Microsoft: Still a Thing

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:04 pm


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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sun Dec 06, 2015 2:24 am

MS to open-source Edge's Chakra JS engine under the MIT license.

It's a good step, but they're definitely lagging the other browser makers. And no word on open-sourcing the rendering engine.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 2:38 pm

Guardian: EPIC founder Tim Sweeny argues that with Windows 10 and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) initiative, Microsoft is making a stronger attempt at a monopoly OS than anything they've done in the past to incur antitrust suits.

I'm already not a fan at all of the principles behind Win 10 and will refuse to run or use it as-is. But this is even farther than I'd thought they were going.

It's a damn shame you know. For a few years there it looked like Microsoft were actually becoming kind of likeable somehow. No idea why they've decided to backslide quite so hard.
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mothra » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:23 pm

Had to install Win 10 on my new system, since my previous drives fried. It is just jam-packed with annoying built-in app store links on every available menu, as well as that creepy-ass always-on Cortana voice recognition program.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 3:59 pm

Everything I hear or read or see about it strikes me as hostile to the fundamental principle of user having full and final control of their own PC - and their own data.

Fuck everything else about an OS, it doesn't get more important than that.
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Joxam » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:40 pm

Mothra, what? I've never even seen Cortana and I actually had to go look to find the app store... I don't know if I selected different options than you during install but... ymmv?
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:43 pm



That's a bit of a tough premise to swallow, given that Microsoft is now the third-place mobile OS developer, second-place console developer, and second-place desktop browser developer. The market is absolutely nothing like it was in the 1990's.

This true openness requires that Microsoft not follow Google’s clever but conniving lead with the Android platform, which is technically open, but practically closed. In particular, Android makes it possible to install third-party applications outside of the Google Play store, which is required for Google to comply with the Linux kernel’s GNU General Public License.


I'm...pretty sure that's not actually anywhere in the GPL. At least, not v2. (You certainly can't run third-party apps on a TiVo box. Which is why we have GPLv3 now.)

All the GPL guarantees is that if Google hadn't done it, somebody else would have forked the code and done it themselves.

Google's decision to allow competing app stores wasn't because the GPL forced its hand; it was a competitive decision to make Android attractive as a competitor to iOS: hey, Samsung and Amazon, you can use our OS and put your own store on it.

Mongrel wrote:Everything I hear or read or see about it strikes me as hostile to the fundamental principle of user having full and final control of their own PC - and their own data.

Fuck everything else about an OS, it doesn't get more important than that.


Welcome to the fold. I think Xubuntu's probably the best place to start for a new Linux user. 16.04 is (as the numbering implies) due out next month.

This is the exact reason that SteamOS is a thing, and it's potentially very good news for Valve. Microsoft making life more difficult for game publishers brings us one step closer to a world where I don't have to fucking dual-boot Windows anymore, so in that sense, it's a good thing.

The bad news is, Vulkan still benchmarks well below DirectX. But given sufficient incentives for AMD and nVidia to improve it, that could change.

We're also inching toward most GNU/Linux distros transitioning from X to Wayland. (Aside from Ubuntu, which is developing its own competing standard, and Android, which already has.) That's going to take years, but it has considerable long-term ramifications for graphics libraries, and should hopefully reduce some of the overhead.

In the meantime, I'm still running Windows on a few computers, mostly for gaming. I expect it's going to be awhile before I see any impact from UWP, though, because for the most part I don't buy new games. (I believe I've played exactly 3 PC games that were released in 2015: The Witcher 3, which is from a developer that I'm pretty confident won't buy into this UWP shit, Arkham Knight, which came with the graphics card I bought to play Witcher 3 and which I would not have paid money for, and Undertale, which is not the sort of game that UWP is going to have an impact on. And, not for nothin', I bet all 3 of those games eventually make their way to Linux anyway.) When you're mostly getting games through Steam sales and Humble Bundles years after they're released, it makes whatever the latest platform dickery is sort of a remote concern.

And by the time I got around to playing Civ5 and XCOM, hey, they'd already been ported to Linux!

Bigger-picture, this is a feature Microsoft can revoke at any time using Windows 10’s forced-update process.


This is fucking important.

Ars Technica had a great piece last week called Most software already has a “golden key” backdoor: the system update. It is instructive. Automatic updates are not inherently a good thing, especially if you can't turn them off.

We had this argument a few years back in a thread called I CAN'T STEAL ALL THE GAMES I WANT ANYMORE.

I'll avoid naming names, but among the clever arguments people made in favor of companies using system updates to prevent users from running third-party software were,

Oh shut the fuck up

You're an idiot.

do you have windows updates turned on? If so, shut the fuck up. If not, shut the fuck up.

and
I wouldn't ever make the argument that Windows isn't an open platform, just look at all this open platform shit I have on it.


Looks like everybody's finally starting to catch up to the inherent dangers of automatic system updates.

So to those among the "shut the fuck up" crowd who are still around: are you guys going to start taking these issues seriously now?

You don't have to answer that, but I'm hoping you at least think about it.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:14 pm

Thad, I'm uh, not trying to be a dick, but the single greatest argument against Linux is watching you post about your basic day to day computer maintenance. And you're a person who knows Linux relatively well! You know what you're doing! Or at least close enough that you appear to know what you're doing to a casual user.

I get that you do a lot of extra dicking around trying to fiddle with things to optimize them or run things in a particular way, or to see if you can make something run under Linux (or a particular Linux distro) that wasn't meant to do so, but even that aside, for the foreseeable future Linux use represents a barrier of constant time, effort, and education which may seem reasonable to the PC equivalent to yesteryear's garage hot rodder crowd, but is still vastly above what's required to run a Windows system and which most users will balk at doing. On top of that, I'm not sure we'll ever hit a world where devs treat Linux equally, making sure games and other software are released for Linux at par, or at the same time, and while it doesn't matter so much to you or me, there are plenty of people who will want to play shiny AAA titles on release.

At this point, I think Win7 will wind up soldiering on for a very long time, as XP did. I'm already seeing people who are talking about buying Win10 but then exercising their downgrade rights to install it as Win7. So I suspect there will be a window (har har) of time to work things out. Over the next few years we'll see what happens - maybe MS backs down or is sued into submission, or Android makes a big move to PC, or Steam OS takes off, or something else or a mix of things, who knows?
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mothra » Fri Mar 04, 2016 9:55 pm

Joxam wrote:Mothra, what? I've never even seen Cortana and I actually had to go look to find the app store... I don't know if I selected different options than you during install but... ymmv?

It wasn't pre-installed on your version of Windows 10? Like, when you first started, did it do the "HI I'M CORTANA ASK ME ANYTHING" blurb in the start menu, then embed itself into the "All apps" list without an option to uninstall?

Could be that I installed Windows 10 from scratch, whereas you might've upgraded from Windows 7 or 8.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:32 pm

Mongrel wrote:Thad, I'm uh, not trying to be a dick, but the single greatest argument against Linux is watching you post about your basic day to day computer maintenance. And you're a person who knows Linux relatively well! You know what you're doing! Or at least close enough that you appear to know what you're doing to a casual user.


I'm honestly not sure what you're talking about. Of the major technical issues I've had in the last two years (ie since I quit using a Mac as my daily driver), some have been caused by my ISP, others have been caused by hardware, and I can only think of one that's been specific to OpenSUSE. And it doesn't affect Debian or Ubuntu. (And given that it concerns an NTFS-formatted drive, I'm pretty confident that it wouldn't be an issue if I weren't dual-booting Windows.)

Whereas every time I boot Windows, it gives me an error saying it doesn't recognize my tablet. I have so many more headaches with Windows than with Linux, and that's been the case since the first time I bought a computer with a 64-bit processor.

Ubuntu's been simple enough that my dad can use it for years. Ars Technica just described Mint 17.3 as "not just the most polished Linux desktop around, it's possibly the most polished desktop period." And, y'know, there's the minor point that (Google claims) there are over a billion Android devices in current, day-to-day use.

I don't really buy the premise that Linux is any harder to use than Windows. It hasn't been for a decade.

Mongrel wrote:On top of that, I'm not sure we'll ever hit a world where devs treat Linux equally, making sure games and other software are released for Linux at par, or at the same time, and while it doesn't matter so much to you or me, there are plenty of people who will want to play shiny AAA titles on release.

At this point, I think Win7 will wind up soldiering on for a very long time, as XP did. I'm already seeing people who are talking about buying Win10 but then exercising their downgrade rights to install it as Win7. So I suspect there will be a window (har har) of time to work things out. Over the next few years we'll see what happens - maybe MS backs down or is sued into submission, or Android makes a big move to PC, or Steam OS takes off, or something else or a mix of things, who knows?


...you...understand that part of the issue here is that UWP programs don't run on Windows 7, yes? And neither does DirectX 12?

In the near future, Windows 7 will literally not be an option for people who "want to play shiny AAA titles on release." At least, not if they actually want to see all the shiny stuff.

Sticking with an operating system released in 2009 is not a solution or a path forward. While usage share's still hovering around 50%, developers are going to have to continue to support it, but the number's going to keep dropping. Over the next few years, hardware and software support are going to decline. MS is eventually going to stop issuing security patches -- and it's very likely that at that point it'll push the automatic Windows 10 upgrade to everybody, which will dramatically decrease the Windows 7 install base, and lead to more third-party developers abandoning it.

Yeah, people stuck with XP for a long time. And for their trouble, they got massive security issues and a cap of 3GB of RAM.

The solution to Microsoft's predatory behavior isn't to use old, unsupported Microsoft products. It's to quit using Microsoft products.






AT ANY RATE, another way of looking at this is as Microsoft's latest failure in understanding that its different markets have different desires.

Up to this point, it's had to learn the hard way that (1) just because console gamers are willing to pay a monthly subscription fee for online play doesn't mean that PC gamers will go for it; (2) just because PC gamers are okay with not being able to resell used games doesn't mean that console gamers will go for it; (3) just because phone users are okay with having access to a limited subset of Windows programs sold through an app store doesn't mean that laptop users will go for it; (4) just because phone and tablet users are okay with having a fullscreen app launcher that's separate from the desktop and running all their apps in fullscreen mode doesn't mean that desktop users will go for it.

This looks like (5) just because console users are okay with the OS developer controlling what features and options they do or do not have access to doesn't mean that PC users will go for it.

The thing is, UWP isn't a bad idea in principle -- having an API that makes it easier to develop cross-platform programs is actually a great idea.

The problem is, well, the same thing it's always been: forcing any developer who wants to use the good parts of the MS ecosystem to also use the bad parts.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:05 pm

You understand that I'm not proposing sticking with Win7 as a SOLUTION, merely that that will be the response from a large number of users, right?
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:17 pm

Also, apparently Microsoft caved on mandatory updates, so technically all the intrusive elements of Win10 are now able to be controlled and removed by the end user.

Of course this is a: unannounced, b: difficult to find, and c: complex and time-consuming to turn off. But it's doable.
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:50 am

Mongrel wrote:You understand that I'm not proposing sticking with Win7 as a SOLUTION, merely that that will be the response from a large number of users, right?


That depends on what you mean by "a large number". Per Wikipedia, about 28.5% of desktop users are running Windows 8 or 10 -- that's more than a third of all Windows users, and this is before business adoption has even really started (because most businesses skipped 8, and 10 has been out less than a year).

People buying new computers are going to get Windows 10. The option to downgrade is going to go away (assuming it hasn't already -- are there any OEM's still doing this?). Yes, there are still some users who will buy a new computer and then install Windows 7 manually -- that's a tiny minority of the userbase.

And again, there have been stories of Microsoft pushing Windows 10 updates to Windows 7 users without prompting them. I think that, eventually, this is going to happen on a wide scale.

Windows XP's usage share is currently around 8%. I think that, within the next few years, that's where Windows 7 is going to be too.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Sat Mar 05, 2016 2:57 am

I don't think the ability downgrade is going to go away because it's written into the licence. Rewriting the license midstream would be a bit of a mess.

Basically, the option exists so devs can buy Windows and then exercise the right to install an earlier version (for testing purposes, etc.). There may also be some legal provision that obligates MS to offer this, but I'm not sure so I wouldn't count on that. There are legitimate reasons a dev or corporation might need to create a clean install of Win7, so the option is there.

There's no actual 'downgrade' option in Win10 itself. What you have to do is buy a new copy of Win10, then directly contact MS and inform them you intend to use the new licence for Win7 and this will be noted on the MS servers. After that, you can use that product key, to validate a Win7 install (presumably downloading the installer from MS, or any of the other many locations can obtain it easily and legit.)

No, MS will use soft coercive pressure and duplicitous updates to get everyone on Win10, but I don't see them slamming the door. They may not be able to either for legal reasons, to placate business customers who have to deal with old systems or customers on old systems. or even for both reasons.
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:15 pm

Mongrel wrote:I don't think the ability downgrade is going to go away because it's written into the licence. Rewriting the license midstream would be a bit of a mess.


Huh?

Microsoft's downgrade page wrote:Note downgrade rights are only available as long as Microsoft provides support for that earlier version, as outlined in the Windows lifecycle fact sheet.


No rewrites involved. Microsoft is not obligated to support operating systems that it no longer supports.

Mainstream support for Win7 ended a year ago. Extended support (ie for businesses that have purchased it, not for end users) ends in 2020. This is not a change in the license; it's always been part of the license.

Mongrel wrote:Basically, the option exists so devs can buy Windows and then exercise the right to install an earlier version (for testing purposes, etc.). There may also be some legal provision that obligates MS to offer this, but I'm not sure so I wouldn't count on that. There are legitimate reasons a dev or corporation might need to create a clean install of Win7, so the option is there.


Yes, but that's not the same thing as a license that allows an OEM to put a clean install of Windows 7 on a computer and then resell it to an end user.

You seem to be under the impression that Microsoft has gone and sold licenses that are available in perpetuity and transferable. That's really not how it works.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Mongrel » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:40 pm

Thad wrote:Yes, but that's not the same thing as a license that allows an OEM to put a clean install of Windows 7 on a computer and then resell it to an end user.


I know that, I'm only saying that if a user wishes to do so, it's possible. At least until 2020, as you pointed out.
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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Sun Mar 13, 2016 4:40 pm

So this is a thing that is actually appearing on corporate users' computers now:

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Via Woody Leonhard at Infoworld.

One admin reports that some domain-attached VLC-licensed PCs installed KB 3035583 -- the widely reviled Get Windows 10 app -- months ago, but that the Get Windows 10 icon didn't appear until now. Another says that the crapware-hiding c:\windows\system32\GWX folder has appeared.

The admins I know are livid. Microsoft's apparently trying to do an end run, telling users that their admins are somehow culpable for blocking upgrades to their PC.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby zaratustra » Sun Mar 13, 2016 5:23 pm

http://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/ has a tool to remove windows 10 from your system.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:08 pm

And it's kind of a pity because, under all the bullshit, it's actually a pretty solid OS.

The biggest problem is trust: it's going to be pretty hard to believe, from this point forward, that any given Windows Update isn't going to fuck your privacy settings, give you unwanted popup ads, or otherwise intentionally harm your system.

And they've actually backported this behavior to Windows 7, so sticking with a previous version doesn't really fix the problem.

And it's not just MS; this is the new status quo. Apple invented the walled-garden approach and the automatic syncing of your home directory to their servers; Android and ChromeOS are the product of a company whose business model revolves around knowing everything about you; and even Ubuntu -- this shit where MS automatically feeds everything you type into the Run bar to their servers to sell ads? That was Shuttleworth's fucking idea, and while Ubuntu is now (wisely) phasing it out, the genie's out of the goddamn bottle.

Of course, the advantage that open-source OS's have over proprietary ones is that there's always somebody out there to fork a version that's got all the nasties taken out. It can be a real hassle to root an Android device (depending on the device; the Nexus line is very root-friendly), and installing Linux on a desktop or laptop is getting trickier too, but technical users still have the option of controlling what's running on their devices.

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Re: Microsoft: Still a Thing

Postby Thad » Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:46 am



The entirely predictable result of turning a chatbot with a learning AI loose on Twitter.

Ars: Microsoft terminates its Tay AI chatbot after she turns into a Nazi

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