Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boiling Water : Windows

One of the basic problems facing Linux conversions these days is the person who says something to the effect of "I've used Windows Xp for the past 4 years and I've never had any problem with it. I've never had any blue screens, I've never had any crashes or lock-ups, and I've never had anything go wrong. What are you Linux guys doing with Windows to say my system is unstable?" The truth is, from a average users point of view, NT5 was a really good release from Microsoft.

How then does one approach the users who honestly believe there is nothing wrong with using Microsoft Windows? How does one approach somebody who has never actually had a major problem with Microsoft Windows? How does one convince such a user that Microsoft Windows is a bad operating system to be using?

There isn't, as far as I see, a simple answer. One of the starting points is to ask what anti-virus and anti-spyware device the Windows users has. The leading point then is to point out that with all existing known Linux Distributions you do not need to run an anti-virus program or anti-spyware program. There are some available if you want to run them, but they are not requirements for day-to-day use.

Of course, there always will be somebody who states they DO NOT run an anti-virus or an anti-spyware program and that they STILL have never had any issues or problems with Microsoft Windows. Problem is, you can't really come out and call such people liars, even though empirical evidence is heavily stacked in the favor that anybody who states such is lying through their teeth.

So, the next step is to ask what other programs they use on their computer to connect to the internet. You'll find that many respond that they use FireFox, Opera, Thunderbird, or some other browser and email combination that does not include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Outlook express. Considering that those are the main entry points of issues into the Microsoft Windows operating systems, it is almost a simple matter to point out that the day to day programs in use happen to be the same ones available in Linux. It also helpful to point out that Open-Source applications are generally built to a higher security quality than Microsoft applications.

If users respond saying they do use Internet Explorer and an Outlook product, at that point? Yes, feel free to laugh and call them liars.

The question is though, how did it get to be this way? How did Microsoft come off of the reviled Windows 9X releases, go through a messy launch cycle with Xp, to several years later having users state they never had any issues with their Xp system?

The answer is found by using a Frog, some water, a pot, and a stove. Put some water in the pot and bring the pot to a boil. Drop the frog in, and the frog will more than likely immediately jump out. Okay, drain the pot and let it cool, then re-fill it with water. Put the frog in the pot, then turn the stove on. As the water comes to a boil the frog will likely not remove itself, and generally die in the boiling water.

Familiar with the experiment? Okay, now replace the pot of Water with Microsoft Windows, and the frog with the user.

Take a user who has never used Windows before, and they'll go crazy with how bad everything seems to operate. You'll also get a long list of things that seem broken or just plain nonsensical.

To a user that has only used Microsoft Windows? It is just like being the frog placed in the bucket of water before the water is heated up. Users get desensitized to the need for security software, and the need to leave automatic updates enabled. Users get familiar with the de-fragmentation process, as well as normalized maintenance of a Windows Computer. To many users, it isn't such a big deal that cleaning out the computer is a daily task, or that the first step when getting a new computer is to go get a better browser, a better email client, a better music player, and so on and so forth.

What makes the distance even greater is that the average user never has actually installed Windows XP. The average user sends the computer off to a specialist (me) in order to get any apparent problems addressed. So, the end user never winds up sitting on the phone for 2 or 3 hours to get their version of Windows Reactivated. Many OEM's actually ship their versions of Microsoft Windows without the activation software, so if the user has to repair the OS or recover, they never run into the problems retail buyers run into.

At some point users just decide they can deal with the little things, and that's why changing such users to Linux is such a challenge.

Linux is a pot of boiling water, period. From whatever system users have had before, most Linux Distributions are completely different. There is a learning curve of the new user interface, the new program locations, and the structure is completely different. After a while Linux begins to simmer down as users get used to the heat. After a while? Well, anybody can get comfortable in a sauna given enough time.

Conversion problems are further complicated by the average users perecption of the pro-Linux communities. Many average users see the rants about Microsoft's actions on various pro-Linux sites and genuinely wonder what the big deal is? Why is everyone so upset at Microsoft? What has Microsoft ever done to them?

Part of this wondering is derived from Microsoft's political friends. We've already been down that path before. Politically Microsoft is aligned with ABC, CBS, NBC, Reuters, and the Associated Press. These news outlets have no desire, nor any inclination, to accurately report the issues with Microsoft.

One of the basic facts of Microsoft is thus continually overlooked. Microsoft is a federally convicted criminal. Microsoft has been tried in a court of law and found guilty of breaking numerous trade laws, as well as criminal laws.

Microsoft's links to the RIAA, the MPAA, and other freedom removing organizations is also generally overlooked. A lot of users have read about the Palladium and Janus technologies. A lot of consumers were adamantly against any such restrictions being placed on their purchased hardware. However, with a few name changes, and some creative marketing, and very few consumers realized that Janus technologies formed the basis of the Zune sharing system. Even in many of the tech site reviews I saw, very few put two and two together and figured out that Zune was using the failed Janus technologies.

A lot of users don't realize that Microsoft has a hand in the quoted Trusted Computer Platform which explicitly removes the users control over the hardware and leaves the control in the hands of the vendor.

A lot of users don't realize that Microsoft has a hand in creating restriction technologies that allow vendors to retain control over audio and video content and remove the users control over the content.

A lot of users simply don't see two and two being put together, and don't understand that Microsoft is a convicted criminal that is still engaged in multiple criminal activities. Such users have been in the boiling water of Microsoft for so long, it makes no difference.

How to break that barrier? How to get such users to realize that what Microsoft is doing is wrong and needs to be avoided at all costs?

I don't have the answer. If I did, I'd probably also have the answer as to why several voters honestly think that Hillary Clinton's Socialist platform is a good thing, and don't realize that such a platform already tanked, BADLY, in the (former)USSR.

Yes. I did just equate Hillary Clinton to a post WWII start of the cold war era Soviet leader. And anybody else who reads her platform will come to the exact same realization. Now, shes' a buddy of Microsoft.

Do I really need to actually continue this line of thought?


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