Vista is a failure, but is Microsoft doomed?

The Inquirer would have you think so (Microsoft admits Vista failure). Dell has bowed to the lack of consumer enthusiasm about Vista (especially those laptop users dismayed at power management issues, but people whose applications suddenly break won’t be amused either), reinstating Windows XP availability on their customer line-ups. This is, at best, a grace period of one year, since Microsoft currently plans to stop XP sales entirely in 2008.

They have a point there. I have a problem with their assertion that the $3 Windows edition is another admission of failure. True, the stronger anti-piracy controls on Vista means that Microsoft’s closing one eye on piracy no longer reduces Linux’s price advantage as much. But there’s the point of government tie-in: to be eligible for the cheap Windows licenses, governments have to step in and subsidize the hardware!

So Microsoft might have a weakened hold on its current OEMs, but it is hoping to gain entire countries as new clients. In which case the price drop cannot be compared against the full price of Windows, but what Dell, HP etc. gets charged (less than $50 a piece, I’m sure). An order of magnitude less. Which is a side issue — Microsoft is not currently gaining anything from those pirated copies anyway (apart from mindshare). The main worry is that another generation will be locked into Microsoft products, and want to bet there’s a clause in the fine print promoting the so-called Open XML over Open Doc?

HP, HP, lama sabachthani?

There was a Slashdot story a few weeks ago, on HP voiding your warranty if you install Linux. Linux geeks responded with an outrage, predictably, claiming that ever since CRT monitors come with safeguards that prevent the screen being fried through out-of-range settings, there is no way that a piece of software could destroy a hardware, and even if that’s the case, then it’s a bug in the hardware design itself.

In the case of the woman mentioned in the story, Linux is clearly not at fault — the keyboard was just broken, and the tech support person was too clueless (or the support regulations structured in such a way) to notice. However, there could be valid cases where the combination of crappy hardware and running Linux *would* ruin your hardware. I know, because it just happened to me.

The recipe is as such:

  1. Broken ACPI implementation (hello, HP! To be fair, the most recent dv2000, dv6000 and equivalent Compaq lines are probably fixed; by the lack of complaints), so that Linux’s ACPI subsystem cannot control the fan and CPU voltage properly
  2. A CPU that runs hot (first-generation “mobile” Turion 64)
  3. 2 years of frequent use, tolerating occasional crashes due to overheating

I guess the writing is on the wall when I had to remove my second memory module to keep the laptop running at all. The poor fans must be getting to their end of life. And today, after a freeze while the laptop was on battery power (previously almost unheard-of, it’s normally stable if running at 800 MHz, which it does when unplugged), it just never woke up again. The power indicators would be on, the optical drive would operate properly, and the AC indicator too, but apart from that, zilch. Nothing displayed to the screen, no error beep, nothing.

One begins to wonder whether the buggy Microsoft ACPI AML compiler was actually intentionally buggy. After all, if you load Windows onto your machine “as it is intended”, you’ll be using a Microsoft-written AML interpreter, and everything would be just fine. If you use the Intel reference AML interpreter, well, … Very disturbing indeed. The same way Microsoft abused its IE market share by intentionally not making it standards-compliant, making life a nightmare for web designers and thus the easy way out is to only support IE ..

RIP, HP L2000 “Lance Armstrong special edition”. It’s ironic that a record winner of an endurance cycling race, who also happens to be a cancer survivor, would lend his name to a buggy laptop with poor noise insulation and heat issues that didn’t even last two years. I was planning to replace it with an HP dv2000t once the Santa Rosa models are out (late April — early May), but after this, I wonder. I’ve never had a laptop dying on me before; my previous write-offs are either due to inexpert disassembly (Vaio C1) or drop damage (Vaio C140). Perhaps I’ll get a Macbook after all, though my Apple purchasing track record is notoriously bad (I’d buy just before a new model is launched — I barely managed to cancel a Dell laptop purchase when the Powerbook G4 12″ was released, and I jumped the gun and bought the Sony C140 — now with a broken LCD — and before it even arrived, the Core 2 Macbooks came out).

Could I wait this time for the don’t-know-when Santa Rosa? Come on, Apple, update the line before Leopard comes out!

Update2007/04/16 – OSnews has an article on a Bill Gates memo showing Microsoft’s intention to cripple ACPI. You’re not paranoid if people really are out to get you! And shame on that abusive monopolist — this is straight out of The Corporate, folks. It figures that after screwing over DR-DOS in a very similar way, they’d try the same trick again.

Les médias français, qui ne comprennent pas la compatibilité de croix-plateforme

Periodically, I’d scour the Internet for French-language streaming media broadcast. Unfortunately, despite the European Commission’s much-publicized anti-trust case against Microsoft, and the French’s famously anti-American attitude, when it comes to Internet broadcasting they are all in hock to Microsoft.

Case in point: France 24, the French answer to CNN and BBC. While most Anglo-American site would at least offer you a choice between Real and Windows Media (I don’t see QuickTime used much), most French sites, including the aforementioned, serves only WMV. This, at a time where the BBC is even sponsoring the development of an open-source video codec, Dirac [].

The site’s design also feels rather sluggish, and the aspect ratio is wrong unless you go full-screen. Alors… 😦