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In this morning's headlines I came across the following pair of articles:

Apple to Integrate 'QuickTime Pro' Features into Snow Leopard?

Average User Only Runs 2 Apps, So Microsoft Will Charge for More

The first is about how Apple, as part of the upcoming release of Mac OS X, is apparently going to stop charging for the "Pro" features of Quicktime (the core Mac video suite) and just roll these useful video editing features into the standard version that comes on every Mac.

The second says that Microsoft has decided that the "Starter Edition" of Windows 7 will limit users to running only 3 applications concurrently. If you want to run more you'll presumably have to pay more for another edition.

Now, I know that there is probably more to these stories than meets the eye - I'm sure that Quicktime Pro is probably not selling as well any longer given that more people are using the free iMovie software. And who knows, maybe Microsoft is going to offer the goofy starter edition for free (I doubt it). But doesn't it just seem that Microsoft is refusing to learn anything from the rise of Apple? People are tired of nonsense.

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Comment by Laurence A. Lee on February 19, 2009 at 11:45am
Calling modern Operating Systems "bloat" isn't completely fair. Windows Vista has come a long way from its ancestral roots in Windows NT4, in terms of features you see, and other features that are internal.

Sure, we can speculate that Microsoft makes "Slow Bloatware" to force users into upgrading -- in an orchestrated conspiracy with Intel to keep the IT market moving forward. How is this different from all the other products consumed in the USA? Tires are manufactured and designed to wear out; Cars are made in a way that we need to buy new ones every 10 years, or perform complete overhauls around that timespan.

The truth of the matter is, there is no money in "Durable Goods". In fact, I'd go so far to say that the entire US Economy depends on products having a short lifespan, because that forces Consumers to spend, spend, spend.

Similarly, there's no money in "Durable Software". Fortunately, the Software market is susceptible to crazes and fads -- one day it's Green-Screens connected to Mainframes; the next it's all about zippy Workstations connected to a centralized Database; and today, we've come full-circle -- just using Web Browsers to replace Green Screens; and Internet Cloud Servers to replace the Mainframes.

But truth be told, MS-Windows, MS-Office, OSX, Linux, and others have evolved substantially over the last decade. The older operating systems weren't capable of supporting "hot-swap" devices like USB Flash Drives, or do things like "Switch Users" while keeping their aplications running. These are features I take for granted today, and to be honest, I couldn't live without them anymore. :-)

As for "Unifying" around a common platform as Konstantin suggests.. I'd love to see that happen, but I doubt it'll happen in my lifetime. This is a land of Opportunity and Free Enterprise, and there will always be someone who will step up and present us with "The Better Mousetrap".

While it's a hinderance to support multiple platforms, "Competition" is really a good thing in the long run. It's the only thing that moves Progress forward.

The Windows Era will be around for at least another 5 years. I don't believe AJAX and SaaS is the ultimate solution for two reasons:
  1. It usually can't operate offline
  2. You can't create Visual Widgets or Controls as easily
  3. Server Lag is a problem

RIA could fill in the void for most of these; but then again, most RIA platforms require tighter integration with the Underlying Operating System -- which is still Windows. :o) :o) :o)
Comment by Konstantin A Lukin on February 19, 2009 at 9:46am
The truth is windows era is slowly coming to an end.. People are waking up, becoming more demanding. We want seamless productivity, we want open source, we want platform independence. Google is pushing this in the right direction, with their light weight network apps, but they still have to deal with browser issues. Did you know that their GWT compiler has a DOM Impl class dedicated specifically to handling IE, and another for all other browsers? Ha, how long can this continue?
Too much time is wasted on portability, which takes away from real productivity, from going forward designing bigger a better things of tomorrow.. and this directly affects all of us.
Comment by Curtis J. Kropar on February 11, 2009 at 12:57am
you know...
I have been in the industry 26 years. I am really growing tiresome with nonsense like this. we are now using 4Ghz computers basically because the OS is so bloated that it needs that much speed just to make it look ok. I downloaded a "patch" the other day and the "patch" was 384 MEG !!!!! OMG !!! does anyone REALLY comprehend how much information 384 Meg is ?????????? let me give you an idea for those that have not thought about it a lot.

The ENTIRE Bible, every word of a standard NIV or King James version equals roughly 4 Meg of data. 4 million characters. the "patch" represents 96 full copies of the Bible.

Windows Vista takes 1.5 GIG to install it ! 1.5 Gig before you can actually DOOOO anything ? is there no one else out there that sees this as complete insanity ? what will the next version take up ? 50 gig ? 1.5 Gig is the equivalent of 375 full text copies of the Bible.

then to think of the hard drives... I can buy a 1 TB drive at wall mart for like $250. wow. again.. any idea of what that represents ? there are "only" 300 million people in the USA. There are "only" 6 billion people on the planet. if the average persons name is 20 characters, that is "only" 120 gig of data. a 1 TB drive represents the ability to store 8 complete copies of the names of every person on the planet.

The web based software that we designed to manage all of the data for the homeless shelters. The ENTIRE program is 935 K in size and we manage the data of over 4,000 clients with it. With our new upgrade planned it will reach roughly 1.7 meg in size, we will be managing he data of over 8,000 people, it will be fully redundant with server failover and it is all written in notepad. 1.7 meg of ASP code.

with all of that said. please. seriously. tell me what significant advantage that windows vista has over windows 98 ? what earth shaking difference is there that I cant live without that justifies using an OS that is the data equivalent to almost a full copy of the names of everyone in the USA stored on my hard drive ?
BLOAT, BLOAT, BLOAT. and they STILL cant get it right. My home computer running windows 98 on a 350 MHz CPU boots up faster and can access the apps faster than the new 3.5 GHz computer running windows Vista and MicroTrash Office at our customers sites.

now they want to sell us something that is larger than vista. probably uglier too (although that is hard to imagine) most likely eats even more ram and then limit our capability to run only 3 apps at a time ? WTFATT ? (Are They Thinking)

everyone should "UPGRADE" to windows 98 ! no limitations and easier to recover from a dead motherboard or other components in your computer (swapping the drive to a new machine without it freaking out and preventing you from running the OS cause it thinks you pirated the software)

I have very little experience with Linux. but let me assure you that each time I read something like this I am one step closer to switching over to Linux or just designing something new myself.

After the recent MicroTrash Office was released and took away the standard toolbars at the top, replacing them with "Panels", breaking compatibility with everything that has existed and been taught up till now... I dumped MicroTrashOffice all together from all of our company computers and completely converted over to Open Office. in fact I am slowly migrating everyone I know at the shelters and non profits over to OpenOffice as well.

We all need to take a little sanity check with what we are paying for and calling "Acceptable"
Comment by Laurence A. Lee on February 9, 2009 at 11:54am
On the surface, it does sound stupid on Microsoft's part to ship a crippled version.

But then again, that's Marketing for you.

If the Starter Edition is a low-cost introductory version (say, sub-$40) with an option to "unlock" advanced features by purchasing Upgrade "Certificates" online, then I'd say it's a brilliant move on Microsoft's part. The reason being, it could substantially reduce the number of illegal copies floating around. Windows is pirated and shared because everyone "Needs" a base operating system that's current. Providing a low-cost, basic edition that can serve as a "Functional" starting point for "Recycled" or Self-Built PCs eliminates the demand for pirated warez.

It won't stop piracy; but it will make people reconsider their options: Spend under $40 (or so) on a functional, legal, clean operating system; or take a risk on a P2P pirated copy that may have trojans, viruses, or a "Compromised" key that Microsoft already knows is unauthorized and is waiting to hunt you down via your IP address next time you do a "Windows Update".

For this to work successfully, I'd wager that Microsoft is only limiting the number of concurrent Desktop Applications -- i.e. the ones that display a Main Window and accept WM_* events. "Authorized" Background (SysTray) applications like AntiVirus Tools can be identified by DRM key like what's already done for Xbox; and the O/S would just launch these without increasing the limit counter if the DRM check passes. Again, that could be another revenue stream for Microsoft.

To be honest, I agree with Microsoft's assessment: Most users only need 1 or 2 applications in the foreground to complete their daily routine: their Email application (Outlook), and their Line-of-Business Application or Web Browser.

Those with additional needs can and should be paying extra for a "Standard" edition that doesn't lock them down so hard.

But for the simple stuff like Web Browsing, and dedicated "Work Only" consoles, the "Starter Edition" makes sense.

I think this could be particularly helpful for recycled "Remote Desktop" PCs -- where the hardware is still good enough for display and local storage; but not worth the cost of a full-blown Operating System upgrade. For a whole fleet of aging PCs coming off-lease, this could be a viable option to keep those machines around, and consolidate resources around a few Terminal Services farms.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 9, 2009 at 9:56am
This would make for a great "I'm a Mac. I'm a PC." ad. :-)

This is so stupid I have to assume someone at Microsoft will veto it before Windows 7 ships. It would trigger a mass exodus from the platform.

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