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Comment Re: What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 271 271

You're not technically forced to upgrade, but I think many people would consider ceasing to provide effective security updates as the end of an operating system's general useful lifecycle if it's running on a networked computer.

Most Linux distributions don't provide long-term support, even for security fixes, for very long. As one of the better examples, long-term support for Debian Squeeze -- a stable release of a major Linux distro widely deployed on servers -- is scheduled to end in February 2016. Debian Squeeze was released in February 2011, making that a respectable 5 year window (certainly better than a lot of other platforms).

However, that is far short of the extended support period of more than a decade that Microsoft has committed to for Windows 7 (around 9 years if you consider that they do require SP1, which was released about 16 months after the original, but which didn't add the kind of monkey business we've been seeing with various "upgrades" to software in recent years).

You don't have to upgrade OS X either, but last year when Apple declined to issue a security patch for OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) less than five years after it launched and when it was still reportedly in use by around 20% of people on OS X, they also put an upper bound on their viable support lifetime under 5 years.

Comment Re:Startup management subsystem (Score 1) 234 234

If Poettering uses the same communication methods as everyone else for managing his highly used open source project, then systemd is doing this because it can only get ahead without feedback.

If, OTOH, Poettering goes so far as to organize a public conference on his project, then his project is "doing too much".

Did you ever think, perhaps, that the conference is a way to get commentary and feedback on a project that's thus far been fairly controversial (largely for ridiculous reasons by people who think sysv init is a good idea?)

Comment Re:Win10 is worse than Win8 (Score 1) 397 397

Good for you... most people have accepted them in return for free stuff.

Yeah, but Windows isn't free unless you're a member of their beta testing program. Windows 10 is a "free" upgrade, but that means you don't have to pay an additional fee for the update from your current version, not that you don't have to buy Windows to begin with.

I don't want any functionality that was present in Windows 7 to be ad-burdened in 10, even if it is just Freecell.


I think a better complaint would have been that this seems to be mostly a misrepresentation of what Microsoft is doing, not that "most people don't care" (so we shouldn't?)

Comment We have no idea what "superintelligent" means. (Score 2) 206 206

When faced with a tricky question, one think you have to ask yourself is 'Does this question actually make any sense?' For example you could ask "Can anything get colder than absolute zero?" and the simplistic answer is "no"; but it might be better to say the question itself makes no sense, like asking "What is north of the North Pole"?

I think when we're talking about "superintelligence" it's a linguistic construct that sounds to us like it makes sense, but I don't think we have any precise idea of what we're talking about. What *exactly* do we mean when we say "superintelligent computer" -- if computers today are not already there? After all, they already work on bigger problems than we can. But as Geist notes there are diminishing returns on many problems which are inherently intractable; so there is no physical possibility of "God-like intelligence" as a result of simply making computers merely bigger and faster. In any case it's hard to conjure an existential threat out of computers that can, say, determine that two very large regular expressions match exactly the same input.

Someone who has an IQ of 150 is not 1.5x times as smart as an average person with an IQ of 100. General intelligence doesn't work that way. In fact I think IQ is a pretty unreliable way to rank people by "smartness" when you're well away from the mean -- say over 160 (i.e. four standard deviations) or so. Yes you can rank people in that range by *score*, but that ranking is meaningless. And without a meaningful way to rank two set members by some property, it makes no sense to talk about "increasing" that property.

We can imagine building an AI which is intelligent in the same way people are. Let's say it has an IQ of 100. We fiddle with it and the IQ goes up to 160. That's a clear success, so we fiddle with it some more and the IQ score goes up to 200. That's a more dubious result. Beyond that we make changes, but since we're talking about a machine built to handle questions that are beyond our grasp, we don't know whether we're making actually the machine smarter or just messing it up. This is still true if we leave the changes up to the computer itself.

So the whole issue is just "begging the question"; it's badly framed because we don't know what "God-like" or "super-" intelligence *is*. Here's I think a better framing: will we become dependent upon systems whose complexity has grown to the point where we can neither understand nor control them in any meaningful way? I think this describes the concerns about "superintelligent" computers without recourse to words we don't know the meaning of. And I think it's a real concern. In a sense we've been here before as a species. Empires need information processing to function, so before computers humanity developed bureaucracies, which are a kind of human operated information processing machine. And eventually the administration of a large empire have always lost coherence, leading to the empire falling apart. The only difference is that a complex AI system could continue to run well after human society collapsed.

Comment Re:BitLocker is Ultimate-only and Ultimate is gone (Score 1) 271 271

Sorry, I don't know anything about BitLocker. But if we're talking about getting Windows 7 with a new PC, I think it's fair to say that's a relatively minor limitation compared to everything you'd get stuck with moving up to 8/8.1/10, and you can still get Win 7 Enterprise on your new PC if it's an absolute must-have for your particular needs.

Comment Re:End of preinstalled Windows 7: October 2014 (Score 1) 271 271

From your own source:

Windows 7 Professional ... Not yet established **

** Microsoft will provide one year of notice prior to the end of sale date.

The consumer Win 7 Home line isn't generally shipped preinstalled any more, but the Win 7 Pro line used by power users, small businesses and the like is still available in the normal way, with many suppliers offering it if you ask.

Comment Re:What you can pay for instead... (Score 1) 271 271

We can only hope. For a long time, Microsoft has been the business you turned to when you wanted to get stuff done. They were notable for not having the effectively enforced upgrade cycles of Apple, Google, and most of the major Linux distributions, and instead provided systems you could count on using, with support for essential bug/security fixes, for periods measured in years or decades, not months if you were lucky. I want that Microsoft back, and they would surely get more money from me and my companies than the Microsoft we have today is going to.

The cost of feathers has risen, even down is up!