Friday, October 20, 2006

Windows XP SP3 - Delayed until 2008!

If you were hoping for a third Service Pack for Windows XP, you are going to have to wait quite a bit longer. Microsoft officially altered their "roadmap" for Windows XP SP3 to now be released in the first half of 2008 (wow, that is specific - not!). And, if you are a betting person, I personally think your money would best be placed on betting this Service Pack never even happens!

It seems more than obvious to me, that with Microsoft's pending release of Windows Vista, and the existing expiration of support of for Windows XP SP1, that they have but one objective: push you to the new operating system (Vista), or make your life hell otherwise. That hell currently comes in the form of a god awful number of post-SP2 updates to Windows XP that you have to apply to any new installation of Windows XP (even if you have a WinXP w/ SP2 install disk, you have TONS of updates to apply after install). If you are very technically savvy, you can always make what they call a "slipstream" install CD of your own that contains all the updates, and have those installed at the same time as Windows, but even that is a royal PITA and with all the constant security updates emerging for Windows and IE and such, you'd spend half your life building these custom CDs.

Something needs to change. Microsoft, though incredibly profitable, seems to be doing everything in its power to annoy its current product users. Along with this Windows XP SP3 announcement, they also pushed off the Windows Server 2003 SP2 until a similar date. Once again, I figure they want you to commit to their next OS instead. Perhaps not enough users get annoyed by this type of thing, since, as I mentioned, MS is very profitable - which means they sure are selling a lot of product. OR, is that profitability due to the fact you can hardly find a PC sold without the OS (either with a blank hard-drive, or with a FREE O.S. like Linux preinstalled).

I have tried to buy PCs from a few manufacturers with Linux on, or without Windows on, and guess what -- sure, you can buy one, but you still have to pay for Windows thanks to the licensing terms the vendors (read: Dell, Gateway, etc. etc.) have with MS. Hmmm... that seems just a bit monopolistic of MS! That is what really needs to change to move the market to Linux or some other free/open solution. (Or, perhaps Apple will be the beneficiary?)

At this time, I have absolutely no intention of upgrading to Windows Vista when it comes out. And, I do not really care how outdated my XP SP2 becomes either (aside from blatant and severe security holes that may emerge). I can do most of my day to day work on Linux if need be, and Linux is catching up fast. New builds of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Suse, Kanotix, and the like are constantly arriving (and, guess what - they have regular distribution-release cycles, so you know when the next version is coming), and their update/patch mechanisms are much better implemented.

When I need to use Windows, I will do so in a Virtual Machine (using VMWare) - not only will it make it easy to keep XP SP2 around for a while, but it will isolate it from security issues, etc (if my VM gets "infected" or anything, I'll just restore from a backup DVD image of the VM). Oh, I forgot to mention, MS also changed the licensing terms for Vista that prevent all but the Professional (i.e., "Business") version from running in a Virtual Machine from what I heard too! (even more reasons to avoid).

Every time Microsoft does things like delay service packs, ram new versions of software down our throats, tighten license terms, and so forth, the more I focus on how to use alternative OSs and software. Keep up the great work Microsoft! :)

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