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Hasta la Vista - Why Windows rules the world
Economist.com ^ | 12/22/2006

Posted on 12/22/2006 7:42:08 PM PST by Swordmaker

FROM the end of January any Windows-based personal computer that you buy will come with a new version of Microsoft's operating system, called Vista. Make no mistake, this is more than just a slicker, prettier version of Microsoft’s current operating system for desktop computers, Windows XP. Vista is considerably quicker, easier and more pleasant to use, and far more stable and secure, than was its predecessor. One of its particular attractions is its more intuitive way of storing, organising and locating files. Included too are better parental controls, a built-in DVD maker, and lots of other improvements. In many ways, especially in its look and feel and ease of use, Vista out-Macs the Mac’s latest operating system—the Tiger version of OS X. However, that could change when Apple releases its Leopard version of OS X in spring.

Right now, the big question for most Windows users is one of timing. If they are not about to buy a new Windows PC, should they buy a copy of Vista to upgrade a perfectly adequate machine running an earlier version of Windows?

If you are running a PC with any version of Windows prior to XP (with all the Service Pack 2 updates), then the answer is most certainly yes. But if you’ve been religious about keeping your computer healthy with all the latest patches and updates released weekly by Microsoft, then the smart thing to do is to wait awhile. No matter how thoroughly the company may have tested it, the first version of Vista is going to be riddled with niggling annoyances that surface only when software confronts some of the crazy things we ordinary users do.

Many say Vista’s problem is its sheer size and complexity. All told, the program comprises some 50m lines of computer code. And as any programmer will tell you, software contains typically five to ten errors for every 100 lines of code. So, even if 90% of them were squished during the extensive testing programme, Vista will hit the shelves with at least a quarter of a million bugs in it.

That’s the price you pay for bloated software, say the legions of Microsoft critics. But hang on a minute. Vista may have a complex architecture with 50 layers of interdependent activities, but it’s not a massive program by today’s standards. Some of those quickest to accuse Microsoft of producing “bloatware” are even guiltier themselves.

In the religious wars that rage between operating-system fanatics, the worst offenders are actually to be found in the Macintosh and Linux camps. The highly praised Tiger version of the Macintosh OS X operating system contains no fewer than 86m lines of code. And while the latest Linux kernel may be only 9m lines long, the “distro” (packaged distribution ready for installing) of an important Linux variant, such as Debian 3.1, has some 213m lines of code in it.

One important difference between operating systems such as Linux and OS X on the one hand, and Windows on the other, is that the former are highly modularised. Instead of being one humongous piece of software, they are made up of hundreds of small stand alone programs, called packages. Both Linux and OS X are descended from Unix, the grand-daddy of modern multi-tasking operating systems, and share the same underlying structure.

With Linux at least, this modularity allows skilled users to strip out all the bits they don’t need—to create a robust and compact operating system tailored to specific needs. Linux can be trimmed down to run from a floppy disk, or fleshed out to manage a server farm or even a supercomputer. On the desktop, Linux works every bit as well as Windows, while offering greater security and fewer crashes. Installing any of the popular desktop distros such as Ubuntu, OpenSUSE or Fedora is a ten-minute breeze. But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices.

But the real difference between Unix-like operating systems and Windows is their design philosophies. Windows may squander computing power through its clumsy architecture. But by favouring simplicity of use over simplicity of design, Microsoft has been able to leverage cheap but powerful commodity hardware, to provide cost-effective software solutions. These may be complex in design—and full of bugs to boot—but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain. That’s a winning formula in anyone’s book, and the reason why Windows rightly rules the world.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 12/22/2006 7:42:10 PM PST by Swordmaker
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To: Swordmaker

So Vista has borrowed the Mac file storage system from 1995. Ooooooh, I am so impressed.


2 posted on 12/22/2006 7:45:28 PM PST by donmeaker (If the sky don't say "Surrender Dorothy!" then my ex wife is out of town.)
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To: 1234; 6SJ7; Action-America; af_vet_rr; afnamvet; Alexander Rubin; anonymous_user; ...
According to this article, Microsoft Windows Vista out Macs the Mac... PING!

If you want on or off the Mac Ping List, Freepmail me.

3 posted on 12/22/2006 7:51:51 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: Swordmaker

Because it has so many problems and needs so many patches?


4 posted on 12/22/2006 7:58:43 PM PST by PeteB570 (The above was sarcasm.)
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To: Swordmaker

Ack!


5 posted on 12/22/2006 8:00:55 PM PST by BunnySlippers (SAY YES TO RUDY !!! GO RUDY GO!!!)
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To: donmeaker
Jobs comes up with code for new ideas and makes his money out of his market share. Microsoft then copies his ideas and makes vastly more money within their market share.

Gates is enriching himself off Jobs. It's like having a brutish Gaul stalking you and taking 3/4 of the nuts you gather.

6 posted on 12/22/2006 8:08:02 PM PST by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: Swordmaker
Windows XP. Vista is considerably quicker

Now that would be a first time for Windows.

boy, are they easy to use and maintain

Now this is just getting ridiculous.

7 posted on 12/22/2006 8:34:25 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: William Terrell

I'd settle for Jobs' share.

No sense being greedy.


8 posted on 12/22/2006 8:38:19 PM PST by IncPen (When Al Gore Finished the Internet, he invented Global Warming)
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To: Swordmaker
"...but, boy, are they easy to use and maintain."

What is he smoking?

9 posted on 12/22/2006 9:06:30 PM PST by LibFreeOrDie (L'Chaim!)
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To: Swordmaker

This is the first time I've ever seen anyone say Windows computers are easy to maintain. I don't think anyone in corporate IT would agree with that.

Every time I see a Windows computer bought by a consumer it's riddled with spyware and virii, often hundreds of the silly things. And usually they are just about impossible to remove.

I know that Windows lovers will say that the anti-virus and anti-spyware software will take care of this, but the truth is that for anyone who isn't obsessive about actually using it, spyware takes you over.

Period.

I generally like the Economist, but I think perhaps they need to get a better tech columnist ...

D


10 posted on 12/22/2006 9:23:17 PM PST by daviddennis (If you like my stuff, please visit amazing.com, my new social networking site!)
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To: LibFreeOrDie

But the real difference between Unix-like operating systems and Windows is their MARKETING philosophies

It was all about marketing way back when, that's the reason MS got the lion's share of the consumer dollar. Once they'd grabbed the market share and defined themself as the OS to have, it was more just a river carrying them along, not and never excellence.


11 posted on 12/22/2006 9:23:38 PM PST by Shimmer128 (Happiness isn't free, it's priceless)
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To: Shimmer128
Once they'd grabbed the market share and defined themself as the OS to have, it was more just a river carrying them along, not and never excellence.

Windows: the flotsam and jetsam of the OS world.

12 posted on 12/22/2006 9:41:28 PM PST by Swordmaker (Remember, the proper pronunciation of IE is "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!)
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To: Swordmaker

HAR!!!

Out Macs the Mac. When monkey's fly out of my butt, maybe.

How much did they have to pay this whore to write this trash?

I swear, this is the last PC I am ever going to buy. Just as soon as I can save up enough for a iMac, this thing is going into the trash.


13 posted on 12/22/2006 10:29:02 PM PST by Ronin (Ut iusta esse, lex noblis severus necesse est.)
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To: Shimmer128

Well in the commercial environment Novell Netware/Compaq ruled the small/med server market. When Novell didn't update Netware with TCP/IP, MS NT 4.0 Server quickly took over. With that came NT 4.0 Workstation. I think that marked the begining of MS's rise to near monopoly. Windows 95 was cool for home use, especially compared to Windows 3.1. But it was horrible for commercial use. Not that that didn't stop some businesses from using Windows 95/98 to run on their desktops(shudder).


14 posted on 12/23/2006 12:13:52 AM PST by neb52
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To: Swordmaker

I hope that HP and Dell allow the choice between XP and Vista for at least until this next summer. Otherwise it maybe pain to incorporate a Vista Workstation into an older network.


15 posted on 12/23/2006 12:15:09 AM PST by neb52
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To: Swordmaker
All told, the program comprises some 50m lines of computer code.
Wasn't that the amount estimated for SDI control? ;')
16 posted on 12/23/2006 1:07:04 AM PST by SunkenCiv (Don't bother, I haven't updated my profile since 11/16/06. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Swordmaker
But unlike Windows, downloading applications to run on Linux and ensuring all the necessary “libraries” are in place is most certainly not for novices.

Pffft.

17 posted on 12/23/2006 4:19:20 AM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: Swordmaker
Microsoft has been able to leverage cheap but powerful commodity hardware, to provide cost-effective software solutions.

What Mission Statement Generator has he latched onto?

18 posted on 12/23/2006 5:01:56 AM PST by SlowBoat407 (A living insult to islam since 1959)
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To: antiRepublicrat
"Easy to use and maintain?"

HUH

Then why do my grown kids have to call up their daddy to fix their computers, while he never has to fix anything on my mac?

19 posted on 12/23/2006 7:09:02 AM PST by Texas_shutterbug
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To: Swordmaker

Windows is affordable, more importantly compatible, and most importantly easily available. Mac purchasers who want what they feel is a superior product can overcome these obstacles, but most new computer buyers would rather not. I was thinking of buying a new Mac myself, until I got a new 15" HP Intel laptop with DVD-R for $499. Could have gotten 2 or maybe even 3 for the price of a Mac. Not that the Macs aren't great machines, they are, and a good decision for those that can afford them, but Windows is cheap and everywhere, and I have all sorts of gizmos and software I need to be compatible, actually makes my life easier sticking to what I already have.


20 posted on 12/23/2006 8:26:44 AM PST by Golden Eagle
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To: Swordmaker

If the comparison in LOC between the linux distro and a windows OS is an invalid comparison (one is the kernel and a gazillion programs and the other is just the OS), then why make said comparison at all? The comparison is either valid or it's not.

Secondly I'm reading/posting this on a Fedora Core system - have a windows/linux machine that sit side by side at home - I use a KVM switch to toggle between them. Inevitably I find I'm toggled to linux as it is just more of a pleasure to use. It just works, is all. I can be root or user just according to which xterm I work from. With windows you have to log off your session and log back in. Windows, takes a "vacation" from time to time and nothing works for a while and then it comes back. Never happens with linux.


21 posted on 12/23/2006 8:36:13 AM PST by 2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten
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To: neb52

Well, I can tell you that I work for a pretty big ($5B) company, and I guarantee you that they won't let anything with Vista on it to connect to the corporate network for at least 2 years. We were running Windows 2000 until maybe 2 years ago. And we just got upgraded to Office 2003 last month. This isn't because the company is behind the times, it's because the IT department won't deploy new software until it's been thouroughly tested.


22 posted on 12/23/2006 1:33:23 PM PST by massfreeper
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To: massfreeper
That is because in a big environment companies purchase assets in cycles. Desktops and software goes in every three years at a third of the inventory. Servers generally 5 years(Windows based). Unix/DEC servers get held onto for a decade in most cases.

What I was posting about earlier is IF Dell and HP offer XP along side of Vista. MS could decide to kill off XP early, but they tried that with NT 4.0 and Win2000. The uproar from the business community made MS back down and extend the life of the previous OS.
23 posted on 12/23/2006 2:40:26 PM PST by neb52
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To: daviddennis

Yup.

Pretty much can bet the farm that if it's a Windows computer owned and operated by a non-techie type, it's totally bloated and infested.

I hear it over and over... "Why is my computer running so slow??..."

Answer: cause it ain't your computer anymore. You are now an email server sending porn to the Philippines..

Like I said, Gates and company wanted to make computers so even idiots can use them.
And they succeeded.


24 posted on 12/23/2006 2:49:06 PM PST by djf (The 16th amendment didn't authorize attacks on Americans)
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To: William Terrell

Kind of like having a cousin in the IRS.


25 posted on 12/23/2006 7:25:21 PM PST by donmeaker (If the sky don't say "Surrender Dorothy!" then my ex wife is out of town.)
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