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Cheap Solid State Computers Could Kill Microsoft 427

Eh-Wire writes "This is an interesting point made by a Clayton Hallmark on IndyMedia out of Argentina. He predicts that cheap Asian computing appliances with an Open Source Operating System on a chip will be the ultimate MS killer. References to the US$220 Mobilis out of India suggest the begining of newer, more powerful, and cheaper things to come. Mr. Hallmark also points to the success of the Wal-Mart cheap PC as proof the end is near for proprietory software. Overall an in interesting and thought provoking read."
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Cheap Solid State Computers Could Kill Microsoft

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  • Not that likely... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beh ( 4759 ) * on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:25AM (#12675345)
    The end of M$ has been foretold ever so often, more often than I would care to remember. But nothing has happened as of yet, that would pose a significant threat to them. Before you go about how xyz could kill M$ - just ponder for a moment, how much cash M$ has in their pockets - they are not immediately threatened by anything - and they HAVE the kind of money to sit out minor glitches and/or buy them the neccessary time to re-adjust (or just throw humongous amounts of money at the problem to overcome it). And even if someone goes for the cheap PC option, as long as large companies aren't switching over to these devices, I guess the PC will remain a strong seller (just think about all the parents buying PCs for their kids to play with - while knowing they have a machine they can also do their regular work on)...

    The likes of Atari ST / Amiga / ... "could" have ended the MS monopoly - when they were released, they were faster than PCs, and cheaper; and you could get good software for them, too - still, they didn't make it because they never became widely accepted in the commercial market.

    M$ is not going to be "killed" any time soon - the most realistic chance there is, is that they will eventually be (financially) ground down far enough for them to no longer be able to react quickly enough to save their own hide. But that is most likely still quite a few years away - and it depends on there being enough serious outside threats.

    Also, it would be more important to engage them on more fronts - if they are only in a skirmish with google over the search engine, their income will more than pay for that. If there were more (and different) fresh new competitors to emerge in different markets where M$ is a player (or sees that the market is too important for them to neglect), that could hurt them - but a single issue (the early browser wars; search engines now; cheaper computing platforms in the future) most likely won't be enough.

    (And - no - the "new browser wars" I won't even count as a secondary issue - M$ already has the expertise to deal with that - it will cost them money, but it isn't something new they have to worry about - they need to be challenged on new frontiers - just look how long it took for them to catch up with netscape in the first place; and I would be prepared to bet that google is going to last for a few years yet, before M$ can kill them off - it will still be a while since M$ still need to build up a good deal more expertise in this market.
    • Last time I checked th 50 billion in their pockets could keep Microsoft running for 30 years without making a single dime.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:39AM (#12675382)
        Last time I checked th 50 billion in their pockets could keep Microsoft running for 30 years without making a single dime.

        But back in reality, their shareholders wouldn't let them run a month without making a single dime without a clear explanation of how they're going to change that RIGHT NOW.
        • by mcdesign ( 699320 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:22AM (#12675527)
          But back in reality, their shareholders wouldn't let them run a month without making a single dime without a clear explanation of how they're going to change that RIGHT NOW

          Exactly no money in and the Microsoft share price value would plummet. All those nice shareholders would turn nasty and demand that Microsoft hand over that big 'ol pile of cash now! Unless the remaining members of the company with large shareholdings, such as Gates etc, keep shareprice up by buying back outstanding shares at inflated prices. Either way that nice big "war chest" will be nothing in no time.
          • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:08AM (#12675669) Homepage

            They've already agreed to piss away $37 billion for exactly those reasons - the stockholders were getting scared.

            • by CaymanIslandCarpedie ( 868408 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @09:52AM (#12676137) Journal
              They've already agreed to piss away $37 billion for exactly those reasons - the stockholders were getting scared.

              OK, I'm not sure how many times I'm going to have to hear this ;-) Its OK for tech types not to understand economics or financial markets (hey you cannot know everything), but then don't pretend like you do please.

              First, the one-time bulk dividend you are refering to was approx 32 billion not 37 (not really important). Anyway, it will most likely actually be higher than that as that dividend was actually part of a three piece four year plan. Besides the one-time bulk divedend, MS also planned a stock buy-back and an additional raise in normal dividends over a four year period based on performance. This three part plan could equal as much as 75 billion over four years. Now I won't go over the calculations AGAIN, but basically with crazy assumptions to the low side, at the end of the four years MS will still have at least 30 billion in cash (more realistic numbers would have that number much closer to 40 billion).

              OK, besides the numbers its important to understand WHY this is being done. No, its not because anyone is scared ;-) At the time of this decision, MS had almost 60 billion in cash (56 I believe at last reporting period). Also, at that point its market cap was just below 250 billion. Thats getting close to having 25% of thier market cap just sitting in cash. Another way to look at it is they had about 90 billion in assets on the balance sheet so that about 65% of assets in cash. Not good!!!

              Now many will say "how can having that much cash not be good?". And that is a very fair question, and the fact that it isn't certainly can seem counter-intuitive on its face. However, when we all talk about the job of a corporation is to make money, we are talking mainly about making money for its shareholders (not to make the corporation itself rich). Yes, you do need to have some cash on hand (war-chest) and what that amount is, is not easy to calculate. It will depend on industry, company outlook, short and long term plans, etc, etc, etc. Coming up with a number for this is very complicated, but every company should have a target cash-on-hand number (thats what CFOs are for). Again, this number is not easy to calculate, but anyone looking at financials and understanding MS knew they had TOO MUCH cash. They are making money faster then they can spend it and unless they were planning the purcahse of IBM or something, it was just getting rediculous. The job of the corporation is to make money for shareholders and keep itself happy, but historically MS has just horded all of its cash. As a shareholder, I'm going to get a bit miffed if they already have more cash then they can resonably spend and just keep adding 10 billion a year to thier cash position instead of paying that out to shareholders.

              While you think this was done out of fear, it really points in the opposite direction. When a company sees tough times ahead, they will try to raise thier cash reserves to be able to weather whatever is ahead. The tech industry has traditionally horded cash, because they are young want to be VERY safe (and may not have a "traditional" CFO). This payout if anything shows they are maturing as a company and feel VERY safe. As a rule (of course depending on other factors) you want to hold just enough cash to pay expenses and a nice "war-chest" just in case. In the case of MS, that war-chest was getting rediculous to the point of many seeing it as plain irresponsible. Cash like most other things isn't always more == better.

              A very basic explaination [investopedia.com] about corporations cash. If you want to do more reading on this just google for "too much cash in reserves" and you can find plenty of discussion on this.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:32AM (#12675361)
      The end of M$ has been foretold ever so often, more often than I would care to remember. But nothing has happened as of yet, that would pose a significant threat to them. Before you go about how xyz could kill M$ - just ponder for a moment, how much cash M$ has in their pockets - they are not immediately threatened by anything - and they HAVE the kind of money to sit out minor glitches and/or buy them the neccessary time to re-adjust

      Yeah, MS is immortal. Like the British Empire, when you're that rich and powerful nothing can change it.
    • I agree. Just to be clear - MS bank about $1bn per month at the mo. They have enough of a warchest for rev to drop to $0 today, and the company will still be alive and kicking for 3 years.

      Knocking out that sort of company can't be done with a single thrust (like a cheap computer).

      For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity. TCO drops and everyone can afford MS software. The software

      • by Anonymous Coward
        They have enough of a warchest for rev to drop to $0 today, and the company will still be alive and kicking for 3 years.

        Their management, however, wouldn't last anywhere near as long.

        For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity.

        And what sort of return on investment am I, the shareholder, going to make on this? You're going to make back as much on the software as you would have been m
      • by Seahawk ( 70898 )
        For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity. TCO drops and everyone can afford MS software. The software becomes the key factor again. MS continue to extend their protocols to ensure non-interaction (as they constantly do now).

        This would most likely be agains anto-competitive laws in alot of countries.

        I'm pretty sure it would be a problem in Denmark anyway.
      • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:56AM (#12675630) Homepage Journal
        I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away
        I recommend you send your MBA back and ask for a refund.
      • That is not insightful. No shareholder will sit idely and watch his/her shares of a company X to go down and that is what will happen if MS stops generating revenue.

        On the other hand I don't believe MS is in any danger from this. If anything they will capitalize on the new development.

    • By my calculations, there were 8 references to "M$", and ONE reference to "MS" in your post. Pay more attention next time! Sheesh!
    • Microsoft might not be killed but for sure but it might be crippled, and crippled bad. Look at Microsoft's gooses with golden egg; Microsoft Windows, Office and Visual Studio. It's those products that makes Microsoft the top of the line sofware company in the world. After now, for Microsot being alive is to keep this brand as the best software company in the world, that's true for every other company in the world, like Coca Cola, Mercedes or Fedex whatever. For those companies, having consistent increase
    • Just to clarify things, when the atari st/amiga were released, there was no MS monopoly. It was IBM who was the monopolist.
    • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:12AM (#12675682) Homepage

      How do you "throw money" at a cheap computer that doesn't run Windows?

      Make a cheap computer that DOES run Windows?

      How? Go back to DOS?

      Get serious. MS can't compete against "free". That's what Bill said when he took down Netscape and it's just as true for him as it was for Netscape.

      Besides, nobody is saying MS is going to go down next year. It could be ten years before they're ground down enough to be in financial trouble.

      But it will happen. Without a major turnaround in thinking in Redmond, it WILL happen - and a major turnaround in thinking is not possible as long as Gates is breathing and Ballmer is his lapdog.
    • They may not stay in the OS business for PCs, but that business is going to die anyway. We are not in a static market, technology is moving fast. The time of the $2000 home computer is over. The margins are fading. As with all technology, once it becomes ubiquitous and monopoly strangleholds are broken, it's value drops to zero.

      Microsoft made it's billions there already. It will enter your wallet from another direction soon enough, you can bet on it. With the type of cash they have, they can comman
  • Wouldn't cheap solid state computers be a little blunt and heavy? Surely an axe would do the job better? No software needed either.
  • Ahem... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ziviyr ( 95582 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:26AM (#12675348) Homepage
    Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a slave to MS and you should care. /sarcasm/ Yes, I care deeply.

    (switches screens on Linux system)
    • Re:Ahem... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Bazzalisk ( 869812 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:39AM (#12675383) Homepage
      Agreed, very irritating the way that people assume that Computer == PC == Windows. Seeing software labeled as available for "PC" is particularly irritating, since I'm running a PC, but without windows it's an entirely different platform.
      • Re:Ahem... (Score:5, Funny)

        by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@freds[ ]e.org ['hom' in gap]> on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:49AM (#12675608) Homepage
        Whenever I meet such single minded people, I just assume that PC==Linux and go on from there.

        So any office document will be in one of OOo's format, any tool will be based on the expected contents of /usr/bin, and so on.

        When they finally notice that something is wrong, some get enlightened (others additionnally require some vigourous whacking).
        • i said to one of my college tutors the other day: "shit, ive saved this in the wrong format, do you recon i'l beable to install open office on this box?"

          he said: "open office? is that made by microsoft?"
      • Re:Ahem... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jesus_666 ( 702802 )
        It's also somewhat confusing that most people assume that every PC is IBM-compatible. There was a very good reason why in the early days of the IBM PC, programs weren't said to run on a "PC" but on an "IBM compatible".
        I'm pretty sure that both the Apple Macintosh and the Commodore 64 qualify as a personal computer. They're computers and they're personal. Bang.

        I have started using "IBM compatible" to describe IA32 compatible computers again. Maybe it will show some people that a personal computer is not
  • Yeah, right! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MadMirko ( 231667 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:29AM (#12675353)
    All the *-Killers have been extremely successful so far, right? No one is buying iPods anymore, right?


    Next story,then.
    • Aha, I'm with you. Like these petroleum carriages can replace the horse. Like these "avia" thingies can replace ocean ships. Like Windows shell can beat OS/2 OS. Like Renault can beat Ferrari in F1. Right, yeah, ahaha. You know - it works both ways. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Computers (be that Windows, Macs, or Linux) all have huge usability and reliability problems presently and there is little evidence that those can be overcome without going revolutionary different ways. If you don't see i
      • Well, actually I didn't mean to imply that new technology can't beat old technology.

        I was just saying that the things that have lately been called "Killers" of whatever have not done so well, especially not killed their subject. As an example I provided the iPod, which has more Killers than anything, but is far from dead.
        • iPod, which has more Killers than anything,

          But they're all basically the same mechanically and functionally as the iPod, but a bit cheaper and a worse UI. A "killer" has to be much cheaper and preferably much better. For instance, MS's killers: Word was much cheaper and easier for newbies than WordPerfect. IE was free and killed Netscape.

  • Hmmmm? the idea of OS in a ROM on the computer sounds dodgy. I mean in that it forced you to always use the operating system that comes with the computer.

    If that becomes common practice then it can turn around and bite us

    What if microsoft do the same. Windows in ROM with some patches coming through software. It would force your machine to always only ever use windows.

    Once it's legislated that you can't mess with your hardware, it means you then have to use windows.

    I think Microsoft's xbox DRM to make su
    • by Bazzalisk ( 869812 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:36AM (#12675371) Homepage
      Have you heard of FlashROMs?

      It's a nifty technology which allows a chip to be written to as well as read from, but remain persistant in the manner of a ROM. Very few so-called ROMs these days are actualy read-only -- you just write to them occasionaly, and read from them often.

    • by horza ( 87255 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:57AM (#12675633) Homepage
      RiscOS [riscos.org] computers (previously called Acorn computers) have had the OS on a ROM for the last 16 years, but it doesn't stop you from running Linux [linux.org.uk] on it.

      In the UK it is already legislated that you can't mess with your hardware, and trying to mod a PS2 can land you in jail. You make a good point about the xbox, even though they failed [xbox-linux.org], but if a 3rd party is making the machine then they don't have much incentive to lock it to Windows unless bribed by M$.

    • the idea of OS in a ROM on the computer sounds dodgy. I mean in that it forced you to always use the operating system that comes with the computer.

      Isn't that pretty much what's happening now anyway ?

      How many people buy a new PC when they want to upgrade their version of Windows ?

      How many even know that they could run something other than windows ?

      On less generic devices, it's even more obvious...

      Who actually knows that you can install other systems on iPaqs (and a number of other handhelds) ?

      If y

  • Death of a giant? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by teh moges ( 875080 )
    The death of Microsoft will come, there is little question about that. The only problem is that they will fight it, and not just go down. The browser wars will be decided shortly after IE7 comes out (more importantly: if a major security flaw is found), the console wars will be won when Nintendo realise there is a different market now days, sony will keep them out for at least another generation to come... the OS wars could be won by these computers, but its more likely to come when *nix becomes a computer
  • No actually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pecisk ( 688001 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:42AM (#12675393)
    Microsoft primary market is U.S. and Europe. For other countries, it doesn't really matter. So I guess it could have impact of Microsoft chances of growh in certain region, but not in overall.
  • oh, please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kuzb ( 724081 )
    Yeah, linux will kill MS, cheap computers will kill MS, your dog will kill MS ...

    Every few months there is someone predicting the demise of Microsoft. What do all these people have in common? They've all been 100% wrong, 100% of the time. I mean, we're talking about a company that could run at a loss for years and not bat an eye.
    • Re:oh, please (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Polir ( 675291 )
      Imagine the fury of the shareholders if MS continues to produce loss year after year...No, such a giant company cannot afford to do that!
      • Such a company would never let it happen. Even if they started to lose in one market, they'd just switch tactics, and move in to new markets.

        To reiterate: MS is not going to die. Not now, not tomorrow, probably not in our lifetimes. They are here, and they are here to stay.

        Look at IBM. Many would cite them as an example of the "toppled giant" Microsoft will become, except they didn't actually die. In fact, they're still making money.
        • True, but they're a better company these days.

          Most people don't want MS to neccessarily to die. They do want to get rid of the "bad MS", perhaps by replacing it with a "good MS".

    • Re:oh, please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:54AM (#12675434)
      What do all these people have in common? They've all been 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

      Just like the fall of the Roman Empire (or anything else in history), everyone who predicted it was wrong, until the time it happened.
    • Re:oh, please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:37AM (#12675574) Journal
      Yes, or to summarize opinions like these, nothing will ever kill MS because nothing in the past have so far!
  • Mobiles, Mobiles! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberjessy ( 444290 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:44AM (#12675403) Homepage
    It seems that while we are debating various MS killer technologies, MS has itself identified the most likely cause of the weakening of its desktop dominance. Mobile Phones and devices. MS has been late in entering the sector (reminds me of the internet), but then the OS has caught up, or surpassed the others in most areas. The new Windows CE 5.0 is pretty solid.

    If we analyze the submission, the main reasons why people would switch to solid state devices would be

    1. Price
    2. You don't need a PC to send mails and make documents
    3. Compactness and looks better
    4. Easier to use

    But if these are the factors, wouldn't mobile devices be way way easier than these computing appliances? And guess what, MS has an even better chance at capturing the market than anything else with XBox 360, which is now a multimedia + entertainment + communication ... yeah and gaming console.

    The reasons why people would use PCs would be
    1. Powerful machine (For games, multimedia, programming etc etc)
    2. Developers, Power users
    3. Upgradeability
    4. and most importantly, they prefer a PC for some reason.

    By the way, about the $220 Mobilis, I don't see it as any different from the Simputer (which was yet another Slashdot favorite, and also from India) but failed to make any waves. IAAI, and I have not seen a Simputer, except at a trade show.

    • And it is a relatively niche device anyway. The Mobilis devices are far more general purpose mainstream devices, the developers are starting to get their marketing right.

      It's a powerful proposition at the prices they are suggesting. If it's retailing at $220 (£120) it's about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of anything similar here in the UK.

    • The reason mobile phones will never overtake or even come close replacing computers is pretty simple... my eyesight is damaged enough from 21" CRT displays, I don't need to be peering myopically at a little 3" screen. And carpal tunnel syndrome will be the least of your worries if you have to type out most of your everyday work on a thumb pad...

  • Yipe! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:48AM (#12675411) Journal
    Now, I too grew up with computers where every byte in memory was fond to me, and many of them I knew personally, but this rant makes my ears bleed.

    The Crimes:
    A) ALL CAPS (almost) ALL THE TIME
    B) Flameworthy headline reminiscent of a Babelfish treatment: (BIG NEWS ON USA MICROSOFT: Slavery to It Is Ending
    C) No real news in what follows the "Big News" headline.
    D) Anti-Microsoft tied to anti-Americanism without even a thin veil of sophistication:
    Beware of the US spies at the USAID and beware Microsoft's so-called "Local Economic Development Program for Software," which is insurgent in Brazil and Jordan.)

    Why not say: "BIG NEWS: THE WORLD WILL CHANGE FROM BASE. WE ARE NOTHING -- Let Us Be Everything?"
    F) Okay, now let me get this right: all US corporations, including Sun (praised and damned in the same rant) are evil, or can be evil, but Walmart is good?
    G) Mentioning that Car Lots have a 108-day supply of SUVs. I don't even know where to begin with that.

    I mean, I hate M$ as much as the next guy, but that is the nuttiest troll of an article I've seen in a while.
    • Re:Yipe! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bwy ( 726112 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:04AM (#12676202)
      I mean, I hate M$ as much as the next guy

      I don't hate Microsoft. Why would I? It makes little sense to hate a company that makes a product that I prefer not to use. I see lots of new cars that I think are very ugly on the road every day but do I hate the people who make them? Do I go around wishing that some other car company will put them out of business, so that they never take another breath again? (and to hell with all the people they employ that make a decent living?)

      Does anyone on the "I hate Microsoft" rant even do anything about it? I see a major lack of innovation. Gnome and KDE have clearly copied Windows in many areas, but somehow made it more difficult for the average user to use. The best alternative is OS X- who we should hate as well, right? Big company, proprietary ideas... pretty much all the components of pure evil, right?

      I've never visited Apple's headquarters, but I doubt their engineers sit around day after day with their lips stuck out, complaining about how they hate Microsoft. I doubt the are dreaming all day long about the next thing that might come along to put Microsoft out of business, throw their asses out on the street- hoping maybe Firefox or Open Office or WalMart PC's will "take care of the job." Remember- these are the guys that put out quality, annual OS releases. If you believe that there can be something better- create it or find something else to use.
  • by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:50AM (#12675418)
    From TFA: "...has its OS on chips -- where, by the way, viruses can't get to them..."

    Why would this stop a virus? Answer: It wouldn't.

    BTW, he doesn't tout the success of the Walmart PC, he just notes it's existance. Who said it's successful?
  • What? A PC with it's entire OS in ROM?

    They tried that in the Commodore 64. And back then, the entire kernel (all 8K of it) was in ROM. Actually a bastardized version of MS-BASIC wound up with it's own ROM as well in that system.

    It was fun to crash C64 BASIC with PRINT""+-0
  • by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:53AM (#12675426)
    you mean like... no tubes anymore?
    • Hey, my PC runs on tubes, heck it even has 256 MB RAM in magnetic memory cores. I keep it in an abandoned shopping centre near my house. The RAM fills up the old Sears store, the processor is... pretty much everywhere else. Alas, bus latency becomes a real problem with that much wiring, so I can only run Counter Strike 1, not Source.
  • by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @06:53AM (#12675428) Homepage
    Give me a solid state PC WITHOUT harddisk (now that should drop the price a little). Give it some flash for local settings. Hook it up to the net and use GMAIL, a webversion of Picasa, and let me use some of those 2 Gbytes to store wordprocessor documents. It would be good enough for my mother, and no virus/worm/spyware on earth would be able to get to it. Hell, it wouldn't need a firewall or AV. Combine it with a flatscreen which I can also use as TV. How much would that cost?
    • Just use an X terminal then. If your mother has decent bandwidth to a machine you can manage, it's easy enough to setup.
    • Just get her a PC without a hard disk, just a cheap CD drive and a knoppix CD or even better - a custom/tweaked distro.

      you could use the fuse patchset (apparently in upstream by 2.6.12) with ftpfs, setup an ftp account and keep /home mounted to the ftp site.

      freepgs.com have cheap web server accounts, that come with ftp access and plenty of disk space (no subscription either)
  • Cheap throwaway computers are at least as likely to be sold by Microsoft as anyone else, probably more likely.

    As for the "end" of proprietary software, not likely. What most people would really like to see is the end of software, proprietary or not. Most people don't want to install new software. From their rather logical perspective, software is as much a part of the machine they bought as the hard drive.

    I really think most people would be quite happy to buy a computer that never needed new software at
    • I am sure... with some engineering.... that the os would still be upgradeable. The os is on a rom chip. Who says you couldnt buy a new rom chip... with a panel on a side (any of them) where you can easily replace the chip.... instant upgrade. It'd be like running a couple of word processors I had on the C64. Slap a cartridge in the back and have it boot off the cartridge. New os on a cartridge, but where would we write our personal data... make em eeproms?
      • You're missing my point, I think.

        For most of the folks reading /., installing and upgrading software is just part of the normal routine. That's because we're interested in technology and computing. Frankly, we put up with a lot of crap that other people wouldn't endure. (Like Linux's fixation on spawning incompatiable packaging and updating schemes.)

        I'm convinced that most people have no more desire to upgrade or install new software than they do to upgrade their refrigerator. When they bought the box,
  • Why so often the discussions about who/what will be the MS killer? Surprisingly, these stories always somehow assume that MS will stand completely still in progress/development until this holy grail hits the market.

    Does it really matter anyway? Do we want microsoft gone? Let's say there is no microsoft anymore from this very day on. Does the industry improve? Try not to respond emotionally, but think about it.
    • If Microsoft and its products just ceased to exist (disappeared from peoples computers), it would cause a bit of disarray but after a while, people would have mac's and linux boxes.

      Apple and a lot of open source hackers do more than the bare minimum, unlike MS.

      Linux development would happen at an even faster pace as all MS users would be forced to jump ship to mac/linux/*bsd/other and it would be better for everybody (so long as those bastard shareware authors dont join in)
  • by tezbobobo ( 879983 )
    Sure, and AMD will beat Intel. The facts of life are this, just as Intel will be the market leader for MANY years to come, so will microsoft. Idustry leaders like these have many diverse products. The power of microsoft extends beyond market domination. They have a range of software with interoperability far beyond any opposition (I'm writing this on a Mac). Office products just work together. The reason any other networks work is because they're trying to be compatible with windows. The VAST majorit
  • by geoff lane ( 93738 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:02AM (#12675461)
    it's difficult to market a very cheap computer when there is a $30 to $80 Microsoft tax per machine.

    It's in the nature of things that electronics approaches zero cost over time (I've got a $5 calculator that has more features than the $100 one I bought five years ago.) MS can't follow hardware down in price without affecting profits.
  • MS won't die, not during most of our lifetimes anyway, they are far far too big and have too much money. They will simply lose a *load* of money before changing what they do to fit in with the new market conditions, a bit like IBM. They'll lose their monopoly and dominant position and will have to compete like the rest of us.

    The only way they would die is if they refused to move with the times, and the shareholders won't allow that.
    • or the shareholders got sick of balmer's dances and chants and burned down the building, with gates, balmer, the only copies of the source code and all the employees with it.

      hey, it could happen.

      then we could cite backuptrauma.com to the relatives of the recently deceased.
  • by maharg ( 182366 )
    Steve Ballsmer

    heh, snigger..
  • march of the appliance.

    Computer as appliance will eventually lead to, as it has with all appliances, a huge reduction in both specialized workers and people who become motivated to understand how a thing works.

    How many people these days understand how NTSC color encoding works while retaining compatibility with black and white sets? I suspect there are fewer than three /. readers capable of a cogent, concise explanation, without reference materials.
    How many know how to rebraid the end of aworn buggy whip?
  • by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:33AM (#12675564)
    The opportunities are endless. They could put it into a waterproof box and let it run the fuel injection system in a low cost automobile -- made in India, of course. And with a little screen, they could combine it with a GPS receiver to make a "portable map" for fishermen and hikers. And maybe it could include a calendar and address book (all open source) and call it a "personal digital assistant". And games -- good gosh, the games it could play. Does Nintendo know about this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 30, 2005 @07:39AM (#12675582)
    Most people do not remember the days that there used to be computers desiged for home use, the likes of Sinclair, Amiga, ST and so forth. In the 80's they used to be the majority of the computers produced. But they failed to compete with price and development with PC clone makers. Now we are in the situation that we have computers designed solely for accountants and managers where the software is actually completely divorced in terms of design from the hardware, in short the mess that everyone knows that is microsoft. Only brave survivor is Apple (they should own something as they invented the personal computer) but they are for media and high end home users, not aimed at mass marked (I am an OSX user by the way).
    So why should the mass market, the home users, use systems designed solely for accountants and managers that were retrofitted for home use? What we need is a computer that have been desiged from ground up for home use with hardware closely designed with software. In short a mass market Apple. Linux could be and has been shown to be the operating system for this dream as it is inexpensive, well supported and customzable as it has been shown in cunsumer products as some DVD players and TiVO style boxes.
    Hope we have real home computers comming back soon, has been a while.
  • This text appears to be a 'wake-up call' for Joe Sixpack and the Stereotypical family (Mary, Andrew, John, Katherine and Paul Stereotypical). It's at indymedia.org, so is really a wake-up call to the activists and libertarians who don't realise that the gadgets you use are another arena to which activism can be applied.

    The writer describes a home computer appliance that simply does what a home user might want, without the need for proprietry and non-free intellectual property, home use devices that work l
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the next generation of the Palm Os going to be Linux based? And aren't Nokia going to bring out a nifty little mini-Tablet later this year? And isn't Google just ramping up for when bandwidth up as well as down is cheap and they can provide everything you really need anywhere in the world to your simple little tablet device with its 10 hour fuel cell? And doesn't the OO technology make it easily feasible to push just as much word processor, spreadsheet or what have you tec
  • by o517375 ( 314601 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:12AM (#12675683)
    I'm an admin for a large national law firm in the US. I must say that really what is going to kill Microsoft is Windoes XP and Server 2003. These OSes are so much better than previous ones from Microsoft that I see no reason to upgrade in the remotely foreseaable future. Software assurance? Forget it. I.E. becomes a problem again? Use Mozilla. MS stops "supporting" them? Big deal. We plan to use these OSes ad infinitum. Now I suspect that most of corporate america is thinking the same thing. So where's the future revenue coming from? That's why MS is moving into Antivirus. They'll move into other enterprise areas also. I'd say they're in for a rough ride. Especially considering their multifront battles with Sony and Google and Linux. I don't wish them good luck.
  • Yes, cheap computers are going to kill microsoft.

    It is going to kill off their business software devision, hardware devision, PC games, console, web, portables, etc etc.

    Microsoft isn't just PC software, they are everywhere, yes if microsoft suddenly lost all the revenue they had coming in from their PC software devision it would hurt them, but not kill them.
    • Windows and Office are the source of most of Microsoft's revenue, and the source of their dominance. Kill those, or even just cut them down to size, and the rest of Microsoft might continue -- but would no longer be feared.

      We don't need to kill Microsoft, just get it off the world's back.
  • by dk.r*nger ( 460754 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:47AM (#12675803)
    Famous computer visionary Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab is developing and promoting a $100 laptop with proposed specifications including a 500-MHz processor, 1 GB of memory, an XVGA display, and free Linux. He envisions 200,000,000 million of them being distributed to countries like China in two years.

    That's 200.000 billion. With about 1 billion people currently living in China, that's 200.000 laptops each. Allowing for you know, like, supply and demand to kick in, that will level out to about 30.000 laptops to each of 6 billion people on earth.

    Now, I can't decide: should the joke be about the inherent need of IPv6 or (ooh) a beowolf cluster of these? Sweeeet ..

    And who will shell out the $20 million billion these things will cost?

    Ah, the joy of an extra factor 10^6 here and there ...
  • by sweetnjguy29 ( 880256 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @08:48AM (#12675808) Journal
    Beware of the US spies at the USAID? Give me a fucking break. The article read like a poorly written communist manifesto. It was old, hackneyed, and had no basis in either science or reason.
  • It is very simple you got a hold on 95% of the market. Over 95% of all application run on windows. It has been like this for over a decade. What Linux and Apple and anyone else you gets in can expect is that Microsost will drop to about 33% at best leaving 25% for #2 15% for #3 5% for #4 and the rest of the 20% will be spread out. Just think about the people still using Amigas today, or people who will not give up their BEOS until they pry their computers from their cold dead hands. And There will still
  • TRSDOS? (Score:3, Informative)

    by b1t r0t ( 216468 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @09:08AM (#12675900)
    TRS-DOS (Radio Shack) -------------- 4 KB

    Um, NO. The first model of computer was indeed sold with 4K, but TRSDOS absolutely required 16K minimum, and even then it was barely usable (you had 5K left for BASIC). Try "16K minimum, 32K recommended". And CP/M needed more to be useful because it didn't have 12K ROM BASIC like the TRS-80.

    Also, he forgot to add "128M minimum, 512M recommended" for OS X. OS X is a dog (though usable) with 256M. 384M might be enough, but at that point you might as well go for 512M. It'll boot with 64M, though. What he fails to point out is that the later OSen provide many more features (which take up more memory), and application memory requirements go up with time, too. And I'd still rather have a six-year-old Mac than this toy on my desktop, though as a PDA it might be interesting.

    Indymedia is the fanfiction.net of journalism, but at least this is clearly a blog rant, not an attempt at journalism. I think he's basically right in that these things could put a dent into the generic PC marketplace, not just Microsoft, but anyone who wants games or multimedia isn't going to be satsified. And it's not like Microsoft is completely ignoring this space... what do you think the Xbox 360 is all about? It's this low-end consumer space, only they're starting from the multimedia/games end of the low-end space, which is the harder problem anyhow.

    I don't hear much about Indians being gamers, you know. The Koreans wouldn't be satisfied with a toy like this, that's for sure.

  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @09:49AM (#12676117) Journal
    ...it is about the software that runs on it.

    Microsoft does not dominate the OS market because the OS is more secure than Linux, faster than Linux, or *better* in any other way that Linux. Microsoft dominates because of Microsoft Office. Of course, their tendrils would never rest in just that one place, but that IS the core of the company.
  • by monopole ( 44023 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:18PM (#12676902)
    Put Knoppix or Slax on a CF card, install on a mini ITX Board (or eventually a nano). The result is a machine with all the functionality necessary for day to day functionality. Get the price down just a bit and you have bubble pack PC which is an impulse buy . While servers will still be needed a complementary linux solution will be better any way.
  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday May 30, 2005 @12:28PM (#12676963) Journal

    OK, a bit of hyperbole here, but not by far. If you cherry-pick the killer apps, and market the devices properly, only geeks will care about the fact that the underlying machine is a general-purpose computer.

    If these consumer devices have an office suite, web browser and media player, most users aren't going to stray from those applications. The afformentioned apps are all commoditized by OS/FS to some degree. Once they are fully commoditized, nobody will care about the operating system or the applications, as long as the *data* can be exchanged with all other systems.

    This is neither bad nor good for OS/FS. It's bad for people who develop the software because it means their job is done and they need to find a new one. Only maintenance programmers will be needed, and fewer and fewer of them.

    In the end, it will be like arguments over FM vs. AM and what kind of amplifier circuit your radio uses. All those questions are answered, and you don't see too many ads for "analog radio engineer" do you? In other words, all the battles over software that seem so important now will be nothing more than academic when theh software is fully commoditized. Whether or not its proprietary won't matter, because software will all be the same anyway.

    • Your vision of the future makes no sense to me. People are constantly coming up with new uses for general purpose computers and these new uses are demonstrably popular with end-users. If you had "cherry picked" the apps in 1993, you would have missed the Internet. If you had done it in 1999, you would have missed Napster. If you did it in 2003, you would have missed iTunes. Today you might miss BitTorrent or Podcasting.

      Maybe we will eventually reach a point where we can push the general purpose computing

  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Monday May 30, 2005 @10:06PM (#12680469) Homepage
    If you're interested in more details about the Mobilis here's another article with couple different photos [hindu.com].

    Whenever subject of solid state computers comes up I have to throw in a few words about the Audrey, a failed Internet appliance made by 3Com a few years ago. When they didn't sell for $499 3Com dumped them and they are readily available on EBay for about $85.

    The Audrey has a 7-inch 640x480 color touch screen built into a 2-inch-thick package that looks like like a Jetson's version of an Etch-a-Sketch. Several dedicated buttons on the front were intended to start dedicated apps like email, address book and web browser. It was made to sit on the kitchen table so you could read the news, send email and look up recipes. Inside is about a P200, 32Mb ROM and a 32 Mb flashcard for RAM. The original built-in software included a telephony app. There is a built-in 56K modem, microphone and two tiny speakers, also 2 USB ports and an audio out jack, and a no-frills wireless IR keyboard. Most of the ones sold on EBay include a USB LAN interface and have replacement software, an embedded Unix called QNX.

    When these things came out on the market for such a low price a hacking community quickly sprang up (for example Audreyhacking.com [audreyhacking.com]). You can find lots of free goodies such as an mp3 player and home automation software. Because of the touch screen I bought 5 of them to use as UIs for streaming music to stereos all over the house. Anyway, they are fun toys.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"