Random Thoughts – Randocity!

The continuing failure of Digital Rights Management (DRM)

Posted in computers, drm, windows by commorancy on February 6, 2009

When are companies going to learn their lessons about using Digital Rights Management (DRM) to protect content?  It seems that just as one company learns a lesson another also has to go through these same pains.

What is DRM?

DRM is simply a piece of software that is designed to limit use of or prevent unauthorized use over a piece of software or content (such as music, videos, video games or productivity software).  DRM software is usually run on start-up of the actual software or content to-be-protected to determine if the user running it has a legitimate license.

How does it work?

DRM comes in many forms and there are many different implementations of DRM.  The most obvious example of DRM is Microsoft’s activation server system.  This system requires that Windows ‘check-in’ with Microsoft’s servers to determine if the copy of Windows you are running is ‘Genuine’ or ‘Counterfeit’.  I’m not sure how exactly they determine what’s what, but apparently they have some methodology.

There are other forms of DRM, some more innocuous than others.  Sony, for example, got beaten down hard for its use of a rootkit based DRM system on some of its BMG CD releases.  This DRM system installed software unknown to the user and, as a result of its installation, left Windows open to attacks and software compromises (from viruses and trojans).  This is an extreme example from a, then, well-respected company.

Other forms include dongles (USB keys), having physical media present, requiring license servers to be run, etc etc.  Regardless of what form it takes, it will interfere with your ability to use the software in the way you want to use it.

What DRM doesn’t do!

DRM doesn’t actually target the people whom it should target.  The intent of DRM is to prevent piracy or unauthorized use.  The problem with DRM is that it basically only affects legitimate users and non-technical pirates.  It doesn’t affect technically inclined pirates and software crackers… the exact people they need to target.  

Because many of these software systems install software onto Windows, these installed softwares can interfere with Windows or other applications in Windows… especially if two different softwares require two different versions of the same protection system loaded on the system simultaneously.  These are instances where one app can interfere with another or even interfere with itself.

So, DRM inconveniences the paying user and not really the pirates, which is not the intent of DRM.  For example, ZBrush (a 3D object sculpting package) uses an arcane software protection system that doesn’t work on many installations of Vista 64 (and possibly even Vista 32).  Pixologic (the developers of Zbrush), have basically thrown their hands up on the issue.  They have no idea why it happens.  Also, because they have licensed their protection system from a third party vendor, they can’t even fix the issue.  So, Vista users who may legitimately want to purchase and use their software cannot do so.

EA’s Spore is another prime example.  Spore’s arcane DRM system prevented installation and use of this game on multiple computers due to the way it ‘registered’ with EA’s servers.  This DRM even prevented use by different users on the same computer.  EA was very slow to respond about this issue and, as a result, hundreds of reviews for Spore on Amazon ended up 1 star. 

Crackers 

The Crackers of the world, many of them, are actually very good at what they do.  They can get into hex code and/or disassembled (assembly) code and rework (remove the sections) that do the DRM checks.  By disabling the DRM checking in the application, the application will then launch without the need for the DRM checks.

Note that these people are so adept at doing this, they can probably do it in their sleep.  This means that no matter what protection scheme is devised by someone, the crackers can reverse engineer it and remove the protection system in time.  Sometimes, they aren’t fully successful at removing it, but they don’t need to be.  Instead, they can work with the DRM by producing softwares that mimic the things the DRM software needs to function.  Either way, it gets around the necessary things that the DRM needs.

For this reason, DRM fails to target the people whom they want to target and fails to adequately protect the content they so desperately want to protect.

Fed Up!

Users are tired of DRM systems that prevent them from legitimately using software they purchase.  The companies do have the right to protect their ‘assets’, yes.  But, is it right for them to do so at the expense of their userbase?  Making people jump through hoops just to run a piece of software is not the way software is supposed to work.  DRM systems get in the way of the software and user experience rather than helping the company protect their assets.

Wake up companies

For software companies that are considering or are now using DRM to ‘protect’ (and I use that term very loosely) their software, you need to rethink your strategy, especially if you are seeing complaints from your userbase about the protection system preventing proper usage of your software.  If the DRM is getting in the way of your paying user’s ability to use the software, then you need to get rid of the DRM.  DRM is intended to be transparent to the user… but in many cases it is not.  Which means, the DRM system failed.

Should companies do away with DRM?  At this point, yes.  It doesn’t serve your company by inconveniencing the very people who pay you money.  It also doesn’t give you any points with customer satisfaction.  As more and more people wake up to DRM and dislike it more and more, companies may find that their userbase is dwindling because people won’t agree to install DRM-based software on their computer.  Software without DRM is more likely to function properly than DRM protected software.  There are way too many software competitors on the market to keep DRM in your software when your competitors don’t use DRM in their products.

So, yes, companies should seriously consider the removal of DRM systems from their software.  Also, because DRM fails to adequately target the people whom it should target, adding DRM only serves to damage your company’s reputation and negatively impact your paying userbase.

Have you found a piece of software controlled by DRM that you wouldn’t buy or that you did buy but couldn’t use?  If so, please comment here.  I’d like to see just how widespread this issue is.

Say no to DRM.

So you want 8GB of RAM in your computer…

Posted in 64 bit computing, computers, linux, windows by commorancy on January 30, 2009

This seems like a simple problem to solve. You know, like opening your computer and putting the RAM sticks into the slots, closing it and turning it on… Seems simple enough, right? But, wait! What’s this? You’ve booted up Windows and it only shows 3.65GB of available memory. How’s that possible? Is there something wrong? Where’s my memory? It’s there, but take a breath, get a cup of coffee and read this…

Welcome to the 32 bit club!

Since RAM costs are, once again, on the downward trend and the size of the sticks are going up, it’s inevitable that you might think of adding 4GB or more RAM to your machine. However, it must be said that 32 bit operating systems have important limitations that need to be discussed, but that no one is really discussing. Note, some operating systems are more affected by the 32 bit limitation than others (due to some 36 bit additions).

What is the 32 bit RAM limitation?

A 32 bit operating system that’s installed can only address a maximum of 32 bits of memory address space. That is, the amount of total memory that can be installed and visible to an operating system. In a 32 bit operating system, that amounts to a total of 4GB of RAM (no matter where that RAM is). Note, that this space includes such installed RAM as system memory, cache memory, video card memory and any other incidental memory that the operating system has direct access to. So, for example with Windows, if you install 4GB of RAM, you may see 3.62GB available. The amount of missing RAM that makes up the difference to 4GB total is video RAM and other RAM caches installed in other hardware devices. So, the more RAM in your video card or USB controller, the less you’ll will see in available memory to use for applications.

Windows 32 bit vs Linux 32 bit

As of Windows Vista 32 bit (any home edition), Microsoft has not addressed this 4GB limitation. Thus, installing more than 4GB RAM in your 32 bit Windows system is not only wasteful (take the extra RAM back to the store if you still have the receipt or read on for the other alternative), but it won’t let you use more than 4GB on home editions of Windows 32 bit systems (Vista included). Windows server operating systems have been designed to allow addressing more RAM (like Linux 32 bit), but that’s an expensive operating system to run at home just to overcome that limitation.  I’ll reiterate, non-server Windows operating systems (Vista, XP Pro, etc)  haven’t been fixed to allow installation and use of more than 4GB of RAM.  Only Windows systems with the ‘Server’ moniker address more than 4GB of RAM.

Through Intel chip extensions and the Linux (and Windows Server) 32 bit operating systems, this has allowed for up to 36bit of addressable RAM space. So, that extends the 4GB maximum of RAM installed to up to 64GB of RAM space. While this does allow installation of up to 64GB of RAM, there are other important operating system limitations that can prevent full utilization of that installed memory.

PAE

The extension from 32 bit to 36 bit addressable RAM space is called Physical Address Extension (PAE). Intel added this extra bit space to allow for just this eventuality in RAM. But, the underlying operating system needs to be able to support it. As of this writing, only Linux 32 bit fully supports PAE.  As far as Windows, not all versions of Windows support PAE even though this MS developer article states that Windows does support it. True, Windows does support it, but only Windows Server versions.  So, the lack of support includes all versions of Vista and below (XP Home/Prof, 2000 Prof and 2000 server). I believe that PAE was added to 2003 server and above.

If you pick up one of the most recent versions of Linux 32 bit (in the last 1-2 years), you should be good to go for PAE.

As far as Mac OS X, it appears that from user complaints I’ve found through Google, that 32 bit Mac OS X does not support PAE (or doesn’t support it fully). On the other hand, there is a 64 bit version of Mac OS X. We’ll come to 64 bit editions shortly.

What about the applications?

Applications are also a problem. 32 bit applications can only address up to 4GB of RAM space. So, even if you manage to get all 64GB of RAM visible to your operating system, each 32 bit application itself can only use a maximum of 4GB when running (even when running on a 64 bit platform with 32 bit compatibility). But, when would an application need more than 4GB of space? Well, if it’s a database server, a 3D rendering application loading lots of texture maps with high res 3D meshed objects or even Video editing suites such as Vegas or Pinnacle studio where you have lots of video and audio media. Even gaming may begin running into this important limit as 3D worlds get larger and more complex. So, expect this issue to become even more important as applications grow bigger and more complex.

Ok, what’s the solution?

The resolution to this issue is a 64 bit (or higher) operating system. Linux 64 bit or Windows 64 bit breaks these 32 bit barriers down. A 64 bit operating system can address 16.8 million terabytes (16 Exabytes) of RAM. That’s so much RAM, at this point, it’s effectively unlimited as of today. In 15-30 years with technology progress, we might be able to purchase a 1 Exabyte stick of RAM and come close to the 64 bit limitations. But, not today.

64 bit natively compiled applications also allow for addressing 16 Exabytes of space within the application’s memory footprint. This also opens up doors to much larger databases, video games, editing softwares and any other very memory intensive applications.

Growing pains and adoption

To date, our softwares are still firmly entrenched in the 32 bit world. This is a world that’s rapidly approaching its end of life. Yet, we are not taking any steps to make it obsolete in favor 64 bit. The issue, however, is that we have not had a pressing need as yet. But, this is the time when it should happen. We need to make the move today when it’s NOT going to be painful. We should not wait until it becomes a major issue and then have to force everyone to move because of a major 32 bit failure (like the millenium clock thing).

Microsoft has made moving to 64 bit Windows much less painful than it used to be. The 32 bit subsystem in 64 bit Windows operates nearly every 32 bit application seamlessly. The only real issue with 64 bit Windows is drivers. Many drivers for 64 bit Windows are still way unstable for everyday use. No, the 32 bit Windows drivers do not work under 64 bit Windows.  So, if you bought Adobe Acrobat, for example, you cannot install the PDFWriter printer driver from your 32 bit media.  You’ll have to upgrade to the 64 bit software edition (if they even make it).  So, this driver issue is a substantial roadblock for Windows. This is partly because of the driver manufacturers, but it’s also partly because Windows Vista’s driver system is broken. Perhaps Windows 7 will be the correct step moving forward, but it’s way too early to tell. Suffice it to say that Windows Vista 64 bit can be used successfully with 32 bit applications.

Linux transition to 64 bit has been far more painful than Windows. While Linux does offer a 32 bit system to run 32 bit applications, compiling applications for the 64 bit environment can be quite a challenge.  Installing 32 bit applications on a 64 bit Linux system can also be a challenge.  Many source code trees use hard coded 32 bit integers that prevent easy compilation and, thus, cause many compilation errors that must be fixed. So, getting something like Firefox compiled on 64 bit Linux (or any other 64 bit OS ) is a challenge. Worse, the Adobe issue (see below) makes using a 64 bit compiled browser painful (for both Linux and Windows).

I haven’t had experience with Mac OS X 64 bit directly. So, someone else will have to speak of compatibility. However, according to Apple’s website, Mac OS X 64 also has a full 32 bit subsystem for running Mac 32 bit apps.

32 bit applications on 64 bit operating systems

Some important things to note about this issue. 32 bit applications running on a 64 bit operating system don’t gain any real benefit by running under 64 bit OS. The only notable exception to this is that the application will have access to the full 4GB of RAM space rather than the lesser amount if running under a 32 bit operating system. 64 bit users should encourage developers to create 64 bit editions of their favorite softwares to ensure that the native 64 bit applications that can take full advantage of the 64 bit architecture (and memory space).

Adobe and 64 bit

Adobe has been, to date (and for many years) opposed to creating 64 bit editions of their applications. I don’t know why. But, they still have not released Flash or Shockwave for 64 bit edition browsers for either Linux or Windows. I’m unsure why Adobe has decided these are not important. But, these types of arbitrary decisions prevent widespread 64 bit adoption. Either that, or 64 bit users will simply do without Adobe products (more likely the case). Since other open source alternatives to Adobe’s products are available, these products may out mode Adobe’s product in a 64 bit world.

So, how do I get 8GB in my computer?

You have several options:

  • Run Linux 32 bit with PAE (lets your system address 64GB)
  • Install Windows 2003 Server (expensive)
  • Install Windows 64 bit edition: Vista or Windows 7 (less expensive)
  • Install Linux 64 bit version (free or thereabouts)
  • Wait for Windows 32 bit (lesser versions) to finally support PAE (perhaps Windows 7)
  • For Mac OS X users, upgrade to Mac OS X 64 bit

64 bit (or larger) is the future of computing and it’s high time that companies and users start to realize this.

The Microsoft Botch — Part II

Posted in botch, microsoft, redmond, windows by commorancy on January 17, 2009

In a question to The Microsoft Botch blog article, jan_j on Twitter asks, “Do you think Microsoft is going down?”  In commentary to that question, I put forth this article.

I’ll start by saying, “No”.  I do not think that Microsoft is ‘going down’.  Microsoft is certainly in a bad way at this point in time, but they still have far too much market share with Windows XP, Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 server as well as Exchange and several other enterprise products.  So, the monies they are making off of these existing installations (and licenses) will carry them on for quite some time.  Combine that with Xbox Live and the licensing of the Xbox 360 games… Microsoft isn’t going anywhere for quite a while.  The real question to ask, though, is.. Is Microsoft’s userbase dwindling?  At this point, it’s unclear, but likely.  Since the Vista debacle, many users and IT managers have contemplated less expensive alternative installations including Linux.  The sheer fact that people are looking for alternatives doesn’t say good things about Microsoft.  

As far as alternatives, MacOS X isn’t necessarily less expensive than Windows, but it is being considered as one possible replacement for Windows by some.   Some people have already switched.  MacOS X may, however, be less expensive in the long term strictly due to maintenance and repair costs.  Linux can be less expensive than Windows (as far as installation software costs and continuing licenses), but it requires someone who’s knowledgable to maintain them.

In comparison…

To compare Microsoft to another company from the past, IBM comes to mind.  IBM was flying high with their PCs in the early days, but that quickly crumbled when IBM started botching things up.  That and PC clones took off.  To date, there has not been a Windows OS clone to compete head-to-head with Microsoft.  So, Microsoft has been safe from that issue.  But, Linux and MacOS X do represent alternative operating systems that do function quite well in their own environments.  Although, MacOS X and Linux interoperate poorly, in many specific cases, with Windows (primarily thanks to Microsoft).

Linux as a replacement

While it is possible to replace Windows with Linux and have a functional system, the Windows compatibility limitations become readily apparent rapidly.  Since most of the rest of the world uses Windows, Linux doesn’t have fully compatible replacement softwares for the Windows world.  Because of Microsoft’s close-to-the-vest approach to software combined with their release-just-enough-information to allow half-baked Windows compatibility.  Thus, Linux (and other non-Microsoft OSes) can’t compete in a Windows world.  This is a ‘glass is half empty or half full’ argument.  On its own, Linux interoperates well with other Linux systems.  But, when you try to pair that together with Windows, certain aspects just fall apart.

That doesn’t mean Linux is at fault.  What it usually means is that Microsoft has intentionally withheld enough information so as to prevent Linux from interoperating.  Note, there is no need to go into the gritty details of these issues in this article.  There are plenty of sites on the Internet that can explain it all in excruciating detail.

However, if your company or home system doesn’t need to interoperate with Windows, then Linux is a perfectly suitable solution for nearly every task (i.e., reading email, browsing, writing blogs, etc).  If, however, someone wants to pass you an Adobe Illustrator file or you receive a Winmail.dat file in your email, you’re kind of stuck.  That’s not to say you can’t find a workable solution with some DIY Linux tools, but you won’t find these out of the box.

This is not meant to berate Linux.  This is just a decision specifically by Microsoft to limit compatibility and interoperability of non-Microsoft products.  This decision by Microsoft is intentional and, thus, Windows is specifically and intentionally designed that way.

Microsoft’s days ahead

Looking at Microsoft’s coming days, it’s going to be a bit rough even when Windows 7 arrives.  If Windows 7 is based on Vista and also requires the same hardware requirements as Vista, Windows 7 won’t be any more of a winner than Vista.

Microsoft needs to do some serious rethinking.  They need to rethink not only how their products are perceived by the public, they need to rethink what they think is good for the public.  Clearly, Microsoft is not listening to their customers.  In Vista, Microsoft made a lot of changes without really consulting with their target userbase and, as a result, ended up with a mostly disliked operating system.

Apple, on the other hand, is able to introduce new innovative tools that, instead of making life more of a hassle, it simplifies things.  Microsoft isn’t doing this.  

Rocky Road

While this flavor of ice cream might be appealing, Microsoft’s road ahead won’t be quite so much that way.  They are heading for a few rocky years coming.  Combine their bad software design decisions with a bad economy and you’ve got a real problem.  Microsoft’s problems, though, primarily stem from lack of vision.  Windows roadmap is not clear.  Instead of actually trying to lay out design goals for the next several revisions, Microsoft appears to be making it up as they go along… all the while hoping that the users will like it.   But, their designers really do not have much in the way of vision.  The biggest change that Microsoft made to Windows was the Start button.  That’s probably the single most innovative thing that Microsoft has done (note that the start button is not really that great of a design anyway).  

Microsoft forces everyone else to do it the Windows way

Microsoft’s main problem with Windows stems from its lack of interoperability between Windows and other operating systems.  While Windows always plays well with Windows (and other Microsoft products), it rarely plays well with other OSes.  In fact, Microsoft effectively forces the other OSes and devices to become compatible with Windows.  Apple has been the one exception to this with many of their products.  Apple has managed to keep their own proprietary devices mostly off of Windows (with the exception of the iPhone and iPods).   Even Apple has had to succumb to the pressures of Microsoft (with certain products) and compete in the Microsoft world even when Apple has its own successful operating system.  Note, however, that Apple’s softwares on Windows leave a lot to be desired as far as full compatibility goes.

 Microsoft has an initiative to allow open source projects access to deeper Microsoft technologies to allow for better compatibility between open source projects and Windows.  There’s two sides to this ‘access’.  The first is that it does help open source projects become more compatible.  On the other side, the developer must sign certain legal agreements that could put the open source project in jeopardy if Microsoft were to press the legal agreements.   So, to get the interoperability, it becomes a double-edged sword.

The tide is turning

Microsoft’s somewhat dwindling installations of Windows, lack of quality control and bungling of major products may lead more and more people away from Microsoft to more stable devices.  But, the market is fickle.  As long as people continue to generally like Microsoft products and solutions, Microsoft will never be gone.

Note, you can follow my Twitter ramblings here.

The Microsoft Botch

Posted in botch, microsoft, redmond, windows by commorancy on January 14, 2009

Well, what can I say?  Microsoft has been one series of botch jobs after another recently.  I guess every company goes through a spate of problems, but this series of problems seems a bit excessive (and avoidable). Consider that Windows ME more or less started the botches (ignoring Microsoft Bob).  But, after ME they had the successful 2000 and XP series… then Vista.  Vista is the albatross that Microsoft would like to soon forget.  But, that’s not all of their problems.  We’ll come back to Vista.  

The Office botch

Office 2008 for the Mac has been a huge bust (just check the reviews on Amazon) by the users because of the lack of VBA (among other compatibility issues).  Then, there’s Office 2007 for Windows, which some developer in their infinite wisdom decided to use Microsoft Word’s HTML parser to render HTML emails!  So, when you’re viewing HTML emails in Outlook 2007, there are page breaks!  I’ll say that again, “page breaks”.  You read that correctly.  Since when does anyone paginate web sites?  What makes Microsoft think that people want to see web pages paginated?

That doesn’t even take into account the entire GUI change they made between Office 2003 and Office 2007.  Sure, 2007 is supposed to look modern and streamlined.  But, instead, the new GUI ends up with a huge learning curve and is basically incompatible with previous versions of Office.  Instead of doing actual work, now you have to chase down the function you need because it’s not where it used to be. The addition of the stupid round Windows Flag button instead of an actual menu bar is completely assinine design.  Let’s hope that whomever thought up that innovation no longer works in Redmond.  There are some things that just need to be user tested and this product clearly wasn’t.

The Zune botch

Consider the Zune 30GB had a leap year bug that caused the entire unit to completely freeze up.  This required the owners to wait until the battery completely drained to reset the unit.  That and wait until after the new year, otherwise it would refreeze.

The infamous Xbox 360 overheating botch

To this date, Microsoft STILL has no clue what’s causing the issue or how to resolve it.  They *think* it’s related to heat so they’ve added a heat sink to try and help the issue.  Even still, they had to take a huge financial hit and extend the Xbox 360 warranty out to 3 years from its original 1 year.  

The Origami botch

“What was Origami”, you ask?  Nuff’ said.  If you really want to know, read this Wiki article.

Tablet Computers

Um, where are they today?  No where. People don’t want to lug tablets around.  They didn’t want to lug them when Grid was around.  What made Microsoft think people would want to lug them around 10 years later?  Oh right, I guess they thought they would because that oh-so-heavy tablet was running such a wonderful touch screen version of Windows.  Doh!

The IE7 botch

Ignoring Microsoft’s constant security flaws as a botch job, although some of them certainly qualify, another is Microsoft’s decision to remove the ability to uninstall IE7 after you install Service Pack 3 (SP3) on XP.  So, for an IE repair that should have taken all of about 15 minutes, you’re now saddled with the task of whipping out the Windows installation media and running repair on the entire operating system (broken or not).  Thanks Microsoft.

Note that Microsoft’s justification for this IE change stems apparently from some files that SP3 installs.  The SP3 installer may overwrite either IE7 or IE6 files that, were Microsoft to allow removal of IE7, might leave the system in an unstable state if you were to use IE6.  Well, hello, you guys wrote the software!! So, instead of actually taking the time to write SP3 properly to still allow software removal of IE7, you take the easy way out and leave the system owner saddled with a huge task just to repair IE7 when it breaks.

Why does this matter?  Been living in a cave?  IE7 is not completely stable.  Much of the time the search provider installation process doesn’t work.  You try and you get ‘Errors on page’ and the search providers cannot be loaded.  Then you have the ‘Save Your Settings’ problem.  Once you install IE7, it asks to save default settings.  Yet, much of the time this process won’t save settings and always continues to present this panel on startup.  I’ve searched and searched and have been unable to find a workable solution to either the search provider or the save defaults issues.  The ONLY workable solution (uninstall/reinstall) was conveniently taken away by Microsoft in their infinite wisdom.  So, instead of a 15 minute fix, it now takes 2-3 hours to completely repair the system, reinstall windows updates and test everything.  Of course, it is possible to remove SP3, but at what risk to the system?  These things rarely work once you’ve installed apps on top of the system after an SP is installed.  In other words, be prepared to have things begin breaking and applications to need to be reinstalled.

The bottom line is that Microsoft made this change to make things easy for Microsoft.  For the end user, however, they will now incur high priced repair bills simply because Microsoft decided to make things easy for themselves.

The Vista botch

Well, what can be said about Vista that hasn’t already been said?  Vista has so many user interface problems, lackluster performance, the overreaching and underperforming Aero system and the constant flickering between various modes and resolutions that make Vista seem more like Windows 3.1 than it does a mainstream OS.   Combine this with constant driver issues, Vista is completely unsuable for any real purpose.  You’re forever repairing it instead of actually using it.  Vista also requires a hefty powered system to even perform decently.  So, it’s no wonder businesses didn’t adopt it.

Combine all of this with the marketing of Vista, it’s just been a disaster.  For whatever reason, Microsoft decided to put out 5-8 different version of Windows Vista… 3-4 of which were targeted at home consumers.  This is more confusing for consumers than it is helpful.  This should have been paired down to 1 to at most 2 versions.  Consumers don’t want 4 choices in an OS.  They also don’t want to pay $400 for an operating system.  Yet more botch.

Windows 7 botch or not?

If Microsoft adopts Vista’s codebase to build Windows 7, this product will be no better than Vista and will likely end up being yet another botch.  Vista’s codebase for the driver subsystem is a complete disaster (and continues to be a problem even as of this blog article).  By taking Vista’s codebase for Windows 7, Microsoft ensures that Windows 7 will be just as problematic as Vista.  The interface is only half of Vista’s problem.  People can overlook the GUI learning issues when the components under the hood simply work.  But, they don’t.  For example, one of the most significant problems that Vista suffers from is “Display Driver has stopped responding and recovered”.  Ok, now what is this?  We’ve never ever had this issue before.  Granted, maybe it prevents the blue screen of death, but having the display driver stop responding means what exactly?  And, why is it now that the video drivers are just now having this problem.  Using Vista’s codebase practically assures this issue to contiinue in Windows 7.  So, 7 will end up just as driver problematic is Vista.

Suffice it to say that Microsoft is going through a bad way.  Perhaps they’ve had an exodus of people who actually knew where to take things. But, Windows has become such a bloated hodge-podge piece of trash, I don’t know if Microsoft can honestly salvage it.  Vista and Windows 7 may end up being the death knell for this operating system.  By Microsoft basically botching their two flagship products (Office and Windows), I don’t know if they will be able to recover easily.  Combine this with stupid programming mistakes (like the Zune) and clearly, Microsoft has major internal issues that need to be addressed.

Whatever the issue, I don’t see this botch trend ending any time Zune (pun intended).

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