Thursday, January 8, 2009

Microsoft Screw Job

I should elucidate that I do not hate Microsoft because it is a rich monopolistic corporation. I hate it because it is a rich monopolistic corporation that produces an inferior product. For those of you who have been using computers long enough, you should remember all of the bloatware that this company has been passing off to us over the years. Microsoft Office (with 2007 being a tale of redundancy), the operating systems (starting with ME [at least in my memory as a case of a bug-ridden program], Windows 2000, the initial release of XP, etc.]). The crowning achievement of this long line of snail products is Windows Vista.

Just how bad is Windows Vista? It is so terrible that I have 4GB of RAM in the hard drive of my laptop and the wretched O/S is slower on startup than Windows '95 on my old windmill Compaq Presario 1200 (this in spite of cleaning up my registry, all of the backdoor programs that ran on my computer, and even converting over to AVG [from Norton] to minimize the anti-virus software drainage on the CPU). Vista is so terrible that Bill Gates has to use Seinfeld and a fake name (Mojave) to advertise his product.

Imagine Honda running commercials for the Civic by riding people around blindfolded in cars given fake names to convince them it is a new vehicle, only to surprise them that it is a Civic after all. If that day ever comes, you will know that the Civic has become the new Aveo.

Now, it appears that Microsoft was the one joking with us. They have an even newer piece of trash, Windows 7, whose beta version is now being distributed to the junk-buying public.

Microsoft's Ballmer touts 'best version of Windows ever'

By Brandon Griggs

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday with an impassioned endorsement of PCs and a sneak peek at the company's future Windows 7 operating system.

As expected, Ballmer announced that Microsoft is releasing a beta version of Windows 7, which will be available for download beginning Friday. The news suggests the world's largest software maker may be giving up efforts to rehabilitate its often-maligned Vista operating system, which was released worldwide in January 2007.

"We are on track to deliver the best version of Windows ever," Ballmer told an audience of several thousand tech professionals and journalists inside a cavernous ballroom at the Venetian hotel. "We're working hard to get it right and get it ready."

Without mentioning the security and compatibility issues that have dogged Vista, Ballmer promised that Windows 7 will make PCs faster and easier to use. He didn't offer a timetable for its official release, although Windows Vista went on sale more than two years after it was issued in beta form.

Early reviews of Windows 7, which was leaked to the Internet in beta form in late December, have been positive. Will you try Windows 7? Are you attending CES?

The forthcoming operating system will have touch-screen capability, side-by-side windows for comparison shopping and a "Peek" feature that makes open windows transparent, allowing users to see the icons on their desktop.

"Windows 7 makes it easier to move between the things on your desktop," said Microsoft group project manager Charlotte Jones, who gave a brief demonstration of the system on the hall's giant display screens. Jones said the new system also makes it easier to send files back and forth between home computers.

Ballmer later yielded the stage to Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, who praised the explosive growth of the company's Xbox Live online gaming community. Bach also announced forthcoming releases of new versions of Microsoft's popular "Halo" game series: "Halo Wars," due Feb. 28, and "Halo 3: OSDT," which will ship in the fall.

Wednesday's address marked the energetic Ballmer's debut as CES keynote pitchman, a job that had been handled for the past decade by Microsoft chairman and industry pioneer Bill Gates. Ballmer's presentation came two days after a similar, high-profile keynote at the Macworld show in San Francisco by Apple, Microsoft's chief rival, and its vice president Philip Schiller, filling in for the ailing Steve Jobs.

Unlike Schiller, Ballmer tackled the struggling economy head-on in his remarks. He said that although the recession has created "a period of reduced expectations," the tech companies that push forward now with innovative research will fare better in the long-term than the companies that scale back.

Ballmer said the convergence of screens on computers, TVs and mobile phones is revolutionizing how people communicate with each other.

"Our digital lives will continue to get richer. There's really no turning back from the connected world," he said. "We're on the verge of the kind of technological transformation that only happens once every 10 or 15 years."

As if to prove his point, Ballmer also welcomed onstage program manager Janet Galore, who gave brief demos of some Microsoft product prototypes, including a tabletop-like touch screen and a flexible, wafer-thin digital screen you can roll up like a piece of paper.

In a gentle swipe at Apple, which has gained market share against Microsoft in recent years, Ballmer said the PC remains the best choice for consumers seeking "value and power" in a computer.

"That's why we say, 'I'm a PC and proud of it!" he bellowed -- a reference to a new Microsoft ad campaign that play off similar ads by Apple.

Ballmer also announced that Microsoft has formed a partnership with Verizon Wireless to add Live Search tools to all Verizon smart phones in the U.S.

He also announced a partnership with Dell, which will soon come loaded with Microsoft's Windows Live suite of software, and links between Windows Live and the social-networking site, Facebook.

Reaction to the 90-minute presentation, which also included a performance by Australian musical-comedy trio Tripod, was mixed. Attendees praised the lively pace of Ballmer's talk, but wished he had made more news.

"I really loved what I heard tonight. There's definitely a lot of things to look forward to," said Sebastian Mineau, a Montreal-based blogger with MSN Canada. "It [Windows 7] wasn't a big surprise. But it was still nice to get the confirmation straight from the lion's mouth."

"It was very disappointing," said Ben Sillis, a reporter with ElectricPig, a British tech site. "CES is supposed to be about new products, new stuff. And this had all already been leaked. There was nothing new."

Some 2,700 exhibitors and 130,000 attendees are in Las Vegas for CES, the nation's largest consumer electronics trade show. The event runs through Sunday.

This propaganda reminds me of Bill Gates' introduction of Windows 2000 as the "greatest" improvement to an operating system ever introduced. He said the same thing about XP, too. Of course, what they are really saying is that in about two years the Microsoft corporation is going to force you to shell out another $300 to purchase an O/S that will hopefully suck dry your memory a little less than Vista. Their products are so terrible that they have to offer new operating systems every few years to try to improve on all of the bugs on the previous versions (for a fee, naturally). And it will be happening. If you are an owner of an XP O/S, you should already know that Microsoft is doing everything possible to phase out updates for the O/S entirely (and has pushed computer makers to only install Vista). By 2011, you will be having this same pleasant experience with Windows 7 (or whatever they choose to call it at a later date).

But look at it this way: the stockholders of Microsoft thank you for bending over, grabbing your ankles, and preparing yourself for what you will be on the receiving end of come time for their quarterly returns. Seriously, this is it, ladies and gentlemen. I am too cheap to waste my money on Apple, and after Vista/Mojave runs its course I am installing Linux (accounting for all of the problems with some of the stats programs I use which Microsoft likes to maintain a proprietary claim to). I am sick and tired of being treated like one of Larry Craig's interns.

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