I promise to not make this into a blog of geeky computer stuff. But I do want to get this one thing off my chest.
Those who've known me over the last few years know I'm a pretty big fan of Linux. This is a pretty recent occurrence — I'd played with Red Hat a bit in the late 1990s, but I didn't seriously start looking at Linux until two years ago. With Windows Vista looking like a flop and Microsoft shoving everyone down the upgrade path by dropping support for XP, I felt an urgency to explore alternatives. Two years and at least three Windows-based viruses later, and every computer in our house is now running some version of Linux. So a large part of it was born of my reluctance to let Microsoft push me around and bully me into the OS of their choosing. Some of it is because I was just tired of dealing with viruses and malware.
Another large part is Windows Genuine Advantage. Basically, Microsoft is trying to prevent theft of their product — I realize that. However, harassing people with reminders to activate, register, and all that nonsense is a strange and somewhat unprofessional way for a multi-billion dollar company to act toward its customers. Here's the thing: WGA sends information about your computer's hardware back to Microsoft as part of the validation process. Well, maybe I don't think this is any of Microsoft's business.
But systems without WGA aren't allowed to properly use Windows Update or the Microsoft Download Center, and at one time, downloading Internet Explorer 7 required WGA (though this isn't the case any longer). You know, browser and system updates are pretty damned important. People spend a lot of time on the Internet and conduct secure business there. So you have a choice — compromise your privacy by sending your information to Microsoft, or compromise it by using an outdated browser which is no longer supported. Yes, Firefox is available, but that's not the point — the point is feeling free to do what you want without sacrificing your privacy.
And to beat it all, you're paying Microsoft for the privilege. Not only does Linux not cost one red cent, you can get the source code for it and rewrite parts of it to act the way you want it to. The same can be said for the thousands of software packages which run on Linux. Freedom has multiple meanings here — cost is but one of them.
So. Pay a fat corporation for viruses, malware, unsecure products, violations of privacy, and lack of choice, or just get your computing done, keep your information to yourself, have a system which never gets a virus, and do it while keeping your money where it belongs — in your pocket.
That's why I use Linux.