Thursday, May 31, 2012

Windows 8, Oh How The Blunders Continue...

Just when you thought Microsoft couldn't make any more mistakes, the company has announced some new changes in its products that should make all its customers so much, happier. (Go on, feel the sarcasm!)

Microsoft has announced that effective immediately all products will feature a new End-User License Agreement (EULA) that denies plaintiffs the ability to file class action lawsuits against the company for any damages they might incur. Instead a person who has been wronged may sue in small-claims court, or seek arbitration in which Microsoft will make an offer to settle of $1,000, or pay whatever the arbitrator suggests, whichever amount is actually higher. The XBOX Live EULA has already seen this change made, but the first new product to feature the new EULA will be Windows 8.

It's kind of interesting to me that the first new product to feature this new EULA will be the product most people would likely want to file a class action lawsuit over. Seems like Microsoft is gearing for what they know to be a full on shitstorm after this piece of dogshit called "Windows 8" is released. Of course, Microsoft isn't the only company to feature such an agreement, as you may know AT&T have also included such agreements with their phone contracts. The purpose of class action lawsuits are so that average plaintiffs with a grievance against a corporation can stand a fighting chance. A corporation that is sure to have billions of dollars and hundreds of lawyers would be a daunting task for any average person to take on. Thus the class action lawsuit was designed to allow plaintiffs to pool resources together in order to bring claim against a corporation and stand a chance of winning in a court of law.

But these asswipes have found a way around this by forcing consumers into signing contracts if they want service. Normally this wouldn't be such a big issue, after all, competition should give someone plenty of choices right? Well monopolies like AT&T and Microsoft who dominate their markets are forcing consumers into contracts that stipulate just such agreements because they are monopolies and leave consumers little choice. In the case of AT&T, a consumer looking to purchase a mobile phone must decide if they can even use another phone in their area because of coverage restriction areas. In the case of Microsoft, they dominate 95% of the computer market, leaving consumers little to no choice, resulting in acceptance of such agreements. Furthermore, no one ever reads EULAs, no one, not a single person and these assholes know that. So folks when you buy that new device and it features Windows 8, and it doesn't do what you wanted it to do, or just plain sucks ass, you can complain all you want, but good luck in getting any kind of compensation.

I've actually blogged about Windows 8 at length before, and I suggest anyone interested in reading about it, check out my previous articles on it entitled, Why Windows 8 Will Fail, at Least in The Desktop Market... and The Windows 8 Consumer Preview, Just a Tad Shinier Than The Previous Turd. In those articles I described many of the issues I found with Windows 8, but one thing I didn't talk about was the fact that it's base code was extracted from Windows 7. When Microsoft develops a new operating system (OS), it builds onto the previous OS, Windows NT --> Windows 2000, Windows 2000 --> Windows XP, Windows XP --> Windows Vista, Windows Vista --> Windows 7, Windows 7 --> Windows 8.

Backwards compatibility has always been something that windows users have appreciated and for the most part it generally has worked. When Microsoft released its developer preview with the new Metro style interface it was with the promise that Windows 8 and Windows 7 would be virtually similar. Users would be able to run the same applications, use the same Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and rely on the same kind of experience.

We were told that Metro was merely a new style of application accessibility. In the developer preview the desktop was still there, and if you could actually get the thing to load, the start button and menu were there as well. You could move from the metro interface to the desktop and back again. With the release of the consumer preview things changed, however. Suddenly, the metro style interface, although still front and center, no longer yields to a user friendly desktop, in fact the desktop has been stripped of everything it has been since the days of Windows 95, 17 years ago.

Digging around in some Microsoft posts on the subject I found information that suggested that policies that would allow a person to boot directly to the desktop would not be included with Windows 8, a huge brain fart I assumed. Businesses rely on Active Directory Policies to lock into place a custom experience for it's users based on the policies a company would like to use. This has been around a long time, and for Microsoft to disregard such a thing seemed arrogant, or foolish, whichever seems worse to you.

New leaked information from the tech giant has suggested that not only has Microsoft arbitrarily decided to not allow "boot to desktop" to be a policy in Windows 8, but they have begun the process of removing key legacy code from Windows 8, that would have allowed users not wishing to experience the new style of Windows 8, and thus return to the Windows 7 style people really enjoy.

The API routines that would allow a programmer to access the Windows 7 style of OS, will find that information is now seemingly missing. In fact, third party applications, which have previously worked to restore the Windows 8 desktop to a more Windows 7 style desktop, featuring the Start button, and Start menu will find these programs no longer function when the Release Preview is released.

So not only has Microsoft lied by telling consumers that Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be very similar, they have deliberately disallowed any user from making a choice about the style of windows experience they want to have. Microsoft has taken a very Apple approach to computing, taking away consumer choice in favor of Digital Rights Management (DRM). You may wonder if this qualifies as DRM exactly, but I believe that any mechanism designed to lock a product down in favor of taking away consumer choice, is DRM by definition.

Windows 8 will surely fail as I have said in previous articles, but it may be too late to fix the problem. Knowing the existing code base comes from previous OS source code, any new OS, presumably Windows 9 will be built on the code provided in Windows 8. That means even if consumers skip Windows 8 like they did Vista, they may have no choice when it comes to Windows 9, because it will most likely be very similar to Windows 8.

What Microsoft has done in recent years has shown it no longer has the kind of innovation and interest that it once had, and much like when Apple brought Steve Jobs back to revitalize it's company after its major flops, I think Microsoft needs to kick Steve Ballmer to the curb and bring back Bill Gates. What this company needs now more than ever is someone who knows how to deliver a win, and like him or not, Bill Gates has always been a winner.

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