Free / Libre Software

Microsoft is deathly afraid of letting people get their hands on standard C because that allows people to escape the walls Microsoft wants to put around their data.

If they can make you believe you are your data, and if they can make you believe that they control your data, then you must believe they control you, and you will pay them money every year to do so. 
They are the Microsoft. Resistance is futile. 

Non-standard C, as in Microsoft's Visual C, is no big problem. Microsoft controls the libraries and preprocessor headers (Well, they tell you so.) and the training (via intellectual property pseudo-law), so they can keep the blinders on you. That is to say, they can keep you putting the blinders back on yourself.

Silly, silly people. Why is it some people get some hung up on wanting to control others? 

It's not the money. Money is just a tool. It's about control.

CS Lewis and other near-modern philosophers (Well, six thousand years or so is not so long ago.) talk about people wanting to control others because they can't control themselves. So control over others becomes an emotional crutch.

Psychologists will tell us that feelings of insecurity are involved. If they can make rules, they can make an invisible blanket of rules around themselves. The rules become a security blanket. 

Money is also often used as a security blanket, but that's for ordinary people with ordinary income and outgo. (Security blankets are just another tool, by the way.)

What is it that people are afraid of? Why is self-control so hard?

When you spend all day long controlling other people, your efforts to control them complete a social feedback loop, and you are controlled by them. You lose your freedom. Ironic?

When you pad your space with money, the money controls you. People around you may be impressed by, or jealous of your ability to throw money around apparently at will, but they are seeing an illusion. Your fears are in control, and the money completes an economic feedback loop, and you are not in control. You have only the illusion of freedom. And the money actually amplifies the fears. It's all very ironic.

When you pad your space with rules, it's similar. More ephemeral and more cruel. The rules feedback among themselves and prevent you from doing anything but following the rules you made in your arrogant naivety. You discover too late that the rules you made were wrong, but, as long as you insist on padding your space with rules for other people, you can't get the burden of wrong rules off yourself.

But that doesn't answer the question. And I can't tell you. You've put a mask on the thing you fear, because you can't bear to see it. If I name it, you will hear my words and misunderstand, and even if you believe me, you are likely to just substitute another mask.

But you can know what it is you fear. And see through the fears. And that's the first step to freedom, not as in beer or speech, but real freedom. 

Not putting a name to your fears, but seeing them as they are.

And that's one of the costs of real freedom.

By the way, there is a way to get around Microsoft's fears in the present world, and it has the backing of a good and competent community. Look up the MinGW and CygWin projects. I'm writing up my experiences getting them loaded on MSWindows here (MinGW).

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