Techy: Microsoft’s losing me….


[Ellen Feiss]It seems “big bad” Microsoft is going to be losing me as a customer shortly. Whilst I’ve never been a great fan of theirs (I was sort of “forced” onto Microsoft platforms after the near collapse of RISC OS), I have used their systems as a primary desktop system for a few years now – however I try and run my servers on Linux as I don’t feel that Microsoft’s server platforms are stable enough yet-plus it works out a lot more cost-effective to have servers running something like Debian Linux than a single copy of Windows 2000 Server).

So far, Microsoft’s put me off them on the Instant Messenger and Web browser fronts, and I’m just hoping for a bit of time so I can clear down one of the harddrives in my main work machine and install Linux: ditching MS altogether…

First of all, I was experiencing some problems with MSN Messenger (random disconnects/showing online when it was in fact disconnect), so I upgraded from Messenger 4.6 to 5.0. Bad mistake! I had been using a nifty little program called IM’napper (by Chime Software) to help arrange all my Instant Messaging clients into one easy-to-use dockable window. The upgrade of MSN Messenger was no longer compatible with IM’napper πŸ™ Therefore, I ditched MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ and AOL Messenger and went for an “integrated” package capable of handling all 4 IM protocols in one piece of software. And that’s why Trillian has now become my “Instant Messenger Of Choice” – especially with the Compact skin!

That was around a fortnight ago…

At the end of last week, Microsoft released details of the “Buffer Overrun in MDAC could lead to Code Execution” bug and supplied a patch. I installed the patch and rebooted. Machine came back up, but Internet Explorer 6 wasn’t working correctly (it failed to render around 3/4 of any images on a page, wouldn’t load any CSS files etc etc), so I had to de-install IE6, roll-back as much as I could and then reinstall IE6. That didn’t make me happy to say the least! Plus I removed Microsoft themselves from the “Trusted Publisher” listed as they themselves said that software signed by Microsoft isn’t necessarily “safe” (see coverage from The Register or Slashdot). The following day, I had to then install ANOTHER security patch (this one about a major bug in Internet Explorer).

(Oh, and there was also a leaked paper about the UNIX to Windows 2000 Server HotMail conversion that was interesting to read at this point: again coverage is available via Slashdot and The Register).

But those weren’t the reasons I’ve stopped using Internet Explorer. Yesterday was. Basically, I had written a nice long blog entry about reindeer, had it all spellchecked and then went to upload it to my blog and Internet Explorer froze. It devoured my blog entry. And it was a really good blog entry. It’s kinda of a… bummer. (sorry, I couldn’t resist!) πŸ™‚

Alt-Tabbing didn’t help, and neither did the “three-finger-salute” (Control-Alt-Delete). It had managed to crash my whole machine and a hard-reboot was required (i.e. pressing the power button/reset button on the chassis of the computer itself: a soft-reboot is where the OS reboots the machine for you, but Windows just hangs when I try that anyway).

So I get a little bit frustrated. I reboot and wait for everything to come back up again (my PC takes around 5 minutes to reboot: it “stalls” when loading the MS Active Desktop – even though I’ve got nothing ‘active’ on it – or when loading a service). I decide to return an email to my “pet spammer” Jerry and include references to the books/TV series “The Rise and Fall Of Reginald Perrin – but going to this site and clicking on a link caused Internet Explorer to crash – and in a strange way. Everything else I had loaded (such as Mozilla) were still functioning correctly, but trying to close the crashed Internet Explorer windows just would not work. Right clicking on the IE buttons on the task-bar failed to bring up a menu, using “Task Manager” revealed that I had already killed all instances of Internet Explorer (IEXPLORER.EXE in the services list): so how were the pages still being displayed. I couldn’t close them, resize them or move them (therefore I couldn’t get to anything on my desktop) – plus the machine was beginning to start to come to a crawl (even though Task Manager said I was only using less than 15% of the processor). I decided to shut the machine down for the night (hence why the webcam wasn’t updating after midnight).

To me, if a webpage can crash an entire machine in such a manner, there is definitely something wrong with the web browser. Hence why I’m now typing this up in Mozilla and why I’ve just installed the latest beta of Opera. I am planning on migrating my desktop machine to Linux soon….

Whilst I’m on the subject, this page http://www.monkeys.com/break-ie.html (deliberately not linked for reasons that are about to become clear) manages to use a bit of Javascript to not only crash Internet Explorer, but Mozilla and Netscape as well! Oh, and around 5 minutes after shutting down my machine last night – it decided to reboot itself. Yep, I had powered it down, got ready for bed and then I headed downstairs just to grab a drink – I came back upstairs and I heard the “whirring” sounds of the hard drives and CDs coming up to speed – how and why my machine decided to reboot itself in such a manner I don’t know. I pressed and held the power button again, and again it shut down. Luckily it didn’t come back up again or I may have had to do a “major system shutdown” – isolating my entire home computer systems from the mains power and backup systems: I hope I never do need to that as I’ve set it up so whilst I can isolate my entire systems within 10 seconds (even though it’s protected against “accidental knocks” etc), it’ll take around 10 minutes to replug everything…

So, like the now “legendary in internet lore” Ellen Feiss, it looks like I’m going to be “switching” away from Microsoft: but onto Linux instead of Macs (1 button mice? Surely that’s a good enough reason not to buy a Mac on its own!).


3 responses to “Techy: Microsoft’s losing me….”

  1. Welcome to the dark side >;-). Windows is now the only MS program I use – OpenOffice is my Office program, Mozilla/Phoenix are my web browsers and email program, Trillian is my chat program (although at Uni I have to use MSN Messup after 6pm because it’s blocked (see my rant at http://www.neilturner.me.uk/archives/000118.html ).

    And if you don’t like 1 button mice, just get a Logitech mouse. They have 3+ buttons and a scroll wheel, and software to get the working on the Mac. The optical ones are the best ones to go for – I love my Logitech Pilot Mouse Optical. You don’t even need a mousemat for it :).

  2. I just don’t like Mac’s – the mouse is just my main complaint πŸ™‚ (oh, at the moment, I’m using a 4 button (+scroll wheel) mouse, got a spare 3 button (+scroll wheel) to my right, and got a old “plain” 3 buttoned mouse to my left – and I believe I’ve got a old-fashioned two buttoned somewhere behind me ).

    I’ve also got a “3M Precise Mousing Surface” mousemat (that I brought around 3 years ago for Β£10), so I’m going to make sure I use it πŸ™‚ It’s quite good though, even though the inital price does make you question your sanity.

    Yep, I was going to “trackback” you regarding Trillian, but you didn’t say as much as I thought you did so I couldn’t πŸ™ . No comment about the doctored Ellen Feiss photo? *sob*. I’m actually quite impressed with it myself (ok, some small “faults” show up in the big display) – a couple of times I’ve looked at the thumbnail and I could actually imagine her sitting her….But enough about that πŸ™‚

  3. Oh the wonderful world of Mickeysoft.

    Thank goodness I left all that behind me two years ago. Mandrake Linux (http://www.mandrakesoft.com) is my distro of choice.

    Unfortunately, at work I still have the Mickeysoft battle on the go. Ah well. I reckon in five years time it’ll be all Linux.

    Macs? Don’t like them much either. Too expensive. To me, it’s a bit like SUVs – overrated and underperforming.

    Get Linux!

    varange