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The World's Most Dangerous Virus

Imagine if a computer virus emerged that secretly attached itself to one of the most popular software programs ever. Imagine if the largest media outlets unwittingly praised this secret pairing, encouraging millions of people to install it. Imagine if none of the major antivirus programs would detect it. Imagine if once installed, it could alter anything on your computer without your consent or knowledge. Imagine if the virus was at the control of a greedy entity that has repeatedly trampled on consumers and smaller companies to advance its corporate agenda. Imagine if it could force everyone who wanted to communicate with you to also carry the virus so it would insidiously spread person to person. Sound like a scary sci-fi plot? It's not science fiction. This week MO3 will be released on the world. Here's how to detect it in your neighborhood and what you can do to protect yourself:

The Trojan Horse

Press outlets will blanket the world with stories about Microsoft Office 2003. Most articles will tout seemingly innocuous features and feel good quotes from Microsoft like "this is our most important product release ever." Unfortunately the press won't talk about the dangerous software buried inside this release - MO3. This code will give Microsoft the ability to change anything on your computer at anytime they wish with no notification to you.

The Security Ploy

Post 9/11, few people question actions taken under the guise of "improved security" and this is how MO3 will be foisted onto computer users - as a feature to 'make you safer.' Computer users have understandably tired of the near daily worm and virus warnings, as well as the time-consuming patch process due to Microsoft's lax software standards and its focusing not on building secure products, but products that secure its monopoly market positions. To improve the predicament which they've created, Microsoft is forcing consumers to accept MO3 embedded into every computer. Listen closely and you'll hear Microsoft mouth pieces speak of "turning software into a service" which really means they will be changing the software on your computer whenever they feel like it. They will slowly limit your ability to run non-Microsoft software. They will restrict choices on your computer to only those products they approve. They will make changes which cripple other software programs or reduce their ability to interoperate with your computer so you will be forced to use exclusively Microsoft approved products.

History Repeats Itself

Microsoft may use this newfound power to fix some holes in their software, but they will also abuse this power to further their corporate monopoly and increase their control and profits. Microsoft has already embedded the MO3 virus into another operating system they have deployed, called Xbox. They now have the power at anytime to change all existing Xboxes which connect to the Internet, and they are already misusing it. They have deleted files from users' computers without their knowledge or permission. They have added software which has removed the ability to run competitor's software. They have been changing users' systems without their consent and notification. They will do the same on Microsoft Windows based computers once MO3 is installed.

Microsoft management has shown to be deceitful and dishonest and will continue this behavior. Twice Microsoft has been found guilty by the Federal government of using illegal tactics to drive competitors out of business and extend their monopoly. December 1st, 2003 a trial will take place in Seattle Washington where more of Microsoft's past behaviors will come to light.

Infecting Friends

Microsoft Word (.doc) file open in StarOffice 7

To stop the advance of competing products and to force users into purchasing new software with the MO3 virus, Microsoft is making certain Microsoft Office 2003 files unreadable by all older versions of Microsoft Office and all competing office suites. Products like Sun's StarOffice are getting extremely good at interoperating with Microsoft word processing, presentation and spreadsheet files making it possible for people to spend close to $50 for an office suite instead of giving $400 or more to Microsoft. To blunt this and force users of older versions of Microsoft Office to buy new software, Microsoft has changed the specifications for some files.

Again under the umbrella of "security," Microsoft is implementing features which limit who can open and edit documents to further thwart competition. Microsoft Office 2003 gives its users the ability to control who can read and edit certain documents, but only if they use the latest Microsoft software. If one user within an office uses this feature, all others will be unable to use any other office suite to access that document. They will not be permitted to run Linux software, they will be required to purchase and run additional copies of Microsoft Office 2003. Since documents are frequently emailed around via the Internet, this will force others to accept Microsoft's software or be unable to communicate. Microsoft refers to this as IRM for "information rights management," but it's really an "infection relay method" designed to force everyone to adopt MO3. They will be using scare tactics about leaked memos or misdirected emails to persuade unwitting computer users to deploy this technology. Doing so will create a viral growth of MO3 which will give MS unlimited power over every computer.

Universal MO3

MO3 will not only come with Microsoft Office 2003, but with future Microsoft products as well. The same technology will be embedded into the next version of Microsoft's operating system software so all users will have to accept it with their new computer. Latest estimates indicate this new software will not ship until 2006, so between now and then, watch for Microsoft to secretly embed MO3 into updates or security patches that they promote for their existing product line.

Protect Yourself

There are precautionary measures you can take to fend off MO3. First off, do not purchase and install Microsoft Office 2003. Also, discourage those around you from purchasing Microsoft Office as well, since one infection will quickly grow. If you need a new office suite, check out the solid and affordable StarOffice 7.0 which runs equally well on Microsoft Windows or Linux computers, and can be purchased online and immediately downloaded and installed. Encourage those penning articles and reviews to fully inform their readers of the dangers of Microsoft Office 2003. Finally, encourage them to do in-depth reviews of Microsoft Office 2003 vs. Sun's StarOffice 7.0 so people can make informed decisions about the benefits and risks of either product.

-- Michael

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