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Windows Operating Systems Software Editorial

Why Does Windows Still Suck? 1995

RatBastard writes "SF Gate's Mark Morford asks: Why Does Windows Still Suck? After wtaching his significant other's Windows PC drown in a sea of viruses and worms after only 4 minutes on her new DSL connection, Mark Morford wonders why the masses have not stormed Redmond waving torches and scythes in anger over the never-ending security flaws in Windows. Why haven't they jetisoned the foul beast from Redmond and migrated en mass to the Macintosh or even Linux?"
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Why Does Windows Still Suck?

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  • Why? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JNighthawk ( 769575 ) <NihirNighthawk @ a o> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:24PM (#11576361)
    I'm a gamer.
    • by zymano ( 581466 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:36PM (#11576592)
      Preinstalling their os with every new computer is huge advantage for them. If the government told them to sell their OS on the market for over $100(xp cost) then people would wise up and buy something else.

      Another reason though is that Linux still can be a hassle like downloading firefox and having to use administrator login to install.
      • by KiltedKnight ( 171132 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:57PM (#11576935) Homepage Journal
        There was an attempt to get money refunded because people said that they didn't want Windows pre-installed. The way to get the refund was to take the computer out of the box, put a different OS installation disk in, and install the new OS, completely nuking Windows off the machine. With this done, you could get a refund of the cost of Windows, because you did not accept the terms of the EULA.

        When you tried to do this, companies would say that you needed to contact Microsoft for the refund. Microsoft would say you needed to contact the computer seller. Once you finished running around in circles, you found out that it only cost the manufacturer about $1.00 to put the copy of Windows on that machine, and that's what you'd have refunded to you.

        Of course, if you needed to get Windows back on the machine, now you'd have to pay the $180 for a full copy of it, because you had to return any and all materials from your computer purchase in order to get your dollar back.

        Of course, if you managed to convince the manufacturer to sell you a computer without an operating system pre-installed, you had to pay an extra $10-$50 for that choice. Why? In order to be sure the computer worked in the first place, they had to install Windows to test the peripherals and other devices! Oh, did you want warranty support too? Sorry. "We don't support other operating systems."

        The whole pre-installation thing was pure genius on the part of Microsoft's marketing department.

        • by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:07PM (#11577102)
          Agreed. But it should have been limited in the settlement. This is the one hook they have on most of the industry. Also, many people keep using Windows because they just don't understand what's happening. Viruses often don't completely crash a system and spyware will run and the user can still "work." Another reason is they just don't want to learn a new OS. Many people feel like Windows took enough time to learn. I have my kids on Linux. They work fine. My wife doesn't like it, but she works fine too. I plan on getting a Mac soon and I'm sure they'll use that fine too. The key, teach the young! Give you kids something other than Windows and then they can show the parents how to move around etc. Hey, it's an idea.
        • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:02PM (#11578414) Homepage Journal

          In order to be sure the computer worked in the first place, they had to install Windows to test the peripherals and other devices!

          That may have been an excuse in 1999, but Knot anymore [].

      • by RWerp ( 798951 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:28PM (#11578096)
        Microsoft in Poland sells Windows XP for over $100 on the market. And yes, people HAVE wisened up. They use pirate copies.
    • It's the servers (Score:5, Informative)

      by rutledjw ( 447990 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:04PM (#11577051) Homepage
      That's why. We have an agreement with IBM to use their hardware (golf course agreement - we send them biz, they send us biz) and for the most part I like it. I think their blade and 44X servers are GREAT.

      However, they have subtle differences with each set of machines that come off the production line. You can buy 4 servers at the same time and each will be a LITTLE different. Linux doesn't care. We use the same image with blades that we use with 345s that we use with 445s - no sweat.

      BUT, with Windows, 2 blades (or whatever) require totally different drivers to be installed. My team can image (literally) tens (and probably 100-200, although we haven't tested that) of servers at once - using Linux in about a day. Windows - won't work, the requirements for the OS to have just the RIGHT driver for each server is a bloody NIGHTMARE.

      Another issue is access. A lot of applications with Windows seem to need admin equivalent access and then want that ongoing to change anything. This means a lot of people need a LOT more access than we want to give out! With *nix, we've managed to use sudo and scripts to keep those boxes better locked down.

      Otherwise, to be frank, I don't give a r@ts ass one way or the other. I simply line Linux b/c it works. If we could get past the image issue, I could probably live with Windows (and just suck it up WRT access).

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mildew Man ( 718763 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:21PM (#11578032)

      I'm a gamer.
      Of the 33 people (just offhand) that I know that have home computers, only four are gamers. Four! 12% The fact of the matter is that my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law (and his parents), and most people are NOT gamers. Slashdot geeks are gamers. Most are not.
  • by winkydink ( 650484 ) * <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#11576362) Homepage Journal
    Why would you let your SO attach an unpatched and unprotected PC to the Internet? Would the author let her walk SF's Tenderloin after dark in a halter, leather mini & fishnets?
  • Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by temojen ( 678985 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#11576363) Journal
    They don't know of anything else, and Windows came with the computer.
    • Also... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daveo0331 ( 469843 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:30PM (#11576492) Homepage Journal
      The worms and viruses are designed to be hard to detect. People have infected machines that they don't know are infected. Out of sight, out of mind.
    • Re:Simple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:31PM (#11576501) Homepage
      More than that: Often, they don't know there is anything else.

      This might come as a surprise to the /. community, but many users don't understand the concept of an "operating system". Many users don't know the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. Many users don't even understand that things go on "behind the scenes", and so they think that the difference between Linux, Windows, and OSX are just GUI changes and different programs.

      • by Therlin ( 126989 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:49PM (#11576834)
        That reminds me of an email I got the other day when I asked the user if she had MS Word. I'll paste it here:

        "I have microsoft explorer xp, but don't think it's microsoft word. It's call word perfect."
  • by Bongoots ( 795869 ) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#11576368)
    Because it's still Windows.
    • by ikewillis ( 586793 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:35PM (#11576579) Homepage
      Bingo. The reason Windows is so problematic is that it's still largely built on a codebase that was never designed to be connected to an enormous untrusted network like the Internet. The only way to fix Windows is get rid of this codebase and reimplement it as managed code which will dramatically lessen the problems of their current legacy native code implementation.

      Longhorn will be the first release of Windows authored completely after Microsoft began their Trusted Computing Initiative and released .NET. Longhorn will reimplement and convert major Windows subsystems to managed code. This alone will substantially improve security of the operating system, as while the APIs will remain the same legacy Win32 apps will end up talking to managed code beneath the Win32 API (yes, .NET makes this possible)

      This will dramatically lessen the exploitation potential of code flaws in the Windows application libraries. Microsoft has to maintain support for legacy application, but that doesn't mean they can't get a fresh start on the underlying code, and doesn't mean that existing Microsoft applications can't be converted to managed code as well.

      • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:52PM (#11577695)
        Longhorn will not be the answer. Managed code will not fix users from breaking their machine. One of the first and foremost reasons why computers get messed up is because of user mistakes. Using social engineering a virus tricks them into running something they shouldn't. No amount of "managed code" will protect the user from pressing the wrong buttons.

        The answer has been staring at us for 20 years now. Many of the security problems in Windows are born of legacy. And ironically they were problems born from not learning lessons learned by other Operating Systems.

        But in typical fashion, Microsoft is throwing more software at the flaws instead of fixing the fundemental design which created the issue in the first place. The whole chain about any virus using IE as an vector should show you this.

        There are fundemental issues that were learned by other systems along time ago that MS continues to ignore and throw more software upon in an attempt to obscure the problems. So many things would go away if users never had the previliage to screw up their system easily. So many things would go away if the web browser was treated as a viewer instead of a platform for execution. So many tools could be simplified and made less confusing if they fixed the underlying problems...but they won't.

        I'm sorry to sound like flamebait but I'm sick of it. Longhorn will get released and people will harass me on what in the world "code group permissions" are. People can't figure out IE's "zones" and they want me to explain to users how "code groups" work?! Thanks Microsoft...thanks for completely avoiding the problem.
      • Boring (Score:4, Informative)

        by Pan T. Hose ( 707794 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:55PM (#11578356) Homepage Journal

        Longhorn will be the first release of Windows authored completely after Microsoft began their Trusted Computing Initiative and released .NET. Longhorn will reimplement and convert major Windows subsystems to managed code.

        This really starts to get boring. I have already written about it countless times only to get completely ignored every time I dare to point out that the emperor is naked.

        I find it truly amusing that people who say that there are other advantages than only Digital Restrictions Management of using "trusted" computing [] and Palladium-like platforms usually talk with great enthusiasm and excitement about the new and innovative security features [] that have already been implemented in the 1970s [] for crying out loud, only better and with no strings attached []. All TCPA zealots are usually completely ignorant of the existance of such operating systems as KeyKOS [] or EROS [] with formal proofs of correctness [] for God's sake and without all of the silliness of "trusted" computing.

        And no, this is not only my opinion [] that we don't need DRM to get security. I am not the only one who says that everything that TCPA can possibly do to security can also be done in software, with the only exception of DRM, and in fact it has already been done, decades ago. I am not really surprised at all why it is completely ignored by the TCPA and TCI pushing industry. I am only outraged that there are so many naïve people who once again will gladly do anything no matter how dumb it is, if only their good uncle Bill Gates says that it's good for them.

        Please, people, if you want to learn about real systems security, then read some old papers by Jerome Saltzer, Michael Schroeder, Norman Hardy and Jonathan Shapiro. If you want to learn about cryptography, read texts by Bruce Schneier. Microsoft is not a reliable source of knowledge in that field.

        People always ask me where are the real innovations in systems security and I always say them that they are in the seventies, and have been being ingnored since then by major software vendors because people don't demand using them. This story and this thread is a great example: "Yeah, this version of Windows may suck, but still I am looking forward to buy the next one."

        This will dramatically lessen the exploitation potential of code flaws in the Windows application libraries. Microsoft has to maintain support for legacy application, but that doesn't mean they can't get a fresh start on the underlying code, and doesn't mean that existing Microsoft applications can't be converted to managed code as well.

        Wait, I've already heard it... In 1995, 1998, 2000, 2003... Oh, you mean that this time they really mean it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#11576376)
    It's not a problem with Windows! The operating system is okay! It's digitally signed!
  • why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:25PM (#11576378) Homepage Journal

    Why? Because Microsoft focuses its resources on market share rather than making a robust and stable system. Once consumers are locked in they tend to stick with what they know and buy the upgrades. It's that inertia that MS banks on when they release repackaged corn-laden turd and call it "Windows NextGen-2010+++ with Lemon Scent" Seriously: what real ideas have they come up with in the past many years? Everything they make is a bit shinier and fatter than the previous versions but where is the innovation?
  • by chris09876 ( 643289 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:26PM (#11576400)
    People have always had the impression that computers aren't "reliable and stable". Having this ingrained in them means they accept things like Windows crashes. AS for Linux, it's not seen as user friendly as Windows. Some people have the false impression that it's more difficult to install (well, compiling gentoo is more difficult than installing Windows, but installing RedHat definitely isn't). ...and the most obvious reason (that people don't switch to linux/mac) is because everyone else is on Windows! It's what people use at work, and it's what they're most comfortable with.
  • easy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by briancnorton ( 586947 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:26PM (#11576401) Homepage
    They don't care
    Sounds like too easy of an answer, but for non-tech savvy people, a computer is just a tool for email, web, etc. If computers were a vital part of people's lives, they might care. Corporations can pay administrators to keep their computers clean, but joe twelvepack doesn't use his computer for anything that he can't do without. QED.
  • by arkham6 ( 24514 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:27PM (#11576411)
    People have been taught that computers are inherently unstable, will often crash, are very complex machines that are basicly a house of cards. They have been fed the line that 'security is too hard!' so much they believe it.
  • Seems dubious (Score:5, Interesting)

    by conJunk ( 779958 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:28PM (#11576431)
    Don't get me wrong, I'm a mac fanboy myself, and I agree 100% with most of the author's conetentions, but, some of his evidence is a bit whack:

    He links to the Crack a Mac [] challenge, as evidence that macs are bulletproof. Fine, but read their story- most of the attempts to crack *that* mac were based on old UNIX and NT attacks, and well, duh! HOWEVER- nobody (hardly) uses macs for webserves. If we had been doing that for the past 15 years, well, perhaps there'd be heaps of *known* exploits. The Crack a Mac story doesn't prove that there aren't exploits, it proves that not many folks know what they are.
    • Re:Seems dubious (Score:5, Interesting)

      by plsuh ( 129598 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:57PM (#11577749) Homepage
      I don't know about 15 years, but the U.S. Army [] has been running their front-facing webservers on the Mac since 1999, about six years at this point. If the Army's website isn't a high-profile target, I don't know what is. This has been an unqualified success story for the Mac -- they haven't been cracked during that time, whereas before that the NT4-based servers were cracked numerous times.
      localhost:~ username$ curl -i
      HTTP/1.1 200 OK
      Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2005 22:48:59 GMT
      Server: 4D_WebSTAR_S/5.3.3 (MacOS X)
      Connection: Close
      Accept-Ranges: bytes
      Last-Modified: Fri, 04 Feb 2005 22:00:34 GMT
      Content-Length: 35822
      Content-Type: text/html
  • by jpmoney ( 323533 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:28PM (#11576435)
    Apparently the connection is through SBC Yahoo! DSL.

    I recently got DSL through my phone provider (SBC) and am torn on if I like it or not. The CD they send with it has spyware, its own browser, and all sorts of nasty things that WILL bring your system to a crawl easily. Sure Windows doesn't do very well, but a provider's CD like SBC Yahoo's does not help at all.

    Hooking it into my Linux box with rp-pppoe was nice though - and the speed is impressive.
  • by RootsLINUX ( 854452 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:29PM (#11576441) Homepage
    I was afraid too, even though I had used Linux on the campus PCs. I used to have the same problem (immediate infection/total system compromise within hours after hooking up to the net). It was so bad that after re-formatting and installing the online anti-virus software my university provided me, it was already too late. I fearcely battle virsuse for nearly two weeks, then I finally gave up and installed Linux. Now I thank those viruses, and Windows/M$ for failing to do anything to prevent them from entering my system. Had that not have happened, then it's likely I would still be trapped in Windows.
  • by ewanrg ( 446949 ) * <{moc.liamg} {ta} {mahtnarg.nawe}> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:29PM (#11576461) Homepage
    First, people put up with this because that's what came on their machine, and so it "must" be what's best for that box.

    Second, the average user could no more tell you the difference from an OS and an application than from a Trojan versus a Virus.

    Finally, the average user isn't all that clued that there are any other options out there, and there are few if any application or game ads on TV that say "Runs on Mac" or "Runs on Linux" to make them even look.


    More rants like this on my blog []

  • Reluctance to change (Score:5, Interesting)

    by revscat ( 35618 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:31PM (#11576498) Journal
    I know that Mac people frequently get labeled with the "zealot" label, but there is something that I have noticed about friends and family who are Windows users: for whatever reasons they are reluctant if not opposed to change, even in the face of all available evidence. It's nothing explicit, but mention OS X or Linux to them and they immediately go on the defensive, as if you are quetioning them and their decision making abilities ("Well, Windows can do that, too."), instead of seeing what you are attempting to do, which is point out some rather important problems with Windows as an OS.

    Perhaps this is just human nature. But as a "switcher" who is approaching his one year anniversary with a PowerMac after almost 20 years of Windows and DOS (starting with DOS 2.0!) I can honestly say: Windows users, it's not your fault. Microsoft should be ashamed, not you. Windows sucks, and there are better choices out there for you. Make them! You'll be happy that you did.

    • by Beautyon ( 214567 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:38PM (#11577533) Homepage
      You may count me in as one of the first anniversary with Mac crowd. I switched specifically for OSX, after having used windoze since version three.

      I have turned three people to the osx generation macs so far; each of them took over six months to decide to switch, all of them have more than enough cash to buy whatever computer they want.

      The problem was in each case...

      They were thick.

      They simply could not understand simple phrases like, "all of your computer problems will be over once you buy a mac"..."you will never have to worry about viruses and worms again after you buy your mac"..."your work will never be lost again due to a crash if you buy a mac" etc etc.

      Finally, each one switched, and they now scream the praises of macintosh to anyone within hearing range.

      The problem with people (ordinary users) using windows is that they have little or no imagination; they cannot imagine another OS, and most of them dont even know what an os is. Most of them think a computer IS windows sitting on a 'TV' screen. These are the same sorts of people who, despite being told the contrary, persist in believin that Iraq had something to do with 911, or that they had WMD. There is no reaching these people, and never will be. They are inured to windows, to stupidity, to suffering. They think that is what using a computer is about; poor connectivity, no usability, crashes, worms and virri, and after all is said and done, why not? That has been their universal experience of computers for years.

      And for the ones that wanted to try Mac, it was always a non starter because of the price. Now perhaps, we might see a change and an uptake of Macs with the new reasonably priced model, but honestly, I fear the white box is too small to impress the bumpkins.
  • by IceFox ( 18179 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:31PM (#11576504) Homepage
    Pure and simply laziness. Yes there computer is slower, but they can still kinda check e-mail. And when it is really slow they can go out and fork over another $1000 for a new DELL. Also you know the saying "Back in my day..." What that really means is: "I am old and lazy and don't care to learn any new tricks". People are lazy asses who just like to sit around and will easily pay $1000 to make their problems go away without having to "learn" the complicated Apple computer. People are LAZY. They are so lazy that if they thought about it for a minute they would realize that the five minutes it takes to learn OSX (and two days to move files) far outweights the two months of lost time on windows. It really ticks me off how lazy people are.

    -Benjamin Meyer
  • by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:33PM (#11576530) Homepage

    In Slashdot terms, that article was Interesting, but not Informative, and certainly not Insightful. It basically boils down to two things:

    1. PCs (running Windows) suck.
    2. Macs are better in every regard.

    What it does not provide, though, unfortunately, is an attempt to explain why that actually is the case. The author goes on to dismiss every attempt that has been made to explain just why Windows is still so dominant (like "Macs are too expensive") - or, for that matter, why Windows is (still!) so inherently insecure (like "Macs have no viri because they are not an attractive target") -, but he doesn't even attempt to offer other reasons for these things. Rather, he just says "these are what I claim to be the facts, they're contradictive, but I'm not gonna explain it".

    Considering the article's title ("Why Does Windows Still Suck?") promises an explanation, that's rather unfortunate, and I'm afraid I have to conclude it's just praise for the Mac with little to no informational value, and minor goof-ups like confusing PCs with "PCs that run Windows" just make it even more clear that this is not an objective comparison or explanation attempt.

  • Economics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cavemanf16 ( 303184 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#11576556) Homepage Journal
    It's "cheap", and by cheap I mean free as in "already installed on the PC when I bought it" cheap. No installation work needed, I'm used to using it's features, etc. - that's what the typical computer user would say these days.

    And if the computer "breaks" or slows down it's not that expensive to go buy a new one. It's just a part of our American "throw-away" consumerism. Apple computer users are like the Jaguar and Mercedes crowd - they're pretty damn expensive cars, but they'll last for a long time and look great on the road no matter how old they are. Linux computer users trying to use Linux on the desktop are like the "ricers." The car doesn't always work, is usually a "work in progress," but when done right can demolish any comparably priced car. They're still not as classy or long-lasting as the Mercedes and Jaguars, but every once in a while they're pretty cool.

    'Cept Linux users don't get hot booth babes at the trade shows.
  • You know why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by killermookie ( 708026 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#11576561) Homepage
    It's the same reason why people don't storm the White House...

    It's the same reason why people don't storm the RIAA headquarters...

    It's the same reason why people don't storm the *insert whatever you like*...

    Sure, Slashdotters might get angry and send off snail mail/email/faxes to whoever they're angry at. But we're a minority.

    The MAJORITY are just too complacent with their lives. They're happy within their immediate environment. They may think it's not right, but they'll never take the action against it. It's too much of a hassle.

    So instead they just acceot it. Windows crashing is obviously not so much of an inconvenience that they must storm Redmond. It's easier to push the reset button.
    • by dustmite ( 667870 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:32PM (#11578699)

      Windows crashing is obviously not so much of an inconvenience that they must storm Redmond. It's easier to push the reset button.

      I used to wonder why things that annoyed me a lot about Windows, and the fact that it's crap, didn't seem to bother other people so much. Then I realised that, apart from the usual valid explanation that most have had their expectations lowered so much regarding computers that they're almost impossible to disappoint, only a small percentage of other users I know spend as much time on a computer as I do. Most people just spend maybe a few hours a day on a computer, e.g. do some simple tasks like e-mail and web, maybe a Word document or spreadsheet. So if something annoys them, it's for a short time and then they go about doing other things. But as a software developer, I basically spend nearly all my time behind the computer - a 40 hour week is rare relaxation, 60 hour week not uncommon. So when some little Windows bug annoys you, it annoys you 10 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week, for months and sometimes years. I think this inherently puts a different perspective on it. It's one thing being annoyed for an hour or two then going back to what you enjoy and do all day. It's another if what you enjoy and do all day has become annoying all day due to the system you're using being crappy. Because you also 'explore' the system deeper, you also uncover far more bugs and annoyances. It's like, if I drive to work in a junky car, that sucks but only for 20 minutes a day. But if my job involves driving all day, then having a decent ride is going to make a world of difference.

  • by cbdavis ( 114685 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#11576563)
    And BillyG is the herder. We are are slave to his OS and unable to think beyond it. Mac or Linux are our fleeting attempts to break the yolk of oppression, but, in the end, will be futile. As long as business has no guts to change and the users are clueless as what to do, we will be Windoz users. This was written from my W2k system. I am a linux advocate but at the office, I use this crap.
  • Lot of Reasons (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lbmouse ( 473316 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#11576564) Homepage
    Why do people eat at McDonald's? They definitely don't make the best burger in town.

    Things like consistency, convenience, perceived value, brand recognition, etc., all play a big role.
  • by calebb ( 685461 ) * on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:35PM (#11576577) Homepage Journal
    Try connecting an unpatched Solaris 2.6 box to the internet. Within a day it will be hacked and much more dangerous than any hacked Windows PC.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:36PM (#11576586)
    damn it, i'm sick of all the windows bashing.. it's an awesome OS... comes complete with a calculator and a paint program, not to mention the ability to clean your disk (i don't know how they do it, but they must have some crazy washer/dryer system inside) I hear this grinding sound inside my computer so that must be it. Also, it has the ability to change the background picture... how freakin' cool is that!? I can put up a picture of my cats!!! IT'S RIGHT THERE ON MY MONITOR!!! What more could you ask for in an OS?! Come on people!
  • by smug_lisp_weenie ( 824771 ) * <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:36PM (#11576605) Homepage
    The WIMP metaphor (windows, icons, menus, pointing device) is just flawed as a general solution for using a computer. Yes, it helps beginners in the learning process, but it is NOT practical for advanced computer use.

    The operating systems that don't suck understand this: Basically, most Linux apps are just front ends for command-line utilities that do the real work- If they aren't command-line based they still have very independent abstract non-GUI modules that handle the actual labor (such as the gecko rendering engine for mozilla.)

    OSX also is beginning to view the GUI as just a fantastic front end to a UNIX infrastructure.

    The sucky OSes are the ones that don't distinguish between the GUI and the real programs- MS Windowses and Apple OS9 were like that and these are/were both pretty ugly to work under, in my opinion.
  • by Mighty_Marcos ( 850704 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:37PM (#11576620) Homepage
    If all the software that people ran was available on linux and macs, games included, then more people, including myself, would switch. And honestly, I am computer savvy, but I am not even sure if there are still many different versions/releases of linux outhere, where to get them from, wether they are free or I gotta buy them. I know IT guys are all over linux, but I don't think the article, and the question is poses are aimed at IT/programmer types. So in a nutshell, being a regular guy using my computer, if there was more software available for linux, and it was clear how to acquire it, I would be switching. Most people, like myself just want to put a disc in a drive,install and not worry about it any more.
  • by VE3ECM ( 818278 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:39PM (#11576654)
    The only reason so many Windows boxes get pwned out of the box is because the 'bad guys' have already written exploits that get in through an unpatched bug.

    Who's fault is this? Is it Microsofts? Not really, at least how I see it.

    I blame the computer manufacturer that you bought the box from.

    Those holes that are in your windows box when you plug it into the net already have patches written for them.

    It's the manufacturers that refuse to slipstream these packages into the software builds that they stick on their machines coming out of the factory.

    Dell builds your PC to order, as do a few other guys.
    The hard drive has an OS imaged onto the drive on the line.
    And since there is a common image for each machine of the same family, it's a very simple process for Dell to image their machines on the line.
    Each model has it's own OS image, based on hardware.
    It would take very little effort to slipstream an updated patch into those images. No PC has to sit in an open box waiting to be patched; they are patched when they're built. That is not a difficult solution, it would take the hiring of one or two guys in the factory to add a slipstream into the disk image (and slipstreaming is *very* easy, as long as you know the process.)

    It would be easy as pie. Your machine would come off the line patched, and current. It would only be out of date by a few days, the time it would take to ship the box to you from the factory. The likelihood of a new exploit that would pwn you in that time is very, very low.

    Same thing with going to a retailer. They should be provided current and up to date boxes when they leave the store. It would not be difficult for BestBuy/CircuitCity/et al to stick the box/laptop you buy inside their secured network, and patch the machine before you walk out the door with it.

    Let's use an analogy that the author of the article used; a new car.

    You buy a new Ford. Before you bought it, Ford issued a recall, due to a defective gas tank that may or may not explode. When you buy the car off the lot, it may have sat there a few months (parallel = older unpatched windows build). You take it home to find out that the recall was not applied to the vehicle; why not? Because the dealer says it's your responsibility to get it in to get fixed; not the dealers.

    Would that be acceptable? No. Not for a moment. The same thing is happening with Windows, and you can't blame MS for it. It's the PC makers that sell you an exploitable box.
  • by viva_fourier ( 232973 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:40PM (#11576670) Journal
    I can already tell this article will find itself in league with the all-time great classic postings such as:

    -Why does Windows still blow?
    -Why does my Tux tattoo still itch?
    -Why can't I still get a date?
  • by KMSelf ( 361 ) <> on Friday February 04, 2005 @05:41PM (#11576692) Homepage

    I'd just submitted the same item, but with some additional background...

    Moreford isn't the only person noting crap quality of Microsoft. The New York Times saw fit to run 2300 words on erasing a hard drive and reinstalling the OS [], to terminate spyware with extreme prejudice. I mean, when was nuking your C:\ drive national news? A few months earlier, I was interviewed for an expose of the adware/spyware industry in Barbiarians at the Digital Gates []. My own technical followup, Spyware, Adware, Windows, GNU/Linux, and Software Culture [] has garnered a number of responses, most variations of "why do people put up with this cr*p?!"

    Even the local small-town paper's usually Microsoft partisan columnist is suggesting it's time for the Microsoft Empire to begin to crumble []. And he's not the only one.

    The point is that these aren't geeks and gearheads talking out, it's the current in the popular press. Ordinary people. Which wouldn't be so significant if there weren't clearly identifiable, far better alternatives. Linux. Mac OS X. ABMS - Anything but Microsoft.

    I think we're finally seeing the ediface crumble.

  • by amigabill ( 146897 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:06PM (#11577086)
    There's too many people who are "comfortable" enough with what they've got. I've got a friend who's not willing to try anything other than Windows because he knows how to use Windows. He complains about the crashing and bugs and all, but he doesn't want to have to learn a new system. And avoiding that inconvenience is more important to him than getting a better quality product.

    There's also the public image issue. Everyone knows about Windows. Mac still has a stigma of being prone to crashing and annoying users with all those old "Are you rally sure you were really sure you wanted to click that yes you truely indeed did want do do that?" dialog boxes. You and I know those issues are no longer things to worry about, at least they're far smaller bothers than they once were, but the mass public doesn't know that, and they aren't willing to even have a look to find out, much like so many slashdotters here are unwilling to fairly evaluate AmigaOS4 last week or so what that article came up. The mass public echoes your "Amiga is dead!" chants only they point it at Mac instead, or point chants about "What can *I* possibly use Linux for?!" at the Linux crowd.

    Linux has other public image issues to work though. Things like "It's hard to install or use" have been addressed reasonably well, but the public again isn't willing to discover that to be true. Linux also has the old reputation of having no applications or games or stuff normal people would use. I know many people that cannot fathom what in the world I could possibly use Linux or AmigaOS for, yet are unwilling to be shown all the everyday applications like OpenOffice, Mozilla, Doom3, Unral Tournament, etc. that exist for Linux or AmigaOS equivalents for many things, and insist on continuing in their incorrect belief that such apps and games do not and CAN NOT exist outside of Windows. Even though the Mac crashes chants are obsolete and Windows has the same reputation, the masses are not willing to bother with reasoning.

    The fact that MS pretty much looks like it IS the somputer software industry also has a great hold on users. There are lots who simply believe that since they are so big, they must have the best product. Even with the obvious bugs and other problems they experience, many people believe that since everyone else is such a small marketshare that they must of course have even worse quality products than the market winner has. For example, I can not get my dad to use anything but MS products because of this. He uses MSIE and Outlook, and there's no changing that, no matter how many viruses or spybots or zombies his computer is infected with. The friend I mentioned above is unwilling to use anything but MSIE because he doesn't care to learn anything else, as trivial as that learning curve may be, he's simply not interested even after all of his own complaining about MSIE.

    It's not a "problem" with a rational solution, I don't think it'sbecause people are "stupid" or anything like that, I think it's because the vast majority of people simply do not care enough to actually do anything about it. Having what they're used to or what 97% of the world uses is more important to them than having a higher quality product.
  • by rushmobius ( 687814 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @06:11PM (#11577161)

    So I was reading /. when I came across a typical 'OMG Windows SuXors' article..

    I casually sipped my afternoon coffee, set it down, and clicked the article link, bracing myself for the deluge of mind-numbing numbers and references to obscure studies.

    After reading the article, I looked to the right side-bar for a list of other recent articles by the author. Trying to get a feel for the authors views, I decided to peruse a few of them.

    Well, I must say. Mark Morford has to be one of the most rabid, extremist, over-reactive, leftist, tin-foil hat wearing, Moore wannabe's I've had the displeasure of reading.

    Now, before the flames begin to rise, please understand the last paragraph was a simple reciprocle example of Mr. Morford's diatribes. Basically take a simple statement, and make it appear so sensationistically over-the-top.

    So now to my point. How can this article be used on a news site, when it is simply nothing more than a rant? I use Linux and Windows, and on occasion Macs. I rarely have any problems with any of my systems. I have never had my Windows boxed filled with virii/trojans, nor have I had a crash in as long as I can remember. Am I just one of the lucky ones, or do I simply ignore the little monkey moving back and forth in a feeble attempt to evade my mouse click for a Free iPod

  • by catdevnull ( 531283 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:20PM (#11578012)
    That article is pretty down on Windows. I don't usually defend MSFT, but when you're a target that big, everybody is gunning for you--the spammers, the spyware pimps, the skript kiddies, the crackers, and the phishers. If there were that many Macs, I'm sure they'd not enjoy their false sense of safty.

    Windows 98? Sucked. No arguments from anyone about that. Windows ME? Sucked. Again, little defense even from MS. Windows 2000? Not as sucky--marked improvement in stability. Windows XP? Much better. Not perfect, but glad to see it's better.

    If you're going to run Windows the simple fact of life you're going to have to get used to is this: high maintenance. Well, maybe it's not all that bad...
    • Patch and then patch again.
    • Before you even think about plugging into the network, patch it from CDs after you re-install the OS (don't trust what comes from the factory)
    • install your anti-virus and your adware prophylactics before you think about going on-line, too.
    • Install Firefox and turn off that damned built-in firewall on XP2 after you install a 3rd party firewall package like ZoneAlarm.
    • Don't log-in as Administrator ever and make sure you're using a 15 character password with a few unicode characters in it for all accounts.
    • Install a firewall router on your LAN and work from behind it.
    • Don't use the same password on any other computer.
    • Update your virus DAT files daily--maybe twice a day
    • Run RKDetector everynow and then just to make sure.
    • Boot from a Knoppix CD once in a while to make sure you're not owned.
    • If you enabled any kind of services, turn them off.
    If you're running linux, you'll need to practice the same kind of vigilance. Those boxes are 0wn3d more often by "real" people instead of zombie processor or worms. In fact, crackers like Linux boxes much more than Windows because they're more fun and harder to 0wn.

    Macs are easily knocked over two if you're running services like SSH. A dictionary attack is trivial.
    They all still suck :(
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @07:40PM (#11578219)
    Microsoft sucks. Mainly on the basis of being a predatory monopoly. But that is a whole other article

    But windows is not that bad, not the best, but not as bad as the article paints it.

    While the article attempts to make light of it, the fact remains that being the dominant player attracts the most Malware, Virii, spyware etc...

    But you can avoid problems by staying away from the pillars of the monoculture:

    Use Firefox instead of IE,
    Use Thunderbird instead of Outlook,
    Use Open Office instead of MS office,
    Use Media Player Classic instead of MS WMP 10.0.
    Use some other chat instead of MSN (I use Miranda and Yahoo).

    90% of your problems are now gone. Everything is free. You are now mostly divorced from the monoculture. There is one last piece of the puzzle:

    Personal Firewal. I use Sygate Personal.

    You are now at 95%.

    That last 5% relies on being careful. At this point the crap you get will most likely be installed by yourself.

    That is why I always look for opens source programs first. To me nothing says secure and safe like open source.

    When I get beyond open source, google is my last line of defence:

    Do a google on "divx spyware" and this...

    Do all of the above and you should be pretty safe. I surf lots, Download all kinds of programs/ media etc and my system is clean whenever I check it.

    A couple of years ago I did nothing till I got a few viruses, then I wised up. Clean sailing since then.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:05PM (#11578443) Journal
    Fuck, 800 plus comments as of now, and no one with any real insight gets modded up? Perhaps that is the problem, in itself? No one, not one person that I saw, attempted to take the arrticle and make a decent discussion out of it.

    Premise 1: We have a computer user, who is a journalist, has been using Macs for nigh on 15 years, is not extremely tech savy (Get to that in a mo') and sees that his fellow computers users, most of them on one of the millions of brands of PC and one of the various flavours of Windows, be it from Win98 to WinXP, have, in general, more problems with their computers than he does.

    What does all that tell me?

    I am a Mac user myself (well, I use a PC as well with Linux and Win2000 on it and I used to be a Windows shop sys admin). I agree with his OBSERVATIONS 100%. I mean observations because apart from his subjective ranting on why the world doesn't string BillG up from the rafters, which is his OPINION, his article has a good point.

    I have seen and expereienced the same problems with Windows machines, until learning better, such as the 20 seconds till being hacked when first going online with WinXP and the numerous bugs in the OS over the years. Yes, I know as well as you that putting a simple router in front of the machine stops 90% of the bugs and being careful about mails and what you download and keeping up with pacthces will stop the rest, but it is a real pain and, in my experience, one has to ask the simple question: why?

    In that I agree with the article. Using Windows is more complex than a Mac with OSX. Now on to the tech savy bit. The author writes about the prize that was offered for hacking the webserver Webstar, which was the only real webserver on classic Mac OS. It was never used widely in the server world and thus is not a good example of application security. The guy reveals his lack of expertise because, all those who know that OSX is based on BSD know that the webserver shipped with OSX is Apache, the same one that upsets the numbers game of OSS with respect to commercial offerings when compared to IIS.

    Also, the argument that Windows has more software available is a real one, especially for gamers and for CAD and specialised business applications and the situation will stay that way while Windows has such a dominating marketshare.

    And that is a reason for staying with Windows, but it isn't the reason why 90% of the world's computer using public uses PC's and Windows. That reason is simply because PC's are more available and most people have no idea that there are alternatives and are only interested in getting a "computer" with which they can chat, browse, mail, write letters, store photos, listen to music etc. Although a Mac arguably, in my experience, does all of this much better than Windows does, most people will simply go to the nearest shop and use what is there.

  • A story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Poseidon88 ( 791279 ) on Friday February 04, 2005 @08:26PM (#11578650)
    Let me tell you a story about why I'll never be a dedicated Linux user. I've been wanting to get into the world of digital video recording for some time now, but I am put off by the idea of paying a monthly fee for a service like Tivo. Instead, I decided to look at my options in the do-it-yourself field. A friend at work is a major Linux advocate, and urged me to give MythTV a try. I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm an intelligent person, and I use Linux and BSD fairly regularly for various functions at work. It couldn't be that hard, right? So I ordered a bunch of hardware to build the box, and burned myself some ISOs of Slackware 10.0, then got down to business. Here's a rough timeline of how things progressed:

    Day 1: Couldn't partition my hard drive because the Slackware installation disk doesn't have drivers for SATA disk controllers. Spent the rest of the day searching the web for work-arounds.

    Day 2: Located a message board where someone had posted a custom ISO image of Slackware disk 1 with a SATA-enabled kernel. Was able to partition my hard drive and get setup running, but when it came time to pick a kernel to install, it refused to let me insert disk 1 to grab the SATA kernel. Spent the rest of the day searching the web for work-arounds.

    Day 3: Finally figured out that I could put the setup process in the background, unmount the CD, eject and re-insert disk 1, then bring setup back to the foreground. Completed setup and got X running. Copied over source for 2.6.10 kernel, which I had burned to a CD. Started doing configuration, and realized there were no Linux drivers available for my wireless network card. Spent the rest of the day searching the web for solutions.

    Day 4: Discovered ndiswrapper, a module that allows you to use standard Windows drivers for wireless NICs under Linux. Downloaded and built it with no problems. Tried to load my NIC drivers, and the entire OS immediately locked up. Rebooted and tried a couple more times with the same results. Spent the next 2 days searching the web for solutions.

    Day 6: Finally found a single post from someone who had the same hardware revision of the same card, who had been able to get it working using the 2.6.9 kernel. Burned the source to CD and installed it on Linux box, configured, compiled, rebooted, built ndiswrapper and it worked! Unfortunately, I couldn't get an address from DHCP server. Spent the rest of the day searching the web for solutions.

    Day 7: Took a day off.

    Day 8: Found out that I was using the wrong command to query DHCP (I was foolishly running dhcclient instead of dhcpcd, it's so obvious!), so now DHCP works and I can connect to the net without having to assign a static IP address. I spent the next couple days configuring the video drivers, audio drivers, and getting all the modules to configure correctly at boot-up.

    Day 10: Started working on getting the video-capture card drivers working. Ran into a myriad of build errors right off the bat. Did some research and learned I needed to compile some extra features into the kernel before the drivers will build. So I reconfigure, build, install, reboot... and the kernel won't load. Decide to call it a day and have a few stiff drinks before I am tempted to toss the computer out the window.

    Day 11: Okay, turned out it wasn't anything tragic, I booted to an older kernel, rebuilt the new kernel, and everything worked fine. But the capture card drivers still wouldn't build. Spent the rest of the day searching the web for solutions.

    Day 12: Finally realized that all info I've found about using this particular capture card refers to the fact that the user was using a 2.4 kernel instead of 2.6. So I download the kernel source, configure, build, install, reboot... and now I can build and install the capture card drivers. Unfortunately, there are no drivers available in the kernel source for my motherboard sound chipset. But I figure I can address that problem later. I do a bunch of configuring, ho

    • Re:A story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tetromino ( 807969 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @01:05AM (#11580389)
      In other words, you tried installing an experts-only distro (Slackware) on hardware with no good linux drivers. Then, having apparently not learned the lesson, you bought more hardware without checking if it has good linux drivers.

      Perhaps your next project should be getting GNU HURD/L4 on a Mac Mini working with a firewire video capture device...

      P.S. : as for the SATA issue, if you've done some XP installs recently, you are probably aware that XP installation requires a driver floppy inserted during a certain 20-second window for untraditional hard drive configs (RAID, SCSI, and I think SATA also). By analogy if nothing else, you should have had in the back of your mind that there might be difficulties with installing Linux on a SATA drive.
    • Re:A story (Score:5, Insightful)

      by IO ERROR ( 128968 ) * <> on Saturday February 05, 2005 @02:29AM (#11580748) Homepage Journal
      You spent 15 days on MythTV because you chose Slackware as your distribution. Slackware is for people who want to get their hands dirty and recompile the kernel twice daily trying to get all their hardware to work. Not to mention recompile everything else on the system from time to time, just for the sheer joy of it. (Yes, some people actually do get high off the sort of frustration you experienced.)

      In about 30 seconds, I found [] and within the documentation, nice RPM packages for Fedora which are installed by something as simple as "yum install mythtv-suite" (after telling yum about the repo). Discounting download time, I suspect you could have had this running within minutes on a Fedora or SuSE or even Debian install.

      The wireless card support is a bad situation, and not much can be done about it aside from not giving that particular manufacturer any money (and letting them know they are losing sales). Other than that, your primary problem was that you chose Slackware.

    • by Nik Picker ( 40521 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @04:33AM (#11581105) Homepage
      Day 1:
      I purchased the magazine which had Knoppix 3.x cd on the cover and booting my Father in laws pc ( windows , infected , dying ) proceeded to knx-hdinstall the operating system into the pc ( 3 yr old machine with router for internet connection ) . Completed the install of Knoppix Linux ( email configuration ) and rebooted. Showed In laws how to login , and mail and surf.

      Day 2
      Added In laws new digital camera ....

      Day 3 through 365 : hear nothing from in laws but praise for system that works, has not been inconsistent and lets them use their computer as they "expected" to be able to use it ...

      Day 366 : read story about user who makes poor purchasing descision and then complains about the product.

      Day 367 : write sequel to story

      okay the version of knoppix last year was old, but backing up their data to a usb flash drive and reinstalling to 3.7 the other day toook less than 10 minutes !
  • by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Saturday February 05, 2005 @12:43AM (#11580297) Homepage Journal
    Right up front I will say that I am a Linux user. Before that, I was a Windows user. Before that I was a Mac user. And before that I was an Atari ST user. All of this is my personal experience with many OSes and not work related at all. When I was an Atari ST user, I got very used to the fact that I could easily download any software I wanted from the internet and use it. A lot of it was shareware (a concept I misunderstood at the time. I assumed I could use it without paying for it and it was just an option to pay.) and some of it was freeware. At the time, I was basically JUST a user. I didn't write my own apps or even tweak config files. I just ran the shareware, freeware and some purchased software and JUST worked. That was OK. I also played some games. That was OK too. Then I moved onto GFA Basic and also got a C compiler and learned how to start writing my own apps. That eventually was OK too.

    Then I got the chance to use Macs in college. They separated me even more from the technical side of computing and threw me even farther into the JUST a user crowd. This was OK. I had a chance to pursue more creative artistic endeavors without ever having to think about the computer as anything more than a music making tool, or a graphic editing tool, or a desktop publishing tool. This was OK.

    When I graduated, I found that I couldn't afford a Mac and the Atari ST world was drying up. I was employed by a desktop publishing outfit that was PC based on an associate basis after I graduated. My employer was also kind of a mentor. I told him that I was in a quandry over PC vs. Mac. As he'd clearly gone the PC route but was handling desktop layout (engineering catalogs) for really big clients, I wondered whether or not I really needed to go Mac myself. At one point, I'd told him about the memory upgrade I built on my own for my Atari ST (I wired up a board to install SIMMs in it to get up to 2.5 Megs of RAM and saved myself considerable money) and he told me that I'd definitely be able to build a PC on my own. Up to that point I was afraid it would be too hard compared to the Mac. So in August of 1994, I built my first PC and installed DOS/Win31 on it. What surprised me was the lack of non-nagged shareware for DOS and Windows compared to the Atari ST. I wound up having to spend a lot of money on commercial products from Norton, Procomm, Microsoft, Aldus and Adobe. I found that Ihad to buy new versions/upgrades almost every year to year and a half as well. I went from Win31 to Win95. I learned that there were lots of thing about the Windows world that were half-assed compared to my experience with the Mac or even the Atari ST.

    I got sick of the cost of computing with Windows and I tried Linux in 1995. I already had experience with *nix from a dial up shell account I got access to in College as well as VMS. So the prospect of running a nice flexible and easy to use CLI on my own PC compared to Windows 95 was very appealing. I had actually tried Linux in 1994 but when I failed to get X to run properly, I gave up on it since at that point I really wanted my PC to work like a Mac. The "killer apps" that got me to switch to Linux were Enlightment and GIMP. They were much closer to what I was accustomed to on the Mac and the ST and even my limited Amiga experience.

    So between 1995 and 1999 I gradually moved further from Windows and more solidly to Linux. Al the while I've kept tabs on the Windows camp and I will say the Windows XP is probably the best version of Windows that Microsoft has made to date. It's the most stable version and the most user friendly version. It took the nearly 20 years, but they finally achieved parity with Mac OS 7 in terms of usability. Microsoft also finally acknowledged that the artistic community (musicians, graphic designers, videographers, etc...) is important too. I would argue that they are more important than business which is something that Microsoft still seems to fail to understand, but that is another discussion. However, these

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson