Thursday, January 17, 2008

Microsoft is collapsing under its own weight

It's finally begun: Microsoft is collapsing under its own weight. You can only sell bad software for so long, only make so many tens of billions of dollars from it, before people start to cop onto your scam. Among the many reasons why I hate Microsoft and its products is that Microsoft ships software before it's ready for the market, turning its customers into unpaid Quality Assurance testers. This undercooked software is then the reason your bloats up your PC with patch after endless patch, hotfix after execrable hotfix. If Microsoft were a car company, its vehicles would be shipped with no windows, no trunk door, components missing from the engine, and with only three tires. Sure, you'd eventually get everything you needed to have a functioning vehicle, but the problem is you didn't get what you paid for in the beginning.

The Microsoft automobile would also be sold to you without any seat belts, without airbags, and with no locks on the doors -- in other words, with nothing to protect the occupants. This is how Microsoft ships its products. In 2006, Internet Explorer was unsafe to use for 284 days of the year -- nine months out of 12.

Not to mention the bloatware that ships with every Windows PC -- all those ridiculous trial versions of software you would never buy, anyhow, which take the better part of a day to uninstall -- and the arbitrary changes to their products' usability and interfaces. For instance, I've used Microsoft Word for a dozen years -- though I've recently moved over to OpenOffice Writer -- and many of the updates and new versions consist of simply moving functions around from where I was used to finding them off to some new place. The most egregious example of this is Word 2007. Nice try with attempting to make it more visual, but who in the vast Microsoft Brain Trust broached the idea of making Word 2007 save files with the .docx extension? Try opening a .docx file in an earlier version of Word. The result is pure, unadulterated schmlanx. "Why would anyone want to open a file created in Word 2007 in Word 2003 -- or, Zeus forbid, Word 98?" Those of us who work on multiple PCs, that's who. The only reason I moved from Mac to PC in 1997 was because Apple was going through a bad time, which made getting replacement parts for products stupidly difficult. Terrified of having thousands of pages of my writing trapped on my 1991 Mac Classic with no way to print -- my LaseWriter was conking out with no help to be found -- I printed my work and moved to PC, so I wouldn't have to run the compability gauntlet any longer. But now I can relive those good ole days with Word 2007 and its insane .docx format.

Customer dissatisfaction is nothing new with Microsoft. People could despise the Gates/Ballmer Leviathan all they wanted, but both men went on to become billionaires twenty and forty times over. With the release of Windows Vista, however, Microsoft-the-maker-of-inferior-products has finally had its mask ripped away. On the surface, Vista's smooth look is a complete and utter rip off of Apple's OS X. No one with an ounce of professional pride would engage in such baldface theft of another's ideas. Better yet, Vista was voted the #1 Technology Disappointment for 2007, among the Top ten terrible tech products by CNET, which stated "Its incompatibility with hardware, its obsessive requirement of human interaction to clear security dialogue box warnings and its abusive use of hated DRM, not to mention its general pointlessness as an upgrade, are just some examples of why this expensive operating system earns the final place in our terrible tech list."

Expensive is right. There are no less than five different versions of Vista, and they're well over $250. Which is great because there are Linux-installed PCs available for as little as $199:
Linux PC Models Multiply As Vista Struggles

Demand for Linux systems is such that some retailers are selling out. Last year, for instance, Wal-Mart for a time couldn't fulfill orders for Everex's $199 gPC.

Until recently, Linux PCs were about as easy to find in stores as a vinyl record. Now, personal computers with the Linux operating system pre-installed are becoming more readily available, thanks to new models from upstarts and established PC makers -- and disappointment withMicrosoft (NSDQ: MSFT)'s new Windows Vista OS.

In just the past several weeks, a handful of new, low-cost systems have hit the market that are powered by Linux -- open source software first developed by Linus Torvalds and enhanced by enthusiast programmers around the world.
In August 2001, I attended a conference held by the Society of Technical Communicators in Chicago, and heard a talk given by a manager in Microsoft's technical communications. He was a decent enough guy who began his talk by showing us the top of his head, ruffling his hair with a hand and saying, "See? No horns." Right -- Microsoft isn't evil.

Well, let's hope Microsoft makes its more sinister technology is as shoddy and hole-ridden as its mainstream software:
Microsoft seeks patent for office 'spy' software

By Alexi Mostrous and David Brown

Microsoft is developing Big Brother-style software capable of remotely monitoring a worker’s productivity, physical wellbeing and competence.

The Times has seen a patent application filed by the company for a computer system that links workers to their computers via wireless sensors that measure their metabolism. The system would allow managers to monitor employees’ performance by measuring their heart rate, body temperature, movement, facial expression and blood pressure. Unions said they fear that employees could be dismissed on the basis of a computer’s assessment of their physiological state.

Technology allowing constant monitoring of workers was previously limited to pilots, firefighters and Nasa astronauts. This is believed to be the first time a company has proposed developing such software for mainstream workplaces.
Let's hope this monstocity sinks to the bottom of the sea before we've got car battery cables linking our testicles and nipples to our PCs.

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Ascendantlive said...

ah yes, I bought a new PC with Vista(before they started re-offering XP) first it was okay...then things didn't work...then I realized how much faster and smoother everything ran under Ubuntu...
and I never thanked you for turning me onto open source in the first wrote a post about Freespire(which doesn't work so well) but through that I found Ubuntu...and Ubuntu rules!

Whetam Gnauckweirst said...

Yeah, Freespire was a bust, but Ubuntu is amazing. I have a dual boot running on my desk top machine with XP and Ubuntu. I'm slowly making my way over to doing everything in Linux.

Brave of you to follow my bumbling steps!

Ascendantlive said...

It was quite a learning curve...and I crashed it on several occassions, but it was well worth it, and geeking out is kinda fun(most of the time).
I now only use windows for photoshop. the GIMP just doesn't cut it.