He Said “Upgrading.” He Means Upgrading

Via Billy, this is just a roar and a half. It starts off quick.

I have finally decided to take the plunge. Last night I upgraded my
Vista desktop machine to Windows XP, and this afternoon I will be doing
the same to my laptop.

Good for him. I respect and admire Bill Gates; and what his productive efforts have done for the world should never be taken away or diminished — but goddammit! People are just not going to put up with this crap, and the more used to using computers people get, the less tolerant they are going to be with crap that doesn’t work right.

I was discussing this last night with some very smart tech people at a Christmas party at the home of a hardware engineer who’s responsible for in excess of a dozen high-tech patents, mostly in the video space (he is largely responsible for the first mini high-res video screen on the iPod several years back).

Think about it. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, everyone thought Apple was insane to not open up their hardware, or at least allow their OS to run on other open hardware. The "IBM" PC was up & coming, and open hardware was exactly what was needed to get the ball rolling into mass production, economies of scale, and the steep deflation in hardware prices (even steeper when you factor capacity and speed / cost).

And look who’s laughing now? Apple has the luxury of explosive sales for a product where they have total control over both hardware and software, i.e., they can make it work right, every time. At the same time, competitive pressures have forced MS to increasing complexity at the same time hardware manufacturers have to stay on top of things, and MS has the unenviable task of producing an OS that can function properly on any one of millions of possible hardware combinations. Apple controls the hardware, and thus the range of options you can get on any machine. As such, there are only a small number of possible hardware combinations they need to worry about. Having the option of a million possible hardware combinations — while curiously appealing — though I can use but a single one at a time — is less of a value than having the one or two configurations I might actually possess work exactly right all the time.

And there’s more. With OS X, Apple opened up the OS, so what you have now is something that Sun did in the workstation market (way overpriced hardware killed them), only for the consumer market.

I love almost every thing about my MacBook Pro, which happens to be the fastest notebook in the world (even running Microsoft); and I’m not the slightest bit shy about telling anyone who will listen that after 20 years as a hard-core PC user, I have no regrets about switching and I have no plans of ever going back. I even loaded up Crossover Mac the other day to test, and promptly got rid of it. So far I have needed a PC only for one app (the software that goes with my Sony Reader, oddly enough), and it’s just not worth it to mess with the complexity of Crossover for a single app (which didn’t work anyway).

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Richard Nikoley

I started writing Free The Animal in late 2003 as just a little thing to try. 20 years later, turns out I've written over 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from diet, health, lifestyle...to philosophy, politics, social antagonism, adventure travel, expat living, location and time independent—while you sleep— income by geoarbitrage, and food pics. I intended to travel the world "homeless," but the Covidiocy Panicdemic squashed that. I became an American expat living in Thailand. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. ... I leave the toilet seat up. Read More


  1. Billy Beck on December 17, 2007 at 07:37

    Because XP works so well with such florid hardware, I am not grasping the point of that hardware argument.

  2. Lute Nikoley on December 17, 2007 at 12:49

    O.K. I did a stupid thing and downgraded from my XP Pro. to Vista, and I absolutely hate the damn thing. I also want to remove Vista and upgrade to Windows XP, just the way I had it, before upgrading, ha ha. But, how do I do that without loosing all my programs and data, which is what happened when I installed Vista. My computer came with XP and an optional upgrade CD for Vista. The XP CD is a restore CD, so I guess I probably will have to buy a new, XP Pro OS CD, is that right?

  3. Richard Nikoley on December 17, 2007 at 09:17

    You're right. It does (with some exceptions I've run into), but they seem to have been reaching a point for a long time now where they can't move ahead (note that differences or improvements between XP and Win Pro 2000 are minimal — one can be running 2000 today on the same hardware just as stable, with pretty much the same capabilities).

    During the same period of time, Apple has made massive improvements going back to their release of OS X (now in its 5th MAJOR improvement, each better than the last, each working perfectly on day one), where they took a big risk and essentially dumped their whole OS going back to OS 9.x. In other words, OS 9 and prior apps would not work in OS X. Not at all. One could run OS 9 within OS X, so those apps could still be run, and over time everyone upgraded. Had MS done the same with Win 95 rather than making it backwards compatible with 16-bit DOS apps — for chrissakes! — then maybe things would be different. Maybe not.

    I see the essential problem with Vista as an OS where they're trying to introduce a whole lot of new capability, but in conjunction with the need to make it work with "such florid hardware" renders it a big bloated mess that works marginally on everything and excellently on virtually nonthing.

    One idea MS should consider it to team up with Sony who builds a suite of hardware with MS OS that branches off from Vista, contains only what needed to run excellently on those limited set of Vaio machines, and compete head-to-head with Apple in the consumer market with cool and reliable hardware, matched with an OS specifically engineered to a small limited set of hardware variations. Sony even now has the "Sony Style" outlets in malls, so they can even go against Apple at the mall retail level.

  4. Richard Nikoley on December 17, 2007 at 09:27

    …Of course, one can just stay with XP (what I'm doing with the one PC I still own personally, and the dozens of clients/servers at the office). For the office, that's fine. It does what we need, it's stable, and it's all paid for. But in the consumer market, especially if you like to play with photos, videos, music, website publishing, and integrate and mesh them all together there's just nothing even close to the seamless and flawless integration offered in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard.

    MS is going to have to deliver that same better experience, no bullshit, or it's just going to keep on bleeding.

    Like you say, it's the one small area of the world where one can exercise justice. I know you're no Mac fan, but I also know you know that MS is getting exactly what's coming to it.

  5. jomama on December 24, 2007 at 05:08

    Somebody once said that "Vista is the longest
    suicide note ever written".

    I don't believe that can be improved upon.

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