South Korea: hostage to Microsoft

Baron sez, "This is a fascinating read on how S. Korea with all the fancy 3G phones, best broadband coverage, and electronics is shackled to Windows because of a government proprietary encryption format based on Active X. It prevents people from using Linux, Firefox, and is even holding back Vista because all secure transactions require it!"
Remember how Active X controls were and continue to be a significant vector of viruses and malware because Microsoft originally architected Active X to run by default instead of with a user action? Maliciously programmed websites would be able to automatically install software on users' computers just by visiting a web page in IE 6. In IE 7 and in Vista, Microsoft has re-architected Active X controls in such a way to make them "more safe" by requiring a user action for the control to run. This is obviously impacting every web site and company that uses active X controls on their websites, which include just about every website in Korea that handles any kind of secure transaction. Every online bank, every governmental agency, every ecommerce site. Without enough time to re-architect Korean websites, 3 S. Korean governmental ministries, the Ministry of Information and Communication, the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, and the Financial Supervisory Service, warned S. Korean users that upgrading to Vista would disable the user from making any secure transaction online. Can you imagine spending thousands of dollars on a new machine (because the requirements of Vista generally require new hardware) and a new OS from Redmond only to be locked out of any secure transaction online? It's Kafkaesque.

To add insult to injury, the monopolist who absolutely controls the Korean market for computers won't delay the launch of Vista to allow for Korean websites to re-code their sites. "We've been testing Vista with banks and other service providers since September, but we encountered more delays than we expected. We plan to release the product as scheduled.

For years I've been writing about how DRM can take an entire nation hostage, requiring it to pay a tax to the US for infrastructure technology instead of developing it at home or using free/open source software. I couldn't ask for a better example than this -- Korea is eminently capable of developing its own technology. Instead, the government has created a subsidy program for Microsoft by insisting that citizens use foreign software to do business at home.


See also: How DRM will harm the developing world
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