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1. How small could we make a functional desktop with Microsoft Windows like features? Memory foot print and file size. It doesn't have to have every bell and whistle. It just needs to be intuitive and usable.
If you copy bloat? You might just get bloat in return.
2. What would be the real losses functionality wise if someone built an Office suite that only needed 10 Megs (This is completely Arbitrary) of disk space but inter operated file wise with Microsoft's Office.
The majority of people either want or need compatibility. I would love to use an office suite that would only be 10 megs, either installed or running in memory. But the standard (sadly) is of a proprietary format. I would love to able to use OO.o or AbiWord. File formats and compatibility paramount to the exchange of data. This could be more of a relaity if standards were of an open nature. Look at TCP/IP, Open Standard, using a Mac, Linux, BSD or whatever, you can still communicate.
Keep in mind that an Open Format vs. Releasing Source code are very different.
3. Could we really accomplish much of what we do today on our UNIX desktops on a machine that only had a 486 and 32 megs of ram?
I have no clue.
4. Are these desktops and applications huge because we have the room or it couldn't be done with smaller, better code?
More features = more code. Now, the question of efficiency and optimization. How about this:
1) What features does a person need.
2) Can it be streamed lined.
5. Would we see any real world advantage by making the desktop, applications, toolkits more compact an efficient? Understand real world encompasses development time too. So if it took 3 months to code something tight that someone could write in their huge code in 2 weeks. Clearly we'd be looking at a disadvantage.
Developers, developers, developers.