Reply to post: Fond memories

Windows 10 1809: Now arriving on a desktop near you (if you want it)

Long John Silver

Fond memories

I recollect the early days of personal computing being exiting. Adherents to the Microsoft way of doing things were assailed by notable improvements to Windows and to products running on it. Major Windows updates were eagerly anticipated. I recall NT as a milestone in reliability. Fascinating developments, many spurred by advances in networking technologies, continued, albeit with less haste, up to Windows 7. Up to that point I, and doubtless many others, both professional and enthusiast, would eagerly await news and pre-release reviews in specialist printed magazines. For me that ended with the advent of easy (relatively to before) to install Linux distributions configurable to work happily with a wide range of hardware.

However, emanations from Microsoft continue to fascinate by titillating a morbid sense of humour. I retain 'evaluation' versions, encapsulated in virtual machines, of Windows 7 and 10 merely because there very occasionally is software requiring full Windows rather than Wine. Indeed, hardly ever nowadays is Windows/Wine of any use to me. Yet, watching the antics of the 'upgrade' from Windows 7+ to 10 and subsequent bug fixes and 'improvements' to 10, is source of amusement.

I conclude that Windows 10's evolutionary steps, which can be delayed but not halted, no longer enthral either IT professionals or humble users. They look to have become a burden and offer rapidly diminishing returns of functionality. Perhaps that is a transient stage before long term stability takes hold.

What's also clear is how all this coincides with a shift of Microsoft marketing towards software rental and to retaining control of its 'intellectual property' by pretence of requirement for regularly 'calling home' offering enhanced services to customers. Moreover, at ordinary 'consumer' level, desktop/laptop Windows is becoming centred upon home entertainment and shopping. Fair enough if that's what people want. However, at this level, Windows 10 seemingly is becoming ever less configurable according to user whim; large elements of its offered functionality and of its hidden functionality are beyond user control. Nevertheless, savvy users can still more or less make Windows dance to their tune.

That said, things to come bode ill for people who regard their computing devices their own absolute fiefdom. Microsoft, with its huge footprint in personal computing, is now well placed to offer its services as protector of so-called 'intellectual property rights'. For instance, 'Windows Defender' cannot be entirely switched off; it's a simple step to make it seek out and destroy copyright infringing material of any nature. Already compulsory regular 'security updates' would enable installing hashes of known infringing 'content' to be placed on user devices; specific 'calling home' cannot be ruled out either. Additionally, Defender, or similar, could root around within installed software to seek embedded authorisation code. Another step is to implement (on regional basis) site-blocks on behalf of governments; even if VPN is used (or allowed) the operating system should be able to ascertain site addresses and block access. Also, it could locate and nullify code supporting 'unauthorised' alternatives to the conventional WWW.

Thus, for a modest fee, Microsoft can put itself forth as the most effective preventative of copyright infringement (digital), at least for the huge swathe of the world's population locked into Microsoft products. Given Microsoft's immense proselytisation of itself via free/cheap versions of its software for use in schools and universities (doubtless linked to a financial 'donation') its position is pretty much ensured. That, at least until its effective monopoly is challenged. It's not to the personal interests of legislators to do that. Not just for the sake of bribes from discrete Microsoft agents but also because copyright cartels have many legislators firmly in their pockets.

So, excitement at forthcoming Windows security and feature updates shall continue but of different tenor. Knowledgable people will await with trepidation the next restriction imposed on use of their devices and access to the Internet. An additional frisson shall come through speculation over whether Microsoft is slipping something in without fanfare.

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