Microsoft's Anti-Piracy Efforts: Millions Spent Driving People To Open Source Software

from the surely-that's-not-the-best-use-of-money? dept

In the past, Microsoft used to be willing to admit that unauthorized copies helped the company, as it helped establish its software as a near-monopoly in certain areas, and kept competitors out. But, in the past few years, the company has become more adamant, not just about denying any possible “benefits” to unauthorized copies, but in trying to crack down on them at any cost. The NY Times has an article highlighting Microsoft’s “fight” against unauthorized copies, and does so with dramatic (and cinematic) claims about how organized crime groups are turning to software copying, as an alternative to drugs.

Of course, this ignores the fact that such organized crime groups have actually discovered that it’s harder and harder to make money with counterfeit software — because more and more such software is just available for free online, leaving little reason to pay anything for it, especially from counterfeiters. But, what strikes me as most interesting through the blatantly ridiculous claims throughout the article from Microsoft’s folks and its stand-ins at the BSA, is that all the company is really doing here is spending a ton of money to convince people to look at cheaper (or free) alternatives.

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Companies: bsa, microsoft

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Comments on “Microsoft's Anti-Piracy Efforts: Millions Spent Driving People To Open Source Software”

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Freak says:


So wait, gangs are starting to use counterfeit software instead of drugs as a source of income?

And microsoft is stopping them?

Microsoft is against the war on drugs!

(I thought about making a comment on how illegal software copying is much better than drugs, and that if the former would replace the latter, I would whole-heartedly embrace it. But then I realized that, if it is microsoft software, it ruins lives just as badly)

rebrad (profile) says:

OEM Software

I purchased Win7 Ultimate from New Egg last year because I wanted to be legal. I installed it on a newly built system in Dec 2009. Less than 6 months later a Windows notification told me that my copy was unauthorized and only allowed limited access. I still had the original package and didn’t share the auth code with anyone. I called Microsoft and they wouldn’t help because my copy was OEM. I called New Egg and was told they only warrant software for 30 days. That was $200 wasted on my attempt to be legal and I was treated as if I was a pirate. I’m not made of money and $200 is not something to laugh at. I can get Open Source for free or at a low cost. No more software from Microsoft or New Egg for me. I’ll use my money for something that I can trust.

Overcast (profile) says:

But, what strikes me as most interesting through the blatantly ridiculous claims throughout the article from Microsoft’s folks and its stand-ins at the BSA, is that all the company is really doing here is spending a ton of money to convince people to look at cheaper (or free) alternatives.

Recently, I loaded Ubuntu LTS up on my PC. But the difference this time is that it’s no longer my ‘secondary’ OS, it’s the primary now.

Other than gaming, I have little; if any, need for Windows. While I like Windows7 and use it at work – I can’t see paying over $200.00 for Ultimate all things considered. I’ll continue to run my copy of XP for gaming and that’s it. The rest – Unbuntu does just as well, if not better.

If I ever switch to console gaming, instead of PC gaming – Windows won’t even be on my PC.

However; if Win7 was say… $75 or maybe $99 – I’d buy it. But $200? No – I’m patient, by the time I really NEED it, I bet the cost will be down – but the real question is: Will I ever really *need* it?

interval (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“If I ever switch to console gaming, instead of PC gaming – Windows won’t even be on my PC.”

Yes, that was my philosophy until I found out that Napolean Total War, a title I have been waiting for since I first heard about it, would only be available for the PC. So I STILL have a pc I use occasionally for games hanging around. Sucks.

Alatar says:

Same old debate

A: “Windows/MSOffice/Photoshop is just better”
B: “You never use those rare-advanced functionnalities that are included in them, plus for what they cost and what they do, FLOSS alternatives would just be better”
A: “No matter the cost, you know, I’ll just pirate them”

Debate held many time, even with IT students from my class (studying as an IT engineer).

Locking yourself up in those shitty and expensive pieces of software just because “for now, we can just pirate them” is a really bad idea. If those alternatives weren’t here (or as soon as those alternatives disappear), they would (will) lock their software up, with for example some kind of Internet check on each startup. That’s why everyone has to use free alternatives.

PS : I still have a win7 partition for games, as you commenters before me have.

Headbhang says:

Re: Same old debate

Windows/MSOffice/Photoshop are shitty but Linux/OpenOffice/Gimp are not? Pffft! You can come up with complaints about any program/OS, but the fact remains that commercial products remain significantly more polished than the free alternatives and often this polish (which always costs money one way or another) can make all the difference for businesses.

Either way, the only way illegal software would disappear is if the product is discontinued by the develelopers due to it being rendered unprofitable (by excessive piracy or other reasons).

Alatar says:

Re: Re: Same old debate

“Windows/MSOffice/Photoshop are shitty but Linux/OpenOffice/Gimp are not? Pffft!You can come up with complaints about any program/OS, but the fact remains that commercial products remain significantly more polished than the free alternatives and often this polish (which always costs money one way or another) can make all the difference for businesses.”

The opensource alternatives can also be bad sometimes, I don’t deny it. I wasn’t complaining about that. What I am complaining about is the people who feel more comfortable with proprietary software just because it is proprietary and run by a big company, but aren’t willing to pay those $300 Windows, $200 MSOffice and/or $>1000 Photoshop costs, and say “nah, I’ll just use a pirated copy”.
For the enormous majority of these people, Ubuntu/OpenOffice/Gimp could simply fill the need as well, but they insist on using a proprietary program and then insist on not paying for it because even they feel unconsciously it’s not worth the cost.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Same old debate

“For the enormous majority of these people, Ubuntu/OpenOffice/Gimp could simply fill the need as well,”

True enough but most people are absolutely convinced they need MS Office even if all they ever use Word for is simple word processing which hasn’t changed significantly, except for the interface, since the Wordstar days.

Worse, the they want to use Word for desktop publishing and a worse tool for that can’t be found.

I still shudder when people use Excel as a database which it’s awful for after a certain number of rows, say 1000 or so and also because it doesn’t enforce any discipline on the clerk who has to type it all in. Want a new field, voila! it’s there, and never mind you’re scrolling horizontally forever to find it.

Don’t get me wrong. People misuse OpenOffice the same way. For the most part though, they won’t use because it’s not MS Office and for no other reason.

Most people use Photoshop for things like red-eye correction when hundreds of other apps will do it as well, or often better.

Thing is their using incredibly powerful apps for (a) things they aren’t designed for and (b) for things that have less expensive alternatives simply because those apps are what they know.

As most of us can’t really afford these tools (at all) for the tiny scrap of the power inside them. So people bittorrent them or buy them from doubtful vendors.

And yes, on any OS, for every great app there’s hundreds, if not thousands of crappy ones.

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Same old debate

Well, I have a Mac with iWork, NeoOffice (a Mac-specific fork of OO) and MS Office.

MS Office pretty much blows the others out of the water. Keynote is very good, but most people still generate PPTs, so it’s only ever worth using for preso’s I’m never going to share.

Besides, if you are a large corp., the cost of re-training people to use something else far outweighs any cost of the software. Never mind the fact that there are some things for which there are no open source alternatives (try running SolidWorks or MasterCam on Linux or Mac).

Besides, quite a few open source apps are amazingly crappy, even worse than what MSFT offers for free…


Gwiz says:

Re: Re: Same old debate

Never mind the fact that there are some things for which there are no open source alternatives (try running SolidWorks or MasterCam on Linux or Mac).

It appears that both of these can run with Wine in Linux.

WineHQ – SolidWorks 2009

WineHQ – Mastercam

Although not perfected yet – but getting closer all the time.

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Same old debate

Yes, and try getting support for either one of those.

Sorry, it’s not worth crashing a $500k machine running and destroying a $17k tool just to prove a point.

In most businesses, the cost of licensing Windows is pretty insignificant. MasterCam costs upwards of $20k and SolidWorks is easily $5k.

Look, I spent 10 years getting all kinds of companies to use open source, from the US gov’t to F100’s to startups. Sometimes you have to recognize that open source is not the right solution and move on.


Gwiz says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Same old debate

Sometimes you have to recognize that open source is not the right solution and move on.


I just tend to get annoyed with the notion that “If it’s free than it cannot have value” (IE: my own boss) concerning open source software.

Yes, and try getting support for either one of those.

As for support, that really isn’t a concern for me personally. Anytime in the last 25 years that I have had to call in for support on anything software related it’s been a huge waste of my time – the first hour or two replying “Tried that already” to their checklists until I get to point where they say “Hmmm I guess you found a bug – we’ll get that fixed in the next release (which of course you have to pay for).”

robin (profile) says:

Consumer Beware

IMHO, this is yet another example of a continuing effort by big content/copyright to tie counterfeiting and “piracy” to the same anchor.

For the most egregious example (if you need a laugh this morning) the MPAA’s recent letter to the US Trade Representative’s office (pdf)

Also IMHO a dry run for COICA and establishing blacklists of websites.

Can you spell Prior Restraint?

(Of course, being more patient, it’s just entertaining watching politicians fighting a losing fight: you cannot destroy a network designed to route around any kind of failure; like blocking domain names)

Greevar (profile) says:

Win vs Linux

Like others above me have said, I only hold on to Windows because of gaming. It’s actually Microsoft’s fault that we became dependent on Windows for gaming in the first place. They got cozy with game developers to lull them into accepting DirectX as the de facto standard for game API. Before that, OpenGL was king of the hill (and it was MUCH better). I’m certain that if DirectX hadn’t taken the spotlight, there would have been more Linux compatible games from the AAA studios than just the Id and Epic flagship engines.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Win vs Linux

DirectX is superior to OpenGL today, but that’s only because MS wooed the game industry into supporting, maintaining, and improving DirectX to the detriment of OpenGL. Had MS not lobbied the games industry into supporting DirectX over OpenGL, I have no doubt that alternative OS’s would be supported by more games today.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Win vs Linux

“Oh yeah, how evil of Microsoft to make things easier for game developers by improving their own platform…”

Yes, they did it out of the kindness of their hearts. They didn’t do it to make it better for the developers, they did it to make sure that everyone who wanted to play PC games would only have one choice of OS. If they truly wanted to “make things easier” they would have made it an open standard. It was a grab for a monopoly. Microsoft is notorious for making up their own standard and trying to get everyone dependent on it.

“Funny you make no mention of the Khronos Group’s fault in the eclipsing of OpenGL’s position for gaming purposes.”

Because I was unaware of their role in it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Microsoft has in large measure generally been quite protective of its software products. If being protective does in fact drive people away from using its products, data (from a site for whose accuracy I am unable to verify) tends to suggest that such efforts do not appear to be driving people away from its products in numbers I tend to believe are little more that a nit. See:

Maybe at some time in the future market share numbers will begin to shift, but the above data it seems to me demonstrates to me that such a shift is likely many years away, more than enough time for Microsoft to adjust its business plans accordingly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

MS will have the business sector under its thumb for some time to come, and that’s always been their bread and butter.

It’s interesting to see the mobile OS’s starting to encroach on both Windows and Mac though. A sign of a bigger bigger shift in computing (more than just OS)? Time will well, but with this sudden push for tablet devices and the focus on alternative interfaces, the way we use and view computers could be very different in 5-10 years.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s almost impossible to move away from Microsoft now, as should be evident by the self proclaimed Linux users that have already posted. There are many things that caused this situation.

Most people only know Microsoft and only develop for Microsoft. If you’re a small developer with only the time and money to do things once, who are you going to program for? Windows with 94% of the market, Linux with 4%, or Mac with 1%?

Linux has one hell of a learning curve that turns off most people that manage get past the “leet” stigma.

Apple is far to closed to be a replacement.

Businesses won’t pay to convert all their programs to non Microsoft compatible products and train their users to use the new system.

Microsoft knows they have us by the balls, they know they can get away with this. It’s going to take one hell of an effort from everyone to change it, and that’s not going to happen.

Richard Kulawiec says:

Re: Re: Re:

No, it’s not impossible (to move away from Microsoft). I don’t permit Microsoft products in any of my operations (personal, professional, volunteer, etc.); that’s been my policy since they’ve existed and while it’s occasionally caused some inconvenience and annoyance, it’s long since been demonstrated as sound.

Now: I’m not a gamer, nor do I work in that space, so the lack of a need to support gaming certainly excludes one sizable set of reasons why I might need to do otherwise. But I support (or have supported) office environments, mail systems, web content systems, software development, business operations, accounting systems, security/firewall operations, transaction processing and other functions, so it’s not like I’ve worked only in one isolated segment of IT.

And while some of the time the alternative is Linux, sometimes it’s OpenSolaris or FreeBSD or MacOS or OpenBSD or something else — depends on the requirement. I think what’s needed to do this is a healthy awareness of the alternatives and their capabilities at the OS level (obviously) and then at the application level. In addition, there needs to be a certain amount of skepticism when it come to requirements, viz.: “I need Photoshop”. “Really? What functions do you need to do?” “I need to do X, Y and Z.” “The GIMP does X Y and Z quite well.”

To put that another way, there are an awful lot of people running expensive software products that are capable of doing a lot of things that those people will never do. Every one of those functions represents costs, code bloat, performance impact, and security risk: it would be better all around to have far more limited software that’s much better matched to the requirements.

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“I don’t permit Microsoft products in any of my operations”

That is just as stupid as being an all MSFT shop. Not choosing the best tool for the job for religious reasons is doing a disfavor to the people who are obliged to use the tools….

Never mind the fact that you are making your users dependent on your support as the vast majority of tech/infrastructure support is Windows oriented.


Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sorry, I don’t understand your point.

My point was that it’s much easier to find heterogeneous local sources of support for either Windows or even Mac than it is for Linux, at least on the desktop side of things.

From what I can tell, you’re just reinforcing my point while also underscoring that MSFT has created a certain standard for knowledge (what ever you think of the cert, it’s something people without tech knowledge can look for…).


Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

Okay, you just trumpeted your ignorance across the vast canyons of the interwebs!

1. Other than a few niche items, such as gaming and certain media platforms, there’s really no such thing as programming for MS versus programming for Linux. Code is code. Most of what compiles for one will compile for the other. Anything else can often be ported with most of the code left untouched, even games and media.

2. The learning curve for a modern Linux or Unix based operating system is no different than Windows or Mac.

3. Businesses are increasingly (year after year after year) implementing open source tools, which usually ARE compatible with MS products.

I don’t know about you, but Microsoft is NOT touching me inappropriately. You might want to get that checked.

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You’ve apparently never ported a large native desktop app from one platform to another.

Sure, you could write a wxPython app that might work across different platforms if you are very careful, but most apps are not written this way.

The fallback would be a Java, but most large desktop apps are written in native code for good reasons.


Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

When have I ever had to? If it’s open, it’s already been ported or it’s so obscure that no one would ever use it. I have tweaked some ports and RPM’d a few though.

Sure, there are headaches involved with repackaging an app – especially IF it’s buried in proprietary obfuscation. If it’s just real code it’s a simple port. If has to worm it’s way deep down into the guts of Windows to keep it’s proprietary details hidden, yes, then it’s a HUGE PITA (but then you’re not really supposed to fiddle with that anyway are ya?).

If not, then it’s not that much for someone who knows what they’re doing. Yeah, my mom’s not gonna port Photoshop for you. YA GOT ME THERE!!

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Configuring and compiling is NOT porting. Chances are most of the cross-platform heavy lifting has already been done for you as the app was obviously designed to be portable from the beginning.

Running DotNetNuke on Linux was never going to be easy and porting native desktop apps is hairy at best. Just look at the message about Ubuntu 10 on the Transmission download page. And I’ll be you’d have trouble running Bean (a very good GPL word processor) on Windows or Paint.NET (open source) on Linux….

Never mind the fact that just cross-installing apps from one Linux distro to another can be a huge pain, never mind trying to port from one OS to another. The fact that you even have to re-compile apps is a sad statement as to the state of the Linux desktop…. It was one of the things we were trying to address when I was helping the Linux Foundation, but it’s actually worse now than it was back then…


Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Configuring and compiling is NOT porting”

No sh-t, that’s why I said, I hadn’t done it. Never had to, but it doesn’t mean I don’t know what goes into it. I have coded for both. The bottom line is that it’s specifically all the extra crap that goes into burying the code that really makes up the only thing that makes it that hard to port. You don’t get to cite the bad coding conventions of the proprietary propogation machine as reasons for staying with proprietary, sorry.

“And I’ll be you’d have trouble running Bean (a very good GPL word processor) on Windows”
Well no sh-t, as it relies on OS X’s Cocoa framework, but then we’re talking Apples and Windows there aren’t we? That’s part of my point: the notion of having interdependent code trying to function within proprietary restrictions is the prime constipator of coding in proprietary environs. You can’t legitimately claim that that’s why open formats are inferior just because proprietary code X relies on propreitary code Y. No thanks, you can keep your problems over there.

“Never mind the fact that just cross-installing apps from one Linux distro to another can be a huge pain, never mind trying to port from one OS to another.”
Where do you live, 2003? Hello, package management anyone? Automatic updates that don’t have to wait for Tuesday?

“The fact that you even have to re-compile apps is a sad statement as to the state of the Linux desktop”
Who HAS to? Not me. My 69 year old mom used Linux for 4 years without compiling squat. She installed and ran all her Windows apps just fine in Wine until she just stopped needing to as familiarity gave way to function.

Chris Maresca (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Let’s see, how can I put this nicely.

1. I’ve been using Linux for 15 years

2. My mom had a laptop running Linux in 1998 – she now uses a Mac 😉

3. (yep, that’s me)

4. You have apparently never encountered dependency hell, I have and it’s getting worse. TPB on Ubuntu 10. Or upgrading something that requires a new version of zlib (BTDT).

Your assertion that porting things is trivial just shows a lack of experience in actually doing the work.


Lawrence D'Oliveiro says:

Re: Re: Re: Code Is Code

Well, there?s proprietary code and there?s Free code. The difference is that Free code tends to be highly portable, proprietary code less so.

Consider: when Microsoft first brought out Windows NT, it was supposed to be portable across different hardware architectures. And indeed, versions were released for Alpha (32-bit only), and later IA64. There was also a version developed for PowerPC. However, these proved to be too expensive to maintain. So eventually most of them were dropped; today even the IA64 version is in decline, so the only serious versions left are for x86 and x86-64.

Whereas Linux started out only on x86, but was soon ported to Alpha (full 64-bit?in 1994!). And from there to others?ARM, PowerPC, MIPS, whatever you want. And today it supports something like two dozen major hardware architectures.

Which shows you how much more flexible and adaptable Free code is.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Desktop Windows has business by the short and curlies.

The server and networking area sees Linux in a very healthy state and growing, often to the detriment of Win server packages.

Medium and large business have enough in the way of Unix devs who make the transition to Linux quite easily. The up front cost isn’t all that much in comparison to Win server and ongoing costs are considerably less. Hardening Linux for networks and the Internet in an order of magnitude easier than it is for Windows servers. (And no, nothing is perfect before someone weighs in with how many Linux servers they know that have been cracked.)

Universities still teach Unix/Linux skills in degree programs as well as Windows. IN that sense there’s no shortage of devs available either.

Sure if you’re a small dev you may decide to use MS tools to program and most do. Then again, you may for Linux as well given how many resources are out there so that, as a small dev, you’re not always reinventing the wheel because someone has locked it down.

Linux’s two main desktops are familiar enough to Win users to make the learning curve much shallower than it used to be, too.

Inertia is a wonderful thing which is largely, at this point, most of the reason for MS’s 94% control of the desktop market. And good on ’em too.

Where MS isn’t already entrenched, places like gadgets, smart phones and other devices MS isn’t doing all that well by it’s own standards or by many others.

Finally, like most monopolists, Microsoft will be the author of it’s own downfall and, like Microsoft, we’ll have no idea who will knock them off till it happens. Certainly no one on the radar now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Yes, Linux is up to 1%

Linux has always been something of a pipe dream, and I say that as a devoted Linux user. Much more interesting is the increase in Mac users. And even more interesting is the increase in mobile OS users. Microsoft is losing the mobile market, and their new WP7 doesn’t look like it’ll change that, at least not soon. That could be the nail in their coffin.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Yes, Linux is up to 1%

Believe me, if people actually had the choice of OS they used at work and they weren’t given a free copy of Windows with their new PCs, that number would be much higher. I wonder where you got that 1% figure from, btw – it’s not mentioned in the linked article, and certainly doesn’t take server installations into account.

It’s also funny how most detractors of open source tend to focus solely on recorded Linux desktop installs – for which there are no solid figures, and estimates are always going to be on the low side – and ignore the rest of the market. I’m not saying they’re anywhere near the level of Windows installs, but it’s a larger picture than just “# of Linux desktops vs. # of Windows desktops”.

Alatar says:

Re: Re: Yes, Linux is up to 1%

“Believe me, if people actually had the choice of OS they used at work and they weren’t given a free copy of Windows with their new PCs”.

Believe me, you don’t get a free Windows copy with each PC, actually an estimate 20% og the retail price of each PC is made of Windows and other force-sold software (“with that PC, you get a 15 month McAfee licence”). There is no way to have the price reduced and the PC come without a Win license, even if you already own 4 licenses and/or your university has MSDNAA agreements and gives you free licenses (both my case).

Before Microsoft fanboys accuse me of “wanting Linux preinstalled on all PCs”, I have to make it clear that all I want is to have PCs sold for a lower price with a non-activated preinstalled Windows 7/8/whatever is to come, and sell the product key separately for a fee. That wouldn’t make it harder for non-tech-aware consumers, but make more room for choice and free competition

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re: Yes, Linux is up to 1%

“There is no way to have the price reduced and the PC come without a Win license, even if you already own 4 licenses and/or your university has MSDNAA agreements and gives you free licenses (both my case).”

Do you work for a RESEARCH institution? Do some.

You can currently find NoOS or Linux based Desktop solutions via Dell, HP, TigerDirect, NewEgg….

The estimated 20% is bull. Try more like $10-20/unit depending on the OEM contract, which is locked down with an airtight non-disclosure agreement (it’s only ever been leaked unintentionally, but it has been leaked), and what do you know you can find Linux boxen for 20 bucks off the Windows price if you know how to shop.

Are you guys a public school locked into some kind of govmt purchasing scheme? I bet there’s an HP or Dell salesman out there waiting for your call.

Richard Kulawiec says:

Re: Re: Yes, Linux is up to 1%

“It’s also funny how most detractors of open source tend to focus solely on recorded Linux desktop installs.”

Interesting point. I own quite a few laptops, desktops and servers. With the exception of those with Sparc processors, every single other system has or had a Windows license associated with it when purchased. None of them have ever run Windows, but I’m willing to bet that somewhere in the statistics they’ve all been dutifully recorded as Windows system deployments. And none of them have been recorded as Linux desktop installs, including the ones that actually are, because I’ve disabled that.

The same is true of quite a few other people that I know, and the same is true of quite a few places I’ve worked at or consulted to. There are huge numbers of systems out there that might have had Windows installed at some point, but they don’t now and they’re very unlikely to again.

Anonymous Coward says:

My partners and I give Microsoft about 2 years before it crashes and burns.
Case in Point: Microsoft Share price on 10/09/10 is $26.96
Red Hat Share Price ..on 10/09/10 is $42.95

Money talks. Reality bites.
When the game developers write some games for Linux I will gladly move. But I like to play games. Otherwise I find no difference and actually Linux is easier to maintain. Free Open Office and all the software you could imagine except games.

Headbhang says:

Re: Re:

Not me. I would choose Windows any day over Linux and that is not out of lack familiarity or knowledge of the latter. Linux is arguably superior in the server segment and it really isn’t that bad for desktops, but you are deluded if you think it has what it takes to be a serious challenger to Windows’ consumer/business supremacy with the mess it has in terms of multiple distros. Most people want simplicity, and that’s what Windows offers them.

Jason says:

Re: Re: Re:

Multiple distros is a BS argument. Linux doesn’t exist in multiple distros. Multiple distros use Linux.

If someone has even the vaguest grasp of how to use Google, then they can quickly find a shortlist of about 2-3 distros that would work best for them. If they can’t, then they are not having an easier time with Windows.

chris (profile) says:

coming back to windows

my servers run linux exclusively, and i usually dualboot my laptop between windows and linux (some wifi auth pages only work with I.E. plus a lot of mobile tethering apps are windows only) and keep windows on my gaming rig.

as i get deeper into hacking and reverse engineering, a lot of the reversing tools and documentation are windows only. i have always kept a development machine around, be it for school or other projects, and i have always dual booted it. in the last couple of years i have found myself booting it into windows more and more.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

i gotta say:
the ONLY reason i have windows at this point is three fold.
1. its required for my job and there is no way around that.
2. because of my job, i must have a working knowledge of all consumer based windows OSs from XP home and up. the only real way to know the OS as well as i am required, is to use it.
3. some of my games will not run in WINE… but that is making strides and has come a long way so im sure that given another year most things will run quite well that way.

i thank you microsoft for your excellence in keeping me gainfully employed for the last 10 years by releasing pretty crappy operating systems…

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Me too!

It’s a great OS to keep me employed when I see a trouble ticket from a residence or small business that says “can’t access the internet” and I smile and off I go.

As for your third point, I’d give it that long too. A year or two longer for the port of DirectX (all done in a clean room, of course!)

searching Port DirectX +wine... (user link) says:

Re: Re:

interesting. evangelize rabid youth. reminiscent of macs k-12 strategy.

sometimes i wonder why ms doesn’t force all apps to go thru their appstore/marketplace/whatever like a repository.
ms could enforce permissions, ‘certificates’, path install rules, etc.
but ms would have to host the downloads. i don’t know if hosting only a torrent and tracker would save b/w and if it might open a bigger kettle/barrel/box of worms/monkeys/pandora. (bulletproof checksums..)

SLK8ne says:

Yes, but...

I’ve used Linux and Windows both. While I’m using Windows now, I’m thinking of going back to Linux. I’m a graphic artist and I’ve come to realize most of the programs I use are open source.

The reason people keep buying Micro$oft products is because of the manufactures agreements that pretty well force it upon the buyer.(as has already been stated.)Linux is not available at the majority of retail stores. Out of sight, out of mind.

As far as open source software being “crappy” and not “as polished” as their commercial counterparts, I suppose that’s true. But, with the price of software being unreal, and the economy being down, open source looks better and better. But, I’ve had FAR more crashes of both apps and OSs on Windows than I ever had when I was running Linux!

Further, I’d argue that open source software is not worse than commercial software, it’s just formatted different. Gimp is a good example. Once you get used to the interface it works fine. For myself, I’ll take Gimp over Photoshop any day of the week. I have Elements 3 on my Win machine and the brush docks are a PITA. And I’ve tried Corel Painter and Manga Studio and find myself going to MyPaint all the time. Further, put flatly, with the right plugins Gimp can do 95% of what Photoshop does. (Including using Photoshop plugins and patterns)

And as for functionality, consider Adobe Flash…that costs the price of a used car, and has a very, very, steep learning curve. Are you gaining anything by using that commercial software? Especially if all you need is a simple animation for a website and can make it in Pencil or Synfig? Or a half dozen other free programs.

As far as using Linux, I used it for years, did no scripting, and was happy with it. I used Mepis off and it came with a book (in English, not leet) and a DVD on how to use it. Cost me $20 US and was worth every penny. In fact the only reason I switched was because I connect to the internet with an air card, and haven’t found a way of doing that in Linux…yet. If I do, I’ll kiss Windows goodbye, and good riddance.

Richard Kulawiec says:

You’ve mistakenly assumed that I’ve made this choice for what you call “religious reasons”. That’s complete nonsense that you’ve fabricated out of your own bias and preconceptions, of course: I’ve made this choice for (a) security (b) performance (c) reliability (d) flexibility and (e) cost.

For example: I don’t purchase or maintain or deploy anti-virus software. That impacts (a) (b) and (e), all in highly positive ways. For example, I’m not locked into proprietary data/document formats, which impacts (d) and (e). For example, I can use hardware much longer because I can extract more performance from it, which impacts (b) (c)(d) and (e). [I have a couple of DNS servers running on 1995 Sun Sparc systems, using OpenBSD and BIND. They were last rebooted in 2006. Just one tiny example of many.] For example, go read bugtraq and/or full-disclosure and work out how many notices I can safely ignore. THAT alone is a huge cost savings, not to mention a major reduction in attack surface.

My software budget is $0 — although I make contributions to various projects out of my own pocket, because I think I should. My hardware budget is sizable, but much less than it would be if I used Microsoft products, because I can keep re-using older stuff until it finally breaks for the last time. This also allows me to save in a major way on warranties: I almost never extend them beyond the initial period because by then the price of the warranty exceeds the used price of a replica system — so it’s cheaper and easier to just buy one. My security budget is also substantial, but again, less than it would be: no Microsoft, no Adobe, no (fill in the blank) to worry about.

As to making the users dependent on me, that’s another fabrication on your part. Having the users
dependent on me or any one else is that very last thing that I want. I want them to have as much self-sufficiency as possible (just as I want the same for myself) and that can’t happen if they’re stuck forever using proprietary, closed-source, high-cost, restrictively-licensed software. That model makes people slaves to Word and PowerPoint and PhotoShop and Acrobat — which is of course precisely why it exists, because it’s tremendously lucrative. I’ve chosen a model that makes the computing environment flexible: for example, if Oracle continues on its post-Sun-acquisition path of being jerks about Solaris, then I can and will migrate away from it. (With some regret, as I’ve been using Sun products since there’s been a Sun. But I’ll still do it.)

Besides, there are plenty of other people besides me who understand the intrinsic superiority of open source, open standards, open protocols, open APIs, etc. Not that I don’t add some value thanks to very long experience, but I’m hardly irreplaceable. And I keep meeting increasing numbers of undergrads/grad students/etc. who have broad and deep experience across open source software, so my guess is that this kind of expertise is steadily increasing.

This kind of computing environment isn’t for everyone: it takes intelligence, continuous self-education, diligence, creativity and other qualities to pull off. But it works beautifully, it provides superior performance at lower cost, and probably most importantly, it provides the best chance at a secure environment. (Note carefully: I didn’t say it guarantees a secure environment. Nothing does.)

oldguy52 (profile) says:

Repairing PC's gives Windows license headaches too

Often enough I run into a tricked out PCs that have no key sticker and therefore no real license. They are likely former server installations of Windows on old office computers. They are purchased in bulk by refurbishers then end up being sold for a hundred bucks or so at second-hand computer dealers to people who might otherwise have difficulty affording the price of a new machine.

I pride myself at keeping the OEM machines out the landfill because they are still very operable and I only see them in my shop because they have caught a non-repairable virus or had a hard drive failure.

Still, I get quite a few on the shelf of my garage on which I cannot install an XP license. I won’t sell a machine with a hacked windows because they only blackscreen later or if automatic updates are turned off (to prevent blackscreening) they will certainly catch a virus in short order.

They are not worth the price of a new copy of XP but still too good to throw out. I can’t blame Microsoft for enforcing the licensing of their software but it’s also a shame to waste good machinery; and I’m becoming quite a packrat.

darryl says:

And yet they still avoid OSS like the plague !!. and BUY MS products..

Except reality does not bear out your claims Mike.

People will choose pirated software over free software every time, or in the majority of cases.

It has been that way for the last 20 years, find out..

Open Source is free, and it was always claimed that being free it was going to be the Microsoft “killer”.

Never Happened !!!!.. never will.

This is where you’re ‘infinite goods’ idea fails, it does not work in reality.

Even if something is free, and infinitely available, it does not mean it will be a success. Even when the only alternative are NOT free.

Open Source Model is not progressing, in fact its going backwards. (less usage, not more).
And its failed to expand, even after its length of time in the market.

The reason, its not good enough, people will AND DO happily pay good money for good products.

Its the way things work, its how its always worked, and Mike, none of your ‘new’ models, or whinning about copyright is going to change that.

You’re waisting your time..

If you dont think you are, tell us how well you are going so far, what have you succeeded in achieving in way of patent, or copyright reform ?

Diddly Squat I would say.. how about you ??? 🙂

Do you feel you’re life is waisted ??

Transbot9 (user link) says:

Meh, I like my windows...

I like 7, and I liked Vista. I know how to blugeon it into submission in order to make it work for me. Win 7 is a major example of Microsoft paying attention to the consumer base. Each iteration of IE is closer and closer to web standards (most complaints about what it won’t support are standards that have not been finalized at the release of the current version or are not actually adopted standards -yet).

That being said, there are downsides – but over all Microsoft has been working on improving.

GIMP, while good, is not Photoshop CS5(and btw – Pattern Maker is still avalable as an optional download for CS5). I’ve tried it, and GIMP is on par with $100-ish graphics solutions, which can suit most people just fine.

Blender is no where near on par yet with any mid-to-high end 3D program. It is getting better, though. I’d be more willing to learn it, though, if the program was more intuitive instead of relying on on memorizing shortcuts. Not everybody who needs to use 3D uses it on a consistant basis.

Now, the big thing that you get with a paid operating system is that Microsoft and Apple pay out licensing fees for various common codecs that are locked under patents. If you are using MP3s on Linux, for instance, there’s a decent chance you’re infringing. That’s a good argument for why patent law is messed up.

And for those who think I’m just hating on Open Source, I want you to know that I like Open Source. I use Joomla to run Second Pulsar, and it’s as open source as you can get. I just choose to use Open source for some applications, and choose paid options for other applications. There is room for both.

Oh, and if you’re a student, the best way to get Microsoft products is directly through them at a crazy high discount.

FreeBooteR says:

I use Archlinux exlclusively

Dumped Windows a few years ago. First move to GNU/Linux after discovering Ubuntu’s Feisty Fawn, then discovered i hadn’t run Windows in many months afterwords. Reformatted my hardrive and used Ubuntu exclusively until December last year when i decided to move to Archlinux. Finally i am home!

As for gaming i do on GNU/Linux:

Amnesia the Dark decent
Penumbra series
Eschelon book 1,2
Neverwinter Nights
World of Goo
Regnum Online
Doom3 – Also Darkmod (a total conversion, lots of fanmods available now for it).
Revenge of the Titans (not released yet but free demo available)
Heroes of Newerth
Clonk Rage
Minecraft – my new addiction
Shadowgrounds & Shadowground – Survivor
Various KDE games
…I could go on for a while but you get the point.

Games i run through Wine:
Guild Wars
World of Warcraft
Lord of the Rings Online
Eve Online

Gaming was no excuse to keep Windows around for me.

SLK8ne says:

And yet they still avoid OSS like the plague...and Meh, I like my windows...

“The reason, its not good enough, people will AND DO happily pay good money for good products.”
Um…excuse me but, how many viruses have you had to remove from Windows computers? I’m also a tech, and the number of “backdoors” and security holes in all versions of Windows is pathetic.

“Blender is no where near on par yet with any mid-to-high end 3D program.”
Um…excuse me again?

Both of these movies were made entirely with open source software. Say what you want, but, having watched them, they are Pixar, Dreamworks quality animations.

Gopesh Kapoor (profile) says:

Dear Microsoft

Dear Microsoft:

My name is Gopesh Kapoor, and I own a small computer repair and sales business in Manhattan.

My concern is that each month, business in my sector continuallly diminishes. The amount of piracy in NYC has grown to astonishing levels. For example, the following ads were placed on craigslist in a PERIOD OF 20 MINUTES:

Every single day, more and more “software” vendors turn up, and more disturbingly, an even larger number of people turn up to buy from them. For those of us who run legitimate businesses, this is becoming an increasing concern.

According to a recent NY Times article, Microsoft has spent a ton of money setting up an anti-piracy operation with staff members that include former government intelligence officers, former district attorneys, etc.

This anti-piracy operation IS NOT DOING THEIR JOB. If they were, the levels of piracy would be DECREASING, not INCREASING on a daily basis.

The costs of this anti-piracy operation is probably built into the price of legitimate MICROSOFT products.


FIRE this group of incompetents (they are taking your money and not doing the work you’re paying them to do), and LOWER the price of your products.

Or, please feel free and continue to ignore my suggestions. In order to stay afloat, I’ll start to consider turning to piracy MYSELF.

If you continue to employ the idiots in your anti-piracy division, chances are that I’d be able to make tons of money through piracy of your products and never get caught.

Gopesh Kapoor, CCNA, CISSP

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