Linked by Michael Hill on Thu 7th Oct 2010 14:59 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes This is a painful article to write. I've been a longtime fan and user of what is affectionately known as PC/GEOS over the years. However, I'm fearing we're nearing the end of GEOS.
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mjhi11
Member since:
2009-08-15

Frank, I appreciate your reply here and I'm sure that the OSNews.com readers do too, and brevity isn't necessarily an advantage!

I regret advancing the claim that 32 Bit PC/GEOS was promised 10 years ago and after your most recent posts wish I could have gone back and corrected the original article but at best the revision might read "several years" without concrete personal knowledge of when that effort was started.

That said it's been well known for at least 10 years or more that due to the current 16 bit memory limitations of PC/GEOS, it cannot host an even semi-modern web browsing experience.

I've tried with my article to present both sides of the debate, with at least some element of fairness.

The question mark in the title "The Death of GEOS?" was intentional, to express my own doubt whether the premise is true or not.

With that said, your reply here leaves at least a little doubt about the future of the desktop version of PC/GEOS.

Maybe that's the distinction, GEOS may in fact live on, bundled with hardware targeted to the educational market, but as an advancing, improving desktop operating system the future does indeed look bleak.

You'll recall in my posts that I've argued against the "free software movement" as I too respect the efforts of programmers and don't want to see their efforts devalued...we all have families to care for.

Again, in the spirit of fairness, I've defended quite vocally Breadbox's right to profit on the GEOS-Talk board, and any software company's right to profit, here at OSNews.com too as I personally believe that the free software movement devalues the effort of brilliant programmers who deserve to profit from their considerable knowledge, experience and efforts.

Of course, if a programmer chooses to work uncompensated I support their right to do so as well and appreciate the many hours of labor spent advancing technology.

On the other hand, open-source doesn't necessarily mean "free" and there are many successful open source projects where companies have profited from an open source development model.

In regards to Breadbox's self-admitted limited resources, funding and staff available to advance PC/GEOS, I think there's at least a little merit to the suggestion from those who "sincerely" want to see PC/GEOS not only survive but thrive.

You and Breadbox of course have the right to reject the suggestion but I believe there's some merit to the idea and sought independent feedback from the folks here at OSNews.com. As I hope was clear in the article, I have no patience for trolls on the GEOS-Talk board who simply want something for free.

Also note that I didn't include our DOS shell discussions, banner discussion in the main article on purpose as this was more an attempt to present a somewhat "fair" analysis of the situation.

With that said, I brought these issues up (which is why they didn't belong in the article) in a reply to a comment post-article to illustrate at least my personal frustration to quote a line from Jerry McGuire, "help me, help you".

Many, many of the suggestions that true fans of PC/GEOS have made require little expense and in some cases just a little effort. A common frustration shared on GEOS-Talk and in private conversations with other PC/GEOS users is one of missed opportunities, time and again.

A modern redesign of the Breadbox.com website for example is something that can be done for little or no expense and something that can be done rather easily using (ironically) open-source tools such as Joomla, Drupal or other another content management system.

This would not only indicate to existing customers that Breadbox is growing or at least advancing but more important a modern, attractive, easy to navigate website can help to attract venture capitalists and investors. It's a confidence thing, if a company takes pride in the most important connection to customers and investors, then that breeds confidence in Breadbox as a company.

In addition a well-designed website can REDUCE the amount of technical support you provide to existing customers. And an easy, intuitive purchasing process might actually increase sales.

Regular "blog postings" would give customers (and the community) confidence that things are "advancing" and more important drive new hits on the site thus increasing Breadbox's technology visibility and maybe even attract investors. If there's nothing new, reference an article from geoscentral.com or search the web as I do for anything related to GEOS. Each new article brings new visitors to the site and can be done "for free" and with little more than a few minutes effort each week.

And if you do meet with a hardware manufacturer, talk to an investor or even attend a trade show, then write about that. You don't have to disclose the potential partner, just show other investors (and the community) that PC/GEOS and Breadbox is active! Activity breeds interest, interest can turn into investment.

Continue to spend just a little effort improving the current product. There's a known bug in the DOS launching capabilities that prevents you from changing an icon after it's been saved. Fix it, announce it. If you have a work-around, at least capture a FAQ to let customers know how to work around a limitation.

Distributing the existing PC/GEOS version in a new form, whether that's a pre-built VirtualBox, VMware Fusion or Parallels virtual drive is another "virtually free" way of expanding PC/GEOS's footprint and potential market and would only require a little time.

Distributing the existing PC/GEOS version on a thumb drive using DOSBox or similar emulation technology is another "low cost" strategy. This configuration could be targeted at parents and schools as "GEOS for Kids" or "GEOS for DOS Legacy Gamers".

Time and again a common strategy by many businesses is to "re-package" the same product, just in different ways, thus attracting a different buyer, or demonstrate a "broad line" of products when in fact it's really just the same product behind the scenes. Why do companies do this? To maximize their investment in the current product and minimize the costs associated with attracting new customers.

But that leads to one of the most important criticism of Breadbox Ensemble, and that is price. It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy...the price is high because people don't buy, people don't buy because the price is too high".

Do I believe that a 50% reduction or even 80% reduction in price will result in millions of new sales, no which I assume is the argument for keeping the pricing as is.

But even the biggest supporters of PC/GEOS agree that its a rather steep price to pay for 25 year old technology that has been improved minimally over the last 25 years, particularly since the development of the shareware movement in the 80s and 90s, and the free software movement in the 90s and turn of the century and most important the incredible competition and success of Linux, OpenOffice, KDE Office and other open source projects and availability of low cost software over the last several years.

I too apologize for my long winded reply. My intentions are pure and for both the community and Breadbox I hope there is some model that succeeds as the one thing that I know we both agree upon, PC/GEOS technology was and in many ways is still today a special, revolutionary product and it would be a shame for it to in fact die.

Edited 2010-10-09 15:31 UTC

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