Tag Archives: Windows 7

Deadlock removed

Forbes gave us news in several ways. It merely flared my nostrils for 0.337 seconds (roughly) and after that I saw opportunity knock. In all this Microsoft has been short-sighted for the longest of times and initially that case could be made in this instance too. Yet, I acknowledge that there is a business case to be made. The news on Forbes with the title ‘Why Microsoft ‘Confirmed’ Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘ (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/gordonkelly/2018/09/15/microsoft-windows-7-monthly-charge-windows-10-free-upgrade-cost-2) gives us a few parts. First there is “Using Windows 7 was meant to be free, but shortly after announcing new monthly charges for Windows 10, Microsoft confirmed it would also be introducing monthly fees for Windows 7 and “the price will increase each year”. Understandably, there has been a lot of anger“. There is also “News of the monthly fees was quietly announced near the bottom of a September 6th Microsoft blog post called “Helping customers shift to a modern desktop”“, so it is done in the hush hush style, quietly, like thieves in the night so to say. In addition there is “Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Office and Windows Marketing, explained: “Today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year.” No pricing details were revealed“. This is not meant for the home users, it is the professional versions and enterprise editions, that is meant for volumes and large businesses. So they now get a new setting. Leaving pricing in the middle, in the air and unspoken will only add stress to all kinds of places, but not to fret.

It is a good thing (perhaps not for Microsoft). You see, just like the ‘always online’ folly that Microsoft pushed for with the Xbox, we now see that in the home sphere a push for change will be made and that is a good thing. We all still have laptops and we all still have our Windows editions, but we forgot that we had been lulled to sleep for many years and it is time to wake up. This is a time for praise, glory, joy and all kinds of positive parts. You see, Google had the solution well over 5 years ago, and as we are pushed for change, we get to have a new place for it all.

Introducing Google Chromebook

You might have seen it, you might have ignored it, but in the cast of it all. Why did you not consider it? Now, off the bat, it is clear if you have a specific program need, you might not have that option. In my case, I have no need for a lot of it on my laptop, yes to the desktop, but that is a different setting altogether.

So with a Chromebook, I get to directly work with Docs (Word), Sheets (Excel) and Slides (PowerPoint) and they read and export to the Microsoft formats (as well as PDF). There is Photos, Gmail, Contacts and Calendar, taking care of the Outlook part, even Keep (Notes), Video Calling and a host of other parts that Microsoft does not offer within the foundation of their Office range. More important, there is more than just the Google option. Asus has one with a card reader allowing you to keep your files on a SD card, and a battery that offers 7-10 hours, which in light of the Surface Go that in one test merely gave 5 hours a lot better and the Chromebook is there for $399, a lot cheaper as well. In this it was EndGadet that labelled it: ‘It’s not perfect, but it’s very close.

Asus has several models, so a little more expensive, but comes with added features. In the bare minimum version it does over 90% of whatever a student needs to do under normal conditions. It is a market that Microsoft could lose and in that setting lose a lot more than merely some users. These will be users looking for alternatives in the workplace, the optional setting for loss that Microsoft was unable to cope with; it will now be on the forefront of their settings. In my view the direct consequence of iterative thinking.

And in this it is not merely Asus in the race, HP has a competitive Chromebook, almost the same price, they do have a slightly larger option 14″ (instead of 11.9″) for a mere $100 more, which also comes with a stronger battery, and there is also Acer. So the market is there. I get it, for many people those with stronger database needs, those with accounting software needs, for them it is not an option and we need to recognise that too. Yet the fact that in a mobile environment I have had no need for anything Microsoft Specific and that there Surface Go is twice the price of a Chromebook, yet not offering anything I would need makes me rethink my entire Microsoft needs. In addition, I can get a much better performance out of my old laptop by switching to Linux, who has a whole range of software options. So whilst it has been my view that Microsoft merely pushed a technological armistice race for the longest time, I merely ignored them as my windows 7 did what it needed to do and did it well, getting bullied into another path was never my thing, hence I am vacating to another user realm, a book with a heart of Chrome. So whilst we look at one vendor, we also see the added ‘Microsoft Office 365 Home 1 Year Subscription‘ at $128, so what happens after that year? Another $128, that whilst Google offers it for free? You do remember that Students have really tight budgets, do you not? And after that, students, unless business related changes happen, prefer a free solution as well. So whilst Microsoft is changing its premise, it seems to have found the setting of ‘free software’ offensive. You see, I get it when we never paid for it, but I bought almost every office version since Office 95. For the longest times issues were not resolved and the amount of security patches still indicates that Windows NT version 4 was the best they ever got to. I get that security patches are needed, yet the fact that some users have gone through thousands of patches only to get charge extra now feels more like treason then customer care and that is where they will lose the war and lose a lot.

So when you see subscription, you also need to consider the dark side of Microsoft. You partially see that with: “If you choose to let your subscription expire, the Office software applications enter read-only mode, which means that you can view or print documents, but you can’t create new documents or edit existing documents.” Now we agree that they clearly stated ‘subscription’, yet they cannot give any assurances that it will still be $128 next year, it could be $199, or even $249. I do not know and they shall not tell, just like in Forbes, where we saw ‘News of the monthly fees was quietly announced‘.

When we dig deeper and see: ‘Predicting the success of premium Chromebooks‘, LapTopMag treats us to: “The million-dollar question is whether these new, more expensive Chrome OS laptops can find a foothold in a market dominated by Windows 10 and Mac OS devices. Analysts are bullish about Chromebook’s potential to make a dent in the laptop market share“, which was given to us yesterday. Yet in this, the missing element is that Windows will now come with subscriptions to some and to more down the track, or lose the security of windows, now that picture takes a larger leap and the more expensive Google Pixelbooks (much higher specs then the others mentioned) will suddenly become a very interesting option. One review stated on the Pixelbook: “the Pixelbook is an insanely overpowered machine. And, lest we forget, overpriced“, which might be true, yet the little lower Atlas Chromebook was $439. So yes, the big one might not be for all and let’s face it. A 4K screen is for some overkill. That’s like needing to watch homemade porn in an IMAX theatre. The true need for 4K is gaming and high end photography/film editing, two elements that was never really for the Chromebook. At that point a powerful MacBook or MacBook pro will be essential setting you back $2900-$11400. So, loads of options and variations, at a price mind you. As I see it, the Microsoft market is now close to officially dissolving. There is a whole host of people that cannot live without it, and that is fine. I am officially still happy with my Windows 7, always have been. Yet when I see the future and my non-gaming life, Linux will be a great replacement and when being mobile a Chromebook will allow me to do what I need to do. It is only in spreadsheets that I will miss out a little at time, I acknowledge that too, but in all this there is no comparison with the subscription form and as it comes from my own pocket is see no issues with the full on and complete switch to Google and its apps in the immediate future. I feel close to certain that my loss will minimal at the most. A path that not all will have, I see that too, but when thinking the hundreds of thousands of students that are about to start University, they for the most can make that switch with equal ease and there we see the first crux. It was the setting that Microsoft in a position of strength had for the longest time, enabling students so that they are ready for the workplace changes. They will now grow up with the Chromebooks being able to do what they need and they will transfer that to the workplace too. Giving us that the workplace will be scattered with Chromebooks and with all kinds of SaaS solutions that can connect to the Chromebook too. The Chromebook now becomes some terminal to server apps enabling more and more users towards a cloud server software solution. As these solutions are deployed, more and more niche markets will move in nibbling on the Market share that Microsoft had, diminishing that once great company to a history, to being pushed beyond that towards being forgotten and at some point being a myth, one that is no longer in the game. It is also the first step that IBM now has to bank in on that setting and push for the old mainframe settings, yet they will not call it a mainframe, they will call it the Watson cloud, performing, processing and storing, available data on any Chromebook at the mere completion of a login. It is not all there yet, but SPSS created their Client server edition a decade ago, so as the client becomes slimmer, the Chromebook could easily deal with it and become even more powerful, that is beside the optional dashboard evolutions in the SaaS market, the same could be stated for IBM Cloud and databases. That is the one part that should be embraced by third party designers. As SaaS grows the need to look in Chromebook, Android and IOS solutions will grow exponentially. All this, with the most beautiful of starting signals ever given: ‘Windows 7 New Monthly Charges‘, the one step that Microsoft did not consider in any other direction and with G5 growing in 2021-2023 that push will only increase. If only they had not stuffed up their mobile market to the degree they had (my personal view). I see the Windows Mobile as a security risk, plain and simple. I could be wrong here, but there is too much chaff on Windows and as I cannot see what the wheat is (or if there is any at all), and as Microsoft has been often enough in the ‘quietly announcing‘ stage and that is not a good thing either.

Should you doubt my vision (always a valid consideration), consider that Veolia Environnement S.A. is already on this path. Announced less than two weeks ago we see “So we propose a global migration program to Chromebooks and we propose to give [our employees] a collaborative workplace. “We want to enable new, modern ways of working”“, linked to the article: ‘Veolia to be ‘data centre-less’ within two years‘ (at https://www.itnews.com.au/news/veolia-to-be-data-centre-less-within-two-years-499453), merely one of the first of many to follow. As the SaaS for Chromebooks increases, they will end up with a powerful workforce, more secure data and a better management of resources. Add to this the Google ID-Key solution and the range of secure connections will go up by a lot, diminishing a whole host of security issues (or security patches for that matter). All options available now and have been for a few years now. So when we see the Chromebook market push forward, we should thank Microsoft for enabling exponential growth; it is my personal believe that the absence of a monthly fee would have slowed that process considerably in a whole range of markets.

So thanks Microsoft! You alienated gamers for years, and now we see that you are repeating that same silly path with both starting students and businesses that are trying to grow.

I’ll ask Sundar Pichai to send you a fruit basket, it’s the least I can do (OK, the least I can do is nothing, but that seems so mean).

 

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Dark side of the moon

The Guardian ended up with an interesting article on Friday. The title ‘Malware is not only about viruses – companies preinstall it all the time‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/22/malware-viruses-companies-preinstall), it is a good article and Richard Stallman is a great man, but there are parts in this article that I have an issue with. Mind you, the man is not telling stories or lying, but he is showing one side of the coin. He is also reinforcing other sides to the software industry that are a definite issue.

The first part is a part I am completely in agreement with “In 1983, the software field had become dominated by proprietary (i.e. non-free) programs, and users were forbidden to change or redistribute them“, a side which I do not oppose. In addition there is “But proprietary developers in the 1980s still had some ethical standards: they sincerely tried to make programs serve their users, even while denying users control over how they would be served“, I have a partial issue with the last bit ‘denying users control over how they would be served‘. I disagree for two reasons.

The first is based on resources. In those days, an IBM PC was a massive behemoth, it had 256Kb memory and if you were really really rich, you also had a 10Mb hard drive. So, yes, the expensive personal computer had less resources then the cheapest $39 Non-smart Nokia phone. Go figure! By the way, that 10Mb hard drive was priced at $1499 in those days. So, user control was an issue, because resources did not allow for them, but soon thereafter, the 512Kb PC was released and there was so much we could do then! No sarcasm here, it was true! In those days I learned and mastered Lotus Symphony an excellent program! This was also a time when we started to get some choices in control, control remained limited, but some control was gained.

Next we see the first part that is an issue, even though he makes a nice point on End User License Agreements. I would like to add the Terms of service as a clear point here, but overall there is a part that is too coloured. The quote “So many cases of proprietary malware have been reported, that we must consider any proprietary program suspect and dangerous. In the 21st century, proprietary software is computing for suckers“.

I cannot completely disagree that Microsoft soured the market by a lot, it has done so in several directions, yet Corporate Earth is at times too stupid to consider growing a brain, which is also part of the problem. It is an element that is shown all over the place. The Netherlands, Sweden, UK, France, Germany, Denmark and even Australia (I worked in all those countries). Instead of sitting down and considering a switch to LINUX with open office, the IT and other elements are just too lazy and too under resourced to push for a change, so the users are no longer people, they are for the most mere meek sheep following the ‘corporate standard‘, which means that they too use windows and Office.

Another direction is the hardware world. Windows comes preinstalled, more important, Windows and Microsoft have been a driving force, forcing people to buy stronger and more expensive computers. Even though many users have not needed any need for more powerful and stronger hardware, Windows forced them to upgrade again and again. Anyone not into gaming and using their computer merely for office activities and browsing mail on the internet should not have needed to upgrade their computer for the better part of 10 years, but that is not the reality, go to any computer shop for windows hardware and we see how the ‘old’ ASUS, ACER, Lenovo, HP or Toshiba no longer hacks it. Which is actually weird, because if you reinstall your old laptop with LINUX and Apache Open Office there is a high chance that you will work in 90% of the time just as fast as with that new $2000 laptop on Windows 7. Setback? You have to install and configure it yourself. Upside? LINUX and Open Office are both free software, no costs and no fees!

Is it not interesting how companies are not jumping on that free horse? Why is that you think? In addition, with all the needs for government costs to go down, why are they not more pro-active to push for a shift towards LINUX? Is it security? This is also odd, because with the massive amount of non-stop security patches, Windows is not that secure to begin with.

So where do I disagree? Well the first clear quote is “Some are designed to shackle users, such as Digital Rights Management (DRM)“, I believe that if a firm makes software, it has every right to prevent illegal use, for a long time, how many people do you know that have a LEGAL version of Adobe? Even when the stars are in your favour. In many Universities, Adobe offers the entire master collection (all their software) for $400, which is an amazing deal! I got my legal versions of both Windows 7 and Microsoft Office Ultimate for an additional $199. Why not buy it? No many just find a download place and get the software for free, in addition you can get the codes. It goes even further that I stumbled on a place in Germany some years ago where they were offering the OEM stickers for PC complete with license key for 20 Mark. I could not tell the difference from the original sticker in the software box I had bought. Do you think that DRM would have been such a push if people just bought their software? I will take it one step further, I feel certain that if every person was charged $275 a year, we all would have the complete Adobe, Windows and Office programs free to download, with no need to illegally copy anything.

But there is still that other side. You see, I still believe that Microsoft and hardware providers have been forcing a technological armistice race upon the consumers, which now adds up to us all wasting resources on iterative junk we should not need. So even though I do not completely agree with Richard Stallman here, he does have a point.

Now we get to an issue that I actually faced without knowing it “Even Android contains malware in a non-free component: a back door for remote forcible installation or deinstallation of any app“, you see, I thought I was bonkers (which I actually are) but for some reason one of my apps had suddenly be removed and not by me. It was not something I needed. I had just downloaded it from Google play out of curiosity, but suddenly it was gone! In addition, on more than one occasion it just decided to update my apps, without my permission. When you have bandwidth issues, seeing a force upgrade which could cost you is not that nice a moment.

Yet, for the most, I remain a loyal fan towards Android, even though at times programs use background resources for reasons unknown, or are they unknown?

We get the next part from the quote “Even humble flashlight apps for phones were found to be reporting data to companies. A recent study found that QR code scanner apps also snoop“, there is a lot more at http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/ejsmith/scan.this.or.scan.me.2015.pdf; now we have ourselves a massive issue, although the paper shows that there is a prompt for GPS and the sending of GPS, none of them has the situation where they do not prompt for GPS and still send it. Eric Smith and Dr Nina A. Kollars who wrote the paper give us another consideration on page 8. There we see “Moreover, contemporary privacy norms are increasingly threatened as what initially appears to be signals of consumer preference slide further into determining bigger-picture life patterns and behavior. The term most commonly used to address this creeping phenomenon is the literature on consumer panopticism“, which now refers to ‘Gandy, Oscar H. The Panoptic Sort: A Political Economy of Personal Information‘. Before getting the book (which is worth the purchase), you might want to take a look at a paper by Adam Arvidsson, from the Department of Film and Media Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (at http://www.surveillance-and-society.org/articles1(4)/prehistory.pdf), you see, my partial issue with the article by Richard Stallman becomes slowly visible now. He is right in his view and his vision as he sees this, but you the user did this to yourself! You think that Facebook is ‘free’, that these apps are there merely for amusement (some actually are), their goal is income! Some work the Freemium game market, where games like ‘Book of Heroes‘ gives you a free game, but if you want to grow faster and better in the game, you will have to invest. For the most, these games will rely on the investment from $10-$25 to truly open up, which is, if you consider the amount of hours played still great value. Freemium games also come with that ‘try before you buy’ approach, as you can play the game, but to enjoy it, to get more moves and more joy a few dollars will be essential. The other part that relies on ‘captured data’ did they inform you? If not, there is an issue, but the app programmer will get his pound of flesh, either by cash of by data!

Yet the other side is also true, you see, as Richard mentions and as Adam Arvidsson report on, there are places like Red Sheriff, that rely on hidden script, which is more advanced/intrusive as it keeps track of ALL your online movements. You get this script as a ‘present’ when you visit one of its affiliated sites. Did you the internet user sign up for that? When we see the reference on who pushes this. We see “since most major commercial sites use Redsheriff“, which means that nearly all will somehow be tracked. I for one do not really care that much, but I never signed up for any of it, so should we see this as an invasion to our privacy?

This is where we see that freeware is almost never free.

Yet Richard also alerts us to another state of freedom, or lack thereof! In the quote “If the car itself does not report everywhere you drive, an insurance company may charge you extra to go without a separate tracker“. Can anyone explain to me why it is ANY business of the insurer where we are?

In the end, Richard states three parts, which are fair enough, but overall the issue is missed. The issues reported are:

Individually, by rejecting proprietary software and web services that snoop or track“, here I do not completely agree! I used Adobe as an example for a reason, there is simply no viable alternative, it only became worse when Macromedia bought Adobe (I know it is the other way round, but I will remain a faithful Macromedia fan until the day I die!), there is in addition, no tracking done by Adobe, other than keeping track whether you have a valid license, which I never opposed.

Collectively, by organising to develop free/libre replacement systems and web services that don’t track who uses them“, which I whole heartedly agree with, I am even willing to devote time to this worthy cause (not sure how I could ever size up to the hundreds of Richard Stallman’s, but I am willing to give it a go!

And last there is “Democratically, by legislation to criminalise various sorts of malware practices. This presupposes democracy, and democracy requires defeating treaties such as the TPP and TTIP that give companies the power to suppress democracy“, this is the big one. The political branches all over Europe and the Commonwealth have sold us short and have not done anything to properly enforce the rights to privacy. In addition, Google and Apple remains in a state of non-clarity on what data these apps capture and what they convey. In that regard Facebook is equally guilty. Facebook goes further that it does not even proper police those who claim to give a free app, only to no longer work, but when you went to the install the data is as I see it already captured by the app provider, which gives wonder to where that data went.

In regards to suppressing democracy, which is perhaps partially overstated, there is an issue with the TPP that seems to empower large corporations and nullify the protection to smaller innovators and even governments as the TTP wants to enforce “where foreign firms can ‘sue’ states and obtain taxpayer compensation for ‘expected future profits’”, how long until we get an invoice for overinflated ego’s? Especially from those people in the entertainment industry claiming the loss of so many billions in an era when the bulk of the population can hardly pay their rent!

I regard Graham Burke of Village Roadshow to be one of the greater jokes this era has brought forth. Consider who he is supposed to ‘protect’, he goes on regarding “‘crazies’ whose hidden agenda is the ‘theft of movies’“, which is not that far-fetched a statement, because movies will be downloaded and not bought, it happens, yet not to the degree Graham Burke claims it is! So we get him soon enough to claim billions from losses due to the massive download of ‘the LEGO movie’ perhaps? Yet in the public forum on copyright infringement, we did not hear him utter a word on bandwidth, perhaps the response from Telstra’s Jane Van Beelen would likely have been a little too uncomfortable Mr Burke?

You see, in my view it is less about the democracy as Richard Stallman sees it. The legal protection seems to be massively delayed as bandwidth is income, and when piracy is truly stopped bandwidth will simmer down. If we accept the word of Village Roadshow with global revenue of 13 billion since 1997. Yet, I wrote about movie piracy in ‘The real issue here!‘ on June 17th 2014 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/06/17/the-real-issue-here/), in the calculation, which I kept very conservative, Telstra could lose up to 320 million a month in revenue, due to diminished bandwidth, which gets us 4 billion a year. Consider that Village Roadshow is global, which means that Australian revenue is a mere fraction of that, how soon until they see that Village roadshow might only get 5-10 million a year more, against the 320 million a month loss for Telstra? So Mr. Burke is not regarded as a serious party as I see it (yet he is not an invalid party), Telstra would have too much to lose, not to mention the loss Optus and iiNet could face. However, if the TPP changes that with ‘expected future profits’, whilst there is absolutely no quality data to prove that the loss is nothing more than there ego’s talking.

There is the crunch that politicians are too afraid to touch!

Yet, in light of many factors, legal protection (including protection for Village Roadshow) is essential, yet the large corporations seem to hold the game to the need of their bottom dollar, which is the dollar, not democracy or decent rights. If it were decent rights than telecom companies would properly monitor abuse of digital rights, because the movie is for Village Roadshow to sell, or to stream for a fee via Netflix. I do not deny this at all, I just oppose the outlandish income some of them claim that they ‘lost’!

So on the dark side of the moon we see that (actually we do not see any of that) things are not right. I do not completely adhere to the idealist view that Richard Stallman validly has (we are all entitled to our views), but he touches on several parts that definitely need change and until we see a governmental push away from Microsoft solutions, we will see that the government will spend loads of money on never-ending updates to hardware and software. We all agree that such a change is not easily made, but in light of the cost of living, the fact that nearly no one makes that change is equally worrisome.

When we stare up to the sky we always see the same side of the moon, the dark side is wild, and is covered with impact craters, impacts we never see. It is a lot more reminiscent of the chaotic wild life of malware, a side that is constantly lacking the exposure it should have, mainly because it affects the bottom dollar.

 

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