MICROSOFT: commercial Nazis who need to be stopped before it’s too late

Wake up: Bill Gates’s creation is an illiberal corporate dictatorship, and only concerted online action will deter it from all-out war on the pc owner

A couple of months ago, I closed all comment threads at The Slog. The two key reasons for this were first, the amount of time it involved servicing a minute proportion of the readership; and second, the apparent inability of some threaders to move from default transmit mode to receive.
After the ban had been effected, I went into receive mode every day as (literally) hundreds of loyal Sloggers wrote to say, “We understand your frustration at dealing with egomaniac plonker syndrome, but the general badinage at the site is one of its strongest points – please reconsider your decision”. So after five weeks, I relented. There is a point to this throat-clearing, stick with me.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was having asked half a dozen halfwits a zillion times NOT to thread ‘get a Mac’ or ‘buy this freeware instead’ every time I reported on the frustrations of working with Microsoft. Over and over I would point out that (1) the vast majority of pc users are real people without either the time or knowledge to dig around looking for esoteric options that will merely confuse them further; (2) Macs cost 6-7 times what a pc does, and are thus way beyond the budget of ordinary people; but above all (3) this was an issue of globalist monopolism and corporacratic control, not my personal frustrations…which were and are nothing more than micro examples to make a macro point.
What angered me most about this smartassism (really nothing more than narcissism) was the inability of these ‘I’m alright Jacks’ to realise that, in taking the attitude they did, they were every bit as élitist (in the perjorative sense) as Camerlot’s Black Knights telling the poor and generally disadvantaged to “get on yer bike”. It’s the exact same belief system as that of featherweights like Dan Hannan insisting that universal health insurance would be better than the NHS. In fact, for all his otherwise lachrymose shortcomings, it was summed up superbly by this 1968 Paul McCartney lyric from the Beatles White Album:

Blackbird singing in the dead of night/ take these sunken eyes and learn to see/ all your life/ you were only waiting for this moment to be free

Park that thought and then read on.

About six months ago, I began looking seriously at utilising new media as a way of getting my message across to a broader audience. For some eight years now, I have been saying that two million lone-gun bloggers firing off air-pellets in all directions are not going to make a jot of difference to the creeping neoliberal sociopathy all decent human beings would prefer to be without. Not even the success last week of the indefatigable Nick Wilson in getting the HSBC fraud cases reopened nullifies my view that coordinated online action stands the best chance by far of scaring The Bastards into changing their ways.

However, the simple observation to be made here is that this is not in reality ‘my message‘. Give it whatever name you want – ‘the call of the caring’, ‘the search for utility’, ‘the desire of the Decent’ – it amounts to nothing less than the restoration of grounded policies aiming to produce fulfilment for the great majority…..NOT the enrichment of the tiny minority via nonsensical concepts such a trickle-down wealth and the voluntary charitable donation.

The main online success story of ordinary citizens triumphing over corporate dictatorship in recent years is, to my mind, the triumph of US vegetarians, who forced the massive Mars conglomerate to go back to non-animal bases for its countline flavourings. The key to vegetarian success was a shared belief system (to which, as it happens, I don’t subscribe): the sheer gritty perseverance and dogged determination of America’s veggies made Mars dump their new formulation and plant investment in favour of customer pressure. Especially when the customer pressure began showing itself in a falling share price.

As always, the lesson is the same: it’s all about the munneeee.

Customer pressure in large numbers + Stock Exchange nerves =  ACTION. Yes, I too wish it wasn’t true, but it is: this really is one of those cases where the fuel required to fight fire is fire. So having teed up that truism, let me tell you about my latest ‘interface’ with Microsoft….in very simple terms.

Microsoft is, as its name suggests, a pc software company. It does not, in 99.5% of cases, own the hardware it drives. Yet it reserves the right to do the following:
1. Restrict my access totally to that hardware which I bought and thus is mine, not theirs
2. Remove all my purchaser rights to know why they have done so
3. Overrule my personal choices to refuse certain updates
4. Deliberately make it near-impossible to contact them while failing utterly to live up to what every manufacturer’s responsibility should be: viz, the provision of easily accessible after-sales service
5. Deliberately disguise the forcing of updates upon me by insisting that my password is incorrect – when quite obviously they know it isn’t….because once the force-feeding of the Suffragette has occurred, by some miraculous power my password returns to being correct again.

This situation (well-known and documented on myriad sites right across the Web) represents corporate dictatorship in its most distilled form. But attempts at redress as an individual will get you nothing – except, perhaps, a record somewhere within the national security services for being an NVE.

Why? Because the legislators have been bought by Microsoft…and Google, and Newscorp, and Facebook, and HSBC, and the European Central Bank, and the European Commission….et al et al ad nauseam et ad infinitum.

So you see, this post is not about how I spent two hours this afternoon being lied to, driven round the houses and refused access to my own computer. This post is not about telling the sunken eyes of the poor blackbird to arise and become the Hubble telescope. This post  is not a 1-blogger rant.

It is an appeal. It is, to be precise, an appeal for coordinated symphony to create a wall of sound the money-mad dare not ignore. It is an appeal to end the isolated and thus easily ignored cacophony of a million complaints about symptoms….when what The Bastards really fear is 10,000 opinion-forming diagnoses of the causes of those symptoms….and the resultant threat to their businesses on the neurotic bourses of neoliberal capitalism.

Related at The Slog: Bringing the Meddlesome Microsoft to book


46 thoughts on “MICROSOFT: commercial Nazis who need to be stopped before it’s too late

  1. Glad to see Windows 10 adoption rate is slowing as users stick with Windows 7;

    It’s the only way to bring these b*stards to their senses, along with restricting their market share in mobile to its paltry 3%.

    By the way, ensure your settings in Windows Control Panel stops them automatically downloading and installing updates. Otherwise from January you could find Windows 10 in residence!


  2. So true. MS is impossible to deal with and offer zero useful help when one is in trouble except to suggest you buy the next updated version of their particular form of crap. I can usually know when they have a new version coming out by how slow my computer starts working.


  3. Précisément. Death to the reptilians. But it will need a mass awakening of which there is little sign at present. However, hope springs eternal: Green shoots are peeking through the corporatist cracks, par exemple
    “Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
    Into the light of the dark black night.”
    Keep up the good work Monsieur Ward.


  4. Naah. You ll never change things by ranting JW . Or indeed by doing anything else. Microsoft and Apple have got the online world tied up and everybody is too passive to change it as they have both entrenched themselvex indelibly into the world online supply footprint and they are both too powerful to row back. Linux … Schminux.


  5. Ermm.. ok.

    My take on this issue is that Microsoft were caught napping and have instigated the mother of all kneejerk reactions.

    Allow me to elaborate.

    The last M$ operating system of any use is arguably windows7 and it rolled out in late 2009, this was about the same time as the Iphone really took off as a concept and people started to regard smartphones as ‘the thing to have’ – basically when the Iphone3gs came out which was the one that really started to do useful stuff that competitor products didn’t.

    You don’t need any more history – the ‘apps’ and smartphones paradigm grew ever since and now around half of all internet use is through smartphones – inconceivable even in 2009.

    Apple also introduced concomitantly a new paradigm – closed box tech. Apple products don’t work with other people’s stuff, you can’t take it apart without specialist tools, you can’t swap bits in and out and crucially the software comes through apple – or not at all. Unless you want to jailbreak the phone you HAVE to buy from inside the apple walled garden where they make the rules.
    Of course for apple this is why they scared the poo out of M$ – apple just ‘works’ because apple control the whole game. This is fundamentally different to the M$ way of doing things which for all intents and purposes is a kit built from multivariate suppliers that somehow manages to function.

    Suddenly M$ looked old hat, Windows had more and more built into it but you only bought it once and after that all the updates were free. The ‘app’ way of business is to give you a skeleton and let you buy the flesh bit by bit with a series of small purchases.

    This model was a massive slap in the face for M$ since it had been doing just fine with its windows hegemony for 20+ years. It’s never nice being kicked brutally out of your comfort zone and suddenly M$ found its entire paradigm was dead in the water.

    Faced with ‘innovate or die’ (look at Nokia and Ericsson) M$ were in a corner – and they decided that basically they needed to go down the apple route. Tragically for John and others this meant that they had to turn what previously was pretty open tech (Windows 7 and before) into apple style closed box tech.

    Now windows 10 is here M$ have mutated completely into the apple methodology – Windows 10 is free for most but means handing over your machine and the rights to it to M$, unless they can control what you do and how you do it, they can’t monetise it – hence the myriad of conflicts and ‘you can’t do this’ from the new operating system.

    As JW says this is corporate fascism but no more than Apple or Google is and I don’t see how any of those three are going to suddenly commit corporate hara-kiri and open up their operating systems.

    People are now habituated with the ‘plug in and go’ system, when I bought my first computer you had to solder it together. All computer systems are a trade off between ease of use and flexibility and the balance has swung far, far toward ease of use and we are paying the price.

    The classic line from the film ‘Wargames’ – The only way to win is not to play. With this in mind the only solution I can conceive is a move to free linux distros. This is pure cold turkey since you’re on your own and you need to learn how the machine works and take control of 101 things that were previously done for you – the IT equivalent of Jeeves leaving Wooster with a can of beans and a penknife.

    My plan would be.
    1) Buy a cheap 2nd hand laptop (ex corporate like an IBM thinkpad)
    2) Read up on Linux
    3) Tinker until you have a working system
    4) ditch M$

    I wish I could offer an easier plan given the way the mainstream operating system market has developed (see above) – I just don’t see any change in approach in the near future from the big 3.


  6. At the risk of being pushed into the same apple basket as others who arouse your ire, dare I recommend Linux?
    Many of the latest varieties [distros] are very simple to use and work well on old computers. The online support is good to the point of overwhelming!
    If you are only doing internet browsing and blogging and office tasks then you will have no problems.
    Having followed your blog for some years it seems you should have several old computers around, any of which could be converted, unless you have slung them in disgust.
    I would suggest “Mint” Cinnamon, download here:
    You get a file called “something.iso” which you burn to DVD. You can the boot from the DVD and try out the program without upsetting your windows installation.


  7. @Devonglass

    I am still using quite old editions of Windows and so far no problems. I refuse to download Windows 10 partly because my motto is if it ain’t broke don’t fix it and partly because several friends who downloaded Windows 10 have had problems and have have spent small fortunes getting their computers fixed.

    How exactly can I prevent MS from downloading Windows 10 without my permission?

    As my Windows based computers die over time I will migrate to Apple. We are lucky here in Canada as the price differential between equivalent Windows and iOS machines seems to be much less than in France, in the order of perhaps 20-40%, and Apple’s after sales service is way ahead of the competition. I have used MS DOS and Windows for more than 32 years with no real complaints (well, perhaps a few with MS-DOS) but have decided to move on.


  8. John, If you want to have a *really* good rant, have a Google at what the StasiWare that is called Windows 10 does in terms of phoning home with everything that is done on your PC.

    The key word is “Telemetry”.

    Once Windows 10 is installed, you can’t turn off Microsoft installing any upgrades or additions to the spyware already in place.


  9. Windows is aimed squarely at the corporate market who are expected to have professional IT staff to support company end users.
    PC hardware (OS was a separate purchase) was only available in the workplace at first, the MS bundling enabled them to build a large corporate user base.

    As PC’s became commoditised people took them into their homes, people chose MS operating systems because they were exposed to them at work, the shop that sold you the PC became your IT support dept.

    The deal with MS has always been that the retailer (OEM) that supplied your OS is responsible for support in the same way that the supplier is also responsible for hardware support.

    ‘Home’ editions of Windows were demanded by the OEMs who agreed to provide standard platforms that did not require MS tech support in exchange for cheaper licences.

    The corporate IT dept users of the ‘Pro’ editions still get MS help to write drivers for specific PC hardware extensions, the domestic user gets periodic bug and security patches and that’s it.

    You can rant all you like about how bad MS software is (and I agree it is crap) but the fact is that it is not now nor has ever been suitable for the average domestic user.

    A PC is way too powerful a computing device for home use, for most users a ChromeBook is more than capable of browsing the web, skyping, email and editing a blog.
    The ChromeBook was designed with the domestic user first and foremost.
    Cheap, Instant On and always up to date, it generates almost no support calls, it is an ideal end-user device.

    If you actually need the local computing power (eg. big graphics apps/hardcore gamer/compiling massive programs) then you are not a domestic user and (should) have the knowledge to choose and run whatever OS you want (which might be Windows)

    I’ve got 3 windows boxes (w98, W7 and XP on a dual boot) mostly for legacy stuff, hardly ever powered up. Half a dozen linux boxes, a couple of ChromeBooks, various Android tablets and phones and XBMC on a Raspberry Pi as a set top box (plus a load of embedded/IoT stuff).
    Mine is not a typical domestic setup, it is complex and technical and I have spent years learning this stuff so that I can support it.

    So I disagree that MS is a corporate dictatorship, I don’t think their software or the support from the resellers is fit for domestic consumption but that is because PCs are overkill in the domestic market.

    There are search engines other than Google (Duck Duck Go is one) but it is my choice of engine because it returns the results I require (and I understand how they make their money)

    I believe there are alternatives to FaceBook but as I don’t have any friends (because I’m a smartypants) I have no need/desire to use them/it.

    10,000 opinion spouting end-users of any of these products will not make the slightest impression on their bottom line, unless you are a corporate user you are not the target audience.


  10. @BobRocket

    I have moved over to Chromebooks, they are cheap and get the job done – I too have a windows box but it is rarely required. I also have an old laptop running TAILS for when I need to browse anonymously (read or post anything that challenges the NHS internal market paradigm).


  11. I am of the age of our host here and choose a more stoic view. The vagaries of human nature and the power of suggestion/manipulation via modern communications make any fight futile. The system, to choose a word, will not fail via pressure on it from within by the little people , no matter how many there are. It will fail from its own contradictions and the ability, or lack thereof, of the earth to sustain 7 billion humans.


  12. Every time I get a new pc I give the pre-installed Windows a try but it pisses me off so much with it’s demands that I set up a Microsoft account etc. that I end up wiping the drive and installing Ubuntu linux (it costs nothing) and that’s the end of the aggravation.Are you addicted to the adrenalin rush that the anger provoked by Windows provides?


  13. Great comment and rational overview of pc DNA, BobRocket, quite agree on social media. Too many people, not without encouragement, have forgotten how to shut the door; the result, predictably enough, is that they leave the door open.. you can’t have it both ways.


  14. Everyone has their poison, which in my case is/was vodafone.
    Moving to three has been a breath of fresh air.
    It seems that moving loyalties is the only way out. Only last week I changed energy suppliers to save 30%. My bank is on the watch list. Sky raised their price once too often and got the bullet.
    I only wish that I too could vote for Marine Le Pen and join forces with those who can see the folly of the policies from the eu elite imbeciles who have dashed so many hopes and ruined so many lives.


  15. I’ve always found it amazing that people could pay many hundreds of pounds for software from the likes of Macromedia and Adobe and it still be full of system-crashing bugs. This is just one area where consumer protection has failed (another being broadband). A few prosecutions might have made them think twice about taking to market “updates” that were unfit for purpose and were the cause of hundreds of thousands of lost working hours.

    I’ve never quite understood the rush to “upgrade” and Americans in particular always seem to be dashing into this at the first opportunity with the inevitable consequences. I’ve always held well back! I have Vista on one laptop and only just stopped using XP on another desktop PC because that equipment broke down. Another newer laptop has Windows 7. But only because I can’t get XP onto it (no drivers). The best PC for video capture is an old Toshiba running XP that I bought secondhand in 2004. I think that says something.

    As others have said, Windows has never been suitable for most home users. I have never had a lesson. I taught myself about computers, starting with an Amstrad nearly 30 years ago. That was one of the most difficult things I have done, but I have put in the time.

    I use Windows because I need Photoshop and competent video editing software. And, whatever Linux enthusiasts may claim, the available equivalents on that operating system aren’t as good. But if I only wanted to surf the web, blog, write documents, send email, listen to music and watch videos I would be on Linux.

    Currently a neighbour is pestering me to look at her Windows laptop. She doesn’t even have the knowledge to switch on a USB mobile broadband dongle and nothing has been done to the laptop since she found herself single several years ago.

    Past experience tells me that quite possibly I could start on this and very quickly it could turn from “just five minutes” into a whole day job. Dealing with malware and even reinstalling Windows. Then all the bits and pieces (link to browser etc.) won’t be exactly where she is used to them being, leading to dissatisfaction. There’s rarely any thanks for doing these jobs. It’s as if you’re being selfish if you don’t, because you magically know how and they don’t. Then they’re back to surfing, not bothering to learn how to maintain, update or doing anything technical.

    One friend expected me to teach him how to encode and publish videos when he couldn’t even perform basic navigation on the PC to locate a file on the c drive. We wouldn’t let anyone on the road without driving lessons, so why do people expect to be able to use a very complicated computer?

    Tablets and phones suit some but in a way, with the near-unusable onscreen keyboards, they’re the ultimate dumbing down in an attempt to turn us into predominantly couch potato consumers.


  16. As one of those smartasses who would have previously said ‘just install Linux’, I owe you a mea culpa JW.

    Last week I took delivery of a brand new Windoze 8 laptop as my old PPC Mac had been rendered software obsolete by a combination of Apple and websites telling my my browser was ‘no longer compatible’ with their text based markup (FFS).
    Those who say ‘just get a Mac’ are not being honest as, IMO, Apple are just as corporately fascist as Microsoft these days.

    Anyhoo my laptop has “advanced” BIOS (called UEFI) whose main purpose is to allow the lizards at Microsoft to hook their OS into the very lowest levels of my hardware, moreover the 1 year warranty is contingent on keeping it there.
    Windows 8’s first act on booting, after requiring me to create no end of accounts for the pre-installed trialware was to update itself to Windows 10.
    Just a few hours use of windows 10 tells me that it is an absolute abomination – it seems to spend most of its time thrashing the hard drive, updating itself and trying to sell me stuff I don’t want (“available in the Microsoft store”).

    So your rant is 100% correct and you have my sympathy. However, I fear that the only thing that will change Microsoft is people voting with their feet – they have had decades of negative publicity which they circumvent with corporate fascist coercion as you describe above – something Mars are unable to do to the same extent.

    Putting Linux on there is going to be no mean feet either and will be a technical challenge even to an old hand like myself.
    However, I will do it, even if it means voiding the warranty as trying to use Windows 10 is ruining my mental health.

    If I am successful, I might start a business freeing people from the curse of Microsoft.


  17. You know, everyone (bar 2)
    I might just as well not have bothered writing this piece. The same old ‘here’s how to get round it’ and ‘what you need is’.

    I give up. I’m writing this reply on another pc because the W10 pc has decided it doesn’t like my password again. I tried typing on it this morning, and the keyboard is infected again. You know why it’s infected? BECAUSE MICROSOFT OVERRULED MY ANTI-MALWARE INSTALLATION IN FAVOUR OF THEIR OWN SHIT PRODUCT.
    You know why Microsoft doesn’t recognise my password? BECAUSE THE INFECTED KEYBOARD IS TYPING IN THE WRONG PASSWORD.

    Let me tell you the disease you’re all suffering from: WASP syndrome. The Wasp is right at the end of the line; at the front is the black guy, next to him the yellow guy, then the Jew, the catholic and the Wasp.
    So Captain Coporate walks up to the Wasp and says, “I think I’ll kill you”.
    “Oh…no, don’t do that,” says the Wasp, ” do it to the nigger….he’s first”. So he does.
    This goes on once every year, until 2020, when there’s only the Wasp left.

    “Look,” he says to Captain Corporate, “I’ve helped you kill everyone else, so don’t kill me – I’m your friend.”

    “I don’t need friends,” says Captain Corporate, “I need bounties. You’re it.” And he shoots the Wasp.

    If, however, the Wasp had said in 2016, “We have you outnumbered Captain, now hand over your gun – or else” don’t you think the result would’ve been different?


  18. Anon said: “Once Windows 10 is installed, you can’t turn off Microsoft installing any upgrades or additions to the spyware already in place.”

    Not so – it is just complicated to do. We have been experimenting with this for a while on a Win 10 box and largely managed to control/remove the various spying and updating functions. Just like firewalling and browser control it requires competent and detailed management. Win 10 runs very well, faster and more smoothly than win 7.


  19. “The classic line from the film ‘Wargames’ – The only way to win is not to play. With this in mind the only solution I can conceive is a move to free linux distros. This is pure cold turkey since you’re on your own and you need to learn how the machine works and take control of 101 things that were previously done for you – the IT equivalent of Jeeves leaving Wooster with a can of beans and a penknife.”

    John – keep going. since the Graun became “Rockefellered” your voice is one of the only ones out there.

    I echo the Ubuntu thing. I rescued a laptop from the electric bin a while back, also an old SATA drive then installed it. I put on a LAMP Server, the Eclipse IDE for software coding, Android Studio to write apps.

    I have started entirely from nothing for free. I found a British bloke in Berlin who teaches Java/C/PERL and learn a small snippet every night I drink zero alcohol since “going quasi-paleo” and at 48 am looking forward to writing my first Java app to help combat obesity. I shall release it free on Github. Slow increments. I am getting there.

    Find a local LETS scheme (I have one in my town) and swap time helping someone for them installing Ubuntu on your system. That’s the way.


  20. It all started to go downhill when corporations were given the legal rights of individuals. With the most recent rulings the fox is in charge of the hen house. The individual needs to discover how on earth you can clip the wings of a fox.


  21. You are suffering from abused wife syndrome.You won’t leave because you still think that deep down Windows loves you and will protect you if you behave as it demands.Leave now and don’t look back,after a while you will wonder why you accepted the abuse for so long.


  22. You say yourself that corporations only move to follow the money. Changing from a PC to whatever-non-microsoft-else is what will hurt them in the pocket and is the best way to effect change. For as long as Microsoft have an effectively irreplaceable product, they will do what they do. The only other option is to make the protest big enough to cause politicians to take notice and force change onto them… I don’t think that’s realistic, unfortunately.


  23. Jaime in Quebec

    You can prevent Microsoft automatically updating software. In a Windows 7 PC, select the settings as follows, for others you need to do a bit of research; Select START, CONTROL PANEL, SYSTEM AND SECURITY, ACTION CENTER, go into the SECURITY box and select WINDOWS UPDATE and click on CHANGE SETTINGS. Then choose the way you want updates to work.

    By doing this you can continue to use Windows 7 safely, until Microsoft withdraws extended support in 2020,

    and restrict their Windows 10 market share to “must try harder next time”.


  24. One way to look at this is to look at the IT Services department of a certain very large university in Northern England, where I work. The Windows support division has about a dozen people in it, plus contractors, to keep a Windows 7 set-up running on mostly very standardised PC cluster machines. The machines are pretty much all dual boot systems.

    The Linux side of things is Scientific Linux 7, that is to say Red Hat Enterprise with all the proprietary bits chopped off. There’s three of us administering that side of things. Just three, and we specialise even in there, with myself doing odd jobs, single installs and scientific stuff. Just three people for Linux, as opposed to up to twenty for Windows, and we do not touch Win 8 or Win 10 at all, ever.

    There’s also one bloke who deals with the Apple Macs, not that we have very many of them to be honest.

    The Windows side has a continual problem with viruses, despite a fairly closed environment where admin accounts are hoarded like diamonds and three anti-virus systems run on each machine. The Linux units have no running anti-virus (we used to install Sophos and leave it inactive, for political reasons) and don’t get broken in to.

    The Linux side also runs a CPU-sharing system called Condor; this is of little interest to you but one of our researchers, on trying out this system put a job onto it that would have taken six months to run on his research cluster; it completed over one weekend on the Condor set-up. So, not only do we three run a Linux image, specialised for several different departments, but we also run a research CPU-sharing service, custom-build applications for this and the general use systems, run a licence server for other software and also do local single installs of Ubuntu and the like.

    That’s the difference between Linux and Windows in staffing terms. That’s why we’re shouting about it. It really is that easy to run.

    The easiest way to just try out Linux is to download one of the ISO images of Knoppix Linux from their site (or one of the mirrors) and burn that onto a CD or DVD. Knoppix runs only from the CD; it is impossible to accidentally install it onto a machine’s hard disk. What you get is a pretty decent introduction to Linux and how it all works, without having to install things onto your PC. It is also (and this is my primary use for it) for giving a machine with a part-broken OS something to run that lets you get at the machine disk without having to fight the remains of the OS.

    A word on distributions of Linux. Quite a few exist, but in recent years they, like MS Windows, have been trying to go all tablet-computer like. For this reason earlier commentators have suggested Linux Mint, which has rightly resisted this urge. I use something very similar to Mint, which involves a little playing about with the OS; you ought to be looking at Mint and not worrying about customisations just yet.

    However, the wonderful thing with Linux is that you can actually lay down the law to the OS and tell it that no, it will not do when you don’t want it to; it will do , but not . On Linux, you have control of the root account, and what root says goes. You’re the master, and as long as you know what you’re doing, you’re sorted. Googling Mint (or Ubuntu, as Mint is based on Ubuntu) forums helps a lot here. Googling stuff is the trick most of us admins actually do, that and looking up error messages. Linux is nice like that; applications and stuff like that can be told to moan a bucketful when something goes wrong, which is most helpful when trying to sort out what’s going on. Windows, alas, suffers in silence.


  25. I found this quite informing

    SWIMBO is on Win7 and struggling…she yearns for DOS (I kid you not)

    I’m still on XP and not for moving until I get a old box to try linux


  26. John ..Wont go tech again! last time!
    re Photoshop:
    A personal thing sometimes …But I found ‘Picture publisher’ far more intuitive: It had a superb learning and example system included… in drop down menus. All came to an end when the latest version of windows would not recognize the text section in the included manual!
    I used it during a period of forced idleness ..used it to scan old photos and bring them back to life…. It was this that help pushed me to Linux way could I, or would I pay for new software.
    In the past I had access to Photoshop Via customers I visited …so could compare.
    Linux Gimp is no way as intuitive as picture publisher.
    The introduction of Touch Screens on pads has got my wife doing her own thing , had a hang up over mice ..some indirect psychoshite going on, I’m thinking.


  27. I completely agree John, Microsoft are absolutely dreadful and have been for decades. There are alternatives though not without some problems of their own. However, what else can one do but vote with one’s feet and avoid the bastards, encouraging everyone else to do the same. Will it make a difference? Who knows. The Windows 8/8.1/10 debacle seems to have made them sit up and take notice but we’ll have to wait and see.

    Of course they are not the only ones doing the corporate arm twisting, car manufacturers in co-operation with EU/EPA enablers are stuffing new cars with propriatary software and lobbying hard that only they should be able to access it. The hackable, trackable and who knows what else car is with us – the unusable/unrepairable car is not that far away. The remote monitoring and shutting down of heavy plant/tractors is already here.

    A very sad state of affairs…


  28. JW repeats ad nauseum that he doesn’t want to hear about Linux, Mac, they are not solutions to him, just other routes with other problems. So stop telling him. None of them have a decent user manual anyway.
    He just wants to buy a black Ford and expects it to work, and why not. He has every right to think he is buying a stable, sensible, logical, reliable operating system, in fact he doesn’t want to know that it is, even, an operating system.

    However, he refuses to accept that Bill Gates was an opportunist and a fierce capitalist in the guise of a geek, and not a brilliant computing genius. He ignores that Steve Ballmer, the CEO after Gates, didn’t have the slightest interest in quality, just quantity and the thrill of killing off all the competition, and had no real interest in producing a quality product. He refuses to make the connection that M’Soft did a deal with NSA, Homeland Security or whoever else swims in the dark pools of data access, to sell out YOUR privacy in exchange for them being left alone to monopolise the market. With respect, he chooses to assume that he is buying the best of the best, from the biggest in the game. That is soooo 20th Century.

    Microsoft is a third-rate company with third-rate products, but a basic monopoly market share in PC software. They haven’t been able to break into any new markets in decades. MS Office reached the end of the evolutionary road 20 years ago. Every Windows release in those decades bar Windows 7 has been an absolute car-crash, and their disgraceful attempts to virus-protect users is basically criminal. But still they hang on. Not for very much longer.

    The current generation of buyers now don’t buy a laptop or a PC, they buy a smartphone and a tablet. They have no loyalty to Microsoft and they don’t buy spreadsheets, word processing or databases, these kids. Microsoft have failed three times to get into phone technology, and been clueless at fast graphics since MS-Dos days. Microsoft, one day very soon, will just collapse in on itself. I am sure that, like every other old hi-tech listed behemeoth, (even Apple have been doing it) they have been buying their own shares like crazy over the past few years, to hide that fact that their time is done.
    When the great stock market correction finally comes, M’soft will be washed away. These companies only ever survive through the tolerance of their customers. That loyalty has gone. Microsoft are not innovating, and not launching new and exciting products. They bought Minecraft -a game- and Skype and Nokia! What does that tell you. They worte off $8 billion dollars on Nokia. They even bought a social networking company called Yammer, for over a billion dollars. Ever heard of them? Me either neither.

    I actually think someone (maybe from the Raspberry world) will come up with a very simple operating system from scratch, with barely a few hundred thousand lines of code that is clean, tidy and tight. It will be virus-resistant and you won’t even notice it working. Every release of Windows since I think Window 3.1 25 years ago (?) …………. …………. …………. ………… my laptop has just hung for 20 secs as an anti-virus programme fights Windows for memory ………… …………. ……….. has been built on the poor foundations of its predecessor. The world is asking for such a product, one that cannot be hacked or monitored by prying eyes.
    One day soon, a billion computer users will just walk away from Micros*+t, just like that.

    But I also think JW just has an unfair slice of bad luck with computers; if not that, he gets targeted.


  29. @dofornow:

    No need to use Gimp. You can now download a fully free legal set of Adobe Creative Suite 2. This is the only use I can actually see for Windoze,about 99% of my time is on Ubuntu. I like the Gnome flavour myself.

    No need for antivirus either – it runs itself and is secure.

    Go to the local large recycling place, rescue one from the bin and give it a good clean.


  30. ‘However, he refuses to accept that Bill Gates was an opportunist and a fierce capitalist in the guise of a geek, and not a brilliant computing genius. He ignores that Steve Ballmer, the CEO after Gates, didn’t have the slightest interest in quality, just quantity and the thrill of killing off all the competition, and had no real interest in producing a quality product. He refuses to make the connection that M’Soft did a deal with NSA, Homeland Security or whoever else swims in the dark pools of data access, to sell out YOUR privacy in exchange for them being left alone to monopolise the market. With respect, he chooses to assume that he is buying the best of the best, from the biggest in the game. That is soooo 20th Century.’
    If only I could read minds that well.
    On the other hand, not very well….as none of it is true: I’ve posted on ALL those subjects myself, to the opposite viewpoint.
    But like I say, I’ve given trying to explain what the problem is here. ‘One day soon, a billion computer users will just walk away from Micros*+t, just like that.’ No they won’t: yo don’t understand how distribution works.
    The only thing that will get rid of dial M for Merde is People power, or politicians directly accountable to the People.
    You’re hoping they’ll just die but you are so wrong, my friend.


  31. Actaully, as someone who has used both PCs and Macs, over the years, you’ll now find Apple are just as bad at pushing upgrades on you. I had a load of problems with time delays after ‘upgrading’ the OS and the situation got so bad that it was either get a new MacBook/PC or call in some professionals. I paid £150 to have the computer reset to factory settings allied to wiping the hard drive etc and although it’s still not as fast as I when I bought it, it is eminently serviceable.

    The brutal reality is that the PC/Mac market is designed to make you either upgrade ever 2-3 years or lose performance. There’s probably a sizeable market whereby you rent a PC/Mac with relevant software and simply gain access to upgrades as per your contract. It is, I guess, a tithe to the e-business fraternity which you can choose to pay or not. I now rent MS Office on an annual basis, although I don’t yet rent the hardware……


  32. OK, I’ll have another go.
    Microsoft is just a symptom of late stage neo-liberal capitalism devouring its customers and ultimately itself. Another company may come along and replace them, just as they replaced IBM all those years ago. However, the new challenger will ultimately behave in the same way – it is a feature of the system in which they operate and to a certain extent they can no more stop themselves from acting thus than a rabid dog can help but bite.
    Whilst the merkin veggies may have had a victory over Mars’ corporate fascism it took years of gritty determination to get them to change their formulation and they will quickly revert to their old one as soon as they think nobody is looking.
    The only real solution is therefore a change in the system – which we would all like to see and which would benefit mankind and the planet alike. however most of the lumpen proletariat aren’t even half a step down the road in the thought process and will carry on consuming, fat, dumb and happy until the day there is no food in the fridge and no money in the bank.
    I am however mildly heartened by the FN victories in the French elections, it seems that the French are somewhat more aware of what is being done to them and aren’t afraid to vote against the UMPS technocrat tag team of misery that has been impoverishing them for the last four decades.
    As for this side of the channel, Corbyn, maybe will offer some change, if he doesn’t get Cooked or Kellyed or done over by the Blairite wreckers.


  33. OK. Lets try to actually answer the question.
    I come from a Welsh mining valley which is gently sinking into Benefits Lethargy. My aphorism is that anyone living there with any Get Up And Go has already got up and gone, leaving a few lively oldsters and a huge majority who are neither. No longer are the valleys people fodder for a revolution, as their forefathers often were.
    My point. It is the same with Microsoft users. Most just accept the situation, the few who might revolt are so dispersed and diluted, I don’t think they can ever combine into something big enough to change the system.


  34. Windows is supposed to be an Operating System: a mere tool. But, since the beginning, it’s been a very inefficient tool. Over the years, I have had to acquire a number of 3rd party programs, simply to make the OS less vulnerable, less intrusive and more me-friendly. (With rare exceptions, it’s been free software; there’s lots of good, clean, stuff out there.)

    The same scenario wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere! Imagine buying an expensive big-brand shovel — only to find the blade isn’t fit for purpose. You now need to source a functional blade, one that will fit the stale. Then you discover, painfully, that the handle isn’t designed for human hands. You must locate someone who crafts a decent handle that fits the stale. So the only extant part of your pricey purchase is the stale!

    I will keep my customised, belt-and-braces secured, WinXP SP3 desktop until it dies. The tweaked OS works as it should do (and isn’t prey to the Win10 “upgrade”). But what will I do when it finally expires? Some of the programs I need for my freelance work do not have Linux versions. So it seems that I’m trapped on the same treadmill as you, Mr. Ward.


  35. Here again you have flagged your difficulties with computers for the numteenth time, that is the hardware and the software. You evidently struggle to understand how they work, and this can easily lead to paranoia with anyone constantly bamboozled by instruction books, jargon and an array of keys only half related to a typewriter. You obviously were not impressed with helpful responses – so may I suggest sir – get a secretary. You can dictate to your hearts content with a glass in your hand if you wish, and let the words fall on to the page with minimum effort.


  36. @M P Jones.

    Go on then, Let’s see if you can answer this is less than 1,000 words,

    The situation isn’t helped by Microsoft now refusing to divulge what issues the Updates that they are force feeding your PC are actually supposed to address.


  37. From experience, I reckon that it is already too late.
    As long as there is some degree of separation/invisibility, then they will have already taken advantage.
    So, can you be sure that you have been talking/ranting with a Microsoft representative and that they have your best interests at heart?
    Me, parked in Whitehall, London, barely 30 seconds pass. Waiting for MoD officer on pre-arranged meet.
    Two day old/new mobile phone rings. New number (?????????)
    Hello, is this Fred Bassett? (?????????)
    Umm, yes.
    Are you with your vehicle? What is your reg? (?????????)
    Umm, yes? XXXNNNN. States purpose and hears no more.

    30 seconds.


  38. Interesting comments on what’s coming down the road for those non-technical people who thought that they could avoid Windows 10 by doing nothing – here:

    Having worked closely with MS whilst wearing a corporate hat, there are some really good people there and if you are prepared to pay $$$ (whilst wearing a corporate hat), you will get some truly excellent support. The big problems, as already pointed out are (1) MS really aren’t that interested in domestic users – they can’t provide the level of support required and there’s no money in it, and (2) the decent people at MS (techies and ‘visionaries’) are completely overwhelmed and outnumbered by the sales/marketing/bean-counter types.

    Yet, if you want to use a PC in a domestic environment there really isn’t much choice for the “average user” – Apple is no better than MS (and it could easily be argued that they are actually worse). The whole Linux thing is fine for people who understand what they are doing and have the time to be bothered (probably <3% of the population) – for the rest, Windows is still the best bet (combined with the friendly and low-cost/free support of someone who knows what they are doing).

    Davina x


  39. As one who rarely knows what he is doing around computers I have not found modern Linux distributions difficult to use at all. Ten years ago you had to work at it, nowadays put a live CD/DVD into the drive and check out if everything you need to work works. As I live in the middle of nowhere and have a very slow broadband connection I rarely download operating systems but use discs provided free with Linux magazines. Like Bob the Cowardly I use the latest from Knoppix on my ancient Dell inspiron 1501 with a live CD you can use it without installing it to the PC. I have installed it because it runs faster from the hard drive than from the CD drive.

    From what John describes it seems far more hard work to run Windows 10 and they also have control over your hardware and anything you do is phoned home. All this hassle must impact your productivity not to mention blood pressure.

    The issue is far more important than any single individuals problems. There are two meanings to the free in free software. The first is free as in free beer. The second is free as in freedom. For years MS have tried to leverage their almost monopoly postion in the buisness software arena, using every bullying tactic available to wipe out software freedom. That is; the freedom to use any software you want on your own hardware to be able to modify or improve the software (assuming you are capable and I am not) and the freedom to share the software. Visit the FSF (Free Software Foundation)
    for more eloquent explanation.

    As someone posted with reference to abused wife syndrome. Stop, walk out the door. You’ll wonder why you took the abuse for so long. You will also be joining the freedom fighters there is no way you can do anything by staying, you are only feeding the beast.


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