back to article Microsoft cosies up to China with Win8 weibo support

Hot on the heels of Apple’s China love-in at its Worldwide Developers Conference this week, news has emerged that Microsoft is planning to integrate the country’s hugely popular Sina Weibo micro-blogging platform into Windows 8. Jeff Kunis, a group program manager on the Windows Live team, revealed the news in a comment at the …

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Illusion of Free Speech

From the study:

Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored. Instead, we show that the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. Censorship is oriented toward attempting to forestall collective activities that are occurring now or may occur in the future . . .

So, as it turns out they give the illusion of free speech by allowing criticism of the state. That part is similar to North America where I live. The second part is more subtle, but does ring a bell.

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China's Censorship is Increasing

In some ways China's censorship and control is increasing. They've recently changed laws to restrict information about businesses for example, as this would expose corruption. As a scary example, a US citizen of Chinese descent businessman a couple of years ago (name of Xue Feng for reference) was arrested in China for buying a database of business information. All of the information was openly available, but the Chinese authorities declared that the collection of it violated State Secret laws by compiling the information in one place. I haven't seen that database but I suspect it's basically somethng that shows the web of ownerships and deals between companies in a way that makes the corruption obvious. A couple of years ago, China also required all mapping and location services to seek official approval. Public information is becoming more restricted - for example, it's frequently now the case that you can't even look up land ownership records.

China is currently undergoing a bit of a power-transition with some of the old guard moving out and their new chosen successors moving in (don't picture the new players as youthful though, just less ancient) so I think tension in social control has risen slightly. China is very pro-active at slapping down unrest even before it really starts. Chiefly what they like to do is focus on blocking two things: social organization of dissidents and exposing of corruption.

One of the most telling things is how Sergey Brin of Google was so shocked that China had managed was "putting the genie back in the bottle" over online censorship (his words). He had thought that the deployment of the Internet, search engines, chat rooms, etc. would inexorably lead to greater freedom. Conceivably it still might, but right now it has gifted the Chinese authorities a new way of listening, watching and silencing. Google has had twin shocks of this and seeing the Chinese hack into its servers and use Google for their own purposes. I would bet they're having a period of realization over the past year. Microsoft of course has no such youthful idealism to be shattered. They've long done business in China (and long been ripped off). Being abused by the Chinese authorities and wishing society there was a lot less corrupt is probably one of the few things they both have in common.

Poster above says it's about the illusion of free speech whilst controlling resistance. That's kind of the ideal game play for a corrupt state: tell people that the grass is red and they'll keep noticing that it ain't. Get them used to the idea that it's going to be red and they can't do anything about it, and that's easier to get away with. China doesn't attempt to convince its citizens that there is no corruption or that they will all have a pony, it attempts to convince people that they can't do anything about the corruption and they never will have a pony.

Of course they can have ponies, but they have to deal with the corruption in China and the way everything happens via Guanxi (you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours, who you know networks). That would be better for both the Chinese and for us in the West. Freedom is a good thing. And to act freely in the way one would want, one must avoid others controlling what information you can access and who you can support.

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Mushroom

Microsoft gives it's love to China, the West...not so much...

That's right Mr Steven Anthony Ballmer head of Microsoft, cozy up with other software providers in China like that of Sina Weibo micro-blogging platform and include it on your Windows 8. We do remember that of course you like blocking WESTERN software like FIrefox from your OS as of late...

"...Mozilla’s chief lawyer said Microsoft was denying access to APIs for Windows 8 on ARM..."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/14/us_politicos_mozilla_windows_arm/

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Re: Microsoft gives it's love to China, the West...not so much...

Yes, they are closing off some of the APIs for third party applications on ARM. (This only affects ARM devices). That is because WindowsRT (the ARM version) is going to be rolling out on mobile devices just as the iPad is and such. They want to be able to allow third-party apps in a secure way that wont mess up the OS itself. So for example, you don't get to make areas of memory directly writable or to spawn new processes at will. And they are right to make these restrictions. You definitely do not want any old App able to do things that completely kill the O/S. Now Microsoft obviously do feel okay about themselves using the same functionality. They would write a piss-poor O/S if they were the only manufacturer out there that didn't let themselves use their own hardware properly. Apple allow themselves. Linux allows itself. Browsers and O/S are growing ever more integrated. The Metro apps can actually be coded in HTML5! Are you seriously suggesting that actual apps must be left uncompiled and run through some separate rendering engine that has limited OS integration? No, of course not. So you have to either throw open all sorts of dangerous things to third party app developers or forbid them access.

Now Mozilla may not like that they don't have access. They use the ability to spawn new processes to sand-box plugins for example. But what can you do? Do you just say: "No, other App developers can't have access but Mozilla is a well known name so we'll let them have access" ? That would be an even worse double-standard.

Remember, this is only for ARM devices. E.g. closely integrated things like iPad style devices, etc. and for the reasons above it's pretty much unavoidable. It's not about anti-competitiveness so much as it is user experience. To do otherwise would be to create a significantly less secure and less reliable device.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

It's Microsoft we're talking about here, so it's probably going to crash all the time!

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Anonymous Coward

Makes perfect sense to me

Linux is communism but China is capitalism's wet dream come true.

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Re: Makes perfect sense to me

Capitalism. I do not think it means what you think it means. China pretty much defines state interference in the modern world. Okay, maybe not as much as somewhere like Uzbekistan, but it's pretty bloody ar away from being Capitalism's ideal. Or are you one of those individuals who think Capitalism == Bad and thus any example of "Bad" that you see, you think it therefore means Capitalist as well.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Makes perfect sense to me

Are you one of those individuals who think Capitalism -> Democracy? You're in for a rude awakening...

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