Saturday, October 24, 2009

Is WIndows 7 still a Crossgrade? Yes.

While most people hear about the Linux and Apple fanatics in the news and various reports, very, very few times is the subject of Windows Fanatics brought up. Oh yes, they do exist. Just as Linux Fanatics and Apple Fanatics can't be told left from right, Windows fanatics shove their noses in a book and automatically declare everybody else wrong, clueless, idiot, and so on. I got a good dose of this when correcting somebody recently that their Windows 7 upgrade... wasn't an upgrade. It was a crossgrade.

Thing is, upgrades don't actually exist in the Windows world. They don't. This is not an opinion. This is not up for an argument. Windows Upgrades do not exist.

It is, however, possible to crossgrade across different versions of Windows. What you can do is trade the problems of one Windows system for the problems of another Windows system. In Windows 95 you traded the small size of the Operating System for increased bulk. I don't mean just amount of space taken up on the hard-drive, I mean the performance of the OS as well. Windows 98 didn't have high system requirements... but it couldn't run on some really low end computers that Win95 could.

From Windows 98 to Windows ME, Users traded off relative stability for better media controls. From Windows ME to 2000, users got better stability, but a server and work-space oriented system. From ME to Xp, users traded off system lightness for ever larger amounts of bloat. From 2000 to Xp, users traded in service pack numbers for what was the exact same operating system. From Xp to Vista, users once again traded in performance for bloat. Then from Vista to Windows 7, once again, it's the exact same operating system... but users trade off even more freedoms of use. Seriously, read the Windows 7 Licensing agreement. Nobody is purchasing the software, everybody is renting it.

Now, in being correct, this also means you'll find crossgrades in Linux and Apple. OF course, you might be thinking I'm going to say that converting from Gnome to KDE is an upgrade... and you might think that replacing that BSD based Unix with a Linux based system is an upgrade... but they are not. Those are crossgrades. It's trading off one interface for another, one system for another, personal opinions aside.

Apple, strangely enough, gets this aspect of computers. They made fun of it on a recent ad. Everything that's happening with Windows 7 now has pretty much been promised before. Lets be honest here, Microsoft's not exactly known for corporate reliability now... are they?

Thus I maintain that the only way you can upgrade from a Windows system is to get a Non-Microsoft Operating System.

Ignoring the social factors, such as licenses and freedom to use, just think about things from a performance and hardware perspective. If you around the Top500 supercomputer users, you'll find that from a performance standpoint, Windows doesn't compete with Linux on a processing basis. If you ask around Netcraft about servers, you'll find that Microsoft's not competitive when it comes to putting webpages online. If you ask the London Stock Exchange what they thought about Windows, you'll find that one of the worlds large financial institutions gave it a failing grade. If you ask Infinity Ward about Servers, you'll quickly find that rather than face the embarrassing question of why they use Linux servers and won't produce a Linux client, they just took dedicated servers away. No, stop laughing. I've brought this up before. Virtually all game developers and publishers don't use Windows to host multiplayer games. The Windows platform just isn't up to the task. So, they use Linux. But they won't produce a Linux client.

Even though, as Phoronix found out, games running under Linux are generally faster than the same code running under windows. And no link this time, you'll have to go dig it up yourself.

Then there is the security aspect. People can say all they want about the number of holes found and patched in various operating systems. What actually matters is the number of virus's that actually make it into the wild. Once again, Windows comes up short. The list of known virus's in the wild lists into the hundreds each day, while Linux, BSD, OSX, and pretty much everybody else chugs along peacefully.

Then there's the price aspect. Typically in the past Apple's were much more expensive options than a white-box Windows computer. If you want to buy a good Apple with a decent graphics card, be prepared to shell out some cash. That being said, Apple's most recent OS is just $29.00. Microsoft's entry starts at $300 if you were to buy just the entry level version outright. Course, that's not exactly fair to Apple is it, since you can only (theoretically), install Snow Leopard onto a pre-existing OSX install. The Home Premium Upgrade is $119, and that's still not being fair to Apple since it's OS doesn't come in a limited edition. If you want the Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade, the equivalent of what Snow Leopard is, you'd be looking at a massive $319 charge to get it retail.

So, once again, it's not really an upgrade there either. Of course, the pricing is intentional. Microsoft doesn't want people buying copies of Windows 7 to put on existing computers. Microsoft wants people to buy new computers with copies of Windows 7 pre-loaded.

Now, I could go on, but at this point it's be like taking a Mac-Truck and putting it through an already burnt down building. From all perspectives, Windows 7 isn't an upgrade from previous versions of Windows. It's just another crossgrade. And in comparison to it's competitors?

It's still a downgrade.


bri² said...

The list of known virus's in the wild lists into the hundreds each day, while Linux, BSD, OSX, and pretty much everybody else chugs along peacefully.

While true, it's more important to note the number of clueless end-users (most susceptible to any given virus) who use each system. While Apple has been gaining marketshare, Microsoft still dominates the home computer market. The people running high-performance Linux servers aren't going to be clicking links in their email to applications sent by wealthy princes from Nigeria.

Yes, there are more viruses that affect Windows systems. There are also more people that use Windows systems that are likely to be taken in and hurt by the virus. It's kind of a perverse supply-demand scenario.

Bkid said...


I see what you did there.

- Ben (yes, THAT Ben)

Mr said...

A commenter above decided to pull out the old tired and repeated falsified "but Windows has more viruses cause there are more Windows computers" arguement. If we are going to argue straight # of viruses = % installed base then Mac OSX should have at least 5+% of the viruses running around in the wild. As of current count? 0. OK next up if Mac OSX has 0 then certainly the even more rare Linux OS should have a similar 0 count right? Nope? While virusus for the various flavors of Linux are much less destrctive than for Windows there are quite a few (certainly many many fewer than Windows - you probably need to lop off some zeros actually). Wait! Lets follow the arguement a bit farther... Symbian, which has about .15% of the market even has viruses running about. Lets just get past the "there are more Windows machines out there" arguement and realize that its just that Windows is that much more an inferior product.

bri² said...

If we are going to argue straight # of viruses = % installed base then Mac OSX should have at least 5+% of the viruses running around in the wild. As of current count? 0.

OSX has 0 viruses, in the purest sense of the term (executable code that attaches itself to a program or file so that it can spread from one computer to another). Older Apple systems do have true viruses, so that argument only holds true for the newest and shiniest version.

Additionally, OSX does have malware (trojans, worms, spyware, etc.), which most people would call a virus even if, strictly speaking, it isn't one. And these are things an antivirus program will pick up, too, so they're far from unimportant in the eyes of security manufacturers.

A virus/malware writer generally cares about one of two things. (1) Anonymous internet fame, for creating a well-known malicious program (most wouldn't admit to writing it, but if it becomes a serious security threat, it makes them feel good). (2) Profit from the results of whatever the malicious program does. For both cases, the much larger market of Windows machines is more viable, either financially or for potential for destruction.

In addition to sane reasons for targeting Windows over Mac, the "true" virus style of malware is becoming less and less common of late, with trojans and spyware becoming more and more popular. I can't pretend to know why that trend exists, but the only metric a Mac user can use to claim OSX has 0 viruses is if they strictly define a virus program such that they are correct; and their definition matches a program type that is becoming less popular among the malware writers in general, so it isn't entirely surprising. The trojans, spyware, etc. which are becoming more prominent on today's internet, however, DO exist on OSX. iBotNet is one example of an OSX trojan in the wild right now. MacSweeper is a malicious application which claims several legitimate files are trash/viruses/etc. and must be deleted, but the "trial version" that was installed can't perform the action, so you must purchase the full version for $39.99.

To my knowledge, the amount of Linux and Mac malware is comparable, because their underlying architectures are comparable. I don't know anything about Symbian, so I won't comment on your claims there pretending that I do.

bpphantom said...

re: the LSE and Windows. Apparently whatever they ARE using in the backend is crap anyway. It crashed for most of the trading day yet again.

Mychyl said...

Sure, it IS true that Win7 is a crossgrade, by that definition. However, that happens to be the very definition that's been used for software upgrades since forever: you trade what you have for something purported to be "new" and "improved", but which inevitably has its own issues to boot.

So, perhaps we should leave off the semantic nonsense, and stick with the existing term?

And yes, as viruses go, I have to second what bri2 posted: More viruses exist that affect Windows systems because either A) there's more profit in attacks Windows business systems (not many businesses use Apple/Linux systems) or B) the designer is trying to negatively impact as many people as possible (and since Windows has the largest market share, the same amount of effort goes further by targeting Windows).