Minecraft Creator Takes a Notch Out of Microsoft

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 29, 2012 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: Windows Store, windows 8, censorship

And by the way -- Windows Store will censor apps. More on that later.

So around the same time as my future of Windows editorial became published PC Mag published a related piece: Notch from Mojang outrages over certification for Windows Store. Mojang voiced his concerns for the platform and its attempts to “ruin the PC as an open platform.”

I have, and continue to, claim that Microsoft appears to want to close the Windows platform in a near-future revision of the platform. Once there is enough software available through Windows Update and Windows Store it seems highly likely that Microsoft will remove all other ways on to your device -- as they have done with Windows RT. The concept of a cross-device, controlled, and secure platform is just too tempting.

Win8_End_Mic.png

Loyal, but not stupid.

But backwards compatibility is not the only concern with going metro. Everything must be certified.

Indeed - as of the latest July 2012 certification requirements for Windows Store - Microsoft will predictably be censoring applications just as they do with the Xbox. Section 5.8 and 6.2 of the aforementioned certification requirements clearly state: applications must not contain excess or gratuitous profanity and applications must also not contain adult content. Of course this is aimed squarely at the various niches of adult graphic novels (correction: I apparently meant visual novels, not graphic novels - but I'm sure those would not be let on the Windows Store either) and similarly themed interactive content and the message is clear: get out and stay out.

I can think of a couple of countries where that will not fly.

To be fair Microsoft has addressed the issue in the very same section with the following clause:

We understand that in some cases, apps provide a gateway to retail content, user generated content, or web based content. We classify those apps as either Storefront apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and sell third party media or apps, or Streaming apps, whose primary function is to aggregate and stream web-based images, music, video or other media content. In some cases, it may be acceptable for a Storefront or Streaming app to include some content that might otherwise be prohibited in a single purpose app.

The clause functionally means: “Yeah we know web browsers cannot prevent themselves from surfing to the wrong side of the internet’s metaphorical tracks. This is not an excuse to ban them.” It also does not limit the censorship that Microsoft is clearly imposing.

And frankly the issue is not even with adult content; the issue is with the certification itself. We are at a point where Microsoft seems to want us to accept and migrate to their closed platform where everything is certified.

But what if future certification seriously limits or disables 3rd party modifications to software like attempted with Games for Windows Live? What if Microsoft decides to charge developers tens of thousands of dollars just to certify a patch? These are all serious issues to think about.

While you are thinking - consider a plan to simply ditch the Windows platform altogether and go with an open platform we can actually trust.

Source: PC Mag

Windows Live Messenger or mass censor? No TPB links in chat

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2012 - 11:21 PM |
Tagged: MSN Messenger, censorship

Microsoft disables linking The Pirate Bay through Windows Live Messenger and third-party applications using the protocol. 

A few years ago, one common attack vector for malware was to hijack messenger clients and send malware links to users on your friends list. Later malware was programmed aggressively enough to hold simple conversation as they attempted to gain the user’s trust.

At some point, Microsoft decided to block links to known attack sites in an attempt to prevent users from lemming their computer.

msn-tpb.jpg

You're dead linked to me...

Recently Microsoft has decided to add the current URL of The Pirate Bay to their block list. Microsoft has not made an announcement whether their employee, a third party company, or a computer algorithm censored The Pirate Bay. Microsoft has accidentally blocked links to Youtube in 2008 due to a mistake caused by one of their third party partners.

Since The Pirate Bay was the only torrent tracker to be blocked by MSN, it is entirely possible that an infected ad link could have automatically added the site to the block list. Google maintains a similar blacklist to be used in their Chrome browser and their search page.

So what do you guys think? Accidental or deliberate? Internal, External, or Automatic?