I was curious to read today about Microsoft’s new Windows Genuine Advantage changes coming in Windows Vista Service Pack 1.
The current draconian system of locking down machines that appear to be running pirated versions of Windows has not been well received, apparently, especially a few weeks back when a buggy update was released prematurely and left thousands of “genuine” customers without working copies of Windows. So Microsoft is softening the approach, as described in the article linked above.
In the new version, PC users found to have a pirated copy of Vista will continue to be able to use their computers, but with unmistakable signs their operating system is a fake. The desktop wallpaper will turn black, and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time they log in, they will be prompted to buy legitimate software, and every hour, a reminder bubble will appear on the screen.
Users with a high tolerance for irritation can put off switching to genuine software indefinitely, but those who relent and buy a real copy of Windows can do so at reduced prices — $119 for Windows Vista Home Premium, half the regular retail price.
OK, well that does seem to be an improvement, but… wait a minute! Read that second paragraph closely. Surely it can’t mean what I think it means, but it sounds like what they’re saying is that if you pirate Windows first, and then after enduring the automated nagging for an indefinite period of time, you’re entitled to buy Windows for half the regular price paid by loyal customers who purchase a legitimate copy up front.
Well, at least it’s consistent with Vista’s backwards approach to system security. (Throw up excessive warnings to the user about nearly everything they’re about to do, but don’t actually restrict their access to those things based on permissions.)
Wow. I mean, wow. This guy freakin’ loves Apple. He must have a giant poster of Steve Jobs in his bedroom. Either that or he owns a mountain of Apple stock.
Whatever the case, Tom Yager finds Mac OS X Leopard to be without flaw. Not only a “10” but a “Perfect 10.” There’s no way that even I can say that.
Granted, my gripes with it are petty and purely visual: the translucent menu bar; the glossy, glassy Dock; the stupid Stacks icons. I love its functionality and performance, and haven’t run into any actual problems using it (other than the fact that iPhoto is flaking out on me, but I’m running an old version and I have over 7000 photos in my library, neither of which is Leopard’s fault; and I had to upgrade Photoshop for compatibility, but with CS3 I’m glad I did that anyway).
But still… perfect? Come on. And it gets even more nauseating as the article goes on.
So yes, if you have a Mac, by all means buy Leopard; it’s $129 far better spent than on Vista. (Not that you can get a usable version of Vista for that price… but if you could, you could run it on your Mac too.) If you don’t have a Mac, now’s a great time to give one serious consideration. But if you’re still on the fence, don’t read this article first; with friends like Tom Yager (and of course the ever-insufferable Guy Kawasaki), Apple needs no enemies: this kind of sycophantic Apple-can-do-no-wrong drivel only proves the point for people who think Apple products are just for the fanboys.
For an antidote to this sickening lovefest, check out this anti-Leopard rant a former coworker just emailed to me.
I’ve been on a big Ubuntu kick lately. Ubuntu is the Linux distribution (derived from Debian) that is finally within sight of the elusive goal of producing a “desktop Linux for the masses” as they say. The latest version just came out last week. I’m so impressed with it that it’s distracted me significantly from the upcoming release of the next version Mac OS X. (OK, I do still remember that it’s coming up this Friday, and yes I probably will be queuing up outside the Apple Store this Friday.)
Anyway, I’ve also spent a lot of time reading everything I can pertaining to the new Ubuntu release, including, with great relish, articles wherein longtime Windows users profess their star-crossed love for this newest Linux release. Often the comments are as interesting (or more) than the article itself. Such was the case with this article from the UK branch of ZDNet. A comment there was so funny that I feel I must simply share it here in its entirety:
Microsoft’s now promoting Vista with a campaign called “100 reasons why everyone’s so speechless”.
I looked. #23 is “Because it’s like a digital candy store.”
Puh-leeze. Bring up the Adept Manager in Ubuntu. Now _that’s_ a digital candy store. Over 20000 applications for doing almost anything you can imagine, and quite a few things you can’t. Running Vista is like being in a candy store that only sells black liquorice (I _hate_ black liquorice) at exorbitant prices. Oh, and you’re only allowed to eat the candy in the store. Plus each individual piece is really small and is wrapped in seven layers of cellophane, and the store won’t let you throw the wrappers away. You have to take them with you and throw them away at home. Plus they set off a grenade in the chocolate store across the street in the middle of the night and mugged the proprietors of the penny candy stand. Oh, and Microsoft are the ones behind the urban legend that red M&Ms cause cancer. That’s the kind of candy store Vista is.
The Microsoft page in question, 100 Reasons You’ll Be Speechless, is pretty ridiculous. I have yet to encounter in my day-to-day life a single person who has even acknowledged using Vista, much less anyone who’s actually impressed with it. But as I perused the first dozen or so “reasons,” I could find nothing that isn’t already more-or-less present in Mac OS X, Ubuntu, or some readily available specialty device (like AppleTV) that interfaces easily with one or both of those OSes. And I won’t even get started on the usual litany of complaints about Windows. But the “100 Reasons” probably still makes for an entertaining read… if you’re really desperate for entertainment. (Then again, you probably have plenty of other, superior sources of entertainment at your disposal at this very moment, so why not choose them instead?)
According to this article, the first security exploit has been found in Windows Vista.
While that’s not entirely surprising in itself (after all, the OS has been commercially available for over 3 full days now), the nature of the flaw is both amusing and somewhat shocking.
Vista adds new speech recognition features, allowing the user to issue commands to the computer by speaking. At least, I’m assuming this is new. Mac OS has had speech recognition for at least a decade, but it used to require extensively “training” the computer to recognize your voice. I’m guessing that the new speech recognition software doesn’t require that kind of training, sort of like how pizza places now have speech recognition software that answers the phone and takes your order.
So, on to the exploit: if speech recognition is on, and the computer’s speakers and microphone are both on, it would then be possible to visit a website that autoplays an MP3 of a voice issuing commands to make the computer do all sorts of nasty things (like erasing files off the hard drive)!