June 03, 2015

Horse 1910 - Windows 10: I Might Not Ever See It

Among the seemingly millions of updates that Windows 7 & 8 give you, a new sinister button has appeared at the bottom, inviting you to update your machine to Windows 10. Apparently not content with being a software seller, Microsoft has decided that it now wants to be a software lesser and it wants you to be the lessee. Not merely content with selling you an insanely popular operating system, Microsoft has felt the need to monetise every single last penny it can out of its chained users. Push that button and agree to upgrade your machine and you'll agree to jump from Windows 7 or 8 to the new Windows 10 and with it, jump from the world of physical product to cloud computing.

I find the whole idea sinister. When my machine at work decided to crash in February, to bring it back to life was relatively easy enough until it came to Office 2013. As there was no physical disc to install Office with, I had to download a replacement copy; this would have taken more than 14 hours. The truth is that I have no idea how long it actually took because this was a task I never achieved. After three unsuccessful attempts, I rang a mobile IT company to get them to install Office 2013 for me.
If downloading Office was such a long winded and laborious process that it failed on three occasions, I can't see how trying to download an operating system is going to be any easier; especially if your machine has crashed and you don't currently have a working operating system.
I'm currently running Android on a tablet of mine and even though I've lost everything on in four times now, because the operating system is locked away somewhere in the device, bringing it back to life has been an easier process.

I can see many benefits to cloud computing; especially if you have a largish organisation which has files which need to be accessed from many locations but my experience with MYOB, Office and HandiSoft leads me to believe that unless you do have a large business which is dependent on information across a supply chain being updated all at once, the net benefits to the average user is negligible, whereas the net costs of not having a physical copy handy in case of all goes horribly wrong is hideous. I'm not wistfully looking back on some rosy coloured yesteryear and thinking that it was oh so lovely, rather I think that the physical copy is very much like having an insurance policy when the chances of crashing your car and wiping out everything in the process is 100%. It is a sure thing that at some point, your computer will make a one in ten trillion calculation error, which results in it dividing by zero.

The other thing I find really troublesome is the big brother implications of being forcibly chained to Microsoft just because you want to operate a computer. When I buy a toaster, I don't pay a subscription fee to Breville to ensure that I always have lovely toast. When I buy a motor car, although I am chained to that particular manufacturer when it comes to buying slate parts, I don't pay a subscription fee to them to be able to drive down the motorway. With a computer running Windows 10, you will be forced to pay a subscription fee to make it run because I'm sure there'll be scrutiny codes which check the machine every single time that you fire it up, in much the same way that that already happens with MYOB.
I'm not new necessarily worried about someone keeping an eye over my shoulder in a Big Brother controllery sort of way but I am worried that we're heading towards a future where advertisers, health, motor and home insurances companies and even credit providers will want to purchase the data that Microsoft can provide about its users. How long someone's machine is on for, might invalidate an insurance claim, or a credit application because some rule has been applied as a result of some minor exception that they've found that you're not even privvy to.

The fact that this is such a change in direction indicates to me that one of two things might happen. Microsoft thinks that this is a fantastic idea because they have everyone chained around the necks and so precisely because of this reason, they're going to extract more dollarpounds from their users. The second thing that I think might happen is that there is going to be a significant portion of the current Microsoft user population who will be so incensed that they will be driven to other operating systems; that might include Mac or Linux or some other thing that's going to rise up out of nowhere (maybe a Google OS?). I don't know as yet where this is going to leave me,
At work, because computer software is a business expense, we're going to follow blindly like sheep with the rest of the business world and buy subscriptions to any operating system that they're going to sell us. At home though, we have Windows 7 machines and haven't upgraded to Windows 8 through choice. If Windows 10 is overly expensive, then we're going to sit on Windows 7 for as long as possible; by which stage it might be 2020 and whoever the next major operating system publisher is, will have already risen and taken its place on the stage. For all I know that might already exist in the form of Android or other some such thing.
Windows 10 is a case of down with that sort of thing and careful now. It will possibly be a land I'll never know.

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