Vista is shipping: The 'Ow' starts now
Georg C. F. Greve
greve at gnu.org
Tue Jan 30 12:18:54 UTC 2007
FYI. When seeing the official marketing message of Microsoft for Vista
("The 'Wow' starts now.") I could not resist:
[ http://www.fsfe.org/fellows/greve/freedom_bits/the_ow_starts_now ]
The 'Ow' starts now
Tuesday 30 January 2007
Today is the day when Microsoft Vista starts shipping, and this
operating system may indeed turn out to be quite painful for
governments, companies and users around the world.
The main problem is not the graphical user interface. If you are
interested in those you might be interested in the Technology Review
article "Uninspiring Vista -- How Microsoft's long-awaited
operating system disappointed a stubborn fan" by a self-declared
Microsoft champion who concludes on purely technological grounds:
Ironically, playing around with Vista for more than a month has
done what years of experience and exhortations from Mac-loving
friends could not: it has converted me into a Mac fan.
It is the underlying technology strategy and its consequences that
will be a severe source of pain. Central in this is the one feature
that has truly been perfected in Windows Vista, the
mass-incapacitation of users, also known as Digital Restrictions
Management (DRM). DRM brings with it severe political issues, as I
also explained in earlier posts. But of course the cost is not
only political, there is also a financial cost to DRM, which Peter
Gutmann calculated in his essay "A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista
But it doesn't end there. As the European Committee for
Interoperable Systems (ECIS) points out in a 26 January media
release : "With Vista Microsoft continues its illegal practices.".
Not only is Microsoft trying to impose its own proprietary OpenXML
format in order to marginalise the existing true multi-vendor Open and
ISO-certified Standard, the Open Document Format (ODF) -- please
follow these links for more information: [3].
You should also read the analysis of Cory Doctorow: " How Vista
Lets Microsoft Lock Users In"
Largely unnoticed due to the discussion around the OpenXML attack on
ODF, Microsoft also introduced a new markup language in Vista, called
"XAML." This language seems designed to attack the existing Open
Standard HTML and is ground-up dependent on Windows.
If companies started using this language in their intranet, they would
no longer be able to run heterogenous environments and will be locked
into Windows much more effectively than before -- at a high price in
finances and freedom to make the necessary business decisions. This
will be bad for those companies, but others should be able to take
But if the internet providers were to start using this markup language
for their pages, it will no longer be possible to access those pages
with anything but Microsoft Windows. Governments using XAML will force
their entire population and economy into dependence on the Windows
monopoly, and if it spreads far enough, it could mean the end of the
multi-platform heterogenous environment that is the internet.
People who do not use Microsoft Windows might find themselves unable
to communicate with their governments, to fill out tax declarations,
to access news sites and do shopping online. The whole internet will
truly have become a "Microsoft Network" -- similar to the one shipped
with previous versions of Windows that was abandoned for internet
support because it did not raise sufficient interest.
In essence, XAML is Microsofts attempt to deliver on the statement
made by Steve Ballmer towards the German Manager Magazin in 2005:
"We needed the first years to conquer the PC and those following to
be ahead in the server business. In the upcoming years we'll
conquer the Internet."
Seeing the internet replaced by a single-vendor controlled proprietary
network would indeed be painful -- and that 'Ow' starts with Vista.
But you can also choose this moment to end your pain. As the FSFE
pointed out in its press release today, there is another Vista
Upgrade to GNU/Linux now!
Such a migration will be no more expensive than migrating to Vista. It
will also provide vendor independence, control over your own
infrastructure, true support of Open Standards, which will ensure your
ability to read your own files in the future and with the application
of your choosing, and much, much more.
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