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Re: An Operating System That Advertises and Spies on Users

Roy Schestowitz wrote:
> The Ad-Supported Operating System
> ,----[ Quote ]
> | By now most people who are interested in operating systems have probably
> | had a chance to hear about the possibility of an ad-supported version of
> | Windows. Without knowing all the details it would seem that this would
> | allow for an operating system which would be available for a reduced
> | price and would feature some form of advertising built into a user's
> | normal work patterns. It is hard to speculate whether this might be
> | free, but it stands to reason that it would be an alternative to a
> | full-priced, ad-free version.

I don't know about Ballmer, but I don't see Bill Gates giving up any
revenue opportunities.  As it is, Microsoft has other vendors and
suppliers such as AOL contracting (probably giving Microsoft $$, but I
don't know the details) for their positions on the desktop and
shortcuts bars.

OEMs often negotiate with Microsoft for different versions based on the
needs of the customers.  For example, a corporate laptop probably
shouldn't have ads for AOL, but should have everything required for
support of manual or direct user configured TCP/IP and other network
access via LAN lines (XP Professional).  Conversely, a consumer
oriented version doesn't need to be so administrator friendly and
probably would come with lots of extra "help" to get things installed
using MSN or AOL (XP Home Edition).

In some cases, Microsoft lets the corporate customers "upgrade" their
Home Edition licenses to Professional, as part of their support
contract, or they just license Pro at a "bulk price".  Either way, the
corporate version licensed directly to corporations has fewer
restrictions such as activation keys, reconfigurations, and that sort
of thing.  The assumption is that a license will be purchased for every
employee, whether they use Windows or not (Whether they use a computer
or not?).

> | [...]
> |
> | The question of privacy will become enormously more important as
> | advertisers want increasing amount of targeting information about
> | users in order to make their advertisements more effective.
> `----

If you agree to permit your computer to run signed ActiveX controls,
and you use IE as your primary HTML viewer and you permit HTML
previewing in Outlook, all you have to do is preview the HTML document
and you could get an ActiveX control.  That control can then download
additional software and execute it with the same rights you have.  This
also means that they can open every file on your PC, including your
HTLog file, your Bookmarks and Shortcuts, your quicken files, your
outlook files, and any other files you haven't encrypted.  Even those
can be copied and shipped.

Furthermore, these hidden programs can write or alter files as well.
For example, they can add bookmarks or shortcuts to your default file.
They can add themselves to your distribution list (assuring that you
can't block their e-mails with spam blockers.

Under normal circumstances, such computer trespassing would be illegal,
because you would not have given your consent to any of these
activities.  On the other hand, because you clicked "I Accept" to the
Microsoft EULA, you gave Microsoft permission to do any of these things
on your computer.

Furthermore, you have Microsoft as a trusted CA, which means that any
company that obtains a certificate from Microsoft can do all of these
wonderful things too.  I wonder how much Microsoft charges for those

I wonder how many of these spyware programs were planted by ActiveX
controls signed by certificates issued by Microsoft?  I really don't
know.  Does anybody else have a clue?

> http://www.xyzcomputing.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=738

> Some time ago I read that Windows Vista's logon screen will contain ads.

Great, so it's not bad enough that I have pop-ups exploding all over
the screen the minute I start explorer, or that I have so many spyware
programs that there is no memory left to run programs to do actual
WORK.  Now I have to start looking at all of this junk (which will
further slow down my computer with animated garbage and bandwidth
sucking flash) and probably even HD video (more bandwidth for ads I'm
not interested in) from the moment the system boots?

That ought to trigger about 1/2 billion Linux deployments within 3-6
Yeah, I think they should do it!

> Meanwhile, based on a phonecall this morning, my dad has become fed up with
> Windows and WGA. He already uses Fox and Thunderbird. He asked me if
> Microsoft runs Web sites and spies on the visitors. I showed him Ubuntu last
> year.

Microsoft runs a number of sites, and when there are government
regulatory agencies involved, they "partner" with some third-rate shell
company that limits the scope of the audit.  This way, you don't have
the treasury department looking at their Mortgage business and deciding
to audit the entire organization in detail, or have the state DOT
regulators wanting to audit their entire company because of their
Car-Point business, or have the National Labor Relations Board and EEOC
auditing the entier company because of their Monster operation.

In some cases, Microsoft owns as much as 25%of these companies, and can
collect information in addition to a percentage of the revenue (license
fees are adjusted based on revenue).

Microsoft actually holds secondary interests in numerous regulated
businesses, including banks, finance companies, sattellites, television
networks, publishing companies, employment agencies, mortgage brokers,
real estate agencies, and others, and often collects as much as 25% of
the commision, along with access to all the information related to any
transaction conducted.

Microsoft could even act as an "anonymous informant", providing tips to
investigators and law enforcement agencies, assisting them in finding
"probable cause" for the search warrants that would give police access
to information legally.  I'm not saying they do, but I am saying that
it is technologically feasable for them to do so.

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