Letters to Redmond

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Stopping Scareware
Doug Barney's recent Barney's Rubble column ["Scareware Creeps," February 2009] solicited ideas for combating scareware. I have one, though it would be politically difficult to implement.

I suggest forcefully enforced and prosecuted laws with international reciprocity against scareware attacks, with penalties of 20 years in prison, no flexibility in sentencing and no possibility of parole. In addition, it would be stipulated that the perpetrator would have absolutely no contact with any form of IT for that period. I would also suggest no consideration of age in the criminal proceedings.

Just the illustrations in the feature that accompanies your column ["Who's Afraid of Scareware?" February 2009] demonstrate the impact of this malicious activity. How much goes into enforcement and prosecution of a bank robbery versus the economic loss during a robbery? At least the same ratio should apply to phishing, scareware, Trojans and so on.

Name withheld by request
Boston, Mass.

I think what happens in the movie "Casino"-where they catch the guy cheating and bust every one of his fingers with a ball-peen hammer-should go for spammers too. We're way too lenient with those jerks.

Paul Maglinger received by e-mail

Copy Protection: Ready for Retirement
In his January Barney's Rubble column ["Copy Protection: Aaarrrrrgh"], Doug Barney asks if it's "time to make protection walk the plank."

I say, no, it's long past time!

The drudgery of trying to recreate files from a dead hard drive has led me to recommend Ubuntu Linux to most everyone caught in a copy-protection situation.

Much of the time, the need to rebuild is caused by an errant service pack. So, first manufacturers trash the system, and then try to make you buy new system disks-and after all that, the manufacturers don't even want to support the new system.

Ronald Repp
received by e-mail

All of this copy-protection nonsense is driving people to open source software.

Glenn Hennessee
received by e-mail

I'm a software developer, so I can see both sides of the issue, but the Microsoft implementation is so over the top that if it wasn't for its monopoly position on the desktop, people would stop buying the company's products.

My copy-protection experience is as follows: My HP Pavilion, circa 2004, allowed creating a DVD recovery disk-but "only one copy." However, after my hard disk crashed I used the recovery disk to restore the OS and apps on the replacement hard disk, and it did allow me to create another recovery disk. Go figure.

Still, I heartily agree that with Windows Genuine Advantage, the "advantage" is clearly Microsoft's. All three of my copies of Office 2003 Pro, which I received directly from Microsoft after attending various Redmond events, required activation and Office Genuine Advantage.

Long ago I downloaded the release candidate for Windows XP. When the product activation didn't work, I spent some time on the phone getting that done. The day before XP went live, I bought a full retail copy of Windows 2000. I've used that disk numerous times on various test PCs, but have never installed it on more than one PC at a time (just try doing that with XP or Windows Vista).

The only favorable experience I've had with Microsoft product licensing was when I subscribed to Microsoft Action Pack, which allows 10 installs of most products for testing and development for the one-year term of the subscription. But even then, at the end of the term there were numerous stern warnings about uninstalling all copies and destroying the media.

Bill Mitchell
received by e-mail

Crumbling Monopoly ...
I agree with Doug Barney's column, "A Monopoly Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry" [Barney's Rubble, March 2009]: Microsoft has had a heavy chokehold on the desktop for quite some time. Even with a less-than-desirable OS, the company still dominates the market. But we all know that sooner or later it will come to an end. Monopolies always do. It's just a matter of what will bring it down, and when.

I don't think a competing desktop OS will do it, because I think Google will make the desktop OS a moot point. Google offers so many features-not to mention so much storage-that it boggles the mind. Upload a Word, PowerPoint or Excel document to Google, and you can make changes, share it, send it and even schedule it for distribution. It seems Google has a program to do whatever you want from any device with a browser and an Internet connection. Plus, Google doesn't have to charge to use its programs, because its revenue centers around a mix of advertising models. This is definitely winning the hearts of consumers very rapidly, and as a consequence, Google is building in a direction Microsoft can't compete with.

Google's model may take a little longer to be adopted by the corporate world, but the consumer is primed and ready.

So, my vote is for Google-it won't replace desktops, but rather replace the way we use them.

Bob Thomason
Magnolia, Ark.

Microsoft is losing its monopoly at an amazing pace. Linux is offered at Walmart, Best Buy and Target, primarily on netbooks. Macs are available at Best Buy and in every mall. Every machine I see in the stores has an alternative OS. I'm willing to bet Barney a warm Brie that Microsoft lost double-digit household market share in 2008.

However, a different perspective comes from doing business in the District of Columbia. Microsoft truly has a death grip here. Other than a few wavering Solaris servers, Microsoft is on everything. For Microsoft to lose its desktop monopoly, other vendors will need to make their enterprise offerings more competitive. I'm an IT manager; make me want your OS. Until then, I'll use Microsoft.

Name withheld by request
Washington, D.C.

... Or Will Microsoft Stay Strong?
I agree with Barney's prediction that Linux will never have the retail acceptance that Windows does, because people associate free software with bugs, viruses, worms and spyware. Free isn't always good in people's minds.

Most of the operating system battle will be between Macs and PCs. And ever since Microsoft announced Windows 7 and released the beta, critics everywhere in the world are saying that it's amazingly great. Windows 7 is here to make Leopard look like a kitty.

Ricardo Dorador
Lima, Peru

Windows Vista is the only game in town. At first, I resisted the move to Vista, but after SP1 came out I finally warmed up to it.

About two weeks ago I rebuilt my Dell at the house. The laptop I bought my daughter last year was running Vista Home Premium. I played with it for a while, and it just had a freshness about it as compared to XP (which I've loved dearly). So I went out and bought a copy of Home Premium for the Dell.

After rebuilding, I found no problems, with the exception of an older game or two. The box runs sweet and fast and has an up-to-date look to it. It seems my fear of Vista was unfounded.

This week I needed to rebuild my development machine at the office.

We use a lot of stuff to develop our product. However, in short order, I got the machine running well under Vista Enterprise. All the dev tools work. Another success.

I wouldn't suggest that you deliberately toss a good XP configuration for Vista, particularly if you're using old hardware. However, if your machine is less than two or three years old and has the specs, go for it.

Bruce W. Roeser
Deland, Fla.

Barney is 100 percent correct that Apple's products aren't worth the hassle.

I recently visited a Mac store with a friend who had a malfunctioning iPhone. After three hours of going back and forth between the Mac store and an AT&T booth in the mall, he got a working phone. There were as many people at the Mac store with problems as there are in a Best Buy at the Geek Squad desk or anywhere else. The better-than-you attitude Barney mentions was also quite prevalent.

I like Macs and have used several. I'd buy one myself if not for the fact that I can buy two or three PCs for the same amount of money.

As for Linux, I've used it before, and Ubuntu is the easiest. I don't see the fun in having to type out a command to do a simple install. Ubuntu packages are the closest to an executable install program that I've seen in the Linux world.

I'm the IT department here at work, and there are no plans for Linux or Mac in the short term. I think if Windows 7 is as good as beta users say it is, it will cement Microsoft in the desktop world.

Edward L. Bailey
Livonia, Mich.

About the Author

This page is compiled by the editors of Redmond magazine from your letters. Write to us at [email protected] and if your letter is printed in the magazine, you'll be entered into a drawing for a free Redmond T-shirt.


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