Monday, March 24, 2008

Hotmail, Safari, and Internet ethics

My opinion of the Internet is that it should be an open medium for sharing information. No one company should have dominance over the Internet, whether it be through browser software or through Web sites.

One of the major problems I've had while running Linux is that the "full" version of Windows Live Hotmail does not work correctly using the version of Firefox packaged with Ubuntu and other distros. Hotmail forces you to use it's "classic" version -- which is very flawed. Unfortunately, I sent out some badly formatted e-mails (they were rather important) because of this.

After searching the Internet for a while I ran across a solution involving modifying the browser headers that are sent to Hotmail. Essentially, I am tricking Hotmail to think I'm using a version of Firefox running under Windows. It's the only way I can reliably get Hotmail into its full featured mode.

I've read many posts that claim that it is Microsoft's right to shut out Linux users from using Hotmail. Perhaps it is, but I believe this goes against everything the Internet stands for. In no way should Microsoft be allowed to deny full features just because you're not using Windows. Web designers should not be able to create applications and Web sites that do not work in different browsers -- regardless of whether or not they are competition.

When I booted up into my XP partition the other day I was shocked to find out Apple had begun packaging Safari in with its iTunes updates. This is just as wrong as Hotmail not working in Linux without tricking the Web site.

It's unfortunate that iTunes updates are already 50+ MB, but then they want to throw in another huge file for the worthless piece of software that Apple calls a browser. Firefox has all the features that Safari has, is faster, and is a much smaller download file.

What gets me is that Apple is going to capitalize on people who don't understand computers. When these people go to update iTunes, they probably will download Safari without even realizing it. I have no problem with people using Safari, I just do not think they should be forced to use it (much like how Microsoft should not be allowed to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows).

The news that Safari 3.1 crashes on Windows XP does not help Apple out at all. Not only are they pushing software on users, the software crashes on the most popular Windows operating system.

The Internet is supposed to be OPEN. Companies like Microsoft and Apple must stop their monopolistic practices in regards to their policies governing the use of their products.

It's too bad the United States courts will not do anything to stop these companies. All we can hope for is that the European Union will.

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