Jumping out of windows, switching to Linux
So, windows runs on approximately 95% of systems worldwide (depending on whose numbers you believe). Is this a GOOD thing? US antitrust laws broke ma bell up, and the jury's still out on whether that was a good thing. But consider that with Vista, Microsoft has broken its habit of releasing an "update" that will work with "most" systems purchased in the past few years. Statistically, Vista WON'T work with most of these systems "out of the box" --they STILL need hardware upgrades. Microsoft critics charge that this is the beginning of a trend where Microsoft will begin to dictate what systems manufacturers will produce and when consumers buy new (and in turn how much you will have to pay to stay on the Microsoft bandwagon).
AND then you still have to buy many of the applications you want to use, and they are NOT cheap, either. I find that with each new release of Office Pro, I have to learn more "work arounds" to override what Office THINKS I want to do (erroneously). With each software update, I often have to tweak something in my system to continue to use ALL of my software because of a change for "security" reasons.
Microsoft is an industry leader --in terms of giving the end user less ability to tailor applications to their own needs AND in terms of cross-platform compatibility. That means that a product you buy to work on Windows won't work on a Mac or Unix or anything else AND vice-versa.
Ah, security. In the last few years, the major producers of internet security products for Windows products got together and came to an agreement on what constitutes an annoying pop-up. I used to be able to combine (carefully, of course) Microsoft's own security measures with my choice of another brand of internet security (set selectively) plus my ISPs tools --and have only a few pop-ups per week. NOW, however, I have at least ten per hour; probably because all three utilities are using the same definition of an annoying pop-up. In my opinion, this agreed criteria of what should be blocked has actually served to provide a neat way for pop-up senders to know what WILL get through. And much of what gets through seems to be advertising...a Microsoft product. I don't feel I am as safe from spyware and other malware since this coordinated approach to computer security began, either.
Microsoft has historically been very weak in terms of security for two reasons. One generally has to do with how the many individual programmers that work on the code that comprises one program work together; there have traditionally been "holes" in the way the individuals' work is blended that leave easily exploitable openings for malware--this also has led to Microsoft's reputation for selling a product they know doesn't really work. They sell it to you hoping that few people will suffer before they can get an update out to you. So, you are PAYING (a lot of money) to be a guinea pig and find their errors. The second reason Microsoft products are historically weak in the security department is that Microsoft is targeted my malware (etc.) authors more often than other operating systems; WHY??? Microsoft's first operating system was QDOS. Rumor has it that stood for Quick and Dirty Operating System because they STOLE it and profited from it, leaving the original authors in the dust. Rumor has it that this module of doing business persisted for some indeterminate time. Do you want to support a mega-corporation monopoly that treats people this way? Well, plenty of programmers just don't like microsoft for that reason alone, let alone the questions of how well their products actually serve the end user, and, rumor has it THAT is why microsoft is frequently targeted by malicious coders. I really wish authors of malicious code would consider that the people really hurt by their actions are not directly microsoft, just people who USE microsoft through no fault of their own. Imagine if their talents were put to GOOD use instead...
I'm tired of paying for expensive upgrades with increasing frequency. I'm tired of a mega-corporation monopoly telling me how I can work with something I PAID them for in the first place. I'm tired of having my free choice of what equipment and programs I buy dictated by Microsoft. I'm tired of buying product that doesn't work. I'm tired of building a lean, mean system equal to almost anything you CAN buy today--and then windows doesn't like my system so I can't use their newest operating system AND knowing that the clock is literally ticking on the software I currently have because it will continue to need support (due to the way it was made) but Microsoft won't continue to support it, or release a "final" update that will make it truly self-sufficient--it's like supporting a junkie.
I'm switching to Linux. The distribution I've selected is...free. Updates are...free. Almost any application I want is...free. A few other applications I might want are...reasonably priced. The products work, and I can alter them to fit my needs. Security is...much better than you might imagine, and if someone else (like my young nephew) messes something up on my computer while he's using it, his mistake doesn't affect me, and I can still fix his use of the system, too. Software conflicts are...infrequent and usually easy to fix. AND Linux has user group communities available locally (worldwide) and on the net to help me master the whole programming thing, so I can become entirely self-sufficient. What am I giving up??? At this time, only tax preparation software, and that may change, too. Linux generally doesn't crash. There are no registry keys to experiment with. It works. Currently, there are emulators available that will run software for other platforms on your Linux machine (although Microsoft is trying to stop this).
Is Linux for everyone? Increasingly, YES. There are bare-bones distributions for super-geeks, but there are also very user-friendly distributions for even my Grandmother, who is NOT a super-geek. Don't take the Microsoft hook just because you don't know what else to do... find a Linux User group in your area, show up, make some friends, and learn about your options. Why use a system that will just suck money out of your pocket and make you more dependant, if you have a choice?
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