Gmail Man vs MS Office 365 vs You

Microsoft released a series of videos featuring Gmailman, a nosy mailman that reads your email in order to send you advertising. It would  be funny, if it was a video done by EFF or FreedomBox promoting privacy enhanced alternatives. Instead, it’s Microsoft promoting its ‘cloud’ based product, which is equally bad for its users although for different reasons.

Gmail’s business is about learning who you are, who you correspond with, what you talk about, where you hang out and more in order to sell you to advertisers. Microsoft is in the business of selling you access to their precious golden bits and heavenly bandwidth, tighten your data to them so you will keep paying them because you’ll never be able to take them and leave. Two equally flawed business models.

First action from Microsoft after buying Skype

Every time Microsoft has the chance to demonstrate it can play nice with free software/open source companies, they fail. After buying Skype, Microsoft has canceled the agreement with Digium for the Asterisk/Skype bridge. As Simon says:

In one move, we have illustrated the risk of a hybrid open source model, the danger of dependency on a proprietary system, a proof that Microsoft still can’t be trusted with open source and an impetus to open source innovation. All in one announcement.

Amusing. via A Liberating Betrayal? – Simon Says….

How is Google damaging consumers?

I kept this post as draft since I read Wired’s article about Google and their supposed dominant position. Today I read again about the new investigation of US Antitrust targeting bigG because it holds too much market share in online advertising and advertisers are getting upset.  I can’t understand why an antitrust agency is taking care of this. How is Google harming consumers? This seems to me a totally different case than the Microsoft antitrust judgement. With Microsoft, consumers were being harmed directly left with little to no choice to use their products in order to have ‘compatibility’. At that time, I think that antitrust bodies had a clear case: Microsoft dominance and abusive business practices were removing options to consumers.

With Google the case seems very different: advertisers are free to stop advertising on Google any time they want. Contrary to Microsoft, Google cannot leverage any network effect to keep Internet users (the ‘consumers’) to stop using Google for search. I can go and use Bing any time I want: Google search uses an open standard, it’s a freakin web site. The simplest thing Microsoft has to do in order to take 40% of Internet users’ search is to pay a sufficient amount of money to Mozilla, and voilà: all Firefox users will have Bing as default search engine.

Same thing with many other Googl services. If you don’t like Gmail anymore you can take all of its archive, contacts, and everything else and move it somewhere else: open standards (IMAP) at work again.

And, should Microsoft not want to pay Mozilla, Google’s search engine can start to suck  any time or more privacy issues may arise, and users will move to the next best one (didn’t we all move to Google from Altavista already?)

What am I failing to see in these new wave of antitrust complaints against Google?

Microsoft pulls the antitrust trigger

I love it: Microsoft calls the European antitrust authorities against Google. Ironic. And a waste of time: the consumer is not harmed by Google, consumers are getting software and services for free. Interoperability is saved and guarded. Case dismissed.

Microsoft cannot be trusted

My friend Gianugo Rabellino has a tough job trying to help Microsoft clean up its image of anti-open source company. The best comment I read about its latest attack on Android and Linux (the ebook reader is just an excuse, I agree with Steve J. Vaughan-Nichols) using the equivalent of nuclear weapons (software patents) is on TechCrunch:

Microsoft still has many talented people doing great things. Kinect and even Windows Phone the product, not the strategy jump to mind. But the suits and lawyers are burying all of that under 700 metric tons of bullshit

Read  Vivek Wadhwa’s Why We Need To Abolish Software Patents if you’re still not convinced that this is madness.

Why I wish I could reject your email attachment

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today launched a campaign calling on all computer users to start politely rejecting email attachments sent in secret and proprietary formats: for freedom and the good of the web!  I believe that open standards are the best form to convey information and I think that attachments contribute to spread proprietary formats.

Unfortunately I think that this campaign cannot be joined by mobile phone users because it’s damaging them. None of the mobile operating systems I have stumbled upon offers support for OO.org. Maybe on Android there is a way to read attached ODF files, but through Google Docs (support of Impress file format is missing, though). ODF support on BlackBerry was announced but I couldn’t find mention on their website. I think Meego (formerly known as Maemo) has native support for ODF, but very few people use it. Not sure about other OSes. A search for OpenOffice.org/ODF on Nokia Ovi Store produced no result. That alone excludes 40% of European mobile phone users (millions of people, including me) from joining this campaign. I wish I could join this campaign, but for me is still impossible to view an .odt or .opd on the move, so I prefer to receive a .doc or .ppt that I can use on my OpenOffice.org desktop and also look at it on my phone.

Mobile users still have too little freedom to reject proprietary formats. For Document Freedom Day I would like to add a new item to the FSF’s list of priorities: support for ODF on mobile operating systems, from Android to Symbian to others.

via Why I’m rejecting your email attachment — Free Software Foundation.

How to promote GNU and Software Freedom on 5th Avenue for free

Get this: Microsoft execs are desperately trying to reach kids and hipsters (pretending Windows is a cool brand) that they allow anybody to broadcast their tweets in the store window at legendary Saks on Fifth Avenue New York.

So here is your chance: tweet about software freedom, GNU, and Windows7sins using the #holidaywindows hashtag. And have fun!

via Apple Fans Flood Microsoft Window Display With “Get A Mac” Tweets | Cult of Mac.

Update: it seems that they are indeed filtering the Twitter stream. From a brief look at the messages posted, though, I wonder what is showing up on that window: most messages are promoting Mac anyway. This IMHO confirms that Microsoft has a long way to go if it wants to reposition its brand into the ‘cool’ realm.

BTW: we can still try to go past the filters and advertise to donate to charities, like FSF, SFLC or EFF 🙂

I wish antitrust bodies didn’t exist

My good friend Carlo Piana, the lawyer that helped Samba and FSFE in the antitrust trial Microsoft against the European Commission, says today:

priority #1 is to keep a close eye on the only overdominant company in the IT market

But given the outcome of the trial, with Microsoft getting a ‘get out of jail free’ card, I think it’s time to ask DG Competition to declare its failure as a body and never start any antitrust investigation anymore. I have seen them only do damages, no real positive effect. And they keep damaging users and freedom of business now with the Phase II investigation for the Oracle + Sun M&A.

Go home, Commissioner Kroes and take your toys with you.

via Let’s keep eye on the ball | Carlo Piana :: Law is Freedom ::.