Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Microsoft Way: Having To Pay For Love

Microsoft is offering free services and other credits to companies that agree to use its Live Web search, reportes John Batelle's Searchblog.

Apparently, Microsoft is unhappy about the low adoption of Live search; more employees prefer to use Google. So in the classic Microsoft tradition, it tries to boost an inferior product, not by making it better, but by pulling out its checkbook.

Microsoft's plan is to get executives to agree to these perks, then cajole or force their employees to use Live search. From Searchblog:

The presentation goes into detail about how a large company might promote this program to its employees, suggesting three levels of communication - "low, moderate, and high." Moderate and high promotions include "In-house training session on ‘how to get the most from web search’ using Windows Live Search," "Remove all existing toolbars," "Set Homepage to Live Search," and "Email message of encouragement from CEO." IE 7 is mandatory for the program, as one might expect.

If you can't compete, cheat. That's what Microsoft did to Netscape, according to the antitrust case that declared Microsoft a monopolist that unlawfully used it clout. And that's what Microsoft did with its absurd response to the Mac switcher ads, featuring a PR flack hired to play someone who switched to Windows.

This sleazy approach makes it all the more outrageous that Microsoft keeps on raising its price for Windows. It should instead be paying its users to suffer through the innumerable annoyances and deliberate crippling of its OS, such as ever more restrictive DRM.

I'm avoiding these hassles at home by using Linux as much as feasible. This update is being typed on a computer that originally ran Windows 2000, since upgraded to Debian Linux, which is free. Truth be told, I paid $40 bucks for a Linux guide that contained the Debian CD; still far cheaper than Windows. (There are easier forms of Linux, such as the Debian-based Xandros or Ubuntu, but I wanted to really learn some fundamentals). So this 7-year-old computer (Dell Optiplex GX110 with 500MHz CPU and 512MB RAM) is running quite nicely. Windows Vista would choke it. And I can install Debian from the CD onto as many computers as I like. Microsoft locks down Windows onto one computer.
Microsoft is quite correct in complaining that people are infringing on its intellectual property by copying its software without permission. I urge everyone not to do this. And the surest way to avoid such infringement is to avoid using Microsoft products. Debian or some other open source operating system lets you copy to your heart's content -- legally.

Debian can be tricky for the Linux newcomer. I installed it in command-line form from the CD-ROM, then installed the KDE GUI from a remote server. I had a problem with the fonts looking ugly, but just now fixed it. There's an option for fonts for anti-aliasing. This option, in the Control Center under Appearances and Themes/Fonts, must be checked to activate anti-aliasing. Now everything looks much better.

Thank you, Debian. And thanks to this book, which is proving a great help in learning Debian.

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