Archive for the ‘Windows ME 2007’ Category

Lenovo’s Revisionist Netbook History

May 18, 2009

A reply to bug #1:

> im seeing more and more vendors offer systems with ubuntu and other
> linux distros. i agree with bert07 that they are finally starting to see
> the linux community.

Speaking of “vendors” who are “starting to see the linux community”, I note that Lenovo is not one of them:

The other challenge has been, in order to keep the price points down, a lot of people thought that Linux would be the saviour of all of these netbooks.

You know, there were a lot of netbooks loaded with Linux, which saves $50 or $100 or whatever it happens to be, based on Microsoft’s pricing and, again, from an industry standpoint, there were a lot of returns because people didn’t know what to do with it.

Linux, even if you’ve got a great distribution and you can argue which one is better or not, still requires a lot more hands-on than somebody who is using Windows.

So, we’ve seen overwhelmingly people wanting to stay with Windows because it just makes more sense: you just take it out of the box and it’s ready to go.

I’m going to call ‘revisionist history’ on Lenovo BTW; People didn’t want “to stay with Windows”, they wanted to stay with Windows *XP*. Yet at the same time, XP (which is still much more widely used than Vista; e.g. see Net Applicaitons and Stat Counter) had all but gone extinct on regular machines from the big OEMs. Thus there was a high demand for it with low supply. When XP netbooks entered the market at a price point of less than half what Vista notebooks cost, they sold quite well as you might have expected! You’ll note that while there are fewer Linux-based netbooks than XP ones available, you don’t see any in stores with Vista O:) Also it turns out that Microsoft only charged the OEMs $15 per XP Home license on netbooks which explains why they didn’t cost significantly more than the Linux ones. And while MSI apparently had 4x (!) higher return rates on their SUSE systems than they did with those preloaded with XP, Dell’s netbooks shipping with Ubuntu (a full third!) had about the same return rate as those with XP. What this says to me is that MSI didn’t do a good job of picking/testing/tweaking/marketing their distro of choice, while Dell did.

My prediction is that companies which decide to put Windows 7 Starter (limited to 3 concurrent applications… can we say “crippleware”? ;) on netbooks are going to have unhappy customers and low sales, those who continue to preload XP will continue to do well and those that preload Ubuntu will see increasing sales.



Windows Se7en

January 30, 2009

I just realized a way that Microsoft could go a long way towards soothing-over the Vista fiasco, while generating goodwill among Windows users, undermining Linux adoption, making lots of very good press and really not costing Microsoft very much money (seriously, I can’t imagine much more than those terrible ads with Gates and Seinfeld).

But I am *so* confident that it would completely run contrary to the ‘penny-wise but dollar-foolish’ mentality at M$ that they will *never* do it that I will blog the idea right here:

Let legitimate Windows Vista keys work for Windows Seven.

IOW, let Windows Vista users upgrade to Windows Seven for free (gratis).

[Update: It appears that I am not the only one and not the first person to think this either :]

The vast majority of Windows upgrades happen when people buy new computers, NOT from buying an upgrade version; the small drop in profits for lost Vista to Seven boxed upgrades would be more than compensated by increased computer sales.  The buzz already is that Seven is what Vista really should have been; sort of a Windows 98 SE (but compared to ME, not 98 ;)…  Amusingly, read this section of an article about “consumer harm” caused by M$ as a mad-lib:

Windows [VERSION] is already on its “second edition.” To get what are essentially bug fixes, Microsoft charges Windows [VERSION] users $[AMOUNT], for the second edition of the same product. (Creating yet another opportunity to charge consumers more money so its products will function properly).

(VERSION = 98 or Vista? ;)

If M$ did that simple thing, do you doubt that it would have the effects I described in the first part of the post?

Do you doubt that Ballmer & Co. will never do it?

I have to say that the different Windows Se7en DVD versions look pretty… Ultimate is in the middle.

Be sure to stay off their lawn

September 7, 2008

Oh dear me.  What is THIS?  Seriously, WTF is it???  The start of an ad campagin?  Or the incoherent ramblings of a company and its founder on a one way trip to senile dementia?  Pair that with what is being said about Microsoft’s flagship product these days and you might want to double check to make sure MSFT isn’t in your portfolio…

Towards a “Microsoft-free world”

August 8, 2008

[Update August 8: I note, via Groklaw’s News Picks that Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system […] By taking advantage of the way that browsers, specifically Internet Explorer, handle active scripting and .NET objects, the pair have been able to load essentially whatever content they want into a location of their choice on a user’s machine.  Researchers who have read the paper that Dowd and Sotirov wrote on the techniques say their work is a major breakthrough and there is little that Microsoft can do to address the problems. The attacks themselves are not based on any new vulnerabilities in IE or Vista, but instead take advantage of Vista’s fundamental architecture and the ways in which Microsoft chose to protect it. “The genius of this is that it’s completely reusable,” said Dino Dai Zovi, a well-known security researcher and author. “They have attacks that let them load chosen content to a chosen location with chosen permissions. That’s completely game over. “What this means is that almost any vulnerability in the browser is trivially exploitable,” Dai Zovi added. “A lot of exploit defenses are rendered useless by browsers. ASLR and hardware DEP are completely useless against these attacks.” […] “This stuff just takes a knife to a large part of the security mesh Microsoft built into Vista,” Dai Zovi said. “If you think about the fact that .NET loads DLLs into the browser itself and then Microsoft assumes they’re safe because they’re .NET objects, you see that Microsoft didn’t think about the idea that these could be used as stepping stones for other attacks.” So much for “the most secure” OS.]

John C. Dvorak has a column up, comparing Microsoft to a ‘Spandex Granny‘:

Vista is essentially the old hooker with a bad facelift and too much makeup. She also can’t remember her customers. Microsoft cannot seem to arrive at this self-realization, and, instead, hopes to be the debutante forever. The situation is beginning to take on the feeling of a Tales from the Crypt story—both sad and creepy. […] Microsoft has seen better days, like an athlete at the end of a career. Some endings are good, some are bad. I hope Microsoft will find one of the good ways. Pretending to be a small, agile company after 20 years isn’t working.

And so with that lovely introduction, let’s segue to what Linux is up to:

“For the first time, IBM and leading Linux distributors Canonical/Ubuntu, Novell and Red Hat will join forces globally with their hardware partners to deliver Microsoft-free personal computing choices with Lotus Notes and Lotus Symphony in the one billion-unit desktop market worldwide by 2009. Citing shifting market forces and the growing demand for economical alternatives to costly Windows and Office-based computers, the four leaders sense an ideal set of circumstances allowing Linux-based desktops to proliferate in the coming year. Linux is far more profitable for a PC vendor and the operating system is better equipped to work with lower cost hardware than new Microsoft technology. “The slow adoption of Vista among businesses and budget-conscious CIOs, coupled with the proven success of a new type of Microsoft-free PC in every region, provides an extraordinary window of opportunity for Linux,” said Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president for IBM Lotus Software. “We’ll work to unlock the desktop to save our customers money and give freedom of choice by offering this industry-leading solution.”

Zimbra, the open-source e-mail software that Yahoo acquired for $350 million last year, is officially coming to Ubuntu Linux. Coinciding with this week’s LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, Zimbra has announced a partnership with Ubuntu parent company Canonical. Ubuntu users have been able to access Zimbra for the past year. But now, the e-mail software will be in the Ubuntu Partner Repository [the package name is zdesktop, just FYI], providing easy access to both offline and online Yahoo Mail, Gmail, AOL Mail, and any IMAP or POP e-mail accounts. Zimbra also offers document and spreadsheet functions, as well as mashup features with services like Flickr,, and Yahoo Maps.”

“Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM, told attendees of the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco, that what the open source community needs to make Linux popular as a desktop OS used by consumers and businesses are “some really good graphic designers.” “Stop copying 2001 Windows. That’s not where the usability action is,” Sutor said during his afternoon keynote. […] Sutor said he believed the many open source licenses, as well as the many software standards bodies, that exist today, would eventually dwindle to only a few. As it is now, five or six open source licenses cover more than 90% of the available software today. […] Going forward, however, the Linux community had to be conscious of the “enemies of open source” and couldn’t rest. Although Sutor didn’t say who these enemies are, Microsoft has certainly been a major detractor.”

“For customers in the United States […] the Dell XPS M1530n and Studio 15n notebooks are now available with Ubuntu 8.04 factory installed.”

Breaking the Camel’s Back

July 9, 2008

Most people have heard the phrase “the last straw“.  When it comes to Microsoft, people will moan and groan that they wish their Vista computers didn’t suck so bad.  Yet they still bought them, many even knowing Vista’s reputation.  Most knowing, first hand, Microsoft’s reputation.  Why?  Because that’s what they came with.

After reading my 2010 post, “John” added a comment to to Ubuntu’s Bug #1: “all we need to do in order to get rid of Microsoft once and for all is cutting their connections with hardware vendors […] bundling Windows with the majority of new computers (most notably laptops) and therefore denying ICT users’ the right to freely choose their OS is probably the the fundamental cause of all this mess. […] i suggest we should do our best to make bundling illegal

Imagine for a moment what only allowing blank computers to be sold would do for Linux adoption.  Yet its a harsh remedy; OEMs wouldn’t be able to sell functional products and average users would be forced to do something they just do not do right now because it seems scary: install their own OS.  What is really needed is some way of making that final purchase step for the consumer just ever so slightly too painful to bear: add up all the grief you’ve ever had with Windows, all the terrible things you’ve ever heard about Vista, [update July 28: for real, here and here] and just make one last annoyance visible for the consumer to reflect upon before finalizing their purchase: the ‘Microsoft tax‘…  Here’s what I replied for Bug #1:

I’ve been thinking about this thread on-and-off all day and just a few minutes ago a possible solution struck me:

What if OEMs were required to sell the software separately from the hardware, BUT still be allowed to preinstall?  Specifically, think of this scenario:

Major OEM makes notebooks and preloads them with Windows, but does NOT activate them.  The notebook has one price and a sealed envelope with the OEM Windows Key Sticker, backup CDs, etc. has a different price.

If the user wants to buy Windows for the notebook, they just pay the extra $ for the envelope too and when they first bootup the machine they enter the code and affix the sticker as per the EULA.

Oh wait, what’s that other stack of disks next to the Windows envelopes?  Ubuntu Linux disks?  What’s that you say; they’re FREE?   And Ubuntu can do pretty much everything Windows can and a few things it can’t?  And if I don’t like it I can come back next week and still buy the OEM Windows disks?  Hmm…

In this sort of environment, how long do you think Microsoft would last? O:)  How long would it take for the OEMs to just start preloading Ubuntu to save the hassle?  Is anyone, perhaps starting in Europe, up for a little legislation? >:)

Update: Speaking of Vista’s reputation, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I note today that MS is planning on spending “hundreds of millions of dollars” to “overcome the common view that Windows Vista is a failure”.  Wouldn’t this be like spending lots of money to counter the ‘common view’ that Ishtar, Waterworld or any of these weren’t that good?  Perhaps instead of using that money to pretend that a sucky product isn’t, they should partially reimburse past buyers, or discount future sales, or maybe just invest in making the current or next product better.

Also, I note that there’s an article up mentioning that businesses that want to switch away from XP can save one to two thousand dollars per seat in hardware and software costs by switching to Linux and reusing old boxes instead of Vista on new machines.  But if you do that, how will Microsoft pay for the ads that tell you what a great deal you got running Vista? ;)

W3Schools: March Data

April 15, 2008

W3Schools posted their March data.  For whatever reason, I’ve noticed that their latest month data is subject to change; its happened several times in the last few months that they will post a set of numbers and the next month revise it.  But the trends are there to see; FF+IE keep a fairly stable market share ~90% (so no major third browser traction) with FF increasing quickly and IE7 increasing slowly, both at the expense of IE6.  I note via the browser OS stats page that the number of Vista users has increased by 0.8%, in the last month but the number of IE7 users has only gone up by 0.4%; this reinforces the implication that pretty much all of the IE7 growth can be attributed to sales of Vista machines (that likely are replacing old XP ones), yet also again that at least half of Vista adopters are using Firefox (a rate higher than the ~third for XP users) at least among those who visit anyway.

Update May 18: W3Schools released their April data… and also revised their March and February data again!  Not sure if they changed their methodology or what, but I’ve contacted them to ask what’s up.  In the mean time, be aware that the most recent month is (or couple of months are) subject to change…

Update May 21: They very nicely replied to my e-mail:

In the last months (actually, the last 10 months) the numbers has been changed somewhat as we have been developing and improving our statistics application.

When we change things in our application, we run statistics from previous months over again. That is why some of the earlier numbers are changed.

I am sorry for the confusion this may have caused.

An Unscientific Poll

April 5, 2008

On a whim I did some Google searches:

I love Ubuntu” ~41,200 hits

I hate Ubuntu” ~1,680 hits (~4% of Ubuntu love)

I love Windows” ~37,400 hits (including facetious uses of that ;)

I hate Windows” ~61,100 hits (~163% of Windows love)

So using this unscientific poll, we can surmise that people’s experience with Ubuntu is generally far more pleasant than with Windows ;)

In a slightly related note, Bill Gates seems to be cementing the Vista-as-Windows ME 2007 reputation by claiming that “Sometime in the next year or so we will have a new version” of Windows.  Never mind that its complete vaporware at this point; perhaps he thinks the message he’s projecting is that “I’m super-enthused about what [Windows 7] will do in lots of ways”… yet what people are actually hearing is ‘avoid Vista’; the results are predictable: people will stick with XP for now if they can, get a Mac if they can’t or maybe even dabble with Linux; Hardy is looking so pretty that it absolutely blows away anyone who hasn’t looked at Desktop Linux in the last couple years (and the EULA can’t be beat :).

[Update: for more unscientific fun, see the comments ;]

New OEM Linux computers coming soon

March 6, 2008

A partial update to my Christmas Computers post, there are two new OEM Linux computers coming out:

– Shuttle’s $200 KPC which will (unusually) run the GNOME-based Foresight distro by default.

– And quite importantly, HP is coming out with a $500 UMPC to rival the Eee PC.

(Vista will be available on a $650 version; I’m going to guess ~$50 for the OEM cost of Windows and $100 for lots more RAM and a faster processor… so not only do you pay a Microsoft Tax, but you also pay a Vista Hardware Requirement Fee to get the same (hopefully!) level of responsiveness from your machine. Why they didn’t just go with XP while they still can is beyond me)

What fills me with hope is that HP is currently the largest OEM vendor AFAIK. Look to see Linux expand rapidly this year! :)

Christmas Computers

December 16, 2007

Looking for a system with XP on it for Christmas? Well… good luck if you go to a retail chain :)

I dropped in at my local Future Shop store today and had a look around at the computers for sale; mostly major OEM PCs, but a few Macs too. All the PCs carried Vista. The salesman was quite adamant that OEMs weren’t allowed to sell XP anymore (this is demonstrably not true; it can still be preloaded until June 30, 2008) but admitted when I asked him if he’s had people inquiring about XP machines that he’s been asked that a LOT. So the demand is there, its just not being filled (in the big chains, anyway).

We got chatting though and I told him a little bit about Ubuntu (and when he seemed interested I gave him a disk ;). I always point out the white text area on the back when handing out Ubuntu disks; its always a WOW moment for someone who’s pretty much only had experience with Windows and other proprietary software:

I find that people who sell computers generally are interested in Ubuntu; they know the hardware and they certainly know the not so nice points about Windows ;) but they don’t know that there are free alternatives out there since they’re not being asked to sell them. A good thing to do when discussing computers is to bring up Dell’s Ubuntu systems, the Eee PC, OLPC and the gPC (as I did when I was at London Drugs) to show that not only are Linux systems being offered for sale, but they’re really not that expensive (especially the $200 gPC! ;). Its kind of a shock to the salespeople when you can show them a retail Linux system for less than half of their lowest end Vista model.

A couple weeks ago I was in a Source by Circuit City store and asked them if they might ever carry a Linux-based computer. He replied in the negative, at which point I mentioned the Linux systems on the market which suddenly surprised him since they actually DO SELL the Eee PC, he just didn’t know that its OS was Linux-based! =D (in fact right now its listed as “the hottest computer for the holiday season” on the main page of their website!)

I weep a little bit that the Eee PC runs a version of Xandros (which it will be remembered, signed a patent deal with M$) as that means I won’t be buying one. Maybe I should contact Asus and see if I can get one sans-OS…

Oh and BTW, I should share my best Ubuntu disk story so far! The other day I took my daughter to visit Santa at the mall to have some holiday photos taken for the grandparents; Santa gave her a little stuffed bear. She gave Santa an Ubuntu disk :-) Merry Christmas Santa!

Windows ME 2007 watching and BSA Baddies

November 27, 2007

Another installment of Windows ME 2007 watching; while Vista SP1 apparently won’t make much difference in its speed, XP SP3 will: faster by ~10% in a test case. That on top of its far-better-than-Vista metrics already. Just… ouch. And with ‘Windows 7’ promised ~2010 and XP still for sale until mid-2008, Vista is looking more and more like a version to avoid as badly as ME was. If you must still use Windows, hang onto XP!

And if you didn’t need another reason to jump ship from Windows, consider that the BSA (often regarded primarily as a front for Microsoft’s anti-piracy initiative) is targeting small businesses to the tune of 90% of their settlements. Some quotes:

“the industry has saddled its customers with complex licensing agreements that are hard to master. In that view, the BSA amasses most of its bounties from small businesses because they have fewer technological, organizational and legal resources to avoid a run-in.”

The BSA considers software pirated if a company can’t produce a receipt for it, no matter how long ago it was purchased. Software boxes or certificates of authenticity are no help, because the BSA argues the software could have been obtained from an illegitimate source.”

“BSA targets commonly say they wish they didn’t have to buy anything again from the companies that unleashed the alliance on them. […] For many businesses, open-source has seemed technically daunting or unable to match the proprietary programs seen as essential in some industries. These days, however, the march of technology might be changing that. That’s one hope of Michael Gaertner, the architect who worried his BSA encounter would crush his business. Now he wants to rid himself of the Autodesk, Microsoft and Adobe software involved in the case. “It’s not like they have really good software. It’s just that it’s widespread and it’s commonly used,” Gaertner said. “It’s going to be a while, but eventually, we plan to get completely disengaged from those software vendors that participate in the BSA.“”

See also the tale of Ernie Ball. “one day I got a call that there were armed marshals at my door talking about software license compliance” The lack of BSA thugs is yet another reason why Linux is better.

Update: Here’s another article to read as a ‘case study’ as M$ likes to call these things…

“Because they don’t need many applications, essentially we’re able to use fairly low-end and affordable hardware for our booking system,” he says. The use of more affordable machines promotes hardware longevity and that is the key, he says. “You’re talking significant savings here because you have to replace or buy new hardware then licence new versions of Windows if you follow that upgrade path,” he says. If it upgraded to Microsoft Vista, Allen says: “We’d then be upgrading our desktop and laptop fleet left right and centre. “We were actually trying to go the other way as much as possible to contain costs.” The result has been savings to the tune of 60 per cent to 70 per cent, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, Allen says, without revealing specifics. “There has been no functional impact on our business as a result of dropping Windows,” he says.

And your company is still primarily using Windows why?

Here’s a good rule to follow: Treat all proprietary software as legacy software, regardless of its age. Going forward you can find ways to phase it out and switch to libre solutions.

Update Jan,. 13, 2009: An article describing how “Organisations are being put under increasing pressure from software licence audits, with some vendors exploiting technicalities and loopholes in order to meet revenue targets” which links to this one which says “Microsoft puts “gotchas” in the fine print of its licences to get money out of users – and there are no plans to make those licences any simpler, Steve Ballmer told customers in London today. […] Users wanting simplification are actually asking for price cuts, while Microsoft  shareholders would prefer that any simplification kept prices higher, he said (especially as Microsoft revenues have declined of late).”