A computer is like air conditioning: it becomes useless when you open any Windows. In a world of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), a world without fences or walls, who needs Gates or Windows?
A friend was once a bartender in Chicago. On the first day prior to the opening of his new bar, he was visited by a guy who said “I’m the guy you will be buying your olives from.” He was being made an offer he dared not refuse.
This is Microsoft in the operating system market.
Microsoft releases software as a marketing ploy, to get computer manufacturers and the public to buy the “new” version. It is usually full of defects (called bugs) and often does not work even with other Microsoft software, requiring users to spend money for “new” software or to upgrade. Debian Linux, for instance, only releases software when it is ready, when the defects are nearly zero and they know that the software they package with it simply works.
Imagine that over 90% of the cars and truck in the world are powered by engines that are built, and owned, by the same company and that they occasionally stop running for no reason at all and a light flashes saying “Illegal Operation” or “General Protection Fault” If you got out of the truck and pushed it down the hill and slammed it into gear, or gave it a good “boot” it would restart and run for a while until the next time it happened. Imagine further that all these motors had no key switch on them nor any door locks and that anyone could easily enter and start them up at anytime.
This is Microsoft in the operating system market.
It was announced on August 23, 2913, that Steve Ballmer, after 14 years as CEO of Microsoft, would leave within the year. A short article titled “Ballmer’s Legacy: $350 Billion in Value Subtracted” has some rather “pithy” comments such as:
“He oversaw the erection of a lot of barriers to entry for equivalent or better softwares (cheating consumers), he partnered up with McAffee and Norton under the guise of security in order to deliver a rapidly degradable product so unaware consumers (by which I mean the vast majority) would have to replace their computers much more often than necessary (again cheating consumers); he kept issuing new versions of the same software that are rarely, if ever, improved (Windows XP has not been improved upon, at least IMHO: again cheating consumers), he willfully assisted the government in a conspiracy to spy on it’s own citizens.”
“Balmer rides the ship into the dirt. And now Balmer is leaving … just before “interesting times” blossom. If you want to know how the ship is fairing, watch the rats. They usually know when to get out with their billions.“
Criticisms of Microsoft
Vendor lock-in and Licensing Agreements:
Microsoft forces computer manufacturers to ship the Windows operating system (OS). Even if you do not use the OS shipped with the computer, you will play hell getting a refund for the software.
Microsoft has relied upon buying innovative companies rather than inventing or improving upon their own software.
Blacklisting of journalists:
Microsoft has an “enemies list” of journalists who have written unfavorable reports about the company or its software.
Censorship in China:
Microsoft (along with Google, Yahoo, Cisco, AOL, Skype, and other companies) has cooperated with the Chinese government in implementing a system of Internet censorship.
Collaboration with the NSA on internet surveillance:
Microsoft was the first company to participate in the PRISM surveillance program, according to leaked NSA documents obtained by The Guardian and The Washington Post in June 2013, and acknowledged by government officials following the leak.
Microsoft is notorious for dragging into court any would be competitor. In addition Microsoft has been sued by the European Union and various other companies for monopoly practices or unfair business practices against competitors; especially the Open Source Software community.
A recent example is noted in this article “FSFE opposes claim that free software harms consumers” by Patrick McBride Posted 15 Aug 2013. “Microsoft and Nokia protest “price predation” and play at being prey.” Microsoft and Nokia claim that “Google engages in predatory pricing when it distributes Android…without charge.”
Microsoft and Nokia complaining about the low or no prices of FOSS software, is like the American Mafia complaining about the low prices of the Latin American drug cartel. According to a prominent Judge, low pricing is the “goal of antitrust law,” and using antitrust law to raise prices would turn the law “on its head.”
Microsoft was previously accused of predatory pricing by the US Department of Justice when they distributed Internet Explorer without charge. Microsoft’s response was: “That a market participant Netscape had already set the price for browser technology at zero.”
Nokia’s comment was “If you make a multi-billion-dollar investment as Google has done in the Android operating system, why would you just give it away?” Yet Nokia did the same thing when it open-sourced its own Symbian mobile operating system.
Vanity Fair writes in “Microsoft’s Lost Decade” that Microsoft used to dominate the industry but since 2000 “Microsoft is in the forefront of more than a decade littered with errors, and missed opportunities…it has fallen flat in every arena it entered: e-books, music, search, social networking while relying mostly on pumping out Old Faithfuls such as Windows, Office, and servers for its financial performance.”
Forbes tells us in Microsoft Is Fast Turning Into A Sideshow that Microsoft software “which costs nothing to manufacture and delivers in some cases gross margins greater than 90%.”
In May of 2013, Katherine Noyes in her article The Windows Kernel’s Achilles’ Heel wrote in LinuxInsider magazine that the Windows Operating System (OS) has two problems:
First, “Microsoft always focused on the external look of the system, to gain users, to be friendly.”
Second, “they have been patching and perhaps changing it, without great improvements in safety and stability.”
One programmer comments that “Microsoft is famous for having one of the most dysfunctional management structures in existence (impacting) the quality of their software.” Another writes that “The blue screen of death, the virus and malware problems are eternal…it is still the worst system in terms of safety and solidity.”
A Linux developer wrote that “The main reason the Linux kernel does better is because you have a mix of people working on it…some to add new features, some to improve power consumption, some for bragging rights, whatever. This mix of goals keeps a well-rounded list of improvements. Windows…is only driven by its internal need for anything Microsoft’s marketing division can come up with as an immediate need.“
Because of Viruses – Microsoft users don’t stand a chance is yet another reason that Microsoft is either evil or incompetent. The article, dated May 15, 2009, by Peter Daley says “The Windows virus situation has gone from bad to the ridiculously bad. I am telling you how it is, and not what the industry would like you believe it is. They’re not in control, the bad guys are.”
Even China is afraid to use Microsoft software. In an article dated May 14, 2009, called Information Warfare – China Turns Unix Into A Weapon the author writes, “For nearly a decade now, China has been trying to get business and government users to adopt Unix (and later Linux) as their operating system. Most Chinese businesses, and many government departments, continue to use Microsoft operating systems. They do this because Microsoft Windows is widely pirated in China, and there’s a large amount of pirated software you can use only on Windows systems. Windows is very vulnerable to hacker attack, and Unix is not.”