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Last week Iíve succeeded in replacing Vista operating system on my laptop with Windows XP. When I ordered the laptop in early February, I specifically requested XP because I have XP on my desktop and I did not sense a need for any changes or improvements (Microsoft type of improvements, to be more precise). However, Dell would sell an Inspiron E1505 only with Vista and I knuckled under. Three and a half months of frustrations and dissatisfactions, that is what followed. Iíve asked Dell for a change to XP, for a fee, but they refused. As a consequence, I was using the laptop less and less. Finally, last week, my son in law (who was observing my misery from a side) gave me a XP disk as a present. I suppressed my uneasiness on the operating system change (it probably was on the very edge of my computer skills) and Iíve succeeded.

Itís time that we rebel against the dictators of "silicon" economy! We, the users of personal com-puters. Let us not blind ourselves with the social benefits of computing. Let us ask ourselves why we keep throwing money at microcomputer giants like Microsoft. Let us reconsider when and why we need a new piece of hardware or software. Of course, there are worse ways to spend money than to buy a new computer hardware or software. However, the computer option is so widespread, it is so seductive, that it requires a deeper social awareness. Microcomputers, the machines and

on Microsoft Vista

their software, should not define computing, despite their glory and attractiveness. Here are my two main objections:

(1) The shocking acceleration of microcomputer complexity, both hardware and software, is for the benefit of their manu-facturers, not their users. Microcomputers are immensely more complex than the tasks commonly asked of them, it is like killing a mosquito with a shotgun. The grievous conse-quence is the decreasing percentage of users who really do computing: most users utilise those powerful machines just as typewriters and Internet browsers while other tasks are increasingly left to a new type of professionals - software servicemen (they might be computer science graduates but the title is misleading).

(2) The Microsoft doctrine of computing (and this currently is, unfortunately, the dominant one) cuts down the individuality of users: default values and default pathways (some of them practically impossible to change) are almost humiliating to those who like to think. Take, for instance, the default file saving pathways to My Documents, My pictures, My music, My Webs, etc. I understand that text and image files have critical differences for a Microsoft programmer; however my goal is not to use a computer but to elaborate specific subject with a computer. If I have text and image and sound files on a specific subject, it is essential that they are in the same folder. Computing is a process of thinking, not the usage of computer hardware.

Iím not a neo-Luditte asking you to crash and throw away your computer(s): although it might be good for you, it is bad for the environment.

 2007-05-27 

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