Screwing the end user and seeing how far you get
by Walter V. Koenning for the OPINION/EDITORIAL section.

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Linux today is a far more appealing solution than Microsoft Windows, not only for running my home network/firewall but also for running my personal laptop and family internet gaming machine.

I had naively believed for years that Microsoft was balancing between the demands of shareholders and OEM relationships and its user base. Somehow the balance teetered one way or another, but in the end I assumed I would benefit from purchasing their expensive licenses.

Using my laptop which was running Vista, I finally got around to taking my DVD minidisc movie of our summer vacation and trying to properly burn it as a DVD movie we could watch on our big screen.

I sat down to transfer the movie and encountered some odd errors from Microsoft Windows.

At the time I thought, because of all the fraud and copy theft going on, Microsoft was trying to help by making it difficult to transfer movies or watch movies.

But this was MY MOVIE!

It was not a copy protected Macrovision armoured movie someone was making profit from, it was a home movie of my kids burying me in the sand on Rehoboth beach. Yet I encountered numerous issues.

One program refused to open it, stating I did not have the right codec.

When I tried to display the movie between my laptop and my LCD screen only the Laptop screen would display it.

Apparently Microsoft was " protecting" me from having my movie watched on two screens at the same time, but frankly it should have allowed me to switch to the one large LCD. Instead, even running just the one large screen showed a black box where my movie should have been.

I was later told this was part of the new protections enabled in the operating system to ensure DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) was addressed.

But again, I appeal to any reasonable person, we are not talking about theft; we are talking about my son using his shovel to bury my left leg in the sand filmed by me awkwardly holding my Sony Handycam.

Finally flustered, I used a third party tool (read that as NOT MICROSOFT GARBAGE) to create a simple 7 minute movie and burned it on disc.

Stupidly, I first tried to view the burned DVD on my Windows laptop, before we all sat on the couch and viewed it on the big screen. Windows Media Player started automatically and then gave an error saying it could not display this movie " because it was not in the correct format."

Sick of using Windows OS that hindered basic tasks I was trying to accomplish, I turned off the laptop and we watched the movie on our DVD player without any further issues.

Here we have an Operating System maker so completely fixated on its business relationships that it rejects the very essence of why it makes an OS in the first place: the end user.

It dawned on me that if Linux developers lose sight of their end-users, if we in the Linux community forget that the end-users count for a lot, we're going to walk down the same path Microsoft chose years ago.

My hope is that the Linux community will never fixate on any issue or topic at the expense of the final judge and jury of Linux's value in the world: the end users.

To those poor folks who continue to slam their fist onto the desk trying to get Microsoft Windows to assist rather than impede with simple day to day computing, I feel sadness for you. Microsoft couldn't care less about you and your needs, if they tried.

To you I take my hat off for your stoic fortitude, because after 7 months of that garbage, I chose to install Ubuntu on the laptop, and encourage my kids to use the new family Mac running OSX. Needless to say, our Christmas holiday DVDs were a lot easier to create and watch! And NO, Microsoft you're not screwing this end user any more.

Some excellent Linux based solutions for watching your videos:


Konqueror Media Player





Totem Movie Player


Some very handy movie editing tools:






Open Movie Editor

Walter V. Koenning is a technology writer and provides insights regarding industry trends. He contributes regularly to the OPINION/EDITORIAL segments on and other technology online magazines.

This brief opinion piece should not be construed as factual information, and only contains the opinions and personal experiences of the author at the time of publication. could not find information in this article that at the time of publication was inaccurate. However, the opinions and personal experiences that have been posted do not express the opinions of and are not endorsed in any way. Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. Microsoft and Microsoft Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation both in the United States and Internationally. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.