Home > Windows > Why Windows Rules the World Why Windows Rules the World David Adams 2006-12-26 Windows 214 Comments An Economist.com editorial examines the OS lay of the land on the eve of Vista’s release, and makes an interesting case for why Windows “rules the world”. Do you agree? We report, you decide. About The Author David Adams Follow me on Twitter @david_adams 214 Comments 2006-12-26 6:00 pm Yogurth ..Windows rules: Obligatory OEM contracts with hardware vendors… a pure form of monoply pressure. 2006-12-26 7:14 pm Joe User But I have seen some computers loaded with Linux. Not all hardware manufacturors sign thw OEM evil contract. 2006-12-26 8:13 pm LuckySandal No vendor is forced to sign these contracts. 2006-12-26 8:15 pm archiesteel That’s not how it works…for many years, if you offered anything else than Windows on your machines, you lost the Windows discount. That effectively killed BeOS. 2006-12-26 8:41 pm TaterSalad By your statement then OEMs did have a choice. They could either take the discounted Windows deal or not. At the time when computing was booming and everyone was being introduced and running Windows it made more sense to take the OEM deal. BeOS had other problems aside from not being loaded by OEMs. It had terrible hardware support. I tried it on 3 different machines, 2 wouldn’t boot up, one would but the video display wasn’t optimal. 2006-12-26 8:51 pm archiesteel By your statement then OEMs did have a choice. No, not really. They would have lost a lot of business by not taking the discounted deal. So, in fact, they didn’t have a *real* choice. In other words, MS misused its position as market leader to squash alternatives. BeOS had other problems aside from not being loaded by OEMs. It had terrible hardware support. I tried it on 3 different machines, 2 wouldn’t boot up, one would but the video display wasn’t optimal. …which is *exactly* why having OEM deals were so important. Thank you for providing a rebuttal to your own argument… 2006-12-27 8:43 am Rayz As long as Linux folk go on believing this, the OS will never gain a foothold on the desktop; it’s simply shifting the blame for your own shortcomings onto Microsoft. I can walk into any bookshop these days, and pick up a Linux distro either from the shelf, or from inside a book. I cannot do that with Windows. I can pick up a full Linux distro from any magazine vendor in the town centre. I can’t do that with Windows. I can fit a full Linux distro on a flash drive and take it with me. I certainly can’t do that with Windows! So I don’t really think OEMs are the problem; it must be something else. 2006-12-27 9:38 am archiesteel I can fit a full Linux distro on a flash drive and take it with me. I certainly can’t do that with Windows! So I don’t really think OEMs are the problem; it must be something else. You don’t seem to realize that the *vast* majority of computer users do not install their OSes, so it makes no difference how easily one can get a copy of Linux (BTW, the easiest way is still to download it and burn it). The OEM deals have *precisely* been the problem for many years. Pre-installed Linux is a lot more newbie-friendly, especially on laptops. 2006-12-26 10:14 pm rcsteiner Remember the lesson of IBM and OS/2. They couldn’t even preload OS/2 on their own machines after the Windows 95 release due to the pricing pressure exerted by Microsoft. 2006-12-28 3:12 am Lettherebemorelight By your statement then OEMs did have a choice. Suicide or survival? You know you would have made the same choice. 2006-12-27 1:38 am Cloudy The OEM discount didn’t kill BeOS. Be’s inability to produce a realistic business plan killed BeOS. 2006-12-27 2:45 am stestagg … A business plan which relied (in part) on pre-loading BeOs on OEM computers. 2006-12-28 2:14 am edwdig Go even futher back to the Win 3.1 / GEOS / DesqView / GEM days. The OEM deals were far worse. If you wanted to include any MS product on any PC you sold, you had to pay Microsoft for a copy of both DOS and Windows for EVERY machine you manufactured, even if it didn’t include any MS products. BeOS had it relatively easy. Their problem was they had could only really wow people who cared about the system internals. They had nothing to wow the average user. The often cited demo of a bunch of avi files flawlessly at the same time sure impressed the techies of the day, but served no practical purpose. 2006-12-26 11:17 pm melkor No, they are not. But if they don’t they have to pay for Microsoft Windows retail, which is a LOT more expensive than the OEM version. That means having to charge a higher price than your competitor for the OEM PC. And, in this day and age, that will mean a huge loss of sales, ergo you cannot compete businesswise wise with your competitors if you do not sign this contractual agreement with Microsoft. Microsoft reserves the right to increase the price of OEM versions of Windows whenever they want. If you had an OEM hardware manufacturer shipping Linux onto some of their systems, you can bet your bottom dollar that the cost of OEM Windows would increase for that vendor. The contract also forbids OEM manufacturers selling PCs without an operating system. What gives Microsoft the right to dictate this? You have to remember several things: 1. The PC OEM market has very tight margins, every cent counts. 2. The US DOJ is corrupt, and didn’t punish Microsoft for these very offences, because to do so would hurt the US economy. Linux and BSD are global, they will only partially inject funds into the US economy. Microsoft is American, it will, ergo, inject a lot more funds locally. The US government realises this and makes sure that the ‘homegrown’ solution wins. Dave 2006-12-26 10:57 pm Babi Asu And why don’t Linux side make “angel” OEM contract? You know the answer. 2006-12-27 4:50 am KenJackson Yes. I know the reason. GNU/Linux is about freedom. Any such contract would (sort of) violate the concept of free software. The true believers don’t want to take away your freedom to run Windows–we just want everyone to have the freedom to run GNU/Linux in an equal access way. 2006-12-26 11:13 pm melkor Amen, you hit the nail on the head. Now, if only the US DOJ could see this, and take action. Dave 2006-12-27 4:31 am kaiwai 1) No one is forced to sign those contracts. 2) They’re offered TWO contracts; the exclusive contract has deeper discounts – sweet cheeks, thats business, if these companies wish to do the ‘customer well’, they would absorb the costs of the second contract, and start offering Linux or some other operating system. 3) Windows runs the applications which end users want to run – want to get people using Linux or what ever operating system you happen to like, start lobbying those software vendors to release Linux (or what have you) versions of their applications. 2006-12-27 6:22 am melkor The problem is that business is charged to make the most amount of profit for its shareholders. If that means taking the exclusive contract, then so be it. Absorbing costs is not what businesses do – to do so means that you are effectively running at a loss, or subsiding the losses with a profit from elsewhere (but still running on an overall loss). As to applications, you can’t make vendors port. There’s enough users worldwide to justify the porting of Autocad, Photoshop, etc etc, but software vendors will not do it. Why? Because they forsee that the Linux (and freeBSD) desktops will not grow to a substantial level, at least until key applications like Microsoft Office are ported. I’m sorry, but MOST people will not touch an office suite other than MS Office. It’s nothing to do with features, reliability, stability or cost. It’s simply that MS Office is the de facto standard for office suites from a mental perspective of the average user. Anything else is an unknown and far too risky to introduce to a system and use. If the US DOJ had forced Microsoft to port MS Office, Windows Media Player and MSN Messenger to Linux and FreeBSD, then we’d have seen usage levels on the uptake, and we’d seen a much better and competitive operating system market. I’d say that as many as 40% of current PCs would probably be running Linux if that had been the case, probably higher in the business segment of the market. There’s no real reason for Microsoft not to port Office etc, they port it to OS X, an operating system that has as many, if not less users than Linux worldwide. Instead, we had a US DOJ that really wasn’t interested in punishing Microsoft, or creating a true and fair market for operating systems. It basically rubberstamped Microsoft’s monopoly. Oh, and tell me why Bill Gates was not sanctioned for lying under oath in court? Any normal person would have been charged with perjury in such a scenario I suspect. When governments are owned by business, it’s a serious worry for the average constituent imho. Dave 2006-12-27 8:07 am kaiwai The problem is that business is charged to make the most amount of profit for its shareholders. If that means taking the exclusive contract, then so be it. Absorbing costs is not what businesses do – to do so means that you are effectively running at a loss, or subsiding the losses with a profit from elsewhere (but still running on an overall loss). So why blame Microsoft for a business decision made by the respective OEM? Microsoft has come forward, offered them a deal which has some strings attached, the OEM has decided that it is in their best interests to go for that offer – so why blame Microsoft? So, if you’re going to run off to punish Microsoft, do you also advocate punishing Coca Cola for offering deals to the likes of Foodstuffs and Progessive/Woolworths for prime positions on the shelf, and the likes? I mean, if you’re going to punish Microsoft for offering a sweetener, why not punish Coca Cola? As to applications, you can’t make vendors port. There’s enough users worldwide to justify the porting of Autocad, Photoshop, etc etc, but software vendors will not do it. Why? Because they forsee that the Linux (and freeBSD) desktops will not grow to a substantial level, at least until key applications like Microsoft Office are ported. I’m sorry, but MOST people will not touch an office suite other than MS Office. It’s nothing to do with features, reliability, stability or cost. It’s simply that MS Office is the de facto standard for office suites from a mental perspective of the average user. Anything else is an unknown and far too risky to introduce to a system and use. I don’t want to go into this any further, because it seems to me that that the majority of people here have never actually used all the features of office as part of a larger work flow system; the whole Microsoft system glued together and used in an enterprise environment. How about this; look at what Microsoft offers in terms of collaboration, office, and server technologies – and where are the open source equivalent? where is the equivalent of share point for example? 2006-12-28 5:54 pm rcsteiner So, if you’re going to run off to punish Microsoft, do you also advocate punishing Coca Cola for offering deals to the likes of Foodstuffs and Progessive/Woolworths for prime positions on the shelf, and the likes? I mean, if you’re going to punish Microsoft for offering a sweetener, why not punish Coca Cola? Coca-Cola isn’t a monopoly even in its strongest area, which completely changes the rules. The fact that you (apparently) don’t understand this elementary distinction amazes me, as it’s one of the most central reasons why Microsoft is treated the way it is by the US government and the EU (amongst others). Edited 2006-12-28 18:00 2006-12-28 3:40 pm testerus And why do companies break Linux(Wine) compatibility? Photoshop7 works almost perfect, Photoshop CS does not run at all. BTW CodeWeavers crossover supports MS Office quite well, see yourself: http://www.codeweavers.com/compatibility/browse/rank/ 2006-12-28 7:57 pm rcsteiner Even worse, back in the Photoshop 3 days versions 3.0 through 3.04 worked just fine under OS/2’s WinOS2, while 3.05 broke compatibility completely. Why? It used Win32S 1.30, that’s why. Same basic version of the same program, very few changes (if any) to features, but completely different results (one runs perfectly, the other not at all). 2006-12-27 5:54 pm segedunum Wasn’t going to reply over the festive period, but I cannot believe that some people are so incredibly stupid as to not understand how this works. No one is forced to sign those contracts. Much like the same way that you’re not forced to breath ;-). the exclusive contract has deeper discounts – sweet cheeks, thats business If they do certain things like not sell any other software apart from Microsoft’s and agree to do promotional things on Microsoft’s behalf, like sell their useless MCEs, possibly. if these companies wish to do the ‘customer well’, they would absorb the costs of the second contract Tosh. The costs of that second contract as you call it are entirely up to Microsoft, and those costs are the difference between making a modest profit and going out of business. In any other industry their costs would be down to market forces, but in the OEM market it is up to one company – Microsoft. If you want to know what really goes on, read this: http://practical-tech.com/business/who-is-microsofts-secret-power-b… Anybody who claims that there is any sort of market force at work here, or that OEMs have any sort of choice, is just full of it. 2006-12-27 4:39 am KenJackson ..Windows rules: Obligatory OEM contracts with hardware vendors… a pure form of monoply pressure. It’s comments like this that make me think OSNews should not limit scores to 5. I think this simple comment so completely captures a crucial point of the issue that the score could go as high as 100 if not limited. 2006-12-27 8:47 am Rayz Or mod it down to -100 for simply getting his facts wrong perhaps. Microsoft does not have ‘obligatory oem contracts’. Any OEM is free to take it or leave it. If you have a problem with that, then take it up with the OEM. If there is demand for pre-installed Linux machines, then the demand will be filled. 2006-12-27 3:11 pm KenJackson Microsoft does not have ‘obligatory oem contracts’. I don’t know first hand, but I look at two indicators: 1) A few years ago John Dvorak wrote in his PC Magazine column that that is in-fact the way Microsoft does business–and part of the contract is that they not reveal it. 2) There are almost no choices for preinstalled GNU/Linux on the market. I believe in the market as you do. But I believe there IS a demand, therefore there must be abnormal pressure on the market to not offer preinstalled GNU/Linux. 2006-12-27 6:29 am alcibiades No, missing the point. You have to ask how it is possible for MS to have the power to impose those contracts? No-one else can. A similar question arose about MS previous anti competitive behaviour: why was it effective? The answer to that question is the reason why Windows rules the world. 2006-12-27 6:43 am netpython The answer to that question is the reason why Windows rules the world. Bill Gates and some others just were lucky to be on the right spot at the right time with DOS/windows to get a deal with IBM. I doubt MS would have been equall successfull if they had the fierce competition they are now facing. 2006-12-27 8:30 am Rayz They’re not obligatory; no-one is forcing the vendors to sign it. 2006-12-27 8:15 pm Isolationist No s:h:i:t Sherlock 2006-12-26 6:06 pm Ford Prefect The author writes about Windows: but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain. To use, well, yes, apart from my own experience I believe people it is easy for the average user. But to maintain? Maintaining Windows machines is nearly always a PITA for me… And you see lots of Windows administrators with semi-knowledge about this or that quirk (literally thousands of them) of their OS. I have lots of this myself. And I’m not amused about it, what a waste of brain capacity.. But to get on-topic: Having to collect this whole bunch of information should be more difficult and consuming than learning a simple designed system. Edited 2006-12-26 18:06 2006-12-27 2:27 am Mellin And when they call Microsoft for help the only ansver they get is reinstall Windows 2006-12-27 4:19 am protagonist “The author writes about Windows: but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain. To use, well, yes, apart from my own experience I believe people it is easy for the average user. But to maintain? ” My sentiments exactly. When I used Windows XP it was very easy for my wife to use. But that ease for her was because of my expenditure of a lot of hours maintaining the system. Towards the end I was probably averaging at least several hours a week just keeping it all up to date, optimized, and free of problems. And even at that I would have [problems crop up when all it was doing was sitting there unused. All of that changed when I started using OS X as my primary system and Linux as a backup. I spend less time maintaining both of those systems together in a month than I had to spend on Windows in a week. So I have to totally disagree with the easy to maintain part of the article. 2006-12-26 6:09 pm Nelson of the “Hasta La Vista” stuff? We get it the joke, it’s not funny anymore. He makes Windows looks like it isn’t modular or complex. That’s far from the truth. The NT Kernel by nature is extremely modular. Window’s problems is sheer size. That doesn’t mean it’s bloatware however. The stuff it brings is actually useful to most desktop users and almost common in modern Linux Desktop distros. 2006-12-26 6:53 pm n0xx True…However it isn’t just the kernel that’s modular… it’s the whole package… grab yourself a less than legal/trial version of XP embedded. Or even Nlite: http://www.nliteos.com/nlite.html. You can actually select witch packages to include when installing the bastard. A la Linux… If windows was packed in the same fashion as a linux distro, you would be able to select “MSN Messenger Client”… if you did so, it would depend on something like ieengine.dll, wich would depend on libgiff.dll and libjpg.dll. Windows is little more than a WinNT distro with a GDI32 window system, Luna/Aero desktop environment, IE-libs and Internet Explorer, restricted-codecs + windows media player, lots of substandard packages that you would never install on any Linux distro because they suck ass (wordpad, notepad, paint…), lot’s of cool packages that would be nice in any Linux distro (administrative tools, directx-libs, directx-libs and administrative tools), and a price tag. Do you remember back in the day when MS told a US court of law that “internet explorer is to tightly integrated into windows to strip it out”? Damn lies i tell you! (/me waves his cane in the air just like Abe Simpson) 2006-12-28 2:06 am edwdig MS wasn’t lying when they said IE was tightly integrated. It’s just integrated in a really bad way. Look into the expert testimonies from the case. They did things like stick random IE functions into DLLs that have existed since the Win16 days. Files like COMDLG32.DLL have completely unrelated IE functions inserted into them solely so that MS could say IE couldn’t be removed. They actually count COMDLG32, the DLL with the code for the standard dialog boxes, as a part of IE. Anyway, try playing around with XP embedded. From what I’ve been told, the vast majority of optional components are dependant on the IE DLLs being there. Supposedly there are a lot of really non obvious dependancies in the system. As for NLite, that’s just letting you strip things out. It’s not doing any dependancy checking, and even tells you some (but no where near all) of the things that will break if you take out a given component. 2006-12-26 8:16 pm sbenitezb “The NT Kernel by nature is extremely modular. ” It’s not about the kernel, but about the API’s implemented around it and tools available. Without flexible and simple tools you only get a Windowing system, only useful if you are going to be in front of it all the time. 2006-12-26 6:15 pm johndaly This is tech fluff for business types. Debian 3.1 is a bloat offender because it has 213 million lines of code and Vista only 50 million? That’s really funny; they must not know that Debian in that form has just about every piece of software installed that runs on Linux. Technically this article is shit. They don’t know Windows, MacOS X or Linux and still make stupid claims. Must be hard finding good OS related articles on the web over Christmas if you let this on OSNews. Edited 2006-12-26 18:32 2006-12-26 6:31 pm TBone0 The Economist usually has excellent articles for economics and politics, but it’s technology section is pretty dire in comparison – this article once again illustrates this. Since when do lines of code translate to “bloat” or are the only factor of it? “But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices.” How about at least stating a source to back up your statement that it’s “cetainly” not for novices? is “apt-get …” more difficult than 5 clicks in a browser until you find the right download, saving it and the installing it? i’m not sure 2006-12-26 6:37 pm johndaly >Since when do lines of code translate to “bloat” >or are the only factor of it? I don’t think “bloat” has anything to do with lines of code at all. It has something to do with user vs. feature mismatch. Lines of code (and I guess they mean SLOC) is just a code metric and not a really good one in my opinion. Once you cross the OS and programming language barrier they stop to mean much anyway. 2006-12-26 7:08 pm Doc Pain ” I don’t think “bloat” has anything to do with lines of code at all. […] Lines of code (and I guess they mean SLOC) is just a code metric and not a really good one in my opinion. “ You’re completely right. The SLOC count does say absolutely nothing about bloat. Just imagine, you structure your code well, insert comments for documentational purposes, split up files for better maintenance… is this bloat? Surely it isn’t. “It has something to do with user vs. feature mismatch. “ In my opinion, the term “bloat” refers to something the older ones of us (programmers) call efficiency. You can solve a problem very elegant, the solution runs fast. You can to it in a stupid way as well, it still works, but consumes more time and ressources to fulfill the same operations. Or you have to install libraries twice or more because you rely on version numbers instead on backwards compatibility. Or you install masses of programs no one will use (or even know about). That’s what I would call bloat. And about “Windows” administration… “I don’t have to administrate my system, it does it by itself.” or “I don’t care about it, I only reinstall after four months.” are typical opinions about it. Finally, the monopolistic situation of MICROS~1 is not because of their “excellent desktop” or “straight forward technologies”, it’s up to OEM contracts. Because users get a new PC with “Windows” preinstalled, they don’t even know there are (in most cases better) alternatives. You’ll soon see the barriers of “Windows” if you want to do complex operations, meaning more complex than playing Solitaire or using a pirated copy of the latest “Word”. I won’t start do say “This is better” or “Use that instead”, because the people reading and writing here at OSnews know it by theirselves and surely are tired hearing the truth all the time a buzz-word filled and technically incorrect article appears. 2006-12-27 10:49 am hal2k1 //How about at least stating a source to back up your statement that it’s “cetainly” not for novices? is “apt-get …” more difficult than 5 clicks in a browser until you find the right download, saving it and the installing it? i’m not sure// Certainly, one doesn’t even have to “apt-get”. Synaptic is a GUI software installer (using apt-get as its base in the background) and it is a great deal easier to use than anything on Windows. //”But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices.”// The original authors of this article clearly don’t know what they are talking about, and have never even tried to install anything on Ubuntu. Ubuntu has a GUI “Add/Remove software” entry on the top level menu, and installing software using this is a matter of just a few clicks. Way easier than Windows. Edited 2006-12-27 11:07 2006-12-27 1:14 am proforma Not really any more stupid than the claims that Linux losers make against Microsoft and Vista. What comes around goes around. 2006-12-28 5:57 pm rcsteiner It isn’t just Linux fans making claims about Microsoft’s lack of technical sophistication, poor software development practices, and questionable business methods and ethics — Amiga, Macintosh, OS/2, and UNIX fans made these same claims years before and are still making them. Mainframe folks like myself also make them. Many of the claims against Microsoft have a solid basis in fact and a long and well-documented history, and I think it’s more than a little foolish to ignore them. Edited 2006-12-28 17:59 2006-12-26 6:21 pm buff Maintaining Windows machines is nearly always a PITA for me… Yes, they are time consuming and annoying but the average user can fix them with an install disk or a virus program purchased at the mall. Compare this to linux where if two packages conflict and you get broken libraries and you search the web and find a forum that tells you to open up a shell and run apt-get… The average user doesn’t want to have to reload video codecs by hand and download third party drivers so they can play a 3D shooter. Don’t get me wrong, I love linux but I wouldn’t recommend people use it that must have Windows software like Office. Trying to tell someone how to install Wine and other third party software takes more time than buying an antivirus program and having the Windows user click next, next, yes, scan for virus, yes, restart. Edited 2006-12-26 18:22 2006-12-26 6:41 pm archiesteel Compare this to linux where if two packages conflict and you get broken libraries and you search the web and find a forum that tells you to open up a shell and run apt-get… If two packages conflict, the conflicting one will not be installed unless you actually go and install it with the command line using apt-get (or dpkg -i) in the first place, so that example is not valid. The average user doesn’t want to have to reload video codecs by hand and download third party drivers so they can play a 3D shooter. That’s why the average user should run EasyUbuntu or Automatix. This is probably the first thing that experienced users will tell Ubuntu newbies on message boards. Don’t get me wrong, I love linux but I wouldn’t recommend people use it that must have Windows software like Office. Trying to tell someone how to install Wine and other third party software takes more time than buying an antivirus program and having the Windows user click next, next, yes, scan for virus, yes, restart. Crossover Office has a standalone installer. I note that your comment had almost nothing to do with the PITA that is Windows to maintain. If you “loved Linux” as you claim (to give your argument more credibility) you wouldn’t jump to defend Windows at the first chance you get, and actually change subjects in the process. Don’t get me wrong, I love Windows, but it *is* a PITA to maintain, much more than Linux. 2006-12-26 9:10 pm buff If two packages conflict, the conflicting one will not be installed unless you actually go and install it with the command line using apt-get (or dpkg -i) in the first place, so that example is not valid. Alert! Engineering geek without knowledge of usability! 2006-12-26 9:20 pm cyclops “Alert! Engineering geek without knowledge of usability!” I don’t use apt…but it seems to me. The solution offered means that the novice-user *cannot* make a mistake, a more advanced user who knows the potential to break his system, but apt allows you to override the safety mechanism. To be fair you cannot find a better balance between usability and system safety. Linux is by no means a poster child of usability but that sounds right to me. 2006-12-26 9:48 pm archiesteel Alert! Engineering geek without knowledge of usability! Do you know what I do for a living? I design video games. Part of my job involves designing interfaces and doing usability testing. So why don’t you go sit in a corner and think about that for a while. Now, if you actually had read what I wrote instead of going into knee-jerk mode, you would have understood that I was saying it would be *highly improbable* that someone would unfamiliar with apt-get would have to use it to fix missing dependencies, because the only way to get such dependencies issues is to *use* the command-line tools in the first place (with the –allow-force option, IIRC). Otherwise, Synaptic/Adept will simply refuse to install the offending packages. Do you see how you misunderstood my argument now? 2006-12-26 10:19 pm cyclops “Do you know what I do for a living? I design video games. Part of my job involves designing interfaces and doing usability testing. So why don’t you go sit in a corner and think about that for a while.” Wow. I had to think all of zero seconds. If you are seriously comparing, the complexities of managing an operating system to that of making best use of a gaming environment your crackers. There are interaction crossovers, but seriously I’m happy for you to point out *any* of them. I not only accept that a novice-user cannot fix missing dependences I think its a good thing that they don’t even try. Read my post. A novice user is more likely to break the system fixing a dependency problem, and its best they don’t know how. Computer systems are complex and require a great time and effort to learn. I not only understand your argument. I think its funny. You want a magic solution. Its been done every user can do it its called a restore disk. Anything else regardless of OS requires time and effort and knowledge. 2006-12-26 10:44 pm archiesteel What are you talking about, I wasn’t even responding to your post! You completely missed the point about why I mentioned game design – the OP (which I was responding to) called me a geek without knowledge of usability (after completely misunderstanding my post). And if you think there are no usability issues with video game interfaces (such as menus, inventories, gameplay management in the case of RTSs or RPGs), then you obviously have never designed a video game. I won’t respond to the rest of your post because you don’t seem to understand the first point I was making at all, that the *particular* example given by buff was unlikely to happen because systems such as Synaptic/Adept make it very hard for a novice user to get a dependency problem in the first place. (And you seemed to understand this in your other post, might I add.) If you want to join an ongoing discussion, try at least to understand what it’s about. 2006-12-27 2:09 am gpierce “…a novice-user cannot fix missing dependences I think its a good thing that they don’t even try. Read my post. A novice user is more likely to break the system fixing a dependency problem, and its best they don’t know how. Computer systems are complex and require a great time and effort to learn.” Breaking our systems is how we stop being novice users. I’m not a novice user, anymore, but I manage to break at least one of my systems on at least one of my computers once every five to six months. The more experienced I get the more clever and ingenious ways I seem to find to break them. It’s a matter of boredom and curiosity–or maybe I am flattering myself and it is just stupidity. At any rate, I learn something new every time. I don’t encourage intentionally breaking your system, but if your never try things you never learn what is possible, and Linux offers you a chance to find out why and how you broke your OS. In WIndows, well, you just never really know. You can’ simply go to IRC or LKML and chat with or email the Windows developer that wrote the subsystem you are struggling with. Greg Edited 2006-12-27 02:14 2006-12-26 10:25 pm buff So why don’t you go sit in a corner and think about that for a while. Nice attitude. You sound like a Windows Game Designer. Let me guess, you are probably friends of John Romero and worked on Daikatana. he, he, he.. 2006-12-26 10:47 pm archiesteel I’m sorry, but you’re the one to actually insult me in the first place, and then you have the gall to complain about my attitude? Better stay in that corner for a little while longer. For your information I design console games. The PC game scene is not very interesting for developers right now, unless you’re one of the few big PC developers (iD, Valve, Microsoft, Blizzard) or you produce Bejeweled-like casual games. 2006-12-27 10:43 am hal2k1 //Compare this to linux where if two packages conflict and you get broken libraries and you search the web and find a forum that tells you to open up a shell and run apt-get.// 2002 called and it wants its FUD back. 2006-12-27 3:56 am abraxas Yes, they are time consuming and annoying but the average user can fix them with an install disk or a virus program purchased at the mall. Compare this to linux where if two packages conflict and you get broken libraries and you search the web and find a forum that tells you to open up a shell and run apt-get… The average user can’t fix most common Windows problems. The average user doesn’t even recognize most problems and when they do recognize a problem they get it fixed by a friend or bring it to a repair shop. The average user doesn’t want to have to reload video codecs by hand It is generally easier to install codecs on Linux than on Windows. Windows users have to hunt down different codecs all over the web. Linux users just use their package manager. download third party drivers so they can play a 3D shooter Windows users have to download third party drivers to take full advantage of their graphics cards too. The Windows install disk does not contain 3D drivers for Nvidia or ATI. I love linux but I wouldn’t recommend people use it that must have Windows software like Office. Thankfully most people can get by with OpenOffice without a problem. The others won’t switch but that doesn’t make Office easier to use or maintain. Trying to tell someone how to install Wine and other third party software takes more time than buying an antivirus program and having the Windows user click next, next, yes, scan for virus, yes, restart. Installing software is easier on Linux. You don’t even have to worry about installing an antivirus program, not that that is a cure-all anyway. There are a lot of other quirks and problems that can arise that have nothing to do with malware. 2006-12-26 6:33 pm nathanw This article might miss some technical points, yes, but it is right: Windows is an excellent desktop. All of its parts are well-integrated. Things like drag and drop and copy and paste of complex data (or, in the case of drag and drop, any data at all) work perfectly. This is certainly not the case in Linux. The layout of the system (as it appears to users) is simple and straight forward. Because these are as much a part of the OS as the kernel, there is one sound API, one widget API, etc. As a result, things like sound work all the time. For almost all the things most users want to do, everything is straightforward. Because all relevant toolkits are built into the operating system, there are no dependencies. I know modern package management systems eliminate the need to fetch such things, but having vast numbers of these does nothing for interoperability or UI consistency, especially (and I know I’m harping on this), in terms of sometimes incompatible sound implementations. None of this makes it easy to maintain in the sense that many readers here understand it, or make it a better server. But it does make it an excellent desktop, because every part of the system is designed to make it one. 2006-12-26 6:45 pm archiesteel but having vast numbers of these does nothing for interoperability or UI consistency, Windows has actually poor UI consistency. This has been demonstrated many times before. In any case this is irrelevant: Windows doesn’t dominate because it is a good desktop. OS X is a better desktop (and, IMO, so is Ubuntu). The dominance comes mostly from inertia and years of shady OEM deals. 2006-12-26 6:57 pm nathanw > Windows has actually poor UI consistency. This has been demonstrated many times before. This is true, because of horribly written shareware that gives you a fake wood interface, for instance (or new versions of Windows Media Player). My point, though, isn’t that Windows’s UI consistency is better or worse than anything else, but that it at least gives developers who care about it one good option for widgets. On X11-based systems, we have separately themed (and yes, I know about the GTK QT engine) GTK and QT, and GTK comes in multiple incompatible versions. Then there are people who roll their own UIs to avoid dependencies. This leads to code duplication. On my system right now, I have a GTK1 program running in the form of xpdf, I have hand-coded straight X UIs in xfig, xterm, and ROOT, a couple GTK2 apps, one QT program I’m coding, and another Gnustep program. On Windows (and MacOS), the toolkit choice is obvious, and it’s much easier to make things like drag and drop work, for instance, and much easier to do fancy things like embed HTML renderers like Adium does, for instance. Windows (and OS X) win because of inertia, application compatibility, market manipulation, and because, for non-technical users, they are better desktops. For me, Windows isn’t, so I don’t use it. OS X is better, though I stick with regular *nix systems in general. But for almost everyone I’ve ever met, Windows or OS X serves their needs much better than any *nix-based OS out there. 2006-12-26 7:21 pm archiesteel On Windows (and MacOS), the toolkit choice is obvious, and it’s much easier to make things like drag and drop work, for instance, and much easier to do fancy things like embed HTML renderers like Adium does, for instance. Drag and drop doesn’t work with all applications in Windows. On the other hand, I’ve seen much better support for drag and drop on Linux desktops in the recent year, even across toolkits. For example, you can drag an image off of konqueror straight into Gimp and it will open it (though I agree that overall, it depends on the apps). As far as embedding HTML renderers, I know it’s very easy in KDE (KHTML being a Kpart). I don’t know Adium, so I can’t pronounce myself on that. It seems to me that it is unfair to compare the Windows desktop to the Linux desktop. A better comparison would be to compare Windows to KDE, for example. Windows is a kernel, an OS and a Desktop Environment. In the Linux world, all three of these are separated. Since one could be running KDE on *BSD, it seems more accurate to compare the actual desktop environments. Windows (and OS X) win because of inertia, application compatibility, market manipulation, and because, for non-technical users, they are better desktops. I agree with the first three points, but not the latter. I’ve put total newbies in front of an Ubuntu desktop and they did not have any problems getting used to it. In fact, there was an study done some time last year that showed that Gnome was not any harder to use than Windows for novice users. But for almost everyone I’ve ever met, Windows or OS X serves their needs much better than any *nix-based OS out there. …but very few of those people you met probably had a chance to try something other than Windows or OS X, so in fact you cannot claim that these served their need “better”. You could say that they served their need “adequately”, but without an actual comparison that’s about all you can say. Note that the comparison must somehow takes into account things such as familiarity, since users will feel comfortable with what they already know (hence the inertia factor). 2006-12-27 4:14 pm bannor99 Yours is one of the very few intelligent posts about a terrible article. The Economist, while not a tech-centric mag, should still be ashamed they’ve printed/posted this embarrasing piece of filler. 2006-12-26 7:24 pm alisonken1 Actually, OSX IS *nix based. MS is the only common OS that’s NOT *nix based anymore. 2006-12-26 7:31 pm nathanw OS X having a (somewhat broken — try using ifconfig) UNIX base doesn’t mean anything because most users don’t care about it, and the emphasis is elsewhere — remember Steve Jobs feels that one of the biggest features of Leopard is email templates. I, and probably you, think that’s silly and care far more about ZFS, for instance, but a lot of people actually really do care about things like this. 2006-12-26 7:35 pm archiesteel I, and probably you, think that’s silly and care far more about ZFS, for instance, but a lot of people actually really do care about things like this. Actually, I don’t think that’s silly at all. Jobs is consumer-centric, and that’s a good point for OS X. You know what impresses people the most when I show them my Kubuntu laptop? The rotating desktop, wobbly windows and falling snow I get with Beryl. It’s complete eye-candy, and serves no purpose, but you’d be surprised how many people ask me if they can install it on their PC…then I explain to them how they can try it out if they want (i.e. LiveCD vs. dual boot, the second being necessary if they want to have fancy graphics effect). These people don’t care about capabilities, or even complete application compatibility (many only use a few programs anyway, for which there are good Linux alternatives). They just go “oooh, shiny!” 2006-12-26 7:47 pm Moulinneuf Beryl with snow effects and fire effects : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kM08-VHfpw 2006-12-27 2:48 am gpierce “These people don’t care about capabilities, or even complete application compatibility (many only use a few programs anyway, for which there are good Linux alternatives). They just go “oooh, shiny!” I have been using Linux for a few years, and I still coo in amazement over the rotating desktop cube and wobbly windows. You have to admit…the “cool” factor really is way, way up there. There really is nothing I know of in the current windows or OS X world that has this! I didn’t go out of my way to install Beryl. But with Ubuntu, it just got so easy I couldn’t help myself. You can count me among the simple-minded masses. I love these effects. 2006-12-26 6:55 pm meianoite “Things like drag and drop and copy and paste of complex data (or, in the case of drag and drop, any data at all) work perfectly. This is certainly not the case in Linux.” WTF?! Drag and drop working properly on Windows?! Please, tell me exactly how many apps will produce text clippings when you drag a selection to the desktop. Same thing for audio and image content. Then compare the experience with Mac OS, any version from 7.1 on, for instance. I’m almost willing to bet those work better under KDE than under Windows, but since I’m away from Linux desktops during the holidays… “The layout of the system (as it appears to users) is simple and straight forward. Because these are as much a part of the OS as the kernel, there is one sound API, one widget API, etc. As a result, things like sound work all the time.” Thanks for the giggle! Ever heard of GDI, GDI+, WinG, the various DirectX incarnations, and now Avalon? How about ACM, VfW, DirectShow, Win95-style drivers vs WDM vs the latest Vista driver model? The whole collection of MSVC and VB libraries lying on system folders under the C:Windows tree? Even on the same API there are always multiple ways of doing the same damn task. Each with their own set of booboos and workarounds. Microsoft is only consistent regarding bug-for-bug compatibility. Which is how pro-MS people twist Windows’ bloat into a… feature. Edit: typo Edited 2006-12-26 19:07 2006-12-26 6:59 pm Sphinx Just cut and paste from a dos command window to an application window and vice versa, see, totally consistent! 2006-12-26 7:26 pm alisonken1 Actually, I DO cut and paste between my command line window and my application window all of the time. Works fine for me in Linux. Edited 2006-12-26 19:27 2006-12-26 7:10 pm phgt > Windows is an excellent desktop. > This is certainly not the case in Linux. I _cannot_ disagree more. I have used Windows for years and today I use it only at work because I have to and mostly as a (cygwin) X-Window terminal. Windows is clumsy and un-intuitive even after years of practice. When something goes wrong (like it becomes really slow for no apparent reason) you cannot figure out what to do to fix it. Linux is exactly the opposite. You should really give Linux a try before writing such comments… 2006-12-26 7:22 pm nathanw I find Windows counter-intuitive and obnoxious, and use Linux and BSD exclusively (FreeBSD by preference, but I have to use CERN Linux at work). But that’s because I demand a great deal of control over my machines, and know what I’m doing. My point is that this is not true for most of the population. Most people don’t know what to do with control if you give it to them, and don’t care. They want to browse the web, watch movies, play games, and write things in Word. Sometimes they want to show slideshows of pictures from their cameras. Windows makes this all easy. On UNIX systems, in general, to do a slideshow requires mounting the camera if it’s USB mass storage, finding a PTP client otherwise, then finding some way to do the slideshow. I realize you can make some X desktop environments do this the way windows does, but I don’t want them to, and I doubt very much many people here want that either. The “helpful” features of Windows and OS X are among their most annoying characteristics. But this is true for me — most people appreciate the OS guessing what they want to do, because what they want to do is circumscribed and predictable, and the OS can do it correctly. When you step outside this box, Windows quickly becomes infuriating, and OS X after you go slightly further. Thus, I use *nix. But because most computer users don’t, Windows and OS X are both excellent desktops for them. 2006-12-28 3:35 pm BluenoseJake “When something goes wrong (like it becomes really slow for no apparent reason) you cannot figure out what to do to fix it. Linux is exactly the opposite.” Sure you can, if you know how to use google, or search technet. Fixing things in Windows is no harder than fixing things under any Linux/BSd system. There are plenty of places to find info on the net, but if you don’t try, of course you won’t find anything 2006-12-26 8:23 pm unoengborg Windows is an excellent desktop. All of its parts are well-integrated. Things like drag and drop and copy and paste of complex data (or, in the case of drag and drop, any data at all) work perfectly. This is certainly not the case in Linux. Sorry, but drag & drop, cut & paste have worked in Linux for several years by now. If it doesn’t, file a bug report, just like you would do if you found a similar bug in a windows app. These kind of bugs are not more frequent in modern Linux apps than they are in windows. As for integration, I would say that the integration and reuse of components is far higher in e.g. KDE not to mention cross toolkit things like DBUS. Even without novelties the X Window System used by Linux always have had a hight level standardisaton of protocols that make it easy for different part of the desktop to work together. Think of things like window managers, session managers, desktop managers. Think of how authentication and PAM works. How easy is it to have some users authenticated from AD and others from a MS SQLServer database, and yet others from a password file in windows? In Linux its just a matter of using the right PAM modules. How about desktop search, in Linux every web page that I visit with my web browser is indexed by beagle, and so is my e-mail, and other documents. So, I’d say the integration of applications in Linux have com a long way. I would recomend you to actually use a modern Linux some time and see for your self. The development of the Linux desktop in the last few years have been amazing. 2006-12-27 7:33 am jango bah, go suck bill gates 2006-12-27 10:36 am trenchsol No dependencies…..hmmmmm…….What about dynamic libraries (versions), RPC mismatches (OLE, Activex, COM…) ? No, you can say many things about Windows, but not this. DG 2006-12-26 6:38 pm meianoite I don’t know where to begin… Vista out-Mac’ing the Mac? How come? To offer the same level of glitz with thrice the required hardware? Fast, how? By taking almost 4 minutes to boot the same machine which used to go from POST to fully loaded desktop in 25 seconds under XP? No surprises on it being faster on top-notch hardware than XP, but giving Vista anything less than 1GB of RAM is an exercise of masochism. Microsoft’s historical bug severity track compared to those on unix-descending OSs are a *joke*. While there have been several compromised Linux and BSD systems in the past, and there still are many in the future, and doubtlessly many yet to come, if one weights them out by dividing number of compromised systems by total installed base, one will realise how flacky MS security historically is. Windows bugs themselves, IIS bugs, IE bugs, Office bugs, Outlook bugs? Remember when “regular” viruses used to be feared, back in 94/95? And how those were virtually phased out by Word macro viruses in 96-98 timeframe? And then how in the 99-present timeframe those were dethroned by IE and other remote exploits, such as worms, backdoors (remember BackOrifice, NetBus?), trojans? Microsoft’s code base IS unmaintainable. They’re the biggest consumers of their own managed coding tools, because they seem not able to afford tight coding techniques anymore. Every software of theirs leak memory, less so the recent ones because of garbage collection. But just grab yourself some process monitor (like those by SysInternals) and watch commit charges grow as time passes. More often than not you’ll notice how 3rd party apps leak memory like a broken tap, and plenty of times these leakages are on MS’ DLLs code paths. Unfortunately the future under Microsoft’s OSs is an ungracefully degrading one. Vista is not much faster on the latest hardware than Windows 2003 R2, if any faster at all. Windows XP x64, which is based on the x64 2k3 kernel, is *way* faster. And now it’s my turn to say “make no mistake” (and GOD, I HATE THIS IDIOM!): Linux, the BSDs and Mac OS X on comparable hardware run *circles* around Vista. Even Solaris feel faster sometimes, and their recent work on improving boot times is definitely measurable… Unlike many so-called “benchmarks” I’ve been seeing floating around showing a 2 second improvement over XP. Thanks, I’ll pass those. This Economist.com editorial is but a run-of-the-mill trade press, very familiar, always annoying “Microsoft still rules the roost, but watch out for those cockrells which go by the name of Mac OS X and Linux” article. OSNews editors, next time please tag these articles as such, and spare my time… 2006-12-26 7:05 pm Bit_Rapist OSNews editors, next time please tag these articles as such, and spare my time… You could probably save the most time by not responding with 4 paragraphs of text if it annoys you that much 2006-12-27 1:12 am proforma I hate it when people say that Vista is slow and they are still using a 486 using Linux. Yeah, of course it is going to be slow. duh! Windows Vista looks fast enough to me and offers siginicant enough features for a serious upgrade. A lot of what Vista is doing, Linux is not. It has virtual memory that combines your video card memory with your system memory into one virtual pool (does linux do this?). That is just one example. Windows does more than Linux and is supported more than Linux so there is more involved in that process. 2006-12-27 2:29 am cmost “A lot of what Vista is doing, Linux is not. It has virtual memory that combines your video card memory with your system memory into one virtual pool (does linux do this?).” It’s a good thing Vista is able to pool RAM this way! From Vista’s system requirements, it’d better be able to take resources from wherever it can get them! From my experience with the Release Candidiate, Vista was a huge, bloated resource hog. It appears that Microsoft have thrown every feature it could muster (i.e., beg, borrow and steal) into this monster. I guess MS’s philosophy is: “if we can’t fix the OS itself, we’ll just put in more bells and whistles, paint it real pretty, and hope nobody will notice.” This is wrong. If MS were smart, they would have released a lean and mean core OS for free and then sold various “PLUS!” packs that would add the multimedia, business, tablet, and Aero features, among others. Modularizing the OS this way is the future. Considering that MS has one foot in bankruptcy court, however, it would be unthinkable to actually give away the OS. Edited 2006-12-27 02:30 2006-12-27 2:55 am stestagg Wow. Imagine what would happen if MS filed for bankrupcy! All hell would break loose, IT spending would rocket…economic instability… There’s no way the American Government would let that happen. 2006-12-27 8:59 am Rayz Considering that MS has one foot in bankruptcy court, Possibly the most desperate comment yet … but thanks for the laugh. 😀 Edited 2006-12-27 08:59 2006-12-27 3:41 pm linux-it the other way around also is true. linux does quite a few things vista doesn’t. virtual memory that combines videocard memory with system memory isn’t one of them and the question in fact is if that is a very big thing and if it’s a wise thing security-wise. it’s just like the use of flash memory you push into a slot to be used as extra memory. you should start wndering what they smoke when they think of such measures. it’s not really something you want at all security wise. but then, the record of MS is in most areas not too good when it comes to security. 2006-12-28 3:30 pm BluenoseJake I run BSD, XP and Ubuntu on the same hardware, and I see no circles being run around Vista. Ubuntu certainly is not any faster, my BSD setup is, but that is only because it’s very lean, I started with the minimal install and only installed what I needed. Saying that Linux and BSD run circles around Vista is very setup dependant, My Ubuntu install is certanly not, but my BSD is, Vista is plenty fast, faster than XP, and this is on a Athlon XP 2800+ with 1Ghz of Ram. It’s all subjective, and it’s all about how you setup a system 2006-12-26 6:43 pm ma_d He lost me when he started going off about how great Vista is and mentioned it would be _far_ more stable than XP. If he meant reliable, he’s totally wrong: There’s not room for XP to be _far_ more reliable. It’s sitting in that 5th percentile where it can improve, but it’s so stinkin’ close that the typical user may not even notice if you fix 95% of the problems… If he means stable, in its correct definition, then he’s also quite wrong: Windows platforms have always been slow to make changes which stop old code from working. XP has done very well at working, in SP2, with programs that worked on it when it first released: It’s very stable. I doubt Vista will be _far_ more stable. As far as _far_ more secure, maybe, but XPSP2 is pretty far along that path, I assume he must mean in comparison to the initial release of XP… This whole article reads like a big apology for Windows with some marketing thrown in. 2006-12-27 11:03 am hal2k1 //If he meant reliable, he’s totally wrong// Of course he is totally wrong. Vista has “shutdown by WGA” and “DRM tilt bits” which can stop it working. The really amusing thing is when malware authors find ways to trigger the WGA and “tilt bit” shutdowns remotely, and find a way to use that to hold Windows Vista systems up to ransom … “pay us or we’ll shut your whole IT system down”. Vista makes it all possible. http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt Edited 2006-12-27 11:11 2006-12-26 6:52 pm radu_chindris I’ve installed ubuntu for my sister (senior highschool) an tutored her (briefly) through the weekend, and she just loves it! That made me realise that Windows is the most widely used OS today not because it is the best, the most stable/easy to use/etc. True, almost all latest games are written only on win32, but that may change. The real problem is that average user Joe knows ONLY about Windows, it doesn’t know about Ubuntu/SuSE/Fedora and the kind. Linux is just not popular enough, that’s the real problem, that’s why mister ballmer can sell windows for how much???? 900 dollars, even MORE??? no, you get reversi, ms paint and solitaire for 99$ you get the ideea 2006-12-26 6:55 pm celt Same reason for the popularity of Country music, line dancing and banjo playing with very, very close relatives. 2006-12-26 7:00 pm Sphinx Made my morning on that one. 2006-12-26 6:57 pm Sphinx I always depend on the Economist for in depth techical write ups, those lads are so savvy! 2006-12-26 7:02 pm bdahmen Like someone else said here the article was written fluff for the idiots that run business today. Really simple, Linux, Unix, and MAC OSX are much better OSes than Windows will ever be. When the GUI on those platforms comes up to speed or bypasses the ease of the GUI in Windows, and large amounts of Linux, Unix, MACOX machines can be easily managed in the enterprise then and only then will Windows be beat out. The day is coming. That is why Microsoft is making deals with Novell for Linux and Windows interoperability. 2006-12-26 7:16 pm cyclops I love Linux vs Windows as much as the next poster, but there is lots of bad posts. Comparing Windows Bloatware vs Debien bloatware. Eh? Comparing Windows Fancy Graphics vs Mac fancy graphics. Eh? Microsoft do *lots* of things well. Apple and Linux(sic) do lots of things badly…and have application availability issues. I do get tired sometimes that rather than focus on the positives of an OS, which clearly outweigh the benefits…for them. Yet people are making claims that simply are not true. Arguing that Linux doesn’t own modularity, or that Apple has been the looker of the desktop OS, is just stupid. Edited 2006-12-26 19:36 2006-12-26 7:21 pm tomcat You may agree or disagree with the “technical” conclusions of the author. But, if you look at Windows as end-users see it, it’s mostly stable, it mostly works out of the box, and most users don’t spend time maintaining their Windows boxes. Forget about whether those same boxes have malware or other cruft installed that’s slowly choking the life out of their machines. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve encountered machines that were loaded with all kinds of crap but, when you ask the user how things are going, they say that everything mostly works and, if it doesn’t, they just put in their install disc and it magically refreshes their entire box. So they don’t think about maintenance. That may be dumb, but most average users aren’t exactly pinnacles of clarity and depth of thinking. The same goes for their cars. They don’t care how the thing works. They just want it to work. Apathy is the reason why Linux and Mac don’t have a chance. Sad, but true. 2006-12-26 7:26 pm Jesuspower Hehe, when I worked as a tech, I would get countless machines in that the customer would say was just a little slow. Then, we found that they had no fewer than 20 different viruses, thrown across hundreds of areas in their hard drive, and spyware on top of that! We would tell them that they needed to reformat their HD, and they would say “But it was fine until I brought it here!” Your post reminded me of that. 2006-12-26 7:31 pm phoenix And that’s the problem with all MS softare: “mostly works” and “good enough” have replaced “works well all the time” and “does things perfectly”. I’d hate to drive a car that “mostly works”, or to fly in a plane that “mostly works”, or walk across a bridge that “usually stays up”. And yet people are more than overjoyed to use a computer that “mostly works”. Boggles my mind. We need to get out of the “good enough” “mostly works” mentality. 2006-12-27 3:58 am tomcat Well, I both agree and disagree with what you’re saying. It’s quite a different thing to compare a products that are highly integrated (ie. aircraft, automobiles), that have human lives dependent on them for survival, and which are designed for specific purposes with no customization by the users — with operating system software that costs $100 (street) and which will be highly customized by OEMs and end-users, resulting in essentially untested scenarios. There’s a reason why you can’t customize realtime systems: You need provable correctness. That isn’t true of the vast majority of today’s desktop operating systems. 2006-12-27 7:15 pm phoenix And yet companies continue to base their livelihoods and even existence on computers and software that are barely “good enough”. It’s amazing how many times a year we hear about virus/worm outbreaks costing the world economy billions of dollars in lost time/downtime/repairs. Or exploits in wordprocessors that can bring down systems. And so on. Yet nobody seems to be too worried about it, since “usually things work”. We’ve all become accustomed to rebooting our desktops to fix “problems”, and to installing tonnes of anti-spyware, anti-virus, anti-phishing, anti-whatever software to “protect” the system. Microsoft needs to stop spending its money frivolously (anybody here get one of those Acer Ferarri laptops?) and spend it on itself … fixing the problems in Windows, fixing the problems in Office, and start making software that “just works” and “works well”. A lot of our projects are behind … but when we finally put them in place, they work reliably. We only have 15 people in our IT department, and only 4 of those are programmer types. So we spend the time up-front to make long-term maintenance easier. Reliability from the get-go saves us a lot more money/time than the extra few weeks of work to get it there. Too bad we seem to be the exception. 2006-12-27 10:14 pm tomcat Microsoft HAS been putting a huge amount of money toward fixing underlying security problems in its software — and I think that the proof will ultimately be in the pudding. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Vista#Security-related_technol… Limited User Accounts (LUA), encrypted drives (BitLocker), no/limited network/service functionality on by default, default firewall, anti-virus support, moving drivers from kernel space to user space, IE7 privilege restriction, kernel patch protection, address space layout randomization, obfuscation, automated code scanning and path/buffer analysis, better cipher support, etc, etc. Given that Vista was built on the Win2K3 Server codebase — which has had an exceptional security record so far — I wouldn’t say that “nobody seems to be worried about it”. Security is apparently a top priority at Microsoft — and it’s about time. I applaud what they’re doing. It will help. 2006-12-27 10:27 pm phoenix We’ll see. Like you say, the proof will be in the pudding, which everyone should be able to start tasting in the new year. Hopefully, the Vista security hype turns into a secure reality (not a secure-through-DRM reality). And, hopefully, this will be the beginning of a turn toward “works well all the time” instead of “good enough for now” programming. I won’t hold my breath, though, just in case. 2006-12-27 9:27 am Rayz Apathy is the reason why Linux and Mac don’t have a chance. Sad, but true. When you trawl around the web, the difference between Windows fans and Linux/Mac fans becomes really obvious. Windows fanatics tell you why they have chosen Windows. Linux fanatics try to tell you why you shouldn’t use Windows. Marketing based on a competitor’s drawbacks, never works. It just shows an inability to examine and rectify your own shortcomings. Edited 2006-12-27 09:40 2006-12-27 9:47 am archiesteel “Apathy is the reason why Linux and Mac don’t have a chance. Sad, but true.” I wouldn’t say they’re apathetic; far from it. I would say that they are unfocussed. You missed the OP’s point. He was talking about the apathy of Windows users, not Linux/Mac enthusiasts. In other words, the natural inertia of the Windows user base. Marketing based on a competitor’s drawbacks, never works. I seem to recall Microsoft poiting out Linux’ drawbacks a lot in its “get the facts” campaign. I also remember a lot a negative declarations from Bill and Steve over the years. I hear a lot of negative attacks on web forums, and I do believe that part of that is from MS shills. It’s false to claim that negative advertising doesn’t work. Why do you think we see so much of it? Contrary to what you claim, I find that most Linux enthusiasts tend to focus on Linux’ virtues rather than Windows’ flaws. They will, however, be very critical of Microsoft. One should be careful not to confuse the criticism of the company for that of its products… Take myself: I do think that Windows is a good desktop. I just happen to believe that Linux is a better one. 2006-12-28 6:05 pm rcsteiner Windows fanatics tell you why they have chosen Windows. So I’ve imagined all of those messages slamming Linux, Macs, and other platforms and operating systems over the past 20 years? I think you have selective vision. 2006-12-27 3:57 pm twenex if you look at Windows as end-users see it, it’s mostly stable, it mostly works out of the box, and most users don’t spend time maintaining their Windows boxes They do if they don’t want to get viruses, spyware, and all the other types of malware. By contrast, on Linux, you can forgo all that and STILL not get V, S, *ware. when you ask the user how things are going, they say that everything mostly works and, if it doesn’t, they just put in their install disc and it magically refreshes their entire box. So they don’t think about maintenance. That may be dumb, but most average users aren’t exactly pinnacles of clarity and depth of thinking. The same goes for their cars. They don’t care how the thing works. They just want it to work. I hate to break it to you, but if you really think the only way of getting average users to use Linux is to tell them to reinstall it when something goes wrong, you’re welcome to do so. What, do you think the Thompson-Stallman-Torvalds Investigative Agency is going to come after you if you do? I agree with you on the apathy front, though. 2006-12-26 7:21 pm Jesuspower At least its easy to maintain! Ha! It should not need me maintaining it. When I had Ubuntu, I did an apt-get update once a week. Nothing to maintain other than that… On my mac, I, um… use it. Thats about it. I do have fun tweaking nibs though… On my Windows PC? Defrag once a week. Virus scan once a week. Updates frequently. Check for spyware. Check for stuff loading that I do not want to. In the startup folder. In the registry. Check the blank.html for bad stuff. etc… Yea. But the maintenance is made easy… 2006-12-26 7:22 pm arielb Windows rules the world because it is easier to use than linux and runs on more hardware than macos x. 2006-12-26 7:35 pm alisonken1 My 4yrold has no problems on Linux. Not to mention Linux runs on more hardware than MS and OSX combined. 2006-12-26 7:43 pm tux68 If you’re going to pick just one sentence you might want to select one that has some basis in reality ;o) 2006-12-27 5:38 pm tryphcycle “Windows rules the world because it is easier to use than linux and runs on more hardware than macos x.” i totally agree with that statment…. its just to bad the situation is WAY more complicated than that! 2006-12-26 7:26 pm moleskine Every time I’ve read an article in the Economist on a subject I know more than average about, the article has turned out to be lightweight. The Economist seems to specialize in snowjobs: shallow pieces that retail prevailing assumptions but dressed up in plausible and rather arrogant business-speak to make them sound heavyweight and full of insights to yer man in the suit. I really don’t see this article as any different. Yes of course Micrsoft have a monopoly and of course they use that to “leverage” (dread business word!) other things. But Microsoft do not rule the roost, imho, because in the Economist‘s words, “by favouring simplicity of use over simplicity of design, Microsoft has been able to leverage cheap but powerful commodity hardware … That’s a winning formula in anyone’s book.” The truth is more likely that Microsoft started out by producing stuff that was a beancounter’s dream – the Excel/office angle. That gave them their lock-in and after that it has always been a question of “good enough” but never really best. If you want superior ease of use, a Mac has always offered more. Microsoft have also been extremely lucky. Microsoft have been able to ride on the back of the fantastic increase in wealth in the Western world over the past 25 years. Had that not been the case, then people would have started asking some very sharp questions very much earlier about the true cost of the Microsoft way, their lock-in and the real (as distinct from advertised) productivity gains that computers are alleged to bring. Let’s not even get into the question of whether the giant byzantine Windows codebase is the way of the future or, as in rather likely, an historial dead end. The striking thing about this article is the Economist‘s praise of Linux. Only a short while ago, they and the rest of the besuited world were writing off Linux as a specialist thang for “geeks”, anti-capitalist rioters and general riffraff. Now they say, “On the desktop, Linux works every bit as well as Windows, while offering greater security and fewer crashes. Installing any of the popular desktop distros such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE or Fedora is a ten-minute breeze.” That represents an astounding turnaround in perceptions and is the only valuable insight in this article, imho. 2006-12-26 7:26 pm Joe User downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices. That’s for sure. As long as Linux doesn’t solve the dependency hell and make it easier to install apps (No, Synaptic doesn’t count), it will not pass the 1% usage. 2006-12-26 7:30 pm archiesteel Why wouldn’t Synaptic count? Oh, right, that would actually mean that you’re making a fair comparison. Installing apps with Synaptic/Adept is *easier* than installing apps in Windows, and I haven’t had a single dependency problems in a year and a half. I click checkboxes then press the install button, and everything just works. Edited 2006-12-26 19:30 2006-12-27 3:01 am stestagg When I was using RedHat and RPMs, then I did have serious issues with installing hundreds of dependencies. Now that I’m using debian, I’ve never had a problem with apt. (either using dpkg, apt-get, or aptitude, or Synaptic). Try it some day, then you’ll be able to speak with authority about the subject. 2006-12-27 8:53 am Finalzone Please avoid the mistake of subtlety comparing RPM with APT (true package manager vs front end). This is a reminder: http://www.osnews.com/permalink.php?news_id=16724&comment_id=192319 Apply the same logic with Debian: When I was using Debian and DEBs, then I did have serious issues with installing hundreds of dependencies using dpkg. Now that I’m using Fedora, I’ve never had a problem with yum. (either using rpm, apt-rpm, or smart, or Yumex). Try it some day, then you’ll be able to speak with authority about the subject. An apology for this off-topic post. It was necessary to point out the flaw in the statement. Edited 2006-12-27 08:55 2006-12-27 12:04 pm stestagg Sorry. You’re right. It was late when I posted that drivel. However, I did use Yum once (fedora 3 iirc), and it knotted itself in dependencies. That obviously isn’t a problem with the RPM/Yum format but with the Packages that were provided by the repos. I guess the point that I was tring to make, is that Debian (through its slow, thorough releases) tends to have a more integrated set of packages that won’t break dependencies as often. 2006-12-27 12:38 pm hal2k1 //However, I did use Yum once (fedora 3 iirc), and it knotted itself in dependencies. That obviously isn’t a problem with the RPM/Yum format but with the Packages that were provided by the repos. I guess the point that I was tring to make, is that Debian (through its slow, thorough releases) tends to have a more integrated set of packages that won’t break dependencies as often.// I would recommend using Smart Package Manager. http://labix.org/smart It reportedly has a significantly better algorithm for resolving dependencies. It works on Fedora. 2006-12-27 11:24 am Joe User Now that I’m using debian, I’ve never had a problem with apt. (either using dpkg, apt-get, or aptitude, or Synaptic). Try it some day, then you’ll be able to speak with authority about the subject. You’re an idiot. I use Ubuntu and Ubuntu ships with Synaptic. It never works, and if you don’t enable universe, multiverse and non-free repositories, it only lists the bad applications. Windows users don’t use Synaptic, it’s a geek tool, and name of applications are codenames. “firefox-bin” <- How the heck I find out this is the proper Firefox application? How do I know “bin” stands for “binary”? What is “binary” after all? Use your Synaptic crap, but don’t force us to use it. 2006-12-27 12:33 pm hal2k1 //You’re an idiot. I use Ubuntu and Ubuntu ships with Synaptic. It never works, and if you don’t enable universe, multiverse and non-free repositories, it only lists the bad applications. Windows users don’t use Synaptic, it’s a geek tool, and name of applications are codenames. “firefox-bin” <- How the heck I find out this is the proper Firefox application? How do I know “bin” stands for “binary”? What is “binary” after all? Use your Synaptic crap, but don’t force us to use it.// Excuse me, but WTF???? To install firefox on Ubuntu, one can use either “Add/Remove Software” on the main menu, or Adept on the system->configuration menus. Having started either of those, one hits the toolbar button “Search”, then one types “firefox”, then one selects the firefox icon displayed, and then one clicks “apply”. In Winows, the equivalent process (to get to the same point) starts with running (shudder) IE, then going to google, then searching for “Firefox”, then navigating to the download page, then downloading the firefox installer program, then finding where it was saved after downloading, then running the installer. Adept, Synaptic, Smart and/or “Add/Remove Software” on Ubuntu are all way easier to use for a newbie user. There are many other ways to install software as well, but those mentioned above are the easiest. http://monkeyblog.org/ubuntu/installing/ Every single one of these is easier than anything on Windows. 2006-12-26 7:32 pm raver31 Windows may squander computing power through its clumsy architecture. But by favouring simplicity of use over simplicity of design, Microsoft has been able to leverage cheap but powerful commodity hardware, to provide cost-effective software solutions and the author thinks this is a good thing ? hang on I will try reading it again…….. hmmm, so i am still a little unsure of that part, is the author trying to make us believe that computer hardware would still be underpowered and slow if it was not for Windows demanding it ? whats that guy on ? Off Topic Can I have a few comments on my pictures please ? http://www.flickr.com/photos/donley Edited 2006-12-26 19:34 2006-12-26 7:50 pm tpaws FTA: “But if you’ve been religious about keeping your computer healthy with all the latest patches and updates…” A daily dose of aspirin (anti-virus definition updats), and a weeekly dose of anti-biotics (Windows Tuesday updates) and your computer might not get sick. What a hoot! 2006-12-26 7:56 pm sp29 Coming from a mac user who also has more pc’s then macs. I don’t see anything new in Vista compared to Mac OS X. Microsoft just borrowed a bunch of design from OS X. I mean it will be praised(Vista)in the Windows community, because I would image mult-millions of home users haven’t seen OS X in action. I’m amazed at the stupidity of MS engineers though. They are paid so well, but have to resort to copying Apple. That’s quite a shame given the amount of time MS has been in business. 2006-12-26 10:13 pm rcsteiner I’m amazed at the stupidity of MS engineers though. They are paid so well, but have to resort to copying Apple. That’s quite a shame given the amount of time MS has been in business. I suspect the problem isn’t the engineers as much as it is the development environment and corporate culture in which they are forced to operate. If new features must go through a smotheringly complex approval process, for example, the chances are good that you’ll never see them in the end product regardless of their actual merit. It only takes one short-sighted manager or team lead to kill a perfectly viable idea. 2006-12-27 9:35 am Rayz The Windows Presentation Foundation The ability to use RAM drives as memory Sideshow .. that’s three off the top of my head. I’m amazed at the stupidity of MS engineers though. They are paid so well, but have to resort to copying Apple. That’s quite a shame given the amount of time MS has been in business Well, the difference is that MS engineers have to actually write operating systems; Apple engineers just have to keep bolting bits onto a UNIX clone they bought a few years ago, when their own efforts to develop an OS crashed and burned. I’m often surprised when folk bang on about how long its taken MS to get Vista out the door, then forget to mention that Apple was trying to replace the original MacOS for TEN YEARS, before throwing in the towel and just buying an OS. Then we still had another couple of years to get it into a usable state. 2006-12-26 8:03 pm Southern.Pride All one has to do is remember back to how many Linux software vendors like Caldera/RedHat/Mandrake/Turbo Linux and the list goes on and on. I myself have been using RedHat Linux since 1999, but I also used Caldera back in the day. Today I use Fedora because I like the distro and I have become familiar with and I took my RHCT at work for RHEL3/4 ect. When RedHat dropped support for the 9.0- series they pretty well abandoned ship on the desktop Linux. SuSE could not take the ball and run with it, but like many others I am sure they will not push on the desktop. I would think now is the perfect opportunity to have desktops pre-loaded with Vista/SuSE operating systems. I am a Linux advocate on the desktop because it is what I prefer and it is easier to use than Windows for me. When a Linux software vendor wants to get serious about the desktop change can happen. But everytime it seems to flounder around ending with dropped support to going to the ‘community’ for developers. Ubuntu seems to be very popular but it does not come with KDE for whatever reason, and I do not like Gnome or I want both installed instead of having to do it myself. Vista will put the nail in the coffin for the ‘digital rights management’ and copyright protection on software. This is going to give Linux fits because right now you can play DVD’s and other media content I see a huge problem or tidal wave that will cripple Linux to the point of users having to abandon it to watch multi-media (very disappointing indeed)! 2006-12-26 8:14 pm archiesteel Ubuntu seems to be very popular but it does not come with KDE for whatever reason, and I do not like Gnome or I want both installed instead of having to do it myself. Sure it does: http://www.kubuntu.org Vista will put the nail in the coffin for the ‘digital rights management’ and copyright protection on software. This is going to give Linux fits because right now you can play DVD’s and other media content I see a huge problem or tidal wave that will cripple Linux to the point of users having to abandon it to watch multi-media (very disappointing indeed)! I fail to see your point here…how exactly is Vista going to change multimedia support for Linux? Anti-piracy protection on software can only benefit Linux, because the overwhelming majority of people who use pirated software run Windows. 2006-12-26 9:47 pm Gone fishing I think that Southern.Pride’s point was that with MS’ support for the DRM technologies built into Blue Ray and HDDVD, means that Linux (and other alternative OS) are going to get locked out of the next generation of multi media etc. I agree with Southern Pride this is certainly what MS hopes will happen; and I see it as a danger, however I also rather agree with this analysis. http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=36574 I also agree that piracy works in for MS rather than against MS. The more that MS can prevent piracy the better for free OS. 2006-12-26 9:54 pm archiesteel Okay, your explanation makes more sense, however I think that the Inquirer analysis is right. I also potentially see commercial Blu-ray/HD-DVD players for Linux being available at some point (the kernel already supports DRM). Things are not as bleak as they might seem…we’ll have Linux solutions for blu-ray/HD-DVD playback by the time these formats become popular (if ever). 2006-12-26 8:07 pm 2501 look what happened to BeOS…look what has happened to software companies that were considered “obstacle” to MS….where are they now? They were either purchased or destroyed by MS. I think Bill Gates should be the next president. He really knows about business. Apple is giving a different where all its products work in harmony and MS can’t do that…for now. 2006-12-26 8:59 pm brewmastre “look what happened to BeOS…look what has happened to software companies that were considered “obstacle” to MS….where are they now? They were either purchased or destroyed by MS. I think Bill Gates should be the next president. He really knows about business.” Well, you can thank Palm for BeOS, but most of these companies are only bought out by MS so that they can use everyone else’s code without worrying about IP issues. As for Bill Gates becoming the next president, I think the US already has enough problems. I don’t want to see the government being run anything like Microsoft. If we had him as Pres, we would have 20 more levels of bureaucracy between the people and the Gov’t 2006-12-26 9:14 pm TaterSalad BeOS was NOT destroyed by Microsoft. BeOS had its own set of issues unrelated to Microsoft. Limited hardware support being the main one. 2006-12-26 11:13 pm Thom Holwerda look what happened to BeOS… I still wonder at how many people seem to think that Microsoft killed Be, Inc. and the BeOS, while in fact, Microsoft only played a small part in it. BeOS did not die because of Microsoft alone. BeOS dies for the first time when they bet on AT&T’s hobbit processor which got canceled. BeOS dies for the second time when Apple blocked it from running on Apple machines by not releasing specs (Apple knew BeOS was better than MacOS 8/9). It dies a third time when Microsoft did their OEM thing. Finally, BeOS dies for the fourth time when Jean-Louis Gassee went all megalomaniac (JLG thought Be was worth much more than the money Apple wanted to pay for it, and hence, turned down the offer). So basically, BeOS’s killers are Be, Inc. itself, Apple, Microsoft, and JLG. Edited 2006-12-26 23:16 2006-12-27 3:04 am gpierce “Finally, BeOS dies for the fourth time when Jean-Louis Gassee went all megalomaniac (JLG thought Be was worth much more than the money Apple wanted to pay for it, and hence, turned down the offer).” Not the first time, and won’t be the last, that hubris killed a project. 2006-12-26 8:24 pm merkoth FTA: But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices. Wrong. If you really used any of those distros you’ll know that the users is no longer required to take care of dependencies. Yum, YaST, urpmi and apt do the job, and they do it right. FTA again: . Windows may squander computing power through its clumsy architecture. Wrong. NT family kernels and subsystems are very modular, and the Win2K source code leaked some time ago demostrated that it’s, at least, good code. The problem with Windows is compatibility with its prior incarnations. IIRC there were some nasty hacks in Win2K ‘s code just to make sure some Win3.x app did run. but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain. Wrong. Ask anyone, I’m pretty sure that they love to run half a dozen system diagnostic tools (anti spyware, anti virus, reg cleaner and so on) just to get their systems to work. I don’t think there’s much to be added to the topic. Please author, keep talking about economics, it’s obvious that you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about. 2006-12-26 8:24 pm SK8T because windows is so simple to use? xD bad joke … 3 clicks to remove an usb device in windows systems; 2 in Linux, 1 in OS X. to install software in OS X, just drag and drop the application where you want; to remove it, move it to the trash. oh yeah, windows is that simple to use… 2006-12-26 8:30 pm cg0def my personal opinion after reading the article is that Economist should stick to their usual topics ( world trade and other economic ones ). This is about the most uneducated article on Vista that I have seen. Out-Mac the Macs ? Has the writer ever had a first hand experience with a Mac and compared that with Vista? Vista is a distant 2nd to the experience that you get from a Mac and everything in Vista feels like a cheap imitation. Also every review that I have seen on Vista points out that there is a lot of noise for not so many improvements over the previous version but then comes this guy and claims the opposite. Now don’t get me wrong, Vista has changed a lot in comparison to XP but it’s not what was promised and this just pisses me off. As far as why Windows is the dominant OS goes, well it’s fairly simple. Windows fits very well in the already established business models in the Computer industry and many companies like the fact that the OS is far from perfect. Heck it creates jobs if nothing else. You have the IT staff that every medium and above size company has and then you have all those programmers writing substitute tools for the OS because the ones bundled with it are useless. I really don’t see how any free OS can compete with that and at the end of the day it is really not the consumer that rules the market. The largest fud in today’s society is that the customer is always right. It is more like make the customer believe that he/she is getting what they want and sell them the crap that you need to sell. I’m sorry about the Economist but this particular article really makes them look stupid. 2006-12-27 3:23 am gpierce “I’m sorry about the Economist but this particular article really makes them look stupid.” Taints their credibility on everything else they have to say, doesn’t it? Article read more like an advertisement than an honest review of the OS’s capabilities. The author clearly was no complete novice. There are suggestions that he is aware of Linux and the package management tools in the Linux world as well as some of the features of OS X. But to say it outstrips OS X or even Linux (Beryl, Compiz) in its window dressings and trimmings is not fair. Technical issues regarding computer OSes, controversial though they may be, are far more clear than global geopolitics and international trade. If they can’t do a creditable job with this, a computer OS, how can they be expected to honestly deal with highly complex social, human, political, and economic problems. Edited 2006-12-27 03:24 2006-12-26 8:50 pm zeroth404 “In the religious wars that rage between operating-system fanatics, the worst offenders are actually to be found in the Macintosh and Linux camps.” The quoted statement above is obnoxiously hypocritical. The author claims that while the Linux kernel has 9m lines, he claims that distros such as Debian 3.1 have ~213m lines of code. Not only has the author attempted to summarize the size of every installation of every distro (which is impossible and really shows his ignorance), he includes ALL applications and packages in the Linux “line count” while he doesn’t include such things in the Windows “line count”. Lets throw in the entire MS Office suite and a crock of other applications and see how big of a hole that number makes when it shoots through the roof. The author also wrongly assumes that each OS has the same bugs-per-line ratio. While each ratio may be close, even the most minuscule difference will have a massive impact on the actual number of bugs. 2006-12-26 8:50 pm brewmastre I can’t even come close to believing this junk about Windows being easier to maintain. I use OS X and Linux at home and work, respectively; but I maintain all windows workstations and servers for a living and if they were half as easy to maintain as Linux or OS X I would be out of a job 2006-12-26 8:58 pm DigitalAxis 1. Microsoft partnered with IBM, and business types were unsure about computers until IBM entered the market 2. Microsoft invested a lot of money into creating a GUI. 3. OEM bundling 4. To be profitable, hardware manufacturers HAVE to make sure their device runs with Windows. 5. Windows is all most people know, to the point where anything else isn’t a real computer. 6. Programs. I personally have to use Windows to run the chaotic attractor program Chaoscope, and I’m not sure if Avidemux2 is really a replacement for Virtualdub. Oh, and I’d rather run Linux-native programs than run Wine, though I am starting to reconsider that… 7. Most people don’t even know there are alternatives, nor do they care. Anyone who cares about math or science or computers is one o’ them nerds, and nobody wants to be a nerd so they DARE not care. 8. Most people are perfectly fine with following an arcane and mysterious (and perhaps needlessly overcomplicated) series of steps in order to do what they want. Case in point, my parent’s computer (from which I write this) has a version of Earthlink installed on it that does not work on Windows XP. We had it on the old computer, so she installed it on this one, and ever since then the half-installed program tries to install itself (and fail) every time we connect to the internet. The installer also hangs and wastes RAM. I am forbidden from tinkering with it to try to fix that problem for fear I might prevent the computer from connecting to the internet at all. Then there’s the Roxio CD burning software that came with the computer, which always- even when in ‘test burn’ mode- aborts halfway through. Over the last few years my little brother turned all 50 CD-Rs that came with the computer into coasters in vain efforts to try to coax it into working via reinstalls or otherwise. My father also refuses to install anything beyond PKZIP 2.04g because he knows how to make it do what he wants it to do and doesn’t want to learn another archiver even if I could set defaults to the way he likes it. (Note, though, that only recently have I FOUND such software that can do what he wants, much less defaults) (And yes, it is the CD software. I used K3B on a Linux LiveCD in the DVD tray to successfully burn a CD) 2006-12-26 9:21 pm TaterSalad 7. Most people don’t even know there are alternatives, nor do they care. Anyone who cares about math or science or computers is one o’ them nerds, and nobody wants to be a nerd so they DARE not care. Be fair, everyone wants to be a nerd. 2006-12-28 6:13 pm rcsteiner 2. Microsoft invested a lot of money into creating a GUI. Most of the work was actually done by others. The Windows UI for versions previous to Win95 is largely based on IBM’s CUA interface guidelines (that’s why X/Motif windows are so similar to Windows 3.0, for example), and the versions of Windows from Win95 and later borrow heavily from other OSes (MacOS, OS/2, etc) while still using CUA for many of the most basic concepts. Microsoft obviously spend a lot of time and money on their product lines, but the GUI, kernels, and filesystems don’t seem to reflect much of that effort. 2006-12-26 9:31 pm looncraz I will be trying to get an article up about assigning a value to a piece of software in terms of proper metrics. Meaning, I ‘m gonna explain why code size means nothing, it is what it does, how it does it, and how it is applied to the user that counts, not the size of the code that went to making it happen. Stay tuned. –The loon 2006-12-26 9:46 pm MacTO Even though I don’t think that lines of code is a very reliable indicator of bloat or complexity, at least they had a nice thing to say about both Linux and Mac OS X. Lines of code is really bad because they probably aren’t measured consistent way: different programming styles and languages will tend to expand or reduce the number of lines of code, which programs are considered as part of the operating system. Bloat can also mean different things: personally I like johndaly’s definition of a mismatch between the user and features, though memory usage is also a valid consideration. Memory usage can be bumped up by the additional use of resources (like images, audio, and video). Memory usage may also be greater for particular algorithms, and there isn’t necessarily a correspondence between the number of lines of code and how much memory an algorithm will need. It is a very complex issue. Alas, the Economist is not the best place to explore the technical nuances of an operating system. 2006-12-26 9:57 pm osgeek Not all users are technical geeks. You have to agree there are users who just want to surf the net or watch movies or chat. They would rather spend a few hundred dollars in Windows and Anti-virus than delve into the intricacies of setting up and use Unix-like systems. Many of them are not even aware of anything other than Windows. Operating systems for them is Windows. Period. Windows had a good headstart over other OS’s and it would take a huge effort and luck to overtake it anytime soon in PCs. 2006-12-26 10:00 pm theTSF Putting all my Microsoft Hate aside. The answer is still no and wrong. First it doesn’t explain why Windows the the Primary kings OS. It doesn’t explain how it out Mac a Mac except for a picture of Vista version of Expose which uses a little more 3d processing and has the windows overlap each other Possible hiding important data that OS X doesn’t while OS X version is agreed to be uglier then Vista. Vista is the next verion of Windows Yes it will be better then the last version. Why Windows is king is simple. When IBM licensed DOS from Microsoft they had a hole in the contract that allowed MS to sell their OS to other venders. Creating the IBM Compatible system. So IBM pushed DOS into the Market with a force only IBM can do. So shortly after cheaper 100% IBM Compatible Computers were released. And now people could choose a range of systems that all run the same software. Software developers realized if they make their applications for DOS then more people could run their program. So people started using Microsoft DOS. The other guys Apple, Amiga… Had the OS for their computer. So people didn’t feel comfortable in investing in these companies because if they went out of business then they will need to move over a large sum of their investment to new software. Then when Windows 95 and OS 2 were released around the same time (OS/2 was first) people then sticked with Windows because they figured it will run their old Windows 3.1 and DOS Apps better then OS/2. And it just continues. The majority of the people will go to the safe bet. Windows is not the best OS out there but it isn’t the worst either. So going with windows is safer then choosing an other OS that you don’t know anything about. 2006-12-26 10:13 pm libray Really nice comment. And I’m agreeing totally except for the OS/2 part. I recall the BYTE magazine introduction to Windows 3.0 titled “Who needs OS/2?”. OS2 released a light 1.3 version before Windows 95. OS/2 Warp (3) could run Windows 3.0 apps as well and I thought the industry would have warmed up to REXX, which was a bit better than batch, plus its compatibility and better protection of DOS and windows apps. But the industry did not warm up I think because OS/2 was from IBM. Its almost like the tech people now and how they shun anything Microsoft does. Windows was the Linux of 1990. The underdog who made the great Windows 3.0 vs Big Blue who actually made a better product. Edited 2006-12-26 22:15 2006-12-28 6:27 pm rcsteiner The OS release timeline was something like this: 1990 – Windows 3.0 released. 1992 – Windows 3.1 released. 1992 – IBM’s 32-bit OS/2 2.0 released with Windows 3.0 support. $49 for Windows users, $99 for DOS users. 1993 – IBM’s OS/2 2.1 released with Windows 3.1 support. 1993 – Windows NT 3.1 (first 32-bit Windows) released. 1993 – IBM’s “OS/2 for Windows” released. 1994 – OS/2 Warp 3.0 released with internet (SLIP/PPP) 1995 – Windows 95 released. 1996 – OS/2 Warp 4.0 released. Windows actually started to become dominant around the time of the Windows 3.1 release, so it was actually the one to beat and had a certain amount of mindshare that quickly became dominant, and it was never really the underdog in terms of marketshare. In the Windows 2.x days, there wasn’t really a GUI that had a dominant position, just a scattering of different apps bundled with different GUI runtimes (GEM, Windows, etc.). Also, technical people tended to flock towards OS/2 or Windows NT once those were released. OS/2 actually had quite a following for a while, and was a best seller as a retail product. Preloads killed it, not a lack of voluntary retail sales. Edited 2006-12-28 18:30 2006-12-26 10:34 pm celt “Windows is not the best OS out there but it isn’t the worst either.” What’s a worse OS than Windows? 2006-12-27 3:30 am gpierce “What’s a worse OS than Windows?” DOS? 2006-12-28 6:19 pm rcsteiner DOS is nice in that it gets out of the way and lets your application take total control of the machine. For some applications that can be very useful. It’s also very good for creating generic troubleshooting CDs and such. 2006-12-27 3:44 am gpierce The question I have always had was why? Why did IBM license DOS from MSFT for their PCs. IBM had a prestige, and reputation for technical excellence, in the past that is many times what it is at present. There is no doubt, that IBM propelled MSFT to its current position. But why didn’t they create their own OS,..maybe even a UNIX clone. Why did they go with DOS? Did they simply ignore or not understand the potential of the PC market? They are suffering for their mistakes today. 2006-12-27 6:46 am alcibiades The reason was, their senior management was so totally out of touch with the direction of the industry, they thought it was trivial and didn’t matter, and there was great hostility to the PC project and a refusal to spend any money doing the OS in house. I’ve heard that one very senior IBM VP, being given a demo of the first PCs, stared and thought for a while, and then started laughing, and said, Oh, now I see, this is just local computing! He meant of course, this was just the same thing as computing at a terminal in the same room as your host, or welded to your host. He couldn’t see that size and the single user made all the difference and were going to develope with market changing effects. We forget. IBM was yesterday’s MS, but they had been it so long that they had totally lost the paranoia. For a wonderful account of the same mentality, in a different industry, read Halberstam’s ‘The Reckoning’. 2006-12-28 6:17 pm rcsteiner OS/2 2.0 was released in 1992 (around the same time as Windows 3.1), and Windows 95 wasn’t released until over three years later, but people were so bombarded with promises about the up-and-coming 32-bit “Chicago” during that time period that it only seemed like the two were released around the same time. You’re right about the basic reasoning, though. With the promise of a similar solution from Microsoft coming “real soon now”, it’s very hard to move anyone off the Microsoft path. Anything different (even a little) is viewed with suspicion. 2006-12-26 10:17 pm polaris20 I find this statement troubling: Vista is considerably quicker, easier and more pleasant to use, and far more stable and secure, than was its predecessor. As a networking consulting firm catering to law firms, we’ve already had our mitts on Vista, on current (Core 2 Duo) hardware, with 2GB of RAM. While Vista very well may be “more pleasant to use”, it most definitely is not considerably quicker. It’s actually considerably slower, and even with Aero turned off, it is still slower than a comparably equipt machine with XP. I also don’t see how the author can make the claim of being more stable or more secure. It just came out, so only time will really tell on those two counts. I haven’t had stability issues since Win98SE, so I am not sure how Vista is more stable. More stable than something that already doesn’t crash doesn’t really compute, at least to me. 2006-12-26 10:36 pm Dave_K In my opinion, even 25 years on, Microsoft’s success can still be attributed to IBM’s decision to licence MS DOS (formerly QDOS). With the success of the IBM PC and its clones, Microsoft were handed a dominant position. From that point on, all they really needed to do was be competent enough not to squander that advantage. When Vista is a success, mainly though people buying new PCs with it preinstalled, Microsoft should still be thanking IBM for every copy sold. I think this was more a matter of dumb luck than anything. After all, Microsoft didn’t even have an OS to offer IBM, and there were plenty of other companies IBM could have gone to. For that matter, it was hardly beyond a large company like IBM to produce their own OS. It’s not like DOS was a hugely complicated bit of software. If, for example, all the early IBM PCs had shipped with CP/M and GEM, would Microsoft have had a chance in the OS market? If DOS/Windows had been the “alternative OS”, competing with a different “industry standard”, I can’t see Microsoft’s offerings being any more successful than BeOS and OS/2 were in the real world. Of course their business applications could still have made them a success, but that wouldn’t be such a sure thing without a dominant OS to provide them with funds, and give them other obvious advantages over their competitors. 2006-12-27 3:56 am gpierce That’s the real question: why did IBM go with DOS from MSFT? There is little doubt in my mind, as well, that IBM could have created their own OS. So, why didn’t they? Why bother licensing an OS from MSFT when they could have created one (with likely little difficulty) on their own? Why bother having to hand over a royalty for every machine of yours you sold to MSFT, when you could keep all your revenues yourself. IBM was already deeply involved in mainframe computing and software engineering in the seventies and eighties, so the technical capabilities were there. It is hard to escape the conclusion that non-technical issues–unmentioned, and perhaps unmentionable, weighed in favor of MS-DOS. 2006-12-28 6:34 pm rcsteiner I think part of the answer is related to the fact that IBM was still very much aware of the fact that the Feds were watching them. Creating a proprietary OS for their person computer might have drawn unwanted gov’t attention — they’d already been burned once for bundling hardware and software. 2006-12-26 10:55 pm Nezumi …MS did (and still do) Bad Things. What really keeps them in place is the vertical market. My last job was with a regional authority in the UK. They amount of specialized/bespoke software they had was huge. Some software was incredibly old (Win16 + DOS!) and utterly necessary to the organization as a whole. I suspect that this is true of a number of Enterprise environments and even true of some specialized SME’s. Whilst Linux is pretty close to scratching every itch in the mainstream, certain environments like the UK Public Sector will remain ‘doze for a long time. This is why the fabled Munich Linux migration is a joke. The desktops are prolly Linux with ICA/RDP to get any work done. In fairness however, I would imagine that the academic and science communities (as an example) are better served by *NIX for similar reasons. Oil and Gas Exploration are also seem to be another. I also consider Linux to be a better bet for smaller SME’s. They only need basic, common software and the environments are often static for years. They do need point and drool admin tools tho’… 2006-12-27 12:30 am DigitalAxis Actually, the reason why science communities are best served by *NIX is that UNIX was what most current scientists had available when they were in grad school and needed some serious number crunching power. Well, at least that’s how it went in Astronomy. Fast forward 30 years, and thanks to the initial investment in learning Fortran-77 and UNIX, all subsequent astronomers learned (and still have to learn) UNIX to do their work, or Linux because it’s free. Couple that with the fact that we (I guess I should say we) use those features that UNIX does so much better than Windows, and… well, astronomers are still learning and using Linux, and still working with Fortran-77 (or C, in many cases) code. On the commandline, too! I’ve basically been told that people won’t take you seriously if you use Windows to do your work, and I suspect it’s largely because the big scientific programs and program suites that are relied on for quality work are *NIX-only, or were until recently. Windows is eroding into that slowly, but it’s fairly slow. More seem to be moving to OS X so they can still use all the UNIX knowledge and familiarity that have built up through the years. 2006-12-27 4:05 pm twenex What really keeps them in place is the vertical market. My last job was with a regional authority in the UK. They amount of specialized/bespoke software they had was huge. Some software was incredibly old (Win16 + DOS!) and utterly necessary to the organization as a whole. I suspect that this is true of a number of Enterprise environments and even true of some specialized SME’s. Whilst Linux is pretty close to scratching every itch in the mainstream, certain environments like the UK Public Sector will remain ‘doze for a long time. This is why the fabled Munich Linux migration is a joke. The desktops are prolly Linux with ICA/RDP to get any work done. I seriously doubt it. The UK public sector is the largest single user of Microsoft software outside the US. So their tie in is probably worse than anyone else’s. Despite that, I can think of several places (France, Germany, to name two) with comparable populations and less tie-in to MS. In fact the population of Germany is almost a third higher than that of the UK, and that’s going by 1990 figures on Germany and 2006 figures on the UK. 2006-12-26 11:11 pm Temcat ..in that it can rule and suck in the same time 🙂 2006-12-26 11:19 pm melkor Quote: “Many say Vista’s problem is its sheer size and complexity. All told, the program comprises some 50m lines of computer code. And as any programmer will tell you, software contains typically five to ten errors for every 100 lines of code. So, even if 90% of them were squished during the extensive testing programme, Vista will hit the shelves with at least a quarter of a million bugs in it.” Well, Linux kernel bugs are a LOT lower than this, in fact they’re probably the least buggy of all code currently written by humans. Quote: “In the religious wars that rage between operating-system fanatics” huh? Just cos I use Linux, or another alternative operating system I’m a fanatic now? Wow! Quote: “Both Linux and OS X are descended from Unix, the grand-daddy of modern multi-tasking operating systems, and share the same underlying structure.” OS X is (being based on a BSD kernel), GNU/Linux is NOT derived from Unix. Sure, there’s a bit of Sys V code probably in Linux, but most of the kernel was written from the ground up. He really should say for Linux that it’s a “Unix like kernel”. Quote: “On the desktop, Linux works every bit as well as Windows, while offering greater security and fewer crashes. Installing any of the popular desktop distros such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE or Fedora is a ten-minute breeze.” Nice of him to admit this! I guess the last paragraph of the article sums it up nicely – Windows is easy to use. But, at what cost [to security, reliability, etc]. Dave edited: Added a few more juicy quotes from the article. Edited 2006-12-26 23:25 2006-12-26 11:41 pm nathanw > OS X is (being based on a BSD kernel), GNU/Linux is NOT > derived from Unix. Sure, there’s a bit of Sys V > codeprobably in Linux, but most of the kernel was > written from the ground up. He really should say for > Linux that it’s a “Unix like kernel”. 1. OS X is not based on a BSD kernel. OS X is based on the OSF Mach 3 kernel, as customized by NeXT, with a FreeBSD-derivative UNIX subsystem. 2. BSD is not based on UNIX. Modern BSD systems are based on 4.4BSD Lite, which was Berkeley UNIX with all the Sys V code removed. There was a lawsuit in 1992 (?) with AT&T to settle the point that BSD contained no UNIX code. AT&T lost. 3. All of Linux was written from the ground up, save the inclusion of some BSD code for drivers and such, which, as mentioned, is not derived from UNIX. 2006-12-27 12:14 am melkor 1. Rubbish. run uname on that system and see what it reports – it reports ‘darwin’ as the kernel. OS X runs the Mach kernel on top of a BSD sub kernel. You might care to educate yourself and read here for a basic intro…: http://ezine.daemonnews.org/200010/darwin.html 2. BSD is most certainly based on a Unix, namely Sys V. AT&T didn’t lose either, the court case never went ahead, it was privately settled out of court. As the settlement documents were released to the public around 18 months ago, and dug up by groklaw.net. The Berkeley University removed ‘some’ AT&T code from it’s BSD variant as a result of the private settlement. Nothing more and nothing less. Much of the older Sys V code remained in the BSD variant, unchanged. 3. You might want to read a bit more of groklaw.net – there have been several instances where SCO accused the Linux kernel of having its copyright, and the few examples that it provided (around 2 years ago or so) were shown to be Sys V code. If there was no Sys V code in Linux as you surmise, how did this happen??? Please be accurate in your replies, and I do not take kindly to being modded down by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about (I presume that it was you that modded me down, given your reply). Dave 2006-12-27 1:39 am nathanw At the risk of continuing this debate to no effect, OS X runs Mach. On top of Mach is parts of FreeBSD. Having spent considerable time coding OS X kernel extensions, as well as working on FreeBSD drivers, I can assure you that the kernels are very, very different. BSD is based on UNIX in the sense that it once included UNIX code, but no longer does. All of the userland, like the GNU userland, was written from scratch, and the kernel had all of its UNIX code replaced. Read this: http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/articles/explaining-bsd/… I’m aware of SCO’s claims, but wasn’t aware that any had been shown correct. Thanks for the correction. Also, just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean they try to hide your statements. I didn’t mod you down. 2006-12-27 6:06 am melkor My apologies Nathan (sorry to take so long, been busy at work). I know that the Mach and BSD kernels are very different, but my understanding on the OS X Darwin kernel is that part of it is BSD, and part of it is a Mach based microkernel. Am I wrong in this thought? Thanks for the link on BSD, it does seem that I’m in error here, so my apologies! And thanks for correcting me. I was under the understanding that BSD was derived from Sys V code (with alterations made by the Berkeley University) of course. This seems to have been the case originally, but the BSDs on offer currently are not the same as what the University had back in the 80s…at least if I read and understand that link correctly. As to SCO, I believe that they tried to palm some code off [found in the Linux kernel] saying that it was part of their copyrighted Unix code. Hackers worlwide united and correctly established the base of the code as being non copyrighted code, and definitely not belonging to SCO (or Novell for that matter). My apololgies on the modding me down bit, I’m especially touchy on this as many do not use the modding function correctly. It’s been a source of much anger and frustration in the past for me…anyways, to make up for it, and for your above post and its information, I added a mod point to it! Dave 2006-12-27 5:31 am prince_seth “Well, Linux kernel bugs are a LOT lower than this, in fact they’re probably the least buggy of all code currently written by humans.” I would say that honor goes to OpenBSD 2006-12-27 5:56 am melkor Actually, my apologies, I believe you are correct! Dave 2006-12-26 11:35 pm Southern.Pride Just like Wal_Mart in a way, the almighty BIG CORP will exploit every square inch it can to make the CEO leaders rich. Meanwhile, the corp will eventually fold up but with the elite sitting safe from the fallout. The people of the FSF are exploited like a used tire going on a an old beater car. But if that floats their boat being used and never getting paid I guess they can feel good that some CEO got his 2 million dollar bonus this year. I have never understood why people would want to work for free, never receiving any money nor the ability to get any credit except from know they spent X amount of hours on something that a Corp takes credit for. I am a Linux advocate but Linux like everything else will be used up to the point something else will come along and it will repeat the same cycle. Except the next cycle is shorter because technology advances faster than you can type to this article. 2006-12-26 11:56 pm Southern.Pride Has anyone ever thought, maybe the GPL is a failed concept? Maybe this might be the reason for Linux being stagnant in taking any desktop advantage. It is a named as a ‘hobby OS’ what is there not to understand. The entire FSF has painted itself into this corner and have no one to blame but themselve on this whole deal. I have been using Linux since 1999 and back then vendors actually tried to market Linux, today it is like what market? It could compete with the right people in place with new concepts and basic marketing 101. 2006-12-27 2:38 am buff Has anyone ever thought, maybe the GPL is a failed concept? The GPL is not a failed concept since most of the software I am writing this message on is GPL’d so without it I wouldn’t have anything to write with. The error that was made with packaging up the Linux distributions was an assumption that only GPL’d software was safe to include. This tactic avoided having to check patents and licenses. Some of the distributions like Ubuntu are coming around to this problem and have realized people don’t want to install 3D drivers, mp3 decoders, window media codecs, and hardware drivers separately. Fedora has this problem. Every new version that comes out that is posted here gets the same response from users — why mp3 isn’t included yet. The GPL can stay but the current distributions that really want a Linux desktop version will have to bundle proprietary drivers if they want to appeal to Windows desktop users looking for click and drag usability. There really is no other way. You could argue that open source versions of all the popular drivers, such as Nvidia, could be written. But these projects are at such an early stage it is unrealistic to consider using them. Edited 2006-12-27 02:41 2006-12-27 4:09 pm twenex Has anyone ever thought, maybe the GPL is a failed concept? A licence which accounts for more than 60% of FOSS software is a “failed concept”? Let me take a failed concept like that to the bank… (And don’t even bother spouting about how FOSS software is unsustainable or communist; that’s just MS fanboy tripe). It is a named as a ‘hobby OS’ what is there not to understand. Given that it now accounts for 20%+ of /server sales/, it’s only a “hobby OS” amongst the ignorant. 2006-12-28 3:45 am trenchsol And what percent of total number of computer users use that (FOSS) products ? I should have said consumers, instead. Consumers are the people that buy products and bring income. They are the vast majority of the population that interacts with computers. They demand instant results for their money. They won’t accept excuses like “that is not free, it will not work unless you compile it, or maybe not even then”. If someone pays you money you have to DELIVER, no excuses, no philosophy, no ethics, no preaching. DG 2006-12-28 5:12 am Doc Pain “Consumers are the people that buy products and bring income. They are the vast majority of the population that interacts with computers.” Do you know which OS has the most pirated software running among these consumers? I’m sure it’s the “Windows” products that are often installed illegally and combined with pirated copies of famous MICROS~1 application suites. At least that’s true for the home users. Corporate users surely can’t afford such thievery. Maybe that will be a reason for them to use free / open software where they can get quality for free. I think Sun has a good concept with their Solaris operating system. The installation data can be downloaded for free, and service and maintenance can be bought as a contract. 2006-12-28 2:03 pm trenchsol I am sure that a majority of corporate users can do their daly work with openn source or free software. A small minority might require some software that needs to be purchased or exists on Windows or MAC only. This is not a first hand experience, but I’ve heard about that a couple of times from people I know. Company X migrates to OpenOffice. Most of the employees have OO installed, but some of them still use MS Office, because of the feature Y. Then starts political battle, because they are seen as priviledged ones. Every employee wants her/his work to be “so important” that it requires MS Office. Nobody is paying attention to OO features missing in MS Office, for some reason. Home users might be forced to buy legal Windows in the future, because activation schemes are becoming more and more complicated. I think that the very fact that something has a price makes it more valuable in the eyes of consumers. The person who started a thread is right. Good, professional marketing can increase the user base for openn source and free software. But, good professional marketing is not free. If you don’t charge for the software, how you are going to cover the marketing costs ? DG 2006-12-29 5:22 am Doc Pain “A small minority might require some software that needs to be purchased or exists on Windows or MAC only.” That’s right. Usually, typesetting fotware is a domain of the Mac, while schientific applications and HPC software is used on Sun and SGI platforms. “Then starts political battle, because they are seen as priviledged ones. Every employee wants her/his work to be “so important” that it requires MS Office.” If you look well, you’ll soon see that most MICROS~1 “Office” users use “Word” as if would be a typewriter. No need for templates, paragraph formatiing etc. – just hit enter e few times and put spaces, if you want the text adjusted centered or to the right. And imagine how much joy it is making two column text this way. Don’t tell me – I’ve seen it all! 🙂 “Home users might be forced to buy legal Windows in the future, because activation schemes are becoming more and more complicated.” I think there will be enough persons (I don’t want to say criminals) who develop the appropriate cracking tools for OS and applications. “Windows XP Retail” is still around in many many copies, that should last for a few years, until “Vista” can be easily cracked or enough pirated copies of its retail version are available. “I think that the very fact that something has a price makes it more valuable in the eyes of consumers.” Consumers might think that way, but it’s absolutely nonsense, as anyone equipped with a minimum of intelligency can see. There’s very good software around which has no price tag on it, in contradiction to very expensive (usually “Windows”) software which is totally crap. At work, we’re forced to use such a pile of memory garbage, paying each month… actually, I use software I’ve writeen myself on a UNIX system to perform the same tasks (applications, testing, diagnostics, accounting and billing for psychotherapy), but easier and better. It’s sometimes more work to have two datasets in use (because the expensive program has no export function), but soon, the expensive program won’t be used anymore and the only “Windows” PC gets obsoleted. 🙂 “If you don’t charge for the software, how you are going to cover the marketing costs ? “ Sun does it via their support and maintenance contracts, for example. 2006-12-28 11:55 am twenex Consumers are the people that buy products and bring income. They are the vast majority of the population that interacts with computers. They demand instant results for their money. They won’t accept excuses like “that is not free, it will not work unless you compile it, or maybe not even then”. If someone pays you money you have to DELIVER, no excuses, no philosophy, no ethics, no preaching. You seem to be doing plenty of excuse-making, philosophising, ethicing (?) and preaching yourself. Are you trying to get me to pay you to go away? Come to think of it, Microsoft do all of that too. The one thing they DON’T do is come up with decent operating systems. Even for money. 2006-12-28 1:43 pm trenchsol You seem to be doing plenty of excuse-making, philosophising, ethicing (?) and preaching yourself. Are you trying to get me to pay you to go away? I am open to any suggestion…. Come to think of it, Microsoft do all of that too. The one thing they DON’T do is come up with decent operating systems. I can’t believe that it happened, but I agree with you. It has all started in mid 90’s, when software companies begun to employ and deploy “evangelists” as a part of their marketing efforts. Forums like this one are the results. Before that people were just using software as any other tool. DG 2006-12-27 4:13 pm twenex Oh, and despite what you say you are NOT a “Linux advocate”. If you were a linux advocate you would understand these issues and not spread FUD. 2006-12-27 11:48 pm trenchsol Of course it is failed. Crosslicensing is impossible. Patented and copyrighted software can not be mixed with GPLed. No one can negotiate anything. Those are two divided worlds. I don’t believe that desktop Linux will have significant number of users. Some key features that consumers want to have are strictly proprietary, and not compatibile with GPL. DG 2006-12-26 11:59 pm mrhasbean “Apathy is the reason why Linux and Mac don’t have a chance. Sad, but true” This is probably one of the truest comments! Love or hate them, MS have made (nearly) all the right marketing moves with their pOS’s. They rode the wave created by IBM with MS-DOS and Apple with the Apple II. When Apple nicked the GUI idea from Xerox (who weren’t going to do anything with it anyway) and built the Lisa which flopped monumentally due to lack of business software, Apple gave MS some pre-production Macs to build the killer app – Multiplan – for the Mac OS to ensure its viability, so MS took the opportunity to not only build Multiplan then Word – which later morphed into Office, but they quickly developed a GUI to sit on top of DOS – which was already installed on shitloads of computers and of course ultimately developed the same business apps for their GUI (Windows) as they did for the Mac. Apple helped them all the way by keeping the Mac completely closed, and the rest is irrelevant – the reality is that MS is so entrenched someone could come up with something 1000 times better and more productive and bla bla bla, it wouldn’t make any difference. Their vertical markets ensure their continued dominance because apathy dictates that whatever Joe and Joanne Lunchbucket use at work is nearly always going to be what they will use at home. I use a Mac – I have Windows installed in Parallels for the once a month requirement I have to run some vague piece of Windows software. I run a Linux firewall and servers because they are best for what I need (and can afford). If I could afford it I would probably run a Mac server too – along side my Linux firewall and one of my existing Linux servers. My kids have two Windows boxes and a Mac that they use for school work and games – we all play WOW and they play Diablo II which work fine on both. My Windows boxes are secure because I am willing to spend the hour and a half or so per machine per week to keep them that way. My Macs just run. If IBM had done the CP/M thing or Apple had opened the Mac, who knows? Fact is we will never know. And another fact is that no matter how good other OS’s are, Windows has such a massive legacy that it will be near impossible to topple – in the foreseeable future anyway. As for the article – meh – who cares. Most of these things are written by people who talk through an orifice other than their mouth anyway so lets take it with a grain of salt… 2006-12-27 1:29 am Phloptical So I guess Vista has been in the field long enough to say it’s “more stable” than XP. I think that beginning paragraph was the point at which the BS buzzer went off while reading. Word of advice, say it’s stable after it’s been on the shelves for a year. Myself, I would have put quotes on that entire first paragraph extolling the virtues of Vista over every other OS in the world. That sounds straight from the MS hype-machine. Microsoft is #1 because, as another informed reader said, 20+ years ago they hog-tied the OEMs into offering their product, and their product only….plain and simple. 2006-12-27 2:09 am Windows Sucks The main reasons that Windows rules the world! 1. Microsoft is the best company next to IBM when it comes to marketing. 2. Change, users HATE change. Right now I am working on a Windows migration, moving users from 2000 to XP. Just the idea of that move alone is like the end of the world for some of our users. 3. Software. MOST software is made for Windows. That is a fact. When you mention even a Mac to people that are used to Windows the first thing they ask is can you run Windows software. 4. Oem lock in. Companies like Dell don’t want to rile MS by selling any other OS on their machines. Lord forbid (legal or not) that MS were to raise the price that companies like Dell has to pay to put Windows on their machines. 5. Customer lock in. Lock in your enterprise customers to 3 year contracts or longer. Honestly MS was just in the right place at the right time. Some of the things that Linux is doing now, low costs, selling solutions like the OS, Office Suite and other things all together is what put MS on the map. 2006-12-28 6:36 pm rcsteiner 1. Microsoft is the best company next to IBM when it comes to marketing. When a company has a smotheringly dominant market position and is able to engage in illegal and unethical acts to protect that monopoly with impugnity, marketing is no longer required as there is no longer a “market” in the traditional sense. 2006-12-28 6:52 pm Windows Sucks You are right about that, yet for some reason I can’t turn on my TV, get on a web site or listen to the radio without seeing something from MS or IBM. 2006-12-28 7:55 pm rcsteiner I agree that they’re good about some aspects of marketing (getting the word out, for example). And they are very good about defining terms to their advantage or stating things in nebulous terms to begin with, important factors when addressing upper management. 🙂 2006-12-29 1:06 am Windows Sucks I have always said, if one linux company would have good marketing like Apple, Oracle, IBM or MS they would really shine. Also I have always thought that if one of the desktop Linux companies found a OEM and sold their machines on QVC or Home Shopping Network they would make a splash. I see Dell doing this! I even see Tiger Direct selling their Systemax machines on late night Infomercials. I am actually surprised that someone like Linspire has not done that yet. 2006-12-27 3:24 am aGNUstic I could not keep a straight face reading this. McSoft code is a cesspool. Just waiting for those who are immune to the smell to clean out their nose. 2006-12-27 3:36 am 2501 from cnet: “update Operating system maker Be on Tuesday said it has filed a federal lawsuit against Microsoft, alleging the software giant’s anti-competitive practices stunted the growth of the Be operating system. In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Be said it is suing for “the destruction of its business as a direct result of the illegal and anti-competitive practices of Microsoft.” The company is seeking unspecified damages. Be, which last year sold its technology to Palm, is in the process of dissolving itself as a company. CEO Jean-Louis Gassee, a former Apple Computer executive, launched Be in 1990. A Microsoft representative said that the company has not yet seen the lawsuit, but it will respond appropriately. “This sort of litigation is not in the interest of consumers, nor is it good for the industry,” said Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler. “The industry is at its best when it’s developing new products and focusing on innovation.” The Be lawsuit draws on the federal court’s ruling that Microsoft violated federal and California state antitrust laws. A district court judge initially ordered that Microsoft be split up as a result of that finding. A federal appeals court struck down that part of the order, but upheld the court’s finding that Microsoft had abused its monopoly power. In November, Microsoft reached a settlement with the Justice Department and nine states. Although Be’s flagship operating system had a devout following among a small group of technical insiders, it never achieved commercial success. In its lawsuit, Be charges that Microsoft’s licensing agreements prevented computer makers from offering the BeOS on the same systems that ran Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Separately, Be said Tuesday that Gassee has stepped down as president and CEO. Chief Financial Officer P.C. Berndt has also left the company, although he remains on its board of directors. Dan Johnston, Be’s general counsel, was named to serve as president. In the suit, Be outlines its tortured history of trying to get its operating system included on machines from major computer makers, most notably Compaq Computer and Hitachi. Be said that in September 1998, Hitachi verbally committed to loading the BeOS alongside Windows on a line of PCs. Be had planned to offer software that would easily let computer owners choose between the two operating systems, but said it was notified by Hitachi in November 1998 that Microsoft’s licensing deal with Hitachi effectively prevented such an approach. Although Hitachi eventually sold some PCs with the BeOS loaded on the hard drive, Be said the operating system had to be started from a floppy disk, and the machines bore no indication that they even came with the operating system. “The same restrictions that deprived Be of the benefits it expected from the Hitachi contract precluded Be from entering into any preinstallation contracts at all with other major PC (makers),” Be said in its suit. Microsoft’s Desler said computer makers are able to ship multiple operating systems with their computers, although he would not discuss Be’s claim that the restrictions imposed by Microsoft make such a scenario unworkable. The suit also claims that Microsoft interfered with Be’s efforts to develop an Internet appliance with Compaq. Although Be was never able to unseat Microsoft, the company did have a chance to cash in on its efforts. Apple reportedly offered $125 million for Be in 1996, but Gassee wanted $200 million. Apple eventually ended up purchasing Steve Jobs’ Next for $400 million instead. Be then tried to go it alone. In 1998, Intel, August Capital and others invested millions of dollars in the company. It went public in July 1999, with the stock opening at $6 and trading as high as $39 a share. However, Be never achieved profitability, sales stalled and losses mounted. The company ended up getting $11 million from Palm for its technology in a deal that closed last year.” — …and BeOS got $20+ millions from Microsoft…but they are out of the competition. 2006-12-27 6:39 am netpython After :the “distro” (packaged distribution ready for installing) of an important Linux variant, such as Debian 3.1, has some 213m lines of code in it. i stopt reading.Undoubtedly a great virtue of Open Source is it’s modularity.The 213m lines of code is probably a debian system with all possible packages installed.What about a server without xorg? 2006-12-27 7:40 am sanjaya5 People, come on… It’s Economist, which main focus is economics and politics and main readers are managers (oh yes, your CFO who is responsible to distribute $$$ for your creative IT project). The article has some errors, but it is the perfect point of view of the joe and jane users (and big corps). Windows wins because it is simpler to use from normal user’s point of view. Jane user doesnt have any interest how the OS is developed. She doesnt even know what GigaByte means. She just wants to online and read/write emails. She wants to transfer files from her digital camera to PC as simple as connecting the USB cable like what advertised. She doesnt have any interest and dont know what GPL is. She want to play MP3s which are birthday gifts just double clicking it, without reading any manuals and struggle with .so files and of course she asks why Linux cant play MP3, WMV, etc by default and doesnt accept Free as in Beer reason…and yes, consoles are indeed very intimidating. The consumer is the King…and to fish the main consumers who are mainly not IT nerds are more important in order to conquer the PC market. And market share is the main benchmark how successful a product is. To be a good detective you must think like a good theft. To be a good software developer you must think like a normal joe / jane users (therefore user interface / usability designers are very important!). And that’s what exactly the Apple people did to their products (iPod, OSX, etc) in order to survive. Simplicity is beautiful…particulary simple in use. Another example is Google who understands exactly and respects what the end users want. 2006-12-27 10:18 am trenchsol I have written about this before. Easy to use means one thing and easy to learn means another. Windows are easy to learn and, by no means, easy to use. There is not enough ways to accelerate things once you have learned them. For example I am using IceWM window manager customized to my own needs. I am absolutely sure that there is nothing on this planet that comes even close to it when my needs are considered. But, it took me some time to set it up. DG 2006-12-27 1:07 pm The Terran The question is what does your average person buy a computer for? They do not buy it because it has a particular os they buy it to do a job (or several jobs), be it surfing, e-mail, office work, games or a combination of these. The point is a windows pc can do all of this competently and reliably. Before anybody comments on viruses etc most windows pcs are bundled with a/v software firewalls works etc. In my case I have mac mini on my desk, a linux tower underneath my desk to my left and a windows machine to my right. To be frank none of them are perfect and their os all have faults. If the wife announced one day that she is tired of the study looking like a computer centre and I could only keep one computer I would have to say I would keep the windows pc. Not because that I particularly like windows simply because it is the most versatile and useful to me in that it could replace the other two. It is not something I am particularly happy about it is just a fact of life and I suspect this is true for most other people. 2006-12-27 1:33 pm netpython I could only keep one computer I would have to say I would keep the windows pc. I only use network related tools and occasionally code my own.I agree installing applications on windows platforms is awfully easy.Though once i have mysql installed i still have to know how to manage the database.While listening to some cable music via kradio and writing my tools it’s not hard to forget windows. 2006-12-27 2:39 pm walterbyrd Windows has them, Linux does not. Apple has some. You don’t have a computer just to run the OS. If a computer doesn’t work with the apps you need, and the hardware you need, the system is useless, no matter how good the OS may be. 2006-12-27 2:59 pm Redeeman you are clearly unaware of the facts here, linux has far better hardware support than windows, any version of windows. 2006-12-27 3:01 pm swwhite If the author wants to know why Windows “rightly” rules, he should review the findings of fact from the antitrust trial. It is not about Windows, specifically, but it explains how Microsoft works. Their business practices are as much responsible for their success as the quality of their software. 2006-12-27 3:41 pm twenex In the wars that rage between OS fanatics, “the worst offenders are actually to be found among Mac and Linux users”. O RLY?! 2006-12-27 4:16 pm Protoflux The one advantage of windows that I see is in application installation. I know about apt-get etc but let me explain… Windows app install advantages are really felt when one has to install an app _without_ internet access. All of the linux package managers apt, yum, smart etc are excellent and I really like them, but depend upon an internet connection. Whereas on windows most of the time one can download an exe file or copy it from a friend and install it without any issues. This might have drawbacks but most of the times it works. For all the benefits of running linux and I run it exclusively, internet-less app installs is one area where I really wish it would improve. There are quite a few ppl like me who dont have high speed access at home and having to track down dependencies on multiple pc’s in different locations is not to be recommended. 2006-12-28 7:03 am hal2k1 //The one advantage of windows that I see is in application installation. I know about apt-get etc but let me explain… Windows app install advantages are really felt when one has to install an app _without_ internet access. All of the linux package managers apt, yum, smart etc are excellent and I really like them, but depend upon an internet connection. Whereas on windows most of the time one can download an exe file or copy it from a friend and install it without any issues. This might have drawbacks but most of the times it works.// Contradiction is in bold. If you want to get Linux from friends and install it without issues and without any internet connection, then join a local LUG (Linux User Group). They can give you free CDs that you can use as repositories. Oh, BTW, most of the time the actions in your post that I highlight in italics above are illegal for Windows applications such as MS Office, but are not illegal for Linux applications such as KOffice. Next time, try to compare apples with apples. If you do your comparisons that way, you will find that installing applications on Linux is easier and cheaper and less fraught with the danger of “getting caught copying” every single time. Edited 2006-12-28 07:11 2006-12-28 7:17 am arielb if you think Windows installation is so great, you’re in for a shock. I don’t think you should have to install an app at all. You should be able to download app.exe, click on it to run, move it around to any folder you want and throw it out in the trash to get rid of it. None of this Control Panel Add/remove nonsense. 2006-12-27 5:25 pm acamfield 1. You can’t measure complexity by simply counting lines of code. He’s comparing fish to fowl. Windows has x million lines of code in the OS alone, and you have to buy a gazillion other programs to do anything with it. Each of the distros he named comes with multiple programs to accomplish essentially the same task based on the end users preferences. They are complete systems and you don’t need to buy or download anything else unless you want to. 2. Easy to use? Only if you are trying to do what the windows programmers think you should do. Co-workers think I’m crazy because I prefer the CLI even when using MS OS, but the fact of the matter is I can navigate to a subdirectory buried 5 or 6 layers deep just by typing much faster than they can point and click. Many times the UI that’s supposed to help just gets in the way. 3. Easy to maintain? It isn’t easy to maintain one windows PC. I really feel sorry for people that have to maintain hundreds or thousands of them. Oh, and that last line in the “article”. Total BS. All of us that have been around for longer than a couple of years know how microsoft obtained their monopoly. Anyone that has ever had to do business with them will tell you that they are “tough negotiators”. I.E. bullies. They have the gold, they make the rules. 2006-12-27 6:20 pm tryphcycle “In the religious wars that rage between operating-system fanatics, the worst offenders are actually to be found in the Macintosh and Linux camps.” that is just NOT possible!!!!! for every one religious mac user… and one religious linux user there are 50 religious windows users! please… some one out there… PROVE ME WRONG! untill you do… well consider my statment FACT. Users of Non windows platforms…… just want to have there choice!!!!! this is not about one OS to rule them all…. (and exterminate them all) this is about have mutliple systems availble to use, that get the job done. windows works…. some times not all that well… but it works. OSX and linux…. are different… and they work too! each has there place…. each has there strong points…. EACH has there week points! but the TRUTH is…. non of them are going away! and as long as people use computers to interoperate… it is important for the OSs to interoperate! and the free market (as long as it stays free) will see to it that these OSs stay around for a long time… and ALL just get better! my news years resolution is going to be to knock the f–k out ANY one who get religious about their computer in my presence! that goes for windows users… mac users… linux users…. PS3 users…. Wii users…. Who give any of these mother f–kers a right to force there opinion on any of us? 2006-12-28 7:11 am arielb Amen to that! (haha!) What we should strive for is allowing the OS that we choose to do what we want instead of worrying that Aunt Molly won’t install linux on her pc or get a mac for her next computer. So what if 99% don’t agree with my choice. Yes, it would be nice if they are more aware but after a while you have and think “ok I made my case, they don’t want to change and just let it be.” 2006-12-27 7:02 pm yakirz is why Windows “rules.” No other reason. Some people actually think Windows is a “good” OS BECAUSE so many people use it. 2006-12-27 11:26 pm Matt24 ‘I think most peoples’ tendency is to be sheep’ Totally agree, it is a matter of perception, people just do not know any better, main reasons are ignorance and insecurity (the fear of using an OS that is being used by a minority). Price (hardware!) could be a factor and the lack of huge amount of ‘free’ illegal-software is a major factor as well. Windows success is certainly not based on knowledge about quality of OS’s in general. Edited 2006-12-27 23:27 2006-12-27 8:08 pm steviant Come on people, this guy deserves some credit. It must be hard to meet deadline when you have to type your whole article with Steve Ballmer’s dick in your mouth. 2006-12-27 8:26 pm ccchips ’nuff said. Someday the you-know-what is going to hit the fan, and operations like Microsoft will get handled but good. Maybe also Apple, for the way they’re jacking around the portable music hardware business to suit themselves. Opinion only – but don’t be surprised if it becomes fact. Articles with half-truths and hyperbolae like these have a bad habit of showing up right about the time some big company is trying to corner the market. 2006-12-27 8:35 pm ccchips “if you look at Windows as end-users see it, it’s mostly stable, it mostly works out of the box, and most users don’t spend time maintaining their Windows boxes” In my case, this is correct. The Windows user in my house doesn’t maintain the Windows box. I do. Takes upward of 30 minutes a week, because I want to make sure there are no problems hiding behind any walls (you know—event logs and other things that users don’t see?) Actually, Suse has become about as easy to maintain as Windows, and I didn’t have all that much trouble when I was running Debian either. Ironically, the most frustrating experience I had with Linux was caused by glitches in PROPRIETARY KERNEL DRIVERS. 2006-12-27 10:05 pm pecisk Avoid all flamewar hakido and hitting reply button directly without reading other comments, I want to smile about this sentence: “Microsoft has been able to leverage cheap but powerful commodity hardware, to provide cost-effective software solutions. These may be complex in design—and full of bugs to boot—but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain. That’s a winning formula in anyone’s book, and the reason why Windows rightly rules the world.: Obviously that man who have written these lines have never in his life ever supported or maintained Windows for a day. Windows maybe is easy to use, but maintain – give me a grip. I want to use Outlook 2003 with some non-Microsoft SMTP/POP server, like Postfix, Sendmail or other, commercial variants. It simply can’t. do. this. It breaks, period. I know, it is hard to drop a habit to prise OS you use and hush all critics and problems, even serious ones. It is problem for all of power users, be it Windows, Linux, BSD or OS X. 2006-12-28 6:20 am heh heh I really want to use linux, but at this point in time on my present computers,too many problems right now.Just not enough hardware support yet. Please excuse my page format this is being typed on a pocket pc. Browser: Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; PPC; 240×320) Opera 8.60 [en] 2006-12-28 2:57 pm acamfield >>It has all started in mid 90’s, when software companies >>begun to employ and deploy “evangelists” as a part of >>their marketing efforts. Forums like this one are the >>results. Before that people were just using software as >>any other tool. Sorry, this has been going on since the beginning of PC time. TI99/4A, Commadore 64, Tandy 1000. There are still people using Amigas. Do you have any idea how much religious conviction that takes? And for your second question, you make money off of Open Source with support and custom programming. Because like you said everyone wants something just a little different. And with Linux, you have that option. You can install as little or as much as you need or want. But with widoze, it’s all or nothing. 2006-12-28 6:39 pm rcsteiner Most of this predates minicomputers — remember that it was Gene Amdahl who coined the phrase “FUD” in response to IBM’s mainframe marketing tactics. I’m sure that similar things have been going on in other contexts since the days of the Babylonians. 🙂 🙁 2006-12-28 7:31 pm dulac Lets be straight: People use windoze because of the wealth of programs done for windows… not for windows itself. An OS is useless without the Programs made for it… its these people use. Period. Microsoft collects the benefits of the work made by others… by the programs MS didn’t do. Windoze are the needed ACCESS path to those programs. And it is this that users pay. In this regard, Programmers and Software companies are also as much hostages from MS as Users are. — The maintenance of this state of affairs is another business: The malpractice and unfair business to other companies that MS absorbs (like FlightSim) , threats with legal battles in the (in)justice, AKA courts of law… (remember Digital Research ?!? They destroyed GEM a better windows than windows…) and so on… Linux does have a guilt on this: – No definite APIs to call the Interested companies… – A mess when it relates to dependencies (the APIs again). – The absence of an untrusted closed source drivers level so they can be easy and safely installed. – The absence of a similar to DirectX (it was build with the help of game companies… and then… evolved with the bought of involved programmers). In conclusion: MS is NOT an OS company… it is financial octopus with new tentacles growing now and then and others dying. But Yes, the windoze is the key player in their hostaging of users and developers. This is why MS rules… with the help of the law system just like the most succesful criminals do. Period. This is just my personal opinions. Do what you like with it. I do suggest to think about and have your own. DuLac P.S. – I ratter see MS as a mouse maker than a software company… their mouses are good… I wonder why they do not pay royalties to the Palo-Alto Xerox team who invented it ?!? MS do like so much of ridiculous patents why not respect true creative and original work like the invention of the mouse ?!? Maybe because Law is not about justice… maybe it is more about power!!! Edited 2006-12-28 19:39 2006-12-29 7:39 pm burtis Economist.com is hardly an economist. This is an advertisement!