March 24, 2019

The Curse of the Living Windows

Windows Wants Your Private Spaces

  • August 18, 2009
  • By Emery Fletcher
In Is Chrome OS Too Orwellian Or Big Brother-ish?, Chris of The Coffee Desk examined the reach of Google into our private spaces, both cyber and real. That really struck me -- I knew just what he meant, because last week I had a near-miss experience with yet another in the endless series of assaults on privacy. This one came from a relatively new entity in the Microsoft hegemony, Qwest by Windows Live.

You see, just this week DSL came at last to replace dialup in the remote little town where I live (I must tell you, Hell consists of dialup in a broadband world!), and I found that the phone company had chosen Microsoft as the ISP. With no affordable alternative in sight I signed up at once, and waited for UPS to deliver the hardware that was included in the deal. Packaged with the modem came an installation CD and a slick little brochure extolling the virtues of what they call Qwest by Windows Live.

Fortunately, I had spent the last few months learning enough about Linux to begin my run for freedom from Windows already, so Ubuntu 9.04 was running smoothly on one of my two computers by the time DSL came to town. I knew that all I needed or wanted from an ISP was a connection to the internet -- any other services were of no interest.

Of course, since this was a Windows ISP, there was nothing in their literature that suggested how to carry out the actual connection process other than "install the program from the CD, we will assimilate your computer and do the rest." I've learned to expect that, having endured the Driver Dramas of winmodem/linmodem on dialup, but since this is ADSL, I did need to find the magic numbers like IP address, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server. That meant I had to call Technical Support.

Here is where the description of the Awful Experience usually comes in. Not this time, though, and I suspect the fact I was running Linux had a lot to do with it. I said I was a new customer, gave them all the authentication, and said that I would connect with Linux, not Windows. There was silence for a moment, then in the background a bit of chatter in what sounded to me vaguely like Telegu. When the voice came back, this time with a distinct smile, the rep asked what I needed.

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