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mandelbr0t's Journal: Vista Touches Down

Journal by mandelbr0t

So it's Friday (tgif!), and Vista launched on Tuesday. Not surprisingly, the pirates already have it cracked (or so they claim; I've yet to try it out and see if it actually works) and the DRM has been beaten (again, not totally substantiated, but given Microsoft's track record...)

All in all, it didn't seem quite as bad as previous ones. There's still the zealots (me included), the fanbois and the trolls. Thankfully, most of the discussion seemed to centre around features as opposed to the political mudslinging that's highlighted most of the other big-PR events that Microsoft has pushed.

Vista is here. It's not the mystical uberOS that Microsoft wanted you to believe it was. In fact, it's pretty mundane. I expect I'll have to use it eventually, and it might even be pleasant. I still don't need Microsoft products, nor does the Enterprise. Despite highly-paid professionals telling me I "don't get" the Enterprise environment, the sad truth is I probably know it better than them. The fun part about being a consultant is that you're usually in way over your head. All you need to do is listen and you can learn a hell of a lot in just a couple weeks.

That being said, it's unlikely I will change the minds of those buying Microsoft on large scales today. An Enterprise Microsoft deployment truly is a sight to behold, but there's absolutely no reason it couldn't have been Unix. Microsoft is wasteful, both of computing resources and of time and money. Microsoft encourages its users to be belligerent and stupid, because then it's harder to convince large IT departments to make the switch due to unforeseen "training" costs. Here's a thought: take the training or go find a company that'll put up with your Microsoft crap. It's not like that's any more draconian than the current Microsoftie leadership.

But hey, that's just what I think after nearly 25 years of computing experience. I still remember when disk space was measured in MB, processor speed in Mhz and memory in KB. I don't think that I'm some kind of intellectual elitist, but since that's the current smear campaign, I might as well play one on Slashdot. On the other hand, I'm certainly qualified to challenge even the most sanctimonious of consultants.

My reason for taking such a confrontational approach has changed, however. I jumped on the early Linux bandwagon and was guilty of blind zealotry for many years. However, it's no longer blind. What I push for now is a heterogenous computing environment. I push for enforcement of the laws that prevent Microsoft from becoming the only solution. I don't worry about Linux ever "dying", but it'd nice to be considered along side the average end-user in terms of my needs being considered. It's like software companies think something like "Linux is for evil hackers, so they can figure it out for themselves." To an extent that's true (except the evil part), but sometimes I, too, want stuff to just work.

Linux has "figured it out" pretty much all the way. We are left with only one obstacle the constant bickering about concepts like "Intellectual Property" and "Software Patents", and even the more mundane ones like "vendor lock-in". The truth is that Linux has evolved to the point where it requires no further effort on the part of an ISV to support it. WINE works extremely well with many desktop applications. If you were to write a new application, WINE provides winelib to allow you to compile your Windows application on Linux. That's it. Just use the winelib API and it is instantly compatible with Windows and Linux.

Same thing goes for Cedega: DirectX 9 is nearly fully implemented. Development shops (such as Blizzard) that work closely with TransGaming) can make games that work extremely well on Linux without any extra work. All that is required is to design the application for Linux support from the beginning.

The problem isn't Microsoft making things difficult for us. The problem is people other than Microsoft making things difficult for us. As a recent example, Neverwinter Nights 2 was released by Atari recently. The original, by BioWare had a Linux client released (and a darned good one at that!). Atari decided they didn't want to spend the money to release a Linux client for the sequel (OK, that seems dumb. How many of the original NWN players used the Linux client?). Further, they wouldn't even take the zero-cost approach of simply designing the game to be compatible with the Cedega API. Why are they deliberately locking out Linux users? Simple: Linux is considered "competition", so Microsoft pays Atari an exclusive deal to ensure their product won't work with Linux.

This is all well and good. However, this exclusive deal perpetuates the very negative conflict between Microsoft and Linux users. I can't believe that society at large stands idly by while Microsoft spends billions of dollars to smear, bully, steal, etc. from a small segment of the population who are largely responsible for literally billions of man-hours of unpaid research, development and support of the largest OSS project on the planet. These people are to be commended for their efforts, not competed with like some gigantic multi-national conglomerate with unlimited cash at their disposal. Why should a hacker who lives in a basement with a rack full of servers be required to play hardball with the largest software company on the planet? Because people let Microsoft tell them that there's only one future: the one where Microsoft is the only OS in existence.

Ridiculous. I've spent a large part of 15 years of my life doing private research, writing documentation and code, mostly for free. I never complained about not being paid until it was decided that I was "competition" and I couldn't get paid to do anything but code for The (Windows) Man. Leaving the industry wasn't even an option. It was torture. I've also spent a large part of 10 years of my life using Windows. It's gotten better, but I as a citizen have a right to boycott any company I want if I believe their business practices are unethical. I buy plenty of software; I just don't buy it from Microsoft because I don't use it. There are laws preventing Microsoft from engaging in anti-competitive behaviour, and if I can't continue to use Linux in a reasonable fashion, then those laws clearly need to be enforced. That decision was made over 10 years ago, and it is only American corporate corruption and greed that has prevented it from being enforced.

So yes, Vista has touched down. I'm putting it out of my mind, and I'm avoiding the flamebait and trolls until the hoopla has settled. Microsoft is still evil -- and I'll still keep saying it, but I'm taking a short break from the anger, elitism, snobbery and general malaise that fighting with Microsoft retards always involves. Technology will triumph over Greed. Freedom will triumph over Tyranny.

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Vista Touches Down

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It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead

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