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Government Microsoft Operating Systems United States Windows Politics

Putin's Internet Czar Wants To Ban Windows On Government PCs 307

SmartAboutThings writes: The Russian government is allegedly looking to ban Microsoft's Windows operating system, increase taxes on foreign technology companies, develop its homegrown OS and encourage local tech companies to grow. All these proposals comes from German Klimenko, Vladimir Putin's new 'internet czar, as Bloomberg describes him. In a 90-minute interview, Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.
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Putin's Internet Czar Wants To Ban Windows On Government PCs

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  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:58PM (#51480135)

    A re-branded version of some popular Linux distro...

  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by present_arms ( 848116 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:58PM (#51480143) Homepage
    What's the downside?
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:01PM (#51480181) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. With the privacy blunder Microsoft committed with Windows 10, plus its NSA collaboration, it is not unreasonable for other countries to ban Windows for government work and spend the money on alternatives.

      • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:10PM (#51480273) Homepage

        When the US government is in court with Microsoft over how they could use secret laws to claim Microsoft has to break the laws of other countries ... I fail to see how Microsoft, or any US company, can really be trusted.

        This seems an entirely prudent response from Russia. I'm actually surprised more companies aren't actively wondering just how much Microsoft and others can be controlled by the US government.

        When the US government is actively trying to ensure backdoors in encryption and the like, why would you assume there aren't any? You think these companies are going to make the international version with no US spying capabilities?

        Good luck with that.

        • I'm actually surprised more companies aren't actively wondering just how much Microsoft and others can be controlled by the US government.

          It's probably because if you're a big enough player, Microsoft will let you go over any and all of the source code that it has. So if your people can't find an NSA backdoor in the Windows source, your people probably aren't going find one in any other OS's source.

          • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @03:13PM (#51480963)

            I'm actually surprised more companies aren't actively wondering just how much Microsoft and others can be controlled by the US government.

            It's probably because if you're a big enough player, Microsoft will let you go over any and all of the source code that it has. So if your people can't find an NSA backdoor in the Windows source, your people probably aren't going find one in any other OS's source.

            Source code is meaningless if you don't compile the binaries yourself. AFAIK Microsoft has never allowed anybody to do so.

          • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @03:40PM (#51481237) Homepage

            Dude, it's turtles all the way down.

            If your secret law which requires you to lie about not having backdoors is invoked, you also have to lie about how people can check that you don't have backdoors. The presence of the secret law which says "you can't tell them about this" pretty much means there is no scenario in which you say "oh, well, gee, they're awesome and trustworthy".

            By definition, the US government has taken the public stance that results in the conclusion "NO US COMPANY CAN BE TRUSTED".

            Because as soon as you assert your laws trump the laws of the countries in which Microsoft etc do business, you essentially force everyone else to have to conclude "fuck you, go away, we now must assume you're not following the law".

            I don't care how fucking big of a player you are, when Uncle Sam can compel them to lie ... you must assume they're lying, and that they couldn't tell you they were lying if they wanted to. Auditing about an NSA backdoor can't be trusted if the laws which would place such a hypothetical back door prevent you from admitting to that back door.

            If Microsoft loses this case: [menafn.com]

            The US government's contention is that it can demand electronic data anywhere US companies keep them, and that it doesn't need to ask a local jurisdiction's permission. A magistrate and a federal judge have agreed. If Microsoft doesn't prevail in the appeal, Smith said it will go to the US Supreme Court.

            nobody outside of the US can ever trust a US company ever again.

            It really is that simple. Claiming auditing fixes this misses the entire point. Auditing in this case is a fucking fairy tale.

          • by Archfeld ( 6757 )

            I work for one of M$'s largest enterprise customers. We had at one time the largest M$ email implementation in the world (that may have changed) and while they will bend over backwards adding special features and such for us, and provide excellent support, I've never seen one line of source code, nor have I ever heard of anyone who has at my place of business. Not that I'm saying it doesn't or hasn't happened...

    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:36PM (#51480567) Homepage Journal

      If you're in the US, losing the entire Russian government market is a blow to the balance of trade and local economy. This single contract is just representative of everything that's happening across the industry - it's far larger.

      But Americans seem to WANT NSL's and are willing to sacrifice the entire tech sector, the basis of their economic growth, for an increased police state. Maybe they'll get to pick the size of their grey tunics.

      • But Americans seem to WANT NSL's and are willing to sacrifice the entire tech sector, the basis of their economic growth, for an increased police state.

        Actually, I worry they'd want it both ways ... to keep their NSLs, and then to say "hey, you can't stop buying stuff from us, you signed a trade agreement".

        There seems to be a belief they can base all of their economic growth on tech, but undermine and cripple it by making it unable to be trusted ... with the unsurprising outcome of not being able to link th

    • by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com> on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @03:20PM (#51481031) Homepage
      My guesses:

      1) Basically, Windows is dead. Countries will have to move away from using Microsoft products, since Microsoft has shown it cannot be trusted in ANY way. For example: Windows 10 phones home (A LOT) even with all reporting and telemetry disabled [betanews.com].

      2) Microsoft wants to make money in the Facebook and Google way. Microsoft plans to mine all user data on all computers connected to the internet and sell the information.

      3) The reason there will be no more versions of Windows is that Microsoft will do what Adobe Systems has done: Force users to move to a subscription model.

      4) Windows users will isolate Windows from the internet, and use Linux on a different network with a cheap 2nd computer to connect to the internet. (But how to allow information interchange between the 2 networks?)

      5) In response to users isolating Windows from the internet, Microsoft will make Windows stop working after a few days of no internet connection. Adobe Systems does that, in my experience, with CS6. (CS6 is the last version before the forced move to a subscription model.)

      6) Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, was chosen because he was the least annoying candidate. He is apparently not the real controlling manager, but only someone to advertise.

      7) Microsoft has a contract with secret U.S. government agencies to make Windows into what users consider to be malware.

      8) Because Microsoft often releases buggy software, possibly because it is paid to do so by secret U.S. government agencies, Windows 10, with its many ways to connect to the internet, is now FAR less secure than before.

      Not a guess, because verified by others: Microsoft is shockingly badly managed. The cover of the January 16, 2013 issue of BusinessWeek magazine has a large photo of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with the headline calling him "Monkey Boy". See the BusinessWeek cover in this article: Steve Ballmer Is No Longer A Monkey Boy, Says Bloomberg BusinessWeek [businessinsider.com]. The BusinessWeek cover says "No More" and "Mr.", but that doesn't take much away from the fact that the magazine called Ballmer Monkey Boy -- on its cover.

      Slashdot commenters called Ballmer "Monkey Boy" for years before BusinessWeek called him that on the cover of its magazine.

      Worst CEO in the United States: Quote from an article in Forbes Magazine [forbes.com] about Steve Ballmer: "Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today." Another quote: "The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value -- and jobs." (May 12, 2012)
    • Not if their objectives are security. It will cost more money than the licensing itself and probably won't pay for itself in a while but at least they'll have piece of mind. At least until the next hard drive hack by the NSA.

      What amazes me is the lack of cooperation between Russia and the US. Bunch of children throwing rocks at each other.

  • Good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:59PM (#51480151)
    Any government interested in keeping its data and secrets safe but runs Windows is likely populated by imbeciles.

    Hopefully Russian computer scientists will focus on either making ReactOS a usable replacement (better for us in the West trying to dump Windows), or making their own Linux distro (I suggest they call it... Kremlinux), which will likely be better for them in the long run.
    • Any government interested in keeping its data and secrets safe but runs Windows is likely populated by imbeciles.

      But an OS designed to serve Putin's interests is a better alternative? The geek mind at work is a fascinating thing to watch.

      • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:59PM (#51480841) Journal

        For Putin's government, I would say an OS designed to serve Putin's interest is probably a better alternative for Putin - and that's what we're discussing.

        • For Putin's government, I would say an OS designed to serve Putin's interest is probably a better alternative for Putin - and that's what we're discussing.

          No, the grand parent stated:
          Hopefully Russian computer scientists will focus on either making ReactOS a usable replacement (better for us in the West trying to dump Windows)

          So a Putin sponsored ReactOS is declared as a better option for the West to move to from Windows. It is absurd, and it was duly and accurately called out as stupidity. Stupidty that got rated +5 insightfull no less.

          • For Putin's government, I would say an OS designed to serve Putin's interest is probably a better alternative for Putin - and that's what we're discussing.

            No, the grand parent stated: Hopefully Russian computer scientists will focus on either making ReactOS a usable replacement (better for us in the West trying to dump Windows)

            So a Putin sponsored ReactOS is declared as a better option for the West to move to from Windows. It is absurd, and it was duly and accurately called out as stupidity. Stupidty that got rated +5 insightfull no less.

            ReactOS is open source. If Russia contributes to it, it helps everybody in the world that can access the source. The fact that it helps Putin does not mean it cannot help other people.

            Of course, if Putin wanted to, the Russian government could make a closed-source fork of ReactOS, but that's obviously not what I was hoping for--hence why I started the statement with "hopefully".

            • For Putin's government, I would say an OS designed to serve Putin's interest is probably a better alternative for Putin - and that's what we're discussing.

              No, the grand parent stated:
              Hopefully Russian computer scientists will focus on either making ReactOS a usable replacement (better for us in the West trying to dump Windows)

              So a Putin sponsored ReactOS is declared as a better option for the West to move to from Windows. It is absurd, and it was duly and accurately called out as stupidity. Stupidty that got rated +5 insightfull no less.

              ReactOS is open source. If Russia contributes to it, it helps everybody in the world that can access the source. The fact that it helps Putin does not mean it cannot help other people.

              Of course, if Putin wanted to, the Russian government could make a closed-source fork of ReactOS, but that's obviously not what I was hoping for--hence why I started the statement with "hopefully".

              Because "open source" and "full source audit for security holes both accidental and deliberate" are synonymous? If you've got a code base of hundreds of thousands of lines, and Putin's employees add a bunch of features and fixes that comprise 10s of thousands of lines, how exactly do you tell the good from the bad? Sure, some bad stuff can eventually get caught. Sure, it's easier to catch than with closed source. Let's not pretend though that KGB agents are beyond trying to hide problems in plain sight that

      • Any government interested in keeping its data and secrets safe but runs Windows is likely populated by imbeciles.

        But an OS designed to serve Putin's interests is a better alternative? The geek mind at work is a fascinating thing to watch.

        wtf? Uh, yeah! Putin, being the head of the Russian government, would indeed be strongly interested in a home-rolled OS to avoid Microsoft funneling state secrets to the USA. How thick do you have to be to not see this?

    • Any government interested in keeping its data and secrets safe but runs Windows is likely populated by imbeciles.

      Hopefully Russian computer scientists will focus on either making ReactOS a usable replacement (better for us in the West trying to dump Windows), or making their own Linux distro (I suggest they call it... Kremlinux), which will likely be better for them in the long run.

      It's funny because Microsoft is evil.

      Seriously though, a government running Windows must be run by imbeciles, but a Kremlin doctored version of ReactOS or Linux would be better? Pot meet kettle my friend.

      I get Windows is not the right tool for everything, but neither is it the wrong tool for everything. I don't really see a government ban on Windows across the board makes any sense. Nobody in gov will ever run MS Office, nothing in gov will every be developed in .NET, and all to protect from what exactly? H

  • OSX (Score:3, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @01:59PM (#51480155) Homepage Journal
    Let me guess: he owns a Mac.
    • I doubt it - it ties far more closely to the overall Russian drive towards nationalistic solutions and tendencies. Even though Linux (we all know that's what they'll use) is not purely Russian (or even a fraction of same), it does allow them to fork the kernel and make it that way. Sort of like NoKo's 'Red Flag Linux', but without all the governmental spyware and crippling (well, as far as we know...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      He is an old KBG agent. You can bet your life on him being paranoid beyond what is healthy.
      He doesn't run anything that he doesn't have full control over and he doesn't care about idealism.

  • Follow the Chinese (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Your Anus ( 308149 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:00PM (#51480165) Journal
    They rolled their own Linux distro to get away from Windows.
  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:00PM (#51480171) Journal

    I can actually see a good reason for Russia dumping Windows... a Linux-based system gives them internal control over the source code to the OS they use - they can fork it and do whatever they want with it internally.

    The taxation thing? That's just governments doing what governments tend to do - extract more money from those who produce wealth, especially from outside the borders where it's more politically palatable (and in some cases highly desirable). Shit, they've been doing this for as long as the word "tariff" has existed, and the "on a computer" aspect doesn't really make it all that much different.

    Not sure if the pimped local options (e.g. Yandex) are any better or worse, though - only the Russian public can ultimately decide that.

    • Some tariffs exist purely as a source of revenue. I think a tax on foreign OSs would moreso be to foster adoption of a home-grown OS with economic incentives.
    • Economists have long understood protectionism as an economic negative. This will destroy wealth.

    • I'm pretty sure the move to impose additional taxation on the technology giants in Russia has much more to do with the government seeking a way to reciprocate sanctions in a way that hurts than with an actual strategy.

      That said, the idea to rid Russian government computers away of US-made software in favor of domestic solutions has been circulated for a while. It still remains to be seen where they are today in their capability to replace the functionality, however forking a free OS and an office suit can't

    • by wjcofkc ( 964165 )

      a Linux-based system gives them internal control over the source code to the OS they use - they can fork it and do whatever they want with it internally.

      There is a point where the GPL demands code changes be published. This of course will not happen. I'm sure it's just the same with China.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First this guy shows up America by bombing ISIS into oblivion - which the US hadn't been able (aka willing) to do in over a year.

    Now he wants to ban Windows from government computers?

    He's definitely doing something right and setting a good example for other countries - despite being an organized crime sleazebag mobster.

  • Google has a limit to what it will put up with. They pulled out of China rather than deal with government bs there. The Russian government may not care if they leave, but Google may just decide it's not worth the hassle and pull out if the taxes are high enough. Apple would have to weigh whether sales justify the cost of any new taxes. Russia's biggest problem is that they don't really make anything anybody wants except gasoline and natural gas so being protectionist may have short term benefits for the Russian companies that compete but it doesn't really do anything long term about making anybody outside of the USSR, cough cough, sorry I mean Russia, care about their stuff.
  • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:09PM (#51480269)

    You know which one [imgur.com]

  • Another episode of Putin and his cronies making new plans and announcements, and it leaves this thread just begging for all kinds of snide remarks, jokes that are crass and crude. It makes sense as there are lots of US govt agencies that avoid Windows for various reasons, i.e. use Linux to avoid PC always calling home to Seattle. For secure systems, don't connect to internet (so simple but many just don't get it). I have a Windows system with very important stuff and I never connect it to internet (and the
    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Yep, for secure systems, you are free to develop your own organizational internet with all the built in protections you can muster. That should take about, what, a few days for you?

  • I think this is more about not sending money to the US based firm, Microsoft. I do applaud anyone taking a hard look at what is best/most appropriate for their environment but this seems more about giving US companies a bloody nose than it does about the OS choice itself.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:41PM (#51480625)

      I disgree. I think Windows is both seriously crap for usability and inherently very insecure when compared to most Linux distros, and who knows what info Microsoft (and therefore the US gov) can/is using Windows to collect/phone home with.
      Factor in that Linux is free (in both senses), has inspectable source code, is more standards-compliant and supports more hardware, and has more free professional-grade apps, and the decision is (or should be) a complete no-brainer, especially for governments.
      In fact it boggles my mind why anyone is still choosing to use Windows for anything at all, except maybe gaming, and then only because many games devs still dont make Linux versions of AAA games, although tthat seems to be (too slowly for me) changing too.

      • by DFDumont ( 19326 )

        I am not arguing against any of your points. I just don't think that is what motivated the decision.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:17PM (#51480363)

    Heck I dont even trust Windows/Microsoft for home use. If I was Russia or any Government (including the US) I wouldnâ(TM)t allow any PC with Windows on it at all. Who knows what information Windows (especially 10) is collecting and phoning home with, or how many NSA back doors and just plain stupid security holes it has.

  • I'm curious how Microsoft and Apple would be compelled to pay more taxes - it's not as if they're manufacturing their computers there. If it's a tax on sales, that's not going to hit the companies... it'll hit the Russian consumers trying to buy Macs and Windows computers.

    It's kind of funny, because I remember there was a lot of prominent Apple product placement in that "I will tear off my shirt for Putin" political ad - so their computers and phones are apparently popular there.

    • Sales tax can mean Russian consumers may buy computers made in Russia (if there are any) but this may also encourage Russian firm to manufacture computers.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      I think it is more the old Soviet/MidEast trick of using overblown language to cover up their lack of anything imaginative..."We gonna kill you with a thousand deaths"...or better Erdogan, "U.S. support of the Kurds is causing a sea of blood"...yeah, that's it...

  • Very good idea. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:28PM (#51480489) Homepage

    "The Russian government is allegedly looking to ban Microsoft's Windows operating system"

    Aaaand... that's an extremely good idea. There is an enormous problem and it's called 'Restricted level networks' in governments everywhere; combined, they provide an attacker an enormous treasure trove of information, and they are installed, configured and used by morons^Hnot very apt computer users. To expose yourself additionally to an American company that can just open the floodgates at a simple request out of Washington, is folly.

    • The only problem I see is that most users at least a familiar with Windows and how it generally works.

      There are a lot of malicious things that can attack a Linux surface as well and if users are ignorant they may be much more easily tricked into exploiting a Linux box than a Windows box.

      I just know from experience that people who throw up a Linux box without really understanding how to use Linux tend to get their box owned pretty quickly if it is exposed to the Internet and they don't keep up on patches.

      I d

  • I've had to block the IP addresses used by both yandex's search bot and mail.ru because they seem to completely ignore the robots.txt that I have on the server. The only other search engine bot that I've had to block for that same reason was bing's search bot.

    .
    Other search bots do not seem to have any problems following the instructions I placed in the robots.txt. For some reason, yandex, mail.ru and bing think they're entitled to special treatment.

  • In Soviet Russia, Windows bans you.

  • Refreshing honesty (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SvnLyrBrto ( 62138 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:39PM (#51480611)

    Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.

    Well at least, unlike France and Spain for example, he's being honest about his true reason for arbitrary and specious attacks and restrictions on, and extortion of, US tech companies.

    • That doesn't have to be THE reason, or the only reason. There are at least three possible reasons - protectionism in software, privacy/security concerns, and desire to "bite back" because of sanctions. They probably all come into play here, at different degrees of importance.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Klimenko said forcing Google and Apple to pay more taxes and banning Microsoft Windows from government computers are necessary measures, as he is trying to raise taxes on U.S. companies, thus helping local Russian competitors such as Yandex and Mail.ru.

      Well at least, unlike France and Spain for example, he's being honest about his true reason for arbitrary and specious attacks and restrictions on, and extortion of, US tech companies.

      I wonder how much of a financial stake he or his family has in those companies...and there's also his own company (LiveInternet) which appears to be something similar to Yahoo's homepage, albeit more barebones.

  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @02:59PM (#51480837)

    Seriously, who can blame them?

    Win 10 is basically spyware, and it would be the NSA's wet dream to have it installed on computers within the Russian government's offices.

    I mean, how much easier could it get? No more having to spear-phish Russian officials and trick them into installing malware or spyware, just turn on the "Spy On Me" feature and paw through all their documents, emails, chats, forms, and file stores at will. Download nightly "backups" of their PCs and have a field day.

    I don't want Win 10 installed on my PC, and I hardly have any secrets to keep.

  • by wjcofkc ( 964165 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @03:38PM (#51481209)
    Pubuntu.
  • Yup (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DMJC ( 682799 ) on Wednesday February 10, 2016 @03:46PM (#51481281)
    So many benefits to doing it. Let's assume they take ReactOS: Right now ReactOS has wifi/networking, GPU, and basic desktop support. With 20 Russians hacking on it, they could very quickly implement SAMBA 4.0 on ReactOS, BIND, DHCP and Openchange. That's most of the core windows stack and gets them a usable e-mail, file/print/domain controller. An RDP client/server implementation gets them Windows Terminal Server replaced. Most of this code exists right now, it just needs to be adapted from Unix back to ReactOS.
  • I don't know what's really behind the appointment of this guy, but, this is interesting that he owns a torrent site [torrentfreak.com], and is against web-blocking for being piracy, cited the current bad situation of the economy [torrentfreak.com].

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