Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #5 (aka Microsoft is not supporting the terrorists, dammit!)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2010/12/07 07:01 -05:00, original URI:

Okay, so when I wrote in Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #3 (aka Why the hell can't they just update Uniscribe?) that this was unlikely to be a series, I might have lied.

But conspiracy theories are rife with lies, aren't they?

Just ask a grassy knoll....

The numbering scheme even suggests a series, and a conspiracy minded one, e.g. #4 was redacted, perhaps?

Though this may be it. Maybe.

Now today's blog is based on an entirely true story.

Not historical fiction, mind you.

This is stuff that actually happened.

And it all started with an email I was sent.

It went on for a while, but the critical piece was in the closing:

I used to love your blog, but if you can't denounce Microsoft's support of Yemini terrorists, I will have to boycot you just like I am boycoting Microsoft.

He also had already chosen to boycott the spell-checker? :-)

The mail itself included screenshots of Vista and Windows 7 and Word 2010, all of which showed stuff like this:


There were like a dozen similar screenshots across many versions and products and dialogs.

Also, there were many links to various news stories that talked about the connection between some of the recent failed terrorist attacks against the USA and the country of Yemen.

He sent it to me before the Wikileaks links that gave further pointers involving Yemen, or he probably would have included some of those links too.

Anyway, the argument being made was a simple logical exercise:

Now obviously there are flaws in this argument, but I think anyone can point those out.

I could point out that the locale has been around since Windows 95 and NT 4.0, but again that's easy stuff to find out.

Kind of boring.

And people who like conspiracy theories really want a bit more excitement than dull old logic can provide.

So why not let's have a little fun, kay? :-)

First, my disclaimers:

I don't support terrorism.


As far as I know, Microsoft doesn't support terrorism, either.

The weasel words there are just because I am obviously not informed about every single project at Microsoft. Though since support of terroristic acts would seem to violate the corporate values, I think this is a reasonable belief.

Okay, now with that said and out of the way....

Thus far, it seems like the bulk of the attacks coming from Yemen are the ones that aren't succeeding.

This suggests several possibilities that I won't enumerate just yet -- I'll come back to it in a moment.

So, take a look at the Wikipedia article on Yemeni Arabic.

It discusses the extensive differences in phonology, morphology, vocabulary, and syntax for the various dialects of Arabic used in Yemen.

The single localization that Microsoft does into Arabic really centers around the Arabic used in Saudi Arabia. The differences between Arabic in Saudi Arabia and in Yemen are significant enough that sometimes there are "translation" efforts needed so people can understand it -- which suggests a certain degree of lack of mutual intelligibility. You know?

And of course Microsoft has been supporting Arabic for some time now -- with localized versions for way over a decade in various versions of Windows and Office.

Now, stitching together these small islands of factlets that are all true into my own little conspiracy theory:

For the last decade, Microsoft has insinuated its version of Arabic that is not completely mutually intelligible with Yemeni Arabic. Those small differences led directly to the problems that these recent failed attempts terrorism ran into. Because problems trying to use Microsoft software that the terrorists didn't fully understand kept them from setting things up properly.

I'll admit that all seems pretty unlikely.

I mean who honestly believes that any group in Microsoft can keep a single coherent vision that spans multiple versions like that?!? :-)

I mean, really. No one who knows anything about Microsoft would believe that!

John Cowan on 7 Dec 2010 8:26 AM:

Amin, brother.  ("Omayn" to you.)

Nancy on 8 Dec 2010 9:15 AM:

That is an awesome theory you came up with. It should be revered as the company doing its part to stop terrorism.  Microsoft = cunning diplomat.

Nurgle on 9 Dec 2010 7:45 AM:

Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #6: The Microsoft blog engine automatically filters any mention of conspiracy #4.

Michael S. Kaplan on 9 Dec 2010 10:54 AM:

Ooops, another disproven conspiracy! :-)

alexcohn on 13 Dec 2010 1:14 PM:

In 1999, a bomb exploded not on time because the terrorists had out-of-date DST settings. Although it has never been confirmed that they used Microsoft software, I am no longer complaining when I must manually install special Windows update to allow the system switch to Israeli DST correctly.

Thomas on 14 Dec 2010 2:51 PM:

Don't ever tell anyone that you and I use Arabic numerals!

No joke, there's an Oceanic grammar whose author made the claim (my phrasing): "From 5 onwards, the Xyz use Arabic numerals […] faiv, siks, sevn, eit"

Made the best foot note of my M.A. thesis.

@alex: Oh, I'm glad EU managed to harmonize that one.

Reminds me of the fatal crash of one (or more?) space probes, because NASA used miles, meters, yards, km.

'Falling from a 100 meter building is easy. For the first 99 meters.'

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referenced by

2011/06/27 Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #8 (Evil? Really?)

2011/05/14 Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #8 (aka Discontent without substantive content)

2011/01/05 Short-sighted text processing #5: PU[A]! That pad THAI is pretty spicy....

2010/12/10 Anti-Microsoft conspiracy theories are fun #6 (aka If you use .Net, you may have a stupid .Parent)

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