Linked by Neeraj Singh on Mon 23rd Apr 2007 19:02 UTC
Windows If you shout something loud enough and many people are saying it, does it become true? Some groups of people (include tech journalists and Linux advocates, such as Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols) have a psychological need to find Vista lacking. Mr. V-N has predicted that Vista will have all manner of problems, so his clear interest is to point out everything that is wrong with the OS. Who cares if he has to even make some stuff up?
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I care because I don't want to see other students be seduced by the "worse is better" mentality that many UNIX denizens espouse.

We prefer "simpler is better." Surely with enough talent and man-hours, you can create a gigantic tangle of complexity that manages to function as an operating system. But is that better than a set of simple components that fit together in a logical way?

Students learn UNIX because its design is comprehensible, elegant, and fundamental to understanding computer systems. They don't learn Windows because there's no reason to mimic its design. Maybe its feature-set, but not its design.

I'm sure there are countless top-notch developers working on Windows, and the kernel is actually pretty decent these days, but the platform as a whole is screwed. Microsoft can try their best to improve their code quality, but they cannot immediately abandon unfortunate design elements (e.g. the registry) or police their crappy third-party drivers and applications. You can't put sour milk in the fridge and expect it to become drinkable.

What the Windows faithful don't understand, and many of the Linux advocates as well, is that third-party software is what makes running Windows insecure and unreliable. I have no problem with third-party software as long as it's open source, but I'll only accept proprietary software if the vendor offers full support for their product. Microsoft can't support the vast array of proprietary third-party software that its customers use, but when this crap fouls up their systems, it reflects poorly on them. People install a couple dozen applications that all disclaim any responsibility if anything goes wrong, and then when things go south, they blame Microsoft.

So excuse me if I'm not dying to see all sorts of third-party proprietary software on Linux, because the result will be much of the same. I like the fact that my software vendor supports nearly all of the software on my system, providing timely fixes and easy upgrades. If I use proprietary software, I have to live with the fact that flash might not work in a 64-bit browser or that the NVIDIA drivers might not work with the latest version of Xorg for months. I don't try to file a class-action lawsuit when the proprietary drivers don't work properly. I understand that with proprietary software, I'm at the mercy of the vendor, and if I don't like the way their software works or what environments they support, there's nothing I can do about it.

I find it amusing that journalists are going to such great lengths to rationalize the public's general distrust of Microsoft or criticisms of Vista on technical grounds. In the end, it's not UAC, DRM, WGA, or the various UI quirks that create the sentiment that Vista is simply more of the same from Microsoft. It's just that everybody is fed up with the proprietary software industry screwing us over and making us deal with the mess. We can't keep blaming Microsoft forever. We have to give credit where credit is due and point our fingers squarely at the proprietary vendors, particularly the graphics vendors. They suck at shipping good drivers for Windows almost as much as they suck at delivering them for Linux.

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