Windows

Why the mandatory IE7 upgrade was a bad idea

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For anyone who keeps their Windows XP machine set to automatically install updates, a few weeks ago they would have been surprised to see their Internet Explorer look different. The reason for this was that Microsoft set their new web browser, IE7, to be pushed out via Windows Update as a security fix / upgrade, which meant for anyone with their updates set to automatic that it happened without their knowledge. For many people this will be a welcome improvement - there's no denying that IE7 is better than IE6, but there are problems with the new browser that haven't been publicised very much and people are experiencing problems.

A telling article from Microsoft Watch details how many people have no trouble at all but others discover that many applications they've bought stop working. A good example of the conflict is intimated by "Rick Kuhn, an IT Specialist based in Indianapolis," where he doesn't have any "bloatware or crapware, only brand name vendors for software and hardware," which sounds great except that earlier on you discover that a recent version of the most popular CD/DVD burning software, Roxio Easy Media Creator, stopped working upon installing the update. While another person recommented to "do some research in regards to application compatibility before upgrading from IE 6 to IE 7," how much research is the average person going to be in able to do when the upgrade was forced upon them and only discovered the incompatibility afterwards?

In short, if your software is ubiqitous to the point that a large portion of 3rd party software requires it, and your new version is known to be incompatible with much of this software, don't force the upgrade on the masses - it's just common sense!

Subversion on Windows via Cygwin

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Cygwin is a wonderful system for running UNIXy/Linuxy software on Windows. While there are many caveats it does work quite well for at least basic tasks and it has been extended so far as to be able to run X/Windows therefore KDE and Gnome all within Windows. Nifty. Anyway, while trying to get it set up for running a Subversion server I was having problems getting it to work as advertised. What I ended up having to do was tell the svnserve program to run as a service/daemon in the foreground rather than splitting off to run in the background as normal, e.g.:

$ cygrunsrv.exe --install svnserve --disp "CYGWIN svnserve" --path /bin/svnserve --args "--daemon --foreground --root=/home/svn"

Why Vista is a 10-year-old history lesson nobody has learned

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Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system is a perfect example of why people should stop supporting this useless company: it doesn't have most of the new features it was supposed to have, it is more expensive than it needs to be (the feature-complete version costs $400, versus $130 for Mac OS X), and will cause a great deal of headaches both short-term and long-term due to its poor design. Here's a great article which explains why the public needs to realize this is the second time Microsoft have done this and they shouldn't be let get away with it:

So, learn from history, stop taking the garbage that you're been spoon-fed and don't upgrade to Vista! Do yourself a favor, buy a Mac!

MSFT's new Zune incompatible with Plays For Sure

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In 2005 (IIRC) Microsoft released a media initiative called Plays For Sure along with a number of both device manufacturers and online music stores. The idea was that you would be able to buy any number of devices from different companies, then buy music from different stores and be sure the music would work with the player. Well, it seems Microsoft has had enough of this idealistic "partnership" or "play nice for the consumers" thing and is going back to their old practice of locking everyone out: their new Zune players are incompatible with music bought for the old stores and the old players will not be compatible with music from the new Zune store. Yeah, that's why people still buy Microsoft products / services, they like having to re-buy everything every two years. Good on you, MSFT!

Now, lets compare that to Apple's iPod and iTunes Store: every single iPod sold since the beginning is still able to play music from the store today, and every new iPod is still able to play music bought from the store on day 1. Yes, it is vendor lock-in, but at least they tend not to give their customers the shaft quite as often. And they have BSG ;-)

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