The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Why I Hate Microsoft

I've been asked why I hate Microsoft and Windows? It's time for me to reveal my innermost feelings on the matter. The short answer is, because Microsoft screwed me over. The long answer can be broken down into several categories...

A Question of Ethical Behaviour
In 1992, IBM released an Operating System product called OS/2 2.0. It was seen as The Great White Hope against Microsoft's Windows. OS/2 promised reliable and nearly crash-proof computing. It offered 32-bit computing for the first time in a mass-market desktop OS. It offered a true Object-Oriented desktop. It offered the imprimatur and business support of a world-class enterprise giant.

But even the mighty IBM could not resist Microsoft's monopoly power. By virtue of Microsoft's absolute dominance in the PC market, they were able to prevent PC vendors (such as Dell and Compaq) from preloading OS/2 in their computer lines. Any vendor who chose to preload OS/2 risked losing the financial incentives (e.g., volume discounts) that Microsoft offered for their Windows and Office products. This is well-documented in the U.S. government's antitrust case against Microsoft.

In effect, Microsoft eliminated competition in the desktop OS market, not on the basis of technical or marketing merit, but through economic bullying and unethical business practices. As a result, the much-superior OS/2 was totally shut out of the PC market and anyone who invested in OS/2 development (like me, for example) was screwed over.

A Decade of Pain and Suffering
Because there was no competition for Windows, for the remainder of the 1990s we had to endure one dreadful version of Windows after another. We had to put up with frequent crashes, which caused us to lose all our work. We had to suffer through numerous bugs and quirky behaviour. We had to accept poor support and costly upgrades. Every new Windows version took money out of our pockets.

Remember Windows 3.0? How about Windows 3.1 and Windows 3.11? Windows 95? Windows 98? Windows 98 SE? How about Windows ME? Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. What were we paying for??? Each successive version of Windows was little more than bug fixes for the previous version, which shouldn't have had those bugs in the first place! We were screwed over.

(Yes, I know, all software have bugs. But the scale of bugs that existed in Windows was monumental, and often catastrophic for end users. Windows represented the worst software ever written in the history of Information Technology.)

It wasn't until Windows 2000 came along that we finally got a decent OS from Microsoft. But, then, with the next version of the Operating System, Windows XP, they inflicted the treacherous and extremely inconvenient Product Activation scheme upon us. (Product Activation is an anti-piracy measure which let's you install Windows on one single machine only.) I have several computers at home that I want to run Windows on - I can only work with one computer at a time, though. Product Activation screwed me over in this scenario, denying my fair use rights.

In short, Microsoft was anti-competitive, a practice they continue today. Microsoft caused much pain for over a decade, and today we still suffer - through a myriad of Windows security holes. Microsoft wrote very bad software and lacked any true innovation, and this still holds true today (just look at their upcoming Windows Vista, which has nothing compelling over Windows XP).

Here's an excellent article on why we should all hate Microsoft and Windows.


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