A look at: MikeOS 4.1.1 – A barebones OS written totally in Assembly.

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MikeOS and is application launcher, barebones and a wealth of learning to be had from experimenting!

With so many projects in the world of Tech, its very easy to spend time merely focusing on the most common apps/distros, be it Firefox, Chromium, Ubuntu, Fedora or discussions about Gnome3, Unity or other hot topics from recent news.

Today we are looking briefly at MikeOS which is a rather unusual project and at the same time one with plenty of scope and rather exciting for those who really do wish to try their hand at coding.

Created by Mike Saunders of Linux Format fame, MikeOS is a basic functioning OS written entirely in assembly language.  It appears to be aimed at getting users interested in coding (in particular at an assembly language level) and its got the potential to be a very rewarding experience and much fun for those of you who have never tried their hand at assembly language.  From the homepage. MikeOS offers:

  • A text-mode dialog and menu-driven interface
  • Boots from a floppy disk, CD-ROM or USB key
  • Over 60 system calls for use by third-party programs
  • File manager, text editor, image viewer, game…
  • Includes a BASIC interpreter with 27 instructions
  • PC speaker sound and serial terminal connection

The OS itself requires only a 386 with 1mb of ram and with its ISO coming in at around 1.8mb and upon boot which is measured in miliseconds, you are presented with a simplistic, but function application launcher.  I think its a given that MikeOS is not intending to be a viable desktop solution, but even though it has few features, its speedy and stable, which already makes it a challenger to Windows. ;)

The applications MikeOS come bundled with are a simple affair, amongst which contains a text editor which allows you to run txt files as Basic code, a Hangman game and various monitoring dumping utils.  Theres also a PCX viewer and a photo of MikeOS 4.1.1 proudly displayed by its creator (presumably).

The MikeOS home page is simplistic but functional and includes some rather good manuals for those interested in starting out with a little assembly language, there is also a manual for MikeOS Basic, which proudly boasts 27!, yes 27! instructions – More than enough to have you coding a Call of Duty clone in no time!!!! ;)  Joking aside its nice to see a Basic interpreter included as part of the MikeOS package.

One of the included binaries - Its hangman....guess the city!


I think you can guess from the introduction that MikeOS was very well recieved, this project has so many benefits to users, but most importantly from an educational viewpoint.  With it becoming easier and easier to get into development there are many people who will not have the solid grounding of coding a machine at a low level, the skills you will develop experimenting with MikeOS will serve you well whatever language/platform you settle on and its a shame that over the years in the race for easier and easier development, many have lost sight of the core processes that make a computer work.

I would hope you will not only support this project but experiment with it and further your own understanding of what exactly makes your PC work.  Download yourself a copy today, for some people this will be a series of firsts – looking at assembly language and firing up Nasm!

You can visit the MikeOS homepage here: http://mikeos.berlios.de/

Tim (Goblin)

If you are new to this blog (or have not yet read it) please take time to view the OpenBytes statement, here.

Mail: bytes4free@googlemail.com
Skype: tim.openbytes
I can also be found in #techrights, #techbytes on freenode.net.

Cloud over the IT world in 2010? – Survey results & what next for Windows?

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As we approach 2010 it appears a popular trend is Cloud computing. Will it take computing by storm and will Google's be the one to kick start a migration to the cloud? or could we be in for a storm?

As we end 2009, what will be the hot topic of 2010?

Regular readers to this blog will remember the questions I posed in regards to the resistance from some quarters about computing in the cloud.  My argument went something like this, if we are agreed that Microsoft Windows has the market share of the OS market and can agree that maybe one of the reasons its prone to so many security issues is because of that popularity, why do people have a fear of the cloud in relation to security of data?  If you read that article you may also remember the Microsoft advocate Andre Da Costa claiming that cloud computing was still a concept that was way in the future.

At the time I challenged this remark and stated that IMO this was always the claim with new tech/innovation when Microsoft were not at the forefront of it.  You can read that article here and before we proceed further, lets remind ourselves about what Andre Da Costa had to say about GoogleOS and cloud computing:

Everybody is saying its lame and Google is way ahead of its time. The fact that they are using this draconian measure of requiring specific hardware leaves much to be desired. If Google goes forward the two biggest losers will be Google and Linux. A web centric operating system is not viable today, next year, 5 years or even 10 years from now, because the ubiquity of an Internet infrastructure that Google is requiring for Chrome OS does not exist, even if there is a good internet infrastructure in some part of the world, its not completely reliable.

Of course if you are not indoctrinated into the world of Redmond the story is somewhat different and to me it appears that its only the advocates who believe that computing in the cloud is as far away as a secure Windows.  Its been reported on the net that as a result of a survey that cloud computing was one of the trends popular with companies.  Its grabbing the interest of enterprise and the home user?

Adam Bosnian had this say:

Almost any size of organisation can use public or private cloud resources and enjoy significantly enhanced economies of scale

You can read the entire article here: http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=conWebDoc.33924

So what does this mean for the masses?  In my opinion for most of us 2010 will be pretty much the same as it is now, we will continue to see Linux make in-roads into the mainstream desktop market (as well as the wealth of alternatives) and we will see a continued increase in Linux based hardware.  With GoogleOS hitting the streets next year, I think that this is why the cloud OS has been attacked and criticised by the Microsoft faithful.  They are worried.  With a name like Google and more people opening up to the concept of computing in the cloud one has to wonder where Windows will sit in all of this.

About mid 2009 I wrote an article entitled “Are games the last bastion of salvation for Windows?” and I think as we progress through 2010 this will become ever more true.  Whilst undoubtably hardcore PC gamers will choose a Windows based system, you have Wine going from strength to strength and many developers commenting that the PC market is getting harder to make the type of returns you see in the console sector (through piracy and a reluctance by some users to upgrade hardware just to play the latest releases)

Google has the brand name. Does it have the influence to convince people of a switch from traditional computing?

Where we’ve been, where we’ve come from and where we are headed?

I think the “mainstream” user was exposed (and had their mind opened to) alternative OS’s in the mobile phone market, we see popular devices offering a plethora of features that are not running a Windows OS.  Combine that with the reports of satisfied Apple Mac customers and the growing interest in Linux to see why maybe now more than ever people don’t consider PC==Microsoft (and are open to new concepts and solutions)

I don’t believe cloud computing is such a scary concept to users as it once was.  I remember in the days of dialup watching every minute online.  I remember an easier life when I first got broadband and now in 2010 most PC’s are connected to the net as soon as they are switched on and stay connected until they are powered down.  For those of you like me who’ve been about a while, I’d ask you to cast your mind back a little while.  Can you remember when the thought of “always connected” would fill you with horror and visions of cyber-attacks, hell and damnation and all manner of nightmares?

In 2008 the BBC wrote this article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7421099.stm which in my opinion echoed the same fears that many people have in regards to important data being held in a remote location.

I think Cloud computing will start with Google, not necessarily because it has a killer implementation (although that may be the case) but rather because it has the brand name to inspire confidence in the concept.

So what of Windows?  Could its closed source nature be eventually the death of it?  Quite possibly, one only has to look at the wealth of FOSS projects that are providing alternative solutions to many of Microsoft products.  Even Microsoft themselves are alleged to use GPL code (and allegedly violate it albeit by a third party)

Remember Mr Ballmer’s cancer comment in regards to Linux?

Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches

But then should we really pay any attention to him? he was alleged afterall to also say that Google was a house of cards and iPhone had no chance of getting a significant market share.  I bring this up since GoogleOS is built on Linux so its rather relevant that the first “mainstream” steps of this concept are being taken by that which Mr Ballmer seems to have a low opinion of.  Talking of cancer and IP,  I wonder if he would like to retract that since Microsoft China are alleged to have taken code from another companies product and attempted to use it as their own.  For more information on this, read the article here.

I think many people are ready to look at the concept of computing in the cloud.  Just don’t expect a realistic answer from a Microsoft advocate unless the solution is being offered by them (IMO)  Consider yourself how many apps you are already using that are based in “the cloud”.   I think you will be quite surprised and certainly for the mainstream users with their Facebook et al, many people already have their data stored remotely and don’t even think twice about it.

We all remember how Mr Ballmer IMO says something only for the exact opposite to happen.  Here is allegedly what Mr Ballmer has to say about ChromeOS in July and time will tell if its another “Google is a house of cards” type comment from the man who has unique idea’s about how to perform in public. Maybe this is why it was reported 40% of a poll by the Wall Street Journal don’t rate Mr Ballmer?  Its worth noting however that already he has the the first part of his comments wrong.  A year and a half?:

I will be respectful … Who knows what this thing is? To me, the Chrome OS thing is highly interesting … It won’t happen for a year and a half and they already announced an operating system … I don’t know if they can’t make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don’t need two client operating systems … It’s good to have one.

Read the full article here: http://www.geek.com/articles/news/ballmer-generates-laughter-with-chrome-os-comments-20090715/ I wonder if Mr Ballmer will be seemingly so flippant in 2010 when we see the first intended implementations of the ChromeOS?

Recent news on Cloud computing

Finally here are some points of interest in relation to Cloud Computing in recent weeks.

Cloud Computing Comes to Hong Kong –  http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/1208866

Fujitsu Unveils New Cloud Services for ISVs and Enterprises – http://tinyurl.com/y89gqlp

The Top 150 Players in Cloud Computing – http://cloudcomputing.sys-con.com/node/770174

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com


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Friday 13th might only be an unlucky day through superstition, however it may be more real for Microsoft.  It is being rumoured that the eagerly awaited Google OS is going to be released in the coming week.

A more comprehensive article (and the source of the reports) can be found at:


I bet this is one Friday the 13th Steve Ballmer will remember (if the rumour comes to fruition) and whilst on the subject of Steve Ballmer, lets remember an alleged remark he made in the past (in reference to Eric Schmidt leaving Microsoft for Google:

F##king Eric Schmidt is a f##king p#ssy. I’m going to f##king bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f##king kill Google.

You can see an article on that particular tirade here: http://battellemedia.com/archives/001835.php


Whilst the rest of the world is reporting leaving the recession, it appears the UK still has its issues.   That adds to the depressing figures of 2.46 million unemployed.  2000 CCJ’s in the first few months of the year and it seems that whilst the rest of the world are celebrating, the UK is lagging behind.

It is being reported that the government is proposing to give people wishing to file for bankruptcy the ability to do it online.  This proposal would remove the cost, which is intimidating, time consuming and costly.  Its hoped that decisions will be made within days rather than months with the new system.

Should it be made more simple to file for bankruptcy?  In my opinion, no and there are  many reasons why bankruptcy is not simply “wiping the slate clean”.


It is being reported that Windows 7 has not been received as well as the Microsoft PR machine (or any of its faithful) would like you to believe.  Peter Whatnell of Sunco is reported to have said:

Windows 7 runs like a champ on my personal netbook, but we don’t really need it,

and does that remind anyone of the series of articles I wrote asking about a killer feature or selling point that make the move from XP worth the money.  Does anyone remember I asked what on earth Windows 7 could do that I on a Linux platform couldn’t?  Of course the question was never answered properly here in my opinion and we even had a Microsoft employee comment.  You can re-read that here: https://openbytes.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/a-question-to-microsoft-whats-unique-about-windows-7/

You can read the CW article here: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9140660/Enterprises_like_don_t_love_Windows_7


Google is working on its own programming language called GO which has been (so far) two years in the making and aims to cater for simple app development without detrimental effects on performance.  Currently being internally tested, proof (for me anyway) that whilst IMO Microsoft scrambles to hold on to its many schemes, Google is making further inroads in multiple areas of IT.

CW talks about the missing features in Windows 7 starter might be a point of annoyance with purchasers (according to a survey).  You can read that here.

REVIEW: PCLinuxOS 2009.2

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Written by Chips B Malroy

Welcome to my review of PCLinuxOS 2009.2.  This is a 32 bit KDE desktop based on Mandriva, and as some like to call it, the better Mandriva.  Myself, I cannot say that, because I have not had the pleasure of testing Mandriva of late.   PCLinuxOS is also a live CD which makes testing easy to check to see if all your hardware works with it, before installing.  Myself, distro’s like this with their Live CD’s, have spoiled me, and I resist trying anything that is not a Live Cd.

PCLinuxOS - reviewed by Chips.  Hopefully one of many he will submit in the future!
PCLinuxOS - reviewed by Chips. Hopefully one of many he will submit in the future!

PCLinuxOS is currently at number 7 on the Distrowatch list, which means its a very popular distro indeed.  Being based on Mandriva it uses RPM’s, but still has Synaptic Package Manager to install software post-install.  This is one of the features that, in my opinion, that new users need, not that more advanced users would not use it also.   Texstar and the Ripper gang, are the ones who put out PCLinuxOS.  Texstar, can sometimes be found actually commenting on the forum, and answering questions.  Which is unusual for a distro’s maker, or founder, to do often, but I find it refreshing.  The users forum is one of the most friendly around, with lots of good advice.  They the PCLinuxOS community have done a great job of documentation.  User forum is at:

One nice small feature that I noticed right away during the live cd bootup, was the graphical log-in screen.  Unlike some distros, PCLinuxOS actually has the usernames and passwords for the live cd log-in on the upper left hand corner.  Now most distro’s usually use the same password as the user name, but occasionally I have found some that I had to go hunt it down in their forums, so this small feature, is a nice feature for New Users.    PCLinuxOS uses su instead of sudo, which is effident on the log-in screen.  My preference is su, yours may not be.

Abiword is what is installed, although with most distro’s you can post install OpenOffice or Koffice.  While I can use any of these, I actually like Abiword as its quicker to bring up and does 99% of what I want to do.   There is even an “get OpenOffice” item on the menu.  KDE 3.5.10 is the default window manager,  which will be the last version to use this before 4x.  Its just my personal preference he, but I prefer KDE version 3.5.10 at this point in time, and can wait for the next version of PCLinuxOS to come out with the KDE4x then.   Again, just my opinion, but I think Tex did it right to keep KDE3 with this release, for now.

Setting up the wireless card was not as straight forward as I would have liked it.   But then I did not read the documentation or visit the user forum.  I still muddled through it, and soon had it working.  It was a combination of right clicking on the network icon on the task bar, and somehow detecting the card, and then scanning for the available network.  It wasn’t really hard, just different than the ways I have done on the distro I use.  After being a dummy and going through that, I later found a folder on the desktop called Utilities, that had a very simple to use “network setup” in it that practically would have held my hand and walked me through the setup.  I just wasn’t expecting it to be this easy.  So I had to try it again, and can confirm it was that easy to setup.    The install to hard disk, another easy setup.

Firefox 3.0.11 web  browser came installed as well as Konqueror.   I liked the default selection of programs on the live cd, Gimp, Kaffeine, KMPlayer, DeVeDe, K3B to name a few.  But what impressed me the most was Make LiveCD menu selection.  While I don’t have time to try this right now, I do have plans to try it later.  It also has a Make LiveUSB menu selection as well.  It also had a nice video driver for ATI and Nvidia cards in the Utilities folder as well.  Mostly, this distro would hold  your hand at each and every step of the way, truly impressive, and it does everything but bark and fetch for you.   Its also a nice looking distro, very easy on the eyes.

In the past I have actually used PCLinuxOS version 93a for while on a spare laptop.  So its been awhile since I used it.  Back then there was about 5000 packages that could be post installed, now there is 11,000.  While this number might not compare with what is in the Debain repo’s, its still an impressive amount, and even back in the 93a version days, I noticed that Tex and the community did a great job of getting the best programs in the repo’s.  Also, they all seemed to just install was what I noticed back then too.

Final Opinion on PCLinuxOS

This might actually be the very best distro available for new users, and has features that make it a great distro for the rest of us as well.  Another distro that is similar to PCLinuxOS, are Mepis even though its Debian based.  Really, I can’t say I liked this distro, but I would say I loved it, that it exceeded what I thought possible that a Linux could do.   I would recommend PCLinuxOS to anyone, its made me a fan.  Now, on a negative note, what did I find that was wrong with PCLinuxOS?  You know I have to find something, even if its picky.  So don’t take it wrong PCLinuxOS community, but the number one thing I found wrong, is no 64 bit version.   Other than that its truly an outstanding job folks, please continue the hard work!    The polish and attention to detail in this distro is the best I have ever seen.

For those of you reading this who want to download this, here is the link:


This article was written by Chips B Malroy who will hopefully be a regular contributor to Openbytes!


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Review of 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Slackware based Linux distro.
Review of 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Slackware based Linux distro.

This distro was brought to my attention in the BN IRC room, and whilst my distro hopping machine had difficulties with it (its a little anti social at the moment) I gave it a run on one of the many machines dotted around my house and found myself very surprised (pleasantly) by the results.  Its a Slackware based distro, and in these days of MONO uncertainty and the ever growing popularity of about 4 or 5 of the “big name” distro’s, its nice to break out of the mold and take a look at a lesser known option (sans MONO I hasten to add).


I hope this is not taken the wrong way when I say that the installation process is very Ubuntu’ish, meaning very simple and straight forward.  There’s a rather off putting message (for any users who may not have much experience with Linux) although I can see where they are coming from.  As I will explain, I don’t think Wolvix is for the brand new user, and in my opinion these users are always better catered for with Mint, Ubuntu, Mandriva, et al.  The Live CD comes in at around a 680mb ISO which can be downloaded via bit torrent (which personally I would recommend, firstly because the d/l speeds of the other options were poor and secondly because I am helping seed it at the moment!)

Wolvix in action.  The default backdrop has been replaced with a more colourful one to reflect my mood today.  A great distro if you have been using Linux for a while and are comfortable with the command line.
Wolvix in action. The default backdrop has been replaced with a more colourful one to reflect my mood today. A great distro if you have been using Linux for a while and are comfortable with the command line.


The default DE for Wolvix is Xfce 4.6.0 and what a great choice that is, I am rapidly becoming a fan.  For fear of starting a series of angry emails, I can’t warm to KDE.  Whilst KDE does everything it says on the tin and is pleasant to look at, its just far too Vistaesque for my liking and for that and a reason I cannot put my finger on, I just don’t feel fully in control of my distro under KDE.  Thats going off topic though since Xfce 4.6.0 is whats being talked about here, is very similar to Gnome in looks, with a reduced dock at the bottom and is far faster operation.

Whilst I always state that I’m not a fan of flashy visuals and “bling”, it had to be said that the default desktop theme(s) are very attractive.  Simple, bold and clean I especially like the Wolf howling at the moon backdrop.  These backdrops are not the usual ultra high resolution. memory sucking images that we see with some of the bigger name distros, so it appears that even in looks, the ethos of providing you with as fast a system as possible is at the forefront of what Wolvix hopes to achieve.

Out of the box compat was very good and although Nvidia drivers needed to be installed as first port of call, this is par for the course on most distro’s anyway.

Wolvix again, simple clean and a great distro!
Wolvix again, simple clean and a great distro!


Personally, its nice to see AbiWord included as default.  Whilst I like OpenOffice and believe its a great piece of software, I have no need for any of the other supporting packages.  My distro installation always involves the removal of OpenOffice to replace with Abiword, so that to the creators of Wolvix, thats one less job.  The version included is the latest (2.6.8) and the new features of which can be found on the Abiword homepage.  To give an example of the speed of this distro, the LiveCD barely even gave you a chance to read the logo window of Abiword prior to the program loading that’s forgetting the speed once the distro is installed to your HD.

Web browsing is via Firefox 3.0.8 which was released 27th March 2009.  Whilst this is not the current version, its certainly stable and offers the same Firefox experience that I am sure I do not need to describe to you for the purposes of this review.

Other packages of note include Python 2.5.2 (hooray no 3!), Gnumeric, GIMP and quite a comprehensive out of the box collection that should cover your main tasks.  Thunderbird is in control of email duties here, running a 2009 version (, its a great all in one (RSS/email/Newsgroups) and really removes the need for any other mail package.  I have heard from others that RSS is slow within Thunderbird compared to that of Claws, but personally I have had no issues and have yet to test Claws as an alternative.

Software is handled by the package manager slapt-get in terminal or by a GUI (gslap) on the DE


With every distro I have installed, there always follows a removing of software (for differing reasons, mainly duplication and personal choice)  There are some more guilty than others.   I always remark that the worst offender in my opinion would be #!CBL (Crunchbang Linux)  A few things strike me as strange (although this is probably due to trying to please everyone) Liferea and Thunderbird?  Is Liferea just duplication? Great package but I’m not sure of its value in addition to Thunderbird.  Xchat and IRSSI? obviously one provides a GUI the other runs from the command line, but I would suggest that the Wolvix creators choose a path and stick with it to avoid duplication (Personally I think IRSSI is far better)

My big issue was no Binaries newsgroup grabber, the absense of Transmission (although I will give Deluge a run).

With Wolvix being a Slackware derived product and the absence of the Ubuntu “hand holding” I cannot recommend it for a Linux user with only a small amount of experience (contrary to the implication on the site that it can be)  However, for the seasoned Linux user it excels and I’ve been looking for a reason to switch my main Gentoo distro.  Wolvix is such a reason and I think I will be very happy with it.  The packages on offer are a mish mash of experienced and new user although I’d suggest that if this distro is aimed towards the more experienced, some of these packages are really not required.

*Note – There is no issue with Gentoo, merely that I enjoy distro hopping and have to have a good reason to do it on my main rig.

I don’t think Wolvix would stand up as a newcomers distro (nor does it seek to be) when you hold it up to products such as Ubuntu/Fedora/Mandriva et al and I don’t think Xfce DE will be an attractive enough option for people when they are coming from Windows and looking towards KDE.  Thats no bad thing by the way, and Wolvix for me sits very comfortably in a more seasoned Linux users hands.

It is very obvious that much work has gone into Wolvix, my expectations of a perfectly packaged distro are not unreasonable but a little selfish and since this was the only issue I had with the distro, its of no matter since removal of unused packages takes no time at all.

As with any new installation there are a few teething troubles that need to be ironed out, that for me is half the fun of a Slackware distro and the issues I came across were very minor.

The first problem I found was with the mouse wheel, which although recognised refused to work as a scroll.  This issue is now resolved.  Next issue I had was that the master volume was not found on the dock (its in the multimedia menu) due to its default setting being low (and my speakers being set on low for fear of nieghbour complaints) I spent around 1/2 hour trying to work out why the sound wasnt working.  Too much to ask to put it on the dock?  The only other issue of note was Wolvix’s refusal to allow me to set the keyboard to UK permanently, and it insisted on switching back to US.

Those issues caused very little trouble.

When talking about the speed of this distro, “Punchy” is the best way to describe it.  Its these type of distro’s that people should be supporting in any way they can.  Aesthetically, what with its fancy site and logos, Ubuntu is about 10 years ahead and Wolvix is no competition, however “under the hood” where it matters and I’d say on my test machine Wolvix outperforms any of the mainstream distros noticeably.  Projects like Wolvix are where the exciting things are happening and I wholly recommend anyone who is familiar with Linux to give this speedy, tight and highly functional distro a try.

You can visit the Wolvix homepage here: http://wolvix.org/ although the beta 2 is available on LinuxTracker here.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

A question to Microsoft? Whats unique about Windows 7?

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Just like I don't know what exactly will be in the Ark of the Covenant, I have the same questions about Windows 7, will Mr Rose of Microsoft be the person to solve the mystery for me?
Just like I don't know what exactly will be in the Ark of the Covenant, I have the same questions about Windows 7. What exactly is the "treasure" inside 7? Will Mr Rose be the person to solve the mystery for me? NOTE: It has been brought to my attention that this photo is by: Mark Prigoff. The Ark of the Covenant replica, (1:4 scale), made by Indy Magnoli. - You can find his site at http://www.markprigoff.com

I recently saw a twit from user stephenlrose , allegedly a “Sr Community Mgr for Windows (IT Pros)” and asked him the question Openbytes has been asking for many months and never recieved a proper reply.  As readers here have seen, many of the Microsoft supporters that I’ve had discourse with are rude and insulting (IMO) and take great exception to Microsoft products being challenged and/or alternatives being suggested.

With that in mind, it appears I have messaged someone in a position of some authority within Microsoft, so I knew that the childish antics of others would be absent.  I’m happy to say that so far, this is the case.

The question I put to Mr Rose was:

“…….. what exactly is the incentive for users to upgrade XP to 7? Is it purely gfx? I would honestly like to know what feature 7 offers that cant be done either natively or via 3rd party software in XP.”

And Mr Rose kindly responded with:

“DirectAccess/BranchCache/BitLocker to go with AD support/Federated Search. Visit www.talkingaboutwindows.com for IT pro interviews on why Win 7.”

Right, firstly the site runs off Silverlight so it is useless to me.  I don’t want to bring up the comments/feelings on that particular product since we’ve been there before and the last thing I want is Mr Rose having a justification to ignore on the basis of a “trolling/flaming/cyber bullying” claim.  I’m not for one minute suggesting that Mr Rose would choose this avenue, but since its been a common theme with difficult questions before (in respect of other people)  I decided to be very “gentle”

So lets look at the first part of his answer.  I am going to try to keep this as simple as possible and there are reasons for this.  I believe these type of answers are what convinces the “average user” that Windows is the only platform to consider.  In my opinion an average user sees a fancy name they cant understand and presumes its important/unique, ergo they must have that product over all others.


This is simply a disk encryption tool.  You can encrypt the contents (or even a whole) drive.  That is it.  There are plenty of 3rd party alternatives available.  Some free, some not.  This is not a feature that is “unique” to 7 since you can do it in XP (albeit by 3rd party software).   PGP is one such package that has built a very good reputation with this type of software.


From the Microsoft site, I quote “DirectAccess is a new feature in the Windows® 7 and Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating systems that gives users the experience of being seamlessly connected to their corporate network any time they have Internet access.” Basically (unless Im totally wrong here) You can go home and access your work machines/system/software from there (or any other location with Internet access).  Well, as much as I am blown away with that feature, again, its something that can be achieved with 3rd party software.

Without going on, I’ll simply link you to the webpage in regards to Branchcache (sounds fancy doesnt it) and you can decide for yourself if these are features you need, want or are truely “unique” to 7 which make it a must have purchase.


So on behalf of all the happy XP customers, whats the feature in 7 that makes it worthwhile them upgrading their OS?  Stay tuned, we may get an answer.
So on behalf of all the happy XP customers, whats the feature in 7 that makes it worthwhile them upgrading their OS? Stay tuned, we may get an answer.

The reason for this article?  I am aware that there are users who will never move from the Windows O/S.  Thats fine, the one thing (I would hope) most FOSS advocates would hold dear is the freedom of choice.  The reason I ask this question is on behalf of the many XP users who dont want Vista and are reluctant to move from XP to 7.  I am sure many people would like to know why they have to upgrade their beloved XP and what exactly is the amazing feature Windows 7 offers that makes it a must have purchase.

As you can see so far, that question is far from answered. (IMO)

I sincerely hope Mr Rose will come here and respond properly.  I would hope he at least tries to keep it as simple as possible, since many of my readers have no knowledge or interest in the “tech side” of computing.  Im sure the happy XP users would much rather purchase a 3rd party package for a feature they needed, rather than upgrade their entire OS, or maybe I’m wrong?

I ask again, what feature does 7 offer that cannot already be achieved either natively or via 3rd party software in XP?

Here’s continuing in the quest to find out what exactly is the “treasure” contained within Windows 7.

In the meantime if you want to check out Mr Rose’s blog, you can find it here:


Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com

“DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO” – Andre Da Costa and friends!

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Thom Holwerda has recieved approval from Andre Da Costa, but since Andre wont answer if he attended the PDC08 and if he has recieved a free laptop, how much is that opinion worth?
Thom Holwerda has recieved approval from Andre Da Costa, but since Andre wont answer if he attended the PDC08 and if he has recieved a free laptop, how much is that opinion worth?

So it appears after asking Andre Da Costa the question 15 times (please read this post), he is still not ready to answer yes or no.  Thats fine, I will draw inference from his silence.

Maybe Andre is too busy to respond, since on his own blog he has been agreeing with an article written (IMO) by someone who desperately wants to get in on the debate of OS’s but lacks the knowledge or “tech savvy” to do it.  So they produce an article of generalizations and implication.

For your enjoyment, please read the article here, and then return and we will break down this “damning report”!?!? on Linux users.  Before you click though, can I stress, the article is not a joke, its a legitimate (as far as I can tell) opinion.  We will then get on to the excited Andre’s blog and discuss that aswell.

Back? Ok lets have a look at some of the gems of information this chap is trying to imply:

“I find it slightly amusing that the people who are the most stern advocates of normal users moving away from Windows, trying out alternatives, are the same people who are usually lost whenever they themselves have to change their way of doing things. Do as I say, but not as I do.”

Now as I read this paragraph, I cannot help but think that the writer is trying to imply that if you read any opinion by anyone with IT experience(or certainly an opinion different to an MS one, IMO)  you should consider that they are not wanting to change (or get lost doing it) within the spirit of “do as I say, not as I do”  Unfortunately for Mr Holwerda, for many readers of Andres posts, having an endorsement from him is not really a good thing (IMO)  and since Andre hasnt answered the question regarding the PDC “discrepancy” in my opinion it places a question mark over anything he associates with.  Or is that just me?

For what purpose this (IMO) silly comment has been put there I do not know, but lets sit and think about Linux users for a minute.  Most (if not all) Linux users, still use Microsoft products in some capacity, it may be at work, it may be at home, it doesnt matter.  What should be noted is that I (and all of the other Open Source supporters Ive spoken with) change and learn new systems ALL THE TIME.  WE ARE CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND ADAPTING/LEARNING.  Lets look at my situation:

Vista/XP at work (caught in the .net(sic))

Gentoo on two desktop rigs at home, and one Ubuntu on a laptop.

I have a 4th machine which has a different O/S or distro on it all the time, and currently has moved away from Linux completely whilst testing an install of AROS.

Open Source and Linux is free.  Despite what others may imply, just because you pay for something doesnt make it a better product.  Why not give Linux/Open Source a try.  You have nothing to lose!
Open Source and Linux is free. Despite what others may imply, just because you pay for something doesnt make it a better product. Why not give Linux/Open Source a try. You have nothing to lose!

If you look at any other open source (or Linux) user, you will find many “distro hopping” learning new systems is part of our love of computing.  Just like how I use Vista and XP at work, with Linux at home, I believe I am in a possition to make a comment about the differences about the two.  I would also say that since Im always learning new sytems (freeBSD) recently as well as AROS, I would say that I dont have a “do as I say not as I do” attitude.  Am I the only one believing that KDE was thrown into Mr Holwerda’s debate so that nobody could imply that infact the posts real motive was to push a message of “Ignore the alternative viewpoint, get Windows 7 ”  Maybe its just me thinking that.  Ill let you decide.

I will be purchasing Windows 7 on its release, I will be testing it (not some beta) and I will be commenting on it.  Oh, did I tell you I recently bought the wife a Mac, and thats another system Im getting to grips with.

Do as I say not as I do?  Dont make sweeping remarks Mr Thom Holwerda

I wont generalize about peoples credentials who promote Microsoft products, you shouldnt about “alternatives” users.  Although consider this Mr Holwerda, there are many people who rave about MS products who have never used Linux.  Are you saying people should ignore these opinions aswell?

Now onto our good friend Andre Da Costa, the man who has inspired more pro Linux posts on the Microsoft Watch site than any other user in the history of the site (IMO)

Of course Andre is lapping this article up.  Its great, and as usual our Andre likes to make a pro Microsoft comment, which would be fine, if he had thought about it before he did.

Andre says on his recent blog entry

“I too find it strange that persons who normally advocate migrations to alternative to platforms such as Linux or OS X would describe enhancements to an OS such as Vista or 7 or an application suite such as Office 2007 too much for the average user to bare.”

To which I would answer, thats certainly not been the allegations made on Microsoft Watch.  The question put to you (yes Andre and we are still awaiting the answer to other question about your attendance at the PDC) is that what does Microsoft offer, what you call “the average user” over the free Open Office, to make it a worthwhile purchase for the enduser?  The question has never been answered.

Maybe thats why you like Mr Holwerda’s opinion so much?  because if people listen to him, Im just a Linux user who has a “do as I say not as I do attitude”  If users simply want to part with cash, thats fine.  But what would be the harm in anyone trying out a free alternative first?

Moving onto Andres site, it appears that Microsoft finally got it act together and removed all the spam advertising for Nike Trainers.  Now our Andres first comment on his recent article was not a complaint about Vista, nor was it an advert (both were common place on his comments section) no my friends, his first comment was:

“Too many times people miss the freaking point. The problems with the new interfaces in MS aren’t with people who are not tech savvy, it’s with people who ARE tech savvy. My girlfriend was using Office 2007 and it took me a few minutes to help her find the freaking PRINT button. Nicely hidden, by the way. Excel 2007 is a nightmare to any professional who has ever used it. MS will fail with Windows 7, mark my words. When 99% of the population uses a PC for nothing more than surfing and the occassional word processing, why would anyone plop down hundreds of dollars on a new OS with a new interface that takes ANY time to re-learn? Change for change sake is not a great concept.”

Of course I was expecting either that being deleted or a countering “feature rich” comment to turn up.  I was not dissapointed:

“I predict that windows 7 will be a resounding sucess. New CAN be better if it offers new functionality. Windows 7 delivers that with spades. Besides the interface is more than familiar enough for seasoned users to get their computing done. And seriously, if yo can’t use a Modern GUI based computer you should just lable yourself a moron and stay off the computer.”

I remember Andre calling Vista a sucess.  Still saying that Andre?  But thats by the by, notice the trademark insult in the reply post?  If you care to look over at Microsoft Watch you will notice (IMO) there are very few pro-Microsoft posts that DONT contain insults.  Now looking further into the profile of this poster, he has no personal details and has apparently only made a single comment.  Guess where?  The same can be directed at the original commenter, however if Linux is no threat and Windows 7 is going to be so great, why bother with a come back?

Since Andre Da Costa is still refusing to answer with a simple yes or no to the question documented here I will let readers draw their own conclusions from his silence.  Why, IF he didnt attend the PDC and IF he didnt recieve a free laptop, a quick email with NO would put an end to this matter. Why he hasnt replied?

Did Andre Da Costa attend the PDC 08?  Has Andre Da Costa recieved a free laptop?  We dont know! He wont answer!
Did Andre Da Costa attend the PDC 08? Has Andre Da Costa recieved a free laptop? We dont know! He wont answer!

As many posts of his I find, I will repeat the question.  At time of writing this he has been asked around 15 times.  Lets see how many it takes for him to answer.   You would think he would be keen to clear this matter up and to you Andre I say this.  If you tell us you didnt attend and didnt recieve a free laptop, I will challenge the site implying you did myself.  I will get them to correct their false information.

I ask you not only in the interests of fairness (afterall are you happy about what the other site is implying?) but also in the interests of honest posting.  If you have infact recieved a free laptop, dont your readers deserve to know that so they can judge your impartiality themselves?  Dont you think it reasonable that your readers would like to know the truth?  This is your oportunity Andre to set the record straight.  As I say, should you contact me, I will print your response as your “right of reply” and then this matter can be layed to rest once and for all.

How long will it take you to email a simple yes or no?