Saturday, 6 September 2008

Keeping Quiet About Going Back to the Dark Side

by Charles Pooter

I was responding to Ken McLeod's questions regarding a comment I left on his blog, but it was becoming quite long so I though I'd post it here instead.

Charles, why do you say that if I tried Linux I would go back to Vista?
I was just being sarcastic. My personal experience is that more than half of the defectors I've known end up going back to Bill's OS. I assume bloggers are not too different and yet we hardly ever see posts admitting their Linux experiment failed. The reasons people usually go back are usually: hardware incompatibility, displeasure at GUI inconsistency or the lack of particular specialised software they depend upon. By all means give it a try. Just don't feel too bad if you have to come back to the dark side, it happens more often than you think and there are plenty of ways you can make Vista less disappointing.

Friends I've known who have defected to OS X have had more luck, but then you'd get no political satisfaction from making the switch. Microsoft's tyranny is patchy, whilst a world dominated by Apple would be the proverbial boot stamping on the human face forever.
Two other questions arising from charles pooter's post: what's the matter with Norton? and is Windows Defender enough on its own?
Norton used to be respected brand name in the PC world. Every self-respecting DOS geek had a floppy disk containing Peter Norton's famous utilities. I used them many a time to undelete friends' files or sort out their dodgy hard drives. These tools were probably responsible for saving quite a few novelists from suicide in the 1990s!

In one of those tragedies of capitalism, the Norton company was purchased by Symantec, who have proceeded to take a big shit all over the Norton brand. They pay the likes of Dixons and Dell huge cash to bundle their shitty, ineffective, nagging "security suite" on the boxes they shift. This bundling is the only reason the software is on so many PCs. Of course, some would make the same argument about Internet Explorer. The difference is that Microsoft have been made to play nice regarding alternative browsers and have consequently resumed active development of IE to make it at least a bit better and retain market share. Norton depends on user inertia alone. Microsoft can't intervene in this bundling (which makes their software look bad) because that would be market interference. I can't imagine Apple ever standing for it though.

It is only slightly hyperbolic to saying that having Symantec's Norton software on your PC is more detrimental to performance and stability than having a few viruses on your hard drive. Seriously, get rid of it. You'll need to use their downloadable tool as the program is too shockingly terrible to respect normal Windows uninstallation etiquette.

As for an alternative, I rcommend Kaspersky Anti-Virus. It is consistently rated top for catching malware and has a refeshingly small footprint and nag-free interface. This and the built-in Windows firewall are all you need security-wise. Windows Defender isn't mature enough to depend upon and will slow your computer down if you install it concurrently with Kaspersky.

Elsewhere in the comments, Ken mentions IE 7's instability. I've been using Google Chrome as my main browser for a few days and am quite happy with it, but there's no harm in having multiple browsers installed, which isn't true of having multiple virus scanners.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

100% agreement
And McAfee is equally shit