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The News – 05/11/01

Microsoft’s Big Brother Attitude

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’m not a big fan of Microsoft’s behavior over the past few years. I used to be a big supporter, especially when they finally released a half-decent operating system with NT 3.1. As recently as 1997, I spec’d out an eCommerce hardware system with all NT servers. So don’t think I’m just a bigot when I say Microsoft must be stopped!


The latest thing that raises my hackles concerns Microsoft’s typically-delayed next OS, XP. Seems that M$ doesn’t want to lose any revenue whatsoever from people installing a copy of the OS on more than one computer. To prevent this, you must contact M$ before reinstalling the OS on your PC beyond the limited, but unspecified, number of reinstalls the software giant permits you. Yes, you must actually telephone the monopoly to ask, “Pretty please, may I reinstall your POS OS that trashed my hard disk for the fifth time, and I’ve spent hours finding all my backups, so will you deign to allow me to recover from the problem you caused me?”


But that’s not all. To put some teeth in this requirement, when you “activate” the OS upon first install, your computer sends your hardware information, such as the CPU ID, to a Microsoft server! Can you say, “invasion of privacy?” Microsoft will get my CPU ID when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers!


Microsoft realized this process would be an annoyance for corporations, and so this little bit of Big Brother is reserved for consumers and small businesses. But I bet they still collect the hardware information even for the big companies. And there may be a hidden agenda in all this, according to Bloor Research’s Mat Hanrahan: "Microsoft is going to intervene more in the future, and this infrastructure and control of desktop sounds like they are trying to build the ground work to deliver software as a service. This looks like a simple activate button, but the infrastructure it has will connect into .NET services in the future."


Businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, should pressure Microsoft into changing this policy. I myself will boycott any OS that breaches my privacy in this way.





Briefly Noted

·       Sun announced the availability of Sun Chili!Soft ASP software, a cross-platform implementation of Active Server Pages, a “standard” developed by Microsoft and, up until now, fairly exclusively implemented only on Windows operating systems. The software will allow ASP developers to host their Web applications on Sun’s Solaris™ 8 OS.

·       The number of US households with Internet access dipped 0.3% to 68.5 million in the first quarter of this year, says Telecommunications Reports International. It was the first time in 21 years that the number dipped, the group says.

·       New rules for privacy on the Internet could cost businesses between $9 billion and $36 billion, an industry-funded study warns. Economist Robert Hahn gathered data from 17 information-technology consulting firms, which said they would charge from $46,000 to $670,000 for a system to track how personal data is handled.



Reader Feedback

Alert SNS reader John Gehring (an expert Internet marketing consultant specializing in agriculture, BTW) noted the similarity between Ray Kurzweil’s concepts of our perception of change, and a famous movie:


Your News Summary about the acceleration of time reminds me of a scene from "The Jerk."  Navin says to Marie:


"I know we've only known each other four weeks and three days, but to me it seems like nine weeks and five days. The first day seemed like a week and the second day seemed like five days and the third day seemed like a week again and the fourth day seemed like eight days and the fifth day you went to see your mother and that seemed just like a day and then you came back and later on the sixth day, in the evening, when we saw each other, that started seeming like two days, so in the evening it seemed like two days spilling over into the next day and that started seeming like four days, so at the end of the sixth day on into the seventh day, it seemed like a total of five days. And the sixth day seemed like a week and a half."


That’s how I feel some days, or is it some weeks? 


Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from www.blogger.com. This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.


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