Each person has their own take. I would have agreed with your view ten years ago...but MS has really come along way. I'll be upfront about it and say that this is likely in spite of Ballmer, rather than because of him...but they have made a lot of progress.
Windows 7 is a heck of a thing. It may be "years behind unix" in some ways...but it is decades ahead of it in others. Your experience, values and philosophies have lead you to dislike (and it seems distrust) Microsoft. I can respect that, even if I may never fully understand your reasoning.
For my case, MS is rapidly becoming one of the few companies I do actually trust. They are a vicious life sucking leech, but they are a predictable vicious life sucking leech. They are quite literally the devil I know, whereas their main competition, (Apple, Google and Oracle) are erratic and unpredictable.
I can’t tell you what Jobs is going to do next; and with Apple Jobs is the only one that matters. Ellison operates a company I’ve never had to think about much in my career, and so I am only now beginning to read up on him, and take real note of his actions. From what I have read, I trust him less than I trust him far less than I trust Ballmer, but it won’t be a problem because I will never be able to afford anything Oracle makes. Google is just downright creepy. The more they put out this fake “friend of the common man” image, the less I believe them. They are trying to hard. Worse, the behind-the-scenes information, when it periodically leaks out, reveals a corporation at least as soulless as Microsoft, but convinced of their own ethical purity. What scares me even more is the power base they are amassing; even if the folks in charge now aren’t the be-all and end-all of evil…Google is a publicly traded company. Their replacements will be, and they’ll have control of all that Google has amassed in the interim.
What does that leave? The open source community? From my perspective, the open source community is laced with neuroses. To call it schizophrenic is to not even begin to diagnose it. I wrote Novell off ages ago, though I am starting to think that was short-sighted and premature. I can deal with Red Hat…I like a stable platform that changes slowly, in a careful and considered fashion with an eye towards functionality rather than “purity.”
Debian, Slackware...this is getting into the realm where the populace starts seeming to me more religious about technology rather than folks who just want to implement it and have it work. There’s a need for these folk and their product...just not where I work. I’ll be honest: I don’t have the time and the resources to futz about with anything. Whatever I use has got to work out of the box, with minimal hassle and be easy to maintain. I don’t have the time to become an expert on literally everything technological, as much I would love to. To use the more “pure” Linux distributions as anything other than glorified web/thin clients, lots and lots of expertise is exactly what is required.
So this leaves me with what I run: Microsoft and Red Hat. Microsoft because, while they are evil bastards…they are TAME evil bastards. They are so utterly predictable that their competition has spent the past ten years dancing on their faces with faceted cleats. Some of their software, once the blinders are off, is actually pretty good. Other software…not so much. Where the holes exist in Microsoft’s portfolio, I fill it in with Red Hat, and the combination has worked really well for me.
I guess we are simply doomed to forever have different criteria for choosing our applications, and our application vendors.
For future reference however, titles like “Windows confuses people” does come off as a bit aggressive. Given your utterly enormous posting history here at El Reg, I would be remarkably reluctant to dismiss you simply as “another blind, prejudiced, evangelical open sourcer with whom no rational discussion can possibly be had.” Ever now and again however, a title like that is posted…
It’s 4am. Less rambling, more sleep.