The reality of the “Microsoft House”
My goal in this whole endeavour was deceptively simple. I wanted to centrally store my media and share it across my home network to my various PCs and mobile devices. If you believe the hype, this should be simple, but of course, it’s not. The purpose of this article is to give a true and reasonable account of what it’s actually like to try and “live the dream” of the ideals set out in the “Microsoft House” and why it’s not what we all have in our homes, unlike Microwaves, DVD players and yes, iPods.
The recently banned iPhone ads (Apple are liars, but we all knew that) are a great example of what should happen, contrasted with what actually happens.
To begin, let’s discuss why this is mostly all Microsoft’s fault. The reason most people don’t utilize the full potential of Windows, is because they have enough of a job keeping the damn thing running in the first place. Having worked in a small computer shop, I can say from personal experience that it is simply amazing, the seemingly extraordinary lengths people will go to in order to harm, cripple and disable their PC. They don’t really mean to do it of course, but they are not educated enough to make sensible and informed choices. Even Vista isn’t immune to the ever-ignorant masses, but as I said, this is Microsoft’s fault.
I’d like to make an assumption here, and do let me know if I’m wrong. You are running Windows XP or Vista with a single user account. This might be password protected or it might not, but it is your single administrative account which you use every day. Well believe it or not, this is bad practice, and leaves your PC open in ways that Microsoft assumes you’ve resolved.
You should have an Administrator account which you do not use, plus a standard user account which you use from day to day. This is not the only example, but it’s typical of “miss-use” of Windows and I wouldn’t be much of a Windows Nerd if I didn’t at least mention it.
Anyway, let’s assume I’m lucky and have a grip on Windows. It’s running fine on my circa 2005 PC, which is a member of my Windows Server Domain. I’ve taken a lot of crap for running a Domain at home, but the truth is, it’s simply the best way to run a network.
Like most people, I have an iPod and I use iTunes to store, stream and organize my audio and videos. I’m no movie pirate, but I do rip my DVDs to my PC in order to enjoy them on my iPod, and these are encoded to H.264 MP4s using DVD FAB and Nero 8. This is all dandy and fine, until you want to use any of these files outside of the iTunes ecosystem. This is not just a problem with Apple and it’s not all their fault. There is a much more fundamental flaw here.
In Part Two, I’ll discuss the pragmatic reasons why a drastic re-think is needed before the Microsoft House is a practical reality, and why (for all the wrong reasons) we all need to abandon the iPod.
The Average Windows Nerd