Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 28th Sep 2009 16:18 UTC
Apple If you have Apple's QuickTime media player and/or iTunes installed on your Windows machine, you might want to keep an eye on apple's Software Update tool. Apple is once again using the update tool to push unwanted software onto users' machines without asking for permission.
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I agree that they could so it. As you point out, the driver system is pretty much a repository system including the package signing. Technologically, it could be implemented and I agree that it would benefit the end user a great deal as it already does with other platforms. Virus issues are less a risk even given the scan on upload proactive approach. I even think users are smart enough to understand that issues are on the software developer's shoulders not the repository provider (MS). As it stands now, bad ATI driver frustration is directed at ATI and is not held accountable for issues in software downloaded from it.

The issues that I see though:

- Microsoft is in the business of making money, software and services happen to be the tool used in that pursuit. This is different from an organization how is focused on making really great software with profit happening to be the outcome of that pursuit. The shareholder's best interest will always be most important and under US corporate law, it is actually required that something benefits the customer must be discarded if it conflicts with benefits to the shareholder.

- Microsoft's core business is not hardware. They do some hardware but if it was there core target product, they would be raising barriers to competition from other hardware vendors. Apple demonstrates this clearly with the "it's our hardware or nothing for our software" and the near bundling relationship between different hardware commodities. Software is Microsoft's core business tool for generating profits and maintaining barriers against competition. Providing easier access to competitive office software, browsers, mail clients and other categories that compete with MS own products goes against the business directive of a computer in every home and Microsoft on that computer.

I think it would greatly benefit the customers and that the most problematic reasons for it not happening are political business decisions rather than any technological limitation.

Now, I suggest that BSD and Linux based platforms are more end user focused because a core goal is to give the end user choice. Don't like Firefox then here's five other browsers to choose from. Don't like Pulseaudio, here's two other sound systems to choose from. Don't like the default window manager, here's ten other's to choose from. Don't like the default kernel, there's probably more than three different ones to choose from or you can get your own from and add it in. For the most part, OpenBSD or NetBSD or Debian or Ubuntu or Red Hat or Mandriva don't care what brand of software is on the other side of the wire; high interoperability benefits the end user. There is not one central repository which all platforms based on Linux or BSD draw from because each BSD and distribution is actually a separate product which happens to use the same commodity parts as other products. Each separate platform does provide it's own repository with huge selection of available software because that does benefits the end user.

Even in the distribution license. Of the four rules one must follow with Linux based platforms, only one is slightly restrictive if you happen to be a developer who modifies then redistributes source code changes. Otherwise, it's purely permissive. The BSD license is even more enabling of the end user by not including the same restriction on developers.

It's a end user or consumer focused endeavor. Given a choice that will benefit the shareholder or benefit the end user, the choice more often than not is made in favor of the end user.

By contrast:

MS Exchange does not play well with anything but Outlook and anything but minimal support requires paying money to MS and signing documents before getting full interface specs. The browser interface provides minimal features unless you use IE to benefit from the full Exchange webapp front end. Both halves are sold separately and you'll need multiple licenses for each.

While there may be some argument at the application level, it's the same when you look at the user's data. Closed file formats which do not fully work without the specific branded software unless a new file format can be used as leverage to promote sales of the new application version. Wait a while and the newer application version drops support for the older file format entirely because it's more important that the user base buy into the newer version at it's new retail price.

Hardware driver API is just different enough that hardware vendors targeting Windows end up with hardware hostile to other platforms. Each new version of Windows causes issues with the previous version's drivers because again, each API much change just enough to add some scratchy sand to the mix.

Microsoft didn't give a hoot for the third world and China's rampant piracy until there was a risk of competitive software providing the end user with more choice. Suddenly the cost of a Windows install dropped in india and Microsoft's top executives had to meet with Chinese government. It became important when MS suddenly had to show the shareholders they where persuing every possible market and stamping out competition at all costs. Anything that gives the end user more choice is a threat or cancer to be destroyed.

Software vulnerabilities have knowingly existed for years in Microsoft's products but not been addressed until they become publicly embarrassing and thus only long after becoming well known and used with malicious intent by criminals. It's more important to save face for the company rather than benefit the customer with open disclosure and a prompt software patch.

Given a choice that will benefit the end user or the shareholder, the choice is very rarely made in the end user's benefit at the expense of the shareholder.

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