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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.