Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Microsoft Just Needs to Die

No, I am not going to write another piece describing the train wreck that is Vista. This is about an experience I had with Internet Explorer. The current pre-release version of Firefox I'm using was giving me trouble on ebay.com, and I had launched Internet Explorer 7 so I could make some adjustments to some bids I've been watching.

Some time later, I wanted to look up codes for my RCA programmable remote because at some point it "forgot" its settings and I needed to program it. I have a PDF copy of the instruction manual, but I needed the list of codes to use with it, so I went to an open browser window, not realizing (or caring) that it was IE rather than Firefox.

I typed "rca rcr860 instructions" into the search query box, and picked the third link on the MSN search results which said "RCA UNIVERSAL REMOTE CODES". The next thing I know, my browser was pointed at "pornotube20008.com" trying (unsuccessfully, thank God) to play videos, and I couldn't even close the window because I was being deluged with message boxes telling me my computer was infected and that "Microsoft" suggests I install some kind of virus protection and that I needed to click to install the software, etc, etc. This was probably all Javascript code trying to get me to let it install botnet software. I literally couldn't make the message boxes go away so I could close the tab. I had to kill the whole browser to get rid of that stuff, and I was half afraid my computer had been compromised. A subsequent virus check showed everything was clean, no thanks to Microsoft.

So this is the vaunted IE7 that I've been hearing so much about. I've been using Firefox since it was called Phoenix, around version 0.4, which was about 4 or 5 years ago. I spend a lot of time browsing and I explore all kinds of interesting stuff, and in all those years I have never seen anything like what I saw doing a simple search and clicking one link on Internet Explorer. I never got hijacked to a porn site, and I never had to kill the browser because some website was abusing it so badly. This is what Microsoft has to show for the last 6 years or so of browser development? I was utterly astonished that anything like that was even possible with IE any more. I would have given Microsoft far more credit than that until reality showed me that in Microsoft-land, it's still 1998. Between Firefox, AdBlock Plus, NoScript and FlashBlock, I had literally forgotten that that kind of garbage could even happen any more.

It is my honest opinion that Microsoft literally has nothing to contribute to the software industry and the Internet as a whole. They are hopelessly behind the curve in software development, and falling further behind daily. They are drowning in their own corruption, far more beholden to maintaining their illicit monopoly through deceit, extortion and any other means, illegal or not, to avoid having to fairly compete in a market they can no longer dominate through quality and superior product... if they ever could.

After seeing a perfectly nice low-end Gateway laptop reduced to the slowest computer I've used in over 20 years (and that counts my floppy-based Amiga 500), because it was shipped with Vista installed, only to perform very reasonably when I "upgraded" it to XP, and seeing my own high end machine take 7 minutes to boot Vista after installing a single Microsoft update... read that again... seven minutes... I'm convinced that Microsoft simply has nothing constructive to offer the world. It was sad to see Explorer, after 13 years is still the buggiest piece of mainstream software on the planet. It was pathetic to get blue screens from a Microsoft OS installed by the OEM on hardware provided by the OEM, something I've never seen with XP. It was utterly insane having to navigate multiple security warnings just to rename an icon on the desktop! The sooner that horrible company and its belligerent, arrogant, chair-throwing President are removed from the world of software the better. I do still run XP on my laptop simply because of the Windows software I want to be able to run (PSP9, Multi-edit, which don't work in WINE, and a few games), but I run Ubuntu on my desktop machine and server, and will probably put Ubuntu back on my lappy as well just to be rid of the stench of failure on my hardware and in my life. Linux is not without its problems, but comparing Linux to Windows is like comparing Google, the company, with the old Soviet government.

I look forward to the day that the talent and skill of the engineers at Microsoft can be freed from the shackles of their destructively dysfunctional management and can begin to contribute to society again. Microsoft is falling further behind Open Source Software and Apple with every passing day, and the sooner we can shovel that corpulent, putrescent carcass off of the beach of the Ocean of Innovation, the better technology in our lives will be.

They say that you should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence, and I had always exercised that maxim in my judgement of Microsoft, after all they have done some things pretty well over the years. However, I no longer find that incompetence adequately explains the state of Microsoft's software. What I see in 2008 can only be explained by malice.

p.s. That garbage link did not show up on the first several pages of a Google search for the exact same terms. It seems MSN search is as horrible and useless as Internet Explorer.


Jenny said...

I use Firefox, it the best, but I dnt agree with you,Internet Explorer is not that bad ...


ConceptJunkie said...

You know, Jenny, I would have thought so, too, as I stated in the blog. But the fact that a web site can so thoroughly hijack the browser that you have to kill the whole app (and all your other tabs, etc), in order to regain control of it is totally unacceptable. While that's not a virus infection, per se, it is definitely a malware attack.

Again, in 5 years or so of using Firefox (and its predecessors) nothing even remotely like that has ever happened to me.

I realize "Anecdote" does not equal "Data", but I would never let my children use Internet Explorer after that (of course they use the same setup I use).

And I didn't even mention the huge speed difference. IE7 is easily two or three times slower than Firefox, based on my little bit of usage... and this is IE right out of the box, no add-ons or changes of any kind.

Microsoft literally offers nothing that can't be found better, cheaper and more advanced elsewhere. The only thing they have going for them is the vast amount of software written to run on Windows. And with WINE and other solutions, Windows is becoming more irrelevant every day.

Thanks for commenting! :-)

ncmacasl said...

These are the sites for the Manual and the Codes list

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. It's an excellently well written article. The most annoying to me is that not only they have a monopoly (which is already unhealthy in itself), not only they obtained it through crooks techniques, but the worst is that they are NOT, and by far, a good product maker. Imposing their crap to 90% of the users.
They haven't truly innovated in 15 years, they keep following others, trying to catch up, pitifully cloning everything that is successful, and yet, enjoying their monopoly and playing Internet and software gurus...
Bill Gates: "In the next decade, the internet will be very different". No kidding.
It's like Walmart giving you advice on organic farming.

ConceptJunkie said...

The funny thing is that I've never heard Bill Gates make a non-trivial prediction that actually came true, or even bore any relation to reality.

He completely missed the boat on the Internet back in the 90's, and even had to amend his book to correct for that incredible oversight. In 2000, Microsoft promised to take a month off and improve security, and things got worse and worse at least four more years. Gates promised some 4 or 5 years ago that he would eliminate spam in two years, and it's worse now than it ever was... he had absolutely no effect. I seem to recall that he claimed no one could multitask with less than a megabyte of RAM, even though the Amiga had already been doing it for years.

Now he's hyping the pen-based tablet aspect of Windows 7 being the hot-n-fancy feature, and I would bet big money it will either be dropped or ignored by time Windows 7 ships. Oh yeah, and in five years everyone will be foregoing the keyboard and surfing the Web with voice recognition.

It will take many, many years, but MS is in a death spiral.

YipYIpYIpYIpBlogBlog said...

I work for Microsoft (intern). Not even my fellow employees like internet explorer. A few are Vista fans (figures, our work boxes are powerhouses), but no IE fans.

And yes, for the doubters, IE is *that* bad.

At first I thought IE wasn't so bad. Hey, tabbed browsing, not too different. Then I tried managing bookmarks. Epic UI fail on every level: you can "cut" bookmarks but only "paste" them within a folder; no dividers; and worst of all, a drag operation gets cancelled if you don't drag to the thin line *between* two other bookmarks.

Does Microsoft need to die? No, I don't think so. Having only seen one group, I can't make statements about Microsoft as a whole. BUT: My team's work actually *is* innovative and will provide a very useful service in an industry where Microsoft is demonstrably *not* a monopoly.