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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So when did Microsoft become Mr Popularity again?

I took my first few baby steps on PC’s with Microsoft DOS.  Back then most people were dependent on it.  It was the ultimate in operating systems (except for the small elite that used Apple, but Apple support in South Africa was virtually non-existent back then, so it wasn’t really a practical option for us).  Back in the 80’s and early 90’s people actually liked Bill Gates and thought him some kind of genius.  (These days I get about 5 emails per year trying to prove that he’s the antichrist… My, how things have changed.)  Even the early releases of Windows were met with some kind of awe.

But all that seemed to change with the release of Windows 95.  Suddenly people were complaining about the “pathetic performance” and “instability”.  Three years later saw the emergence of Windows 98, and people complained that it’s just a “bug-fix” for Windows 95, with “even more bugs”.  Yet by then most of the world already adopted one of the two latest releases of Windows.

Let’s fast-forward a bit – Windows 2000 was released, but with “bad gaming support” (because it was built on Windows NT, not the old DOS-based Windows versions), and Windows Me (still often called the most unstable Windows version ever, though I used it for 3 years with no problems).  Through all of this Microsoft’s public image got worse and worse; technicians complained about Windows, users complained about Windows, everyone complained about it, and yet everyone paid good money for it… or rather, some people paid good money for it, the others just copied it from those who paid the good money for it, but almost everyone used it.

Windows XP was met with some enthusiasm, but even more complaints (“You need a monster PC to run it”, and “It has security holes you can drive a truck through” were two of the most popular.)  But over the course of almost 7 years, most of the world adopted Windows XP, and accepted the ever-popular “Blue Screen of Death” as a part of life.  But still Microsoft were ridiculed and insulted by the masses.  Some brave souls (including myself) ventured into the Linux field in search of alternatives.  But most people who made the switch still had Windows XP humming in the background somewhere, if only to play their games.

Then came Windows Vista…  What more can I say?  People loved to hate it (and many still do).  What were the two major complaints?  Performance and security (the same things that plagued Windows 95, 2000, and XP when they were released, but by then people forgot about that).  In all honesty, I liked Windows Vista (please forgive me).  If you had a capable PC, and tweaked Vista a bit, it actually performed quite well, and added features that I never even realized I missed in XP.  But by now Microsoft were insulted even more than ever (the “Bill Gates = antichrist” propaganda increased exponentially).  People complained that they “over-charged” for “sub-standard, buggy, insecure and unstable software”.

But now to get to the point that I’m trying to make.  Somewhere in the last 12 months or so, things started to change.  Not suddenly, or dramatically; no public displays of affection or apologies to Mr Gates for all the slandering; but over the last few months I noticed it happening.  Middle of last year I removed Ubuntu from my PC and rather opted to run the RC version of Windows 7 as my main operating system.  Many people I know, who could never afford to buy Microsoft software, actually forked out the money to buy Windows 7 and legal copies of Office.  Anti-virus software, commercial and free ones (including BitDefender, Norton, AVG and Avira AntiVir) were little by little uninstalled and replaced with the awesome, powerful, super-fast (and FREE)  Microsoft Security Essentials.  WinAmp was replaced with the latest version of Windows Media Player.  And Microsoft finally seems to be gaining some respect in the computing world again.

I had the opportunity to install Microsoft Office 2010 on a customer’s computer the other day, and I was extremely impressed.  It’s user-friendly, stable, and very fast.  Only time will tell if it’s secure and stable enough to handle whatever people can throw at it, but for now at least I’m impressed.  From early reports, even Internet Explorer 9 seems to out-perform Mozilla Firefox at this stage (though it’s not a completed product yet, so we’ll have to wait and see).

So, to summarize, at least from my own life.  A year ago I was running Ubuntu, with all of its free software packages, including  Today I’m typing this blog post in Windows Live Writer, running on Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, with Windows Media Player playing my tunes in the background, and Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Firewall ensuring my on-line safety.  In a few minutes, after finishing this, I will open Windows Live Mail to check my email, and chances are that I won’t be getting any “Bill Gates is the antichrist” propaganda today.

For my part, at least; Mr. Gates, I apologize.  You and your team have my respect, and my gratitude.

Lourens, out.

PS: Remember to check out Renovo Computers, if you haven’t done so already!


  1. Down with Bill, Long live Steve!!!
    Just kidding, still have a Windows VM but the apple hardware are definitely superior.

  2. Must say I too, am (was) quite impressed by Windows 7. Microsoft definitely made quite a comeback, though I must say after reading the Wikipedia article on Win7 to find out a bit about its background I found myself almost rolling on the floor laughing: Win7 is just the same thing to Vista as the (in my experience) respected Win2000 was to ME, simply an overdue stability and general usibility upgrade.

    Like I said, Win 7 impresses me quite a bit in many ways. But overall I am somewhat (excuse me but) pissed with it because
    1) we paid a grotesque R1300 for it
    2) every now and then the thing gives me, the house's network admin, a load of grief because it goes into random spasms of paranoia (or something) and flatly refuses to open up to the home network to which it is very permanently connected.

    Something I probably shouldn't be so happy about is the fact that it is slightly easier to pirate than XP. My sister seems very happy with her new computer in all its Win7-ness, but we have found a few downright shameful bugs like word pad (yes the bundled word pad app) being unable to read files created by itself (not in all cases though).

    Of course nobody else would care about things like that because 'why don't you just buy office?'. Nay, I gave her OpenOffice now and that works perfectly for her so far. Like I said, the OS seems quite good overall, but I think a lot of its appeal is simply in the flashy graphics. People are always suckers for that. But take my words with some salt, they'll seem less bitter that way ;) As for me, I'll keep being an open source software fan.