Saturday, February 11, 2006

Is the End of Microsoft Near?

By Justin Silverton

Microft has had a pretty good run. They have gone from a small development shop in the late 1970s and early 80s to the largest software company in the world.

One of the reasons the windows operating system can now be seen on 80% of the world's computers is because of developer support. Any programmer from novice to expert has the ability to write an application and release it on the windows platform.

Recently, an article appeared over at boing boing: (http://www.boingboing.net/2006/01/30/msft_our_drm_licensi.html)

Here is an excerpt:

"Microsoft's DRM requires that device makers pay Microsoft a license fee for each device that plays back video encoded with its system. it also requires every such vendor to submit to a standardized, non-negotiable license agreement that spells out how the player must be implemented. This contract contains numerous items that limit the sort of business you're allowed to pursue, notably that you may not implement a Microsoft player in open source software.

The bombshell was Amir's explanation of the reason that his employer charges fees to license its DRM. According to Amir, the fee is not intended to recoup the expenses Microsoft incurred in developing their DRM, or to turn a profit. The intention is to reduce the number of licensors to a manageable level, to lock out "hobbyists" and other entities that Microsoft doesn't want to have to trouble itself with."

This is a step in the wrong direction and it really makes me wonder why in their right mind they would even consider doing this.

I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise. With Microsoft's track record as a convicted monopolist and their blatent strongarm tactics in the hardware and software industry, another step towards world domination of total domination is only inevitable.

what alternatives do we have?

1) Linux

I started using linux back in 96, when there was no such thing as kde (I believe KDE was just starting out as a project) or gnome and most people you ask would have no idea what linux even is. It has come a long way in 10 years, but I don't think it is ready to take the place of windows yet.

Don't get me wrong. Linux is a great operating system. I wish I could throw away all of my insecure and buggy windows machines tomorrow and never look back, but it's just not possible at this point. I think one of the main reasons I'm still using microsoft products, is driver support.
This isn't the fault of the developing force behind linux, but of the sheer force of windows. Most manufacturers don't want to put research and development into writing a driver for linux. The end result is a constant battle to keep up with the many pieces of hardware that need to be supported. Many drivers are created by reverse-engineering an existing driver.

If more manufacurers started supporting linux (at least 90%) It could be a Microsoft killer.

interested in linux? find a distro Here

2) OS X

OS X could very well be the next windows killer. In the past year or so, apple announced their compatibility with OS X and the intel platform. Although in its current state, os x cannot run on an out of the box PC, what's to stop it from doing so in the future? This could all be in apple's plan.

1) release intel version of os x
2) get driver support from manufacturers and fix compatiblity issues
3) profit

an interesting link about macs booting windows XP

more info on intel mac os x


  • OS/X?

    At least Microsoft license their DRM playback SDKs. Apple don't, they won't allow anyone else to play.

    So swapping one monopoly for another is hardly clever

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:25 AM  

  • I agree.

    but look at the ipod.

    Functionally, it's not any better than many of the competing players. All songs are converted to the proprietary itunes format and many of the parts need to be replaced by apple directly. But it's still the most popular player on the market.

    Apple has a nack for making products cool to use. I think they could do the same thing with an operating system.

    By Blogger justin silverton, at 2:17 PM  

  • How hard is it to learn the name of the product you promote? "OS X". Not "OSX," not "OS/X," not "OS-X," not any other varient thereof. Sheez.

    I think before oh es ten can take on the marketplace they need to have brand recognition at least as good as that-there "Winder" program everyone been usin'.

    By Blogger Carl Johnson, at 12:10 AM  

  • thanks for the corrrection...what can I say...it was a late night.

    By Blogger justin silverton, at 8:45 AM  

  • In that spirit, here's another correction.

    "All songs are converted to the proprietary itunes format" is at best misleading and is at worst totally incorrect.

    "The proprietary itunes format" is, in fact, mpeg4. It's a totally open format, well-documented and available on any platform you'd care to use. Apple calls it "AAC" for their own branding purposes, but it's not in any way proprietary. Additionally, iPods are capable of playing MP3s as well, so you don't even need to use mpeg4/AAC if you own an iPod.

    If you choose to purchase songs from the iTunes Music Store, which is also entirely up to you, then yes, the DRM will restrict you to only being able to listen to the song or burn them to audio CD if you are using iTunes and an iPod.

    Still, this is a far, far cry from "all songs" and "proprietary itunes format" and only a factor for the subset of iPod users who choose to use the iTunes Music Store.

    I do agree that Apple has a real knack for making products that are cool to use, but I'm puzzled by your use of "could." I think they already have done the same thing with an operating system. OS X is spiffy.

    By Anonymous Nugget, at 5:43 PM  

  • OS X is a nice operating system.

    I was just talking about it in the context of it being on an intel (a non-developer machine).

    By Blogger justin silverton, at 6:49 PM  

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