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The switch kills what now?
October 5, 2006 2:09 PM   Subscribe

To help enforce the genuine advantage, Microsoft will include a "kill switch" in Vista--if it's not validated within a specified time, all of its functions except web browsing are locked down and the machine automatically kicks you out after an hour. Will it mean more Linux users, an excuse to just use Google desktop, or is it just a matter of time until this, too, gets cracked?
posted by camcgee (136 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This makes sense since rampant software piracy has had such a detrimental effect on Microsoft thus far. Remember when any idiot could copy Windows 95 and Microsoft was broke-ass? I don't either.
posted by chunking express at 2:13 PM on October 5, 2006


PaysForSure®.
posted by mazola at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2006


or is it just a matter of time until this, too, gets cracked

Ding ding ding ding ding.
posted by linux at 2:16 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


How is this different from XP's 30 day activation?
posted by null terminated at 2:17 PM on October 5, 2006


It will mean someone will crack the validation. Microsoft will fix it. Someone will crack that version. The cylce will continue.

What it will stop is the casual "pirate" -- the person that would Windows on both their home PCs when it was time to upgrade. Or they'll break down and buy a legit copy.

Will those people switch to Linux? I doubt it, most will stay with XP until they buy a new PC which will come with Vista and unless you buy your PC from a guy selling from the back of a van, it will have a legit copy -- or a really good fake in it.
posted by birdherder at 2:20 PM on October 5, 2006


Will it mean more Linux users, an excuse to just use Google desktop, or is it just a matter of time until this, too, gets cracked?

Why is this either/or? I know folks who are dropping Windows because the Genuine Advantage Check spyware locked them out of the license they paid for.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:20 PM on October 5, 2006


Hahaha, I have a little program that fixes the XP 30 day activation lickety split... I imagine that the same will occur here in no time flat.

It's amazing how stupid these people who are relying on technology to enforce IP laws are. Like, it hasn't quite sunk into their head yet that they just aren't able to code something that can't be broken.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 2:20 PM on October 5, 2006


I haven't seen any feature yet on Vista I would actually want, has anybody?
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:22 PM on October 5, 2006


actual news article headline of the day yesterday:

Windows Vista has new Reduced Functionality Mode

runner up:

Anna Nicole Smith Doesn't Know Who's the Daddy
posted by snofoam at 2:25 PM on October 5, 2006


Like, it hasn't quite sunk into their head yet that they just aren't able to code something that can't be broken.

Tell that to our friends at Ft. Meade.
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 2:26 PM on October 5, 2006


It's amazing how stupid these people who are relying on technology to enforce IP laws are. Like, it hasn't quite sunk into their head yet that they just aren't able to code something that can't be broken.

Some people might argue that Microsoft isn't able to code something that isn't broken.
posted by snofoam at 2:27 PM on October 5, 2006


So why shouldn't Microsoft build products that break when stolen?
posted by Nelson at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2006


Nothing is fucked, Dude.
posted by ba at 2:32 PM on October 5, 2006


umm...because they haven't quite mastered the task of building products that don't break when not stolen...when they're trying to break stuff on purpose, it can only get worse...
posted by troybob at 2:33 PM on October 5, 2006


So why shouldn't Microsoft build products that break when stolen?

Because this invariably breaks them when they aren't stolen.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:35 PM on October 5, 2006


WTF? Piss off back to Slashdot, the lot of you!
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on October 5, 2006


Does Microsoft have any feet left to shoot? It's hard to believe.
posted by doctor_negative at 2:39 PM on October 5, 2006


The last WGA restrictions Microsoft imposed a few months ago finally pushed me to order some free Ubuntu CDs. I've been messing around with it in anticipation of these rumours. I actually bought a legit copy of Windows XP Pro about 3 years ago but have been so sick of the hassles involved that I made the switch.

It's nice to run an OS that isn't completely crippled at initial installation. The basic software that comes with Windows is worthless. Until you get Office and a decent graphics program, Windows is only good for web browsing (debatable). I keep a copy of Open Office on my flash drive now and tell all my friends about it. Is it as good as regular Office? Pretty much. And the ease of installation without jumping through any hoops makes it a no brainer.

I think that anyone savvy enough to use bittorrent and various cracks/serials is more than capable of making the switch. Then again, I have no doubt that hackers will find a workaround for this restriction in no time.

Let me put it this way, WGA is a hassle, but for ~$130 I'd rather run Linux or wait for the inevitable crack. All this is going to do is push more people away from Microsoft or just delay those same people a few weeks.

Also, why should I care about Windows Vista? I haven't seen anything about that piques my interest. All I know is that I'll need more RAM to run it.

I think the emergence of competitive open source programs like Firefox has really set a new direction in software. Microsoft is still going to dominate, but I think it's becoming less relevant. People have real options now.
posted by Telf at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2006


So why shouldn't Microsoft build products that break when stolen?

Because what Microsoft decides is stolen may not in fact be stolen. Or a third-party may corrupt this component of Windows and cause a great deal of damage.

For example, you buy a full license of XP Pro, install it on your self-built computer, your computer dies and you re-use the license with a new self-built computer. You haven't infringed on Microsoft's copyright by reusing the license, yet Microsoft's GA software will say otherwise.

I can imagine the chaos from critical medical, financial, or military systems using Vista, when the Microsoft's DRM software either fails, or it is hacked by a third-party, and decides to stop working.

As a national security issue, the US Department of Homeland Security would do well look closely into this vector of attack.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


who gives a flying fuck about vista anyway? i need a 3D desktop like i need an eye in my asscrack.
posted by quonsar at 2:47 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


I won't be going to Vista. I've already refused XP - because I loathe it so damn much. (Shush you start-button mashing malingerers! I know it inside and out. I've supported it in L3/Admin roles. XP sucks so much putrid bunghole it's a finely engineered putrid bunghole sucking machine.)

I'm currently still using a stripped/tuned version of 2000 (patched/firewalled), as well as KDE/linux.

When 2000 becomes more and more useless (any day now) I'll switch primarily to KDE/linux and keep 2000 around as a backup for windows-only apps.

Unless Apple finally ponies up and releases an official x86 version of OS X, upon which I'll probably be mucking around with three systems.

But no Vista. The last thing I want near my computer is a crippled, untested, unsecure operating system that more-or-less requires a 3D accelerator and enough RAM to stock what used to be a world class supercomputer to achieve default functionality, not to mention one that phones home by design.

And really, what features are they going to add that I'll find useful, that I don't already do 1000x better with 3rd party apps? All of the so-called nifty "functionality" of XP just gets in the way all the time.
posted by loquacious at 2:48 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


On post: What quonsar said. Except I would like an eye in my asscrack.
posted by loquacious at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2006


The basic software that comes with Windows is worthless. Until you get Office and a decent graphics program, Windows is only good for web browsing (debatable).

Microsoft have continually tried to add features to Windows, and have been prevented by governments who say it's anti-competitive to do so. The EU even forced Microsoft to release a version of Windows that didn't have Media Player. No-one bought it.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 2:50 PM on October 5, 2006


I do have to say that a convicted monopolist has no business putting remote killswitches into its products. Customers will get screwed (and already have, by the current WGA), and they have no alternative, because it's a monopoly.

A basic activation, okay, I can kinda-sorta stomach that. But once it works and your business depends on it, Microsoft should not be able to change the terms unilaterally. It has done that repeatedly with XP, changing license terms and then imposing new, draconian software controls to enforce those terms AFTER people have already bought the product and come to depend on it.

Folks, it's this bad now, but this is just where it starts. If you pay attention to history, once the product is well-entrenched, the protection terms will get even worse. You will have no choice about accepting the new terms if you still want security patches. And they might do what they did with their Windows Genuine Advantage tool... mark it as a critical update, when in fact it is of no possible benefit to you whatsoever.

With their further decision that you cannot patch the kernel and cannot run unsigned drivers, they are exercising an absolutely unprecedented level of control over your machine. When running Vista, you no longer completely own your hardware. You can only do things that Microsoft permits you to do. You cannot run privileged code that Microsoft doesn't like.

This is classic monopolist behavior, and it should be stopped.
posted by Malor at 2:50 PM on October 5, 2006 [2 favorites]


This, together with the Zune, will make for a funny 2007. Cheers Microsoft!
posted by influx at 2:52 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


How is this different from XP's 30 day activation?

The part I have a problem with (and that is different from the XP activation) is the following. A little bit ago I installed a third party patch to a "genuine" (paid for) copy of Windows XP to fix a major hole in security that MS didn't have a patch released for yet. Vista would presumably not allow this, as it would see it as Windows being corrupted and would disable the system if it were not restored within a certain period of time.

On preview, what Malor said.
posted by Bort at 2:54 PM on October 5, 2006


Microsoft have continually tried to add features to Windows, and have been prevented by governments who say it's anti-competitive to do so.

I'm not sure I would call breaking competitors' software a "feature", but I agree it is anti-competitive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on October 5, 2006


So why shouldn't Microsoft build products that break when stolen?

Exactly. MS has invested millions in Vista, so why shouldn't they protect it? If people want to go off and use Linux, then let them - it would probably be a good thing if it became more used; it would open up the market and all the benefits that that brings. It really pisses me off when people pirate software. Yes, it's expensive, and sometimes prohibitively so, but picking up cracked versions on eBay for £10 is just going to continue to raise costs for everyone else. If you don't want to pay ~£500 for Illustrator, then you could always look elsewhere for cheaper options.

Yeah, this will get cracked, MS will fix it, it'll get cracked again, and so forth. If you don't want Vista enough to pay for it, then don't bother with it, full stop. If you're really anti-MS, buy a Mac or wipe your Windows install and use something like Ubuntu instead. Otherwise shut the hell up about a company trying to protect their product.
posted by TheDonF at 2:56 PM on October 5, 2006


"I haven't seen any feature yet on Vista I would actually want, has anybody?"

No. I wonder if all this work MS has gone to will be rather pointless as the majority of "sales" will be through new PCs shipped with Vista anyway. I can't see many reasons to upgrade - particularly as things like Stardock's Windowblinds et al do most of the fancy UI effects in Vista on XP (or Xgl for Linux, which is frankly even better).
posted by Auz at 2:58 PM on October 5, 2006


If you don't like it, don't buy it. Vote with your dollars. But do we really need a rehashing of stories from when XP launched? That was the end of the world too, as I recall.

As for the 3D desktop, well, you do need one. Maybe you don't need it to do your IT support or write batch files, but it is the future. Whether you like it or not. Dialog boxes and THREEDFACE buttons are crap UI and this is the first step in the away from that.

It will make computers better for real people to use.
posted by jeffamaphone at 2:58 PM on October 5, 2006


Dialog boxes and THREEDFACE buttons are crap UI and this is the first step in the away from that.

I don't think this new UI is really any improvement on the bog-standard win32 UI. In any way. At all.
posted by influx at 3:03 PM on October 5, 2006


Let me tell you a funny WGA story - my friend upgraded his mobo pre-SP2. He used his legally purchased Windows disks to repair the install so that'd work with his new chip and board. A few months later, he accidentally installs SP2 - he gets a big error message: no valid Windows license, or something like that - because he upgraded his mobo! His OS was going to be locked down unless he BOUGHT a new license!

So of course he used Windows Restore Point to go back to before he installed SP2, and turned off automatic download. Problem solved.
posted by muddgirl at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2006


Whatever, resistence is futile. Give or take 2 years from release and you will be forced to get Vista if you want whatever your p0rn is. As for activation stuff, I wouldn't understimate copyright assholes, but yeah the more Vista the merrier Microsoft.
posted by elpapacito at 3:05 PM on October 5, 2006


With their further decision that you cannot patch the kernel and cannot run unsigned drivers, they are exercising an absolutely unprecedented level of control over your machine. When running Vista, you no longer completely own your hardware. You can only do things that Microsoft permits you to do. You cannot run privileged code that Microsoft doesn't like.

Unless you turn the "require signed drivers, etc" feature off.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:06 PM on October 5, 2006


If you don't want Vista enough to pay for it, then don't bother with it, full stop.

What if you would like to be a "genuine" customer, but you don't want Microsoft to rewrite your license agreement by breaking what you bought, just to get you cough up more money?

Is it really unacceptable to bring up the unfairness of the transaction here? Is "Vote with your dollars" an acceptable response, when the company in question has such an unquestionably asymmetric and powerful hold on customers in the platform market?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on October 5, 2006


I don't think this new UI is really any improvement on the bog-standard win32 UI. In any way. At all.

I agree, but that's because 90% of Windows hasn't been re-written to take advantage of it yet. You have to have the foundation there first. I just maintain it is a move in the right direction.
posted by jeffamaphone at 3:08 PM on October 5, 2006


Unless you turn the "require signed drivers, etc" feature off.

It's my understanding that this cannot be turned off in Vista. SiSoft Sandra doesn't work right in Vista because of this; they use a device driver to look at the hardware to tell you what it does, and it cannot install in Vista. Thus, the software barely works at all.
posted by Malor at 3:10 PM on October 5, 2006


And god forbid you should want to run something useful like Daemon Tools.
posted by Malor at 3:11 PM on October 5, 2006


How is this different from XP's 30 day activation?

It's better. the xp activation doesn't even let you browse the web for an hour. It just says "Sorry. Wanna activate now??"

I haven't seen any feature yet on Vista I would actually want, has anybody?

I don't know if I'd call it a feature, but it will bring 64-bit computing mainstream, which is really important.

That being said, even with my legal copy of XP, I use a cracked one. I gave them the money so I could use the OS, and I am. I'd just rather not deal with the hassle of reminding them that I'm using it.
posted by hoborg at 3:14 PM on October 5, 2006


MS has invested millions in Vista, so why shouldn't they protect it?

since when has microsoft sold "protected" software? ... there's cracked beta versions of vista already out there and plenty of people are already looking for security holes and such to have fun with

and then there's the question of why anyone would want the damn thing anyway ... xp works just fine for me and i have no intention of upgrading until i upgrade my computer ... and that's a while off ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:15 PM on October 5, 2006


I thought Genuine Advatage was full of problems and was going away? No?
posted by fixedgear at 3:20 PM on October 5, 2006


Who are the people (in my experience) who are most likely to pirate Windows? Teenage gamers. Who are the people most likely to hack the Vista kill-switch? Teenage gamers. They have the technical expertise, the free time, energy to bang their heads against what they see as Bill Gates taking away their right to play MMPORGs. This won't do anything for Microsoft beyond pissing off legitimate customers.
posted by lekvar at 3:22 PM on October 5, 2006


"eye in my asscrack"

Must be the fish observing where you've been.
posted by stirfry at 3:24 PM on October 5, 2006


It's idiocy. M$ is falling into the same trap as all of those who are trying to hold on to IP laws are; not really, down deep believing in the pace of technology change. Not really.
posted by Cycloptichorn at 3:34 PM on October 5, 2006


since when has microsoft sold "protected" software?
Okay, let me re-phrase: MS has invested millions in Vista, why shouldn't they try and ensure that their investment is re-couped? Surely no-one really expects them to release software without some unlock feature?

Microsoft has a monopoly, but who let them get it? There's millions of people around the planet who have the power to stop buying MS's software. The change can happen if people want it to. If you don't want MS's licence agreements, WGA and so on, people should vote with their wallets and fat corporate budgets and buy something else. There's plenty of excellent software out there if people are willing to walk away from MS.
posted by TheDonF at 3:39 PM on October 5, 2006


God, I love my Mac. Never buying a Windows machine again.
posted by keswick at 3:41 PM on October 5, 2006


i need a 3D desktop like i need an eye in my asscrack.

Well, with one you'd be able to see me comin'.
posted by dobbs at 3:43 PM on October 5, 2006


They've been doing this since XP, the only difference is that now you'll still be able to surf the web.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on October 5, 2006


God, I love my Mac. Never buying a Windows machine again.

OSX doesn't have internal copy protection? It certainly has FairPlay DRM...
posted by delmoi at 3:45 PM on October 5, 2006


If you don't like it, don't buy it. Vote with your dollars.

jeffamaphone: This is all fine and dandy in a free market, but it is exceedingly challenging to buy a new computer (without having to build it yourself) that doesn't include XP and make you pay for it. I predict Vista will be likewise bundled.
posted by bkudria at 3:46 PM on October 5, 2006


delmoi: no, it doesn't. Apple trusts its customers.

The only reason FairPlay is around is the RIAA (and now the MPAA).
posted by keswick at 3:49 PM on October 5, 2006


Who are the people (in my experience) who are most likely to pirate Windows? Teenage gamers.

The real target of this kind of thing is Joe Schmoe, who doesn't really care about the ethics (at least not for $130). He will gladly install Vista off of the disk he borrows from the guy at work who bought it. Without even thinking twice about it. Or at least he would do that if it was really simple. But if it requires hacks from the Internet that you constantly have to upgrade? That's too much work for him, if it's even possible. So he might as well buy it.
posted by smackfu at 3:55 PM on October 5, 2006


Good discussion at DSLReports, with some more detail.
posted by jam_pony at 3:57 PM on October 5, 2006


delmoi: no, it doesn't. Apple trusts its customers.

Ha! They don't trust anyone. If you want to run their OS, you have to pay them for the hardware, so they get their money even if you pirate the OS.
posted by smackfu at 3:58 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Microsoft has a monopoly, but who let them get it?

computer manufacturers who bundled win os with their computers
posted by pyramid termite at 3:59 PM on October 5, 2006


Yeah, Apple's pretty good about this kind of thing. I've been able to install and remove their operating systems at will. Never needed a key or any kind of online verification.

Interestingly several of my friends with both Mac and Windows machines will freely pirate the Microsoft software but are pretty diligent about buying their Mac upgrades. I assumed it was a they-drank-the-kool-aid kind of thing, till one explained his stance. His argument was that the Apple software worked as, he felt, an operating system should. It was reliable and could generally be counted on. He wanted to reward this behavior with his money. The Microsoft software, on the other hand, needed to be reinstalled yearly and was a huge source of irritation with all the keys and other requirements. Eventually it just became easier to use the h@x0r versions of the operating system.

Sure, it probably was nothing more than a justification to stick it to the big guy, but there are people out there that feel that way.
posted by quin at 4:10 PM on October 5, 2006


What's really disturbing about this "kill switch" is that MS is betting the company on a rigid, authoritarian, repressive future in both government and the private sector, both in the US and the rest of the world, because people will simply not put up with this kind of thing if they have the freedom to avoid it.

If MS doesn't get that future, they will probably suffer something like what's happening to GM right now.

So we can count on seeing MS put their vast wealth and influence behind all the worst tendencies in our society, just as they did when they supported Bush in 2000 to get out of that anti-trust bind, but on a huge and global scale.
posted by jamjam at 4:10 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


smackfu: That's fine and dandy, but I could, if I were so minded, borrow a friend's copy of Leopard when it comes out and install it on my PowerBook with zero effort. I could also reinstall Tiger on my PowerBook without having to go through activation bullshit. I could reconfigure my hypothetical Mac Pro without having to clear it with Apple.

This is, of course, in sharp contrast to the bullshit you have to go through with Microsoft. In conclusion, your argument = destroyed.
posted by keswick at 4:53 PM on October 5, 2006


iAsscrack - "Get into the groove"

But seriously, I can't see any particularly good reason to get Vista, either. Does it actually do anything special except look vaguely 3Dish?
posted by Sparx at 4:57 PM on October 5, 2006


Well, solitaire has new graphics.
posted by influx at 4:59 PM on October 5, 2006


I just wanted to mention that the reason I posted this is because it's unusual and interesting and likely to create controversy. The frequency with which the company trundles into PR nightmares is a fascination on its own.

Though I disagree with a lot of the stuff they do, I'm not a Windows-hater. I've got versions of paid for and fully legal XP running on three of my computers, though on each of them I've declined to download or install the WGA "update."

I've also got Vista RC1 installed on a secondary computer and I think it's an improvement over XP in a lot of ways, though the majority of those improvements are things that I've added to XP myself through third-party software and in are largely features that are lagging far behind OS X and most modern Linux desktop environments.

One real disappointment to me is how crappy the built-in apps are. Things like the calculator and notepad are still in their original incarnations, with nary a tweak in sight. I thought maybe they would incorporate something more robust, like the Powertoy Calculator (or other Powertoy features, like image resizer)--or even bundle something along the lines of Paint.Net (RC1 still has plain old MS Paint, seemingly unchanged).

So far the only thing I've seen out of Vista that really sets it apart is the file versioning, though I'm not really in a position to take advantage of it, since there's no way I'm going to give beta software the opportunity to muck about with my documents.
posted by camcgee at 5:02 PM on October 5, 2006


Yeah, Apple's pretty good about this kind of thing. I've been able to install and remove their operating systems at will. Never needed a key or any kind of online verification.

Duh. That's becaue they're a hardware company. They use their operating system as bait to buy their hardware. They don't care about the os verification because, outside of a few hacker friendly projects, it only runs on their hardware.

Put it this way, how friendly were they to the clone market? Itunes is the first non-hardware project that's made them money, and that's not software they're selling, that's a service. And if the RIAA *made* apple install drm then why is emusic still going strong?

Face it, they'd be worse than MS if they had the monoply, they just get to be in the spoiler role because they're the competitor.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:07 PM on October 5, 2006


Put it this way, how friendly were they to the clone market?

Pretty friendly until it nearly put them out of business.

And if the RIAA *made* apple install drm then why is emusic still going strong?

Because eMusic doesn't sell RIAA music?

Next?
posted by keswick at 5:12 PM on October 5, 2006


What a lot of noise about nothing. Surely to god y'all are fully aware by now that you do have a choice.

You do not need to buy a Vista machine. Mac OS X is a very nice interface, very easy to learn, and in many ways much better than the Windows alternative. There is a wealth of software; you won't be lacking for a word processor, and I'll bet you're better off exchanging change-locked PDF than editable DOC files. For home con/prosumer use, it seems that for most needs, there are one or two truly outstanding options; these are often produced by a small shop with a high sense of user interface design; and their price is usually very reasonable and you know you're helping a small business.

Plus OS X's UI is on top of BSD Unix. That's a solid foundation that's largely written by authentic genuises. I'm not talking about the fluff that surrounds an OS, the user-friendly stuff: I'm talking about the real meat and blood of the computer system. It is under constant, active maintenance and advancement by brilliant, cooperative people spanning the globe. It has far more permanance than Microsoft's inner workings, and that is an advantage worth considering.

Those of you who have simple needs and don't care a whole lot about slicker-n-snot graphics will find the various KDE- and Gnome-'faced *nixes (Linus and BSD flavours) are very, very usable these days and come with a ton of good applications. In all honesty, Ubuntu and like would probably be a near-perfect OS for 80% of the population.

The long and the short of it is that you don't have to use Windows. The options are there and the back of the proprietary dinosaur is almost broken. We're headed for an interoperable world, where software tries to share data freely between various applications.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:13 PM on October 5, 2006


Pay for it and stop worrying. I think the model of cheap and universal beats expensive and restrictive, but if you are not paying you have little to complain about.
posted by caddis at 5:19 PM on October 5, 2006


I'll run XP Pro as long as I can simply because I have a few games I still play on the sucker. And later, Vista with DX10+ will still maintain a significant lead over the other OSes. you want your cake and eat it, too? Right now, the only option is a Mactel with triple boot (though some would question the need for the third Linux distro if you have OSX).

Basic office computing is easily accomplished with Open Office so it's pick your favorite OS on that. The same with GIMP but it still has a ways to go to match Photoshop, so that's Win/Mac only. And there really isn't anything out there as easy and basic as iMovie on OSX so I suppose you could say if you add that requirement in, along with MP3 player compatibility (and actually, hardware compatibility in general), OSX with its closed-system is the winner for true out-of-the-box use. Windows comes second due largely to sheer inertia (and Vista will continue that intertia) and Linux is still third, because outside of browsing and office software, Linux just isn't good for anything else to the average computer user. Sure you can use GTKpod for iPod and any number of other software to run other hardware -- but you have to dig for it. You can't just run the setup CD or download from the manufacturer the correct driver. You have to dig, and that, while absolutely fabulous for the savvy, will turn off 90% of home PC users.

Suddenly, everyone's looking at my screenname and wondering just what the hell is going on... :)
posted by linux at 5:23 PM on October 5, 2006


five fresh fish writes "The long and the short of it is that you don't have to use Windows."

I think that bears repeating. I've been using Linux on my laptops for a few years, and I really don't see a reason why I'd want to go back to Windows. I do have a proper copy of Vista RC1 installed, but frankly I really don't see a compelling reason to switch to it as a primary OS, partly because I really can't do anything with it that I can't also do with Linux, and partly because with the "must have signed drivers" policy I can foresee that getting any new hardware to work is going to be a bloody nightmare.

On two PCs on which I installed it (both AMD64 systems, and hence fairly new but not quite cutting-edge) the sound was completely unsupported, and on the desktop system my built-in ethernet wasn't even supported (a 3com gigabit ethernet chipset), even though the chipset is on apparently on the supported list! Pretty bad considering that, like every Windows installer before it, it does not recognize non-Windows OSs on the same drive, nor a Windows OS on a different drive, or even give the user the option of *not* hosing your MBR, leaving you with a system that "knows" only Vista at startup.

Sure, it's pretty. It might even be secure -- with no access to the network my desktop would be pretty damn secure, that's for sure -- but it's still quite far from release-ready and, if truth be told, will only be a practical choice for people buying the latest and greatest when it does come out. Already we're seeing PCs on the general market with 2 gig of RAM, and that's a good thing because to be pleasant (gaming-wise) Vista will *need* that much. If you're not ready to buy a whole new PC in six months' time, then Vista just isn't for you.
posted by clevershark at 5:28 PM on October 5, 2006


Can you run Vista in a VM? Presumably you can conceal the hardware details from it completely, then. If virtualization technology hasn't gotten to the point where Windows will think it's running on whatever hardware you want it to think it's running on, it will soon. So you could upgrade your motherboard, but as long as all Vista sees is what your VM configuration tells it to see, you shouldn't have any trouble.

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft took steps to defeat unapproved virtualization technology for just this reason.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:35 PM on October 5, 2006


If MS wants to do this, let them, it's their right.

Me, 2 out of 3 comps in the house are Ubuntu, with only a desktop left for games in Windows and keep the mistress happy, but I play more games on my DS Lite than I ever do on the desktop. I don't think Ubuntu is for everyone though, and I'd probably steer family towards a Mac when the next lifecycle of Windows support begins.
posted by furtive at 5:46 PM on October 5, 2006


I remember a time when the Operating System was nothing more than an invisble interface between programs and the hardware. Then Gates decided that, among other things, an OS should include a browser. Things really went downhill after that.

(I know I'm skipping a couple of MS moves, but if I start thinking about it, my head starts to hurt).
posted by landis at 5:51 PM on October 5, 2006




In the future software controls YOU!
posted by oxford blue at 6:31 PM on October 5, 2006


I don't know if I'd call it a feature, but it will bring 64-bit computing mainstream, which is really important.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. The vast majority of computer users don't use anywhere near the computing power included in current 32-bit systems. Aside from professionals in video editing, raytracing, rendering, and other processor-intensive areas, nobody needs this extra horsepower, and it certainly isn't "really important."
posted by odinsdream at 6:34 PM on October 5, 2006


I may not always love Microsoft the company, but I know that they're smart enough not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. If their product becomes expensive enough and difficult enough to pirate that their all-important ubiquity is threatened, I'll dollars to donuts that they will do one of two things :

1) Introduce cheaper, watered-down forms of their product for lower-end consumer boxes. They've already started to do this.

2) Make it easier and cheaper to upgrade to new versions. This is something they should do anyway.

This move will make them a bit more money in the short term, but won't make much of a difference in the long run. Operating systems are fast becoming a commodity, and even Microsoft is eager to invest in faster-growing, more exciting technologies.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:35 PM on October 5, 2006


BTW, most if not all of the Apple software is pretty much copy protection free. Tiger, Final Cut, iLife, Aperture - at most, you just have to enter a serial number. Software updates are hassle-free as well. Kind of amazing... actually makes me want to buy the stuff.

And of course it only works with their hardware - it's made to work with their hardware. If it had to work with every home-built contraption in existence it would probably be as problem-plagued as windows.
posted by fungible at 6:47 PM on October 5, 2006


An additional problem connected with the "kill switch" idea is that it really opens the door for the idea of rented software. If Redmond can throw the switch on your PC, what's to keep them from making the Windows license renewable from one year to the next? They reserve the right to change the terms of licensing and have always made it clear that you're not buying it from them, just licensing it.

Obviously asking the consumer to shell out $200 every year would probably be too much, although since they basically would hold your PC and the data therein hostage that would actually be possible. I'm thinking more a $50 annual fee after 1 year -- enough to be worth their while, but not so much that people would consider not renewing it.

It was the Chairman of Microsoft who famously said that he wanted to make his company the toll booth on the information highway, and now the company has the tools, both legal and technological, to make it so.
posted by clevershark at 6:48 PM on October 5, 2006


You don't have to use windows

*Ahem* Unless you are a gamer, at which point you can either buy a Mac and play only Blizzard games, or get a PC and play anything you want.

The PC gaming industry is too huge to ignore in this debate, as far as the single user goes. And how many companies do you know run linux or OSX instead of windows?

So, yes, you don't have to use windows, but most people will not really have a choice.
posted by Vindaloo at 7:07 PM on October 5, 2006


I actually think this is mostly aimed at the Asian market and not the American market. Microsoft already knows that they basically have a Lock on the American market and that the average consumer is going to take whatever they give them. However in Asian countries like China, over 90% of the machines here run bootleg copies of windows. It's actually hard to find a legitimate copy to buy over there.

It will be interesting to see if Vista causes them enough problems that there is a massive switch to other operating systems. They will probably just keep using XP for the next five years or so, could be interesting after that.
posted by afu at 7:32 PM on October 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


raytracing, rendering, and other processor-intensive areas, nobody needs this extra horsepower, and it certainly isn't "really important.

actually "64-bit" addressing can slow things down. CPUs have already been 64-bit data for a long time now.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:47 PM on October 5, 2006


You don't have to use Windows

I think a lot of people can't handle anything else. Take my mother, for instance. She knows how to use a Windows machine to a point - she can do word processing, respond to e-mails, and use the internet. But when she was spending too much time playing Solitaire, all my father had to do (when she asked) was remove it from the Start Menu. She's not savvy enough to get it back.

I know Macs are supposed to be more user-friendly, but I can't imagine my mother making the jump easily. She'd have to start from scratch. I know there are plenty of people her age who can do it, and that's fine. But I think the learning curve on the shift from one to another outweighs the benefits of an Apple over a PC.

As for myself, I'm the sort of computer user who does a lot of word processing and some spreadsheets and web browsing and e-mail. I know some things about how my computer runs, but to be honest, I don't know a whole lot. Most serious computer talk is over my head. The idea of running a different operating system on my laptop is just beyond me.

I'm sure I'm selling myself short; if I took the time, I could learn about it and probably make it work. But the fact of the matter is that I have a lot of other things I'd rather spend that time doing, and I can do what I need on my laptop with XP. I know there are a lot of consumers out there like me, who are kind of intimidated by talk about other operating systems and who feel like the learning curve would be a bit much and there isn't the same support system they have with Windows.

I'm rambling now, and I'm sure someone will come along and make mincemeat of this post, but I just thought I'd offer it up.
posted by anjamu at 7:53 PM on October 5, 2006


Call me a sucker, but I look at Windows upgrades as a good time to buy a new computer. Windows 95 preinstalled on my way to college. Windows XP preinstalled after I graduated. Windows Vista preinstalled when I've seen enough of the Core Duo performance now to know it will be majorly impressive.

Each time I do these upgrades, I shoot for 80% of the "top of the line" -- the slightly excessive amount of memory for that particular time, only a large hard drive if it uses a newer technology (PATA -> SATA with the XP upgrade), a video card that will keep up until the next wave.

Between system upgrades, I do small enhancements as necessary -- for example, the need and usefulness of storage has increased rapidly over the years and the prices have decreased, so I now have two SATA and two PATA drives in my machine. (And I'll note that in 2001, you had to go to that 80% to get SATA -- if you cheaped out, your machine became obselete storage speed-wise very quickly). Shopping around and casually looking over time means money is saved and the impact of the expenditure is lower. When I switch to the new machine, I'll simply carry over most of those hard drives.

The technology is getting better, faster and cheaper over time. Regardless of whether you feel the same about Windows, OS upgrade time is an excellent point to refresh one's system and completely eliminates the hassle of trying to patch together one's old machine to handle the change.
posted by VulcanMike at 8:36 PM on October 5, 2006


"The box says 'Requires Windows XP or better,' so I installed Linux!"
posted by mystyk at 8:51 PM on October 5, 2006


I'm hearing a lot of "I don't know a lot about computers so I use Windows."

People in that situation should really try Ubuntu. It's quicker to install than Windows, and just as easy. Slightly easier actually, since you're starting from a Live CD which lets you try it out before you install it on your hard disk. Really -- slip the CD in, restart your computer, and you'll get a working preview of what your computer would be like if it had Linux installed. If you don't like it, restart without the CD in the drive, and give the CD to someone else.
posted by clevershark at 9:15 PM on October 5, 2006


Though I agree that Macs are a lot nicer then the typical win box, and Ubuntu is _almost_ there on the desktop, there are still a lot of people who _have_ to use windows.

One big group is corporate users. There is still a lot of legacy software written in Visual c++ or visual delphi or whatever, and its written only for the win32 platform. Porting those apps to something like wx or Java swing is not a priority if the win apps work. There are packaged solutions that companies buy long term contracts for that require win32 for the rich clients.

Then there are the hordes of "power" users who have ridiculously complex Excel spreadsheets which are really just excel macro hell. I had to convert one of these to Java once, and it was not fun. These are not the kind of spreadsheets that anyone will try to run in Open Office or under wine.

Then there are folks like me - I write web apps, and I have to have a windows install available to test in the different flavors of IE. So my primary machine is a macbook pro, with winxp via Parallels and a few older winxp boxes just in case. Anyone who is serious about web development needs to have windows available, at least through a virtual machine.

While I'd love to see windows lose big to mac and ubuntu, I think its going to take a long time for it to happen.

Slightly off topic for the linux fans - where is the serious finance software? What do you use for small biz or taxes on linux? Is it usually wine + quicken/turbo tax?
posted by rsanheim at 9:38 PM on October 5, 2006


Nothing is fucked, Dude.


NOTHING IS FUCKED?!?

That about sums up my reaction. But I'll still buy Vista like the sheep that I am.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:04 PM on October 5, 2006


I have moved three generations of my family onto Macs and never looked back. Why? Well, I like Apple, I like their hardware, I like that OSX is a candy-coated BSD main battle tank, I like that they're sane about copy protection, but mostly because I'm fucking lazy. I know I'm going to have to fix these things when they break, so I push hard to get things that break less and are more easily fixable when they do. Linux (even Ubuntu) isn't there yet, but OSX is. Tiger is excellent and I'm eagerly looking forward to Leopard.

I use various linuxes for work and between OpenOffice and ies4linux I've got about 90% of Windows' functionality. What I'm missing in terms of features is really gaming, and I don't really do much of that. In terms of user interface, there's quite a bit to be done but that's OK.

I don't know if I'll ever buy Vista. Eventually, when the next Great Game comes out and requires it I'll probably break down. But I'll be running it inside Xen.
posted by Skorgu at 10:29 PM on October 5, 2006


If the game catalog of ubuntu or mac is equal to that of windows, then I'm interested. Otherwise, not interested in the least.
posted by bob sarabia at 10:40 PM on October 5, 2006


Are you not entertained?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 PM on October 5, 2006


Thanks for the thoughtful replies to my semi-troll. The strongest argument against the activation-type piracy protection is that it doesn't always work. Although to be honest, with WinXP it seems to work well for me. The other argument is that Microsoft has a near-monopoly and so it's unfair for them to impose their terms on us. The logic in that is a bit screwy, but I agree that Microsoft's near-monopoly is awful for consumers. The anti-piracy aspects of activation don't bother me, but the Palladium / Trusted Computing nonsense being introduced in Vista (and MacOS) worries me very deeply.

As to how Microsoft got their near-monopoly, they got it via a documented pattern of illegal anti-competitive behaviour. As documented and proved thoroughly in both US and European courts. The question with Vista is whether they will be able to maintain it.
posted by Nelson at 10:46 PM on October 5, 2006


If I didn't want to keep up with the latest games, I doubt I would bother with Vista, but as it is I plan to build a new PC when Vista comes out.
posted by lucien at 10:51 PM on October 5, 2006


Suddenly, everyone's looking at my screenname and wondering just what the hell is going on... :)
posted by linux


No, my friend, I get it. My formative education in computers came from a place called ExecPC (which at one point, held the honor of being the largest BBS in the world. Holla!) The bulk of the system was run off Solaris, but nearly every machine in the NOC was Linux based. (It was Red Hat, but come on, we were all young and silly once...)

Those halcyon days of yore are long gone, but I still talk with many of the people that built the system. And many of them have switched to Macs. Sure, they still have a Linux server, it would be tantamount to criminal behavior not to, but the fact is that OSX is really just an excellent GUI over a BSD-ish distro. It's a command line with a graphic interface that works (which is something that X-win never truly pulled off in my opinion.)

And really, Apple does deserve some credit here. OS9 was tight, but flawed. Extension conflicts were a constant irritant, and it really did turn some of the more basic users off of the system. (For those who have forgotten, unlike Windows, which would slowly fall apart, an extension failure on OS9 would force a reboot. Every time.) At some point, someone important at Apple said, 'We need a complete overhaul, we need to completely redesign this bitch.' [I'm paraphrasing here]. The reality is that Apple did something honestly revolutionary in our day and age. They realized that their product had a problem, and they made an executive decision to fix it.

At the end of the day, there are lots of people who get all crazy about Macintosh's as the be-all-end-all of computers. These people are wrong. They have not seen the many great operating systems that led us to what we have today, some of which are still valuable assets to the computing world.

But at the same time, they are lots of people who don't want to know what the hell a 'chmod' is. And that's fine. But it's nice to know that there is an OS that allows people who know what that means, to be able to use it.
posted by quin at 11:03 PM on October 5, 2006


The other argument is that Microsoft has a near-monopoly and so it's unfair for them to impose their terms on us. The logic in that is a bit screwy

116 years of law might disagree.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:22 PM on October 5, 2006


I agree that Vista is a steaming pile of crap, and the next step towards the sort of thing everyone feared with Palladium and the Trusted Computing Platform and all that.

But like it or not, it's not easy to switch away from Windows. What does he mean, you ask? Tell me where I can find *nix equivalents of the following programs:

Adobe Creative Suite (especially Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator—and no, GIMP is not an acceptable substitute)
Adobe Premiere
Alias Sketchbook
Macromedia Flash

Never mind the many games I play that won't work.

The last *nix OS I tried to use was Mandrake 8.0, which was a couple of years ago. I don't know how far things have advanced in the years since, but installation was a hassle and device drivers weren't quite all there. It was ugly as sin and didn't work with a lot of apps I had. Plus I had no need for the apparent advantages of Linux-based OSes; the big one was security, but I'd been running Windows 95 for years at that point without a single major viral incursion or spyware infection. Since then I've upgraded to Windows 2000, and for the past five years it's the same story. Barely a BSOD, the only reinstalls when I replaced many of the PC's components.

As for OS X, it's a fine OS, and I hope to use it someday. I'm getting a new laptop in a couple of weeks, at which point I may considering trying to hack Tiger to work on it. See, one of the laptops I'm considering, the Asus A8Jm, has very similar specs to the mid-level MacBook Pro, and because it's an Asus, it has roughly comparable build quality as well (Asustek is also the manufacturer of the MacBook). It also costs about $1000 CAD less than the MBP. The other laptop I'm considering, an LG P1, has a Core 2 Duo chip, an x1400 graphics card, 1GB of RAM standard, 100GB hard drive standard, a numeric keypad, fairly good build quality (as in it's not a Dell), etc., and costs about the same as a MacBook with the 1GB RAM upgrade. Despite the major gains Macs have made in recent years in terms of price-performance ratio, they're still not quite there for everyone.

What I really want is a super-OS that combines some of the Explorer shell UI and the app/device compatibility of Windows with the *nix underpinnings and the glossy sheen of OS X. Of course, this doesn't exist yet, and probably never will. Ah well.
posted by chrominance at 2:13 AM on October 6, 2006


Though having seen Ubuntu mentioned enough times over the years, I may give that a shot sometime. The whole live-CD try-before-you-buy is a killer feature on its own, really.
posted by chrominance at 2:17 AM on October 6, 2006


Mac or Linux with Crossover Office is all you need (well, will be with enough support)
posted by twistedonion at 2:49 AM on October 6, 2006


If you're a linux noob considering a switch to ubuntu, install the 32 bit version, even if you have a 64 bit machine. Problem solving (yes, you will hit problems) can be a lonely journey with the 64bit edition...

oh, and there's no proper java/flash/shockwave/acroreader plugins for your browser in 64 bit ubuntu either
posted by davehat at 4:22 AM on October 6, 2006


davehat writes "Problem solving (yes, you will hit problems) can be a lonely journey with the 64bit edition..."

Tsk tsk, not quite true. Lots of help is available through the Ubuntu Forums (which, unfortunately, is down for maintenance just now). There's no 64-bit native Flash or Java plugin, but the workaround is to install the 32-bit version of Firefox. One senior forum member coded scripts that make the process quite easy, and he also came up with a way to install Wine, which I use to run Photoshop 7.

I could use it to run IE, but who wants to do that?
posted by clevershark at 6:25 AM on October 6, 2006


Slightly off topic for the linux fans - where is the serious finance software? What do you use for small biz or taxes on linux? Is it usually wine + quicken/turbo tax?
posted by rsanheim


I use Gnucash, which is absolutely typical of trad linux programs in that you have to read the manual before trying to use it rather than rushing in with cursor blazing.
posted by primer_dimer at 7:28 AM on October 6, 2006


Despite the major gains Macs have made in recent years in terms of price-performance ratio, they're still not quite there for everyone.

You need to specify hardware price-performance. Because once you saddle your nice hardware with the abortion that is Windows, you're going to lose every advantage.

Most of the comments in this thread that are "supporting" Windows are, in fact, supporting applications.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:11 AM on October 6, 2006


You can't possibly tell me that OS X is worth $1000. No OS is worth that much. And like I said earlier, Windows has been far from an abortion for me. Windows 95 and Windows 2000 have worked just fine for me for the better part of a decade now.

Now, if I were buying a Mac Pro, things might very well be different; those are apparently quite competitive on price. On the other hand, I'm not paying $2500 for a computer because I don't need a quad CPU box. I keep hoping the MBPs will come down in price, as they're really the last of the horribly overpriced machines in the lineup, but I won't hold my breath.
posted by chrominance at 10:24 AM on October 6, 2006



I have been using licenced Windows on my main boxen because
1) I'm lazy
2) I develop webapps and most of the users are on Windows & IE (the fools, but that's a different thread)
3) my collection of Windows apps

I don't HATE Windows as an OS, but WGA and the proposed Vista lock are worrisome.

Question for the XP users out there - after vacillating for a couple weeks, I finally did let the WGA thing install. It ran... and nothing. No dialog confirming installation, no thank-you for using genuine OS, no crack warning, nothing. Was this your experience too?

To me this was a clear sign that M$ are still the arrogant bastards they're made out to be. After all the WGA hype, they can't even put a proper post-install dialog on it? Fuckers.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure my next PC will be a Linux box. The apps are there now: I use Open Office now, and I've found GIMP to be as good as Photoshop, for the stuff I do.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:27 AM on October 6, 2006


"Will it mean more Linux users"

Linux will not become a serious desktop rival to Windows until they do away with the command line. Period. CLI is great for computer dorks like me, but the normal people that tried Ubuntu Dapper when I pestered them to were asking for Windows within days. I made them keep it for a couple weeks before they were threatening to kill me.

The thing about Windows desktop is that it just works for the most part, and easily. I tried to use Linux as a desktop environment for my business, and after nearly a week of trying to get softphones to work without conflicting with everything else on the system I gave up. I installed XP and the phones worked perfectly right away, without interfering with anything.

I love Linux as a server platform, and I have 4 systems using CentOS, Slackware, and Ubuntu but user friendly desktops they ain't. If you say it is, imagine your typical Grandmother or AOL schlub using sudo effectively, or trying to resolve dependency issues, or modifying a makefile.

Grandma: "GCC? GTK? 2.6 kernel headers? I just want to play Scrabble :("

is it just a matter of time until this, too, gets cracked?

Windows validation keeps me using the cracked versions. I actually have a license for xp sp2, but I change my hardware too much to be bothered with calling Microsoft and explaining why I am re-validating. Plus, I think that's bullshit. So, like hoborg, I keep using the cracked no-hassle version. Easier, no big brother, not insulting.

I think that linux said it best, I guess.

Ding Ding Ding Ding Ding.
posted by dozo at 11:02 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm another happy Mac user who's gonna point and giggle. I have a legal copy of XP, so when I get my next monster Mac (I'm an artist) I'll just run it virtual or dual-boot it.

Will suck for my company though, since at work it's all PC. Maybe I can convince them to get me a Mac, since I don't do any 3D work.

"*Ahem* Unless you are a gamer, at which point you can either buy a Mac and play only Blizzard games, or get a PC and play anything you want."

If you're a dedicated PC gamer, you wouldn't touch a Mac with a ten-foot pole anyway - at least for gaming. You're the guy/gal who blows $4000 on a fully optimized gaming PC like an Alienware, so sexy. And that's cool, I have no problem with that!

My point is that hardcore PC gamers are a relatively small group of the wider game audience, and certainly of the PC user audience as a whole. Pretty much everyone else will be happy switching to consoles... and you can play WOW just fine on a Mac. Blizzard is smart.

I switched to gaming on consoles (and more recently, handhelds) years ago because I got tired of buying both a top-end PC AND a top-end Mac about every 2.5 to 3 years. Just too much money. I've spent less on buying all my consoles (Xbox, 360, PS2, Cube and DS so far) than I would on a single gaming PC, and freeing up that extra $3500-$4000 lets me buy a nicer Mac... and like, clothes and shoes, too. :)
posted by zoogleplex at 11:02 AM on October 6, 2006


I didn't drink the Koolaid, but...

I work in an office which is about 95% Microsoft, 3% Macintosh, 2% Linux. Not too far off from the wide world, I reckon.

I have never been interested in getting into a platform debate with anyone. Historically, I have felt that a choice of OS was like a choice of shoe manufacturer -- a matter of personal preference. I don't tell people which shoes they ought to be wearing, and I also don't tell people how to compute.

On other hand, working in an office surrounded by Windows users has taught me something: Windows users despise Windows. They're always swearing at their computers, crying to the overworked IT staff, making excuses about not being able to complete tasks due to "computer problems." I've never heard a louder or more constant source of anti-Windows vitriol than from its dedicated users, even from people who have drunk the Koolaid.

So, this is a message to users of Windows in business and home environments everything: ditch it.

Any and all arguments to the contrary are the FUD of jealous gods.


There isn't a damn thing I can't do with my Mac that Windows users can. I can run Windows programmes in virtual windows or through emulation (I don't even need a cracked version of the OS anymore!). I can mount external media of all kinds. I can print on printers, scan with scanners, download photos from camera and footage from camcorders. I can exchange data and files with people without even asking what software they employ.

With open source software and Mac OS, I live in a world that is comparatively free of computing nightmares. This simply isn't the case for my Windows-using colleagues.

Unless you're having your hardware/software decisions made for you from on high, there is no reason to use Windows except as a form of masochism, or stubbornness, or ignorance.

But, like I said, I'm no evangelist. I don't usually say jacksmut on this issue. But sometimes it just gets to me to see so many people around me banging their heads against a wall. You gotta ask, "Why?" eventually.

Once again: anything a Windows-user can do, I can do. And I can do it without crying or swearing or going broke.

Why do the rest of you elect to suffer? Why choose the indignity of being treated like a criminal?
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 11:25 AM on October 6, 2006


I've gotta agree with some of the other folks. For most people, ditching Windows simply means moving to the Mac. I don't really think that we're going to see a huge influx of Linux desktop boxes.
Pretty much every year since 1999 has been tagged "the year of Linux on the desktop" and it really hasn't happened. Mac OS X has taken off far beyond Linux as a desktop OS.
posted by drstein at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2006


I'm not sure if this would affect bulk licenses of the product. For example where I work we have a license key that disables the copy protection mechanism built in to XP, allowing us to stage and replicate installations without worrying about activation.

I'd hope that the same will be the case for future OSes from Microsoft...otherwise I'd put in my notice once support for XP went away.

As for home users though, it's a different story. Since our license agreement covers personal home use I've never had to deal with the dreaded activation mess...but I've heard horror stories.
posted by samsara at 11:42 AM on October 6, 2006


most of the audio programs I run do not run on macs.

enough for me.

and I rarely have windows problems.

sorry mr. cheeseburger. you are dead wrong.
posted by Espoo2 at 2:51 PM on October 6, 2006


but I'm sure you feel smart and happy about your superiority. You go on and enjoy that. I'll go on and enjoy my windows-only apps.
posted by Espoo2 at 2:52 PM on October 6, 2006


Espoo does raise a good point, Mac has some decent audio programs, but none of the killer apps that exist for Windows. That should change once Adobe Audition finally gets a Mac version. But for the moment, Windows does hold the edge here.

[And don't go pulling out Audacity on me: I use Audacity on a Mac, and yeah it's good. But it's no Cool Edit/ Audition.]
posted by quin at 3:13 PM on October 6, 2006


CheeseburgerBrown: Windows doesn't crap .DS_Store and .Trash files all over my network shares and flash drives (no, I do not want to delete them afterwards). Windows supports per-monitor tasktrays through Ultramon. Windows runs Directory Opus, the best file manager in existance, as well as foobar2000, the only decent desktop music player.

Windows allows disabling absolutely all eyecandy. OS X forces eye candy as part of the user experience. Also, no one can match ClearType's font-hinting. Even Linux does it better than OS X's renderer. Anyone who thinks OS X renders small fonts better than Windows on LCDs is either blind or under some reality distortion field.

Windows is binary backwards compatible for decades. Some new software still supports Windows 95 (for example, uTorrent). OS X software developers stop supporting the older version of OS X sometimes within weeks or months of a new $129 OS X release. Apple loves to impose new features on everyone and make them hard to disable (Spotlight, etc.)

Yes, some people actually like Windows.
posted by aye at 6:03 PM on October 6, 2006


I use Gnucash, which is absolutely typical of trad linux programs in that you have to read the manual before trying to use it rather than rushing in with cursor blazing.

That's so MS-DOS.
posted by VulcanMike at 9:32 PM on October 6, 2006


Yes, some people actually like Windows.

The Stockholm Syndrome at work.
posted by keswick at 12:05 AM on October 7, 2006


The Stockholm Syndrome at work.

Is it that hard for you to accept that someone doesn't agree with you?

I'm another happy Windows user, so there must be something wrong with me too. I have very few problems with XP, and am running Vista RC1 on my tablet. Vista runs very nicely on it. Handwriting support is quite good. The new shell, I could take it or leave it. I think the biggest benefit of Vista for users will be the user access control functionality, which does a pretty good job at preventing inappropriate use of admin rights. IE 7 is actually pretty nice, although I still prefer Firefox.

I also like the integration between Windows XP and Windows Mobile devices.

And where are the Macs like this? Or this?
posted by me & my monkey at 10:44 PM on October 7, 2006


Is it that hard for you to accept that someone doesn't agree with you?

When it comes to Microsoft, yes. Frankly, if you're happy with Windows, you haven't been exposed to real operating systems.
posted by keswick at 11:02 PM on October 7, 2006


PS: Tablets and Palm tops are for neckbeards and salesmen.
posted by keswick at 11:03 PM on October 7, 2006


Frankly, if you're happy with Windows, you haven't been exposed to real operating systems.

Whatever you need to tell yourself to keep feeling superior, knock yourself out. But I also regularly use and support OS X, Solaris, and various Linux distros. For daily personal use, I prefer Windows. Not because it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but because it's perfectly adequate and I have a wide choice of hardware and software.

PS: Tablets and Palm tops are for neckbeards and salesmen.

I'm neither, and I use both. It's very nice not to have to carry a computer bag when I travel, or take my Vaio out for airport security. It's nice to be able to use my computer without sitting down, even.

Are you, by any chance, the inspiration for this guy? If being a Mac user means being an arrogant prick, I'd rather not, thank you very much.
posted by me & my monkey at 11:59 PM on October 7, 2006


Most of the comments in this thread that are "supporting" Windows are, in fact, supporting applications.

most of the people who turn on a computer to "run windows" are, in fact, running applications ... applications that just happen to run on windows and nothing else

There isn't a damn thing I can't do with my Mac that Windows users can.

can you buy software for it at your local retailer?

and not all audio and video hardware and software is compatable with macs

I can run Windows programmes in virtual windows or through emulation (I don't even need a cracked version of the OS anymore!).

and you end up with a performance hit because you not only have to run the software, but emulate the o s, too ... that happens to be important if you're doing audio or video

Frankly, if you're happy with Windows, you haven't been exposed to real operating systems.

and if you're happy with linux or mac, you haven't been exposed to a real selection of application software

windows user - "i need an application to do x"

answer - "well, there's this, and that, and the other thing"

linux and mac user - "i need an application to do x"

answer - a - "well, there's this, and that, and the other thing"
b - "here's the source code, compile it and make sure you have all the right libraries"
c - "well, i guess you'd just better write one"

conclusion - windows is for people who want to do things with computers besides dick around with them and settle for a limited amount of software to do things with

(ps - i've run linux and still keep an eye on what audio stuff is being developed for it - it's still not up to what windows has)
posted by pyramid termite at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


windows is for people who want to do things with computers besides dick around with them and settle for a limited amount of software to do things with

It's cute you actually believe that.
posted by chunking express at 8:00 AM on October 9, 2006


I know one fact: everyone I know f2f who uses Windows has complaints about it. No one I know f2f who uses OS X has complaints about it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2006


"that happens to be important if you're doing audio or video"

Anybody who's doing audio or video on Macs is using native software anyway. Who'd be fool enough to buy a Quad G5 with 16GB of RAM and then use a Win version of Avid's software in an emulation window??!

Straw man. And just because certain apps are unavailable for Mac doesn't mean that apps that do about the same thing aren't.

The only thing I run on a PC at home these days is Quicken, because the Mac version doesn't offer the features of Home & Business. There's probably a Mac app that would work fine, but I haven't bothered to look for one since I have a perfectly good PC on which to run Quicken.

I use the exact same software at home as I do at work: Photoshop, Illustrator, Painter, Sketchup, Firefox. We use 3DSMax at work, I have Maya at home instead, and I can and do interchange files between them, which will get easier now that Autodesk bought Alias...

For the vast majority of users, switching to a Mac would be seamless. For the small core of Windows power users (I used to count myself as one), there'd be no point, but we're talking a couple million maybe out of a world market of what, a billion users?

Oh and... tablets are great for artists. My colleague just bought one but hasn't received it yet. Based on what we see about it, it's likely my next PC will be a tablet with a docking station.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2006


Anybody who's doing audio or video on Macs is using native software anyway.

that's true, and much of that software is world-class ... still, there's a wider selection to be had for windows

For the vast majority of users, switching to a Mac would be seamless.

a lot of gamers would notice ... people with limited budgets would notice, too ... macs cost more

For the small core of Windows power users (I used to count myself as one), there'd be no point,

i don't know what you define as a power user, but i think there's more than 2 million of them

look, back in the bad old win98 days, i was actually spending most of my online time using red hat linux, as i was disgusted with win 98 performance ... now, i've got win xp and i no longer have a linux partition ... i've had this machine for almost a year now and it's only crashed on me a couple of times ... it's stable, i can run it for days, it does whatever i want it to and i know how to avoid the problems that many people have with windows

to have people tell me and others that i'm clueless because i choose to run xp instead of linux ... or buy a mac ... is just absurd ... some of us run windows because it's the best thing for us to run for what we like to do
posted by pyramid termite at 7:45 PM on October 9, 2006


An interesting article-cum-review, vis-à-vis Mac Snobs.
posted by oxford blue at 7:59 PM on October 9, 2006


pyramid termite: That argument works equally well in reverse. Sure, there are a whole host of applications that aren't well-represented in the Linux or Mac spaces but what many people fail to realize is that there are equally many (if not more) applications that are supported on Windows only tenuously.

Sure, with sufficient beating you can get Cygwin and GVim and tex onto Windows. There's an XAMPP stack for Windows, sure. Heck, even Ruby and Perl are available for Windows. But the Windows versions of all these apps are very much second-class citizens.

I think part of the disconnect is the uses we find for our computers. You have to use the stack (hardware, platform, OS and applications) that lets you get your work done. If you use computers to work that stack is dictated by the top, the apps. If the Industry uses Quark, you use Quark, otherwise you're shooting yourself in the foot.

If, however, your job is to wrangle a few dozen/hundred/thousand machines you need to choose the stack that best suits that task, and that decision is very much dictated by the bottom of the stack, the OS. I may need to support a windows app once in a while, so I have VMWare and rdesktop, but 99% of my time is spent in platform-neutral ground with things like PHP and Perl and Ruby. That gives me the freedom to choose an OS on its technical merits, not its marketing successes. Hence, I stay the fsck away from Windows.

I think it's that same lock-in that made Microsoft so powerful that will be its undoing. People who sign checks with lots of zeroes on them are starting to notice the percentage of their expenses that go to an OS and they're (finally) starting to ask if there's another way. The more they tighten their grasp the more *ahem* systems will slip through their fingers.
posted by Skorgu at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2006


That argument works equally well in reverse.

it all depends on what one wants to do ... i do music and play games

if i wanted to run a webserver or other intense internet based thing, i wouldn't dare use windows for it ...

actually, when we get right down to it, the basic structure of the pc hasn't really changed for 25 years ... the hardware's just been hacked to death ... we're still putting the lousy cards in the lousy slots and hooking up the hard drives with those ribbons and all that stuff ... even with all the via bridges or what have you, underneath it all, it's still the same old irqs, just hacked up a lot

we're long past due for pc 2.0 ... someone in japan is probably working on it now ... and then they can build an os from the ground up to run it and give it a unix shell and a windows/mac/x type look

won't microsoft be surprised?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:58 PM on October 9, 2006


If the Industry uses Quark, you use Quark, otherwise you're shooting yourself in the foot.

If you're using Quark, you're shooting yourself in the foot regardless the platform on which it runs. What a terrible, craptacular, horrific abortion of software.

we're long past due for pc 2.0

I believe it's called the Mac Mini. It has an OS built from the ground up to be rock solid (BSD), has an unlimited selection of shells (sh to bash to X to OS X), and yes, has a Mac look. Oh, and it will run Windows.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:47 AM on October 10, 2006


"a lot of gamers would notice ..."

Sure, but I've already covered that. I'm not telling any gamers that they should buy Macs, because they shouldn't. I personally switched to consoles, but that's just me.

"people with limited budgets would notice, too ... macs cost more"


... up front. In terms of day-to-day usability - the complaints and frustration that fivefreshfish is talking about, which I also find to be endemic - Macs are much, much, much cheaper.

I'll give you a perfect example. Here on my work PC, for some reason my copy of Outlook 2005 just stopped working, stopped logging into the server, for no apparent reason. I hadn't installed or removed anything, hadn't changed the registry. Our IT guy sent his assistant to check out the machine, and he couldn't figure it out. The IT guy came, took my PC and did a whole bunch of diagnostic work on it, and even the expert prodigy that he is, he couldn't get it to work. Everything is set properly and Outlook simply will not work, period. Inexplicably.

The solution? He needs to take my computer away for a couple days to determine if the hard disk is subtly damaged, and then either replace the hard disk, or back up all my work, wipe the disk clean, take the machine back to its "just assembled" state and reinstall everything.

Since that's not practical given that I have a lot of work that needs to get done and I need a computer to do it, it's easier (though more expensive) for him to just order me a new computer. This is a $4,000 graphics workstation here, not some little Celeron box.

So, the solution that will actually fix the problem is either blow two days of his valuable time on the one machine (impractical) or buy a new computer (very expensive).

Boy, that's some solution. I guess it's great if you're Dell and Microsoft, it's another sale!

Actually, what we've done to "patch" the problem is that I'm using our web-based email access for the time being, using IE. Of course, every time I create a new mail or reply to someone, Windows asks me to install components for IE that are not available to me, and I have to cancel thru about 9 dialog boxes. Really annoying. This is not an optimal solution... but it's the one that costs my company the least time and money, you see?

That sort of thing, to my knowledge from 20 years experience on both DOS/Win and Apple machines, NEVER happens on a Mac.

So yeah, they cost more up front. But they cost a lot less, in both tangible and intangible terms, over the life of the machine.

pyramid, I'm not telling you to get a Mac. Your PC works fine for you, so keep it and have fun. I sincerely hope that this new "killswitch" function never impacts you at all.

"the hardware's just been hacked to death ... we're still putting the lousy cards in the lousy slots and hooking up the hard drives with those ribbons and all that stuff ... even with all the via bridges or what have you, underneath it all, it's still the same old irqs, just hacked up a lot"

Well yeah, on the PC side! But the Mac doesn't have ANY of this, even now that they're using the SAME hardware, PCI boards and Intel chips. No CMOS, no IRQ, none of that crap. While some people are uncomfortable with it, the fact that Apple retains such tight control of the hardware and demands so much from third-party expansion card and peripheral manufacturers means that we almost never have to deal with lousy cards in our slots (there are exceptions, I had a bad SCSI card in my G3, but it was a defect and was replaced free). Mac hardware is not hacked to death, it has been worked on carefully by some rather dedicated (one might say Kool-Aid drinking) Apple engineers.

"If you're using Quark, you're shooting yourself in the foot regardless the platform on which it runs. What a terrible, craptacular, horrific abortion of software."

Heh heh heh you sure got that right, fff. Switched to InDesign 3 years ago, never looked back. Much better, ahhh.
posted by zoogleplex at 10:44 AM on October 10, 2006


Everything is set properly and Outlook simply will not work, period.

i have no idea if outlook works on my computer or not, i've never used it ... but if that's what your workplace uses ...

you have my sympathies

windows is managable ... outlook and i e are absolute pieces of crap ... i use thunderbird and firefox

But the Mac doesn't have ANY of this, even now that they're using the SAME hardware, PCI boards and Intel chips. No CMOS, no IRQ, none of that crap.

??? ... i'm not up to speed on how macs are built these days, but isn't it possible that they're just hiding all the crap under soemthing?
posted by pyramid termite at 10:55 AM on October 10, 2006


"??? ... i'm not up to speed on how macs are built these days, but isn't it possible that they're just hiding all the crap under soemthing?"

No. OSX for Intel Macs use the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) instead of BIOS.

Previous to switching to the Intel chips, OSX used Open Firmware instead, I believe on both the older Apple/Motorola motherboards and newer PCI architecture.

And before that, Macs used PRAM to handle loading the basic I/O and motherboard function stuff, tho I'm a bit fuzzy on that. Anyway, Apple hasn't used BIOS since 1984, if they ever used it at all.

Note that Vista is supposed to support EFI, so hopefully that BIOS crap will be well and truly dead for Windows too. Here's a FAQ on OSX for Intel.

"you have my sympathies

windows is managable ... outlook and i e are absolute pieces of crap ... i use thunderbird and firefox"


I agree with you there, that's what I use at home on both platforms, but we run an Exchange server here at work and IT doesn't want any clients other than Outlook attached to it. I'm not even sure you can use another client with Exchange.

The main point that I'm getting at is that it should not require 16-24 man-hours of work, or buying a new $4,000 computer, to solve a problem that involves a single software program - especially one that has competition, other programs that do the same thing!

I should add that we uninstalled and reinstalled Outlook, and the problem persists, so Outlook has broken something somewhere in core Windows code that makes it not work.

And believe me, this kind of thing happens an awful lot, with lots of different apps. The solution always seems to be "back it up, wipe the hard drive, reinstall everything from scratch," which is something I've NEVER had to do with a Mac, nor has any other Mac user I know (dozens of people) ever had to do that just to fix some niggling "minor" software problem which happens to cause major difficulty for the user.

Outlook's integration with Windows core code is the problem here, plus the whole Microsoft philosophy of pushing Windows with Outlook and Exchange and all that other crap like ODBC, .Net, etc.

Another important thread to ponder. When they brought out OSX, Apple introduced an OS that was completely different from the ground up from their previous OS versions - I mean every bit of code was totally different - and they were able to do so with practically zero dislocation or discomfort for the users.

Yes, we made a transition, but it wasn't some earth-shattering thing where we had to buy all new stuff. We just installed OSX and kept going. Sure, we used the "Classic" environment for some of our older apps for a while, but the next upgrades all went native, and that was a smooth transition.

And then, Apple switched motherboard architectures over to PCI - and again, very little if any dislocation. I'm sure some people grumbled about not being able to transfer some of their favorite expansion cards over, but it didn't last long.

And THEN, Apple switched over to a completely different CPU!! And once again, little or no blip. Smooth transition.

Microsoft can barely deliver Vista, and if they had to change hardware architecture... well, I think the company would collapse trying to do it, it might take them a decade or more. Fortunately they don't have to do that. These changes that Apple made would be absolutely miraculous to see from MS and the PC hardware community, yet Apple managed to implement them smoothly and almost silently.

Those Apple freaks up there in Cupertino, they're pretty good at this computerin' stuff. It's worth considering when you decide what computer you want to buy.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:06 PM on October 10, 2006


I don't understand why people get into these arguments; nor can I understand the blind fanticism behind either side. It's a bloody machine! Would you spent hours debating two different hammers?
posted by oxford blue at 4:50 PM on October 10, 2006


your hammer sucks
posted by caddis at 4:59 PM on October 10, 2006


No my hammer rules. Your fucking hammer sucks!
posted by quin at 5:16 PM on October 10, 2006


I wish I had a hammer.
If I had a hammer
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger
I'd hammer out a warning
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters
All over this land
posted by caddis at 5:40 PM on October 10, 2006


Today my boss wanted to print using her Sony laptop. We have a little MS network up and running.

My BSD box finds the network printer just fine. And were we using a Mac network, I've absolutely no doubt the Sony would have found the printer just fine.

But her Sony laptop, running Windows XP? No freakin' way was it going to find the printer. I did everything I remember how to do on Windows boxen, and came up dry.

Typical.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2006


This hammer is your hammer, this hammer is my hammer
From Califorhammer, to the New York Ishammer
From the redwood hammer, to the gulf stream hammers
This hammer was made for you and me.
posted by oxford blue at 6:30 PM on October 10, 2006


They deliberately make that more difficult than it needs to be by default on an MS network, so that sysadmins retain more control by default over who uses what on the network.

You can retain the same control on any sort of network, it just takes a little more work on the part of the sysadmin.

It's a pain in the ass to find a network printer on any MS network, by design.
posted by zoogleplex at 6:31 PM on October 10, 2006


Actually, I'm fairly sure that Microsoft dropped EFI from Vista.
posted by keswick at 7:36 PM on October 10, 2006


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