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The Second Browser War
an article from Ben Hammersley

 1:10 am on Jul 23, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ben Hammersley (of recent note for his automatic RSS validation) has written a great article about the current chapter in the browser wars - and the fact that a lot more may be at stake here than browser dominance.

His analysis really helps make sense of many business moves that look odd when seen outside this big picture.

The difference between the two - between Microsoft control or that of open standards bodies - will be the battleground for the next two years, and one that promises fireworks.

By wrenching control of the standards for building [web-based] applications away from Microsoft today, rivals hope they can prevent another near decade of Windows domination. Microsoft, for its part, is not going to go down without a fight.

The Guardian [guardian.co.uk]



 2:16 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm sure the employee profile you just described will be the dominant profile among all users around the world shortly.

If you hadn't already noticed, that's the dominant profile now.

While I acknowledge that there are better ways to do things, I maintain that a centralized system is optimal for maintaining security and up-to-date apps

I'll give you partial credit for that one :) It is much "easier" to keep applications updated when they only have to be updated in one location. That's really the only advantage though, and the other disadvantages and general waste of resources outweigh that single advantage. How "easy" things are for the techs isn't my main concern. They're smart guys, they'll figure it out either way.

It's neat to see the MS perspective is so prevalent!

Have you ever stopped to consider that the "MS perspective" as you call is is so prevalent because it's better? This euphoric dumb terminal world you speak of already existed once, and it went the way of the dinosaurs because companies like IBM, Novell, and Microsoft came up with a better way of doing things. The dumb terminal days are the past, why would you want to go back to that?

I had thought people would WANT to explore the alternatives

I can see that you're the MIS guy and are looking to make your own job easier :) What you don't realize though is that the typical business owner doesn't care about whether your job is easier or not. Your job exists only to make sure that everyone else can do THEIR job. Business owners aren't passionate about whether one method of deploying applications is better than another for you, they care about making sure that employees can do their jobs and their company will function. Why do you see so many businesses still running Windows 95 and NT 4.0? Because it's all they need. I don't care how many alternatives there are, what I have works and works well. Why should I change it? So you can go home early? Get real.

How do you automate all of the MSWin updates that come out all the time? Do you let your users click the little notification thingy and update themselves? Do you warn them not to update the patches that screw things up, or do you just wipe their hard drive and ghost an older clone when that happens?

All workstations are running Windows XP Professional and all are properly licensed. No one uses Internet Explorer or Outlook Express and there has never been a patch released that has screwed up anything. Up until about a month ago we used the automatic update utility, which can be set to download updates automatically in the background and install them at a specified time. All machines would update automatically at 7:00 PM. MS patches are typically released the second Tuesday of every month, so whenever a new patch came out we would clone a new master image incase there was a problem in the future so we wouldn't be restoring an older version. Again, this is a hardware solution not software, so it only takes a few minutes to clone a drive. Never once was there a problem, however I don't use this method anymore. Now it's made much easier with Microsoft WUS (formerly SUS) which allows network-deployable Windows updates without having to touch the machines they're being installed on. You can read more about that here: [microsoft.com...]


 3:20 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

vkaryl...i can't imagine not watching tv it is one of the wonders of the modern age. people of real genius work there and produce incredible work. programs like The Office, Yes, Minister & Frasier genuinely make my life richer in the same way that Philip Glass & New Order do.

tune in buddy, you're missing out on something wonderful.

No. I'm not. I'm using my time for something besides vicarious silliness. People should LIVE, not vegetate in front of the boob tube. Even the quasi-interactiveness of a crpg is far better than tv. Tv isn't a "wonder" of any age, it's probably the single biggest time-waster ever invented. But yes, I do watch (well, it's more "listen to") some tv - baseball, basketball, football, horse racing, and rodeo. None of which takes up more than an hour or so a week.... while I'm writing, designing/updating websites, cooking, etc. which is why I said "listen to".

[BTW - I'm not fond of movies either. Books are my movies. Both the ones I write and the ones I read....]

JackHughes - if it happens that you were joking, then excuse my literal response....


 4:06 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

i can't imagine not watching tv it is one of the wonders of the modern age. people of real genius work there and produce incredible work

! vkaryl, I'm going to retain my optimism and hope that this is a joke... claiming the stuff they use to fill in the space between commercials is the product of 'genius'... entertainment, sure, clever, sometimes, funny, once in a while, bland, usually. But genius... let's leave that word for real works of genius, otherwise it has no meaning.

Re fat and thin clients, seems to me that when I go to google I'm accessing a pretty powerful web based application, from what is essentially a thin client when compared to their x10,000 servers.

Since two nice clear polar opposite positions have been put forth, it's likely that we currently have both running as we speak, the fat client on my desktop, which is going nowhere, and the very same machine acting like a thin client when I use it for web apps, booking tickets online, etc. It's odd to hear people talk about web based applications as if they aren't here, they are, we usually think of them as websites, you can access them from anything almost given the right coding.

Have to agree with digitalv on this one though for the most part, especially for the smaller office scenarios he's talking about, I had this same argument about 7-8 years ago with a friend, he said we'd all be on thin clients by mid 2000's, I said nonsense, it's obvious it's not happening like that, people like driving their own cars, and here we are, still driving our own cars.

Ridiculously fast cars too. MS tried selling the world on them taking care of your data for you, the world, especially the corporate world, said no thank you in no uncertain terms, and ms had to backoff and pretend it never happened.


 4:27 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

The old floppies, data cards and my beloved hard disk have one thing in common - they reside in _my_ computer, in _my_ room. This is the big difference to all those web app thin clients things. No matter how fast the connection is, 56kbit or 4gbit, my data is stored on a remote server. This server my be as redundant as Google's datacenter - my data isn't in my room anymore.

Is the issue for you one of convenience or privacy?

This reminds me of the question about how to cook a live frog. We are gradually arriving at the point where the majority wont feel this way. All of the most important data you have, your identity, banking, credit and finances, insurance claims and medical records, driving record, voting record, home Depot and grocery store buying habits, etc., are already stored remotely by third parties.

In light of this, who cares about gmail archiving your correspondence? The Feds beat them to it with the Patriot Act anyways.


 8:30 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I see a lot of good points up there, especially about maintenance and updating issues, but I think this discussion has spread over a few categories. IMHO exactly how those hoping to implement the new 'system' hope their software system will.

I - Single Users

I see that the most common issues for 'single users', whether they are working from their home or small office, is privacy and freedom. Especially if one is working from home, I'm sure he would want to protect his intellectual/accounting/client info property to himself on his own computer. Even if actions like mouse clicks and such take up 'minimal bandwidth', the document you want to tweak has to be uploaded to a remote server, tweaked, and downloaded again. I myself would not feel comfortable doing this with any of my photos, even my family ones. Granted there is a case for the latter category, but it all comes down to drawing a line between what you'd like to share and what you want to keep control of/for yourself.

II - Big Business and Enterprises

Now here I begin to see the uses of being 'remote'. But still not in the way the likes of MS would like. I can very well see many positive possiblilities in linking many 'users' within the same company to a central 'software server' - but through an intranet system within the building. Maintenance would be much easier and software costs possibly lower - both in the interests of the company using a such system. Yet the 'user' issues I outlined above still stand, and the only thing that's changed here is the definition of who's property is who's. Worker work 'belongs' to the business, etc.

III - Dumb Terminals

This is the only case I can see, for both maintenance and security reasons, where 'Remote Applications' should exist. But first I should say that by 'Dumb Terminals' I mean Public Access terminals such as ticket distributors, bank machines, tourist information and the like. [an aside - what's funny is that BNP bank machines here in France are still using a trunciated version of Windows 98 - it was odd to see one night that from the machine, probably because of an app error, there was a Winows desktop icons glowing out at me : ]
Anyhow, I could even see dumb terminals selling 'pay-per-view' information or services - such as tourist information or even internet access - where there are no issues of property and a clear understanding that what's given to or entered into the terminal is disposible and/or safe from no-one.

Now, for e-mail 'server apps' - be it on my ISP's computer there is a contract of trust there over which you may or may not have control. Be it Hotmail or Yahoo or Gmail or whatever mail service - you frankly can't know what they do with your info. Each user has his own security standards. Yet I still can't consider a mail server's software as a 'remote application' from a 'remote user' point of view - I consider it a service, point finale. If I must acess from a dumb terminal I will pay, if I do it at home it's part of my contract but the sevice on their end doesn't change.

I see any software company seeking to transgress the above as having dishonest motives. If there are other cases please point them out. But still I can't see anything positive in users flooding like lemmings to a software-company-owned server with their statistic-feeding visits and intellectual property.

In the end I'm not sure what to make of Microsoft integrating a browser into its OS. From a simple user point of view, if I want to search the net for something I'd have to select or change a setting, and the same for something in my own computer/network. Rather a pain more than anything, but that's personal and I've never used any system like that. Yet when I think that browser means internet connection and integrated browser means my OS would be connected... hum. At the least, user statistics galore from the un-warned and un-initiated. And when I think that Microsoft is a company that owes its sucess to neither innovation or quality but a calculation/manipulation of user habits... I tend to doubt even more.


 11:14 am on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Let's imagine that the world 20 or 30 years from now is 'populated' by thin terminals and fat servers/telecoms.

1) There will be no room for independant developers.
2) Software development will stagnate.
3) Hardware development will stagnate.
4) The industry will shrink tenfold (maybe more).
5) The telecoms companies will be the only players in the game.
6) Industry (as a whole), etc. will be vastly more susceptible to terrorist attacks/accidents/war.

The terrorist/war point is the most interesting. The internet was first developed by the US military as a redundant/robust communications system that could survive in wartime. It seems people now want to use the internet in way that makes the world MORE vulnerable to attack/accidents rather than less.

Of course, people are going to say that I've got it wrong and that individual companies are less likely to suffer system failures etc. That may be correct, but I'm not talking about minor local hiccups, I'm talking about country or even continent-wide disruptions to computer systems.

You could say I've got it wrong again and that companies will all have their own local systems and that only home-users will be affected by mass outages. The problem here is that SMALL businesses tend to use the same computers as home-users. Also, businesses always try to cut costs so a proportion of medium/large businesses will be directly affected and this will have a cascade effect on large businesses too.

On 09/11/2031, terrorists might kill no-one at all. But they might cause trillions of dollars of damage to industry/commerce with a hundred grenade-size bombs. Of course, physical bombs might not be necessary at all - you could do an even better job of it with software.

An attack of this sort would not be easy, but it would be possible.



 4:30 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

What I'm getting from this conversation more than anything else is that going back to a web-based dumb terminal style is the dream of people who know how to code web apps and don't know how to code desktop apps.

Any programmer who knows both will tell you about the numerous advantages to having local resources at your disposal vs. maxing out a single server running everyone's application.

And everyone needs to quit picking on vkaryl - in a state where you're allowed to have more than one wife, who has time for T.V.? ;)


 4:39 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

in a state where you're allowed to have more than one wife, who has time for T.V.?

Ummm.... the extra wives?


 5:21 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

As a convenience for those of you who missed it, here is the link from the first entry in this thread, ideas from which make up the primary topic: [guardian.co.uk...]

The question underlying all of the thin client / MS stuff is included in the essay as a question about whether MS will be able to hold off the Open Source/Open Standards community and maintain its market share in a world that is increasingly less-inclined to go with a single proprietary solution from the giant software distributor.

I maintain, despite the hacks at remote apps eventually dominating our computing experience, that the Open Source/Standard community is producing some fantastic work that will not be ignored and directly challenges what MS is cramming down the computing world's throats. Even you MS alcolytes who can't imagine giving up your NT security will need to acknowledge that, sooner or later, or be left by the wayside with the buggy whip makers.

I look back fondly on the "dumb terminal" days, when things were simple. (BTW, development of what has become the Internet was begun long before the US DoD got involved. They saw its potential in 1967 and started pumping money into it. It was originally a tool for educators and scientists.)

I don't expect everyone to abandon their personal storage devices. I don't expect remote applications to fulfill every computing need, particularly those that demand significant resources.

I do expect that the issues that are keeping some of you from acknowledging the validity of the remote app scenario will be resolved, discarded, or undergo a paradigm shift in their approaches to resource utilization. Photoshop, for example, CAN only ever be a desktop app. It is simply not capable of being re-engineered for remote execution at this point. But there will be other similar apps properly engineered for remote use using theories and materials that have not yet become available. Perhaps they haven't even been considered!

Laser (not fiber optic) transmission lines, liquid computing environments, integration with the human body. These and millions of other ideas are bound to keep coming forth. Some will be actually built, and profoundly change our computing experience.

Do I want MS to be building anything that my livelihood depends on, or in the case of an implant, my LIFE depends on? No way at all. I want an Open Source implant, because I know it will be designed with me in mind...not to satisfy the market-share demands of some monolith's investors.

Enjoy running around re-ghosting your workstations. I do it every day, too.

Would I like to have more time to build apps for my employer? To move the company forward? To make it more efficient and less spendy? Sure would. But the demands of maintaining an expensive (licenses, labor, downtime) MS network (everything outside of our office is running on custom Linux boxes with a FreeBSD mail server...because they significantly outperform MS and they ALWAYS WORK!) keep me from moving ahead as quickly as I'd like. Anything I can do to trim the time I spend dicking around with fussy, arrogant, glacially-slow MS...I will do.


 5:59 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

And everyone needs to quit picking on vkaryl - in a state where you're allowed to have more than one wife, who has time for T.V.? ;)

*laughing* Whatever. As a female in this state, I take exception to the whole polygamy ploy, but it's not my business to meddle.... and my husband, poor soul, can't even afford ME, let alone OTHERS!

I have to again apologize for getting sidetracked. Most of this thread is way beyond me.... thin clients, fat clients.... I haven't a clue. Just someone point me at a machine that WORKS, with a browser that doesn't attempt to haul me away to somewhere I don't want to go, and I'll be happy.


 6:28 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

integration with the human body.

This one statement tells me everything I need to know. The fact that you seem open to the notion of biometric implants tells me you've gone off the deep end... But I'll bite for the sake of argument.

Why anyone would want a computer implant goes beyond me - and the majority of the world agrees with me on this, but lets assume temporarily that this was something people actually wanted. You do realize that it goes completely against your dumb terminal fantasy, right? The purpose of a bio implant would be to STORE INFORMATION. What's the point of that when you could store that information in a server and just use a thumb print, eye scan, or other DNA analysis in a GATTICA-style world to access it? What would you store on this chip? Your bank account info? Drivers license number? If you're really into biometrics, store that information in a server and access it based on a thumbprint or DNA profile.

The notion that people would actually want to have computers inside their bodies proves the theory of de-evolution better than anything else I can think of. I'd rather die than live as a borg :)


 7:14 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Why limit implants to storage-only? Why not wireless access? Who needs a thumb print or optical scan when your DNA is your password?

I'm not sure why you continue to think I'm fantasizing about dumb terminals. I believe I have made clear that I am reminiscing about those days. Are you the kind of guy that prefers to have a hand-cranked phone, or are you glad that issues of operating systems, interfaces and "browsers" have long become transparent to the end user in the telephone industry?

I'm glad I don't have to understand telephony in order to use it. I long and work hard for the day when the same situation exists in the computing world. That's what Open Source is all about: Not waiting for AT&T or MS to finally decide they have exhausted the market for a current product offering and move on to offer a technology that has been available for years, but kept under a basket while the megacorps wring every last penny out of people using the "old" product. Take Call Waiting, for example. It was in place and ready to roll out for many years before Ma Bell finally decided that people "wanted" it. Bullticky. People didn't know about it because Ma Bell kept it secret...ready to launch and make extra money when their profit margins thinned.

And, yeah, I agree that implants are a wackywacky concept. I hope it illustrated my point that technology does not begin and end with ideas MS steals/licenses/buys from other, more imaginative people.

I'll be sure to post a notice of your eventual (and premature) demise in my blog. :)

blub blub


 8:25 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)


I'm having a hard time decoding exactly what you're talking about. Perhaps go through it point by point? You talk about dreaming of (in the same breath) dumb terminals and implants. Where's the software? Where's the hard data kept? (friendly jibe) did you read anything I or anyone else wrote here?

Looking forward to your reply.


 8:32 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm glad I don't have to understand telephony in order to use it. I long and work hard for the day when the same situation exists in the computing world. That's what Open Source is all about

Come on, don't even try to tell people that open source is all about not having to understand technology to use it - it's the exact opposite. It's because of companies LIKE MICROSOFT that you don't have to understand how a computer works to use one. My grandmother can surf the net thanks to Windows, but if I gave her a CD containing any open source operating system out there today and said "Install this" she wouldn't know where to begin.

The reason Microsoft and companies like them are where they are is BECAUSE people don't have to understand technology to use their products. This is also the reason that Linux is lagging way behind in the desktop world but surging ahead in the server world - because it's difficult for a non-technical person to figure out. Open source has only gained recent momentum because some technical people have taken it upon themselves to learn something new. The masses aren't going to do that - they want an easy to use product. The day you people in the open source community figure this out is the day you'll start making your way onto their desktops. The typical consumer doesn't CARE how much "better" any given application is over the next as long as the one they have does what they need. The typical consumer isn't looking to innovate - they just want to surf the web, send pictures, play games, and all of the other stuff that home users do with their systems. They don't care who makes the software as long as it works.

The momentum over the last 10 years in the open source community is NOTHING compared to Microsoft's first 5. Microsoft has been giving the public what they want: open source hasn't. When you and the rest of the open source community is ready to stop thinking of things as an anti-microsoft tech and start thinking the way the average home user and business owner does, you will see the big picture. I bet right now you're scratching your head and maybe even a little frustrated thinking "Digitalv doesn't get it", but it's really the other way around. And that's my point.

It's the needs of the non-technical users who drive this industry, not the needs of the techs. This industry only exists because non-technical people needed a solution to a problem. That's the way it will always be. To the typical home user and business owner, computer techs are sort of a virtual handyman/janitor. When they want something created, maintained, or cleaned up, they hire you. Other than that, they have no need for you. Instead of arguing with me, you should relay the message to your open source friends.

Putting the dumb terminal argument aside, I definitely see open source being a better solution for everyone down the road. The problem is that Open Source techies are so passionate about what they're trying to accomplish that they haven't stopped to realize the average joe they're "fighting for" is perfectly happy with the way things are. The only way you'll ever change that is to show him something that's just as easy to use, does the job better and cheaper, and the user can start using this new alternative with minimal changes. To date, open source products have yet to accomplish all 3. Telling the typical user how "bad" Microsoft is without being able to produce an alternative they can understand just annoys people. And it's one of the main reasons MS is still in the lead.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though and there has been a breakthrough: Firefox. Firefox is taking more "typical users" from Internet Explorer every day because its interface is enough like IE that long-term IE users don't feel uncomfortable switching (unlike Opera). Because the TRANSITION was easy, Firefox is picking up momentum. Mozilla gets it. If the rest of the open source community got it, they would start seeing the same migration effect Firefox has seen.

The dotcom boom to bust is a perfect example of what happens when the techs try to run things instead of business people. Lots of smart guys were out there creating some pretty technically advanced stuff ... and no one had any use for it. Developing things people want is always a better model than developing something you think is cool and then trying to figure out how to get people to want it.


 8:50 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'll keep it quick (!):

Josefu: The basic idea behind my "contributions" (LOL) to this thread is that Open Source and Open Standards are capable of providing rapid gains in technology, leading to a more useful, more secure, less proprietary and (ergo) more responsive computing environment as the years roll by. I submit that MS, or any other huge megacorp, is facing a very serious challenge to their hegemony as a result.

I hope my commentary is related to the subject of the essay referred to in the first message.

"if I gave her a CD containing any open source operating system out there today and said "Install this" she wouldn't know where to begin."

You propose that handing her a CD with MS Win-whatever and saying "Install this" would bring a different result? Check out the recent Open Source installations (Slackware Linux, for example) and then tell me you honestly believe that this is relevant.

I know I'm not convincing any current MS-lovers. It will be a continuing challenge to help them understand that MS is a DISTRIBUTOR, not an innovator, and that building a world around that single company's idea of what is useful to sell would, indeed, be a terrible world. ("All food substances will now be distributed by McDonald's.")

Use what you feel comfortable using, of course! Meanwhile, us Open Sourcers will be trying to give you spectacular options that the megacorps don't want you to have. (VoIP, anyone? Free to Linux users!)

===end transmission===
(oops...my implant crashed!) :)


 9:07 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Sorry...quick bonding experiment.

digitalv, remarkably, I do agree with you for the most part. There MUST be user-friendliness. Period.

MY point is that MS has product BECAUSE of the Open Source community. BG didn't invent DOS...he branded the free version and sold it! MS didn't invent the browser...they "licensed" it, wiggled out of the license, and stole market share from Netscape when they released their "integrated" version.

Okay. That's the experiment! Are we bonding?


 9:16 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Okay I wasn't gonna but I will just one more before bed : )

Yes, users are perfectly happy with how things are working, but perhaps hesitate with the cost of it all. Rather, with every new imposed cost. And yes, users will change their habits if a) they have a reason to change (and they won't be the one looking for one) and b) the transition between one product/habit and another is smooth enough. Firefox has grabbed some points there. Happily MSIE has created a switch reason through its increasingly redundant browser - now let's who see who will best (and first) fill the void.

OpenSource or not isn't, beyond the cost or lack thereof, an issue to a potential user. In fact, I see many users willing to fork out to preserve and continue their old habits rather than pick up a 'newfangled' freebie or shareware app. Opensource is just a means to realisticly deal in software with a 'per user' cost closer to its real creation-value and overhead, rather than hoping to maintain a profit 'rift' through closely programmed user ignorance and misunderstanding at the real value of what he's using. Yet I still don't think OpenSource is the final solution - how do those guys make a living? I see something closer to Shareware becoming the norm.

I thought this topic was about browser wars. Perhaps all this discussion is close in its its obsession with user habits - isn't that what the browser-makers are fighting over?

[edited by: Josefu at 9:59 pm (utc) on July 28, 2004]


 9:45 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

microsoft licenced DOS for $55,000 from the Seattle Computer Company. it was not open source.


 9:46 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the correction. That was a long-standing error on my part.

So DOS was not Open Source...and BG did not invent it. It was the beginning of a very successful licensing model.


 4:23 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

My grandmother can surf the net thanks to Windows, but if I gave her a CD containing any open source operating system out there today and said "Install this" she wouldn't know where to begin.

If you gave her a Windows CD she wouldn't know where to begin either. What's your point?


 4:45 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate being a Windows advocate, but Grandma could place the Windows CD in the drive, press reset and she'd be off. Normally Windows will install ok from a bootable CD. She'd need another CD to sign up for an internet account - I guess she might have to wait a couple of days for a freebie to arrive in the post - unless she'd already kept one.



 4:47 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

What an interesting discussion

when and if opensource S/W becomes the following it will hit MS where it hurts

1 Idiot proof
2 User Friendly
3 Sufficient apps that users want and need not just techies

If MS continue with current O/S that has major areas for hacking and continues to release buggy versions , then I do believe Opensource will take off in a big way .

The day the Compaq's IBM's and Toshiba's have enough demand from USERS and businesses not Techies to have new preloaded desktop PC's with Opensource then we could all be struck by how quick it could take off

The other problem is that the supposed free Opensource isn't happening when companies see a chance of making a buck ( Apple, Red Hat, Etc )

would love to have this thread highlighted in 10 years time to see how things change as change they will


 5:33 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I hate being a Windows advocate, but Grandma could place the Windows CD in the drive, press reset and she'd be off. Normally Windows will install ok from a bootable CD. She'd need another CD to sign up for an internet account - I guess she might have to wait a couple of days for a freebie to arrive in the post - unless she'd already kept one.

Exactly. In fact, since Windows comes with the ability to sign up for MSN if she wanted to get online with MSN she wouldn't even need anything extra. Windows was DESIGNED so grandma could figure it out ... again illustrating how Microsoft put ease of use first and that's how they got where they are. You can say all you want about "restrictive licensing agreements with PC manufacturers" but those manufacturers CHOSE to make a deal with Microsoft. And they made that decision because they knew they could sell more PC's with an operating system that's easy for the novice to figure out.

when and if opensource S/W becomes the following it will hit MS where it hurts

1 Idiot proof
2 User Friendly
3 Sufficient apps that users want and need not just techies

You got that one right :)

This is where Open Source is lacking right now, and as I said before Firefox is really the first "breakthrough" application. Once all of the open source developers "get it", they'll actually start creating competition for MS. The only thing I would add to your list is compatibility - people need to be able to migrate to new applications from existing ones easily in order for it to work.

If MS continue with current O/S that has major areas for hacking and continues to release buggy versions , then I do believe Opensource will take off in a big way.

Commercially maybe, but not in the typical home. The typical home user is so used to bugs and viri they accept it as a normal part of having a computer. The typical user doesn't think about security unless they do online banking. If they're just surfing/emailing they don't care. IGNORANCE spreads worms faster than development flaws. Before bugs were discovered in Windows, it was all about tricking the user into running a program (Hello.exe, Melissa, etc.). Even the most secure OS in the world is designed to do what a program tells it to do, providing the user running the program has permission to do it. If you wrote a program that replicated itself through e-mail on Linux and a Linux user who was logged in ran it, it would do the same thing it did on Windows. If there was a mass migration today, we would see the same problems - just a different method of delivery. The typical user doesn't see any reason to not be logged in as an Administrator/Root 100% of the time. That's a bigger problem than bugs.

The day the Compaq's IBM's and Toshiba's have enough demand from USERS and businesses not Techies to have new preloaded desktop PC's with Opensource then we could all be struck by how quick it could take off

Interesting point, and I agree completely. The most significant developments in computing were back when the decisions were being made by executives who didn't know the first thing about the process involved to design hardware or write an application. They had a vision or a need and told the techs/programmers to make it happen. Businesses seem to have lost this concept today, and I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that most of the executives and decision makers in high-tech companies have technical experience. So they THINK like techs, not like the common user who just needs a solution to a problem. This is going to be tough for Open Source to overcome because they're all techs & programmers. And like you said, when someone non-technical builds a company around open source they have to turn a profit somehow.


 5:42 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

kaled - Grandma could also drop in a CD from Red Hat, Fedora, Mandrake, SuSE, Debian or Slackware, hit reset and be on her way, too.

Disclosure: All of the above, except Slackware, are also primarily DISTRIBUTORS, not inventors. They bundle the Linux kernel and a variety of Open Source and inhouse-modified software to make their packages.


 5:48 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

Ahhhhhh..... StupidScript..... I'm not your normal grandma.... and I work with a guy who's a programmer. HE is while not as confused as I about SUSE (which he just bought and gave me a copy of - ALL 7 CDs!), still not real happy with the "put the cd in the drive" theory you posted....

Sorry - *nix STILL has "user-friendly" issues!


 6:35 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

this seems OT now, but anyway..

>> I mean, I will go to a site that has nice spreadsheets because of the nice spreadsheets presented to me there

The spreadsheet example i mentioned earlier was not about going to a spreadsheet site. It was about opening your normal spreadsheet office application on you normal PC and letting that spreadsheet import information from a totally normal (non-spreadsheet type) web page into spreadsheet cells. Not importing the full page, but only those parts of the page that you are really interested in using as part of a standard spreadsheet calculation.

Eg. to get the latest stock prices for stocks i watch i don't have to go to any websites, i just open my spreadsheet and click "update". Then, the spreadsheet collects the stock information from the websites and updates the cells, and all my calculations that depend on these cells are updated.

I believe it's called a "web query" in MS Excel.


As for linux distro's and
- usability/user interface
- ease of use/ease of installation

... there's been vast improvements here lately. Check it out, it's really not all that geeky anymore. It's basically like, say, "windows and then some" - and then some.


vkaryl, i'm on my sixth or seventh TV-free year myself... i loved your post :) :) People really have to experience the freedom in order to acknowledge what a complete waste of time TV is ;)


 7:04 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

You are right about SuSE, vkaryl. It is the most "techie" of those listed. Try Fedora Core 2, Red Hat 9, Mandrake 10 or Slackware, and I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised. (Please note that it is important that your computer NOT be "designed for MS" products. Not to endorse, but Sony's Vaio systems are great for pretty much any Linux distro.)

I submit that the difficulties some people express either installing or using various software when it's "not like MS" points out the importance of moving away from the MS dynasty. digitalv, I do agree that user-friendliness is key, but our world has become so used to the MS way of doing things that it's often hard to see how really easy it is to use something else, because users are often trapped in the MS (or Mac) mindset, and cannot think outside their frameworks.

I do not agree that in order to make the transition to a new way of working that we need to begin with an MS-like experience. In order to help "normal" users feel comfortable with trying the alternatives, the alternatives need to be stable (most of which are) and easy to use (most of which are) AND the user needs to actually believe that the MS (or Mac) way of doing things is NOT the only way, but rather ONE (2) way of doing things.

As soon as vendors stop being parnaoid that their licensing agreements with MS won't crush them (despite the recent legal battles, this is still not a reality), then they will feel more comfortable promoting alternatives, and "normal" users will get a chance to see them in action in the store and discover for themselves how nice it is outside the MS sphere.


 9:23 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

I stumbled on this (really!) while investigating click fraud. It's Tim O'Reilly speaking at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland, OR earlier this week.

He is talking about some of the challenges facing Open Source developers. Here is a link:


He comments on several of the issues we have been discussing. (Internet, not desktop...the nature of remote apps in today's business world...using hybrid Open/proprietary programming...)

There is a difference between Open Source and Open Standards (re: the essay that began this thread), however you may find O'Reilly's comments interesting.

He does not support my commentary (completely), so I hope this seems like an innocent FYI link. :)


 10:59 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

A good linux program if you are wanting to just dab into it is Knoppix. Not as friendly as some versions but not as har to understand and it doesn't install direct onto your drive unless you want it to(boots right off a disk).


 11:12 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

ChaosEngel: one of the "nice guys" around here (isitreal, you're on first!) sent me a knoppix cd, and it IS nice. I could probably like it fine. I didn't see an option to "install" it though. It booted and ran okay off the cd, though I couldn't make it find my modem (USR hardware after-market, but knoppix sees it as a winmodem I guess). And yes, knoppix (base Debian, right?) makes SUSE look like a programmer's NIGHTMARE.

But SUSE was free-to-me, never ever say no to open source freebies! I just have to figure out actually installing a knoppix-like *nix on its own partition.... but I have to "finish retiring" first - I'm so whacked-back at work getting ready to leave that the only thing I'm really able to think about at home is posting stupid posts on this board and others.... *sigh* 8/26 can't come too soon!

[btw, as far as "friendly" goes, knoppix blasts hell out of ANY other *nix I've tried - which includes just about all of them over the last 10 years....]

StupidScript: I bought this machine specifically because it did NOT SAY ANYWHERE that it was "made for windows" or whatever.... and that's NOT because I DETEST windows at all, simply I always try to keep my options open. In some ways, "flexible" is my middle name. In others, I'm about as unbending as they grow....

[edits for idiocies in general and missppeelllings in parti'kler]


 11:46 pm on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

vkaryl-in-lame-duck-mode: If your office has a broadband connection, you may want to take the opportunity before you leave (if allowed within your security "group") to download the Fedora Core 2 (preferred) or Mandrake 10 iso's and burn 'em to CDs.

You can get 'em free from: [linuxiso.org...]

PS: I dunno about Linspire/Lindows...it's a bit too subscribey for me. :)

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