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Re: Return Economics html trivial debate

  On Sat, 1 Nov 1997, John Gelles wrote:
  >	If this is the word:
  >"What everyone who opposes MS needs to know is that there are 
  > serious and viable computing  alternatives to all of MS's products. 
  > If you're still using MS products slavishly, you're as much a part 
  > of the problem as the solution.
  >"We need to have a digital Boston Tea Party!!"
  >"This is where I am too.  The consumer must be told that there are 
  > choices (plural).  They must be told that the choices are ALL better
  > alternatives than M$-stuff -- right down the line."
  >	Then what about this:
  >	A huge hurdle is to hold the hand of those who would
  >	use alternative software if they were not afraid to make
  >	the change.  Such hand-holding is most often not practical.
  >	Even using mostly MS pre-loaded and downloaded stuff,
  >	and some from NS and others, the futz factor for non-gurus
  >	is monstrous and scary.  I rely on gurus far too often to
  >	bring this mother back up.  I've been "into" computers and
  >	amateur programming for decades.  But futzing on your own
  >	in today's desktop world requires gifts and experience few 
  >	users have. You can throw a tea party -- but who will come?
  The obvious political analogies are tempting but I'm going to forego them
  nonetheless. This argument or response basically comes down to something like:
  	``Sure MS is screwing everybody in the *** but since their programs
  	are the easiest to use, we don't really have a choice.''
  I disagree with this both factually and morally. For instance, on the system I
  use, Linux, my computer became VASTLY more stable and easier to maintain,
  after an initially steep learning curve. I think OS/2 advocates would say the
  same for their OS.
  Besides, if you really want an easy to use computer, just get a Macintosh:
  they've always been the easiest, despite MS protestations to the contrary.
  What exactly is the pragmatic value of ``futzing on your own'' -- do you mean
  that the MS alternatives that we've been talking about require a level of
  expertise that outweighs MS systems? I don't agree with that either; and, even
  if they did require more expertise, you get something in return: stability and
  In other words, even with a bevy of experts, Windows 95 still crashes way too
  Besides, the whole thing is moot: if some of the alternatives to MS had a
  snowball's chance in hell of coming pre-loaded on PCs, then maybe users would
  have an incentive or a reason to learn about them. And maybe the communities,
  whether corporations or user communities, responsible for their development
  would have a greater incentive to work on ease of use issues.
  As for your comment about hand-holding not being practical, that too is
  factually incorrect. I know that there are few groups of people on earth more
  committed to helping new users than some of the MS alternatives: Apple, OS/2,
  and Linux to name the 3 most obvious. I can speak to the Linux situation
  directly: there are Linux User Groups in 90% of the nations on earth. My users
  group alone has helped educate almost 2000 people in the DFW metroplex this
  year alone about Linux. We've GIVEN AWAY for free almost 1000 CDs of Linux OS,
  programs, etc. That's just one UG: there are close to 100 in the US alone. And
  this doesn't even begin to consider all of the companies, consultants, and
  experts that you can contract to buy support from.
  If the only price to be paid for MS freedom is holding hands and user
  re-education, that's a small price indeed. Perhaps if some of the so-called
  computer media would focus on some of these MS alternatives, the user would be
  more educated about them. Even in publications that are supposed to be devoted
  to computing on the PC platform (which isn't synonymous with MS, by the way),
  you too often meet Bill Gates typically stupid attitude: ``Not everyone loves
  the PC, but everyone who does, loves Microsoft.'' What hogwash. Tell that to
  OS/2 user and free Unix users.
  We had the tea party and so far about 10 million Linux users worldwide have
  dumped their MS brew into the harbor; that doesn't count OS/2 users, Macintosh
  users, etc.
  It's just time to spread the word. I hope that this conference can do just a
  little of that along the way.
  John, I guarantee you---and I don't even know where you live---that if you
  decided to abandon MS in your business or personal computing situation, I
  could find you a Linux advocate who would walk you through installation and
  setup, and I can find one in less than a day. I bet the same could be said for
  both Mac and OS/2, among others. Not to mention the fact that if there is a
  college or university within 100 miles of you, you can find many comp sci
  undergrads who would love to help you manage your systems for $20 or so per
  hour. That's not bad to give your company peace of mind and freedom from the
  MS hegemony.
  At least it's been a good deal for me and for many like me.
  	Kendall Clark