Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?

MS Dirty Pool Against AOL? 200

Hobbes_ sent us an amusing little story that talks about some MS Employee forging some email to some guy trying to raise heat against AOL. Just read the article, its more than just a little bizarre.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MS Dirty Pool Against AOL

Comments Filter:
  • Enough credible sources?
    BTW, it is kind of ironic since you are an Anonymous Coward....
  • I seem to recall a story during the height of the Visual C++/Borland C++ compiler wars. One of the Visual C++ manuals gave credit to "Buck Forland".
  • Disclaimer: I've worked for MS as an intern. Not in any group where I'd know about the workings of AOL software (!), 'tho...

    Hmmm. If the buffer overflow actually exists, *and* Microsoft is sure of that, they'd better be able to prove it -- in other words, document and release code to both AOL and a forum such as BugTraq. A history of such alleged holes and copies of the relevant binaries and such forwarded to an independent group should work...

    If they cannot substantiate the existence of such, then this would seem to be either a bizarre game of chicken, or it would seem that at the very least an apology is in order -- possibly more, for laying very specific and public charges on AOL's products.

    In the meantime, that has little bearing on whether it's legal for AOL to block other services from using their messaging system, security hole or no.
  • Absolutely right. And more recently, MS was caught trying to urge it's employees to show "grassroots support" for the company via letter writing campaigns when the DOJ was getting into the main part of the case against them.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a link available. Anyone?
  • This ALL makes sense now. I don't know why someone didn't realize this already. The reason Microsoft is saying that there's a buffer overflow exploit for AOL IM is that there might be a way to execute and/or receive certain data from the memory in the system and/or other things. Apparently, AOL's client has some built in functionality to allow them leeway in changing enough of the protocol to be able to detect what information a real client should get. This "buffer overflow exploit" might be one of their mechanisms. Or M$ might just assume that it is one. Obviously, some of those M$ engineers are quite frustrated at being blocked and not knowing how to get around the block.
  • I'm not a big fan of MS (I use my Windows box only for gaming), but I have to admit that I like IE *way* better than Netscape. Netscape on my Linux box hangs all the time, plus it's awkward to use. Of course, even Netscape is a peach compared to some of the other web browsers for Linux. -joe-
  • If you think free market competition hurts, business communications...
    If you think that a monopoly running everything is good ...
    If you think that open standard retard/prevent inovation...

    You are on another planet, bucko.
  • "After reading these things for a while I became convinced that I could make a fortune distributing a good Linux-compatible spell checker."
    -Jack Bryar

    Perhaps he should begin his development of a Linux-compatible grammar checker as well.
  • Alright then, smile at an honest comparison. I've been working on computers for 17 years and I'm an MCSE. By your reasoning, I should be pro-NT, right? Wrong. Our LAN (at work) runs a mix of WinNT4 and Debian servers, and I can honestly say Debian is the preferable server platform. Our NT boxes lock up and require reboots at least once a week, and they always bomb at the worst possible time (like when I'm at lunch). Our Debian machines were all rebooted about two weeks ago because we were doing hardware checks on was the first time in 6 months that any of them had been offline.

    Up until a month ago our company webserver ran NT Server 4 with IIS 4, and it required daily reboots. A month ago we installed Debian+Apache, and it's been up, unaided, ever since.

    I'll agree that some people here seriously exaggerate the instabilities of NT, but Linux actually is the more reliable OS for mission critical servers.
  • And during the login proccess you (guess what) use the login database. And then you can (guess what again) use the info database and find out neat things about AIM users.
  • Can anybody explain how you could track a Yahoo mail message to a Microsoft employee?

  • You prefer IE over Netscape? There are so many little things about IE that just annoy the hell out of me... one being that it hangs randomly. But honestly though, I'm not calling pro-MS people MS Gimps. I use NT at work. Hell I use NT to write papers at school if necessary and surf the web. However, when I see a message posting on some usenet group with an MSN email address or a hotmail anonymous address, it makes me wonder. Especially when they're making blatently false or misleading statements.
  • "Thou who hath lied once, who shall believe you?"

    Sorry, I'm not sure about the exact quote but that is a close aproximation.
  • by Matt ( 78254 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:50PM (#1743729)
    This was in the latest comp.risks digest []. The article makes reference to a NewsScan Daily [] article called "Spy Who Messaged Me" -- Now Playing at Microsoft! [], which in turn cites the New York Times article [].

    This article says that it was traced to a Microsoft Proxy. Whether or not this is a corporate server or not is not said, so there is room for doubt. Although I can assume that is is a corporate proxy server rather than an MSN proxy server.

  • Hard to think that an MS employee (or anyone with any computer knowledge) wouldn't have thought about this though. Hmmmm, oh well....

  • Why should AOL allow Microsoft to use their *proprietary* database of users? Would you stand idly by while a competitor develops a program that can use your own long-standing userbase against you?
  • You prefer IE over Netscape? There are so many little things about IE that just annoy the hell out of me... one being that it hangs randomly.

    I haven't had IE 4.0 hang randomly on me, but I can crash communicator 4.61 and earlier at will, at least on my nt box.

    Open 1 page.
    Open a second page in a second window.
    Reload both pages simultaneously.
    Wait for Dr. Watson...

  • I sure hope ICQ stays out of the fray in this battle.

    I know that the most powerful force in the universe is entropy, and ICQ will eventually go to crap, but right now, it's a more than adequate messaging system with no advertisements and works most of the time.

    I just hope they all leave it alone.

  • well ICQ is soooooo icky (personal opinion)

    the main communication to the server is UDP (udp=? undenyably drops packets)

    client to client communication goes directly to the clients first in all official clients (as far as i can tell), theres no way to specify a specific user is behind a firewall, and can't handle connecting to her(gender neutral) directly. I believe the clients may try to connect directly every time a message is sent, rather than once per session as would be somewhat intellegent(ironically i don't think i spelt that word correctly).

    There is no authentication of the other user in direct user to user communication, with aim you can assume if the user logged in as herself, its in fact her, but if you get a message on ICQ, it could just be somebody f***ing w/ your head.

    This is not to say AIM is uber protocol, its got yucky things as well, nor is it to say ICQ is bad, i usually have both running, just because of the different userbases.

  • by drwiii ( 434 )
    Seriously, five years ago I wouldn't have expected something like this from Microsoft, but these days I wouldn't put anything past them.

    They should just get it over with and merge all these half-assed attempts at winning mindshare into one entity: The Microsoft Public Manipulation Team.

  • Yeah, the toc servers dumped the buddy lists like it said they would in one of the readmes somewhere on aol's site. (back when they let ppl get toc related stuff off of it)

    (granted i've forgotten where exactly it said it, but if i cared, i might be able to find it again)
  • I'd be willing to bet 80% of the pages Netscrape hangs on predictably are made by Frontpage or it's MS-Kin...
  • I love the part where the Microsoft marketing director says, ``It's unfortunate they're putting user security at risk.'' That slays me.
  • by kevlar ( 13509 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:06PM (#1743745)

    But I've sometimes wondered who was really posting messages promoting MS on /. and other places. Of all the sys-admins I've ever come across in my life (which is short, and a small number compared to some), I've not once had one say they thought any of MS' OSes were coded well or stable. Anyone else truely meet an admin who advocated MS? I'd really like to know.
  • In response to the responses to funny responses -- a good new feature for slashdot:

    Get rid of the 'Submit' button.
    Have a huge banner at the top of the preview screen saying "Have you considered the possibility that this person is being humorous"?

    I mean, sheesh. Attached to nearly every funny/sarcastic/ironic comment are four or five responses saying "you're stupid, that's wrong". Even the obvious ones.

  • by Beached ( 52204 )
    Three words, Fear Uncertainty Doubt
  • I can see it now. Call RedHat. We've got a new jacket layout for them. Right at the top of the box it will read:

    Can't WinNT compete?

    "No. You're a moron." -- Anonymous Coward,

    Forget all that enlightened approuch stuff. Forget function over splashy brochures. Oh no. We've finally awoken to what will REALLY get Linux out there into the masses. Not results... insults. And plenty of them. Can't we see about producing anti-Windows FUD while we're at it?

  • I wonder where this leaves the "Open Source" trademark?
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • []
  • The Libyan hit teams are not compatible with Win32. So MS purchased Syrian hit teams, slapped on a better looking interface, and called it MS ActiveSyrian HitTeam 95.

    Sadly, Libyasoft lost a lot of their customers because of this.
  • The August 16 issue of The New Yorker has an article about the Microsoft trial. The article also contains some tidbits about Microsoft's internal culture, such as this (p.42):
    [Gates and other Microsoft senior staff] invoked a phrase, "hard core," to describe both their stance and their corporate culture. To be hard core was to be a believer, a gladiator who preferred combat to compromise.... [Microsoft executives] would hold rallies in Redmond at which Steve Ballmer, now the company president, pumped up the troops by leading them in a war whoop, screaming for victory.
    I can imagine employees in that kind of culture performing dirty tricks on their own initiative. Their managers may formally disapprove of such antics--the managers may even sincerely believe that pulling stunts like that is a bad idea. But if an attitude of "Microsoft is under siege and we must defend it" pervades the campus, then some employees will pay more attention to that attitude than to ethical formalities.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to learn that something like this could have originated by the highly respected computer company Microsoft.
  • Steve. Barkto.

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • Weird... works for me in v. 4.51.... Although it appears that every version of IE I've used has crashed on me at some point. Kinda sucks too, because I'd email the bug to MS if I could only reproduce it with a specific procedure. For some reason though it happens randomly (obviously not literally random, but it appears random). Its the typical symptoms of a blue screen. You'll be working on something important (usually under heavy load), and BAM! blue screen.
  • Directory Listing Denied

    This Virtual Directory does not allow contents to be listed.

  • It's happening again right now. Check out the forums at SJ Merc, NYT, CNN... same one or two people in all those places spewing their Randroid rants and making anything like meaningful discussion well nigh impossible. Look for posts from someone variously calling himself "Steve Stoddard" and "Goodold_Lucifer"...

    Zontar The Mindless,

  • Breaking down a proprietary system may be good if we are breaking down the Win32 API, but we are talking about AOL's IM system and one company who will probably break its protocol: M$.

    The only good that will come of this is AOL will possibly lose control of its IM system. M$ is probably using this to hurt AOL in some kind of underhanded way. Who the heck uses AOL's IM anyway? AOL subscribers. And who else?

    All I hear is raves about ICQ and IRC and none about IM. It seems like AOL is way behind on this front. BTW, if M$ would build IM into their OS, it would crush ICQ and IRC financially. This is how M$ uses their monopoly power to kill companies, they buy into a technology and give it away for free.

    For example, I heard about how several companies were offering (if I remember correctly) a video game audio technology. They were competing and were selling their technology. The software was continuously getting better and competetion was fierce. Micro$oft bought one of the companies. They took their software development kit and bundled it with another M$ development kit as a free add on. The other companies went out of business, competition has ceased, and development toward a mature product has ceased.

    It is not necessairly good to have developing technologies as open source because it diverts revenues from these emerging markets. In the case of Operating Systems, the market has stagnated and this is why we see KDE and GNOME comming up from the rear with systems almost as user friendly as a Mac.

    There is also the case where systems are not commercially viable. For example, EMACS is not a comercially viable product (Try to sell it to someone;), but is very useful for the many people that use it. So, it has become open source.

    A market where I see that open source is not ready is digital audio and MIDI. If you look at Studio Vision, it is very hard to imagine developing such a product through open source. It is extremely complex and highly integrated. Only a highly talented development team who has access to tons of research can produce such a easy to use and robust program. Other examples are Photoshop, Canvas (compare to GIMP), Adobe Illustrator, and Macromedia Freehand (compare to xfig and killustrator).

    On the other hand, anyone who has taken a comprehensive Operating Systems course and has some talent could write Linux or the Windows Kernel or even the Mac Kernel. (The NT kernel, from what I have read, is radically different. different != better)

    So, what I am trying to say is that competition+venture capital feeds progress and M$=monopoly=kill progress. Also open source cannot compete with radical commercial software products.

  • No, the A-team was being chased by the law. (I think his name was Decker, or something like that).

    Rambo, on the other hand, was brought in by the government to do stuff that they didn't want to get their hands dirty with....sort of like SOF [] on TV these days, or like a more violent version of Mission Impossible.
  • by Oirad ( 19452 )
    Stability is not important thanks to the new cluster server package and switches.

    I can't believe you just said that with a straight face? Stability isn't important? I don't claim to be an admin or anything, but even with redundancy and clustering, when a server fails, it's going to mess things up. Do you want less stability on, say, the computers controlling the nuclear power plant near your home? I'm not willing to rely on clustering for something *that* mission critical. Or even better, are you willing to sacrifice stability on your company's payroll systems? I didn't think so. Give me stability!
  • I think he meant that it would hurt IRC software providers (like mIRC, for example)
  • It's very simple. Send yourself an e-mail from a yaho account, then look at the e-mail headers (under k-mail, for example, click "View->All Headers". The first few lines of the header will be something like this:

    Received: from ([])
    by (Name of Mail Service) with SMTP id blahblahblah

    So this guy at AOL really had to do some fancy tracing to find the orginating domain of the e-mail!
  • I can reliably get Netscape 4.5 to crash my Win98 machine at work, simply by opening up ... (surprise!) and scrolling a bit.

    I do have a Voodoo Banshee in it, though.

  • A voice interface would be very usefull during a blue screen. I hope it will understand Say ve.
  • being a microsoft employee is not like being an employee of any other comapny... if I were to stick up publicly for my company.. it wouldn't be a big deal. No one would think i'm evil. However, anyone from microsoft sticking up for microsoft is automatically considered evil by most. If I worked for microsoft, and wanted to state my opinion, I would do it anonymously as well. As for the lying about his consulting firm.. he has to establish somehow that he knows what he's talkin about and he's not just some crackpot. In short, its not a big deal.
  • Bill Phucking...

    Does anyone remember hearing about the original press release for Visual Basic 5.0, Control Creation Edition?

    It included a list of upcoming publications that included VB5 CCE. One of the books was

    * "Visual Basic 5.0 Client/Server How-To," Buck Forland, Waite Group Press

    Buck Forland....

    Seems that the microsoft joke department can't
    come up with anything new or original either!
  • lets just hope linux never becomes popular, cos half the people here would then be morally bound to hate it...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 1999 @01:13PM (#1743774)
    > But I've sometimes wondered who was really
    > posting messages promoting MS on /. and
    > other places.

    Haven't we heard enough about "fake
    Microsoft employees potsing pro-Microsoft
    messages"? I think people just enjoy using
    innovative software from the leader of our
    nation's technology industry. Folks around the
    world are amazed at the increased productivity
    they experience because of Microsoft software,
    and just want to share their satisfaction with
    the exciting technologies available today.

    Here's an example: we all know that Windows98
    makes computers easy to use, right? But that
    whole "point-and-click" thing doesn't work if
    you can't see the screen! That's why the
    patriotic innovators at Microsoft are hard at work
    developing verbal interfaces, such as a lovable
    talking parrot whose sassy, high-pitched voice
    guides the eyeball-impaired through their favorite
    programs. Who wouldn't feel a sort of
    "irrational exhuberance" at these innovations,
    and want to share word of them with the world?

    H. Humbert
    Humbert Consulting

  • Reports and quotes from so called 'experts' who have this weakness of Linux to complain about and another harping on another set of negatives. All negative...all the time. Watch for it. We're so strong now and growing...and they're so quiet. It's scary.

    Redhat should begin splashing some of that money onto full page ads in the trade magazines---and not just harping their own distro. Stuff for the community...
  • I'll be curious to see how soon the same stuff is pulled against Linux.

    I can guarantee it's going on right now. I mean if it works once, wouldn't you want to try it again. FUD/Marketing call it what you will, it's all about influencing the ignorant, not a difficult thing to do in my experience.

    I've seen some *suspicious* AC's on our very own /....

  • I find it interesting that AOL is doing nothing to promote ICQ. Which, IMNHO, is a much better instant messaging client than anything that is currently out there...

    A quote from the article:

    "Separately, America Online and Novell Corp. on Thursday announced that Novell, a network software provider based in Provo, Utah, had licensed the AOL Instant Messenger software and planned to build it into its Netware Directory Services software for corporate users."

    In light of all these 'licensing' deals that AOL is making, I recall that no mention of ICQ has ever been made.

    Once again, IMNHO, AOL is trying to kill any kind of 'IM' that isn't their own, despite the fact that they own ICQ now...

    What do you guys think?
  • Reminds me of all those Rambo movies, where the US Government disowns a "fringe" group of commandos. "They were acting on their own"

    Yeah, I think I saw a movie based on a story like this too. It was called "All The President's Men". But that was just fiction, right?

  • by coyote-san ( 38515 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @01:23PM (#1743781)
    But what can you do?

    A company can do a lot, especially in this case if the author is identified. Remember, that message was (allegedly) sent from a system on the Redmond campus. The author didn't even bother to log into his own ISP account and then connect to the free service. (Or maybe I'm just spoiled by my unix shell account.)

    This means that an employee has:

    1) used corporate resources to
    2) publicly lie (about his affiliation with Microsoft, if not the buffer overflow problem), and thus
    3) bring his employer into disrepute.

    In the most extreme cases, Microsoft could dismiss such employees immediately. Any employee who inserts an actionable easter egg into a released product, *and* his immediate supervisor for failure to exercise sufficient oversight should be fired-for-cause, IMHO.

    In this case, it would not be unreasonable for MS to insert a "written reprimand" for lying about his employment status in a message sent from MS property, with either a few days suspension and/or an explicit reduction in his next performance raise.

    This response might sound extreme, but look at how much these antics are costing Microsoft. Right now it's only some techies who are outraged at "fluff" easter eggs in many (most?) MS applications, but what will happen if someone wins millions of dollars because one easter egg alleges that a particular individual is sexually assaulting his child, and it turns out that the egg was inserted by the spouse's new SO? Or thousands of users find their system compromised because a latter-day Excel flight simulator contains a serious security hole?
  • They wouldn't do this five years ago? They did! About five years ago they were doing this to OS/2!

    What colors can you get astroturf in?

  • This discussion is real fun! :))

    It is THE theme on slashdot an i really love to read the same arguments told again and again using different words and i am even more amused reading the lots of NEW arguments never heard before!

    i have an idea:
    make this discussion a separate part of slashdot, a permanent feature, a gamelike thing with a big counter Linux vs. MS where the best comments score! Only the last, say, 300 comments are stored, like with a logfile-wrapper.

    Except of the above, THERE WILL BE NO RULES!

    wow, i'd love that!

    Another thing we could do:
    write two eliza-like programs, one on a Linux platform, the other on a windoze^H^Hws platform. (maybe even make separate ones for win9x and winNT...)

    then, put them into discussion. :)
    yeah, make them defend their platform and try to outrage each other.

    AND: the both elizas must have a web interface, where geeks can add new arguments and curses to the knowledge-base of each one.
    of course this could be extended to other platforms too!
    maybe we can also do a moderator-bot, that tries to calm down both parties...

    hummmm...that would be funny...

  • Yes, it was pretty damned stupid. But no, it wasn't just reading headers.

    The message was sent from an anonymous account at Yahoo. Now, this was incredibly dumb--what "owner of Bucking Consulting, a software consulting firm" would send mail from a free account?--but the headers still don't say anything about microsoft in them. However, they do contain the originating IP address, which was traced back to MS.

    "The one computer security expert who could trace it back to Microsoft"? Not quite. But it wasn't as absurdly obvious as you might think.
  • I don't know about that, but Netscape under NT has a similar problem relating to certain java applets.

    The fix: Task Manager, second tab. You _can_ kill processes in NT much like you can in linux, but it's all GUI-fied.

    My gripe: NT doesn't give me problems on a workstation that's shut down when I'm not using it. 95 was a tad flaky in comparison, but never unbearable on a decent system. I just got a laptop with a clean 98 install, and it dies horribly every so often when it's supposed to suspend.

    Problem? Yes. Why? Because some games need DirectX better than 3, and NT can't do it yet. 98 can, but it dies horrid flaming deaths far too often to be usable.

    Anyway, closer to on topic:

    AOL's TOC protocol based clients have been getting a pretty nasty beating from this MS problem, but they still connect. Are we meant to believe that a Tcl/TK app *and* a lisp applet, as well as an outside coded TOC-based client also abuse buffer overflows.

    When it comes to flamebait, apparently Microsoft excels. More FUD, fewer facts than anyone else.

    Christopher Kalos
  • I might point out that if Linux had the same kind of hardware support (from ISV's, not from Linux developers) you would probably see just as many faults in Linux.

    That's why things like drivers (as well as the OS) should be made open source. If the drivers cause problems then someone can fix them and submit a patch rather than waiting for the ISV to fix it themselves.

  • Well I rarely have problems with Netscape on Linux (a few crashes but not very frequently) and people I know using Windows have very little problems with Netscape or IE.

    I don't think Netscape is as unstable as people make out and on the Windows platform IE is more stable than Netscape but on the odd occaision IE crashes it's more likely to bring the system down.

    Basically use whatever browser you prefer but it's a total load of rubbish saying Netscape crashes all the time.

    As for supporting standards, why should Netscape waste time on getting standards support in the 4.x browsers? This would just slow down the development of Mozilla. IE5 isn't totally standards compliant and N4.x is even worse but until Mozilla I'm prepared to wait as if the standards currently work only on IE5 (Mozilla isn't stable yet so it doesn't count) they should not be used in web pages (except for testing standards compliance) as it ties down people to using IE.

    Once Mozilla is launched we will have the standards compliance and cross platform support. If Netscape had worked on adding this to 4.7 then we'd wait a lot longer for Mozilla and as the 4.x series are based on the old layout engine it wouldn't be as small or as fast as Mozilla.
  • sql*kitten is at least sincere, though given the things he's sincere about it's hard to tell if that's a good thing.
  • IE5 Nails all versions of Netscape in terms of speed and features. Dammit, Netscape 4.x doesn't even render tables correctly!.

    (Try this:


    in IE, if the window is resized, the center cell resizes correctly as that is the only variable width column in the table. Netscape just f*cks this up completely)

    IE is far more stable than Netscape, though it has crashed a couple of times on me. I am not by any means pro-m$. I am just waiting in the wings for Linux+goodgui+Netscape5+LotusSmartsuite(+Dreamweav er/Flash... would be nice) and then I'll migrate. There are just not enough applications that I need to do my everyday work that are not available on Linux.
  • Certainly it's a firing offense anywhere (and perhaps grounds for a defamation lawsuit). The question is whether Microsoft actually wants to go after this individual or not.

    Notice that:

    1) Thus far they have been unable to identify the employee in question (which if their gateway is even halfway decent shouldn't take more than a few hours at most).

    2) Rob Bennett (director of marketing, MSN) didn't exactly condemn whoever did it "somebody who got a little over-passionate but went about it the wrong way." Sounds like praising with faint damnation to me, especially in a culture that rewards taking risks.

    3) Not only does Bennett not condemn the unnamed employee, he concurs with the statements so made.

    It probably (IMHO) was not officially sanctioned, but I suspect that there was no need to actually ask someone to do so or formally approve it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "sent it to the one computer security expert who could trace it back to Microsoft..." Pardon me, but does this strike anyone else as very laughable? Even a greenhorn admin can make sense of mail headers, yet this journalist makes it sound like the guy is James Bond. Give me a break!
  • How about this one too...

    "Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me."

  • Okay, If i were to fake an email to AOL and ask about a buffer overflow put in AIM to stop MSN messenger, if AOL traced it back to me, no one on earth would have found out, so if AOL didnt trace the email back to Microsoft this article wouldnt be here.... So what I think is, because only an idiot would send email from hotmail and not know it cant be traced, is that Microsofts plan was to send a fake email, when aol traces it back to Microsoft, they go tell the press about it, now the contents of the email goes out, because it was from Microsoft everyone on the net reads the story, and bam, everyone knows about an overflow bug in AIM..... Microsoft did this just to spread the word to get AOL in trouble, so their plan worked!

    (i probably could have said all that in a couple lines but i type to much, see here i go again, why am i typing this? ahhhh bye!)

    $mrp=~s/mrp/elite god/g;
  • Yes, I've had IE hang on me, but I've had Netscape do the same thing. And there are a lot of things that I like about IE, such as saving your password (I don't care about that security risk, it's an at home machine), bookmarks are handled a lot better (naming them when you make them, easier to get to), IE uses more tags (Netscape is really bad about CSS), and finally, I just like the way text looks in IE over Netscape. And I've seen many many pro-Linux people make blatently false or misleadign statements, so it's not just MS guys.
  • What is Microsoft used the GNU available AOL protocol called Toc? Would AOL still have such a beef with them? I am curious as to how the GNU type licensing that AOL has would apply in this case. I mean, there are several clients out there that make use of Toc, the ASCII based AIM protocol.

    Anyway, I wonder if MS will try taking the path of using the publicly available protocol. Don't get me wrong, I dislike MS with some respect as the next person, but I think they should just be like the rest of the client developers and use Toc []. Just because little billy has plenty of money is no reason for him to be above the law.

    For those that are interested in a primer on ToC, feel free to check out []. I have a (small) archive there of the ToC Protocol including the old TiK client for TCL that AOL distributed in place of their clunky Java client.

    Anyway, that's my two cents. Read the Protocol [] and decide for yourself. Cheers.

  • Maybe its just a puberty thing, but there are other ways to respond to something that you don't agree with other than personal insults. It's really quite sad.
  • Although I have had IE crash a bit on my system, the thing that gets me is that NT doesn't seem to clean up the process until you shutdown/log off.
  • This way off-topic but you got me thinking about fun with names, or more specially about anagrams. I know that this has been done before, but here goes:

    Bill Gates: Steal glib: Bag it, sell

    Linus Torvalds: Rival sold nuts: Sun's vital lord (hmmmm, what does this mean?)

    Rob Malda: A bar mold: Rod a lamb (hmmm, better not touch this last one)

    There's a lot more (ES Raymond = Sermon Day). Perhaps we could start using anagrams as /. login names.

  • Well, if MS were to distribute Toc, it would say AOL all over it. That wouldn't look as cool as, oh, say, MICROSOFT... And then there is that sticky issue of legality, although it never stopped MS before.

    I've heard rumors (unconfirmed) that a lot of people have had trouble with Toc clients lately. I dunno. I ICQ anyway.
  • by Wonko42 ( 29194 ) <> on Monday August 16, 1999 @02:30PM (#1743806) Homepage
    I think everyone needs to go re-read the article. And then read what the other sources have to say...this is a big news item; all the major online news sites have reported it. In fact, it's a few days old now. The issue here is not that some stupid Microsoft employee impersonated someone else and bashed AOL. The point is that the stupid Microsoft employee was right. AOL is exploiting a buffer-overrun backdoor in its Instant Messenger client which causes the client to automatically execute any source code that comes down the line from the server.

    This is such a huge security issue it's revolting. But of course, nobody noticed that part of the story, because everyone was too busy laughing at how Microsoft made this information known...

    Wonko the Sane

  • Run Xvnc ( on the server and the BeOS port of vncviewer ( on the BeOS workstation. Using VNC is slower than using a local X server, but it has advantages too (e.g. you can just switch off the workstation and the apps keep running on the server until you re-connect).
  • Does anyone know if this has anything to do with the recent disapperance of Tik [] and the other [] versions of AIM? Or did they just move while I wasn't looking? I noticed there's the biginning of something at [] if that's related...


  • Sources, sources ...
  • I have IE 4/5 and Commo 4.61 hang my box, so HA!
    Seriously, hate to be offtopic, but all three have a total lock effect on my NT4SBS SP4 install.

    I had problems with IE under my old NT4S SP3 install, switching to Netscape cleared that up, however now nothing does. I wish I could get a Dr. Watson or Task Manager.. nada.

    Still working on the problem, so far the only solution is to not browse the web;)
  • >Markoff is stupid ... He calls AOL and MSN the two biggest ISP's in >the world ... I would be more tempted to read his stuff if it wasn't >always full of inaccuracies due to his cluelessness and lazyness.

    Nice to see employees from the microsoft astroturf division hard at work, isn't it guys?
  • Yeah, using software from some companies is like playing marbles with the spoiled little rich brat down the street who throws a temper tantrum and tries to change the rules evertime he loses: it's just not any fun.

  • i had to read this twice to realise that this message is, in fact, a wind-up.

    but just in case others don't see the joke, can i make three points:
    i)I agree that OLE ( and for that matter activeX ) are not supported in the MS fashion; I'm not sure if you also meant to include COM and DCOM in your list of glue, or you deliberately left it out becuse of the known security issues..

    ii) ODBC is generally supported on most Unices, and specifically on ODBC is available on most databases, as are the drivers, look in for a whole bunch of drivers to attach ODBC for perl, java, c, c++, etc. Is the MS ODBC different from the publicly defined version?

    iii) CORBA is available, for client programs, on windows and NT; you really dont want to put an ORB on these platforms because you want some stability in the server for the broker. The easiest implementation is built into JAVA ( the standard SUN version and IBM's, maybe not MS's) - and c++ libraries are availbale also. I don't know if the CORBA orb is fully implemented on windows, but it is on NT, and also a simplistic ORB is available as a JAVA example somewhere. Other glues (un-like OLE) are available in the desktop including tooltalk, KDE/KOM and GNOME.

    but there do remain some cases where MS office products remain the most appropriate, its just that MS can no longer just wash alternative platforms away with no thought.

  • Don't bother looking there unless you are using Netscape.
  • How the can you say ICQ is a better protocol? I find this to be even more unbelievable than AOL trying to pull it's GPL on TOC! I've used both AIM and ICQ for a while now, and all I get from ICQ is lost or severly delayed messages, porn ads, bizzare behavior, and security flaws. AIM's protocol on the other hand is quick, slim(not bloatware), and reliable. Not to mention very portable.
    Am I the only one who sees this?
  • Well... He didn't "admit" that it was an MS employee. He just said that it looked quite likely. Probably figured it was the kind of thing a MS employee was likely to do, but he didn't actually know whether it was actually one of them or not.
  • No. What I've gotten through my head is that I can't prove it was from MS. A very different thing. However, I can verify the at least one of their public spokesmen doesn't think that it's a very serious offense against the MS code of ethics. Possibly along the lines of violating "Don't get caught."
  • MS can't make up it's mind when it posted this. Press page say Jul 28th, Article says Aug 6, but I never saw it until Aug 15th. Must have gone to a lawyer.

    Microsoft Continues to Work Toward Consumer Interoperability, Despite AOL Allegations About MSN Messenger

    REDMOND, Wash. - Aug. 6, 1999 - On July 22, Microsoft® launched MSN Messenger Service, the free Internet messaging service that enables people to communicate with the greatest number of Internet users and offers the tightest integration with popular Microsoft communications tools. One of the exciting features of MSN Messenger Service is the ability to exchange messages with both other MSN Messenger users and with people using AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).

    In several recent news reports, America Online has made a number of false or misleading claims about MSN Messenger Service. These comments have been made against the backdrop of AOL's failure to respond to consumer demand for interoperability between messaging systems. PressPass asked Yusuf Mehdi, director of marketing for Microsoft MSN, to comment.

    Q: What is Microsoft's overall stance on instant messaging and how does it differ from AOL?

    A: Communications continues to be the cornerstone of the Internet, and instant messaging is becoming a more prevalent way for people to communicate. With MSN Messenger we are offering a rich and easy solution for people to instant message. In addition we have delivered a breakthrough feature that lets consumers exchange instant messages not only with their MSN contacts but their AIM contacts as well. It is our view that instant messaging should quickly evolve to enable any individual to instant message with anyone else irrespective of their client software or messaging system. In the same way that different telephone handsets and systems interoperate, we're delivering the functionality to enable people to instant message with each other.

    Q: What is the current state of Microsoft's relationship with AOL on the subject of Instant Messaging?

    A: We are very interested in having AOL work with Microsoft and other industry leaders that have gotten behind a proposed industry standard for messaging. For the last two years, many companies have worked with the IETF on the Instant Messaging Presence Protocol as a standard way to help the industry move forward on interoperability. We are disappointed that AOL has chosen not to join the standards process thus far. We are also disappointed that in the interim AOL is choosing to deny consumers the choice of MSN Messenger interoperability.

    Q: Does Microsoft's new MSN Messenger Service strip out AOL's privacy and security controls, as AOL claims?

    A: Absolutely not. Privacy was a top priority in developing MSN Messenger Service, and Messenger provides strong privacy features that enable users to maintain total control of their personal information. MSN Messenger Service in no way compromises the privacy or security of people who use it to communicate with other MSN Messenger users or with their AIM contacts. Specifically:

    • MSN Messenger follows the privacy guidelines of notice, consent and control - explaining what interoperability with AIM enables, asking if you'd like to have the interoperability, and giving you complete control over what interoperability features you'd like to enable.
    • If an AIM user chooses to use MSN Messenger Service to communicate with their AIM contacts, they are prompted to enter the AIM screen name and password to log in to the AIM service. This is exactly the same procedure someone would go through if they were using the AIM client or any other software to login to the AIM service (e.g., Lotus' Sametime Connect client).
    • MSN Messenger Service also offers people the option to store their Messenger and AIM login names and passwords on their computer to make it easier for them to sign in. This is similar to having the browser remember a password for a web site so you don't have to remember it yourself. Again, this is exactly the same option that AIM and other 3rd party clients offer. None of the AOL user information is transmitted to any server at Microsoft - it is sent directly to the AIM servers for login only.

    Q: Is it true that Microsoft invaded AOL's network without authorization?

    A: No. MSN Messenger gives people using the AIM service a choice of which client software they want to use to send instant messages to other AIM contacts. A person who chooses to use MSN Messenger uses his or her authorized AIM account, just as they would with the AIM client. All of the login, authentication and messaging activity for AIM contacts still occurs on the AOL servers, exactly as it would if someone were using the AIM client. MSN Messenger simply provides one integrated interface that allows people to send messages to both MSN Messenger users and AIM users.

    Q: AOL claims Microsoft has subverted and/or disabled the AOL Instant Messenger software.

    A: Not true. People are completely free to choose which instant messaging service they'd like to use as the default - that is, which service starts up and logs in automatically when Windows starts. If someone chooses to make MSN Messenger the default, it will be started when Windows starts and will log people into the MSN Messenger Service, and, if they have chosen, the AIM service as well. The MSN Messenger setup wizard is very clear in explaining what it means to set MSN Messenger as the default, and gives people the option to check or uncheck this box. This doesn't mean that the AIM software is disabled. People can certainly still use this client, and it is easy for someone who wants to make AIM the default service again to do so.

    Q: Is it true that MSN Messenger drains AOL network and system resources?

    A: Of course not. People who have chosen to use MSN Messenger to talk to their AIM contacts already have an authorized AIM account, one that they already use to send messages to their AIM contacts. This doesn't change when people start using MSN Messenger. The same AIM account is still used to communicate with AIM contacts; the only difference is the client software that the person has chosen. There is no additional load on the AOL servers.

    Q: Why is lobbying for an instant messaging standard so important?

    A: It has always been Microsoft's goal that people should be able to talk freely on the Internet, no matter whose software they are using. Microsoft has supported establishing an open standard with the IETF since November 1997, when Microsoft and the rest of the industry proposed the RVP protocol (now called IMPP - instant messaging and presence protocol) to the IETF. AOL was approached at that time to join with Microsoft, the other companies and the IETF, but they declined. To date AOL has not had any active participation with the rest of the industry in meeting consumer demand for interoperability.

    Microsoft has been a leader in working with standards bodies and supporting industry standards for interoperability. Internet Explorer is a great example, because it was the first browser to support CSS, HTML 4.0, DHTML, etc. AOL has no track record in the area of industry standards.

    Q: Why did Microsoft choose to move forward with interoperability in lieu of an approved instant messaging standard?

    A: Again we strongly believe that the long term and best solution is for the industry to standardize on IMPP. We are committed and will support IMPP as soon as the IETF ratifies it as the standard. In the interim, we have delivered a simple and straightforward solution that provides consumers with interoperability among instant messaging clients. People are responding with overwhelmingly positive feedback on MSN Messenger and we will continue to do our best to meet consumer demand for interoperability.

    Q: What about AOL's claim that it asked Microsoft to "make peace" in the letter sent on July 23, 1999?

    A: It's simply untrue. AOL sent a letter informing Microsoft that they would block people who chose to use MSN Messenger to communicate with their AIM contacts, and proposed a "business arrangement." This is in no way in the best interests of our mutual customers or a solution to the broader issue of solving the industry need to have a standard for interoperability on messaging.

    Q: Does Microsoft have any response to AOL's newly announced deal with EarthLink and MindSpring.

    A: This announcement is unrelated to the core issues we have been discussing regarding enabling interoperability for consumers. Frankly it feels a bit like a diversion on AOL's part. They seem to be doing everything they can to NOT enable interoperability for consumers, which is disappointing.

    Q: Will Microsoft offer free Internet access to its customers; and, if so, is it a direct shot at AOL?

    A: Our focus with MSN Internet Access is to make it easy, fast, and attractive for everyone to get online. We have recently come out with some very compelling offers for consumers that marry a great promotion, such as the Staples $400 instant cash rebate in return for 3 years of MSN Internet Access, along with great technology such as the automatic account creation. In our efforts to help make getting on the Internet as attractive as possible we are considering all manners of technology and promotion. We have no new strategy to announce here from the great promotions that we are already conducting at retail stores today.

  • I would love to set up a linux server with BeOS workstations. But I have not figured out a good way to run X apps on the server. I would love to be able to run X apps on the server and have them display on my Be desktop, but I don't think there is a way to do this. Anyone know?
  • The Anagrams Page [].
    Try to spot which companies and individuals and products are being talked about!
    "(Vast Lord Linus) had a gleam in his eye that looked like UNIX- except it wasn't going to be expensive corporate wares. No, what (Snarl... I'd Volt Us) had in mind was (In Flexure), and (Felix Rune), though still more cryptic than the simplified GUI operating systems, developed its own loyal following..." (written in October 1996!)
    Volt me, linus! ;)
  • NT supporters are just suffering from MicroSoft business practices. Microsoft has in the past posed as "users, admins, and regular joes" to defeat OS/2, they should have left that to their supporters.

    Now, we are seeing the effect of those practices. You couldn't praise NT as a user and have anyone take you seriously. Immediately individuals will assume you are from MS. It's quite sad, however don't blame the average joe, blame MS.

    You reap what you sow.
  • AOL and MSN are as much ISPs as a lot of the little mom and pop shops we are using. They certainly as much an ISP as someone like Earthnet, who mostly resells service from other providers.

    Besides that I beleive that AOL has a backbone, or at least they used to.
  • This is one time that Microsoft got caught doing their dirty tricks. They have been caught several times.

    But you can bet that for every one time they're caught, there are many more times that they're not caught. And you know they've pulled the most absurdly outrageous things, beyond our imagination, and gotten away with it, because no one dreamed they'd do what they do. They keep outdoing themselves. They are simply better than us at subterfuge, deception, and not being restrained by scruples.

  • I know a sysadmin that "promotes" MS based on the following principle: "If I don't know it, it's crap."

    This is a corollary of the old standby "I don't want to learn anything new" which is the unfortunately often coupled with (at least in this case) "...and I don't know diddly now, either."

    Linux: Because an OS is about choice, not intertia.

    Put Hemos through English 101!
    "An armed society is a polite society" -- Robert Heinlein
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:18PM (#1743857)
    The name then was "Steven Barkto" back when MS pulled this exact same trick trying to tank OS/2 in the discussion groups - I think it was on CompuServe at the time. I'll be curious to see how soon the same stuff is pulled against Linux.
  • I don't think I would use the word "unbelievable" when describing this story, because to be honest, it is TOTALLY believable. Since when has it been UNcommon to question Microsoft's business practices?

    This is very similar to the stunt they pulled with the Mindcraft Study. While not the same in nature, it's the same practice. "Feed disinformation to the public about a competitor's product, and then tell them about OUR product."

    I'm no fan of AOL. God knows I hate them enough, however I don't like Microsoft's business procedures at all.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • The post I'm responding to is by Anonymous Coward. Not exactly the most credible of posters. I wonder if this is by a Microsoft employee?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:29PM (#1743886)
    That the guy who sent the E was named Phil Bucking, which sounds interesting if you phonetically switch the first consonent sounds in the first and last name...
  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:29PM (#1743887)
    This story is so old now, and as usual people are seeing some major conspiracy instead of the humor of the whole thing.

    The name of the individual who supposedly sent this email was "Phil Bucking"

    Switch the syllables around and you get:

    "Bill Phucking"

    Read that backwards...

    And now you know the rest of the story...

  • by Fastolfe ( 1470 ) on Monday August 16, 1999 @12:31PM (#1743888)
    It depends on the task. For back-end stuff (servers) or for people that know what they're doing and need power/stability in their workstations, I'll tend to promote non-MS products. For Jane Q. Secretary desktop stuff, I'll promote MS.

    Though my network at home is run by a Linux system acting as a NAT/gateway, I spend most of my time sitting in front of a Win98 system (running an X server of course). Though I'm thinking I'll try Be out here eventually...

    There's also a second NT head and a Linux/AfterStep box in the same room that I use occasionally.

    The best OS all depends on the task at hand... Windows is not the best OS for all tasks any more than Linux is.

    I tend to bring this attitude to Slashdot in my posts. Sometimes I'll step up and defend Microsoft because of unfounded/stupid/uneducated anti-MS posts, but just as frequently I'll be backing up posts that are critical of MS oeprating systems. It works the other way around, too.

    I rarely see many other "pro-MS" posts on Slashdot, except for the inevitable idiot/troll that's just trying to be funny/annoying.

    Of course, I doubt I'd ever come out and say that "MS' OSes were coded well or stable", but coding and stability aren't the only reasons one can prefer one OS over another for a particular task.
  • says a lot about the company.

    at many companies no one would even *think* of behaving that way ... because they *know* that they are expeced to behave ethically and would be fired imediately for such bull****.

    But, M$ employees have pulled stunts like this in the past and we can infer from current behavior that M$ turned a blind eye to their "a little over-passionate" but darling children.

  • I think it's important to understand the reasons behind the attitude of the PHB. The character appears entirely irrational to most technical types, and yet there are reasons for what PHBs do. The good news is that, in my view, PHBs are coming around, for reasons you will shortly discover.

    See, the person who gets me most of my work is a somewhat enlightened PHB. He's intelligent, has a lot of business savvy and knows a lot about where the bodies are buried. I'm slowly starting to understand his point of view, which is likely to be useful to my future - after all, you can't stay a coder forever, not if you want that inexpensive house on Sunset Plaza Drive in the Hollywood Hills [minimum price $495,000 and rising], anyway.

    The primary concern of any boss is to keep the business running. The boss's nightmare is if the IT staff either quits or holds him up for more money. The boss knows that as long as there are plenty of MSCE's ready to help him out, his current IT staff can be replaced. If he uses technology nobody's ever heard of, that requires people that are difficult to locate, then his head is on the corporate chopping block.

    Now, note that this doesn't require the executive to like Microsoft. He may find the company's products every bit as wretched as we do. But he knows that he can always find people who can use the stuff, even if the worst happens and his workers all leave.

    There is a second, related reason bosses like Microsoft: Applications and software tools are inexpensive and plentiful. Oracle, Sybase and SQL server are all cheaper on Windows than any other platform due to the level of competition that exists. This is, again, something bosses love. They can pitch the salespeople against each other.

    Finally, they have someone to blame when things go wrong. I'm not sure how much satisfaction they get from blaming Microsoft, because the company certainly isn't going to help them much, but the idea is there.

    These strike me as valid reasons to use Microsoft, even if you hate their products. The good news is that it looks like the younger computing generation has rapidly assimilated Linux, thanks to its extremely low price and compatibility with existing Unix systems they may have in school. This is, no doubt, why MS is trying so hard to get people in academic environments to use their stuff - but they have met considerable resistance. From the perspective of people like Steve Ballmer, who I'm sure can see this as clear if not clearer than I can, this is disasterous news, far worse than any tiresome antitrust trial.

    So the good news is that I see a very hopeful future for Linux and free software. What's happened in my own office is instructive - two additional people have been hired, both of who have an interest in Linux. So we are starting to get a critical mass of rebel geeks in the organization I work with, which has traditionally been a "Windows Uber Alles" type shop.


    PS: You're probably telling me, "David, everyone knows MSCE's are incompetent boobs who studied very hard to pass a simple multiple-choice test." And I'm sure you're right. But at least it means some minimum level of ability, and that reassures the PHB.
  • Well, I'm not an admin, just a lowly PC user, but I post pro-MS messages because, duh, I like MS. I like Windows a whole lot more than Linux and IE much much much much more than Netscape (especially Linux's Netscape). But that's not the point, the point is that just because someone actually disagree's with you, doesn't mean they work for MS. How do I know you aren't Linus, or you work for Red Hat?

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.