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[humorix] Microsoft Conspiracy Theories

Microsoft Conspiracy Theories
May 26, 1999

Recently Humorix reported[1] on the Microsoft Conspiracy
Theory contest sponsored by Linux Fortnight News.  During
the past two weeks the Humorix staff has composed several
conspiracy theories that we will submit to the contest.  We
found that it's much easier to write Microsoft conspiracy
theories than it is to write ordinary fake news.  

* SETI@home: Searching for Intelligent Life in Windows

It seems suspicious that the source code to the SETI@home
client is closed.  The stated purpose of the SETI@home
Project is to utilize distributed computing to search for
alien signals. That is what They want you to believe.  The
client may spit out messages about "Fourier transforms" and
"signals from the Arecibo Observatory", but that's all a
cover to trick the unsuspecting public.

In reality, the CPU cycles burned running SETI@home are
actually compiling portions of the Windows 2000 source
code.  Sections of the Windows Y2K source code are
distributed (in encrypted form) as "work units" to
SETI@home clients.  The client program compiles that
section of code and returns the work unit to the SETI
website, which is actually a front for tide7.microsoft.com.

Such a distributed computing system is necessary to fully
compile the Windows 2000 source code in a reasonable amount
of time.  Using only internal Microsoft hardware, it would
take 23 days to make one WinY2K build.  With SETI@home (or
should we say, MS@home), it only takes 2.3 days.

* WinBoxes: The Latest Volley In The War Against Linux

Nicholas Petreley wrote an April Fool's article[2] about
"Winboards", cheap Windows-only motherboards that function
like WinModems.  While most of Petreley's readers laughed
at the absurd concept and moved on, an engineer from
Microsoft's R&D labs didn't.  Microsoft will embrace and
extend this concept to create entire Windows-only computers
called "WinBoxes".  What started out as an innocent April
Fool's gag has turned into Microsoft's latest anti-Linux

Microsoft has inked a secret deal with Compaq to produce a
line of WinBoxes.  These computers will consist exclusively
of specially designed Windows-only "hardware" built into
the motherboard. The CPU will handle all of the processing
that is usually reserved for external devices in real
computers.  The motherboard will contain a built-in
WinSoundCard(tm), WinHardDriveController(tm), 
WinEthernetCard(tm), WinVideoCard(tm), and, of course, a
WinModem(tm). (These boxes will not support traditional
floppy drives, but they will support proprietary
MSFloppies(tm) capable of holding 10MB apiece).

During the next few months Compaq will begin to
mass-produce WinBoxes.  These machines will NOT be
advertised as Windows-only brain-dead boxes, instead they
will be marketed as inexpensive entry-level machines for
unsuspecting novice computer users. Such users probably
don't realize that Windows alternatives exist, and even if
they knew about alternatives, they would be content to use
Windows. Indeed, these users will never have the
opportunity to realize that the "Windows-enhanced" logo
etched into the case is really a "Windows-only" warning

Within a few years, these WinBoxes could quietly spread
through the low-end desktop market and, ultimately, go
mainstream.  Your average computer user won't care that his
el cheapo US$199 computer can only run the latest version
of Windows Two-Thousand-And-Whatever.   Your average Linux
hacker will care, but alas, he'll be stuck using an ancient
AMD K7 system.

* The BASIC Conspiracy

Back in the Dark Ages of MS-DOS, most x86 computers came
with a BASIC interpreter.  While these early interpreters
were terrible (BASIC originally stood for BASIC Allows
SpaghettI Code, after all), MS-DOS 5.0 introduced QBASIC,
an interpreter that made it possible to write non-trivial
BASIC programs without using any GOTOs at all.   

Many preteen nerds and geeks learned how to program using
QBASIC.  Many of these geeks are now writing Open Source
software.  Ironically, it is a Microsoft program that
inspired many Linux hackers.

Not anymore, though.  QBASIC and it's older brother,
QuickBASIC, are now obsolete, relegated to some obscure
directory (if you're lucky) on the Windows or TechNet
CD-ROM.  Microsoft's current incarnation of BASIC, Visual
Basic, costs hundreds of dollars.  Microsoft doesn't bundle
a stripped down version of VB with Windows like it did
QBASIC with DOS (although just about everything else is
bundled in Windows, except maybe a kitchen sink (slated for
release with Windows 2002)).

What's a preteen proto-hacker to do?  If they use Windows,
not much.  They might be able to use the BASIC macro
language that comes with Office (why bother?), but, unless
they're willing to spend money on a compiler, programming
options are limited. Future possible Open Source hackers
are being squandered by Redmond's refusal to bundle a free
version of BASIC (or any language, for that matter) with
their mega-OS.  Preteens are content to play Quake and
Alpha Centauri instead of hacking code like us oldtimers
did.  It's a shame, really.

The conspiracy doesn't end there.  Most high schools no
longer teach programming courses; instead they have
"computer science" (sic) classes on using Windows or
Office.  Indeed, it would appear that many schools receive
discounts on Microsoft programs if they agree not to teach
any programming classes or classes on using non-Microsoft
programs. Programming is becoming a lost art.  An
increasing number of computer users trust Microsoft
exclusively to produce their software.  The Do-It-Yourself
attitude that makes Open Source so strong is dwindling in
future generations.

Linux could be doomed by a lack of future talent.  It's a
shame, really.

* The Other BASIC Conspiracy

[This conspiracy theory was drafted by a different member
of the Humorix staff than the previous one. -- The Editor]

You've probably seen old "programs" (I use the term
loosely) written in GW-BASIC or BASICA.  They are crap. 
Indeed, contrary to popular belief, BASIC actually stands
for Beginner's All-purpose System for Innovating Crap
(Symbolic Instruction Code my ass!).  The GW-BASIC
interpreter encouraged crappy poorly-written uncommented
spaghetti code compressed into as few lines as possible.

The abomination known as BASIC has ruined countless
potential Open Source programmers.  Teenagers who learned
"programming" via BASIC are stunted for life; many are
unable to advance beyond being an MSCE.  These BASIC-heads
have to unlearn everything they know in order to write
structured programs (much less anything Object Oriented!),
a feat many cannot master.

Item: BASIC has screwed over countless future programmers
with its unstructured "syntax".

Item: Microsoft has shipped brain-dead BASIC interpreters
with MS-DOS, and most recently, with Office in the form of
a macro language.

Obvious Conclusion: Microsoft has been conspiring to rid
the computer industry of programming talent, most likely in
a fiendish plot to ruin its future competition (read: Open
Source software).

More advanced versions of BASIC that shipped with MS-DOS 5+
(QBASIC) and with Office (Visual Basic for Applications)
are still brain-dead. These "modern" interpreters are
merely a ruse to obfuscate Microsoft's sinister plans for
programming domination.  The fact that Windows itself comes
with no BASIC interpreter is another fiendish plan devised
to confuse anybody attempting to unravel this conspiracy.

This conspiracy also applies to Microsoft's other modern
programming tools.  Visual C++, with its Microsoft
Foundation Classes, is a prime example of the raw evilness
pouring from Redmond. MFC-compiled programs are so bloated
that the entire Linux kernel could fit into their binaries
several times over!  And then there's J++, which is
sinister in its own right.

In conclusion, by bundling inferior programming tools with
its products during the 1980s (and today), Microsoft has
stifled programming talent, and thus, its competition.  The
fact that Open Source software has flourished against this
impediment is amazing.  But we must ask ourselves, what
would the computer industry be like if Microsoft had
bundled a decent BASIC interpreter with MS-DOS in the 80s?

* Australian Net Censorship: Welcome to MS-Australia!

The pending Internet censorship bill[3] in Australia (or,
by the time you read this, law) is obviously part of a
grand Microsoft conspiracy. While the stated goal of this
bill is to "protect the children"[4], in reality the
mission is to "protect the Microsoft stockholders."

This bill would place a burden on Australia ISPs to block
"offensive" material from overseas servers.  Such a burden
would weigh heavily on smaller ISPs, no doubt causing some
to go out of business (or merge with others).  This is
exactly what Microsoft -- in its fiendish scheme to turn
the Internet into the Microsoft Network -- wants.  With Net
access in Australia limited to a smaller set of ISPs,
Microsoft will be able to dominate the industry through a
couple of strategic ISP and telecom acquisitions.  

First Australia, and then the World.  The Microsoft
conspiracy to dominate Internet access through the guise of
"protecting the children" is underway.

And that's not all.  Humorix recently reported[5] that the
Linux operating system could be effectively banned from
Australia because it contains potentially offensive
material in its source code (the f--- word).  This
possibility still holds.  For all we know, the Humorix
website could be banned in the future because some
Australian politician found this article "offensive" to

If the above items don't reek of an obvious Microsoft
conspiracy, I don't know what does.


[1] http://i-want-a-website.com/about-linux/may99.shtml#Linux-Contests
[2] http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayNew.pl?/petrel/990405np.htm
[3] http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/05/26/1223245&mode=thread
[5] http://i-want-a-website.com/about-linux/may99.shtml#Linux-Censorship


James S. Baughn

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