Microsoft Conspiracy Theories

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, May 26, 1999

from the to-be-featured-on-a-future-x-files-episode dept.

Recently Humorix reported 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

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 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 conspiracy.

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 label.

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 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", 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 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 him.

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

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