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MS-Evil empire or misunderstood gentle giant?

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January 7, 2013 9:51:10 AM

I'm sorry about having high-jacked another thread but I want to try and explain my position.

I live in the DR Congo. When I speak of the poverty here it is from experience. The fastest way out of poverty, no matter where you are in the world, is education. Information is crucial to an education. Computers have become crucial to information. If A=B and B=C then A=C. Computers have become crucial to get out of poverty and trust me, there's a lot of poverty here.

So, having established that computers are not a luxury but a necessary tool in today's world unless you want to stay in poverty, what is my beef with Microsoft and Bill Gates? We have heard that MS requires manufacturers to pay for a licence for each computer even if Windows is never used on that computer. Remember when Vista came out and you had to pay extra if you'd rather have XP? Why? Because you were paying the cost of 2 Windows licences. These licences add to the cost of a computer and the higher the price the fewer that can afford them. Yes, it even affects used computers as the price of them is partly based on the price of a replacement one. It's not enough that the alternatives exist but that the price goes down when you opt for the alternative. By not allowing manufacturers to sell OS free systems without paying for a licence the price will always reflect the cost of a windows licence and to me that is predatory, immoral and should be illegal.

Another cost problem. When you want to activate a new install of Windows you call their 800 number and wait. For you it's a pain in the butt. Imagine if you have an $80/month salary and were paying $0.50 per minute to listen to a recording thanking you for your patience and a rep will be with you in 23 minutes because there is no 800 number here. Again, additional costs restricting use of an essential tool.

No, Microsoft does not have sweatshops writing their code for them but they have contributed to the myriad of obstacles facing the people here. Yes, I understand that there are larger issues, but that is no excuse to ignore this one. Another analogy. Suppose a rich drug company were to develop a medicine for river blindness, a disease carried by black flies found near rivers that causes blindness. That company could charge an arm and a leg for it, eyesight is high on most people's list of priorities and they'd pay. But if they did that then only rich people could be cured and the poor would go blind. There is a moral imperative here. I use this example because Merck pharmaceuticals did create such a drug and it produces and donates it to the WHO to distribute for free. Yes, there is a slight drop in profits for them but a clean conscious not to mention some goodwill. Microsoft could have done something similar but they were intent on making billionaires more billions no matter the costs to their humanity.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I admit, I do a lot of pick and choosing from various religious teachings for a moral foundation. Like it or not religions the world over determined what is right and wrong and to study them is to study a history of humanity. Most of us have heard the line "do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing". Here is the full line, it's from Matthew 6 of the Bible.

Quote:
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.


So my problem is when rich people want a pat on the back for giving up some of their wealth. In this case the donor's actions contribute to the very problem they are addressing with their charity. Like I said before, A drug dealer that donates to a soup kitchen is not a humanitarian but rather a hypocrite. If the drug dealer names the soup kitchen after himself then he is a world class ass in my view.

I don't encourage people to abandon windows for Linux here out of a moral imperative, although I could, I do it because I've yet to meet someone who uses their computer for gaming and it is much easier to maintain a Linux system and the software available is great, especially when you don't have access to credit cards. Another huge plus for Linux is most people are not connected to the internet and viruses are everywhere here as a result of out of date virus definitions. Rare is the flash without a virus on it here. I still download combofix and virus definitions for Avast and Malwarebytes weekly for those that cling to windows but I've yet to be asked to uninstall Ubuntu.

End of rant.



January 7, 2013 10:31:47 AM

Get over it. Microsoft are a software company. If people don't like their OS they can use free ones.

Another stupid question - Ferrari: evil empire or misuderstood giant. I can't afford their cars.
January 7, 2013 10:51:38 AM

Ijack said:
Get over it. Microsoft are a software company. If people don't like their OS they can use free ones.

Another stupid question - Ferrari: evil empire or misuderstood giant. I can't afford their cars.


If I have to pay an extra $500 for a Ford to build and maintain roads so that people with Ferraris can drive 200kms/hour then yes, evil. As it is the price of a Ford isn't affected by the price of a Ferrari. The price of my laptop, which has never run Windows, was affected MS.
January 7, 2013 11:17:48 AM

"The price of my laptop, which has never run Windows, was affected MS."

No it wasn't. The decision to pre-install Windows on your laptop was made by the laptop manufacturer, not Microsoft. Contrary to what you state, Microsoft do not have the ability to dictate to manufacturers; that would be illegal and would soon be stamped on. Microsoft OEM licences are non-exclusive; the fact is that most manufacturers find it easier to sell computers with Windows pre-installed. That is what comsumers want and it gives them far fewer support headaches than supporting a variety of Operating Systems. Very few people want to buy computers with no OS installed, but it's very easy to do so with a little effort.

The decision to buy a laptop with Windows pre-installed was yours, not Microsoft's, not the manufacturer's. If you don't like the manufacturer's policy of not offering computers without an OS installed then buy elsewhere. And if you can't find any to buy then I can see a huge business opportunity - do something about it and assemble your own PCs. Don't ask the rest of the world to hand you everything on a plate. I haven't bought a computer with an OS installed for as long as I can remember - and I've bought quite a few computers over the years. (Correction - I bought a Mac Mini recently. You know what - you can't purchase those without an OS installed. Apple will even try to tell you that it's illegal to use anything but Apple hardware with their OS. If you want to rail against restrictive practices there is a far easier target.)

I agree with you about the activation; it can be a pain if you don't have an Internet connection. But Microsoft do offer toll-free numbers everywhere that I am aware of. You say they don't do this in the DR Congo; that may be a limitation of telecommunications there. I can't imagine why Microsoft would have toll-free numbers in the US and UK but not in the DR Congo if it were possible. The problem that Microsoft have to deal with is that their software is heavily pirated, particularly in the third world. Hence all the activation hassle.

If you wan't to tilt against windmills then choose the right targets. As I said, Microsoft is just a software company. They do not, and can not, dictate what computer manufacturers offer. I appreciate your love of Linux. Most of us posting in the forum are admirers and users of Linux or other free OSs (some even better than Linux IMO). But irrational advocacy of Linux, painting other software vendors as evil, is part of the reason that the general public are put off it. They see it as something of value only to Microsoft-hating geeks. And, as most people actually rather like Windows, they end up thinking "this Linux malarky is not for the likes of me". So, if you really feel strongly, start a little company assembling cheap PCs for the DR Congo with Ubuntu installed. You can do it for free as a charity, or you could make a little profit for yourself out of the venture. But don't try to find imaginary targets to blame for all the ills of the world. It is inaction by people such as you or me that propagates these ills not the actions of some "evil empire".

In short, to repeat myself, Microsoft is a software publisher (and a little bit of hardware) - nothing more, nothing less.

January 7, 2013 12:04:31 PM

Sorry, no time to research, genny shutting down. Check and see if MS doesn't require their "partners" as part of their contract to pay a fee for each computer, regardless of installed or not. I'll check tomorrow if I get electricity.
January 7, 2013 1:24:45 PM

You'll be lucky to find reliable information on Microsoft's deals with manufacturers, apart from their public pronouncement that they are non-exclusive, as I am sure they are covered by NDAs. You will, of course, find plenty of unreliable information and downright lies. Didn't you do the research before posting it here as "fact"?

In any case, it's irrelevant. The simple fact is that a number of manufacturers supply computers without a pre-installed OS; and it's not exactly difficult to put together your own machine. People see Linux as being for geeks, an impression that is reinforced by threads such as this.

The fact that most computers are supplied with Windows installed is - like most business decisions - a simple matter of supply and demand. Most people want a computer with a pre-installed OS, and Windows is the overwhelmingly popular choice.
January 7, 2013 4:27:26 PM

Short answer, Google Microsoft OEM antitrust and see if you don't find a reputable source to your liking. I'd love to build my own box but in the third world we don't always have such good options. A motherboard alone would cost me $150 in shipping. If you re- read what I wrote its the hypocracy that peeves me off. I still fix windows boxes, I champion open source and I fight against pirating.
January 7, 2013 4:52:12 PM

...and yet, despite this apparent monopoly by Microsoft, I have no problem buying PCs without an OS installed.

Something wrong somewhere.
January 7, 2013 9:42:34 PM

Ijack said:
...and yet, despite this apparent monopoly by Microsoft, I have no problem buying PCs without an OS installed.

Something wrong somewhere.


This is where our disconnect is. You can, I can't. The only shipper to here is DHL which starts at $120 for the first 500 grams. I either wait for someone coming from the US willing to hand carry one or buy from importers which means Dell, Asus Acer Toshiba or HP. Or a pirated knockoff.
January 8, 2013 5:19:21 AM

Rail against the manufacturers who don't ship such machines to the DR Congo by all means, but don't attack an imaginary target with dubious "facts". It is not Microsoft's fault that manufacturers offer OS-free computers in the UK but not in the DR Congo.

Enough of this nonense. I have better things to do than reinforce people's perception of Linux advocates as Microsoft-hating nutters.
January 8, 2013 7:21:50 AM

Unfortunately, from your point of view, that document has no relevance to your accusation that Microsoft somehow force manufacturers to supply Windows with new PCs. An accusation that is demonstrably false.

Enough; find another soap-box.

P.S. You are aware, I take it, that Judge Jackson's findings were overturned on appeal. Did you not think that information was relevant?
January 8, 2013 10:00:59 AM

Ijack said:
Unfortunately, from your point of view, that document has no relevance to your accusation that Microsoft somehow force manufacturers to supply Windows with new PCs. An accusation that is demonstrably false.

Enough; find another soap-box.

P.S. You are aware, I take it, that Judge Jackson's findings were overturned on appeal. Did you not think that information was relevant?



Lest others miss it, his findings that Microsoft was in violation of anti-trust laws were not overturned, only the penalty he'd imposed.

Clearly, I am anti-microsoft business practices and you are not. So be it. But you should not use words like "demonstrably false" unless they are accurate. MS was found guilty of violating anti-trust laws. In the findings of the court the judge described their activities as designed to prevent competing software and OS development. Netscape and Java were specifically cited as targets in the findings because they were cross platform and would facilitate other cross platform development which would encourage people to try other OS's. Some of their methods have changed in part because of the EU.

MS has been accused by many of making manufacturers play ball and not offer for install other or no systems. I concede that because of anti-disclosure clauses we may never know the truth, either way, ie you can't demonstrate that they are false either. Yet, can you tell me why would a manufacturer use 4 primary partitions for the OEM installed Windows? It is not necessary and makes installing another system difficult. Impossible for the faint of heart like most users. Why would Vista put immovable files at both ends of a partition preventing a simple creation of a new partition where a second OS could be placed? This new boot loader of windows 8, why? It took legitimate hackers what, 10 minutes to get around? Yet it again puts another roadblock to installing side by side another system and the virus hackers probably had the workaround in 5 minutes. Where there's smoke better look for the fire.

MS has a defacto monopoly. Manufacturers have to keep them happy or risk lost revenues. Now that MS is in the hardware business I hope a manufacturer decides to take the chance and move on to a new system. What is more likely is that the EU will go after MS again for anti-trust to determine if their hardware prices include a windows licence.

Windows clearly has it's place in the market and deserves it because of it's innovations. If there is enough room on the hard drive I recommend that people keep their copy of Windows, unless it's Vista because of the impossibility of creating a new partition or a pirated copy because or the risks involved with them and to install Ubuntu side by side. My objection now and from the beginning is the actions MS makes to limit or eliminate competition which has in turn priced many in the third world out of the market and contributed to suppressed development where most needed. Not caused, contributed.
January 8, 2013 10:09:21 AM

"But you should not use words like 'demonstrably false' unless they are accurate."

The accusation that Microsoft prevent computer manufacturers from selling computers without an OS installed is demonstrable false. I bought such a PC less than a month ago; that's a pretty convincing demonstration in my book.
January 8, 2013 4:34:24 PM

Except there is no way of knowing if you paid for a windows license or not unless you built it yourself or was built by a specialty shop.

We're going around in circles, you've stated your case, erroneously I believe and I've stated mine erroneously you believe.
January 8, 2013 5:06:53 PM

They sell the same system with Windows included. It costs the cost of a Windows licence more than the bare system. It is sold by a small UK manufacturer, not a speciality shop. Do you still contend that I paid for a Windows licence?

I know what I bought; I know what I paid for it; I do not pay for things that I do not want. We are going round in circles because you have been brainwashed into believing a mistruth, I'm afraid. Microsoft do not, and could not, force manufacturers to purchase a Windows licence for every computer they sell.

P.s. Here's a link to the PC I bought. Check the prices without OS and with OS. See what you think.

http://www.novatech.co.uk/pc/range/novatechblacknti36.h...
January 8, 2013 6:36:30 PM

You might be interested in this list of vendors who sell laptops and desktops with Linux pre-installed (and no Windows licence fee!). Many of them ship worldwide.

http://linuxpreloaded.com
January 10, 2013 3:33:27 PM

Quote:
MS-Evil empire or misunderstood gentle giant?


LOL you actually did it!

Quote:
I've yet to meet someone who uses their computer for gaming and it is much easier to maintain a Linux system


One right here. There's one or two others in this forum... as for maintenance, I click 'install' when the update bubble appears. Not too difficult. Maybe if you're a network/system admin or something Linux is easier (or maybe it's not), but for an average Joe, Windows is pretty simple. Hit start and begin typing what you want to do.

Ijack said:
Another stupid question - Ferrari: evil empire or misuderstood giant. I can't afford their cars.


:lol: 

stillblue said:
Why would Vista put immovable files at both ends of a partition preventing a simple creation of a new partition where a second OS could be placed?


I skipped Vista so not aware of this - it's not possible for Vista and Linux to co-exist on the same drive?

Despite the fact that both sides are maybe investing a little too much emotionally in the argument, at least we're seeing some well thought-out and well-articulated discussion here. Both sides have argued what appear to be strong and relevant points. It beats your average nVidia vs AMD arguments anyway :-D

The crux of the argument hinges on whether or not Microsoft are forcing manufacturers to charge for licences on blank systems. From a legal perspective, of course they couldn't get away with it. But when this much money is involved (for both Microsoft and manufacturers), maybe business politics play a more important role?

Hope nobody minds me bumping this back to the top (and let's face it - the Linux section is not the most active section on the forums anyway) but some interesting arguments have been made and a useful-looking link posted too. Although I'm not seeing any mention of Congo on the page, several worldwide options.
January 10, 2013 4:02:17 PM

I can testify to the fact that the stament about Vista is not true. I resized the Vista partition on my laptop to dual-boot with Fedora Linux. It's not difficult.

I'm not sure that misrepresenting the truth about Windows is a productive way to promote Linux. I have been using Linux for the best part of 20 years (when the kernel was at level 0.95) but I have never felt the need to knock Microsoft. Both OSs have their place. As have OS X, FreeBSD, Solaris, and a host of others.
January 10, 2013 4:53:46 PM

Yes, give vista a couple of months and it will put immovable files front and back, a quick Google should confirm.At home on phone or I'd d it for you. Requires payable software to move or else no, they can't co-exist. I don't diss the product, just the tactics.
Curiously the site where he bought his laptop, the price with windows 8 basic is £130 more than without. Hmmm, that's almost as much as some companies sell netbooks with 8 installed. So the company that doesn't give MS exclusive bills huge for windows and those that do don't. Excuse me,I'm coughing from the smoke.
January 10, 2013 5:08:36 PM

I assure you that you are incorrect, whatever propoganda you might have found on Google. I prefer to rely on practical experience. I had no problem resizing a Vista partition that had been in use for six months or more, and I needed no paid-for software to do so. I'm afraid that anyone who can't do the same is not very couter savvy.

On the site that I linked to a laptop with Windows 8 installed costs £80 more than without, not £130. And I don't believe that you can buy a netbook or a laptop with Windows 8 installed for £130, let alone £80. (TBH, I thought that netbooks were pretty much dead nowadays). Perhaps you could give us a link to such an outstanding deal as I'd like to buy a few.

You imply that Microsoft are practically giving Windows to manufacturers for nothing. I believe you are wrong, but if you are correct what are you complaining about? Windows for free is an excellent deal.

Now; do your research a little more carefully and don't make statements that are so patently false. I think we have now got the idea that you don't like Microsoft. Unfortunately you are letting that cloud your judgement.
January 10, 2013 5:10:33 PM

Sam, not part of the debate but to explain. You probably measure your internet speed in mbs per second. I measure it in mbs per hour. Been unsuccessful for two weeks trying to download a virus update. Too slow. And forget about doing anything on the net the first Tuesday of the month. It takes me minutes to update all Linux boxes on the network after downloads, hours for the windows because I have to go to each one with the updates. Perhaps there's. A way that I am unaware of.
January 10, 2013 8:38:06 PM

Well I think then what the DRC needs most is a better telecomms infrastructure! If connections are that useless, how useful could computers even be? Maybe I'm seeing this from a very 21st-century perspective (I did use offline machines when I was little but it was a while back) but I don't see much use in a standalone computer for education vs a book. Educational software might add some pretty colours and sound effects, but it's not the Internet.

By the way, you're an American aid worker? Or actually Congoese (Congolian?)?

Ijack, you mentioned before better open-source systems, you're talking about the BSDs? Or something else? I'm curious about alternatives and how they're better. I know Unix tends to beat Linux in small block random I/O performance, so maybe better suited to web servers? I tried FreeBSD briefly, but had a bunch of problems, wasn't very impressed.
January 11, 2013 5:23:55 AM

Windows Updates - you can download the updates once to apply to several computers. Or, what many companies do, you can set up a local Windows Update server. A little Googling will give further information.

Other OSs - Yes, I am talking mainly about the BSDs, which tend to be more stable and better suited to server applications than Linux, and Solaris (not, strictly speaking, open source any longer). There are also a few more exotics such as Haiku (currently featured on the ArsTechnica website).
January 11, 2013 5:32:38 AM

sam_p_lay said:
Well I think then what the DRC needs most is a better telecomms infrastructure! If connections are that useless, how useful could computers even be? Maybe I'm seeing this from a very 21st-century perspective (I did use offline machines when I was little but it was a while back) but I don't see much use in a standalone computer for education vs a book. Educational software might add some pretty colours and sound effects, but it's not the Internet.


Even though the internet is slow doesn't mean we can't use it. It took something like 20 minutes to download that first photo on Marilyn Monroe that got the internet going but that didn't stop people from downloading and Lord knows it could take twenty minutes just to connect to AOL. :heink:  I have also downloaded the French copy of Wikipedia and put it on the server, everyone can go to it rather than online and I intend to put it in schools without internet access. Granted, to download it took a weekend of all day and all night downloads when I was alone on the network so I was getting a blazing 30kb/sec speeds! Thank you Yamaha generator. There is a fiber optic cable that has arrived in Kinshasa but not in use yet and I live quite a ways into the interior so I don't expect it anytime soon but someday. In the meantime there is a project in the works that my network will be getting a sat dish installed at a bank with 24/7 electricity. I will setup a copy of the Ubuntu depot on the server and keep it updated at night when there is low use. All the computers on the network will have the server's depot as their source and that way I can set all the Ubuntu computers to auto update and when ever someone tells they need a program that does this that and the other thing I just go to webmin or putty, put in an apt-get command on their computer and a few seconds later they are good to go. Can't get easier than that. It will also allow anybody with Ubuntu on their systems in town to come get software and updates from me since it won't put any pressure on the internet connection, now I have to decline if I don't already have something.

Quote:
By the way, you're an American aid worker? Or actually Congoese (Congolian?)?


Ex Peace Corps who decided to come back. After 12 years here you could say I'm part Congolese. But no, I'm not attached to any aid/development agency. And despite descriptions above implying, or outright saying, that I am crazy, I'm not, just eccentric. :pt1cable: 

January 11, 2013 6:25:45 AM

There are solutions to the Vista unmovable files problem but you'd need to be pretty patient and savvy to do them, ie few people wanting to create a dual boot would be willing to try.

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/238199-44-unmovable-f... or buy third party software.

Quote:
On the site that I linked to a laptop with Windows 8 installed costs £80 more than without, not £130.


I stand corrected, I was going from memory and the "with office student" was in my head, that would add £160 . Still, netbooks with windows 7 or 8 installed for $250 are commonplace. Somehow I doubt that half or more of the price is a windows license ($120 for 8 and $136 with 7 installed at your supplier). So either your supplier is charging a whole bunch for the act of installing windows or they are getting reamed by MS who, as a monopoly, shouldn't be doing that.
January 11, 2013 6:51:25 AM

Although I consider myself to be reasonably computer-savvy, I am not particularly patient. I assure you that it is no problem to resize a Vista partition using freely available tools. If you are not reasonably computer-savvy then setting up a dual-boot system - particularly without using the appropriate tools - is probably something that you should be wary of.

But you say it's difficult; I say it isn't. That's not getting us anywhere. I'll accept that you find this a difficult process and I find it trivially easy.
Quote:
Still, netbooks with windows 7 or 8 installed for $250 are commonplace.
I don't believe that is true, but I'd be extremely interested if it is. For starters, I was under the impression that very few - if any - netbooks were now being produced. Secondly, I haven't heard of any being supplied with Windows 8. And comparing a low-powered netbook with a proper laptop is not comparing like-for-like.

Can you link to examples of netbooks or laptops, of a similar specification to those laptops, with Windows 8 installed being sold for $250? Bear in mind that you need to subtract VAT from the UK price when comparing, unless you are comparing with other UK prices.
January 11, 2013 7:07:12 AM

I take it you have a policy of not going to links even when it is a link to this very site?

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/238199-44-unmovable-f...

Installing on a clean system is trivial. Dual boot installations should be trivial and were with XP. But people are going to come up against the unmovable files and 4 primary partition issues and should be warned or else we risk their frustration. Knowing about a problem in advance takes the scary part out of it. Encountering an unknown problem scares people away.
January 11, 2013 7:18:51 AM

I have a policy of not believing everything that I read in Internet forums, especially when it contradicts my experience. But immovable page files can be a problem when defragmenting (note - defragmenting, not resizing) any filesystem, not just with Windows Vista, since the file will be locked by the OS. When resizing partitions immovable files are not a problem; the software will run outside of the Windows environment (typically rebooting into a Linux- or DOS-based system); this means that locked files are no longer immovable.

Exactly the same problems exist with XP. And the 4 primary partition limit applies whatever OS you are talking about, as long as you use an MBR partitioned disk. It is inherent in the MBR design.

If you don't understand this sort of problem, and how to deal with it, then setting up a dual-boot system can be a problem; the particular OSs involved don't really matter - it is not a trivial process. But your link is about defragmentation (which is carried out whilst Windows is running) not resizing.

The link I asked for was not one to how difficult it may or may not be to resize a Vista partition (dead argument as far as I am concerned), but to netbooks/laptops with Windows 8 installed for $250.
January 11, 2013 7:59:40 AM

Simply because you encounter a problem doesn't mean that it is part of an evil plot.

Simply because you can't solve a problem doesn't mean that there isn't a simple solution.

Now, I think we have really done this to death. If you want to discuss Linux or any Linux problems then this is the appropriate forum. If you want to slag off Microsoft and Windows then it probably isn't.
January 11, 2013 8:08:18 AM

Maybe we should move the emphasis to finding a good solution for stillblue and his neighbourhood of the DRC. I think the "build it yourself" suggestion is a solid one. Maybe it just seems good to me because I'm a bit of a hardware nerd, but the classic argument for doing it yourself was always a cost one. Would it be cheaper to ship stuff from Tunisia, Libya, Egypt or South Africa?

http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/358998-13-worldwide...
January 11, 2013 8:25:34 AM

Agreed.
!