Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Windows 10 Ponderings.

Microsoft has released a new version of it’s Windows operating systems on average about every two and a half years. The releases have kept pace with advances in computer hardware and to a great extent have driven many of the advances.

Over the Windows years the hard drive space required to install an operating system has increased by leaps and bounds. A Windows XP operating system would run on as little as a 10 gigabyte hard drive and this would just about allow some basic office programs to usefully run. Later Windows versions such as Vista, 7, and 8 would require a minimum installation space of round about 20 – 25 gigabytes of hard drive.

This means that Windows has been installing features in the later systems which are much more extensive than previous versions of Windows. One of the major reported problems of the different versions is that some applications that would run on one version of Windows wouldn’t run on later versions. Tough if you have paid a few thousand pounds for a program.

This has all been solved with Windows 10. Microsoft claims they are not going to produce any further operating systems and will just continue to update Windows 10 through it’s ongoing program of security updates. This could be good in respect of running expensive software which won’t be made redundant with the next release of a Windows operating system. So Windows 10 should now be the ultimate operating system heaven.

Er …. not quite.

In fairness, Microsoft are in the business of selling software but are also very aggressive in promoting it. Withdrawing security update support is one of the ways of forcing customers to buy the latest supported Windows operating system.

When Microsoft offered free upgrades to Windows 10 to customers running Windows 7 and 8 operating systems there should have been some suspicions about this. Shareholders don’t like the firms they invest in giving their products away.

Let’s think logically about all this. If Microsoft is going to release no further operating systems then it will inevitably sell less operating systems overall as there will be no way that Microsoft can force customers to upgrade any further. Also, Microsoft regularly releases versions of it’s office suites but is increasingly finding strong competition from some very good free office suites such as Libreoffice and WPS office (to name just the one’s I’ve had experience of).

Now, note my comments about the hard disc space required by the latest Microsoft operating systems. With regards to Windows 10 am I being suspicious to wonder just what is lurking there? It’s already well known that Windows 10 has features which enable Microsoft to tell what you are doing with your computer. Admittedly these can all be turned off but they are set to be on by default.

All this poses the question, if Microsoft sells less operating systems and office suites how is it going to continue to be profitable?

I will offer a suggestion. Once sufficient people are tied to Windows 10, Microsoft could begin to charge an annual fee for it’s security updates so that customers would in effect be renting the operating system from Microsoft. The worst case scenario would be paying Microsoft annually what it costs to buy one copy of an operating system. Potentially this would mean that a customer could be paying Microsoft hundreds of pounds for their operating system over several years. Alternatively - or as well, Microsoft could charge for features which it has learnt that customers use frequently. Microsoft doesn’t do altruism with it’s customers.

This is all suspicion of course, but you can see where I’m coming from.

I’ve done a little on line research about this and have discovered that I’m not alone in my suspicions:

Is there an alternative?

I wouldn’t be saying all this if I wasn’t going to make a suggestion.

First, the commercial alternative to Microsoft is Apple and Apple Macs are excellent machines in terms of both hardware and software. They are not cheap.

My suggestion is to look at the possibility of using a Linux operating system which is as easy to use as anything produced by Microsoft and incorporates some amazing features. It is used by an impressive number of companies, institutions and government agencies and household names such as Amazon, Google and Wikipedia. The Hadron Collider is run on Linux.

It is also free.

Some users of Linux:

There is a (slightly dated) website which outlines some of the features of Linux:

You probably wonder why Linux is free. The reason is that it grew out of a student computer scientists need to have an operating system he could modify and had to build his own. Out of sympathy for other students he made it freely available for anyone. More on this here:

From a personal point of view I have encouraged the adoption of Linux because it is reliable, easy to use and is able to meet the needs of at least 90% - 95% of all users. It also means I can supply PCs at a more competitive price. Also, it can often extend the life of a PC or laptop far beyond what Microsoft would prefer. A typical Linux distribution comes replete with much additional software such as an office suite, pdf reader, photo editing, video player and browser. There are thousands of additional programs that can be downloaded and installed for free.

Are there any disadvantages in adopting a Linux operating system?

I usually say to anyone converting to Linux to bear in mind:

1 Some printers are designed to work with Microsoft operating systems.

2 I>tunes can’t be downloaded on a Linux operating system.

3 Sat Navs can’t yet be updated on Linux operating systems.

4 Some specialist programs such as Sage and high end games won’t work on Linux.

These considerations aren’t due to any shortcomings in Linux itself. They are the result of commercial agreements between Microsoft and the companies involved.

However there are often alternatives and in the case of printers there are also many printers which work very well with Linux and I can advise on this.

You can contact me to talk this over. Visit my website:

As an example of what can be done with Linux, the picture below says it all. Linda Parsons for PM.

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