10.18.20

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When You Have to Use Windows for Something (Like Work) But You Really Don’t Want Anything Proprietary or Microsoft-Controlled

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 10:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The good news is, it’s gradually becoming a rarity

A dishonour meme
“In North Korea, only dead people use Windows” (as the famous saying/joke goes)

Summary: The situations/scenarios where GNU/Linux and BSD geeks need to ‘touch’ Windows for something (usually remotely) rapidly dwindle; those who are still using Windows on a laptop/desktop in 2020 are considered tech-illiterate or regarded as ‘dinosaurs’ (hence the dishonour meme above)

THE WORLD in 2020 is, to many people, Windows-less. More so now that many people work from home and many programs/interfaces are Web-based (accessed via a Web browser). Employers, however, sometimes make 100% abstinence impossible. Whether one uses Windows locally (on one’s own computer) or remotely connects to some Windows box is rather different (some ‘desktops’ or ‘servers’ are in “the Clown”, as in Clown Computing, not some physical dedicated box). In one case, the latter case, one might argue that it’s not much different from remotely logging in to AWS (control panel, not an instance) to remotely manage something. These things are proprietary, but the host lacks access and control over the visitor’s computer. So the loss of autonomy is limited somewhat. The erosion of privacy is also limited (to what can be done with JavaScript, e.g. tracking mouse movement). AWS is problematic in a way few geeks ever bother addressing.

“It is so often taken for granted that nowadays it’s so easy to live without Windows.”The ethics associated with Free software have been explained many times by the person who coined and defined the term (e.g. in this video segment). The basic idea is that users exercise collective control over programs that they use and developers (and/or their employers) have limited or no control over the users.

Netcraft August 2020The last time I had Windows on a computer of mine was a very long time ago. It was Windows 98 way back in the 1990s. It came on a laptop with just 32 MB of physical RAM and eventually I ran DSL on it. Everywhere I’ve worked since I was allowed to use GNU/Linux exclusively, but there were the occasional caveats like having to remotely connect (VNC, Remote Desktop etc.) to some Windows machine where a particular application was installed. Apparently this is typical and common; many GNU/Linux geeks do exactly that, sometimes even in 2020 (when Web-based applications became ubiquitous and accessible to an abundant number of browsers/platforms).

Speaking of 2020 as a yardstick (with or without a pandemic), how many people nowadays don’t even have a machine per se and instead possess only a so-called ‘smart’ ‘phone’? It turns out that quite a lot, depending on nations and demographics (or economic means). Virtually none of these things run Windows (not even emulated Windows programs).

It is so often taken for granted that nowadays it’s so easy to live without Windows. Heck, it’s easy to live without anything from Apple, either (Android is bigger than iOS in every single way and macOS is just a glorified, over-marketed pile of GUI).

Those of us who still occasionally access a Windows machine remotely (I do this about once a month because some clients have a Windows machine somewhere, even if it’s just 5% or less of all their machines) will likely stop some time in the coming years. Fewer and fewer reasons still exist for companies to use Windows anywhere at all.

Windows is basically a “burning platform” (Mr. Elop’s phrase) and without Windows as a common carrier the Microsoft monopoly will gradually crumble. IIS is already on the ropes, Microsoft fired about 5,000 workers in recent months, and Microsoft is aggressively pushing “Clown Computing” these days — to the point of likely breaching antitrust laws. This is why we’ve been spending time publishing and then explaining Bill Gates deposition tapes.

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