Monthly Archives: August 2005

Commentary Or Propaganda

Want to see what’s passing for commentary over at ZDNet these days (Ziff Davis is the parent of such well known magazines as PC Magazine). Check out John Caroll’s blog over there. Here’s a quick summary of some of his recent missives, “Isn’t DRM great?”, “Too much open source software is a bad thing”, and “Anti-trust, monopoly, surely you aren’t talking about us?”.
Hysterically funny. This is journalism now? ZDNet has seen fit to have a limited number of bloggers (fewer than 20) who they feature but this thing from a Microsoft employee makes the cut. Great choice there.
Here’s a particularly good example, “Okay, opponents of Microsoft will still hate us because we are the biggest and baddest boy on the block (and we rock).” Gosh, maybe they hate you because you’ve been ruled a monopoly that violated the law? Or maybe it’s because your company has been found in violation of the law several other times? Does Stac ring a bell? How about the whole Sun Java thing that resulted in $2B in settlement? Or, or, how about this, that Microsoft only recently re-discovered that their browser hasn’t been updated in years because they lost a significant amount of market share to a free competitor but until then they were perfectly happy to limp along with garbage that never was upgraded? Or, because they continue to charge thousands of dollars for the development tools required to develop software for their OS? Or any of fifty other reasons I can think of. WE ROCK?!? Substitute another word for rock there.
If Ziff-Davis wants to maintain a shred of credibility they need to dump this blog. If I were Steve Gillmor or John C. Dvorak I would insist on him being booted simply because being considered on the same level as this is damaging to ones reputation.

Microsoft’s Priorities

OK. Microsoft is going to release something next year and call it a new operating system. It may not have much new in it, in fact every day that passes it seems to have less and less new in it. For example, they have taken out their new scripting shell called Monad, they took out their enhanced file system called WinFS, they dropped their fancy sidebar that was going to house all kinds of neat tools, and that’s not nearly all the stuff they’ve removed to make sure it ships next year.
So, you ask yourself, “What is a high priority for them? Obviously Microsoft must be pouring time and resources into something else really cool that we are going to get that will come with the OS since they are dropping other features left and right.” The answer is “digital rights management” or DRM for short. It will let you buy the new Microsoft excuse for an OS and be sure that if you get some kind of high definition video from somewhere that you won’t be able to play it with the monitor you have today. NO!!! That would be too insecure. Someone might be able to connect something to the pinouts and record a high quality version of that high definition and make it available to other people. Instead, the supplier of video or audio should be able to dictate whether you can output to a plain old monitor or the video quality should be chopped down before you can watch it. Or maybe you can spend a bunch of money to buy an expensive new monitor with special DRM circuitry in it. Then you can’t steal that signal! The monitor won’t be one bit better than the one you had before, but you can buy it all over again and pay a lot more for it.
That is what Microsoft is prioritizing for Microsoft Vista. CNET had a quote of the day yesterday from a product manager at Microsoft, “The table is already set,” said Marcus Matthias. “We can come in and eat at the buffet, or we can stand outside and wash cars.” Their priority is pleasing Hollywood, not with improving their incredibly bad operating system.
Look for another five to ten years of viruses, adware, zombie machines, and every other kind of sad illness for your machine and millions of others. Microsoft was not happy with how slowly individuals and businesses moved to XP. In the case of many businesses they never (as in never ever) managed to force them to upgrade from Windows 2000. Since the only avenue they have for forcing you to take a new OS is a new machine sale where they can twist the hardware sellers arm and say that they can’t have the old OS anymore they are having to resort to saying that you can’t have the new version of Internet Explorer (“Now at least 2/3rds as good as Firefox!”) unless you upgrade. But with less and less in the way of new features included with Vista to actually entice people and businesses to upgrade, expect them to start turning more to forcing upgrades and other means of making money. What will those new revenue streams be?

  1. Stop supportting older operating systems no matter how popular they are. I mentioned above that many users and businesses still use Windows 2000. They have to make that stop so they are saying it has reached its “end-of-life”. They can discontinue making patches for it to fix bugs or stop worms, etc.
  2. Charging for support, patches, and “protection money”.
  3. Add even more authentication mechanisms to the operating system to get rid of pirated copies. Make sure that fixes for all the problems in their software are only available through the “Windows Genuine Advantage”. That “Advantage” is that people who own a legitimate copy of XP can get to the patches for their swiss cheese OS.
  4. Cosy up to Hollywood/the RIAA and hope to make money buy charging them to encode the video/audio in a way you can’t copy it. Then, they make money from you and them.

Don’t you want to rush out and buy it? Well, whether you do or don’t want to, they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure you don’t get a choice. You’ll either get it on a new machine or they’ll stop supporting whatever you have now so you have to buy something new.
Not cursing during the course of writing this took incredible restraint…

Word Of Mouth

Howdy friends and neighbors, and welcome to another hour of old time bluegrass music! Brought to you by The Bluegrass Preservation Society of Gassaway West Virginia. I’m your host Ewell Ferguson and my bluegrass kittycat Buster is here to man that sound board and push them buttons.

And thus begins another episode of one of my favorite podcasts. Every show is local musicians from the W. Virginia area recorded playing bluegrass songs both old and new. It’s a fun show and Ewell and Buster are naturals for the radio.
The only way people are going to find good podcasts is if we tell other people which ones we like and this is one I like. Give it a listen.

So What Will The Next Windows Offer

If you’re interested in what the recent beta of the next Windows release (Windows “Vista”) will have, here is an interesting review from just a few days ago: Reviews :: Microsoft Windows Vista Codename ‘Longhorn’, Beta 1.
The answer so far appears to be, “Not much.” After all, the graphical changes and other alterations mentioned in the review would amount to the kinds of things we see in the regular six month release of Fedora Core. They certainly wouldn’t be treated as a major improvement to the OS worthy of a new name and an all new box with an all new price tag.
Perhaps we’ll see a lot more stuff included between now and the end of next year. If not, Apple’s move to the Intel platform and a steadily improving Linux platform could put a sudden sideways jog in the upgrade path of a lot of existing Windows customers.

GNOME Polishes To Be A Better Desktop

Bill Gates can fiddle while the next version of Windows (Windows Hasta La Vista) is pushed back to the end of 2006. In the meantime Linux software will see many new releases.
For example, here’s
A Prerelease Tour of GNOME 2.12. It gives a view of the next release of the GNOME interface which will be released in September. I’m sure it will be in various major Linux distributions like Fedora Core and Ubuntu shortly thereafter.