As happens every two years or so (in almost perfect timing with my changing affiliation), my computer crashed. The crash this time was quite severe, hard disk failure. I lost a lot of time and a lost of data (one is never too careful).
In the process of updating in all urgency the machine (a P850 Toshiba laptop), I came up with something that had Windows 8 preinstalled. It is still outrageously close to impossible to get hardware without Microsoft software plaguing it. This is a racket from these bandits, nothing more than extortion. I cannot comprehend how such a ludicrous monopoly is not yet recognized as illegal.
I dislike the Windows series very much but Windows 8 is about as bad as it can come. For the first time, I felt with my own computer like with a kiosk machine found in the airports and shopping malls. Something looking cool that however provides little information and vomits much hype and links to everything commercial.
So that's where computers for the masses are becoming. There is a clear trend to take away the users control of the machine to provide them instead with high-level functionality behind shiny buttons and simple concepts, which wouldn't be too bad in principle, except that it linked most of the time to consumerism, and, most of the time again, of the monetary type: buy here, buy there, buy that. Most icons I clicked brought me on a shopping platform of some sorts, be it music, movies, books, more softwares. The rest was feeding with news, ads or a mix of the two. It was a depressing sight and a painful-to-the-soul experience. Before I could download a linux live CD, I had to decline many times the offer to update the McAfee antivirus protection, this piece of software so unbearable that even its (now fugitive) father switches it off~. I toyed with the idea of keeping this abomination of a system in a corner of the disk, just in case, why not, but after another horrible quest to find a partitioner able to deal with this brand of file system, and coming to the realization that, having done nothing whatsoever the system still found a way to write something in the middle of the disk, that "letting the defragmentation work overnight" popped up as one step in the remedy not to allocate half of my disk to Windows~8, I just thought I should shred the disk and try to forget.
Computers have this particularity that they survived the global cancer that is the society of consumption, of copyright, of legal binding of the user to some corporation or higher authority of any sort. They survived this thanks to the existence of free software, of linux and of related concepts. We should strive to bring the world as large to follow such routes.
Elena recently took a keen interest to the ideas of Jacque Fresco and Peter Joseph towards a Resource Based Economy, which one could summarize (slightly incorrectly) as bringing the spirit of free software to the society at large. Most people would tell you this is impossible. They would also tell you (and more often that not, will in fact actually tell you) that GNU/Linux is impossible, if people with something else than greed and selfishness in their heart hadn't elevated themselves to the rank of benefactors of the humankind in terms of computer software, and brought a more than compelling proof that it is possible. It is possible to do something to serve one's fellow people rather than just seeing them as part of a business, to be useful, to be efficient, to be solving a problem rather than creating artificial ones to maximize the personal profit of a little group.
Windows 8 shows that while Free Software is still thriving and is progressing, also the corruption of the business model, of the consumerism, of the pecuniary way of life is blooming. This is something we have to fight.