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Moore's Law Is Microsoft's Latest Enemy 395

Posted by kdawson
from the eee-running-aero-yeh-right dept.
Glyn Moody writes "Until now, the received wisdom has been that GNU/Linux will never take off with general users because it's too complicated. One of the achievements of the popular new Asus Eee PC is that it has come up with a tab-based front end that hides the complexity. But maybe its real significance is that it has pushed down the price to the point where the extra cost of using Microsoft Windows over free software is so significant that ordinary users notice. As Moore's Law drives flash memory prices even lower, can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?"
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Moore's Law Is Microsoft's Latest Enemy

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  • Familiarity is worth $200 to a lot of people. Besides, if this becomes the case, I'd have to imagine we won't be seeing vista or whatever windows system there is being sold for the same price.
    • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .171rorecros.> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:37PM (#22664986) Homepage

      Familiarity is worth $200 to a lot of people.

      A lot less people all the time. Every single electronic gizmo nowadays has its own menu system, along with half the websites and such. People are used to learning slightly different interfaces all the time these days, 'familiarity' is much less of a barrier. And then there's the fact that Vista's Aero interface isn't all that familiar to XP-users compared to the latest Linux systems, anyway.

      There are still plenty of dealbreakers - niche Windows-only software - but those niches are shrinking, and 'familiarity' alone isn't enough to save Windows forever.

    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:46PM (#22665098) Homepage
      But it's starting to become more than $200. With the hardware requirements of Vista, you have to buy a much more expensive computer, just to get the same usability. I bought a laptop that runs Linux. It cost me $500. To get a machine that runs Vista just as well, I'm looking at spending $1000, at least.
      • I bought a laptop that runs Vista for $300 (+$40 in RAM). It runs it well. I write code, play MMO games, etc. Vista's not as bad as the FUD'ers make it out to be.
      • by HAKdragon (193605)
        I bought one of those Dell Ubuntu machines and it seems to handle Vista Ultimate fine for the little bit I've used it. I spend almost all of my time on my Linux partition though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kesuki (321456)
      familiarity may be worth $200 to a lot of people, but is $400 is $600? Linux ran pretty spiffy on my pentium 120 laptop with 48MB(maximum) ram many many years ago, when debian was say still a 1-2 cd install step. even with a nice little 1MB graphic chipset. the whole point is that in the ultra affordable laptop, you HAVE to run Linux, because Microsoft doesn't sell windows 3.11 anymore.

      so let's see you can get a $600 'windows' laptop that has $400 worth of hardware that BARELY runs windows XP acceptably, a
    • yeah, right (Score:3, Insightful)

      by someone1234 (830754)
      M$ office 2007 is soooo familiar to earlier Office versions.
      No, thanks.
      I would rather use OO, not because it is cheaper, but because it is more familiar.
  • That was fairly crash proof, and it has hardware requirements that my engineering calculator can muster,
    • by jandrese (485)
      Windows 3.1 was only crash free until you started running applications on it. After that all bets were off. Installing anything but the most standard hardware (cpu, memory, motherboard, keyboard, mouse) could be a problem too, especially with things that required more than a minimal amount of driver support (like sound cards).
  • Slashdot (Score:5, Funny)

    by hotsauce (514237) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:12PM (#22664596)
    Only on Slashdot would an article ask if Windows can compete with Linux.

    *Shakes head*

    Get out of mom's basement once in a while, guys.
    • Re:Slashdot (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gQuigs (913879) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:33PM (#22664926) Homepage
      100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell? It just is not sustainable to have every business, school, and government paying 1 provider of software for an operating system.

      The school district I grew up at pays MS $400,000 every year for the software assurance program (and then $75,000 to Symantec to secure it). The total budget is about 150 Million. This can not be sustained.

      Windows can not compete with Linux. That's why they use lock-in, FUD, etc.
      • 100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell? It just is not sustainable to have every business, school, and government paying 1 provider of software for an operating system.

        Holy Mother of Gary Gygax! Are you for real? Proprietary software will be around as long as smart coders figure out they can live higher on the economical ladder by commercializing ("charging for") their creations. We don't live in a socialist utopia, and we will NEVER live in a socialist utopia.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell?

        2108: Finally, the Year of Linux on the Desktop!

        In the meantime, proprietary software will do quite well. It's really hard to get excited about something that's 100 years out.

        I realize the "100 years" wasn't meant to be a precise number, but it does illustrate the point that, while it might seem highly probably that Open Source is going to *eventually* supplant Proprietary, you still have to live in the here-and-now.

        Even so, I'm not fully convinced that proprietary software is going to vanish from the cons

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        I still don't know why you make such a big deal about Open Source. Having Free and Open Standards are far more important then having the source code available. I don't care if the Source for MS. Word is released I much rather have Free and Open specification on how the .DOC format works and what changes are in it over each version. So if I felt like it I could write my Own 100% compatable version. Vs having source code without a nice open spec. Where I need to trace threw millions of lines of funky code w
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rolfwind (528248)
          Open Source has free and open standards inherently by its very nature.

          Propietary TENDS to have closed standards by its very nature - it's just a logical procession by the coders of closed source unless forced to otherwise by outside circumstances.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcrbids (148650)
        100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell?

        Sure. Why would you think proprietary software would "go away"?

        It just is not sustainable to have every business, school, and government paying 1 provider of software for an operating system.

        Agreed. But these two points within your paragraph are non-sequitur. ("Proprietary Sotware" != "Operating System)

        What's happening in software is the same thing that happens to any marketplace that gets commoditized... the base price of the commo
      • Yes and No (Score:5, Insightful)

        by istartedi (132515) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:52PM (#22666050) Journal

        This is somewhat akin to asking in 1920 "100 years from now, do you think Ford's cheap cars have a chance?".

        At the rate we are going, it's entirely possible that the Ford Motor Company will go Chapter 11 (or more likely be bought by some other company) and for all intents and purposes cease to exist. In both cases, there is broad mass appeal in the first wave of a technology adaption, and a cash horde and corporate infrastructure with "legs".

        In 1920, electric and steam were still competitive engine technologies. In the 1920s it was probably apparent to most that gasoline engines would dominate. This happened, and the engine in mass-market autombiles was fundamentally the same (emission, computer, and many other refinements aside, still the same fundamental technology) until hybrids were mass-marketed in the late-90s. Now it looks like hybrids might dominate some day; but gasoline-only had quite a run, didn't it?

        100 years from now, who knows what the trend in computing will be? Maybe most people won't even have general-purpose computers. Maybe they'll just have boxes with a dozen killer apps built into hardware for better reliability, because the "do it in software first" stage of development will be considered "done".

        Or, maybe the introduction of inexpensive multiprocessing technology, smart non-volatile memory, or some other combination of these will reveal deficiencies in OS design that require re-writing the OS from scratch, and maybe that OS will dominate for 30 years. 100 years from now is enough time to fit about 3 lifetimes of MS and *NIX. In other words, 100 years is a long time even in a conservative technology like automobiles, nevermind tech where 10 years is an "eternity".

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Locutus (9039)

      Only on Slashdot would an article ask if Windows can compete with Linux.

      *Shakes head*

      And yet these low cost devices are constantly being offered only Microsofts 6 year old version of their operating system. That's right, out dated software instead of the latest as is the case with the Linux operating system and software on these devices. I just can't wait to see how the price of these devices go up when Microsoft pays them to put Windows Vista on them instead of Linux. But hey, what's another billion dollars or so spent to keep the ignorant shaking their heads?

      And yes, I can shake my head

    • by rolfwind (528248)
      Windows does not compete with Linux distros like Ubuntu (for example, as being the friendliest to newbs) in many areas.

      The one inherent advantage Windows has is in the big name and industry niche applications written for it (Linux wins hands down on small size apps normal people use day to day - for instance k3b > nero). If the big name apps were ever to migrate their software, I could forsee big troubles for Microsoft. Today looking for tax software at Walmart, I saw a dozen different packages produce
  • by sqldr (838964) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:12PM (#22664598)
    Namely, that with a closed source OS, vendors are being paid by software companies to install reams and reams of crapware on your system. When (eg) Dell installs Linux, they lose that revenue, which on a $200 unit, is a significant portion.
  • XP on EEE (Score:2, Insightful)

    by copious28 (983855)
    Asus is already has an XP model overseas, and it is coming to the US. They have created a smaller footprint for the OS, so I dont see any barriers...
    • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:26PM (#22664818) Homepage Journal

      Asus is already has an XP model overseas, and it is coming to the US. They have created a smaller footprint for the OS, so I dont see any barriers...
      Microsoft has stated that it will put the System Builder version of Windows XP on a sales moratorium from January 31, 2009 [microsoft.com], through December 31, 2096 [wikipedia.org]. (The sales moratorium for the retail and OEM versions starts seven months earlier.) After January 31, 2009, the least resource-intensive version of the Windows operating system that continues to be available from Microsoft to the public will be Windows Vista, and I doubt that using Windows Vista on a subnotebook will become economic by that date. How many of these computers can Asus and its partners ship by the end of January of next year?
  • by WesternTreefrog (1159569) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:16PM (#22664660)
    It's not price that cripples Microsoft in the mobile market, it's flexibility. As anyone who's used a Pocket PC or Windows CE device knows, it's the chained to the desktop mentality that's killing them.

    The inability (well, ok, extreme difficulty in) to skin/specialize the user interface is going to hurt them. Microsoft appears to be mentally permanently stuck in one-size-fits-all land. And to be fair, it would be really hard to let people customize as deeply as they need to without letting them muck with the deep details of your OS.
  • Intel has this [theregister.co.uk] new low power low cost x86 processor. This family of processors is not powerful enough to push through the Microsoft bloat ware. It must be intended for Linux systems!
    • It must be intended for Linux systems!

      Despite recent events [slashdot.org], I'm betting systems with this chip will have the "Vista Capable" logo. :-)

      Shiny stickers sell systems!

    • When half of the WinTel duopoly puts out a new processor two years after the introduction of the other half's latest operating system, that won't even run it, that is significant.

      Microsoft should not have started OEM'ing AMD PCs in India with Zenith.

  • I think they don't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alx5000 (896642) <alx5000@nOSPam.alx5000.net> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:20PM (#22664714) Homepage

    I don't think ordinary users notice. When I talk to my non-tech-savvy friends, they usually ask me if this or that price is right for a given computer, mostly without taking into cosideration its characteristics (Once a girl I know asked me if a 300 price tag for a laptop could be right, and when I asked for specs, she only replied "Acer"). Besides, we've got big PC stores here (like PC City) whose prices can be 50% more expensive than those you find in smaller, franchised, specialized shops, and they still sell the most.

    So no, ordinary users will judge the price based on how awesome the salesman tells them it is (and, of course, if it doesn't come with Windows, don't bother calling it a PC, please, it just confuses them).

  • by davidwr (791652) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:20PM (#22664718) Homepage Journal
    MS had a $3 XP license in the 3rd world for awhile. If they did that worldwide and cooperated with these low-end PC vendors it would short-circuit the Linux retail-price advantage.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      MS had a $3 XP license in the 3rd world for awhile. If they did that worldwide and cooperated with these low-end PC vendors it would short-circuit the Linux retail-price advantage.

      Microsoft can only afford the $3 XP license in the third world because the entire cost of XP development is paid by the people paying the high price of licenses in the first world. If they start making similarly low-cost Windows license available in the first world, where not only will they compete with Linux (good for MS), they w

  • The point has already been made that these linux-based minicomps may not be as accessible as you might like - having never used one, I'll just give the benefit of the doubt that they successfully fill the needs cheaply. If they don't play mp3s now, they'll do so sooner or later.

      Microsoft can make money on windows without charging for it; they can charge $15/copy for the minicomputer version. Microsoft has an endless number of strategies, which they will employ to keep market dominance for as long as they can.

      There will be a whole *series* of retrenchments. Microsoft is in a very powerful, very profitable place, so they will fight each retrenchment as hard as they can - but they're not stupid, they've got contingency plans to stay in the market and, frankly, to stay extremely profitable whatever happens. Put another way: they can compete with free, maybe not on a level playing field, but on the playing field that exists, and they intend to do so.

      Forcing them to compete, even on a biased field, is good for the rest of us, so I'm all for it. But driving MS out of any market segment is going to be extremely difficult.
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @02:23PM (#22665658) Journal

      Microsoft can make money on windows without charging for it; they can charge $15/copy for the minicomputer version. Microsoft has an endless number of strategies, which they will employ to keep market dominance for as long as they can.
      MS could afford to give away the OS, if they chose. The real profit comes from Office -- so what are those minicomputer users going to use? As you rightly point out, MS is not just going to give up. MS has lots of cash which can be used to oompete (and I am sure that Google wants the Yahoo deal to go through because this removes all of MS's cash, which will hinder MS's future freedom of action).

      In the past, MS has effectively given away software -- in the form of licenses that could be used on two computers: so that a license bought for a work machine could be taken home and used on the home machine.

      Microsoft has two advantages over Linux: familiarity and applications. Recent Linux distributions are as easy, if not easier to use than Windows, but many applications (such as iTunes) are simply not available on Linux. Both of these advantages can be swept away if Linux gains a significant foothold in the desktop market.

      I just wish that Apple would see that helping Linux would also help Apple. Breaking MS's dominance is the most important goal and Linux can help that to happen.
  • MS strikes back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lixee (863589) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:21PM (#22664736)
    MS is using all its weight in anticipation of the problem. The new and upcoming Eee 900 for example, has been announced by Asus France as a Windows only version.

    http://www.blogeee.net/2008/03/06/le-eeepc-900-uniquement-avec-windows-xp-dapres-asus-france/ [blogeee.net]

    The good news is that the French customer is very well protected and forcing a software with a PC down their throat is illegal. So essentially, what will happen is thousands of geeks demanding reimbursement of the XP licenses. That oughta hit Asus really hard, and teach them a good lesson.

    I read that Asus Germany announced a similar "forced sale", but can't seem to find the article.
  • Sure they can! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OpenSourced (323149) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:21PM (#22664740) Journal
    can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?

    Sure they can! Sure, Linux is free, but Windows can be also made free. After all, it's not like it's not already amortized, or something. They can even _pay_ the PC makers to put Windows inside, if it's just in some models. Linux cannot really compete with that, can it?

    • Sure, Linux is free, but Windows can be also made free. After all, it's not like it's not already amortized, or something.
      It's not fully amortized. Some patented technologies included in the Windows operating environment, such as MP3 audio coding, require Microsoft to pay a royalty per copy to a third party.
      • For those of you just now getting out from under your rock; both the consumer and professional versions of Windows have been fully self-reliant operating systems (not a DOS-based "operating environment") since 2001 (XP release), and the professional line since the first WinNT release.
    • but Windows can be also made free.

      How many of us would load Vista even if it was free?

  • You forget there's still this - http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/newsroom/winxp/WinXPStarterFS.mspx [microsoft.com]

    If low-cost Linux machines become more & more popular, I'd expect to see Microsoft broaden the market for the cheapest Windows editions.

  • by iamacat (583406) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:24PM (#22664772)
    Once CPU speeds cease to double every few years, competition becomes too complex to sustain a monopoly. Further increases in software performance and features will be done in many different ways - robust multithreading for multi-core CPUs, instruction sets more efficient than x86, use of GPU and CPU's vector unit for general computations, programable hardware with each application supplying Verilog-like code, distributed computing and of course plain old good code. It's impossible for one operating system or one application of a given category to be optimum in all these areas. Programming languages very different from C++, Java or .Net will be needed for good auto-parallelization, auto-vectorization and use of programable hardware. A market for a bare-bone, hand coded in C and assembler OS may once again develop if it allows a movie frame rendering app to run 30% faster when hardware performance is not anticipated to rise wildly in a couple of years.

    Microsoft can not possibly maintain 10 operating systems with radically different code bases and programming interfaces. In fact it's likely that some use scenarios will be too specialized for a commercial company and will instead be realized by open-source coding by the prospective users. Eee-PC and OLPC are already more about failure of Moore's law that it's continuation. People want to have a cheap, light and silent notebook with extraordinary battery life, but the technology to run Vista+Aero on such a machine is not anywhere on the horizon. So it suddenly makes more sense to run Linux in order to have the hardware that the user wants.
  • by Bombula (670389) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:24PM (#22664782)
    It's been clear for many years that part of M$'s strategy has been to maintain a high overall cost of personal computing, and thereby ensure that they are getting a slice of a big pie. If the total cost of a computer falls - if the pie shrinks - their slice will shrink with it. Their strategy has therefore been to write software that requires more and more demanding hardware, not to offer enriched user experiences (as claimed) but rather as a rationalization for keeping costs up.

    If a P3 500Mhz system was coded with the efficiency and elegance that prevailed on the Commodore 64, your OS and every application running would be so blazingly fast as to seem instantaneous, and with 1GB RAM you would not require a harddrive for anything except storing large image/music/video files. Instead, my early-generation P4 2ghz machine at work with 2GB of RAM chugs and sputters and stutters along and I can't wait to get home and use my 'powerful' personal machine that operates much faster. It's absolutely ridiculous.

    • by Vellmont (569020)

      If a P3 500Mhz system was coded with the efficiency and elegance that prevailed on the Commodore 64, your OS and every application running would be so blazingly fast as to seem instantaneous

      That's probably true. The other effect is your applications would do 1/5 as much, and there'd be 1/5 the choices.

      Programmers don't use processor and memory resources because they have some perverse need to use more and more resources. They do it because they can develop applications faster because they can develop appl
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cadallin (863437)

        The other effect is your applications would do 1/5 as much, and there'd be 1/5 the choices.

        That's the argument, but I don't buy it. As you even acknowledge, in many cases those choices are just fluff anyway, so why bother? What exactly do you do with your computer that didn't 8 years ago? What capabilities has all that additional cruft enabled?

        Personally, I think the time has come for an old idea to return. We need to see the resurgence of low power, fixed (or mostly fixed) spec machines ala the Commodore 64 and the Amiga.

        Force Development to return to "the bad old days" of using lo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I keep hearing this mantra, but I think a lot of it is a case of people looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses. Do people really think that software was more efficient in the days of the Commodore 64?

      I remember in the late 1980s, a fair number of games for the PC would take at least 3 minutes to start up, just to initialize look-up tables and pre-render sprites! In the early 1990s, Netscape would literally take more than 45 minutes to start up on his PC. In the mid 1990s, I remember seeing, for

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vellmont (569020)

        If you want to know how bad software was in the 1980s, try to run some software from the 1980s.


        I have to totally agree. Several months ago I was recovering data from my old C64/128 disks. The word processor of the time was really good by the standards of the time (80 columns? WOW!). In 2008 however it was a total piece of garbage. Forget about data sharing of export, those things didn't really exist. As far as features, one decent programmer could pretty easily recode the thing with the features it inc
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fermion (181285)
        Visicalc and Applewriter started nearly instaneously on my Apple. I could create spreadsheets and write papers that would print rather quickly, any slowness was due to the mechanical printer.

        I could dial into the big computer, download and compile code as fast as as any modern machine.

        My video game consoles started immediately, and game play was real time.

        Many computers started up rather quickly. Many applications started up rather quickly. MS did not.

        I am not saying things did not suck, but it w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WalterGR (106787)

      [Microsoft's] strategy has therefore been to write software that requires more and more demanding hardware, not to offer enriched user experiences (as claimed) but rather as a rationalization for keeping costs up.

      If a P3 500Mhz system was coded with the efficiency and elegance that prevailed on the Commodore 64, your OS and every application running would be so blazingly fast as to seem instantaneous...

      Does Linux run as fast as you describe an OS would if its authors didn't have ulterior motives?

    • I do not believe there is anything malicious that has caused this inefficiency to rise. The cost of developing software means that slow and bloaty is what we end up producing as software engineers. It just makes more sense economically.

      I hope that in the future, with capped per-core CPU speeds, we will see a renaissance in tight programming. Perhaps new languages will spring up that offer the efficiency of C++, but with the coding efficiency of ECMAScript4 or even C#. D is one such language [digitalmars.com], and there ma

  • rolling my eyes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dodgedodge (166122) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:25PM (#22664792)
    Utter nonsense. The last paragraph illustrates perfectly why. 99% of the market does't want to customize their OS, they want apps. I can't believe 30 years later some people still don't get that.
    • This is 100% true. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:43PM (#22665068)
      As long as Microsoft Office runs on Windows and doesn't run on Linux, Microsoft will be able to compete.

      Maybe in ten years that won't be true. After all, I didn't really expect Word to overtake WordPerfect and other alternatives in the market the way it did back in the 90's... but even in that case, it's because something has happened to Office, not because of Moore's Law.
  • they will be forced to slash prizes. This already started [latimes.com]. It could even so far to give a basic version away for free to get people hooked.
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:27PM (#22664846) Journal
    Until now, the received wisdom has been that GNU/Linux will never take off with general users because it's too complicated

    I think you meant "perceived" wisdom. But in fact, I've installed Linux on several friend's PCs who had never used a computer before (Mandriva 8 IIRC). None of them have had any trouble whatever using it. In fact, I get fewer "how do I" phone calls from them with Linux/KDE than I did when their new machines were running Windows.

    Gnu/Linux/KDE (and most likely Gnome as well, although since I haven't used it I can't say) is easier to use than Windows for a variety of reasons, the first being that stuff is put in logical places (at least with Suse and Mandriva) as opposed to Microsoft's way of putting stuff any old place. At least that's what it seems like; I can't see the logic of where Windows' stuff goes at all.

    So please stop spreading this this FUD. It's simply not true. Windows is NOT easier to use than Linux.
  • the Windows flavor of treos is fairly new and you definatly feel the price pressure... to the point I am not sure anyone than Exchange Server "push" Lock-ins are the only thing selling these things.

    Treo 755p (palm) - 320x320 screen, 312mhz processor
    Treo 750 (windows)- 240x240 screen (looks like crap compared to Palm), 300mhz processor
    The windows version does have a persistant file system and the palm does not, which is nice if your battery and backup battery both die, but this has never happened in my 4
  • No. (Score:4, Funny)

    by xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) <xanadu.inorbit@com> on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:28PM (#22664860) Homepage Journal

    "As Moore's Law drives flash memory prices even lower, can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?"


    No, it can't.

    Here, on this laptop:
    # du -sx /
    4677115
    # du -sx /home
    2026303
    # echo "4677115 - 2026303" | bc
    2650812


    (This is Gentoo so you need to subtract about 300M for the metadata caches,etc. Also, /usr/portage is on a seperate partition from hda1 and not included in that measurement.)

    2 1/2 Gig. That's it. Sure I could slim it down more if needed (I don't really use timidi much at all, etc.).

    That's for a FULL, USABLE Operating System. OOo, Full install of KDE, several other User things that make this machine (a near 9 year old laptop) a User's PC and not a "workstation".

    Given that same space, Windows will get your machine to boot to a Desktop and that's about it. Linux will soar on flash drives, especially with them getting larger and cheaper. Windows (unless you run CE... :\ ) can not match that.
  • by Wister285 (185087) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:30PM (#22664880) Homepage
    I'm sure it's been said many times here, but I think that it is really this simple:

    + Simplify the interface and make it usable
    - As much as I love KDE, there are just too many options.
    - GNOME needs to be more usable. Sometimes I think that it was made for 5 year olds.
    - Once you get over the fact that Office 2007 is not Office 2003, Office 2007 is a good example of how to make things simple AND usable.

    + Get support from big companies that sell to schools

    + Increase interoperability with Windows applications

    Linux is on its way and I think that Windows XP highlights just how far Linux has come. As much as it many not seem like it, Windows may have moved more towards Linux than vice versa. Linux developers need to understand what Apple has done. Linux is great, but I think that the people who develop it don't understand the people who actually use the products!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      GNOME needs to be more usable. Sometimes I think that it was made for 5 year olds.

      A lot of irony in this comment. The sign of a great UI is that the young and uninitiated can easy learn them.

  • If it wasn't for Moore's law, Linux would have long since caught up with them. Imagine if hardware hit a wall, and technology couldn't advance beyond say what existed in 2000 or 2005. Then MS couldn't sell a more complex OS or office suite, and customers would be "stuck" with Win 2000 XP. There would be security patches or hard tuned optimizations to make it a bit faster, but that would be it. They couldn't justify the release an expensive major update for existing customers. Users would dead end at office 2000 or office 2003, since there would be no incentive to update. Office 2007 and/or Vista would not run at all, or would run impossibly slow on such machines.

    Eventually, Open Office and Linux would catch and match them feature for feature, so new customers would have no incentive to go with the proprietary solution, since their protocols would eventually be reverse engineered bug for bug, feature for feature, driver for driver. The only way MS keeps Linux at bay is by releasing new feature laden stuff that takes advantage of new, updated hardware.

    My prediction: The end of Moore's law will herald the end of Microsoft.

  • MS Enemy? (Score:3, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:46PM (#22665100) Homepage Journal
    What could Microsoft do to defeat such enemy? Just use the old, proven tactics to win, including:

    - Put their own lawyers on the case. To extra effect, make Ballmer shout "Lawyers, Lawyers, Lawyers"
    - Buy another law, rename to MS Law, include it with new versions of Vista for free, and put the Moore Law out of the market
    - Patent something related to some of the words of the moore law, and sue anyone trying to use it
    - Finance a dying company to sue Moore for prior art.
    - Add some undocumented code in Windows, to make it stop working if the Moore law tries to come into effect (they already are doing a good work in this direction)
  • by node 3 (115640) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @01:49PM (#22665128)
    The tabbed interface of the Eee PC is simpler, but that does not mean it's more usable. That's one of the big mistakes people make about the Mac. Mac OS X is more usable than Windows (as a general rule, YMMV), but it's not simpler. In many ways, OS X is much more complex than Windows, but that complexity is *managed*, not merely limited.

    The main problem Linux faces is not that it's too complex, but that it's designed with a philosophy that tends to value "technologically correct" above all else. There are times when being less precise, less technically oriented, less detailed or less optioned is better for the human user, even if it is not as "true" to the computer itself. Apple seems to explicitly understand this, Microsoft seems to sort of intuit this without understanding it (so they don't make the right choices, but they realize such choices need to be made, which is better than nothing), while on Linux, this seems to be poorly understand, and often seen as a negative.

    With most cases of usability efforts on Linux, it's often just trying to copy (and improve upon) some existing system (GIMP vs Photoshop, KDE vs Windows, GNOME vs Mac OS (classic), etc.), it's an attempt to be more usable for admin-types (dselect, aptitude, etc.), or--and this is where Linux truly falls flat on its face--when someone attempts to make a truly usable Linux, they don't think, "let's make a Linux that works the way people work," they think, "let's make an interface that is so simple, even an idiot can use it." Instead of respecting the humanity of their target audience, they insult them.

    That is a problem Moore's Law can't do anything about.

    Linux won't truly take off until they stop insulting the normal person, and start respecting them. Ubuntu is close, but it's still too technically-oriented. The thing is, though, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. It might be, as it does keep Linux from being a mainstream OS, but on the other hand, it *is* an excellent OS for the people who are more technically-minded, and prefer absolute control, who value technology over aesthetics and the humanity of the interface. If Linux truly evolved to become a user-oriented OS, it would leave a void for the technical user. I suppose there'd still be the DIY Linux distros, plus there's always BSD or Plan 9, or some new OS yet to be created. Still, I'm not sure that if a User-Oriented Linux became a major OS player, that the more bare-bones technically-oriented Linuxes wouldn't find themselves losing significant attention by both users and developers alike.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cptdondo (59460)
      I have to disagree somewhat... My kids and wife (who are technically savvy but not literate in the linux meaning of the word) use XFCE by choice. I tried KDE and GNOME for their desktops and got shouted down. Basically, they prefer simpler over complex, and less/no eye candy over annoying stuff.

      I suspect that given the choice, most users would opt for the simplicity of something like XFCE over the ever-intrusive, incredibly annoying, and totally persistent Windows popups.

      I'm still waiting for outlook to
  • Moore's law did not reduce the cost of power supplies, monitors, DVD drives, keyboards, plastic cases or mice. And guess what, almost every one of those items I mentioned costs (significantly, as in twice) more than an OEM Windows license. If anyone should worry, it's Intel.
  • by Undead Ed (1068120) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @03:57PM (#22667014)
    Standard Operating Procedure for Microsoft is to have a little chat with Asus about their 'nice little business'.

    It could go something like this:

    Microsoft, "You have a nice business here; you sell a lot of motherboards."

    Asus, "We sure do. The motherboard business has been very very good to us."

    Microsoft, "And we at Microsoft have always been good to you, right?"

    Asus, "Well... there was the tablet fiasco. Remember how you convinced many of us...

    Microsoft, "Nevermind that. I am talking about all the help and access you get in order to write all your drivers for Windows. We have always been there for you, right?

    Asus, "Well... Vista didn't...

    Microsoft, "Forget about Vista for now! Just how far would you get without confidential access to all our operating systems?

    Asus, "We couldn't sell any motherboards to Windows users, just Linux, BSD, Solaris...

    Microsoft, "In other words, You Would Be SCREWED!"

    Asus, *hangs head* "What do you want?"

    Microsoft, "We are not happy about your $200 little laptop running Linux."

    Asus, "But we can't stop it now - we have taken orders..."

    Microsoft, "We want you to offer it with Windows!"

    Asus, "But Windows is too big and too expensive and...

    Microsoft, "Let me tell you what you are going to do. (1) You are going to raise the price to $400 instead of $200. (2) Then you are going to offer a Windows XP version for $395. (3) Then you are going to make a larger version that will actually work with XP.

    Asus, "But our original version is underpowered and doeesn't have enough storage for XP and Office..."

    Microsoft, "Too bad. Our customers have to become used to much less performance - haven't you tried Vista yet? And you leave the storage problem to us - once we trim out all the useless crap XP will fit - so will Office. It will still be slow but who cares."

    Asus, "But our customers..."

    Microsoft, *screaming* "They aren't YOUR customers!!! They are OUR customers!!! The only reason they buy your motherboards and computers is to run OUR operating system. And if you don't cooperate with us, you just may have all kinds of problems getting the information you need to create the drivers for your new products. UNDERSTAND?"

    *CRASH*

    Asus, "Yeah, sure. We understand Mr. Ballmer... Could I get you another chair?"

    Microsoft, "Maybe later. Where are the girls?"

    And so it goes, Microsoft Standard Operating Procedure for the last 25 years.

    Ed (UnDead)
  • what cost? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hhawk (26580) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @05:22PM (#22668472) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft can of course alter it's prices for any of these devices if it loses enough market share...

    There is also the issue of people who have licenced windows in the past and thrown away those machines. I expect to see consumer issues if consumers can't transfer those lic. Esp., in Europe with the regulators having MSFT in their sights.

    With only 1 Billion PCS in a world of nearly 6 Billion, I still feel the world needs a $25 computer.
  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday March 06, 2008 @06:02PM (#22669064) Homepage Journal
    timing.

    The difference between geniuses who made a bundle in the dot com bubble and the fools who were left holding the bag?

    Timing.

    It's been clear for a long time that sooner or later Microsoft's license based business model is going to be seriously undermined, especially at the low end. It goes without saying that somebody is going to be making money off this development (possibly including Microsoft itself, if it is smart). The problem is nobody knows for certain which it is: sooner or later? There's really only one way to find out: to give it a try.

    The Asus approach is quite interesting; they've tried to define a new niche. This makes is much more likely that they'll have a modest success even if the time is not ripe for the Microsoft model to crumble, while getting a toe over the line if it turns out that the land rush is about to start.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

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