Tag Archives: Windows

Microsoft will Open Source Windows (or die!)

I have said on a number of occasions that Microsoft should Open Source their Windows Operating System (and their Internet Explorer).

However, it bears repeating.

I realise it is unlikely to happen in the near term but, I firmly believe it will happen in the not-too-distant future (when Microsoft realises that they can’t compete with Open Source).

If you take it simply from a numbers perspective, Microsoft has 70,000 employees. If we say 40,000 are actively programming code for Microsoft (the rest being admin, management, marketing, etc.) then you are looking at a maximum of 10,000 who would have contributed to the development of Vista, Microsoft’s current Windows incarnation. I suspect the number is lower.

Vista is estimated to have cost Microsoft $10 billion and six years to develop and they still shipped a fairly shoddy product.

Presumably Microsoft will want to re-coup that investment before it even thinks about Open Sourcing Windows.

Compare that with the various Linux distros. It is estimated that around 100,000 people have contributed to Linux’ development! I recently installed Ubuntu on my laptop and it simply blows Vista away in terms of performance and reliability.

Why are Ubuntu and the other Linux distros so good?
Lots of reasons but a few jump out:

  1. With open source development, you are getting the “Wisdom of Crowds” – the more people involved in the development, the better the end-result
  2. Open-source development is peer reviewed so bugs are caught earlier in the process and any which make it into a release are fixed quickly
  3. In open source projects the code is written by people who self-select for jobs they have an interest/skillset in
  4. Feel free to add more in the comments!

The upsides for Microsoft of open sourcing Windows are myriad, for example:

  1. If/when Microsoft open source Windows, their Windows piracy concerns will suddenly disappear
  2. Microsoft drastically improves its reputation as an anti-competitive bullying monopolist
  3. The next operating system they write would cost a fraction of the $10bn spent on Vista and would be much higher quality

The economics of Open Source are counter-intuitive. IBM spends around $100m a year on Linux development. If the entire Linux community puts in $1 billion worth of effort and even half of that is useful to IBM’s customers, then IBM gets $500m of development for $100m worth of expenditure.

If Microsoft could, in one fell swoop, get rid of their Windows piracy concerns, write better quality software, improve their corporate image, and radically reduce their development costs, do you think they would do it?

Microsoft give up on trying to fix Windows Live OneCare

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how slow Microsoft’s Support people were in getting back to me to resolve an issue I have with Windows Live OneCare.

The other day they sent me an email which said:

Case Reference Number: 1039327169

Dear Mr.Raftery,

Unfortunately we have been unsuccessful in resolving your issue at this time; therefore I can confirm I am closing this case as unresolved.

I’m sorry, what? That’s it?

Microsoft are just giving up?

Windows Live OneCare is such a piece of junk that Microsoft themselves can’t even support it?

This doesn’t auger well for the rest of their Windows Live offerings.

Incredible.

I have a dirty little secret to confess

I never thought I’d say this but I’m using my Vista machine more than my Mac these days!

Why?

Well, there are a number of reasons – the Vista machine is a Vaio SZ3. It is small, light and has a significantly better battery life than my 15′ MacBook Pro so I’m far more likely to take it with me when travelling.

Having said that, the keyboard on the MacBook Pro is far nicer to type on. The MacBook Pro is waaaaay quieter, and the screen on the MacBook Pro at 1440×900 is significantly better than the Vaio’s 1280×800.

So again, why have I started to use the PC more?
I think the answer is Cleartype. Cleartype is a font rendering technology developed by Microsoft which makes onscreen text easier to read.

By definition, I read enormous amounts of text every day online. If I look at the same text on my Mac and PC, I can’t really discern any difference. But when I read for hours at a time, I definitely notice that I prefer reading on the PC screen!

Other tasks like audio, video or photo work, I still do on the Mac but, for now, most of my reading is done on the PC.

Is this a slippery slope?

Beware installing Windows Live Writer Beta 3

I spotted on Nevill Hobson’s blog that Microsoft have released a new version of Windows Live Writer – Beta 3.

I decided to download it to try it out – the previous versions of Live Writer are quite good so I was curious to see what improvements have been made.

However, be aware that if you choose the default install options, the installer will change your default search engine to Live Search:
Windows Live Writer Install

This is outrageous behaviour on Microsoft’s part. If the default was that Live Search was de-selected and you had the option to select it wouldn’t be too bad but tricking people into using Live Search is one sure way to piss people off and further sully your already less than shiny image.

Furthermore, the installer then defaults to installing more Windows Live applications (Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live OneCare).

If the extremely poor quality of Windows Live OneCare is anything to go by, then avoid installing any of these applications.

How long is 5 minutes in Microsoft Support time?

Four weeks ago tomorrow I contacted Microsoft about problems I was having with their OneCare product. I spent two hours on the phone (after trying to get it working for the previous two hours) with a Sam in tech support and we failed to get it working.

Sam had me uninstall Norton (which came installed on the computer but which I never setup). He had me download a tool to uninstall OneCare (!). I uninstalled and re-installed it 5-6 times during the call. Each uninstall or install requires a re-start of Vista, hence the length of the call.

Eventually Sam said he’d have to escalate the call and I’d be contacted by senior techs to get it resolved “within the hour”.

No-one called.

Until today that is, when Sam called back to see if everything had been resolved ok and could he close out the call!

After I told Sam that no-one had bothered calling back and the machine was still in the state we left it four weeks ago, he said sheepishly that he’d see what had happened and call me back “in 5 minutes”.

Well, we know that 1 hour in Microsoft Support time = at least 4 weeks in real time, so any bets on just how long their “5 minutes” really is?

Microsoft post Vista fixes

Microsoft has released two significant fixes for Windows Vista today. One is a performance related fix and the other is a reliability related fix.

These fixes have to be manually applied for now although according to Mary Jo Foley:
Microsoft is promising to make the two new Vista fix packs available via Windows Update at a “later date.” The full statement, provided by a Microsoft spokeswoman:

“The two updates will be available on Microsoft’s download center today, and will be available through Windows Update at a later date.”

I downloaded and applied these patches to my Vista machine this morning but I haven’t noticed any significant difference to it yet. Probably because I don’t use the machine that much because of Vista’s performance and reliability issues!!!

This is a step towards the release of Vista Service Pack one (SP1). This will be the point where Vista comes out of what most companies would call Alpha and goes to Beta-equivalent quality. As I have said previously, Vista won’t approach production quality, at least until it reaches SP2.

Unseemly haste in Vista SP1 a sign of desperation?

I came across two Vista related stories on Techmeme this morning.

The first from Ken Fisher on Ars Technica, talks about how Microsoft’s OEM partners are struggling with the number of customers who want to downgrade their computers from Vista to XP. Ken goes on to state

the “must wait for Service Pack 1″ meme is also so firmly established that Vista uptake will continue to be soft among businesses for quite some time, certainly into early 2008 when we expect to see Vista’s first service pack

Then I read Mary Jo Foley’s story about how Vista’s first service pack (SP1) will be released in Beta next week and released to the public in November after an unusually short testing time of four months (previous service packs have taken up to a year in Beta before being released).

According to Mary Jo,

here’s a list of other fixes likely to make it in:

* Performance tweaks lessening the amount of time it takes to copy files and shut down Vista machines (Yeah, I know Microsoft said Viista shutdown speed wasn’t an issue. Guess users weren’t so crazy, after all.)
* Improved transfer performance and decreased CPU utilization via support for SD Advanced Direct Memory Access (DMA)
* Support for ExFat, the Windows file format for flash memory storage and other consumer devices
* Improvements to BitLocker Drive Encryption to allow not just encryption of the whole Vista volume, but also locally created data volumes
* The ability to boot Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) on an x64 machine
* Improved success rate for firewalled MeetingSpace and Remote Assistance connections

Two things occur to me
1. The haste to get SP1 out the door seems to speak to nervousness on Microsoft’s part about Vista sales. No surprise there. Vista is still quite buggy and
2. If SP1 is rushed out the door, there is the possibility that bugs will be introduced by SP1 which will further erode confidence in Vista!

Microsoft need to tread quite carefully on this one.

Security Patched Safari for Windows released

Apple have released a Security Patched version of Safari for Windows (v 3.0.1). The patch fixes security vulnerabilities in Safari I wrote about earlier this week.

There is still no fix for the bug I highlighted earlier this week (clicking on the x to close a window with multiple tabs doesn’t alert you and goes ahead and closes all tabs).

It is still beta software and should be used with extreme care for the moment.

The download links are on the Safari Download page.

via infoworld

Don't install Safari on Windows!

Wow that was fast!

Apple released a beta of their Safari browser last night to run on Windows and a few short hours later, vulnerabilities which allow remote code execution have been published already!

It looks like Safari for Windows was released a little early. Whatever about the small functionality bug I found, the ability to run code remotely on your Windows machine is a critical vulnerability. Don’t use Safari on a Windows machine until these exploits have been fixed.

Hard to know where the blame lies for this – Thor Larholm blames Apple’s ignorance of Windows:

On the OS X platform Apple has enjoyed the same luxury and the same curse as Internet Explorer has had on the Windows platform, namely intimate operating system knowledge. The integration with the originally intended operating system is tightly defined, but the breadth of knowledge is crippled when the software is released on other systems and mistakes and mishaps occur.

While some commenters on his site blame Microsoft:
I don’t know, the way you described it seems more like a hole in the way Windows handles things than a Safari hole. Does a Windows API call launch a shell process, or does Safari manually go and run a command line program? If it’s the Windows API for URL handling, then it’s clearly broken. Every program that needs to grab a URL should not be responsible for patching holes in Windows.

Safari 3 for Windows. New OS, same missing features!

I saw from Engadget that Apple have released a new beta version of their browser, Safari, which will run on Windows. There are versions for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

I downloaded it and installed on an XP machine and it does appear to run quite quickly.

However, Apple still haven’t addressed Safari’s biggest bug – it is far too easy to close a window in accidentally Safari closing all its tabs. Both Firefox and Internet Explorer give you a warning if you try to close a window with multiple tabs open. How hard would it be for Safari to implement this feature?

Safari 3 running on Windows

Having said that, if you load the Acid2 test on IE7, Firefox and Safari for Windows, only Safari displays it correctly.

Opera also passes the Acid2 test (not displayed). However, Opera also allows you to close multi-tab windows without warning!

So as well as being fast, Safari for Windows is, along with Opera, the most standards compliant browser available. Just don’t close any multi-tab windows accidentally!

Safari passes Acid2 test

You can download the beta from the Safari download page.

Update 1: Apple’s official announcement is now up

Update 2:  As Conall notes in the comments of this post, the multi-tab warning is working in the new Mac version of Safari.