Windows

Sanity check: Have we now entered the post-OS era?

Will Windows 7 be adopted by businesses? Could Google Android make a splash on netbooks? The bigger question we should be asking is, "Does the OS still matter?" And if it doesn't, then what does that mean?

Will Windows 7 be adopted by businesses? Could Google Android make a splash on netbooks? The bigger question we should be asking is, "Does the OS still matter?" And if it doesn't, then what does that mean?

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Microsoft knew this day was coming. This was the reason it desperately wanted -- no, needed -- to take down Netscape in 1996. Netscape wasn't just trying to build a program for reading text and photos across a network of connected computers. Netscape was trying to build a new platform - the ultimate platform - to run software and share information instantly and on a global scale. And no one understood that better than Bill Gates.

Gates had recognized a similar shift a little over a decade earlier when he first saw Steve Jobs' Apple Macintosh and its graphical user interface. Gates knew it would make his text-based operating system, DOS, irrelevant. So he created Windows and eventually stole Jobs' thunder.

It took Gates slightly longer to pick up on the power of the Web, but once he did he immediately grasped its potential to make Windows irrelevant. That's why he catalyzed Microsoft to create Internet Explorer and drive Netscape into oblivion, by any means necessary. By 2000, Microsoft had pulled off the great reversal, taking 80% share of the Web browser market, which Netscape had dominated at 80% just four years earlier (see chart below).

(Graphic by Wereon for Wikipedia)

All of this was based on the idea that the Web browser would become the universal computing platform. But it didn't happen overnight. It didn't happen in 1996. It didn't happen in 2000. It didn't even happen in 2007 - the year Windows Vista arrived while the tech world was fixated on Web 2.0 and "cloud computing."

There are a lot of reasons for the failure of Windows Vista, but in retrospect the biggest reason was that the OS simply didn't matter that much anymore. Most of the consumers who ended up with Vista simply got it because it came installed when they bought a new computer. The vast majority of them never chose Vista.

The group that did have a choice with Vista was businesses and they chose to avoid it, although not because of any inherent inferiority of Vista. Vista has been very usable since Service Pack 1 and since vendors finally updated their software and drivers to work with it by early-2008. The problem was that there was never a compelling reason to upgrade to Vista. It was the software equivalent of repainting a room and rearranging the furniture.

Now we have lots techies singing the praises of Vista's successor, Windows 7, which will be released later this year. I just got finished testing Windows 7 for two months. I used it as my primary production machine at the office every day. I installed it on a high-powered 64-bit Hewlett-Packard desktop machine. I loaded all my apps on it. It worked fine. However, my conclusion on Windows 7 was, "So what?" There's nothing in Windows 7 that matters. In fact, the computer operating system has never mattered less than it does today.

As some commentators have suggested, there may be a bunch of IT departments that adopt Windows 7, but if they do it will be out of annoyance and necessity (if Microsoft finally phases out Windows XP) and not out of the desire to benefit from any major advances in Windows 7. There are none.

It didn't used to be this way. Installing a new operating system used to be like getting a whole new computer. Installing Windows 95 over Windows 3.1? That was a huge improvement. Installing Windows 2000 on top of Windows 95? That was a big leap forward. There were reasons to upgrade back then, for example:

  • Windows 95 - Greatly simplified interface; much more friendly to the average user
  • Windows 98 - Improved multimedia capabilities and built-in Internet functionality
  • Windows 2000 - Industrial-strength Windows NT code base, but in a much more polished package
  • Windows XP - Unified the Win9x and WinNT/2K code bases; allowed businesses to standardize on one OS
  • Windows Vista - ?
  • Windows 7 - ?

Part of what's going here is that the computer operating system has achieved a level of maturity and efficiency. You could even say that work on the OS has reached a point of diminishing returns. How much more efficiency can we wring out of it? What other major innovations are waiting out there?

Some claim that touch-based interfaces are the next major leap forward for the OS. I would argue that touch will have very limited and specific uses and will mostly be used in usage scenarios with short bursts of activity and not for prolonged work or data entry.

It's possible that a combination of voice and touch could revolutionize the user interface (and thus the OS), or that another major innovation could make it faster and simpler for humans to work with computers, but for now the keyboard and mouse are as efficient as it gets. And, as a result, the computer OS has stagnated.

And, of course, the other thing that's going on is that the Web browser is finally usurping the OS as the universal platform that was envisioned back in the mid-1990s. Please note that I'm not talking about cloud computing or software-as-a-service (SaaS). While applications and services delivered over the Internet are certainly part of the ascendency of the Web browser, they still have not reached critical mass in the business world and the trend is bigger than that.

What we're seeing is that many businesses are using the Web browser as the front-end application to access private, back-end systems, from databases to CRM to ERP to payroll to corporate portals. And, why not? Since most users are very familiar and comfortable with Web navigation and Web forms, these corporate systems can tap into that experience to provide applications that have an easier learning curve than Windows-based business apps with their unique menus and interfaces.

If you combine that with the fact that many users now keep their personal e-mail and files in Web-based systems such as Yahoo Mail and Google Docs, you have a situation in which the average user spends most of her computer time in a Web browser.

That's why tabs have become a standard feature on all of the major Web browsers, because most users now have multiple Web sites open in the same way as having multiple applications open in an operating system.

Today, when I go to a new system or reinstall the operating system on an existing system, the first two things I do are to install Firefox and then Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks), which syncs all of my bookmarks. Those bookmarks include links to all the Web-based applications and tools that I use at work. Once that's done, I can do 80% of my work without installing another application. And I can do those two steps on Mac OS X or Linux or Windows XP or Windows 7. It doesn't matter.

Now, I'm not saying that the OS never matters anymore. Clearly it still matters for netbooks, which didn't take off until they started offering Windows XP as an installation option - but that's because users are much comfortable with XP than some of the unfamiliar Linux interfaces that came on early netbooks. Since netbooks are mostly about Web browsing and e-mail, you could see Google Android become a popular netbook platform, especially if it's super-simple and has a lower price tag.

The other place where the OS still matters is on the smartphone, but the smartphone is at the state of development and adoption that the PC was two decades ago - although it is going to accelerate even faster.

Platforms such as the iPhone and Palm's forthcoming webOS have shown that there's still a lot of room for OS innovation in the smartphone market. But, the biggest benefit of both those platforms is a better and more standard Web experience. As more smartphones adopt the same approach, the distinctiveness and importance of the smartphone OS will naturally diminish. The most important thing will be that a user can access Outlook, Gmail, Twitter, and online communities on a smartphone with the same ease as on a PC.

Twenty years ago, we thought the computer was the revolution, but it wasn't. The advent of the Internet - and the Web browser as one of the ways to harness it - has shown us that the revolution is actually in communications and the dissemination of information. The computer will be to the Information Revolution as the assembly line was to the Industrial Revolution. It will simply be one of the catalysts that helped make it happen.

In the same way, the computer OS simply doesn't mean as much as it once did, or at least as much as we once thought it did. But, then again, all of us (including Bill Gates) knew this day was coming.

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

541 comments
gypkap
gypkap

Personal experience: Windows XP blue screened a lot. Vista never blue screened except in one case where an application tried to install a bad driver.

anthony.b
anthony.b

The chart in the article seemed to say that there is no reason to upgrade to Vista, as I have quoted here: "Windows 98 - Improved multimedia capabilities and built-in Internet functionality Windows 2000 - Industrial-strength Windows NT code base, but in a much more polished package Windows XP - Unified the Win9x and WinNT/2K code bases; allowed businesses to standardize on one OS Windows Vista - ?" As for me, I use four different computers regularly. Three of the computers have XP, and one of the computers has Vista. For me, I find the "user experience" in Vista very fun and interesting, as well as time saving (the Vista UI saves me time, because I can find things easier in Vista). The main things I like better about Vista (than XP) are the graphics that it puts onto the folders and icons, the improved Start menu navigation, and the faster searches for items on my PC. I just ordered a new computer yesterday, and I asked for Vista to be put on it, and not XP. It is true, that you need a more powerful computer to run Vista than to run XP, but I think it is worth paying extra for a more powerful computer, to have the extra UI features that Vista offers (that XP does not offer). In summary, I think it would be better to say: "Windows Vista - Improved user interface" than to say "Windows Vista - ?" as in the original article. However, other than this (the above quote), I found the article "Sanity check: Have we now entered the post-OS era" informative and interesting.

blackspidey
blackspidey

Web is not everything.. There is still a requirement of an OS to efficiently use the system. We should not forget, in the Tsunami of Web, Information and Communication, that the computer is not just for browsing/mail/music/shopping. It's not an interactive TV. It's a computer..

vvtunes
vvtunes

People don't care about whatever OS is behind the scenes. All they want is a consistent interface that allows them to perform their daily tasks quicky, reliably and if possible amusingly. And people don't like change, they like innovation (e.g. new useful features). MS has failed with Vista because they were too slow to adapt to a reality where somebody had moved their cheese. They chose to stick to an obsolete business model instead of moving ahead. They failed to anticipate the power of the Internet a few years ago. They'd rather have bought Netscape in order to learn someting from them. MS Office is perfect example of this obsolete paradigm: user interface changed drasticaly in the last version and is not even consistent with the (Windows) OS behind it. In addition, it did not improve much on the artificial intelligence field. Apple has also been somewhat stagnant in the classic computer market (maybe too busy building ipods and iphones?). They have basically been selling the same OS since 2001 with just a few improvements here and there, but the main principles remain the same. About Google, well, as long as they stay creative and don't start charging fortunes for their current and future services, they still have a lot of room to grow in. Concerning Linux, developers have to unite and define a standard unified user and developer interface if they ever want it to be a viable alternative to Apple and MS for the mainstream public. The next Gnome desktop looks promising though and the Moblin platform is rather impressive, too.

deepsand
deepsand

re. GA collecting more than I've here stated and that they've publicly acknowledged, let us know. Until then I write such off as the being the product of simple paranoia.

deepsand
deepsand

A site uses a 3rd party shopping cart; the site owner/operator needs determine No. of Conversions, Cost/Conversion, Average Revenue/Conversion, etc.. How would you gather the requisite data?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I was going to suggest machines move more towards firmware but even that provides an OS layer. The OS being between hardware and software providing the actually functionality. In thinks like a hard drive, the firmware is much less of an OS but the firmware in one's router provides a pretty hefty OS for a simple network appliance.

deepsand
deepsand

You can't attain the former without the latter.

vucliriel
vucliriel

"People don't like Change. They like Innovation" It pretty much sums up how Microsoft, Apple, Adobe and the other big software tenors have failed in the past decade or so and decribes in one sentence the reason behind the general malaise of users. STOP the endless cycle of upgrades that bring no new functionality and are simply done to sugar coat measures that are in fact RESTRICTING users in their effectiveness to do what personal computers gave them the freedom to do: freely explore, share and exchange ideas and information. I will stop here because in fact, you said it all in that little sentence. Utterly brilliant!

darpoke
darpoke

530 posts and I thought we'd said it all. Good job, dude. That was the most thorough indictment of the software industry I've read in some time. I especially liked that you covered all bases. I'm with you 100% on the Microsoft points, I've said time and again that 1/10th the budget for marketing and lawsuits (attacking and defending), if spent on innovative R&D, would see them retain their market share and actually deserve it for a change. On the OS X front, yeah I would agree that the last 5 iterations of 10.x have been pretty much the same lollipop in different flavours. Do you want your menubar solid or transparent? Let's put thing in the sidebar that were 2 mouseclicks away previously. Etc... The next iteration, however, 10.6 (Snow Leopard) looks to change things slightly. It marks the end of support for PPC-based machines, and hence the end of the Universal Binary distribution. Thus it'll be more pared-down and less bloated. There's a lot in there that makes it a marked step forward. And as for Google - they're one of the most innovative companies in the world right now, and their services often come at an unbeatable price (free). I just wonder what the true cost of using them will turn out to be, when considering their stance on privacy and the level of access to personal information that using Google Apps necessarily entails. With regards to Linux - I don't really think they *have* to unify or consolidate that much. Think how many versions of Windows are out there right now. All they need is to establish a similar level of OEM support for customers as MS have provided infrastructure for. Unfortunately that requires a somewhat more open market than we appear to have currently.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

to make it easier for you to have someone else gather stats you can gather yourself? As I've said several times, you choose to use GA, and I choose to not use it by blocking it. We've both made our choices, you've not given me any reason to reduce my security setting and increase my operating costs so you can gathers stats in a way easier and cheaper for you. Why should I wear your costs? I'll do that if I ever buy something form you, but if I'm only window shopping, I shouldn't have to.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

as I don't have any evidence they do. I said they can as they have that ability. My security setting mean their behaviour is not an issue for me.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

third party cookies. Thus the system will tell me I can' t complete the shopping and I'll go to another supplier. Should the system work like the online stores I visit work with paypal, then it' s not a problem. They tell me on the page to click a link and transfer over to paypal. their system raises a cookie which goes with my transfer (which I make as a personal decision as I'm given the opportunity) and that is noted by paypal who send the store back an advice based on the cookie info after I've finished with paypal. All obvious and above board and I know what's happening. No third party cookies as they're all second party cookies from my perspective.

vucliriel
vucliriel

Typical arrogance of those in high ivory towers who have no grasp of the real world from which the have insulated themselves and which they have the illusion of understanding. Hope you have a parachute handy.

deepsand
deepsand

1) Cookies are [b]not[/b] necessary to complete a transaction. 2) The question is how you would gather the stated necessary data with using anything more that Header data and Server Logs. Stop throwing out red herrings and strawmen, and face the issues squarely.

deepsand
deepsand

Hope you have your shovel handy.

deepsand
deepsand

You do [b]not[/b] understand the issues regarding 3rd party servers. You do [b]not[/b] understand how GA, or any other analytics application works. You have [b]no[/b] basis for your claim that GA gathers more data than that which I use. You have [b]no[/b] basis for your claims that GA secretly gathers data about you which it then uses for profit. You have [b]no[/b] basis for your claim that GA uses a "system" that is used by "people pushing Trojans." You have [b]no[/b] grasp of the infeasibility of moving GA from a central server to individual users' server. And, you have [b]no[/b] desire to learn anything that might serve to remove the blinders from your eyes. You [b]are[/b] quite happy to live in your make-believe world, where everyone is out to get you. PS : Better make sure that you block the analytics apps. of Yahoo and MSN, along with a plethora of others as well. What? You say that you don't know how to identify all of them? All I'll say is that, like GA, most, if not all, run as 1st-party applications, so that blocking 3rd-party cookies will be of no avail. :^0

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

intentionally missing the main points. I know GA doesn't run on your server because the problem is the way you tell mine to talk to GA to gather the data, thus slowing down the interaction with your site and increasing my bandwidth. My points are (again): 1. You CAN do the same work on your own server using the information already available to you - IF you choose to use software on your system to do so. But, you choose not to do it locally. 2. GA CAN make their software available to allow people to do the stats gathering on their own server if they choose to, but they don't. 3. GA uses a system that is ALSO used by some people pushing Trojans. Anyone setting their security to stop the bad guys also stops GA from working as the security setting will stop all such uses. 4. The GA system CAN gather more information than what you use. 5. GA do NOT disclose what their commercial reason for gathering all the data is or how they make a profit from it. I sincerely doubt they're expending the time and effort to gather these stats for you just be nice. Constantly talking about how servers work and how cookies work do NOT answer or in any way account for answers of these points. You choose to use a system outside your server to gather data - your right and choice. I refuse to allow third party activities without them being totally disclosed to me before hand and have security settings to stop that - my right and my choice. Since this is the third or fourth time you've gone around this different servers track, I see no point in responding to any more posts on them. Should you actually have a go at trying to address one of the points above with new material I'll probably reply, but not if it's the same stuff again.

deepsand
deepsand

rather than relying on your erroneous assumptions. The very fact that you do not understand the issues relating to cross-server/cross-domain systems evidences a lack of knowledge critical to the matter. You don't even understand that GA does [b]not[/b] "run" anything on your machine; rather, it is your machine that runs scripts provided by the various analytics apps. Start by reading the material referenced at http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-6230-0.html?forumID=102&threadID=307210&messageID=3089798 .

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

You keep reading things that aren't made the following points: 1. I said some distributors of Trojans use a particular method to get their nasty work done. 2. There's an easy way to stop that method from working. 3.GA uses the same method as in the first point. 4. I use the easy method to stop the bad guys, if GA get caught in the wringer, then bad luck. ----------- Your constant remarks about server isolation does NOT answer why you choose to farm out the work instead of having the analytical work done on your server. You choose to outsource to another server at GA, I choose not to work with GA. It's simple isn't it. I'm still waiting for an explanation why I'm at fault for not playing your game of using GA. repeating the server isolation will never answer the questions of: 1. Why doesn't GA make the software available for local deployment and use? 2. Why you don't use local software to do what you want GA to do? 3. Why GA feels they need to accumulate the data on their servers and exactly what they do with that data? However, the answers aren't really needed by me as I block third party cookies and GA, so what they do doesn't affect me.

deepsand
deepsand

And, it is yours to prove. As for "why you have to use a third party organisation like GA instead of doing that same information gathering on your won server," I've already addressed that. [b]Each server's data is [u]isolated[/u] from that of the the others.[/b]

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

known to be used by a wide range of people in the distribution of Trojans and other malware. A basic security setting is to cut that ability by blocking all third party cookies, so I do. You still have justified why you have to use a third party organisation like GA instead of doing that same information gathering on your won server? Nor has anyone explained why GA don't just make the software available for local use free. What advantage do they get by having all that data on their servers? They must get some advantage as the system costs them in hardware and bandwidth, they don't do that without getting some return to justify it.

deepsand
deepsand

1) Cookies are tiny data files; they don't "talk" to any one. 2) Cookies contain [b]path[/b] and [b]domain[/b] fields; these specify the URL path within which the cookie is valid. 3) The server issuing the cookie must a member of the domain in which it is trying to set the cookie. 4) GA cookies are [b]1st-party[/b] cookies. 5) GA cookies [b]value[/b] field contains the GA User's [b]Unique Acct. ID Code[/b]. Therefore, unless all stores in question are within the same domain and path, the GA User has authorized access to the pages of all stores so that he can there insert the required Acct. ID Code, and is using a single GA Acct. ID, such multiple store tracking is not possible.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

quote The only advantage you CAN get from using a system like GA is it's CAPABLE of tracking a single user's traffic at multiple stores. So it CAN know when I visit your store, the one next door, the one in Russia, and another in England. It CAN track what I look at on your store without logging in and identifying myself so it CAN tell when I just window shop as against actually buying. end quote Please note the words in CAPITALS this time round. I don't work at GA, so I don't know what they ACTUALLY do, but by them placing their won cookies on my system that sit there for some weeks and can talk back to them to identify my specific system, they CAN do some extensive tracking. All basic tech capability of cookies.

deepsand
deepsand

It's been so very rare that I've had to do that that I cannot recall when was last needed.

JCitizen
JCitizen

It has been a long time since I had to add a site to the privacy sites list!? Seemed like I was doing that everytime I turned around two years ago!

deepsand
deepsand

Each and every server is [b]isolated[/b]. BTW, once you are passed to a 3rd-party shopping cart's server, their cookies become [b]1st[/b]-party! At that point blocking 3rd-party cookies will not serve to block theirs.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

and you choose not to, that's your choice. I choose not to participate in third party collections, that's my choice. Re GA, I never said they did or didn't collect data from more than one shop - I said they can do so. Because of the way they operate they have that ability, do they use it, I don't know; but it doesn't matter to me as I don't deal with them. If all GA did was gather the data fro your store at your store, they can achieve the same aim simply by making a local server version of their software to allow people to put it on their local server, but they don't. GA insists in having their own servers involved, prime evidence they are probably doing something more with the data. By having it on their server they have the ability to do more with it, the question is do they. They don't way, and I don't care as I don't play their game.

deepsand
deepsand

Those who can & will, read. The rest of you are on your own.

deepsand
deepsand

Cookies are [b]not[/b] necessary. The issue is that [b]each server is an island[/b], and the data available to each is stranded there. And, no, GA does [b]not[/b] "track a single user's traffic at multiple stores." Each and every store's data is isolated. Who's been feeding you this hogwash?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

you've not stated what extra information GA can give your that you can NOT gather from your own cookies and the packet headers. You've not stated why you need that extra information. You've not put up a reasonable argument as to why you involve GA in gathering information you can do yourself much quicker and much easier. Your point raised re a third party shopping cart (raised late in the discussions) was answered before in that it wouldn't work I'd you'd not get my business through the inability of the cart to work. I'm still waiting to learn about my visit to the site that can't be gathered from your own cookies and the packet headers. It would appear from some of the posts to be nothing extra, just a wish to have someone else do the work for you. In that case, sorry, not good enough an answer.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

on a third party site that requires information while I'm shopping - you lost the sale, so sorry, because the system won't work with me refusing all third party cookies. If you have a system where you prepare the details for the shopping cart and then send it to another store for the payment, the way PayPal does, then it's OK because you're asking me to activate the link and I know about. The issue is where you conceal it all, and also increase the response times etc by doing so. I understand how servers work, I also understand that you can bear some of the costs by having the information gathered by your server and then send that over to the third party for their action. But, if you want to have others doing your work for you, then you run the risk that people won't be dealing with you. You want to use others, you can as that's your right; if I don't want to deal with the others, that's my right to not deal with them. I refuse to deal with the third parties, you can accept that or not; apparently not, so that will lose you my business. I've a security setting stopping ALL third party cookies, I won't turn that off, if that disrupts my use of your site, then I can't shop there and I won't once I realise that. You choose to use third parties to do your business, thus you have to wear the problems that come with it. Added to this is I've found an improved performance and several other sites by blocking GA, so I block GA, if that disrupts your stats, well - stiff. If you did all this on your own site, on your own server, then it wouldn't be a problem for you. You seem to be under the mistaken conception that you have a right to dictate how I'll surf the Internet and set my system security, and thus have to justify my blocking of GA and third party cookies. Well that's wrong. You have to justify to me why I should be opening up my security to operate with your site.

deepsand
deepsand

Pay particular notice the mention of a [b]3rd-party[/b] shopping cart, and of a [b]3rd-party[/b] ad. Do you understand that there is no communication between the 1st and 3rd-party sites? Do you understand that none can set/read cookies belonging to the other? Do you understand that none can read the Headers of requests sent to the server of the other? Each and every server is [b]isolated from each other[/b].

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

information GA gathers that you can't gather from your own site cookies and the headers, or what they gather that you can't and want. You've not listed what info you get from GA that you don't get when a person who has GA blocked visits, or why you need the extra info.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

use of your site is available from the info in the headers and your own cookies, what more do you need that you have to involve GA? Surely that isn't too hard for you to explain? I've already answered, several times, how you already have the information you've asked about on my use of your site. Your own site cookies can trace where I go on your site and what I do there. The headers tell you where I'm from, and that's all you need or are entitled to get. If you can work out what I'm doing on your site from that info.

santeewelding
santeewelding

The comma assumes the burden of the first of the three periods of the ellipsis,.. And where did you say your boyhood hog experience took place -- out back of the county courthouse? "Asked and answered" floods my memory, also.

deepsand
deepsand

It's all in my many posts here.

deepsand
deepsand

I'm not asking that you either understand or agree as to the necessity of such statistical data, only that you explain how such can be obtained without the use of an analytics app..

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

Neither GA or DS go into that fully. All on-line shops I've been too have their own cookies, and they're capable of tracking my way around the store and if I buy or not. The packet headers already tell them where I come from. What more is needed? Nothing, so why use GA and slow things down? What more do they want? That's another question that neither is answering. GA is capable of tracking my activities across different stores, so why should I let it do that? But my main concern is the way it slows site access down and increases my bandwidth.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I've asked that a few times and you still haven't answered. I've been waiting for you to say what more you want and why. Also, what useful information do you lose when I don't allow GA to work that you couldn't obtain from the packet headers and your own cookies? Your own site cookies will tell you what I'm doing on your site for that visit, and if I've a site ID, that will show when I place an order and your normal accounting records will show my purchasing pattern at your store. What more data do you need than that? As a visitor, the packet headers tell you where I'm from, if I don't buy on that visit you need no other information than that. The only advantage you can get from using a system like GA is it's capable of tracking a single user's traffic at multiple stores. So it can know when I visit your store, the one next door, the one in Russia, and another in England. It can track what I look at on your store without logging in and identifying myself so it can tell when I just window shop as against actually buying. Both of these usages are intrusive - if I wanted you to know about my window shopping I'd log in etc.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

can track someone wandering about their store with their own cookies, that's what they use them for. So why the need to use GA and additional cookies?

deepsand
deepsand

GA merely aggregates otherwise isolated data into a single data store so that a site owner/operator can do meaningful traffic analysis.

deepsand
deepsand

It's been a very long time since I've run into one of those.

darpoke
darpoke

and it doesn't look like anything other than the contents of packet headers or standard cookies is made available for tracking purposes. The reason that GA is needed is not because more *types* information are solicited by GA, but that sites only get to view the packet headers of comms between you and them. GA permits for trend-tracking by being privy to the same information as any site, but being able to have this information for multiple sites. This places it in a position to perform statistical analysis. It's this analysis which GA users benefit from as it also ties into tracking the effectiveness of SEO, AdWords and other traditional means of driving parties towards your site. I think that's pretty much my understanding of the service.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Cookies are not necessary to complete a transaction.[/i] But in practice, it's a different story. I have lost count of the number of websites that "could not complete the current transaction because your browser does not accept third-party cookies."

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

The real issues are: Why do you need to know more about me than the information provided in the packet headers? Please explain and justify what more you need to know and how that will help ME when window shopping at your place. Why should I incur extra costs to help you gather additional stats which you wont list? ........... If cookies aren't needed to complete a transaction then my having them turned off shouldn't affect your third party shopping cart business, should it?

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