Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
I, Cringely - The Survival of the Nerdiest with Robert X. Cringely
Search I,Cringely:

The Pulpit
Pulpit Comments
December 08, 2006 -- It Takes a Monopoly
Status: [CLOSED]

Like all things at Microsoft,
Maybe it takes 'three' tries at 'Bob' to truly make it work?

HiMY SYeD | Dec 08, 2006 | 8:29PM

What about Microsoft's ability to strongarm other software companies? You are partly right that people don't upgrade their operating systems.. only gamers do it. Microsoft comes up with directx 10 and only lets Vista users run it. Now it finds a killer game app and makes sure it requires directx 10.
Next you get Adobe to make a killer Photoshop or Premiere version that only runs on the "Advanced" Vista operating system. This is a win for Microsoft and also for Adobe because the mystique that the new versions require Vista makes people think there is something new and improved worth buying.
So watch for new programs in the coming months that insist on Vista and try to figure what leverage Microsoft had to get them to lock in Vista.

stuart | Dec 08, 2006 | 8:33PM

Stick with XP? I think a lot of people will still be sticking to Windows 2000, the best OS ever made by MS. Those wanting the latest features (read: bloatware) will buy a Mac or get the latest Linux distro.

Al Wilson | Dec 08, 2006 | 9:07PM

I imagine a lot of people will be ready to abandon XP once those almost-weekly security patches stop showing up in Windows Update. While Vista may or may not be more "secure" than XP (especially at first), the perception that Vista is more secure will help sell a lot of copies. I mean, if there's *anything* you can sell to Windows users, it's the promise of more security.

Barney Greinke | Dec 08, 2006 | 9:23PM

Microsoft and Google now rule the world!!!
Tomorrow they can start imposing RULES which will HAVE to be followed and we wont be able to do a thing!!!

Interesting | Dec 08, 2006 | 9:27PM

Of course Microsoft is a blood-sucking, soul-killing, parasitic entity preying on the techno world. But to be fair...and this is a Mac guy talking...Apple used the same strategy by claiming that system 7.0 would work on 2 mgs. of RAM. It did work, it just could not open any apps!

Fred | Dec 08, 2006 | 9:28PM

Failed Microsoft OS? How about Windows ME? I was at a Microsoft tech info session for Office XP and the MS rep was asking for a show of hands for whose businesses were using each of Windows. When two people raised their hands for Windows ME, he actually had the honesty to say, "yeah, sorry about that...". (No, wasn't me; we still had mostly Win 98 at the time.)

Dave Brown | Dec 08, 2006 | 9:54PM

Too bad OS/2 was Microsoft's first victim. It'd be a different world.

Racoon | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:03PM

RE: OS/2 being the first murder. Actually, I think they killed GeoWorks before that. Vector-based UI with two tiered UI? Done, long ago. They also killed Penpoint, though it was vaporous. They did those two before they had the full monopoly; that was back when Microsoft was as capable as it was ruthless and amoral.

Interesting comment on Win2K. It runs pretty well under Parallels, and I run my Windows software on Win2K on my Mac. No internet access allowed of course. Amazing how quick Win2K is running in Parallels on a Core-2 Due MacBook.

I'd say Cringely's right ... except ... lord but Microsoft has been incompetent lately. Windows Live? Onfolio integration? LifeCam that blue screens machines? Windows update defects? Broken Microsoft web site links everywhere? It's like watching a ruthless band of bloody handed pirates develop dementia from glue sniffing ....

So, yeah, normally the monopoly would ensure quick success for Vista, but it might be more ME than Win95 ...

John Faughnan | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:14PM

I think you might be being a bit one-eyed there. as already pointed out, Windows ME was a blooper but they got away with it, because there were no realistic alternatives, so most just skipped it and waited for the next offering.

I'm not saying Linux is going to swoop in and take over overnight, or that Macs will suddenly become the dominant system, but they're sure going to get a boost along the road if Vista turns out to be another ME.

Vista is apparently (to the end user) a cosmetic GUI dress up of XP with more DRM infested middleware bundled in, requires massive hardware upgrades and is going to do very little that XP doesnt already do.

XP/2000 was a huge jump in reliability over the unstable 98.. Vista is a change of clothes and a fell bells and whistles added on to diguise the ugly bits they're trying to force down peoples throats.

This time around though, there are some serious contenders just waiting for an opening to jump in and steal a bigger slice of the pie.

Assuming that everyone is going to eat whatever Microsoft puts on the table is very presumptious

Spockie_Tech | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:17PM

On the games console front:
Sony lost years ago they just didn't know it:
* Poor developer relations: Microsoft do this very well in comparison
* Increased complexity of development
* Increased financial risk for developer and publisher.

Microsoft need to learn from Sony's mistakes and Sony needs to learn to say the rosary and get a restructure / reinvention plan in place fast.

The Nintendo Wii and DS have the potential to go iPod on Microsoft
* The Wii costs half as much to develop games on as the PS3 - thats according to figures released by Namco Bandai - developers of Tekken. They estimate that a Sony game needs to sell 500,000 units to be profitable. So it is cheaper to develop successfully for the Nintendo, games break even sooner and you can innovate through utilising the features of the Nunchuk

* Nintendo understands that playability is more important than polygons. Microsoft and Sony are pushing into 'Uncanny Valley' Uncanny Valley - Empathy with gaming characters drops off as they come to a point were they look as if they are close to being real. Our perception of them moves from character to something more disturbing like the undead, and can be become repelled or disgusted. The dip in postive consumer attitude as the character better mimics human life is the Uncanny Valley. The term was originally used to describe a similar human reaction to robots in 1978 by Dr Masahiro Mori. Paradox of Realism - after a certain point, the closer to reality that the gaming experience gets in terms of graphics and player experience; the harder it is for the game to seem real. This inability to believe makes it harder for the players to fully engage in the game.

renaissance chambara | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:18PM

Its true that Vista will be successful, but I think it will drive away more users than any previous release.

My uncle will wait a year or two and then move to a Mac or maybe Linux. It will be a few more years past that point before my aunt upgrades, but I would not be surprised to see her switch to a Mac. My grandmother already uses Linux. My brother is a .NET developer and a gamer, so he will upgrade to Vista at some point, but he runs Linux for a media server.

Except for some special cases people, and even businesses, are not as locked in as they think.

Some Linux user | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:43PM

Yeah yeah yeah.. but what does vista do?

Mike | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:46PM

Mac and Linux users are already free from Microsoft, so their votes really don't count. I've been locked to MS since my first IBM PC in 1984, so how Vista works matters to me. I'll wait and watch until I can't wait anymore.

When I retired in 1994 from hardware and software design, I decided that I didn't want to see code again -- some Linux startup screens give me a headache. I know Macs are good, but I support the people on my all XP family network and I'm really too old to change now.

Bobby | Dec 08, 2006 | 10:55PM

You can count on Microsoft selling one million Zunes, because it will be trivial for Microsoft itself to buy as many as necessary to meet the goal. Maybe they'll give them away, or perhaps they'll put them in a landfill, but you can be sure that one million retail sales will be booked.

RetiredMidn | Dec 08, 2006 | 11:24PM

"More good news for Microsoft is that they have won, for now, the game console war."

Hold your horses, Bob. Not even close. I'm not totally convinced Sony is dead yet but I grant you that they are on life support.

I think sales figures, word-of-mouth, and actual game play points to a resurgence of Nintendo as the dominant video game console maker. I would bet Bob's annual income that, by June or July, the Wii will surpass XBox 360 sales and still be growing at a faster rate.

Mattjumbo | Dec 08, 2006 | 11:38PM

"I would bet Bob's annual income..." Fifty cents and a pint of beer? Not much of a bet then :)

Soyeb | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:17AM

Microsoft will win because the vast majority of the people in the world are either stupid or just don't give a damn, Microsoft can force most hardware vendors to pre-install their goo^w vista and most people in the world are either stupid or just don't give a damn. Apple is an order of magnitude better than Microsoft but, let's face it, most people in the world are either stupid or just don't give a damn.

For 21 years the Free Software Foundation has been trying to convince folks that they have basic rights to information about the computer hardware and software they are using to do their daily business and basic rights regarding use of that hardware and software but most people in the world are either stupid or just don't give a damn.

As long as people are stupid and don't give a damn, Microsoft wins.

slimcat | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:41AM


Right now the winner or this version of the Console wars is the Wii, based on it's initial sales against the sales of the X-Box 360 for one year. Nintendo is going to catch up and pass Microsoft's installed base by the end of March at the latest. As for Sony, let's face it, right now the PS3 doesn't count. A year from now that might change (they might make second place).

This doesn't mean that the Nintendo is the better machine - but Nintendo's marketing has put them in an incredibly good position, while Microsoft even with a year's head start just doesn't have the reputation to get the market excited, and Sony has messed up to a level that I would have thought was impossible a year ago.

As to the living room - I don't think anyone has the right fit for it yet. Give it another couple of years, and maybe someone will come up with a must have - but the TV/DVD player combination is still the king.

Wayne | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:45AM

Don't know much about DOS 4, but you make it sound like a failed OS from Microsoft too?

Also, I agree with others that the Wii should not be discounted. After a bruising battle between Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo may well emerge as the leader controlling the dominant game platforms (DS and Wii)

chao | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:46AM

MS-DOS 4 was broken in many horrible ways, starting with a bad command interpreter which crashed things and destroyed data. Microsoft released MS-DOS 4.01 (full of fixes) shortly thereafter, but that was basically the point at which Microsoft decided that the command line should go away.

It was also the point at which Microsoft started making lots of cruddy, bloated code.

Zach C. | Dec 09, 2006 | 1:27AM

Well, Vista will certainly "succeed" in the mass market for the reasons Bob describes, but for a growing minority of us Vista will not succeed. I work in the Windows software industry and after testing Vista over the last couple of months my response is that I am throwing out all my PCs and switching to Apple hardware. For everything for which Windows use cannot be avoided I will run it in a Parallels window or boot temporarily in Boot Camp if I must. For all meaningful activities I will use OS X.

Khoji | Dec 09, 2006 | 1:37AM

I think there are great advantages to using Windows in a corporate environment because of the ability to manage your desktops centrally (Active Directory, SMS, etc).

Also, at work, you have a highly trained IT department protecting you from crapware. But I think that MSFT should not be allowed to sell Windows to consumers.

At work, I use an IBM Stinkpad running XP and it does the job. But at home? I gave away the last of my Windows machines. I'm 100% Mac OS X and loving every minute of it!!

Esteban Trabajos | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:04AM

not really a comment, just wanted to know ...

i read somewhere that MS's investment in Vista crosses $10 B quite easily. (apparently, that just about covers the cost of hiring all those programmers to hack away at features which will eventually be discarded, but that might just be cynicism floating to the surface ...)

anyway, will we ever know how much vista cost to develop? im sure it will be an impressively large number which will lead to a number of "that much money could cure cancer/feed the poor/save the rainforests" statements, and will leave us all feeling warm and mushy inside everytime we (windows+alt+tab) our way through aero.

which brings me to wanting (needing?) bobs views on operating systems and their future (or has that already been done? there's a large archive to sift through) ... do we really need them so big and complex? is this the swan song of os's as we know them? or is that just more wasted punditry?

Aditya | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:19AM

I don't buy the Microsoft wins/HD-DVD wins argument. Maybe if they'd shipped with the HD-DVD as the standard drive, but since it's a recently available accessory it's a mistake to assume that a majority of 360 owners will rush out and buy one. Most people are buying these systems for the games - the high-def playback capabilities are a secondary feature. Getting the HD-DVD drive for your xBox is an active choice that has to be made - with the PS3 everyone gets Blu-Ray. I'd be surprised if the total numbers of xBox HD-DVD drives exceed the total number of PS3s sold this year.

Evan Donn | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:25AM

Windows 2000? Please. Without support, drivers, and security fixes, who can continue to afford to run a W2K box?

Michael Long | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:47AM

Most Win2003 drivers work fine under Win2k...Win2003 will be around for a long time (assuming everybody can get rid of those damn'd NT4.0 boxes).

Skroodle | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:55AM

I won't be buying any new computers for a long while -- my notebooks run XP and Win2k. My desktops run Win2k & 98SE. I have absolutely no need to have the gimmicks and restrictions inherent in Vista.

I have an '89 vehicle and a '91 pickup, too. And an antedeluvian pair of socks.


degustibus | Dec 09, 2006 | 3:34AM

Use Linux.

Me | Dec 09, 2006 | 4:38AM

Yes, Windows 2000. We have it on 40% of our computers. And there really isn't a reason to switch to XP. Moreover switching to XP would mean replacing those PIII/850MHZ boxes. Just to run Office 2007 instead of Office 2000? There's really no reason.

Our web proxy has a positive list of about 200 sites and it's running behind a firewall applicance. Moreover we are running AVG Antivirus on all PCs. Mail viruses are deleted at our provider's server. We haven't had a single virus in our network since 3 years now! And never had one that became active. So what could be wrong with our stratgey? Win2000 just does the same job as XP for us.

thomas | Dec 09, 2006 | 4:44AM

Have you used Parallels on the Mac, Bob?

I am using it, and I predict that as a result, Microsoft will sell lots of copies of Vista, but not because people are buying'll be because they're buying Macs.

I'm sitting in computing nirvana right now. I only use Windows when I *have* to, and I can still have all my Mac programs running at the same time.

Joshua Porter | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:03AM

Otherwise I think that Bob is right, Vista will win, but at the same time this is a different and less glorious won than it was before.

From the OpenXML-OpenDocument battle we can see that as the Internet was helped by the government against the monopolistic networks, governments still have a power, and they started to use it. Now on the PC Microsoft is threatened much more than ever before, and this is a big change.

And whoever wins the living-room big battle, the living room small battle is already won by FOSS. Look at you wireless router, xDSL modem, etc probably you have also received a GPL statement with the box. I think that this will be true for your frigo too, and any other devices that today we are even unable to image to connect for some reason to your network.

V | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:32AM

The 360 has already lost the console wars. Its adoption rate is not significantly faster (+6% in the US) than the Xbox despite being available 13 months before PS3 and Wii. It is still being outsold by the PS2 in all major markets and in Japan is already behind the Wii and PS3 in total sales. In the USA, in November, Wii retail sales were (according to NPD) only slightly lower than the 360 despite the Wii being available for 11 days and the supply restricted.

However handhelds are the major console sales story of 2006. Nintendo's DSL continues to dominate monthly sales and has sold over 6M in Japan alone. Sony's PSP continues to sell well too.

So, for games developers, Nintendo's Wii and DSL and Sony's PS2 and possibly PSP are more attractive than the 360 because of lower cost of development, installed base and current level of console sales. When PC gamers are added, the 360 is at best the 5th most attractive development platform. Looks like more red ink for MS.

With Zune's decreasing sales (the spin has already started) and most using Media Center PCs only as PCs the MS consumer strategy looks to be in tatters. If PC sales continue in line with October's (US - lowest for 14 years) MS is in for a rocky quarter. Lets hope Vista adoption is fast enough to prop up the share price.

tim | Dec 09, 2006 | 6:40AM

While I tend to agree with you based on past history; this time around my agreeing is a little less enforced simply because I see a change in people's attitudes taking place and more importantly, I notice that the masses (normally referred to as the idiots by many) are becoming more informed and less likely to simply go out and buy the cheapest thing at BestBuy. There has been no better time to evaluate the hate many have towards MS (and rightfully so).

In addition to that, just look at the pending anti-trust cases. The EU will not stop until it has destroyed MS. Unlike that mickey mouse club of a justice system here in the US, they actually follow through. South Korea has banned Windows Vista, France and China have dumped it for Linux. What comes next? See, its not the same era anymore. Sure, by cheer numbers, Vista will sell but not because its any good (its a piece of shit), but simply because there still are too many people that have NO IDEA what it is they are buying beyond what they refer to as 'a new computer'.

Jarod | Dec 09, 2006 | 7:12AM

While I tend to agree with you based on past history; this time around my agreeing is a little less enforced simply because I see a change in people's attitudes taking place and more importantly, I notice that the masses (normally referred to as the idiots by many) are becoming more informed and less likely to simply go out and buy the cheapest thing at BestBuy. There has been no better time to evaluate the hate many have towards MS (and rightfully so). In addition to that, just look at the pending anti-trust cases. The EU will not stop until it has destroyed MS. Unlike that mickey mouse club of a justice system here in the US, they actually follow through. South Korea has banned Windows Vista, France and China have dumped it for Linux. What comes next? See, its not the same era anymore. Sure, by cheer numbers, Vista will sell but not because its any good (its a piece of shit), but simply because there still are too many people that have NO IDEA what it is they are buying beyond what they refer to as 'a new computer'.

Jarod | Dec 09, 2006 | 7:12AM

I've noticed a change in the air. I've been a Windows user since 3.0. Last year I gave up and moved to a Mac PowerBook and haven't looked back. Computing with a Mac is so much easier and more fun. On the back of my Mac conversion, my parents are running a Mac (Mini), my wife has a MacBook, my parents-in-law have a Mac Mini and MacBook, my ex-CEO has an iMac and a MacBook, my two closest work colleagues have MacBooks and PowerMacs. That's a huge conversion rate: none of us would have considered a Mac as a viable platform just a couple of years ago. This doesn't yet show up in the market data, but this is the real threat to Microsoft: we don't need their API any more. Nice while it lasted (actually, it wasn't nice), but we now do so much more via email, web, Skype, etc. that the traditional model of desktop computing (IBM PC AT with twin 5.25" floppies, called A and B) is over.

Ken Tindell | Dec 09, 2006 | 7:39AM

Microsoft Bob was actually a success for one critical person. Its product manager was Melinda French - who ultimately became Melinda Gates.

Bob Bane | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:04AM

MS will promote Vista until it is a success...for MS.

It may take three years. About the same time the average company renews its PC hardware.

Geoff Lane | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:15AM

Considering that you are only looking at the short term, I would have to agree completely.

Mac is a great alternative, but still slightly pricy, at least in Europe. $3,000 for a properly spec'd MacBook Pro, c'mon.

Ubuntu is showing great potential, but it lacks wow factor. With the new interop-docs from MS there may be some improvement underway, so Ubuntu v8 or v9 might get some serious traction.

Interestingly though people have started recently to ask me about the viability of Linux instead of MS, it reminds me a lot of the OS/2 days.

Henrik | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:20AM

I have to say that the OS success will depend totally on the sale of new computers but that's always been the case with Windows. MS cannot hide the true cost of Windows any longer thanks to the help of the open source community and the free price of Linux and the ever dropping prices of computers from DELL, Gateway, and HP. Vista is their last OS which is more of W2K --> WXP--who really wants a rehash of the same OS with a few improvements? Yes, the security minded will like the new security features but with five or so years of dealing with the failings of WP and learning to harden XP why invest in a new OS that has a warped sense in the fact that MS is exserting more control not less I would like to think people are more informed and are starting to see the scam MS has been using for the past 25+ years. The man behind the curtain has been exposed and people are tired of MS tactics. Every informed person should take the responsibility of educating those less informed.

JL | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:27AM

I think that the main reason that so many people buy Windows (which will mean Vista soon) is because so many other people buy it. Yet most people believe it's a lousy product and feel victimized by Microsoft.

The huge Windows market share is a very strong incentive. Hardware makers, computer stores, software developers all feel and reinforce its effects. Yet, some inroads are being made by both the Apple and Linux. I believe that once enough market share is gained by Windows competitors that they appear to be real viable alternatives to average users, the Windows market will collapse.

I agree with Bob's title for the column, "It Takes a Monopoly." The Windows market could not survive without it.

Douglas Hornig | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:44AM

I know I'm missing something here. Every new PC will come with Vista installed, which will sell a lot of them. But every new machine would come with XP the only gain to MS is the difference in price it can charge for Vista. Can that price possibly justify MS's investment? And if the price difference is really high, they'll just drive people to Linux or encourage them to keep their old XP-running machines an extra year or so.

[BTW: Moving to Macs only helps MS; nobody is going to shift to a Mac without also buying Parallels which means they're all going to buy a copy of Vista anyway.]

The real winners are the PC suppliers, who will now have the opportunity to sell bigger and more expensive machines to support Vista. Is there increased profit in doubling the amount of RAM sold? Maybe's a commodity after all.

AlanK | Dec 09, 2006 | 9:07AM

Vista is the next BOB. it is a tremendous failure. it is riddled with security holes. it will crash every 6 months and you will have to re-install it over and over again. all companies will stay away from Vista forever. the crashes and security problems will mount to a crisis of confidence that microsoft cannot fix it. i am predicting that Vista will be the first Operating system to be actually recalled under federal law due to security defects.

bob fadrowski | Dec 09, 2006 | 10:01AM

As a longtime Windows user, having bought a Mac Pro under the premise of easily "making the switch", I realize that PCs, operating systems, and commercial software in general is so centered around Windows that change is impossible. Apple might make a dent in the critical mass, but I doubt it. And I'm not very optimistic about Apple as an alternative.

As a great example, I've been trying to add wireless networking to a Mac Pro I purchased this fall. The networking option wasn't available when I bought the machine at the Apple Store, and not long after the purcahse, I moved to Vienna. The problem arises from the Apple mentality that requires the networking card to be installed by a service center. The service center in Vienna is only open during business hours, and being a working stiff, would require me to skip going to work in order to get a networking card installed. It the sort of thing that just doesn't make sense: it would cost me 2-3 times the cost of the card to just take the machine to the store. (Factor in my pay adding taxi costs to transport the rather large box, etc.)

Now, I am writing this on the Mac Pro running Windows, which was easy to connect wireless networking with a USB wireless card. So while I still am looking for an easy option to connect my Mac, getting Windows to run was easy - just walk down the street a couple of blocks to Saturn (Austria's answer for Best Buy/Fry's), buy a USB card, come home, plug it in.

When 95+% of all computer equipment in your local store is centered around Windows-based systems, Microsoft would have to try really hard to fail.

Personally, I can't wait until there is enough web-based software to render PCs, and their OSes, into commodities for interacting with the web. I give it 5 years, more or less. Networking and web-based storage will be sufficient to make it happen. (For example, my bandwidth isn't quite big or reliable enough to get all my media comfortably up on an S3 account. And that's really the only thing keeping local hard drives significant. But it won't take too much to get it there.) In 5 years, that's probably about the time Microsoft will be trying to release another OS, and that's the one that will fail.

Tristan Juricek | Dec 09, 2006 | 11:25AM

Bob's right, Vista will be adopted, if only because of inertia. The threat to Vista, though, will not be productivity-related but will be entertainment-related. Zune is failing because DRM is too intrusive to let people enjoy their media and DRM is wrapped around the heart of Vista. If Microsoft doesn't solve their DRM problems soon, people will tire of their nagging Windows computers and switch to Apple's comparatively flawless alternatives.

Dave Cox | Dec 09, 2006 | 11:33AM

I just bought some bird seed at the local feed store. They were changeing to computers so they asked me to fill out a form so they would have my info in the computer to "better serve" me.
Since this is 2006 and the system configuration was windows I asked if it were Visa ready. The answer was no, don't need it.
The program was for a stand alone warehousing and not not networked, so the guy told me that he didnt need windows, even though he was using it. This guy and thousands of small businesses use software that customized windows. A lot of these guys are still using DOS like software on a green screen monitor.
My feed store guy will use his "new" Windows XP system for the next 10 years, or till the computer (DELL) is no longer repairable.
My point is that unless you need to switch to Vista you won't. A lot of people don't need Visa.

Scott Hines | Dec 09, 2006 | 11:39AM

AlanK said, "[BTW: Moving to Macs only helps MS; nobody is going to shift to a Mac without also buying Parallels which means they're all going to buy a copy of Vista anyway.]"

It's quite easy to move to a Mac without using MS software in most cases. I've done it. OpenOffice (or NeoOffice, the Mac specific version) works very well with the MS Office formats. And it's free! Parallels and Vista compatibility are for those who are too afraid to cut the apron strings right now. But it will happen eventually.

Paul Dubuc | Dec 09, 2006 | 11:41AM

I want to like Macs. Honest. But it's hard. Sure, I know I'm getting screwed over by Microsoft. But, at least, in the morning I know they won't make me wear sandals, join a commune, or sell flowers at an airport.

For cryin' out loud, Apple's latest commercials don't even show their computers. I'm supposed to *assume* that they're better because they show some snobbish Apple cult member standing next to a nerd in a brown suit. (Let me tell you, when brown eventually makes a comeback, Apple's gonna look pretty silly.)

Apple makes me feel like a sheep and Microsoft makes me feel like a hostage. So, if Commodore ever make a comeback, I'm there...

Johnny | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:25PM

I want to like Macs. Honest. But it's hard. Sure, I know I'm getting screwed over by Microsoft. But, at least, in the morning I know they won't make me wear sandals, join a commune, or sell flowers at an airport.

For cryin' out loud, Apple's latest commercials don't even show their computers. I'm supposed to *assume* that they're better because they show some snobbish Apple cult member standing next to a nerd in a brown suit. (Let me tell you, when brown eventually makes a comeback, Apple's gonna look pretty silly.)

Apple makes me feel like a sheep and Microsoft makes me feel like a hostage. So, if Commodore ever make a comeback, I'm there...

Johnny | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:26PM

I only half-agree with Cringely on the Vista issue. Yes, Vista will succeed by dint of monopolistic power, but it didn’t really matter what OS version Microsoft came out with. They could’ve just come out with Service Pack 3 for XP and still accomplish the same market reach. People will replace their worn-out PCs with new PCs preloaded with whatever. Period.

If Microsoft was hoping to get a major boost in sales from Vista, they will be disappointed. In this sense, it will be a failure. They really didn’t need to spend 5 years and $5 BILLION on Vista development.

Also, Vista will be a failure in another way... If Microsoft was hoping to protect their market share against Apple’s Mac assault, they will be disappointed. Steve Jobs is a doing a great job of leveraging iPod to increase Mac sales. The Mac computer has never been more popular and its lustre will continue to shine brighter over time. Apple’s excellent marketing will guarantee this.

Windows isn’t going away any time soon—Cringely is right about the monopoly. But nor is Vista going to achieve what Steve Ballmer was hoping for. Even in his private thoughts, he must be worried that Vista won’t pay off for all the investment Microsoft has made...

Richard Eng | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:33PM

Note to Cringely Webmaster:

The first time I posted a message, I received a *Whoops! Some URLs have changed* error message -- so I assumed it did not post. Only after I posted the second time did I see the first post actually did work. Fix your dang post submission form -- you need better form error trapping and parsing!

Johnny | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:34PM

I've been a Microsoft user since 1983 when I bought the original IBM PC. But two years ago, I got so fed up with Windows that I switched to the Mac (iMac G5). I have not looked back since.

I am not alone. Many people are no longer held hostage by Microsoft. They have real alternatives now. (I use instead of MS Office. I use Firefox instead of IE. I don't play PC video games. So I have no need for Windows.)

Richard Eng | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:43PM

This might be the perfect time for Apple to offer a PC-user friendly version of Mac OS with full XP compatibility as an alternative to an undesirable upgrade to Vista. (and perhaps even to XP itself) I'm hoping Bob's discussion on the potential for a Mac OS implementation of the XP API comes to fruition. ("Native Speaker: There May Be an End-run for Apple Around Windows After All" As a life-long PC/Windows user, I would seriously consider making an immediate switch to an XP compatible Mac OS system when considering the last paragraph of Bob's previously cited article: "A souped-up OS X kernel with native Windows API support and the prospect of mixing and matching Windows and Mac applications would be, for many users, the best of both worlds. There would be no copy of Windows XP to buy, no large overhead of emulation or compatibility middleware, no chance for Microsoft to accidentally screw things up, substantially better security, and no need to even take a chance on Windows Vista."

Steve McKisic | Dec 09, 2006 | 12:44PM

Vista will indeed be a success....if only because of the great number of PC's that "must" run microsoft OS.

I started in 1986 with the Amiga and with regret moved to the PC under 3.1. I "lived" with Windows....but there will little joy! Then about two years ago I "discovered" OSX. It was wonderful....and it would take a team of horses to drag me back.

The Apple OS is elegant and it indeed "just works."

Kurt Langland | Dec 09, 2006 | 1:13PM

Re: your "consumers will lead the Vista adoption cycle" quote.

For some reason I don't see the masses upgrading to Vista of their own volition. Sure, new PC's will start coming pre-loaded with Vista, but for Aunt Tilly, XP will be good enough for 2-3 years at least.

insomniak | Dec 09, 2006 | 1:29PM

The Wii is still a console force to be reckoned with ... it isn't the fact that it will oversell the XBox 360; what's important is that it will KEEP MICROSOFT FROM MONOPOLY on the console/home entertainment center front.
UI / Interface is everything ... I'm not much of a gamer, but thank creator for Nintendo keeping MS in check.

StuFisch | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:11PM

Exactly what is your definition of winning?

It seems to me that this is a very US-centric view. While the US market is big, the rest of the world presents more growth opportunity. European gov'ts, both the EU and individual countries, are opposing the Microsoft monopoly in varying degrees, but generally much more actively than the US. This includes a movement to accept only products that conform to open standards not controlled by one company, such as the Open Document Format.

Meanwhile, a number of countries, including China and Brazil, are actively promoting the development of Linux as a national competiveness strategy. Currently these efforts appear to be meager, but most disruptive technologies do initially.

Certainly Microsoft is taking the competition seriously. After scoffing at the One Laptop Per Child project, they are now working on installing some version of their OS on it. Many assume it to be Windows CE, but with the multiple versions of Vista--including at least one stripped down version--being announced in hopes of circumventing anti-monopoly penalties, you never know.

If you really care about who 'wins', you can't afford to take a short term view. In spite of the rosy scenarios being promoted by the Microsoft PR machine, they have to have a sick feeling in their stomachs over the miserable performance of their supposedly premier development staff. If they lose their monopoly stranglehold, how well will they fare against real competition? Vista will sell enough copies to keep them in business, but how much longer before those who matter realize that the 'king has no clothes'?

JJS | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:23PM

Although I'd like to say "Use Linux" as someone said before, there is not a real choice, at least now. Maybe the future will give us a Linux distribution ready for the masses. Some say Ubuntu is getting closer to that target.It took me almost the same time Microsoft took to get Vista ready to start translating Cringely's column again, but for those of you who prefer to read it in Spanish, here it is: Hace falta un monopolio.

Juan Diego | Dec 09, 2006 | 2:43PM

I agree with much of your post, but I think there are a few things to point out

(1) For the first time, a new version of Windows is released when existing hardware does everything the vast majority of users want (Aero is a toy, not a feature). There's no reason to drop a bundle just to use a new OS. If there were, everyone would have switched to the Mac a long time ago.

I do believe that Linux will take a large share of existing PC's in a couple years. Ubuntu works great with 256 MB of RAM, so why throw the computer away? It's easy to use and getting easier every six months. Vista will give users a reason to try Linux, which is something they've not had before.

(2) I think the PC and multimedia will move apart completely. There's little if any advantage to have them together, because individual multimedia appliances are more convenient, provide better performance, and are cheaper.

(3) The Playstation is a lot better. When production picks up, the demand will still be there. I say Nintendo won this round because it is innovative rather than just high-powered.

(4) The Playstation screw-up is like Vista^2. Sony has deep problems, but those problems can be fixed, at which point they will still be the leaders.

lmf | Dec 09, 2006 | 3:15PM we go with the Mac-v-PC thing. Boy is that a tired argument.

The reality is over the years Apple hasn't focused on marketing to the enterprise. Now we have an enterprise marketplace that has no incentive to deploy Macs - it would be a costly change fraught with risk.

bob | Dec 09, 2006 | 4:44PM

hrm one take on all htis DRM of vistas, and that remote stuff to turn you off and on. its been pwned, in a recent test of exploiting "out there on a private network" a remote program was able to disable a vista PC. now if it took this long to do that, what is the real future of this OS.

CHRoNoSS | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:08PM

ummm....Chronos-could you state that again, but make it literate and understandable this time?


bob | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:33PM

Vista no OS X yes.

Michael | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:36PM

Yes I do remember DOS 4. It's sole redeeming feature was that it enlarged FAT16 cluster sizes to allow for larger hard drives, albeit with more wasted space because of the larger clusters. But it was necessary at the time, and IIRC it was actually IBM who made the coding change first in their PC DOS version, with MS following for the rest of the market. Clearly a kludge at the time that MS continued with until Windows 95 OSR-B and the FAT32 file system, but a necessary one.

david | Dec 09, 2006 | 5:55PM

Blu-Ray and HD-DVD use the same 405nm laser diode. I can vouch for the fact that they are hard to get and very expensive if you're a small company. If you're the 800 lb gorilla, it's not so hard...

EEngineer | Dec 09, 2006 | 6:05PM

Wow, again reading the tone of the messages...

Windows Vista will sell, for the reasons cited in Bob's article. New machines ("Vista - Ready") will march out the doors, I just spec'd 5 machines for a doctor's office. None came with Vista, but all are capable (so sayeth Dell) of running it. Too much risk otherwise. OTOH
I've been running the software on a couple of my stations, and I can tell you it's a pig; and these aren't bad machines... Remember when you could scroll notepad down on a Hercules card, and watch the screen repaint?

It's coming, you need a new machine (or a really big dog gamer box) to run it; and it doesn't run all legacy apps. (Not even Microsoft's).

Ubuntu... Hmm...

aedmunde | Dec 09, 2006 | 6:15PM

I wouldn't count PS3 out yet - they've got for too much of a lead from the previous generation -- 2007 is the year to watch consoles as well.

Jim | Dec 09, 2006 | 7:03PM

QUOTE:"Apple, meanwhile, is sneaking into the room through the use of its iTV wireless video adapter box. Where is that thing, anyway? There's no way Apple won't introduce it, though apparently 2006 will be another iPod Christmas. I'd look for the iTV by MacWorld in January where Apple's 802.11n networking will suddenly be available across a huge range of Apple products.

Apple is all about convenience, and 802.11n is the first wireless standard with enough bandwidth and range to support a true no-wires religion. So we'll see video adapters like the iTV, with its built-in H.264 hardware decoder, but we'll also likely see similar audio adapters intended to link our iPods into the home, possibly with Bluetooth networking, too.

So the living room is a toss-up depending on the successful integration platform (xBox 360 or iTV) and the slate of services lined up behind each. I tend to give Apple the nod here, based partly on apparent positive momentum in the product space, but even more because of Microsoft's prediction this week that it would sell one million Zune MP3 players by the end of its fiscal year. Such a sales estimate can't be based on initial sales figures, meaning it has to be Microsoft marketing's version of a Hail Mary pass: if we predict it, maybe it will come to pass. Probably not."


About Apple sneeking into the livingroom. They already have. How could you have missed their livingroom debute Robert? Have you missed the 24 inch iMac? Along with its front row remote control it is ripe to take over the living room. Unless you expect a larger screen than 24 inches, the 24' iMac fits the bill. This iMac has an external digital imput for an external digital tuner.

Sure Apple will release their iTV wireless video adapter. But don't count the computer out as the centre of the livingroom's home entertaiment centre, at least for some people.

Microsoft and its partners failed to bring the computer into the livingroom--but don't count Apple out simply because MS failed.

Paul | Dec 09, 2006 | 8:28PM

@ Jim, The previous generation doesn't hold any baring on the current generation. It's a fact of the gaming industry that every 5 years the percentile market capitalization changes by at least 20 points. It's already happened. 360 has a huge lead and doesn't force you to buy HD DVD player with you Game Console, it's optional. It will take a miracle for Sony to take 1st place in this environment of Anti-Sony hype, respect for 360 and the positive hype for the Wii. Another interesting thing to note is that never, in the history of gaming has the most powerful system won the race. It goes all the way back to the Atari days.

Chris | Dec 09, 2006 | 9:09PM

MS failed OS candidates from the old days: Xenix and MSX. It's about time I got a new microcomputer - hardly any run MSX any more!

alex g | Dec 09, 2006 | 9:50PM

..."this strategy has been around for years and there is no reason to believe we won't fall for it again."

Here's one. Linux is in much better shape to take on Windows this time. Portable boot DVDs, compatibility with Windows file systems, automated support for upgrades, and non-invasive Linux virtual machines, coupled with bootable flash memory, means that a lot more people will be seeing Linux on a PC near them at some time in the near future. Take time to answer two or three questions - "What is it?" "How much does it cost?" "Is it safe to use?" - and you're well on the way to securing another Linux user. Of course 'failure' is relative, but I think Microsoft are going to have to get used to not having things all their own way again.

Jon Jermey | Dec 09, 2006 | 10:18PM

I'm no tech-xpert by any means, but I have been a Windows user since 1988. I started fooling around with Linux in 2000 and I used Apple from 1980 to 1988.

It seems to me that MS has nowhere to go but down. No one can stay on top forever, and I think the "tipping point" has arrived. The demise will occur on three separate fronts.

1. I think we will see many home PC users (e-mail, web, photos, etc.) gradually drop PCs altogether in favor of web connected cell phones. These little gadgets have really morphed into powerful little devices that are almost a full-blown PC in their own right. Web-based apps will only further fuel this. You can already see this sort of happening as people forgoe LAN-line telephone service in favor of just a cell phone. Users would just need some sort of cradle or docking station that would allow them to use a traditional keyboard, monitor and mouse.

2. There will also be a migration of home PC users to Apple now that you can run your Windows apps and for fewer virus and spyware issues. A significant contingent of these people will be migrating for no other reason than marketing and belonging to Apple cult. I personally think that even though Bill Gates is hated by many, if Jobs would have won, things would have been an order of magnitude worse. We all would be paying through the nose for Apple hardware that runs only Apple software while being tied to Apple on the web as well.

3. Finally, I think that the enteprise migration to Linux will begin to take hold as companies are given a choice within the next three years to buy new hardware with Vista or install the latest Linux distibution of their choice on their existing hardware. Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Suse would all be viable options. With custom web apps running on corporate intranets, the appeal of slashing costs and security issues will surely win out at some point. The one "killer app" that would help seal this deal is some sort of migration tool to translate custom MS Office VBA macros to Open Office without having to start from scratch.

Ideally, I would like to see a full blown PC/Cellphone that is linked to a Webstorage Application that constantly monitors Informatica style your phone/pc and mirrors the installation. That way when you lose or upgrade your phone all you have to do is connect your new phone/pc to your Webstorage and allow it to re-sync. All your data, applications, and setup are exactly as you left them on the old device. This may be a dream, but I'd sure like it.

drewby | Dec 09, 2006 | 10:23PM

The only thing I think is going to threaten Microsoft is if/when Google releases an OS. I think Google has the right idea about making things user friendly, they just need to get the concept of making their apps more powerful. Linux won't challenge MS simply because it isn't pre-installed on nearly enough systems and there is too MUCH choice about which distro to get.

That being said, Google will likely have a Linux based OS, but I suspect it will simply deal with boot-up, system configuration and peripheral controls. The GUI will be a web browser (possibly based off Firefox) and all applications, programs and files will be run off of Google servers or other companies. It may be years off, but it's comming, perhaps by the time Microsoft is ready to ditch Vista, Google will make some waves.

Josh Wisniewski | Dec 10, 2006 | 5:04AM

You are talking about "your" world. I don't blame you, it's hard enough to keep up even in your own world. But Your World is predicated on high bandwidth zero limit Internet and essentially - being American. Enjoy it while it lasts.

VK7JJ | Dec 10, 2006 | 5:32AM

drewby is right on. I would be in the middle of transitioning all of our 150 workstations to linux right now if I could transition all the Excel and Access VBA macros to open office easily. We will not move to Vista until there is no way to keep running XP.

Robert Clark | Dec 10, 2006 | 9:01AM

Having seen people's reactions to my sons' new Wii, it looks like the Nintendo is in a strong position to retake the gaming crown. Genuinely innovative games, a tiny machine that's attractive and cheaper than the competition, and backwards compatibility with Game Cube games and controllers. For the first time in years, I want my own console.

peter H | Dec 10, 2006 | 10:35AM

Linux will continue to grow even more next year.
And M$ profit streams are dwindling.

XBox will be superceeded. Games consoles always are.
Office now has major competition and more coporate users will jump ship next year than ever before.
And on the tail of SCO being sucked down the toilet of history will come even more Linux adoption. 2007 will be interesting to watch.

That only leaves the OS market: If they can only make a new OS every five years, then it's Hasta La Vista Baby.

old hoary | Dec 10, 2006 | 11:51AM

Stephen as a well respected technology writer can you tell me why I can no longer print your column? I used to print it before you went to this blogging format. It seems no matter what I do the right side gets truncated. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

James O'Brien | Dec 10, 2006 | 12:38PM

We have several computers in our home. One of them runs Windows/ME, a couple run Windows/XP, one runs Linux (the one I am using right now), and a few run Windows/2000. ALL of them are working well.

While we could spend the week discussing which MS operating systems were good or bad, it may be more useful to look at what causes the PC to go bad. Its not just the operating system!

Windows based PC's all have a common problem -- their file systems degrade over time. Temp files pile up, the files become fragmented, the file system becomes corrupted. Its been the same problem for every Microsoft operating system ever made. If one runs chkdsk, defrag, and reboots their PC a few times a week, it will eliminate and prevent a LOT of problems. I hope Vista finally figures this out. Somehow I suspect this problem will continue.

The next problem is to understand where most of your problems come from -- email and websites. When we stopped using Explorer-line email clients and went to a pure browser based email "service," a lot of problems went away. Its important to pick a good "service." Someone who will find and nuke viruses, deal with spam, and generally do a good job managing your email. The next thing to realize is a lot of mischief is done to your PC through its browser. A lot of those security patches over the years were to deal with the vulnerabilities of browsing the internet. If one gets and uses good anti-spyware software and when possible uses a "different" browser, more problems will be prevented. Think of your browser and email as the front door by which most problems get it. Vista may be able to slow down the problem, but there will always be bad guys knocking at your PC's front door.

Most of the remaining problems one will experience on their PC's come over the internet and use specific operating system flaws. Never, ever connect one's PC to the raw internet! There is no substitute for a good NAT'ing router, firewall device. These devices will, by default, block all inbound (to your home) Internet connections and in doing so will keep a lot of problems out of your house. With a good router, firewall you can do other useful things, like impose content filtering, block intrusive advertising, etc. Bad stuff can get through the retail store internet appliances. If you need serious protection, use a serious product like ClarkConnect.

Finally, Windows has a bad habit of picking up extra little applets over time. The become little programs that run all the time on your PC, sucking memory and processor resources. Take the time to learn what you need and get rid of the rest. Figure out where the bad stuff came from and block it at your firewall so it doesn't come back.

If you will do these things you can still get good service out of Windows/98SE, Windows/ME, Windows/2000, and Windows/XP. Prevention has always been a better way to deal with a problem. I am glad to say maybe Microsoft has finally realized that with Vista. It could be a tremendous improvement as an operating system. I hope so. But the moral of the lesson is for us to continue a program of prevention. Don't depend on an operating system to keep you safe and your PC in good working condition. Be attentitve to the things that will harm your PC and stop them before they get into your house and onto your PC.

Finally, there are a lot of very inexpensive, even free tools. Throwing money at an operating system upgrade may be the most expensive, and least effect use of your funds. The reason I am still running Windows/ME and Windows/2000 is there is no reason for me to upgrade! Prevention really does work. I hope Microsoft figures this out some day.

John | Dec 10, 2006 | 1:33PM

Winner of the console war?

Depends on your point of view. Although Nintendo were a close third with the Gamecube, they made a profit on each unit sold. And then there's the usual tax per game sold.

Meanwhile, Sony continued to a make loss on each PS2 shifted. M$ took a bigger hit, made worse by the fact that they didn't sell anywhere like as many games.

Also, aren't PS2 console and games sales still higher than Xbox + Xbox 360?

From the look of things the same will be true for this round of the console wars. The Wii is probably sold at a profit. Nintendo don't have to be first to be profitable.

M$ are in a better position with the Xbox 360 due to Sony's supply problems. It's been out almost a year now, right? Also, they're sure to cut the price around the time the PS3 launches. And M$, like with the Xbox, are probably happy to make a loss just to stay in the game.

When the PS3 comes out, it will be interesting to count how many units are shipping, but also to count how many people are upgrading from PS2.

Of the three, I'd still buy Nintendo shares.

Adam Nealis | Dec 10, 2006 | 1:34PM

Can't print? Prints just fine for me, MacBook Pro running Safari. So does a quick copy and paste into a word processor, so does Acrobat's "Create PDF from Web Page" (though the output is a bit fugly).

Works like a charm.

Brian Filipiak | Dec 10, 2006 | 3:38PM

I know you are so right. I wish you were so wrong....

Peter Asquith | Dec 10, 2006 | 3:51PM

Brian, after reading your long comment and realizing how much you are talking from the top of your head not actual numbers, or facts, one has to ignore anything you say. My point isn't to bash you, but anyone who would like to comment in the future...please try to do some research before you spread untruths or misconceptions (i.e. turning a tv on to see that people have already been shot at, waiting in line to buy a ps3 because it has ALREADY launched). RESEARCH YOUR OPINIONS PLEASE SO Bob's comment section isn't a waste of time!

Craig | Dec 10, 2006 | 4:14PM

Brian's long comment? Can't see it...

Joe | Dec 10, 2006 | 6:48PM

I don't know why everyone is bitchin' about upgrading to Vista. After all, this is the first major upgrade in 5 years, and Microsoft intends to continue Windows 2000 support until at least 2010. In contrast, Apple no longer supports OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), a 3-year old OS.

For example, Windows 2000 users can install/run Quicktime 7.x while you need OS X 10.3.9+ to have it on your Mac. I've also heard many developers say they intend to drop support for OS X 10.4 (Tiger) as soon as 10.5 (Leopard) is released...

Don't get me wrong, I prefer OS X to Windows, but the frequent forced upgrade cycles of OS X is a pain. :-(

John Henderson | Dec 10, 2006 | 7:15PM

Of course Vista will succeed. What most people don't realize is how all these corporations and our government work together. People just don't get the magnitude of the scam going on here. The microphone listening to you in your PC or Cable Box is not even covered and we sit here and debate nonsense.

When Internet 2 arrives people will be more concerned about wether or not they can download the latest DVD or PC game illegally than having freedom of speech on the internet.

Trying searching "Microsoft" and "Microphones" and "internet 2" on or

Bob, I thank you for your articles over the years. I wish you would cover the really important things that are going down as they relate to the tech industry in general. We do have one champion (for the life of me I can't recall his name) But he is one of the co-owners of SUN microsystems. Go read what he says about the people running our corporations in league with the government. His attendance at a certain "elite" type get-together was very revealing. He knows this whole left vs right paradigm is just a trick to enslave us.

Sorry for getting off topic (it isn't really though, not totally). Comments always welcome.


Doug Ryan | Dec 10, 2006 | 10:46PM

It all depends on how you define "success". In the sense that Microsoft will continue to be the predominant maker of desktop operating systems, Vista will almost certainly be a success. In the sense that Microsoft will recoup its $5 billion investment in Vista by selling more licenses than Microsoft would have sold if it just kept selling Windows XP, that is much less certain. And in the sense that Vista will help Microsoft maintain its desktop dominance and extend its tentacles into other areas, Vista will almost certainly be a flop.

It is a truism in the computer industry that your fiercest competitor is your last big product. If you have a four-year-old Windows-based PC, your PC has Windows XP. Your PC has USB 2.0 ports. You can use your PC to surf the Web, write emails, rip and encode MP3s. If you have the right PCI card, you can even import and edit digital video with a four-year-old computer. You can get someting today that can complete all those tasks faster, but the upgrade advantage is becoming increasingly small. The things that you can do with a computer today are the same basic things that people did with computers four years ago. People are therefore stretching out their upgrade cycle or opting out of the upgrade cycle entirely. Media center PCs have gained in popularity over the past few years, but as Bob says, the Xbox is the key to Microsoft's media strategy. At this point, Windows is almost purely a cash cow, and most future growth will come from other parts of the company.

ploeg | Dec 10, 2006 | 11:25PM

No reason to use profanity Bob... :P

Sam | Dec 10, 2006 | 11:32PM

Windows ME was pretty much a failure. They covered it by coming out with XP fast enough though. Now it's like ME never even existed. The unmentioned Windows version.

Dustin | Dec 11, 2006 | 1:17AM

Well I am coming at this from a gamers viewpoint. Microsoft will force PC gamers to upgrade or buy a new PC with Vista installed, by having Vista only games. Good example is Halo 3, which will be Vista only. And lets not forget Direct X 10 which will be Vista only too. So that lovely new graphics card you bought that supports Direct X 10 will only show its true capability off when you get Vista!

I will be getting a new PC some time soon purely because it will be cheaper than upgrading my XP system, so I will no doubt get Vista one way or another.

Thurstan Johnston | Dec 11, 2006 | 7:58AM

Tis true, a new PC is the only way forward for Vista, dont even get me started on the file types for Office 2007, XML based documents whatever next.

Ethan Duffell | Dec 11, 2006 | 8:11AM

Linux is almost there, but not quite, as a serious alternative to Windows. I've recently tried both SimplyMEPIS and Xandros on an old laptop and they both work fine for speed, stability and functionality ... BUT ... when Firefox2 came out recently it was completely mindless to install on the XP PC, a lot less straightforward on MEPIS and Xandros. As well, our old scanner doesn't work, nor do a USB wireless adaptor and the Canon printer. On the other hand, the XP computer is all messed up after just 18 months since its last re-installation so maybe when the printer breaks, that will be it and a switch to some OSS distro will happen for good. Many of my friends and relatives would love something that is cheap and just works to do email, wireless web browsing, printing, scanning, photo storage and editing, music and video file storage.

Jean | Dec 11, 2006 | 9:20AM

What I think we have here is a levelling of the playing field. MS will still dominate. Vista is a no-brainer, and OS X and Linux will continue to chip away. But because of markets like China, there will be enough investment in open standards that increasingly MS will be less able to call the shots. Just like the tipping point from IBM controlling the x86 roadmap to MS.

Dan | Dec 11, 2006 | 10:00AM
Apple, meanwhile, is sneaking into the room through the use of its iTV wireless video adapter box. Where is that thing, anyway? There's no way Apple won't introduce it, though apparently 2006 will be another iPod Christmas. I'd look for the iTV by MacWorld in January where Apple's 802.11n networking will suddenly be available across a huge range of Apple products.

Apparently and during the last Jobs infomercial, he specifically said it was for next year. So unless he's very quick to release stuff, and I'm sure he would've loved to be able to profit from the xmas boon, I guess it's an iPod year.

Michel | Dec 11, 2006 | 10:08AM

No mention of the Wii? Granted it only made it too the market very recently, but according to this site ( they seem to be pushing units out pretty quick. Only time will tell whether this growth is sustainable.

As a parent, I will prolly not be dropping the kind of cash required for XBox360/PS3 for my teen. He can get a job and buy his own and frankly I am not that interested in all the multimedia blah blah blah. I think its a big potential mistep to lump into these devices a ton of potential functionality that consumers may not want. I surely dont want to pay for hardware I dont need.

As a gamer (I go back to pen/paper D&D), there is something important to observe happing in the Massively Online Multiplayer (MMO) market; its growing which means MMOs are no longer a zero sum game. Ever since EverQuest (EQ), games have basically competed for the same market base. Back in the day, there were only so many nerds and no one was really able to make the market BIGGER. I read a while back that the total MMO player base was basically hovering around a million players for quite some time, but WoW now boasts 7.5 million players, which means the bulk of folks playing WoW are playing their first MMO ever.

If thats a real sustained market trend, thats big.

I think this is an important parallel to console games, which are similarly poised to leap into demographic groups that previously had nothing to do with consoles (or MMOs). Case in point: my wifes DAD, who recently retired from banking and can barely work a PC, is absolutely hooked on WoW. That ladies and gentlemen is a huge market shift if it proves to be anything other than an anomoly.

I think consoles need to stop thinking so much about stealing each others players and need to work more on bringing in totally new players. I think strategies are clearly visible in Sony and MS; they want to to be the multi media center of the universe to promote their other products/services. However, Nintendo is taking a different route; they want to change the over all gaming experience and potentially grow the market.

I guess it remains to see if my wife's dad will take to golfing with the Wii.

Crazy Cooter

CrazyCooter | Dec 11, 2006 | 10:13AM

Don't discount Nintendo in the game console war. The Wii is extremely fun to play, and appeals to men and women alike. That can't be said for any other console game system available today. I don't know if Nintendo has aspirations to be your total living room solution, but it wouldn't surprise me. In any case, I expect them to give Microsoft some serious competition in the upcoming years.

Mark | Dec 11, 2006 | 10:23AM

One reason that PCs won't be invading the living room is that it is much easier to have a TV invade the home office. While a game may be something that a family or some part of it may enjoy doing together in the living room and thus merit shelf space in the home entertainment cabinet, a history paper, or worse a spreadsheet with sales predictions for the third quarter just is not content that can be worked on in that setting. So, the PC, (be it Wintel or Apple), is consigned to the home office or bedroom where it can reside happily with a TV so that homework can be done while keeping up with Deal or No Deal and not kicking the rest of the family out of their common gathering space.

Michael Class | Dec 11, 2006 | 10:55AM

Unfortunately you might be correct that Vista will completely win, but I do see a possibility for change. When corporations look at the licensing schemes forced upon them to move into the Microsoft's future, I think many will stop and do as we have done. They will decide to wait until XP fails. They will wait to see if A) the licensing changes for the better or B) if Microsoft follows up Vista with a better system worthy of being a WGA hostage.

Personally, I see an opportunity for Apple and Novell. Both could use this opportunity to expand significantly into that business market. (And yes, I am fully aware of the multitude of problems plaguing the disorganized linux realm.) Still, I have been using SLED 10 for a while now as my primary system, and I believe that it has the ability to handle many of the corporate needs. Macs will do the same.

Here's hoping that MS will struggle enough to give some other players a better foothold.

Matt | Dec 11, 2006 | 12:34PM

I have to respond to Michael Class's comment.
The PC as a beige box sitting under a desk is a dead concept. Someday my son will marvel at the idea that the computer had a special corner in the house, and it never moved.
The laptop is the future home of the history paper and spreadsheet. Something tied to the home big screen is possible, but nothing we think of as a computer today will be tied down with wires.

Doug Withau | Dec 11, 2006 | 12:44PM

HD-DVD is a recent add-on for the XBox 360, so Microsoft is not much further ahead with getting HD-DVD into homes than Sony is with Blu-Ray on the PS3. The movie studios seem to be hedging their bets, so it's still unclear what will tip the balance. Apple notably hasn't chosen a side yet. Perhaps the winner of Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD will be the first to have a player for less than $300.

Ben | Dec 11, 2006 | 12:59PM

Contrary to some opinions here, the PS3 has lost the war. They've lost this Christmas battle badly (anyone looking to buy a higher end gaming platform goes to a store and ends up with a XBox by default due to PS3 shortages, while the Wii fills the "cheap" market perfectly) and in 2007 when Sony starts to get their act together and ramp up production, we will see Xbox price cuts that will bury the PS3 on a cost basis. It will be Microsoft's one-two punch that will leave Sony looking like Glass Joe.

SJGMoney | Dec 11, 2006 | 1:15PM

The console wars are over. There is likely to be a general winner, but the landscape will not be the “winner take all” that the PS2 was. As of June the PS2 was still outselling the 360 ( The main change that has facilitated the end of the console wars (really more of a truce) has been that the game designers will not want to cut out any significant percentage of the market. Only a very small percentage of the titles sold will be locked into a console, and those titles will be produced by the console manufacturer (ie Halo for 360, Resistance for PS3, etc). Unless a member of the public absolutely needs to have “the” game that’s locked in to a specific console, they will probably base their decision on some other aspect of the console (graphics, cost, value, controllers, etc). I personally will be buying a PS3 because it is the console that is losing the most amount of money per sale; therefore I think it will offer the best value. The other reason I’m getting a PS3 is because I’ll probably try to drop Fedora Core 5 and a MythTV client on it, and replace my media center box.

BrentR | Dec 11, 2006 | 1:24PM

Bob, you're right on, although I believe the we'll see more defections from the Windows user base. I refused to move forward from Win2K to XP based mostly on the Orwellian licensing enforcement. Yet, I made the decision without a clear path so I just stayed win Win2K. It wasn't perfect, but I did get good at reinstalling Windows from a clean disk.

I experimented with Linux. Then, my father-in-law bought us an iMAC G5. Part of this was to help "show us The Way to silicon salvation," but also so that we could use iChatAV for trans-Atlantic videoconferencing to visit the grandchildren.

I've never been happier with our home computing situation. We just bought another iMac, Intel Core 2 Duo based this time. I intend to use Parallels (as mentioned in an earlier comment) if I really need Windows for anything. I have 3 decent-spec PCs, which all have Debian Linux. The other PCs will be sitting curbside next week. Let me know if you want the street address ;)

The MS installed base has never had such a capable array of alternatives. And, without saying that I wholeheartedly endorse The Tribe's prediction of the next MS OS being Unix/Linux based, that possibility is certainly ripening.

Tom | Dec 11, 2006 | 3:06PM

What about the Wii? It is cheaper than the PS3 or the 360 and it isn't made by a company I despise :)Maybe the Wii will be the winner this time?

Daniel | Dec 11, 2006 | 3:20PM

Of course everyone will eventually upgrade to Vista. At least all Windows users will and this includes people similar to me who run Windows under Parallels under Mac OS X.

Some website somewhere that will be important to me will require IE 7.37 which will only run under Vista.


Dave Barnes | Dec 11, 2006 | 4:34PM

Bob, you know that the 360 plays wonderfully with OSX. with a nice little app called 360Connect I can access all of my iTunes songs and playlists, iPhoto pics and movies on screen through my xBox. In fact, it works better than any solution available for Windows today.

Microsoft gets bonus sales here in my book, especially if iTV doesn't offer anything more groundbreaking than wireless N networking.

Robb | Dec 11, 2006 | 4:48PM

Bob, You're right on with Vista a hands down winner by default, eventually, there is no other option. Linux which I love dearly just won't work well for most users who have no time to learn something new. Maybe in a few - or ten years from now.

The PS3 is not aimed at this year anyway, I think if they actually could build enough PS3s, they would still sell out. When they actually get enough PS3s in the sales chain they'll sell better than XBOX which is going to end up 3rd behind the very surprising Wii, which is going to sell as many as they can build for a long time because of it's very innovative wireless control which does super well with non-gamers. XBOX is doing well only because they have them on the shelf to buy right now. Holidays next year will be a lot different and the true leader will show. PS3.

(note: I own no game consoles, nor have any plans to buy one)

TekMage | Dec 11, 2006 | 4:49PM

Microsoft and Windize sucks. With a capital SUCK!

John Manger | Dec 11, 2006 | 5:08PM

Microsoft and Windoze sucks. With a capital SUCK!

John Manger | Dec 11, 2006 | 5:08PM

Hmm (pondering once again)...I don't think the PS3 will recover sufficiently because of the blue ray debacle and remember the Xbox has one MAJOR ace up it's's now shackled, constrained by good ‘ol MS in the video (media extender) category.
No DivX, Xvid or the like, BUT...and I only say BUT...if MS does make a few 'adjustments' via live and we get some decent integration well look out Apple and Sony because suddenly we have a fully fledged delivery system from ANYWHERE in out home (wireless delivery aside - say that quickly and it sounds a little like 'lawyer speak')...and a with 12+ million installed base of consoles.

If that feature is opened up the flood gates surely will too. Just think - we actually don't NEED a pc in the living room as it will pay DVDs, music, video etc etc and provide HD picture quality into the bargain...all for a relatively bargain price for the hardware cost. COMMON MS!!! TVersity type mucking around is SO LAME.

Dr Evil | Dec 11, 2006 | 6:07PM

I used to have a business where I easily ran QuickBooks Pro 2002 on Windows 98 SE. I quit the business but still had to bill one client for about four more years. When the laptop that had the Windows 98 SE became unstable, I wanted to re-load QuickBooks Pro 2002 on my shiny new computer with Windows XP. I then discovered that I had to buy a new copy of QuickBooks Pro 2006 because my old copy of QuickBooks Pro 2002 wouldn't run on Windows XP.

So when you buy a new computer, you get Vista - but I'll bet you have to buy all new software too because your existing programs are designed to not work on Vista. Thanks Bill!

ddddgee | Dec 11, 2006 | 7:40PM

Wish I knew what a url was/is. I may be stupid, but I do care about a lot of things! One is this e-machine that I bought almost a year ago. Learning how to use it has made me feel stupider than at any time in my life. I am 68 years old, have a son in law that is a total nerd, and lives in New Mexico with my daughter and only grandson. I have no one to teach me! So JL if you wanta putcher $$$'s where yer mouth is, my e-mail is
Bob, I read your column when I can get my mind to free up enough to accept that I may not under-stand half of what I read. Tonight I read it all and understood most of it, and so went on to read the comments. Wish I were as funny as Johnny, I cracked up about screwed by MS and what ever it was by Apple, but not having to wear sandals, join a commune, or sell flowers at the airport! Funny guy! and for degustibus I drive a '75 BMW, can change my own plugs, oil, and clean my carburetor, but this XPsp2 is driving (pun intended) me insane.
Your forecasts about Microsoft were interesting to me because I respect your opinion even though I don't understand it, and I have an inborn (knee jerk) reaction to millionaires and monopolies, and yet I was starting to like Bill Gates. His PR team has made him seem like he could be dog's gift to this, self-obsessed, materialistic, brown suit wearing mess we call a society. Now I am again mistrusting him and Warren Buffet! How could they have given as much money as they say they have and not made a dent in the problems in Darfur not to mention right her in beautiful down town Berkeley.
I live in relative luxury, with a view of the GG bridge and the bay, in a govt. subsidized building that was new six years ago and has been allowed by management and HUD to crumble around me. You have to understand, I did not marry well, did not get a good education from the L.A. public school system... where the hell did Nelson Rockefellers money go? In my own defence, I did not become an alcoholic, did smoke pot and took acid, and loved rock 'n roll, was a real amerkin.
What the hell, you ask, does this have to do with MS, URL's, HD's, DOS, or anything remotely interesting?
Well... some one made a comment about us stupid people not caring. I care enough to let you all know that I do and always have wanted to learn, and it ain't easy out there for the average white woman.

Cheryl | Dec 12, 2006 | 2:10AM

I laugh reading all the "Oh, Vista is the end of Micro$oft!" and "Nobody will bother to buy Vista!" comments that are still doing the rounds.

The exact same things were said about XP, 2000, 98...and yet they all quickly became the new desktop standard.

As much as I love *NIX and *BSD and all, I cannot bring myself to indulge in the ridiculous wishful-thinking rants that my fellow Linux lovers excel at.

Vista will perpetuate Microsoft's total dominance of the PC desktop.

Gaz | Dec 12, 2006 | 2:42AM

Uh, the graphics card in the 360 is more powerful than the one in the PS3. Xenos>>>>>RSX

As far as CPU, they don't understand Cell, so the tri-core is a better thing right now

Ricky Fresh | Dec 12, 2006 | 3:30AM

I actually don't agree with the comment that the Xbox 360 won this round of the next-gen consoles. I think the Nintendo Wii did, even if it is no apparent right now.

All it takes to understand this is 5 minutes with the Wiimote. All of a sudden going back to the "handcuffs" approach of the old controllers seems restricting. It's one of of those things where you simply can't go back to the old way of doing things.

On a more objective view, notice that the Wii is already on its way to 4 million units, and like any toy store can tell you, Nintendo can probably sell 10 million units if they had enough made.

The Wii is spreading like a virus: Once people try it they want one.

On a note about the PS3, even with all its flaws and its high price, if Sony manages to manufacture enough really soon (i.e.: before most people discover the Wii), I think it will also end up doing better than the X360, as there is simply a huge following of PS2 users waiting to get a hold on the new console, much the same as Windows XP users who will switch to Vista simply because it's "the new better thing".

Jose Elias | Dec 12, 2006 | 9:13AM

In response to the Wii being viral in its acceptance pattern... yes and no.

The intuitive nature of the controls are quite good, and novel. BUT... there's the matter of them not staying in the user's hands, and being flung across the room. Nintendo's going to have to work on the ergonomics and the safety sleeve/strap.

It's about time someone came out with a position/motion sensor controller that works. Microsoft had one a while back with the Sidewinder, but it was pretty much a rehash of their gamepad... didn't fly too far as I recall.

George | Dec 12, 2006 | 9:21AM

Something I learned in college a few decades ago. If a firm introduces 10 new products, 6 or 7 of them will be lucky to break even. 1 or 2 will be nicely profittable. 1 or 2 will be wildly profittable. The profit you will make from the wildly successful products will more than pay for the cost of all 10 products. The moral of the story is you have to be willing to work through a number of failures to find gold. The trick is not to lose too much money on the no-so-successful products. Given this you've got to respect Microsoft for trying. How many firms are so afraid of failure, they can't get up the nerve to try something new?

To put DOS 4.0 in historical perspective. OS/2 was supposed to be the operating system after DOS 3.3. OS/2 was in trouble and as the disk drives got bigger, Microsoft had give DOS a quick and dirty upgrade. By then Microsoft realized IBM was entrenched on a bad business plan. Microsoft could not get them to rethink the approach. That is when Windows 3.0 got serious. At the time Windows 3.0 was a terribly risky business move. DOS 5.0 and 6.0 came out later and were designed to be a better platform for Windows. Windows 3x had a lot of problems but at least Microsoft stayed with it and improved it. At the sametime IBM was going to keep producing 16-bit versions of OS/2 and refused to move up the schedule for the 32-bit version. Can you imagine running a multitaksing, GUI operating system on a 286? IBM could not get past this. IBM wasted Billion$ failing to realize running OS/2 on the existing installed base of 286's was unrealistic.

Is now really the right time for a mass deployment of HD DVD drives? In my career I've been very successful in waiting for the right time to buy technology. When a new disk drive or CD/DVD device came out, I wouldn't be the first one in line to buy it. I'd mark my calendar and in about 6 months take a look at the product. By then there would usually be competition in the market -- lower prices, and most of the problems would be fixed. I didn't learn this by being smart. I learned it though mistakes. I found the newest of the new products can have a short working life and are generally not as good as the products that will follow them. In the end I realized I regretted every early purchase of something new. By putting HD DVD in their products Sony and Microsoft will definitely help kick start a new generation of media drives. However I know the drives in next years PS3 will be a lot better than this years. As a consumer I think I'd prefer to buy a model with a normal (safe) DVD drive today and then let my buy an upgrade next year.

John | Dec 12, 2006 | 10:11AM

Wonderfull analysis, I can't agree more, it is certainly true that microsoft has got a handle on making Operating systems. I wonder why IBM has fallen so far behind. They did not bounce back with OS/2 at all. I am glad i read this article.

sasi raj | Dec 12, 2006 | 10:58AM

The Sony is a degree and 1/2 of magnitude better. I've seen X box 360 graphics they don't look much better than a Playstation II. Thats what moves the gammimg community not price but performance and wow.
You said yourself neither will get in the living room so who is going to drive the market?
Blue Ray or hard drive install from DVD the machine is hands down going away better. Any real gamer knows that!

Randy | Dec 12, 2006 | 12:24PM

Apple really opened my eyes with their Intel transition. No backward compatibility with Classic apps - you must buy all new software. (Where's the universal binary for Apple Hypercard, Steve?) Apple's arrogance and autocratic anti-consumerism make Microsoft look like the good guys. I used Macs for years but I can't stomach the thought of buying one now.

Rick Rodman | Dec 12, 2006 | 1:37PM

I don't see how Apple could have provided a way to run classic apps well on the new Intel systems. Emulators can do only so much. When Apple changed processors it really was a bridge burn move. It kinda makes you wonder why they did it???

What surprises me about this problem is the pain could have been reduced. Apple could have worked out a way for you to get the upgrades you needed at a better price. If you haven't done so already, try contacting the publishers of your favorite software. Explain your situation and see if they'll cut you a deal. It never hurts to ask.

Jumping back an entry, my kids have had Playstations for years and we've had several CD/DVD's that have been damaged. I was surprised to find some of the publishers would replace damaged media very inexpensively. There are reasonable, fair minded firms out there. Ask nicely.... And YES I'd love it if my kids system had a hard disk.

Speaking of software upgrades, its only a matter of time until the new version of Office is forced upon the Windows market. It will have enhancements that make it slightly incompatible with previous versions. In time companies will be forced to upgrade Office and will probably find the new Office only runs on Vista and maybe XP. This will force all those Windows 2000 systems out the door. In my opinion Office is a key part of Microsoft's monopoly, its not just the OS. They hit us with a double whammy.

John | Dec 12, 2006 | 2:14PM

If Apple and Nintendo partnered or merged and released the iTWii (iTV + Wii) they would have the living room locked up.

After all of Sony's missteps and the price tag on the PS3 they are history. I also thought the XBOX 360 was the clear winner until I tried the is simply amazing! It takes gaming to different level. Its FUN! As word gets out by word of mouth and people experience it first hand it will be the dominant platform. The smartest thing Nintendo did was keep the price tag low.

Windows Media center is too complex and expensive to appeal to the average person. The iTV on the other hand is simple and relatively more affordable. The iTV is not a full blown PC like media centers. The iTV is an extension of a Mac or **PC** running iTunes. Like the Wii, if the user experience is great, the word will get out. iTunes already has a large installed base. The average person wants a simple way to connect their TV to their music, computer and the internet.

Now put these two solutions in one affordable package...iTWii!

Johnny mozzarella | Dec 12, 2006 | 2:25PM

Personally I like the idea of a video game console doubling as a media centre; I like the added functionality and do play a few games from time to time. But I have to wonder how universal the draw for a video game console is.

In my opinion the more natural fit would be the iTV, it appeals to a more mature audience in that it's a consumer electronics device, not a multi function video game console. It's kind of like the smart phone vs cellular pda war. At it's core a smart phone is 51% phone 49% pda, and at the pda's core, it's 51% pda and 49% phone. Which one is the killer app? I can't say for sure, but the logical choice (if not the less "fun" choice) would seem to be that having an intelligent DVR/DVD/audio video device will trump an intelligent video game console. Let's not forget the default interface for a ps3 or xbox360 is a video game controller pad. Plop down on your couch and change channels through your video game controller pad. We're going to sell people a $1500 HDTV, video on demand, mp3 storage servers, camera photo viewing, etc.. and it's all accessible through some video game console/controller? Can you say "hack"? That just reeks of an improvised solution. Sure you can solve it with a $20 remote, but it's that initial step that's so off base. You have to sell someone a video game console, so that they can do 100 other things entirely opposite of playing games. If the ps3 or xbox360 is going to be taken seriously as a media centre, it's going to have to be marketed that way sometime soon.

Jason Collier | Dec 12, 2006 | 4:08PM

We are a Microsoft Gold Partner and run Office 2007 in production over Citrix. As a user I love it. Took a long while to get used to it but once you do!!!. Issue for us is that MailMarshall blocks attachments. No patch available as yet.
FWIW - Mike- Sydney - Australia 22:41 DEC 13

Mike Ryan | Dec 13, 2006 | 6:41AM

I love how these discussion morph into some interesting sidebar subjects. As a parent of 4 kids, 3 of which are boys, video games are popular in our house. Over time we've found it best to keep the game system on one TV and not on the television in our family room. We could use a better entertainment system. Lets consider what we could do with a new and improved entertainment center.

We have a family PC with a nice library of music stored in iTunes. This would make a very nice beginnings of a home stereo system -- an appliance that could store and/or play all of our iTunes music -- through a nice amplifier and some good speakers. We'd also like a good tuner. The system should have a CD reader, and it would be nice if it could copy the data from a new CD into iTunes too.

Now lets move to Video. It would be nice if we could do exactly the same thing with our collection of videos -- both VHS and DVD's. It would be nice if the entertainment system had some good DVR capabilities allowing us to record and save programs from our cable (or satellite) service.

I think most of us can envision such a system. It would not be hard to add a game system to the design, or these functions to a game system. I think the big reason this has not happened is the entertainment industry and fear of violating copyright laws. Even though it would be for my own "fair use" I suspect the movie studio's will have a big problem with me copying the bits off of my legally purchased DVD onto my own personal, private hard disk.

In my opinion the paranoia over copyrights is stifling the development of consumer electronics. If this capability existed in either an Xbox or a PS3, we would probably buy two for our home. Not one. One for the family room as an entertainment center and the other in the basement for the kids games. Of course there are some pretty big ego's that will probably resist in putting iPod functionality in either a Microsoft or a Sony appliance. In the end the firms will miss a nice business opportunity and we, the consumers don't get new innovative products. Oh well....

John | Dec 13, 2006 | 3:58PM

Where I work, the perception is that Vista will be necessary for people to use more than 2GB of memory while running our application. (More than you can get fiddling around with the /3GB boot switch.) Now our app is engineering/simulation, so it's off on the end of the bell curve.

At home, I keep meaning to install (k)ubuntu, but just haven't gotten around to it. Maybe my year end need to catch up my finances will drive me to GnuCash - open source personal finance, may be my personal killer app.

For media, getting it right seems pretty difficult. I have a SqueezeBox ( and while I love it, and intend to include it in at least a couple rooms in my current home remodel, it's still a geek toy, not a consumer device. Ripping CDs decently is a non-trivial task, and there's the server to set up. It's neat being able to connect over the net from work and listen to the music on my home PC, though.

-- T

Timothy Byrd | Dec 13, 2006 | 4:52PM

Spot-on analysis from the pulpit.

Of course there is this erosion of control that Microsoft had over user data that is happening because of users slowly waking up to what a binary storage format really means - loss of control over your own data. As more open standards are made available, there will be less data in control of any one particular proprietary format.

And of course that will begin to make the OS less relevant. More applications will be available for these open data formats. Users will slowly regain control of their own data.

Of course that is not going to happen anytime soon. It will be a long, protracted war. The first battles were fought over developer mind-share, which was the first battle Microsoft lost. The second battle is being fought over document formats. And peppered all over, will be battles to detract from all of this - like the SCO battle.

Eventually though, the monopoly will crumble. This is really the first time that Microsoft is being attacked by that vast, invisible, nameless entity that goes under the Free Software monicker. They've been challenged by corporates in the past and they're absolutely on top of the game when it comes to beating down a corporate challenger. However, a nameless, faceless entity (from a corporate perspective) is a different beast.

All in all, interesting times ahead.

Gerard Fernandes | Dec 14, 2006 | 12:57PM

It appears that the majority of the people commenting are either tech people or at least have above average knowledge regarding technology. Keep in mind that the majority of people deciding whether or not to upgrade to Vista are not tech saavy. They tend to think they need the latest version of anything to keep up and be compatible with everyone else. That has been a huge reason why more people haven't switched to the Mac. They think they won't be compatible with the rest of the world, never mind that they only use MS Office and a web browser. I can't count the number of people who are surprised to learn that I can open their Word and Excel files on the Mac.

gary | Dec 14, 2006 | 2:18PM

Don't forget to subtract approx 14 million from MS's claimed sales of Vista; they have "deferred" the license revenue from the last 3 months of PC's shipping with XP, so that they can call them Vista sales whose binary images haven't shipped yet! Once the Vista upgrade is available for download, they'll be completed Vista sales, even if no-one downloads the upgrade!

pip | Dec 14, 2006 | 2:37PM

I voted "yes" by accident.

Rafe Saltman | Dec 14, 2006 | 3:23PM

By the way, the iTV will be called "AirShow". You heard it here first.

Rafe Saltman | Dec 14, 2006 | 3:34PM

"users slowly waking up to what a binary storage format really means - loss of control over your own data"

Thanks to things like Enron, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPPA, etc. There will come a time when corporations will be legally unable to keep data in a proprietary binary format. There is already a need in some industries to archive all email and in the future be able to manage it, search it for specific things, etc. In time this need will grow to include email file attachments and then to PC files (documents) users will create in Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc. Storage, indexing, and searching tools will need to be able to reach into the files created by PC's to extract the content. Storing every file and correspondance is just the first step. The lawyers will need to be able to find specific stuff in the vast volumes of data to be saved. The tools will need to be able to handle the file formats and bypass the user passwords.

Want another privacy concern? If you do any personal stuff on your work PC, it could wind up in a permanent legal archive that the lawyers can get to years from now.

John | Dec 14, 2006 | 4:52PM

Hmmm, as far as the likelihood of a number of users switching to Linux or the Mac, I don't know. Granted, the masses are not going to switch to Linux as long as it is invisible in the retail market. But savy consumers will at least give switching to Linux or Mac a consideration before blindly buying Vista.

If, if, if...if Apple manages to finish their switch to Intel hardware AND markets that their computers can run both Windows and Mac OS...if Linux cleans up the distribution incompatibilities AND manages to create an idiot friendly update process...

Personally, I will be waiting to the last minute before switching to Vista in hopes that either Apple or Linux can come through. A long shot, I know, but still, Vista represents the perfect opportunity to switch and for those of us wishing we had more choice it is too good an opportunity to pass on.

David | Dec 14, 2006 | 7:59PM

For everyone who has said they are happy with their old WinOS and will stick with it, that doesn't necessarily mean you won't end up buying it unless you build your own PC. Last I checked, building your own laptop isn't an option. So, when your hardware dies and you can't get parts, you'll end up buying a new PC which, whether you get Vista with it or not, will pay for a Vista license. That's the rigged game.

Pecos Bill | Dec 15, 2006 | 11:22AM

I think the author underestimates how willing people are to switch to the Mac platform. I work for a large Mac reseller in Portland, Oregon and most of the people we are selling new Mac's to, are PC/Windows users that have had enough with security issues and who have heard enough about the Mac, to consider it and ultimately purchase a Mac.

Dan | Dec 15, 2006 | 12:56PM

I've been told by a friend (a very learned Microsoft developer) that Vista runs very, very hot, in excess of 50degrees(C)at the CPU and the fans never slow down; I've been told by another friend (ex Microsoft employee) that 50 to 80 percent of all business PC's do not have the hardware grunt to run Vista. It requires a 7800-series video card just to run Freecell with the new user interface.

So, is this a major windfall for PC hardware vendors or a weather change toward the increasingly-slick world of Linux?

A bit of both perhaps? I could in no way afford to upgrade all the PC's running around the house. Likely i'd move everyone to one of the Linux distros -- we've already moved all our Office applications off to Google.

It's either all too expensive, or all too easy. Looks like I'll have a choice.

NefariousWheel | Dec 17, 2006 | 10:51PM

"Empathy with gaming characters drops off as they come to a point were they look as if they are close to being real. Our perception of them moves from character to something more disturbing like the undead, and can be become repelled or disgusted. The dip in postive consumer attitude as the character better mimics human life is the Uncanny Valley."

Is this why I still enjoy playing my 25 year old Atari 2600 games more than my present-day Xbox-360 games?

Chris | Dec 18, 2006 | 2:05PM

Part of the plan is to make Vista work poorly on current computers so we'll all have to buy new ones.

Why? They don't sell hardware. If anything they'd want to make it perform on low end hardware so they can charge more for their OS/increase the market for Vista.

NotBlind | Dec 18, 2006 | 10:22PM

They don't sell hardware but their monopoly depends for a good part on the fact that for all practical purposes their OS is the only one you can buy preloaded. So it's a good idea for MS to be on friendly terms with manufacturers. It wouldn't be hard for, say, Dell to come up with a "Dell OS" based on Ubuntu, Suse, Xandros... They probably won't do it as long as they see MS as an ally, but that's the point.

jlb | Dec 19, 2006 | 8:17AM