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Sandy-bridge Kill Switch controversy

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December 20, 2010 11:19:10 AM

http://www.tgdaily.com/opinion-features/53108-analysis-...

Found this little interesting article.

If true, imagine if someone other than Intel got control of this sort of power ... well you can trust Intel though ... can't you?

After a couple of years of market penetration ...

Frightening ... terrorists will be scratching their beards over this one ... and possibly chuckling (rising to a maniacal cackle).

Alternatively ... it could all be drivel.

Comments?
December 20, 2010 12:39:15 PM

I wonder if the author of that article knows that there is already a version of that in place on the HM55 chipset, they just call it Intel Anti-Theft: http://www.intel.com/technology/anti-theft/index.htm and http://www.intel.com/products/notebook/chipsets/hm55/hm... Guess that one just snuck by everyone....

Same basic thing. Laptop gets stolen from business, business IT kills the system till it's returned, no data stolen.
edit: would just like to add that the "kill" feature that is currently in place is not permanent. Users can set up a password to bypass the "kill" in just such a case as an accidental system kill.
Quote:
Return laptop to full functionality via:
• Local passphrase that was pre-provisioned by user.
• Recovery token (one-time use) provided by IT.

From the white paper: http://www.intel.com/technology/anti-theft/anti-theft-t...

Honestly, the author of the TG Daily article sounds like he is anti-big brother and maybe a little on the paranoid side.
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December 20, 2010 12:47:23 PM

I'll buy whatever is cheap and overclocks well.

:) 



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December 20, 2010 1:47:25 PM

There must be some way that the technology mentioned will be implemented wisely.
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December 20, 2010 2:14:30 PM

Or if not and hackers with malice remotely kill these CPU's it could be pretty bad.
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December 20, 2010 2:22:05 PM

i don't think some one can steel my workstation so am all good lol :) 

BIOS should "stop" this... I hope
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December 20, 2010 2:29:21 PM

jj463rd said:
Or if not and hackers with malice remotely kill these CPU's it could be pretty bad.

I am sure Intel would have that in mind and make proper arrangements for it to be handled with care. If not they are the biggest fools in the world not to think about it!
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December 20, 2010 2:46:35 PM

I am not sure this is real.

The biggest issue that I see is the accident factor. Remember when Amazon shot out an update that accidentally disabled ebooks? (Orwell's "1984" of all things) If a processor is disabled accidentally there is a real problem with getting it back.

There are better ways to disable the system (via SW, etc.) and encryption to protect the data. This just seems too extreme. Wouldn't be surprised if they got the info wrong.
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December 20, 2010 3:18:27 PM

Coming from an "AMD" Guy...

Intel are not stupid (they got more market share than you? no offence) so am sure they have this worked out :) 
Maybe its not a "kill". Maybe it just disables all cores at your command, then you can rein able them so the system will be able to boot up again? hell i have no idea but i would love to see some leaked info :) 
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December 20, 2010 3:24:57 PM

A CPU lock out isnt too helpful in keeping stolen data safe, i can just pull the drive and move it to a new machine, so i imagine it has to work in conjunction with a few other pieces of hardware. It might be useful on laptop chips in conjunction with hard drive encryption, but desktops you generally wont need to worry about killing in case of theft, its pretty difficult to sneak a workstation out under your jacket.

Interesting thing to consider for those who this scares, most smart phones have a kill code, that some software can send them that causes them to wipe themselves, at least a CPU lock out doesnt nuke your data.
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December 20, 2010 3:59:54 PM

JF's point was he didn't think it was real.

I have my doubts too.

Still ... an interesting topic to follow up on as it unfolds.


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December 20, 2010 4:33:40 PM

CsG_kieran_2 said:
Coming from an "AMD" Guy...

Intel are not stupid (they got more market share than you? no offence) so am sure they have this worked out :) 
Maybe its not a "kill". Maybe it just disables all cores at your command, then you can rein able them so the system will be able to boot up again? hell i have no idea but i would love to see some leaked info :) 


Who said they were stupid? I sure didn't.
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December 20, 2010 5:09:01 PM

Reynod said:
I'll buy whatever is cheap and overclocks well.

:) 


Guess you'll be waiting for Ivy Bridge then, or maybe getting an AMD lol... Well, ok, they will have "K" series unlocked cores but otherwise Sandy Bridge will be far less OC friendly than the current generation.
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December 20, 2010 6:01:15 PM

jf-amd said:
Who said they were stupid? I sure didn't.


I was saying that to everyone who thinks that... and that's sure a lot of people apparently.
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December 20, 2010 6:05:59 PM

Reynod said:
I'll buy whatever is cheap and overclocks well.

:) 


Same. Although the i7 2600K is looking quite nice even at $350.

But this is not that bad. In fact its a nice idea. But my question is whats to stop the theif from taking the laptop apart, pulling out the HDD and hooking it up to another system to access the files? I do it all the time for customers whos PCs died and want to transfer files to a new PC.

I guess thats where encryption comes in but that can get nasty for the end user.

Maybe the CPU also kills the HDD. If so they better keep backups.
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December 20, 2010 7:16:07 PM

If the CPU also killed the HDD's/SSD's then this would only hold true with Intel HDD's/SSD'd cuz otherwise, they would need to have WD, samsung, etc implement this kill switch technology....
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December 20, 2010 7:27:44 PM

jonpaul37 said:
If the CPU also killed the HDD's/SSD's then this would only hold true with Intel HDD's/SSD'd cuz otherwise, they would need to have WD, samsung, etc implement this kill switch technology....


Unless it specifically tells the chipset on the mobo (it will be an Intel chipset) to send an over voltage to the rest of the system which would fry the PCB board on the HDD where the cache and the connector goes. Once thats gone, there are only two ways to get data off of a HDD. 1. bouy the exact same HDD and swap the PCB board or pay $1500+ to have a company that specializes in recovering the data off the HDD platters in a clean room.

I doubt anyone will go that far. As For SSDs, I wouldn't know if they could do the same to recover data becausea a voltage overload would probably fry the NAND memory too.
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December 20, 2010 7:47:35 PM

^voltage on NAND is like a mobo so you can say bye bye
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December 20, 2010 8:59:05 PM

I think you're starting to get a little carried away now

"this computer will self destruct in 5..."
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December 20, 2010 9:57:41 PM

wolfram23 said:
I think you're starting to get a little carried away now

"this computer will self destruct in 5..."


That reminds me of the old television series Mission Impossible where the tape (reel to reel magnetic tape) self destructed after playing the message in 5 seconds

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA2KmJMKFrQ
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December 21, 2010 12:10:46 AM

I am waiting to see what AMD will do harnessing the power of their new ondie GPU for HPC ... bolted to a decent Opti of course.

Now that's a market niche worth exploring.

That and putting an AES encrypt / decrypt engine on that sucker.

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December 21, 2010 1:31:11 AM

I have written several blogs and forum comments about this over the year. The folks that want really high performance from a GPU for HPC are actually not looking for fusion-style GPUs, they want the massive 6900-style GPUs. So you won't see integrated GPUs in Opteron for a while, there are a few things that have to happen from a technology standpoint first.
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December 21, 2010 1:41:02 AM

This sounds too scary! Lets hope it's only on laptops. Can you imagine what hackers might do?
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December 21, 2010 12:00:50 PM

jf-amd said:
I have written several blogs and forum comments about this over the year. The folks that want really high performance from a GPU for HPC are actually not looking for fusion-style GPUs, they want the massive 6900-style GPUs. So you won't see integrated GPUs in Opteron for a while, there are a few things that have to happen from a technology standpoint first.


Yes ... another process shrink is the answer JF, but I think your team has the technology side of things pretty well worked out.

JF thanks for the reply and Merry christmas - I hope you get some home time with the wife and kids.



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December 21, 2010 1:30:34 PM

Another process shrink, some magic GPU pixie dust and some software ecosystem pieces that need to come together first. At a minimum. We have the pieces today and as we map out the Terramar and Sepang processors you will see some additional pieces come together to help the strategy along. Can't discuss today, but there are definite steps in place.

More in 2012.
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December 21, 2010 1:47:09 PM

What's HPC? lol

I was thinking HTPC, in which case these ondie GPUs are great.
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December 21, 2010 1:56:16 PM

yes, for htpc on-die is definitely the way to go - lower power, less noise. For HPC the biggest challenge is the CPU to GPU ratio. Most customers today want a 2:1 GPU to CPU ratio, so, even if you integrated you still need to add GPU cards. So, if you are still dealing with external cards, isn't it easier to have them all external and balanced vs. one integrated and one external?
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December 23, 2010 1:03:25 AM

wolfram23 said:
What's HPC? lol

I was thinking HTPC, in which case these ondie GPUs are great.


HPC = High Performance Computing, aka supercomputers made up of thousands of computing units (CPU and/or GPU). HTPC = home theater PC..

From what I've read recently (i.e., David Kanter's article on Intel fabbing 22nm FPGAs for a startup company), GPUs are not the only way to implement an HPC. For some operations, a high-speed FPGA will outperform both CPU and GPU. Kanter thinks Intel may be testing the water for a possible buy-out, if the FPGA design performs well. I wouldn't be surprised to see some sort of hybrid CPU/FPGA/Larrabee-type GPU combination in the next few years.
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December 23, 2010 11:31:43 AM

FPGAs are programmable, but the problem is you basically have to do a lot of the work/programming yourself. This is why they are used in highly specialized vertical niches but never really took off for mainstream HPC computing.

The appeal to GPGPU is that, while it might not be as programmable as FPGA, it is much more standardized, so you get significantly quicker code development, and more reusable code.

GPGPU is more like "write once, use often" where FPGA is like rewrite every time.
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December 24, 2010 5:44:27 AM

(From Bit-Tech):
Quote:
Sadly, however, there are currently no signs of the technology appearing at the consumer level, where it could mimick Apple's Mobile Me remote management technology on its iPhone and iPad devices.


It is obviously not in the standard versions of the processor or chipset, so there is no point panicking.
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December 24, 2010 8:52:25 AM

^lol they were involved in the patriot missile program :) 
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December 24, 2010 9:45:01 AM

Well Raytheon were the prime contractor for all of the guidance systems on many US developed systems - HAWK through to Tomahawk - and their ability is second to none in that area of expertise.

I am only familiar with systems implented in the 80's and Motorolla and Intel processors were used in many.

I wouldn't know what is in the Tomahawk ... but it would be a specific MILSPEC EM hardened part ... mission critical reliability across a wide environmental operational range being the most important driver.

No overclocked parts I am sure.

The CPU would be produced and sourced from the US.

:) 
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December 24, 2010 12:23:00 PM

Our old office in Austin used to be a former military contractor site where the cruise missles were developed.
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December 24, 2010 1:04:38 PM


The CPU is most likely a 68040 or 60 ... MILSPEC and EM hardened ... or possibly upgraded now to PowerPC (603 to 7400 series).

The special repackaging is usually done by http://www.atmel.com who have license for the libraries and special remanufacturing facilities to ensure the device meets the military requirements.

All of this information is available on the net so don't call me "Julian".

The 680x0 variant will have all gold plating, operate from -55 to +125C ambient, have a DESCC drawing number and a CoC. The chip package is not black but grey.

Both Intel and AMD made (and make) MILSPEC parts too.

The last chip here is a milspec 6809 ... an awesome 8/16bit cpu in it's day as It had the clock onboard and required fewer ancillary chips to get up and going.

http://www.cpumuseum.com/Show.php?Manufacturer=Atmel

Now do i get a free cookie for the google work I just did for you ... a 150 W PSU will be fine ... though to control the rest of the hydraulics I wouln't have a clue.
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December 24, 2010 1:46:10 PM

Quote:
Thank god it aint running on windows you dont wanna get a bsod right after it was launched


Missle away!

..Oh God! What happened?? WHAT IS IT DOING?? NOOOO!

*missle drops out of sky*

kaboom!
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December 24, 2010 2:52:03 PM

Yeah imagine firing one and the reply that comes back as it sits on the launcher is "your cruise missile requires Microsoft Validation, as we suspect this is not an authentic cruise missile ...".

Please visit the Microsoft Validation site and ...

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December 24, 2010 3:26:44 PM

3...........2...........1......... blastoff.
Oh.. crap blue screen of death :(  its going to be a cold winter this year
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December 27, 2010 12:53:23 AM

Quote:
Thank god it aint running on windows you dont wanna get a bsod right after it was launched


So long as it ain't running Windows ME that is. Hated that OS.

It could be running OSX. You know, the one Steve Jobs controls.

Or Linux. The ones Pengiuns control. Then they take over the world. They act innocent and cute but they have alterior motives. I know it....
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December 27, 2010 3:12:32 AM

Quote:
The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck is probably the day they start making vacuum cleaners.


owned.
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December 27, 2010 3:44:32 AM

jimmysmitty said:
So long as it ain't running Windows ME that is. Hated that OS.

It could be running OSX. You know, the one Steve Jobs controls.

Or Linux. The ones Pengiuns control. Then they take over the world. They act innocent and cute but they have alterior motives. I know it....


These days I hate myself. I entirely depend on Mac OS X and Windows. Linux got left out after WINE couldn't run Adobe Illustrator CS5.

I'm very afraid of the future when I don't get an educational discount.
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December 27, 2010 11:40:17 AM

This maybe a good option for people who just use... use their computer for something like a high end electronic typewriter..... for them I really think (oops and the HTPC lot) this might just deserve a look... but for most of us , I have a feeling those with discrete GPUs will somehow still prefer to have a discrete GPU and let us do the controlling of it rather than have anything even connected to the Processor.....
But this is something, I think..... may not really be in the Big Sandy Picture that's being painted in front of us..... anyways, the Kill switch is just a bleeding gimmic..... what's the use unless it's being used in iPhones.... esp the stolen or dropped or lost kind???
I rather have my stolen laptop be used by someone who couldn't afford a new one for the prices they charge than have one stolen and end up dead in someone elses hands just so that he had to throw it off as junk...
Either way, what this Intel ideology seems to be implying is, "If I can't use it , neither can you....."
This just goes to show how far Intel is making it a point to increase it's sale's at the cost of people and their thoughts....... gone are the days when sharing was loving it seems.....
And terrorists don't need to use this series of processors..... it's just hog wash..... pure stupidity to even link it up to them and sell it to people..... if they were that bothered about the terrorists as a mater of fact if our governments were that bothered about them they'd stop all Intel shipment to countries harboring and aiding in the development of terrorist cells and activities, but, if they did that, I bet their profits would drop by half..... so it's all hogwash....

What I'd like to see would be if a Processor was killed by Intel remotely, then they need to compensate to the consumer who lost it in the first place..... or atleast give him back a refund of the price of the processor they killed......
Yeah, you want to stop the terrorists from using your equipment, use a GPS chipset and the moment it goes out of the region it was supposed to be sold in or was supposed to be working in.... kill it. Let the consumer justify his resale of it or let the importer complain.....
What a waste of money to make something so useless.......
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December 27, 2010 1:59:43 PM

Quote:
Can anyone help me with a psu requirement for a tomahawk will a corsair 850w do?

Don't know about a Tomahawk, but a Patriot missile uses a chemical battery about 8" X 4" X 4" to power the guidance package including the TWTA downlink.
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December 27, 2010 3:51:25 PM

Quote:
The day Microsoft makes something that doesn't suck is probably the day they start making vacuum cleaners.


I am quite partial to Windows 7. And Microsoft Security Essentials (so far one of the only AV programs to find Alureon viruses which has multiple types including a MBR version). And I have yet to have any issues with 7. But hey, to each their own.

MS just gets more hate becaues they were the first to the scene and due to that (just like x86) they control the market due to our inability to change. Otherwise we would all be on something else or have non fossil fuel dependancies.

Damn human nature.

amdfangirl said:
These days I hate myself. I entirely depend on Mac OS X and Windows. Linux got left out after WINE couldn't run Adobe Illustrator CS5.

I'm very afraid of the future when I don't get an educational discount.


Thats the problem with a open source OS. Due to it not being extremley popular with the major consumer, most devs wont code for it. And in order to get most programs or hardware to work you either need to know how to code for it or have a Linux/Unix geek friend to do it for you.

I am not against Linux/Unix. Great for firewalls but they just are not user friendly enough to take out Windows.

I do however not like anything Apple. but thats just because I feel that they control their stuff way too much plus I prefer to be able to build my own PC rather than use what they say is right for me.

Still. Watch out for the Pengiuns. They is plannin something.

jsc said:
Don't know about a Tomahawk, but a Patriot missile uses a chemical battery about 8" X 4" X 4" to power the guidance package including the TWTA downlink.


I would ask my grandmother who worked for the VPs out in Tucson but then again she had top secret clearence for a reason. So I doubt she could say anything due to that. Still I remember getting behind door tours due to it. Hell she even got my Senior high school class a tour.

I miss seeing the missles.
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December 27, 2010 4:30:00 PM

Quote:
This is Linux country. If you listen carefully, you can hear Windows reboot...


Sure......

Sorry but I don't see it. I know missels wont use Windows but in honesty I doubt they use Linux either. They probably have their own in house controlled programs. It would make much more sense. Why use something any joe shmoe could get their hands on and possibly hack instead of creating your own software based only on the hardware that only the military has (I doubt Intel and AMD sell this military grade hardware to anything but the military).
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December 27, 2010 11:22:14 PM

jimmysmitty said:

MS just gets more hate becaues they were the first to the scene and due to that (just like x86) they control the market due to our inability to change. Otherwise we would all be on something else or have non fossil fuel dependancies.

They were not the first. UNIX was. And the X window system was around before Windows.
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December 28, 2010 12:22:14 AM

^+1 first one was 100% C low level language

And for the record X86 was not the first CPU out ether :)  next 10 years and we will all be using linux, little ARM CPU's and the Voodoo's will be back :) 

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December 28, 2010 12:48:14 AM

PreferLinux said:
They were not the first. UNIX was. And the X window system was around before Windows.


First to be mainstream. For most of us, Windows was the first OS we used (Mac OS was mine).

Being the first, most don't want to learn new things.

That's why some people still use OS/2.

Take me for example, I was raised up with Adobe Illustrator, and I refuse to use Inkscape because the interface is radically different and the time it'd take to learn all the differently arranged functions would annoy me to no end. Switch OS/Program is like learning a language, just easier.

For the majority of us, we just want everyone to speak our "English".
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December 28, 2010 3:00:53 PM

There is a world of processors.

There is a world of operating systems.

There is a world of applications.

Pick the best tool to solve the problem and use it. I am constantly fascinated by people who not only make one choice, but then degrade all other choices.

I am a massive fan of Fox Racing Shox, especially the 2010 Vanilla 140RLC that is on my bike. But I would never mock someone that chooses a Fox Talas or Float, nor would I say that Marzocchi is evil.

Somehow people in the tech world are letting the fanboys polarize and all that leads to is less need for innovation in the long run. If people were not so emotionally wedded to their technology choices and could accept that there were other viable choices, they would get better products in the long run. Back when I was in sales I loved nothing more than strong brand loyalty that turned into blind bias, because I did not need to discount as much and I didn't have to worry as much about losing the sale.

There is power in being open minded.
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December 28, 2010 4:30:36 PM

CsG_kieran_2 said:
^+1 first one was 100% C low level language

And for the record X86 was not the first CPU out ether :)  next 10 years and we will all be using linux, little ARM CPU's and the Voodoo's will be back :) 


Just as Fan Girl said. Mainstream. Forgot to add that.

Thats what happens. When something goes mainstream, the majority of the populace has no will to change. If steam power was mainstream enough we might be using steam based cars.

Who knows.

But I doubt we will all be using Linux, and unless ARM can find a way to emulate x86 100% without a performance drop, I doubt we will move to it only. Especially since Intel can easily break into the markets that ARM is in such as cell phones. When you have R&D that large its easy.

Until Linux becomes basically like MS, where you pay for the OS and support so that the majority of those who do not understand computers can use it.

Plus they would have to somehow get into gaming. I have heard rumor of VALVe working on a Linux version of Steam and possibly their games since they have already converted them to OpenGL for Mac OSX but I doubt it since the gamer market on Linux is not large enough. I was suprised to hear them to support Mac since there are not a lot of gamers there either plus the hardware requirements are also sometimes 2x that of PC.

I wont predict the future but change rarely happens these days. Its why most people still eat fast food even though things like Subway and such are much better. But stll it could happen. Just doubt.

amdfangirl said:
First to be mainstream. For most of us, Windows was the first OS we used (Mac OS was mine).

Being the first, most don't want to learn new things.

That's why some people still use OS/2.

Take me for example, I was raised up with Adobe Illustrator, and I refuse to use Inkscape because the interface is radically different and the time it'd take to learn all the differently arranged functions would annoy me to no end. Switch OS/Program is like learning a language, just easier.

For the majority of us, we just want everyone to speak our "English".


I am not 100% sure of my first GUI based OS. I know DOS was my first OS. 3.0 I think. Then we finally got 6.11. I know at my school in 5th grade we had Apple PCs but not sure if it was Apples OS or not since they were really old. All I remember was that we played Duke Nukem (the 2D side scroller) and Jazz JackRabbit.

I don't care what people prefer. I just hate when they start to bash the other.
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