The night Microsoft took over my work computer

30 June is the end of the fiscal year, but this year it’s also the start of a new technological regime, at least in the relationship teachers in my district will have to their working computers. And when you think of it, almost all of a teacher’s official communication and an increasingly large percentage of his curriculum is happening online, via one computer interface and operating system or another. So who controls the operating system controls perforce much else in the school.

We have been and still are a Windows-based network of machines. The relativey solid Windows XP platform worked for many years. Macs were not allowed on the network. For the most part, teachers did not stray from the Bill Gates ranch,. There were lots of PowerPoints and lots of papers via Word in English classes. The school’s Computer Science requirement was based on Office products, and Moviemaker was about as creative as students could get.

If a teacher wanted greater efficiency and design to his applicatiions on his XP machine, however, there were options. Many of us recognized the superiority of browsers like Firefox and Chrome over Explorer and used them. And to snag quick screen captures and images one had to download an app like WinCutXP were quickly apparent. Well no more. This afternoon, the new laptop just issued me turned off in one OS regime and rebooted in a new one.

It re-booted in a world that is totally Gates’ property. It also wiped everything I’d done since receiving the machine two days ago, from loading iTunes and Chrome to changing my desktop image. All were gone in this clean sweep. But so far, I have to say “so good.” The Windows 7 Explorer 8 combination is a winner.

As you can see in the different logos, the new Windows are open, where in the past it was always shuttered, evoking an exclusive, indoor environment. It seems to have been built by engineers who opened up their “windows” to the innovation outside Microsoft. The new Explorer feels like it’s been modified from Firefox. IThe program “learns” the user, anticipates one’s moves (in “accelerators”) and moves quickly from tab to tab. It plays well with Googe docs and Outlook, too. And so far no hang-ups or freezes.

The OS Windows 7 has built in a “snipping tool,” a promising-looking “cam studio” video production app, and plug and play projector adaptability. It is not the same old set of limited apps.

So while it was a take-over, and some of my files got trashed, it does not appear to be a hostile takeover, and the user does not feel as if taken hostage (as one did when a problem in XP arose). One has the impression that this Windows is open, and one could easily crawl outside if one wished.

However, if the OS and browser work this well together, why wouldn’t one just keep it open, able to protect the inside while accessing the outside thereby [the basic function of a window]?

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