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Ultimate Deathmatch: GNU/Linux Versus... Vapourware

Hand silhouetted
Can GNU/Linux beat ghosts?



"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]



Information Week, a publication which is typically hostile towards freedom, has just published this comparison between today's GNU/Linux and Microsoft's vapourware. It's not exactly a fair comparison when inexistent products are treated as though they are available, but here they go.

There's fierce debate in the air about what 7 means for both Windows and Linux. Microsoft's last gasp? Linux's formidable new enemy? Closer inspection shows us it's not really either of those things. Linux has made strides of its own on the desktop and made it possible to build netbooks at low cost--and while Windows 7 will almost certainly take a bite out of that market and impress existing Windows users all the more, Linux has also become its own animal.


There are some more remarks on that in BMighty.

Although Serdar doesn't spell it out here, I think his comparison of Linux and Windows 7 offers an important subtext. While it is clear that a lot of Microsoft's work on WIndows 7 was a direct response to its difficulties with Windows Vista, it's not a stretch to see that some improvements would not have happened if Linux didn't represent a legitimate competitive threat. (One word: netbooks.)


As we showed a few days ago, this unfinished project called Vista 7 is already dropping features, so there are good reasons to maintain healthy doses of skepticism. Moreover, according to a Slashdot post that garnered over 1000 comments in a matter of hours, Vista 7 turns out to have become another huge DRM mess.

A few days' testing of Windows 7 has already disclosed some draconian DRM, some unrelated to media files. A legitimate copy of Photoshop CS4 stopped functioning after we clobberred a nagging registration screen by replacing a .dll with a hacked version. That's not so much a surprise, but what WAS a surprise: Noting that Win7 allows programs like Photoshop to stealthily insert themselves in your firewall exception list.

[...]

Something *really nasty* is lurking under the surface of Win7. Being in bed with the RIAA is bad enough, but locking your own files away from you is a device so outrageous it may kill the OS for many persons.


Additionally, it's only vaporware at this stage. So what do Microsoft and their partners have today?

What can be purchased at the shops right now?

Just Vista.

Several days ago we showed that Microsoft had been sued for its malpractice that generates money out of people who are highly dissatisfied, having been forced to pay for Windows Vista when they acquire new hardware (bundling), only to be charged again to remove this unwanted sofwtare. Microsoft is already going on the defence with the help of IDG, as usual.

"Customers have been forced to purchase the most expensive version of [Windows XP] in order to 'downgrade' from the Windows Vista operating system," the complaint read.

That was the cause of some confusion last year, when Dell Inc. was accused of gouging customers by charging $150 to downgrade a new computer to XP. Dell, however, countered that although it did charge $20 to install XP on the machine, as well as to cover the cost of the additional media, the bulk -- $120 of the $150 -- was the price of upgrading the PC from the standard Home Premium to the more expensive Business edition.


Free Software Magazine has a nice cartoon about it. If people want to upgrade from Vista, they ought to consider migrating to GNU/Linux, not running back to XP. The editor of ComputerWorld (IDG) had something to say on this matter as well.

Money, money, money; that's us.

Microsoft should understand that -- just as we understand why Microsoft has started to push Vista with arguments ranging from the sincere to the screwy. (No, Steve Ballmer, most users won't ask their boss why they can't get Vista at work this year; they just want to keep getting a paycheck this year.)


In other related news about Windows Mobile, the latest feeble attempt from Microsoft to shore up the product is met with disdain from Microsoft Watch, a pro-Microsoft Web site.

News Analysis. My reaction to today's Microsoft announcements coming out of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: Too little. Too late. Too bad.


Windows is having a very rough ride these days. But Microsoft doesn't want anyone to notice. All the answers are out there, readily available to the public if it knows just where to look (beyond spin and marketing that's endemic by design).

Vista 7 starts now

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