Friday, October 30, 2015

Musings on the upgrade experience with Windows 10 vs Ubuntu

I note with interest this article on The Register about Microsoft's rollout of Windows 10. Apparently, Microsoft has gone all out to get people on Windows 10 whether they like it or not. Well, they're trying to save face by saying that you have a choice, but they're not very upfront about that choice.

I have a relative who was faced with this choice on her machine. I'm her IT guy and I help her when prompted to help. So when I was visiting I booted up her computer and had her login. Then, down in the bottom right-hand corner, I saw a message saying Windows 10 has been installed. After working on her computer to fix some other problem, I see a window that says, "Reboot to complete the installation of Windows 10".

My relative is not a techie by any means. She never consented to this upgrade and never received any warning that any upgrade would be forced upon her. I just didn't see any way out of the upgrade, so we rebooted.

This is the experience that millions of Windows users are being treated to. But it's an interesting contrast to what life used to be like with Microsoft. I remember the days when Microsoft would make us pay for the next version of Windows. Oh how they loved to plot together with hardware makers for a fat and slow Windows that would only load and run faster on new hardware. I guess those days are gone.

I also note with interest that Microsoft does give you an option to go back to the old system if you choose to do so, but you must do so within 30 days of the upgrade or it's gone forever. Apparently, they save the entire OS on disk before the upgrade in case you want to go back. But, they ask, why would you? Windows 10 is the latest and greatest. It does everything you want it to do, faster, simpler, easier and did I mention, "safer"? This time, they've slimmed it down to work on existing hardware instead of making you shop for a faster new box.

That rollback option never appeared for my hapless relative and I'm surprised to read about it at The Register. BTW, if you like to follow tech news with snark, The Register is the place to go. They're good with humorous conundrums and ironies as well the occasional example of stupidity in the tech news. Plus, they're great with giving us factual, informative and useful news about the tech industry.

Some of you may know that I'm a Linux man. I hate Apple for their silly patent wars and I detest Microsoft for their antics with open standards like OOXML as well as their shell game with The SCO Group. Interestingly, I love what both of them have built into their graphic user interface designs. I love Apple aesthetics and I love how there is a shortcut keyboard combination for nearly everything on Windows.

But I must confess, since I switched to Linux in the summer of 2007, I have never looked back. I enjoy my Linux system so much that I shudder to consider what life would be like confined to Windows again. Worse, to be stuck using the mouse for just about every move on a Mac.

Better yet, I've never endured the kind of forced upgrade that Microsoft has impaled their users with. I'm a big Ubuntu fan and I enjoy the Long-Term Support version of their operating system. Now the LTS versions of Ubuntu go on for five years with support. Even if support expires, you can still use it, but I would recommend upgrading to the next LTS version. That means 5 long years of stable support for bug fixes and improvements.

I note also that Microsoft is claiming numerous innovations like virtual desktops. Sorry,Microsoft. Linux has had virtual desktops since about 1994. I also love how they copied the lock screen from Gnome, too. Here's the lock screen from the Linux Gnome Desktop:


And here is the lock screen from Windows 10:


I had to laugh when I saw this.

So Microsoft is flattering the Gnome community by "borrowing" this idea. Really, I take no offense, but it would be nice if Microsoft would share with the world where they get some of their ideas.

Granted, I know Linux is not for everyone. Some people really like Microsoft and some people really like Apple's iOS and I won't begrudge them. But I do feel for them and the abuses they sustain at the hands of their respective operating system developers. I encourage them and anyone else who wants to try Linux to do so. You can always go back if you want to.
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