back to article Microsoft becoming Apple with Windows 8 control freakery?

Microsoft is becoming more like Apple by bringing some hardware discipline to Windows 8 tablets, to the annoyance of OEMs who've had decades of freedom. At his week's Computex trade show in Taipei, Acer chief executive JT Wang complained that Microsoft is putting "troublesome" restrictions on makers of tablets running Windows, …

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Coat

so...

... there will be less malware??

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Bronze badge

So...

There will also be less hardware.

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Meh

Title goes here

Only if you don't count Windows as malware.

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Paris Hilton

control

Controlling the hardware is one way to increase stability. Not nearly enough though. The underlying architecture must also be sound, which windows definitely isn't, being the broken spaghetti mess that is. And mostly the attitude must be right. Apple aims at small high-margin volume, but wants perfect experience, and is anally retentive about it. MS goes for volume rather than quality and doesn't give a s**t as the xbox (100% controlled by MS, never fixed) reliability fiasco shows.

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Anonymous Coward

no there won't be less

There will be always new malware, and it will concentrate on the most used OS.

So if in a distant future most gadget run iOS then this will be the one with the most malware.

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Flame

Apple Fanboi ?

It restricts the hardware. It will still be Windows... Thank god.

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at least...

no OEM-installed spy-and-crapware

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Coat

Still Windows so Not like Apple...

The O/S is still Windows so unless they changed everything in the back end malware will probably still be an issue. MS is trying to ensure that the end-user experience with the hardware is all good (i.e. it all works the same on whatever you buy), and this is a good thing, but it is also not like Apple.

Apple, in addition to being the designer of their product, is also a retailer of what they design and is the only wholesale vendor of their products. They control the chain from top to bottom, they design and have their products built to their specifications for them to market. Microsoft does not have this kind of control, although they may wish they did.

IMHO this is a huge gamble. A fork is being created in the road and the manufacturers may not take the path that Microsoft wants them to travel.

Lets say we manufacture hardware and along comes Microsoft who is telling us that in order for our product to run Windows 8 we must build it as they tell us to. I won't take umbridge at the demand, but I will start to crunch numbers, look at the marketing, at my product portfolio, at the competition and market trends and direction. Do my operations NEED Microsoft? When people buy my product do they buy it because of our brand or because it has the Microsoft logo on it?

There is much more to think about here than you might expect, and there is no really clear direction except that a world of possibilities just opened up, while we review the future possibilities lets just smile and nodd.

Mine is the one with the copy of "The Art of War" in the pocket.

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User installed malicious software

Malicious software (Trojans) do not depend on the platform for their success as much as they do on the squidgy bit between the keyboard and the chair. Worms and viruses are another matter entirely, and while they are malicious, and they are software, they do not depend on the ignorance of the user, they depend on the software developers leaving holes for them to exploit. In this regard the malware that is installed willingly by the user may not change % wise as the platform O/S changes, but the self propagating/installing varieties may decrease significantly.

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Malware on the most used OS?

Ahh, so that's why there is so much more malware on iOS (the most used mobile OS) than on Android?

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Silver badge

re-read your first sentence

And tell me what part an application/OS developer plays in the keyboard/sqidgy bit/chair scene?

You're right, but wrong as well because you may be blind to the fact that deadlines (and their associated managers and P.R. drones) are real*.

* - I think.

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Coat

And this is why my next phone

...is Android. For what I need is just enough (so is WP7/8 and iOS but I still like the option of doing what I want to do with MY device that I pay for).

I did support Microsoft till now....

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Linux

They say imitation...

... is the sincerest form of flattery.

But in this case, I'm not so sure.

This feels like the "Apple Mac OS vs. MS Windows GUI War" all over again, except now, both companies can afford a lot more (and a lot more expensive) lawyers.

Way back when, Apple was ahead in user-friendliness, having swiped the mouse-meets-GUI paradigm from Xerox PARC Alto workstation. Microsoft soon jumped on the bandwagon, and answered with Windows. By making its platform more hardware-agnostic, MS took advantage of PC vs. PC competition, which drove down commodity hardware prices, and Windows ended up outselling Apple by a wide margin. (Apple then got its knickers in a twist, and sued Microsoft, claiming MS copied the overall look-and-feel from Apple. Which it did, never mind that Apple got the idea from PARC, first).

Flash-forward to today. Apple has again gained the lead in a vital, high-growth market, by focusing on the nascent techno-hipster demographic. It learned that "The User Experience" is key, and set the craftsmanship bar very high with the original iPhone (or iPod, depending on how far back you peg the beginning of the "Apple Renaissance"), product packaging included. It didn't matter that the iPod/iPhone/iPad ecosystem was a walled garden. The devices looked cool, and were fun to use. And that's what mattered. Microsoft is again answering by aping the Cupertino Fruit. Only this time, I think, MS is floundering. Microsoft, being the stodgy old geezer, didn't get it, so now it's trying to play catch-up by copying Apple's game. Except that Microsoft started about two years too late, and has little in the way of inspirational leadership and/or product vision. Microsoft's strategy of "imitate when you can, innovate when you can't," which used to work back when things evolved more slowly, doesn't cut it in today's fast-moving mobile market.

Which is a pity, because I started to see some flashes -- some faint, tiny twinkles -- of hope once Windows 7 was released, because it really is (from a usability and stability standpoint) a very good general-purpose desktop/laptop OS. Its security and process isolation model still needs some improvement, but it's orders of magnitude better than XP. And that's saying something, given the fact that I'm a hard-core GNU/Linux user, and don't have any Microsoft-based OS installed at home.

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Historical accuracy...

"Way back when, Apple was ahead in user-friendliness, having *licensed* the mouse-meets-GUI paradigm from Xerox PARC Alto workstation."

There. Fixed that for you.

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Tiles look good

I think there is innovation from MS in its use of 'tiles' (not to mention non-Windows innovations like Surface and Kinect).

While I am a lifelong Mac user, I'm not a big fan of iOS, and think that its homescreen UI is starting to look dated. Android-style widgets give much more information at a glance (and that is why we carry smartphones no?), but lead to rather messy home screens. MS's tiles seem to combine the functionality of widgets with the aesthetic uniformity of iOS's icon grid. Surely there is something innovative about that?

Whether the tiles will work quite as well on a desktop OS – where we need to quickly create information content rather than quickly consume it – remains to be seen. Windows 8 does seem to be optimised for touchscreen, with keyboard and mouse as afterthoughts. It is worth noting that keyboard and mouse have survived as desktop implements for 25 years because nobody has come up with a better way of combining high productivity and low entry barrier in an interface.

That doesn't seem to bother MS or Apple, who are now both trying to push elements of their mobile interfaces onto their desktop machines.

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WTF?

"... having *licensed* the mouse-meets-GUI paradigm from Xerox..." is Still Broken

> "There. Fixed that for you."

Actually, Apple didn't license the technology from Xerox, and after Apple sued Microsoft for copying the GUI paradigm, Xerox sued Apple, claiming it was first (which it was):

-- -- University Texas Archive of NYT: Xerox vs. Apple: Standard 'Dashboard' Is at Issue

-- -- December 20, 1989:

-- -- -- -- http://www.me.utexas.edu/~me179/topics/copyright/case2articles/case2article6.html#suit

Unfortunately for Xerox, the suit was dismissed on Statute of Limitations grounds:

-- -- Wikipedia: Xerox Star

-- -- -- -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Star#Legacy

-- -- -- -- "Xerox did go to trial to protect the Star user interface. In 1989, after Apple sued Microsoft for copyright infringement of its Macintosh user interface in Windows, Xerox filed a similar lawsuit against Apple; however, it was thrown out because a three year statute of limitations had passed. (Apple eventually lost its lawsuit in 1994, losing all claims to the user interface)."

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Holmes

@wheel

"MS's tiles seem to combine the functionality of widgets with the aesthetic uniformity of iOS's icon grid. Surely there is something innovative about that?"

+1

However, the original iOS was lamented for lack of Copy&Paste, what does MS release as their mobile OS? Answer: WP7 w/o Copy&Paste!!! I currently fancy a new phone, but am put off by WP7, not because of lack of C&P but other shortcomings..... inability to have my own ringone, my own message alert tone...., I have 10yr old phones that have this most basic functionality, and this for me is why Android wins.

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Anonymous Coward

Welcome to the communal walled garden

Even Google will reach that same conclusion in time. What's that I hear right now?

"Motorola CEO: Open Android Store Leads to Quality Issues"

"Of all the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70 percent come back because applications affect performance"

http://www.pcworld.com/article/229251/motorola_ceo_open_android_store_leads_to_quality_issues.html

Truly mobile stuff is a different reality from desktop/notebook machines and you can't really expect their users to be sysadmins. Downvote this all you want but the sooner companies realise this the better. Seems they're starting to wake up to it.

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yeah

but if you read into what actually is going on with Motorola it's their crappy spazblurr, or whatever it's called, causing a huge performance drop.

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Coffee/keyboard

MeeGo is the escape hatch here..

You forgot to mention MeeGo and that quite a few suppliers are now experimenting with it (Acer, Asus etc). That should balance things out if manufacturers decide that they have increasingly restricted choices (and should also not allow MS or HP to force people too hard especially until(if) the OSes become popular.)

Also, if MS follows through and does require new window apps to be built with HTML5+JS i can't imagine it would be hard at all to port them to any other OS on any other hardware platform including MeeGo (not sure how they that giving them a competitive advantage - I would imagine special API hooks, but still these could easily be copied).

Having said all that it shouldn't be too hard to meet minimum requirements for Win8 given that they are the same as Win7.

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FAIL

When you aint got the skills to do everything

Then you do what you can.

At this point Linux is so well integrated into the ARM build tools that when you spec a new chip design, it automatically spits out a kernel. Before the bare slab of silicon is even wet you can have Android running in an emulator running 200,000 apps. By the time the Windows team has a Linux validated platform to start porting their OS to the Android OEMs have product in production. The Windows team has no choice but to limit variety as they start long after the race is over.

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Mushroom

Microsoft is about to shoot itself in the foot, again...

unless Microsoft is willing to enter into competition with its resellers, (a hopeless fight, as they might find themselves fighting deep discounts [no Microsoft OS charged for] of Linux 3.x.x, possibly with Ubuntu, on the machines,) and having to play "control freak" with every cut-rate cut-throat beige box assembler out there, people who still haven't resigned themselves to the fact that PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports AREN'T NEEDED.

Microsoft is a software facilitation house, they aren't great software writers/developers.

They see what's happening and when a company is doing something using, or in spite of, their OS they see how hard if would be to integrate it (extend and extinguish,) into their sphere of influence; then they buy the companies who had the original ideas.

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Foot shooting?

I thought it were tentacles, not feet that MS has; and they have enough of them not to run out of them soon...

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Thumb Down

All your tablets are belong to us

All your tablets are belong to us

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FAIL

Like Apple but behind the times.....

Microsoft's limitations on Windows 7 phones was the thing that finally pushed me to an iPhone. Apple may limit the way Apps are created and make specs to meet their devices spec to optimise their products. But when Windows did the same with creating a spec for their OS which would have many brands running the same spec I didnt see that as a problem.. But I did see an OS that was and still is out of date as a thing that I was not willing to use when it had less features than the older OS in my older Windows Phone. If this tablet OS is behind the times too I see Apple again gaining new customers and linux/Android devices becoming the thing manufacturers push more and more.. There are now more Android HTC phones than ever... Yet they were one of the leading Windows suppliers... Own goal for Windows 8?? Possibly.....

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Trollface

We All Have Free Will

"OEMs have had free rein when building PCs that run Windows."

Yet somehow they all managed to make the same PC's as each other over and over and over.

Seen one PC, seen 'em all. That's the commodity market for you, Microsoft created it and the OEMs all fell face first into it.

Now it's just tick box marketing of made to a price products that are essentially all the same thing.

Oooh, this one has an extra USB port! Yay!!!! And it's a nicer shade of black with fake carbon fibre trimmings!

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Thumb Down

Missing the point?

I think maybe, you're missing the point - it's been about being able to build a PC to your own specification from the widely available components available in any combination/flavour you like - not about what the "assembly companies" want to supply you with as a finished product. It's THAT freedom that's in danger...

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Anonymous Coward

IBM not MS

"Seen one PC, seen 'em all. That's the commodity market for you, IBM created it and the OEMs all fell face first into it."

It was IBM that created the PC as a commodity... not Microsoft.

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How much longer for OEMs ?

The success of the MS-Windows ecosystem, was that you could take MS' software, add your own software and hardware to differentiate, and sell on at a profit. Anyone could do it, and many did.

With the Apple-like restrictions that they are starting to impose, I wonder if they're throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Apple succeeded because they own both the hardware and the software. With MS' new scheme, what can an OEM do to stand-out from the crowd ? Not a lot, by the sounds of it.

As an OEM, I'd be worried about when MS are going to start producing their own hardware too. After all, look how close MS & Nokia are.

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At least there will a lot more choice than we get with apple

The restrictions are kind of understandable tho, less coding to accomodate various hardware configs

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Meh

But choice of what?

Black or white?

Or just a different maker's label?

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Holmes

I don't blame them...

MS pick up a lot of stick for crashes and BSOD on windows PC, 99 times out of 100 the problem is caused by crappy drivers. They tried to introduce driver signing, but that just resulted in the approved drivers being so out of date, nobody wanted to use them.

In the PC world the BSOD is damn annoying (although thankfully getting rarer), but MS are dominant in the desktop PC market, so they aren't too worried.

Now they are trying to break into a market where Apple are dominant. Like it or not, one thing Apple phones and pads do is work. They might be annoying, frustrating and controlled to an extent which would make an anal retentive blush, but one thing they don't do is go *BORK*. MS really can't afford to pick up a reputation for machines that go *BORK* all the time. The solution, only approve a restricted selection of hardware. That way they can keep on top of the drivers, and I guess hold a big "If you don't sort out this problem, you'll be off the next approved list" hammer over the manufacturers.

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OS X

borks all the time. Check the console to see a fit of endless borking.

iOS apps also have a high bork factor. If there's less bork than there is on the desktop, it's because the "multitasking" - really Windows 3.x task switching, with a few extra processes - is so limited, the hardware design is closed, and generally the OS isn't trying to do nearly as much.

But still. Bork happens. My old Rev A MacBook Pro crashes at least once a day.

While Microsoft are becoming the Justin Beibers of mobile software - and not in a good way, pop pickers - Apple has always had to deal with less complex hardware.

But locking down the hardware is not the answer. Making it work is the answer.

Considering the endless hardware options in a PC, Windows 7 does a good job of not falling over much.

It can't be impossible to make WinFu 7 as hardware-tolerant.

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Once a day?

There must be something wrong with your machine if it is crashing once a day. Mine runs fine for weeks before I reboot it.

Perhaps your RAM is dodgy?

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Silver badge

Wrong move

In the desktop/laptop arena, people know which makes are loaded with bloatware, which overheat, and which fall apart within two years, or all three (by reputation or learning the hard way). Windows thrived because it was open enough to let yot move your data from a semi-useless brick to something that worked or change the non-working piece of hardware so it suddenly sprang back to life.

By restricting and taking ownership of hardware specs and drivers it's MS that's taking the flak instead of e.g. Samsung. But they can never control stuff as much as Apple so they'll never do it as well (and even Apple aren't perfect, especially wifi drivers).

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I think you overestimate normal users

While that might be true for techies, I don't think it is for normal users. As far as they are concerned, they have a computer and it runs Windows. If there is a problem then it's Windows that has crashed, Windows that has lost their work, Windows that is performing slowly. They don't know or care about the rest of it, and most don't even realise that there are differences in quality and performance between seemingly identical components. If a user buys a crappy PC made from really cheap components, they won't blame the computers hardware when things go wrong, they'll blame Windows, and for that reason I completely understand why MS a going down this path.

Now what they haven't said (at least in this article) is if retail / upgrade copies of Windows 8 will no longer be available. As long as they are then I don't see an issue. Techies wanting to build their own spec computer still can, and will have the knowledge to know that issues could be either hardware or software. Normal users buying branded computers will be assured that the computer they buy is properly built and designed to run that version (rather than it simply being shoe horned on like many previous versions have been on old kit), and it will hopefully then be more stable. Of course it might not work, but either way, whether it's a hardware or software problem a user experiences they will blame Windows by default, so MS have little to lose in trying to reduce the number of hardware issues tainting their reputation.

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Gimp

23456

Microsoft ... copying Apple? ... surely not?

They're only doing what comes naturally!

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Pint

A Tablet Is Not...

...a desktop.

There are no legacy devices or apps to support. Restricting support to approved components and architecture in new devices _should_ result in lean and mean code.

If a manufacturer wants to bring improvements, I would rather imagine Redmond will be cooperative.

What is NOT needed is me-too kludges coming out of the woodwork.

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Happy

Re: A tablet is not a desktop...

But is it a laptop? Microsoft can't impose restrictions on laptops (or desktops) without cutting off their own upgrade revenue. That would rather defeat the object of producing Windows 8 at all. A laptop with a touchscreen that you can flip around into a slate configuration sounds *very* much like some existing products, and also very much like a tablet. It's hard to see how MS can be anything other than annoyingly arbitrary in their definitions here.

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WTF?

"OEMs who've had decades of freedom."

"OEMs who've had decades of freedom."

Yeah right. In the desktop and server world x86-compatibility is only the starting point. There were Microsoft-sponsored "design guides" such as PC99, that dictate not just what a Window box must be able to do, but also a great deal of how it must do it. System builders could decide the vendor of the disk drive and the colour of the box and a few other things. Windows dictated the rest.

In the PDA world? Well you could start with the HPC2000 specification, then there was the PocketPC specification, then the WinPhone specification.

OEMs have *not* had decades of real freedom. Purely cosmetic.

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FAIL

"OEMs have had free rein when building PCs that run Windows."

That's another fail-quote. What about the netbook segment Microsoft managed to kill off by insisting that OEMs could only ship Windows (in Shit/Starter Edition form), presumably threatening anyone wanting to ship Linux, and, presumably in concert with Intel, deciding that products must not provide more than a certain amount of RAM?

Unbundle Microsoft!

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Thumb Up

Initially

"Controlling what PC makers can and can't put in their machines that run Windows goes against the entire ethos of the Windows ecosystem, and makes Microsoft more like Apple."

This is important to start with.

Oddly it gives MS an advantage over Apple (because there is more devices and software and users by a factor of nearly x10).

Linux is as open as it gets, yet on x86 LESS peripherals and variation is *WELL* supported than on Windows XP. Of course more specialised Linux/GNU distributions support MIPS (no longer on Windows) and ARM (so far only on CE based Windows (i.e. Phone7) and not yet on NT based windows till Win8).

They are right to do this for first release and then add more HALs and Drivers later.

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Gold badge

Don't agree

Microsoft isn't becoming like Apple because Apple doesn't tell OEMs what hardware to use because there are no OEMs. Apple does not sell OS software that runs on other people's hardware.

Microsoft setting minimum standards to ensure their product runs well is not control freakery and Microsoft has always set minimum standards for Windows, in some cases the minimum standards have been so low that Windows would barely run (Win95 and 4MB RAM?).

Anyway, tablets are different to desktops and laptops as they can't be upgraded (although CPU upgrades aren't easily possible laptops). So if you purchase a woefully unspecced tablet there's nothing you can do about it!

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Childcatcher

title

Where has my tinfoil hat gone?

The Microsoft EULA has for quite a while given them permission to throw software that they didn't like off your Windows PC (at least from Vista onwards). Now comes the hardware that they don't want in the box either.

Whether they do a good or bad job of imitating Apple's marketing success, they WILL do a good job of delivering a monoculture ecosystem. That will probably benefit:

* malware writers

* Microsoft

* the State (especially investigation & control)

* Big IT shops (eg Crapita)

* ...

* users (perhaps not)

Methinks it is now time to start hoarding cast off hardware and OS installation disks. It cannot be accidental that the world and his wife all seem to be having patent spats with Linux. We cannot have people outside the control of the system, it won't be good.

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WTF?

Tied platforms will simply make things very expensive

Each device instead of being generic will be hand-crafted to the OS running, sell a small number due to demand or version +1changes

All we need now is to finish tying them down to networks then everyone will be able to say their device is unique whilst breaking the hardware manufacturers freedom to innovate.

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Thumb Down

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

now i have to lrn Linux !!!

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Linux

Lrn Linux?

Oh come on....... anyone smart enough to house/clothe/feed themself can run Linux, it's a piece of cake! Plenty of Linux distributions are so similar to Windows that you'd adapt to the small differences in no time.

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Joke

o Rly

My wife would probably class that i am unable to any of those afore mentioned tasks :D

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Meh

Quote:

"Controlling what PC makers can and can't put in their machines that run Windows goes against the entire ethos of the Windows ecosystem."

Which is exactly why it won't happen in any meaningful way to PCs. Tablets - yes, phones - yes but MS is never, ever going to make it harder for corporate users to customise the kit they need for their businesses or restrict system builders from sticking in the hardware that their customers demand.

MS have made mistakes in the past. Big ones. But they're not suicidal.

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POSIX

Great, now we'll have POSIX on win

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