Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Windows 7 party pooper

Party pooper
- A person who ruins a party by stopping the fun.

Yesterday I published "Why Linux makes Windows 7 obsolete" . In the meanwhile, I've moderated all comments and the storm seems to have died down. So far it has gotten 22 sometimes lengthy comments and at least two feeble attempts to debunk the story, here and here. Sorry, I couldn't resist the temptation to comment these as well.

I haven't blogged that much lately. Sure, I scanned the headlines every day. KDE4 is coming around nicely, Mono isn't getting anywhere (fortunately), Compiz is still the cutting edge window manager, Vista is getting battered by the press all the time, Linus is doing what he does best, that is making great kernels, what is there to blog about?

And then all of a sudden, Microsoft is rushing out a "new" OS, giving it a new name in the hope people won't associate it with the Vista disaster. Yawn. Rob Enderle, a known ally of the Microsoft Corporation, thinks it is the best invention since sliced bread. Yawn. Ron Barrett however, continues the tradition of Byte by declaring Linux dead. We will all ditch our perfectly good working Linux machines and start an exodus to the promised land of Microsoft, led by the (false) prophet Steve Balmer.

Bad call. Sander Marechal of LXer picks up the story, calls it "the FUD of the week" and dares somebody to top that. Well, I'm not quite sure I interpreted this correctly, but I decided to pick up the glove. In the late hours of January 11th, I hacked together my own piece of FUD and posted it on LXer and Linux Today. It didn't take very long until the first comments came in. In the course of the day it quickly became the best read story of January 12th on both websites.

Okay, that was quite funny and we all had a good laugh. But let's analyze what actually happened. In the past, editors of the "major" websites complained they couldn't publish a story on Open Source without being "flamed to hell" by Linux "bigots", "zealots", okay, what else did they call us? It appears that nowadays Windows supporters are just as touchy. Maybe the Vista disaster has caused this change, maybe it was OS/X, I don't know. The point is, they seems to feel they have to defend their choice. That is quite a change from the arrogant attitude they had before. Some even accuse us of being a bunch of elitist snobs!

I don't mind being flamed, that's all in the game. If you don't want to be flamed don't post a story like this. Ron Barrett got flamed too, obviously, including by yours truly. Still, I'm always interested where these comments are coming from and an even more interesting question is: why? I've found there are several reasons for Windows supporters to comment.

Microsoft munchkins
Unfortunately, this seems to become a common, accepted business practice. The Dutch consumer TV show Radar recently complained that their forums are swamped by people who work for the very same company they endorse, posing as legitimate clients. Microsoft has been doing this for a long time, stating that the company should "use the Internet, to heighten the impression that the enemy is desperate, demoralized, defeated". Do not underestimate these guys. Some of them are quite smart and can seriously debunk your story with some clever FUD.

Microsoft dependent individuals and companies
Some of the commenters have a stake in Microsofts success. They own a company that is completely dependent of Microsoft technology or have heavily invested in Microsoft education programs. In short, if Microsoft fails, they are out of a job or their professional value is seriously deminished. That is one of the worst things that can happen to an IT professional and for that reason, they have my sympathy. My professional life does not depend on either Microsoft or Linux, so I will never be able to fully appreciate the choices they have to make. On the other hand, life is always uncertain in the IT industry so it might not be a bad idea to bet on several horses at the same time.

I started off as an application programmer using Dataflex. After that, I had to learn dBase. A few years later it was MS-Access, quickly followed by PHP. ITIL is having its third iteration and there are other frameworks like CMMI, ASL, BiSL that gain acceptance. Keeping up is retaining your market value. That's why it is important not to close your eyes for the changing market and cling desperately to one single technology.

The lame and the whining
These are individuals who grew up with MS-DOS, moved to Windows 3.1, queued for Windows 95 and applauded the coming of Windows XP. They gradually acquired their knowledge of the Windows platform and don't want to be bothered with a new Operating System or new applications. The Windows way is the only way and anything else is "alien". The "package management" discussion is a good example. They are irritated by all these people who want to move them to a new platform. Some may have tried Linux, ran into some minor problem and didn't care to put the same effort into solving it as they would when they had encountered a Windows problem.

The ignorant
These are the least vocal Windows users. They probably bought a PC with Windows preinstalled and don't even have a clue that you can install a new Operating System. These are the people who return their computer for repair because Windows failed for the simple reason that they cannot tell the software from the hardware. If you burn down Windows you actually tell them they bought a bad computer. These people are the real moneymakers for Microsoft and would seriously benefit from a preinstalled Linux, although some of them put great effort into learning how to use the computer and feel uncomfortable with an unfamiliar Operating system. They are not the enemy, folks!

I do not claim this list is scientific or exhaustive, people may have a multitude of reasons to flame, but these are some patterns that are emerging. Another lesson that is learned is that Linux is no longer the underdog. Sure, people are still repeating some of the old Linux myths, but those are so easily debunked that most don't bother.

Every new distribution release is easier to install than the previous one, supports more hardware and brings more eyecandy. After the Vista disaster, it is harder to maintain that Linux does not support sufficient hardware. Compiz proved that Linux comes with a very beautiful GUI and we're not typing commands in a shell all the time. Sure, Linux users tend to like the CLI, but that is a preference, not a prerequisite. At work, I use Windows XP all the time and one of the windows that is featured on my desktop is a MinGW shell. This forced Windows proponents to say that they "don't need no stinking cube". I wondered what they would have said when it had been the other way around..

Most Windows proponents are particularly sensitive to WGA and UAC. These are particularly weak points of any Vista installation. The FOSS business model does not require a WGA and the functionality of UAC is elegantly woven into the basic design of Unix. Another point is that Linux is free (as in beer) and you have to add a lot of functionality to make it worth to fork out your cash and move to a closed source platform.

Most educated Windows users I courteously meet IRL always feel they have to excuse themselves for using Windows. Linux is increasingly becoming the talk of the town, something you have to try for yourself sometime.

That is a good thing. Bashing Windows on the web is good, because we as a community still have defend ourselves against vicious corporate attacks like "Get the facts" campaigns, but IRL it is not the most successful strategy. Note there are always good reasons for individual persons to use Windows, not every convert is a victory.

We still have to fight many battles on many fronts in order to achieve world domination, but on the publicity front we're not doing bad, as "Why Linux makes Windows 7 obsolete" has proven. It has been an interesting social experiment. You think I shouldn't have? The other side doesn't agree.


Christophe said...

I agree with you that while Windows bashing is fair game on the Web (the other side has bashed Linux users so much we've basically acquired a lifelong permission to answer in any way we see fit), but that IRL one needs to be courteous, and that moreover in most cases we are not talking to knowledgeable opponents but just normal people with little to no IT knowledge.

I make an exception though to the kind of user who combines "the lame and the whining" with "the ignorant". They are the ones who ask you to help them with their computers because they heard you're good at them. You end up in front of a virus-laden, spyware-infested spambot with so many icons on the desktop you can't see the forest for the trees. Any talk about alternative operating systems is useless: they have no idea was an operating system is, and moreover they actively reject any attempt at education. So you do your best: clean the computer (reinstalling the OS is usually impossible as they've thrown away the CDs that came with the computer) as best as you can, replace the antivirus program that they let lapse with one with free updates so that they won't be caught with their pants down again, install a good spyware protection, Firefox so that at least browsing can be relatively safe, and detailed instructions on how to ensure that their computer stays clean. You even promise that you would help with newer issues.

And then, just one week later, you hear:
- that they uninstalled Firefox and went back to IE, because Firefox was "stupid Internet" that refused to load the kids' spyware-laden ActiveX-heavy Flash games website or the father's trojan-installing porn website,
- that they removed the free antivirus program because some bum in the Mediamarkt told them buying this 300€ antivirus program would make them automatically leet, despite the fact that it requires one to pay 100€ a year to keep getting updates, and they have no idea about that.
- that they never ran the anti-spyware program you installed, and lost the detailed instructions you gave them.

And then just one month later you learn that they actually discarded their computer (which was maybe 6 months old) and bought a new one, just because all the viruses have brought it to a standstill. And as time passes you learn that they buy a new computer approximately once a year, each time due purely to software issues due to spyware or viruses.

this kind of user in not only ignorant about computers, they actively refuse to hear that they are responsible for the problems their computer has, and that some simple changes in their way to do things like browsing would save them hundreds of euros a year. but they don't hesitate to complain about computers every time they get the chance.

Well, that kind of user deserves only one thing, and that's a good bashing, even IRL. Not understanding computers is one thing. I can even stomach the fact that many people actively don't want to know what an OS is and that they have a choice. But refusing to listen to simple advice because it means they have to pay a minimal amount of attention to what happens around in their computer and that not all "OK" buttons are meant to be clicked, that I cannot forgive. First, don't ask me for advice if you're going to toss it away as "inconvenient" (you're the one who said I was more knowledgeable about computers than you, after all). And second, your irresponsible behaviour is not only costing you money, it probably quickly turns your computer into a zombiebot, and I've been receiving enough spam as it is.

And that's also the main reason why I have a problem with Microsoft. Their felonious activities are bad, their FUD inexcusable, but they've also actively supported and encouraged this ignorant and small-minded attitude among their users, simply because it helps them sell licences. To me, encouraging ignorance and small-mindedness for profit is more than criminal. It borders on the Human Right violation.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is one of the lamest and the most blindly written blog posts I've read in recent times. You've ACTUALLY beaten Arrington to the punch when he said Google Chrome will beat Windows. It'll be a cold day in hell when Linux would gain more than 0.1% share in desktop market. Count in the amount of pirated Windows copies in use, and you can lower that 0.1 to 0.01.
Christophe, you seem more jealous of Microsoft since they are so successful than any other reason. They spend millions if not billions in R&D, Windows Development, Marketing and other things. Why the hell would they NOT want to profit from that?
"To me, encouraging ignorance and small-mindedness for profit is more than criminal. It borders on the Human Right violation."
That was rich. I'd really like some of what you're having. Maybe, just maybe, I might be able to see what you see.

randiroo76073 said...

I know that group well & am glad someone finally put a "printable" name to them 8=) Thanks!

I feel sorry for you Imran Hussain, as you are obviously a member of the group Christophe mentions: "Ignorant & Small Minded"

Mario said...

For you Linux is a religion, that is not a good thing at all.

That is making you blind at the point that you are feeling good of the problems of Mono, that is a project of the open source community you are defending.

Do I have to add anything else?

Anonymous said...

Microsoft employees have taken over Digg, voting down anything that is positive to Linux.

Why are they so afraid of desktop Linux?

Anonymous said...

I love bashing windows on the web!

Especially Windows Vista, what a turkey!



randiroo76073 said...

Your name is very apropos!
No, linux is not a religion linux is a tool, a multifaceted tool that windows will never be. Your point about Mono? so, it is but one facet of the tool called Linux.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully put. I've met some of those myself ...

TGM said...

I think we should all feel sorry for ourselves. The inbred fighting over which OS that we find on the internet we then wouldn't inflict on anyone in real life, is sheer two-facedness and also reminiscant of the Lord of the Flies: Take away social responsibility and you end up with kids with masks hunting each other down.

I should add, I love Linux, and use it at home, then go to work and use Windows, RHEL and HPUX to get my work done. I also take in my Aspire One so people can coo over it's lovely blue/black colour, and the blue/black KDE4.2 Oxygen theme on it (it certainly catches peoples eyes).

As a multi OS user, I do believe in each to their own. Unless I have to fix their computers when they pick up X virus/spyware/rootkit from Y website (.com)

P.S. I've tried Windows 7 Beta, and in terms of it's interface, I don't like it, it's lost a lot of it's customization too.

Jens Staal said...


The best thing you can do when you encounter one of those "small minded and ignorant" is to offer to buy his computer when it gets "broken". In this way you profit and they can continue doing stupid things to their liking... Everybody are happy ;)

This might even be a profitable business... buying nearly-new virus infested ("broken") computers from stupid people and re-sell them after a clean Linux install :P

Who said desktop linux could never be profitable...hehe

Jens Staal said...


The best thing you can do when you encounter one of those "small minded and ignorant" is to offer to buy his computer when it gets "broken". In this way you profit and they can continue doing stupid things to their liking... Everybody are happy ;)

This might even be a profitable business... buying nearly-new virus infested ("broken") computers from stupid people and re-sell them after a clean Linux install :P

Who said desktop linux could never be profitable...hehe

Anonymous said...

Re: Imran Hussain

"It'll be a cold day in hell when Linux would gain more than 0.1% share in desktop market. Count in the amount of pirated Windows copies in use, and you can lower that 0.1 to 0.01."

Linux desktop marketshare is already well and above your limited vision. Let's see how you react when you suddenly realize that Windbloze use has dipped below 50%. Linux already holds 30% of the netbook market and that will only get stronger. Micro$oft is playing catchup and promising their vaporware Win7 will make netbooks the domain of Redmond. 70% sounds high, but who would have even 2 years ago though Micro$oft would lose 30% of ANY market to anyone else?

Soon, Imran...very soon, you WILL have a taste of what we are having. Heck, you probably already HAVE and don't realize it. Own a TIVO box? A NAS box? Most of them run on Linux. Do you have a wired or wireless router? Many of them run on Linux. You probably have a huge Linux "infestation" in your house and probably don't even know it.



Unknown said...

Just one word: insecurity. Windows used to have >95% market share on the desktop. That's now down to ~88%. Like I said: insecurity.

Unknown said...

This is very much like politics. Rush Limbaugh would get on the radio everyday and exclaim how the Democrats were insidiously carving away at the Republicans and that soon conservatives would be a small group struggling against the tide. It didn't matter that for many of those years Republicans controlled the executive and legislative branch. There is power in being an apparent victim.

I look at the OS wars in much the same way. Poor little Linux is going to be swallowed up by big bad Microsoft. I think there is plenty of room for both. And who knows, maybe one day an Obama like distro will come along and kick the mean old Microsoft out on it's ear.

Anonymous said...

I always laugh at these types of things.

Windows has many problems, mostly caused by people creating malware, spyware and viruses for the Windows OS, other other OS'. Why is this? Well... because its the most widely used OS of choice by pretty much all the world.

If Linux was to take up the main OS of choice for the world, you could sit back and watch as it suddenly becomes infected with all sorts of bugs and became ridiculed for being poorly written as a consiquence.

Linux is great for playing around with and looks cool to use, however, give it to an every day user, who just about knows how to turn a machine on and you would soon be bombarded with questions as to where the start button is and why they cant get all their applications they want, to run.

It seems that Linux people bash Windows and Windows people bash Linux. The truth is that in all cases, Windows works just fine for anyone. The only time there is a problem is when hardware fails, or a user is so stupid that they download a virus by clicking a link someone they dont know sent them. Linux works fine so long as you know terminal commands and how to build your own drivers etc.

It always makes me smile when people tell me how great linux is and that we should move to it. I installed it and found my wireless didnt work and there where no drivers out there for Linux, only Widnows. I spoke to my mates who are linux gurus. No problem they said, we take the Windows drivers and port them over. They they gave me a load of code to run in a terminal. I do this and then start to work through the error messages with them.

Finally after 2 weeks, i decide, its easier to just stick with Windows, it works and is less of a headache. Linux just looks pretty, but runs sweet FA that i need, just like the rest of the population out there.

The Beez' said...

JC555's comment was deleted. Profanity will not be tolerated!

randiroo76073 said...

Way to go Beez', there are more words in the dictionary than just the "4 letter" ones 8=)

Anonymous said...

You seem to be proud of the fact that you spread FUD... this isn't clever pal, in fact it is downright childish, in no uncertain terms you are just another FOSS nazi that is ignorant and misinformed about how Windows works.

Felonious activities... funny. The only reason Microsoft where forced to make WMP free versions of Windows was due to real's bitching. Microsoft make the OS, so they should put whatever the hell they feel like in it. Blogs would be full of a million FOSS humpers crying and whining about the unfairness of the corporate world if they where forced to remove bits from Linux that compete with Microsoft, yet you seem to think it is good doing things the other way around, it is this display of double standards that makes Linux humpers hard to take seriously.

Having said that, I am sure that those of us from the Microsoft camp will have the last laugh when Windows 7 is on more computers within 6 months of its release than Linux has been on in the last 6 years.

Also your assertion that all informed tech orientated users of Windows seem to make excuses for using it is absolute uninformed nonsense. I, and I can also speak for a large amount of other people that I know who are extremely tech literate use Windows because they WANT to. There is a very simple reason that Linux is an also ran in the computing market, and that is because users do not want an OS that is difficult to setup and use, and needs an excessive amount of command line configuration to work well, not to mention that it is practically useless for gaming purposes.

As for Christophe, you clearly have a lot of growing up to do pal, your smarmy arrogant attitude highlights precisely why people are becoming more reluctant to take the word of technicians, also your assumptions that applications like Firefox are far better and some magic answer to viruses are just ignorant.

Also, I have never seen Microsoft encourage any user to be ignorant, and they cannot be held responsible for what end users do with their computers. Like most companies their advertising only talks about what their products can do, if anyone can be criticised for encouraging a culture of arrogance and stupidity amongst its users, it applies to Apple, not Microsoft. The thing is that the average user is an idiot, not an expert and rather than trying to force your childish anti-microsoft views upon them, your job is to enhance their experience, not change what applications they use. Just because you don't like IE, it doesn't mean your answer is right, and everyone else's is wrong. For me, FOSS humpers are the biggest proprietors of closed-mindedness and ignorance in the tech world bar none, maybe except apple fantards.

randiroo76073 said...

You silly twit, it's people like you & your ilk that drove me away from windows, that and an OS that wanted to control my computer instead of me. YOU make windows out to be some kind of religion & being a gamer something to aspire to. That right there shows your mental capabilities ! You really need to see a doctor, you're in dire need of a rectalencephalectomy.

Anonymous said...

You let people influence your choice of an Operating System? That really says a lot about a person doesnt it.

How exactly does Windows take control of your computer? Do you mean because you dont ahve to configure your own drivers for your hardware? Because the hardware companies have done this for you, to save time and to ensure they work correctly? Sound AWFULL! :)

How does it sound like a religion exactly? Because we like the OS and the fact its easy to use compaired to having to know how to pretty much program your own software to work in Linux? Most people would not know how to do this you moron.

I myself am quite capable of using Linux to its full extent. I just dont see the point when Windows is easier to use and has never given me a problem, compaired to Linux that requires me to build a lot of what i want manually, which is time consuming when i have actual work to do!

Your stament actually brings no argument other than the usual shouting of "my OS is bigger than your OS and you sux0rs!".

Really, how about coming up with something new and actually try putting something down here that brings a proper argument. Try posting in a non biased view, giving proper comparisons between the OS, such as Linux runs this or that more faster and with less bugs than Windows, because a=b=c.

I doubt you have the mental capacity to post such things however.


Anonymous said...

I like this article. I think it could've included another factor, however. People are brainwashed into Windows, and as a group, crowd psychology takes over.

Linux tends to appeal (in my experience) to people with any one or any combination of the following life factors: they like to tweak, they like fast, they are a control freak, Vista pisses them off, and/or they are too poor to afford the AV/FW/M$ merry go round. But why? They're the few that "dare" to think outside the box.

I would like to point out that putting up with garbage to keep a job might make sense some times, but in the end you harm everyone else around you without knowing you're doing it.

I would also like to point out that sometimes you can't get rid of Windows. I understand this. But you can greatly decrease your dependence on Microsoft products.

The problem with IT is crowd psychology, created by IT. Everyone jumped on the same bandwagon and is too scared to find another ship to sail on. This leads to people trying to invent any reason to defend their products (to include FUD). This leads to people worrying about the future of things. Get over it. If we all switched to Linux tomorrow, life wouldn't change much. People would just have to re-tool. In fact, I have seen such people even whip out credit card to "just fix it", as the author pointed out.

It's the resistance to change that has people still buying (for example) Microsoft Word when they'd honestly do fine with just wordpad, Open Office, or some other free item.

For example, I've seen people buy Word because they write term papers in college. Yet I've never had a professor complain when I saved my document as RTF and emailed it to them. Most teachers don't have the time to know what the difference is: they only mention that you must use Word so that they make sure they can open the files they receive. It opens and it works, so that's all they care about. If you're reading this, professor, yes, I used KWord, and you've been had.

The problem is the crowd psychology and the brainwashed habits people have due to Microsoft and the status quo. People are even at times afraid of Mac for that same reason. "There's no home/end/page up/page down key! There's no right mouse button!"

The problem, in summary, is crowd psychology and brainwashing. I've helped some people "free their minds" with Linux, and I appreciate Linux for this. But we must be active and demand equity, fairness, open minds, and in some cases even thought and common sense.

Anonymous said...

As for the other twits:

> you seem to enjoy spreading FUD

Sure, and this user then says that Microsoft gave in to Real's complaints, and that we should remove pieces of Linux that compete with Microsoft. Why? The market is about competition. Compete or die. Survival of the fittest.

As for how many computers Windows 7 is on, numbers do not make an OS better. The majority of computers out there use BIOS when EFI and other methods have been shown to be much better. Vista is on many computers and yet many people still complain about it. Some computer brands are offering even "pro downgrade to XP" licenses. Is this what we tolerate from a multi-million dollar company with thousands of talented software engineers? Don't be blind to problems just because it's your favorite.

You say FUD spreading is bad but then you spread the same old FUD (SOFUD) of "Linux is hard to configure and use." Who is ignorant now? Your words speak for themselves. I won't bother disproving that because there are probably still thousands of blogs on "I found Linux!" out there. Stop being close minded and ignorant, and stop spreading FUD.

As for playing games, that's a different issue. You can't blame Linux for not running games not designed for it. That's like blaming Ford when your Focus can't haul the Space Shuttle. And even then, if you bought your computer for games mainly, you paid too much for the same thing you can get with a console. Much less gaming, while fun, is time spent doing nothing. Does anyone care if you used to be the best at Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II? No.

And yes, the average computer user may be "sheep". That's because they would rather spend their time being productive than playing with their OS. But Linux is just the same, if not better due to having a one-stop "install this" area (ref. Mandriva and the distros like it). I installed 2009.0 and one configuration was done (maybe 30 minutes later) I just stared at it and was like "ok, now what do i do with my time?" (i.e. I was used to tweaking with Slackware). Your comments are not logical.

And even then, who do we blame for the average user of Windows being a sheep? I don't know. Using a computer was supposed to be easy, and normally is. I do, however, blame Microsoft for not documenting their operating system fully. I had someone teach me about xcopy on Windows AFTER I had learned about rsync for Linux and was already using it. That's sad. There was no Windows help on XP for "how do i copy over only the files that have changed?" type questions. The info is out there, but Windows surely wasn't telling anyone, nor was the Microsoft website which, until recently, was pathetically horrible for searching for help. Even searching Google using site:microsoft.com got better results for the longest time.

The problems still remain: Linux is easy to use (SOFUD), and Microsoft is asleep at the wheel.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone actually going to leave a proper comment as to why Linux is better than Windows?

So far i have only seen people complain about the "groups" of users who use Windows. I find this asstounding that you would put blame to an OS purely on its user base (which is pretty much the world). This also means that you as Linux users would be a minority, yet you feel you are correct, however, in atual fact, you are acting like crazy people. Crazy people often feel the way they see things are correct and the rest of the world are incorrect. They also blab on about things that do not really make sense or have any relevence to the conversation at hand... again, the same as you lot.

How about you actually give proper information for a change, instead of saying, "Windows users sux0rs!".

mutualfund said...

Although windows 7 come with new technology. I can't imagine how much resources it will take.

I might need to upgrade my machine if i need to have windows 7 to run.