MS Corporation -- MS = Must SPAM?

Warning: This is Grestarian and he’s rambling as usual. Be forewarned.

So one day the new boss said “You might brush up on Windows PowerShell since you’ll be using it with the systemic automation scripting tool you’ll be using a lot.”

Brush up? I started out learning CP/M on a HeathKit Z80 home-built computer. When IBM and Microsoft started pushing DOS as the interactive language, it was relatively easy to see the commonalities and migrate from CP/M to DOS. But PowerShell is like DOS on steroids and even though I was resistant to adopting Windows (3, 3.1, NT, blah, blah, blah) I’ve since grown very accustomed to it – and lazy. So I figured I needed to start over from scratch. I also figured it was wise to start by finding out how much DOS has changed on its way to becoming PowerShell.

Google is convenient.*

I typed “How is PowerShell different from the DOS CMD interface?” and, naturally found a thousand links to answers – most of them copying each other’s text word-for-word. Near the top, below the advertisements for Microsoft training and help fighting Windows viruses, was a link to a Microsoft user forum where my exact question was asked nine years ago. The top answer was basically a quoted promotional pamphlet saying PowerShell is new and does this and that and here are some links and here are more features and more links and a few special functions and more links…

The next response said, “Thanks, but you only talked about PowerShell. How is it different from the DOS CMD interface, since they’re both available on WIN7?”

And there are some sarcastic remarks, but no real answers for the second half of the question.

So I went back to my search results and found an in-depth article that was published only six years ago on a non-Microsoft site. It does a great job of explaining the commonalities, similarities, differences, advantages, drawbacks, capabilities and oversights between the two. It really answers the question well. I thought it answered the question so well that I figured I’d go back to the Microsoft site and provide a new answer to that nine-year-old question with a link to the better article. I figured it would help inquiring geeks like me.

Naturally, before I could add my reply to the thread, I had to sign up as a subscriber/user. Naturally, my user name would be an e-mail address, both so I could prove I’m a real person (with a real e-mail address who can transcribe a special confirmation code) and so I could be contacted about technical problems or planned site availability interruptions. So I added my e-mail address and then I got the confirmation code and I plugged it into the window on the new account set-up interface and I made a point to un-check the box next to “Send Me Promotional Materials from Microsoft” and I hit <Confirm>

And nothing happened.

So, naturally, I hit <Confirm> again.

And nothing happened.

So I got a little suspicious. I backed-out, entered an ancient e-mail address that I only think about once every decade or so, got the confirmation code, entered the code in the box, and hit <Confirm>. This time I was allowed to move ahead and confirm my sentience# by figuring out the funky characters and entering my interpretations in the box, and hitting <Submit>. Then I was congratulated. I now have a new Microsoft Social Technet account that lets me participate in all the discussions (social and/or technical) that Microsoft wants to allow and monitor. Great!

So I figured that ancient e-mail account had served its purpose and went back to that browser window to log-out of the account. Less than a minute had passed and I already had 30 new messages – a dozen e-mails from Microsoft alone. The first welcomes me to the Technet forum. The second welcomes me to Microsoft’s fora. The third advertises Microsoft training via Microsoft’s affiliated educational institutions. The next nine advertise available downloads from reference to business to gaming to gaming to gaming software. The other sixteen are from non-Microsoft businesses, all advertising training, data-recovery, and system clean-up services – and, naturally, games.

I stared at the screen and wondered, “How did this ancient e-mail account go from zero messages for over a decade to dozens in a single minute?”

And even in the nanosecond it took to think of the question I realized I had provided that address only to test my theory about that check-box – and clearly I had been right! The only way I could get a new participant account on the Microsoft site was by ‘voluntarily’ opt-ing IN to receiving promotional materials from Microsoft. When I had toggled that box to be empty I couldn’t proceed to make an account. Even worse, by telling Microsoft I wanted them to send me promotional materials, I was apparently not using an electronic whisper but, instead, using the equivalent of a cyberSHOUT-ACROSS-THE-FOOTBALL-FIELD so that everybody around knew I was open to receiving Senselessly Placed Advertising Messages (SPAM).$

REALLY, Microsoft? I absolutely must open myself up to SPAM and worse in order to be the slightest bit helpful to my fellow computer nerds?

How obnoxious! I don’t even care about providing that link to the better answer any more.

  • Don’t believe people who say “Google is your friend.” Friends don’t pimp your soul for pico-pennies. Google was doing so long before they removed “Don’t be Evil” from their Code of Conduct.

I dare not say ‘my humanity’ since nobody ever considered me humane.

$ Well, that account wasn’t used for ten years; I’ll see if the in-box has cleared out in 2028.

(TODO: Insert classic malice-vs-incompetence quote here.)

This is all fine and good, but could you provide us with the URL for that magical site that gives a neutral point of view on PowerShell ?

ETA: (Oops, just saw the red text. Never mind, carry on.)

I assumed he meant to Microsoft. It still would be nice to link it here…

Okay, so I posted my rant (post #1; I know, it was not even worth venturing to The Pit) and that was quite cathartic.

And then I just left it there and didn’t much care if anyone commiserated or countered my sentiments. Actually, I figured it wouldn’t get any response at all and would eventually just get swept away with other flotsam that Dopers discard and ignore.

But you guys actually paid attention?