The Time Has Come: Thoughts on Vista, Microsoft, and Web 2.0
"The time has come," the Walrus said," to speak of many things. Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, Of cabbages and kings..."
Not that I liken myself to the Walrus in Lewis Carroll's 'The Walrus and the Carpenter', but it is still time to speak of many things. In fact, things are changing with the speed of a run-away freight train, and you need to know the facts before things get out of hand. This is truly a cautionary exercise and not a case of 'Chicken Littleism'.
Microsoft and Novell
Microsoft and Novell entered into a collaborative agreement a couple weeks ago to develop a set of applications, interfaces, and 'drivers' to allow Microsoft Office and other formerly Windows exclusive applications to function under Linux. More specifically, a distribution known as SUSE (Sus-uh), was purchased by Novell from the German development company known as SuSE.
On the surface, it sounds like a good deal but, knowing how Microsoft has done business in the past, and considering the active role Microsoft has had in attempting to eradicate Linux from the marketplace, I have serious doubts things are going to happen the way they have been stated.
Specifically, Microsoft has promised to behave nicely towards the Linux Community and to actively support the GPL (General Public License), which, in a nutshell, says the source code and compiled applications are free -- as in freedom -- to copy and share.
Information Week recently reported that other computer and software manufacturers like Sun, IBM, and Hewlett Packard are giving their blessings to the effort, but that may be just a reaction to the initial announcement. We should know more about the whole deal before the end of the month.
The Linux Community is seeing a different view of the situation, however.
The GPL, which was proposed by the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman some years ago, may wind up being tested in court. If it fails the test, the concept of Open Source Software is in danger of disappearing.
Microsoft may be looking to apply a license to Linux and Linux Applications, which means someone (you and I) will have to pay for the right to use it, much like the Windows EULA (End User License Agreement). That, my friends, will not be a good thing. Microsoft is guilty of a lot of things -- some we know about -- but there is one thing we must agree upon: Microsoft is looking for more income, and little else. I'm hoping the leopard has changed his spots, but like the saying goes, it just doesn't happen that way.
Web 2.0 Problems
Network Computing magazine recently had an interesting series of articles relating to Web 2.0 and it's underlying structure.
It seems the concept, which is already showing up in dozens of new sites, has a few serious problems in the area of Security and performance. We are all aware that the Internet is not a safe and friendly place; if it were, we would not have need for such things as firewalls and anti-spyware and adware.
As it turns out, the security holes prevalent in Web 2.0 make it look like a round of Swiss Cheese, and the performance of the applications on those sites are slow and prone to making errors.
As the articles suggest, the problems stem from technology that has not yet matured. Is the situation hopeless? Continued development of the underlying software (like AJAX) should clean up the problems.
It has been six years since XP Pro and XP Home were released and Microsoft is releasing Vista on November 20th (or so they say).
Does Vista show any sign of being all that much better for being worked on for six years? Unfortunately, no. Don't get me wrong, Vista does have a few things that are an improvement over XP, but if it took six years to do it, I am not terribly impressed.
A point to ponder! If a software company is having problems getting a piece of software out the door on time, one way to get the software in the hands of the consumer is to trim features, especially if those features are causing the delay.
A few months ago, I read an article that talked about all the broken promises in undelivered features that Vista was to have had. Knowing the well publicized six month plus delay in releasing Vista, I wonder what they pulled from the OS? About all they had was a pretty desktop with a few glitzy tricks (eye candy) and a few security tweaks that still need to be tested in the real world.
I suppose it makes sense to release Vista with a few things missing and then add the missing features by the update channel. But I get the feeling I'd be 'buying 'a pig in a poke' in that circumstance.
Buying a Computer
If you haven't noticed, things are looking up (or should I say, "down"?) as far as prices on PC's are concerned.
Because of all the new Dual Core 64-bit systems being touted in the press, 32-bit system prices are starting to slide downward. System manufacturers are trying to reduce their inventory to make room for the bigger buss systems so there are some really good values out there. A slow walk through your local computer store may surprise you. Discounts are being noticed just about everywhere. If you were thinking of buying a new system, now is the time.
So, with the upcoming Holidays just around the corner, have a Happy Season, and ...