Arguing at Cross Purposes

Do you ever find yourself wondering why, when trying to get your point across to another person, it is sometimes so difficult to do so? It is not usually because either party is so low in intellect as to not be able to understand, but rather a failure to meet at the ‘middle’ of the argument.

Many times I feel that I am not getting a point across when I speak to someone, as I see their eyes glaze over, and I know it is time to backtrack, and see where I left them behind.

An article in the March 2nd edition of eWeek magazine, written by Andrew Garcia, is like that. It reminds me of how this man may have a point he wants to get across to me, but his argument is couched in such a way as to make me believe he really doesn’t have a feel for the people that are reading his article. (He certainly doesn’t have any idea of how I think about the situation.)

He begins his commentary by saying that people who don’t want to accept Windows Vista or Windows 7 are doing it many times because it breaks their software. He then says that is the fault of the programmer’s responsible for the writing. This is where he is technically right, but in practice (or as I was brought up to say, where the rubber meets the road) the problem is with Microsoft, that absolutely fails to see that what they see as being good for the safety of the system, is simply a bothersome mess to deal with. There is no reason to constrict the user, as is done in Unix or Linux, for example, as Unix was written the way it was not because of virus problems, but because it was designed as multi-user. Most Unix systems are multi-user to this day. Microsoft Windows Vista is generally not, and it takes great effort to make it so (note that I say multi-user, and I strictly mean multi-concurrent user)

So the man continues on about UAC, and all the while I know that anyone really that bothered by UAC can simply turn it off – so that is not really anything to argue about.

The problems that are there, that really break applications, is the Microsoft idea that it can dictate where the user can install files, and how the file structure must be. There is no reason for this, other than Microsoft’s ability to assert itself upon the user. The thing about this argument, that I have not seen elsewhere stated, is that in the Windows 7 beta, for example, those companies who are willing to ‘pay tribute’ to Microsoft, are allowed to become part of the file system – and those unwilling to do this, are not. This makes the user change his way of doing things, and the software writer change his ways, too – all because of the whim of Microsoft. (There are diatribes about this, and how it makes the system much more homogenous, and safe, due to the forced changes, but I reject that as nonsense.)

There is no real advantage to the user, and the only advantage to the software author is the disadvantage of having to write a new revision, as then the user will be paying for another version, simply to accede to the desires of Microsoft.

I have said previously that Microsoft wants to make the operating system idiot proof, and in doing so, will only have idiots who want to use it. To expand on that, it needs to be seen that in making certain things once easily done move across the scale to difficult or impossible, all that is done for anyone who has become familiar with the system is that they are annoyed to a great degree.

There are certainly enough reviews by major sources, with unbiased testing methods, that state Vista is not much more secure than XP, if any more secure at all. So Windows 7, being built on Vista will be more of the same. There are third party companies that do a much better job of removing the exploit vectors in Microsoft’s wares – Microsoft should concentrate on making their products faster, using less memory, and more feature rich. All of these could be accomplished by coding much of the operating system in assembly language. There was, for a time, as reason to claim that coding in C, or a variant of C, was a good idea, because the point was to cater to different architectures. Those are now irrelevant or gone.

Since I started this, this morning, a blurb came up on BetaNews, detailing the Microsoft price cuts across the board for enterprise customers. This will certainly aid adoption, and many will say (including Microsoft) that the reason behind the move is the poor economy. If the time were taken to do an unbiased survey, I’m sure that many would answer that reticence to change is more due to software changes (new applications running on Windows, which need to be rewritten), and user habit changes (requiring retraining), than the simple cost of an operating system upgrade. The cost of Windows 7 is the tip of the iceberg, and the  water is murky.

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