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Analogies (Was Re: Benchmarks and Notches)

  On Fri, Dec 19, 1997 at 04:34:19PM -0500, Glenn T. Livezey wrote:
     On Fri, 19 Dec 1997 06:48:33 -0500 (EST), Chuck Swiger wrote:
     >And what does this have to do with antitrust and the problem of one
     >company getting royalties for a de-facto os standard (i.e., buying a pc
     >and getting win95 & company whether you want it or not) just like buying
     >a vcr and you get vhs.
  Sorry, Mr. Swiger, choosing VHS versus Beta is closer to the choice of CPU,
  not the choice of OS and apps.  It's like choosing Intel versus PowerPC or
  Alpha.  No, the Win95 bundling is more like buying a VCR, and having it come
  with a crate of tapes already installed inside of it.  Tapes of the Home
  Shopping Network and religious programming, with a few bits of sports and
  entertainment thrown in to look good in the ads.  Tapes that play
  automatically whenever you turn the machine on, such that you must shut them
  off to watch anything else.  Sure, you can make or buy tapes of your own and
  play them (provided they meet with the VCR's rather stringent and quirky
  requirements) but you must first move past all the stuff that already comes
  with it.  For many people, there is the temptation to just watch the tapes
  that come with the machine. They were, after all, "free", weren't they?
     1) the real cost of that "free" MS "OS" install (passed along as the
     license fee payed by the vendor and incorporated in your PC's "base"
  About $100 for Win95, if our experience is any guide.
     2) the investment of time (yours) and software (all those VERY popular
     3rd party "uninstall" utilities) necessary to disinfect your harddrive
     (ie remove windoze) and install your OS of choice
  Well, re-formatting a Win95 partition doesn't require any software that
  doesn't come with any decent alternative OS.  The existing FAT filesystem
  isn't worth preserving once empty.  The investment in time is a serious
  factor, though, and one that we should resent bitterly and protest loudly.
     3) the added investment of time and sometimes cost of locating the ever
     elusive drivers for your chosen OS because the hardware vendors don't
     want to even discuss a nonMS driver (and that is NOT simply because they
     don't believe it would make money for them directly, but also because
     they are certain it will lose money for them indirectly - MS "tax")
  This is a constant problem for myself and my fellow Linux users, though not
  as bad as it used to be.
  As far as vendors losing money, I had a vendor representative tell me
  point-blank one day that they weren't developing drivers for Linux because
  MS told them that if they did, they would stop receiving early betas of MS
  software, which were essential for them to remain on par with their
  At the company where I have my "day job", they are heavily committed to
  Windows NT.  The word has gone out to developers (unofficially, so that
  deniability remains intact) not to do anything to jeopardize the cozy
  relationship with Microsoft, since the loss of the early betas would be
  Another vendor told me once that they did something that was in their own
  best interest, but that upset MS.  The next time a beta of WinNT came out,
  they didn't get it.  No official word, no change in the agreement, nothing.
  When they called MS to ask about it, they were told it was a screwup in the
  shipping.  However, the beta still didn't come.  Eventually, they figured it
  out, stopped pissing MS off, and called and told them what they had done.
  The beta arrived two days later via overnight express.
  "MS tax" indeed.
     4) the cost of the extra resources (CPU upgrades and added RAM/HD
     storage) to make the MS code ("OS" and app) run at the same level of
     performance - as you address below, in your flawed auto metaphor - and,
  I'd feel better if this were nicely quantified.  Apparently the recent JVM
  benchmark begins to do so.
     5) all the "DUUHH-OH WOW, MAN" bells and whistles and idiot-proof
     "features" that inhabit the MS "OS" and app that are completely unrelated
     to performing the function you want from your app and suck ENORMOUS doses
     of resources (including your time and sanity) right down the drain.
  This is a problem, I agree, and apparently getting worse.  The trend that
  disturbs me even more, however, is the way that commercial advertising is
  invading the workspace.  It starts with little things, like Netscape always
  playing animated GIFs, whether you've seen them before or not.  There's no
  way to switch them off permanently.  From what I've heard, however, MS is
  taking ads to a new level in Win98, putting them right on the desktop, and
  eventually (presumably) right in the application window.  They have stated
  that they wish to merge TV and PC, but their vision of the merger is far
  different from mine.
  In fact, that might be a nice analogy--Windows is like TV, other OS's are
  more like movies, or at least like PBS--not as flashy sometimes, but
  possessed of greater depth and beauty.
     >One may as well wonder why a Ferrari has a smaller market share than a
     >Geo, why it's the technically superior machine! The difference is cost.
  Nope, get cars outta here.  They've never made a good analogy to
  computers--there are too many vendors.  If you live in or near any sizeable
  population center, you can take a short drive and purchase cars made in the
  USA, Japan, Germany, Italy, Korea, England, France, Sweden, and other
  places.  With computers, where would you go to buy an Acorn?  How about a
  Siemens-Nixdorf?  There *is* competition in the auto industry; there little
  to none in computers, and that's just in the hardware.
  A computer is a much more complex instrument than a car or a VCR, with
  options and behaviors that far outstrip any found on lesser machines.  Any
  analogy is bound to fail in significant ways, which is one reason we're
  having such trouble coming to agreement on any of this.