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Re: Why Windows Being Bad is Good for Microsoft (or a Case for Unbundling)

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____/ The Ghost In The Machine on Monday 10 November 2008 23:45 : \____

> On Nov 8, 2:49 am, Roy Schestowitz <newsgro...@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>> Hash: SHA1
>> A computer needs to be as simple to use as an appliance. Whenever you switch
>> it on, it enters a mode of full operation.
> Very bad start.  This is a case for *bundling*, absent more input.
> Not irrecoverable, but let us tread on -- carefully, of course.

Think about installation, not just operation. The idea of chasing down PDF
readers, drivers, etc. is not realistic for most people. GNU/Linux distros
don't require all of this. The CD is put on the tray, you switch on the box,
and follow the instructions.

>> When you install software on it, everything should be set up completely,
>> without a hitch.
> This is *not* a requirement of the computing function,
> although in all fairness, it depends on what one means by a
> "computer" anyway.  There's a lot of computers around, from
> the one on one's wristwatch (it meets all the requirements,
> plus it tells time!) to the one in one's microwave, TV set,
> or (in many cases) thermostat, to the box sitting on or
> underneath one's desktop.
> Some of them even run Windows. ;-)

True, but let's limit the scope to personal computers.

>> Failing to achieve a simple installation, it's clear that something is
>> amiss.
> Depends on the computer.  On a desktop, certainly.  On a
> laptop, most likely.  On a mobile phone, maybe.  On a
> microwave, TV, wristwatch, or thermostat, most likely not.
> Assuming "laptop" or "desktop" for the remainder of this
> discussion, with some callouts for mobile phone units.

It's possible to test compatibility for some models and assure it. Lenovo does

>> PCs should be sold separately from software. If the software is trivial to
>> install, then it can be offered as an option alongside hardware. It only
>> takes minuted to install from a CD-ROM.
> I'm assuming "30 minutes" here; that's about how long
> it takes for a more or less typical distro install,
> sans obscure problems.

More like 15 minutes, even with a generous amount of additional software.

Gentoo is another matter of course... :-)

Make your own binaries....

> It is interesting to contemplate installation of a base
> OS for a mobile phone unit; the problems appear vaguely
> similar to today's desktops and laptops.
> One rather nasty possibility is that the OEM charges
> a "bundling/installation fee".

It already does. Well, in a sense it does.

>> A good set of software can also include customised images and plenty of
>> software of interest, such as an office suite.
> I'll admit I'm old-school when it comes to operating
> systems, but one does have a certain minimal set of
> expectations -- one is that it actually works. ;-)
> With Linux, it usually works, after a bit of fussing.
> With Windows, well, it's hard for me to say; it's been
> a long time since I've had to do any Windows installs.
> (Maybe in the 3.1 timeframe -- yipes, where does the
> time go?)  Windows works initially, then tends to trip
> over itself.

Have you installed Windows recently?

>> Why can't PCs be sold without an operating system? Because, as Microsoft
>> wishfully argues, customers would struggle to install the operating system.
> Not so wishfully, either.  How many people know the
> technical details of defragging of their hard drives,
> for example?  At best, they just run the little utility.
> Even I would be hard-pressed to explain some of the gunk
> in there, since I don't know the details of the ext2 file
> format, let alone NTFS.  (At least with ext2 I can peruse
> the official source code.  NTFS is semi-documented, if only
> because many hackers have gone in there and looked around.)
> Ditto for AV installation, temporary folder cleanout,
> and file compression options.
>> So make it easier.
> And bundle it.  Oops, that runs into anti-competitive
> space, which is most definitely an issue here as well
> -- and somewhat at odds with the notion that a desktop
> or laptop should be as simple to operate as a toaster,
> microwave, or phone unit, since toasters and microwaves
> are not expected to have loadable software.  (Phones are
> mutating so they might.  They're a bit weird right now.)

One proposal that was made is a display of software cost on each machine
(mandatory) so refunds can be requested and issued on the spot. Another option
is /forcing/ the seller to offer open PCs (no O/S).

> This appears to be a tradeoff of competitive versus ease of
> use, from the looks of things.  I could be wrong, though.

What Microsoft does with OEMs it also does with schools. It does a sort
of 'blanket' licence, so removing some deployments of Windows has no effect on
the price. Intel played similar (illegal) tricks.

>> Windows will continue to be a hard-to-install mess as long as it provides
>> this argument that Joe Sixpack can't have it installed.
> The mess is a one-time cost, which makes life interesting.
> For OEMs such as Dell, that cost can be amortized across
> thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of units.  For
> Joe Sixpack, well, he might do it once every three months or
> so, depending on how resistant to malware the original install
> is.
> If he's intelligent enough, he'd partition the drive and image
> the system part using a command that in Linux could be expressed
> $ dd if=/dev/hda1 | gzip > hda1.img.gz
> (there are more intuitive utilities such as Norton Ghost which
> provide similar functionality, plus ignoring irrelevant blocks
> in the filesystem).  Restores onto the same drive therefore
> work reasonably well. [*]
> If not...it's all magic.
>> In other words, as long as Windows is bad, it's more likely to be bundled,
>> without the offering of choice.
> And that's good for Microsoft -- the naive pay the tax (now
> twice, in fact, if they don't like Vista!)  whether they
> like it or not.  Is this fair?  An interesting question,
> since I've not quite worked out what "fair" is yet in this
> context (the discussions of such will take us far afield,
> of course, starting with people's expectations).
> The short answer is that bundling anticompetitive, of
> course, which would fit into the category of "unfair";
> one also can state that bundling gives Microsoft a rather
> marked advantage, since the OEM pays the licensing fees
> in advance of the actual sale.

If we've come a long way in technology, then many floppies are no longer needed
to set up PCs. In fact, network installs are another fascinating option that
firmware can handle (setup 'on tap').

>> Apple and its separate universe of 'xenophobic' hardware and software is
>> another matter altogether.
> I think Apple is starting to, as it were, peel the onion, but
> we'll see what's in there.

Apple doesn't actively attack Linux as much as Microsoft (lockin and DRM remain
a pain though), so it's a bit distracting to fight back in their direction.

>> Should houses also be built with furniture bolted in? Or restaurant serve
>> just one meal because choice is bad and cooking is too complicated?
> "Furnished apartments" have such a model, although the furniture is
> not bolted in per se; it's simply "preloaded".  Of course the
> user may have some explaining to do if he wants to replace it.
> As for one meal, some restaurants do exactly that.  The
> closest I can think of offhand is In-And-Out Burger, who
> specializes in (surprise surprise) burgers; they have
> all of 3 choices on the menu if memory serves.
> One can also think of a hot dog vendor, who serves only hot
> dogs; but even such offer choices in the way of condiments
> such as mustard, ketchup, and relish.
> Some catering functions set things up so there are at most
> two choices -- and the second might be a vegetarian dish.

Another analogy might be a sandwich which comes with too much stuff you need to
remove (e.g. pickles). Why not just serve what you want in the first place?

>> Being a norm does not make anything right or acceptable.
> Or desirable.  I'll definitely agree there; however,
> it *is* the norm, and I'll admit to wondering how to
> change it.
> Best I can do is establish a competitor to Dell that is
> sufficiently big.  eRacks and System76 look promising
> in the US; those in other countries should have choices
> as well.

There's good progress on this in Europe, esp. France.

> [*] if the drive goes south, things get interesting if the
>     user wants to change partition sizes.

- -- 
                ~~ Best of wishes

Roy S. Schestowitz      |    "Have you compiled your kernel today?"
http://Schestowitz.com  |  Open Prospects   |     PGP-Key: 0x74572E8E
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