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10:55 AM

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Dell's recent management shakeup and the return of founder Michael Dell to the controls may already be paying dividends in the form of the company's decision to offer Windows XP on certain desktops. That move flies boldly in the face of Microsoft's Vista-and-nothing-but-Vista strategy. --Tom Smith

As a small-business PC consultant with over 40 years of experience, I have always used Dell for my customers. Within the last year, I have had two experiences where I had to escalate problems to top management in order to get any response. The most recent involved my own machine ordered and delivered by Dell with Vista. After going through all of the Vista hoops, I found that the front two USB ports on the Dimension C521 wouldn't even operate the mouse. Upon contacting Dell and being swapped among three different departments, I was told that they would ship me a replacement of the same model with no guarantees that the USB ports would work.

I'm now evaluating other vendors for the benefit of my customers. Until Michael Dell allows some of his longtime customers to fill him in, and until he takes action to fix his company, it just isn't worth the grief anymore. --Paul Alsop

The bigger story here is, how far down this road of destruction called Vista is Microsoft willing to travel? As a computer reseller, I have seen a tremendous amount of e-mail traffic requesting the older XP software, and an even larger amount turning down the "free" upgrade to Vista offered on systems purchased in the last quarter of 2006. Time will tell. --Mike Jacobson

I operate a small service shop out of Singapore, and so far I've seen no strong business incentive to upgrade to Vista at all. It doesn't make my business run cheaper, doesn't give me new business streams, and, to top it off, may not run existing applications I depend on for day-to-day operations.

But every time we need to get a new laptop from resellers, we're stuck in "nothing but Vista here" land. So for us, the choice is either to extend the life of existing laptops beyond their three-year span or take a risk that our business apps won't operate on Vista. Kudos to Dell for listening to customers, because I sure as heck haven't been asking for Vista. --Alan Tan

Three cheers to Dell for having some guts. Because of Vista, I will probably end up switching to a Mac since there's no hope for a long-term solution from the evil empire that will actually work. That's too bad, because Windows still has more and better apps. Microsoft is so arrogant, and the only choice is to switch. --Roscoe Coaltrain

Viacom's search algorithms mistakenly flagged a recent parody of The Colbert Report on YouTube as a violation of its copyright and immediately sent YouTube a takedown notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. YouTube removed the bit from the site, and the producers went to court. In the end, Viacom apologized. Until this whole copyright mess is ironed out, we may lose access to some very interesting, exciting, controversial--and legal--videos. --Barbara Krasnoff

This is yet another example of why the DMCA is a bad law and should be repealed. Viacom has a long history of such abuses but clearly is quite poor at implementation of technology and anticipating the results of trying to kill a gnat with a sledgehammer. Ultimately, the DMCA should be struck down because it not only interferes with fair use, but also because it needlessly burdens the courts with thousands of baseless lawsuits.

Ultimately, it amazes me how inept large corporations can be in their implementation of technology. Computers are only as good as the people who use them, and when the IT folks make this kind of mistake, it can cost companies like Viacom millions of dollars. Somebody at Viacom should wake up and smell the coffee, and recognize that even those who violate Viacom's copyright are providing Viacom with free advertising. It's the nature of any creative enterprise to borrow from other sources. --Glendon Gross

You can't seriously believe this was an honest mistake. It's consistent with the actions of the entire industry--bully anyone who cannot match their legal muscle. Why did you soft-pedal the conclusion? Come right out and say it: The DMCA is fatally flawed, and the content industry is abusing its power. --DJ

This Daffy Duck "Mine, mine, mine, mine!" reaction on the part of corporate copyright (and patent) holders is no longer funny. The DMCA was a terrible piece of legislation in the first place, right on a par with the atrocious Patriot Act, and Congress should repeal it and go back to the drawing board as soon as possible before things get any uglier. --Gary L

So what if an actual episode were posted? It's not like Viacom would lose any money. And if it did lose 3 cents, who cares? It makes enough, anyway. It was great when I could watch missed episodes on YouTube. Did that cost anybody any money? No! --Jonathan

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