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    The Bungee Line was an audio podcast for web developers, covering web API's, software development, and the creation of richly interactive web applications.

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Microsoft: Still Breathtakingly Evil (a rant)

Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.
— A. Guthrie

With the age of the netbook upon us, I can finally retire Heidi’s decrepit Dell laptop and get her a system that works perfectly for her needs. I found a sweet little Lenovo S10-2 that met her top requirements perfectly: It’s pink, and it has cute little flowers on it.

Knowing that I will be the person to support it, I read the spec carefully. Everything looks to be in order, but it comes with Windows 7 “Starter” thing. Uh oh. I’ve seen ominous naming like this before.

But how bad could Microsoft be? Surely in this age of increasing Linux love (Ubuntu Netbook Remix!) and Apple’s rapidly approaching eclipse of Microsoft’s market cap, pressure from above and below has squeezed the folks in Redmond enough to understand that how they do business has its costs, right? Nope.

SindowsOn Amazon, reviewers of this netbook reveal that some evil genius at Microsoft crippled this “Starter” edition. You can’t even change the wallpaper. Further research revealed Starter to have a numerous other You-Can’ts. They apparently changed the original idiotic 3-app-limit, an idea for which its originator should be publicly cannibalized.

Surely, they limited the OS to economize on disk space, right? Nope. They have this “Windows Anytime Upgrade” thing that allows you to instantly unlock all the capabilities that don’t work in starter. The bits are all there on your disk…you just can’t use them! Microsoft’s entire fat ass operating system is using up disk space so that they can sell you stuff, and that stuff is standard capabilities we expect from a computer operating system.

Where have we seen such temerity before? Credit card companies, who bury their terms and conditions deep in multiple pages of fine print, knowing that most people won’t read the fine print, and have little hope of understanding it. Mobile carrier, that refused to provide us with a simple display to show you how many minutes remaining each month. Or, Internet providers re-defining “unlimited” bandwidth as, well, limited.

Is comparing Microsoft to industries that have instilled self doubt in Satan himself (“Maybe I’m just not that good at this Prince of Darkness stuff,” he says, sweeping one of his scarlet hooves across the floor) perhaps going to far? Nope.

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6 Responses

  1. lol that was a weak rant. You didn’t even swear or say anything untrue :-)

    also you should look into the moblin build that fedora has done its really nice (yum groupinstall moblin-desktop) you can install it right into a regular fedora install.

  2. Hi Ted, not that the Starter edition is any less useless for it but it should be noted that Lenovo, not Microsoft, chose to save money by bundling that edition with the S10-2. If the thing had cost $30 – $50 more but had the capabilities you wanted unlocked in the first place, would you have still bought it? If yes, upgrade. Now. Right away. It’ll make you mad just one time instead of every time you start up that netbook. Better yet, switch to Meego, OpenSuse or Ubuntu.

    • Scott:
      I agree that Lenovo made the choice to bundle that version. They are not without some guilt. On the other hand, Microsoft chose to meet demand from netbook OEMs with a crippled OS. I doubt that Lenovo dictated to Microsoft how to provide a low cost version of Windows.

      Yes, I would have still bought it at $30-50 more. The upgrade is $80, which I skirted by knowing someone at Microsoft who could get me a $30 upgrade from the company store…

      …which, like the price delta, is entirely beside from the point. The point is that it is unscrupulous of Microsoft (and Lenovo) to provide a crippled OS in a consumer market in which people expect a working computer, free of artificial restrictions on its use, without having to read sheets of fine print. Caveat emptor is the wrong way to gain consumer trust at a time when Microsoft has a massive trust deficit.

      A couple former Microsofties with whom I work made the point rather clearly: any karmic slip from this is a mere drop in the bucket for a company that already has such a poor reputation, so what do they care. They make a good point…it’s why I state that they’re in same bucket as the credit card industry: Evil.

      –T

  3. Dude, just say no ;-) Think I already told you my sister is very happy with the UNR setup I installed on her Samsung N110 at Xmas – the Windows 7 partition is now mostly gathering cobwebs …

  4. LOL :)

    Ted, it is always fine to beat up MSFT. But, the industries of loathing you list – credit cards, cell phone companies, and so on – flourished under their scummy practices. Maybe if the consumer sheeple out there stood up a bit more, they would not be setting the example for more *cough* similar treatment.

    On the MSFT side, if the Netbook manufacturers want to cut margins to the bone, they get what they pay for. Does it really make a serious difference if the Netbook price is up 50$ to pay for a decent version of Windows 7? No. That’s three visits to Mc Donalds and two afternoon Starbucks breaks you have to give up. you used to pay two or three times as much what a Netbook costs for a laptop – so yes, you can pony up the bling, and so can Lenovo choose to sell a well integrated system instead of a cheapola-class thing you spend money on later.

    Get over it, MSFT is not in business because they sell their goods at cost – they leave that to others to do, or for Ubuntu to go under cost, even. Pay for the upgrade. Or switch to Linux if your user likes it. Or buy a MacBook if you want a high-cost thing that was integrated, not cheaptegrated. There are plenty of choices, up or down the $ range — MSFT is not forcing you to buy from them. It is still a free country.

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