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Why Download 7apourware When the Real Thing (e.g. Ubuntu 8) is Free, Including Shipping?

Cards on table
Vista 2



Microsoft goes to great lengths to hype up a product that may be released next year (according to more than one reputable source). Early coverage of the product was essentially bought [1, 2, 3].

Vista 7[sic] a second attempt at Windows Vista, which is already giving some curious testers the blues.

What a Windows 7 BSOD Looks Like



[...]

It looks the same.


Well, it's not as though much has changed under the hood.

Why is it that people are curious about this beta build? Is it the notion of perceived value and the artificial scarcity introduced by Microsoft? At GeekZone, there is a reactionary post which states that a stable version of a better operating system is not only free; shipping to one's house (of several copies that can be installed infinitely) is free too.

Ubuntu 8.10 OS giveaway



[...]

We have a copy of Ubuntu 8.10 to give away this week. Ok, not only this week and not only one copy. In fact, get as many as you want, tell your friends as well.

* Powerful, modern, user-friendly desktop environment. * Out-of-the-box support for most available hardware and USB devices. * Home networking. * Home computer backup. * Secure, multi-user environment, no need to run anti-virus software. * Thousands of applications for any task, freely available, easily browsable and installed with just a few clicks: Complete office suites (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.), graphic design, multimedia, photo management, games, Internet, education, sciences, programming, and much more. * 100% DRM free, no restrictions, no license keys, no fees, no charges, no secret collecting and passing on of your data, no artificial limits on what you can do with your computer and your data, 100% respect for you, the user.


Hans responds to the "Linux killer" talking point by saying that "Linux makes Windows 7 obsolete."

As a matter of fact, Microsofts future is squashed between an obsolete Windows XP and a Vista nobody wants. With many home users getting tired to get and maintain the next pirated version of Microsoft Office and many governments moving to ODF I see very dark clouds for Microsofts main cash cows. It may be clear by now that Windows 7 is nothing more than a refurbished Windows Vista. Aero has been polished a bit more, some of the major resource hogs may have been optimized, but all in all it is nothing more than Vista SP2.


Glyn Moody published in Linux Journal for the first time in a long time. He asserts that the BadVista has probably fulfilled its purpose because Microsoft is just too shy to mention Vista at this stage.

That said, I think it would have been better to have forgone this easy pleasure. Had the FSF post avoided facile declarations of “victory”, or vague claims about introducing people to GNU/Linux through this campaign, and concentrated instead on the very real achievements – in the media sphere, for example - people would probably have been even more impressed. Better to emphasise the superiority of free software and its supporters by rising above Microsoft and its tactics.

Against that background, and with the appearance of Vista's successor, now would be a useful time to ponder how such campaigns should be waged in the future. Is this focus on negativity a useful way to go about things? If so, should the FSF be preparing a BadOffice site, or BadWindows 7 site, or are their better targets? If not, might it be more effective to adopt a more subtle approach, creating targeted resources for journalists so that they can present the other side? Any views?


Coverage in the news of "Windows 7" (mythical software) outnumbered that of "Vista" by a factor of about 5 the last time I checked (on Sunday). This means that Microsoft follows its own guidebooks.

"In the face of strong competition, Evangelism's focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X."

--Microsoft, internal document [PDF]



"Microsoft looks at new ideas, they don't evaluate whether the idea will move the industry forward, they ask, 'how will it help us sell more copies of Windows?'"

--Bill Gates, The Seattle Weekly, (April 30, 1998)

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