The unbearable pain of Microsoft products
I'm still at a client's, having missed the BSFA meeting & seeing tamaranth. I have networked his laptop and desktop machines for him, so both can use his broadband connection & the printer, and updated his Win2K desktop - to SP4 & a version of ZoneAlarm that can handle MS Internet Connection Sharing, for example.
Then I went to put SP2 on the XP Pro laptop. As I mentioned in my previous post on this subject, I've seen one machine self-immolate with an error due to outdated MDAC, so I downloaded & installed the latest MDAC first - v2.8. As I did with 2 machines at another client just last night.
Lovely install program. It says, I tell you no lie, "Press 'Finish' to start installing." In my world, 'Finish' means to 'end', not to begin.
Anyway, on this machine, MDAC installation failed. A text window appeared with a series of errors about being unable to access the registry files (ntuser.dat, ntuser.log &c.) as they were in use. Well, yes they were in use. They always are, if Windows is running. No option to cancel, to roll back, no warning first, nothing. No indication that rebooting now would be a Really Very Bad Idea.
Then it says it the system must be restarted, and to press OK to do so.
But that was it. Yet when I rebooted, his entire user directory had gone. Registry, shortcuts, My Documents, everything in \Documents and Settings\[username]. It's also erased much of \D&S\All Users and various bits in other parts of the disk. It's hunted down and erased all his user-specific data, wherever it lay hidden.
Thankfully we have a current backup but since MS don't keep the Outlook store (its PST file) in "My Documents" - and if you're running in Internet Mail mode, you can't readily move it - his backups don't contain his email or contacts, so he's lost all that. (It's kept in \D&S\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook, although this is, for some cretinous Redmond reason, different from the config information, which is, of course, in \D&S\[username]\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. Go on, spot the difference.)
So he's just had to spend $40 on a file-recovery program to get back as much as I can, and I've spent 5 and a half hours on rebuilding his Start menu by hand - the generic stuff in All Users was all trashed, too. And I can't charge a penny for it. No fix, no fee. I trashed his data, because what should have been a minor and innocuous patch wasn't.
Microsoft is beyond a joke these days. This rubbish is not fit to be shipped. Any confidence I ever had in its products is gone, and all my worst fears and prejudices confirmed. It's a pathetic shambles. WinXP SP2 is dangerously unsound and so are its other updates. I've downloaded half a dozen "full files" Office 2000 hotfixes tonight as well, as the Office Update site requires you to have the install media to hand - and he doesn't. It doesn't warn you, of course. No, first you download all the fixes, THEN they won't install. But it directed me to the full versions.
Guess what. They don't install either. They need install media, too. Why? When they're special full versions with all necessary files included? When the whole point is that they are replacing buggy code, as shipped, with allegedly-repaired versions? Why then do they want to reload stuff from the distribution CD? No media, no patch. So I have to leave him insecure, with a known faulty setup - because MS not only can't write clean, bug-free applications, it can't even write a reliable safe patch to fix their lousy apps.
This job would be a joy in a department of 200 machines.
This company deserves to fail, collapse and die, and it deserves it soon.
We already know MS and its senior management are liars, cheats and thieves - it's documented and has been legally proved, in court.
Bill gates told Paul Brainerd of Aldus to cancel Aldus' nearly-complete "Flintstone" wordprocessor for Windows because, Gates claimed, Word for Windows was about to ship. So Aldus threw away the code, wasted the effort and lost a powerful position in the market: first Windows WP, from the company that produced the excellent PageMaker DTP program. It hasn't been started yet. This is one major corporate CEO personally deceiving another, for personal and corporate gain.
Ask Aldus - but you can't. Its flagship products were bought out by Adobe and it went out of business.
MS stole the code of "DoubleSpace" (later renamed DriveSpace) from STAC's product Stacker. MS had been "evaluating" Stacker for inclusion in MS-DOS 6. Stac rejected the offered licensing terms; MS took the code anyway (MS-DOS 6.0). Stac sued, proved the code was copied, and won $200M. MS remove it (MS-DOS 6.21), rewrote the sections that were shown to be direct copies, renamed the product, and kept on going (MS-DOS 6.22).
Ask Stac - but you can't. It's gone out of business. With an admitted direct copy of its flagship product given away free with MS-DOS 6 and Windows 95, it went under.
MS compelled Central Point to license CP AntiVirus and CP Backup for inclusion in MS-DOS 6, under the sort of terms Stac rejected. (Do it, or we'll write our own versions anyway. No, you don't get any ongoing payment, but you can sell your version as a premium upgrade product.) Low one-off payment, all rights, no royalties, no comeback. It also knocked together an undelete utility, a defragmenter and a basic graphical file manager/program launcher based on IBM's DOSShell from PC DOS 4.0, thus giving away for free all Central Point's main products - Backup, Antivirus and PC Tools.
Ask Central Point how good the deal was for them. But you can't. They've gone under.
MS hired the same team to write Video for Windows as Apple had used to write QuickTime's code for video playback in a window. The programmers did it the same way. Apple sued. Apple won.
Remember MS' $150M "investment" in Apple a few years back? No investment. That was another lie. It was punitive damages.
Cheats yet again:
MS wrote specific code into Windows 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups to make it generate spurious errors if run on DR-DOS 6. Windows 3.1 actually worked fine on DR-DOS - better than on MS-DOS - but MS wanted to kill the competition, so it wrote routines to detect DR DOS, obfuscated the code and actively hid it in the Windows loader program, WIN.COM. DR sued and proved this in court. An acquaintance of mine, Geoff Chappel, was an expert witness, deconstructing and showing the code and the efforts to hide it.
DR went under. The product rights were sold to Caldera. Caldera continued to sue, and eventually won. But it was too late. Windows 95 included DOS, even though Caldera got it running just fine on DR-DOS in the labs, so you couldn't sell people DOS any more.
And cheats still!
You know what Caldera is doing now? It renamed itself SCO and is suing, well, anyone using Linux. E.g., IBM. Guess who funds this? Microsoft.
You could look at the petty, childish efforts to derail Sun's Java by adding proprietary incompatible extensions to the Windows Java Virtual Machine and then encouraging developers to use them (Visual J ). Then renaming the JVM to the MS VM, then dropping it altogether. This is not a company that cares about its customers. It cares about profits and killing the competition by any means possible, fair or foul, legal or illegal. It can afford to be sued, it can afford to buy off aggrieved competitors, and it's so big and so successful that it knows that the US government daren't touch it or split it up.
Look at the tactics MS used to defeat or thwart Netscape, or Lotus, or Sun, or Apple. The former half of these are dead and gone; the latter half, MS has bribed into silence.
Microsoft lies, cheats and steals. This is not my opinion; this is documented fact. It has achieved its dominance through luck, with the success of Windows 3, which took it entirely by surprise - it thought OS/2 was going to be the Next Big Thing - and by guile, deception and dishonesty.
But not only that, it's an incompetent liar, cheat and thief, to boot.
* Look at DDE, as replaced by OLE, as replaced by COM, as replaced by .NET. This is a roadmap? This is a planned coherent strategy? Don't make me laugh.
* Developing a substantial system based on .NET, with this track-record? Do you really think this is a good idea? Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it.
* Look at Cairo, announced a decade ago and still not shipped. Windows Future Storage (not a filesystem, despite many clueless so-called IT journalists calling it one) has just been delayed again and dropped from "Longhorn", the next version of Windows.
* Look at the complex mess of ActiveDirectory compared to the simplicity of LAN Manager Domains - which were co-designed with IBM.
* Look at the shambles of Windows 95 and 98 and ME compared to the solidity and reliability of OS/2 - co-designed by IBM.
* Look at what happened to OS/2 after MS quit. It's still around. You use it almost every day. IBM developed it into an OS that still runs most of the cash machines in the world. How many times have you seen a ticket machine or public information display or Internet phonebooth showing a Windows error message? I've seen many dozens. How many crashed cash machines have you seen? I've seen one, ever.
* Look at NT - which only works at all because MS poached Digital's OS guru Dave Cutler from them, and he brought the expertise and team that designed RSX/11 and VAX/VMS and fixed the mess that was OS/2 version 3.
* Look at many of the successful apps MS has ever sold: PowerPoint, FrontPage, VisualBasic, SQL Server, Internet Explorer, MS Mail, FoxPro, Visio - all bought in, not developed in-house.
Look at the pathetic, miserable efforts to write solid, reliable, secure code now.
* A flagship operating system which gives full administrative rights to all users, by default.
* A web content model which mandates downloading unprotected executable code from the Internet.
* The decision, for commercial reasons, to use the same code and the same API to manage the local filesystem (Explorer) and the Internet (Internet Explorer). That's the browser that executes binary code from unknown machines across the Internet, remember.
* The decision to use that unsafe rendering engine to display email messages, meaning that you don't even have to open an attachment to run unknown code and thus get infected.
* An programming model that is so insecure and so broken that the best fix its own creators have come up with is to slap a virtual machine on top and run p-code in an interpreter and call it "managed code" as if this were some kind of advantage. It's not. The only gain would be cross-platform compatibility and the only reason .NET has that is because Miguel de Icaza has written a Unix version for MS, for free! (Novell's Mono.)
This company is the basis of 90% of the business computers in the world. I have to work with it, or put myself into a niche so small I could not earn a living.
If you advise your employers or clients to base substantial investments and systems on this company's products, given this track record, do you honestly think you're doing the right thing? Have you honestly evaluated the alternatives? Do you know the alternatives? If not, you're not equipped to make the decision.
For my money, if you do know the alternatives and you still recommend large systems running on MS, you're either insane or incompetent.
And people wonder why I dislike Microsoft.