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What's Your Price?

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From time to time we receive letters from people who wonder why we criticise Microsoft if we're ostensibly peddling software for their platform. Which almost begs the question: what would they have us do - lie?

And that in turn begs the inevitable followup: are these people suggesting we and/or others lie? For there's little else to conclude. In some weird perverted way these people writing to us seem to tacitly be saying it's OK to lie when it comes to making money.

But it's not. It's not OK to lie. It's never OK. Period.

There's a world of difference between a salesperson and a teacher. And we're teachers and proud of it.

Sales people lie all the time. That's their job - make the sale. Teachers can't lie: their call is to impart knowledge. The truth. If you're dedicated to your field and that field happens to be teaching and if you've assembled a significant amount of knowledge in your teaching areas then you tell the truth period.

Microsoft are guilty of so many crimes against computer science, their customers, and the marketplace it's not funny and it's hardly a secret anymore. They're up on charges with the European Commission, they've settled class action lawsuits for literally billions of dollars for price gouging and strong arm tactics - this is all common knowledge.

They've faked grass roots movements with names from gravestones to pressure the US federal government to stop their investigation into monopoly abuses. They've planted spies inside the open source movement (most notably Linux World) to undermine solidarity and good sentiments and to plant erroneous information - is that acceptable behaviour? Of course not.

That's reprehensible behaviour - and truth be told Bill Gates got away with murder in the DOJ trial outcome: he's broken every rule in the book, every law on the books. It's hardly something dedicated computer scientists are going to be able to admire - it's hardly something that reflects benignly on their profession.

But worst of all is the deplorable state of affairs with their operating system Windows.

It. Simply. Does. Not. Work. It. Will. Never. Work. It. Will. Never. Be. Safe. End. Of. Story.

Technically it's not possible. Not online at any rate. This might perhaps be a bit too much for the punter on the street to understand but it's not too much for computer scientists to grapple with. And we're certainly not alone in speaking out and trying to educate people, to help people protect themselves. Every punter we get to understand the situation or at least trust us becomes a victory that brings our world one step closer to realising its potential with a safe and secure Internet.

The Internet is in a shambles today and all because of Microsoft. Not some of it - all of it. With 90% of connected machines running a 'hardware interface' that should have never been let near a LAN, much less a WAN or the net itself; with spammers today relying no longer on machine parks and a constant combing for open relays but comfortably plucking Windows PCs at their whim for enforced labour in botnets; with all of that - exactly where is the controversy?

What kind of software site, no matter what platform their software was designed to run on, is going to sidestep the grossly embarrassing facts about Microsoft, their Windows, and the real and present dangers that exist for people too uninformed to know better?

Porn storms - ever hear of them? Great fun. Kinky fun! That's when the popups and whatever become too intense and all you can do is yank the contact out of the wall. Ever been there? Odds are your answer's 'yes' if you've been on Windows - odds are a resounding 'no' if you're anywhere else.

Major media sources have never, do not today, and will never tell you the truth about Microsoft, about Windows, or about any software company or product where the bottom line is the almighty dollar.

Mark Minasi once quipped that it was nigh on impossible to get an article approved if it was negative about anyone or any product - you have to be prepared to spend the afternoon in your editor's office defending your decision to 'go negative'.

Your editor might be on your side - he probably knows you're telling the truth - but he in turn has people to answer to and those people probably revere the dollar more than they do the truth.

The BBC regularly publish 'scare reports' about how dangerous the Internet can be but they know better than to point out the obvious - those dangers occur only on Windows machines and you're 100% safe as soon as you leave Windows behind. The UK have their own Microsoft representative - using the title 'chief cyber security analyst' - who in fact knows next to nothing about computer science but has had a long and illustrious career working as a lawyer. And his job is to keep close to the members of parliament and government agencies and play with both carrots and sticks. And Microsoft certainly have their supply of carrots and big sticks available.

Security guru Dan Geer was sacked from @stake with a single phone call from Redmond Washington. Geer had put his John Hancock on a document alongside Bruce Schneier. Schneier's team studied computer and Internet security - and came to the conclusion that - gasp - Microsoft Windows might be the chief cause of a really bad situation.

Geer signed his name alongside Schneier's - and as soon as Microsoft found out about it they placed a call to Raleigh North Carolina and Geer was out the door.

Just. Like. That.

So much for honesty and what it gives you in a market totally controlled - totally bludgeoned - by Bill Gates and Microsoft.

Or how about the Halloween Documents? Those now infamous documents acknowledged to be genuine by Microsoft which, based on an internal Microsoft study, came to the conclusion the 'open source' development model used by Linus Torvalds is invincibly superior to the 'cathedral'/closed source model Microsoft use? That Microsoft cannot emerge victorious in the long run without cheating and 'playing dirty'? The documents that suggest ways Microsoft should game the market to defeat Linus and open source - including smear attacks on the person of Linus Torvalds himself?

Or what about the SCO attack Pamela Jones documented so well? About how Microsoft financed a bankruptcy-threatened company to literally harass IBM and the open source movement - a gambit that at best bought them a little time but in the final analysis was doomed to failure - and worked in the most reprehensible way possible?

What's difficult to understand here?

The idea a software company would deliberately hide facts to protect their own revenue streams is disgusting. And it must be regarded as disgusting by all players, not just by those in the teaching profession. The very fact that this site persists in telling the truth despite an expected hit on revenue streams - and (truth be told) despite intimidation by Microsoft - can serve only as testimony to the seriousness and honesty of what's been written.

Our software is good. There's hardly a doubt about that. But know this: you are seriously harming your own online and terrestrial existence by persisting in using Microsoft products when the whole world and probably even your household pets today know better.

Believe us - we're teachers and we're in the business of imparting truth and knowledge. Get away from Windows today. We're happy if you buy our products but we're immensely happier if you write to tell us you've left Windows behind for good. We all collectively need a secure and safe Internet and Microsoft have no place in our world.

So next time you're questioning why we're so brutally honest: ask yourself instead why you are not. What's your price?

Thank you.

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