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Microsoft and individual rights.



I have read these articles. They make a lot of sense to me and showed them to my friend. His reaction was a little indignant.

He points out that you can record shows already for Windows 7 and that you can do this right out the box. If a network tells Microsoft to not allow viewing then that is fine and that there are other ways to watch shows that would be otherwise be blocked.

He says that there are classes out there for certification with programming and that Microsoft pulling a monopoly on schools is a non issue.

What boils down to it is this: Things aren't that bad as these websites are making it out to be. There are other nations that are much worse than we have it. We should not worry about it now because in the event that things should turn out bad, there will always be a resistance that will balance out how things are.

He continues (Not a direct quotation): Don't get me wrong. I'm all for consumer rights and the rights of the individual but Microsoft has to protect their assets and that it so happens that things like Windows Genuine Advantage is negatively affecting it's users. There are far worse things going on besides what Microsoft is doing.

I'm confused and I would like more opinions. Those for and against Microsft, why Linux is making a positive impact on people's rights or no impact at all, and other things that might branch out from these discussions.

I have never used any version of Linux before and I would like start now because in light of what I read about Microsoft I just cannot pretend that what is happening now cannot be a trend to what could happen in the future. On a positive note, I am glad my friend feels this way because I get to see both sides of an argument instead of it being one-sided. By the way, he uses Ubuntu and Fedora but now uses Microsoft 7 as his 'main'.

Thank you for your input.


  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    This is going to be an interesting discussion.

    I am unsure about the recording options in Windows 7, because of their past history I would assume that it is required for you to have a minimum version of Windows 7 for that functaionality to be built in. There will always be ways to buypass certian restrictions in windows such as recording and copying media, but the action of odoing so is illegal because you are buypassing the DRM that is incoded into the products. Now, there have been many proposals from MS requesting for hardware manufacturers install certian "Security" chips into all motherboards and other hardware that would require MS's apporoval certificate on software before it is run and others that would block DRM buypass. I personally am not really concerned about what they do in their products because I don't use them for personal means, but I am completely against them having some kind of windows certered security chip built into my computer.

    MS in schools, they do grant certain priveldges to schools that use their products such as free software and hardware, reduced training costs, etc... In addition they also have many programs where they sell "Student Versions" of software for far less than the normal versions to get the students dependant on their software. The programming courses vary per campus but because of certification needs many schools are pushing for C# and other Ms based/licensed programming languages to be taught. I know that at the school I attended they did receive special discounts in software, books, training materials, MSCE certifiction evams and such to lean them towards using MS products, the school probably didin't even realize thet they were falling into it, but the same school also offerd C and C++ programming classes and three full classes about non windows operating systems..lol

    Your friend is right about how bad it is, RMS is pretty good at over dramatising, but there is potential for things to get that bad, but the Linux and FOSS movements are attemptng to work as the balancing agent that your friend is referring to. We are doing our best to balance the market, but at times is can be difficult especially when politicians pass laws without considering the rights of the users.

    MS does have the right to protect their assets, but their licenses end up leaving the users/customers with very little rights to their data or any expectations of privacy. I highly encourage you to read the Windows and MS Office EULA documents to see jsut what rights you truly have.

    The FOSS and Linux communities are trying to help user reclaim their rights but until large scale support and marketing is aimed at the normal consumer I feel we won't make a large difference. The users will continue to use what was packaged on their purchased systems and not question the errors, crashes, memory handling, viri, licenses and other issues that this community has been working hard to resolve. The most important thing to release the strangle-hold on the consumers is to educt the consumers, so I for one try to get a ubuntu wubi installation on most computers I fix so the users can feel the difference and learn how easy it is to use something different.
  • Unfortunately, I do not have more to add but it would be greatly appreciated if there are some who wish to also contribute.

    All your points that you addressed helped me understand better what my friend was getting at as well as understand more of what is going on. Some more questions posted to you if you don't mind:
    Now, there have been many proposals from MS requesting for hardware manufacturers install certian "Security" chips into all motherboards and other hardware that would require MS's apporoval certificate on software before it is run and others that would block DRM buypass. I personally am not really concerned about what they do in their products because I don't use them for personal means, but I am completely against them having some kind of windows certered security chip built into my computer.
    I assume that should this be a reality that it will only happen to computers that are pre-built and with Microsoft OS's pre-installed? Good thing this would not apply to individual computer parts. Silly, I know, but I had to ask.

    As for MS in schools, I assume that this is somewhat fair play since MS is the one to step up to the plate and offer these services to schools? It's not like they are outright badmouthing other operating systems.

    Thank you for the third paragraph about 'Linux and FOSS' and 'balancing'. It seemed so horribly one sided in my mind and that in turn made the situation seem that much bleaker. It clears things up for me. I will definitely have to look up trends with law and computing. Any suggestions were to start?

    Ugh, reading the EULA is so long winded and boring. But I will read it.


    I actually have to cut this message short but I will add more later tonight.
  • I would also like to add later about which Linux distro to use but I'm currently at work. :p
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    The hardware push is for all MS compatable motherboards to include the chip. But I am sure that if it is implemented someone will quickly add a module to the linux kernel to buypass it or send false authentications so we can still run what we wish. The greater concern about this is that MS will probably charge software companies to certify that their software is safe before it can be run by the chip, so that in itself can make a new monopoly.

    The action is the schools is far game and they are just following Apple's suit. This is why so many FOSS advocates are pushing for greater use in schools so we can also attempt to train the future workforce on our platform.

    I cannot give you any exact links about the legal actions because I get the news through RSS feeds, but you can checkout http://boycottnovell.com/wiki/index.php/Main_Page and http://www.groklaw.net/ for some information relating to legal issues with MS and their partners, please keep in mind that their writing may be dry and highly agressive as they do not refelect the entire community but they do research legal issues in depth.
  • gomer
    gomer Posts: 158
    Something else that I find bothersome is how slowly government is adapting to new realities in terms of software licensing and protecting consumers' rights. For example, probably the worst ever piece of legislation passed, in my opinion was the DMCA. I find it perposterous that I have the right to own a back-up coppy of a DVD that I have purchased, but that all means by which I can produce that copy are illegal. Or that I can physically own a Play Station 3, but only if I use it in the way that the manufacturer intended.

    Another pet peeve of mine, and this is only tangentially related, is the argument / mindset that a lot of people (especially in the business world) have that FOSS is of less vlaue, or lower quality than products like say, Windows, because there is no price tag associated with FOSS. By some recent estimates, the R&D cost to reproduce the linux Kernel from scratch today is in the $1.6B range, and to re-create Fedora 8 would be well over $10B. Just because someinthg is free doesn't mean it's not worth something, and even more important, just because something is free doesn't mean it shouldn't also be protected.
  • I'll be honest and at one point in time, I did think that free software equaled buggy, less than polished product. I guess I can attribute that to spam shareware programs I used back in the mid 90's.

    But that isn't the case nowadays. Especially if there is a big active community. One example I can think of are rogue-likes. They may be 'hand-made' but whenever bugs are discovered there is a release soon after because of players giving their input. Sometimes, I'm amazed at the times we live in.

    On the one hand, there is sure a lot of different types of distros for Linux. I don't want to start a flame war but I'm not sure which to use or which one is 'better'. For a noob like me, I thought about using Sugar. (It's made for kids, lol) My friend suggests using Ubuntu.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    You hit on a subject that most people don't understand Freeware and Shareware applications are not the same as Free Software, free software is open source which allows anyone to review the code and make modifications and correct as needed then submit them back to the original author. It is the natiure of Opensource software that makes it trustworthy. In comparision the freeware and shareware is just closed source software released by someone for free that the user cannot confirm the actions of or modify, in many cases I have seen these freeware and shareware programs are funded by the malicious actions that they take on your systems. The words shareware and freeware still leave a sour taste on my tongue.

    There is no such thing as the best distro, each is tailored to anticipate the needs of their target users. The best question is "what distro is best for you?". Sugar may be sort of childish but if you want to test it you should feel free to do so. Generally we refer new users to Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora or OpenSuse based upon the expectaions and needs, I personally think ubuntu is the best version for a new user to play with because of hte support community, ease of use and the wubi installer. However I do not recommend using the most recent release because of the bugs, at this point Ubuntu 9.04 is what I recommend to new users to show them the benefits of using a Linux based Operating system.
  • gomer
    gomer Posts: 158
    Consider this a second vote for stating with Ubuntu 9.04

    Some of the newer guys in my LUG seem to be pretty keen on Mint. I've never used it, but I might fire it up in a VM just to see what the buzz is about.

    I would really recomend you stay away from gentoo and slackware until you are good and ready to kick your leanring up a notch or two.


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