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... and why Windows gets more bloated every day
Published on September 17, 2007 By terpfan1980 In Personal Computing

Want to know why computer support (and Information Technology support) keeps getting $$$ signs associated with it and why service that used to be free isn't any more?  How about why IT support jobs that used to be done in the U.S.A. are being increasingly outsourced to India and other countries where call centers can be run -- relatively speaking -- for pennies on the dollar?

Look no farther than the replies in this recent article: RANT: I don't want the freakin' toolbar!

Many of the replies are along the lines of just shut-up, take what the developers give you and live with the defaults that exist in the installation packages.  I'm told to basically quit frettin' over issues, don't give myself an ulcer or a heart attack over little things.  I'm also told to smack the crap outta the users I help support and make them spend their very valuable time -- that is supposed to be spent doing other important work -- to learn all of the gotchas that might come up with every installer and every updater that they might encounter.

I'm disappointed in several of the replies in that thread because in those replies I see exactly why things are getting worse -- in many ways -- and not better in the IT world, with more bloat and more problems.

Want to know why the ultimate pain-in-the-rump UAC exists in Vista?  Look at the replies there.  Sadly, even though UAC does exist, it doesn't solve these same problems because end users still don't know what they are getting when they click 'Allow' and let software install on their systems, but meanwhile people that do know what they are doing are inconvenienced by UAC regularly (or they turn it off completely if they are too annoyed with).  Basically Microsoft has, yet again, bloated up their OS with add-on protection that doesn't work as intended because they can't get around the social engineering problems that exist on all ends of the spectrum.

On one end of the spectrum we have apathetic users that just take it and roll over, or worse bitch at other users (like myself) that are bitching about the problems and tell us to just shut up and not worry over these things.  On the other end we have users that just don't know and yet who rely on using PCs for e-mail, office applications and other daily use who wind up allowing installation of add-on tools and apps that aren't needed because they don't know they don't need the add-ons when they are installing or updating the one part they did need.

Meanwhile Microsoft's OS gets more bloated along the way, and more add-ons get installed making the system drag down over time, having it perform more slowly, and having the IT support staff get a bad reputation for delivering a poor product to their customers.

As I spoke up in a reply to that thread and mentioned above, a lot of these problems are the root cause for why support is no longer included in the purchase price.  Not the only reasons, and maybe not the primary reasons, but definitely part of the reason.  Back when Microsoft and their friends could sell their applications for hundreds of dollars at a time, and when the users were only likely to call a few times during installation and/or for some tough configuration problem later on, the numbers of calls that were received were much lower so the support costs could be easily absorbed back into the sale price of the software (or license to use the software in the words of the developers).

Over time the numbers of calls received went up (as more users started using the software, and more problematic users started making more calls to determine how to do things with the software) and the developers realized that they couldn't keep passing on enough cost to all users and still sell product so they divorced the support costs from the sale price and instead started selling support by the incident or by a contract that adds the price in after the fact.

As I said, this is also why companies that do provide support have continued to outsource that support and ship it over-seas.  It is cheaper for them to get labor in other areas, so they set up shop there and put in a call center, or work in some big call center that actually houses many support centers within because it can be a lot cheaper that way.  Or at least it's cheaper until the outsourced support centers piss off the customers because their employees don't speak English in a way that the customers that are calling understand.

I'm reminded of George Jetson as he rides on the treadmill over and over again and is yelling at his wife "Jane, stop this crazy thing!"  If people want to be apathetic about pushing for and demanding changes and demanding better from the people that make the software they use that's fine.  Eventually they wake up and find out that they've created a monopoly that isn't acting in their best interests (see Microsoft vs. European Union as an example.  I wish I could point at Microsoft vs. Department of Justice, but our current DoJ sold out to Microsoft and took a self-created punishment from Microsoft rather than putting the hammer down on them as they should).

Educated users, people that can do from themselves will go out and find other solutions, many times much better solutions (Linux anyone?) and use them and leave the common folk to suffer the fate they deserve as their systems keep getting slower and slower and the techies get to benefit from the improvements in hardware speed that will be needed to make up for the burgeoning and bloated software that is running (poorly) on the common folks systems.

Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 17, 2007
Yet more fuel for people that will tell me to stop worrying and just keep collecting paychecks to support systems and earn my keep.  While I'm not looking to retire any time soon, and while I don't expect my job to be brain-dead easy, I would like to see the world of IT improved.  There is certainly room for that to happen.
on Sep 17, 2007
Everything is viewed as a cost center including IT services.
When you're an IT professional and the work you perform is viewed as an expense, it's easy to justify outsourcing that service to another company/country for "pennies on the dollar". It's hard times for IT folk who invested alot of time, money & effort into their educations to see their jobs outsourced to the lowest bidder. Don't look for IT services to improve, look for them to steadily deteriorate and even when the services offered by outsourcers are poor in quality, the rationalization is that you're not paying alot of money for this service so you can expect it to be a low quality service and your own standards & expectations are lowered so you don't expect much anymore. And since low expectations & low quality IT service become the accepted norm, you have fewer local people going into the IT profession because they see their is no growth, decent pay or stability to be offered by employers, years go by and the only IT services offered are those from other countries and since they're the only ones offering these services and you have no local talent pool to employ, these outsourcers will increase their pricing and demand more money for the same service because they can and the companies that have replaced their IT service infrastructures with outsourced services will have to pay more because no one else is available locally to perform these jobs and these same companies will have to pay more money for the same poor services. Save a little now and pay a whole lot more later - no one learns till it's too late and when it's too late you have no resources to do things differently.

After IT has been removed as a viable career opportunity, what is the next service to be outsourced, who are the next group of people to lose their jobs to this outsourcing craze?
on Sep 17, 2007
and you know what slays me...
I have NEVER seen a company pass ANY savings on to customers. The stock holders simply get fatter.

I don't know what else I can add to this. You two have mirrored my thoughts almost completely. Great Job!  
on Sep 17, 2007
terplan1980 you have presented your views/findings/observations/facts in this and your other post clearly. Your postion is easy to understand and comprehend given your career choice.

Alot of thought and time went into your posts. Your experience in your chosen field of employment shows.

Okay, now give us your solutions, otherwise why make the effort. So, you are now in charge and in control of all you see before you. Can you orrect the problems?   
on Sep 17, 2007
Okay, now give us your solutions, otherwise why make the effort. So, you are now in charge and in control of all you see before you. Can you orrect the problems?

I realize this was directed at terp, but I'll offer up my two cents' worth.

One very important change in my book personally is to let IT manage IT. The business has certain needs, fine. As long as IT meets those needs, a "hands off" policy should apply. Those needs should not include Accounting livestreaming video on four different computers. Policies should allow users enough access to do their jobs and little else.

Deploy workstations on virtual machines. The workstation computer should be locked down and permissions elevated only on the virtual machine. That way when someone mucks up they muck up their virtual machine without spazzing out the system files on the host computer.

Mandatory workplace training with an enforceable IT policy. Give IT authority to lock down all sites that have proven problematic and block most downloads and installations for anyone without administrative privileges. Make it clear that discipline will be the result of policy violations.

IT personnel have an undeserved rep for not being very user friendly. But if you've seen what we've seen (example: I'm seeing an end user's computer for the second time in a WEEK; when we returned it to him LAST FRIDAY, it was completely clean. Today it is so riddled with spyware it won't start properly), you would realize that we are only trying to do our jobs and protect the network you've paid so much for us to maintain.
on Sep 17, 2007
Nice shot at it Gideon.

In your experience, do you see your solutions being able to work within a corporate structure?

Here's another question, should the IT function be part of the corporations/business or should it be a contracted service? Which would more effective? I can see that internal IT would have more responsibility, and the contractor having more control.  
on Sep 17, 2007
In your experience, do you see your solutions being able to work within a corporate structure?

Only if IT was its own department (like HR, accounting, etc). The IT COC should go through the CIO, not the CEO.

Here's another question, should the IT function be part of the corporations/business or should it be a contracted service? Which would more effective?

I would say it would depend on the size of the network. For smaller networks, consulting firms are already the norm; for larger firms, it would be more effective if IT were part of the business. There's too much potential for insider trading if it's contracted, as IT personnel could potentially have access to the networks of competing corporations.
on Sep 17, 2007
And just who is to blame for all the jobs that are out sourced or the high price of products that don't last? Who can we blame for buying products or items that contain less then the year before but costs more every year? Who's to blame for gas prices going sky high because we buy oil from other countries instead of using our own resources that well sell to other countries? WE the people of the United States are to BLAME. WE want to complain about all the jobs that we are losing to other countries. We want to complain about the price of gas. WE want to complain about the high cost of medical bills. WE want to complain about just ABOUT
EVERY THING. But we won't do any thing about it if it will cause a hard ship or be inconvenient for us.

The people of the United States have gotten used to a soft life. WE will buy any thing to make our life easier and pay what every it takes to get it. BUT WE reserve the right to bitch about it. Now mind you we want to bitch about it but we don't want to do any thing about it because it will take to much time from our daily life. You know things like both parents working long hours every day so we can make the money to buy all the things to make our lives easier. Things like 4 different video games and 150 games to play for the kids. And a cell phone for the kids and don't forget all the designer clothes for the kids. We have to buy them things to keep them busy because we don't have time to talk to them or be with them because we have to work all the time.

Plus we have to buy new houses and vehicles' to impress the neighbors which means we have to work even more hours to pay for them which means we will have to buy more things for the kids to keep them busy because we have even less time to spend with them.

We live in a throw away society. We will buy furniture and appliances that will fall apart in a year, Vehicles that don't last, We go out and buy new printers because it is almost cheaper then buying ink for them. The list goes on. So what if a product doesn't last we will just buy a new one. (WE can always work more hours) People don't demand quality any more so companies don't build quality products.

Things will never change until enough people are willing to make sacrifices and stand together and demand that changes be made.
on Sep 17, 2007

Okay, now give us your solutions, otherwise why make the effort. So, you are now in charge and in control of all you see before you. Can you orrect the problems?

Gideon has added several thoughts above on ways to improve the situation, and I'd add a few more here.

First, when the IT support people speak up, someone has to freakin' listen.  When the IT guys recognize a problem, they should speak up about it and make it clear that it is a problem that needs addressing and shouldn't just be waved off and ignored.

Second, when there are problems that are coming from things like bundling of applications, the IT guys need to recognize it and speak up about and complain until the people doing the bundling stop doing so.  I don't particularly want the government interfering in the IT world's daily activities, but if things don't improve I can forsee a time when the government will get involved again and will pass regulations that forbid the bundling that has gone on.  Instead of getting systems with lots of applications pre-loaded and pre-configured for our uses we'll get more systems where we have to opt-in and we'll be opting-in for many individual tools and applications rather than one tool/app that brings along a host of friends for the ride.  Things won't change though unless people speak up about the problem and as seen in the other thread, many people don't see it as anything more than a very minor annoyance and not a problem at all.

Third, well, yes, expect to pay at least a little for support.  Since things have been split-up and we no longer have the costs for support built-in to the prices we pay for products, there won't be any free rides, or at least not from the lower end vendors.  Higher end vendors will lose sales to the people that are basing their purchasing decisions on price first and service later so we can be fairly certain that in the end service will be an add-on cost.  The question is what level of service will we get for our money and whether or not that service is being done by people in our own back yards or will it be done by off-shore and over-seas personnel.

Fourth, when you call for support and get someone that you can't understand on the other end of the phone, or someone that is obviously following a stupid script and not actually listening for the issue (or at least not listening for it until they hit the right place in the script and you've already told them what the issue is several times before that point) COMPLAIN ABOUT IT.  Fill out the survey that you get that asks 'how'd we do?' and hammer home that point.  Don't just ignore the survey and figure it won't make any difference.  Enough of those survey's come back in incredibly negative and things will change.

Fifth, complain about things online.   Seriously though, spread the word when you've had problems.  Don't let others fall into the same situation that you did.  Stick with the facts, and only the facts.  Keep conjecture out of it, but yes, tell others about your bad experiences and discuss why you had those problems.  You may learn from others about how to resolve the problems, or you may be able to help others learn about problems they have to worry about avoiding.


That's all I have time to think about writing up for now, but I'll probably think of some more later, and/or others may have good information to add here too.

on Sep 17, 2007
Murex, I know it's Monday but you do sound just a little wound up. I would ask how much caffine you have this morning, but you just might tell me!!!!!!  

Everything you say is correct. Our society as others these days doesn't really care about the route we take to get to our destination, we just want to get there.

Consumers have and always will be the equalling factor. As consumers we actually can and do control what happens. Unfortunately, as you point out, collectively we just don't care. That atitude now is inbeded with everything we come in contact with, including our children.

The important thing to remember though is that it took awhile to get to where we now are, it will take as long to cause a change.

How's theat old phrse go, "Be careful of what you wish for................" Well the last 50 or more years people around the world have wanted something better. I wonder if this is what they had in mind.  
on Sep 17, 2007
We are and forever will be at the mercy of Microsoft as long as that is who you chose to deal with or until something better comes along. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a better chance at becoming president than we do at influencing Microsoft or Yahoo or anyone other software vendor in giving up their ability to thrust whatever crap they want to upon us.

Even if the masses all switched together, whoever you switched to would soon realize the market potential and hit you with the same crap.
on Sep 17, 2007
And just who is to blame for all the jobs that are out sourced or the high price of products that don't last? Who can we blame for buying products or items that contain less then the year before but costs more every year? Who's to blame for gas prices going sky high because we buy oil from other countries instead of using our own resources that well sell to other countries?

I believe a fair amount of that responsibility lies squarely on the goverment's shoulders.
You have politicians, lobbyists and big business that makes the rules that the normal citizen has to abide by. Very rarely do you see the needs & will of the people reflected in the policies of the country's government. Politicians get a lot of money during campaigns but where do they get it from? Not from voters and the general public? They receive those monies from big companies, lobbyists, federations, special interest groups, etc. When those politicians get elected, they have to pay back the monetary support and they do that by bending to the wills of those same people that provided the money to get them elected. They don't have any time left to take care of genuine public interest concerns. The government is no longer in a place to represent the people in an adequate manner if the people who are elected have to repay favors to the people who got them elected. The government is run by the dollar who shakes those bills higher & faster - it's no longer a real democracy. So you can't blame regular average class citizens, people like you & me for this problem. Even if we did vote for the independant politician, those votes would never get counted and that person would never get elected. Electronic voting machines are a big scandal that no one wants to open up & tell the truth about: Voting is supposed to be an open concept and people are allowed to question & recount votes to verify the legitimacy of the voting process. How do you do that with the voting machine that required you to touch a touch sensitive screen to take your vote? How do you verify that your vote was counted properly? You can't and that's a big problem right there. Play devil's advocate and say that the independant won the election instead of a democrat or republican, that person would still be indebted to the people that ran & financed his campaign and he would have to pay back those favors in some form or fashion.

This isn't a problem that can be fixed by the average person. Yes you can vote, but will it be counted properly? This is the kind of mess that won't be fixed anytime soon and unfortunately that means alot of people will suffer because of the problems created by big business running the government.
on Sep 17, 2007
I still have faith and hope in the power of the people (consumers).   

Even if the masses all switched together, whoever you switched to would soon realize the market potential and hit you with the same crap.

So all we are doing here is participating and some touchy, feely, feel good conversation? Sorry Po' just can't buy into that way of thinking.  
on Sep 17, 2007

I believe a fair amount of that responsibility lies squarely on the goverment's shoulders.

Thanks, but no thanks.  Keep the government out of this.

It is not the government's fault that people want lower prices and more for their money, and it's not the government's job to protect jobs here at home except for perhaps not overburdening the employers with too many unnecessary requirements that add to their costs and keep them from being competitive.

Remember though that if you start giving the companies a break and say, for example, that they can ignore clean air and water laws they wind up polluting more because they can, or they get sneaky and crafty and sell of pollution offsets so that someone else can pollute the air while the company pockets the money as pure profit and the employees continue getting lower end wages.

I'm all for the idea that the U.S. shouldn't be handing corporate wellfare of any kind over to companies that move a lot of their work overseas.  There should be NO write off of those costs, no offsets for those costs, and absolutely no way to support doing that while reducing taxes that are due.  But there are so many loopholes and ways around any restrictions that are put in place that we create an army of tax accountants and lawyers that find those loopholes and keep those companies making profits as they go ahead and do what they wanted to do all along.

Short of requiring companies that do business in this country (the U.S.A.) to maintain at least a 50% presence in the U.S.A. by total number of employees on the payroll, there's just no way to make sure you get the results you want.  Even if you do that, the companies create spin-off companies and sub-contract back to those spin-offs so that they can meet the letter of the law while complete ignoring the spirit of it.

I say let the marketplace handle the situation itself.  It will do it if allowed to.  There will be complaints enough to either improve the problem or revert back to having U.S. citizens do the job so that people will be happy with the support they get, or at least they'll be happy that the person they get help from speaks the same general version of the English language that they do.

on Sep 17, 2007
Here's another one I bet you don't realize...
Recently, in the headlines, you might have seen what a sham the Homeland Security audits turned up. Did you know that the IT Services of Homeland Security is outsourced to an American owned company which is owned by a former politician. This particular company also has a MASSIVE presence in India. You would be suprised at the government departments, retail chains and other things that are part of their India operation.
Quite disgusting...  

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