Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Congratulations, Microsoft, you finally made an unusable operating system

All you Linux-lovers out there are probably sniggering at this and saying that Microsoft have been producing unusable operating systems for years. But people who have a slavish love for Linux and the open-source movement (99% of which boils down to "I don't want to pay for my operating system and resent paying for anything when an alternative version is available for free, even if it's a bit shitty") simply hate Microsoft for being Microsoft.

It sort of makes sense. After all, I have a deep-rooted hatred of all things Apple. It's not quite as sentimental as the hatred a lot of open-source evangelists have for Microsoft - it's based on a belief that Apple have genuinely influenced the entire industry enough to take it backwards. Power PCs of today can barely browse websites similar to the ones we were building at the turn of the century that could run easily on 200Mhz single-core computers. But that's another argument.

This is about Microsoft.
For years - decades even - I've been a fan.
Sure their core products - Windows and Office - became unnecessarily bloated and the licence restrictions were - at times - painful (although I don't know anyone who hasn't successfully "borrowed" a works copy of Office and got it running on their home computer). But they always produced software that allowed you to get the job done easily (ok, Windows ME doesn't count, and Windows Vista was a car-crash, but if you followed the Windows upgrade rule - ever other version is shit, avoid - you were good!)

Despite all the ribbing that we give to Steve, I still think that Windows XP remains, to date, the best version of Windows. It's fast and requires just a modest computer to run. Plug-n-play works well and things "just work".

Of course, Linux users will argue that this has never been the case. But then again, if you're a dedicated Linux user, you really are in no position to criticise Windows for failing to automagically recognise and install hardware drivers. If you're installing anything even as simple as an HP LaserJet on Linux, you'll need to give yourself a good four hours and plenty of time to get your Google-fu up to speed to find out exactly which version of which driver works for your specific installation of Linux! But that's another argument.

This about Microsoft.
And the sad fact is, Windows 10 is downright unusable.
Upgrading to Windows 7 from XP was a jolt (did anyone go XP to Vista and not immediately reverse their decision?). But Windows 7 was actually a decent operating system. It was just Windows XP but with a few things in a few different places. Oh, and an annoying driver-management system - but we all just turned that off anyway didn't we?

Compared to XP, Windows 8 was a bit of a stinker.
But that's only because it looked and felt so different.
If you accepted that your start-bar was now a massive, sideways scrolling, full-screen affair, and the font was larger for a lot of messages, it wasn't actually that much different to Windows 7. For a few legacy apps, you might have to "run as administrator" but there wasn't an awful lot you couldn't do with Windows 8 that you could with Windows XP.

But Windows 10?
Windows 10 is a steaming pile of dog crap.
In all my years of using Microsoft products - from the original Windows in monochrome back in about 1992, through Windows 3.11, resisting - then finally embracing - the massive change that was Windows 95, through 98 and the mistake that was ME, to XP, I've never ever upgraded and then "gone back".

Even XP to Windows 7 had me tempted, but I gave seven a go and learned to love it. I fully embraced Windows 8 when everyone around me was "upgrading" back to Windows 7. I've never - yet - reverted back to an earlier version of Windows.

That doesn't mean the familiar ding-dong-dingle-dong of my old XP-based CNC machine doesn't fill me with warm nostalgia - I still love the old operating systems. I've just uninstalled a newer version of Windows to "go backwards".

Except now.
For Xmas I got a NAS and after backing up all my important stuff, it's time to say goodbye and good riddance to Windows 10. I'm wiping my laptop and restoring it to it's factory settings, complete with Windows 8. Everything just worked so much faster. And stuff didn't lock up as often. And my internet connection wasn't slowed down, as shit like this downloaded in the background

Seriously, Microsoft, live content cluttering up the place where I usually look for shortcuts and apps? Did you learn nothing from "active desktop" back in 1999?

The standard OS dialogues weren't blurry and out of focus, because it incorrectly recognises my touch-screen PC as a tablet device and rescales everything to 101%.

It booted up quicker (although even the totally awesome XP was pretty slow at booting up after a few months of use and Windows-update-rot had set in - the newest version is almost a parody of itself, it takes so long to boot up). It went into sleep mode and didn't require a full power-cycle to come out of snooze. You could choose whether updating was convenient or postpone/cancel it.

And I've never - in over 25 years of using Windows - lost files and/or documents as the result of a Windows upgrade. Except last week. When Windows 10 notified me that it had failed to update and promptly deleted everything I'd saved on the desktop (I save lot of work-in-progress on the desktop when I'm not yet done with it).

So goodbye Windows 10.
I really want to say "and f@*k off and don't ever darken my door again". But that means I'd have to either learn to use a Mac, or get friendly with Linux. And neither of those is particularly appealing either.

So my big gesture, to an over-bloated, arrogant, out-of-touch multi-national conglomerate like Microsoft is to throw away a product I never actually had to pay for, and install one I did. Nice one, Microsoft. You make shit software. Well at least I'm off your upgrade-cycle now. Just like XP, I'll stick with the old versions for as long as I can get away with it.

Then, there's a very real possibility that my next OS won't be Windows at all.