Monday, March 02, 2009

Why doesn't Microsoft have a site like ubuntuforums.org?

It would never work, at least not exactly. Its a political thing. Basically, who wants to give their time and energy away for free to help with something Microsoft is paid to do? M$ makes money, while EVERYTHING that is Gnu/Linux is created for someone's personal use and given away for free that others that create will be willing to share in the same way. Additionally, if you make a good program for yourself and share it for free, there is a good chance people will repay you through contributions of bug fixes, additional features, or maybe a really big thank you.

When was the last time you think anyone took the time to write Bill Gates and say "Thank you Bill for making a really great operating system for my computer". Not likely, cause why bother, you got your OS, M$ got their money, no more reason to really talk to each other.

It is really interesting the relationship Sun Microsystems has with the OSS community. They give away a produce for free, and open the source. However, if you contribute, you can only make code suggestions, that may or may not go in, and Sun keeps total control. Lots of people use open office, but there is no real Open Office developer community because you can't really ever be part of a team. They are 'basic' open source, meeting the dictionary definition. They arn't putting their effort into community building. Ubuntu is quite the irony. Sun is open source and discourages community (passively) while Cannonical makes proprietary software (you can't get the code for the forums, or even help) but these closed tools are used to build community.

M$ having a site like this is like having a poetry jam where they charge admission: If you are going to read poetry, you want to get paid. But make it free and charge for drinks, but put in some comfy chairs, people will want to share for free just to be heard.

I love ubuntu. I do some programming, but nothing cool enough worth inclusion in Ubuntu. Maybe some day. I am AMAZED how much Gnu/Linux has become simply through a desire for nerds to share and help each other out. I WANT to be more a part of such a great community, but my experience and skill only put me at, hopefully, very knowledgeable user. So, I try and do support. I came on the forums for the first time in a long time and found I knew the answers to many of the questions people were asking. So I figured 'why not?'

Seriously, I get this whole, wonderfully incredible operating system and software that does everything I need that would otherwise cost tens of thousands of dollars in proprietary software, and it is all given away in hopes that people will want to get involved.

Me helping any way I can makes me feel a part of that; it is how I can pay for my Linux just the way it was meant to be.

So this is my way of giving back. If there was a site like this for Microsoft (actually, there is, sort of. it is called Microsoft Knowledge Base) I, for one, wouldn't bother. I'd say "Already paid for it, let someone else do it". Why would I want to give my time away for free? This isn't free, I get Linux!

3 comments:

Saerith said...

Let me address this chronologically. First off aside from technet, the knowledge base and windows update, you can get support for Vista via:
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/default.aspx

Next, ignoring the fact that Mr. Gates no longer has much involvement in the windows development, having people be allowed to contribute to windows would be a cluster****. That many users all wanting their own little customization would be impossible. It becomes possible with something like ubuntu because the community is smaller and all share common interests.
The best the WinBuild team can do is to listen to the general suggestions and work on either a service pack or improving the next manifestation of windows to be released. People noted that windows vista was sluggish, resource intensive and prone to stability issues. These issues are a primary focus along with the ever difficult balance of security and user friendliness in the development of Win7.

In summary ubuntu might be a nice poetry jam, where everyone gets a turn at the mic. But your asking MS to do that a jam the size of small country.

Saerith said...

BTW, wound up here via the librivox recording for Lovecraft, I honestly forget which one, but the website name stuck in my head haunting me to visit.

Keith said...

Well thanks for visiting all the same.

I am not sure if you missed some context. ubuntuforums is a place where people get technical support more than discuss changes people want to see... though that goes on as well. While Ubuntu has quite a bit of staff, they are there to pick up slack. Most "support tickets", if you could call it that, are answered by the community.

My point was that you just don't get that kind of support from the Microsoft community, hundreds of people spending their own time to answer technical support questions. The same is on IRC. Most all the programming channels as well as the free programming guides out there address linux / gcc.

It could be that I have been so detached from windows for so long that I don't see it, but I used Windows for over a decade and just never saw the kind of willingness people take out of their day to help newbies and experts improve their skills.

As far as launchpad and brainstorm go, I have not been as active. brainstorm feels like a wretched mess, and launchpad is a bit over my head in certain respects.

Also, Microsoft acknowledged that Linux has nearly double the desktop presence of Mac OSX with pirated windows being their largest competitor. So something for perspective.

Further, Windows only has desktop presence. Their embedded systems and servers don't play much of a role in the US, let alone world wide. While the users on the end of the wires of the Internet may mostly use windows, everything in between that makes it all work, that which IS the Internet, is powered by Linux. Google, wikipedia, digg, ebay, paypal, not to mention all the switches and routers.

It is amazing it works at all, especially the way Microsoft talks about it.