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Microsoft WinXP Update spies on other PC software
The Inquirer ^ | Tuesday 25 February 2003 | Inquirer Staff

Posted on 02/26/2003 8:46:56 AM PST by Knitebane

Software components reported to Vole Central

By INQUIRER staff: Tuesday 25 February 2003, 14:21

A REPORT ON a German site claims that Microsoft extracts more information from a person's PC when the update Windows facility is used running the WinXP operating system.

According to tecCHANNEL, it has deciphered which data is transferred to Microsoft Central whenever you connect to its update web site.

The site's tecDUMP utility intercepts messages which were deciphered in the course of an exchange with Microsoft.

And, the site claims, the information can pass on to Microsoft a list of all of the software installed on an individual's computer, including software manufactured by other manufacturers.

According to tecCHANNEL, this information is more extensive than is necessary for the purpose. The site said Microsoft has not yet replied in detail to its concerns about passing sensitive data.

The story starts here. µ


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: computers; operatingsystems; privacy; spyware; update; windows
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Here's a way to confirm who the idiots are. Tell people about this. Those that act surprised that Microsoft would spy on them are the idiots.

I mean, really. Who didn't expect this?

1 posted on 02/26/2003 8:46:56 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: rdb3
For your ping list
2 posted on 02/26/2003 8:48:25 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Knitebane
It's been known for sometime that Windows XP is spyware. I've read a number of articles on this topic.

In fact, I've spoken to someone who had WinXP on their system. One day, this person got a letter from Microsoft's legal department, stating that they knew he had illegal software on his system, and threatening legal action.

His first thought was "WTF? How do they know what I have on my computer?" Then it dawned on him - he'd recently installed WinXP.

He promptly formatted his HD, and is now running Windows 2000.
3 posted on 02/26/2003 8:53:46 AM PST by holymoly
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To: Knitebane
Looking at the data that was uploaded, appears to be information concerning the hardware of the PC. This would be stuff like chipset revisions, soundcard info, motherboard and support components.

Why would MS need this? Easy, to determine who, if any PC vendors are NOT supplying WHQL lab reports back to MS for Windows certification. MS is blamed for everything that goes wrong with your PC. But, if your motherboard uses a chip that MS has never heard of, and your internet connection is flaky ... who get's blamed? Wal-mart, Tiger Direct, or the back alley store that sold you a non-windows conformant PC, or Microsoft? Naturally, it is a software problem, and therefore it's all Microsoft's fault.

I work in this industry. You wouldn't believe how many motherboard manufacturers there are, and how many thousands of support chips are on the market (IDE, SCSI, Ethernet controllers, memory controllers, DMA controllers, Video cards, etc.). The motherboard suppliers are SUPPOSED to run WHQL tests from MS to verify that their board is compliant with Windows specifications, and if there are deviations, apply to MS for a waiver. This is voluntary.

How else can MS gather the data, to support the non-savvy PC buyer, who is looking more at buying a low cost PC; than buying a fully compliant name brand PC?
4 posted on 02/26/2003 8:59:37 AM PST by Hodar (American's first. .... help the others, after we have helped our own.)
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To: Hodar
How else can MS gather the data, to support the non-savvy PC buyer, who is looking more at buying a low cost PC; than buying a fully compliant name brand PC?

By asking users to voluntarily provide information for their database.

Instead Microsoft takes data from users PCs while claiming that they don't.

How odd that NetBSD, FreeBSD and numerous Linux distributions can support many, many more hardware configurations than Microsoft does yet none of them feel the need to spy on users.

5 posted on 02/26/2003 9:05:38 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: holymoly
He promptly formatted his HD, and is now running Windows 2000.

That won't save him. Win2K SP3 includes a EULA that authorizes Microsoft to install any software they wish on your PC as well as delete any software that they find objectionable.

6 posted on 02/26/2003 9:08:01 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: John Robinson; B Knotts; stainlessbanner; TechJunkYard; ShadowAce; Knitebane; AppyPappy; jae471; ...
The Penguin Ping.

Wanna be Penguified? Just holla!

Got root?

7 posted on 02/26/2003 9:08:22 AM PST by rdb3 (The sounds of the "Three" from the C-L-V)
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To: Knitebane
(Insert B2k drunken Belushi like screaming fit about how gates/MS is god here)
8 posted on 02/26/2003 9:14:28 AM PST by isthisnickcool
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To: Hodar
"How else can MS gather the data, to support the non-savvy PC buyer, who is looking more at buying a low cost PC; than buying a fully compliant name brand PC? "

As long as I know the data is being extracted from my PC, what type of data and I have given permission then fine. To extract any information without my consent is wrong.

9 posted on 02/26/2003 9:14:46 AM PST by Wurlitzer
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To: Hodar
"Looking at the data that was uploaded, appears to be information concerning the hardware of the PC. This would be stuff like chipset revisions, soundcard info, motherboard and support components.
"

I looked at the data as well. It is data, not on non-Microsoft software, but rather data on hardware drivers for the most part, focusing on the dates of those drivers.

Now, the user went to Microsoft to get an update to his version of Windows XP. Microsoft checked the dates for the drivers installed on the particular machine then, presumably, updated those for which there was an update.

I saw nothing there that looked at non-Microsoft software programs or much of anything else.

How does a company update your system without knowing what is currently installed on that system? A lot of ado about nothing much, it seems to me.

Now, if you try to get an update for an unlicensed copy of XP or for an unlicensed copy of Office, then I suppose Microsoft would be a bit upset and not give you the update.

But I don't see them spying on anything other than the versions and dates of Microsoft software installed on that PC.
10 posted on 02/26/2003 9:18:52 AM PST by MineralMan
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To: Knitebane
How odd that NetBSD, FreeBSD and numerous Linux distributions can support many, many more hardware configurations than Microsoft does yet none of them feel the need to spy on users.

Again, I work in the industry. We test both these, plus Novell and every flavor of Linux on the market. And these solutions also compromise less than 1% of the PC marketshare.

Also, FreeBSD and NetBSD are simply basic OS's, in that they do not pioneer multimedia applications. DirectX (8.1 or 9), OpenGL, plus the whole gauntlet of audio standards are included in MS. And MS must, repeat MUST support a plethora of games and applications; that are not available on FreeBSD or NetBSD.

11 posted on 02/26/2003 9:19:59 AM PST by Hodar (American's first. .... help the others, after we have helped our own.)
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To: Knitebane
This is just the sort of thing that got me started looking into Linux last year. It's been about six months now and I still haven't got Linux fully working on my old Pentium I, but I'm sure I'll be able to iron out all the installation glitches pretty soon. It's also running quite nicely on my old 486.

I'm going to be buying a new computer this spring and I'm not going to buy M$ operating system for it. I'm just going to put a 2 GB partition on the hard drive and install Win95 again to give me some compatibility with old dos programs that I use a lot. The rest of the space will be for Linux.

This prying into your computer by M$ is only the first salvo in a long war that Bill Gates intends to win. IMO his eventual goal is to be receiving a yearly rent check from every computer user in the world for the continuing use of their computer. He won't be receiving a check from me, that's for sure.

Check out Linux. You can get a CD for $5 on Ebay (or download it for free if you have a fast connection). It takes some work and lots of reading, so don't expect it to fire up and run just right the first day. But I think you'll find it worth it in the future.

12 posted on 02/26/2003 9:22:35 AM PST by Siegfried
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To: holymoly
We have Windows XP and were advised to download a Service Pak because of security holes. But, I wasn't aware of this spying capability. You mean if I buy software which is not Microsoft, they have the right to threaten me?
13 posted on 02/26/2003 9:23:35 AM PST by stanz
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To: MineralMan
But I don't see them spying on anything other than the versions and dates of Microsoft software installed on that PC

I agree. In this case, it appears that Microsoft is 'fishing' for obsolete or incompatable 3rd party drivers.

14 posted on 02/26/2003 9:28:18 AM PST by Hodar (American's first. .... help the others, after we have helped our own.)
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To: Knitebane
Would your advice be to stick with win2k service pack2? Is service pack3 (which I use) necessary?
15 posted on 02/26/2003 9:29:22 AM PST by dennisw ( http://www.littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/weblog.php)
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To: Hodar
Also, FreeBSD and NetBSD are simply basic OS's, in that they do not pioneer multimedia applications. DirectX (8.1 or 9), OpenGL, plus the whole gauntlet of audio standards are included in MS. And MS must, repeat MUST support a plethora of games and applications; that are not available on FreeBSD or NetBSD.

Xmms and mplayer support more hardware and more multimedia codecs than MS or Real.

The GIMP is used to make Hollywood movies. OpenGL is supported by Linux and FreeBSD. Most Windows games run perfectly fine under Wine. I've been playing both StarCraft and Diablo II for months under Linux. Indeed, Diablo II runs better under Wine on Linux than on Windows.

Sorry, your assertations don't hold up to reality.

Microsoft operating systems work on a single platform and support a fraction of the hardware devices being sold. The vast majority of x86 compatible hardware is well-documented and is well supported on operating systems other than Windows.

The Windows API is not well documented. Therein lies the problem. Stealing customer data will not help Microsoft to better support users. It will let them target software companies for destruction and let them sell the lists to marketing companies.

16 posted on 02/26/2003 9:29:53 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Knitebane
How odd that NetBSD, FreeBSD and numerous Linux distributions can support many, many more hardware configurations than Microsoft does yet none of them feel the need to spy on users.

I run a Linux box and a Windows 2000 box at home. I like them both so I really don't have a dog in this fight. However, my experience is that Windows is much more supportive of varying hardware than the X86 versions of Linux. Linux is getting better, but it's still not as tolerant as Windows when it comes to hardware support.

Also, I have my Linux box (Redhat 8.0) set up so that it can automatically sense any new software patches and upgrades when I run in root mode. So in one sense, Redhat "spies" on my system configuration just as Microsoft "spies" on my Windows 2000 configuration.

17 posted on 02/26/2003 9:33:58 AM PST by DallasMike
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To: stanz
No, this is the stuff of Urban Legends.

Everyone knows of a neighbor's cousin's ex-roommate's son-in-law's friend's ex-classmate that says that he received a threatening letter from MS. The rules of illegal search without a warrant still apply.

Furthermore, in my line of work, we have THOUSANDS of machines, in which we load THE SAME program (OS, Game, Apps, Utilities) over and over. We do NOT register as the legit entity we are, because we want to emulate the user's experience. We do this to find bugs. I personally reload hard drives 3-4x a week with every program you can imagine. We do this on different revisions of Mobo's, chipsets, and such.

How would MS be able to seperate us, from you? We don't register as the company; as that may somehow cause the program to behave differently.

The PC is your property. You have more to fear from the DCMA than from MS.
18 posted on 02/26/2003 9:34:10 AM PST by Hodar (American's first. .... help the others, after we have helped our own.)
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To: Hodar
"I agree. In this case, it appears that Microsoft is 'fishing' for obsolete or incompatable 3rd party drivers."

In this case....but we don't have another case. This is another of those stories that _seems_ to say that Microsoft is doing something awful, but when you look at the actual data used to demonstrate that, it doesn't show anything of the sort.

It's not tough to monitor what goes out over your internet connection. I do it myself occasionally when I'm looking at a suspect web site. If Microsoft were truly doing what this article says, then they should be able to demonstrate it. That their data shows nothing of the sort indicates to me that they're blowing smoke for some reason.

I wonder how many of those who will comment on this will actually look at the data?
19 posted on 02/26/2003 9:35:04 AM PST by MineralMan
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To: Siegfried
IMO his eventual goal is to be receiving a yearly rent check from every computer user in the world for the continuing use of their computer.

Not just your opinion. Licensing 6.0 is moving that direction already.

Except for a VMWare copy of Win2K on my laptop, I am Microsoft free. I run RedHat Linux on two desktops and one laptop, FreeBSD on my x86 servers, OpenBSD on my Sparc servers and security devices and NetBSD on everything else.

To date, the only thing that requires me to use Windows at all is a VB/Access app at one of my customer sites. Office, including Visio, work well under Codeweavers Wine.

20 posted on 02/26/2003 9:35:10 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: MineralMan
>>>How does a company update your system without knowing what is currently installed on that system?

Easy the PC downloads the latest list and compares it with what is installed on the PC. The PC then downloads what it needs. No one needs to know anything else about your pc except the updates for program xxx were downloaded. The updates can then check to see if the installed software is legit and not update if it isn't. ms needs to know nothing about your PC or you.

Penguin works this way. You download a list of the latest, compare with your installed, decide what you want to update. Download updates. World is in your hands, not ms.

Some penguin updating subscriptions can work similar to ms, but don't have to. If you have access to the ftp directory (paid for a password) where the files are, you just download what you want/need.

snooker
21 posted on 02/26/2003 9:35:39 AM PST by snooker
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To: Siegfried
It's been about six months now and I still haven't got Linux fully working on my old Pentium I, but I'm sure I'll be able to iron out all the installation glitches pretty soon.

I like Linux and use Redhat 8 on one of my machines at home but this sentence sums up why Linux is still mostly used by computer geeks: it's hard to configure. Every release gets much, much better but I still wouldn't recommend Linux to the average home user.

22 posted on 02/26/2003 9:37:41 AM PST by DallasMike
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To: holymoly
I still run WIN982E so I think I'm Ok. The few times an MS update tries to launch, I intercede and cancel it.

I've been thinking if this MS tack continues, I will invest the time to change over to LINUX. Saw a Lindows system the other day and it has all the functionality and feel of my present computer. Tempting.
23 posted on 02/26/2003 9:38:12 AM PST by Hostage
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To: Knitebane
I suspect extracting info on installed programs is part of M$'s efforts to develop information on which segments of the software market to attack next. Like they are with Media Player and built-in CD burning and their MovieMaker util.

They can look at just the games you've installed and develop info on which games they should develop for particular market segments.
24 posted on 02/26/2003 9:38:34 AM PST by George W. Bush
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To: DallasMike
So in one sense, Redhat "spies" on my system configuration just as Microsoft "spies" on my Windows 2000 configuration.

Wrong. You spy on your system, just like MS spies on your Windows system. You set it up--not RH. However, on Windows, Microsoft set up the spyware.

There is a huge difference there.

25 posted on 02/26/2003 9:42:08 AM PST by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: DallasMike
Also, I have my Linux box (Redhat 8.0) set up so that it can automatically sense any new software patches and upgrades when I run in root mode. So in one sense, Redhat "spies" on my system configuration just as Microsoft "spies" on my Windows 2000 configuration.

Nope. RedHat's RHN service running on your PC downloads a list of all available updates from RedHat's servers, then your system decides what to install.

26 posted on 02/26/2003 9:46:10 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Hodar
No, this is the stuff of Urban Legends. Everyone knows of a neighbor's cousin's ex-roommate's son-in-law's friend's ex-classmate that says that he received a threatening letter from MS. The rules of illegal search without a warrant still apply.

Not quite

27 posted on 02/26/2003 9:49:08 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Siegfried
When it gets to be that it fires up right away is when people will start using it. I have too many other things to spend my time on then to fidle with an OS, when Windows XP does everything I ask of it.

I'll be glad to switch if and when it gets as easy as windows with all the applications I need.
28 posted on 02/26/2003 9:52:32 AM PST by The FRugitive
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To: Knitebane
Most Windows games run perfectly fine under Wine.

Will you please cite a few examples of games that you, personally, have run perfectly fine or seen running perfectly fine with Wine? Thanks.

29 posted on 02/26/2003 9:52:56 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Gathering needed info to abandon MSloth)
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To: Knitebane
...Other than StarCraft and Diablo II...
30 posted on 02/26/2003 9:54:42 AM PST by ArrogantBustard (Gathering needed info to abandon MSloth)
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To: Hodar
I couldn't imagine a scenario like that occurring, but I have very little experience as a PC owner. Thanks for the advice.
31 posted on 02/26/2003 9:59:58 AM PST by stanz
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To: DallasMike
it's hard to configure.

Having used RedHat since 4.2, I can understand where this idea that Linux is hard to install has come from.

But having recently upgraded to RedHat 8.0, I'm surprised that people are still saying it.

My machine has an IDE hard drive and CDROM, an nVidia video card, a Hauppage WinTV card, an old BusLogic SCSI card with an external Yamaha CDR and a cheap SoundBlaster PCI sound card.

The standard install detected all of my hardware. In order to use my video card's advanced capabilities, I had to install two RPMs (rpm -ivh nvidia*) and edit two lines in a config file.

I've recently installed WinXP on a client's desktop. It was a much more tedious process than a RedHat 8.0 install.

32 posted on 02/26/2003 10:00:56 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Knitebane
Previous versions of WindowsUpdate explicity stated that no information was being sent to Microsoft. That little disclaimer is no longer used.
33 posted on 02/26/2003 10:04:31 AM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: ArrogantBustard
Let's see...

Wing Commander IV, Half-Life, Unreal Tournament, Civilization Call to Power, MiG 29 Fulcrum, Silent Service II, WarCraft, The Sims, the latest Mechwarrior....

Those I have either played myself under Wine or seen them played under Wine.

For a better list of games that run under Wine, try Wine HQ and check out their application database.

34 posted on 02/26/2003 10:06:09 AM PST by Knitebane
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To: Knitebane
Win2K SP3 includes a EULA that authorizes Microsoft to install any software they wish on your PC as well as delete any software that they find objectionable.

Not only that, but you have to agree that it's OK for the updates to arbitrarily break any application. "DOS isn't done until Lotus won't run" used to be a scandal--now it's a way of life that you must agree to if you want bug fixes for your MS OS.

35 posted on 02/26/2003 10:06:44 AM PST by jejones
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To: ArrogantBustard
I'm not a gamer myself, so the best I could do is point you at the Transgaming web site. A quick look at their home page turns up Warcraft III, Grand Theft Auto 3, Civilization III, and Black and White. (Note that Transgaming's version of WINE is a commercial product.)
36 posted on 02/26/2003 10:40:41 AM PST by jejones
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To: jejones
Bummer... Command & Conquer games seem to be somewhat of a problem...
37 posted on 02/26/2003 10:54:19 AM PST by ArrogantBustard
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To: Hodar
"The rules of illegal search without a warrant still apply."

Only to government & police agenencies.
38 posted on 02/26/2003 12:19:10 PM PST by holymoly
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To: Knitebane
Nope. RedHat's RHN service running on your PC downloads a list of all available updates from RedHat's servers, then your system decides what to install.

That's exactly what Microsoft's service does!

39 posted on 02/26/2003 1:44:51 PM PST by DallasMike
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To: Knitebane
The standard install detected all of my hardware. In order to use my video card's advanced capabilities, I had to install two RPMs (rpm -ivh nvidia*) and edit two lines in a config file.

That's easy for you and easy for me, but most users wouldn't have a clue as to how to do such a thing. I anticipate that within 2 years RedHat and the other major Linux installations will be easier to configure than Microsoft and that Microsoft will be adopting Linux solutions to their own problems. We've already seen that tact taken with the .NET programming languages which, if used correctly, can eliminate DLL Hell caused by COM registry issues. IMHO, COM was designed by a demon.

40 posted on 02/26/2003 1:50:14 PM PST by DallasMike
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To: ArrogantBustard
They have Tiberian Sun and Red Alert and they're testing Red Alert 2 now.

One would hope that Yuri's Revenge will follow shortly after RA2. Yuri is high on my list personally. I don't want to switch without it. Been playing it too long to stop, I guess.
41 posted on 02/26/2003 3:54:15 PM PST by George W. Bush
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To: MineralMan
How does a company update your system without knowing what is currently installed on that system?

Well, they could ask. However, according to MS you are nobody and they can do what they please with your computer.

I wonder what would happen to MS products if they put on the box nice and big "By buying this you give us the right to snoop into whatever you have and do whatever we please with your system". That is what they are doing and they should have to get a signed release if that is what they are going to do.

42 posted on 02/26/2003 8:01:25 PM PST by gore3000
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To: Hodar
Everyone knows of a neighbor's cousin's ex-roommate's son-in-law's friend's ex-classmate that says that he received a threatening letter from MS. The rules of illegal search without a warrant still apply.

Garbage. They still do it, they even put it in their EULA's where no one will read it. We have all seen MS programs 'call home'. IE does it all the time, so does MS Media Player. This is well documented.

43 posted on 02/26/2003 8:06:34 PM PST by gore3000
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To: Knitebane
I've recently installed WinXP on a client's desktop. It was a much more tedious process than a RedHat 8.0 install.

It certainly is easy. I use Mandrake and in less than a half hour you have your internet set up, your printer going, your video running and what you do not get in windows - you have hundreds of programs ready to run with just a click. All that in less than a half hour and you do not have to worry about viruses.

44 posted on 02/26/2003 8:14:44 PM PST by gore3000
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To: gore3000
Fine, if you want to believe that MS is very concerned about your computer; go right ahead. Who am I to persuade you otherwise. I mean, I'm just a lowly R&D engineer working in the computer industry for the past 10 years.

How else would you propose your software be kept current? New drivers come out, updates to DirectX, OpenGL, and new media types emerge fairly frequently. Security holes are found, and macro-virus's are written.

Please note, you have the OPTION of not allowing the update. If you chose not to, it's your machine, your financial information, and your property that is at risk; not mine.

Funny, isn't it; that despite a worldwide 'spy' network in MS, there isn't a single case against MS for invading privacy. Realnetworks (Real Player)got ding'd, so have a few others. But not MS.
45 posted on 02/27/2003 6:28:02 AM PST by Hodar (American's first. .... help the others, after we have helped our own.)
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To: DallasMike
That's exactly what Microsoft's service does!

Wrong. Did you even bother to read the article?

46 posted on 02/28/2003 4:22:15 PM PST by Knitebane
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To: DallasMike
That's easy for you and easy for me, but most users wouldn't have a clue as to how to do such a thing.

What part of advanced features didn't you understand?

Most people may not have a clue about how to do such a thing, but then, most users won't ever need to. The video card works normally for the majority of purposes just fine with the default drivers, including high resolution, color depth, virtual desktops, OpenGL and anti-aliased fonts.

I export my TV output to a web server so that others on my network can watch TV. This requires some advanced video drivers.

I anticipate that within 2 years RedHat and the other major Linux installations will be easier to configure than Microsoft and that Microsoft will be adopting Linux solutions to their own problems.

Linux installation is already easier than Microsoft.

We've already seen that tact taken with the .NET programming languages which, if used correctly, can eliminate DLL Hell caused by COM registry issues. IMHO, COM was designed by a demon.

.NET is no better. .NET retains all of COMs problems and introduces many new ones. This is commonly called "backward combatibility" and is generally considered to be a bad thing. Of course, as with all of the other bad things Microsoft has done, they don't seem to care.

47 posted on 02/28/2003 4:29:58 PM PST by Knitebane
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To: Siegfried; Bush2000
Re: "It takes some work and lots of reading, so don't expect it to fire up and run just right the first day. But I think you'll find it worth it in the future." 12 posted on 02/26/2003 11:22 AM CST by Siegfried

Funny, you should say that. I just this afternoon pulled a Windows XP hard drive and replaced it with a brand new 40GB Maxtor. I used my just arrived 3 disk set of Mandrake 9.0 and installed it in less than thirty minutes. I am still trying to configure it, but it is up and running and everything (Mozilla browser and email) seems to work. In fact I am using it now while listening to Quinn with the XMMS player.

Yes, I have a way to go to learn it and to use it to its advantages, but as of now my total experience with Linux is less than five hours. It may become my default OS.

Eat your heart out Bush2000!

48 posted on 02/28/2003 5:29:59 PM PST by rw4site
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To: All; Bush2000
I can't believe it. Shortly after my post #48, I began to have a "bush200.com" web site take over my browser. I would kill it and it would return within a short time.

Is it possible that linux can be controlled by someone (not necessarily Bush2000) hacking me to prove their point that Linux is also vulnerable? Odd! BTW, I'm running with a cable modem into a Linksys BEFSR42 ver. 2 Router into a four port hub, then to my PC.

Any help with answers will be greatly appreciated. Like I said. I am in the beginning stage and I have much to learn.

49 posted on 02/28/2003 6:28:42 PM PST by rw4site
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To: rw4site
Heh heh heh ... ;-p
50 posted on 02/28/2003 6:55:36 PM PST by Bush2000
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