"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Intelligent Design?

Jerzy points in a comment to an earlier post an Economist article on why Windows, and particularly Vista, is continuing to win the OS war. An excerpt from the Economist...

But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices.

But the real difference between Unix-like operating systems and Windows is their design philosophies. 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.

On the first point about dependencies, I have found recent releases of Suse and Ubuntu, particularly the later, to handle this well, including updates to previously installed software. I have certainly encountered at least my share of problems with Windows components, but so have I used Windows for a wider variety of purposes, e.g. I have not yet used desktop Linux with cameras, digital audio devices, etc. What little experience I have with Macs and these purposes (external DVD recorder, digital camera, and printers) tells me that it works a good bit better than Windows.

The second point that troubles me in this quote is that Microsoft's operating system as a whole is more efficient and cost-effective from a hardware-cost perspective. I can offer strong evidence against that regarding Windows XP and Windows Vista. I have hardware that is long paid off that continues to run every version of Linux I throw at it. However on the Windows partition it cannot run anything more recent than Windows 2000, i.e. XP (through experience) and Vista (I am told) will not even install, let alone run as efficiently as the newest Linux distributions.

I will also touch on their notion that Microsoft has given Windows "simplicity of use" at the cost of design complexity. "That's funny ha-ha!" is the only reaction that comes to me. By what measure is Windows easier to use than MacOSX or Ubuntu Linux?

Update: (via James Robertson, "Load the Stupidity Module") an analysis of the cost of Vista's "content protection" mechanisms. If so, then Vista will raise everyone's hardware costs, not just Vista users. Sheesh. Thanks.

As a user, there is simply no escape. Whether you use Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 95, Linux, FreeBSD, OS X, Solaris (on x86), or almost any other OS, Windows content protection will make your hardware more expensive, less reliable, more difficult to program for, more difficult to support, more vulnerable to hostile code, and with more compatibility problems.
Miguel de Icaza's take on this ("Content, Restriction, Annulment and Protection (CRAP)") is classic...
Microsoft: Shooting itself in the foot. One toe at a time.

1 comment:

Karl Guertin said...

By what measure is Windows easier to use than MacOSX or Ubuntu Linux?

By the measure of people not changing the defaults.

As to Vista winning the OS war, a significant number of the non-geeks I talk to have asked me about getting a Mac. I remember seeing reports that an unusually high number of Macs were sold to incoming freshmen this year. I'm not saying that the world will switch to OS X overnight, but I do hear a lot more interest in switching platforms than about upgrading to Vista. I'm happy enough on Ubuntu.

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About Me

Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.