Adobe Releases New DRM For eBooks, Plans To Screw Over Anyone Using Old DRM

from the futile-thrashing-about dept

In the grand lexicon of digital economies, DRM is quickly becoming, ironically, a four-letter word. Each attempt at locking down products in this manner is one more lesson in the futility of the entire effort, with legitimate customers becoming annoyed, while cracks are provided in a matter of days. One wonders why anyone in charge of any company would continue sinking money into an enterprise that has such dismal results, but c'est la vie. Adobe is a company that's perhaps not the most storied in this arena of DRM attempts, but it has its history of failures as well.

But give Adobe credit, I guess, as it hasn't let the failures of the past keep it from taking another turn at the DRM plate. Late last month came word that Adobe was releasing a new flavor of its eBook DRM for the EPUB format, leading to applause from nobody and a general questioning of why the company was attempting to force its customers to leap into the waiting arms of the competition.

Yes, there’s a new type of DRM out there, and yes we will eventually see ebook readers and apps that support it. But for the near future the devices and apps that do not support the new DRM (and frankly, never will support the new DRM) will far out number the newer gadgetry that does. And that means that the vast body of existing ereaders and apps is going to drive the market. eBookstores will want to sell to the largest number of potential customers, so they will continue to offer the older DRM. They already know that they’re losing customers to Amazon, Apple, and B&N, all of which have a proprietary DRM schema, so they’ll do their best to avoid losing what few customers they can get.
In other words, this DRM is likely to have an adoption rate that would make Little Orphan Annie cry. That this is coming so late in the game, with the previous DRM version having been cracked long ago, and the eBook marketplace booming, makes this author wonder what the hell anyone at Adobe is thinking. With futility proven and necessity rebuked, this appears to be little more than an effort to put roadblocks in front of potential customers. Way to go.

Meanwhile, of course, the DRM scheme is already annoying legitimate customers.
There are several reports on Twitter this morning that a bug in the latest version of Adobe DE is wreaking havoc, with several users reporting that they have ebooks which could be downloaded to Adobe DE but not transferred over to an ebook reader (like the Nook, Aura, or PRS-T3). This has also been confirmed by a couple other users. According to Micah Bowers, CEO of Bluefire Reader, the bug is only affecting a small fraction of newly downloaded ebooks and it is blocking users from transferring their purchased ebooks to their ebook readers. That’s not what one user reported on Twitter:

"I had a bunch of books on my laptop & yesterday ADE wouldn’t let me access them. I purchased them 7 years ago. So NOT happy." — Rebecca (@RebeLovesBooks) January 27, 2014
So, just to put a nice little bow on all of this, Adobe is releasing a new version of its DRM which was previously cracked, with the new DRM sure to be cracked, and which has little practical value beyond annoying eBook customers and driving sales for the competition. If one were writing a script of why DRM is a silly idea, one couldn't write it up better than Adobe has.

As if that weren't enough, Adobe has managed to ensure this new DRM attempt will remind customers that, when it comes to DRM, the curse always gets worse.
The tl;dr version is that Adobe is going to start pushing for ebook vendors to provide support for the new DRM in March, and when July rolls Adobe is going to force the ebook vendors to stop supporting the older DRM. (Hadrien Gardeur, Paul Durrant, and Martyn Daniels concur on this interpretation.). This means that any app or device which still uses the older Adobe DRM will be cut off. Luckily for many users, that penalty probably will not affect readers who use Kobo or Google reading apps or devices; to the best of my knowledge neither uses the Adobe DRM internally. And of course Kindle and Apple customers won’t even notice, thanks to those companies’ wise decision to use their own DRM.

But everyone else just got screwed.
So, needlessly annoy new customers while doing zero to battle "pirates" while simultaneously spitting in the faces of the legitimate customers who have spent the past few years buying eBooks? Nicely done, team!



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 9:03am

    Adobe's thinking

    " That this is coming so late in the game, with the previous DRM version having been cracked long ago, and the eBook marketplace booming, makes this author wonder what the hell anyone at Adobe is thinking. "

    How can I drive more traffic to the Pirate Bay while losing revenue?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    To 'fight piracy', right... /s

    They're not even bothering to pretend anymore it seems, yet again the only people getting screwed over are the legitimate customers, while pirates remain untouched, all over something supposedly aimed at decreasing piracy...

    DRM is not, and never has been, about 'combating piracy', it's always been about control and locking things down so customers never actually own them, the fact that companies still implement costly DRM, which has zero effect on pirates while having plenty of downsides for legitimate customers just makes this all the more clear.

     

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  3.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 9:51am

    DRM is quickly becoming, ironically, a four-letter word

    Are you referring to the time when legitimate customers are stonewalled by the DRM and utter the enlightened exclamation "FUCK!"?

     

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  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 9:54am

    O, come on Tim. Two in a row?

    In other words, this DRM is likely to have an adoption rate that would make Little Orphan Annie cry.

    Aren't we forgetting Windows 8? How unfair towards Microsoft!

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 9:57am

    Re: To 'fight piracy', right... /s

    thanks to those companies’ wise decision to use their own DRM

    According to someone it is wise if you use your own DRM.. EA begs to differ.

     

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  6.  
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    yankinwaoz (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:28am

    I might be the publisher's fault

    It might be the case that the publishers refuse to license books to a platform that doesn't have a working DRM in place. So Adobe had to whip up a new one, just good enough to meet the demands of the publishers, existing customers be dammed.

     

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  7. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:40am

    Didja even notice this: "those companies’ wise decision to use their own DRM."

    It's just problem with Adobe -- and that starts with "A" and stands for ANOMALY right here in River City!

    2nd point to notice is that everyone seems to revile Adobe yet it goes right on... Should tell you that public pressure is almost useless: we need jack-booted gov't thugs to routinely kick the hell out of corporate officers, or they just do whatever they please...

    Innovation and change are considered vital to modern "technology". Ease of use or even function are distant concerns. (86 of 195)

    06:38:56[h-445-2]

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:44am

    Re:

    I will take windows 8 over Adobe's DRM any day.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    "we need jack-booted gov't thugs to routinely kick the hell out of corporate officers, or they just do whatever they please..." We have a government that is for the corporations. They would much rather punt the public around instead of the corporations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:54am

    Re:

    *uses Windows 8* Oh go suck an egg Ninja. It's not so much Windows 8 as everyone still hates Microsoft for Vista (which I used on my previous laptop, and it worked just fine).

    That said, no way in hell am I updating to 8.1 at this point. Not until they make it compatible with Zune software anyway.

     

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  11.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:57am

    Fighting pirates? Really?

    Adobe DRM, meet calibre plugins. Thanks for helping me access my legally purchased ebooks, 'pirates'!

     

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  12.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:38am

    Adobe is scum. In other news, water is wet.

    This the same company that keeps releasing Adobe Flash Player and has refused to even publicly address, let alone admit, the fact that Flash player is the Mother of All Resource Hogs and a major cause of overheating laptops among all brands for at least SEVEN YEARS, and apparently have no plans to reduce its shitiness in future releases, and is forcing the latest Photoshop on people as a "monthly subscription" type-deal.

    A new DRM for ebooks which screws everyone over in the process sounds right in their wheelhouse.

    ...makes this author wonder what the hell anyone at Adobe is thinking.


    Tim, you clearly have more faith in Adobe than I do.

     

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  13.  
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    gorehound (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:41am

    Buy physical books only.I own over 1500.many nice rare 1st Editions.All worth good money.Some value up to $2000 now.
    I can also do what I want with my library.
    I can also include them in a Will.

    PS:
    My app Ten Grand WW2 Collection will be donated to my local library.

     

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  14.  
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    Phil, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    I don't own any content with DRM and don't ever plan to. If I can't buy it without DRM, I pirate it. I feel no guilt about this whatsoever, and I am generally an empathic kind of guy. I can't even explain why this is the case. I am a content creator (music recordings) so maybe there's a "if you can't beat them, join them" kind of feeling happening. Really though I don't even feel the need to explain it, since if I did so anti-piracy bores would accuse me of "rationalizing" it. Hah, I can't even be bothered to rationalize it.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:48am

    Aside from the typical paying customer, this could have pretty serious implications for libraries. A large number of libraries, especially academic libraries, are tied to this. Ebsco (among others) uses Adobe Digital Editions for their ebook packages. Seems like a good old-fashioned clusterfudge just in time for finals.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:49am

    and could Adobe be sued for forcing buyers of books that came with the old drm on to then upgrade to the new version, or even better, forcing customers to re-buy their books all over again?

    apart from the obvious failure of drm and the probable loss of new customers, if not old ones as well, it could prove rather expensive for Adobe to pursue this avenue!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:56am

    Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.

    And this is why no one reasonable comments here: no matter how mild, the kids can't stand dissent. It's a hoot, given how easy copy-paste makes putting it back up again:


    This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it

    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:40am

    Didja even notice this: "those companies’ wise decision to use their own DRM."
    It's just problem with Adobe -- and that starts with "A" and stands for ANOMALY right here in River City!

    2nd point to notice is that everyone seems to revile Adobe yet it goes right on... Should tell you that public pressure is almost useless: we need jack-booted gov't thugs to routinely kick the hell out of corporate officers, or they just do whatever they please...
    Innovation and change are considered vital to modern "technology". Ease of use or even function are distant concerns. (86 of 195)

    06:38:56[h-445-2]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.

    If you don't want to keep finding yourself sent to time out, stop acting like a child by throwing around insults and/or spamming the same crap over and over again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't hate windows 8. I just don't see any reason at all to upgrade my gear from windows 7...

    I will wait and see about Windows 9 and how they are going about it. Maybe I will even contemplate switching to a another distribution. At that point I will need a new computer, but can make a much more educated choice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:42pm

    Let's not forget how Adobe sicced the feds on Elcomsoft programmer Dmitry Sklyarov when he visited the USA -- despite that the software he wrote (reverse-engineering Adobe DRM) was 100% legal in his own country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._ElcomSoft_and_Sklyarov

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Me, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 1:02pm

    Adobe DE

    I didn't even know what Adobe DE specifically was, so I went to Adobe's site:

    "Adobe® Digital Editions software offers an engaging way to view and manage eBooks and other digital publications. Use it to download and purchase digital content, which can be read both online and offline."

    http://www.adobe.com/products/digital-editions.html

    Ok, that sounds like it's a consumer-oriented program that might make my online reading easier and more pleasant.

    Then I look at the features, and the first listed is:

    "Adobe Digital Editions 3.0 includes a more secure Digital Rights Management scheme..."

    Oh really? That doesn't sound pleasant to me at all. Maybe for the retailer with some really twisted logic, but not for me as the consumer.

    Why the hell would I download and use something that is going to be looking at the data on my computer and deciding for me if I can open and use it? Who in their right mind would ever use this program?

    Adobe even calls it a "scheme". That doesn't sound above-board at all. You may as well call it the Adobe RICO Reader, or the Adobe Cartel Pro Edition, or something equally as shady.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re:

    I've been using it daily for about a year, and I hate Windows 8. It's not because of memories of Vista, it's because of that damned Start Screen, those charms, and hotspots.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.

    Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.


    Awwww, isn't that cute. 'Ole Blue is getting all ass-hurt because no one cares what he has to say anymore.

    Here's a couple of tips for you Blue:

    - Stop ignoring rebuttals to your comments. You keep posting things that have been completely debunked many times over. Why should anyone listen to you, when you refuse to listen to anyone else?

    - Stop calling the intelligent professionals who read this site "kids" and/or other disparaging terms. I can't speak for anyone else, but as soon as you start insulting people I stop reading your comment and hit the report button, regardless of the message.


    If you really want to be heard, try acting like an adult for a change.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Honestly, I adapted to Windows 8's start screen pretty quickly. Don't really mind that they got rid of the start button either [kinda annoyed they decided to bring it back in 8.1, to be honest].

    That being said, it's obvious if you're like me and have a regular laptop that most of Windows 8's UI was designed with the Surface in mind [or a device with touch screen capability anyway].

    Windows 8= As far as OSes go, pretty good.

    Win 8.1 = BEGONE SATAN!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    DerekCurrie (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 3:21pm

    Screw The Customer, Expect Retribution

    From my POV, all the media Corporate Oligarchy user abuse, as exemplified by DRM (digital rights management), has accomplished is customer backlash, aka retribution.

    Q: What would be the current rate of media piracy if the media Corporate Oligarchy had never abused their customers with DRM…?

    A: Incredibly less.

    IOW: The media Corporate Oligarchy creates its own problem.

    It has been consistently proven that company respect for their customers results in customer loyalty and minimal piracy. Amazingly simple.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Nate, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 3:50pm

    Adobe backed down

    They've decided not to break all of the ebook readers in July:
    http://www.the-digital-reader.com/2014/02/04/adobe-didnt-mean-use-drm-break-ebook-readers/

     

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  27.  
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    Rekrul, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I will wait and see about Windows 9 and how they are going about it.

    Based on past "upgrades" to Windows, I predict higher system requirements, plenty of needless changes that only serve to confuse users of previous Windows versions and poor backwards compatibility, especially with games.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 5:24pm

    out_of_the_blue just hates it when due process is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 6:07pm

    "I know how we can make more money! Lets steal all legally purchased e-books from many of our legitimate customers! That will make all those pirates buy our products!"

    ...Said a criminally insane Adobe executive, apparently, to a room of equally crazy other Adobe executives, apparently.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    L3Nix (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Re:

    The Zune desktop program works on 8.1 I'm using it right now actually.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Aklyon, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 6:30pm

    Re: Re:

    Its less *hate on 8 because vista* and more *sees no reason to upgrade from 7 for an inferior default interface and less proven game compatibility*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    techflaws (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 10:32pm

    Re: Re: Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.

    I think it's funny. There's been quite some morons whining about being censored and were rightfully ridiculed for it. And obviously that was what let ankle-biter#1 aka weakling think, jumping on the bandwagon was a good idea. LOL!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    jorgen, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:24pm

    Making it more secure is bad for business. People who remove DRM will just buy books with DRM that is easier to remove or chance to DRM free books. Amazon´s DRM is said to be easy to remove, so maybe that is one of the reasons for their success?

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:29pm

    Re:

    It's just problem with Adobe -- and that starts with "A" and stands for ANOMALY right here in River City!

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 12:54am

    Re: Re:

    "It's not so much Windows 8 as everyone still hates Microsoft for Vista"

    No, most people who are complaining about 8 already use Windows 7 so the shoddy state of Vista isn't what's putting them off. It's the fact that they can't choose not to use a touchscreen interface on their non-touchscreen devices. Had Metro been made optional or just not the default on a standard mouse/keyboard machine, I doubt most people would have been complaining (unless I missed something, the underlying OS functionality has been fine).

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 12:55am

    Re: Re: To 'fight piracy', right... /s

    thanks to those companies’ wise decision to use their own DRM
    The wise decision would be to drop the fuckin' drm already, and respect your damn customers. Because only your customers are affected by your drm.

     

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  37.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 1:03am

    Re: Re:

    There's a different dictionary among the morons here:

    "anomaly" - anything that makes corporations look bad and/or gives a concrete example of what's wrong with an industry and its approach to copyright or patents.

    "pirate" - someone who criticises DRM or the glorious benevolent corporations

    "corporation" - the only entity that can legitimately fund something

    "artist" - an employee of a corporation

    "art" - a product to be monetised

    The true anomaly would be a DRM that achieves its supposed goal without either being easily circumvented by pirates (thus making its existence a useless expense) and negatively affecting legal customers of a product (thus making them less likely to buy - the opposite of the supposed aim).

    Perhaps if these fools spent more time giving us examples of those anomalies that make DRM worthwhile rather than trying to deflect attention away from the huge number of failures, this conversation might go somewhere. I fear they can't do that, since no such anomaly exists.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 1:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Under the hood W8 seems to be better from what I read and seen (it starts much faster and seems lighter on many aspects). But really, the UI is a deal breaker. I see it may have potential on touch screens but on a regular desktop it's sheer stupidity. Hence the uber low adoption rates.

    With patience you'll get used to it. It doesn't mean the UI gets anything near being efficient for a desktop though. I won't be upgrading to W8 for sure.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 1:54am

    Re: Re:

    Vista was a disaster under the hood, 8 is a UI disaster. It was a resource hog and very unstable unless you kept it isolated from any other interference after installation. Ie: kept your pc turned off.

    After years pirating M$ stuff I decided I should at least buy a copy since I use it so much (and honestly a well maintained Windows system is as good as any) and unfortunately I decided to go for Vista before testing it (and one copy of Office while I was at it). I would have regretted my decision if it wasn't the fact I pirate the fuck out of Windows up to date.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 1:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If they keep the trend of spectacularly failing in one release and then spectacularly getting it right in the next (Millenium/XP, Vista/7, 8/???) then the next Windows is gonna be worth upgrading.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That. Yes, if you ignore the UI disaster it seems to be a better system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Pragmatic, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 5:15am

    Re:

    Now, now, AC, it's an anomaly. A troll said so.

    Does "Anomaly" mean "very common occurrence?" My dictionary says otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Feb 5th, 2014 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "kinda annoyed they decided to bring it back in 8.1, to be honest"

    Me too -- that was just a slap in the face. Bringing back the button without bringing back the functionality. It's not the button itself people wanted, it was the start menu.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
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    btrussell (profile), Feb 6th, 2014 @ 1:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This is 8.1. I much prefer it to 8. At least now I can turn PC off with mouse and boot to desktop, access control panel, update...shit, with 8, there isn't even an "x" to close a program. Apparently there will be a close button for apps on 8.1 in April.

    There is no need to upgrade from 7.

    Full disclosure: I have 7, had 8 but updated to 8.1, won't go back to 8, prefer PCLinuxOS64 as OS of choice.

    PS. So far, I have had no problem reading td with 7 or 8.1, so that is one thing ms can do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 13th, 2014 @ 9:44am

    Re: Techdirt kids (or just Mike hisself, we can't tell) censoring again.

    Repeatedly posting the same comment over and over could prove detrimental to your ability to post anything. Stop being a spammer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    HerpDerp22, Mar 3rd, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re:

    Um... Zune? You're a bit late to the 20th century...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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