Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Slightly More Philisophical View

I appreciate the comments on the previous post and in fairness, I should point out that I've made my living the last 10 years managing the folks that support Windows servers and/or Windows desktops at a number of different companies and there are certainly good things to be said about Microsoft from a business support standpoint. My issues are really all around personal use/personal support and I've even defended Microsoft for personal use in the past.

I'll admit that I've thought a couple of times about trying a Mac for family members that are either not technically inclined or not interested in the overhead Windows PC ownership sometimes entails, but I can't bring myself to do it. There's no one that is more proprietary than Apple (making Steve Jobs' shouting at the RIAA about how DRM was a mistake quite laughable) and the only reason they aren't more vulnerable to malware attacks is their relatively small marketshare. Every new iBook they sell makes them more likely to be targeted.

No, I actually bought one of the Gateway refurbs as a test bed to ween myself off of reliance on Microsoft by playing around with Linux distros until I find one that is an acceptable combination of user-friendly, easy to maintain and stable. I just haven't had the time yet to do that evaluation, although I did some preliminary looking late last year and was pretty impressed with Fedora. The problem is that there are some programs that I can't live without that I have so far found no adequate Linux substitute for (MSMoney, TurboTax), others that I'd rather not do without (some games like PGA Tour Golf and Dungeon Siege, Photoshop Elements) and others that I just haven't had time to investigate substitutes for (management software for Creative MP3 players, Canon cameras, etc.). If all I was doing was web-surfing, email and Office stuff, there'd be no question that I'd dump Windows for Linux. And before any of you start pointing out substitutes for some of the programs I mentioned above, the GIMP is way too user-unfriendly, various open source MSMoney clones lack functionality and others I just haven't had time to evaluate. However, I love me some OpenOffice, Filezilla, Thunderbird, Firefox, etc. so there is hope.

Bottom line is that I expect I'll be using some version of Microsoft operating system for the foreseeable future for at least some systems, so it's in my (and everybody else's) best interest for them to get this right. In the meantime, while many Linux distros are shooting for a more user-friendly computing experience, MS seems to be heading in the other direction, so some flavor of Linux is becoming much more reasonable as a general user platform.



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