Why I despise Microsoft

I read in The Register today about Microsoft’s release of a plugin for Firefox that will allow you to view Open XML documents (MS’s controversial XML-based document format). But the article in The Register gave no download link, so I thought “Grrr. Annoying Register writers — don’t they have any sense?”

So, I went to MS’s download site, and put in “OXML Firefox” and got no matches. I tried some variations and got nothing. So, I went to Google and searched on “microsoft Open XML plugin for firefox” and expected to see a Microsoft.com link somewhere at the top of the search results. No dice — all the links were for third-party websites. So I went to a reputable one (ZDNet) and expected to find a link. Once again, as with The Register, no link at all.

Now I was getting *rilly* annoyed. So I saw a link that I’d missed at the bottom of the first page of results — it was a Microsoft press release and on MS’s website. “Eureka!,” I thought — “that will surely be it!” The press release itself offered nothing, but there was a list of links at the right and the first link was to “Open XML Document Viewer,” and so I thought “Eureka!” again. But when I went to the page, it wasn’t on MS’s website — it was an open-source project, and I didn’t think it could possibly be the right site for this well-publicized plugin, since it listed only 448 downloads.

So I went back to Google and visited the first link that Google had brought up, a website I’d never heard of, Softpedia.com (hence my skepticism in not going there first). It took me right to a download page, and I clicked the DOWNLOAD button. This (as is so often the case) took me to a second page that listed download sites, but there was only ONE download site, so I had trouble finding the link. Finally, I clicked it and started the download. In the meantime, I’d alread downloaded the viewer from the OpenXML Viewer Project’s website’s download page, and when the SAVE prompt popped up for the Softpedia.com download, I noted that the file name was the same as for the previous download. I renamed the file and then compared the two, and, of course, they were identical. *sigh*

This whole frustrating process left me with a number of questions:

  • Is MS trying to hide the fact that this is a non-MS project?
  • Are all the media outlets not providing a link because…um, well, er, because?
  • And why do download sites not have code that checks it there’s only one download site to choose from and automatically initiate the download from that single website, instead of offering the user the opportunity to “choose” the one site (which confused the hell out of me, because I couldn’t see the link).

One might get the idea that MS is not all that enthused about promoting this thing.

Oh, last lesson: always trust Google to give you the right answer at the top of the results page.

The Future of Windows

Microsoft has a blog for the next version of Windows, called Engineering Windows 7, and it has lots of interesting articles. Today, a post is discussing the Windows ecosystem, and one of the major topics therein is the way OEMs package Windows. I have always been really annoyed with the garbage that gets bundled to load out of the box in a lot of OEM setups, especially when they include trial or limited-feature versions of software that provide important functions. These are the ones that annoy me the most:

  • AV software with limited subscriptions: if you’re providing AV software pre-installed, make it at least a one-year subscription!
  • Optical drive software support: Windows should be providing full writability to CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW without any additional software needed. But in many cases, you have to have somebody else’s software installed for your optical drives to work. This means that if you rebuild your system you may not be able to restore full access to these devices.
  • Anything that puts an icon in the system notication area (formerly the “System Tray,” which MS denies was ever its real name, despite the fact that its executable was named “SysTray”): I don’t need an AOL icon, nor do I need one for QuickTime or Adobe Reader or Windows Media Player or MSN Messenger or Real Player and so forth. Many software manufacturers use the system tray as an advertising venue, and Microsoft should so something to stop this abuse, in my opinion.

Thus endeth the rant.

Miscellaneous Microsoft-Related Issues.

A couple of interesting articles encountered in the last week discussing Microsoft-related issues in general:

  • The first, by Albert Kallal, an e-crony of mine in comp.databases.ms-access, speculates about why Microsoft is going for .NET as a thin client strategy when they already have a winner of a thin client (Windows Terminal Services): http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn/Articles/ThinClientsand.net.html.
  • The second is a less Microsoft-friendly article, Windows XP Shows the Direction Microsoft is Going. It discusses a lot of the vulnerabilities of Windows XP (and all of MS’s NT-based OS’s). It’s pretty interesting in that it outlines a lot of the reasons why the NT-based versions of Windows are not as secure as MS would like us to believe. Of course, in my opinion, Windows security is more than enough for the vast majority of business users, though one must make numerous alterations to the default Windows configurations in order to make Windows as secure as it ought to be (the EVERYONE group and the way permissions are allocated to it is simply an abomination, for instance).