media. Speed and competition mean that a lot of so-called ‘journalists’ rush to write things based on hearsay and press releases, which typically means Microsoft and its confidants inside the media. Those who don’t research are bound to repeat their propaganda. We see a lot of the same stuff as it involvesEPO PR people, who bombard journalists with their spin (or ‘prepared’ statements).

Developers, Developers, Developers, Use Our Proprietary Software!

Microsoft wants C++ developers (even those developing for GNU/Linux) to use proprietary software that does not run on GNU/Linux (Microsoft Visual Studio). Here is what Microsoft Gavin wrote about Microsoft’s latest proprietary software ‘gift’ (lock-in, E.E.E., and media manipulation). Watch this article and responses to it, e.g. in Reddit . Watch how Microsoft-friendly sites repeated Microsoft’s own words . It’s all proprietary as pointed out here , but now comesMiguel de Icaza with his misleading/distracting blog post . “Microsoft Mono seems to have chosen a license that allows the ongoing threat of software patents,” iophk told us, linking to this older page about licence choices .

“Going back to Xamarin, it’s mostly openwashing (that’s what Mono did) because Visual Studio remains proprietary and .NET is all promises but still no complete code one can compile from the ground up.” XFaCE, linking to an article about this topic from Wired mocks the use of words like “Delights” and “Freeing” (right there in the headline). “WIRED removed comments I’ve seen,” says XFaCE, so we know that comments that are hostile towards this spin got censored out of existence ( standard routine at Condé Nast , which now owns Wired ). MinceR was “guessing the koolaid must flow uninhibited,” based on what he wrote in IRC. Condé Nast already has an epidemic of comment censorship in Reddit, Ars Technica and apparently that extends to Wired . What you see there is thus HEAVILY sanitised. And in whose favour? So now we know that Condé Nast not only spreads Microsoft propaganda to aid E.E.E. against Linux but also deletes messages of resistors. Back in the days, before Condé Nast bought Wired magazine, this magazine had actually stood up to Microsoft. Now it has a DEDICATED Microsoft section (PR) and it helps Microsoft silence voices of opposition. Now, that is a media strategy, is it not? Some of Condé Nast’s Web sites, based on what we got told by their managers, were actually launched with Microsoft’s funding (Ars Technica UK for sure).

To give another example of poor reporting/journalism, AOL chose the headline “Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman on getting acquired by Microsoft” (don’t laugh, see our page about Xamarin ).

Friedman actually CAME from Microsoft, so that’s like Microsoft buying Elop or an Elop-ledNokia). Speaking of Nokia, today we finally found news about Nokia launching an Android phone (5 years too late). How does Nokia feel (especially the rational people who left after 2011) now that Microsoft basically declares Windows ‘mobile’ dead (ish)? To quote this new article fromIDG:

Microsoft puts Windows Phone on hold

[…]

Well, now we know why Microsoft’s Windows Phone didn’t appear at Microsoft’s Build keynote on Wednesday: it simply isn’t on Microsoft’s radar screen at the moment.

The question, of course, is whether it will ever be again.

“We’re going to do some cool things with phones, but this year phones are an important part of our family but not the tip of the spear,” Windows chief Terry Myerson told The Verge on Wednesday.

Phones, Myerson added, “is the wrong place for us to lead.”

Going back to Xamarin, it’s mostly openwashing (that’swhat Mono did) because Visual Studio remains proprietary and .NET is all promises but still no complete code one can compile from the ground up. Microsoft loves proprietary SQL Server, proprietary Windows, proprietary Visual Studio etc. It wants GNU/Linux users to buy those. That’s how far the “love” goes. For its next act, Microsoft shall probably do something to paint Microsoft Office “open” even when it’s proprietary. Like bribing people in order for ISO to ‘bless’ OOXML.

“The reason “Linux” news get flooded/dominated by Microsoft (again) isn’t that Microsoft is loved or hip. It is just a lot more greased up on the marketing side.” Looking at the media for coverage about this ‘news’, we see that a lot of Microsoft’s boosters wrote about it, with some (few) exceptions [ 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ]. It’s Microsoft news, it’s not FOSS news. What’s even more laughable is that when a longtime Mono booster and inadvertent GNU/Linux basher (see the latest in [ 1 , 2 ]) “joined” the latest .NET (i.e. Microsoft lock-in) advocacy the media made it sound like .NET was widely loved . Microsoft-dominated ‘media’, 1105 Media [1,2], went even further and labelled the whole event “Spotlight on Open Source” (as if something actually got liberated rather than “embraced”, as in E.E.E.). The same media company (highly and tightly connected to Microsoft) said that “Microsoft Adds Support for Linux Bash Shell on Windows” (nothing to do with Ubuntu or Linux and not even news, as we noted above).

In Summary

The reason “Linux” news get flooded/dominated by Microsoft (again) isn’t that Microsoft is loved or hip. It is just a lot more greased up on the marketing side. Like Donald Trump, it knows how to pull the strings of the media/press — strings which are sometimes already in place (because of financial strings).

Related/contextual items from the news :

  1. Microsoft and Canonical Bring Ubuntu Linux Apps to Windows

    It’s also worth noting that WSL doesn’t really let you do very much that you couldn’t already do for many years via Cygwin, which allows a lot of GNU/Linux apps to run on Windows. Cygwin is not as seamless a solution as WSL, but the end result it provides is basically the same. For that reason, some GNU/Linux fans will probably be left wondering what WSL really changes.

  2. Microsoft announces preview of Azure Batch for Linux virtual machines

  3. Microsoft cozies up to Ubuntu as developers welcome cold day in hell

  4. Ubuntu brings Linux Bash Shell to Windows 10

  5. Microsoft joins hands with Canonical to bring Ubuntu to Windows 10

  6. Cross Platform: You will be able to run Ubuntu on Windows 10 ; Microsoft Bolsters Canonical

  7. Ubuntu for Windows brings ‘bash’ to Windows 10

  8. Microsoft set to integrate Linux to its platform

  9. Developers can run Bash Shell and user-mode Ubuntu Linux binaries on Windows 10

  10. Bash on Windows. Repeat, Microsoft demos Bash on Windows

  11. Ubuntu’s User-Space Ported To Run On Windows 10 By Canonical/Microsoft

  12. Why Microsoft Making Linux Apps Run on Windows Isn’t Crazy

  13. Ubuntu Goes to Microsoft’s Windows 10 Bash

  14. Bringing Ubuntu to Windows is a step in the right direction for Microsoft

    Will Windows eventually work its way into computer science courses anytime soon? Probably not, considering a copy of Ubuntu is free.

  15. The Odd Couple: Ubuntu is Coming to Windows

  16. Native Ubuntu Bash command line coming to Windows 10 (for developers)

  17. Windows 10 will soon let you run Ubuntu and access your workspace natively

  18. Ubuntu on Windows — The Ubuntu Userspace for Windows Developers

  19. Ubuntu brings Linux Bash Shell to Windows 10

  20. Here’s how Windows 10′s Ubuntu-based Bash shell will actually work

  21. Ubuntu Linux On Windows 10 — Here Are The First Pictures For You

  22. Winbuntu review

  23. Watch Microsoft show off the Linux command line on Windows 10 (video)

  24. Windows 10 + Bash Preview

  25. The devils spawn

    I just heard from several sources that Canonical and Microsoft are forming a partnership a marriage if you will between themselves. This unholy matrimony, this putrid partnership is not to bring windows to the Linux operating system, it is to bring ubuntu to the windows operating system.

  26. How bad is the Windows command line really?

    Kevin Gallo just announced Bash support on Windows.

    If you have never had to interact with the Windows Batch language, this might not seem like such a big deal. Surely Batch could not be substantially worse than Bash, right?

    Bash: a language that was neither designed, nor evolved. An adequate solution to a problem that has since become orders of magnitude harder. As arcane as it is useful, as dangerous as it is ubiquitous, Bash: the language that asks how much we are willing to give up for convenience’s sake?

    Sure, Bash could be worse. But substantially worse? Bash had one value proposition: it was just good enough. It is difficult to imagine that it would have flourished as it has, if that had that not been true.

    But the truth is what it is. Batch is substantially worse. And how much worse sort of beggars belief.

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