Letters to the editor about my breakup with Windows

TechRepublic members had a lot to say about my breakup with Windows (though it wasn't totally a breakup). Read the most intelligent responses.

TechRepublic members had a lot to say about my breakup with Windows (though it wasn't totally a breakup). Here is a selection of the most intelligent responses.

A disservice to readers

Hello Jason:

The only thing that bothers me about your moving to Linux and Mac is that 90+% of the world uses Windows; therefore, how can you relate to most of your readers? Also, the only real advantage that Windows has over other OS's is that there is a VERY large bucket of applications that run under windows. There is almost always an application to do anything on both Linux and MacOS; however, it is not the one that most people use. Sure, you can run the apps under a VM with either Mac or Linux; however, you can also drive your Ferrari with a Saturn engine installed in it. But you wouldn't, would you?

I personally believe you are doing your readers a disservice by not using Windows as your primary OS...

Kind regards,


If you want a job ...

Your idea, and the replies are good, but what about MS's 90% marketshare?

My biggest complaint with the Mac operating system has always been that it only runs on outrageously overpriced hardware. Several times I have configured effectively identical computer systems (including both hardware and software), and Apple computers have consistently been 2 to 3 times the price of a Wintel computer.

I have also been looking at Linux, but until Ubuntu, it just wasn't worth the difficulty required to install it, and the shortage of hardware drivers. I just haven't been able to invest enough time to thoroughly study the subject. There are several other Linux distributions that look promising also.

But when everything is said and done, it is really difficult for me (as a computer contractor) to ignore the fact that Microsoft Window's market share for microcomputer operating systems is now up to 90%. While a number of my European friends have become anti-Microsoft, and the official operating systems for both China and Indonesia (at least I think it's Indonesia, it may have been India) are no longer MS Windows, here in the States, it's hard to ignore that total dominance MS has on installed operating systems.

If you want a job here, you've got to be familiar with the current MS products.


Windows 7 does offer improvements

What I like...

First, I won't even comment on Vista. It's a sad OS not even worth mentioning here.

As far as Win7, there is definitely a speed improvement over XP, especially x64. It took awhile to get used to the new taskbar, but now I love it. Better hardware support, which is expected any time a new OS is introduced. An improved Windows Explorer (something Vista failed at). Better control of task manager. There's more under the hood.

As far as stability, I'd say XP and 7 are close, but it took years of Microsoft fine tuning XP to achieve what 7 has out of the gates.


Word from a Windows divorcée

Me too but feels like a divorce after 20 years.

I have had a monogamous and sometimes passionate relationship with Microsoft since 1987. I was always an early adopter: Word to replace Word Perfect, Excel for Lotus 123, PowerPoint for Harvard Graphics and Windows since v2.0.

After suffering the abusive ill treatment of Vista, the blatant ignoring of my needs with Office 2007 (find me a serious Excel user who likes it), I thought I'd give the marriage a final go at reconcilliation with an Upgrade to Windows 7. How naive to think a partner's behaviour could really undergo a such a radical change.

The upgrade process involved a total of 21 hours on support phone lines and emails, 7 attempts at download (each taking more than an hour on an 8 Mbps connection) and 3 full attempts at installation, each taking THREE hours (honest!) before failing. At the third unexplained, bald message "Windows could not be installed, restoring previous version". I gave up, more in sadness than anger. I had spent an outrageous $275 (EUR 199)to upgrade from an acknowledged dog of an OS, had had to uninstall iTunes, McAfee, various drivers - at had taken a ridiculous amount of time away from my business, which the bankers games have already made difficult.

Every step of the process was a disaster, right from the mess of the Microsoft Store interface, confusing emails, "up to 20 days" to send the back up DVD, download sites and forced download managers which didn't work, corrupted download files, one hour on "technical support" which ended with the comment "Well, I'm actually at Microsoft Store and am not trained in technical matters and not really supposed to give technical support", useless help areas... you name it, it was an amateurish mess.

By the time I was finally given access to real Microsoft tech support (well, OK an outsourced company in New Delhi), wihtout having to pay an exorbitant support contract, the people were, indeed, excellent but it was all getting too late. Anyway they couldn't solve the problem other than to ask me to wait for "several" days to get a DVD version and do a clean install - which Was what I wanted to avoid from the outset.

Microsoft - this is what happened to IBM and will undoubtedly one day happen to Google. Too big, too dominant, too complacent, too dismissive of the competition and just basically too tired. I only hope Apple doesn't go the same way - the products may be great but pricing and customer support issues ring some alarm bells too.

Poor old users, we really do get a bum deal.


How about OS/2?


I read your article where your saying that you and Windows are seeing other people. Yes I agree its not really a break-up and I understand that you wish to broaden your horizons. Good for you. I also do some similar types of things with my own systems and I still have my favorites. I'd like to make a suggestion if I may. You said in your article that you will have a primary system (an I7 I think) where you run alternate OS's as well as Win7 in a VM. I'd like to suggest that you also run Ecomstation in a VM as well. While its not as mainstream as Linux is today, its a nice system and you might like it. If your not familiar with Ecomstation, its the successor to IBM's OS/2 and is being supported and enhanced by Serentiy Systems International. If you'd like more info its available at And remember to have some fun with all of them while your at it.

With Regards,

The Captain (JTC)

Try Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu

Skip Ubuntu, Use Mint!

Everyone talks about using Ubuntu. Problem with Ubuntu is that they've bitten off a bit of the FSF philosophy regarding using "free" software and "free" drivers. That means your Nvidia and ATI cards, wireless cards, as well as some displays will not work.

So instead, if you're going to go Linux, pick Mint. It's basically Ubuntu with a lot of great tweaks and all of the non-"free" drivers available through its own repository.

It also comes with WineDoors, which allows you to run a boatload of Windows apps without virtualization.

Give it a shot. It's the most compelling desktop Linux out there.


Same here - Mint is terrific.

I've been a fan of Mint Linux for several years (since 4.0), and watched it improve through it's versions. I've been using Mint 7.0 on my Acer laptop (formerly Vista) for more than a year now, and it hasn't needed one tweak since installing. Just loaded it on one of my desktops as well. Runs most MSWin-based software with Wine, and the open source software it comes with is almost all I need for daily use. Mint 8.0 is supposed to be even better.

I highly recommend Mint as a Windoze alternative. It's completely based on Ubuntu, so you get all that stability and function, but they've also crafted their own installer, updater, and other admin tools to make it more than just a clone of Ubuntu with some extra drivers. Best Linux distro for Window users to migrate to with minimal learning curve. Live DVD, simple installation for either solo or dual-boot install. Try it, you'll see what I mean.



Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

Editor's Picks