Linux

Charlie Sheen could take lessons on what it means to be 'winning' from Microsoft

TechRepublic blogger Donovan Colbert addresses a member's comment about Microsoft only resting on its laurels over the past 20 years. He takes a closer look at what Microsoft has really achieved.

My recent post on the importance of Angry Birds and Chrome OS led into a side conversation in the discussion thread regarding browser integration in the OS and the historical position of Microsoft on this issue. TechRepublic member nwallette responded, "What has Microsoft done for the last 20 years other than rest on their laurels?" This kind of irrational dislike for Microsoft is common in the forums. In fact, I'd argue that it's seen more frequently than Linux or Apple bashing. But let's take a moment and really think about nwallette's statement.

In the last 20 years, Microsoft has consistently challenged the market to be better. They've invested billions of dollars in R&D to develop new products that have kept the market innovative, interesting, and progressive. OS X, iOS, and even Linux wouldn't have come so far along if they weren't trying to catch up and compete with Microsoft's global dominance of the desktop GUI-based OS.

Microsoft has also challenged hardware makers and content delivery services. They've defined every aspect of our digital lives. There isn't anyone, not even the most die hard Penguinista, drinking from the Fountain of the Temple of Linux, who hasn't had their personal computing experience directly influenced by Microsoft.

I suppose I get the sour grapes, especially among Linux loyalists. There's probably at least some truth to the claims that Microsoft actively did underhanded things to stay dominant. It isn't just the fact alone that Microsoft consistently delivered a better consumer experience that resulted in their astronomical lead over all of the competition. Most of it? Sure - but not all of it.

Microsoft has undoubtedly influenced all of the great tech companies to come out of the San Jose valley. So, if anyone has "rested on their laurels" for the last 20 years, Microsoft deserves to - and those are mighty successful laurels to rest upon.

To be fair, Microsoft has had as many missteps as any other technology company that has been around as long. No one is arguing that things have been running smoothly since the release of Windows Vista. But how much of that was actually Microsoft's fault?

One of the biggest difficulties Microsoft had over the past decade was competing with Apple's brilliant advertising campaigns. The more I look at this period in retrospect, the more I'm convinced that there was a well organized grassroots propaganda campaign to undermine the influence, credibility, and general reputation of Microsoft.

You don't need to wear tin foil hats to see that Microsoft found itself fighting against an onslaught of *nix propeller heads shortly after the turn of the century. In particular, Google was a huge proponent of FOSS and closely aligned at that time with Apple. The Linux community harassed Microsoft into making radical changed to the entire architecture of their flagship OS. The irony of those changes were that they made the OS far more *nix-like, and the *nix crowd was well aware of this. They also knew that those changes would drive Windows loyalists crazy.

When upset Windows users started abandoning Windows for OS X in significant numbers, the *nix community was on the leading edge of attacking Windows for things like "Windows Access Control" being "too chatty" in Vista. Sure, it wasn't perfect when it was released, and it needed fine tuning - but anyone with personal integrity must admit that it was modeled directly after *nix user account restrictions and root escalation philosophies.

Microsoft lost mostly on perception over the last 10 years. And by losing, I really mean, "Charlie Sheen could take lessons on what it means to be ‘winning' from Microsoft." Microsoft OS and software platforms still dominate the vast bulk of end user personal and corporate computing experiences. They also own most of the back office. And for serious gamers, the Xbox 360 is still leading the pack (over the Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii), despite countless setbacks and challenges.

The notable failures at Microsoft have been the Zune, Windows Mobile, and Vista. But again, Vista was largely an assassination job by Apple and the FOSS / *nix communities - while Zune and Windows Mobile were certainly failures to compete against Apple.

On the other hand, as a personal philosophy, I subscribe to the idea that certain actions that punish for success are counter-productive, and I wonder if Microsoft may have lost its way partially because it's so frequently been the target of witch hunts and inquisitions based almost solely on what it has achieved.

Rather than let the market sort things out, they've been prevented from doing things that would have challenged the competition to innovate. Face it, the OS X and iOS revolutions came along independent of what Microsoft was or wasn't doing. I don't believe that the frequent anti-trust investigations and other legal actions against Microsoft had any significant impact on the eventual arrival of the iOS smartphone. And while it might not have been Apple, the ideas that are expressed in the iPhone would have eventually broken out as a public success.

There was an evolution - and the smart technophiles know how to trace it from an origin in the Newton through the Palm devices, to the WinMo line of PDAs, and later phones, full circle to the arrival and subsequent domination of the iPhone. The irony is that a beaten and defensive Microsoft had to pull a failing Apple back from the brink of bankruptcy to put them on the right track to deliver this. It was in their best interest to have a viable competitor, even if the hubris and poor execution of that competitor had pushed them to the abyss of corporate dissolution. But it sure feels good to blame Microsoft.

In the meantime, constant legal action and government investigations have turned Microsoft into a neurotic corporate organization that fights within its own walls for any number of reasons that only employees of the Redmond giant can seem to understand. They're barely able to execute because their corporate identity is so badly fractured and misaligned that different departments actively sabotage one another.

And by all accounts, the FOSS philosophy-backed corporate organizations that stand ready to take over Microsoft's title look far more frightening in their scope and ambition than Redmond ever was. Two decades down the road, after constant abuse from Google, Facebook, and Apple, we may wish for the return of the good old 1990s, with our personal privacy and dignity.

About

Donovan Colbert has over 16 years of experience in the IT Industry. He's worked in help-desk, enterprise software support, systems administration and engineering, IT management, and is a regular contributor for TechRepublic. Currently, his profession...

71 comments
sandbox
sandbox

As I read this article, I decided to first check my watch to see if it is April 1st. Then I check for any footnotes to see if credit for the content of the article came from the Microsoft marketing department. Although it is not April Fools, I assume this is a great joke delivered in jest to all of the readers. I am not a Linux fanboy, nor an Apple fanboy, I am a fan of of excellently crafted operating systems, because they either make my life easier or more difficult.


As true capitalist Microsoft wanted to dominate, if not monopolize the entire industry. Microsoft is second to none in both business ruthlessness and acumen, but innovators they are not. Most people are hard pressed to name a single product Microsoft 'invented', except maybe for maybe 'Bob.'

I think Microsoft's entire approach can be shown in one example: They crushed Netscape (Illegally) to became the dominate browser and then didn't update Internet Explorer from late 2001 to late 2006. By then it was too late to regain any momentum and they lost their dominate browser position. I think THAT is called sitting on your laurels (or monopoly).

Microsoft has never 'gotten out in front' of anything. They are followers and the only way they have ever 'greatly impacted' my life is having to provide endless hours of tech support to friends and family.

Let's not forget their dominate position in mobile operating systems either. I'll admit, I had to stop reading the article halfwy through because it was so blatantly biased.

JimTheGeordie
JimTheGeordie

I think anyone who wants to understand Microsoft should read Fred Moody's book "I sing the body electronic: a year with Microsoft on the Multimedia Frontier". While it is quite old now, I am pretty sure that things still operate the same way. All the good ideas are hatched in incubating teams who are very jealous of their material (after all, enhanced pay and possibly MS shares might depend on it) and where these interact (or collide, perhaps) the fabulous Bill Meeting would be required to resolve issues. Of course, now that Bill has retired somewhat from day-to-day management, this may be why some products reach the marketplace, but require a few rethinks before they are truly bedded down.

fiosdave
fiosdave

This is one of the few blogs I've currently read that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling! The lack of rants & raves is clearly evident. Think of how much more could be accomplished if all the hot air were dispelled... Dave P.S. My original Zune still runs fine and gives me many hours of enjoyment. I was happy to not have to install the Zune software again in order to use it with our new Samsung Focus WP7 phones...and oh, my Newton still works, as well

AZ_IT
AZ_IT

Just wait until Apple or Linux takes MS's place in market share. We will see just as many security fixes from them as well. At least Microsoft and Linux acknowledge the fact that anti-virus software is necessary. Apple fans will typically tell you they don't have to worry about viruses because they have an Apple.

BlueCollarCritic
BlueCollarCritic

In your recount of Microsoft's reign lets not forget the SEC investigations inot its accounting practices. Even though trhey were cleaverly kept out of the headlines they still occurred.

don.meng
don.meng

Those without sin can cast the first stone. And there has been a lot of stone throwing here. Yes Bill Gates and Microsoft are evil, but then again so is Steve Jobs and Apple. Microsoft has been accused of plagiary and sued for copyright infringement. But then again so has Apple. Regarding the plagiary aspect, Steve didn???t just pull OSX out of thin air. It???s Darwin base is basically an amalgamation of the NeXTSTEP and BSD Lite operating systems. Not that Steve passed any crumbs to the BSD developers. I???ve worked in the computer business before there were PCs and Apples. And every place I worked encouraged the copying of code. That's plagiary. It saves time, effort and money. So, what else is new? Is Steve any better than Bill? He has this habit of throwing his customers and business partners under the bus. All you Jobs fans, do you remember when there were independently owned and operated Apple computer stores? People paid good money for the right to sell Apple computers. Where are they now? Steve conveniently put most of them out of business and kept the profits these hard working people made for himself. And what about those folks who bought Macs just before he switched to Intel? They were left holding the bag. And how much did he overcharge customers when the iPhone first came out? But then again, If you were dumb enough to buy one at that time, I guess you got what you deserved. Point of all of this, business is business. CEOs will maximize profits and rip off customers by overcharging them or selling them inferior goods, and stomping on their business partners and stealing from others. This will continue long after Steve and Bill are dead and Microsoft and Apple have been relegated to the corporate history books. Get used to it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Yeah, we may very well wish for the days before Google and Facebook. Even now, some may wish for the IBM dominated days of yore. We may very well not be wishing for Microsoft's return though if such a future does turn out. Privacy and dignity? Like the Win98 updates harvesting data on users and sending it back to Microsoft? That kind of privacy? Having to jump through hoops to proove you are the valid license owner of your Windows copy after changing a hardware component or reinstalling after a software meltdown? Guilty until proven less guilty and still being told you can't have your license unlocked? That kind of dignity? I do agree with giving credit where due. Microsoft has done things worthy of recognizing good will. But let's not ignore the poor decisions they've made along the way either.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Vista was a product quality bungle rushed to meet a marketing deadline. Vista users where far more vocal about it's problems than alternative OS users. By the time Microsoft got it polished up with a service pack and updates; it had already earned it's own reputation. It made it's own bed, let's not pretend someone else snuck in and peed the sheets. If Microsoft can be responsible for it's successes, it can sure as heck be responsible for it's own "stumbles".

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

This suggests that it has all been some kind of conspiracy or organized action. Perhaps I am wrong but I really don't think there was some kind of conspiracy to "drive Windows loyalists crazy" by influencing how Microsoft designs it's operating system. The complaints I've seen in relation to the Windows arctitecture have been related to security and functionality. Why do people want to see Windows design in a more modular manner; because a collection of programs that each do one thing and one thign well works, a modular install allows more choice to leave out unnecessary parts. A GUI on a server; not really necessary. A web browser on a server; just begging an admin to be lazy and get pwned by a drive-by dropper snuck in from a breached add banner server. Better seporation of privaledge and systems designed to run as regular users even without an AD server on the network; that's just sane implementation of any network capable OS. On the other hand, Microsoft has intentionally done things to drive Windows users crazy. The Vista implementation of UAC was purposfully setup to infuriate Windows users with the hope that they'd bug third party application developers enough to fall in line with the new ways of wrighting programs (eg. not expecting to have Admin rights when run.) In terms of Windows architecture, I really don't think suggesting some conspiracy to see Windows users hurrased into jumping ship is really justified. Did some folks enjoy seeing users grief with Vista and hope that it would have users changing to other general purpose OS; sure. Was it an intended action; not likely.

ItsTheBottomLine
ItsTheBottomLine

Nicely stated and based on my memory very factual. I have been using/programming since 1985, and watched Apple and MS. I watched Apple put the PC into the hands of users and I watched MS/IBM and then MS make it available to everyone.."PC in every home". Apple could be in the place of Windows, but Jobs arrogance and very poor decisions in the 80's crippled them to 2nd place. They could have dominated vs. going to the brink of failure. What the *nix crowd (mostly techies) fail/refuse to realize is that MS along with manu's made computers common place and basically an appliance. While they are trying to catch up, if it wasn't for MS (and Apple inventing the PC) they would be no where. I'm sure that is a very bitter pill to swallow. I type this on a Macbook pro so I can do Windows, OSX and Ubuntu 11.04

ralph.gmx
ralph.gmx

... into making radical changed to the entire architecture of their flagship OS. The irony of those changes were that they made the OS far more *nix-like, and the *nix crowd was well aware of this" Well, that was about time. In my opinion there is only one OS which deserves this title and that is Unix and its derivatives. The only issue where M$ was ahead of other companies was the one-click-install-and-voila-it's-running feature.

ksarkies
ksarkies

"This kind of irrational dislike for Microsoft is common in the forums." I can honestly say that I have NEVER had an irrational dislike for Microsoft. Mine is purely rational. While it is true that buggy software is common to all three OSs, Microsoft has bugs that have never been fixed (such as IMAP support in Outlook). I no longer use Windows as a first choice, but I do have to fix it for others. I'm not impressed at all.

ksuesse
ksuesse

Wow, Donovan, you sure did over serve yourself at Redmond Pub. I'm always wary of people that speak so adamantly of one OS over another. I figured out a long time ago to not take these people so seriously, as they generally don't know what they are talking about. Microsoft's only option at this point is to stick with what they know--the enterprise. They will never build anything that has mass appeal. Nowadays, people generally use Microsoft's offerings because that's all they know exists or their company has bought in to the Microsoft philosophy. Not many home users know about OpenOffice or LibreOffice. These products are just as good if not better than Microsoft Office. The functionality is there, as well as the cost factor. You can't beat zero dollars. I know that FOSS is not the answer for everyone, but most people don't use their computers for more than writing or web browsing. I don't see Microsoft going away, but if the corporate sector decides to move to other avenues, they'll be in trouble. Me? I run the gamut. I have a Linux server, a Windows machine, an iMac, and an iPhone. I'm seriously considering getting an Android device to round it out. As long as I can do what I want to do, I can't care less who makes the product.

rpollard
rpollard

This guy may be trying to piss people off and get some flaming going but he, nor the posters up to this point have a clue about the industry and what MS has contributed. Points of interest: 1. Microsoft didn't drive hardware - hardware drove MS. Remember XP didn't support multiple processors. I don't remember anytime where MS announced that they were waiting on processors to catch up to their super duper advanced operating system. 2. MS didn't bail Apple out. It was a good faith gesture meant to publicly show their renewed support of the platform. Apple was never near bankruptcy or failing by any stretch of the imagination. Seriously, do you think the small investment made that big of a difference in whether Apple survived. Laughable at the very least. 3. To the statement "Microsoft consistently delivered a better consumer experience that resulted in their astronomical lead over all of the competition." I respond -- Remember ME, 98, Vista. Whose fault was it if it wasn't MS. 4. Unix came first. Not DOS. There is no way DOS will ever catch up. 5. And to another statement "Theyve defined every aspect of our digital lives." I say "Oh, I'm glad you straightened me up on the fact that I thought Apple actually made the smartphone the success it is today with a brand new interface that had never before been done and not to mention is was silly of me to think that they came out with a really cool music player and made that successful as well." 6. DOS hasn't changed that much. What more can you do with a limited OS that bolted on networking after the fact. The "innovative" minds at MS didn't think about networking until after people started complaining. Those were the crazy people that were trying to use a machine is a business environment without business capabilities. I guess he works for MS or was paid by them to perpetuate such non-sense containing a lot of rhetoric that sounds like a brainwashed MS fan. The only invention that MS has come out with that wasn't copied or bought was Ajax. Yes, they gave us programmers a way of giving users a better experience on the web. Or, at least that's what I heard. It's hard to believe but I haven't been able to find any other supporting information one way or the other. That's it, that's all. Nothing else but trying to play catch up with the rest of the industry and always, always, always fighting industry standards and not going along with them until people get enough and they get too many complaints. Always avoiding serious security fixes for years or indefinitely. But maybe it's all an illusion. Maybe none of this is their fault. Maybe Apple's genius advertising caused them to do all this and not be innovative.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That products at Microsoft have always reached the marketplace, but required a few rethinks before they were truly bedded down. At this point, Bill has retired almost completely from day-to-day management, as well. Bill is a different type than Steve, and I can imagine Bill letting Microsoft completely flounder without ever thinking once about stepping back in to ressurect it. The fate of Microsoft is in new people's hands now - and I doubt Bill has much reason to intefere one way or another at this point in his life. He'll surely end up with the $10,000,000 he plans on leaving his child regardless of how things turn out with his worth on paper. But I think you're right about how the book still paints a compelling roadmap of how Microsoft operates today. This is a deeply ingrained part of their corporate culture.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The important metric is not how many bugs are found. Software is complex; it has bugs. What you should be paying attention too is how open the developer is about what bugs are found so you can mitigate the risk while waiting for the patch. If the "good guys" found and reported a bug, you can be sure the "bad guys" have also found that bug and are working on a way to exploit it. After the report comes in. You then want to pay attention to how long it is before the patch becomes available. Does the developer ignore the report? Do they aknowledge it but drag there feat or decide not to fix it at all? Do they have a patched update as fast as possible? When that patch becomes available, we then have to look at it's quality. Does it actually address the discovered issue. Does it break things? Does it re-enabled previously patched bugs? It's really not as simple as "high count of discovered bugs equals bad software". I'd much rather have a hundred bugs found with a hundred patches available the next day instead of ten bugs found and eight of them ignored by the developer.

aliahyp
aliahyp

Success begets boundary-pushing.

dcolbert
dcolbert

We've beaten Microsoft's ever misstepp into the ground over the last decade and a half. What we never seem to do is acknowledge how much they've contributed to our industry. Why is it that doing so brings out everyone who wants to continue to flog that dead and well beaten horse?

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

Every time I ever had a problem with a Windows license, I have just called Microsoft and explained my situation and they always helped me out and activated it. Ten or fifteen min on the phone and problem solved They always gave me a number to type in, it was on Windows XP with four different systems.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Vista was *largely* capitalization by Apple, and to a lesser degree, the Linux community on exploiting an early perception to drive the chance for Vista to recover into the ground. Vista has earned the reptuation of "Another Windows ME"... but anyone who experienced Windows ME knows that there is no analogy between the two. Vista was never *that* bad, and by the end it was a fairly decent platform - and Windows 7 is *really* Windows Vista 2.0 and is the fastest selling, most popular Windows ever. Did you ever run Vista on a personal or professional machine that you used daily for any extended period of time? Just curious. I'll show you my cards first, too. I did. For a couple of years. I upgraded to Win 7, but Vista did the job for long enough.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'm pretty sure that leaders among the Linux community, including Jim Zemlin of the Linux Foundation - have basically admitted that they've encouraged grass root campaigns against Microsoft. It is their only effective way at "advertising", using Guerilla marketing tactics. That is why we see and encounter the same techniques over and over again in the debates and flame wars. Many of these claims, techniques and "factoids" have been disributed throughout the Linux community on purpose, specifically as a grass roots advertising method. So yes, in a very real sense, the Linux community certainly encouraged certain pressures, certain directions, certain responses, as a stategic response to try and compete with Redmond. I may have used a little hyperbole in this article - but I think there are elements of truth here. The fact is that the Linux community is ideally suited to operate as "enemy combatants" in the OS wars where the big boys (OS X and Microsoft) have to obey by certain rules of engagement. Do I think Redhat and Suse and the Linux Foundation and other Linux oriented businesses and organizations would leverage this virtual army with specific strategies intended to damage the competition? I think they would be stupid *not* to.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

In addition to Microsoft implementing things to drive users crazy, there was also grief from third party developers to reduce effective security measures in the new Windows design. Microsoft said "this is how you write programs for Windows, if your going to write AV software it needs to work this way". Norton, McAfee and other AV companies did indeed start an organized action against Microsoft for the purpose of reducing Windows secure design so that they wouldn't have to update there crappy third party parasitic software. Heaven's no.. let's not actualy address the malware issue at the OS level where tactics can be most effective.. let's keep the OS weak so the AV companies can keep feeding off the user's without having to update how there products work. I actually think that particular AV industry versus Microsoft thing is a crying shame. When Microsoft does something to actively block competition or control the consumer then sure.. take issue with that. When Microsoft makes a change that really does benefit the end user by improving the OS.. that should be strongly encouraged even if a few AV parasites have to rewrite there products.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Charlie and I... we always go out with a bang. In for a penny, in for a pound. :)

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

Quit using reality as a weapon, it's just not fair.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That is arguably one of the most important features. Especially when getting a *nix application installed and running was worse odds than playing Russian Roullette for most of *nix's lifespan, until Debian came around. But I disagree. How about wireless support? How about truetype fonts? How about reliable working office suites? Seamless OLE (object linking and embedding) between different disimilar apps. Painless peripheral setup, especially printers. Easy GUI configuration as oppossed to obscure command line editors? There are a lot of places that *nix has lagged as far as making their platforms mainstream accessible. They may be POWERFUL and they may have had a lead in reliability and being customizable and lean at one point... but they were highly specialized. For the last 20 years, the mainstream public have spoken about where their interests lie, and *nix has told them they were idiots and did exactly the opposite of what the mainstream public wanted - then wondered why they remained a niche player. Idealism very rarely wins.

RipVan
RipVan

That's my only problem with it. No depth or analysis. We don't get to look behind the curtain and see "revenue stream????" Nah. Dressing up in the cheerleader uniform is not a new approach to either computing or politics.

ItsTheBottomLine
ItsTheBottomLine

You obviously did not read the article. The fact that it had positive comments on MS sent you over the edge. Go back to the fry station, someone needs "fries with that...".

dcolbert
dcolbert

elsewhere on this site. I wrote it on my Mac mini. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go back to being a "Microsoft Shill".

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

I remember using ProComm+ to dial in to a BBS that allowed text based internet access. DOS didn't come with a TCP\IP stack but at the time most people were still making telephone connections. Dedicated lines. You didn't have an IP address back then, you had a telephone number. You were lucky if the person you were calling even had an IP address. Usually it was just a local thing.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

1. Windows and hardware is probably more of a vicious cycle. How well does WinXP sp3 run on your Win98 hardware? oh.. you've made hadware purchases since? Intersting. But from the other side, we also have software expanding to take up the greater resources in each generation of hardware. Win98 on current hardware is scary fast yet WinXPsp3 on hardware of it's time probably hits the performance average of win98 on it's hardware of the time. Don't forget the ever popular "well, i gotta by a new computer tomorrow so I can get that nifty new Windows with it". Lots of backslapping both ways really. 2. Apple was indeed in trouble. A little blood transfusion from Microsoft's bank accounts and the return of Mr Jobs did a lot to turn it around though didn't it. The candy coloured Apple all in one's with the translucent white plastic? Yeah, those where a make or break for the company. 3. 98 was ok but ME did indeed come with issues and Vista earned it's ill reputation all by itself. Lest we forget such greats as Bob. Win95 was a pretty big change from 3.11 so we'll give leeway on that one. 4. True, MS Dos won't catch up to Unix like OS but then it's not really in active development with the goal of keeping current. It's not been sitting behind the Windows GUI layer since winME. These days you get the NTkernel with a GUI desktop and a terminal emulation in those "dos" windowed boxes. Kind of like saying that the Model T will never catch up to current cars; being out of active development may have something to do with it. 5. I wouldn't say "ever aspect of our digital lives" either but MS has had a heck of an influence. Even other OS users remain affected by the influence of MS; I'm pretty affected by games being published for DirectX and hardware drivers that don't get the manufacturer's full support outside of the Windows world. 6. yeah, installing NIC drivers under dos did suck and the lack of tcp/ip stack meant installing the Win3.11 GUI addon and Trumpet Winsoc. But where do you thing Dos is runnning these days that justifies such ire? The only place I've heard of it still being licensed is for embedded systems like cash registers. It's long since been replaced within consumer Windows. "I guess he works for MS or was paid by them to perpetuate such non-sense .." The "the author is obviously a paid astro-turfer!!" attack doesn't really help anyone's argument. He may have personal hostilities and biases but you'd need to provide some solid evidence to seriously claim him a paid stooge.

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

...among the posters here who don't have a clue. I see you typing, but all I read is "blah blah... I hate Microsoft... blah blah blah".

dcolbert
dcolbert

does boundary-pushing beget success?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There have been more than a few reports of people with valid licenses who can't get reactivation through the tech on the phone for one reason or another. One of the regulars around here seems to have racked up a heck of a collection of disks. Perhaps you've been lucky or they've been unlucky. In my own case, I'm looking at a major hard drive replacement in the next few months which has me wondering if it's better to clone the drives rather than my prefered reinstall. I'm going to be angry if I reinstall and get some kind of "windows has detected hardware changes, you have two more changes available before activation fails". Will my license have later when I swap in a newer motherboard and it decides that I must have installed it on a second machine?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I upgraded my gaming machine to win7 from XP. Better hardware management and a 64bit OS that could see all of my ram. I would say win7 is really what Vista should have been. Vista.. mucked with it on family machines but never had reason to upgrade from WinXP during it's time. Perhaps the experience with it close 24/7 was different and I freely admit that it did get polished up in the end though just in time for win7 to overshadow it.

bott
bott

I always thought one of the reasons Vista earned such a bad reputation was because Microsoft failed to set the minimum hardware specifications high enough. On professional level hardware (or gaming enthusiast level hardware) Vista ran with very few issues, but these are $3000+ Systems we are talking about here??? Unfortunately on standard entry level consumer laptops it was a complete pig, not enough RAM and an insufficient processor caused a lot of consumers a lot of pain. Since Apple are primarily a consumer focused company and it was the consumers being hit hardest by the lack of resources on the first generation Vista Laptops it gave Apple (and others) the leverage required to run a successful campaign against Vista. Granted it was manufacturers who were supplying the systems that couldn???t cope with Vista, But since the systems met Minimum spec they were allowed to sell it as a Vista system. To avoid a repeat of this the minimum spec needs to be set at a level where the system performs as an average consumer expects, not at the technical minimum amount of hardware required to run the OS.

Slayer_
Slayer_

At least you could walk away from Vista, come back an hour later and it would still be running, with WinME, it was a gamble. And every time you clicked something, you risked it crashing. WinME did alright for gaming though.

rmerchberger
rmerchberger

Debian really was nice for it's time, but honestly, Slackware wasn't even in the "Russian Roullette" category, IMHO... SCO most certainly was, tho. ;-) Wireless support isn't wholly on MS's plate -- they get a *lot* of help from the hardware manufacturers (reference drivers, indepth hardware specifications, etc.) that the Linux hackers don't get (and must reverse engineer with varying success) -- I would posit that if the *nix realm received an equal amount of information from the wireless hardware manufacturers, wireless setup would be equally easy on both platforms. (and for the record, my Belkin USB wireless fob is much easier on Linux than Winders - there were 5 different revisions of the hardware all with the same USB code. Windows can't tell the difference so you have to get out your trifocals, read the FCC ID and hit google to get the right driver; and installing the wrong one can actually bone your XP install -- don't ask how I know this. Linux just works. I realize this is a one-off case, however. I also realize that it's not MS's fault, as Belkin should not have re-used the USB ID.) Truetype? How about Postscript. The reason PS never went everywhere was the restrictive licensing from Adobe. Oh, wait -- PDF. It is everywhere now -- because Adobe removed the restrictive licensing. ;-) (And yes, before that, there were Hershey fonts, the precursor to today's technology.) Yes, MS made TrueType work well, but it was a bit rough in the early days -- TT on Win3.1 was really hit-n-miss. Reliable office suites? Deskmate was there long before MS hit the scene... ;-) Win7 has "gone the other way" with printers -- Of the 3 that I own, 2 are not recognized under 7 at all. One I must use under Linux (because dot matrix printers were a PITA in XP - but at least they worked), and the other one is only supported under XP so I have to keep a VM around just to use it. (I blame Kodak on that one, tho -- I guess I shoulda bought a Phaser.) Oh, and the one that plays well with *everybody* is Postscript based, which is why I bought it. ;-) When MS puts a lot of resources into a technology, they can do a very good job with it. TrueType, Aero, Halo... When MS doesn't, it makes you want to *play* Russian Roullette. DOS4, Bob, WinME... There are some companies that do great things with meager resources (MicroWare OS-9, Transmeta Crusoe) and some companies that put huge resources in the wrong direction (iTunes, ATI [AMD hasn't helped there, either...]) And then a few that just defy logic altogether (Duke Nukem Forever). I will say that MS isn't the only company that can make you say "WTF?" and at times does make you say "Lemmeseedat!" I will close reminding people of this: "Linux is very user friendly -- it's just a lot pickier on who it's friends are." ;-) Laterz! "Merch"

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

This is true, I have looked on Linux help forums. There are people needing help and having problems with some things that should be Extremely easy, but with Linux this doesn't seem to be the case. Most people, even those who are computer savvy, want simple things to be simple. Windows may have its problems but, when I plug something in it is virtually guaranteed to work, or install a program with 1 to 3 clicks. When I read the instructions they are given to do these simple things I just say wow how do they think they will attract the masses with a system like this. Linux may be easier than it used to be but it still has a long way to go. Most people I know think running an install wizard is complicated, how they going to figure out Linux. These free open office programs are nice considering they're free but, these people who say it's better or just as good as MS Office are full of it. Linux does have some strong points where it is better. But it also has some areas where it fails. It seems to be good for servers and super computers and many other things, which are generally set up by computer experts, but it's not usually the best option for the typical home user. Linux is also way too fragmented to be the number 1 OS. How many distro's are there now? Also Linux people would hate it if it ever became mainstream, because it would mean it has been sufficiently dumbed down for the masses. So think about that, all you Linux lovers who want it to take the throne from Microsoft. So be careful what you wish for.

dcolbert
dcolbert

And they would like me to keep it shorter than that. Ask my editor, it is a challenge for me to come in at the high end of what they want the articles to be sized at. Kind of hard to get into depth or analysis in 1200 words. Just when I get rolling, I find I have to summarize and conclude my blogs. I know... *wah*... give me some cheese with my wine. This was also my last blog for the Tech Republic Out Loud blog. Farewell, fellow TRoLlers, I'll miss you all.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Win 95 was far ahead Mac Classic at the time. Mac had this kludgy IP stack that just didn't work well at all. Linux is younger than the other two, and other "real" *nix varients were very limited in accessibility. Your typical user had no use for HP-UX or Solaris, let alone the ability to have a Sparcstation 5 or 10 on their desktop. We're talking Pentium-100 era machines here. This isn't log after the 486DX2/66 was state of the art. The Internet got out in front of the systems. Windows did a good job of catching up. Much better than Mac, which is one reason why Mac OS Classic lagged and faltered leading up to the release of OS X.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Great response, Neon. :)

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'm in it for the mind-expanding discussions. I like a well executed counter-point. There just aren't that many to go around. :) This one is one of 'em, though. Apple, Intel and Microsoft have notorious reputations for playing hardball and pushing to the limits of ethical behavior and acceptable business practices, and they've had those reputations from the start. I think you've got a strong point, but I think that these 3 companies have a corporate culture that has always rewarded that kind of behavior. It is like asking if a mobster is violent because he feels a sense of impunity because he is a crime lord, or if his violence led him to become a crime lord. These are "chicken and egg" questions, I think.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Thats it is easier to push boundaries when you have the success and income to have a huge legal department prepared to defend you. I might even suggest that like many other large firms, MS takes risks, knowing that smaller companies won't have the time or money to fight them, or survive the endless rounds of appeals that will occur. I'm not suggesting that Microsoft is unique in this, far from it, its pretty common. I'm sure Apple, for example would react the same way. There, now I have alienated a number of posters on both sides. :0

dcolbert
dcolbert

Overall, I think you're coloring within the lines on your responses here. Here are my responses... Hardware support from manufacturers. This is the result of Linux idealism, and we see it time and time again. Ubuntu could provide proprietary driver support by DEFAULT, and in fact, there are more and more "Noob" distros that do just that. The reason Ubuntu doesn't is because that corrupts the "FOSS" distribution with non-FOSS software. But only Linux idealists care about this. Typical users, the massive consumer base, they just want the OS to work. When Linux distros don't get hung up on FOSS idealism, they're more broadly accepted - because the odds of having a fully functioning install without jumping through special hoops to get devices working increases dramatically. I also believe some manufacturers get "turned off" by the preaching from the Linux community about how they should release open-source code and drivers for Linux. Instead of releasing restricted drivers, they ignore Linux altogether and focus on platforms that don't complain about proprietary drivers. So, is this MS Win and the Manufacturers teaming up against Linux, or is it Linux doing this to itself through being self-righteous? Guess the answer depends on your perspective and ideology. TrueType - a lot of this was just a retro recap of where Linux has been (following the "last 20 years what have you done for me" theme of the original post that sparked this blog). At one time, if you installed Debian and you got into Gnome or KDE and you wanted nice fonts - TrueType was probably the best answer. But you had to download it and install it and tweak with it, and it was a pain. This is when nice scalable system fonts were already available by default in competitive platforms. *And*... Microsoft made those TrueType fonts available as a package for popular Linux distributions back then - which also goes along with the "What has Microsoft done in the last 20 years" theme. :)Other than that, it was just a random experience/example that I threw in there. There have been lots of Office Suites, yes. But MS Office is dominant, has been dominant (may not continue to be dominant, but that is another story). The alternatives have all been relatively unsuitable for the majority of people for a variety of reasons. That is a whole 'nother blog, though - and I'm not sure there will be a TR blog where that article would be applicable, unfortunately. But I get your point, there have always been alternatives, and some of them have been/are quite good, within certain limitations. I've heard that about printers and other devices and Win 7. I've had pretty good luck - but I've got a very expensive (but older) OfficeJet. I got sick of dealing with disposable deskjet class printers. The extra $400 up front has paid off over the last 5 or 6 years. Before that, every couple of years at MOST I was buying a new printer. Also probably material for another blog. I think there are a few things going on here, too, though - and at least part of it is the migration to 64 bit and vendors deciding not to support legacy equipment. I'm guessing that Win 7 makes security, permissions, authentication or other changes that require significant rewriting of legacy drivers - and for a lot of companies, the cost just isn't justified. Last 2 paragraphs - absolutely. Great summary. I agree completely. I really don't disagree with anything else you've said - I just have some qualifications on my agreement with what you've said. :)

j-mccurdy
j-mccurdy

Why is this the last TR blog?

dcolbert
dcolbert

It takes an Iron-Chef of an editor to make my posts ready for the public, Sonja. I have my doubts that many others are up to the task. :)

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

although you might actually enjoy having other TR editors that don't slice and dice your posts so much. :O *waving to the TechRepublic Out Loud fans* ... it's been a fun ride!