[Beowulf] Sidebar: Vista Rant

Robert G. Brown rgb at phy.duke.edu
Tue Jul 17 14:11:37 PDT 2007

On Tue, 17 Jul 2007, Mike Davis wrote:

> I've missed a good RGB rant for awhile and this is a good one. It would be 
> good even if I didn't agree with it. I wish that I thought that corporate IT 
> would take the issues seriously. But, I don't. Too many people have their 
> "Certifications," and I believe that there is so much entropy that real 
> change will require even more than lack of usability.

Yeah, but even corporate talking heads and MS-centric IT volken hate to
wait.  As Gerry pointed out, it takes some explaining when you buy a
spanking new system that SHOULD be fast as the Devil Himself, sporting
many cores times many GHz, mountains of RAM, enormous disks, and gigabit
networks all with the very latest in graphics adapter and your user sits
down and says -- "Um, why is this thing so slow?"  If that user happens
to be a corporate officer, and the answer happens to be "because it is
running Vista" that's a fairly serious problem.  Or in Gerry's case, if
it is your wife, it is an even more serious problem.  In my own case, I
swapped out my son's broken (at last) 1.1 GHz five or six year old
celery for a nice new dual core 3.whatever GHz Athlon with a GB of RAM,
and -- he can't play his games on it.  They will load.  They will run.
But they take a MINUTE to load.  Using the mouse is like trying to play
a game with a mouse located on the earth the CPU on the moon, and the
game display back here on earth.  Move the mouse, wait, watch it
overshoot, try to move it back a little bit, overshoot the other way...

The squirrels are all getting tired in their little cages, I guess.

It is interesting to hear that it is POSSIBLE to get it to run smoothly.
It is even more interesting to hear that it runs better after a clean
reinstall from what is probably original media.  But I can't see
corporate america being particularly happy with this under ANY
circumstances -- it costs money to install it.  It costs more money to
reinstall it.  It wastes money and human energy to wait for it.  It
actually DEVALUES their investment in high end hardware and wastes THAT.

Microsoft may have gone too far on this one.  It isn't just Linux --
Apple is very much "back".  MacOS is Unix (and runs like Unix, that is,
smoothly and efficiently).  Macs can run windows apps, at least the
critical ones.  Macs use Intel CPUs with all their cores and their
commodity pricing.  Macs are now actually priced competitively with
their tier 1 Wintel alternatives.  Macs are very attractive to many

I've lived through the fall of many an IT empire, including the
Mainframe empire for whom the PC and Microsoft played the role of the
humble mammal displacing the dinosaur.  Mighty DEC fell, a thing that
nobody could once have imagined (but they missed the PC revolution as
well and persisted in thinking that overpriced workstations and
minicomputers would continue to be popular when Sun built the one better
and the PC was blowing the other away).  Who even remembers that
Honeywell, RCA, GE all were once computing companies?  Remember the
NeXTstation?  Apple went all but broke and was bailed out on at least
two occassions from impending bankruptcy.

Microsoft is by no means invulnerable, no matter how sweeping their
monopoly has been for the last fifteen years.  In one sense, they are
suffering from the same problem that Sun is with respect to Linux:  They
can't afford to drop their margins as much as one has to to compete
straight up.  $300 for XP Pro at full retail, plus $400 for Office
Professional, plus $60 for a mandatory antivirus -- right there you've
already spent MORE than the price of pretty damn nice hardware and all
you can do is browse the web and write office documents -- or FC 7 or
Ubuntu for free, including MULTIPLE office suites, MULTIPLE browsers,
tools for doing nearly anything, hundreds of games, yum or apt to
facilitate instant update and network access to a TRULY vast collection
of applications and tools, real security, and FAR MORE CONTROL over a
FAR FASTER UI than Windows provides.

For a long time MS has been able to manipulate their market advantage,
sow their FUD, keep the developers locked up and writing "only for
Windows" even with the certain knowledge that any true killer-app they
might develop would be cloned and co-opted by Microsoft itself at will,
leaving them with the crumbs of any market they might create.  But they
have also DELIVERED a functional system.  Moon-mice are not functional.


> Thanks RGB, I needed that...
> Mike

Robert G. Brown	                       http://www.phy.duke.edu/~rgb/
Duke University Dept. of Physics, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
Phone: 1-919-660-2567  Fax: 919-660-2525     email:rgb at phy.duke.edu

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