Music

Microsoft's Latest Innovation: A Music Store That Does Not Sell Music

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This week Microsoft stopped selling downloads at its music store, redirecting customers to a site selling songs that work only with the company's new Zune player. I quickly discovered that Walmart is selling downloads for less than Microsoft was (88 cents vs. 99 cents each), but its interface leaves much to be desired, and I suspect its catalog is smaller. I've got a Creative Zen player, and I liked the convenience and easy searchability of the old Microsoft store. I assume I was not alone. Was Microsoft making so little money selling downloads that it can afford to alienate its customers this way?

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  1. Betamax.

    ‘Nuff said.

  2. Does Microsoft have market power? Hmmmmmmm . . . that is a head scratcher. I think some lawyers from the Clinton DoJ half-heartedly argued that they did a little bit in certain areas of personal computing, but cooler heads eventually prevailed and it was determined that the only cartels in the US are government sponsored ones (like that cigarette one!).

    If the Zune becomes as popular as Windows VISTA it will, of course, be because it is the best system out there. There is no other explanation for what is going on here./sarc

  3. Microsoft is abandoning the Fairplay model and switching to an Apple-style closed ecosystem model. The Windows-style of software licensing was not working in portable music players and downloads.

  4. Is Reason finally on-board legal downloads, then? Haven’t seen any intellectual property rights (and how they don’t actually exist) posts lately.

  5. I also run a music store that does not sell music. that is because the music is free. We just had a major album release yesterday. Mp3 or wav, your choice. Because we care.

    the title is Calm Blue Ocean Calm Blue Ocean. It is a Simpsons ref.

    Just click my sig and get downloading!


  6. If the Zune becomes as popular as Windows VISTA it will, of course, be because it is the best system out there. There is no other explanation for what is going on here.

    Oh, for God’s sake. Windows is the best OS out there for most people. It has the software they want, and they can use it easily. Most people don’t really care about security, stability, etc., so long as a minimum level is reached. Windows has reached that level, and now most people are more concerned with doing things with their computers rather than doing the Right Thing with their computers. So drop the “Windows is a crappy OS” meme, because it’s bullshit. It’s the only OS that lets most people do exactly what they want with their computers.

    Which isn’t to say that Microsoft isn’t evil. Maybe the old adage about there being a stupid party and an evil party is also true about computer companies? Apple is stupid and Microsoft is evil. Sounds about right to me. 🙂

  7. looks like Uncle Miltie just passed away/

  8. Boing Boing has been covering this story by saying that “Microsoft orphans suckers who bought DRM music”
    http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/03/microsoft_orphans_su.html

  9. VISTA may be best, but I still don’t think it is priced competively, which I still regard as a problem.

    At least you can actually get music that will work on yr player at my mp3 download shop. Let competition reign! (Click the sig and get downloading now.)

  10. Windows and Mac OS are for the oppressors and their peons. Free men use Linux.

  11. I just buy used CDs and rip ’em out to mp3. Problem solved, no silly DRM. My DellPod and I are happy.

  12. besides my own shop, i recommend:

    emusic

    they only let you do 90 songs a month, but good selection of indie bands. I really look forward to the 13th of each month when I get my new allotment. this week I was up and downloading my 90 at 5 am.

    Not recommended for those with an h.o. for major label music though.

  13. “Windows and Mac OS are for the oppressors and their peons. Free men use Linux.”

    And back when I had the time to learn such things, I probably would have too…but now I’m stuck with Windows because that’s one less thing I have to think about.

  14. Off Topic

    Milton Friedman has died.

  15. And back when I had the time to learn such things

    There shouldn’t be any learning required.

    I made a gigantic effort (multiple machines, multiple LINUX packages) to install LINUX in 2002 that ended in failure. The problem wasn’t learning how to use the operating system. The problem was that every permutation I tried could run some of my peripherals and not others. that should not have been my problem, and really there is no excuse for it. There should be lots of hardware makers selling nice, working LINUX compatible systems right off the shelf. For whatever reason, that never happened (at least not by 2002).

    By the way, one of the machines I bought in 2002 was pre-installed with LINUX, but not windows. Out of the box it wouldn’t run the floppy drive or the modem.

    Different problems, but no better luck, when I bought a couple commercial LINUX packages for my pre-existing Windows machines.

    Something was rotten in Denmark and I don’t even see LINUX machines when I flip through the Best Buy circulars anymore.

  16. Sam “The Butcher” Franklin,

    You could always dual boot. And there’s some good news for Linux-lovers–Microsoft has decided to make nice. Which should help with compatibility issues. The fact is that one has to tinker a lot with a Linux system to make it work in the MS-centric universe. But I’m not sure that the blazing speed and lack of kludge doesn’t make that sort of thing worthwhile. I say all that while working in an XP environment, unfortunately. Simplicity has conquered my better instincts as well 🙁

    It’s interesting how robust some of the free or freeish alternatives out there are. For Office, we see OpenOffice and the stuff Google is working on. For Windows, we see Linux in its various permutations. For Outlook Express, we have Thunderbird. And Firefox for Internet Explorer. Of course, the latter two MS examples are free, too.

  17. “Is Reason finally on-board legal downloads, then? Haven’t seen any intellectual property rights (and how they don’t actually exist) posts lately.”

    Nice cheap shot, ed. Did Reason ever say “legal downloads are bad policy” or “copyright should be removed from the US Code”? Of course not, ed, you silly little lying man.

  18. You could always dual boot.

    O believe me, that was one of the things I tried. I like tinkering with software. I very much enjoyed the process of working thru some of the issues in getting a LINUX system up and running. I just thought I would have more success in the end because I usually do.

    I just can’t figure out why some hardware manufacturer who had fallen on hard times (say ACER) didn’t reinvent their company to say: we sell you the computer, printer, monitor and modem and they will work out of the box guaranteed. I work for a computer manufacturer now. I review OEM contracts. I know how much Windows costs and how that affects the margin.

    I don’t know why no hardware manufactuere did not build a reputable brand around LINUX, but I can’t believe that it would not have been an economically wonderful approach in a truly free market.

  19. Oh, yeah and before you ask:

    because we make a niche machine (better batteries) and contract out the mundane portions of hardware.

  20. The only reason I’ve stuck with Windows as long as I have is because of SOFTWARE. Specifically, game software. I ain’t playing no Medieval II on a Mac anytime soon — at least until I get an MacPro.

    In truth, for me, it’s very contingent on what Vista does or does not do. If it doesn’t fix a lot of my long-standing gripes with Windows, I’m going to be seriously looking into pricing one.

    Kind of OT, but in my job, I still use old DOS commands a lot. Windows is *awful* at even elementary batch processing of files, like file concatenation and renaming. Do Mac people have better luck?

  21. The key for modern operating systems is installability. If it takes research to enable the OS to operate the basic equipment, the OS will fail to garner the bell of the market curve.

    This is the lesson learned from OS/2. It was at least 5 years ahead of Windows at it’s own game, but IBM’s business strategy made it such that a basic install took about a week of downloads and research, and frequently was fruitless due to lack of device support.

    What IBM did by charging for their device driver SDK, Linux does by a lack of market penetration. But while the Linux market share goes up, there are no other barriers to a rapidly improving installation experience.

  22. So drop the “Windows is a crappy OS” meme, because it’s bullshit. It’s the only OS that lets most people do exactly what they want with their computers.

    Oh, tish tosh. You can do email, web browsing, write letters, play music, and share photos on any major OS.

  23. You know, the reasons why consumers and businesses make the choices they do for computer equipment and software are positively mysterious. I don’t think it’s all MS evildoing. Certainly, the market is not so much under their control as to prevent a major Linux-based competitor from arising.

    Personally, I think it’s Magic Black Box syndrome. People don’t get how the danged machine works, so they go with the popular and “easier” alternative. I think most people are scared to even open the PC up to change a card, so dealing with a more involved operating system is probably too intimidating for most. And, of course, there are a good number of Linux users out there, plying their open source ways amongst themselves.

  24. Several things here:
    Yes, Windows sucks. Any OS that is compromised within a minute of opening an unprotected internet connection sucks.

    Linux has problems with peripherals because MS made it part of their conditions for providing drivers that companies not include Linux drivers. There are a few companies large enough to get around that, including HP and Epson. Ubuntu has superb out-of-the-box support for HP all-in-ones.

    That said, I mostly use Mac these days. I bought an iBook when the paper I’m with hired me, simply because it’s easier to use what the office does. And I must say that I’m very impressed with OS X. It’s a solid OS. And, of course, it’s based on BSD. Any Unix-based OS will clobber MS’s crap every day and twice on Sunday.

    But if I had a larger hard drive, I’d dual-boot Linux in a second.

  25. Rimfax- I’ve done two installs of Linux distros on one of my laptops. Ubuntu and Xandros both installed fairly easily, although Ubuntu did require some extra trips to various repositories to make things like WMV files work.

  26. Well, never fear, Microsoft is apparently getting into the Linux business.

  27. I don’t think it’s all MS evildoing.

    Nor do I, especially now that I have seen some contracts.

    However, back in 1890 people realized that bad things would happen if you let one firm, or a small combination, maintain too much of a market share. We remembered that lesson through 1980 when Bell was broken up, paving the way for the end to end intelligence we call the web. Then Reagan got elected and all that became lost wisdom.

    Antitrust is not about good versus evil (that is the Iraq War), but rather is better viewed as indifferent econmonics where it is sometimes best to “punish” firms who haven’t done anything wrong. We should look at these broken firms as heroic soldiers blown up in a worthy battle, rather than as prisoners in dock.

    Whether Microsoft wanted to monopolize or not — whatever their subjective intentions were — a market share as big as Microsoft’s is not going to play out well over the long run. And that is what happened and why Sullum is sitting there with hundreds of semi-useless DRMs and I have two LINUX software packages and one LINUX machine somewhere out in a shed in the Mojave desert. O well. My windows 98 First Edition Machines, 2 of the 3 of them anyway, are in my bathroom across from the toilet. Damn USB 1.0. I force my mother to use the third one and she always tells me how much it scares and confuses her — I do not blame Microsoft for that — my mother just needs to get a clue about computers.

  28. Pro,

    You are exactly right. People go with the 80% sollution that is the easiest. Windows for all of its faults works well on most things want to do and it interfaces with nearly anything. That is why people buy it. Windows doesn’t work as well if you are really into doing high end geek stuff and that is why the geeks hate it so much. But, most people are not geeks and don’t do high end geek stuff, so it really doesn’t matter that Windows doesn’t do what the geeks want it to do.

    Also, I think a lot of the hatred of Windows is just petty elitism. Windows is easy and most people can understand and use, as opposed to Linux, therefore it must be inferior and worthy of scorn.

  29. Sadly, Sam, but the idea that the state should punish anyone “who hasn’t done anything wrong” for the good of the Collective is one that doesn’t sit too well with most folks.

  30. looks like John gots a bad case of isism.

  31. Actually, it’s almost impossible to make money selling music downloads. Mostly the retailer breaks even, and sometimes even loses money on the sale (if the customer buys just one track, the margin probably isn’t large enough to cover the credit card processing fee). Why do they do it? Because they are selling something else. In Apple’s case, obviously, the iPod. That’s why Apple is not interested in selling you tracks you can play on another device. Microsoft experimented with a more open system, but now that they have their own hardware thay have abandoned that.

  32. Of course, John. It’s elitism. Nothing to do with system crashes, endemic viruses and spyware, bloat, massive demands on system resources, or anything like that.

    We hate it ’cause it’s easy. Of course. Incidentally, I use all three (Windows, Mac, Linux) on a regular basis, and can compare directly. MS loses in every way except one: it does work well with most peripherals.

  33. Sam,

    Monopolies solve themselves. It just takes a while. The fact is that Microsoft has benifited from Apple being one of the dumbest most arrogant companies in history. Had Apple made their computers capable of running both Windows and the Apple OS ten years ago, we would be living in a different world. It would have given people a way to ween themselves off of Windows while keeping all of thier old software. Apple made a superior product that didn’t talk to anything. Now that systems are more open to running multiple operating systems, people are slowly going to start using the more effective ones and move away from windows. It is just a matter of time.

  34. “it does work well with most peripherals.”

    That is the most important thing to 90% of consumers. They don’tcare that it crashes once in a while, they don’t care that they can’t do this or that geek function, they just want the damn thing to print and download thier digital pictures. Windows does that and everyone uses it at work and has some idea of how to work it. It drives geeks nuts when people take the easy 80% sollution over the hard 100% sollution.

  35. I’m actually not an MS hater, and I actually think that MS has been a net good. If, say, Apple had dominated the market, we’d probably be facing $3,000 systems with all proprietary everything 🙂 MS opened things up enough to get PCs in most homes and businesses. And it’s usable enough to be useful.

    All that said, Windows sucks. My systems get bogged down by ridiculously overbearing processes in Windows (and in Office products, which are reaching obscene levels of kludge), and I just live in a constant state of annoyance. Windows XP is a vast improvement over the earlier iterations of Windows, granted, but MS has the resources to make something elegant, easy to use, and powerful. But why bother, when we keep buying the crap? There are times I miss the simplicity of CP/M.

  36. “Windows, granted, but MS has the resources to make something elegant, easy to use, and powerful. But why bother, when we keep buying the crap?”

    The problem is people won’t give up their old stuff. Capatability and legacy systems is what is killing windows. It can’t be elegant because it has to be compatable with and be able to run all of this old crap. If MS ever started from a clean slate and wrote and OS that didn’t even try to work with existing programs but started new, you would get your elegant, easy to use, powerful OS, but you would have to give up your existing programs to get that.

  37. I’m actually not an MS hater, and I actually think that MS has been a net good. If, say, Apple had dominated the market, we’d probably be facing $3,000 systems with all proprietary everything 🙂 MS opened things up enough to get PCs in most homes and businesses. And it’s usable enough to be useful.

    And if 20 OSes were in the market, things would be a lot better both within each OS and between the various OSes. That should not be an impossible dream. I expect isism from John, but, PL, c’moooooon.

    My VIC20 wasn’t no $3000 and it freakin’ worked.

  38. Butcher,

    Well, I’m not sure MS is going to hold court on all of our PCs indefinitely. I think that the PC market is far from mature, and the increasing number of things that we do on the web will continue to de-emphasize the resident world of the PC. How that’ll all pan out is anyone’s guess. I’m not worried about competition, though. I think there are a lot of reasons why we tend to stick with the MS universe, but I can smell the end of that domination coming, too.

  39. Pro,

    No monopoly is ever perminant. They all solve themselves.

  40. Go after John if you like, but no less a guru than Joel Spolsky has said the same thing.

    I’m a programmer myself and I used to have a self-built pc with 5 different OSes on it that I could boot into.
    Now I have a Dell PC. The only time I cracked open the case was when I put in more RAM so I could up the unit sizes in Rome:Total War. I’ve never sonce seen the blue screen of death. I’m perfectly happy.

  41. But if I had a larger hard drive, I’d dual-boot Linux in a second.

    Hey! This is a family site! Take that kind of talk to a private chatroom.

  42. PL- I’m glad I’m not the only one who remembers CP/M.

    John- I have no need for geek functions. I switched to Linux after SP2 caused my machine to go batshit. I use the comp for basic stuff, and Linux did it better than Windows.

    But hey, if if makes you feel better to insist that the only reason someone could prefer Linux to Windows is because they’re a geek who does geeky things (whatever that means), then I’ll not dissuade you.

  43. The problem with most of you is that you are assuming that a competitive market would simply have the big three operating systems you are familiar with, just in a somewhat different ratio of market shares. Or if you are the guy with 5 OSes, then you are assuming that those 5 OSes would be the universe in a non-MS dominated world.

    What I am trying to suggest is that your options, right now, today, in Nov 2006, would be expanded in ways you can’t even imagine if MS had not been allowed to dominate the way it has for the last decade.

    that is what the isism (Lessig term I think) is about.

  44. No monopoly is ever perminant. They all solve themselves.”

    Which is why the more crafty industries form trade groups. They get the price and policy fixing benefits of a monopoly while keeping the sheen of a competitive market.

  45. Windows is easy and most people can understand and use, as opposed to Linux, therefore it must be inferior and worthy of scorn.

    It’s not that Windows is easier than Linux, it is just different and takes time to learn like anything else. There are Linux distributions that you make to look exactly like Windows which will be easier to learn if you were a previous Windows user for years.

    Linux does have some problems with hardware compatibility but that will work out as more users gravitate towards Linux, and companies will start releasing hardware drivers

  46. Sam Franklin,

    I don’t agree. I think that if the government had taken more active steps not to “allow” Microsoft to dominate the market, we’d be using Windows 3.1-level OS in 2006. It’s not like MS hasn’t had to deal with competitive forces–it has–and it’s also not like the government didn’t harass MS–it did. I actually think the Clinton administration did some serious strangling of the Golden Goose with its various meddlings in the tech sector, from chasing MS around to the Clipper chip fiasco to supporting the CDA. Also, once some of Microsoft’s competitors started smelling the blood in the water when the DOJ got involved, they got way too caught up in the political fight and stopped in many ways trying to beat MS in the marketplace. Larry Ellison is a good example of that kind of thinking. Bastard.

  47. Name me an industry that actually stagnated due to a successful antitrust prosecution then.

  48. Sam Franklikn wrote
    would be expanded in ways you can’t even imagine if MS had not been allowed to dominate the way it has for the last decade.

    Well Sam, this is a blog, so unsupported claims of prescience are to be expected…just not to be taken seriously…you so smart, me so dumb.

  49. “Name me an industry that actually stagnated due to a successful antitrust prosecution then.”

    It is not that the industry stagnates, it is that the industry spends billions of dollars on lawyers and settlements that could have otherwise been spent productively. I look back at the breakup of the old Bell System as a good example. The fact is that competition was coming. Cell phones were going to make the old landline monopoly worthless. AT&T had all of the technology to do cellphones in the 1980s, but were prevented by DOJ from getting into the industry. Had the market been left to run its course, we would have had cellphones a lot sooner. All the government had to do was force AT&T to let competetors use its land line network and we would have had competition there too, all without a multi billion dollar litigation.

  50. You know, Windows XP hasn’t crashed on my since I installed in some years ago. And I run intensive programs like Photoshop and audio and video editing software regularly. Just sayin’

    I look forward to the day when we shed the shackles of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and finally adopt Windows, Mac, and Linux as the new religions (Buddhism can be BeOS, and Hinduism — lets’ keep it Hinduism, because they have the coolest collection of gods).

  51. Name a monopoly that the government didn’t create in the first place 🙂

    I think the only really “successful” break up of a monopoly was the zapping of Ma Bell. And that was absolutely created by the federal government in the first place. With the willing connivance of AT&T, of course. The reintegration of the Borg is also a yet-to-be-determined factor in judging the success of that breakup, as well.

    The Standard Oil breakup happened so late in the day that there wasn’t really any question of a monopoly anymore. And the ill-conceived attack on IBM never made any sense at all, though it damaged IBM and the economy quite a bit. We’d probably have flying PCs now if it weren’t for those meddling kids in DC 🙂

    This is a total aside, but the mention of Lessig makes me want to say something. I think he’s full of crap, and I have been repeatedly unimpressed by his various pronouncements. Yet he’s this anointed go-to guy on tech law/policy issues. Egad. I don’t mean this as an ad hominem attack on Lessig to discredit Sam, I’m just attacking Lessig for the aforementioned reasons.

  52. PL,

    I don’t mind your criticisms. You are eloquent and know stuff and sometimes make me need to realize I need to rethink things. I doubt you will move me of my belief that consolidation and lack of competition are the biggest problem by far in the modern economy, but, even so, your comments on IBM give me pause and might be true. I am certainly willing to believe that cutting back on antitrust generally somewhat was the correct approach in 1980 (and would be now, too, if time stood still). Even tho we disagree usually, I feel like you give my viewpoint the proverbial fair shake and I thank you.

  53. Thanks, Sam. I don’t see much point in lashing out at everyone I disagree with. Though I have my moments, too. I just entered Caligula mode in another thread, which has to be a bad sign. And I wrote a nasty song about a troll once (was it Dr. X?–it’s been too long, so I don’t remember: “Maw-Wide”) 🙂

  54. Linux seems to have the hardware-driver issue mostly tackled at this point; after buying a new box this year I installed Ubuntu on the old one and everything worked just fine with no additional hackery required. There are probably exceptions, but that goes both ways (it took years and finally a third-party application to get my old SCSI flatbed scanner running on XP).

    The stumbling block for me is software. Get Photoshop running on Linux without cracks and dual-booting and I’ll flip the switch tomorrow. Until then, nuh-uh!

  55. People who think Windows is “easy” haven’t (a) tutored a parent in the often arcane jargon and manipulations required to do tasks as common and necessary as protecting their computer from attacks, or (b) used a Macintosh. Yeah, Windows lets most people “do what they want”, but most people’s PCs are loaded up with spyware and viruses, too.

  56. I’ve personally had less trouble with XP than either Linux or Mac’s. But I know other people who’s XP is continually harrassing them. I’m not sure why. But the one time I messed around with Linux (circa 2000) it crashed as much as my horrendous Windows ME system. The one time I messed with Mac’s they crashed so often I was moved to rage.

    Personally in the industry I work in there is no choice but to use Windows. All the software I need to use is made only for Windows.

    I don’t remember the 80’s but my dad tells me stories of programs and OS’s changing so often that there was no way to store information for more than 2 years, and it’s his belief that having 20 OS’s could cause the reinvention of that problem. I really don’t see it, but I am not too sure that we would be a generation beyond where we are now if we did have 20 OS’s. Now Office is a program that I think needs the fear of God put into it. There is nothing more frustrating that having Microsoft release a new Office and see that they decided to move commands around or some such garbage. I learned to use keyboard shortcuts in Office and when they move commands around it changes the keyboard path to it.

  57. n00btewb: have you tried Cygwin? It implements a *nix-style bash shell for Windows. Macs and Linux both have that native, but if you’re running a Windows computer Cygwin is a good bet.

    I started using Linux over the summer (actually, I’m writing this on my Linux laptop, since I’m in class now. Naughty, naughty me). In my albeit limited experience, Windows works more smoothly but perhaps less well: it jams up in really annoying ways, but does it consistently and never gave me the annoying “this just won’t work at all and I have no idea why” experiences I get with this computer. Linux has much better free utility software (LaTeX, for instance, is much nicer); Windows is much more likely to have powerful commercial software for specialized functions. I see that there’s now a version of Mathematica for Linux, but programs like that aren’t available consistently enough to go to a pure-Linux environment, at least for me.

    On the more general point, I think Windows is customized for enterprise applications-for business use. Macs are targeted at home users, to some extent; Linux at people who want a lot of direct access to the machine; Windows is set up so that you can buy a few thousand machines, plug them in, and they’ll all run. Not well, necessarily, but they’ll all run, and talk to the printer, and to each other. When I installed Linux I had to put way too much time into getting it to work properly and talk to all my stuff; and Macs traditionally had such bad office applications that MS Office became dominant on Apple computers long before it did on Windows machines. Both of those may be changing now; but then, dominance in any market takes a while to adjust, and I get the feeling that the market is adjusting away from pure-Windows setups.

    And that makes me sad. I really, truly loathe Macs; I’ve never had a good experience with them. I like Windows, at least in part because I’ve been using MS stuff since I was four and I know how to make it work now. And I do genuinely like MS Office; I’m in the 2007 beta and I far prefer it to Thunderbird and OpenOffice.

  58. I gotta ask:

    Anyone here considering buying a Zune player?

  59. Oh yeah, and am I the last man in the world still refusing to pay for downloading music?

  60. Anyone here considering buying a Zune player?

    Not me. I have an iPod.

    Oh yeah, and am I the last man in the world still refusing to pay for downloading music?

    Almost certainly not. Yet the typical price of 99 cents a song is quite fair, I think. And at 25 cents a song, eMusic is a steal.

    There is nothing more frustrating that having Microsoft release a new Office and see that they decided to move commands around or some such garbage.

    Microsoft seems to have learned little from over 20 years of software development experience. My favorite example of this is menus and toolbars that jump around based on what you’re doing – not exactly helpful when the whole point is to be able to remember where stuff is in order to reach some command quickly. And the new Office that’s coming out… don’t get me started.

    I really, truly loathe Macs; I’ve never had a good experience with them.

    That’s too bad. I switched from Windows to Mac (at home) this year and it’s been an absolute joy. You’re right about most businesses using Windows, though. Microsoft has quite shrewdly cornered that market.

  61. I know, I am a little late.

    The stumbling block for me is software. Get Photoshop running on Linux without cracks and dual-booting and I’ll flip the switch tomorrow. Until then, nuh-uh!

    Why don’t you use GIMP?

  62. I’ve used both PCs and Macs. Each has their advantages. And their unique frustrations. Most power users of both that I know can grumble with ease about either. I’d definitely give the Mac OS the edge in out-of-the-box ease of use, but only Apple advertisers and the Apple Cult think that their system is perfect and MS’ hopelessly flawed.

    Speaking of the Apple Cult, its members often have a surprising animus against Microsoft. One that really is not shared by Apple Corporation. Without Word and Excel, Mac wouldn’t exist today. Not to mention a cash bailout of Apple by MS and some other partnerships. IBM, now, that was an enemy 🙂

  63. I think they would have developed a much more robust, cross-OS platform for software if MS hadn’t dominated the OS market so for the last decade.

    This “my LINUX won’t run Photoshop” type probblem wouldn’t have been a problem in a universe with 20 OSes, each having decent marketshare.

  64. When I worked at the Ohio Supercomputer Center with a bunch of computer experts of various stripes (not all programmers–we had a lot of computational chemists and physicists, too), there was a substantial contingent that said that OS/2 was God’s own operating system. I’m not sure that they outnumbered the Linux/Unix group, but they were as fanatical as any Mac OS fan. Never used it, so I don’t know, but I have heard that IBM built a better mousetrap with OS/2 but failed to market it appropriately.

  65. Personally, I’m fairly impressed with Vista. I’ve been running it since June (or whenever it was that the first public beta came out). I’ve had a few issues with it; the most annoying thing is that OGL games won’t yet work with it, so I had to reinstall Windows XP to run KOTOR 1 and 2. But that issue is being cleared up, now that MS wised up and allowed nVidia and ATI to include OGL support in their drivers (previously, they either disallowed or discouraged it to advance DirectX 10, as if it needed any help).

    It’s still not as good as Linux. Anymore the main sticking point with Linux is the lack of software. Yes, yes, I know, there are thousands of software packages available for Linux. The problem is, the software packages that many people want are only available for Windows. Gaming is, of course, the big one, but as of yet there’s no good alternative on Linux for desktop publishing (although the various LaTeX frontends do a good job, they’re not as polished as, say, InDesign). And personally, I’m not that impressed with any of the media players. But overall, I think that Linux or a Linux-like system is the future. At some point Microsoft will have to give up complete backwards compatibility and do a new OS from the ground up, like Apple did with OS X, and I suspect they’ll go with a BSD codebase for that. If they don’t completely rewrite Windows for the next iteration, then I think that Linux will get a big boost in the OS sector, because Windows is starting to show its age.

    FWIW, I’m dual booting Windows and Gentoo Linux, and I overall prefer Linux. But Neverwinter Nights 2 came out last week, and I’m still hooked on that. When that’s over, though, it’s back to Linux for me!

  66. I was working at IBM (basically co-oping) back then and I have no clue. they gave me three computers with dos and TURBOBasic. Two machines to run programs (slowly) and one for me to tweak the code for the next run.

    I was fine with DOS. I am not an operating afficianado by any means. I luved my Commodore 64 and Amiga, too.

    I think Microsoft’s dominace has done damage to technological progress far beyond operating system convenience and aesthetics.

  67. grylliade,

    KOTOR 1 and 2. The greatest games ever. I may take a vacation to play KOTOR 3. . .if it ever comes out.

    That’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for you unfortunates who’ve been deprived of the pleasure of using the Force. For good, evil, and in between.

    P.S. I’m beginning to suspect, from some of Microsoft’s recent actions, that the successor to Vista will be built upon Linux. Or some other Unix-like system.

  68. KOTOR 1 and 2. The greatest games ever. I may take a vacation to play KOTOR 3. . .if it ever comes out.

    Yeah, they’re probably the best RPGs I’ve ever played, although FFVII was close, and Neverwinter Nights 2 is pretty damn good (made by Obsidian, so there are some big similarities to KOTOR2). I think they’d be fools not to put out KOTOR3, since the first two made a bundle, and they have more than enough hooks in the first two games to make a sequel.

    Have you heard about the KOTOR2 Restoration Project? They’re going through and restoring all the cut content that they can from KOTOR2. They’ve been at it for more than a year now, and they’re finally entering the final betas. That’s one game I can’t wait to play! KOTOR2 almost as it was meant to be . . .

  69. Some Linux distributions are getting better but it’s nowhere near ready for the vast majority of the public. I last used Ubuntu about a year ago and while it’s quite good (much, much better than some of the first distros I tried 5 or 6 years ago) I still gave up in frustration. Not that I *couldn’t* accomplish what I wanted, but that I just got sick of twiddling and basically wasting valuable time on it.

    Then I got a Mac and realized I could do Unix stuff on it too and with far less hassle.

  70. grylliade,

    That’s a great idea. KOTOR1 was almost perfect. KOTOR2 had some nice improvements in gameplay and functionality, but it was bleedingly obvious that the game was finished and released way before it was actually done. I found the storyline and characters somewhat less compelling, too, though “less” than KOTOR1 leaves a lot of room for greatness. I liked the whole idea of training the NPCs to be Jedis or Sith.

    I got Neverwinter Nights solely because it was referred to as the reason Obsidian got the KOTOR gig. It’s pretty cool, too.

  71. What the hell!

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