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Re: Nation piece

  On Mon, 24 Nov 1997, Mitch Stone wrote:
  > In reply to Scott K. McGrath's message sent 11/23/97 4:15 PM:
  > >Consumers are -not- going to rise up in revolt against Microsoft
  > Don't be so certain... But the awful truth is that even the best of
  > our technology is pretty dysfunctional, and Microsoft's technology
  > certainly isn't counted among the best.
  I don't think a computer which halts and freezes every now and then
  is user friendly. I guess that consumers are willing to take this
  state of affairs because they believe that:
   - if it halts and freezes it must have been something *I* did wrong,
   - computers are complex and cryptic and do such unpredictable
     things anyway
   - they are willing to upgrade every 2,3 years because they believe
     that it is inherent to The Computer that it will be a radically
     new beast every few years
  In this context they believe Microsoft is doing a good job. Since
  computers are cryptic and crash-prone anyway, it is amazing that MS
  are able to slap such a friendly face on top of them. Since the
  computer will radically be different every year or so, it is lucky
  that Microsoft is able to stay abreast of the wave and bring out
  upgrades just in time - and add new functionality, too boot!
  Yes, I know about technological change. But the Microsoft model seems
  to be "horizontal change": outdate every new API, so that you have to
  replace everything if you want to make use of a new feature, like
  TCP/IP dialing. That is a model for managing change that is very
  advantageous to the software developer.
  I believe more in "vertical" change:
  Suppose, for the sake of argument, we're back in the pre-Win95 days,
  and "The Internet" hit the consumer market - but suppose, for some
  reason, Win 3.1 did not offer the needed functionality to plugin in a
  TCP/IP stack and run browsers. Now the desktop OS market was locked
  in tight competition between MS, Macintosh and OS/2 and NeXt.
  How would they manage change? They can't roll out a total
  replacement, Win95. Their customer base would be aggravated by the
  impact upgrading has on them. If they have to upgrade anyway, they
  might use that as an oppurtunity to abbandon Windows. No, in that
  scenario Microsoft would rather put some effort into supplying
  plugins which would allow Windows 3.1 to make use of the Win95 IP
  stack, so that big companies needn't replace their OS's just to run a
  browser. Only the people who *want* the extra features would upgrade
  to Win95.
  Due to the economy of scale, it is *cheaper* for the software vendor
  to bear the brunt of complexity and the winds of change, instead of
  his customer. But Microsoft is sometimes a source of artificial winds
  of change.
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