Microsoft the underdog

Forum: LXer Meta ForumTotal Replies: 16
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Dec 16, 2010
6:45 PM EDT
Huffington Post has a story, "Microsoft's Cracked Windows: How The World's Technology Juggernaut Lost Its Buzz And Became The 'Underdog'.

I don't like to submit non-FOSS stories to LXer, so I didn't, but thought it would be of interest here (also don't like the quality of stories on HP, but that's a different issue). The view I've taken lately is that Microsoft is becoming irrelevant. To see a story echoing that view on a non-tech site is a sign that they probably are. Now we will see what FOSS can do when there is no market leader to play the role of the devil.

Dec 16, 2010
7:16 PM EDT
Apple and Google are already duking it out, for when M$ becomes a laughing-stock or pariah (at long last).

Dec 16, 2010
7:41 PM EDT
What I find most interesting is that as Microsoft falls apart, it's a sign of the end of selling software. Apple is a hardware company, Google sells our information to marketers, and FOSS either gives it away or sells services. 20 years from now the IT professionals will know nothing of the concept of becoming a megacorporation by selling software.

Dec 16, 2010
7:49 PM EDT
Selling hardware will also become harder, some people predict Apple is at its 'peak' now. Android, ARM, Linaro, OpenGL and cheap Chinese hardware will probably lead to much lower margins in hardware too, very much the same as what happened to Microsoft.

But that race is not over yet, and I'm bad at predicting.

Dec 16, 2010
9:16 PM EDT
I'm skeptical of Apple being at its peak. (But what do I know?) My guess is that Apple is on a plateau, with Steve Jobs as the Cupertino Messiah. I call it a plateau, because a peak affords very little movement, except for down; Apple under Jobs has already demonstrated a strong ability to keep moving, without losing altitude. I don't see them going up much farther; after all, how much bigger can the fanbase be? They've already absorbed the diehards and the not-quite-diehards who can commit to the prices Apple requires; the wishy-washy are of no concern. Once Jobs is gone again, that market will shrink without a substitute Messiah to announce "the Next Big Thing We Should Commit To."

At least in the US market, Apple and Jobs are pretty good at bringing simplified iStuff to the fanbois. Remember, with Apple, it's all about interface differentiation, wherever that may be. On the iMac, it's mostly in software; on the iPod, it's mostly in hardware. For better or worse (opinions vary), Apple's leadership in that regard is self-evident.

Dec 16, 2010
10:58 PM EDT
Apple is the best at selling stuff people actually want to buy. Their attention to detail and pleasing customers is antithecal to most all other tech vendors. Microsoft is the champ at forcing people to buy their junk, hardly anyone actually likes it. Even for free Linux is a hard sell. And there are many reasons why, not the least of which is crappy UI. Anyone try to configure a modem lately on any major distro? With half of US internet users still on dialup that is quite boneheaded to overlook such a fundamental bit of functionality. For all the special effects and gaudy themes and tricksy stuff, functionality is still not very good.

Dec 16, 2010
11:44 PM EDT
Quoting:Apple is the best at selling stuff
At too high a price, and with all kinds of restrictions.

Quoting:people actually want to buy.
Their fanbois want to buy.

Quoting:Even for free Linux is a hard sell.
Because it most commonly runs on an IBM-compatible PC, which people are conditioned by Microsoft to hate. "It runs on the PC? You mean like Office?"

Quoting:Anyone try to configure a modem lately on any major distro?
I can't speak for "lately," but when I used my cell phone as a modem on Fedora Core 4 four years ago, it was actually quite easy. I would be very surprised if it has gotten more difficult/error-prone, but alas, I am unable to examine the experience on today's Fedora due to financial restrictions.

Quoting:With half of US internet users still on dialup
I thought high-speed finally surpassed dial-up's customer base in the USA last year. I could be wrong on that...

Quoting:For all the special effects and gaudy themes and tricksy stuff, functionality is still not very good.
Wait a minute, are you complaining about Linux or Windows Vista?

Dec 17, 2010
12:08 AM EDT
There are plenty of areas in the U.S. without DSL or cable Internet service. I agree that easy dialup configuration in the major (and minor) distributions should be a priority.

Dec 17, 2010
9:49 AM EDT
gus3, being blind to Linux' faults doesn't make them go away. Another example of bad UI is almost any file save dialogue. Notice how you have to jump all over, and have to know which options to use and which ones to ignore because the UI does not help you. Notice how many redundant clicks you have to do, how text (such as the filename) will sometimes be highlighted, but when you type nothing happens, or it happens somewhere else. Does it open in your current working directory, or do you get dumped somewhere else?

Sometimes when Gnome doesn't know what application to use to open a file, it opens your home directory instead of an application picker and tells you to find the appropriate app. This new trend of hiding menus until you hover the cursor over the exactly right spot is super-irritating and stupid, like on the Ubuntu login screen for one example. Menu organization is getting worse, as the trend is to break menus into multiple screens even as options are stripped out wholesale, so you're hunting and clicking way more than you need to. Hiding information is another flaw, like system update screens that don't tell you how big the download is, or show progress.

And many more....Apple makes good sleek products that work and people buy them because they like them. The Linux world is not nearly customer-oriented enough, and never will be as long as the prevailing attitude is users are nuisances, that only devs count, and if you don't like it too bad.

Quoting: "The thing that makes Microsoft a great partner for us is that they really are the underdog," Zuckerberg said. "Because of that, they're in a structural position where they're incentivized to just go all out and innovate."

At the very least that should be a misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum sentence of a weekend in jail and an intensive English rehab course. If MS' bad decisions, bullying, and overpriced crapware are finally producing some consequences, good.

Dec 17, 2010
10:01 AM EDT
> I thought high-speed finally surpassed dial-up's customer base in the USA last year. I could be wrong on that...

In sheer numbers, possibly. But the problem is the area involved. Large portions of the country have only dialup or (at best) satellite access. Those areas don't tend to be as heavily populated, so there's no corporate incentive to provide high speed service.

Dec 17, 2010
10:03 AM EDT
> Anyone try to configure a modem lately on any major distro?

Not recently, no. We've had DSL for about 5 years now. The last time I used it, kppp worked fine, but who knows what KDE4 has done with it.

Dec 17, 2010
10:43 AM EDT
Most distros no longer support floppy drives either. You have to do (I think) modprobe floppy at the command line. But you have to know that your supposed to do that.

On the issue of weirdness, as tc brings up, I love it when I want to save a file, the filename is highlighted, I start typing, and it changes the filetype. Incompetence is an understatement - more like the devs are playing with us. I don't know that FOSS is capable of delivering an end user product that can compete with the Mac.

Dec 17, 2010
11:20 AM EDT
@gus3: >Their fanbois want to buy.

You can't possibly be paying attention, or your definition of "fanboi" is loose to the point of being meaningless.

Apple makes products that appeal to a great number of people. Even the Mac is enjoying a resurgence.

Dec 17, 2010
1:01 PM EDT
In my house we have a few mac's (laptops and Desktop). I was a mac user before, and I loved it, because it was just so much better than windows. That was until I discovered Linux (ubuntu, fedora, gnome versions). I got in love the moment I started using it. To me, ubuntu was just like mac os x, but much more customizable. I don't have a problem with mac, because they are good machines, and serve very well. But I prefer personally the gnome interface over the Mac interface.

Dec 17, 2010
5:24 PM EDT
> In my house we have a few mac's (laptops and Desktop).

We actually have a Mac at our house. It's a Mac Color Classic. We bought it for my wife's mother back in the 80's, and re-inherited it when she passed away in, hmm, I think 1995. She loved it, and it still worked the last time I powered it on, but it won't run any modern Mac OS. I don't know if there's a version of Linux that would run on it or not, but it's not really worth the trouble to find out.

Dec 17, 2010
5:51 PM EDT
I'm in agreement with jimbauwens -

My wife and daughters all have macs. I had a macbook pro for awhile, but when I came to the conclusion that my ubuntu 8.04 laptop was just as easy to use, and more fun, I dumped the mac. But I'm glad my girls use OSX, it's a better platform than microsoft windows anyday.

Dec 17, 2010
7:30 PM EDT
The last time I used it, kppp worked fine, but who knows what KDE4 has done with it.

KDE4 network dialog: Modems...? We don't do no stinkin' modems.


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