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I like to say that Internet marketing is more about marketing than about the Internet, but every once in a while, the Internet gets in our way. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably be seeing that I have been fighting a nasty set of viruses/spyware/adware/malware or some combination of all of them. I’ve been tweeting about the various symptoms and getting lots of help from people as to where to turn, both on Twitter, on e-mail, and even offline. So, first, thanks, everyone. Second, my wife and I finally figured out what was wrong and it was a real doozy. But the thing that I am left with is how everyone was sure that this was another “Windows stinks” story.
I first noticed that I could no longer use my bit.ly URL shortener. Then other family members started noticing that random pages came up, usually ads, sometimes completely blank pages, and one time I was treated to a couple of guys who seemed to be really enjoying themselves. We knew that this must be some kind of infestation, but I was thrown off because what we found first sounded like the “Google redirect virus.” But it was happening on my Ubuntu computer, too, so how could it be a Windows virus? I suspected the router, but after re-installing the firmware, it was still there. We re-installed Windows on one of our spare computers to no avail. We started wondering if the sites on the Internet were hacked. It turned out that someone had corrupted our router, but that updating the firmware wasn’t enough to fix it. If you want all the gory details of what we saw and what we did (over a period of over a week) before finally subduing the demon today, check out my wife’s blog post, “The redirect virus was in my router.”
But I have another point to make. And it’s about Windows. It turns out that Windows was not at all to blame in any of this. But my wife and I suspected Windows even to the point of re-installing the operating system on one of our computers. But that’s not the only thing that struck me.
Over and over, when I was telling people about what we were dealing with, I heard them say, “Yep, that is why I switched all of our computers to Mac” or, “I know, I finally broke down and switched to Apple” or some other story about how they just couldn’t take these issues anymore.
Now, again, the problem turned out to be in our router. This was not a Windows virus. All of our computers are now working fine now that the router is fixed. But it’s the brand reputation of Windows that will stick with me. Everyone was so quick to blame Windows and so many people told me how they no longer use Windows. It’s not a formal survey, but you have to wonder whether Microsoft is under attack from more than Google’s cloud computing apps. We know that Microsoft is worried about losing the phone and the tablet market. I am wondering if they are losing their monopoly in the PC market, too.
Microsoft may have already lost a major battle in the public mind. One wonders whether Microsoft is becoming just another company that people feel like they are stuck with rather than happy with. How many Windows users are just waiting for an easy way to switch? I think the next few years will let us know.