Microsoft: the same thing?


A lot of us have no qualms in “hating” Microsoft. Even those who never paid a penny for any of their products, like myself, included. Common reasons range from its dubious ‘creative history’ to its product pricing (BSOD in the past). I haven’t had any serious problems with my version of XP for over 19 months – the longest I’ve ever had an OS installation without any anti-virus s/w. It may have to do with the fact that I’ve significantly cut down on the ‘technical tweaks’ that I try since the time I switched fields. Of course, one of my best friends, Badri, would never take this as a reason to accord them with new respect. He started using Linux in 99. So you can imagine his opinion about MS. Technical inadequacies of MS products in contrast with open-source stuff like Linux is worth writing pages and people do it all the time. I neither have the expertise nor the passion to do it here.

In a recent conversation, one of my friends said that her friend quit his job with MS because of some “anti-corporate enlightenment.” I’ve read several articles that have detailed unethical practices of MS, but I still thought his move wasn't well thought out. Yesterday another friend of mine, from political science, shared the image below with me.I usually avoid talking about economic models because I believe they are structures that are beyond individual repair. Any contribution by someone like me would take a significantly long time to have any measurable effect in anyone’s life. And obviously, my knowledge on economic models is fairly limited. When “experts” can’t agree on what’s feasible why should I expose my ignorance? But as always, I am interested on the measurable effects of corporatization. By measurable I mean things that are beyond subjectivities – war, inflation, unemployment etc. I’ve always wondered if MS can be painted along with the other corporations that several leftists have learnt to hate. I’m not sure. I’ll just paste the exchange we had after I saw the image.

Suresh: I don't know if I would have had windows in the same list. I mean, Microsoft
Friend: why not?
Suresh: after all, they have the largest charitable foundation
Suresh: I think he's one of the very few corporates who's actually "giving back"
Suresh: maybe not as much as he can, but he is
Suresh: he doesn't kill chicken or exploit slum dwellers of Bangladesh (well, if you call outsourcing s/w jobs to India as exploitation, then yeah)

Friend: i know all about their "charity"
Friend: see, i have a problem with that framework
Friend: and outsourcing is exploitation
Friend: i mean, it's more complicated than just good corporation, bad corporation
Suresh: well, basically all kinds of profit making is exploitation, isn't it?

Friend: because so much of this is about power structures
Friend: the idea of capitalist profit is based on exploitation, yes
Friend: cheap labour and so on
Friend: creating needs
Friend: i mean, that's what capitalism is all about
Suresh: but I think one needs to be nuanced in his/her approach. They cannot equate Coke and McD with MS purely on the basis of their capitalist business model
Friend: no you can't
Friend: but you can talk about complicity

Friend: the idea that these businesses are complicit in a certain kind of nationalist model
Friend: or promoting certain nationalist goals and doing nothing to STOP their militaristic goals
Friend: i mean, their obviously genocidal goals
Friend: where is responsibility
Friend: so it's an issue of complicity
Friend: well, when it comes to that it's every american
Friend: but their tax dollars are significantly smaller than the ones that these people give america/israel

Friend: anyway
Suresh: yeah, never mind

Her comments were centered around the Israel-Palestine conflict the image represents. So I didn't want to point to the obvious shortcomings of her arguments (which I presume she knows too). I just wanted to hear her out. But I'll say it here. What do you expect them to do? Refuse to sell OS to government organizations? Refuse to pay taxes? Provide food and shelter to those who are willing to protest everyday on the street?
I'm not going to give CNN and others the same treatment. Of course not. They are criminals who consciously construct a contrived reality, but MS?

PS. I didn't edit the actual exchange. Just spaced them in a way it's easier to read.

13 comments:

Munusaamy said...

Suresh,

MS does business like any sane company should do. They kill competition. And that's fair in war and love, they say.

What can be argued is whether MS Windows is a really good software. Even that is subjective. And linux is no better. It's bloated and the model itself is suffocating. I find FreeBSD more stable than linux actually. But not more than 50,000 people use it around the world.

Coming to it, the best interface on a unix platform is Apple Mac OS. I haven't found anything spectacular like that. As a platform, Windows sucks. For a programmer, without a fancy Visual IDE, it is almost impossible to program in windows. But opensource has lot more flexibility and a hell of a lot of options.

People who criticize microsoft forget that MS has its limitations. It has to borrow ideas to grow, buy companies to survive. Bill Gates is no world winner. He is just an ordinary man trying to make sure his business is doing well.

And charity. That's no criteria to measure a company's worth. My personal opinion is that Windows sucks like shit. And I stopped using it since 2000, but there must be a reason why it is successful. Or we must be suggesting that the many users of it are actually morons. May be it is true. The world is full of morons.

The other day a friend of mine was telling me how Windows Vista works. He was so enthusiastic about the 3d flip navigation. I asked him, how the hell is it useful to him. He doesn't care. All he cares is to look at it and masturbate his ego that he has a good product. When the world is full of morons like that, Windows is what we get. And we deserve it.

Munusaamy said...

Darwin's theory. Survival of the fickle'st is indeed true.

Suresh said...

{{I asked him, how the hell is it useful to him. He doesn't care. All he cares is to look at it and masturbate his ego that he has a good product. When the world is full of morons like that, Windows is what we get. And we deserve it.}} - hahaha

I know. I've said Vista is going to be a major flop. Let's see. Xp has become a little too stable beyond MS's imaginations. At least, stable for a small business ownder who does others' taxes for a living.

I kind of hate those who praise Apple ad nauseam. I'm sure it's "great" for graphics and all that. And I do lack the programming prowess to appreciate its construction. But as a consumer product, I think it's just as over priced as anything MS has released.

Anyway, it's the understanding of its corporate model that is interesting. I agree with you too, they've done whatever a "normal" business establishment would do in terms furthering their growth etc. But I thought it's a very unsophisticated view to pile MS with other glaringly "evil" corporations like McD, CNN, Fox etc.

Suresh said...

@Munusaamy - One more thing I forgot to add in the post. My "long run" would not have been possible had it not been fore FireFox. FF has actually save MS's ass in many ways.

Prabhu S said...

Though I agree that MS Windows as a platform for programming has shortcomings as compared to UNIX flavors, I do not agree with all the ridicule that is made of Windows ..somehow it has become fashionable to criticize Windows and go gaga over other operating systems.

GasquetFan said...

Windows is a perfect corporate product. Good example where all those bullshitting MBA guys sit together and decide to copyright this, copyright that and make every damn programmer pay when he wants to use the platform for programming. They don't know or care to know the reality.

The only reason they are successful and rich is because they own copyrights. PC business might only be a tip of the iceberg. What do you think about windows servers?? Windows is saved by so many opensource software. Apache server, which is used in more than 80% of the webservers around the world.

You know what irritates me, even in this age of internet where video streaming is so good. Some sites use Windows Media player streaming. Oh god! What about quicktime streaming. Did you look at the trailers in apple site? Ok, the file size is huge. But what about flash streaming?

It is fashionable to criticize microsoft because a lot of people are obsessed with it. Won't you get angry when someone says Vijay is a superb actor. What's probably strange is I know a lot of them who deride MS, without understanding linux completely. Linux is equally shit in its current form. For godsake, it was never meant to be for the PC platform.

The size of the distribution keeps increasing every 3 months. There can as well be a Moore's law equivalent to Linux.

MacOS gives me the flexibility to program in Unix. Program for Windows with some cross over utilities available free. I am not sure if MacOS is overpriced. It comes with Apple MacBook and it cost me just $AUD1500. Now, is that expensive? Yeah, the peripherals are expensive. But the quality is something that Bill Gates can only dream about. Apple is a superior product in every sense of the word. Only a few can appreciate it though.

GasquetFan said...

Microsoft is harmful in its own domain. You can't compare a corporation which produces food and the one which produces software. Software, however advanced, is inconsequential to be categorised as harmful.

I'll tell you how harmful Microsoft is in its domain. First, it increases cost of the development if its visual DE is used. And for all practical purposes, it increases the building time too. What with so many libraries?? Atleast a 70% of them useless in 90% of the projects.

Microsoft tried to make its own platform, but didn't acknowledge the existence of the most popular at that time. UNIX. No support for unix in MS. That sucks like hell. They are trying to promote Windows as platform for programming. Oh my God! Even Apple gives programming tools free. MS doesn't. So all these things should add up to inflation in the computer industry.

Microsoft is like that first ranked guy in the class, who is constantly wary of the brilliant guy who is not bothered about ranks.

How long do you think an open source PC OS better than Windows would take to come to the market? Right now, there is nothing in the market like that. If you say MacD, CNN are evil, Microsoft is evil too. May be you are not affected by microsoft, but the computing industry is affected at large by that mediocrity.

Priya said...

Suresh,

So which platform do you recommend to use? MS, apple, unix or what? I'm going to buy a new laptop and I want a recommendation of a software. I've heard people say that Unix is good for scientists. I'm not sure, and confused now.

Suresh said...

{{f you say MacD, CNN are evil, Microsoft is evil too. May be you are not affected by microsoft, but the computing industry is affected at large by that mediocrity.}} - Touché!
But it's not just the corporate model that I'm talking about. I had a discussion with Badri again. And he reflected on the point you're making. The different between McD, CNN and MS, he said, is that the former affects more people in very serious way that has implications beyond their professional life. I said there is some serious dishonesty in the way their project their products. But Badri said the same can be said about MS too. But I'm still not sure they can put on the same platform.

And that's the discussion that I wanted to have too. The point my friend had brought up - complicity. How far is MS handy in furthering the zionist cause. Can one equate CNN and Fox with MS (let's leave out McD for a while) simply on the capitalistic model they all follow?

I didn't expect the discussion to take this direction, though - comparing MS products with others and so forth. I had attempted to state my disinterest in that relationship in my first two paragraphs of the original post. But I see it's a relationship that cannot be kept totally away.


@ Prabhu - I think there's some truth to what you're saying too. That's why I don't complain as much about MS products(because I haven't been affected as much as people in the profession are). But as you say, people catch on to the fad easily, even before they knew anything about MS or Mac OS or Linux.

@ Priya - Since you're asking about laptop, I think you might as well go for Windows. Unix adhu idhellam unrelated to this decision.

GasquetFan said...

Priya,

If I can suggest, Apple Mac is a good idea if you are looking to use software that that you don't have to pay for. Just learn a little bit of FreeBSD and you will be fine using Apple. Honestly, I can't think of anything that can be done in Windows, that can't be done with Apple.

Anonymous said...

Microsoft in the past has refused to support the Israeli military, but continues to have dubious connections in supporting Israel's military. It's very, very hard for activists who are critical of Israel to even collect information about these going-ons. Similar thing happened with Starbucks too.

Other conscientious corporations have actually boycotted Israeli apartheid.

Microsoft has in the past even influenced immigration policy in the US, and you are going to tell me that they cannot boycott Israel?

Suresh said...

Their boycotting Israel is irrelevant to what the US state does. (But the vice versa is not true.) There have been several instances where private corporations have influence public policy but this cannot not one of those. I'm sure Lockheed Martin and other such companies have been just as influential in some policy making - even foriegn policy. But it's all grounded to the state's (or the statesmen's) agenda of profit making.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is quite naive to think that boycotting is irrelevant to American foreign policy. I'm surprised you would think that.

What else do you suggest people do if they vehemently oppose Israel on moral grounds? Join the Palestinian Intifada? The only thing we can do is pressure governments and companies to divest from/boycott Israel. That means cutting all financial ties with the state of Israel to prevent its systematic strengthening.
More info is found here: http://www.badil.org/Boycott-Statement.htm

I am not saying that your analysis is fundamentally flawed - but what use is an analysis if it is not grounded in social realities.

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