Monday, January 26, 2015

Microsoft is giving away Windows 10 for free

No, that subject line is not wrong. Microsoft, the software giant that we learned to fear and loathe many years ago for their heavyhanded and predatory business tactics, has done some really nice things in the past decade.

For one, they released a free version of their Visual Studio software development tools for hobbyists and cheap small developers.

For another, they released a free virus protection package that is small, quiet, effective, and VERY polite, compared to many of the other packages out there.

Now word comes from Forbes magazine that Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8, for the first year of its release. Author Gordon Kelly digs into Microsoft's astute reasoning behind offering the free release. It makes good sense from a business, technical and financial point of view, if you follow Kelly's reasoning.

I'm going to wait for some early reviews of the released version of the OS before I make the jump. Microsoft's track record with software releases since Windows 3.1 has been spotty. WinXP was great, Vista stunk, Win7 has been pretty good, Win8 was avoidable, Win9 never happened. But if Win10 gets good reviews, if it looks like a worthy successor to both XP and Win7, I'll jump on the bandwagon. It's worth it for me.

And Microsoft is betting that it will be worth it for millions of other users.

UPDATE, FEB 16, 2015: The beta version of Windows 10 is available for really-and-truly free, if you want to try it yourself. Just be aware of the fact that it is still buggy. Don't install it on your only computer, or your main computer, or the computer you use for mission-critical applications. In fact, you might just want to install it on a virtual machine, such as VMWare or VirtualBox. This CBS news article points you to the download site.

UPDATE, SEP 1, 2015: I've been running Windows 10 on my laptop PC for a couple of months now. Mostly, I like it. 

One thing I don't like about it is I feel like it's constantly upselling, trying to get me to download or buy more and more software. Ironically, the upselling efforts backfire with me, as I usually end up uninstalling or at least deactivating the software that is doing the upselling.

Another thing I don't like about it is that the Windows 10 upgrade came with its own load of bloatware or crapware. I'm still finding all sorts of apps and programs that I really don't want, and it takes me a few minutes every time I find one, to uninstall it. I've noticed, to my annoyance, that some of them can't be uninstalled.

A third thing that I don't like is that Windows 10, and all the apps that come with it, are set by default to snoop on everything you do on your computer, and phone home to report it to a cloud server somewhere. Microsoft and its minions intend to perform "data mining" on this information, or sell it to third parties who will do their own "data mining" so that they can "enhance your online experience." That means that they want to sell you stuff, and they're going to bombard you with slyly targeted come-ons, designed to separate you from your money. And your privacy. You need to go into the Settings menus and manually disable all of this invasion-of-privacy stuff.

Finally, I find it irritating to the point of profanity is Microsoft's insistence on automatically downloading and installing updates to the OS and the drivers. I don't mind Windows 10 telling me that an upgrade is available, but I absolutely hate the way it takes over my computer when it decides it's time to do the upgrade. I wrote a couple of posts about this problem and its solutions, here and here.

Wow. That's quite an update. I'm going to turn it into its own separate post.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zyzmog's Fifth Law of Motion (proposed)

I've come up with a fifth Law of Motion. I'm still trying to find the right words for it. The formal declaration is something like this:

Zyzmog's Fifth Law of Motion
In any disagreement involving the previous Laws of Motion, the first appeal to authority is the victor.

That might be too stuffy for some people to understand. Here are two attempted rewrites:

Zyzmog's Fifth Law of Motion (reduced)
In a traffic altercation involving vehicular contact, aggressive drivers, texting, drunk driving or road rage, whoever calls the cops first is the winner.

Zyzmog's Fifth Law of Motion (final reduction)
(also known as Barela's Law of Forward Motion)
Whoever calls the cops first, wins.