Shifting Perception of Microsoft

I just finished reading an article about Microsoft’s antivirus offering. Due to my ongoing pain, exhaustion, and fuzzy-headedness, I will once again ask your forgiveness for my short, curt, and blunt sentences.

First, I’ve got a decent amount of experience as an end-user and as tech support with various antivirus (AV) products. I’m not a virus expert or a coder, but I know more than the average bear about viruses and their removal, as well as about different AV software. I’ve been following Microsoft’s offering and development for at least five years now.

Second, I recognize the various red flags that are put up about M$’s AV. “Do they purposely make their operating system insecure to sell additional security products?” “Won’t this make other security companies obsolete, putting them out of business? That sounds like monopoly behaviour.” Etc.

For expediency’s sake, I won’t go into a lot of detail about how M$ AV has fared in the past other than to say that it sucked. Windows Defender was piss-poor in beta and has improved, but I still don’t trust it. Combine this with my general distrust of Microsoft and their DRM, fierce anti-piracy, and privacy-invading systems and I think you’ve got an operating system best avoided if at all possible. That’s why I switched to Linux almost three years ago (following my beta testing of Vista) and now own a MacBook. I don’t like being treated like a criminal.

All that being said, there are a few new things on the M$ horizon. Windows 7 is simply a phenomenal operating system based on what I have seen so far. They keep telling me that it’s very similar to Vista under the hood, and maybe that’s true, but it just runs well. Way better than Vista. It makes me feel like they actually listened to customers rather than treating us poorly and assuming we’d happily pay to choke down whatever they deigned to throw to us. Over the last few years, they’ve relaxed their communications grip and allowed more blogging, more openness, and more honesty with the user community (and their relationship with developers has been good for quite some time). This leads to a more positive perception of them.

From what I read in the above-linked article, their AV is pretty solid now, and I think they have some good reasoning behind it. I dislike the idea of buying an insecure OS, but the more I learn about Windows development, the more I can accept its quirks and appreciate how they are working to correct the problem(s). I think they’re going about it the right way.

And to be perfectly honest, using Mac OS X, I’ve come to accept the dark side a bit more. I’m not so blindly hypocritical that I can’t realize the absurdity in bitching about M$ DRM and then accepting Apple with open arms. No one is more locked down than Apple. There’s a philosophical difference between the two, but the point stands: I am willing to accept certain restrictions because functionality and ease are superceding factors.

Vista wasn’t good enough to make up for its shortcomings. Windows 7 is, and when you bundle it with tight antispyware and antivirus software that makes it actually [more] secure out of the box like it’s supposed to be, that makes the operating system significantly more palatable.

Ever since they got trout-slapped in response to Vista, Microsoft has been working hard to clean up its act and woo users. Believe you me, I can be bought. Make me a shiny, solid, secure operating system and you might just get a user back.

Endnote:: The last sentence isn’t quite true. There’s an excellent chance I’ll run Windows 7 in a virtual machine at work to use Microsoft Outlook. I’ll keep Linux on my desktop and OS X on my MacBook. I do, and will, however have Windows 7 in Bootcamp on my Mac for gaming. There’s a decent chance I’ll even increase that partition by another 25gb come August to move World of Warcraft from the Mac to the Windows side, as I’m pretty sure it’ll perform better there. What I’m saying is, I don’t have Vista anywhere, nor will I. Windows 7 is acceptable, and Microsoft is whirming its way back onto my computers with their improved PR and OS.

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