Home | Articles | Boycott Microsoft |     Share This Page
Replies to "Boycott Microsoft"

Some of the more interesting responses, with names and other identifying information removed.

Windows isn't that easy to install | Your Credentials? | Windows has improved I | Windows has improved II

(double-click any word to see its definition)

Windows isn't that easy to install
Thank you very much for your site. I did read about everything on it, and I appriciate it very much. It must be because I'm an old man that I like the concept of CareWare.It does seem rather old-fashioned, doesn't it?In my dayjob I am a (the) network administrator in an almost Windows-only shop. All pc's (except mine) run Windows 2000 or XP. At home, I use Gentoo, OpenSuSE and Ubuntu, and a virtual W2000 machine to be able to use our corporate Windows-only VPN (it needs an ActiveX control. For security, I presume ;-)) So I think I know a bit of both worlds, so to say.Then I am very interested to hear what you have to say.You wrote about Linux that "It is still not ready for an untrained home user to install and maintain without assistance," and "Windows is much easier for an untrained person to install and use." Well, maybe last year or so this was true, but things have changed. First, have you ever seen an untrained person install Windows from scratch? And after that, installing all those nice programs that they want to use? Second, did you install a recent Linux lately? I did, 3 times this month. It took me about 5 mouseclicks and the typing of the computername to install Ubuntu 6.10 on my Lenovo thinkpad T42. After that, everything just worked (maybe except the modem, I didn't look at that). Even the Wifi worked flawless. I connected a HP OfficeJet, and without any hassle I was able to scan and to print. No need for installing extra drivers or something, it just worked. After that, I connected a Canon camera, and Ubuntu told me it found it, asking me if I wanted to import the pictures. I connected one of our Maxtor 1TB external harddrives, and it just worked. Total install time: about an hour. And after that, I have a fully functional system, with a lot of software installed and working.Thanks for telling me this. I think I'll edit my article to avoid creating the impression that Windows is a pushover for a home user to install. I personally rarely install Windows, so I don't have a sense of the end-user experience. I am reasonably good at installing Linux, so again, I don't have a very good sense of how an end user might react to it.

I know installation and use issues are gradually improving for Linux, and I am glad to hear a field report like this.
Multimedia needed a little extra work. But typing 'Ubuntu WMV' in google sent me to a page with a nice hands-on, copy-paste how-to page, no problem here. The same worked for playing DVD's. Funny: I can now play a 'copy-control' crippled DVD that doesn't play very well on Windows.Yes, I solved that class of problems a while ago, so I can watch movies on a laptop while I'm boating in Alaska.At the job, I 'nurse' about 15 laptops, 50 pc's, and some servers, all running Windows. When a new machine arrives, it takes me about 3 hours to get rid of all the 'value-added' crap (Google toolbar, Norton, whatever) and install all the corporate software. Almost nothing 'just works' out of the box. You need driver-cd's, and afterwards you have to remove all kinds of useless crap that comes with modern hardware. That Canon camera that 'just works' on Linux comes with a cd that installs about 15 different programs, most of them in the 'unwanted programs' category. And you have to use the cd, because the camera requires it's own Twain driver. It is not accessable with explorer.

> So for me it seems that Linux is a lot easier to install than Windows. And maintaining? Ubuntu has a nice auto-update system, running by default, that keeps not only the operating system up-to-date, but also all the installed applications (as long as you use the package-manager to install software). Windows update only serves some MS products. All other software has it's own ways and needs to keep it current. That's also an easy win for Linux, I think.
Again, thanks for recalibrating my assumptions. I am pretty far removed from end users.Finally, I would like to apologise for my English. It is not my native language, and I hate spellcheckers.This is a classic post coming from a European correspondent. In fact, your English is way above the norm for the average native speaker who writes me. Native speakers very frequently submit posts with one misspelled word after another, and the misspellings possess a characteristic trait — they tend to be homonyms (words that sound alike but have different meanings or spellings). IMHO this comes from too much TV and too little reading.

An example is the word set site/sight/cite. They're all pronounced the same in English, so someone who only hears these words spoken on TV may not realize they are different words, so he chooses one spelling for all three, or mixes the spellings randomly.

Another example I read the other day was "mailstrom", referring to a deluge of spam. It's actually rather funny and creative, because the intended word (maelstrom) is modified to refer to particular circumstances.

My favorite example of a humorous homonym happened to me many years ago, when I fixed TV sets as a teenager. I walked into a customer's house, looked at the problem equipment, and asked, "Is this a stereo turntable?" The housewife replied, "No, it's monorail." I had to leave the room for a few minutes. As before, whether or not it was intentional, it was creative and very funny.

So your awareness of spelling issues is commendable, but you are way ahead of the pack over here, so don't be overly concerned.
p.s. about boycotting Microsoft: At the job, I am not in a position to kick the crap out. We have to use some Windows-only software (company policy, and a bit vendor lock-in), But at home, I avoid using Microsoft software as much as I can (vpn). I do not buy pc's, only parts, so I can build my own machines, without having to pay the Microsoft tax.I generally buy my systems, too lazy to build them any more, also I tend to buy laptops, not so easy to assemble at home, so I pay the Microsoft tax regularly.

Thanks for writing!
Your Credentials?
I am conducting research for a paper for my class about microsoft and it's... lunacies. I wanted to utilise your site but the teacher requires we verify credentials of the person who makes the information in the sites we choose. So, I wanted to see if you could provide me such.Credentials? Please explain. Does someone need credentials to assemble an historically accurate account of current events? What kind of credentials would those be?

When Einstein (not to compare myself to Einstein) published his first relativity paper, he was a lowly patent clerk in Bern, Switzerland. The journal that published his paper, and the scientists who read it, only cared about the paper's content, not its source.

Another example. Late in his career, Nobel Prizewinner Linus Pauling (with whom I share an academic award) suggested that vitamin C could cure the common cold. The journal that published his paper, and the scientists who read it, cared only about the evidence for the idea, not its source (and this particular idea is not well supported by evidence).

A third example. Nobel Prizewinner William Shockley, co-inventor of the transistor, spent the later years of his life traveling about, lecturing about the supposed inferiority of African-Americans. Fortunately, educated people judged the idea on its merits, not because of the source's reputation or "authority."

In these cases, indeed in all cases in science and related fields, ideas must stand on their own, and to ask about the credentials of a source is to reveal an ignorance of scientific principles, as well as make a classic logical error named "argumentum ad verecundiam" (e.g. he's a Nobel Prizewinner, so his ideas must be right).

Since you are a student, you need to learn this — it is vital to understand: to ask about the source of an idea rather than evaluate it directly is equivalent to asking about the color of someone's skin rather than evaluating the content of his character.

Now that I have stated my objection to this exercise, I have been active in the field of computer science for about thirty years. In 1985 I was named scientist of the year by the Oregon Academy of Science. In 1983 I received Reed College's Howard Vollum award for contributions to science and technology (later recipients include Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Linus Torvalds).

As an educated person, none of these honors should matter to you in the slightest, and you must always perform your own fact checking and evaluation. Make up your own mind about the merit of published ideas. In short, learn how to think, don't allow yourself to be told what to think.

Your teacher is misleading you — in the contest of ideas, credentials mean precisely nothing.
Windows has improved I
Your European correspondent wrote from a professional's perspective. The Microsoft non-professional, end-user experience has steadily improved (as opposed to the Microsoft corporate experience). Hmm. Would that be why Vista has fallen flat on its face, and why Microsoft, now [ Fall 2008 ] in panic mode, sees Windows 7 as a replacement for XP rather than Vista?

The fact is that Microsoft grossly underestimated the impact that a huge application like Vista (50 million lines of code) would have on machines designed for XP (35 million lines), machines typically designed with no reserve capacity —

"Windows Is So Slow, but Why?" (New York Times)

It's hard to imagine how Windows 7 will turn out to be both physically smaller and better than Vista, but that will be required for Microsoft to recover its momentum.
I say this because I am my neighborhood's chief geek, a role I've been in since 1982. My "tech support calls" have dwindled to almost nothing. By 1988 I was helping at least one neighbor a week. Today I get one call per quarter and I can usually deal with the problem without a visit. Your neighbors are probably all running XP, and XP is now in a stable condition (in the same way that a dead horse is in a stable condition). Perhaps this is the reason you did not get more reaction to your Microsoft boycott page. That's not the reason. The reason is because most Microsoft customers are neither activists nor technical people and really have no options. For most end users, a computer is a toaster with some extra knobs, rather than something over which an individual can exercise control. I do not mean to belittle the Linux experience, which is clearly improving rapidly. I am really sorry to see the slow pace in improvement of the Linux desktop experience, and my views are widely shared. But some big players in Linux development care more about "big iron" (e.g. servers and high-performance applications) than they do about the desktop. Fortunately there are now players like Ubuntu who are focusing their full attention on the desktop.
Windows has improved II
As a professional, however, I have refused to upgrade any of my clients to Vista, just as many businesses have refused to make the migration. From where I sit, that is the main reason the press reaction has been so negative - the business reaction has been negative. I haven't seen the value. There is also the compatibility issue. Not enough Vista-compatible drivers, and the fact that many XP applications won't run on it. I stand by my assertion that the end-user Windows experience has steadily improved. I didn't actually dispute that claim. I was complaining about other things, like the Vista catastrophe. I happen to agree that in the long term, it has definitely improved. But this by itself won't save Microsoft.

The main problem is the chasm between Microsoft and its customers. The customers want a stable, reliable desktop experience, but Microsoft wants to sell them a new, bigger desktop experience, and the more often, the better.

In a perfect (and perfectly imaginary) world, after XP became reasonably stable, Microsoft would have said, "There! Our job is done!" and disbanded.

Home | Articles | Boycott Microsoft |     Share This Page