Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Microsoft has removed the “use offline account” option when installing Windows (reddit.com)
1793 points by rahuldottech 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 763 comments

This is incredibly bad.

In general I have a positive opinion about what MS is doing lately, but Windows is a glaring exception, it’s getting worse and worse at an alarming rate.

In the last two months we had two consecutive updates that broke basic functionality for users who disabled web results in Windows Search (which is a very common setting among those who care about privacy) https://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-1903-microsoft-deta...

Now, MS is trying to force upon customers this cloud login garbage, which is obviously not acceptable if you are privacy conscious.

I build my own PCs and have spent hundreds of dollars in Windows 10 retail licenses, I pay for the service so I don’t want to be the product.

I’ve always assumed that I’m locked into using Windows but after all this crap I’m starting to look into alternatives even though they’v got shortcomings on their own.

(Edit: replaced Amp link with real link, sorry I didn’t realise it was Amp)

They didn't removed it. The title is misleading, The button is still there, but they renamed the button. It's under "Domain Join Instead" https://i.imgur.com/tA9fo1R.png And there you can create an offline account: https://i.imgur.com/eBLi5cv.png

I didn’t feel the need to specify that in my comment because the linked Reddit thread already explains it, it’s the top upvoted comment, you can see it just below the initial post. When I said “this is incredibly bad” I was referring to the dark pattern, I wasn’t trying to suggest that the option had been completely removed.

To what i see, the top upvoted comment is at the third position behind a lot of subcomments, because of the "hot" ranking of reddit. By reading the discussions here, i don't think that a lot of people realised that the option is still there.

They're forcing people to online accounts by putting the offline option in the basement, it's the standard 'nudge' in software. Eventually they'll eliminate it completely.

Some would consider this one a dark pattern, I would agree in this case.

Except maybe in a “home edition” that can’t eliminate it completely. Businesses will flip their shit if employees needed an MS account.

It would mean the death of Windows.

> Businesses will flip their shit if employees needed an MS account.

Not necessarily. Remember that Windows is an Azure product now. They want employees in the cloud paying for Office 365 anyway.

Just migrate your business accounts to Microsoft.

I bet some companies will end up doing exactly that. For others there will probably remain an exception that will cost extra.

(I may be saying this as if it's normal, but I need to turn up my cynicism quite a bit to fit this reality.)

Ah, it must be a user option in Reddit, I assumed that everyone else was reading the same thing I was reading. Also, at the time I commented here on HN, the top comment here was this one so I was assuming everyone would see it (but later it went down the page and now it’s hard to find) https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21104074

Well, this is nothing new. The same story resurfaces pretty much every release of windows 10, as it did almost every release of windows 8.

Not that it makes it better.

So you assumed everyone else would be able to catch the specific comment you read in a forum thread that will shift comment positions, or allow users to delete them.

There was no malice intended. At the time I commented, also the top comment here in HN was saying the same thing. So I assumed everyone knew what we were talking about. This whole HN thread had like 10 comments in total so it was easy to read. Then the thread made it to the HN front page, and it blew up. (And people in the US/Europe woke up while I was having dinner with friends here in Australia).

Edit: the HN comment I’m talking about is this one, you can see from the timestamp it's older than mine https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21104074

Is there anyone that even knows what "Domain join" means? If the button was there but hidden, would that count as "still there"? What if it was there but labeled "Click here to brick your computer"?

Domain joining means connecting the machine to a Windows domain allowing domain user accounts to be used, and allowing for the domain to administer the machine.

It's actually quite a helpful option to have, but it's completely absurd for the only way to create a local account to be via the domain join option.

My knee jerk reaction would be that 'domain join' would be something reserved for connecting to enterprise domains - it might ask me for an active directory connection or something (which, if I'm offline, I wouldn't even think to try in the first place). "domain join" for a single user machine? I wouldn't even make the connection.

That's clearly what MS are hoping for.

Clearly, but that is something us sysads for decades get...

You think that joe mechanic who just bought his daughter a new machine has any of this lexicon.

Whomever is responsible for all of this bullshit at MS should be hit in the face with a shovel.

Recently, and I’ve been in tech since 1997, I bought an office lic at Costco because I needed excel on a machine...

You know what a pain in the ass it is to install office on a generic factory machine with the new bs. They want to tie that install to an outlook account.

Nope. I just want excel this machine won’t even be connected to the internet. But MS says fuck-you-because-thats-why.

If don't need 100 pct of Excel's bazillion features, Libre Office is a decent alternative. It works with Excel files, doesn't need Windows (but it can run there), and doesn't nag you to join any clouds. And it's free. There's very few home users who actually need full Office.

My non-favorite pain point with LibreOffice are Excel tables (https://support.office.com/en-us/article/overview-of-excel-t...). Home users won't be missing them, but Excel power users will.

Excel is a requirement for the integration I want to do to another program: bartender

To print barcodes and labels in serial with an ODBC connection... so libre won’t work

Libre does support ODBC, perhaps not exactly the same way though.

Its on the reverse.... bartender (from seagul scientific, which their software is fantastic by the way) doesn’t support it...

I have a bug filed with them where if you build a thing in google sheets and export to xlsx and attempt to connect to that data source it crashes.... (but if it is native xlsx it works fine) hence my need to install excel on that particular machine, as the bartender software can take tabular input for varying data for each sticker printed ( cannabis compliance labels, which I have now mastered)

They are a great company though, and bartender is an amazing program. I suggest everyone download their free version and learn it.

Every time I click the "domain join" button when I install a PC at work it never even ask which domain I want to join. I have to do it once the OS is fully installed.

The "offline account" was simply renamed to domain join. If it's an sentence selection error i won't be suprised. In this panel, there is nothing about domain join.

Anybody who has ever administered Windows PCs professionally at work should know what it means. I would not expect home users to know or care.

I have used Windows PCs at work extensively. I had no idea that 'Domain join' could mean 'create an offline account'.

> I had no idea that 'Domain join' could mean 'create an offline account'.

It doesn't. It means, or at least it should, join the PC to a Active Directory/NT4 domain.

“Administered”. I’m not talking about local admin rights, I’m talking about the people in your IT department who administer a fleet of Windows PCs.

It doesn’t normally mean “create offline account”, but domain accounts are not the same as Microsoft accounts, and domain accounts are a normal part of enterprise deployments. So it does normally mean that you can create a non-Microsoft account. Yes, it’s stupid. Not defending it, just trying to explain what “join domain” means.

> I would not expect home users to know

That's why MS renamed the button.

> or care

They do, else MS would not need those dark patterns.

> They do, else MS would not need those dark patterns.

No, typical end users do not care what “domain join” means. They only care about creating offline accounts. “Domain join” isn’t supposed to mean “create offline account”, it’s supposed to let you join the computer to an AD domain. Or at least, that’s what I’d expect.

Users don't care about "offline account" either. (What does that mean to a user, they can't access the internet any more?) Same with the previous term before that, "local account", had no meaning to most "typical" end users for about the same reason.

Some of this I guess is semi-intentional dark patterns [1], but it's also a complex space where explaining the trade-offs to "typical" end users would involve a ton of wasted space and increasingly local/offline accounts aren't what a "typical" end user wants, because they aren't an IT Admin and don't understand the trade-offs and probably don't care to. Given no one seems to have a good name for them other than "offline accounts" or "local accounts", which would imply "can't connect to the internet" to "typical" end users, it's hard not to feel that it really probably is a Power User feature and it's as much an unintentional dark pattern simply because we don't have a good name for it and no one wants to explain the trade-offs to "typical" end users.

[1] Though I'm more willing than most to ascribe at least some good intentions to it: settings synchronization is more useful to typical end users than local sandboxes and devices that don't roam basic settings. The ability to recover logging into a device when a user forgets a password is also a huge necessary deal in 2019 because passwords are broken and typical end users have far too many of them. Microsoft also wants to kill the password as a thing in lieu of other factors. Getting end users out of daily password input would be good for us an industry.

(Yes, yes, I know the next three commenters will complain that it's all just for telemetry and surveillance, and I understand where y'all are coming from, but you are also not-quite-correct and it's a debate I'm tired of. Windows 10 has been increasingly better at allowing you to explore all of its telemetry collection and better with each update at providing tools for opting out of individual telemetry. Windows 10 and macOS/iOS are at the same levels of telemetry collection and accountability of such today. The telemetry debate is increasingly not productive nor interesting in the comments on HN and elsewhere.)

"Local accounts" is perfectly apt name. "Local accounts" doesn't come close to implying "can't join the internet" either, although "offline accounts" might.

Still none of this really justifies burying the option deep and using vague terminologies to hide this feature. Case in point: I had to google search the procedure to create a local account when I wanted to create an account for guests/others that use my laptop.

The pain point about telemetry is that Windows is a paid product and there shouldn't even be such a thing in a product that people pay for. And although there might (now) be settings to control telemetry, what good are they when Windows updates reset all settings regularly?

> "Local accounts" is perfectly apt name. "Local accounts" doesn't come close to implying "can't join the internet" either, although "offline accounts" might.

You have a higher opinion of the "typical" end user than I do. "Local" invites the question "local to what?" and "as opposed to what?". When the other option is "online account", then yes even "local" leads to "can't use on the internet" to certain types of users.

Burying a power user feature to avoid confusing inexperienced end users is justified. The argument over whether or not "local accounts" or "offline accounts" are a power user feature is a more interesting argument. I do think that if we can't come up for a name for them that isn't confusing to inexperienced end users, than that's at least one indicator that it may be a power user feature.

> The pain point about telemetry is that Windows is a paid product and there shouldn't even be such a thing in a product that people pay for.

People want data-driven improvements in paid products, too. (Would you rather Microsoft just blindly make changes? What are the alternatives? Go back to waterfall and nothing but overly detailed and over-engineered specs of what some PM thought was a good idea because they heard it from some rich Enterprise client at a tech conference three years ago?)

There are tons of paid products with telemetry. It's been highly upvoted advice here on HN, to do things like A/B testing, and metrics-driven development. Lots of paid products have telemetry (including Apple's and Google's).

"Paid products" is another amusing double standard I'm going to add to my list for telemetry complaints. "What's good for the startup goose, is not good for the old tech gander." --HN commenters, probably

> And although there might (now) be settings to control telemetry, what good are they when Windows updates reset all settings regularly?

There were always settings since Windows XP. The only thing Windows 10 did was change them from opt-in to opt-out by default. Microsoft then responded to arguments that the settings weren't granular enough, so now there's dozens more settings with pages of documentation each (and an explorer tool to log and examine collected telemetry data, if you wish).

The resets were bugs in the upgrade process that have generally been fixed since. Microsoft has been taking settings resets seriously, and absolutely considers them bugs. The way in-place upgrades work, migration scripts missing settings is a problem. Microsoft's "Beta" program (Insiders) is sadly not setup to find telemetry reset bugs because they need the telemetry most of all in Beta testing, so I feel it's understandably unfortunate that so many telemetry settings reset bugs have made it into production.

Local means something that is "local" to your computer (the tangible device) as opposed to "online" which is not "local" to your computer. It's a simple word which shouldn't take much effort to parse.

Local accounts aren't a "power user" feature either. I bet every person/household has guests over who might have to use the device (for work or something else). Whose Microsoft/Outlook Account should be used for such use cases? I hope you see the issue with considering local accounts a power user feature.

As far as changes to OS goes, MS should listen to customer feedback first and foremost. A minimal non personally identifying diagnostic information gathering would be fine too but instead you have this with Win 10:

> "This data is transmitted to Microsoft and stored with one or more unique identifiers that can help us recognize an individual user on an individual device" [1]

> It's been highly upvoted advice here on HN, to do things like A/B testing, and metrics-driven development.

Neither A/B testing nor metrics-driven development require overzealous collection of personally identifying data. You would do fine with anonymous data for such testing.

> Microsoft has been taking settings resets seriously

Not seriously enough it seems. The issues have continued throughout lifetime of Win 10 well into 2019 now. If it's a bug, it's easily longest running Win 10 bug now. My own settings were reset after the latest feature update. A google search shows that I'm not alone. I shudder thinking about the poor souls who disabled telemetry and failed to notice how an update reset their settings.

[1]: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4468236/diagnostics...

> I bet every person/household has guests over who might have to use the device (for work or something else).

In the era when everyone has a computer already in their pocket? In the era when a Windows 10 laptop can be bought at Wal-Mart for $200 or sometimes less?

We're in an era of single user devices. Statistically the "household computer" is gone, the Desktop/Tower a legacy form factor used mostly just by gamers now, and most "computing" people need is just done on their phones they keep in their pockets. The need to borrow someone else's device today is mostly just to throw YouTube videos on entertainment center screens to share and we've got Chromecast/Apple Cast/Miracast dedicated tools for that today.

Having more than one account, itself, on a device is a power user feature in 2019. Having a distinction between types of accounts and whether or not those accounts are backed by cloud accounts, is probably no less a power user feature than having multiple accounts on a device is in the first place.

> In the era when everyone has a computer already in their pocket? In the era when a Windows 10 laptop can be bought at Wal-Mart for $200 or sometimes less?

Yes. The form factor of a mobile phone is not at all conducive to productivity. You wouldn't buy $200 walmart Win 10 laptop for every guest that would like to work/create a word|excel|powerpoint doc/play games on your computer either.

They aren't called local accounts: https://i.imgur.com/eBLi5cv.png

They were: https://zdnet4.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/2016/06/17/570b9b29-c982...

The point I included was that Microsoft has changed the wording on it more than once because they don't have a good idea what to call them.

End users don't care about the expected meaning of "domain join", right. But they do care about the meaning MS uses here.

Not everyone running Windows PCs at work is in an enterprise environment with in-house IT specialists. Remember, most businesses are small businesses.

“Administered”. If you don’t have IT specialists you don’t have people administering your PCs professionally.

I’m not talking about people who happen to use Windows in a professional setting. I’m talking specifically about people whose main job responsibilities include Windows administration.

If you don’t have IT specialists you don’t have people administering your PCs professionally.

Given that your stated alternative was home users, you seem to have excluded just about the entire world of small businesses with that definition. They might not have dedicated IT staff, but they still need to be able to administer their systems and in many cases a designated person will still be responsible for doing so. They just need to be able to do that as well as fulfilling whatever obligations they have in their primary role. Issues like privacy and security apply just as much in this context as in a large enterprise deployment with a whole department of dedicated staff to run it, but they need simple, transparent mechanisms for setting up the office network, deploying updates to the OS and installed software, etc.

I am answering the question,

> Is there anyone that even knows what "Domain join" means?

And the answer is, “IT specialists supporting Windows in corporate environments.” Generally speaking. I honestly cannot understand the motive or purpose for the rest of your comment, which seems to be about the needs of small businesses, which is not germane.

> Given that your stated alternative was home users, you seem to have excluded just about the entire world of small businesses with that definition.

Right, because I am specifically talking about IT specialists, who “administer Windows professionally”. This is the usual definition of “professionally”, that you “profess” to do something. If I talk about people who “write professionally”, this also does not include people who happen to write emails, memos, and other ordinary correspondence at work.

But this doesn’t really exclude small business, since it’s common for small businesses (and medium) to contract IT services.

Ah, sorry, it seems I misinterpreted your original comment. I thought you were defending Microsoft's decision to hide creation of a local account behind the deceptive button name, on the basis that those who were setting these PCs up in a business environment would know what it meant anyway.

First of all, I would have had no idea that's what "domain join" meant. But second, I love how the option is down there with "terms of use" and other things you're very unlikely to ever read or look at. And third, it's cute how even if you somehow find your way to this option, they have the "but even better, use the online account!" Oh my god.

It is still misleading.

Under "Domain join instead", I would assume that I could enter an appropriate domain credentials and the computer would join the domain. Essentially the same thing, that the OOB assistant in RHEL8/Fedora does, when choosing Enterprise login.

Weird location because local user accounts have little to do with domains. :P

The sole purpose of this location is to create an offline account... Seriously.

Could be, but it has nothing to do with domains.

Yep, that the issue of this naming.

My initial thought was that they completely removed the option only in the Home version of Windows.

Since (I don't think) you can join Windows Home to a Domain, is that true? Is the option for a local account now only available in Windows Pro, unless you install Windows Home disconnected from the Internet?

Nope. I recently installed windows home for a friend and I had the option for offline account.

How recent? It looks like this change is very new.

(You should still be able to force an offline account by disconnecting for the internet during install, but, that requirement is terrible.)

Ah ! Maybe. I only get Windows Pro editions, so i can't test this. In both case, the outcame is sad: Everyone here felt for something that is not checked(lacking vocabulary for this sentence), or Windows is getting worst for their users.

Nice...no normal user would click that.

This is terrible.

Not as much as the title imply, but yes, it's another one dark pattern.

"Domain join instead"? That's bizarre, it's not even proper English. They really don't want anyone to click there.

Do you actually need to be running a domain controller? Or is it local?

You don't need anything. The "use offline account" got renamed this way.

> I pay for the service so I don’t want to be the product.

I think this is worth thinking about for a bit. The trope is that if you're not paying then you're the product.

But it doesn't follow that if you are paying you are not the product. That depends entirely on business decisions that customers have little visibility into.

For any product you pay for, there may eventually be a decision to extract additional revenue streams by monetizing your data or attention.

The fact that this happened with cable TV and advertising before the era of the internet indicates that this is far from a new pattern. I expect to see it a lot in the next few years.

As someone in another thread mentioned, it's because the marketing budgets are way bigger than what people would, or even could, pay.

Whichever corporations are paying for these revenue streams of monetized data and attention, they can (and do) easily outbid whatever a human customer is willing or able to pay for software or services that don't track you.

It's pretty obvious when you think about it. All the incentives for commercial software / services / sites anywhere are stacked against the user actually paying with money instead of data.

There isn't even a good infrastructure for getting/passing this money, unlike the giant system of ad networks passing tracking data back and forth.

People (complete idiots, IMHO) have been saying this is the transaction, you're paying with your data for the "free internet". But for starters, there is no choice. Also, nobody asked me. I've been "paying" with my data without consent for YEARS, even though I try not to.

And now we see it's not an either/or question. They can just make you pay for the service AND extract your data and track you. Because why not both? Again we don't have a lot of choice.

> As someone in another thread mentioned, it's because the marketing budgets are way bigger than what people would, or even could, pay.

This makes no sense. Someone paying £43 a month for Sky TV in the UK is only worth another £5 a month in adverts. Maybe that works out fine, but I don't pay for Sky because of this. London Underground brainwashes millions of people every day. They spend £4.50 on a ticket, but TFL want an extra 15p from advert income. Passengers then spend the cost of that advertising and then some on products they see being advertised, a cost they wouldn't have born without the adverts.

Some businesses may make the bulk of their money from advertising other companies, but most don't.

I'm not sure about your examples, they don't seem to be on line data harvesting tracking ads, monetizing consumers of software or content. Maybe I'm missing the analogy here.

Anyway, it was this comment, they explained the idea better than I did maybe: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20988742

> They can just make you pay for the service AND extract your data and track you.

Indeed. When cable TV started, it didn't have advertising. The premise was that you were paying for the service, so they didn't have to show you ads. That situation lasted as long as ice cream in the Nevada sun. Cell companies were capitalizing on tracking data we were providing them -- despite the high cost of cell service -- long before the general public got wise. Microsoft just took longer to get to the same idea.

Microsoft is going to double down on this, and make the consumer version "free" by way of explicit advertising. If they lose customers, they won't care. They've got corporations around the globe by the short hairs for at least another generation. Maybe two. They've been losing the consumer space for years, and they're just going to ride it all the way into the ground.

This sort of thing cannot be remedied apart from regulation.

The trope is backwards. If a business doesn't charge they have no choice but to make the user the product. If the user pays they have the option.

Not really though

Look no further than TV manufacturers, the moment one of them decided to substitute below market prices with selling people’s data the others had to follow to stay competitive!

I still wonder how true this really is. Every time this subject comes up, all I seem to find are people who just want a good screen, and often who don't mind paying a higher price for it. Presumably there are also people who are sufficiently price-sensitive when buying a large flat-screen TV that the reduction from having bundled junkware makes a difference, but as far as I know, I have yet to meet one.

If anything, by now I'd say "smart TV fatigue" is setting in, much the same as "smartphone fatigue" a little while ago. Enough people have had these devices for long enough to see all the a-bit-too-clever software get out of date and stop working, and then they start to see the bundled online services and so on as a negative and start asking their more techie friends and family for advice on how to avoid the problems next time.

I wish I could buy a really good screen with no “smart” software at all.

I can plug an Xbox if I want, or a shield, or a Roku, or an Amazon fire stick/tv, or an Apple TV, or a chrome cast

Just add a bunch of ports and KISS.

- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle

The irony is that you can still buy just a good screen with good connectivity options and basic controls, but the market is advertised as "display screens" intended for things like advertising or video walls.

I don't understand why the same manufacturers/distributors offering these products don't also pitch them as TVs with well-defined specs and no junk, probably with some sort of "expert"/"pro" branding that makes them look like a high-end choice.

You could pitch one of those, a basic 2.1 home sound system or the like, and maybe a small control/switching box that everything plugs into and that also accepts your source feeds, and you've got a mini home-theatre-style arrangement that could be quite attractive to those who value decent gear but don't have the budget and/or space for a full home theatre setup that would cost at least 2-3x as much for entry-level equipment.

> The irony is that you can still buy just a good screen with good connectivity options and basic controls, but the market is advertised as "display screens" intended for things like advertising or video walls.

That used to be an obvious possibility, but recent products in this category tend to run variants of Android/Tizen/webOS complete with Wi-Fi to support remote management. There are still a few relatively "dumb" models of commercial displays out there, but they seem to be a dying breed.

Because only two manufacturers make large OLED screens and maybe three make advanced LED screens and they are all massive conglomerates that control the market.

I suppose my implied question here is why control the market in that way even if they do have the practical ability to do so? If there is a market for simple, good quality products and people willing to pay a fair price for them, why would you exclude it, particularly in favour of a market where more of your revenue comes from dubious sources that could backfire in terms of PR and/or be less reliable in terms of future potential earnings?

What about not simply enabling wifi connection on the tv? My few year old sony tv is the dumbest possible secondary pc monitor, with great screen quality. I couldn't care less about any of those apps, I have vastly superior PC for those if needed.

This is a dangerous argument to rely on, because it still allows for devices to phone home via independent means. Just as your new car may well have some sort of embedded mobile network access today, so your TV may come with a built-in SIM, or use some kind of mesh network that doesn't rely on your own home WiFi access.

The problem is the principle that it's OK for your devices to monitor you at all without your explicit knowledge and consent -- or even with those things, if the market leaves no reasonable alternative and so the consent isn't really consent at all.

I think this is only true for a small subset of tech-savvy people. Anecdotally, everyone I know that doesn't work in tech loves their smart TV—it's way more convenient for them than having a separate device connected to the TV, and they don't really care (or even know) about the privacy implications. And I suspect that this must be true more generally, otherwise companies would continue to make higher-cost "dumb" TVs to cater to that audience.

I know a lot of people who did like the "smart" features, in that they could stream online content of one kind or another direct to their TV.

I think the change we're starting to see among my group now is that the built-in software is starting to get out of date and not necessarily being maintained by the provider(s) of the service(s) affected, meaning from the user's point of view, the TV just turns on one day and can't connect to service X any more, with no way to fix it.

I'm not sure privacy has much to do with the discontent, because as you suggest, I doubt many people are even aware of the kind of tracking that is going on. When "smart" TVs or related devices get updated firmware and start doing things like injecting ads it really upsets people, but until they have some indication that any of this is happening, of course it doesn't really affect them or their opinions.

>> getting worse and worse at an alarming rate

That's because Windows Division does not exist anymore as a separate business unit within MS. It's now a part of Azure. And Azure doesn't really care all that much about making desktop excellent. It'll just keep it good enough for you to buy more Azure, but not more than that.

I'm wondering if this is really the right move as in "desktop is definitely going down and everything will be web based". In that case sure, why bother throwing money at it. But should we realize in a couple years that this was overhyped and desktop OS and apps won't go away, everyone will have migrated to OSX or Linux if Windows quality continues to decline at that rate.

And MS as a company would probably be just fine with that. They could even port Office to Linux then. 70+% of Azure is Linux already, so Windows is rapidly becoming a costly liability in Azure. Office customers are captive, it's not like there's anything else available that could compete anyway, so they'll tolerate a lot of abuse. Until there's a realistic prospect of losing significant revenue, MS isn't going to give a shit. It's (tactically, but not strategically) the right thing to do. Win 10 with minor tweaks is going to easily last another decade or more. Who cares if Mac is better: LOB apps don't run there anyway.

>But should we realize in a couple years that this was overhyped and desktop OS and apps won't go away, everyone will have migrated to OSX or Linux if Windows quality continues to decline at that rate.

Windows still claims nearly 80% of desktop market share, while OS X has less than 15%. Linux is around 2%.

Assuming people in any significant number care about having to use an online account is naive. Apple requires it. Google requires it. Amazon requires it. Xbox Live requires it. Facebook requires it. Sony requires it. People are used to this. If you think this will affect Windows in any way, you probably read too much HN.

> Assuming people in any significant number care about having to use an online account is naive. Apple requires it.

macOS does not require a cloud account. Technically you don't even need one for iOS, but most people will create an Apple ID for the App Store (and I hope this distribution monopoly on iOS will eventually be broken up).

MacOS also prompts incessantly trying to get you to create and/or link a cloud account.

Neither Mac or Windows really requires an account but they make it an inconvenient path.

> MacOS also prompts incessantly trying to get you to create and/or link a cloud account.

Well, kind of. It seems to prompt me once per service, more or less. If I keep closing them, I've found that macOS does eventually shut up.

In a similar way for macOS enabling the offline root user has been under Network Account Server > Directory Utility forever. Microsoft is not alone in their logic here.

In a similar way for macOS enabling the offline root user has been under Network Account Server > Directory Utility forever.

Isn't that more for security reasons? Apple doesn't want users enabling the root account unless they know what they're doing, so they make it hard to find. (And, really—coming from someone who runs with SIP turned off—there's very little reason to enable that account.)

I wasn't exclusively referring to the online account here. Every update seems to break something in very stupid ways or change things around for no apparent reason. Friends working as admins in companies can't stop complaining over the last two updates. On every family meet up there's someone seeking tech support and I can just shrug and tell them the last version of Windows I really used was 7 and then my current dual boot alternative is still 8.1 which I need like twice a year. Which is immediately countered with "oh yeah I wish things were still like in XP or 7". And yes the most valid argument currently comes from enterprise customers depending on some expensive and important Windows only software. But that argument will only be true until it isn't anymore and then what? Since when has it ever worked out for some tech company to just stop investing in a product and try to milk the cash cow forever? Luckily Microsoft has a lot of other things going on like azure so it won't be the end of them, but that just brings us back to my initial comment: Is it the right move to let Windows go over the next decade and refocus, our might they regret it?

The contention might be on the time frame.

Desktop OS and apps won’t go away for the next 10 or 20 years by sheer inertia of the corporate market, and the halo effect on home users. And I guess the past month/years issues don’t affect business users (corporate managed desks will have any problematic feature disabled from the start)

“Everyone” migrating to OSX/linux won’t happen for many many years, even if they keep screwimg up home and hobbyist market. Corporate market is also their strong point, so money wise they’ll be fine with that.

PC gamers won't be switching to an Xbox, and so we require a desktop. It won't just be halo effect on home users, but ironically also Halo effect. The remastered collection being ported over as we speak, starting with Halo: Reach iirc.

And for small businesses, the analogous barrier is often "creative software". More and more administrative services used by businesses are moving online, and in some cases we're forced to use them whether we like it or not (for example, because certain tax/legal returns now have to be filed online using approved software). However, when it comes to creating reports, or artwork, or engineering schematics for a new building, or the 3D model you're going to be animating using WebGL on your new site, the dominant software is still almost entirely on desktops.

Some of that software is Windows-only. There are quite a few good products that run on Mac. Relatively little runs on open platforms like Linux. And for now, macOS has its own issues for long-term professional use, starting with Apple's reluctance to give any sort of concrete guarantees about support longevity. So that can be quite a barrier to migrating away from Windows for businesses.

It would be nice to think that in time Linux or other free platforms would fill the gap, but it's a chicken and egg problem. As an interesting contrast, within a very short time after Adobe went cloud/subscription with the dominant package of graphics/publication software, we had several smaller and more agile competitors entering the market at much more attractive (and non-subscription) price points: Sketch, the Affinity products, etc. We don't know to what extent any of these might already have been in development before and how much they were motivated directly by the shift to Creative Cloud, but we do know that the closest OSS equivalents have been around for years and made negligible impact, which doesn't bode well for the viability of Linux desktops as an alternative platform for "normal" business use (as opposed to, for example, specialist work like software development).

Simply: Excel.

The sheer intertia in businesses of all sizes using Excel will probably never completely go away. It will fade out over decades.

And proper excel (excel 2007!!!) is not on Mac OS , Linux or in the cloud.

The significance of Excel in large corporate environments is definitely underestimated by a lot of people who evangelise other platforms and software like LibreOffice as viable alternatives.

On the other hand, IME this is more of an enterprise-scale thing. Smaller businesses tend to be less firmly tied to existing software packages, and do less heavily customised work with Excel specifically, so there's likely to be less of a barrier for them to migrate.

Excel and COBOL will both still be around in 50 years. The entire global financial system depends on them, and will probably continue to do so at least until the Cyborg Uprising.

I am not at all in PC gaming community, but I had the impression that more and more people were moving to linux. In particular Steam for linux seemed to be praised a lot as a stable platform (up to a point where making non games run on Steam would be a viable option).

Would you see a future where gamers would embrace linux in enough numbers that it becomes a main platform ? I see their communities as willing to bear with some level of technical complexity as long as there are clear results, I was seeing the driver issues as the only real showstopper to have them move out of windows.

if home wireless printers ever become usable (reliably over wifi) i might then consider web based an option, but only because i know that will never happen

I’ve had flawless wireless printing on Mac OS with an HP printer for years. iOS too. Didn’t realize it was still flaky. Guess I got lucky with my combo.

What is the reasoning behind that? Putting a major desktop product as part of the cloud organization seems a bit ridiculous from afar.

In these situations there usually is no actual logical reason.

The corporate "reason" is that a new CEO must be seen implementing dramatic changes (activity > progress).

In this case I'm not sure if Satya the Saint [tm] started this roadmap, but for sure he managed to associate himself with it and take credit for it.

As others said, a new CEO can easily reverse the whole process in order to have a "new" little triumph.

It is all meaningless...

Given Satya's background, it seems fairly clear what the board were looking for when they chose their new CEO, and he's delivering exactly what we might have expected.

To be fair to him, from a business perspective, look at Microsoft's share price since. As long as the cloud hype continues and no-one is looking too closely at where Microsoft's money is (and in some cases now isn't) coming from, the stock is likely to keep going up and he probably has free reign to do almost anything he wants. What is anyone going to do about it?

I'm still a little surprised that none of the other IT giants appears to have identified the Windows 7 EoL next year as a rare opportunity to grab a significant chunk of the desktop market and been building a credible competitor. Even with the current trend for shifting things online, local computing isn't going anywhere any time soon, not least because many people and businesses want a level of security, privacy, longevity and reliability that online services simply don't offer. We've seen many times that a new, significantly different platform with enough "killer apps" to gain a foothold can then grow and do well, from mobile devices to games consoles and of course the whole world of cloud computing and SaaS, all of which have disrupted traditional desktop/laptop/server markets significantly while creative very lucrative new industries in themselves. I was wondering a few years ago as the intended strategy for Windows 10 was becoming clear whether an Apple or a Red Hat or even a traditional heavyweight like IBM might have stepped in. I guess no-one thought the cost/risk was attractive enough.

> I'm still a little surprised that none of the other IT giants appears to have identified the Windows 7 EoL next year as a rare opportunity to grab a significant chunk of the desktop market and been building a credible competitor.

Who, exactly, would be positioned to do that? Apple's not interested. RedHat/IBM I guess I could see, but their customer base is very different.

I wondered if Apple might make a play for that market.

They have relatively little skin in the game in terms of online services. They have credibility in both mobile and laptop markets. They have at least some expertise in related areas like server, workstation and networking products. Perhaps more significantly, historically much of their success has come from making big plays that created new markets, and their current golden goose is looking a bit tired.

I could have imagined them offering an antidote to cloud-everything for businesses, particularly smaller ones that have more flexibility and less lock-in with their current brands, that wanted good centralised management of both static and mobile devices under in-house control.

I could also have imagined them offering some sort of home networking hub where everything from your Macbook to your iPhones and iPads to your TV and media streaming could talk to a centralised box that offered media storage, a controlled way to use online services for things like backups and media streaming, and even some sort of remote/VPN access so you could connect into all your normal facilities over a mobile network while out and about.

Given the pressure they're increasingly coming under with their traditional strategy of trying to promote expensive, high-end mobile devices and a closed ecosystem, I wondered if they might see an opportunity and commit some serious resources to making a play for that hybrid/combined/in-house market. Apparently not.

I also wondered whether there might be some sort of grand coalition among the big Linux players, which probably means Red Hat, Canonical and possibly Valve. There's probably enough money and enough potential upside there to fund the creation of rival "killer app" level software for Linux desktops. And again, then you have both client and server side expertise and some experience building custom hardware as well, which opens up a world of possibilities if you can generate a critical mass of interest.

Then you have the likes of IBM, who have been riding the waves of changing infrastructure and local/remote pendulum swings for many years, and certainly have the resources to build a viable new platform if they wanted to. It's not as if they're strangers to either corporate strategy with enterprise customers or building a solid desktop platform, after all.

And finally, there's always the chance of a dark horse. There are a lot of people out there who used to work for big name companies that are no longer with us and who have developed solid products that ultimately didn't make it for mostly non-technical reasons, and there is a lot of VC money around. I didn't think it was inconceivable that someone would put together a credible executive team and raise a lot of early funding with a prize this big at stake.

> They have relatively little skin in the game in terms of online services.

App Store, iTunes Music Store, iTunes Book Store, iCloud, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.

Apple has been making as much of a PR stink about becoming an online services-focused company as Microsoft has. Arguably Apple has been doing even better in direct-to-consumer online services than Microsoft has in the same time period (their app store underperforming; their recent shuttering of an eBook store; etc). Apple just doesn't have (or seem to have interest in) the "big iron" side of Cloud services like AWS/GCP/Azure.

App Store, iTunes Music Store, iTunes Book Store, iCloud, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, etc.

These are generally not the kind of SaaS online services that compete with desktop software, though. Rather, they're primarily ways of delivering software and media content that is then used locally. That actually fits very well with a model of promoting local devices, local networks and centralised access to online services, which is one of the reasons I thought Apple might make a move in that direction. The notable exception is iCloud, but if you consider that this one is primarily about sync and backup facilities and if you're promoting some sort of office server or "home hub" to centralise storage and connectivity to things like offsite backups, again that would fit quite neatly.

Pretty much all of their brand recognition comes from people who buy a computer that starts up to the Windows logo, or arrive at their office to find a machine that runs Windows. The Backoffice-centric ecosystem will remain where it is out of mostly inertia, but its future is as cloud hosted services.

It's not part of Azure, it's part of Experience + Devices, which is a different top-level group from Cloud + AI.

The _hardware_ part is a part of Experience + Devices. The software part is in Cloud + AI (AKA Azure).

Not putting effort into making Windows better is different than telling all the .9 billion Win10 users to go f themselves.

But still, if all those .9 billion Windows users still decide that FOSS is too hard, who am I gaf?

Man, karma is a bitch. Couple hours in recovery mode dealing with dns issues and reinstalling nvida drivers immediately after posting this. ;)

If they bought a computer with it installed there wouldn't be an issue. Finding one in bestbuy is.

That explains it then. Time to move house.

> In general I have a positive opinion about what MS is doing lately, but Windows is a glaring exception, it’s getting worse and worse at an alarming rate.

I think following the money shows part of why this is true.

It used to be that MS had three cash-cows: Windows, Office, SQL Server. Everything else, even Exchange, sharepoint, etc, on their own, made relatively little or a loss but were part of the larger ecosystem and therefore used to sell the other three.

It is now the case that the cash-cows are Azure (including AzureSQL), Office, SQL Server (on-prem). Windows is very much off the top list and is there mainly to sell the rest of the ecosystem and the fact that dumping it (or even just de-prioritising it too far) would look very bad.

That MS ecosystem is increasingly OS-agnostic and going forward this is going to continue to be the trend. SQL Server runs on Linux too now. VSCode is cross-platform and either that will continue to grow more of Visual Studio's features of VS itself will start to become cross-platform. Office has online versions which while having many notable feature gaps are pretty useable for many tasks and are getting more so. Much of what runs on Azure is not Windows either very much so (i.e. is running on Linux in VMs) or effectively so (running as app services where neither the dev nor the admin cares about the OS underneath as long as the right APIs are available).

Given the amount of effort desktop Windows must take, I'm sure they'd be happy to dump it sooner rather than later: let someone else deal with all that hardware compatibility faf and all those "real" man-on-the-street demanding-but-clueless end users on the desktop and all the security issues that come with them, keep server Windows going for Azure/similar (where the range of virtual hardware can be nicely constrained compared to real hardware variance and the security surface can be easier to manage too), and support other OSs in VMs as well as possible to make running them on Azure resource as friction free as it can be (aside from the friction of needing to pay!).

> In general I have a positive opinion about what MS is doing lately, but Windows is a glaring exception, it’s getting worse and worse at an alarming rate.

Ayup. Win10 finally broke the camel's back and I started the process of figuring out how to transfer as much as we can to Linux.

The hardest part is that our embedded development stuff is all Windows. :( I've been trying to get VSCode, Segger, and embedded boards to play nice together. I haven't been sufficiently successful that I could start pushing it onto the dev team yet.

As a fellow embedded software engineer, I made the migration from Windows to Linux some time ago. You'll see that except for old targets (or highly proprietary ones like fpga) most if not all tools used today are actually open source ones (ide based on eclipse, gcc toolchain, jtag debugger...). Once you understand how they all play together you'll see that it's actually easier to work on Linux, as those tools are in their primary element, not half bad ports to Windows !

> You'll see that except for old targets (or highly proprietary ones like fpga) [...]

Your overall point is stronger than you think: Xilinx's FPGA toolchain [1] has official Linux support, and their embedded software toolchain (based on yocto and gcc) actually depends on Linux!

[1] Xilinx is the market leader for general purpose and high-performance FPGAs. The situation is slightly different for space-grade and very low-power FPGAs, although Microsemi has been supporting Linux for many years as well.

Official Suport for Xilinx means "should work some of the time", provided you use this old and bloated daemon to communicate over USB. You will still need a separate hardware killswitch to work remotely, because the driver is flaky as hell.

"should work some of the times" is also what you get on Windows.

Source: buddy worked as sw QA for xilinx.

Linux is _by far_ the best platform for embedded development.

Vscode is available as an official snap (on Windows you need to download and update it manually), Segger tools and openocd are fully supported. GCC cross-compiler and even some flashing tools are part of the distro and just an apt-get away.

This also means that everyone get the same tools (same version, same bugs). Which makes collaboration much easier.

> This also means that everyone get the same tools (same version, same bugs).

Everywhere I've worked solved this by having the toolchain available via a network share that you would mount/copy, or checked into p4 so that everyone would be on the same version and you would know what compiler version was used to build a particular release. I suppose you could achieve the same thing by building in a Docker container..

This is kind of the idea behind the hermetic environments that Bazel enforces, and is essential if you want bit-for-bit reproducible builds.

Yeah, but everything is easier if it's native to your machine :)

We have used Docker images in past but it gets really annoying with large code trees and access permissions for programmers and debuggers...

Just a small correction:

>on Windows you need to download and update it manually

you don't need to update it manually, it will show a popup that an update is available and will update itself once approved.

It used to direct you to their website to manually download and install it. Given how often it is updated most people started ignoring those pop-ups.

Maybe that used to be the case? For at least the last few VS Code updates, it's been entirely in-app. The update is downloaded in the background, and VS Code then prompts you to restart the app to apply the update.

is there any debugger as good as the Keil IDE in Linux?

Hmmm, this is kind of the wrong way round. In my experience all the good stuff is on Linux, and windows have these bad broken ports. Depends on a lot things I'm sure...

I've done lots of embedded development on Linux, and it's mostly been a painless experience. Segger has a Linux library which works great, as well as Embedded Studio which runs on Linux. GCC-arm and several other compilers are avaible. I've been working a lot with Nordic Semiconductor's ARM-based SoCs, and I'd say Linux is a fully viable environment for the applications I've worked on.

You haven't seen it coming with Windows 8 ?

Games is literally the only reason keeping me installing Windows. Hoping this changes with some viable alternative.

Proton (Steam's custom WINE) is really really good (you can turn it on for all games). Of course it still breaks games that use excessive DRM, but I avoid those games anyway.

Ah, nice, have many games on steam so will check this out.

> Games is literally the only reason keeping me installing Windows. Hoping this changes with some viable alternative.

If you have the money and the space for a second computer, use the computer with Windows for that specialized task and use a real* computer for everything else? We've been whining about this nonsense for over two years now and I think we need to take a hint.

* that does not force you to restart at its whims

Yeah I do have a laptop for work only, however the gaming desktop is always that much more powerful and some things are tempting to do there (not to mention better display). Windows now has embedded Linux, so I can see maybe a setup that uses the same files from Windows by launching some Linux environment when I need to work. I just hope that because of this Linux/Windows integration, some of the reverse can happen and Linux can get DirectX support for current version.

I have little time to play games these days, but I do that. Have two machines, both always on, one of them a windows one for games, the other runs linux for everything else. I use a usb switch to, on-the-fly, change all the relevant devices (mouse, keyboard, headphone dac/amp, etc) and adjust the monitor input to use one or the other. It works extremely well, and takes ~1-2 seconds to switch.

The barriers to using both is really only a question of disk space. Dual booting isn't difficult (just install Windows first).

Dual booting isn't "difficult", but is frought with a lot of little issues that probably should be understood. Ex: UEFI Boot vs Legacy BIOS. Bootloaders, Grub vs Windows bootloader, etc. etc.

I prefer buying a 2nd flash drive and dual-booting across different drives entirely, so that Windows / Linux don't even share the same bootloader. Its not like $200 for another 1TB Flash drive is expensive, and apparently I need the space anyway.

proton and linux are getting better.

Are PC games that important?

It's a multi-billion dollar industry, is this a real question?

>It's a multi-billion dollar industry

It's actually a tiny industry with a revenue of Oracle.

Perhaps more significantly: there are around 1.3 billion PC gamers out of a larger 2.5 billion video gamers globally. Around 35% of Americans are PC gamers, although the largest market region is now Asia-Pacific.

Amongst people most likely to care about the concerns raised here, the proportion is likely even larger.

From my personal experience, there is a large overlap between people who like to play PC games and people who are interested in and curious about computing technology, and would otherwise be inclined to use Linux.

Although the trend appears to be changing with the likes of Proton, the lack of Linux compatibility for games keeps these people tied to Windows, and keeps them from adopting Linux.

Unfortunately, only platform for hardcore PC games that major titles support, at least first. PC has always been at the cutting edge of gaming, however for some reason still DirectX which is owned by MS, is the preferred tech for most major game companies that target PC.

For some, yes.


It really seems like the current management is hell-bent on destroying any remaining goodwill among Windows users.

>I’ve always assumed that I’m locked into using Windows but after all this crap I’m starting to look into alternatives even though they’v got shortcomings on their own.

Yeah, I really wish there was an alternative I liked better.

Thanks for that search problem link I am exactly one of those users and start menu search just isn’t working. I have switched to Launchy as an alternative after years of being happy with the start menu search. I can finally look for a solution now, nice.

May I recommend Keypirinha [1] over Launchy? I recently tried all of the launchers I could find for Windows and KP was by far the best, and does not get enough recognition in my view.


Keypirnha is apparently only for "keyboard ninjas", so I'll stick with something made for the rest of us.

You may have just sold it to me as something I need to try though!

Different (key)strokes for different folks.

I don’t see how it’s that different from launchy.

Hit a key combination, GUI launches, you type.

Just started using keypirinha a couple of weeks ago. Love it

Giving it a shot, I just remembered Launchy from the good old days. I‘m happy with the start menu search as my launcher when it works.

Don't use Windows, but I love the name.

I've been using Executor recently, but this looks to be way more powerful. Thanks for the tip.

I keep hearing about this. This is what’s keeping me from upgrading to 1903, as I find disabling Bing Search absolutely essential.

So, have you followed the advice in the support document? Did it help?

So far, no. I have reset search index, reindexed and tried the PowerShell commands from the KB article. Search in Windows Explorer works just fine - only Start menu doesn’t. Troubleshooter says incorrect permissions for search directories but I haven’t fiddled with those. Tried repairing permissions and giving everyone permission but doesn’t help :-(

What worked for me was uninstalling the September cumulative update and the August cumulative update[1], then flagging those two to avoid that they get reinstalled the next time Windows updates[2].

[1] https://www.windowscentral.com/how-fix-start-menu-and-search...

[2] https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/3183922/how-to-temp...

The first time Windows update created the spike in CPU, the "fix" was to restore the cache used by Cortana at "%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Packages\Microsoft.Windows.Cortana_cw5n1h2txyewy\LocalCache"

Come the 2nd update that borked the start menu, I suspected that it might be because I restored the cache and so the "fix" was not applying correctly. I then proceeded to wipe the cache altogether and it simply rebuilt itself.

Protip: If trying to delete files using windows built in tools throw up errors (mostly permissions related. this will not help you delete a file whose file handle is locked though.), trying using rm from cygwin. Works every single time.

An update that fixes the broken search functionality has been released, at least for me it worked and the search is again running normally.

I friend of mine recently moved from Windows to Mint (Linux). Reckons it's great.

I disagree with your premise. For many people this will force increased personal security and make their accounts more easily recoverable in case they forget their passwords.

I'm something of a security expert, having consulted on architure implemented by several of the largest anti-virus distributors and retailers in the world. My honest opinion is that people need a dramatically better understanding of how domains work. If they want the increased privacy they should need to understand how to setup and use a local domain well enough to find the new location for creating a local account.

For those who cannot do this, their device security and therefore personal privacy is far better served by registering a microsoft account.

Any privacy concerns stemming from trust should be addressed by laws governing the acceptable use of user data. California is already pursuing such laws, and we should be supporting those efforts because they are addressing the true root cause of most modern privacy issues.

I agree with the last paragraph of your comment, but still I think users should be able to choose. “Security by dark pattern” doesn’t sound to me like the best solution we could possibly come up with.

Where is the increased security of using an online identity verses a local machine account? Windows Hello?

It is bad, but I do not think you are stuck. But there are two fronts -- business offerings are going the same way. There is lots of pressure to use almost exclusively MS hosted services. And, in that market, not everything has a good replacement.

The reason why I feel like I’m stuck is based on my personal use case. Basically I need two things:

A. Being able to use some proprietary software not available on Linux

B. Being able to self build so I can select the HW that works for me

With Linux I lose A and with Mac I would lose B. I’m thinking that a combo Mac Mini + Tower PC with Linux could work, but using two OSes at the same time, even with shared NAS, KVM switch etc., would not be the best in terms of UX

(Edit I had mixed up “A” and “B” in my sentence)

What about C: use Linux for the main desktop, use Wine for things that require Windows, use a VM with windows exclusively to launch that one annoying app which won't work under wine?

Oh yes of course that’s the cheapest option and probably good for most use cases, in my specific case I was thinking about a Mac Mini because some of the proprietary SW that I use (Adobe Suite, Ableton Live) probably wouldn’t run very well in a VM (but I may be wrong and I will of course test before spending money)

Edit: besides the VM, I hear Wine supports many apps nowadays so it’s worth trying as well

Look up Bitwig studio as a replacement for Ableton Live. I know it's an expensive tool to replace, but its workflow is very similar to Ableton Live and it supports Linux.

Oh of course, I like Bitwig very much! The modular engine ("Grid") is great! But I have a lot of material from the past in Live so, even if I switch to Bitwig, I may still need to use Live from time to time. But I guess a Win VM would suffice for that type of usage.

Can confirm, was able to run Live 9 on W7 in VirtualBox on ~decade-old hardware earlier this year. It was easy and worked like a charm. Was running Arch Linux at the time, and used the VM images from here: https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-edge/tools/v...

How was the latency?

I'd like to achieve sub 10ms latency and I feel running in a VM would make that very difficult?

Did USB passthrough for MIDI devices work well?

Producer here as well. I currently dual boot.

I've considered bitwig for Linux production but a big issue is you end up losing a lot of VSTs that aren't native to Linux (Serum and Massive, both wavetable synths, are a good example).

+1, that's what I'm doing.

iMac for everything, including development and music production; Windows and Linux virtualised and resumable in a few seconds if needed.

There isn’t just one app, there are plenty. Excel and adobe cs are the obvious ones. If you’re not in programming (exclusively) you’re stuck on Windows or Mac.

Latest excel has gold level support: https://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=version&iI...

I know there are plenty of things that don't work with wine, but realistically, how many of them does each person need to work, and how many are "defaults"? For example if you spend 90% of your time in illustrator, do you need excel specifically, or "an app with text in cells"? And if you're crunching market data in excel all day, do you need Adobe, or just something to draw an arrow on a screenshot?

I had a similar discussion with my mother recently. She was buying a new laptop and went to check it out in the shop a few days before she actually went to buy it. The lady in the shop on the first visit tried to upsell her some office package for some crazy money. I instead got her to think about what she actually needs and wants and got her to realize that for the odd document or letter she writes and prints (and doesn't share files with others where pixel perfect formatting is important), so a copy of Libre Office actually does everything she needs and then some, and saved her, I don't remember how much, $200 or something.

If I had a penny for every time a 'Gold level' supported program simply failed to work properly or required some nearly undocumented workaround* , I'd be rich.

* No, I don't consider having to search bugzilla 'documentation'.

Edit: Note that I'm talking about Wine here. When wine is wrapped by people who know what they're doing it works well - Crossweavers/Proton etc. - for the specific subset of programs they're tuned for. Otherwise you have all the wine-typical issues outside that subset.

Right? Don't get me wrong, that Wine works at all is pretty damned incredible, but anyone who thinks of it as a drop in Windows replacement is going to be severely disappointed.

> Latest excel has gold level support

"The test results for this version are very old"

"What works: "Basic editing of the slides (inserting and formatting texts, images)""

"What was not tested: "Advanced functionality""


Nobody has tested it recently, nobody knows if "advanced" features work, and they think it's PowerPoint. What does 'Gold' mean?

> Nobody has tested it recently

Whatever worked is highly unlikely to stop working. You can expect better support than in past test.

> What does 'Gold' mean?


Whatever worked is highly unlikely to stop working.

New to software development, are we? That is such a laughably bad assumption that I’ll assume what I think you meant to say is not really what you meant to say.

But I’m glad to know that editing slides works just fine in Excel. From the link, “Gold” means: “Works as well as (or better than) on Windows with workarounds.” The test results say online login crashes. That tells me their certification program doesn’t mean shit.

It's not a certification program. It's just reporting system.

And yes, it is what I meant. For software like wine, if something works in version X, you can expect it will work in X+1. Sure, there will always be some regression from time to time, but wine's whole existence is based on the idea that they support Window's APIs. These are not random features they'll decide to remove from time to time.

> For software like wine, if something works in version X, you can expect it will work in X+1.

Anyone that expects this is setting themselves up for disappointment.

My actual experience with this has not matched yours. Wine is extremely fragile. There is a reason why things like winetricks and using dedicated wine prefixes exists, for one.

This is not a knock on wine really, but the complexity of the problem at hand.

> These are not random features they'll decide to remove from time to time.

Emulating windows APIs is extremely complicated. Even with the best intentions of not breaking something it happens, quite a bit.

You are extremely naive.

The crowd on HN is biased towards software development, something overwhelmingly well supported on Linux (it’s my daily driver as much as possible for that). But I assume there is a long tail of other professionals here... using their systems for actual industry work that isn’t programming. An area that is terrible on Linux sadly.

Photoshop and Illustrator and Premiere are not “defaults” on any system I know of. If you need to draw an arrow on a screenshot, there are ironically more free beer and open source programs available on Windows to do this (even gimp). If someone wants to pirate adobe that isn’t an aspiring designer (which is sort of a rite of passage), and has it just to collect that’s cool, but irrelevant... but I assume if someone has the CS on their machine it’s to do actual work with industry standard tools - that certainly is the case for me.

There are plenty of things to do in Excel that are best served by excel and not crunching market data. I have tried libreoffice calc multiple times in the past. Google sheets is also cool for certain things, but no excel killer.

And here’s the kicker: If you need to just put arrows on screenshots or an app with text in cells (and you’re not a dev), then you don’t need a desktop running Linux or windows... you can do with an iPad.

That's not the latest excel, which would be Excel 2019.

You got those examples and mixed up

Wine works remarkably well these days. You can even run the latest Microsoft Office version.

No, you cannot. You cannot run Excel 2019 flawlessly or even close to it with Wine.

And https://appdb.winehq.org/objectManager.php?sClass=applicatio...

A garbage rating for the latest installer also means that even if you could run things, the workflow is not seamless.

A lot of businesses I know seem to be using Office365 for Word and Excel and such nowadays and they work fine in Linux. If you happen to work somewhere that uses Office365, there's no need for actually running Windows or Mac.

Office365 takes care of Excell and Outlook and most everything MS.

You can get very far with Gimp and or Inkscape. I'm going to suggest that the majority of Adobe users will get by just fine with Gimp.

> You can get very far with Gimp and or Inkscape.

> I'm going to suggest that the majority of Adobe users will get by just fine with Gimp.

Well, frankly, your suggestion is useless. Not even the maintainers of gimp have the temerity to suggest that Gimp is a suitable replacement for Adobe photoshop. I don't care about the "users" of Adobe that pirate it. The tools are expensive and people pay for it. The majority of people that pay for Adobe Photoshop have very good reasons for doing so.

You are clueless if you think Gimp can replace Photoshop. You can do a little research to see why, it's well documented. Morons have been suggesting Gimp as a PS replacement since the late 90s and there is now nearly 20 years of responses for why that is untenable.

I'm thinking of going down that route, but for various reasons I NEED Outlook and Office a lot, although my main work is development and could work on another platform.

If you do this (as I did in the past) you're now juggling N Windows VMs to avoid ONE Windows host system..

Why N VMs? You had one before, you can have one VM with multiple apps (if you can even count office parts as multiple apps)

Sorry, kinda mixed the "Need office" requirement I wrote about and my previous "Different VMs for different needs" (Office was one, a Windows product I build extensions for was in another, then the corporate environment tends to keep VMware images around to simulate a customer environment / to prepare a demo system for sales etc etc).

You're right. One VM could work for office and other utilities. Unfortunately for me it grew into a mess of VMs, fast.

If you can set up stuff in Windows VM, you can enable RemoteApp and freerdp can just show a seamless window. Kind of like parallels.

I think Qubes OS targets your use case. It has support for Windows 7 although I never got around to trying it out.

How about the Office / Outlook Web interfaces, shouldn't they be usable from any OS?

They don’t handle well some edge cases, for example I had Word documents with complex layouts that would be broken and partially unreadable when using the web version of Word.

If your proprietary product is in any way niche (i.e. not the usual adobe/autocad example) I would suggest petitioning the company to support Linux (or web) clients. Software developers are often pro-Linux and a few customer suggestions might be enough to force the issue.

Oh yes that is always a good thing to do, even though Linux is not currently my main OS, I always tell devs they should support it.

You could go the hackintosh route. Though I haven’t tried it in a decade or more, I’ve seen some people with pretty cool setups. Certainly more work to maintain than just Linux or an official Mac.

Recently hackintoshed a XPS 15 9550, and holy shit it became the best laptop I’ve used so far. Everything (including bluetooth and wifi) works, no butterfly keyboard shenanigans, still decent performance, lots of ports (including hdmi and usb 3), the touchpad works perfectly (with all multitouch gestures).

I don't suppose you have a link to a write up or guide you followed?

Here: https://github.com/wmchris/DellXPS15-9550-OSX

By the way, it doesn’t support discrete GPU, but Nvidia GPU performace in the XPS 15 is horrible due to heavy throttling anyway.

Try r/hackintosh vanilla guide. You may find, that other guides are refering to old/obsolete tools, and thus will not work with current macOS.

Also expect learning new things and spending several evenings trying. Compared to hackintosh, installing Linux on random hardware is a walk in the park.

> Also expect learning new things and spending several evenings trying. Compared to hackintosh, installing Linux on random hardware is a walk in the park.

I've been a Hackintosh user for the past decade.

I've not done it yet, but the next time I need to do a brand new Hackintosh setup, I'm planning on using ESXI. It seems perfect—you're getting very little performance loss in exchange for a setup which is (kind of) officially supported by Apple.

Maybe when I actually do it, I'll discover some terrible downside, but it seems incredibly appealing.

I did my first hackintosh few days ago just for the learning experience, I have normal Macs otherwise. It does have a problem with flickering screen; I suspect it is due to 10-bits per pixel that I cannot switch from and the cheap HDMI2 cable used.

Wrt ESXI - are you aware, that with ESXI you will lose local console (and all the GPU-goodness)? After ESXI boots, it has only text-mode notice, how to connect remotely and that's it. You will be stuck with remote access. For things like build machine or test-runner, that's fine, but if you want to run something interactive... well, let us know about the experience ;)

I'm pretty sure I can do GPU passthrough? https://blogs.vmware.com/apps/2018/09/using-gpus-with-virtua...

Yeah, that's an option, too.

Hey, how do you know those hacked kexts you have to install to get macOS on a non apple machine don’t contain a keylogger?

Any problems along the way with updates, performance issues or anything?

I’m interested in a new XPS 15 but prefer Mac OS.

Thank you, yes I’ve actually tried that route in the past and I’ve enjoyed it but, as you said, it was a bit of a chore to maintain it

You could also install untrusted, untested, potentially hostile code running at the highest privileges levels if you go the hackintosh route.

Maybe is not appropriate to "convert" you here, but I recommend self building so you get good Linux support, and then running Windows in a VM. Usually you can run program in WINE, but VM should always work.

Thank you. I’m hearing from many other comments in this thread that Wine works very well nowadays, I’ll give it a shot (alongside a Win VM) before investing in a Mac Mini

I use the combo Mac Mini and PC tower at home. The crucial piece of software that makes this work for me is Synergy. It allows you to share a keyboard and mouse across Linux, Mac and Windows (and support cut-n-paste of text across all three). It works like a charm.

> A. Being able to use some proprietary software not available on Linux

What software is this? Perhaps it runs under Wine?

Adobe Suite, Ableton Live with various VST plugins. I’m going to investigate the Wine route, as I’m hearing that it supports many applications nowadays

None of the Adobe stuff works under Wine, alas.

Fake news!

Use latest PS and Lr.

I’m not saying you’re wrong. But winedb gives garbage status to the latest, the installer on playonlinux is unverified and posted by a banned account. I have found no testimonial that the latest works now other than yours.

So here’s the thing. Even if you’re right (and not confusing some older version as the latest.. that often happens in these discussions... what do you think is the latest version of adobe CC?), this is a terrible support story and not something that most pros that rely on adobe tools want to mess around with.

One of the winedb reviews says this:

“adjusting parameters in some effects such as lens blur makes program unusable (must kill app)”


> playonlinux is unverified

playonlinux is dead last two years, authors decided to rewrite it.

> what do you think is the latest version of adobe CC?


About 1star reviews - guest mostly people are confused about installer, it doesn't works for years.

As I already mentioned even if it is just the installer that alone sets the tone for a poor support story.

Additionally what of the various bugs that are filed and comments about missing or broken functionality.

This is not something that most professionals want to dick with.

If you have enough RAM you can run VirtualBox alongside your other programs on Linux. I used to run Android Studio in a Windows VirtualBox and it worked perfectly. Never had an issue.

I run that with no problems in Linux.

Wonder what happens if you try to install without any network connectivity whatsoever. Like when it asks for internet just dont connect. I feel like it falls back to an offline account.

why can't you use linux instead?


Or you could use a pihole to block their telemetry collection practices.

Or you could prefer to play games and recognize there’s only one real option for playing the new ones

Or you could hate them, but you work at a Windows shop.

Please don’t assume everyone forced to use Windows enjoy Microsoft’s practices.

Do you eat Nestle food? Are you aware of the evils of that company? Are you in support of those evils, despite being a consumer?

> Or you could prefer to play games and recognize there’s only one real option for playing the new ones

Yeah. A PS4 for all those amazing exclusives ;-)

> Please don’t assume everyone forced to use Windows enjoy Microsoft’s practices.

very, very few people are going to implement everything you suggested. Please don't assume your one anecdote is relevant for everyone else.

> Do you eat Nestle food?

No, I do not.

I'm not trying to diminish your situation, but it seems a bit hyperbolic to suggest that anyone is forced to use Windows. If you really are being physically forced to do so against your will, that seems like even more reason to avoid them as much as possible.

The standard for “being forced” doesn’t have to be “gun to the head.” It can also be “is unemployed”

I'm confused, is this not a website for hackers and entrepreneurs whose response to unemployment is starting your own business? Or am I in the wrong place?

a) the way you say "hackers and entrepreneurs" as two separate groups, suggests they are two separate groups.

b) if true as claimed, why would such people as you imagine being here ever experience "unemployment" in the first place?

I get that there are plenty of "job-hoppers" here. I wish they would start more businesses instead.

So people can either care about privacy as much as you do, or not at all? There is an in between you know

Nope. You cannot 'kinda have' privacy.

> In general I have a positive opinion about what MS is doing lately

Dont get fooled. They got better because they have competition. The company is still mostly a marketing firm longing for the days when it could abuse positions of monopoly.

There has been no changes in their structure that would change their core ethics.

...and from what I can tell, their online account security is craptastic.

Here’s a true story that happened to my family. My son is the only person in the house who uses Windows. For his game machine. He set up a Microsoft online account. It got hacked - someone set up a fake family and managed to get my son’s account listed under it as a child. As a consequence, he couldn’t install any new software. I’m not sure what the point of this particular hack is, but that was the result.

So we called Microsoft customer service. It turns out that there is no way to get an account removed from a family once it’s listed there. The Windows rep we talked to had a recourse, though. He proposed that we, the three of us, attempt to reverse-hack the fake “dad”’s account over the phone by trying to guess his password. I had to explain to the gentleman that, even though we were within our moral rights to do this, a) it was almost certainly illegal, and b) doomed to failure.

He didn’t understand the issue. Eventually we had to agree to disagree, and hang up on him. We never got my son’s account back. We wiped his computer and installed Windows via “use offline account”. I’m glad this was last year and not today, I guess?

> ...and from what I can tell, their online account security is craptastic.

I'm not convinced that their offline security is good, either.

I sometimes will pick up my Surface Pro 4 and disconnect it from the charger. Disconnecting from the charger usually (but not always...not sure what determines it) wakes it. It then turns on their equivalent of Apple's Face ID, and tries to log in.

Sometimes I don't actually want that yet, as I just picked it up to take it somewhere else. So I'll hit the power button to put it back to sleep. The screen blanks...and then sometimes it quickly comes back, logged in.

The thing is I've sometimes had it do this when I've been careful to have my face out of view, holding it so I can only barely see the screen around the edge to see if disconnecting power will wake it up and I'll need to hit power to put it back to sleep.

This doesn't happen all the time, but it has happened several times, leading me to wonder if there is some sort of glitch if you interrupt a face-based login attempt at just the right time via the power button causing it to think it logged in.

Anyone else seen this?

Happened to me all the time when I used SP4. However, biometrics can be disabled through settings or group policy!

Face logon takes some seconds to initialize, and if you interrupt it it gets confused. But the solution to your issue is to have the type cover closed when you unplug it.

That is hardly a solution to a security issue. I can't ensure the burglar keeps the cover closed

The burglar won't have your face?

I’m a sensitive location.

That's why I gave it back after a week. That and updates.

> I'm not convinced that their offline security is good, either.

If they have physical access to the device there isn't much you can do anyway.

You can with encryption and not using face unlock.

As far as I can figure out, you also need to opt for manually unlocking bitlocker via USB key (prone to copy/theft) or via typing in a passphrase (inconvenient) in order to safeguard the encryption key.

Windows will otherwise use hsm to store your key (as evidenced by eg face unlock working) - it's not at all clear how that could possibly be secure if an attacker steals your device?

If the key is in the HSM, then what's protecting your data is the trust in the boot chain not being broken, and the OS login not not being compromised (theoretically).

Booting an alternate OS, or removing the media will result in the HSM not giving up the key, and rendering the drive unusable for all attackers except those able to physically probe the HSM chips and extract keys. (theoretically)

Right. It's not really the hsm itself I worry about (although as we saw with the Xbox hack people are able to do some crazy stuff) , but the possibility of working around/breaking the os login manager - manipulating the camera or hooking up a custom "keyboard" or some such.

For example i have trouble trusting pin login against brute force when the attacker has unrestricted physical access - including the possibility of replacing/manipulating the ram chips etc.

> ...and from what I can tell, their online account security is craptastic.

There's something weird and shady going on: I did created MS account to get this "marvelous" free Windows 10 offer once the update was smuggled on my Windows 7 installation and in subsequent buggy releases I had to reinstall the OS from scratch. So I had to login to activate this thing but I choose to not use the account later switching to local one (I did created an offline one during OOBE) and yet, Windows is still holding credentials to the online account somewhere because Activity section of the MSA Privacy page is still registering OneDrive activity coming from my desktop. I am not logged anywhere in OS, credentials manager is cleared out, OneDrive application is removed but still, it happens.

It seems to me MS customer support is incapable of doing anything meaningful with your account, except making it easier to be hacked via social engineering.

My MS account had my desktop's Win 10 Pro N (the one with less crap) license attached to it. When I bought a new laptop with Win 10 Pro (regular, non-N), my desktop would suddenly claim that its license was invalid. Great. Called support, but nothing they could do except recommending to reinstall Windows. No guarantee the other system would then not go into that "your license is invalid state" if I use the N license again. Solution: Screw them, I'll install kmspico.

I'm probably lucky I use that sh*tshow of an OS only for gaming, and Linux for everything else (including work - we're essentially a Linux company even though most of our customers (embedded devs) still use windows.

>My MS account had my desktop's Win 10 Pro N (the one with less crap)

Not sure what you mean by "less crap". The only advantage of the N versions is that it doesn't have Windows Media Player. You need enterprise to set telemetry level to lowest, and enterprise LTSC to not have Windows store (and a bunch of other UWP apps) installed by default.

The family accounts are crazy anyway. I once worked for an agency that had just bought its first Windows Phone for testing. Setting it up I dutifully signed in with the company’s MS account, but found that I couldn’t install any apps and there were loads of restrictions. It took me multiple hours of debugging to realise that because someone at the past had entered the company’s formation date in the birthdate of the MS account Windows Phone thought I was a child and blocked me from doing a load of the things I needed to do.

That sounds okay for a child though.

Today you still can use and create an offline account. If you’re offline. People here don’t read the original thread.

It's a really nasty dark pattern. Most users won't realise they have to disconnect from the internet to sign up and will fall for Microsoft's trap.

Astonishing story, thanks for sharing. It actually says a lot about their level of customers support and care.

It is a griefers hack. Your son gets denied and basically has to do work, or make a new account.

It's also a "griefer's first social engineering" hack, so it has at least some small "fun" difficulty connected to it. To add a child account when you aren't directly creating the child account on the same device, Microsoft requires an Invite flow that sends an email to the child account asking them to accept "joining the family". So either the griefer also had the password to the account to login to the account on their machine (or otherwise access emails to it) or they somehow social engineered the victim to accepting an invitation to "join them" for something. The griefer can blame the victim for being gullible and claim that it wasn't the griefer's fault the victim fell for it.

Yep, and last I checked (earlier this year I believe), there’s still a 14-character length limit on the MS account password. My bank’s better than that for crying out loud. Forget diceware or any other sane scheme, say hello to random hard-to-type punctuation characters.

And now you’re forced to use that as your computer password too, which you probably have to type multiple times a day.

(Okay, thankfully local account is still possible.)

Are you talking about online microsoft account or something windows specific? Because that's not true, my password has been 40+ characters for a long time and I change it pretty often.

For local login you can use a PIN, or set up windows hello, if you don't want to type in the long password every time.

> Are you talking about online microsoft account or something windows specific?

I'm talking about the Microsoft online account, and I stand by my statement that I was limited to 14 characters until relatively recently (maybe not earlier-this-year recent, that part I'm not sure). Looking at my Microsoft password history, I've changed it five times since 2012 (when I started using a password manager), each one is 14 characters long; the last change was done in 2016. I've been using 32+ character passwords wherever possible since 2012, so the only reason I was using 14 characters for Microsoft was because of the artificial limit imposed on me. And I did check a few times after 2016 to confirm the limit.

Anyway, I just tried to change the password again and this time I was warned that my Microsoft and Skype accounts would be merged if I carried through with the password change, so something did change after I last checked.

> For local login you can use a PIN, or set up windows hello, if you don't want to type in the long password every time.

I'm aware, but I don't consider a PIN secure, and I don't think Windows Hello is an option for most desktop workstations.

I've got more than a passing suspicion the 16 character limitation for Microsoft Accounts was a compatibility need with Windows XP, because the restriction was fixed almost exactly as soon as Windows XP finally hit EOL.

This isn't the case with me. My MS a/c (which is also my Windows login a/c) has a 44 character password.

> last I checked (earlier this year I believe), there’s still a 14-character length limit on the MS account password

It was 16 chars. And it hasn't been true since 2016.

As many people said already you can use longer passwords.

Thanks for that lovely story. It made me laugh at how badly MS is navigating whatever the fuck it is they envision this path they are going down/paving.

However, it did give me a Business Idea; (this is for some hungry 20somethings out there):

Sell a machine image which is basically a windows VM on top of Linux with support, which can handle and navigate all this bullshit that MS is throwing at common users, instead of trying to force the population to become sysads themselves.

Several people here have talked about “hacks” like what happened to ypur son, and I'm of course not saying they're wrong. I don't quite get the idea what it's supposed to get such hackers, though, so I think you shouldn't rule out sheer incompetence: Maybe someone else has a family member with the same or a similar name and was trying to add rhem, and a search threw up your son's name and they added him by mistake?

Shouldn't be able to happen, of course, but given it's Microsoft we're talking about, who would swear it couldn't?

As a sibling comment said, some people are griefers who only seek to inconvenience or otherwise harass others. Particularly with online games.

Especially as a form of revenge. Yeah, it's petty, but it's been my experience that "petty" (and so many other gamers are going to down vote this) describes 90% of gaming cultures.

IIRC this particular family had several thousand children. I don’t think it was a mistake.

I'm almost certain that you were not talking to a real Microsoft employee. Most Fortune 500s have their helpdesks and customer service outsourced to the Tatas and Wipros, Cognizants and HCLs of the world, who may or may not further subcontract the actual bodies filling the roles. Quite frankly, first-level support is useless and ignorant; at best they have scripts for common issues, but to do anything you need to defeat their efforts to no-op and close the ticket, and instead get escalated to a real person with some agency and authority.

If you contact a company through their official channels and they connect to a third party, they get to keep the blame.

Even people who are bad at their jobs are real people. We can’t assume that everyone of low intelligence or motivation is sub human. Just say agency and authority, that made your point.

In the context of their jobs, they are a meat-based chatbot.

This is no reflection on them personally, this is by design of their job role. They have metrics hanging over them to close calls as quickly as possible, without escalating. They are expected to handle dozens or hundreds of calls a day. There is no slack to actually try to resolve the user's problems in any way that requires more creativity than sticking to the SOP script, and moreover, they are usually mandated to stick to a very standardized procedure, with defined suggestions and language that they have to use, in a specific order. A good first-level support person would spoon-feed you the right incantations to get escalated, in a way that their cutthroat metrics aren't negatively impacted.

It's a fucked up system, but this is how call-centers work.

Forget customer service, not even Microsoft's internal IT helpdesk is staffed by FTEs.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact