And no XP for thee

A few weeks ago I recommended that people should avoid buying Windows XP. Since then, I've been deluged with email from readers who've come to the same conclusion. Too many customers may now have become alienated for even Microsoft to ignore.

A few weeks ago, in a column entitled, There'll be no XP for me, I recommended that people should avoid buying Windows XP.

Since then, I've been deluged with email from readers who've come to the same conclusion. Too many customers may now have become alienated for even Microsoft to ignore.

I'm going to focus on as many of your comments as I can. I'll start with a reader who fears reprisals, so I'm withholding his name.

"We are a small IT consulting firm that has built the majority of our business around Microsoft and its products," writes this reader. "We have always championed Microsoft (and Bill Gates) as a great company/person and one to be proud of and to emulate."

But, he continues, "How things change! Given Microsoft's behaviour concerning Windows XP, Office XP, licensing schemes, Passport schemes, etc, we've seen a previously unknown ground swell of dislike, concern and outright anger at Microsoft by our small and midsize business customers.

"Not one of our customers has asked us to price or order for them Windows XP or Office XP (and most have said never). Almost 100% of our customer base has no interest in XP, and for the first time have asked us to order and pursue Linux solutions for them. It seems clear that Windows 2000 is the end of the line for most of our customers, and we have no choice but to pursue the Linux avenue if we intend to stay in business."

Some readers, however, like XP and criticised my statements about Passport. Their views were similar to those expressed by Iain McDonald, project director for Microsoft Windows.

"You don't need a Passport to run Windows XP," McDonald writes. "I'll say it the other way: Windows XP does not require a Passport -- you are 100% wrong on this. Yes, a Passport will help if you go to enabled sites, and if you go to those, it's what you need to have identity."

Truth be told, I never said Passport was required to run XP. I said in my column, and I quote, "Microsoft made Passport a requirement to use Windows Messenger and other features."

But perhaps I was too kind. Jack Naylor is a professional engineer with three techie sons and a six-PC network. He writes: "It may be a great idea to avoid using Passport, but I'm afraid it's going to take more than just avoiding Windows XP, at least if you want tech support for any Microsoft product. My 11-year-old, against my strong advice, purchased a Microsoft game -- MotorCross Madness2. After the Microsoft consumer-products support site failed to solve numerous install problems, we were directed to contact technical support. However, to contact Microsoft technical support via email, you must sign up for a Passport account." Hmm.

I'll report on more readers' views next week.

Brian Livingston's latest book is Windows Me Secrets. Send tips to tips@brianlivingston.com.

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