02 February 2008

Linux, Windows, and Computer Politics.

There's a lot of things going on in the world of computers and software. Being someone who has to use his computer every day for work, and has the privilege to use the same machinery for my enjoyment and pleasure, I don't see the issue some folks have with MSFT.

I do have some issues with MSFT's OS products. For me it tries to be a little too much for what I want and need it for in some areas and not enough in others, but it still works for some purposes that I have yet to find a replacement for. What they do include in the OS, for example, IE7, WinMedia Player, so and so forth, are nice. They do exactly what they say they do. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes a little more than what I need. I'd give examples of my needs and wants, but these are my preferences and opinions. Someone else may feel these included softwares are exactly perfect for themselves and their family. It's not my duty, nor position, to dictate to others how they should run their lives, much less their computers.

A few years ago many companies brought MSFT to court over their inclusion of many of the softwares that were included with the Windows OS package. Their position was that these inclusions were an unfair way of trying to monopolize the software industries that each of these particular companies were representing. My opinion on this is as such:

It's like Dunlop suing Ford for including tires on their cars that are from a different company, and "not allowing" car customers from choosing what tires they want. Another great example would be Sony suing Ford for including AC Delco radios and forcing customers to use such a product without the option of Sony's Xplosion products.

It's just stupid. The tires, radio, and whatever part you can replace in the car are included by the manufacturer so that the customer can enjoy their ride off the lot. If they want to upgrade their individual parts, they can uninstall such parts and replace them with the product of their choice.

Now with this in mind, let's say IE7 was the tires. I can always install another Web Client. I personally use
FireFox. Why, b/c it does exactly what I want it to do due to the ability to add extensions of all kinds that makes not only my internet experience better, but my computing and work experience much easier and fun. They have an extension for everything. They even have an extension for monitoring my router without me having to open up a new browser or tab to log into my router's settings and status. With download helper I can put my favorite YouTube videos on my HDD and watch them at my leisure. There's just so much to do and so much to learn with FireFox, it brings the fun back into the internet.

Now, let's say WinMedia Player is your radio. Heck, there's so many softwares out there that can replace this one software it's almost ridiculous. Here's a few I recommend for someone to try on the Window's platform; VLC, MPlayer, and WinAmp just to name a few. Many of these players can play more video and audio types than WinMedia Player and iTunes combined. Very nice.

Now, Outlook Express is also nice, but there are so many other products out there for Mail Clients that just blow Outlook right out of the water. I personally use ThunderBird. Again, at first, it will not have many options for an individual to do much with this particular email client, but this also being a Mozilla product, it too has extensions. It even has a calendar extension called Lightning that has just as many options and more due to more extensions that can fully replace Outlook as your email client.

These are just a few of the great softwares you can use to replace your MSFT products that come pre-installed on Windows to replace or augment your user experience. A great place to get started with looking into MSFT software alternatives is here. This is just a few. I also recommend AVG and SpyBot to help secure your Windows OS.

Now, if you are just tired of Windows, or you just want something fresh and new, I recommend trying Ubuntu. It is a Linux Distribution that is easy to use and very stable. I personally love it. (In fact I am using Ubuntu right now to write this blog.) All the alternative softwares I have stated above are all included with Ubuntu or able to be installed with a few simple clicks. Ubuntu is not for everyone however. There are a few things that may be far too complicated for some folks to do or have time to deal with. I recommend researching as much as you can before installing this software, but if you want to just play around with it to see if it is something you may want to try there is what is called a Live CD version you can download. Just download the iso (image of the cd or dvd), burn the image to your disk, and just reboot your PC with this in your disk drive. Nothing will be installed on your PC at all. Every bit of the Ubuntu OS will be installed on your ram, thus never touching your Hard Drive. Now, if you like it, you can install it right from the Live CD session. I highly recommend doing a dual boot system with Windows and Ubuntu so if you get stuck, you can always use Windows to help in an emergency or just to play around. Setting up a dual boot maybe a little too complicated for some people, so make sure you do your research before trying.

Remember, however, MSFT is as big as it is not due to illegal tactics, or any other reason but one. It put out a great product which we as consumers bought and implemented in our lives. There is nothing wrong with this. If you do not like MSFT, do something about it. No matter how much you sue, complain, and do nothing, changes nothing. Vote with your wallet, buy alternative products, or use alternative products. That's what's so great about being in a free capitalist nation. We have the choice to buy and use what we want. If you don't like something, don't buy it. If you don't buy it, the company will either change it's products, tactics, or whatever it is about the company you don't like to win you back as a customer, or it will simply just go the way of the Dodo.

I personally like a lot of MSFT's products. I buy them, I use them, I implement them. But I also like Ubuntu and Linux. I also support, use, and implement these products as well. There are many folks that will disagree with me on my views of MSFT. Many of these folks are deep in the Linux community. I am not here to try to change their minds and views. That is their right to have those views, but I have the right to have mine.

Now for my morning quote:
"I am good, but I can always be better. Be better today."

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