Windows finally given for free?

What’s this then? My 9 years-old prediction is finally coming to be? Huzzah!

To be fair, this isn’t exactly direct free giveaway, but it’s pretty much the next best thing. Microsoft is finally starting to feel the heat about their market share coming from mobile devices and the upcoming Steam OS, and I’m suspecting they are trying to get ahead of the game. Legitimizing pirates makes sense, if it will retain their OS market share.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure how much good it will do them. Sure the pirates will be legal in Windows 10, but they’re still not going to be buying the OS. I suspect this is more an attempt show developers that the important development platform for games and apps is going to be Windows 10, rather than someone else like Steam OS. Of course, profits from those apps/games do not go to Microsoft, but if by the time Windows 11 comes around, PC users are again solidly within their technologies, Microsoft does not have to offer the same thing once more.

So this is more like a honeypot offer to avoid attrition before requesting money again. It’s classic Microsoft. It will be interesting to see how many will take them up on their offer and where it will lead.

Quote of the Day: Windows bits

An Anonymous quote about bits and Microsoft.

Quoth Anonymous (USEnet post)

“Windows [n.] – A thirty-two bit extension and GUI shell to a sixteen bit patch to an eight bit operating system originally coded for a four bit microprocessor and sold by a two-bit company that can’t stand one bit of competition.”

PS: Here’s something to read to understand why far too many people dislike Microsoft. No, it’s not because we’re jealous.

Το ιστολόγιο του Panhas

Ένας συνεργάτης για λίγο καιρό όταν που δούλευα στον Φωκά, ο Παντελής, μετά απο μια μικρή μου παρότρυνση άνοιξε δικό του ιστολόγιο. Εκεί απ’οτι φαίνεται θα γράφει τις δικιές του οδηγίες και βοηθήματα με ότι έχει να κάνει με MS Windows.

Αρχικά ο Παντελής έστελνε τα κείμενα του μέσω email σε διάφορους (φαντάζομαι) γνωστούς του, συμπεριλαμβανομένου και του εαυτού μου. Δυστυχώς αυτός ο τρόπος είναι αρκετά περιοριστικός καθότι

  1. Δεν μπορείς να κάνεις πραγματική συζήτηση με όλα τα άτομα στην λίστα χωρις να αρχίσεις να ενοχλείς αυτούς που δεν ενδιαφέρονται
  2. Το αρχικό email μπορεί να μην είναι ενδιαφέρον σε όλου που το παίρνουν αλλά δεν έχεις τρόπο να το καταλάβεις αυτό χωρίς να στο πούνε.
  3. Μετά την αρχική αποστολή του μηνύματος, το έχεις χάσει. Κανείς άλλος δεν μπορεί να το βρεί έυκολα και δεν είναι αρχειοθετημένο πουθενά στο διαδίκτυο.
  4. Έχεις πολύ περιορισμένο formatting. Δεν γίνεται να βάλεις συνδέσμους μέσα στο κείμενο. Δεν μπορείς να έχεις rich text, κλπ.
  5. Δεν μπορείς να κάνεις διορθώσεις. Εαν συνηδειτοποιήσεις ότι αυτό που έγραψες είναι λάθος, πρέπει να στείλεις ένα email ακόμα με διορθώσεις.
  6. Εαν επιθυμείς να ακολουθείς τα γραπτά του, μπορείς απλά να χρησιμοποιήσεις κάποιο feed reader που κάνει την ίδια δουλειά με ένα email, απλά…καλύτερα.

Γι’αυτό τον λόγο χαίρομαι λοιπόν που έκανε αυτή την κίνηση και προτείνω ανεπιφύλακτα μια τουλάχιστον επίσκεψη σε όποιον δουλέβει σε οποιοδήποτε επίπεδο υποστήριξης σε περιβάλλον Windows. Ο Παντελής είναι πραγματικός γνώστης της πλατφόρμας της MS και αυτά που λέει έρχονται απο σημαντική εμπειρία. Όχι μόνο αυτό αλλα γράφει μόνος του τα κείμενα του σε δυο γλώσσες (Ελληνικά & Αγγλικά) για να διευκολύνει και αυτούς που δεν κατέχουν καλά τα αγγλικά αλλα και αυτούς που προτιμούν να διαβάζουν τα τεχνικά άρθρα στην γλωσσα του IT.

Ubuntu trend slowly overcomes XP

After noticing the Google Trends from a lifehacker post, I decided to check out how well Linux is faring against windows. Initially I compared Linux and Windows which gave a huge difference for windows. This is understandable since Linux is not the main environment but rather the core. I then decided to check the actual desktop that someone might use, and the result were interesting

Ubuntu vs XP vs Vista Google trend graph

It seems that Ubuntu is slowly overcoming Windows XP in search popularity and even though Vista is still ahead which I will attribute in part to the ridiculous hype it has received. Currently ubuntu is slighly over XP in search popularity but that could be a minor surge as what happened back when Feisty came out. However if you take in the continuous downward trend of XP it might stay that way now that Gutsy is out.

It is also quite interesting to note that Ubuntu is a much more popular word in European sites and/or in European languages. English based sites tend to talk more about windows but that’s understandable if you consider that Europe is pioneering in that space while the USA (read: Companies in USA) is fighting tooth and nail to prevent the spread and awareness of GNU/Linux.

Funny note: Notice how Vista has entries about it since before 2004. It just shows how far back news about it have been circulating.

The future of windows.

At this point in time, many of the people that take an active interest in the free software movement have taken a glimpse of how the future will be, regarding of course the battle between the two prominent desktop Operating Systems; Microsoft Windows and Linux.
To us, the outcome is undeniable; Linux will eventually become the OS of choice for the majority of the Personal Computers in the world. The only questions that remain however are: “When will that happen?” and “What major hurdles are in store?”

Regarding the second question, I am starting to foresee a move that I believe MS will have no choice but to make.

Windows will go free
…free as in free beer that is.

But first, some background.

It is widely understood how Microsoft got so much popularity among the desktop users even though at that early times there were products that could easily outperform and outclass MS offerings.
Although my knowledge of the 80s are scetchy at best, from what I understand, the major contestants for the OS of choice were:

  • Unix – Which even though stable and secure, was also forbiddingly expensive and user-unfriendly. Mainly used in Universities and Servers, it was never really considered for PC use
  • Mac OS – Which offered excellent ease of use but at a high cost when you included hardware, as it was meant for professionals
  • Amiga – Which although obviously superior as a multimedia system to the IBM/PC-DOS combination, was primarily a gaming system and never took off as a home system. In the end it died of reason that are out of context for this post
  • MS-DOS – The system that offered considerable ease of use at a very affordable price. Taking into account of all the IBM PC Compatibles that sprung up, lowering hardware cost (My first PC was an 8088 Hyundai IBM compatible). It is no wonder then that businesses decided to go for that choice, providing MS and IBM with the necessary funds to continue.

However MS-DOS and later MS-Windows did not become widespread because of the cost but rather because of the piracy.
MS did not care about people buying a cheap IBM compatible and then putting a pirated copy of MS-DOS/Windows on it (although most of the time it was already pre-installed as OEM). They had no way to hunt them down and it just wasn’t worth it. Getting money from Enterprises was and still is the major income source of MS.

What this widespread use meant however, is that almost everyone started to learn IT skills using MS products, and when Amiga flopped, all the gaming crowd fled to the only affordable and capable choice – Wintel.

The rest if almost too widely known for me to analyze but the gist of it is that once MS had the controlled majority (and later monopoly) of home desktops, they used it to further consolidate their position using Threats, shady dealing, aggressive tactics and of course FUD (See Browsers Wars, Monopoly use, Breakup with IBM, etc). They still never worried about people ripping them off; by then, they knew that it was to their benefit [1]. The “Free Loaders” could wait.

Lock In

Vista is overpriced, as windows always were for someone who always expected the OS for free, as is the case with the majority of gamers and power users. Furthermore, people in developing countries just cannot afford Windows on top of the hardware costs.

As other have said, MS does not care, although it pretends it does and hurts honest users with schemes like OEM windows that you are forced to buy with a new PC.
This time however, Linux is here and this time, MS’s opponent is safer, ethically superior, completely incorruptible and immune to monopolistic tactics and generally just plain better than windows. The only thing keeping windows users from leaving is Lock-in

  • Gamers are locked-in because gaming studios are blind or lazy enough to support only MS and DirectX
  • Professionals because specialist applications choose to support only Windows
  • Enterprises switched to Active Directory are locked-in because MS will not allow anything else to correctly and freely integrate to their infrastructure.

The only ones not currently locked-in, ironically, are the simple users that just want to surf, play a movie, download stuff, send emails and other mundane (nowadays at least) tasks. They do not care about shiny Aero graphics and they will be the ones initially migrating to Linux,when they understand what an OS upgrade means in Software AND hardware costs.
And believe it or not, simple users outnumber gamers and professionals.

When people realize that Linux is not that difficult after all, then they’ll tell their friends and an avalanche effect will take place. Once employees start to come pre-trained on Linux instead of windows, corporate environments will find it that the migration costs are not so big after you take out the re-training. The rest will be just a matter of time.

Now, I believe MS cannot stop this from happening eventually, but there is a way for them to delay it enough to successfully lobby for a software patent reform or another sneaky way to hurt the free software movement. That way is to five Windows for free to the home user.

They will attempt to delay the migration on grounds of cost, but they will keep the license cost for enterprises. That is all they ever needed after all.

Of course, in the end, they will not be able to compete in quality but until then, all of us may have to continue to suffer with no driver support or professional apps.

Idea Corruption

We are already seeing how the Open Source moniker is beginng to fray at the edges. Because it does not possess the ethical background of free/libre software, people are using the term “Open Source” (or simply open whatever) for things that not even do they not mean the same thing, but occasionally go contrary to its core methodology. In effect, the idea itself of “Open Source” is becoming corrupted.

Now think what will happen when MS suddenly releases “Free Windows”? For non IT people, who have real difficulty making a distinction between Free Software and Freeware, Free Windows would be in the same field. They will not know, and possibly not care, that we mean Free as in Free Speech.
Maybe MS will succeed in a way to pollute the term, but ultimately, I do not believe they can truly corrupt it, and I sincerely hope that the idea of Freedom is not distorted.

So here we are. The OS wars – and maybe some would go even further and call them Development System wars or some such, and I’m talking Cathedral VS Bazaar stuff – are only just beginning and MS, for all its new bells and whistles in their new OS, is set to fail, unless they realize it.
Once they do, I believe we will see something that we never would expect 5 years ago. Free windows for the home user.

And all of this, because of Free Software.
[1] The Irony of course here being that the people that thought were hurting MS, the crackers that removed copy protection and spread serial keys, were actually promoting MS monopoly.

Library windows

I wonder how much money the library, from where I am writing this post, has spent to buy and install windows and office 2000 on all computers. I can’t help wondering how much cheaper it would be if they were all based on Linux.

As a matter of fact, I have seen many systems around running on [tag]Windows[/tag] only in order to run another application, for example, for displaying a looping video all day.

The train schedule display in London bridge, and by that I presume everywhere else, obviously runs on windows (I noticed that after they performed an illegal operation and crashed the schedule). Why? Why not run on a lightweight Linuxbox, or thin client? Why do they need the whole (expensive) windows package when they don’t even use it?

The post office’s ad display runs on windows. The only thing that does is cycle through marketing images. Did they really pay the price for an OS just to be able to put a few images in a loop?

This just doesn’t make sense.