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Microsoft begins showing an anti-Firefox ad in the Windows 10 start menu (softpedia.com)
1047 points by milankragujevic on Feb 10, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 559 comments

This, and every other screw-up in the same vein, is why those of us old enough to remember the Halloween documents don't buy the whole "new Microsoft" thing.

Want to get me to try Edge? Great -- instead of a passive-aggressive ad, try telling me how it's better than Firefox and why I'd like to use it instead. What will it get me? Better privacy? Better performance? Better development tools?

Cynically, it's amazing that Microsoft collects so much personal data about each user -- and yet its "target" ads are hopelessly generic and tasteless.

Also, leaving the matter of whether or not I should even be seeing ads after I paid for the damn thing aside, the company that brought us Internet Explorer is the last one that should crack jokes about other browsers, even if they're good (which this one isn't).

>those of us old enough to remember the Halloween documents don't buy the whole "new Microsoft" thing.

>Cynically, it's amazing that Microsoft collects so much personal data about each user -- and yet its "target" ads are hopelessly generic and tasteless.

This doesn't surprise me. As someone else old enough to remember the Halloween documents, MS has long suffered from serious organizational incompetence. Just look at that whole debacle they went through with music players: "PlaysForSure", Zune, etc., where each one obsoleted the last one and screwed over any users who had bought into it. Exact same with their phone OSes.

Maybe it has to do with that funny org-chart picture with the different MS business groups pointing guns at each other. They collect a bunch of personal data, but can't look at things from a big picture and think "we collect all this data from our users, so maybe we could use a little of that to target our ads better". Of course, if you look at MS's marketing over the past 20 years, it should be readily apparent that they have some of the worst and most clueless marketing talent in the entire corporate world.

And for those who wonder like me, the original is still there: https://bonkersworld.net/organizational-charts

I guess linking to the web archive is just carefulness at this point.

>I guess linking to the web archive is just carefulness at this point.

It's a good idea IMO. Now that the web has been around for literally decades, I can't tell you how many times I've searched for something, found blog/forum posts to read, and then tried following links in those posts only to find they're dead, because they're so many years out-of-date.

Over the last couple of years I've been coming round to the fact that microsoft aren't necessarily a major problem now, compared to google and amazon at least.

Doesn't take much to put the shields back upto full.

I just don't understand why people run windows. Maybe I just use computers wrong, having been on linux for the last 20 years, but my family (who I refuse to help with IT needs) are all far happier on chromebooks than on windows

> I just don't understand why people run windows.

I've used Linux for about the same time and honestly, I understand it completely. I would switch, were it not for muscle memory and for the fact that at least 50% of my work involves systems-level development for Linux (mainly embedded stuff, so a lot of cross-compiling). In the last five or six years I've come to dread the Linux desktop and its constant churn of rewrites and UX "improvements".

I have a Windows machine that I use for work the other half of the time and honestly... it's great. Yeah, the occasional update breaks some fringe feature. But the chances of something like waking up to the announcement that Microsoft is removing desktop icons in the next update and you can just install this third-party application for it (which will break with every update) are practically zero.

Microsoft puts out a lot of broken stuff (some of which slowly morphs into non-broken, useful stuff over time, e.g. Powershell), but you can mostly be assured that, if something works today, it'll work ten years from now, modulo some registry hacks. That's incredibly valuable.

I really don't care about things like UI consistency and whatnot -- what I do care about is stability and functionality.

Edit: tbh, the main reason why I'm not switching today is that I don't really trust this whole OS-as-a-service model. If it were Windows 2000 instead of Windows 10, I wouldn't think twice before switching, but these are different times.

(More edit: please realize that I'm the same person who posted this reply: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22288917 , yeah?)

Or you could just use a window manager that doesn’t change? I’ve had the same desktop env for over a decade and nothing has changed at all. In contrast with windows and osx where we literally cannot opt out.

I entirely understand alxlaz's position, buy my solution was exactly sticking to better window managers (in terms of long term support). My workstation is Linux since '98 or '99, and since then I've used GNUstep for about a decade, then i3 and now sway (basically i3 for Wayland). I'm free from the breaking changes alxlaz describes.

I just checked, and GNUstep is pretty much alive. Even that change was caused by me wanting to try tiling window managers, not support failure.

Ah, I'm in a similar-ish boat, I use WindowMaker :). This isolates me from most, but definitely not all dubious changes. I've been down the tiling WM rabbit hole a while ago but it's just not for me, I like the mouse, I like icons...

It's a little unsettling that there are two ways to get a stable experience: using window manager from 1998 (OK, ok, WindowMaker is still maintained-ish, in fact a very tiny portion of the code written after 1998 is mine :-) ), or getting used to a workflow akin to that of Windows 1.01 (i.e. a tiling WM).

On the bright side, though, yeah, at least we have a choice!

KDE 4 was released in 2008 and has been stable and consistent for more than a decade. That predates Windows 7. So in the same time KDE has been consistent you’ve had had the migration from XP or Vista to Win7. Then Windows 8 and now Windows 10. They’ve all bought massive changes in the UI experience.

If you don’t like KDE then use LXCE or Enlightenment or any of the other Linux desktop environments that have been pretty static (and have been even longer than KDE).

So yeah, there actually is a lot of choice on Linux and not all of it looks dated.

Mate desktop has been fairly stable (the default green tinted icon set is gross but fixable). I switched to it after Ubuntu long term support, and Debian on my other computer dropped gnome 2. Just didn't like gnome 3 or unity. Cinnamon was okay but at the time was still coupled to the brain dead ideas the gnome team had been perusing at the time. I haven't checked it out recently enough to know if it had improved.

> (...) getting used to a workflow akin to that of Windows 1.01 (i.e. a tiling WM)

Not really, unless it's a tong-in-cheek remark. Tiling window managers use virtual desktops and programmable positioning of windows to produce a predictable layout. Windows 1.01 had neither of those.

Add muscle memory to it and, if you can endure the learning/customization curve, you get a very efficient window manager. Whenever I'm alt-tabbing in search of windows in Windows or OSX I feel I'm using old software.

It's tongue-in-cheek of course :). That being said, I did find tiling WMs to be very unwieldy on most screens. When I first went down the tiling WM rabbit hole, I was using a laptop with a 15" screen, and that was great. After a while I got a 27" monitor, though, and tiling became extremely annoying -- every window is now either too wide to be read comfortably and I end up padding the screen with useless xterms, or too small for contents to fit in any reasonable way.

Tiling window managers are a great way to fiddle with window arrangement LESS not more. Shoving terminal windows between other windows for spacing is spacebar heating. I3 has a branch with the feature required its called i3-gaps. This feature is on its way to becoming a part of mainline i3 but has been available for about 11 years now as a separate package.


The setting

    smart_gaps inverse_outer
Would give you a configurable empty border only when you have a singular window ensuring that the single window isn't so large as to be hard to read comfortably.

As far as windows being too small to read comfortably I'd advise you to place no more than 2-3 windows per workspace. For the benefit of those who don't use i3 workspaces are per monitor.

Given 2 monitors you can easily show 4-6 windows which is easily enough context for about any task.

So, like I said in my other reply: this was back when i3-gaps was pretty fresh. I don't recall the inverse_outer outer setting, and looking at the github repository, it looks like it was merged in 2018. I'm talking about something that happened like ten years ago :-).

As for this part:

> As far as windows being too small to read comfortably I'd advise you to place no more than 2-3 windows per workspace. For the benefit of those who don't use i3 workspaces are per monitor.

Yeah, this is pretty much where the fiddling comes from.

I don't want to use 2-3 windows per workspace. I sometimes have to work on a piece of code and have 8-10 PDFs open for it -- datasheets, reference guides, schematics and whatnot, at which I want to be able to look from time to time. Sometimes while I'm also looking at the code, sometimes in full-screen (because I'm looking at a big diagram). Sometimes I need to look at a part of a diagram while I'm looking at the code. So I need them to be in the same view as the code. All in all -- including specs, standards, the code window(s), a few xterms -- I easily have 12-15 windows open in order to work on one thing, and it's not really optional.

i3's tabbed view is sort of what I wanted for the PDFs but it's annoying that, if you want to switch to the right one using nothing but the keyboard, you have to go through all of them. You go back and forth, not to the Nth tab (or at least you couldn't back when I tried i3).

That's actually what I liked about ratpoison. Instead of trying to be smart, it just let me multiplex my screen, which is what I really wanted.

I could sort of bend my workflow around all this and, through a complicated set of chords, make use of the whole thing in a productive manner. However, it was anything but convenient. I'm way happier with a floating WM and do a lot less fiddling with the windows.

With herbstluftwm I address that issue by just doing a split; you don't necessarily need to put anything in a given pane, so it's possible to just resize the pane for the window about which you actually care, and ignore the unused space entirely.

Of course, I typically end up sticking a terminal or editor or chat window or music player or something in there anyway, because why not?

How are useless xterms different from uselessly used space for a simply centered window?

I have 2x4K monitors at home. Moving to i3 is the best thing that happened to me.

> How are useless xterms different from uselessly used space for a simply centered window?

You still have to open them and move them around, especially if you do change your layout eventually.

I actually didn't have that problem when I was using ratpoison, but some applications (looking at you, Eclipse...) don't really work with it. (I know about stumpwm, and I do know Common Lisp, but alas, we just don't get along too well). When I moved to i3, which is greedy with screen space, I actually wrote myself a couple of scripts to handle this situation "gracefully" (automatically pad the screen with empty X11 windows, automatically un-pad them when needed) and bound them to a couple of key combinations.

I mean it sort of worked but at one point I decided I want to spend more time doing fun/useful things and less time hacking on my window manager.

Why didn't you use gaps instead of empty windows? Instead of hours writing scripts you could have spent 10 seconds adding a few lines of config.

This was before i3-gaps was a thing, if that's what you're referring to.

notion is a bit like i3 but with fixed containers that don't disappear when they become empty: https://notionwm.net/

herbstluftwm also has containers something similar

Similarly, Xfce, LXDE, and MATE are all alive and well and haven't changed much in the last decade, either.

Almost all my Linux work has been via command line for quite a while, so maybe this has changed, but my recollection was the GUI inconsistency had little to do with the window manager. It had much more to do with the X libraries that the developer of each app decided to use.

I used to have a screen shot showing me running something like 5 different GUI apps on a Linux system, all of them trying to open a file, each with a completely different file chooser dialog. That's because one app used Motif, one use GTK, one used Qt, and I have no idea what the others used.

This comment reminds me of this meme image that I saved a few years ago:


Odds that it's even worse since this was created?

I found my screen shot: https://i.imgur.com/Wcwaiwu.jpg

Nice. Actually some of these remind me of Windows, too. It's less common on Windows but plenty of applications seem to link against antiquated libraries which provide really unusable and nonstandard file selection dialogs. One thing I remember being annoyed with is old-style ones that are very small and you can't resize. Here are some, but I've seen weirder ones:


With sandboxing, macOS is now forcing devs to use their file selection dialog because it will grant access to the selected files - a custom dialog box has no such blessing.

It's nice, actually; it's finally making the file selection process feel uniform. Too many Java apps are still using random Swing dialogs though...

How do the java apps use their own file selection dialogs if they're sandboxed?

Sandboxed Java apps don’t. Here I’m talking about apps that you can’t get on the App Store, many of which are older Java programs which haven’t been updated to use the newer APIs.

The push to force sandboxed apps to use the system dialog had the nice side effect of forcing many GUI APIs to actually use the native file pickers, which meant that a lot of non-app-store apps started to use the native file picker. But Java apps don’t automatically get that upgrade.

>I used to have a screen shot showing me running something like 5 different GUI apps on a Linux system, all of them trying to open a file, each with a completely different file chooser dialog. That's because one app used Motif, one use GTK, one used Qt, and I have no idea what the others used.

But they all perform the same function of choosing a file right? What does it matter if they all look the same? I don't understand why anyone would care so much whether the file choosing windows match eachother visually between different apps. As long as I can pick a file effectively, I wouldn't really care if the app had pink sparkles or something. As long as it does what it's supposed to.

The aesthetics are not a completely invalid consideration. People recognize patterns and find choosing behaviors/reactions easier when recognizing a common pattern. It takes more effort to respond to unfamiliar stimulus. Aesthetics aren't the only consideration though.

File choosers typically allow one to bookmark commonly used directories unfortunately this is per chooser purely for reasons of lack of coordination.

Further despite people asking for it for the last 15 years the gtk version doesn't have a very good way to visually pick out an image in their picker. To date the only good way to pick out an image in a gtk app even GIMP is to open a file manager alongside the application and drag the file into the application or file chooser.

I find it unlikely that most people figure this out.

The devil is in the implementation details. Are favorites/shortcuts in the same part of the screen? Are they in the same order? Does the dialog remember sort and view configuration between folders? Does the dialog differentiate between mounts, symlinks, and tangible files? Does it display networked machines properly? Are file icons consistent in design if not color scheme? The problem most people have (in my experience) is behavioral. The mismatching visuals is just the most jarring aspect that's easiest to point to.

It's not that there are aesthetic difference like pink sparkles on some.

It's that some have a file type filter and some don't. Some show all files while others hide dotfiles and provide a checkbox to show them. Some show files and directories in the same pane while others show directories in one pane and files in another. Some show ".." in their directory list and you go up by opening that, others do not show ".." and provide a button for going up.

I understand this, but modularity is one of the philosophies and benefits behind linux, with modularity unfortunately comes inconsistency. As many of the apps available on linux are open source and open source developers are mostly free to use whatever toolkits they want or are comfortable with, you're not likely to get the consistency you want with linux.

With windows you have an API provided by windows for ui programs, there will be more consistency between apps because of this.

Linux providing a standardized ui API would go against the core philosophy of it and you're not likely going to be able to convince every developer making gui apps for linux to agree on and use only one graphical toolkit.

Like with anything, every os has tradeoffs and downsides, personally I prefer modularity and control over my system to ui consistency.

A standard API can provide more modularity and control than the current approach.

You do this by having several available implementations of the API as dynamic libraries--one using Motif, one using GTK, one using Qt, and so on.

There would be a per user config setting specifying which implementation the user prefers. If a program wants to put up a file chooser, it can read that, then load the right library and use the API. A program might also have per program settings to override that, to handle the case where a user really does prefer, say, GTK file choosers for most programs but Qt file choosers for some specific programs.

This gives you more UI consistency, makes things more modular than having every program include file chooser dialog code, and gives more control to the user, and doesn't interfere with the developer choosing whatever toolkit they prefer for things other than standard dialogs.

>You do this by having several available implementations of the API as dynamic libraries--one using Motif, one using GTK, one using Qt, and so on.

OK, now who's going to do this? At what level would this be implemented at? Would this be at the windows server level? Would I have to pull in GtK, motif, qt and every other library that this API will rely on just to install Wayland or xorg? Will it be at the window manager level? Will I need to pull in GfK, qt, motif etc. for every desktop environment and window manager relying on this API? Which versions of these libraries will this API rely on?

The last graphical app i wrote, I used dlangui for a GUI, should I have been forced to use Gtk or qt despite them being heavier and more complicated than what I needed?

Your program in dlangui would do something like this (but in D rather than the C-like pseudocode I'm going to use...). At the place where you want to put up a file chooser dialog, which now presumably does something like this:

  char * result = dlangui_choose_file(...)
you would do this instead:

  char * result = 0;
  char * (*standard_choose)() = get_standard_choose();
  if (standard_choose)
    result = (*standard_choose)(...);
  if (result == 0)
    result = dlangui_choose_file(...)
get_standard_choose is a small function that would:

1. Check a standard set of configuration locations to see if the system administrator or user has configured a standard file choose dialog [1].

2. If a standard file choose dialog has been configured, the configuration information includes the path to a library that implements it. get_standard_choose() loads that library, gets a pointer to the standard_choose() functions from it, and returns that pointer.

3. get_standard_choose() returns 0 if no standard choose dialog is configured or it runs into problems trying to load it.

If the user wants GTK or Qt file chooser dialogs instead of dlangui file chooser dialogs, you don't have to use GTK or Qt. The user installs a GTK or Qt file chooser library and points to it in their standard dialog configuration.

(I'd expect at some point that toolkits like dlangui would incorporate get_standard_choose() functionality themselves. After that, you'd then just write

  char * result = dlangui_choose_file(...)
and it would deal with using the user preferred dialog if available. It would be completely transparent to the programmer using dlangui).

Same idea for other common dialogs, like color picking, printing, and font selection.

[1] Probably something like check an environment variable first. If it doesn't find a match there, probably then a config file in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME. If no match, then something in /etc.

Actual modularity would imply a common way to plug in different file choosers so you could use file mangager A with desktop b with application from desktop c.

Inconsistency comes not from modularity but rather from incompetence.

And NONE of them have usable keyboard shortcuts so you can avoid using the mouse.

Don't worry, soon it will be 'systemui' and there will only be one way to do anything. /s

Apparently a lot of people care, but programs not having the same style across a system always seems to be a top 3 issue with electron apps.

Windows has this same problem, with 3rd party and its own apps. I don't know why it needs 3 different file open dialogs, and it confuses the crap out of normies. Don't even ask me about people getting upset about not knowing when to click or double-click.

I tell people that if the cursor changes to a hand, then it's a single-click.

Everyone doubleclicks anyway though.

You could, but the fact that (one of) the default mainstream DE does not respect its users' workflows is a valid gripe. Going against the grain requires energy investment and it's not sure tomorrow we will still be able to run Xfce. That and e.g. systemd's changes which make one use case easy and everything else impossible, everyone but red hat be damned, leave a bad taste in my mouth - most recently homed not supporting remote login. There has been a push for projects to adopt a Code of Conduct to make sure the maintainers act with respect towards all contributors. Maybe the CoC should also include "do not yeehaw into the codebase", because I am getting tired of cowboys tripping me up and accepting no responsibility.

I do, but that doesn't help much. I don't really have a choice about GTK applications, for example -- I'm going to get the GTK 3 open file dialog and the colour picker with every GTK 3 application.

I absolutely get the distaste for gratuitous UX changes. I've been using Xfce since 2004 and it hasn't changed all that much since then.

Overall I'd never claim that a Linux desktop is a "Just Works" proposition, but judging from the issues my colleagues have with macOS, I wouldn't trade my Linux problems for their macOS problems. I can't speak much to Windows anymore, but I can't imagine it'd be all that much better.

(Full disclosure: 2004-2009 I was a core Xfce developer.)

OSX problems range from:

- oh look, apple decided to change their security model. Now old apps don't work. (necessary to prevent malware).

- oh look, no more 32bit programs.

- oh look, you plugged in a monitor CRASH.

- oh look, you plugged in a charger... CRASH.

- oh look, a touchbar.

- let's all pay a $1000 premium for hardware.

On OSX backwards compatibility isn't a concern apparently.

Windows problems range from:

- Who installed this thing? And to where? WTF is it?

- Why is there 2+ interfaces for all system configurations. 1 of which is pretty but incomplete, and the other hidden and terrible but complete?

- Why does it insist on using edge and bing for fucking everything?

> Why is there 2+ interfaces for all system configurations. 1 of which is pretty but incomplete, and the other hidden and terrible but complete?

This is one of the most absurdly awful things in Windows 10. Trying to disable a network adapter requires navigating a maze of useless New Design(r) config pages (where, for example, the ONLY interaction is "set connection to Metered mode"), complete with broken back buttons that take you somewhere arbitrary.

> let's all pay a $1000 premium for hardware.

Worth it IMHO. I have a Mac mini that I bought on a whim while a Windows desktop was in the shop.

I’ve had it six years now, and in that time I’ve had three Windows machines die.

Yay for anecdotes. I've had the same windows desktop for 6 years without anything being replaced.

I also use a Linux laptop which runs great and "just works".

Yeah. Now try again with the latest Mac mini and compare :(

> Why is there 2+ interfaces for all system configurations. 1 of which is pretty but incomplete, and the other hidden and terrible but complete?

Of all the complaints, that one I totally understand the rationale for. It's an iterative design, they simply haven't finished building the new one yet. Until they do, I ignore it.

It isn't exactly advertised as an incomplete alpha product. Everything in Windows 10 funnels you into the new interface. The fact that the first-class option for system configuration is woefully incomplete is pretty hard to forgive. This is the only supported version of the flagship product of a fortune 500 company, not an early-access Steam game.

Agreed, W10 has been out for years. Apparently it has hit maintenance mode before they could finish. Honestly I'd rather have the XP control panel, with no extra clicks.

- WTF are all important links on the M$ website dead?

Thank You for all your contributions to Xfce. I switched to it on FreeBSD and it is rock solid. When WinXP went EOL I setup a FreeBSD desktop and it has been fabulous. Truthfully my only gotcha is bluetooth support on FreeBSD is pretty bad. I can work around it as I listen to all these horror stories about Win10.

Xfce allows me to mimic XP quite well. Drag the bar to the bottom of the screen and setup a dark blue background and I felt at home. I like feeling in control of my desktop experience. The switch to GTK3 was not better but GTK2 is getting stale so I understand..

If you want Bluetooth for audio, there are USB dongles that have standalone Bluetooth controllers in them and are only exposed to the OS as an audio device. I use it on my OpenBSD desktop.

> I really don't care about things like UI consistency and whatnot -- what I do care about is stability and functionality.

I was on Linux for about 20 years, and now I've been on Mac for 6. Of course, I've had to deal with Windows all this time, too, for gaming and work. (I was even certified on NT.) Anyway, I've no doubt that Windows is pretty stable by now, but the glorious configuration that my company sets up on their laptops starts bugging us to reboot after 5 days, just because it's been "a long time." I blame Microsoft for making their software cater to people who cut-and-paste from Google results to create IT policy, and creating an ecosystem which leads companies to do things like this, and, say, locking the desktop background, of all things.

And you can keep Powershell, along with WSL.

Sure, Apple doesn't play well with enterprises, because they start with the fundamental assumption that the device is PERSONAL, and you're not using someone else's loaned device. I'm very glad for this. (And I'm never giving my company permissions to remotely wipe my devices with Mobile Iron.)

I'd really love to see OS usage percentage numbers with corporate use factored out. My gut feeling is that Windows has absolutely nosedived for personal use over the past few years, and it's only corporations that are keeping the numbers in the air. Half the people I know don't even have a computer, and are just using their phone or an iPad.

> Apple doesn't play well with enterprises

Well, it plays too well actually. At my current job and at previous one we had a choice Mac or a Windows laptop.

Mac ones were alway much more rigid with restrictions, less hackable (e.g. Installing Linux side by side was impossible on Mac, because it broke macos somehow as a result of enterprise drive encryption).

Well, I just had to take my laptop in to work to get the firmware updated because BitLocker hiccuped, and locked me out of the machine. I'm doubting that you're going to be any safer on Windows in this regard, unless Corporate IT is NOT turning on drive encryption for Windows. (And even I would probably advocate for this particular policy.)

It wasn't a firmware update, if bitlocker detects hardware or disk config changes - it needs to be unlocked from the enterprise side. Most deployments have a self service portal so you don't have to bother IT for it.

As for installing Linux, that should be fine as long as you're not pulling company data on that - and it should be gated with whatever endpoint protection there is for Linux.

> In the last five or six years I've come to dread the Linux desktop and its constant churn of rewrites and UX "improvements".

Not like Windows is especially immune to this, either, though in Microsoft's defense they actually listened to the users somewhat and backpedaled to a proper Start Menu instead of continuing to shove Metro down everyone's throats.

Windows has a big ole flaw nowadays: not friendly to SSD+HDD setup where you put the OS on the SSD. It insists on storing everything on drive C:\ which is on the SSD, even the behemoth that is Visual Studio (though that can be offset in large part with junction links). I've allocated 64GB of SSD space to my Windows and it managed to fill it up already even though I make it a point to install and save everything the HDD. Now, Win10 can't install any of its stupid updates anymore. Microsoft seriously needs to stop living in the 90s where it was okay to shove all data to drive C:\...

Then don't use that DE that is targeting at clearly other people (I agree it sucks that most distributions use that DE but as power user you can install the distribution or DE that fits you better).

Unfortunately the triplet DE--GUI-Toolkit--Applications is often intertwined or at least evolves in the same manner.

For example, I don't want GTK-3, I only have GTK-2 installed. It could be all fine and dandy if, one after another, year after year, applications wouldn't give up their GTK-2 backend to only maintain/develop their GTK-3 one. The set of (up-to-date) applications I can run decreases, despite the fact that, as Alxlaz, I still run WindowMaker :-)

On Qt side, there are applications which requires an exact version of Qt (not only the main version Qt-3/4/5, but the point version), or require KDE, or require an exact version of KDE. If you want to install a new application, you have to go back in its history and find a version of the application that matches your installed library version. Or install another Qt version and hope it doesn't break other programs.


A bit different, but many years after my last try, I tried to use Scribus. I quickly remembered why I had not really used it long the previous time: text input is still convoluted and not WYSIWYG, which is a bit annoying (understatement) for this kind of program where you precisely want to see how text flows. So I gave a try to the new branch (which BTW required a new version of Qt, if I am not mistaken), hoping that they finally did something about it after all those years this program exists. Alas! Apart from the underneath Qt version change, the visible changes were: icons are now flat and monochrome (i.e. you cannot recognise one from another), keyboard shortcuts have been slightly and viciously modified (what was F3 is now F4, stuff like that... but why, oh why? what is the freaking point of doing that?), and it crashed on me after 5 minutes.


So basically, even if you'd just wish to have a few bugs fixed, and possibly a long-time missing feature finally added, by getting the new version that does this, you are forced to follow the crazy flow of adding or updating all libraries/toolkits/environments, because maintainers have decided it was way more interesting to rewrite their stuff for the umpteenth time with a different/new back-end (toolkit, environment), rather than polishing their existing, mostly fine for the job, code base.

It is exhausting, I am, too, really tired with that churn and constant breaking.

>For example, I don't want GTK-3, I only have GTK-2 installed. It could be all fine and dandy if, one after another, year after year, applications wouldn't give up their GTK-2 backend to only maintain/develop their GTK-3 one.

gtk2 is deprecated, so it makes sense that any actively-supported applications are moving to gtk3, which is still supported. By refusing to use gtk3, you're locking yourself out of not only newer applications that were only written for it, but older ones that have moved to it.

Why do you think an actively-maintained application should stick with a deprecated toolkit?

>On Qt side, there are applications which requires an exact version of Qt (not only the main version Qt-3/4/5, but the point version), or require KDE, or require an exact version of KDE.

In all my years, I've never seen this with an actively-maintained application. Of course, I generally stick with stuff that's available in my distro repo, so I never have any trouble.

Also note that with both gtk3 and Qt5, both these toolkits have been around for something like a decade now. Looking at Wikipedia, gtk3 3.0 came out exactly 9 years ago (10-02-2011), and Qt5 came out on 19-12-2012. Neither of these is at all new. I will grant you, though, that gtk3 is now already headed the way of the dodo, since they've announced gtk4. Personally, I'm not a fan of gtk and prefer Qt as it seems much more stable and better for GUI development anyway, and I don't see anything about Qt5 being phased out. Qt is also used a lot in embedded systems in industry, unlike gtk.

>the visible changes were: icons are now flat and monochrome (i.e. you cannot recognise one from another)

That's all the rage these days. I'm not a big fan either, but it's what most users want. This isn't a brand-new fad either; it's been going on for years now. I do wish I could try living in the alternate universe where UI design mostly stuck with way things were done in the mid-2000s.

I use Kubuntu LTS, sometimes I had to compile a program that was abandoned and I wanted to keep using it. In the last year though we get snap and flatpacks so in theory this could work in future unchanged(though you can't be 100% sure). About the icons, good developers use the system icons so installing a different icon pack compatible with GTK2 would solve the issue(not if the developer included his own icons). About OSX , I think they just dropped 32bit support so I suspect you would also hit issues where your old favorite application is broken,

I understand the frustration with tech , I also went for a short while to Windows10 then I went back to Kubuntu and not even dual booting anymore, the largest frustration I have at this moment is sometimes my video card crashes and I am not sure if is the NVIDIA driver fault or is an hardware issue and on top of it people would say "Why did you bought NVIDIA ?, AMD is better" but at that time I bought my card AMD drivers were shit and most Steam Linux games only supported NVIDIA.

I would also blame developers, the open source and proprietary software developers want to use latest and coolest thing, then sometimes they are forced by deprecation of old tool kits to change (at least sometimes GTK2 apps are ported to the better Qt toolkit)

And the occasional "we changed all network settings and turned off all network devices" system update. And then of course "if you need help go to www..."

Linux desktop is a horrible UX. But is also an amazing server environment.

Also windows can run on partially broken hardware and still not crash. Which is incredibly impressive.

> just don't understand why people run windows.

Honestly, its DPI scaling and windows management with 4K monitors. Both Microsoft and Apple are still not perfect in this area so I assume its an extremely hard problem. The other issue is not all programs, like Daws and video editors, have a Linux version.

> But the chances of something like waking up to the announcement that Microsoft is removing desktop icons in the next update and you can just install this third-party application for it (which will break with every update) are practically zero.

I get your point, but I do think this has actually occurred. Remembr when 7 updated to 8, and when 8 updated to 8.2 (I think) and when 8 updated to 10? I didn't use Windows much back then, but I really remember those three updates.

I forget which, but one unexpectedly took nearly 4 hours. Like an entire morning waiting for updates to finish, unable to use that computer, which was the one computer hooked up to the beamer, but it had to be updated at some point. I actually wrote a "windows update game" during that time, where you had to play a platforming hourglass, collecting percentages of progress. If you got to 100% it said something like "Restart to finish upgrading", then it started at 0% again, and you got ONE point. I think somebody got a high score of three.

And the first update completely changed the UI, removed the Start Menu (or hid it?), made icons into "tiles", some of which were "active" (?), which is to me a lot like you're describing. I was truly lost in Windows for a while. On all sides, not just the UI, but the settings, the folders.

And I still don't know what I have to do in Windows to disable ALL the telemetry and advertising in menus. Is it still possible? It's probably about as hard as setting up an Ubuntu install. And it's keeping me scared away from Windows, just like setting up Ubuntu seems scary to some other users.

It's not that I don't like Windows, like you say, if it were 2000 (or XP, or 7, I've also gotten used to those) ... actually you're right that 2000 might have been the last Windows that I wasn't slightly scared about (spying on me, even though what we considered "spying" in the days of XP, are like Tuesdays now).

There's this one thing that will always make me go back to Linux, however. And is that (perhaps the way I use it?) Windows has a "honeymoon" period that is one or two years, after that it just degrades in quality, responsiveness, just getting slow. And I have no idea how to fix that, clean it up, or whatever, besides installing Linux. Which makes the thing run smooth again. The only thing that seems to slow Linux down after a while, is the browser because the web just keeps getting heavier.

But I don't hate using Windows for those 1-2 years :) Especially now they got better command line stuff, who knows.

> I just don't understand why people run windows

I do. And just a disclaimer, I am using linux 100% on desktop (and prefer freebsd on servers). Where I run firefox, i3, terminal, evolution (as I am forced to use it due to Exchange support, while I actually prefer mutt) and this is it. I rarely run anything else that is windowed.

The reason is simple.

Linux desktop really sucks. Instead of whole community stepping together and make ONE well made, bugless desktop, where most of people wouldnt need to install 3rd party hacks, edit config files and do everything using mouse, you need to fight which one is better and you end up with 20+ desktop enviroments that all sucks one way or another. Linux would have edge over windows desktop if there wouldnt be higlanders fractions fighting which half finished desktop is better. And I am observing this for 20 years.

Same goes with binary compatibility.

Personally I dont care but for ordinary "dumb" user it is revolting. And immidiately when freebsd will give me working hw support, I will move away from linux too. As it is a mess since systemd came, where more and more non existant problems are beeing solved while you still cant clean dhclient mess from the system without killing it (-r? -x? Only in man pages.)

It is a sad story of egoism and vanity where something that could be great, never was.

As someone who uses one of the minority desktops within a minority distro (Fedora w/ Cinnamon spin), I agree that all of the trash-talking within a community is to the detriment to its spread.

I almost wish we could get all Linux users to verbally agree to something like the following:

"I will not trash popular Linux desktop environments to outsiders. Ubuntu is fine. GNOME is fine. I understand that for the sake of the Linux Desktop's survival, it is more important that I be helpful and supportive of people's choice to use Default Ubuntu, rather than telling them that my Arch/Xfce/i3 setup is The One True Path."

Use whatever you want in private. Just shut the f--- up about trashing Ubuntu/Mint/Manjaro at every opportunity because you disagree with some decision of theirs. It makes us all look bad.

GNOME isn't fine. See, on switching keyboard layout it switches focus from current window while it writes some file to disk. Yes, it's not terrible on SSD, and I bet whoever invented this monstrosity has an SSD. But needing an SSD not to lose some of the letters you type just screams of insanity.

OTOH, yes, the rest of Ubuntu is fine, and to anyone fed up with Windows I gladly recommend anything else based on Ubuntu LTS. [LKX]Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE, Mint — they are all really fine.

> on switching keyboard layout it switches focus from current window while it writes some file to disk.

I don't use GNOME, but I've noticed switching keyboard layout in Fcitx being slow. This is especially annoying since I have four different layouts and switching back-and-forth requires cycling through all the others.

I wonder whether this is actually a problem at a deeper layer. (Possibly that layer was originally created for GNOME.) Do you happen to have a link to a bug tracker for this issue?

Huh? So? Surprisingly, Ubuntu MATE has bugs too, you can look here too see some of them: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mate

1) This bug is a major one for a big part of the world.

2) It belongs to the part of GNOME that exists solely because GNOME decided to reinvent keyboard input.

3) Google shows lots of people aware of the problem (bugreports, stackexchange, whatever) — of course it does, see (1) — but not only no solution, but also I couldn't find any workaround short of using another DE, although — see (2) — disabling the feature altogether would be a decent workaround.

Of course all programs have bugs. Do other free programs tend to have bugs of this lasting quality?

How often does a user switch their keyboard layout?

When writing in Russian, every time when they switch between typing prose and typing equations or code. So, maybe about a dozen times per sentence.

At first my jaw dropped on your comment, but then I thought, maybe we non-latin-writing people are just abusing a feature meant for something different? Do you use several layouts, but switch between them infrequently?

Honestly I wouldn't be surprised if people assume that non-latin languages have all the characters you need to type in that language on a single layout. For English at least, you really only use a single layout.

In various non-european scenarios, possibly multiple times per sentence. For example, including the word "Microsoft" or "Linux" in the middle of non-latin script requires two keyboard layout switches, to latin and back.

I code on US keyboard, but i write mails and documentation for work on Slovenian keyboard.

It's not bad if you focus on one or the other. But when you combine the two, (talking about techical stuf, tickets, code reviews, ...) I often have to switch.

I'd say i switch on average few dozen times per hour.

I think you misunderstood : the problem is not the trash-talking, the problem is that all Linux DE are trashes and if people were only putting their effort on one it wouldn't be trash.

Everyone thinks that different part of it is trash, so you get 20 desktop. Its like in that xkcd where you creat ultimate desktop and end up with 21 desktops instead of original 20.

And why would Linux need Such desktop-to-end-all-other-desktops? It would be a trashy configure me only with mouse desktop. Let such users stay at Windows or Mac and allow power users to have their choice if 20 desktops with majority of them allowing at least a text configuration.

> The reason is simple.

Linux desktop really sucks.

While I am as idiosyncratic as anyone about Linux desktops (I run the Trinity Desktop Environment, which is basically the old KDE 3 kept up to date), and I am no fan of systemd or hw support problems (amdgpu, for instance, insists on locking up my laptop every so often), I don't think any of these things are the primary reason people run windows. I think the primary reason people run windows is that they have to use it at work and so they're familiar with it and don't even bother considering other alternatives.

> Instead of whole community stepping together and make ONE well made, bugless desktop

The reason this hasn't happened is simple: there are no market forces driving it to happen. What would create such market forces would be for large corporations, or governments, to abandon Windows for Linux. It would probably end up cheaper, since the cost of development of a well made, bugless Linux desktop would probably amortize to less than the Windows tax per unit. But it would require someone to be willing to do something different from what everyone else is doing, and that's not a way to get ahead in a large corporation or government.

>I don't think any of these things are the primary reason people run windows. I think the primary reason people run windows is that they have to use it at work and so they're familiar with it and don't even bother considering other alternatives.

I think this is slowly changing. I'm seeing more and more people who have given up Windows and moved to 1) Macbooks, 2) tables, 3) Chromebooks, or 4) just using phones.

I agree that the Linux desktop failures aren't the primary reason people run Windows, but it hasn't helped.

>It would probably end up cheaper, since the cost of development of a well made, bugless Linux desktop would probably amortize to less than the Windows tax per unit.

There's no "probably" about it. We already have fairly decent Linux desktops (just use Ubuntu: for most people, it "just works" most of the time, and it costs nothing). The Windows tax is already the largest BOM item for a PC. The additional cost needed to make Debian or Ubuntu into something even more bug-free and fully-featured wouldn't be that much. In fact, this was basically the whole idea behind many Linux distros: give them away for free to the masses, but sell support contracts to large corporations and governments to finance it. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well. It's worked for Red Hat, but that's about the only company that's done well in this space, mainly because of US Government contracts.

I think a missing piece of the story is that there haven't been UX designers involved in the development of Linux DEs. MS and Apple have money and motivation to hire UX people and do user testing on their interfaces and they don't even get it right all the time. The folks doing open source desktop environment development are mostly scratching their own itches and so (I think) by definition, developing niche products.

EDIT: For which I am extremely grateful BTW. I love to see experimentation in the UI space. Just pointing out a reason we got here that I don't see mentioned often.

> bugless desktop

Nobody has achieved or will achieve that. Moving between macos, windows, and Linux - all have their issues.

> where most of people wouldnt need to install 3rd party hacks, edit config files

It's pretty close. Using either Fedora or Ubuntu, I didn't need to tweak anything in years to make normal desktop experience work.

My roommate at work used to give me grief for using MacBook. He used Ubuntu on some kind of Lenovo laptop. His keyboard would stop working at least once a day. I knew because he was using really loud mechanical keyboard. So I would give him grief about spending half his time "fixing" his Ubuntu. One of the best work roommates I ever had.

On a more serious note; I could not believe how little, at least from looking over my roommate's shoulder, Linux desktop experience improved since I last used it in 2005.

I switched over to running desktop linux a couple months ago because I was so fed up with these things, but the truth is... it's just pretty bad. Like if I let my laptop go to sleep my touchpad will never work again. I had to do a bunch of weird kernel hacks to keep my wifi working when the device goes to sleep, and even then it's a hack (I had to enable the airplane mode button, and then make sure to hit it twice any time I open the screen. Come on!). And the lock screen breaks if I'm plugged into a monitor, it shows this weird low resolution version and a high resolution one on top of it. Everything is just incredibly sloppy and either outright broken, or kind of broken. This is Kubuntu btw! I tried Fedora and it crashed every two minutes if I booted X windows so, that didn't work out. Also the main thing with Fedora was it couldn't recognize my sound card, which is like the main intel thing built into every laptop. Maybe it's a winmodem thing again or something, but overall it just does not work at all.

So the reason people are still using Microsoft: You HAVE to unless you explicitly buy hardware for Linux. It's just unusable otherwise and the trajectory is getting WORSE, not better.

Yes, you MUST buy certified hardware [0], preferably with it pre-loaded with Linux [1].

Ultimately, Linux didn't make enough of a dent in the desktop hardware space in the 90's/00's. The level of interest from hardware vendors (ODM/OEM/component manufacturers) has gone down - that's why things are worse.

If you don't use non-preloaded hardware you are NOT signalling to anyone that desktop Linux is important. This reduces overall interest - vendors think that no-one uses Linux - over the long run this reduces the amount of work done.

The take-away is please buy a DELL Sputnik with support - you are signalling to the market you want desktop Linux - and if it breaks you can complain!

I confess I only partially practise what I preach - I'm on a thinkpad =-)

[0] https://certification.ubuntu.com/ and there are other sites [1] https://www.dell.com/support/article/uk/en/ukbsdt1/sln310507...

Well, I'll definitely keep an eye on that piece of hardware. I do intend that the next system I buy can run Linux well. I mean I'm going to stick with it, even if it is bad.

That said.. even though I'm pointing out hardware issues I don't think the free software world should get a pass on these things. I get that a lack of corporate sponsorship can make things hard, BUT, a lot of the issues I'm running into are things that are just about having decent project maintenance.

Like, if my touchpad stops working after I close the screen, clearly they had enough info to actually make a working touchpad driver, but not enough to actually, uh, make it reliable. In most companies you have the concept of "alpha" or "beta" level of software, and I feel like EVERY component in Linux is alpha level. As long as you're 100% on the happy path your experience will be perfectly mediocre, and otherwise it's going bad VERY fast. Like I mean, it's pretty sad that the login screen is broken. I can't be the first person that plugged their laptop into a monitor! And it recognizes the monitor and works fine with it! So it's just an issue of kdm (or whatever the hell it is now) not actually being able to handle a multi monitor setup in... 2020? This shit has been old hat for 15 YEARS.

I don't know what it will take for free software to produce a decent desktop system, but I think blaming it on 3rd party companies is off the table at this point, there's obviously something not quite working with this model when it comes to producing software people can use.

It's not "open source" that's in question here, it is "work done for free without commercially paid developers".

A bunch of work happens for things like wifi and cpu because of Android and ChromeOS.

But, the number of professional paid developers doing "desktop Linux" drivers is probably fewer than 10 right now [0].

The number of full-time paid developers on "desktop Linux" itself is probably under 100? ... probably more like 50 honestly.

Drivers are of alpha quality (using your definition) because they are not written by the manufacturer. The reliability of drivers is down to the lack of availability of information. The bottom line is that the lack of access to information about how the hardware works means it's hard to make reliable drivers.

Your trackpad example is perfect because AFAIK synaptics had to reverse engineered.

Microsoft doesn't write drivers, the hardware vendors does. And Microsoft runs a test, if the hardware works then it passes the test and gets a sticker on it's butt. HP can only ship hardware that has the sticker. This outsources the cost to the manufacturer and the testing to the OEM.

Whereas, in Linux land those economics don't apply.

I get your points but if you actually want to use desktop Linux then this is one area where you have to go with the grain - buy a PRELOADED certified system because that's going to be built from the smallest set of hardware that the vendor knows is compatible.

[0] meaning there is no-one paid to work on monitors, there is no-one paid to work on that trackpad. What is being paid for is so that Android or ChromeOS can work.

So honestly, if the answer is "buy special hardware to use this thing"... I'm probably not going to use the thing.

I support desktop linux up to the point where I'm willing to use it, and contribute if I am using, but, I'm not replacing everything I own for an experience that's already proven to be bad. I'm not really convinced the problem is hardware, I think there are cultural/organization/design problems here. It shouldn't be hard to have multi-monitor support for a login screen 15 years after it's been a common setup. I shouldn't be battling with ACPI issues when ACPI is a standard that's been around since like 1996. I'm willing to be forgiving about things like graphics drivers or other things that are on the cutting edge with manufacturers that are mostly indifferent, but we're talking basic functionality. Even though I'm sympathetic to the manpower issues it doesn't change the fact that it's not really usable and telling people to buy new computers isn't a good solution.

I think you just have to accept that desktop Linux has a different set of tradeoffs. It's not right for everyone but you were driven here because you couldn't stand Windows but you're already dismissing the alternative as 'proven to be bad'.

Also I think you are underestimating how crappy and broken a lot of hardware is. See eg. https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/libinput/libinput/tree/master...

or read some of the comments here, lots are about ACPI https://elixir.bootlin.com/linux/latest/source/drivers/pci/q...

Has anyone bought the libinput maintainer your laptop hardware so he can work out why it doesn't work? You can see from the commit log that it's mainly developed by one person, who also developed the previous Linux (synaptics) touchpad driver for years before that.

ACPI is an overcomplicated hostile Microsoft-led standard that has a side effect of creating problems on OSs other than Windows because most hardware manufacturers are only interested enough to test things enough to make sure Windows boots and has no problems. Forget the Halloween documents, this is far more diabolical.

It's an early attack toward making the PC platform move toward ownership and control of Microsoft, well before UEFI or Secure Boot.

Combine this with the modern trend of some hardware manufacturer's refusing to release details needed to create drivers unless NDAs are signed, which wasn't something commonplace in the early 90's when Linux (and Windows NT) was born, and this creates the situation where things don't "just work" on Linux.

With the proper hardware information and without a bad firmware interface like ACPI in the way of the hardware, the only limit is whether someone is willing to write and maintain a driver for it.

>there's obviously something not quite working with this model when it comes to producing software people can use

It might be that the model is never going to provide the financial incentives to work perfectly on every random Windows laptop, which is what you seem to mean by 'producing software people can use'. Meanwhile, plenty of people use it just fine - your laptop not working hardly invalidates the whole desktop Linux concept.

You're missing my point, which is that the problems extend past hardware support. Also it's hardware that frankly should work. MSI GS65. There's nothing weird hardware wise with this laptop.

Linux will always have unstable drivers (with a few exceptions where companies throw money at it) until linux kernel developers acknowledge that a stable driver ABI results in stable drivers.

> The level of interest from hardware vendors (ODM/OEM/component manufacturers) has gone down - that's why things are worse.

I'm sort of surprised the Linux community didn't put more effort into a compatibility layer so that Windows drivers could be used on Linux, or something to make it easy for vendors to quickly port their Windows drivers to Linux.

It's only doable for a small subset from the system side: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NDISwrapper

On the other hand, large drivers like NVIDIA use their own blobs which likely share a lot of code between systems.

Right, what I'm saying is that I'm surprised more effort wasn't put into NDIS to make it work with other types of hardware.

This is why, despite Apple not caring about us anymore, you still see an overwhelming amount of Macs.

I agree. And it's really, really sad. I have just switched to Debian with i3 and in so many ways it amazing. I have the most incredible shortcuts set up for managing my additional displays and sound devices, all run with bash scripts. I've managed to set up Syncthing to completely replace my reliance on cloud-based storage and I can do desktop gaming from in Linux or switch to windows by simply typing "windows" in a terminal. The breadth of open source source and the ability to run windows applications if necessary... it's just amazing. But it has been hella difficult to solve simple issues that for windows/mac os just work out of the box. A typical user is overburdened in Debian. Ubuntu is pretty sweet though, and with flatpaks, snap packages, and appImages becoming the norm, maybe it's only a matter of time before widespread adoption... for gamers we're surely on the cusp, Steam's proton is incredible.

Unless you choose a laptop carefully by picking one that is known to run Linux well, you run the risk of running into driver issues.

I chose a Dell XPS 15 two years ago (although with Windows installed), and have had no driver issues beyond what was known at the time of purchase (no fingerprint sensor driver, some problem with chip that switches between Intel and NVidia graphics). Dell have updated the BIOS about once every three months, and there is usually mention of fixes for BIOS for Linux (none that have affected me AFAIK) - helpful BIOS fixes which you don’t get on most other laptops - a very clear indication that there is effort by Dell to support Linux.

The previous 5 years I used boring business Toshiba laptops and had a lucky run of few problems with Linux drivers.

Exactly my experience! In addition to that, it kills your battery in no time

>I just don't understand why people run windows.

For me the main reason is games. Dual booting is really annoying and jumping through the 15 hoops it takes to run games on Linux doesn't seem worth it considering how poorly games seem to run natively on Windows already. It's not a question of "there are no games for Linux" but rather "the game I want to play is not on Linux".

This one point is basically the anchor that all the other usage is centered around for me. Linux simply doesn't offer something amazing enough over what Windows does to warrant all this trouble for games. If the games I wanted to play ran decently on Linux with few problems then I'd probably switch over. But considering that MS is now doing that Xbox game pass subscription even on Windows, I think the chance of switching is becoming less and less likely.

Steam with Proton and ProtonDb was a game changer. What runs native in Linux vs using Proton is like night and day

Proton is fantastic, but you’re still saying I am going have to accept less compatibility and more work than on windows windows. Not worth it for me, especially with an nvidia GPU. I understand that’s mostly to blame on Nvidia but it’s still the reality of the situation.

Same reason for me. If not for games, I would have switched a long time ago. My favourite game runs only on windows and requires an anti-cheat that runs only on windows. So I just dual-boot.

>Over the last couple of years I've been coming round to the fact that microsoft aren't necessarily a major problem now, compared to google and amazon at least.

Yet, a large majority of computers are running an operating system that spies on you and serves ads to you. Not just personal computers, but most businesses too. Buying a computer that doesn't come with windows on it is difficult for the average person who isn't trying, I don't mean Chromebooks or those system76 type computers, I mean walking through best buy or something the way a lot of non tech people end up buying computers. I mean i've had windows restore itself on my hardrive after a boot issue despite formatting it away years ago. Or at least try to, I was really confused when the windows recovery prompt popped up. As far as I.knew it had been gone since the day I got my laptop.

Not to mention, thanks to Microsoft, I now essentially need their permission to install anything other than windows on modern hardware(I know it's not quite that simple and kernel modules can be self signed etc.), but effectively, at least from the issues i've dealt with...and continue to deal with, the most recent being with virtual box and having to self sign kernel.modules to make it work, uefi really feels like Microsoft trying to keep whatever bit of control they can over every computer whatever you decide to do with it.

I'm not trying to start a uefi debate, I know there's work arounds and other things ways to deal with it, but since it's existed, it's been nothing but hassles for me and it's something I never asked for or wanted in my computer.

Because everyone has their own priorities.

My main priority is to give my family technical solutions they could manage if I were to kick the bucket, and to ultimately own their data they need.

Between my wife and I we have 1tb of photos and videos. We could store it all in the cloud, but then if they shut her account down for whatever reason we would lose them all. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I don't find this acceptable. I do seem to be in the minority here, everyone I know just hosts all their files at a single cloud provide. It seems nuts to me.

And I haven't found an off-site backup solution that works with Linux. CrashPlan used to offer family plans but they got rid of them. Backblaze only has B2 for Linux - not really acceptable given my requirements.

So my family runs Windows. I run Linux.

> I just don't understand why people run windows.

There are many, many products that either run significantly better on windows (Office) or are completely unavailable on other OSs (many video games).

That's changing, for sure. But there's still a long tail of products that semi-necessitate windows.

or are completely unavailable on other OSs (many video games)

I get a chuckle whenever I realize how things have changed.

In the early to mid-80's, there was a popular mantra that the IBM PC ecosystem was for "serous work," and anything else was "just for games," which was a slap at Apple (then dominant for business, but rapidly slipping) and the other alternatives.

Today, it seems that for the majority of ordinary people, the only reason they stay in the Wintel ecosystem is for games.

Games back then weren't an important part of our culture. They are now. Consequently they are a requirement.

Seems simple enough to understand.

Games back then weren't an important part of our culture.

The mind boggles.

I think you've just outed yourself as someone who wasn't alive or awake back then.

I was writing games back then, thank you very much. :-P

> the only reason they stay in the Wintel ecosystem is for games.

Is it still "Wintel" when a lot of gamers are going AMD now?

It is until AMD goes mainstream with an instruction set not developed by Intel.

Such as AMD64? :)

Okay, or directly descended from an instruction set designed by Intel :P

How is office better than Google Docs?

Try using bi-directional text, or including equations in Docs. It is practically unusable.

Excel is so powerful that people are doing with it stupid things and than their businesses rely on them. That stuff will never work in Docs.

Office is a killer product, with extremely rich feature set that works very well. Sadly, there is nothing in the market that even close. It is the main (perhaps only) reason I still have to use a Windows VM.

For real document creation, Word and Latex are the best out there, bar none.

For detailed and powerful spreadsheet use there is nothing that compares to Excel. This coming from someone forced to use Google Sheets at a former company, after having Excel.

Advanced formatting. I could do things in Microsoft office that Google Docs can’t even dream about.

As much as it pains me to say it the power of excel is uncomparable, especially for people who can’t program and are never going to learn how.


For me, a common use case is to receive a large document from someone using MS Office, make small alterations or comments, and send it back... while being certain that I have not changed anything else (including formatting and layout of included illustrations) that I did not want to change. Neither Google Docs nor OpenOffice currently support that, simply opening and saving a nontrivial Word document changes the layout.

OpenOffice doesn't exist anymore, and hasn't for a decade.

FWIW, I don't think it is necessarily.

But, a lot of people are forced to use office for various reasons - trying to edit a docx in Docs/Pages/LibreOffice, for example, can be really frustrating for any number of reasons (fonts, margins, etc. all sometimes break spectacularly).

So if you're using office quite frequently, windows can be very appealing.

Not to mention how just plain ugly LibreOffice’s page renderer is. The kerning and spacing and shapes just seem so off all the time.

Works completely offline?

It really depends on your needs.

For example, my in-laws got a Chromebook a few years ago. My father-in-law definitely liked it better. For my mother-in-law, it was an unmitigated disaster. He really only uses the computer for watching Netflix and reading the New York Times. She, a teacher, also uses it for work, and she found that most of the programs she used for classroom prep simply weren't available for ChromeOS, and didn't have any equivalent. So I ended up helping her give her old Windows desktop a nice deep scrubbing, put some more RAM in it, all that good stuff, and that's now what she uses when her iPad won't do.

My own parents prefer Windows, too, though that's a more fuzzy situation. Basically, it's just that it's what they've always used. They've tried other platforms a couple times, and quickly found that it just wasn't even remotely worth the hassle of learning all the differences. That's down to differences in file sharing, printer set up, all that good stuff.

Me, for a while I was thinking of switching back to Windows at home for a while, simply because I used Windows at work, and I was getting sick of having to remember two different sets of keyboard commands and suchlike. (Then I went to a shop where all the devs were given Macs, so I ended up there instead.) For my purposes, running some other OS as the host and Linux in a VM is plenty good enough.

> I just don't understand why people run windows.

I like gaming. That's pretyty much all I do on Windows. I have a macbook for work because MacOS gets out of your way and just works. I have a linux server and a linux workstation for other stuff - the workstation for coding, experimenting etc, the server for VPN endpoint, gitlab, time-machine and various other servery things.

But for games, if you're wanting to game on PC, windows is King. And that's why my workstation has windows installed too.

(My mother and my brother still use it because I can't be bothered to try to teach them anything else)

> I just don't understand why people run windows.

My use of my home computer mostly consists of making/learning music and playing games. Both of these activities pretty much require Windows. There are some ways around it, like I could be running games under Wine and use a Linux DAW and use something like LinVST to get my plugins working, but it requires a lot of effort and the results are not guaranteed (people seem to have mixed experience running Kontakt 6 under Wine and not all games run equally well). Or I could go the money route and buy a console for games and a Mac for music, but it seems like an overkill and I would be exchanging a nasty proprietary system that is Windows for two separate nasty proprietary systems of Mac and PS4/Xbox.

support is an obvious reason. with the exception of some dev tools and mac-only creative software, pretty much everything supports windows.

I can go out and buy any high end laptop and be confident it will work well with windows. similarly, if I want to throw some random hardware in my desktop, I don't have to worry about whether drivers exist for my os. all this stuff requires an additional research step with linux.

in short, if you're a power user (and especially if you like choosing your own hardware) and you want your os to "just work", windows is the best of few options.

Because I work in a Windows-only facility, at least where my level of dev work is done.

And I live in a house where the only other person has only ever user Windows, and hates change. Like even desktop icons shouldn't relocate unless she does it herself.

She fights every application update unless there's a clear reason, then there better not be any more differences than the ones indicated.

> She fights every application update unless there's a clear reason

Unless you are in the IT industry or at least an enthusiast, this is a rational approach.

I'm in the IT industry, and it's my approach. I changed my desktop from fluxbox to xfce about 10 years ago, but have much the same keyboard shortcuts as I did 20 years ago, and the occasional icon has appeared in the dock as time progressed (namely volume, battery, wifi). I still use xplanet as my desktop for the rare times I see it, and I certainly don't have any icons on the desktop.

Actually the opposite. Unless you work in IT, you likely don't understand changelogs or release notes very well. Unless you can assess the risk of not updating, the safe approach is to auto update everything. Yes, it may be annoying and you may run into new bugs.

On the other hand: Your USB ports stopped working? You should've been updating the bios. You got breached via the browser or email app? Should've been updating them.

Kind of sad that our industry standard is: you need to put up with us changing shit on you all the time so that things can keep working.

If I were a marketer, which clearly I am not, I would think it would be bad marketing to have your computer constantly be telling you "HEY, you need to drop what you're doing to apply this fix for me at random, because if you don't someone is going to install ransomware. Oh and by the way, we're going to install Candy Crush Saga with this, because fuck you."

Maybe the person not updating isn't rational, but if every update is fucking candy crush I couldn't blame them for saying "maybe microsoft is worse than the hackers"

Chromebooks are far worse, if you have any privacy concerns.

I use Windows because:

- Chromebooks don't meet my needs and Macs are incredibly expensive.

- There's a lot of software I care about which is Windows-only and doesn't have a good Linux alternative, especially games.

- I have not had great experiences using Linux. I still run into lots of dumb little issues that make me feel like I'm back in the Windows XP days, except this time I have to enter mysterious terminal commands I found on Stack Exchange to make things work right.

- You can easily avoid this kind of nonsense in Windows 10 with like half an hour of setup after your initial install.

"I just don't understand why people run windows."

Because not everyone wants to get things to work through command-line especially Broadcom drivers.

> I just don't understand why people run windows

I've seen so many good answers but to me, the main one is that people don't know there are alternatives.

I know virtually no one in "real" life that knows what Linux is. Windows is pre-installed and people just roll with it. Some are aware there's this thing called "Mac" that it is more expensive and that's it.

My windows computer is for goofing off and gaming. That is the only reason I keep it. If I want to get real work done I boot back into linux or use a macbook.

> I just don't understand why people run windows.

Software that doesn't exist elsewhere (maybe OSX).

Video games.

The Windows division has never really been part of the "New Microsoft", it seems from the outside.

Microsoft didn't buy Github out of the goodness of their heart. They also didn't buy it because of it's significant revenue, a couple hundred million is probably a marketing budget to Microsoft, not something that drives the bottom line. Microsoft also didn't buy it to score appearance points with the socially conscious dev community that populated most of Github, although it was a nice PR story for a bit. You could say the ICE thing has driven all that goodwill away.

Microsoft bought Github for the data set. To mine code to train models to write code to put developers out of business. Microsoft is coming for all of your jobs. They aren't investing billions in AI research and Open AI for philanthropy. The sooner people realize this the better.

Sure it's tin-foil, but it's a hill I am willing to die on.

> train models to write code

I've seen "deep dream". You'll get models that produce stuff that locally looks like code but doesn't actually make sense. Code-like extruded product. People will waste careers on the "steering" and "minor fixups" necessary to make it actually work which will be orders of magnitude larger than the work needed to just write the software in the first place.

That's the cost of giving up symbolic AI in favour of pattern recognition.

I'm not scared of a "model" "trained" on the long tail of Github code any more than I'm scared of someone who can search stackoverflow faster than I can.

Anything sufficiently advanced to produce working code from vague design documents would be functionally indistinguishable from true AI. Barring some kind of major breakthrough in the field of AI (not machine learning, actual AI), this is basically a pipe dream. At best they'll produce something that given a very detailed and rigid set of instructions can produce a working program... which is exactly what a compiler does.

I shudder to think of the kind of code that a machine-learning product trained on the full set of public GitHub repositories would produce. It might be better than what Frontpage used to spit out, or Word, when you used the save as HTML option, but I'm not sanguine about that sort of thing ever putting anyone out of work.

Are they working on something like that? I'm sure that there are people doing so. Will it eventually trickle in some limited way as a productivity enhancement into Visual Studio or VS Code? Probably. Is it going to be some kind of magical no-code silver bullet that obviates the need for programmers? Not a snowball's chance in hell.

Nah. Microsoft bought Github among doing other things (WSL, becoming top member of the Linux Foundation etc.) because they want to replace GNU/Linux with their MS/Linux which could be mostly Open Source and mostly free, but I'm sure will be engineered in a way that gives Microsoft full control of it. There is no need to put Linux developers out of business when Linux developers themselves already use a MS dev system (VSCode) on a MS platform (WSL). Just wait for the day applications will start to nag users with "For best user experience, this Linux application should be run under WSL".

AI is a good thing if it takes all jobs.

The bad thing is the non-stop messing with standards and EEE. Because it makes existing jobs unbearable.


How can you assert with such confidence that the elimination of mundane jobs would obviously be a negative force in the world?

In fact, plenty of humans do stop working by choice; we call this "retirement". It tends to be a highlight of life as long as a retiree can maintain their health. Yes, it is a challenge to find purpose outside of work for some, but many people rise to that challenge: many retirees pursue hobbies, arts, athletics, and social functions with at least the same vigor that they once applied to work. Other people work their whole lives at unfulfilling jobs due to real or imagined pressures around making money, despite other interests which they would prefer to pursue.

Your second paragraph is correct. In the short-term, technological elimination of jobs will cause great disruption and misfortune to certain workers (and we should implement policies that assuage the damage). We may have to adopt dramatically more progressive government services. The social vacuum once filled by professional relationships will need to be filled by new, different social institutions. But that's the nature of creative destruction; sometimes getting to a better global state causes local pain.

Just wanted to mention that you can already mine the data that would be useful for something like you mention, like so: https://console.butt.google.com/marketplace/details/github/g...

I think the OP thing is bad.

What you're suggesting (if they could pull it off) I would welcome. Either it turns into (an even worse than now) corporatist dystopia and there's turmoil before a reset, or it opens up for "everyone" and we're closer to post-scarcity.

But most likely they'll automate some stuff, because this isn't real AI, and I can adapt faster than they can and do stuff their models can't.

Some friends think I'm overreacting for refusing to use Microsoft products to this day, yes they have open sourced a lot of cool tech but they are still Microsoft. I felt vindicated when I bought a Lenovo laptop after using mac for the last 8+ years and found out you need to create a Microsoft account to use it!

>I felt vindicated when I bought a Lenovo laptop after using mac for the last 8+ years and found out you need to create a Microsoft account to use it!

I don't have the same laptop so I can't comment on your exact situation. That said, I have a Windows machine and I am not using a Microsoft account to log in so your experience is not universal.

A colleague just bought a new desktop and set it up last weekend. He ran into Microsoft wanting him to login to a MS account _on initial install_. He ended up having to go into the BIOS to disable networking so he could force the installer to let him initially setup a local account. I don't know if this is for every install and is just my anecdotal perspective.

It's a dark pattern. You can get around it, but it's not easy for normal people to do.

How about instead of a passive-aggressive ad try not showing me ads at all on my PC? It’s bad enough that it comes pre-installed and is the default.

> Want to get me to try Edge? Great -- instead of a passive-aggressive ad, try telling me how it's better than Firefox and why I'd like to use it instead. What will it get me? Better privacy? Better performance? Better development tools?

Isn't this exactly what Microsoft is doing? Clicking on the ad leads to the product download page which also describes the features.

In most cases, average users like to try software by feel, not by looking at a technical spec sheet.

Exactly this. Show me facts, what percentage of battery life will it save my _specific_ laptop compared to FF, how much faster will _my_ experience be.

Is there anything that the dev tools will allow me to do that I can't with FF Developer Edition?

In any case I'm mainly a MacOS user, but still.

Just a few days, people were celebrating new Microsoft Edge being a viable competitor to Google Chrome and how it is all good for privacy. Let the thing take some hold, then complain about monopoly.

If people want to "ban" something, they should ban "browser detection / user agent" and targeted ads based on that.

If some state in "middle america" ran an ad targeted at users in SF stating "move to xyz, your life will be better", is that intrusive too? Well, then ban all targeted ads.

Win XP and Win7 was my all time fav microsoft OS. Screw 10. So much data collection and noise.

Not strong enough. Remember: Microsoft hearts linux.

Has anyone here actually looked at the "anti-Firefox" ad in question? It's literally a tile that says "Still using Firefox? Edge is here!". I'm not really sure what we expected here. This is about the same as a browser asking you to make it default when you open it. All big companies do weird anti competitive things. This isn't one of those things. I know I'll likely get downvoted for this opinion, but to many commenters here saying things like "this is why I don't believe in the new Microsoft or that Microsoft has changed", I'm not entirely sure how some meh ad telling you to switch your browser counteracts things like SQL Server on Linux or Azure supporting Linux VMs, or Microsoft's purchase of github, or .net core being cross platform, etc. I don't generally care to support a large company, nor am I an active developer or user in the microsoft stack, but the over reaction is a bit absurd.

Does anyone who uses Firefox realize for a long while they were primarily funded by having Google pay them to be the default search engine?

It's not an overreaction. It's literally a targeted ad showing up in your day to day work space. It's invasive. I switched to mac a long time ago, but I still have a Windows device because some things are just painful (or impossible) to use on a mac.

The difference between using an application that prompts "make this default?" and a specifically targeted ad showing up on your start menu is that the user used the application that threw the prompt...That might actually be helpful.

The fact is, if Microsoft wants me to switch to Edge, they need to tell me the benefits. A chart will do fine comparing it to other common options. I don't need a targeted ad that proves they know and keep track of what browser I'm actually using. That's literally ridiculous.

Apple does the same sort of thing these days, Music.app on my phone keeps showing me a full screen ad for Apple Music around a month, dismissed it about 5 times now.

What I hate is that you can’t even say no to Apple any more. It’s all this “not right now” or “maybe later” passive aggressive bollocks.

I just want a “no never” button.

it's everywhere outside of overtly freedom-concerned software.

the idiots are winning.

Like the (now past) Amazon integration in Ubuntu?

> freedom-concerned software.

Thank you for giving a example of why we can't use the term "free software" any more. Also fuck Ubuntu.

It seems a bit absurd that this is still a reason to say 'fuck ubuntu' when they listened to user feedback and reversed that feature. I can't think of any other similar missteps in recent years.

> I can't think of any other similar missteps in recent years.

I stopped using Ubuntu a while ago due to a large number of individually minor "missteps", so I don't have any equally blatant/memorable (or particularly recent) examples, but there were enough of them to be a constant hazard of updating anything.

(For similarly large, there's systemd and wayland, but neither those are specific to Ubuntu.)

Also, someone (for analogy) dumping toxic waste into a drinking water supply, and then listening to feedback and ceasing to dump toxic waste into the water supply, still seems like a damn good reason to say "fuck those guys in particular" to me, and that's what shipping malware in a software update amounts to.

You can't delete Apple's Music app in the same simple way that you can delete the Spotify music app.

Same thing. Abuse of monopoly.

Still – it’s a misleading title (border-line click bait). Anti-Firefox ad implies that they say something negative about Firefox, which clearly isn't the case.

"Still using Firefox?" Seems to me implies that it's old and antiquated and only used by people who don't know any better. Of course the opposite is true.

To build on your point: Yes, and this is precisely how Microsoft intended. It’s a disingenuous question. The OS knows you’re still using Firefox, because that’s what prompted the ad to begin with.

It sucks, but it is kind of an overreaction.

I turned the ad off... there's nothing but 32 pixel icons in my start menu.

I simply never see the outrage, customize your Windows install and move the fuck on.

That's why Linux gets jacked off all the time right, customizability?

(that was rhetorical, I support Linux and realize the most beneficial aspect is it's open-source nature)

sure, but those types of ads aren't really for people like you. they are for the vast majority of Windows users who aren't in control of their machine but are instead being controlled by it. many don't even realize they can get rid of those ads, or they give in and just start using Edge..

My observation has been is that most users who use Firefox aren't the kind to be controlled by their PC. Someone who can use Firefox (specially because of privacy concerns and have installed extensions) should easily be able to switch off this ad. If anything I found it bold and kinda funny of Microsoft to do that. I myself am a Brave user, btw.

Well maybe instead of articles complaining about ads we educate the users on how to turn ads off and how to install ad-blockers.

But that's not what this article is about, it's a Microsoft hit-piece. That's all journalism is nowadays, mercenaries for hire.

And final point, if the ad isn't for me or anyone else here for that matter, why are we seeing an article about it? And why did noone else here mention you can turn it off?

Microsoft is not the harbinger of ads and they never will be, Google was and is. If you want to war ads, take it up against Google, their browser, their OS, and their search engine.

Ironically MS put an adblocker in Chromium by default.

You people and your biases...

It's anticompetitive as fuck but people stopped caring about that it seems. Also why it's against firefox and not let's say chrome. Inb4 Google does this too on their products. Yeah and it's less fucked but absolutely fucked just the same.

This is Microsoft using their desktop operating system market share to drive their web browser market share. That's pretty much what they got sued for before. Given, their market position in desktop might be a different one now than back then. But it's still quite close to what antitrust laws were written against.

Also saying "oh all corps do stuff like that calm down" is a really bad defense IMO.

Try using any Google property without chrome, or try using any iOS device without safari.

This is pretty harmless in my opinion.

Your reasoning does not make it harmless, it makes Microsoft the same as Google and Apple.

People defend the walled garden of Apple.

But I think it's just post purchase rationalization.

People enter the walled garden expecting a walled garden and desiring a walled garden.

Microsoft’s behavior is like taking a stroll in a forest or open field and suddenly having walls erected around you and cameras pointed at you.

harmful is google purposefully blocking their properties to mobile edge when everything worked with changed U/A string.

Concerning at best, since they're using first party grounds for advertising but that does not make it harmful.

I am an occasional user of Maps, YouTube, Blogger and Translate. Never used Chrome, and all of these properties work just fine and have not tried to push Chrome.

I'm also using a stock Android and have never used Chrome on it. Play Store, Play Games, Find my Device, and the Google app work just fine and haven't tried to push Chrome either.

I guess I should prepend these observations with "Yet", as I'm not at all of the opinion that it'll never happen.

Or you've grown immune to it, because I work on Windows and occasionally setup new VM builds to test things and I always get these banners.

What's even worse is that their CAPTCHA stuff prefers chrome/chromium users off the bat with reliability scores.

> all of these properties work just fine and have not tried to push Chrome.

Historically Google has relentlessly advertised Chrome to Firefox users on Youtube and their main search page ... probably the most valuable advertising space on the Internet. Maybe they've cut back, for some or all users.

Have you tried using Translate for a web page recently, instead of just a couple sentences of text? Some time ago, they removed that functionality, instead instructing users to use a browser with native translation capabilities to translate pages. It's a pretty blatant push to get people over onto Chrome.

No they didn't. Paste a URL and hit the icon next to it.


Hm. It may have been as part of something temporary, but I definitely ran into that message recently. Good to see it's back.

Google doesn't bother me if I set Firefox for Android as the default browser.

It does on my S8, try any google website and you'll get notifications and I've even gotten emails every time I sign in on a device with a gmail ID but don't have the google apps on that device.

What's the problem? I use Firefox and Firefox Focus as my only web browsers on my Android phone.

Don't most linux distros come with Firefox preinstalled? How is that not pushing the other way? OSX comes with Safari. Every time you visit youtube with another browser it nudges you to install Chrome. Why is Microsoft singled out here?

Linux distros preinstall Firefox just like Windows preinstalls Edge. A fact that I've never had a problem with, from an ethical or user-friendliness aspect.

For your comparison to be valid, a Linux distro would have to be showing antagonistic adverts when its mandatory telemetry gathering detects that you are not using Firefox, and doing so to increase their market share. They do not and distros are not Mozilla, so the comparison falls flat.

On the theory that every heavily-commented, front page item critcial of Microsoft produces the same defensive comments along the lines of "but everyone else is doing it", I decided I would search this thread for the phrase "singled out". I arrived here.

What is funny in this case is that Microsoft is going after Firefox users, specifically, so, similar to how an HN commenter would ask "Why is Microsoft being singled out?", we could actually ask, "Why is Mozilla being singled out?" Why not target the users of some other browser.

It should be obvious that this type of question is not aimed at producing a useful answer. I predict we will see this suggestion of "unfairness" again in the next heavily-commented, front page item that is critical of Microsoft. It has been remarkably consistent.

No Linux distribution is a monopoly at the moment. The matter is: are you a monopoly? Then special laws are applied to you.

The suit was based on the (at the time) pervasiveness of MS-windows. These other things are not near as ubiquitous yet.

No. peak market share of Windows XP was 80%. market share of chrome is hovering around 65%. search engine share of google is like 90%.

Many people did not appreciate Microsoft's acquisition of GitHub, and Azure wouldn't be very successful if it didn't support Linux (the predominant server operating system).

It is completely reasonable to be skeptical of Microsoft's actions here, as they have a history of anticompetitive behavior in the web browser market.



Most people, myself included, were skeptical when Microsoft bought GitHub and assumed it would change for the worse. In this case I'm happy to have been proven wrong and I've seen nothing but improvements to GitHub following it's acquisition. They pretty much immediately made private repos free if you have less than four contributors and have allowed GitHub to continue to deliver awesome features like GitHub actions for free to open source repos.

While that was an improvement from before, it pales in comparison to GitLab.com's free private repos with no contributor restrictions. Additionally, GitLab.com offers free continuous integration/delivery for both open source and proprietary repos. GitLab is also source-available.



GitHub is doing the bare minimum to compete while relying on network effects from its existing user base - better than nothing, but not enough to justify showering Microsoft with praise.

It's probably not just the ads, but the fact that they have complete, unlimited access to one's machine to install apps and copy/modify data as they see fit that makes them worse than the MS of the 90's. To me, it's incredible anyone who cares at all about security would even consider Windows at this point, let alone large companies with company secrets and other private information. MS is likely mining through any file or data on any machine it wants. This invasion of privacy in many ways eclipses FB and Google, which provide services that can be avoided. This data collection is unavoidable on Windows. We don't even know the extent of the data collection, let alone what they're doing with it and they are doing it something like 90% of the installed PC user base or whatever their market share is these days. That's an incredible surveillance machine, likely the largest in the world. It's amazing to me people who work in tech can defend such practices and claim they are not a big deal. A lot of people just don't care at all about security, judging by their use of Windows.

> This is about the same as a browser asking you to make it default when you open it.

No, it's one thing (OS) pushing another (browser). The equivalent would be opening chrome and it popping up a message, "Still using Windows? Click here to upgrade to ChromeOS!"

I think it's more like Google harassing you to install Chrome when using any Google property, or, even worse, getting it packaged into every installer under the sun, so if you forgot to uncheck the "install Google Chrome" box while installing a new version of Java, congratulations, you now have Google Chrome.

I'm not defending this behavior, but unfortunately the norm has been set.

Yes, I agree that it is exactly like that: completely unacceptable, and it should be grounds for antitrust action.

I think what we were expecting was that the operating system shouldn't be making advertisements? Yes it's "just" a meh ad, but why are you ok with your OS advertising dumb bullshit to you? This isn't just an app, you can't just casually drop your operating system. It's inappropriate and it should be viewed as such.

When Microsoft does these things, it's not just a matter of "well go with someone else". There is no-one else, a lot of times. So we're trapped, and Microsoft says: by the way, now you have to deal with advertisements in your operation system. And we're going to do one that totally tweaks our nose at the antitrust issues of the 90s just because we can.

None of that is ok! It's not an overreaction to say, hey guys, knock it off.

I don't see how showing "Still using Firefox?" can be seen as anything but a targeted anti-Firefox ad. The title is completely accurate.

"Targeted" for me would imply that Windows is checking first to see whether Firefox is installed, and only showing the suggestion if so.

If this is just a general suggestion that gets pushed out to all Windows computers, then it's not so much targeted as merely questionable use of platform.

I would be very surprised if it was just pushed out irrespective of telemetry. Since Windows 10 is a mass-market operating system, I'd be surprised if 1% of their users had ever heard of Firefox.

Since Firefox usage share on Windows is >1%, I'd be pretty surprised if most of those users are inadvertently using Firefox without every having heard of it.

It shows up if Firefox is your default browser

When I actually saw the ad, I realized it was not actually that inflammatory AND I had been click-baited onto a page to look at an ad surrounded by inane copy and wait for it...yet more ads.

Because of what I do, I am on a lot of Windows 10 machines for the first time. I use chocolaty to push out all the apps needed for systems at work, or my VMs at home.

When you switch browsers for the first time, Win10 will ask like a whiny little bitch, "Are you sure you want to not use Edge? It's really nice."

An anti-Firefox ad on Win10 would not surprise me.

I'm more bothered by it's placement being in my start menu, than I am by what it's for or against. The PLACEMENT is what's really crossing the line.

I have been using Classic Shell for a long time. It's faster and less buggy, searching works better, and as a bonus, I don't see any ads.

No longer in development but the latest version works fine. Anyone is welcome to take over: http://www.classicshell.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=8147

Haven't tried this fork yet: https://github.com/Open-Shell/Open-Shell-Menu

>Does anyone who uses Firefox realize for a long while they were primarily funded by having Google pay them to be the default search engine?

They still are.

So I guess you were talking about my post? Since I'm one of the "this is why I don't believe in the new Microsoft or that Microsoft has changed" people you mention :-).

First of all, this isn't just about this ad. As I said in my comment, it's "this -- and every other screw-up in the same vein". Like the other Start Menu ads, like the dark patterns in privacy-related config settings. But okay, let's talk about this one specifically.

The "old Microsoft" (specifically, to put it in context: the one with the Halloween Documents [0]) that I don't trust (I want to emphasize this part for reasons that I'll explain in a minute) is a company that:

1. Specifically used its dominating position in the operating systems industry to push its browser and eliminate competition in that space

2. Engaged in competition partly by spreading FUD about other products (note that this is not a post-hoc exaggeration: the internal memos specifically call FUD by this name, and refer to it as an entrenched, well-known internal technique)

3. Was deliberately dismissive of competing open source software in its public statements, even though it sometimes uses it internally

4. Set out a strategy to compete against open source (note though -- I think the documents predate the term "open source"?) that went beyond merely spreading FUD, and was based on embracing, then extending existing protocols in incompatible ways.

This "meh ad" is just the latest in Microsoft's constant, and extremely irritating push for Edge (e.g. see the system's behaviour when you try to change the default browser). It's the same stuff we've seen back in 1998 -- not as aggressive, seeing how Microsoft nearly got broken up when it tried something that aggressive, but it's in the same vein. And looks very much like #1 above.

It's also not happening just in the browser space. For instance, until recently, Windows wouldn't shut up about the damn OneDrive thing, either.

Things are different in the cloud and server space -- where SQL Server, Azure and .NET core happen -- because Microsoft isn't even close to being in a dominating position. Of course Microsoft can't elude competition there. They could ban Linux from Azure if they wanted to, but more than half of their marketshare would evaporate with it, too.

But I don't see any reason to think that this is part of some internal reform of some sort -- it's just the corner Microsoft painted themselves in. Of course they have to play the "Microsoft loves Linux" PR game, too: a whole generation of open source developers grew in a climate of mistrust about Microsoft, and it just so happens that the software written by this generation of open source developers powers much of the cloud space, of which Microsoft would reaaally want a slice. A long time ago, Microsoft also sold software for the Macintosh. Then it stopped. Then it started selling OS X software again. They aren't dumb, and they certainly don't lack good engineers -- Microsoft can compete on technical merit when it needs to.

Just like you, I don't generally care to support a large company, and while I do earn about half my yearly income writing or support Linux software, I don't really have a stake in it (honestly, I'd much rather write or support QNX software but that ship has sailed...). I'm not... OK, I'm no longer a Linux fanboy, which I definitely was twenty years ago but we all did a lot of stupid things when we were young. This isn't about "loving" or "hating" Microsoft, it's about whether or not I want to trust them with my stuff -- and stuff like this makes me not trust them :).

Edit: man, the last time I wrote so much about Microsoft I was fifteen, I think...

Even later edit: also -- as far as Windows 10 is concerned, save for the ads and data collection policy, I actually like it very much. I use it on one of my machines and I'm very happy with it -- so happy, in fact, that the moment this ads nonsense stops, I'll seriously think about switching to it :).

0: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_documents

I remember this for all major browsers, so it's not just firefox


People who disagree with you aren't automatically paid shills.

No, they are not.

But your argument is a logical fallacy. The fact that people who disagree with me are not automatically “paid shill” doesn’t imply that “paid shills” aren’t there.

Of course I cannot prove it, but the signs are there. How else do you explain the sudden change of heart of the HN community overnight? Who usually have very strong opinions on this topic.

To set the record straight, I have not ever nor do I currently work for microsoft. If you have IP tracking skills you can probably figure out where I work from these posts. As a matter of a fact, I don't like a lot of things about msft, this just isn't one of them. I dislike that msft is getting a disproportionate amount of hate about this stuff and yet Google and Apple don't seem to get the same level of flack. People seem to get more upset at them related to privacy. I wanted to offer a different perspective that acknowledges that this is the state of things across the board, and this one thing is less harmful than it's being made out to be. Microsoft embraced open source when it was friendly to their business and shunned it when it was not. They may very well shun it again, but with the proliferation of cloud providers and the dominance of AWS in the space, they just don't have a real choice. Windows simply isn't enjoying the dominance it once had in the server space. What I am trying to say is that this incident isn't evidence of anything except that Microsoft is like every other company that will use any advantage it has to push its product. Google and Apple do it too. Let's put our energy in things that pressure companies to behave properly like lobbying governments to step up their anti-trust and privacy enforcement.

I agree with you. This comment should be higher up as it's more objective to this whole situation than a lot of the top comments that quickly resort to Microsoft bashing and "remembering the old Microsoft is the same Microsoft" type of comments.

Reminder that “New” Microsoft Edge is just Chrone with different spyware. So yeah, I’m still using Firefox thanks.

FWIW, Microsoft did add tracking prevention tools much like Firefox and Safari have. So they did add the common browser feature Google refuses to integrate. Privacy-minded people who insist on using Chrome should switch to Edge over Chrome.

But I refuse to contribute to the Chromium monoculture.

No they shouldn't. They should switch to Firefox or Safari. Or at the very least Chromium (from a Linux package manager).

>> who insist on using Chrome

> They should switch to Firefox or Safari.

There seems to be a disconnect here. You can tell people they should do something all you want, but if they've already shown themselves unable or unwilling to do so, you're better off putting that effort into something that might actually achieve something.

It seems like Brave should get some attention in this conversation. Chromium-based for when that's important, but with privacy designed into the browser rather than it being an afterthought. I've been using it (non-exclusively) for a few months and have been quite happy with it so far.

Or Brave. Basically Chrome without the spyware.

Your advice makes no sense.

Are you assuming that the user is on Windows? In that case, Safari is not an option (Apple stopped working on Safari for Windows ages ago), nor is the Linux package manager an option (the closest option is Chocolatey, but most people don't use that). Since we're discussing Edge, it's probably safe to assume that they're running Windows.

Or are you assuming that they're running a Mac? In that case, the Linux package manager still isn't an option, and we're kind of off-topic because the original post was about Windows and its default web browser.

Or are you assuming that they're running Linux? In that case, you can't get Safari, nor can you get Edge, and you're probably running Firefox or Ungoogled Chromium already by default. So what's the problem?

There's Firefox for Windows you know..

I think the parent comment was referring to "Privacy-minded people who insist on using Chrome" and not "Privacy-minded people who insist on using Chrome who use Edge", even though that's a reasonable interpretation.

They should switch to Firefox or, if they are pig-headed, Un-Googled Chromium.

I'm probably getting downvoted for this but I switched from Google's Chrome to Microsoft's and i've seen a significant increase in performance especially with a lot of open tabs. Microsoft definitely removed something or optimized. And indeed they have anti-tracking features which google doesn't and ublock origin works unhindered.

I agree, I switched to "Edgium" at work months ago, then more recently at home, and I noticed a clear improvement in performance compared to Chrome. It even stayed past the "fresh profile" grace period, so it's not just a matter of no cache/info/etc. This is with the same few extensions, same use cases, etc.

Did they port over WebKit’s ITP or Firefox’s or write their own?

I’ve heard that it still contacts google domains (probably because msft didn’t replace everything), so it’s more like google AND Microsoft spyware.

We're only just now entering the embrace stage.

Are those just for “Google Safe Browsing”, or for other purposes as well?

MSFT replaced every API from what they've said, including Safe Browsing (it uses SmartScreen now):


Microsoft doing shady stuff again.

It's really a shame. The engineering that the teams at Microsoft put to the kernel and the actual operating system at large is amazing.

But then some Product Management division decides to shove this shit down people's throat and, for me at least, ruins all the fun of what would is otherwise an amazing piece of an operating system.

I paid for an operating system, just let me use the damn thing in peace will you ...

Microsoft doing shady stuff again. It's really a shame. The engineering that the teams at Microsoft put to the kernel and the actual operating system at large is amazing.

This has been Microsoft forever. They have always made some good things, but from a business perspective, they've always been parasitoids. They infect you, then eventually consume you from the inside-out.

THAT is their DNA. And so far, I have seen zero indication they've changed.

Thats the DNA of pretty much any profit based oganization.

If you over-generalize, sure.

But different corporations are selfish/ruthless/exploitative in different ways, and organizing our thinking about the ways in which a for-profit organization acts selfishly/ruthlessly/exploitatively helps us make our own decisions and craft our own strategies for getting what we want from them, or choosing with whom we do business.

Look at companies like Monsanto (their sins probably don't need mentioning). Or Volkswagen (cheating on environmental tests) or Goldman Sachs or... anyone. Every major company will ALWAYS throw ethics under the bus, it just depends on their situation which ethics they feel great about tossing away. Trying to figure out who the "good guy" is doesn't matter, none of them are.

I'm not a communist, but Microsoft is literally doing the (amoral) thing that is in their best interest. Hate the game not the player I guess?

Dude you can't criticize Monsanto on HN...

One that isn’t true and two these comments are thought terminating. Please be more careful next time.

Maybe I'm getting old, but there's a real arrogance to telling someone how they should think.

Why not tell them why you think they're wrong (and leave it up to them to change), instead of making naked assertions and telling them to change?

Hey, at least you're not being told how you do think.

I feel largely the same... they build some really cool things, and developer division, the azure guys and .net core guys I've talked to are all great... why are they so heavy handed on the windows side of things, I don't get.

Just auto-update edge and put it in a pinned taskbar position with a new icon and a notification bubble... no need to disparage anything, it'd be more assertive and less annoying at the same time.

> Why are they so heavy handed on the windows side of things, I don't get.

It smells of desperation on the product management side of things. They can't show growth anymore.

I'm not saying they should just give up, but folks, be a bit more dignified over there. Your company's doing great and Windows still does a pretty decent job in many places, cut the crap... At some point you have to accept that Windows is the mature partner, not the hot 20-year old :-D

> put it in a pinned taskbar position with a new icon and a notification bubble [...] less annoying

I have to disagree here. Messing with people's pinned taskbar icons is much more intrusive than a suggestion (which anyone sane has already disabled)

> why are they so heavy handed on the windows side of things

I'm sorry but that's pretty funny right before suggesting to literally change users settings without their consent.

Perhaps the grandparent was referring to doing all that, by default out of the box? Sounds like a nice compromise all around.

That would be true if the ad/"suggestion" was just positively touting Edge without negatively mentioning Firefox. Is it even legal to use a competitor's trademark like that?

You are allowed to criticize trademarked products by name, as long as you're not saying demonstrably false things or misusing / misattributing the trademark.

I'm not suggesting changing the default browser... only that given some of their past actions, simply putting the icon, or updating the version of Edge on the taskbar, and having a notification above that icon would be a better approach. Compared to the suggestion that disparages Firefox or Chrome, or the full browser window opening after the update.

-- edit

It's easier to unpin a taskbar icon, than disable suggestions.

> Just auto-update edge and put it in a pinned taskbar position with a new icon and a notification bubble...

Ah, but some users don’t even use the taskbar. They want this ad to be visible to their tablet market, too. And for screen-reader users, presumably. Microsoft seems like the kind of company to be concerned about the accessibility of their ads.

Great people don't work at crappy companies.

That's a pretty silly idea. So anyone working for Walmart is a monster? Can't be a good person and just taking the best job you can find for yourself and your family?

One data point, I don't believe I'm a monster, but I do enjoy my Walmart job.

The grocery store employment market is pretty different from the sw engineer market. I'd be far more comfortable judging someone's choices when they.. have a realistic alternative.

You cannot effectively influence change in a community you aren't a part of.

I have heard second hand that the devtools group is practically a separate company.

What does their paycheck say?

And what are the alternatives? Seriously, you cannot name any company with over a hundred employees that has never done something you would disagree with. Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, Cisco all have baggage... Not to mention the financial institutions... if you take away all the largest employers that would effectively flood the rest of the market and cut your pay in roughly half because of the competition.

The comment, and sentiment are imho very ignorant and childish. Beyond this, rarely can someone make effective change to a community you are not a part of, let alone disdain.

"Again"? When did they stop? You mean that hypocritical "MS loves Linux" stuff while their partners are digging the grave for FOSS like in Munich?

Saying "again" has zero bearing on frequency, unless you mean to suggest that every single action that MS and it's individual employees take are "shady stuff," continuously, without exception.

Of course it does involve frequency, "again" can either mean something that's happening very often OR something that stopped happening and started again.

It's a matter of corporate strategy and has nothing to do with each worker.

>every single action

It doesn't have to suggest all actions, only re-occurring behavior. Microsoft had a well deserved reputation as a grim reaper in the tech industry.


I agree! The person I was responding to reacted to "again" as if a behavior needs to "stop" in order for it to happen "again." It doesn't. It only needs to be reoccurring.

How is this shady compared to Google's ads for Chrome on google.com or the paid search results in the App Store? All the tech giants participate in this behavior.

I think part of the issue is that it is on the OS level rather than browser level on a specific website but I agree, they are all shady.

We should all (immediately) forget the old days, when Microsoft was just selling us the "Operating System" and then let us to our own devices. Now they realized that they lost the Smartphone game (the opportunity to siphon our data like Android and iOS do)(to some degree or another).

I am using Firefox because it doesn't belong to anyone. I have zero faith on the privacy of Chrome. I believe (haven't tested and I won't bother) that everything one does on Chrome ends up in Google's data-hungry machine. Microsoft is mirroring that. I find it disgusting enough that they "telemetry"-ze the shit out of everything one does with their Win10. Now they want to get that extra on our browsing habits to complete the tracking.

I don't know if it's just Microsoft's greed or the (proven) relationship with the 3-letter-agencies (not wearing tinfoil hat), but still, they become more intrusive and it is NOT for our benefit.

> I am using Firefox because it doesn't belong to anyone.

Others mentioned are in a different league, but even firefox is mostly developed for an organization, that seems to be pushing to enter the service industry.

Have you looked how many connections firefox makes without even opening a page? I tried to silence it, and it was a PITA - ended up using a firewall.

I'd donate to firefox development, like 3, maybe 4 digit numbers, but AFAICT they only accept donations to Mozilla, and don't let you specify types of activities you would like to support.

I am a great fan of SysInternals Suite since before they sold to Microsoft. I have been using TCPView since 2001 (or so)(just mentioning in case anyone who doesn't know the tools can find them useful). I also use Windows Firewall Control (WFC) a neat and cheap software that makes the Windows firewall management very easy. I know that FF on "idling" more has 4-5 open connections mainly to cloudfront, aws, akamai. Unfortunately FF prefers these CDN hosts over the true targets so I can't know more (and too lazy to use wireshark to find out).

that, and also we paid for the windows license.

Once, maybe; Windows' business model has changed, they are only charging for Windows 10 OEM now and have stopped trying to publish a new paid version every few years. Their business model is recurring payments now like Office365 and OneDrive, but also ads inside of applications and I presume selling your usage data to third parties.

Non OEM copies of Windows are like $200+ (unless you buy the fake/scam keys from amazon recommended windows sellers)

You can still run the 10 upgrade assistant and get it for free.

Were OS upgrades ever a significant profit center for Microsoft? Prior to the free Windows 10 upgrade, most users I know of would only get on a new version of Windows when it came with a new computer.

Those upgrades werent free, they were hidden in the cost of the machine

I never said they were-- those are new licenses, and accounted for by Microsoft as OEM sales.

I'm asking about Windows upgrade SKUs-- the kind that you'd buy in a box someplace like Best Buy or Circuit City or Office Max back in the day, completely separate from a computer. Were those ever a meaningful fraction of sales? Or, phrased differently, is Microsoft actually leaving any money on the table by making Windows 10 upgrades (both the Windows 7/8 to 10 and 10 feature releases) free for consumers rather than paid?

But it's never enough. Gotta get that growth.

So? There are free products with ads (like Gmail), paid products without ads (like Netflix and Windows 8), and paid products with ads (like Hulu and Win10 home edition). I'm not the biggest fan of the paid+ads business model, but it's a valid model and Microsoft has been pretty consistent - Win10 has followed this model since release, so nobody is being tricked.

People were tricked when they were forced to upgrade through confusing prompts. People were forced when Microsoft strong-armed processor companies to not support Windows 8 and instead force Windows 10’upgrades if you wanted new machines.

Disclosure: I worked for Microsoft during Windows 8 through early Windows 10 development on related teams.

> Microsoft strong-armed processor companies to not support Windows 8 and instead force Windows 10’upgrades if you wanted new machines

Do you mean to say that Microsoft clearly communicated Win8 EOL dates and OEMs choose to move accordingly? If not, can you cite a source?

Edit: after some googling, I think you mean - Microsoft didn't think it was worth the expense to pay engineers to backport processor support to Win8. Bit of a difference from "strong-arming" the processor companies

Google's ads on Google.com do not reach directly onto my OS (which I've already paid for, and should not have ads) GUI.

Just because the other skeezy companies do it doesn’t legitimize it. That’s like saying colonialism was great because everyone was doing it

No, but it rationalizes and generalizes the conversation so rather than discussing/attacking a single company, discussion can be about the greater problem and how to fix it.

Just because someone else does it doesn't make this right. This is shady. And Google's ads for Chrome on google.com is shady. And paid search results in the App Store especially when exploited by Apple is shady.

How is this shady compared to Google's ads for Chrome on google.com or the paid search results in the App Store

They can both be bad. It isn't either/or.

All the tech giants participate in this behavior.

That doesn't make it OK.

Microsoft are somehow now expected to be the good guy, because everything else will harm your GitHub social credits that are required for hiring being hired in SV.

Please tell me you're being sarcastic because I'm only 90% sure you are.

I don't know anymore, really.

> How is this shady

Largely because it's Microsoft.

Everyone else does cross promotion of their products but some people hold a special place in their heart for hating on Microsoft. It usually manifests itself with frothing at the mouth, exposition about how they were sued as a monopoly, and they're the devil. It's as if Microsoft was breaking into homes in the 90s and swapping your Macs out for PCs.

Someone will respond to this post with a laundry list of complaints about them that they've had saved off in a .txt to counter posts like this.

I've never had google ads randomly pop up on my desktop environment. When that starts happening, maybe you have a point.

I live in a browser half the time; the browser IS the desktop environment.

Conversely, I don't use the start menu. At best I hit start and type the application I use. But on my Windows machine I mostly live inside my browser and Steam / game libraries, which are pinned to my start bar.

Does Chrome show ads by itself?

You should use Chrome and ChromeOS more. It's already happening.

Which ads do Chrome/ChromeOS show, outside of those shown to everyone using other OS/Browser to access the same sites?

> outside of those shown to everyone using other OS/Browser to access the same sites?

That isn't a fair comparison because each company primarily advertises from their monopoly position. Google does not have a monopoly position on platforms, only services. Microsoft is the opposite.

If you flip it around, Microsoft shows you one advert if you haven't turned them off entirely. Where as Google shows you an advert every time you visit every service they have and you can't turn it off.

Google lives in a browser. Your average consumer's computing rarely leaves the browser today. Apples to oranges.

And probably due to that GOOG’s tracking is way more intrusive. But yeah, the bandwagon isn’t going to jump on itself.

claiming it doesn't make it so.

> my desktop environment.

Is your desktop environment Chrome OS?

Do you get Microsoft ads whenever you visit google.com from the Chrome Web Browser?

>I paid for an operating system, just let me use the damn thing in peace will you

It's always been about control. You can apply this to damn-near everything too. "I paid for an operating system, let me use it as I see fit" "I paid for an internet connection, let me use it how I want" "I paid for a laptop, let me upgrade the RAM" "I paid for a phone, let me install whatever apps I choose / let me replace the battery" etc etc.

It's everything infuriating about modern computing in a nutshell. Every company wants absolute control over everything you do. And if they can't have that, they want _data_ on everything you do.

You use to always be able to buy aftermarket parts for a car. Now try buying parts for a Tesla to repair it yourself. It's literally impossible. It's just as bad as trying to get replacements for Apple parts. It's bullshit.

In the UK a retail Windows 10 Pro licence costs a whopping £219.99 - and even after that you still have to contend with this shit.

I want to see Windows 11. I would rater pay for a new product update than just have Win 10 forever with ads and tracking. Microsoft stop this bullshit. In my world, your OS is good for one thing: gaming. Even then I have to install an outbound Firewall controller (currently Windows 10 Firewall Control) and spend an hour trying to disable all your shitty adds and phone-home and Cortana rubbish! My Linux box is what I use for anything important.

Microsoft could probably charge an extra $60 for an ad-free, privacy-aware consumer version of Windows 11 and make a considerable amount off that audience. But right now, there is no choice.

I'd pay up to 500€ for a 100% telemetry / ad free version of Windows.

If the Bavarian agency for data protection is to be believed, you can fully disable telemetry in the enterprise/education version ($300/license).


Those allow you to set telemetry to "0- Security" via gpo.

This notably does not disable telemetry phone homes on either edu or Enterprise SKUs. It reduces it, but there is still an awful lot sent back to MS.

I tried to look for the enterprise version a few years back. It is unobtainium unless you're buying a few thousand of them.

Have you tried resellers? eg. https://www.cdw.com/product/windows-10-enterprise-ltsc-2019-... Also, I've heard that if you need to comply with volume licensing requirements (ie. minimum 5/25 products), you can buy a bunch of cheap CAL licenses.

Yeah, like with iOS, where there's all sorts of special treatment for Apple apps versus third party apps.

Plus the latest versions of Edge are built on Chromium ... are they going to advertise against that too?

Tasteless maybe, but I don't think it's shady.

Microsoft went through an extended process with the DOJ about almost this exact thing in the day of Netscape Navigator -- using market power in operating systems to try to gain advantage in the browser market. That's unethical and generally illegal under antitrust law.

Key point: at that time. It’s not an absolute.

Didn't the agreement they had only (finally) run out a year or two ago, thus setting the stage for MS to start pulling this crap again?

> I paid for an operating system

Mind you, most Windows home users haven’t paid for an operating system. Either because they’re pirating Windows (e.g. most of the Asian market) or because they’re using an OEM license that Microsoft sold basically at cost (after CapEx:OpEx conversion of R&D expense, ala pharma companies.)

The only profit “Windows” as a product makes, at this point, is 1. Whatever tie-in channel partnerships they can sneak in (like the Candy Crush ad in the start menu), and 2. The cross-department budget Windows gets from Azure as lead-gen revenue (given that Windows is gradually becoming ever more tightly integrated with the Azure SDK, such that it’s only natural to use Azure to build a backend for a Windows app.)

> because they’re pirating Windows

With you so far...

> because they’re using an OEM license

... which they paid for. If MS is undercharging for those OEM licenses (that is, sum of R&D costs/ongoing maintenance costs is lower than sum of sale prices), that doesn't mean the OEM (by extension, the user) didn't pay for it.

> Microsoft doing shady stuff again.

Seems anything but shady? On the start menu in full sight and just explicitly suggesting their browser over Firefox. Doesn't even claim anything about either browser, just suggests theirs! Seems as honest and upfront as any advertising could be? 'Try our band of coffee' effectively.

The wording "still using Firefox?" does suggest subtly that Firefox is outdated or passé... so no, their wording is problematic, as also is the placement of the ad. It is also unnecessary given Firefox's rather small market share and the fact that Edge will be bundled with Windows which means that almost everyone who doesn't use Chrome will likely use Edge.

If W10 is on 800,000,000 computers[1], and it costs each user 1 second of productivity, then every time that ad shows, Microsoft is stealing 222,222 hours of productivity from people and businesses around the world to advertise its subpar browser in an operating system they've already been compensated for.


>Microsoft is stealing 222,222 hours of productivity

You better don't want your boss to know how much HN is stealing "hours of productivity" from you :)

Hey, this forum gives us ideas, helps us learn more, helps us become better!!! If anything our bosses should give us more time to spend on HN!! ;)

I hate OS-level ads the same if not more than any other HN reader, but that's like saying we shouldn't be glancing out of the window for half a second because it would scale up to losing ~100,000 hours of productivity every day. It's a fraction of a ten-thousandth of a workday - anyone concerned with that level of optimization shouldn't be using humans to begin with.

I think you're looking at it from the individual's point of view instead of Microsoft's. Of course at the local level a person or even small business shouldn't be worried about a second of time lost. I'm not saying we should be concerned with employees glancing out the window. I'm saying any decision that affects 800,000,000 people has very tangible consequences.

I think an apt analogy would be the "Take a Penny, Leave a Penny" tray at convenience stores. Nobody cares if you take a penny from a gas station. But if someone figured out a way to take a penny from every tray in the world, that would raise some real questions about theft that would need to be answered.

It's certainly shady, given that they own both the product they're advertising and the medium they're advertising it through.

I don't expect that I'll be able to get them to give me a top spot for an ad saying "Concerned about Microsoft's tracking policy? Mozilla Firefox is here", or "Still using Edge? Why not just get the original -- Google Chrome is here'.

This seems pretty common, and I've not heard anyone consider it a problem before. For example radio stations commonly run promos for their own shows while not accepting ads for shows on other stations.

Do you consider that shady too? If not, how do to you distinguish the Microsoft case?

Rules for advertising on radio and TV are a lot older and consequently more comprehensive, and there's a lot of variation from one country to another, of course.

But at least where I'm from, it's explicitly forbidden for radio stations (in fact it's illegal for any company) to run any kind of comparative advertising that denigrates a competitor's product. It's OK to show off your product, and it's OK to compare your own product to another company's, as long as you're transparent about what's compared and under what conditions. But an ad that mentions a competitor's product just to denigrate it would be illegal.

It would be okay for KBBL to advertise its news program. It would also be OK for KBBL to run an ad saying "Our program has the fewest fake news on the market", as long as they they tell you how to verify the claim (i.e. what numbers they used, who came up with them, how they came up with them, and how you can get them, too). But if they ran an ad saying "Still listening to WQHG-FM news? Tune to KBBL instead!" they'd risk having their license withdrawn.

It's definitely not pretty common precisely because it's illegal :).

Ah, so it is because the ad can be seen as denigrating Firefox that you find it shady?

The way your comment was phrased I thought that you were saying the shadiness comes from it being a Microsoft ad on a Microsoft medium which does not accept ads for competing products.

No, not just because that. I was simply discussing it in the context of your analogy.

In wider terms, Windows is very much not like a radio station. A radio station doesn't broadcast advertising for their competitors' shows, but it doesn't broadcast competitors' shows, either. If we're to apply the same laws that apply for radio stations, then they should apply under the same conditions: Microsoft can advertise their programs all they want -- but then they shouldn't allow running their competitors' programs, either. Let's see how successful Windows is without Photoshop, AutoCAD, 3D Studio Max, Matlab...

Windows is marketed and sold as a general-purpose operating system. I think it's reasonable for users to expect that Windows will treat all legitimate programs the same, regardless of their origin. That should include access to the operating system's advertising channel.

Using your foothold in one industry (operating systems) to discourage competition in other spaces (browsers) certainly is a grey area. Microsoft has been through a pretty similar lawsuit before, on exactly this topic, and that didn't go very well.

It’s not illegal in the U.S.

So in US on TV and radio do you have say Pepsi commercials that mention Coca Cola in a bad way? I seen this kind of commercials on YouTube but I was under the impression that those never were on TV but maybe I am wrong and those are only illegal in Europe and other countries.

I think it's called "comparative advertising". It is legal in the U.S. but definitely illegal in Germany and I bet in other European countries.

Comparative advertising is legal in some (most?) European countries -- it's definitely legal where I'm from (and AFAIK it's also been legal in Germany for a while, although it has been banned for a long time). However, in most cases, if you want to do it, you have to do it based on clear metrics that your audience can verify.

So for example it's legal to show an ad saying that Edge is faster than its competitors, but you have to write a small note somewhere that says who measured that and how.

(Technically I think you can even call the competitors by name, but virtually no one does it because the public doesn't really appreciate that. Most companies will, at most, give a subtle hint).

It is, however, illegal to show an ad which simply says or implies that Firefox is somehow worse than Edge, or that no one uses it anymore, or that it's old, or whatever, without explaining how you got to that conclusion. It's fine to say that Edge is the most popular browser and link to a page about the study that showed it (or the study itself). But without the numbers, you're not allowed to do it. The studies in question are rarely truly objective, but they do offer useful data points.

That's intended to ensure that a company which is perceived as reliable or trustworthy cannot abuse that position and engage in false advertising.

This is a pretty good example -- among non-technical users, who make up the vast majority of computer users in the world, Microsoft is perceived as a solid and reliable company (and, the whole ads and data collection thing aside, it's perceived that way among technical users, too, yours truly included). Their word carries some weight, and non-technical users are likely to take their word at face value.

No, but Google would be more than happy to put the later on their main search page. Not really any different. Microsoft controls Windows and uses it to advance corporate goals. Google owns their search interface and uses it to advance their corporate goals.

This doesn't look like the 2001 brouhaha over "MS using Windows to peddle IE", nope, nooosir, not at all, honest.

Google is free - ads are expected. Microsoft is a paid product. Completely different situations.

I disagree that it's completely different situations. I have not seen anywhere in the legal structure that allows such moves if advertisements are enabled. It is still a company abusing their monopoly situation to influence another market.

In fact Google did it worse by blocking browsers purely by user-agent to key google services like maps to block the entry or Fire devices or windows phone devices.

Both cases aren't acceptible and both should be punished imho.

It is not, because they are not a monopoly.

Google Search is more of a monopoly than Microsoft Windows is last I checked.

Totally agree.

What does Google have to do with any of this?

People are complaining about Microsoft pushing Edge on Windows. Google pushes Chrome on google.com all the time. Frequently with some negative comment about your current browser. They may be less negative now than what I remember, haven't looked at one in forever.

I'm sure Google is shady in this, and many other ways, too, but I really don't see how it's important in this discussion. If Google is doing the same thing then I hope they choke on their Bacardi and Coke, too, but the news is that Microsoft is also doing it now.

I'm not sure what the adequate reaction here would have been. Should I have added a "P.S. oh yeah by the way Google is also doing this, don't forget to hate on them, too?" line in my original reply, for completeness?

This is not news, if people here are collectively OK with such behavior if it is done by a company they haven’t been trained to hate.

They push chrome on their search home page. Same thing really.

>"Still using Edge? Why not just get the original -- Google Chrome is here'

Is something Google would totally do. They've been pushing Chrome with the search home page for years.

It's advertising. Smack bang in the middle of the OS you paid hundreds for.

I get people don't want it. But it's the least 'shady' advertising I've seen in years!

Any advertising that's badmouthing another product is shady. I don't know what advertising you've been seeing that's so much worse.

‘Are you still drinking coffee brand A? Try coffee brand B!’ Seems almost comically benign, 50s-style advertising to my ears.

If Microsoft had run that ad in the usual places accessible to everyone that can afford it there would not be much outrage.

Imagine if the real estate company that built your house installed speakers that talk about how much better the furniture also made by that company is every time you installed IKEA furniture.

Doesn't still make it okay.

It's bullying non-technical users into thinking that Firefox is old.

They can be shy to ask anyone if Firefox is viable in fear of being ridiculed and they might end up thinking that Firefox is bad for months or even years.

Perhaps they could have gone down a different road:

> Still installing browsers from internet ? Edgium is here, faster and pre-installed. Try it out!

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