EU Could Fine Microsoft For Shipping Its Products

Reuters is reporting that the European Union could fine Microsoft for including Internet Explorer in its OS as the default browser.

Apparently, by making its own product as the default at first boot, Microsoft is being anti-competitive, and provoking the fine-friendly EU regulators.

Their logic? Internet Explorer is the default browser post the initial installation, so that edges out other browsers. Hey, it’s not like you can use Internet Explorer to download whatever browser you want.

Probably EU should also consider punishing Microsoft for not providing options to download OSs other than Windows during installation. You know, this pushes people to use Windows and other OSs suffer due to this.

$1300 Chrome Browser

Google is a crazy, amazing, awesome company. I love them. Partly because I love Android, and partly because Chrome browser on my Windows PC is one thing I prefer over most of the other things. That is, when it comes to consumption.

chromebook pixel

I’ve rarely had any annoyances with the browser, and I have shed some of my privacy concerns, even if forcibly so. Firefox is unusable, and I can’t stand the UI. Microsoft has worked hard and improved Internet Explorer, with the v10, but by that time, I was already a Chrome fan, and had my bookmarks and extensions synchronized with my Google account. That, and Chrome for Android sync, meant that I won’t be looking back and switching to any other browser. Not any time soon.

Moving on. Google has this idea of an OS based off of Chrome browser. That is to say, you’re connected to the internet at all times, and you live and work in the Chrome browser. And that most your data is stored in the cloud. Basically, you live and work in the cloud. That’s what is the thinking behind the entire concept of a Chromebook.

Google, however, announced the Chromebook Pixel yesterday. It comes with a price tag of $1300. There’s a retina-class touchscreen, an Intel i5 dual core processor, 4 gigs of RAM and… 32 GB of internal storage. To make up for it, the company is bundling 1 TB of Google Drive storage for 3 years.

So, why this insanity? I have a few theories –

  1. Move to cloud. Encourage cloud storage usage. However, this makes as much sense as nothing. Local storage is important, necessary even in countries like the USA where there is very good internet connectivity with high speeds. And whatever are you going to do with all that 1 TB of space when you can only have about 20 GB usable (assuming you have to transfer your data from local media to the cloud)? It’s going to be very painful to make use of all that space.
  2. Make data-mining more easier. By having only the Chrome browser as a means to do any work, or consume any media, Google is effectively getting access to everything you will do on a Chromebook. It wipes out middle-men and alternatives.
  3. Bring attention to the concept of a Chromebook and Chrome OS. The Chromebook Pixel might bomb, but I don’t think Google is even thinking about it. It seems to have priced it so insanely, people will take notice. Some might dismiss it right away, but some people will start talking about Chromebooks. Even if they don’t buy the Chrome-running laptops. Start the chatter, some of them will buy the cheaper, $250-350 versions.

Harder, Farther.

It’s amazing how things can motivate you, how they can inspire you. It can be a person, his life, his attitude, but more often than not, I’ve been inspired by things which don’t have any life in them. Things which cannot call you and scream ‘Inspiration’ until you notice them yourselves.

Sometimes you also find inspiration in places you least expect. But I guess that’s the best part of it all, eh.

I found inspiration in one such place.

image

On my way to work, there is this water body I cross. There is a statue in the centre, and fountains around it. These fountains are operational during the day too, and although they don’t add to the beauty as much during the day, I can’t help but notice them every time. Today was different, though.

I noticed how the the force of winds would prevent the fountain from going further up in the air. It was limiting its reach, and it’d make me think they should use more powerful machines. But I noticed one more thing – the force of the winds would result in the water falling farther from its source, extending its reach. Higher the force, farther would the water reach.

It taught me one thing. I learnt that although life is painful, it teaches you and makes you more capable with every passing moment. More the pain, more the learned person you are, at the end of a day.

I think it’s beautiful. Struggles are beautiful. I don’t get frightened at the sight of tough times ahead. I just push myself more, so I can fare better. So I can extend my reach.

About India and the Freedom of Speech

These are testing times for India, and the Internet users, in general. And it can be scary for an average Joe to go about exercising one of the most fundamental rights as an Indian – the Freedom of Speech. The Indian Constitution guarantees this via the Right to Freedom, and it’s something which is being violated consistently, by the goons and the State.

For long now, I as an Indian, have exulted in the knowledge of the fact that I’m free to express my opinion, and at the same time, not be threatened by any person whatsoever. I could pen down my thoughts, and express myself freely without any fear, without any prior approval from any person whomsoever. But now, I’ve to constantly live under the fear of being arrested, being harassed or facing other dire consequences if I go about exercising my right which the Indian Constitution still guarantees.

It’s the section 66A of the Indian IT Act, which is basically to prevent people from sending offensive or false messages via a communications device. It seems innocent at first, but is too broad to be considered a fair law. And someone discovered it, and used it rightly to defend himself/herself. The trouble started here – though someone used it rightly, initially, the politicians, and the well-to-do people, deep under corruption and false sense of superiority, discovered it, and much to the chagrin of the normal person, they’re using it to create chaos, and to satisfy their petty egos.

The problem doesn’t lie with the law, it’s the people. Recent incidents in the country have scared me, and threaten not only mine, but every Indian’s right to express him/herself. It’s our fundamental right, and we should fight for it. What one does to someone, even in an emotional outburst, could come back to haunt him or her. Please, shed violence, even in the name of respecting anyone. Violence is not the answer, and right now, we all need to come  to pull back our nation together. India shouldn’t fall apart, it shouldn’t.

Note: I’m not naming anyone, nor do I mean to spread false information or malign anyone. I’m just expressing my opinion, and any similarity with regard to any mention of any piece of information is merely coincidental and not meant to disrespect or disregard anyone. I apologize in advance if the text above has hurt your feelings, I mean no disrespect.

Metro Is Beautiful, But I Don’t Need It, Yet

Microsoft launched the shiny new Windows 8 in October, and I knew what to expect – actually, to put it more correctly, I knew what using Windows 8 would be like, since I’d been using it back when MS unveiled the Developer Preview. So, in all, I was using Windows 8 for more than a year, already, before the final version was out. I loved the upgrade to bits – it ran faster than XP and Windows 7 Ultimate did, and a lot, lot faster than Ubuntu. There’s no reason to dislike it, for me. The desktop has been cleaned up a lot, and is a lot, lot easier to use, and is light on the eyes. That’s what Windows 7 lacked – there was a lot of gloss everywhere, and it’d bring the entire computer to a screeching halt. Windows 8 seemed to address all of my concerns with the desktop, but it also brought with it something new, something really nice – Metro UI.

Dual Identities Windows 8

I like the latter, but the former gets my work done.

It’s inspired from Windows Phone, and being a Windows Phone fan myself, I had no doubt I’d buy Windows 8 the day it’d become available – I did. But here’s the deal – I don’t know why’d I use Metro apps. I’ve found and am comfortable with the desktop apps, the ones without the Metro UI – the old-school apps. They are powerful, and can do what I want. But with Metro apps, there’s some compromise – hidden menus, actions, a lot of scrolling around, and more than anything, you cannot resize the “window” size – they’re all full-screen. Oh yes, there’s the snap feature, but that’s as much about it. I don’t know what is happening outside of the app, and that’s not what I want. I would use a tablet or a smartphone if I did not want to multitask. I can get in and out of apps at a breeze, but then that’s not something I want to do, again.

To say that I’ve been using Windows Phone for well over a year, and Windows 8 as well, and that I still don’t feel at home with the Metro UI on the latter, surprised me as well, when I first realized the fact. If ever you find me using the Metro apps on the computer, it’s because I’m forcing myself to get used to it, to use the new stuff more, to forcibly like it, to forcibly ditch the desktop apps, to forcibly move along in the new direction Microsoft has taken.

I understand they’re trying to unite the mobile and computer spheres, but it seems like a lofty goal to me, for now. In spite of using Windows 8 for well over a year, I still can’t seem to use Metro. I can’t use it even when I want to while away my time, nor when I want to be productive.

It’s going to be a tough ride for you, Microsoft. As long as there are Windows XP, Vista, 7 or the desktop Windows in any form, you’re going to have a tough time migrating your user base to Metro.