Want security? Privacy? Respect for Data Protection? Then Boycott Google…

1 06 2010

I think this last week has made me realise that, though Google offers so many great things in terms of their search engine and even some software, I have had it with them as a company and will no longer use any of their products….To put it bluntly, they simply don’t have any consideration of peoples personal data or any morals when it comes to collecting data and information that they simply shouldn’t, even if its the law…

For sometime Google has been accused of, well let’s say, tracking what people do on line and gathering personal information without consent. Recently there has been a number of issues linked with their own gMail etc. Then we come to the “street view” issue, which so many people in the UK objected too, and yet Google carried on no matter what….

Street view

Here in the UK many people and groups objected to the Google street view project. A number of national papers also voiced concerns of the project, however, Google seemed to be able to say “tough” and get on with it. Though there were a few changes made to the images that showed up online (for privacy) basically Google got to do what it wanted. However, from the same project, we hear that Google was also spying on people’s personal Wi-Fi connections, their online activities and wherever possible, gathering personal details such as eMail accounts. To top it off, Google didn’t feel there was anything wrong with this and didn’t even bother to inform local councils etc this was actually going on…(Probably because they knew this wouldn’t be approved).

Though Google now apologise for the incident, I don’t believe they will be deleting any information gathered and have only apologised for it since their PR agency has said its the thing to do… In addition they seem to come out with any number of excuses for their actions, all of which to anyone with any experience within the IT world will say is a load of old ****…

Regulations…

What amazes me is that Google manages to get away with things that many of us wouldn’t dream of doing. It makes me wonder, that if Microsoft had attempted this, that no doubt we would be hearing of massive court cases, the break up of Microsoft etc etc. Yet Google gets away with pretty much anything… In an age of ID theft, it amazes me that there are no real strong regulations in place to crackdown on Googles actions, but to top that, Googles attitude to privacy and the whole issue amazes me even further…If an individual was caught carrying out Googles actions, I am sure we would be seeing a prosecution of some kind….

I strongly believe that international bodies need to get to grips with what is technically possible, and more important what is ethical and basically should be against the law (if it isn’t already).

More things of concern…

Google has its own Browser and shortly, its own Operating System. Now just think what sort of information they could steal from you if you use their OS? I maybe being cynical but Google must be seen in this way simply because of its previous actions and record on data privacy. I wouldn’t trust Google Chrome browser or OS no matter what is said, to top it off, they aren’t even great products!

What can we do…

Well, ask yourself why is Google doing all this? Simple, it wants to know as much about us to sell on the details, perhaps not literally, but for sure in terms of advertising. The more Google knows about us, our actions, our connections and our habits, the more it can charge for its advertising and start to push these adverts and its own services on us. Which in turn makes Google a lot of money. Googles line will of course be something along the lines of “to provide the best service we can”, but again, any businessman will tell you, that the service argument is so they can sell more advertising…

I feel most average internet users don’t understand the situation, that Google provides “free services” because it makes its money through advertising, and it snoops on us to increase that revenue and revenue potential.

So what we can do as users? Simple. Stop using Google products and services. By doing this Google doesn’t have access to your internet habits or mobile habits and your personal information. If you have gMail move away from it, if you use Google as your search engine switch to Bing, Yahoo or ask (don’t be fooled that Google is by far and away the best search engine out there). If you use Chrome switch to FireFox or IE, and if you are tempted by Chrome OS, get Windows 7… The more people that do this the less of a captive audience Google will command, which means less advertising revenue for them…

The way Google behaves as an organisation and the lack of real regulation and action against them,  means this is the only way in which to make your own information safe and to make Google stop.

I for one will not be using any of their services and products again….

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Queuing for Windows 7

15 07 2009

It’s amazing that with all the press hype about Google Chrome OS, I have seen only a few posts in blog world and within Twitter that actually mentions Windows 7 is now on pre-sale within the UK. Reportedly the BBC states more copies of Windows 7 were sold than those of Windows Vista in its entire 17 week pre-ordering period! http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8151342.stm That’s an impressive start for Windows 7.

Vista hasn’t been that popular a version of Windows, it received lots of bad press initially some of which was just. However, I have been running Vista on a number of machines (including development platforms) since Vista was released, and well, surprise surprise, I haven’t had a single issue with it! It does show that the press really do have a say when it comes to influencing our spending habits and those of corporations even….Well, when it comes to Microsoft products for some reason.

So is Windows 7 just a quick fix for Vista. Well no, it’s more than just that, offering lots of improvements, including file management and performance, not to mention delivering new functions such as support for touch screen technology. Windows 7 has also had rave reviews (well as much support as you will find on the web for Microsoft products), so it isn’t that surprising that end users are queuing up to purchase their pre-ordered version, which they will receive on October 22nd when the software goes on general release in stores. (By the way, that’s my brothers birthday date.)

EU regulations

Well the EU has to be involved if it’s a Microsoft product, and this time the powers that be have ruled that Windows 7 cannot be shipped with a web browser (great…who made that decision?). This is to do with an anti-trust ruling but also to do with competition. One of the big issues I have with this is that it only seems to effect Microsoft, I don’t see Apple having to sell their machines and OS without Safari? I am also sure Google Chrome OS will be shipped with the Chrome browser pre-installed too? So not sure how decisions are being made behind closed doors at the EU. Needless to say, us the end users and general public are the ones who suffer for this plain stupidity.

Windows 7 Prices

Well for home users you are looking at around £50, professional setting you back £99.99, which for such a class operating system is not bad value for money. I think many people have forgotten just how hard it is to write an operating system, it’s not a simple task. If it were, I am sure Google would have written one instead of using Linux, adding their browser and putting their own name to it…

Business take up?

This could be the first time we see businesses actually jumping to the latest version of Windows sooner rather than later. Often businesses like to wait until at least one service pack has been released before they entertain upgrading their machines. However, with Windows 7 I get a real feel from in house IT systems that they are looking forward to getting their hands on the OS and getting it rolled out.

I also think that SMEs will be looking to upgrade as soon as they can, though their route is usually via purchasing new machines as and when they need them, as opposed to upgrading machine operating systems across the board.

Some figures on Windows 7 take up (predictions)

Predictions are that some 7 million units of Windows 7 will be sold by the end of this year, with this figure increasing to some 177 million units by the end of 2010. In contrast, Vista is expected to sell only 18 million units. This isn’t surprising really, is it…

Competition?

Well read the press and there is expected to be lots of competition from Google, however, I don’t really see this to be the case. Google have come very late to the OS market, one which is dominated by Windows, and one where the majority of average joes, prefer the idea of having only a single operating system. No matter what the hype is that surrounds Google Chrome OS, the fact of the matter is that Windows 7 will no doubt be a better operating system. Also, Chrome appears to be geared (at first at least) to the Netbooks marketplace, one which is rather small.

The usual comparisons will be made though, no doubt in October we will see lots of comparisons between Apple Mac OS X and Windows 7….

Conclusion…

For once the hype is right, Windows 7 is a great OS and I cannot see any argument for choosing any alternative, be it for business or home use…It’s just a shame the EU have to get involved…





Google hype and blog distortion

14 07 2009

Since the announcement of Google Chrome OS, it seems to me that online communities have gone nuts, either with over hyped stories of how great the Google OS will be, or completely the other way, stating just how poor Google is as a company, how unfocussed they are.

What is striking is that no matter what, Google does attract lots of hype, sometimes correctly so, but recently, maybe not. It also illustrates to me that, mention the name “Google”, and you get either one of two reactions, love or hate. This kind of reaction used to be reserved just for Microsoft…By the way, that doesn’t mean I think that is a good sign or a bad sign, just an observation.

Google hype

So just why does Google manage to be surrounded by such hype in everything it does, well announces at least? The only answer I can really point to is that many people, including bloggers and the press, still regard Google as a nice company, run by two guys out of a shed or something. A company with great morals, that stands for freedom of information etc. However, this vision just simply isn’t true. Remember Google was sold and is now a big old corporation, now more than a little in the Microsoft mould funny enough. I also find it funny that people forget just how many court cases Google has been involved with, many of which regarding people’s basic rights, such as privacy.

The company does provide the worlds foremost search engine, one that has a massive market share and one which many claim to be the best and most accurate. The search engine does deserve all its hype, as to put it simply; it’s a great search engine. The company also has to be applauded in the way it has monetised its search engine with online advertisements, targeted based on peoples search key words. (Though this has been the subject of some court cases and accusations of Google misleading web users and misidentifying sponsored links).

Google company direction

From the outside looking in, I can see many arguments for why people claim Google may be losing it’s way, and is reacting to things in the IT industry, rather than taking the lead. I have read lots about how Google is simply providing new software and services to plug a gap in the market, but that simply isn’t true is it. We have a number of browsers and a number of operating systems already, do we need more?

What we are seeing is Google doing what any sensible business should do and that is diversifying. Any business should not rely on one sole area, in Googles’ case advertisement revenue from its search engine. So diversifying makes sense.

A web browser is the obvious choice, though very few people have chosen to use the Chrome browser provided by Google. However, gmail and google docs are direct responses to Microsoft’s hotmail, and office offerings, which does take them into new waters so too speak. With regards to the Chrome OS, I can see a small argument or idea why it would be nice to tie an OS to the web more, however, I just don’t feel Google is the company to do this well, especially since they are using an open source operating system as its core, Linux.

On that point, it is also weird that Microsoft isn’t allowed to ship IE with Windows 7 in the EU, yet both Apple and Google can ship their operating systems with their own web browsers pre-installed….Curious isn’t it?

Google and Apple?

I have also read so much about Schmidt (Google Chief Executive) sitting on the board of Apple, and that many comparisons can now be made between Google offerings and Apples. Many claim that Google cannot think for itself and is simply stealing ideas from Apple…Maybe….I can see the logic there…

What is for sure is that Apple and Google now share some similar markets. Take Android (Googles mobile phone operating system), this has received a lot of “air time” from on-line bloggers and phone reviewers, however as a mobile OS, it really doesn’t compete with established offerings. This must annoy Apple with their iPhone? Both companies now offer web browsers for the windows platform (Safari from Apple and Chrome from Google) and now (though both hold a very very small market share), Google plans an operating system, which you could argue will compete against Apples OS X.

I must admit, I don’t see how one man can sit on both boards if they are effectively competing in any way shape or form, which they now are. I would say Google and Apple are more at war than Google and Microsoft…But that doesn’t have such an impact on story headlines…When you look at their market share for web browsers, they are for sure competing. Look at mobile phone market, they are competing, though Apple is light years ahead in market share. Next year, will we be seeing Google Chrome OS on netbooks competing with Apple entry level notebooks? Well they will be, but again I think Apple will be a long way ahead with regards to market share and sales.

 

Blog post distortion

Hmmmm One thing that has come from all of this Google OS hype, is that many blog posts are simply wrong and are written by people with limited knowledge (especially technical) on how things work. I have read many articles that hail Google OS as a revolution, something new that will compete with Windows 7, however these same articles don’t understand what Linux is, and its history. For me this is quite worrying, it seems that while reporting via TV or even news papers has some form of “checking”, the internet fails to have any, even the big bloggers…

Such incorrect posts do get around, and in todays social media environment, millions of people may have read that wrong information, believed it to be correct and actually made a purchase based on it. This isn’t good at all, not only for companies but more so for individuals.

I have also read a number of blogs that really do “lay into” other blogging sites, especially the larger ones for their lack of technical understanding. Which is probably just, but it’s the way such posts are written that almost makes you not want to read the post…For me, they lose all form of credibility themselves.

It is also very rare now to find blogging articles that don’t seem to have an agenda, especially so called review / news websites. Many either love Microsoft and hate everything else, or they love Google (this seems to be the larger amount of bloggers) and hate everything else, or finally, they love Apple, and hate everything else…It is very hard to find actual knowledgeable people writing independent unbiased posts, which is a shame…

 

Blog responses

The whole Google hype thing has also brought me much laughter when reading peoples responses to articles. I have also read a new term this week, “Googasms” which I am sure you can work out what that means…

For me, I read most responses with a little pinch of salt.

 

So Chrome OS, should it be getting the hype?

If that’s a question on what it will be like, probably not. After all it is built on an open source operating system which has no end of issues with driver support etc and has failed to make any sort of dent on the operating system market (even just for netbooks). But since Google has it’s badge on it, I can see why it has gained so much press time.

Will it be any good? Without seeing it I don’t know, no one does at this stage. My guess is that it will look and present well, but once you get into actually using it, it will have all the same problems that Linux has right now.





Windows OS vs Google Chrome OS

10 07 2009

I find myself laughing at the fact I have actually given this post this title and that I am actually going to spend time writing about this. However, as with anything Google does, it is so over hyped and constantly in the online media that I fear I have to post something on this.

First off, for those of you who didn’t know, Google have decided to launch their own computer operating system, which apparently isn’t only going to be aimed at Netbooks but as a contender to Microsoft Windows.

So what is Chrome OS

Well, please don’t think Google have spent lots of time writing their own operating system, as simply, they haven’t. Again, using open source software (which means anyone can gain access to the core code), Google has taken the Linux operating system, added some nice web features and then “badged” it as its own operating system. Please note there are lots of flavours of Linux already, none of which pose any real threat to the Windows OS nor market….

What’s the hype

Simple, it has Google’s name on it, and to be honest, many people who blog, or spend their time a lot on the internet rate Google in pretty much everything they do (though this doesn’t mean everything they do is a success, nor that it’s any good). To be honest, the name and company can be the only source of the hype; I can’t see any other reason. If this was delivered under a different name (not Google) I dont think many of us would have ever even heard of Chrome OS

Will Chrome OS have an impact

I am guessing it will have some kind of impact, but nothing worth talking about. I am sure we will see some netbooks with this installed, however, I don’t see the masses flocking to purchase anything with Chrome OS on it. At the end of the day, people don’t want to have to waste their time learning features of a new OS. This is one of the reasons why many haven’t taken to Windows Vista.

I think its impact will be mainly with online bloggers etc who will talk a lot about how great it is, and how we should all switch to it. But simply, it won’t be as flexible nor as easy to configure and use for home users and businesses alike. This means it won’t challenge Windows at all, and this is before Windows 7 is released in the EU.

I also can’t see people who use Apple hardware switching to anything running the Chrome OS, why would they?

Some of you may be asking why will Chrome be harder to use, configure etc. Well it’s because it is built on Linux. Linux people have been trying for almost 20 years to get something together that the general public and businesses would feel comfortable using….And they havent really….. 

Remember also that the OS has to drive so many different versions of the same piece of kit. Potentially each PC is made differently, requires different drivers etc etc. The same applies to your peripherals such as your printers, internet modems / routers, scanners etc. Windows has been built over a large period of time with all the manufacturers providing Windows drivers. The same can’t be said of any flavour of Linux. This means no doubt you will want to install your printer, only to find you can’t get a driver for that printer with your Chrome OS. Great, so you basically get rid of Chrome OS or buy a new printer…terrific for the end user….Remember also that these same basic issues will be seen within Businesses, and time is money, so this really isn’t a good feature.

Some of you geeks will also say “Hey, but Apple OS doesn’t have these problems, and that’s a close relative of Linux”. And you have a point, however, Apple machines are all the same, and they only allow you to install certain “apple” approved peripherals etc. So where is the freedom and flexibility in that? Plus think of the companies that actually provide new software and hardware. It is such a waste of resource for them to ensure they support all these different flavours of basically the same OS. So they always produce software and drivers that works on Windows and think about others later, as they should, its common business sense….

Windows 7

Well I have seen this and used it and it looks great. For me this is the bench mark of any operating system. For the business users and home users alike, Windows 7 really will be the OS of choice. It has numerous new features, including touch screen support; better media file management and improved security and reliability. It is ofcourse windows, so people know it will work, they can keep their same printers etc and enjoy plug-n-play installations of hardware.

No matter what Microsoft or Windows haters say, there is simply no better or simpler operating system for PC users to use.

 

Competition is good though

Yes it is. But let’s be honest, this isn’t competition. There are good reasons why Microsoft holds a 95% market share, and it’s because their operating system is easier to use and configure than anything else. That’s why we now have a PC in every home. (Well maybe not every home..). Also, it is “their” operating system, it isn’t open source. This means they maintain it, issue patches, support users and businesses.

I am all for competition, but let’s see Google compete on the merits of its software rather than its hype and name. At the moment I don’t see anything from Google that competes well outside of its core search engine business.

 

Conclusion

Google Chrome OS is just another flavour of Linux and basically, is all Google name hype. Choose Windows 7 every time over any other OS for your machine no matter what anyone tries to tell you. If you are on a Mac, hmmm, well give Windows 7 a look, I think you will be suitably impressed….