I’m a Linux supporter.
It’s worth making the above statement clear from the beginning, that way people who read this won’t be surprised if further down I say something nasty about Microsoft or Windows.
Assuming those fitted with Windows blinkers have now left, I’ll say some nice things about Windows. Windows was originally created as a kind of super desktop organiser. It didn’t contain much functionality beyond allowing the user to run multiple applications all at the same time. Many (most) of those applications had never even been written for a Windows environment. Over the years, Windows improved pretty much in line with hardware advances. Market power drove virtually all applications to become “Windows enabled” and the explosion in the home market meant “User friendly” and “wysiwyg” became terms for discussion at the breakfast table. Back then and today, Windows is without doubt the best desktop environment I’ve used.
Having explained my love for Windows, why do I find myself sat here pondering giving it up and moving to something less suited for my needs? Well my needs are quite limited really, I need a basic Word Processor, a basic Spreadsheet, something to burn CD’s and DVD’s and most importantly, a Secure Shell client for accessing my Linux servers. There’s one other important requirement: I build my own PC’s and frequently upgrade them. When I do this, I always reinstall Windows. Here lies the problem.
Currently I can reinstall my retail Windows XP Professional license as many times as I want, regardless of what hardware I’m installing it on. If I choose to upgrade to Vista I effectively waive my ability to do this because under the Vista EULA, I can only move my license once. I can only wonder at the ego’s that invented such a clause. Imagine a light bulb manufacturer saying I mustn’t move the bulb, or a Video tape that I’m only allowed to put in a single player. Ridiculous analogies? Of course, but so is a piece of software that isn’t portable.
So what are my options?
Okay so there is no perfect option for my individual requirements. Probably in the short term I’ll stick with XP. It does everything I want it to and a million things I can’t stop it from doing. It phones home to Microsoft to my “Genuine Advantage”, or rather to my enormous dissatisfaction, but I can live with it. Longer term, I think it will have to be Linux. Open Office more than meets my Word Processing and Spreadsheet requirements. Running multiple shells to servers becomes totally native. Burning CD’s isn’t quite so intuitive as under Windows but it’s not rocket science either. Given three choices, none perfect, this seems to be the only one that will meet my long-term requirements.
Is my decision to turn my back on Redmond that militant? It seems not. A little research through a search engine reveals articles like this one which suggest there are rumblings of discontent from other directions too. First there was WGA, now a whole new OS with controversial licensing to demonstrate the sheer brazenness of Microsoft. Perhaps they do rule the world, but the wind of change is no longer a gentle breeze. In years to come, perhaps Microsoft will become synonymous with the old term “How the mighty fall”.