April 23, 2014
 
 
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Rant Mode Equals One: I'm a Consumer and I've Been Harmed

Don't Think M$ Impacts Your Daily Work? Think Again.

  • June 23, 2000
  • By Paul Ferris

I've thought about it a lot and I've decided that possibly the 60-plus percent of all Americans polled who don't think that they've been harmed and that Microsoft should be left alone possibly need to hear from at least one of us who has.

According to some polls, a good portion of people don't seem to think that they have been harmed at all by Microsoft's actions. They think the trial is an attempt to pick on Microsoft because it's successful. They think that no adjustment or penalty need be applied to the folks that occupy the Redmond infirmary.

Likely a good portion of this sentiment arises because the trial data is simply too complex and Microsoft has indeed got one of the best public-relations firms available--and tons of cash to say what they want through that firm.

The people who have been hearing Microsoft's side of things through these channels possibly haven't heard my opinion. I will state that I don't speak for everyone in the Linux community--I speak only for myself--and I can tell you this:

 

I'm a consumer--and I've been harmed.

I would like to walk into one of the chain computer outlets and buy a computer that doesn't have Windows preloaded, or at least has as an option the ability to delete it from the list of options. If a PC is selling for $800.00 with Windows preloaded--I'd like to have the option of removing it and getting that PC without the Windows tax.

I would like it so that illegal contracts and anti-competitive practices were not in place, so that like any competitive industry, I may have a choice of more than just the hardware manufacturer--I would get to choose another operating system. You see, I don't use Windows. I use Linux.

This is not because Linux is hard to use. This isn't because Linux is expensive, unpopular, impossible or whatever--it's because Microsoft would not tolerate choice in an area like the operating system on a new computer.

 

I'm a consumer--and I've been harmed.

I have spent too much time helping friends debug computer problems that are a black box. I have spent too much of my own time helping people continue the vicious proprietary circle that they cannot leave because they have invested too much in the software they already have.

These people did not know of any choice when they purchased a new PC--the computer came preloaded with Windows, like all other standard PC hardware available. Not because it was the best choice, but because through strong-arm tactics over the years all other competitors had no way to compete fairly.

These people have been harmed and do not know it. The fact that they need my expertise to help them continue sickens me. I hate to say it, but I can no longer help them. I will invest my time in my local Linux user group. In that group there are people that wish to learn and are doing what they can to get out of the cycle they are in.

Why should I waste another hour, no, rather, I will not waste another hour of my life crawling through dialog boxes and obfuscated error messages with a black box on what is supposed to be an "Open" operating system.

I liken the scenario to someone who is a very good auto mechanic. A person who understands all automotive operations in theory. This person can practically assemble his own car from scratch if desired. His friends keep bringing over new and used cars that even the dealer cannot fix. This particular model of car has the hood welded shut. As an expert, this mechanic has found ways of fixing the car anyway--manipulating the pieces under the hood with a coat hanger, for example, or banging on the hood in places like the Fonz in the TV series "Happy Days."

The people are amazed at the mechanic's ability.

They continue to bring him cars, but one day, he says "No, no more." He shows them his car, one that he and a bunch of friends have been working on.

From a design perspective, this car is everything a car should be, except it's still a prototype. It works great, and the hood is not welded shut. It runs on water, it has a top end of 300 miles per hour, it's safe, and environmentally ten times better. The people look over the car in wonder, but shake their heads. They have too much time and money invested in their "proprietary" transportation.

This is how I view Windows and Linux now. I can no longer waste my life shoving coat hangers into cracks in an attempt to fix Microsoft's smog-belching gas guzzlers. Why am I helping what I view as a disease? Why am I furthering more computer addiction to products that are heroinware at best?

No, I cannot help some of my friends any longer. I tell them of Linux and I know that soon there will be choice for them, but until then I have places to constructively spend my time. If they must run Windows then let them find the so-called "gurus" to help them with their plight. I will not be one of those people--my life, my time, my morality is simply too expensive to be wasted there.

In a more competitive world, these things would not be tolerated. These people would have been able to make quality choices. The fact that Windows 2000 has been described as more stable is no magical gift from Microsoft--you can bet your bottom dollar that without Linux breathing down Microsoft's neck stability would simply not be a concern. You can bet that Windows 2000 would be just as unstable as Windows NT, or possibly worse.

Competition is good--even for Microsoft. In the meantime, my friends have also been harmed.

 

I'm a consumer--and I've been harmed.

I've received yet another file via email in Microsoft Word format. It's a document that I use quite frequently, so I load it in another application and convert it to HTML, so that I can place it on my local intranet and refer to it from time to time. In Word format it's bloated, the HTML is a mess. I try emailing the person responsible, but the next two revisions come out in Word file format anyway.

The Word file format is not just hard for me to read--it's unsafe. Viruses get transmitted via unsafe email clients. The files themselves clog my hard drive. The file format is being used as a weapon, and the ignorance of the general population a tool in a pointless attempt to force me, a person who believes whole-heartedly in open standards, to switch to an operating system platform that runs Microsoft Office.

This is ignorance by the consumer and it is used against me far too often.

When the files come from outside of my company I simply delete them and ask for HTML or plain text versions. I have only had one instance where I actually needed the Word format, and was able to simply print it in another product without much trouble. Even still, this is a weapon, and the inmates of the Redmond infirmary know it. They use it against the unknowing public daily and daily the public responds by buying more Microsoft products, in a never ending cycle.

Eventually, gone are open standards if this is left unchecked. Gone is choice. In the meantime--I have been harmed.

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