The following are some of the reasons that XP feels to me like a downgrade rather than an upgrade.
* You need a Passport. Despite the severe security weaknesses of Microsoft’s Passport authentication system (see http://www.avirubin.com/passport.html for an AT&T Labs analysis), XP repeatedly requests the user’s e-mail address and password to create a Passport e-commerce account, and Microsoft made Passport a requirement to use Windows Messenger and other features.
* Spam I am. The Passport agreement, which you accept when you click OK, permits Microsoft and its partners to send you an unlimited number of commercial e-mail messages. Furthermore, you can’t rescind Microsoft’s permission to use your e-mail address. You must unsubscribe from every partner’s e-mail list individually. One marketing study found that many well-known companies won’t take you off their e-mail lists even after several requests (see http://brianlivingston.com/011008 ).
* We don’t need no stinkin’ contract. The same agreement says that Microsoft can change the contract’s terms at any time, merely by editing a Web page. Every time you use Passport, you’re supposed to reread this page to see if you detect any changes. Right. I predict that one day the contract will read, “If you use Passport after the 1st of next month, a $4.95-per-month charge will be placed on the credit card number you registered.”
* Weak Java. Instead of including the latest version of Java support, as a recent Sun-Microsoft lawsuit settlement would suggest, XP will default to a 4-year-old version. Users can get a new Java download, but its 5MB size will discourage many.
* No plug-ins. Internet Explorer loses support for all Netscape-style plug-ins, including embedded QuickTime clips (unless you download a kludge from Apple). New users surfing the Web under XP will undoubtedly run into sites that IE will no longer handle properly.
I haven’t even gotten to XP’s Product Activation scheme.
What all these new XP “features” have in common is that they make Windows more convenient for Microsoft but less convenient for users. I think I’ll stick with Windows 2000. (and chug along with a happy unix environment if I want to work outside of that)
People ask me why I don’t like Microsoft and then try to convince me that Windows is a great OS and that IIS is a great web server. Now, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t hate Microsoft software, I hate Microsoft. More specifically, I hate Microsoft’s incredibly unethical and monopolistic business practices. I regularly and happily use Microsoft software on Windows and am pleased that Microsoft has some brilliant engineers working on some incredible technologies and writing great software. What I don’t like is when Microsoft uses its monopoly position in the OS and Web browser markets to hurt the competition. What I don’t like is when Microsoft treats their customers like crap because they know they’ve got most of them locked into a technology choice.