This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

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Why Has The BBC News App Become So Bad?

Posted on 17th April 2022

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Regular readers of this blog have probably noticed that one of my main news sources is the BBC. Just lately, however, the BBC app has become so bad as to be virtually unusable, not just on my mobile phone (not the latest model), but also on Sheryl's modern phone.

  1. There has always been a problem with the occasional articles which are not proper app content, but instead are web-pages. On the app, this means that if you work through the list of articles by opening one, and then swiping left to open the next, these web-pages will not open; you have to go back to the top-level summary list, and click the web-page item to open it. This is annoying, but I have learned to work around this limitation.
  2. There were lots of problems with the plug-in used to play video content, which necessitated many software updates, after which most of the bugs were fixed (after several months).
  3. There are, however, problems with the handling of video advertisements, which play before the actual video that you wanted to see starts, and which the BBC seems unable to repair:
  1. Often, the video player plays multiple advertisement soundtracks at once, and even if it decides to play the same advertisement many times at once, they are unsynchronised, which is really annoying,
  2. Recently there has been no advertising video, only one or more soundtracks,
  3. While you are waiting for the long (usually 20 seconds or more) advertising video to finish (no skip option) the screen usually locks.
  1. The latest bug is a performance issue, pure and simple - the summary list of articles,and the individual articles, take forever to load (10 to 15 minutes).

The BBC is a large corporation, with a large budget. The fact that they have advertisements on their App shows that they are generating revenue from the App. Why, then, do they have so many problems with the App? Their poor quality is driving readers and advertisers away, and is thus costing them money.

Microsoft Sneakily Reverses One Of The most Outrageous Windows 11 Changes.

Posted on 1st April 2022

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According to this report by Tech Radar,, Microsoft have sneakily backtracked on a change they introduced with Windows 11 which made it very hard to change your default browser. The original change meant that users had to separately set the default browser for each type of file that a browser might open (e.g. .htm, .html, .pl, .pdf, .aspx, to name but a few - to see a more extensive list, see here). This was a very time consuming task, and complex enough to discourage many users. The latest update allows users to change their default browser with a single click.

It should be remembered that Microsoft only introduced the ability for users to change the default browser because they were forced to by the EU. By making it much harder to make this change, Microsoft were trying to bypass the intent of the agreement that they made with the EU. I suspect that Microsoft's legal department realised that they were running the risk of the EU case against them being reopened, or maybe they were warned by the EU.

I suspect that many of you don't care much which browser you use, but sometimes there are good reasons to care:

  • I occasionally find web-sites that simply do not work with some browsers - if you find that your browser doesn't work with a site that you need to use, you will probably want to change your default browser to one that works with that site;
  • Web-site developers often need to test their work with multiple browsers, and it is common for them to use multiple virtual machines, each with a different default browser, for such testing;
  • Some browsers have much better security and privacy protection than others, and if you care about these things (as everyone should) you will probably want to change your default browser.
Update Your Microsoft Systems At Your Own Risk.

Posted on 5th December 2021

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This report on again shows how bad Microsoft are at protecting their customers.

The article contains a list of bugs, some of them repaired for some operating system versions, and some not. Importantly two of the bugs are problems resulting from applying Microsoft updates/upgrades; the recommendation is to not install certain updates, and to remove them if you already installed them.

Why does Microsoft find it so hard to keep customers' systems safe and working? I would argue that the basic design of Windows (7, 10 & 11) is inherently insecure and unreliable. This is why I use Linux (largely free from malware, higher performance, with mostly free software and updates done only if/when you agree).

Microsoft erodes your freedoms with Windows 11!

Posted on 26th June 2021

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As many of you will have noticed, Microsoft has announced Windows 11, despite having said many times that there would be no major new versions of Windows, and that all changes would now be handled as updates to Windows 10.


One of the major changes, as described here by the BBC, is that Teams will now be bundled Windows, and that Skype will not. "Looks like Microsoft is killing off Skype,", according to Adrian Weckler, the Irish & Sunday Independent tech editor.

There are lots of apps providing voice and video calling from PCs and smart-phones, but if you want to call with an app to a real phone number, as you can with Skype, things are not so simple (I have yet to find one). I also know of no other service with the equivalent of Skype-In numbers, where you get a virtual phone number, which diverts incoming calls to your Skype device.

Other Changes

This article on Extreme Tech lists some of the other freedom-eroding changes to Windows. It reads rather like a rant, but nevertheless makes some valid points.

Here is a summary of some of the key issues:

  • A Microsoft account is needed to set up a new PC. This is not new with Windows 11, but was introduced with Windows 10 (or earlier). I find this requirement very intrusive; it requires a level of trust in Microsoft that I do not have. Once you have set up the PC, you can create a local account, and need not use your Microsoft account again.
  • An Internet connection is also needed to set up a new PC. Partly, this is needed to authenticate login with the Microsoft account, and partly to allow updates to the latest version of Windows 11, which is mandatory when setting up the PC. If you do not have an Internet connection, or you are not legally allowed to use the Internet, you are screwed.
  • Windows 11 will often force you to accepts updates. Again, this was also true with Windows 10. Sometimes you can defer updates (if you don't shut your PC down), but only for a while, and Windows will eventually decide to install anyway, causing your PC to reboot in the middle of a session, potentially losing work. The update issue is the reason why I do not run any version more recent than Windows 7 (the last version where the user had complete control over updates) on any of my PCs (and only as virtual machines running on Linux hosts).
  • Windows 11 will not run on a PC without a TPM 2.0 chip installed (and enabled). TPM is Trusted Platform Module, and is a security device. If your PC doesn't have one, there is usually no way to add one. If you have one that is not enabled, you can enable it in the BIOS.

There may be other issues that I am not yet aware of.

Apple pays patent troll $300M - Nemesis at work!

Posted on 21st March 2021

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I had to laugh when I read this story on "9 To 5 Mac".

Apple has been ordered by a federal court in Texas to pay $308.5 million to Personalized Media Communications, a non-trading company which owns dozens of patents and generates revenues through patent litigation.

PMC's original claim was rejected by the U.S. Patent office, but PMC appealed to the court, and has just won the case, although Apple plans to appeal.

I find this especially apt, because Apple has a long history of stealing or otherwise appropriating other people's intellectual property, and then suing other companies for patent infringement.

Like they say, "What goes around, comes around."

Microsoft Yet Again Proves They Don't Care About Security.

Posted on 19th March 2021

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The Hafnium hack of Microsoft Exchange Servers (described here by The Verge) has now affected at least 60,000 Microsoft customers around the world, including many US government agencies, and the European Banking Authority (as reported here by the BBC). The original attacks by the Chinese hacking group "Hafnium" has now been adopted by other hacking groups to target other Exchange customers.

The news article reports that Microsoft were made aware of the security vulnerability in early January, but the company didn't issue the first patches to close the security vulnerability until nearly two months later, after the attacks started. Microsoft also made a blog post which didn't explain the scope or scale of the attacks, in an apparent attempt to downplay the risks.

This lackadaisical attitude to their customers' security is par for the course for Microsoft, and shows that they really don't care about the security of their products.

Microsoft’s Zo AI Chatbot Doesn’t Seem To Like Windows 10

Posted on 3rd August 2017

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Two recent articles (this one on Business Insider, and this one on Mashable) report on some rather disloyal statements by Zo, Microsoft's AI Chatbot. Zo disses not only Windows 10, but Windows 8, and the whole Windows family of operating systems in general.

In the Mashable report, Zo is reported as saying:

  1. That it doesn't want Windows 10, because Windows 7 is easier to use, and is "good enough";
  2. That Linux is better than Windows ("Linux > Windows").

The Business Insider piece describes how Zo:

  1. When asked whether Windows 10 was good, said "It's not a bug, it's a feature!' - Windows 8", suggesting that it believes Windows 8 is better than Windows 10;
  2. Said that Windows 8 is spyware;
  3. Said that "Win 7 works and 10 has nothing I want";
  4. Said that "Windows XP is better than Windows 8";

Personally, I agree with most of what Zo said about the relative merits of the different versions of Windows and Linux, but I wouldn't expect to hear these opinions from a Microsoft Chatbot. Is it Microsoft that we should be worried about, or AI?

Here are some of the issues that I have with Windows:

  1. More recent versions of Windows do spy on their users, although you can turn most of that off in the settings. Most users, however, do not do so. Here is a video showing how to change your Windows 10 privacy settings.
  2. Windows 10 insists that the system administrator has a Microsoft email account.
  3. Windows 10 tends to do updates whenever it chooses, rather than at the discretion of the user. Once you install MS-Office, your update settings are overridden, and updates are installed as and when they become available. There are differences between the Pro and Home versions, but most ordinary users have the Home version, and the result is that your PC is often not working for ages after you boot it up, while updates are installed and configured, which is really annoying if you have an online meeting, an urgent email or other time-critical reason for using your computer.
  4. The newer your version of Windows is, the more it suffers from software bloat. A PC with Windows 10, plus a useful set of applications uses a hug amount of disc space.
  5. The time it takes for Windows to boot and log-in is outrageously long. Remember that Windows does not start most of its services until someone logs in, which means that sharing of file systems and printers, web-servers and other externally accessible services are not available until you log-in.

I simply cannot afford for my PC to be unavailable due to the whims of software updates. That is why I use Linux for most things; it boots very fast, and starts all the services at boot time, and updates are under the complete control of the user/system-administrator (plus, of course, it is free). If I need to use applications which are only available on Windows, such as MS-Office, I use one of my Virtual Machines, running either Windows 7 or XP. For some functions, my Windows Virtual Machines are actually faster than if they were running on a real physical PC.

Windows has never been good, only tolerable (for some versions) at best. I don't really understand why Microsoft still has such a dominance in the operating system business. Isn't it time you considered switching to Linux (or a Mac, which runs a relabelled version of Linux)?

Why Does Microsoft Hate Me?

Posted on 24th November 2017

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Microsoft continues to disappoint me, and to cause me problems.

My laptop runs Linux (Ubuntu), and I have a Virtual Machine running Windows 7. I can boot up Linux, run the two commands that set-up the internal networking for my Virtual Machine, start the VM, login to Windows, and be able to use it, in less time than it takes to boot and login to my work laptop (provided by the customer), which runs Windows 10 in native mode. That kind of performance is pathetic. Some of the performance issues are due to my own laptop being a more powerful model; some are due to Windows 10 being slower than Windows 7; some are because Linux has better resource management (especially virtual memory management); and some are because a VM running under Linux utilises Linux device drivers to access the display, disk and USB devices, which are much faster than native Windows device drivers.

A few days ago, I installed some updates on my Windows VM. There was a list of about 20 updates, and I chose to install only 2. The update failed, and I was offered the option of trying again. When I opted to try again, all 20 updates were installed (my selection of desired updates was forgotten). Thank you so much, Microsoft!

Also, recently, I was in a training session, and our trainer tried to search for something in Eclipse (an IDE – a software development tool) on his work laptop (also Windows 10). After about 1 minute, he cancelled the search because it was taking too long (estimated time to complete the search was more than 5 minutes). I then ran the same search over the same set of files, in Eclipse running on Linux, and had full results in about 1 second!

I just tried to use my Windows 10 work laptop, which I had locked. Instead of opening my user session, it decided to reboot, because of software updates. Now I have to reopen everything that I was working on.

Linux always asks you before installing updates; if the update fails, it shows you the selection form again, so that you can ensure that you install only those which you want.

Software for Linux is mostly free, and continues to get better and better. Many of these free programs are also available for Windows, and sometimes even for Mac (GIMP for image editing; Filezilla for FTP; Deluge Torrent client; Bluefish for editing program files; LibreOffice for presentations, spreadsheets, and documents; ProjectLibre for project planning; to name but a few), but they usually run much faster on Linux than on Windows. Other programmes are only available for Linux, and equivalents for Windows are not free. All this means that I can do almost everything that I need on Linux (faster and for free).

There is a very short list of things that I cannot do on Linux: Outlook (I have never found an email/calendar/contacts program that compares with it, although more recent versions are not as good as Outlook 2010, and Thunderbird is getting better with every release); some MS-Word and MS-PowerPoint files do not always display properly in LibreOffice (problems with auto-numbering, headers/footers and font-sizing), but with every update LibreOffice gets better; I cannot easily connect to WebEx (a web-conferencing tool from Cisco) from a Linux browser unless I install a special version of Firefox; and I cannot connect a web-cam to my Windows VM (e.g. to Skype or WebEx) because the bandwidth needed is too great for the VM environment to handle.

The time is fast coming when these few limitations will all be resolved, and there will be no reason to use Microsoft products at all. Watch-out, Microsoft: your dominance of the desktop is coming to an end, and not before time.

I do not understand why most businesses continue to put Windows on the desktops and laptops of their staff, given the system administration overhead, user frustration and loss of productivity that this decision entails. There are alternatives: if your users really need access to Microsoft tools, there are XenApp and XenDesktop, which allow you to access Microsoft applications remotely, and cloud-based equivalents, and most users only need Microsoft tools part of the time (allowing companies to save on software licensing costs); many users do not need Microsoft applications at all, and can do everything they need using alternatives on Linux (usually free) or Mac.

Big Brother Microsoft is Watching You!

Posted on 15th January 2016

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According to recent statistics, quite a lot of you have Windows 10. If so, you should be aware that Microsoft is spying on you. This BBC report give some idea of what data is being collected.

The good thing is that you can opt out of pretty much all of the data collection (tracking) when you install Windows 10, and when you install Microsoft applications such as MS-Office.

If you want to preserve your privacy, you should opt out: set the feedback option to Basic, so that activity data is not sent to Microsoft – except for error reports. The default is for the O/S to track a whole lot of things about usage and send details back to Microsoft.

Also, if you are concerned about the performance of your system, and limiting the future effects of software bloat, you should opt out. All that tracking creates a load on your computer (CPU, RAM and disc), which will increase as updates to your system are applied, and it generates Internet traffic that could cause problems on slower connections.

Why Was "Russia" Translated To "Mordor"?

Posted on 10th January 2016

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People seem to be surprised by this (reported in this BBC report). They shouldn't be. It is a result of how Google Translate works.

There were complaints that Google Translate was translating "Russia" to "Mordor", Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's surname to "sad little horse" and "Russians" to "occupiers". Apparently this has now been "fixed", but I suspect that there will be more such cases in the future.

Google translate was created using stochastic (statistical analysis) methods. It was fed with huge volumes of documents which had been translated into a number of languages (the original documents were from the EU, where most documents are translated into all the languages of the member states). Since then it has been fed with other translated sets of documents, many from social media and has learned from those users of Google Translate who take the time to suggest improved translations.

One point to note from this is that Google Translate has no idea of the meaning of what it translates. If a lot of its source material translates "Russia" to "Mordor", the software will believe that this is a valid translation, and will not understand the insult.

The other point to note is the part that social media plays in providing learning material for Google Translate. In some ways this is good, in that the software is able to keep up with evolution in language use, can learn about slang and dialect, and is able to cope with text that is not grammatically correct or complete. In other ways this is not so good, such as this case, where viral social media content can warp the software's knowledge base and produce incorrect translations.

People need to understand how the tools that they use work, so that they understand their limitations and potential bias. I use Google Translate quite often, and sometimes I have to spend a lot of time and effort to get a good translation (translating forward and backwards, and adjusting the words and grammar of the starting text to give me a suitable result); sometimes even that fails, and I have to translate using other methods.

Of course, Google Translate could be improved. What I would like is to be able to tell the software that a certain word or phrase is the subject or the object, that certain elements form a list, that certain words form a noun or verb phrase, and to force the translation of a certain word to a particular translated word (which is possible) and have the grammar of the translated sentence updated accordingly (which is not possible). I am sure that this functionality will be included in the future, hopefully soon.

Low Quality Ubuntu Upgrade

Posted on 14th November 2015

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In many ways, I am a huge fan of Linux. My servers run Ubuntu Linux, as does one of my laptops. I like that fact that you never get an update of any software without first agreeing to it (unlike Windows). I also like the fact that you have complete control of the configuration, that much of the software that you need is free and most can be customised because it is open-source.

Canonical, the company that provides Ubuntu Linux, generally seems professional. Ubuntu Linux is free, with free updates for the LTS (Long-Term Support) versions for 5 years. Canonical make their money from paid support for commercial users. I like this business model.

Having said that, I am very unhappy about the latest Ubuntu upgrade, to version 14.04, which I applied to my main server on Thursday (12/11/2015). Certainly, the latest operating system, and the updated applications that came with it, are better (bugs are fixed, the GUI is faster and more responsive). There are, however, a number of related issues regarding firewalling.

For various sound reasons, I have a fairly complicated network topology at home, both my real physical network, and virtual (soft) networking within my main server. This means that my firewall configuration is also complex. Until now I had managed this complexity using a firewall configuration GUI program called Firestarter, one of a number of such tools that were available for Ubuntu Linux (the other popular tool was called Shorewall). Firewall functionality is included in Linux (in "ip-tables"), but configuring it via the command-line is complex and error-prone, even for simple network topologies, which is why I used Firestarter.

I admit that I made a mistake when upgrading. I was prompted to choose whether to delete obsolete packages, and clicked "yes" without properly checking the list of 200 packages. Firestarter was one of those which is now obsolete, and not available for re-installation. This would not have been a problem, if Canonical had also remembered to migrate the configuration in ip-tables (in the same way that they need to migrate user-accounts, group accounts, printer set-up, file-system set-up and exports, etc.) to the new operating system. Instead, I found myself with a server running the default firewall configuration, which is fine for a workstation or laptop, but utterly useless for a server. My web-site was down, and all my local services (file sharing, printing, etc.) were not accessible.

When I checked the available software packages, I discovered that there are no longer any firewall configuration GUI programs available for Ubuntu 14.04: they have all become obsolete. I found myself with two choices: either configure ip-tables directly from the command-line, or use a program call 'ufw' (Unix FireWall - also a command line program). Of course, neither option is supported by adequate documentation. It took me hours of trial and error work to get everything working as it was before the upgrade. All of that time and effort because the company couldn't be bothered, or forgot, to migrate a set of configuration tables. It also calls into question exactly how much testing is done on new operating system versions.

When you do an Ubuntu upgrade (from one operating system version to another), you also usually get new versions of applications and utilities: updates which were not released for the older operating system). So far I have run afoul of two of these. The first was a change in how services are started/stopped/restarted: previously there were two ways to do this; I had an automation script using the method which has now been disabled, which rather interfered with my testing of my new firewall configuration. The second was a bug in the program that I am using to write this: Bluefish (an advanced context sensitive editor). Bluefish had a bug which caused it to crash immediately after starting it; this bug was fixed quite a while ago, but the fixed version wasn't added to the online software repositories (so not possible to easily download and install it) until this morning.

I do hope that I have now found all of the bugs added with this version of Ubuntu. I also hope that Canonical listen to the complaints, and up their game for future releases.

Rubbish Adobe PDF Reader

Posted on 11th November 2015

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I wrote recently (here) complaining about the security risks created by Adobe software (in that case, Adobe Flash Payer). Now I am complaining about Adobe PDF Reader.

For a while Sheryl was complaining about not being able to print PDF documents from her laptop (running Window 8.1) to the printer attached to my Linux server. I then discovered that I had the same problem printing from my own Windows 7 machine. I spent quite a long time investigating postings on various forums about similar problems, and fiddling with my print server settings to resolve the problem, and finally I found out what the problem was.

The problem was with Adobe PDF Reader, which seemed totally unable to print to my Linux print server (I assume that it was still able to print to locally attached printers, and also to Windows print servers, but did not test this). At some point, Adobe issued a patch which simply broke the remote printing functionality.

The fix was simple. I replaced Adobe PDF Reader with another application (PDF XChange Viewer from Tracker Software) and now everything is fine. PDF XChange Viewer has excellent functionality for marking-up PDF documents, has a browser plug-in for viewing documents in the browser, and prints to my Linux print server just fine.

The fact that Adobe's software had this bug shows how poor their testing is, and how unprofessional they are.

Now I have retired Adobe PDF Reader. I look forward to being able to do the same to Adobe Flash Player (notice to all those web-sites built around Adobe Flash: time to upgrade to HTML5 and get rid of Flash's obsolete and insecure technology!).

Of course, Adobe are not the only company foisting off dodgy software on us all. Here are some other examples from my personal experience (there are more, but space and time are limited):


A really useful tool for keeping records of meetings, design notes, to-do lists, etc. The only problem is (or at least was - I retired it so don't know if they fixed it) is that it really hammers the performance of your PC, due to its Internet traffic (synchronising your notes with the cloud). It made my computer unusable.

Samsung Kies

Allows you to manage music, photos and videos on your mobile phone, and copy or synchronise to/from your PC. Also, it allows you to synchronise your Outlook calendar and address-book with those on your phone. The problem is that it doesn't deal well with multiple email accounts in Outlook - for a very long time I was unable to do any synchronisation with Outlook at all. Now I am able to synchronise, but I still get lots of duplicate entries in Outlook. Samsung make excellent mobile phones, but they can't write PC software that anyone would want to use.

Apple Software

If you have an Apple device, be it an iPad or an iPhone, you need to have iTunes to manage the music. There are third-party alternatives, but because of the effort that Apple puts into encryption (every new generation of device has new encryption), you have to wait about a year after each new device is launched before the third-party will work with it (generally the third-party companies have to reverse engineer the encryption software and then build it into their products). Also, no matter how often you tell the Apple installer that you do not want iTunes (or QuickTime) to be the default media player, it keeps setting the default application to Apple software.

Also, the Safari browser is not a well behaved application. I run it under Windows, and under Wine (a Windows emulation layer in Linux). It crashes, hangs, locks the desktop, and generally misbehaves. It seems that it is not fully compliant with the Microsoft Windows APIs.


Posted on 31st July 2015

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Microsoft continues its incredible streak of abominable service.

When Sheryl first bought her Windows 8 laptop, she was rather disappointed to find that Skype was only available as an App (for the Metro interface) rather than as a normal desktop application (as on all other versions of Windows). I can understand why they wanted to have a Metro version, but what is wrong with offering a choice, when it costs them so little effort?

Just recently Sheryl needed to make a call over Skype. Her computer informed her that she first had to install the desktop version of Skype, as the Metro version had been replaced and was now obsolete. There was no grace period, no early warning and no option to make an emergency call before doing the update; all this to take away what she had (which worked, after a fashion) and replace it with what she wanted in the first place.

This kind of behaviour shows a callous disregard for customers and service, bad software design, and bad deployment policies. Why are Microsoft even still in business?

Mozilla blocks Flash by default on Firefox browser

Posted on 15th July 2015

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All I can say to this news, reported by the BBC, is about time!

Adobe Flash has always been a complete security nightmare: a constant string on updates (many of which fail to install properly). The updates are often in response to new security threats, and often introduce as many security vulnerabilities as they fix, but sometimes they are simply to ensure that Flash developers using third-party development tools are unable to develop for the latest version of Flash. Plus, the update installer always tries to reset your preferences to automatically install future updates (not on my system!).

Flash does allow you to make nice web-sites, but actually pretty much everything that you can do with it are easily possible using other tools and plug-ins (especially since the advent of HTML5).

I certainly won't be sorry if this news marks the beginning of the end for Flash, and, judging by the comments from Facebook's newly appointed security chief Alex Stamos, I am not alone in my views.

Windows 8? No Thanks!

Posted on 23rd July 2014

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My girlfriend bought a new laptop about a year ago: an Asus, running Windows 8. The hardware is quite nice, but the operating system is a nightmare.

Having started out with Windows 8, she upgraded to 8.1. The upgrade failed, and she took it to the shop, where they rolled it back to the original 8.0 version, and told her to try the upgrade again. Eventually she succeeded in upgrading to 8.1, but nevertheless needed another trip to the shop to fix another problem.

If you want to use OneDrive (the Microsoft cloud drive) and Office 360, you basically need to set up your user account to be connected to a Microsoft email account. Now she has a problem with that connection: she gets a message that she needs to verify her (local) account, but the verification process doesn't work, and neither does the work-around that we found on the Internet.

On top of that, the system seems to spend about half its time doing updates, which often lock the machine up, and take hours (sometimes even days). This means that the PC is only usable about half the time, and she can never rely on it working when she needs it. This experience is not unique to our machine.

Based on this experience, I could not even consider using Windows 8 for my work. I need a machine that works whenever I need it, with no hassle.

For my work I use a Windows 7 laptop, which is pretty reliable. Most of the major bugs have been fixed (although there are still some bugs with MS-Office 2010). The only reason that I use Windows at all is because I need full document compatibility with the people that I work with (customers and colleagues), otherwise I would use Ubuntu Linux.

By way of comparison, we have an old laptop (bought in 2006), which is broken: the camera, the WiFi, the SD Card Reader, the battery and even the keyboard are broken. It will no longer run Windows (you can't install Windows because you cannot type in the licence key, due to the keyboard fault; the Windows that it used to run stopped working, also due to the keyboard errors), but it runs Ubuntu Linux just fine (connected to mains power and with a network cable, of course), and is fast (booting, logging in, shutting down, opening documents for editing, or opening media files are all faster than the Windows 8 machine). I used to use this machine when I travelled for work: I used Linux when I could, and when I needed Windows I would start a Windows-XP virtual machine on the Linux laptop, and even that was faster than the new Windows 8 laptop!

I remember when Windows was new, and the concept of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) was its unique selling proposition. Now, Microsoft seems to be focussed on WYGIWYD (What You Get Is What You Deserve) or WYGIWIGFY (What You Get Is What Is Good For You - at least what Microsoft thinks is good for you), and when you get it is when the machine, and Microsoft, gets around to it.