Friday, May 08, 2009

Is Windows ready for the desktop?

Some people doubt Linux is ready for the desktop. What about Windows? Is Windows ready?

The answer is a clear NO. The problem is that maintaining a computer running Windows is too much work. Sure, it's not a problem if you make it a hobby. However, if you just want things to work and be safe, it's totally unacceptable.

Microsoft updates used to be a pain. I remember when updating XP required checking the Windows Update web site and rebooting multiple times. Nowadays, keeping Vista up to date is quite easy. However, Windows isn't very useful without third party software.

Updates for third party software come from many sources, and there is no consistency. Sometimes one has to uninstall the application, download a new copy, and reinstall it. Other times it's best to not uninstall. Sometimes the application has a built-in update check. Sometimes the company making the application has an updater program. Often, updaters don't work. For example, Java or Flash Player updaters never seem to find new versions. Even when updaters work, they're still a waste of resources; there's no need to have a process running constantly to keep a program up to date.

For example I just installed a Winamp update. The installer is relatively user-friendly. It detects what is currently installed and by default doesn't install what you didn't want before. However, I still had to check to make sure that it isn't installing new crap. Then there are a bunch of dialog boxes to go through. That was all for a minor and insiginificant update.

I wish everything came from a central repository and updated itself automatically.

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