Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire

Microsoft released the licensing agreements for Vista this week. One of the more interesting provisions in the agreements for the two low-end editions (Home Basic and Home Premium) of the new OS is the one that states that the OS cannot be used in a "virtual or otherwise emulated environment." What this means to Mac users is that they can't use (or should't use) those versions of Vista with Parallels Desktop or WINE.

Interestingly, Microsoft does allow such use for the two high-end (read "more expensive") versions of the OS. That use, is limited, however. The say:
If you do so, you may not play or access content or use applications protected by any Microsoft digital, information or enterprise rights management technology or other Microsoft rights management services or use BitLocker.

So you can't use DRM'd content in virtual usage. Hmmmm. Who'd want to?

Why is Microsoft making these provisions? What are they afraid of? After all, if you buy a copy of Vista, you SHOULD be able to run it anywhere you darned please, as long as they get their money and you only run it on one machine, what business of theirs is it that you're running it in a virtual machine?

What they're afraid of is "ghettoization." When users start running Windows in an emulated or virtual environment, that implies that they are using another OS as their main OS. That means that Windows has become a footnote in the history books, because it's being run as a "guest" in another OS. The same way that Windows itself allowed running DOS programs in a window and Mac OS X allowed you to run OS 9 applications in Classic.

The endless delays, the bugs in the beta releases, the numerous code rebuilds, the dwindling feature set all say that Vista is probably a disaster in the making and that Microsoft's star probably is starting to fall. These license requirements say that Microsoft knows this, and wants to try and keep their monopolistic hold on the PC industry.

Michael Dell himself has said that he would load Mac OS X on Dells if he could. Bill Gates got out of the captain's chair when the Dept. of Justice was ferreting out all the violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that Microsoft was guilty of. Now he's totally separated himself from the company to do charity work. Gates is a lot of things, but "stupid" isn't one of them.

We are witnessing the beginning of the end for Microsoft, I believe. It may take 10 years for it to completely collapse, but it will happen. The future belongs to unix, that much is clear. Windows just can't compete with the stability and security of unix; whether it's Mac OS X, linux, or another flavor is irrelevant.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A House With No Windows

My roommate's Dad, who worked for IBM for many years, has an older Aptiva desktop computer. He's been running Windows 98 SE for years and has had several spyware and adware infections despite my best efforts to keep him up and running. I installed and ran Ad-Aware, the McAfee suite, etc. etc. and still he had problems. He finally reached the point where he'd had enough and we started talking about either upgrading to Win XP or moving to Linux. I ordered a free Ubuntu Live CD for him to try.

It took several weeks, but when the Ubuntu CD arrived, he was very excited to try it out. After several days of playing with the Live CD, he decided he wanted to install it on his computer. I performed the install, of course. I was worried that Linux would not support all of his hardware (a Lexmark printer, a web cam, wireless card, and an HP scanner). Although we had some trouble with his wireless card (it was a Netgear USB MA111), after replacing it with a low-cost Linksys card everything is up and running. Even the scanner works.

Running so well, in fact, that I was able to get my iMac to print to his printer, something I couldn't do while he was running Windows because there was no Macintosh driver for his printer that would work with Win 98. But since we're both running a unix-like system (neither is pure unix, but both are so close it doesn't matter) we both use CUPS (the Common Unix Printing System) and can now share printers.

The long and short of it is that we've now become a Windows-free household.

I used RedHat Linux several years ago and though it was an OK OS for a tech-head like me, it wasn't "ready for prime-time." The average user just had to learn too much to make Linux a viable OS for most users. I'm happy to say, though, that the progress that's been made in the last 5 years has made Linux VERY usable and compatible.

I'm not going to say that there was NO tech knowledge needed, I did have to fight with the new wireless card to get it working, but the majority of the distro has been well-thought-out and I'm very impressed. I prefer the KDE desktop myself, but he seems happy with GNOME.

If I couldn't have a Mac, I'd use Linux myself. It's that good. And it's FREE. Yep, the OS and all the software are FREE. Can't beat the price!

If you're thinking of 'upgrading' to XP or Vista, give Linux a try first. It's secure, it's not prone to viruses, and there's lots of FREE software available for it.

I think it's pretty clear that Microsoft is losing its hold on the IT market. Unix, in all of its flavors, is the only true competition for Windows.

Trust me, you CAN live in a house with no Windows.