Microsoft and Vendor Lock-in

Jun1909Jun 19, 09

We all know about Microsoft's use of "vendor lock-in" tactics to keep people from switching away from Windows by way of fear. Today I decided to confront a few employees in a GetSatisfaction topic started by a Windows user asking about how to migrate to another OS. This is what I wrote:


Rick,

Since nobody else seems to actually care about the original question, here is a few simple guidelines to migrating your data.

First, it's important to remember the little things. You probably want to keep your bookmarks, and that's very easily done using Firefox. If you haven't installed Firefox, do so now and during the installation choose to import your old Internet Explorer favorites. In Firefox, just open Bookmarks > Organize Bookmarks, and find the "Export to HTML" option. Make sure you remember where you save it to!

Once you have done that, you will want to back up your entire hard-drive. This is the case with any Operating System installation. You always want to have a complete copy of your data that you could potentially fall-back on if something goes wrong. Also, having a full backup means you can be very selective about what you dump into the new Operating System once you've installed it. It's always a good idea to move your data back only as you need it. You will probably find that most of your files are better off being stored on a drive somewhere, because you don't use them terribly ofter (or they are simply for back-up purposes).

In order to properly back-up your hard disk for a different Operating System, you should avoid using back-up software. This is because there may not be an equivalent restoration software for the Operating System you install.

Instead, just copy your entire hard-drive onto another separate (larger) hard-drive. This solves all of the problems related to migrating to another OS, because you have both a fall-back (boot your old Windows install from the back-up drive), and you have every tiny detail of your old data. Even if you were to forget to backup your bookmarks - they are still recoverable from that backup drive.

--

As for you, "MelGrubb", you obviously have not had to migrate from any one system to another, have you? What Rick is experiencing is something called "Vendor Lock-in", and it's simply a way to keep people using software they don't want to use long after they have decided to migrate to something else. It is a tactic and a trick used on consumers who are considered "too far-gone", and who the company is simply not concerned with.

It is all to clear you are not familiar with anything other than a "you get what you pay for" world when it comes to computing. I'm sorry to hear that, but you are one of millions of people who will probably never understand what they are depriving themselves of. Have you ever considered that some software vendors actually do care about what happens to your previous data at the end of their software's lifecycle? Many do! Microsoft is not one of them.

The problem here is, you have to choose your software vendors with data portability in mind. Whether you are looking for a word processor or an Operating System - you need to make sure the software is going to be storing your documents and data in a format that is universally known and recognized as a standard. For example, Firefox allows users to export their bookmarks to many common formats, including HTML and JSON. They go out of their way to make sure that you are not locked in to their way of storing bookmarks.

One of the flaws of GetSatisfaction is that anyone with a computer can post a response to someone's support request. In many cases, the person responding is only fueling the original poster's problem.

--

Finally, Rick: you are making the right move by looking at alternatives to Windows. I'm not going to guarantee that you will like any particular Operating System - especially considering how different Mac OS and Windows are. If you are interested in creating a similar experience to Windows without any of the security risks, you might consider trying a Linux-based Operating System. Here is a list of Operating Systems geared towards people migrating from Windows:

#1: Ubuntu - very polished, and most widely used.
http://www.ubuntu.com/

#2: Fedora - a very stable and compatible OS.
http://fedoraproject.org/

#3: PCLinuxOS - designed to be simple for Windows users.
http://www.pclinuxos.com/

Also, you should note that support for Linux-based Operating Systems is always (and will always be) free. The developers are always available via IRC, and Ubuntu makes it extremely easy to ask them questions. There is a "Get Help" icon on the desktop and that's all you need to know.

Of course, if you've been looking at Mac OS X for some time, perhaps wait until this September - that's when OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" will be released.
Don't worry if you buy a Mac before then, though, the upgrade is only $25. I think that says something.

You're often better off seeking support from genuinely concerned individuals. Large companies offer support because it nets them profit, but in this case you are outside of that area of support. Feel free to send me an email - you can find my contact information on my website:
http://jasonmillerdesign.com/

Thanks and good luck.


I am watching with interest to see how Microsoft and the original poster respond.
Here is the GetSatisfaction topic.


About Jason Miller:

I am a JavaScript developer from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. When I am not typing green code onto a black screen, you might find me at the nearest coffee pub checking out the brew. I run a internet firm called developIT and maintain blogs and web apps when I can.
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