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Date:      13 Nov 1999 17:24:32 +0200
From:      Giorgos Keramidas <keramida@ceid.upatras.gr>
To:        freebsd-chat@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: Judge: "Gates Was Main Culprit"
Message-ID:  <86hfiqh0sv.fsf@localhost.hell.gr>
In-Reply-To: "David Schwartz"'s message of "Fri, 12 Nov 1999 16:46:27 -0800"
References:  <000101bf2d70$84b9a810$021d85d1@youwant.to>

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"David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com> writes:

> > "David Schwartz" <davids@webmaster.com> writes:
> >
> > > Yes, and they crushed it by putting out a superior product.
> > > What is wrong with that?
> >
> > Nothing, but IE is not a superior product.  Superiority is never defined
> > as taking advantage of `internal' knowledge of the OS, in order to make
> > a program load faster.
> 
> Ahh, I see. Superior has nothing to do with user experience. Superior
> is to be judged by experts according to arcane principles. That's much
> better than letting the market decide.

The market does not always decide on principles of superiority, and for
Gawd's sake what do you mean by using the word `superior' here, because
I was assuming technical superiority is the goal.  And the market, as
anyone who has seen Windows taking over the market from OS/2 and some
other operating systems that are clearly technically superior in some
aspects, if not in all their design philosophy; anyone who knows that
Windows runs on most desktop computers nowadays, knows that the market
does not decide always with an eye to technical superiority, but can be
driven to and fro by what is generally called the 'market-droids' (no
offense for anyone meant here).

> > This is not superiority, it's plain good ol' cheating. 
> 
> Cheating is a great way to make a product better. All the user cares
> about is the user experience. If integrating IE into Windows improves
> the user experience, then that's a legitimate reason to do it.

Cheating can and has always helped win under some circumstances.  That's 
why I used the word `good' before it.  However, it is by no means fair,
and there ought to be some limits to it.

As for the `user experience' thing, ask all those who have seen IE
stopping to download simultaneously from more than 4 sockets at a time,
and those who use Netscape and see all their active downloads proceeding
as usual.  And `user experience' is an objective criterion to define
superiority or `goodness'.  Both these terms usually depend on what one
calls `good' and what is regarded by each and every one of us as `bad'.

> You may consider some of Microsoft's innovations cheating, but that's
> not your decision to make.

Using in half of the operating system the same libraries as IE uses is
certainly a nice design decision on behalf of Microsoft.  Having a
separate layer of abstraction, so that IE is not so closely bound to
Windows, would probably make porting IE to other platforms easier but
then again, it's already ported to a few platforms.  Not as many as I
would certainly wish to see it ported to, and not close to all the Unix
boxes supported by Netscape though.

> Go ahead, take memory management out of the OS. Take disk compression
> out.  How far do you want to set us back?

Eh?  Did I ever even mention that any of these operating system
characteristics are *evil* and should be dropped by anyone?

> > And more examples like this one can be found at closer inspection,
> > like those rumours that non-MS products are offered the great honour
> > of a few extra wait-states by the scheduler of the OS in question,
> > which is another way of making all the _others_ look like they're
> > tooo slooow when compared to ma' MS's finely intergrated products,
> > etc. etc. 
> 
> Look, it's Microsoft's operating system. If they didn't want to sell
> it at all, no one could force them to.

Not related in any way to the way the operating system is designed, in
order to have other people's software run slower than their own.

> If you like it, use it. If not, don't. But do you really want the
> government telling Microsoft how to design its products?

Pretty Microsoftish, this argument is in fact what had them win the
court.  Yes, it makes sense, but it's still an unfair practice.  I am
not in favor of having the government gaining in some way control of
what Microsoft is _supposed_ to do though.  However, what would be a
nice thing was if the source of Windows was readily available to
everyone, so that those developing for Windows would know right from the
start that their programs would be doomed to seem running slower than
MS's own programs.  I am no Windows developer, but I know a lot of
people who are, and if I know them good enough, having this as plainly
stated as seeing the source itself would certainly make them upset.
Since I can't prove it, having no actual source, but a few web pages
commenting on it, I will not defend this anymore.  But, my opinion about
closed-source programs won't probably change in any manner either.

> Look, IE is superior. Period. Anyone who has used both browsers, and
> who is honest, will tell you that.

I believe I am in a way honest to myself.  And I have seen pages with
IE, as I have seen pages with Netscape.  Yes, IE is admittedly more
multimedia-enabled, and certainly has some more features that can have
an average John Newbie user feel a little easy and at home.

Honestly though, both IE and Netscape have crashed like hundreds of
times on me.  None of them has satisfied me when it comes to browsing.

> There have been dozens of browser shootouts.  Pretty much every single
> one of them (after IE4 was released) has concluded the same thing. The
> market concluded the same thing.

I am long convinced that the market is not what one should blindly
follow on decisions about what I should use or not.  That is after all a 
freebsd-list, and obviously I am not using what everyone else seems to
find user-friendly, at least as far as the market is concerned.

> > Competition is another truly controversial subject, especially when
> > based on what I called _internal_ knowledge (see above).
> 
> A company should use every resource at its command to provide the best
> products possible to its customers and the most competition.

Oh should it?  How about hiring snippers that would `accidentally'
happen to live just outside the competitors offices, and by a truly
remarkable game of fate would get pissed only by seeing the faces of the
employers of that, very unlucky indeed, competitor?  That seems like a
certainly handy resource.  But should we allow `anything' in the name of
competition?

Does the goal make any means allowed, legal or sane?

> > Compare the price of running Netscape on *BSD, with that of running IE
> > on Windows.
[snip]
> Neither Netscape nor FreeBSD are commercial products. I'm talking
> about comparing Windows to other commercial operating systems.

Pretty nice and rational now that you clarified it, but I thought that
we were not talking about commercial, and only commercial, software
products until now.

> Do you think you could start a company, build an proprietary operating
> system from the ground up, and sell it for prices that compete with
> Microsoft?

How about grabbing the sources of FreeBSD, adding a nice real-time
extension which I made myself, and selling the whole thing nicely
packaged, by giving away all the sources for free, except for that part
that I have built myself?

I think that this is allowed by the *BSD license.  And I could charge
close to nothing for it.  Everything that BSD can use, could be used on
that too.  No extra cost for using Netscape on it either.

> > Monopoly harm begins when you start to get your choices limited, and
> > the choice of one's operating system is IMHO a very fundamental one.
> 
> But you have the choice of numerous operating systems. Most people
> choose Windows simply because they find it superior for the tasks they
> need to solve.

Or because they know of no better.  For instance, having Windows
prepackaged with every new PC that is sold, how many users do you think
that will just sit and ask themselves on their first blue-screen "Hm,
should I install linux or freebsd and see if that crashes on me too?"
Not that many, IMHO.

> Build a better operating system, and nothing Bill Gates can do will
> stop you from ultimately triumphing in the market.

When it comes to computers there is no single `market'.  What is bad is
not allowing somebody else to triumph, as you put it, in the browser or
office-suite market, by making constant changes that provide nothing in
stability, performance, or usability, but are just meant to stop others
from competing.  Think of Samba and Network Neighborhoods.  In some
ways, Samba might be better, mostly because it runs on so many Unixen
that Windows sharing was a little less than a dream just a while ago.

However, many a time Microsoft decided to change the SMB protocol, for
no apparent reason.  The changes were in the key used to authenticate
oneself, but they did not seem to provide for better security (not
larger keys, just different and it has always been with proprietary
protocols, not documented anywhere).  They were there obviously in order
to make Samba unusable.  This is not what I usually call `better' when
I'm talking about a system in general.

> But Microsoft is powerful and is a fiendish competitor.
> This is a successful market.

Any market is successful for some, a failure for others.  I still don't
see how these last two sentences prove anything. 

> > Forgive me if I am wrong, but companies are not supposed to "kill"
> > competition.
> 
> Yes, they are. They are supposed to compete so effectively that their
> competitors have to provide better products at lower prices or go out
> of business. That's a strong, competitive economy.

I still seem to be in dire need of a more lengthy description of the
meaning conveyed by the usage of words `better', `superior', etc.

Lower prices are not a characteristic of Microsoft, unless you've never
actually payed for your copy of Windows and Office; but that's probably
something that does not conform with what Microsoft wants you to do.

Oh, and I still seem to prefer those other non-commercial OSes, like
Linux and *BSD, because even if they're not better, they're cheaper for
me, both in the short and in the long run.  Anyone who has spent hours
on the phone, trying to solve some problem with the installation of some 
piece of hardware whose unsupported third-party drivers just don't work
on Windows, knows what I'm talking about.

> > Instead, they are supposed to create superior products, in order to
> > be in the head of it.
[snip]
> 
> There is nothing a company can do to stop consumers from buying a
> better product at a lower price.  The hard part is producing a better
> product for a lower price.

100% agreed.

> I'm going to try to get some essays on the Findings of Fact up at
> http://youknow.youwant.to/ms ASAP.

I will be certainly waiting for them to appear there.

Regards.

-- 
Giorgos Keramidas, <keramida@ceid.upatras.gr>
"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." [Aristotle]


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