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Mary Branscombe

Putting Rob Enderle out of business.

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The shills are starting to come out of the woodwork now that Microsoft are ready to push their Windows Se7en. One of the more prominent is Mary Branscombe.

Here's a picture of Mary with her partner Simon Bisson. They look like they came right out of a Microsoft recruiting ad.

But onto the good stuff - the SIX STAR () rating this genius gave an unproven product update to something that arguably has the worst track record in the history of consumer products.

Why should we trust Microsoft? Bill Gates personally apologised to the entire planet seven years ago for his shoddy insecure software that created as he put it: so much 'pain and misery'. Has anything changed? No. Most of Microsoft's work has been on DRM on their latest OS update. Hardware components have to be tested by Microsoft so they degrade signal quality enough to get the go-ahead to be used. That's what Microsoft have been working on - not security.

What does Windows Se7en cost? In the UK where this article is published it's going to retail for £165.15 - but to that you have to add VAT (value added tax) for a least 15%, bringing the price up to £190. This for an update to a release that should more appropriately be called a replacement than an update; this where Apple's coming update will cost £17 and Ubuntu's next update will cost £0.

But the big difference is that Apple's current 'Leopard' release is eminently usable, eminently secure, and eminently popular. As is Ubuntu's latest. While Microsoft's current is almost universally maligned, leading Microsoft to continue supporting the archaic XP and Wintel OEMs to continue offering XP on their boxen as the preferred way to go.

What Microsoft should be doing is apologising to the world again for doing the same old crappy third rate thing and then giving the update away to everyone who wasted their money the last time around. Instead they'll charge $319.

Are you supposed to be happy about that? And why for that matter do prices on products in their decline always go ballistic right before their companies start imploding from within?

Anyway: onto this egregious 'review' - which is little more than a shill, little more than an advertisement. But to make matters more interesting, let's use the same six point scale to rate each part of the review. Ready?

1. Introduction

'If you have access to MSDN, TechNet or the Microsoft Action Pack...'

Points deducted for merely mentioning something with a stupid name like Action Pack. Guilt by association.

2. 'More than good looks'

Seriously: there's a section of the 'review' called 'more than good looks'. Seriously. Sorry - but what good looks? Where? Where's she been looking lately? In the mirror? At someone else in that wobbly double bed?

'As with Vista, there is no option to use a 'classic' Windows 2000-style desktop'

That crap they've been using for the past fifteen years - that's 'classic'? Classic hippo stool maybe.

And from this point onward - and we're only a few hundred words into the article - one realises something utterly horrible: that this review is going to be about features and not about system security. There are probably two good reasons for this.

  1. The author knows ordinary users are lost when it comes to security matters.
  2. The author herself is a bubblehead who doesn't know shite about security either.

That should sum it up.

'unlike Vista, the Start menu is responsive'

So this product is good because the last one was crap? News flash: almost everywhere outside Redmond one's interface controls are responsive. Yet another reason to demand Microsoft give this new turkey away for free.

'The new taskbar is more than a larger quick launch toolbar; it shows both open apps and those that are pinned in place with icons that indicate how many windows are open.'

That's painful. NeXT invented this over twenty years ago. It's in use on OS X today. Points deducted.

'Snapping windows to either side of the screen is a simple way to increase productivity and having a New Folder button always visible in Explorer saves several mouse clicks every time.'

Sounds like Exposé. And typical OS X file dialogs. Touting something everyone else has had for years? Points deducted.

'The Windows Se7en much better support for multiple monitors - but there are good functional reasons for the changes too.'

Grammatically nonsensical sentence. Points deducted.

'Visible improvements, like being able to connect to a wireless access point'

Like Apple's AirPort? That they've had for almost ten years? Points deducted.

'improvements under the hood to the network stack'

That remains to be seen. Microsoft are notorious for taking open source code (such as the all too generously licensed Berkeley Sockets) and completely ruining it, with memory leaks all over the place like flies at a picnic.

'Libraries have the potential to be confusing, but combined with search federation they give businesses the chance to get documents off individual desktops and onto the network where they belong, without making users memorise complex network paths.'

Sounds like NeXT shelf functionality. Points deducted.

3. 'In control'

In control? That's an outright lie. Ask the millions of victims of Conficker and all the rest if they feel in control. Ask the people who pay hundreds of dollars to get their computers cleaned if they feel in control. Ask the users who can't get a good hardcopy of their own system if they feel in control. Ask users who get bombarded by spam in their system tray if they feel in control.

In control? No consumer group has ever had less control than the people running Windows. 'In control' is utter bullshit.

'Microsoft's PowerShell 2.0 systems management scripting language is built into Windows Se7en'

Like that's going to beat the magnificent shells built into Unix and OS X? Another Microsoft innovation it would seem - but as with all Microsoft 'innovations' it's not tried and proven open source code but Microsoft's pitiable own. Meaning lots of bugs, hair pulling sessions, sleepless nights, and gallons of buyer's remorse.

And it also sounds scarily like Apple's AppleScript and Automator actions. Gee where did they get these ideas from?

And above all it sure is ugly!

'Windows Se7en's troubleshooting tools'

Troubleshooting for what? Sorry. Points deducted.

'Business PCs aren't places where just any pieces of software should be installed. As business tools they need to be controlled - but by policy, not by locking down every machine. Windows 7's AppLocker builds on Microsoft's existing Software Restriction policies to control who can install what and where.'

This deserves a section of its own. For on secure systems this would never be an issue in the first place. And about the only people this system will thwart are the demented. Malware is going to get through anyway because the system itself isn't secure. This is a 'BFD'. Points deducted.

'Windows Se7en is a lot more insistent than Vista about backing up PCs, and the Action Center aims to make sure that you've got a backup strategy for your PCs.'

Microsoft Time Machine? Points deducted.

'Backups can be held on external and secondary drives, or network shares.'

No! Ur kidding!!1!

4. 'Data Security'

Wow. Look at that. A topic that's actually important. But 'security' and 'Microsoft' in the same sentence usually elicits laughs.

'If you're worried about data loss from laptops and USB sticks'

But we're not. Not particularly. A good system wouldn't lose anything anyway.

What we're more interested in - something Mary Branscombe by design studiously avoids mentioning - is how the F users of Windows Se7en are to protect themselves against the armada of malware strains out there exclusively emanating from and attacking Windows machines - and thereby becoming the #1 nuisance on the Internet. When Microsoft reps themselves claim 97% of all mail traffic is spam and when we know spam is generated almost exclusively by compromised Windows machines then we don't really need to know much more, do we? So why not talk about that instead?

Why not talk about how Bill Gates is going to clean up his act and clean up the Internet and eliminate spam as he once promised? [And if that doesn't clue you in to the fact that Bill Gates is a moron when it comes to computer science then nothing will. Either that or a bald faced charlatan of course.]

Points deducted.

5. 'XP Mode and R2'

The very title tells you something is really rotten in Redmond. Se7en will run in 'XP Mode', meaning you can still get hit by your favourite malware attacks no matter what. And that's surely a comfort.

XP Mode is based on Virtual PC - another of those Microsoft innovations, meaning it's a company Microsoft gobbled up a while ago. [It's not much to have any longer unfortunately.]

'Applications install in a full Windows XP desktop, and then appear in the XP Mode section of the Windows Se7en start menu.'

Wow. So for $319 people can still run XP? Great!

6. 'Easier network access'

'Some key business features in Windows Se7en won't be available until you roll out Windows Server 2008 R2'

Aha aha. That totally sucks. Product lock-in. Smart companies won't use Microsoft servers already today, despite how many dumb-arse XP boxen they have in their landscapes.

7. 'Ready to roll out'

'Windows 7 performs well on existing hardware'

That's a new one! Honest it is! Every successive version of Windows is supposed to work well on existing hardware. That's how they get you. Upgrade Windows, find out you've been totally screwed over, then go out and buy more Intel crap. That's how the Wintel market works. You can count on such assurances as being the same old bollocks they always pull at release time.

Dropping buzz words like 'many-core parallel processing', 'SuperFetch', and '2Dgraphics' doesn't help.

And of course if you toss $319 in the ocean you're less likely to switch platforms soon. But more likely to spend several times that amount each year in servicing for all your viruses, antivirus utility add-ons, and so forth. Whereas if you just told Bill Gates to stuff it today you wouldn't have to pay another penny anymore ever.

Points deducted.

'Windows 7 really has something for everyone'

Yes it really does. Something for every loser and weasel on the planet but above all for the multibillion dollar malware industry that's thereby given a new lease on life where if you had just switched away they'd all be out of business tomorrow.

Like McAfee, like Sophos, like Symantec, like F-Secure. Like Microsoft.

Aside from the criticism that this was the OS that Windows Vista should have been, this is an undoubted success for Microsoft. With many features offering benefits for businesses and more efficient use of current hardware, is there any real need to wait for SP1 to deploy?
 - Mary Branscombe

See Also
Learning Curve: Life Without Windows™
Learning Curve: Life Without Windows™: The Bogus Backstory

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