Smoothwall Firewall project

Thursday 5 November 2009

Is ranting about Microsoft Windows on a par with being a religious zealot

Having studied evolutionary biology for most of my life, an interest I picked up in school, I have read a lot about many facets of the Theory, and one side junction from this is the concept of Memes. This has been described as a social/cultural equivalent to genetics and has many postive qualities that has helped the progress of Homo Sapians to evolve to our current state.

One simple example of this is the ability of parents to pass on to their children the concept that swimming with crocodiles is not a good idea for the families genetic advancement, but I think you get the picture. This has also been used as an example for the worldwide adoption of many types of religions that get handed down through the ages from parents to children with not an ounce of evidence but just firm beliefs.

This has led me on to thinking about some peoples rabid support for Microsoft Windows when the facts presented to everyone run completely contrary to the evidence. I would argue that it is Memes at play here , and I'm sure that Microsoft use this to their advantage. This post isn't going to bash Windows or put forward Linux per se, I use both and they both have there place. It just facinates me why people can firstly be so "religious" about an operating system - removing Microsofts huge PR campaigns for an instance. I have used Apples MAC OSX and it is a good system, it has some issues, but for a home user it has many advantages. It's one big draw back for me is the cost of the hardware, but thats just personal. I have used BSD, Solaris etc, and they are also good and have there place in the operating system eco system. I use Microsoft XP in a virtual machine for certain non-other-os applications, and it works fine in that role.

I choose to use Linux for many reasons, none of them fanatically idealogical. The first is that it is intellectually interesting to working within a software development environment where you can be actively involved, which I am. I talk regularly to many developers of many systems about issues and bugs, try doing that with Apple or Microsoft. The software that the various communities produce is of a very high standard and can be used in many interesting and diverse scenarios, with everything from running my desktop to type this blog post, to a mutli-million pound cloud infrastructure, all with the same basic building blocks. I also enjoy the freedom that the developers have to create many interesting and complete solutions to web based problems, just look at the most famous open source project of them all Firefox. They can just grab the components they want without worrying about costs or licenses, and I know personally that is a big plus for me.

I feel that people who enjoy the variety that the modern software world has to offer have open minds and are happy to explore new ideas and paradigms, and that the closed minds just follow the hurd into the same old ways of doing things, the Microsoft way. This is my experience and your mileage may vary, but how many MCSE's do you know would install an Apache Tomcat server to just get the job done, instead of trying to stear the entire project to use .NET?

It appears to boil down to one simple fact, that Microsoft got there first and have placed their Memes firmly in place, and like religion , it is going to take one hell of a lot of shifting. I feel with things like Andoid and Maemo people will see on their portable devices how good alterantives can be and this will start to break the mold. I also see Googles OS having a major impact to affect change in peoples minds, but it will not be quick or over night.

One thing is perfectly clear though, Redmond are not going to give in without a fight, and they know how to be extremely dirty when they have to. Anyone see the parallels here to jealous, religious zealots? I certainly do.

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