06 March 2009

Speaking Too Soon

Several of my friends are rather dismissive towards Microsoft, and scarcely a conversation with them goes by without me being barraged with questions along the lines of, 'Why don't you use Open Office?' and 'Why don't you use Linux?' and 'You don't use Explorer, do you?' and 'Why are you using Vista?'

For what it's worth, I rarely use IE, except on those odd sites that dislike Firefox. As for the other questions, the answers all come down to the same point, which is that I haven't time to learn about the alternatives to what Microsoft offers. I could make the time, I suppose, but I'd have to ditch something else, and I'm a busy man.

For example, the other evening I was chatting to a friend on GoogleChat -- yes, Messenger is generally neglected nowadays, you'll be glad to know -- and the inevitable questions arose.
'By the way,' said my friend, 'try Linux Ubuntu'
'And why?' I asked, after commenting on a previous point.
'Because it's not Microsoft and it works.'
'But Explorer works too,' I said, 'and I already have that.'
'Explorer? I don't even use that on Windows. which I rarely use these days. If you insist on windows, at least use firefox.'
'I mean windows,' I said, as I'd meant Windows Explorer rather than Internet Explorer, 'But broadly, I mean Vista, or XP, or whatever.'
'I hate Vista.'
'Yes, so do lots of people. I can never understand why.'
'Because it's shit.'
'That's nonsense,' I snorted, 'Why do you say it's shit? I've had no problems with it at all.'
'I have had loads of problems.'
'Like what?'
'Slowness, files not opening, lack of backward compatibility, messing up of my harddrive, constant reports to MS headquarters, valuable memory used on weird unmovable files.'
'How odd. I've had no such problems. The only thing I have trouble with is an apparent unwillingness to use the second 100gb of memory here, about which I must explore further.
'Well, I "migrated" and I am pretty impressed.'
And then last night the clock in my taskbar froze. Not the bells and whistles clock that you can stick at the right of your screen if you so fancy in Vista -- that behaves properly. No, the little on in the bottom right. It froze. And when I tried to fix it Vista went into a huff and needed to be shut down. It's happened several times since.

I said this to another friend today, a programmer who's a solid defender of Microsoft not least because he thinks people are unfair to them and tend to assume that Microsoft is always bad and the comptetition is always better.

He frowned, and for the first time ever didn't have a solution to my computer problems.

'That's wrong,' he said. 'That just shouldn't happen.'

It appears my confidence is misplaced. I may need to find time to examine the alternatives...


CëRïSë said...

Uh oh. Vista has been pretty good to me so far, though I was very apprehensive and reluctant to use it. I guess we'll see what the future brings...

nmrboy said...

a couple of points; my little eee pc uses linux xandros, and i have had no problem with it at all except that there is no version of things like gmail video chat yet. i don't imagine those are a problem for ubuntu or the 'larger' linux distros. open source office is fine and there is no learning curve to speak of if you are happy with using microsoft office. i've used star office for word processing and presentations without any trouble at all. i think the price tag of micrsoft office is a major driving factor here, and i don't like the new look of the latest office anyway (too shiny to do work on).

on xandros, i have firefox, skype, gimp, ftp, and office, and i won't ever need much more. i don't go into the code, either, so i am using it like a windows machine and i'm not a 'linux user'. the interface of common desktops are not the point of linux, but they're so freely available now that you can imitate the don't-ask-don't-tell approach of windows quite without incident. but that misses the point of linux.

then again i think vista misses the point of windows; anyone who has/had sense stripped down xp to get rid of the pointless stuff that slowed everything down, and vista just adds more of the same problems. i think, in computing, the end result is more important than the means. aero? who gives a crap; i'm looking in the windows, not at the windowframes. i want websites to look cool and run pretty, but the platform just has to work and be fast (and not get in the way). to take the by-now-overused automobile analogy: SUVs run fine, and they get you where you're going, but there's no denying they're kinda stupid in how they do it compared to smaller cars that get you there in the same time without requiring as much fuel or as large an engine.

being forced to buy vista, and soon 7, is what i object to and what will eventually drive me away from windows. why can't i do what i want? why does my hotmail block everything in my emails and there's no way to turn it off? i don't object to what they're offering in itself, since it will no doubt be suitable for some users, i object to the lack of choice. that's where linux matters, i think. it's big enough that coders can still be coders with it, and enjoy the advantages of open-source code, but there will be more solid self-contained linux distros that fill people's needs without them having to learn OSs. and haven't you heard? netbooks and cloud-based apps are the future, my friend.

(from my eee pc)

kat said...

quick comments:

a) um. i have a mac. i have no problems... i mean other than the fact that i keep trying to right-click. maybe that would quiet your friends though - or just piss them off more.

b) i fully appreciate that you snort during typed conversations. very nice.

Nickname unavailable said...

hmm, interesting - I've not seen this issue with any of the vista pcs i come in contact with. Virus perhaps, or something odd coming through windows update?

Anyway, just to add my twopenneth worth. I like vista, it is a great improvement on what i was running before. Also, I especially like office 2007, excel in particular has some major improvements. Every day I go into work and am forced to use office 2000, and so know how much easier 2007 is to use and how many more useful features it has. The toolbar thingy speeds up work considerably once you get used to it.

Don't get me wrong, I don't always use microsoft products, I use opera for browsing for example, but I would say vista is an obvious choice for anyone buying a new pc. Finally, I don't see anything wrong in paying for software, vista cost me about 70 quid, and I use it everyday - bargain!

p.s. aero is kinda shiny.