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Stop the Australian (Anti)Vaccination Network

Some good reasons to not use Windows

Nick Andrew <nick@nick-andrew.net> 2002-08-16
Feedback welcomed

The situation with Microsoft Windows has reached the point where no sane person could rationally argue that the benefits of running Windows exceed the risks. Using Windows is therefore insane, and here are a few short reasons why.

This is going to be an evolving document. It will start small and focus on the main reasons you wouldn't want to run Windows. Links will be added over time to justify each reason.

  1. The software works only with Microsoft's permission.

    Windows XP and Office 2000 ships in a crippled state, requiring the user to obtain a licence from Microsoft to make them work. Also if you upgrade your machine the software stops working and you need to obtain more permission from Microsoft.

  2. Microsoft is moving towards a software rental revenue model.

    M$ is already requiring companies to pay regularly for the "right" to upgrades, even if no upgrades are provided. How long will it be until M$ moves into a position where you need to keep paying just to keep your computer working?

  3. The End User Licence Agreements are unconscionable.

    Requiring you to give up your freedom of speech (re: publishing .NET benchmarks), the sheer quantity of legalese involved in each install (8 EULAs!), not permitting you to resell the software without also selling the computer, not permitting you to install your OS on another computer.

  4. Windows is progressively giving control of your computer to other people, and limiting your control over your computer.

    Including the recent EULA which permits Microsoft to "disable" competing software and their embracement of DRM, and current implementation of DRM with Windows Media Player (some guy backed up his music files, reinstalled and restored the files, and the Media Player refused to play them. Now he has to get some kind of license from Microsoft to play his own music again).

  5. Microsoft is not a good corporate citizen.

    See Anti-trust suit, exerting monopoly influence over vendors like Dell (not allowed to ship OS-less computers), spreading FUD about linux and open source.

  6. Microsoft has an appalling security record.

    Windows is not a product which you can trust - to connect to the Internet, to keep your secrets, or even to operate reliably.

  7. Microsoft tools obscure your data to force you to continue to use Microsoft tools.

    See Word binary file format (never completely decoded yet, cannot be simulated).

  8. Microsoft's blurring of the lines between OS and application make it impossible to use 3rd-party Windows applications on an emulator.

    To write an emulator a person would have to replicate the functions of hundreds of MS DLLs which Windows applications use.

  9. Using Microsoft software is more risky than not using it.

    You are opening yourself up to a visit from the BSA/BSAA stormtroopers. How sure are you that your paperwork on your licences are completely up-to-date and organised? If you miss something then the BSA/BSAA can force you to pay a multi-thousand-dollar "settlement" just on the threat of taking you to court for copyright infringement.

  10. Microsoft forces you to upgrade. Upgrading requires that you give up your rights and give Microsoft rights to your computer.

    Upgrade forcing happens through things like breaking backwards compatibility between software versions. People upgrade hoping to fix bugs also. When people start sending you Microsoft Word XP documents, you need Word XP to read them.

The Open Source alternative

Just talking about Linux here.

  1. Usable desktop and GUI now
  2. Email and calendar applications (e.g. Ximian Evolution)
  3. Word processors: ABIWord, StarOffice, OpenOffice.Org
  4. Secure on the net
  5. Works on new and old hardware
  6. No EULAs, no Digital Rights Management
  7. All that seems like a pretty strong case to ditch Windows.