Microsoft Officescam 2003
Here we go again. According to the NYT, Microsoft is planning to spend between $150 million and $200 million marketing the release of Office 2003. That’s five times as much as it spent on marketing Office XP two years ago. Now we all know that Microsoft sits on a mountain (over $40 billion) of cash, but even so…. What’s up?
Well, one reason for this hysterical marketing push might be that the boys at Redmond are worried about competition.
But which competition? Answer: two kinds. The first is from Open Source software — particularly from OpenOffice/StarOffice the free/cheap (respectively) office suite. The second — and possibly more threatening — is competition from earlier versions of Microsoft Office. After all, if a company is getting by perfectly well with boring ol’ Office 2000, why should it spend oodles of money upgrading to Office 2003? This could be a big threat to MS revenues in the future — the fact that its customers see no reason to upgrade to newer version of Redmond bloatware.
So what to do? One possible answer: a ‘feature’ called MO3, which is allegedly built into Office 2003. According to Michael Robertson, the colourful CEO and founder of Lindows.com (who has had his day in court with Microsoft and is therefore hardly an impartial source) “this code will give Microsoft the ability to change anything on your computer at anytime they wish with no notification to you…. Post 9/11, few people question actions taken under the guise of ‘improved security’ and this is how MO3 will be foisted onto computer users – as a feature to ‘make you safer.’ Computer users have understandably tired of the near daily worm and virus warnings, as well as the time-consuming patch process due to Microsoft’s lax software standards and its focusing not on building secure products, but products that secure its monopoly market positions. To improve the predicament which they’ve created, Microsoft is forcing consumers to accept MO3 embedded into every computer. Listen closely and you’ll hear Microsoft mouth pieces speak of “turning software into a service” which really means they will be changing the software on your computer whenever they feel like it. They will slowly limit your ability to run non-Microsoft software. They will restrict choices on your computer to only those products they approve. They will make changes which cripple other software programs or reduce their ability to interoperate with your computer so you will be forced to use exclusively Microsoft approved products.”
Robertson goes on to claim that MS have already embedded what he calls “the MO3 virus” into their XBOX game console. “They now have the power at anytime to change all existing Xboxes which connect to the Internet, and they are already misusing it. They have deleted files from users’ computers without their knowledge or permission. They have added software which has removed the ability to run competitor’s software. They have been changing users’ systems without their consent and notification. They will do the same on Microsoft Windows based computers once MO3 is installed.”
Hmmm… Wonder how much of this is true. What we do know is that Office 2003 won’t run on versions of Windows older than XP (or Win2K with Service Pack 3 installed). We also know that “the newest version of Office 2003 will have the ability to assign rights and privileges to office files. The Information Rights Management (IRM) technology requires a Windows Server 2003 running Windows Rights Management Services software to manage the restrictions. Users will have the ability to specify who has the rights to read, change, print or copy the document, and can set an expiration date.
The IRM tools will be included in the professional versions of all the various Office 2003 applications. However, the technology will not be backwards compatible, meaning that an Office 2003 document that makes use of IRM, will not be able to be opened by an earlier version of the Office software. However, Microsoft is also planning on providing a plug-in for IE that will give users the ability to view, print or forward the document, assuming they have the appropriate privileges. Even though there is already software on the market that allows users similar functions, Microsoft is hoping that by giving the users the ability to perform these lock down functions directly from the creating software, they can make it easier.” [Emphasis added.]