I don’t object (much) to updates to existing software, as long as they are actually improvements from the user’s point of view, as opposed to a change that mainly benefits the provider. A good example is Windows itself: I’m currently on Windows 8.1, which is perfectly adequate. It works: why fix it if it ain’t broke? – the answer to that is that micro$haft’s income stream depends upon constant new releases, even if, in practice, they’re of minimal real benefit to the user. Just another example of our broken growth-centric economics system.
Beaton, the newest recruit to the 💥 ?Random Raiders! 💥 community, visited a very old post of mine (‘Life’s too short‘) yesterday. That sparked off a conversation about software ‘upgrades’; and, coincidentally, it turns out that Windows 8.1 falls out of what Microsoft calls ‘extended support’ on 10Jan2023. That’s just one year from today.
I was once a fan of Windows, it has to be said. I’d been on DOS for some time: when I installed Win3.1, my first impression was: this is amazing! And, it was, compared with what I’d used before. I became an advocate, singing the praises of this marvel. And also, by dint of having avidly read the Windows 3.1 manual from cover to cover, an unofficial Windows support technician, too. Unpaid, naturally.
It was only later that I discovered that Bill Gates, one-time richest man on the planet, had essentially ripped off CP/M, turned it into DOS (by dint of turning forward slashes into backslashes and other minor tweaks) and made a deal with IBM to have it pre-installed on all their PCs; thus, essentially, ensuring his future. Then he essentially stole the concept of the GUI from Xerox and made ‘Windows’, which was, pretty unsurprisingly in retrospect, an immediate success.
The thing I hate most about the way our society ‘works’ is that those with the most power are able to leverage that power to overwhelm any competition. The free market fundamentalists bang on about ‘user choice’, but there is no choice if all you’re offered is the dominant product. They refuse to acknowledge the concept of product inertia, but you only have to look at the ‘success’ of the anachronism known as QWERTY for proof that that’s a crock.
Having made a success of Windows, micro$haft then went on to embed it into our society by giving ‘free’ licences to our educational establishments, thus ensuring that everyone grew up being familiar with their product. And essentially, that is why whenever you start a new job and are given your desk, you turn on the computer that sits on it and… Windows™ boots up. And nobody bats an eyelid, because that’s what we’ve all been indocrinated with.
The first hit’s free, guys.
Almost two decades ago, I’d had enough of this. I was on Windows98. (Why ’98’? Well, because that was the year it was released, which sort of made sense – at the time – because the previous version was ’95’, which was the year that version was released… but the previous version to that had been ‘3.x’, so, that makes sense: how? Ask the makers of Xbox, the versions of which were ‘Xbox’, ‘Xbox 360’, and then… ‘Xbox One’. Oh, that’s right, same guys: micro$haft.) So, I vowed that when Windows98 ‘ran out of support’, I’d ‘vote with my feet’ and move to Linux.
Except that, at the time, I was running a web design company that I’d founded. And all of my customers were using… yes, you guessed it, micro$haft Windows. So I was hamstrung; I had no choice but to use the same operating system as they were using, so as to be able to provide them with technical support. (For which I never got a bean from micro$haft, incidentally… although I’m sure you already guessed that.)
And so, when I was forced to ‘upgrade’ from Windows98 (even though it still worked perfectly well) I moved to WindowsXP (fortunately skipping entirely the disaster known as Vista). Why did ‘XP’ succeed ‘Vista’? Why did ‘Vista’ succeed ’98’? Whatever happened to ‘Windows 9’? Ask the micro$haft Marketing Department: I’m sure they’ll give you some bullshit reason for it.
Windows98 worked fine. I was obliged to ‘upgrade’ from ’95’ (even though that, apart from the occasional BSOD, also worked fine) because ’95’ didn’t ‘understand’ the Internet. And I have to point out at this point that micro$haft itself didn’t understand the Internet at first; they originally dismissed it as a fad. I can’t find any links to back up that assertion, but I remember it well; mainly because I recall that, not long afterwards, they did a complete U-turn and declared that their Grand Plan was going to be to ‘own the Internet’. But I digress…
There’s absolutely no reason that the ’95’ operating system couldn’t itself be altered to accommodate the extra code required to ‘understand’ the Internet. Oh, wait, yes, there was: someone had to pay the richest man on the planet (and all his underlings) more munny.
The thing is: our entire economic system is badly broken; and our love-affair with technology is turning Starship Earth, our only home, into an unlivable wasteland. If we continue to allow big businesses to rule the roost, if we don’t act to curb the insanity, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.
And so, on the grounds that we should each ‘be the change we wish to see in the world’, I’m going to finally bite the bullet over this next year. I have a new project: implement a multi-boot system on my PC so that I can see whether I can use Linux instead of Windows, with a view to weaning myself off micro$haft so I’m no longer held ransom to their marketing whims. I’ll let you know how it goes…