6 things Microsoft needs to do before I’ll take Windows seriously

I’m an IT guy in what is still largely a Windows world. I’ve been managing Windows workstations and servers for a living since 1996 or so, and I’ve always been left shaking my head, wondering how, exactly, Windows is considered “enterprise ready”, especially when better alternatives — as development platforms, as workstations, and especially as servers — are widely available.

While the Information Technology industry hasn’t caught up just yet, I like to consider myself a bit more forward looking than that. The way I see it, Windows isn’t ready for the enterprise yet. Sure, it might be good for playing games, but for doing serious work? For securing customer data and transactions? For safeguarding your company’s future and productivity?

Not even close, not from what I’ve seen. Here are six things Microsoft will need to do before I’ll start recommending Windows as the “best tool for the job”.

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The other side of the evangelism coin

The other day I wrote an article about the right and wrong ways to bring a user to the Linux world. I stand by my position there, namely that as an IT professional, even if someone’s not ready to embrace Linux as their desktop OS of choice, I still will recommend it down the road… but not until someone is truly ready to take that plunge.

It takes a lot of thought, a lot of work, and the right kind of attitude to embrace a new way of doing things, and for any long term Windows user, Linux is definitely a new way of doing things.

Over at Dedoimedo.com today there is an article aimed at the users, not the Linux evangelists to whom I was addressing the other day.

Dedoimedo’s article makes a really great companion to what I was talking about. It’s one thing to push someone toward Linux for the right reasons, but if you’re a user thinking about moving over to Linux, you need to be thinking about the right reasons as well, and asking yourself some questions about “why?” in particular.

Myself, I had several reasons to be fed up with Windows, most of which having to do with stability, but some of it was also design philosophy. I, as a tinkerer and a very “under the hood” and technically-minded individual, simply desired a lot more control over my own systems than any version of Windows will ever offer me, and I knew that at the time (2001-ish), Linux was able to deliver that, if I were willing to take the plunge.

I also saw Linux as something that wasn’t going away any time soon, and I determined that it was likely something that would benefit me professionally in which to gain expertise.

So to echo Dedoimedo, examine your own situation before taking that plunge. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, it’s almost sure to be a frustrating failure — it can be pretty frustrating even if you’re doing it for the right reasons — because at the end of the day, you have to want it. Like my Aunt Jean, you have to be willing to embrace a very big change in how you do many things, and change is hard.

But regardless of your reasons, remember this. There are plenty of folks out there like Dedoimedo and myself who will be more than happy to help you out, and part of that includes helping you assess if Linux is the right choice for you. So ask yourself some of those questions before taking the plunge, but don’t be afraid of asking the experts as well. You won’t be sorry!

On the subject of Linux evangelism

The other day I made a post about bringing my Aunt Jean into the fold after her spending years and years being exclusively a Windows user. I gave my reasons as multipronged, namely that I have found over the years that supporting friends and relatives who insist on using Windows is a frustrating, tedious, redundant pain that I’d prefer to avoid, and that I’m actually doing Jean a favor by transitioning her to a platform that, while very different from what she’s used to, will ultimately be a better one for her to use.

I thought I’d touch on the subject again briefly today, because I think it bears some clarification. Before you go out knocking on doors and handing out Ubuntu disks and asking people if they’ve discovered the glorious world of Free/Open Source Software, read on and adjust your plans accordingly.

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One more Linux user, one less Windows support headache

If you’re reading articles other than this one here on The Linux Critic, you are probably technical on a level which other people have noticed, i.e., you get asked by the occasional relative to provide assistance with technology, be it “hey, help me get my new printer working”, “HELP! WINDOWS WON’T BOOT!”, or even “I’m buying a laptop, which one should I get?”.

I have a few thoughts on that subject, mostly brought up by a recent experience, and I thought I’d do a writeup to share them with others.

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Five reasons I prefer Opera over Firefox

I know, I’m a Linux guy, and an advocate of Free/Open Source Software.

However, I’m also a user, and I’m a right-tool-for-the-right-job kind of guy. I’m picky as hell about my software, and I think the simple fact that I choose Linux for my day-to-day desktop use says a lot about its ability to meet my needs.

However, I’ve never been in on the big love affair the open source community has with Firefox. Yes, I think it’s great that it’s taken enough market share away from Microsoft to spur them into action — it’s been argued that IE7 and IE8 would never have existed in any form approaching a “modern” browser if it hadn’t been for Firefox pushing them to catch up.

However, like Linux, Firefox needs critics. It may still be better than what Microsoft offers, but it isn’t perfect by a long shot. It doesn’t meet my needs as an end user, which is why I’m still using a closed-source browser as my primary web surfing tool. So why does an open source advocate like myself use Opera instead of Firefox? Read on.

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OpenOffice.org: It’s a little too late for April Fool’s jokes, don’t you think?

Okay, so I ran across this (via Slashdot) yesterday and I was, well, shocked to say the least.

That’s right. The developers of the beloved OpenOffice.org office suite are giving serious development time to the despised and reviled ribbon interface of Microsoft Office 2007.

I swear, with the idiots over at Mozilla contemplating copying IE7 for the next version of Firefox and now the idiots at OpenOffice.org actually copying Microsoft’s failed attempt at a UI redesign in Office 2007, I’m positively baffled here. WHY on earth would anyone WANT to copy failure? Why would they want to ELIMINATE one of the biggest advantages they have over the steaming pile called Microsoft Office 2007? Why?

Let me make one thing clear here. I am not posting this to foster a debate on the merits or disadvantages of the ribbon interface, nor am I doing this to bash Microsoft, or anyone who likes them, or inexplicably likes their retarded ribbon interface that was designed for use by those with severe brain damage.

I am posting this for one primary purpose. To tell the developers of OpenOffice.org TO STOP DOING THAT.

That’s right, guys. You heard me. STOP. Take whatever you have developed of a ribbon interface for ANY AND ALL OpenOffice.org applications, and DELETE IT.

Remember, back when Microsoft Office 2007 came out, there was a sudden surge of downloads of OpenOffice.org? That was because of the godawful interface Microsoft thrust upon its users, and it was a direct response to me (and IT people like me) directing lamenting users to OpenOffice.org to download a GOOD office productivity software suite, with a GOOD interface.

People started using OO.o more because it was a sane alternative to Microsoft going off the deep end.

Please, please, PLEASE do not remove that incentive by copying what could possibly be one of Microsoft’s biggest design faults ever. If you’re looking at this as a “missing feature” or some such nonsense, let me remind you again. The fact that OpenOffice.org has been “missing” this “feature” IS A GOOD THING.

I’m saying this not only as an advocate of Free and Open Source Software — because I think this is a massive mistake that will negatively affect that movement — but as a USER of said software.

At the point OpenOffice.org has the ribbon UI as the default, I will cease directing people to download your product. Period. I will instead be directing people to MY OWN SITE, where I will host, in perpetuity, installers for the last version that has the correct interface for OpenOffice.org, and having them install that. Because at that point, OpenOffice.org’s newer product will have become dead to me.

I know I’m not alone in this. So please. We’re begging you. Stop development on this stupid ribbon UI. If you really feel like doing lots of sweeping code writing, maybe you should instead focus on fixing some of the bugs. Okay?

Okay.

Will ARM processors be competitive?

I just ran across this blurb about an ARM-processor based netbook and it got me thinking.

I’ve been skeptical of ARM-based netbooks. While lauded for their low power consumption and versatility, because they’re mostly a PDA/cell phone/router type of CPU, I have trouble envisioning an ARM netbook as being very comparable in performance to one running, say, an Intel Atom.
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