Tuesday, February 06, 2007

MS Vista doesn't just have issues, it IS an issue.

Vista doesn't have issues. It IS an issue to anyone who cares about secure, reliable, affordable computing. I've been telling clients to avoid it like the plague that it is. The main problem with the plague known as MS Vista is that it is spread by the carriers known as computer manufacturers.

One way the plague might be stopped is for the US and EU to re-open their anti-trust cases against Micro$oft with a minimum goal of having any system where an MS OS comes pre-infec^H^H^Hstalled boot up the first time to a screen that gives the customer a choice of alternative non-MS (FOSS) operating systems. Since none of the major vendors, Dell, HP/Compaq, Gateway, Toshiba, Sony, Lenovo, etc. provide much in the way of technical support unless a customer pays them outrageous prices, they really wouldn't have anything to lose by pre-installing one or more flavors of Linux or Unix on the new boxes they distribute via the major chain stores.

My point is that the typical PC buyer has little choice but to pay for and try to figure out how to deal with the Microsoft crapware that comes on almost all new systems. I suspect that many computer vendors would welcome an opportunity to stop wasting money on lame MS products and distribute FOSS equivalents. The neat thing is that MS has already implemented a system whereby it can charge only those customers who actually decide to use its buggy bloatware instead of one or more of the other OSes and office suites that manufacturers decide to allow the consumer to select from when she first boots a new computer.

I truly wish new systems came bare by default, with consumers getting to choose which operating system(s) and office suite(s) they want to put on them. I fondly recall when systems came with complete sets of installation disks (not discs :-) That would be another great requirement of any settlement the US and EU might reach with M$: if a new system is shipped with an M$ OS as the default, it ought to include a full set of generic Windows install discs, with a license transferable to any other machine the consumer decides to put it on. Making that part of the agreement retroactive, so that current users of Win98, WinME, WinNT, and WinXP could easily obtain installation discs for their old OSes when they decide to upgrade their hardware would annoy MS but impose no significant burden upon it, as long as it could charge a nominal fee to people who want physical install discs instead of DLing ISO images and burning and burning their own. I think a fair price for a set of Winblows install discs could be pegged at what it costs to have a set of install discs for a quality OS such as Ubuntu delivred to one's door.

Basically, in order to end the Microsoft monopoly and stop the spread of Microsoft Buggy Bloatware(tm), the anti-trust regulators need to force the supply chain to change so that costly MS operating system and office suite software is no longer the default. As much as I dislike MS these days, I have little doubt it could deliver a very high-quality OS (far superior to the flashy junkware known as Vista) if it had to compete on an even playing field. This would be especially true if big companies such as Google or Sun could put their own (new) OSes on new systems as options, right alongside the MS product, since all existing contracts MS has with hardware vendors that pre-install its OSes would be nullified as part of any reasonable anti-trust settlement.

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