back to article Ballmer's 'lost generation' note finds resonance

At least one seasoned analyst agrees with Steve Ballmer's admission Microsoft has "lost a generation" of users — but from this number-cruncher's point of view, the situation is worse than Microsoft's CEO concedes. "Our research is indicating that Microsoft is unable to connect with the new generation of users," wrote Global …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of people don't need a "real" computer

    A lot of people don't need a "real" computer to do computing things, they just need to browse the web do other consumer things.

    MS should also worry about the segments they are alienating by become more Apple-like. If I wanted MS Windows to be like Apple computers, I never would have switched to MS Windows.

    They might lose a lot of the Windows XP generation if they don't cater to them a little bit more in the next versions.

    My GF said she would never have bought the Office home edition if she had realized that it was a version with the ribbon. Before she bought it she was very insistent that she needed it on her home laptop but now she doesn't like MS Office anymore.

    1. Shane Sturrock

      Windows != real computer

      I've said this before and I expect I'll say it again but I never thought I would see the day when a Windows PC was declared to be a real computer when compared with a bonafide UNIX box (Mac OS X is certified UNIX, based on NextStep which was in turn based on BSD, so no, not repackaged Linux).

      A sad sad day. The simple fact that on a Mac, I can open and have all the glory of a full bash environment negates any comment about Macs not being real computers. In bioinformatics (my field) Macs are the overwhelming choice of platform.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        As a Mac owner...

        ... I'd like to ask why you think UNIX is a key requirement for a machine to be called a "real" computer. It's just a bloody OS, not a cure for cancer, for f*ck's sake. Grow up already.

        Claiming that an OS designed in the days of punched cards, teletypes and magnetic tape is a "real" OS instead of an anachronism is just pathetic. Do you *really* believe UNIX is the pinnacle of computing in the 21st Century? CLIs with ridiculously terse instructions and abstruse, inconsistent interfaces and all?


        It's idiots like you who've ensured programming computers is still done with the equivalent of flint axes.

        1. Tom 79
          Thumb Up


          Unix can be locked down, is a very light weight kernel and is highly configurable. Also, it doesn't use that abortion called the registry. Apple has thrown a very nice GUI on top of it to obfuscate the "hard" parts. It has an ez mode, and a highly configurable "nuts and bolts" mode. It also has the power of the majority of FOSS behind it, including the most prominent mail, web and dns servers there are. It is also highly scalable. Because it's been in production since the early 70s, it's very well refined. The core is relatively bug free. The workstations can also be used as servers without changing the core OS (unlike Windows). There are many other things I like about unix. IMO, it's the pinnacle of computing in this century. We'd be much further along if it was adopted in the 80s instead of DOS, me thinks.

          1. Anonymous Coward

            Ever used AIX...?

            The ODM is exactly that, a registry that corrupts on odd occasions. Of course I always hold the AIX is an acronym for AIX Isn't uniX. That said, IBM and MS have a penchant of doing things the wrong way or making ridiculous assumptions (only 7 computers needed in the world, 640kb enough for anyone, who needs colour etc...)

        2. hplasm

          As opposed to the Windows approach?

          Programming with crayons?


        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Do you *really* believe UNIX is the pinnacle of computing in the 21st Century?"

          While I see your point, it is sadly true that OSX is pretty much the epitome of current OS design because of it's merge between traditional POSIX and modern tools.

          Strong underlying tools. Easy to use and intuitive front end. Compatible with almost all industry standards. Wide choice of free and premium software. Above normal security. Just as good as a server or client. No imaginary limits (was it XP Home that only let you have 4 concurrent connections?)

          Also, your little strop about CLIs is silly. Terse is exactly what you need when automating complex tasks hence 99.999% of programmers and administrators using said format.

        4. blackworx


          Oh my god. I find myself in agreement with you. Must find some valium!

        5. The BigYin


          You do know you are using a Unix OS on your Mac, yeah? And be thankful to sweet zombie jeebus that you are!

          As for flint axes...they (well, bladed weapons in general) score over more modern equivalents in many ways. 1. They are cheap. 2. They are silent. 3. They don't need reloading. 4. One can draw a knife and complete an attack faster than one can use a gun (just ask the Thai army...).

          Unix may be old, but that does not make unfit for purpose. In fact, one could take the view that Unix (and Unix-a-likes to an extent) have most of their mistakes in the past.

        6. copsewood

          CLIs work well for some tasks

          I probably use these for about an hour a day compared to 3 in GUI mode. Different interface styles are useful for different tasks. CLIs continue to improve, e.g. by being able to launch a GUI application by pressing enter on a highlighted filename or URL causing the GUI app associated with the resource to open it. Languages involving verbs, nouns, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, wildcards, made parseable using spelling and punctuation are not about to become obsolete any time soon.

          You may be able to do all the tasks you want to do with computers without using CLIs, but I certainly can't. Also if you choose to use computers entirely without CLIs the learning ladder you might otherwise have had between using and programming computers has most of the lower rungs kicked out.

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: As a Mac owner...

          Good point, good question. Compared to micros~1, yes, absolutely. Even dos started out with sad inept just-missed-the-point aping and later mixed more aping with half-baked ideas and doing things clearly gratuitously differently than unix.

          Unix has a couple major points on the more widely used competition. There's an admirable simplicity underlying the whole thing, it has a good-enough and actually functional security model, it has some semblance of overall design in the whole, and, oh, reasonable quality code, stability, that sort of thing. It also permits replacement of even deep kernel level subsystems for better ones. In short, it has lots of things that windows just doesn't.

          Of course, we could do better. And I'd welcome serious attempts to do better, sure. Even if that means a break with fourty years of unix history. And sure, some of that history shows. The mac you're using doesn't break with it but builds on it to bring things that clearly weren't there before--at least not in a commercial OS.

          Though I don't agree that CLIs are necessairily a bad thing -- no server or router or switch can be taken seriously if it requires more than a dumb terminal on a serial to be configured, and that leaves you little else. Even today with many other interfaces available --nothing wrong with that-- the CLI is still the mainstay, it's still there if you really need it, it's easy and unprecedently fast to use if you know what you're doing. Knowing what you're doing is not an anathema, it's a valid requirement to be called an expert.

          Of course you could try and come up with a better CLI. More, and more interesting interfaces, also, like the aqua thing built on top of a unix-y core instead of the more usual X with the familiarly bewildering choice of window managers and desktop environments. But so far, unix is indeed the best we have, for servers and professional desktop computing alike.

          Still and all, the 21st century is young. Instead of casting stone axes, come up with a different design and see if you can make it last for more than the 40+ and counting years that unix has lasted. I could dare you, but I'd also love to see something truly new, actually.

          1. Tom 79


            Dude, I love the term Micros~1. That's hysterical. Gogo long file names!

        8. elderlybloke

          As a Mac owner

          Greetings - Sean Timarco Baggeley ,

          Slightly off topic,- I saw on the TV last night a shot of a factory in Russia.

          Weaving fabric of some sort, and it was using punch cards.

          If it works why, spent money on some new expensive thing?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            If it works...

            ... then you may still want to replace it with something better. For example, if the extra requirements aren't too onerous for the new capabilities, and of course you can do something useful with the new capabilities. Or if the current requirements have grown onerous, like, oh, suppose it ran off of magtape instead and there was not a single magtape plant in the world left to supply you with spools to put new designs on. Or because maintenance has become too expensive and the new one will be cheaper to run. Something like that.

            Of course, lots of change only occurs "because we can", or "because it's new", or whatever. So yes, if that plant is happy with that setup, more power to them. It's neat, too, since the first application of punched cards, and of automation, really, was exactly this: Weaving. Somewhere back around 1725, says wikipedia.

        9. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

          Real computer

          "As a Mac user... ... I'd like to ask why you think UNIX is a key requirement for a machine to be called a "real" computer."

          It's tradition. Ever since the early 80s, real computers ran UNIX and the PCs were toy computers. Now, of course, PC hardware has plenty of power for regular tasks, but UNIX is still once of the best OSes around. As for the rest of your statement, you're being very short-sighted, and intentionally confusing user interface, peripherals, and OS, in a ridiculous fashion. The beauty of UNIX is the simplicity, flexibility, and scalability of the basic design, the paradigm of treating almost everything as a file (files, pipes, network sockets, and so on all can use regular read and write calls); it scales from very small to the largest systems. And what you consider a sign of antiquation is a long tradition and history that most OSes don't have (and this includes Windows, really, since Microsoft changes the recommend APIs so often).

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re:"I can open"

        Well I'll be happy to leave you to your delusions and your keyboard-only environment, gramps.

        Meanwhile, I'll be loitering on MMORPGS, FPSes and RTSes in various GUI environments including Windows, Suse, Fedora, Ubuntu and a few others.

        On the same hardware.

        Because I'm intelligent enough to know the difference between hardware and OS, and I do not confuse the OS I use, much less one single app on said OS, with "the computer".

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @Pascal Monett

          I can run Windows on my iMac (if I wanted to).

          You could run Mac OSX on a PC (Hackintosh) if you wanted to.

          The OS and computer are different beasts, you claim you're intelligent enough to know the difference but then make it plain you don't know that a unix shell indicates a unix based OS...

      3. Peter Kay

        Bash is not a good OS differentiator

        Bash? Well, you could use that, but I suspect sh and ksh are a lot more common overall.

        In any case Windows has powershell, the Unix subsystem SUA (Server, Pro and Ultimate editions only) and the free cygwin utilities from a third party.

        If you're going to look at advantages of Unix over Windows you'll have to do better than bash. Both systems have advantages over the other, and it's also important not to confuse OS capabilities with the defaults chosen for the system. XP allowed for quite a secure system, and includes runas (su alternative). Unfortunately the default of a user being root was abused. Unix isn't perfect here either - it took years for Nero to allow running their CD burning software as anything other than administrator, but they did manage it. Various Unixes still run cd burning suid root, and haven't caught up to capability bits offered in old systems like Irix for example.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          advantages of Unix over Windows

          > If you're going to look at advantages of Unix over Windows you'll have to do better than bash ..

          Yea, it doesn't even come with AntiVirus .. :)

        2. Ari 1

          need to do better?

          Well here's one nice thing. Whether I choose Linux, BSD or MacOS I don't have to struggle to get a "real" OS.

          With windows I have to make sure that the version I purchase isn't some funny joke version without any tools or systems required for real work.

          For a regular user (not us nerds who hang around here) who just need to be able to complete tasks X, Y and Z this is a major issue. I was a computer retailer when Vista came out and saw the utter confusion of most customers, some of whom opted to buy a Mac instead.

          As a usability expert I feel comfortable in saying that MacOS X is by far the least shitty OS on the market with stuff like Ubuntu coming in a distant second place. Win7 is less awful than Vista but still suffers from incredible problems just in the configuration of the computer itself (which is the OS part which I've conducted usability studies on).

          For expert users CLI's are fastest, most efficient and most flexible. A good CLI is a big issue, which gives Unix based OS's a huge leg up on windows. Not just the quality of the CLI, but also the ubiquity. Someone who has used BASH on the free Ubuntu can use it on MacOS and all the other Linux, Unix and BSD systems (as your CLI of choice can be used on most of those systems). Importing those CLI's onto Windows is not a natural thing to do as Windows handles directories, mount points, networks and other things differently to everyone else.

      4. streaky

        Real OS

        "The simple fact that on a Mac, I can open and have all the glory of a full bash environment negates any comment about Macs not being real computers"

        Cept they screwed up all the libs so that bash term is no use to you. Go figure.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          RE: Real OS

          "Cept they screwed up all the libs so that bash term is no use to you. Go figure."

          It seems to work fine here...

      5. Laurence Blunt

        Re: Windows != real computer

        perception is everything...

        I started work using VAX/VMS when Unix was a backward little 1960's, 16bit OS that was no match for even the PDP OS's it was run alongside.

        I still look at ?nix OS platforms as the ancient and unfriendly, lacking the most basic features that a REAL operating system should have.

        You know little things like:-

        A single mechanism/API to access and control print and batch jobs/queues. No forking off and running command shells of hopeing the right print manager was installed.

        A file system that is totally reliable, allows guaranteed record and file level locking, and provides more than a simple stream of bytes (ISAM functionality from any language including DCL). Plus a feature that is missing from every other OS; file versions numbers.

        An integrated lock manager that works locally and across nodes in a cluster environment.

        Networking integrated so that you don't have to use funny little applications.

        A standard command language interpreter that allows all application to use a common command line interface, and provides parameter and qualifier parsing BEFORE the application even sees it saving time developing code.

        A standard backup system that allows full disk image and/or directory backup and restore, so when disaster does strike a system restore is easy!

        These along with many more features missing from Win_D!Ohs and the nixes are the reason it is still used today and has system availability records the others cannot even come close to. One example being 14+ years for the Irish railways, with zero system down time, yet 100's of system software and hardware upgrades, including going from Vax to Alpha.

        Unfortunately I have to spen my days developing software for MS kit, as decades of neglect and the worst sales team to crawl across the earth have made this wonderful OS a small niche market, for those who simple cannot afford down time.

        If only Compac had ignored Intel's lies about the wonderous Merced (itanium) and kept Alpha while porting VMS to the AMD64 platform. Hell on x86-64 kit it would probably still make a mint, the best ever selling VAX was the MicroVAX used by smaller business to run just about everything.

        1. Kubla Cant

          Let's hear it for VMS

          DCL, the VMS CLI uses meaningful commands with comprehensible options instead of the alphabetti spaghetti of Unix CLIs. Too much to type? You can abbreviate commands and options to the shortest unique string, e.g. "dir/sin" for "directory/since=today". Unlike the equivalent "find" command I don't have to consult the manual for this, even 10 years since I last used VMS.

          And commands, options and filenames aren't case-sensitive. I challenge anyone to describe a situation in which it is useful to have names that differ only in case.

          Logical names - a fantastic indirection mechanism where names are resolved by the operating system. Unix links have the capability to do about 5% of what you can do with logical names.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          @Laurence Blunt

          I must admit that most of this thread has followed the normal Windows/UNIX path, leading to name calling.

          It is interesting to be reminded of another OS that in it's own way has shaped what we have today.

          VAX/VMS is an interesting OS, and in many ways my second favorite OS to UNIX. What you have said of VMS is quite true, but some of the assertions you have made about UNIX are wrong.

          As someone who learned UNIX back in the late '70's and then took a spell of sysadmin'ing RSX/11M and eventually some VAX/VMS, I agree that the batch and spooling systems on VMS were much better, because DEC had Tops 10 and Tops 20 as a good model to work from. But RSX/11M's batch system was not as good as the UNIX at/batch commands, but that is because RSX/11 was not really a general purpose OS. In the UK RSTS/E was the main commercial PDP/11 OS, and very little of that mad it into VMS. If you remember that far back, you will find that VMS version 1 was really just a 32 bit port of RSX/11M, complete with non-hierarchical file system, and limited Files/11 support.

          The backup and restore, I'm not so sure that BRU and Backup/Restore was hugely better that Fbackup, Frestore, Finc and Frec on generic AT&T UNIX systems, but these fell by the wayside.

          It is quite clear that Files/11 (which was a layered product on RSX/11) and the VAX filesystem (I know it had a name, but I can't remember it at the moment) suited commercial use for VAX, including file and record locking, but that does not mean that there was nothing similar in UNIX. UNIX version 7 included a thing called the "Multiplexed file system". This allowed you to add all sorts of functionality to the standard file system. But the standard byte addresses file interface allowed you to implement pretty much any functionality anyway, including arbitrary sized record structure, and there were add-ons like C-isam, which was available as a library on most UNIX variants (OK 3rd party software), which was for a time a near industry standard for UNIX.

          AT&T's UNIX from System 3 also had mandatory file and region locking for files in a filesystem. This was not carried into the BSD variants as far as I remember, until the SVR4 merged system that provided cross-fertilization between major UNIX variants.

          It is interesting that people also overlook the RFS filesystem that came as part of SVR3.2 and later. This was a highly stateful distributed filesystem that implemented 100% of UNIX filesystem semantics, including the mandatory locking protocols. I'm fairly certain that if you came across UNIX from a BSD/SUN route, that you almost certainly never came across this advanced filesystem which again, fell by the wayside.

          It is not directly comparable with VAX Cluster, which was a groundbreaking way of making your environment more that the sum of the machines in it, but this was an add-on to VMS, and if I remember correctly, quite expensive for commercial use.

          VMS was good. It's DCL CLI was very helpful to novice users, utilities like EVE and TPU were very good for University work, and the wide variety of vendor provided applications. It had the demand paging system that other vendors aspired to. But DCL had it's own limits. If I remember correctly, in order to get the argument processing working for your application, you had to produce a prototype file so DCL could parse the arguments for you, whereas letting the application manage it's own arguments

          But I would contend that although it was very suitable for many types of work, ultimately it was not as flexible or as widely deployed as UNIX. Although you could say that the WorldBox MicroVax II was a microprocessor based system (I was at the UK site of the World launch event in Harrogate), that there were personal VAX Stations, and there were some very large VAX systems, UNIX appeared on everything from desktop PC's (like the AT&T 3B1 and even PC/ATs if you count Xenix/286 as a UNIX) through to the largest mainframes of the time from the likes of IBM and Amdahl. And I haven't seen a HPC cluster running VMS, as I have with COS (at one time Cray's UNIX) and AIX (IBM's UNIX variant).

          Don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing VMS. As I said, it is one of my favorite OS's. But it is like comparing apples with pears. They are similar, but there are significant differences which mean some people like apples, and some pears. I would say that there is probably still a place for VMS, but it has become niche, in the same way that genetic UNIX is going. But UNIX has a direct successor that will keep the line going in Linux.

          Maybe you ought to be pressing HP to license VMS with an open license. I think that that is the only way to stop it dying a slow and lingering death.

          1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

            Interesting to see so much mention of VMS here.

            Chief architect of VMS? Dave Cutler. Chief architect of Windows NT? Dave Cutler. Go figure....


          2. Kubla Cant

            @Peter Gathercole

            The VMS filesystem was called Files/11, too. On top of that lived RMS, which managed the records.

            I think you underestimate DCL. The transparency of the commands and their options don't only help novice users, they result in command procedures that are self-documenting.

            Argument processing in DCL procedures is much like all script languages; you get the command-line parameters in a set of predefined symbols. If you want to process command arguments in a compiled program you have two choices. You can define the program as something called a "foreign command" and parse the command line yourself - this is the quick-and-dirty method. Or you can provide the program with a command-line definition, which amounts to a definition of the command syntax. If you do that the CLI will parse and validate the command line before you even see it.

    2. Blain Hamon

      "Real Computer" noun. Whatever I like and am using, despite any facts otherwise.

      "MS should also worry about the segments they are alienating by become more Apple-like."

      Sigh. I was going to have my usual flame comparing various UI elements, of Windows copying the Mac, but really, it gets old fast. It's a shame that people these days have never used an Xerox Alto, Canon Cat, Squeak environment, or any other UI that shows just how different a UI can be. Maybe then they won't consider 'we have the close box on the right and the system-level menu button on the lower right' as totally different and innovative.

    3. streaky


      "MS should also worry about the segments they are alienating by become more Apple-like. If I wanted MS Windows to be like Apple computers, I never would have switched to MS Windows"

      Indeed, this is why I've vowed never to buy a windows phone again after seeing the joke that is the next windows mobile.

      If I wanted somebody to decide for me what I could and couldn't install I'd buy an iPhone and read <insert Rupert Murdoch owned paper here> and bring on the fascism.

      The catastrophe that is the default windows 7 taskbar is more of the same, if I wanted a bad UI experience I'd go OSX on a mac and not get so much abuse from the fanboys in my office. The only thing that saves Microsoft on this count is the fact you can get it reasonably close to perfection (how it was). The whole deal is just exacerbated by the fact for some reason all laptops (annoyingly) are 16:9 now, with no vertical space, please don't make a high taskbar, for the love of all that's holy.

  2. John Ridley

    College student choice

    Choice of OS by college freshmen is highly dependent on the school, what type of curriculum, and the recommendations from the school to incoming students.

    I had a kid start college last year, and she said laptops in classes that allowed them were overwhelmingly PCs - with only perhaps 2 or 3 Macs in a lecture hall with 100 laptops. Her school said either one was acceptable, though individual departments within the school may prefer one or the other.

    At other schools, freshman are encouraged (if not required) to get Macs or PCs.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      College requirement if PC type

      ''At other schools, freshman are encouraged (if not required) to get Macs or PCs.At other schools, freshman are encouraged (if not required) to get Macs or PCs.''

      Quite: if the school just adopted 100% standards based software it would not matter what sort of PC a student had: MS Windows, Mac, Linux ...

      Oh: PC means Personal Computer, it has no implied meaning on what operating system it runs.

      1. e-bob

        PC means Personal Computer

        Yes, it does, but you knew what was implied, and since nobody has used the term "IBM Compatible" in about 20 years, I think it's safe to say that "PC" has become the generally accepted "brand name" of sorts for an entire grouping of machines that never really had one.

      2. Tom 79


        It can be argued that the acronym PC came from the IBM PC and PC, Jr. series of computers (the first mass market microcomputers they came out with) in the early 80s running Intel chips. They ran PC-DOS which was just a re-branded MS-DOS (and CPM? briefly). All IBM PCs came with a Microsoft OS. Fast forward 30 years (where'd that time go?) and the origin of the term PC can still apply to Intel based computers running a Microsoft OS. It stood for 'personal computer" but it was IBM's branding of an Intel computer running a MS OS.

        Not intending to split hairs, just sharing a bit of history in the discussion.

        1. Richard Plinston

          the acronym PC

          The first use of the term 'personal computer' was in adverts for the Apple ][ in the late 70s. I have a Byte magazine with such an advert.

          By the time that IBM announced _its_ PC it was a generally used term.

          Initially the IBM PC was sold with a choice of 3 IBM branded operating systems: PC-DOS, CP/M-86 (which MS-DOS was a clone of), or UCSD. Other OSes were also available such as Venix, Xenix, or MP/M-86.

          > All IBM PCs came with a Microsoft OS

          No. That is not true, IBM had 3 branded OSes to choose from or to not choose, there was no need to purchase an OS from IBM. They did all come with BASIC in BIOS though.

          > IBM's branding of an Intel computer running a MS OS.

          The branding was 'IBM PC' not 'PC'. It is shear laziness that has conflated the two.

  3. Kevin7

    Choose your own PC?

    I don't think I've ever heard of companies where you can choose between a PC or a Mac - may be a few very lucky or senior people can, but everyone else will get what ever is standard.

    1. Richard Steiner

      I had both at a former workplace...

      It was wonderful. Initially it was a Mac IIci with MacOS 7.01 and a 20" screen, then I was given a PC running Windows NT 4. The IT department supported Windows only, so I used terminal emulators (Rumba, UTS Express) on the PC, but my internal customers had their own little spin-off IT department and were running Macs on the desktop with Solaris servers so I got to use Mac versions of everything as well as their little hypercard apps and such. Very slick.

      Best of both worlds at the time. :-) The IIci was eventually upgraded to a G3 minitower running MacOS 8.5. And then I left. Not by choice ... 9/11 hit airlines hard...

      1. dylan 4

        IIRC it was the other way around!

        "And then I left. Not by choice ... 9/11 hit airlines hard..."

    2. Doug Glass

      Choose a Mac only if ...

      ... the business is silk screening T-shirts or some such artsy-fartsy thing. The business world is still overwhelmingly Windows. Institutions of "higher" learning are not the business world since even the business office is still within the great womb of the universtty.

      1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

        Hi Doug,

        The 1980s called: they want their unfounded myth back.

      2. Ted 3
        Thumb Down

        Oh really, Doug?

        Let's see. The company I work for employs a few thousand people and has an annual budget in the several hundred million dollars. We are not in an artsy-fartsy industry and I can guarantee that there are no silk screens to be found. Funny how I've just been allowed to get a MacBookPro and an HP WinXP tower (Win 7 not supported here yet!). And my admin assistant has just got a MacBook to complement her ACER Windows box. I would say people here opt for Mac 50% and Win 50%, but the proportion of Macs does seem to be growing steadily over time.

      3. Pavlov's obedient mutt

        @ Doug Arse - seriously, dude

        if you want to bait the trolls, you have to try harder than that

        try talking the truth for starters, instead of sucking turds of regurgitated MS poo out your crusty ol' starfish using your porcine snout

      4. Anonymous Coward

        RE: Choose a Mac only if ...

        "The business world is still overwhelmingly Windows. Institutions of "higher" learning are not the business world since even the business office is still within the great womb of the universtty."

        Umm. Are you implying that unis all use windows?

        When I was at uni, we had two rooms of PCs. Three rooms of SunOS and Solaris machines, two of HPUX and one very large room full of Dec Alphas.

        Managed to learn to program using them and not windows. Some of us went on to become windows programmers...

    3. MineHandle

      Many SME's will let you do this

      Where I work you can choose. For sure in the enterprise everything is locked down (to Windows presumably), but in smaller companies it's not so hard to offer employees a choice. Usually the network is windows and you can have Mac, but then you are on your own with respect to support and you need to make sure you can read the required document formats etc. Not a problem usually.

  4. david willis

    MS or Apple ?

    Ms has lost a generation of users ?

    Well to be fair their current windows licencing agreement is a joke (you can only run windows on 2 processors, how's that work with a core 4 ?), they consistantly over price their product, completely missed potential new markets (mobile phones), and have the usual idoit suits trying to front the company.

    Apple, are run by a meglomaniac with his head so far up his ass he can see daylight through his own ears!. They rebrand linux and try to sell it as their own product and until recently thought that nobody needed to multitask their mobilephone/gps/media player.

    The one win that Apple has is they know how to design functional, beautiful and reliable hardware. Im a pc person with a 17' macbook pro on its way in the post.

    I plan to install windows 7 on it.


    Cos its a bloody good if expensive and stupidly licensed operating system that runs rock solid on a mac, and offers the best of both worlds.

    Microsoft need to find people that can design decent hardware, not cheap dell crap, not well made if bulky toughbooks.

    These days everybody would like to drive a ferrari, a porche or a lambo. They don't care what fuel is in the tank, as long as it runs well and looks bloody good the punter will be happy.

    Apple does do "look good" REALLY well..

    1. puppeteer23

      Er... no.

      The current Windows EULA states two PHYSICAL processors. Effectively, two SOCKETS. Now, that's the desktop client license, also.

      It has nothing to do with how many cores are in the chip. So, as of right now, you can run a dual-socket quad-core machine for a total of eight cores with no problems.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      What an ignoramus

      Mac OS X is based on some flavour of UNIX but it is NOT Linux.

      And as for Win7 being bloody good, another piece of BS, I am sick of my netbook with Win7 pre-installed and all updates freezing, losing WiFi signal and all sorts of crap.

      1. Adam Salisbury

        That's not Win7

        I'd imagine Win7 certainly does run like a dog if you chuck it on a netbook, now how about running it on some real hardware before making your mind up??

    3. Malcolm 1

      Processors != Cores

      The license may limit you to two processors, but each processor can have as many cores as you like. So, 8-12 cores total is probably quite feasible with current tech.

    4. Ian Davies

      So many words...

      ...but just this handful:

      "They rebrand linux and try to sell it as their own product and until recently thought that nobody needed to multitask their mobilephone/gps/media player" enough to tell me I won't find anything intelligent in the rest of your post either.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "OSX is rebranded Linux"

      What are you talking about Willis?

    6. Daniel Pimley
      Thumb Down

      OS X != Linux

      OS X is built on a BSD core with a considerable amount of NextStep thrown in, it has nothing to do with Linux.

    7. MS Rocks

      @ David Willis

      You wrote about MS ‘Well to be fair their current windows licencing agreement is a joke (you can only run windows on 2 processors, how's that work with a core 4 ?), they consistantly over price their product, completely missed potential new markets (mobile phones), and have the usual idoit suits trying to front the company.’

      A couple of points.

      •MS license by physical processor and do not care how many cores are in that physical processor. Thus your statement is wrong.

      •You say they over price. Hmmm. May be you are paying four times as much money as you actually need to because you do not understand the licensing model.

      •You say MS completely missed new markets like mobile phones. Well, I was running around with a windows mobile device that had email/a browser in 2005, well before iPhone or Android were even rumored. Admittedly, MS got complacent and too their eyes off the ball, but they, along with RIM and Symbian, were one of the early innovators in the market.

      So, in summary, you need to get your facts right……

    8. Naughtyhorse

      reliable, well designed??

      So i gues you are talking about apple corps, the beatles company???

      iPhone 4 anyone

      iPod shuffle

      thought so.

      apples interfaces look slick, their hardware is overpriced tat

    9. e-bob

      No multitasking?

      My Windows Mobile phone multitasks just fine, thank you. I can keep as many applications running as the phone's RAM allows, and happily switch between them as I need.

      My only gripe is that it won't sync with an x64 version of Windows 7.

    10. Chewy

      cheap Dell cr*p

      You obviously aren't aware of the Dell Precisions then. Sure they look tank-like but they certainly aren't cheap nor crap.

    11. elderlybloke

      MS or Apple ?

      Dear David,

      Actually Apple use an OS based on BSD.( a type of UNIX)

    12. Anonymous Coward

      RE: MS or Apple ?

      "They rebrand linux and try to sell it as their own product and until recently thought that nobody needed to multitask their mobilephone/gps/media player."

      Two things:

      1, They didn't rebrand linux, it's got parts from BSD (iirc) which existed long before linux. I believe NT was the same, so I'd be surprised if even Win7 didn't contain some parts of BSD.

      2, The "mobilephone/gps/media player" multitasks just fine, you've been misinformed. It's just third-party apps which don't.

      "Im a pc person with a 17' macbook pro on its way in the post.

      I plan to install windows 7 on it."

      Try OSX for a week or two, trust me, I did and now, when given the choice, I won't touch windows (unfortunately my work means I have to!)

  5. Rolf Howarth

    Oh dear

    Give it another ten years and Apple will be lending Microsoft $100m to stop them going bust.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somewhat alarmist

    Micros~1's stock in trade has always been wooing buying managers and monopolistic banking on network effect. Now that it's become nigh-on impossible to sweep under the rug their failures to interoperate --including interop with their own products and astroturfed standards-- it's becoming increasingly unprofitable for people to stick to what's known and tried, simply because it isn't known until tried and who knows what the other guy can do? Well, people who grow up with computers now have enough resources and enough peer resonance to try out better alternatives. So when it comes to plunking cash on a tool they need, they're no longer bound to pick the one everyone else would pick in yonder days regardless of how suitable it is to their needs. They now have the knowledge and skill to overcome hurdles and find they're better helped by different tools.

    It's not so much a lost generation, implying it's the users' fault somehow, as --again-- micros~1 failing to keep up with the spirit of the times. This despite various industries, governments, entire bodies of users and paying clients, urging them to get on with it. The things they did open up to help with interop was simply too little, too late, and glaringly, obviously, only due to external pressure. They also failed to bind users through offering a superior product. The micros~1 idea of a superior product often enough turns people to a reverse-engineered third party offering, often as not free software. Evem with their standardisation efforts they managed to spectacularly piss in their own soup. No sympathy from me.

  7. DavCrav

    Bad news for Apple as well

    The more Apple computers they sell, the greater the market share, the more likely it is regulators are going to investigate the fact that Apple software and hardware are so closely linked... A judgement against them in that respect might well substantially alter their "ultimate control" strategy.

    1. J Lewter

      Ehh, Been there, Lobby'd that.

      In the late 80's, MacClones were dealt a heavy blow due to pressure from the USGov. Seeing how large apple is now, and how Ipads were passed around Gov head offices on lauch day then there's probably a good chance that they have little to worry about when it comes to the regulators.

      If any other phone would have had the poor reception complaints that the IPhone 4 had, then they would have seen officials in the media saying (we think xx company should do the proper thing and replace those bad handsets)... Instead we get see Whoopee, and EllenDegenerate going a bit ape and then offering public apologys afterwards.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Not this again!

      SHUT UP!

      Apple are not stopping you using their hardware with any O/S you like. They even give you the bloody Windows drivers on the OSX installation DVD to make sure you can boot Windows on Apple hardware!

      There is also no need for OSX to be run on other hardware, if Apple say no, they can do that. BY that token they limit their market. Sun Microsystems/Oracle have no compunction to make sure Solaris runs on IBM or HPUX hardware.

      Now give it a rest FFS!

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Not technically true


  8. Anonymous Coward

    hearts and minds are long gone...

    These are only the statistics, but they lost the hearts and minds of generation Y a very long time ago.

    Serious and/or innovative developers are staying far away from MS tech. The ones using it are forced by their management, not their own free will.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. ThomH

      You hear a lot of positive things about .NET

      Even from people who long ago decided they don't like Windows, Internet Explorer, Office, etc. And El Reg's recent preview of IE9 (yesterday, maybe?) made it sound like a product people could get excited about.

      None of this directly affects me, of course, as I use a Mac at work and at home.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Indeed you do

        .NET positively sux.

      2. Kevin Bailey

        .NET is good! - not from someone who's used it...

        VS occasionally seems to get a positive sounding review from El Reg - but it's usually vaporware.

        The recent article about making VS easier for non-programmers to program in sounds like the usual MS producing shiny things for managers.

  9. Trevor_Pott Gold badge
    Dead Vulture

    New blood required.

    Preferably someone who isn't completely disconnected from reality and can understand the obvious things.

    Like how very dead Windows Phone 7 is already, and it hasn't even been born yet. It is completely inconceivable that the company that continues to repeatedly completely miss the point of just about every new technology since the Windows 3.11 era won't screw this up in an incomprehensible (but hilarious) fashion. (Windows 7 Launch Party anyone?)

    Apple proved that you can have a remarkably mediocre phone sell like a hot damn if you paste a flashy UI on it and - most critically - don't bork the pre-launch hype and actual launch execution. OS is crap? Fix it in post. With one exception…the OS can’t be visibly behind the leading competitors. (Being behind a bleeding-edge niche competitor is acceptable. Entering the market with a new product that doesn’t cut the mustard against the Big Dogs simply isn’t.)

    So what is Windows Phone 7? It’s technologically inferior to iOS4 and pretty much anything from Android 1.2 up. It’s launching around the same time as Android 3 and iOS4.1. It’s burdened with the tepid history of Microsoft’s reputation with smartphones/tablets/anything that isn’t a server or desktop. It’s kneecapped by Microsoft’s spectacularly bad marketing department (all of whom should be jailed as an example to the profession.) It’s got no developer kit worth the name and thus no apps Nobody with a history of executing an app store/software repository without failing miserably is in charge.

    Oh yeah, and the Microsoft warring fiefdom internal politics caused them to butched a much-beloved device, turn it into the Kin and then murder it 6 months later. (Which relates to the Windows Phone 7 quite directly. is required reading.)

    This is what is going to save Microsoft? Miracles would have to be involved. As it stands, it looks like it is to be to little, to late, and so badly executed that there will be textbooks written about this particular fail.

    Out with Ballmer. His lack of understanding and vision are leading him to squander an empire.

    Reg tombstone: replace it with Microsoft

    1. Daniel Pimley

      "paste a flashy UI on it"

      It always amuses me to see Apple's excellence in user interface / interaction design reduced to the flame-bait of "flashy UI."

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        @Daniel Pimley

        "Excellence in user interface /interaction design" is remarkably subjective. Personally, I've hated pretty much every single Apple UI since the dawn of time. I recognise that others don't, but it is most definitely not my cup of tea.

        Mind you, I am an individual who believes strongly that a computing device should be functional first, and pretty second. I like things that (for example) stay largely the hell out of my way so as to devote the largest possible among of screen real estate to the job at hand and nom the least possible resources doing it.

        Apple is one of the top innovators in actually making UIs usable, but by no means the only one. In my personal opinion Apple is in fact not even close to the best. That’s a personal take though; others will prefer their UI designs, the flash, zazz, and wow. They will like the stylistic touches and more.

        Apple appeals to a certain category of person, WebOS to another, Android to another, WinWhatever to yet more. What Apple did do, and what they deserve full marks for is that they saw a market that had fallen asleep (user interfaces) and not innovated in a very long time. They then did new things. Personally, I am of the opinion that after the initial Apple shakeup on UIs, the subsequent innovations by Apple’s competitors have largely been superior, but again, this is taste.

        1. Monty Burns


          Its only taken about 20minutes of reading to find the first sensible post.

          Horses for corses.... Why must we all use the same O/S?

          1. chr0m4t1c

            @Monty Burns

            "Horses for corses.... Why must we all use the same O/S?"

            Because this is The Register and we value freedom of expression and action above all else. But only in a conformist way.

            You are only welcome here if all of your tech runs a Linux kernel, including your watch and your bedside lamp. All in the name of freedom, you understand.

            All others will be absorbed.

        2. Dave 142


          "Mind you, I am an individual who believes strongly that a computing device should be functional first, and pretty second"

          Why does it have to be a choice between the two in the year 2010? Can't we have both?

        3. Daniel Pimley


          "Personally, I am of the opinion that after the initial Apple shakeup on UIs, the subsequent innovations by Apple’s competitors have largely been superior"

          You may well be right. I don't propose Apple as the shining light, I just know that of the PC and CE devices I've used over the last 10 years, Apple are one of the few companies I see doing more right than wrong - but yes, it is all very subjective. Now is a dangerous time for Apple, as the innovations they presented become shtick. Perhaps the MS situation is a cautionary tale for Apple: Ballmer seems to crave innovation whilst still thinking in anachronisms - it's like bring a knife to a gun fight.

        4. Anonymous Coward

          Please stop it!

          Where do people always get off saying Apple OSX GUI is all pizazz?

          I have used OSX for nearly 3 years now and I have to say it's the simplest and most basic GUI I have ever used in my life. After years of Windows ( started with Windows 286 under Excel back in '88 ) and Linux since '95, at first I hated the OSX GUI. Where's all the options to do this and that? Why can't it do this thing I used to be able to do? Why doesn't it work as well as Windows Explorer? Why don't the windows looks as nice Windows ones? I spent the first 6 months with Windows XP loaded on my Mac I hated OSX so much after being promised the earth and got nothing. Then I tried it again and slowly got to like it.

          The OSX gui is designed to be simple with so little pizazz, Christ my year old LG smartphone has more "zing" when it opens and closes apps than OSX does!!!

          Please will you lot pack in this tired old notion that OSX is all zing and no substance, you will find if you ever take blinkers off that you will probably hate the OSX gui purely for the opposite reason, it has only a tenth the functionality of the Windows' GUI and looks so basic a 14 year old probably knocked it up. That's why it scores!

          I wouldn't say one is better than the other, simply they are different. I prefer OSX gui simply because it is so uncluttered. Spending all day remembering cryptic Unix and SQL command lines at work, it's nice come home and use a computer that has a maximum of 25 options on the desktop and next to no scope of change any of them accidentally or even let your kids mess them up intentionally!

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          to little, to late

          First time I've heard someone confess to specifically not liking macos' take on GUIs. I personally don't like GUIs, any kind, but I digress. How do you like the RISCOS take on things?

          As to kicking ballmer out, meh. I'd just as soon all of micros~1 threw out the chair and died, and good riddance. The code's crap, their goals don't align with furthering the general state of computing, their management has always been poor, and now their only reasonably successful export from within their campus, marketing, has also gone down the crapper. Frankly, I don't see what useful things they have left to offer the world.

          If I'd had to step in as CEO and fix things we'd probably end up with a deeply integrated wine/qemu/whatever thing to run the applications on top of a stripped-down unix layer, not because I like unix (which I do) but because it's readily available and a better fundament than dll hell. Then spend some serious effort on integrating plug&pray and auto-installing drivers and printers and things. That's the only useful functionality they have, though it has rather massive downsides. Still. After what, a decade and a half? They're sitting on a gigantic pile of legacy crap and time and time again have shown abject failure to even draw minimalist lines around various subsystems, such that they're independent enough to be replaced. Basically the lesson people learned in the 50s and 60s with mainframe OSes written in assembly. So it doesn't surprise me that they're not stellar in organising other things, either.

          Also: Trevor, dear, something about speeling and watch your apos'trophes'. I've been wanting to tell you that for ages.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            @AC re: spelling

            I know, I know. My spelling is atrocious. My only defences are thus:

            a) I don’t proof-read comments. They are comments, and I treat them as a stream-of-consciousness method of expressing myself early in the morning to get the juices flowing. I still have the old Usenet bug, I suppose.

            b) Typically I comment before I have had my first few cups of coffee, or very late at night just before hitting the sack.

            c) I utilise non-linguistic cognition. Many people “think in words.” I don’t. In all reality I think in objects; not dissimilar in concept to an object you might program in Java or C++. Each concept; a person, a colour, a computer peripheral etc. is nothing more than an object to me. All pertinent information is contained in the object; name, composition, manufacturer, elementary physics behind the operation of the device etc. Extracting my thoughts into words (verbally or typographically) seems to take more cycles than with other people.

            d) I spent my life taking French immersion. This means that for almost my entire life I had only one course per year where English was the spoken language. Frankly they were very lenient on us in English Language Arts because we were the Frenchies. This has the consequence that a decade later, when converting the conceptual objects that form my thought process into language that can be communicated, French is the default. I must then convert from French to English for spelling, grammar and syntax. I don’t always make the jump...especially before cup of coffee #5 has me fully booted in the morning. (Seriously, I take a long time to POST.)

            None of which are good excuses, but they are the best defence I have against the accusations of inferior writing skill. I am trying, however! Forum threads full of pedants actually help. :D

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Paris Hilton

              USENET bug?

              USENET is where I started to proofread my posts. And then edit them, critically. Often means I delete half or more again before posting. Though the webform isn't particularly helpful. I find I edit better and more with my favourite editor and then copy/paste the comment back. Similarly, it helps to double-check the concept behind the word you're using, and another trick is to auto-expand the contractions indicated by apostrophes. That easily highlights most errors. There is a reason a certain free OS its documentation project encourages its writers to expand apostrophes away as much as possible and use a couple other tricks to write as clear as possible even if you are not a past master of the English language.

              With you on the concepts thing, though I've turned a bit more to languages, and, oh, not a native speaker and mixing two other languages in my daily thoughts, so, well. A modicum of self-critique and habit helps. Also, EWD1300 quote: ``[...] even if you have only 60 readers, it pays to spend an hour if by doing so you can save your average reader a minute.'' I'm not a mathematician but I appreciate the sentiment. And I still use too many words. *sigh*

              Paris because, well, at least she's nicer than ballmer to look at. There, back on topic.

      2. Ari 1


        you mean the hard work they put into making sure that everything works just right (usually without ANYTHING flashy happening), making sure that all visual elements guide the users attention towards the control to what needs to be done (again without flashy or flashing modal dialogs as much as possible/sensible) and all that.

        Making sure that networking and mounting external stuff is perfectly done without the user having to fight the system at all and then making sure that there is an internal logical consistency so all these behaviours seem to fit together conceptually so as to minimize the cognitive load of the user when performing routine tasks.

        Yup, that's just sticking a flashy UI on top of BSD... those monkeys you refer to (or should refer to) just don't seem to realize that most people just want to be able to do STUFF on their computer. They don't enjoy cleaning the registry or trying to get the home network to function. Or connect at a LAN (which bugged my Windows using buddies no end, I set up, stuck in the wire for better latency than wireless, and started playing. About half of them messed around for between 10 minutes and an hour, then they could also ALL play..)

    2. Adam Foxton
      Gates Halo

      "Out with Ballmer."

      Absolutely! What MS needs now is someone to say "Steve, you suck. Seriously. Take your oversized pension plan and bugger off."

      Then replace him with someone with vision and some sort of understanding of what he's supposed to be doing as CEO. Gates was a good CEO- look at how badly MS has done with every project after he left (with the possible exception of XBox and getting WinMo on various non-phone devices- a market that Apple couldn't touch with a very long bargepole).

      "His lack of understanding and vision are leading him to squander an empire."

      Yup. Like I say, Ballamer should be kicked out! Or, as he'd rather it was said: "Kick Ballamer! Kick Ballamer! Kick Ballamer! Kick Ballamer!"*sweats profusely*"Kick Ballamer! Kick Ballamer!" and so on. He is one big, ugly bag of fail.

  10. Uncle Siggy

    Ballmer Olympics

    <insert clever chair throwing or developers, developers, developers remark here>

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      <insert clever chair throwing or developers, developers, developers remark here>

      Chair, chair, chair.

      Throw, throw, throw.


  11. Terry Walker

    @David Willis

    "Well to be fair their current windows licencing agreement is a joke (you can only run windows on 2 processors, how's that work with a core 4 ?)"

    There is a difference between cores and processors. You can have many cores on one physical processor, and you can have systems with many processors. The licensing terms for the Windows Client is specific to how many physical processors you have regardless of the number of cores.

  12. Doozerboy

    Ballmer's sweaty pits

    I'd be stunned if any fortune 500 company offered the choice between windows or macs for it's regular users. Most of these companies will be heavily reliant on ancient legacy apps tied into Activex or some other crappy ms standard from a few years back.

    Little web design companies maybe, as rumour has it the TCO is lower with a mac running osx.

    In the organisation i work for (4000 employees), i think 3 people have macs, and that's only because they've convinced the goons running IT that as designers they need a mac. Meanwhile as a .net MVC developer i'm struggling by on an ageing P4. New workstations ordered 4 months ago, but caught up in 'change management' hell. If i get them before christmas i'll be stunned.

    1. JonHendry
      Jobs Halo


      "Most of these companies will be heavily reliant on ancient legacy apps tied into Activex or some other crappy ms standard from a few years back."

      Yeah, but they might now run them on Citrix or something, so that they don't have to deal with distributing software to desktop machines. In which case a Mac user just needs a Citrix client and a network connection.

      Worst-case scenario, they can use VMWare or Parallels on the Mac. That's what I did when I worked for Accenture in 06-07, and had to run their time and expenses Windows app. (I was in their 'Technology Solutions' branch, not consulting, so I didn't have a company laptop. I just used my MacBook Pro.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IBM have a corporate Mac build

      Been visiting IBM offices for a while. There's a fair smuttering of Macs around the place which really stand out in a sea of bland corporate plastic running XP. Ok Macs aren't normally sourced by Big Blue, but apparently there's a standard Mac build available.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I imagine there's enough corporate lock-in to keep MS afloat

    for a good few years yet, at least in terms of selling Windows and Office licences. As for the rest of the world… by and large, domestic consumers are using their Gmail, Facebook and Youtube accounts which look pretty much the same through their browser regardless of which platform they happen to be using. There's maybe a hint that MS understands this with the emergence of Office Live (let's face it, that same domestic consumer doesn't want to do 95% of the things the Office suite is now capable of) and IE9's promised standards compliance, but MS has fundamentally failed in the last ten years to do anything that adds value for the consumer market.

  14. ElReg!comments!Pierre

    70% of freshmen?

    The guy must hand-pick his "representative" samples very, very carefully.

    1. Charles Manning

      wtf fresh men

      Is "fresh" a new euphemism?

      Stale and stodgy men choose Windows, geeks choose *nix, but if you're fresh then choose a Mac.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        That reminds me...

        ...of a Greek slang for breaking wind.

  15. David Simpson 1
    Jobs Horns

    It's all in the price.

    Students who have to buy their own laptops buy PCs whereas students whose parents are buying buy Macs.

    I'd be very surprised with the recent economic cuts most businesses have taken, if any employer outside of design or publishing buys their workers Macs.

  16. someone up north

    don't choose a PC or a MAC , CHOOSE a JOB if they can !

    when those students move from classroom to office, yes if they can find a job,

    otherwise , it mad no difference whether they choose a PC or a mac

  17. Richard Fletcher


    They lost me when I couldn't find a free programming language to learn on windows back in 96. I've been told that had I looked harder I would have found something, but I didn't. I had to install linux to learn to code.

    With IT, where the geeks go, the rest follow. Eventually.

    1. Lou Gosselin

      @Richard Fletcher

      "They lost me when I couldn't find a free programming language to learn on windows back in 96. I've been told that had I looked harder I would have found something, but I didn't."

      I believe that the excellent 32bit djgpp compiler for dos could compile windows apps too. The RHIDE editor was on par with the commercial offerings from Borland, but again this was console mode.

      In my opinion these excellent 32bit dos tools had not been matched by windows tools (commercial or otherwise) for another 10 years.

      1. ThomH

        DJGPP is DOS only...

        ... but Cygnus and mingw32 provide ports of GCC (ie, the same tool suite as DJGPP) that build Windows applications. So it's easy to substitute the one for the other. And they're all good because GCC was a mature compiler chain before it was ported. Though LLVM/Clang seems now to be the future.

    2. Apocalypse Later


      ...was free, for private use anyway. And cheap if you eventually needed to buy a developer's license.

      But maybe you don't think assembly language is a language, or don't think you could use it in Windows (I programmed Windows VXDs in this).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @where the geeks go, the rest follow

      Sure, but you do have to differentiate between the geeks with crippling emotional problems and the ones without blinkers.

    4. Sooty


      You didn't look very far at all, as Borland were giving away C++ builder, Delphi etc. around that time with magazines. I remember this clearly, as i had just been talked into buying a student copy of Delphi through my college, about 2 weeks before it was given away free.

      1. CD001


        You can still get the Borland C++ command line compiler (I believe) - though it's not Borland any more of course but Embarcadero. Combine that with Netbeans (or even NP++) and you can cobble together little cli apps - it only really gets arsey when you have to deal with MFCs and the GUI layer.

    5. Frank 2

      one word...


      1. Tim99 Silver badge


        QB wasn't that bad. We used it to write apps that sent and received laboratory instrument data down serial lines. A few tens of lines of code at most: To wait for a signal, read the header, extract the data and format it to be transferred to a network of IBM-PCs, then tell the instrument that it had got it, and that it was OK to delete it.

        We could (and did occasionally) have done it in C on a 'proper' computer, but QB was much easier.

        Two years ago I met someone who was a consultant employed to project manage an update of a major utility's SCADA. He said tthat the old system did everything in some strange basic on DOS - We can't get the serial cards we need anymore, except from scrap. Why did they use that? I asked "Quick Basic, from the 1980s by any chance?" - A: Yes, how did you know?.

        Telling point: 25 years ago that was probably the easiest and cheapest way of doing instrument control in-house. You could have used a networked PDP-11 based ethernet system, at say 200,000 quid; or done it for about 15,000 quid in house, and only had one level of purchasing authority to negotiate.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Might've looked a bit harder perhaps.

      There were some offerings. Including reasonably well-regulated* free ones.

      But your point stands, of course: Having the OS come with a readily working compiler beats fighting to get a system you haven't learned yet working any day. Even a scripting language would do.

      * Yay for ancient expressions.

  18. Stuart Duel

    OS X is not Linux

    1. OS X, or more correctly Darwin, is based on BSD Unix. It is not based on Linux.

    2. OS X refers to the whole package of Darwin + GUI.

    3. Apple innovate the variant of the Unix core they use. Apple often give their own innovations back to the BSD community gratis, along with improvements and bug fixes.

    4. Apple's business model has always been based on supplying the "whole widget". There is nothing anti-competitive about it.

    5. Apple was not going bust when Microsoft invested $100M in non-voting stock. At that time, Apple had more cash and assets on the books than liabilities. The investment was part of a settlement in an IP dispute. Microsoft later sold their Apple stock for a healthy profit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think the word you want is "develop". "Apple innovate the variant of the Unix core they use" is at best gibberish and at worst a lie as they did not create it, which is what "innovate" implies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        No, 'innovate' implies...

        improved upon existing ideas, 'invent' would imply create.

    2. RichyS

      How dare you

      This is a flamewar. We're supposed to be irrational and argue based on prejudice. This is no place for accuracy and facts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I resent the implication that my flames and prejudices are somehow not rational, objective, factional, and correct, sir.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        IT Angle



        You can't fight here, this is the war room!

  19. windywoo
    Jobs Horns

    American biased research.

    The rest of the world does not always follow the same pattern as America.

    1. J Lewter


      Yes they do, American research has shown it to be true..

      Besides, My Geography teacher gave us this question on a test once..

      "Why does 99% of the world speak English"

      a) Because America is so great and that everyone wants to be like us

      b) Because of some other reason..

      Needless to say, I missed the question, due to the fact that I said "I think that the ENGLISH actually spread the ENGLISH language around the world."....

      Glad She show'd me the err's of my Socalistic ways.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows is familiar

    There are rather a lot of us who want a computer that can do more than an iPad, but aren't techy enough to install Linux. Back in the 90s, Windows' constant crashes were its biggest downfall to me as a user, but that's not been much of an issue since XP (and I haven't bought a new OS since). I know how to use Windows, how to tweak it, how to fix it, etc... just because I've been using it for years. Sadly, that's probably why I continue to use it.

    1. Shingo Tamai

      Windows WAS familiar

      Windows 2000 is familiar, Windows XP is familiar.

      Windows Vista and Windows 7 are too different, too flashy and, IMHO graphically painful to use.

      There are some good things, like automatic drivers download, better support for sleep and hibernation, you can rename a file without affecting the extension, but...

      - The GUI seems to target idiots and people with sight deficiencies (I cannot explain otherwise the need for an 80 pixel tall icon in an alert box that says "Do you want to delete this file? OK/CAncel")

      - The control panel is huge and you need to search what to do (problem is that you do not know what to search for)

      - Handling files is slow by design. Windows 7 must "discover the files", and think about it for several seconds before actually starting doing the action you wanted to.

      - The file manager sucks badly

      - UAC is still a pain in the ass with added problems with files ownership

      People are generally happy about Windows XP, they are used to it, so why not just build on that without radically changing things?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Why oh why did they have to replace DOS?

        That command line was all I ever needed. Damn you, Microsoft!

      2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Was familiar, and becoming irrelevant

        I agree, when I got XP at work the first thing I did was to put it in the old w2k mode, and was still irritated by the largely pointless changes in where things were. I believe win 7 is worse. When it came to adopting Ubuntu, the same irritation was there to begin with, but at least it is now *my* OS to do as I please with.

        To be honest, I could see little benefit in XP from w2k other then ongoing support and newer software compatibility. In fact, the only definite advantage to me of w2k over NT4 was USB support. Where is MS "adding value" to justify buying their new OS?

        And while I am happy to enter endless and probably very dull debates on the merits (or otherwise) of Windows, Linux and Macs, the point already made in this comments section is that for most people it DOSE NOT MATTER. Yes, getting their PC infested is something to complain about, but for 80% of folk they just want web mail and Facebook, and browsing for pr0n.

        What OS is *needed* for that? Any will do. For the rest of us, we have something that we need/prefer that is OS-specific (e.g. CAD software, video editing, development tools, etc) so we end up with a specific machine or VM solution.

        Sadly the only reason that MS is still doing so well is the lock-in they have with PC suppliers and big business dating from the time they were the only viable desktop operating system. I think times will get harder for MS as the likes of Google's Android & ChromeOS, the Apple iPad, and geek friends with Linux, etc, show the mass of people that windows is not necessary, and there are choices that are neater, maybe cheaper, and less hard work to maintain.

        1. Penguin herder
          Gates Horns

          A thumbs up is not enough...

          You can say that again. All of it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows is familiar

      Used DOS, then windows, for years. Managed to tweak it quite a bit, too. Then, though, I got fed up with its habits of overruling my decisions or assuming defaults that I had already changed, its general disrespect for me and my intellect through its assumptions that all users who use it must necessairily be stupid, and so on and so forth. I recognised it for a waste of time and made the jump. I already had some experience on linux and other unices, so I knew my basic way around. Now I have over a decade of unix experience. *shrug*

      Had a new hire at a previous job who said she'd like a mac. So she got one. Afterward she admitted never to have used a mac before but she thought it was a good point to switch, and hey, she managed. Good for her.

  21. Herby

    Windows is dying

    It is just that nobody has told Microsoft. One of these days they will realize it. Who knows Ballmer might even announce it to the world.

    The easiest way to understand this is to see Microsoft's stock price over the last few years. It has been essentially FLAT. Stock price is a forward predictor.

    I'll leave it to others to look at other stock prices. Hint: the ticker symbol is AAPL (notwithstanding today's results).

    1. EvilGav 1

      By the great god Lucifer . . .

      . . . I hope you don't trade in stocks and shares, if thats what you actually believe.

      Share Price has zero to do with the company, barring at times of dividend announcements, profit warnings and so on.

      For the rest of the year it's traders playing roulette and hoping they get it right that drives the market.

      I've watched stock prices for companies that are being run well, have a healthy amount of money and a good order book, completely tank, for no reason than a bunch of traders decided to dump a load of their shares at the same time.

  22. Adrian Esdaile

    As an architect...

    I use Windows; because I have to. The vast majority of the software we need is made by Autodesk, and is Windows only. The licensing system means no VMs either, so Linux and OSX are out of the question.

    Just this week though, I get an email from Autodesk about Mac applications - there is a big move going on here, as lots of us have been calling for Mac OSX versions of our apps for a long time now. It looks like it might be starting to happen.

    The moment it does, we're switching. Goodbye MS. Good riddance. Roll on th day!

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Autodesk model . .

      has followed MS over the years - forced "retirement" of perfectly good working stuff, with no sensible upgrade path for slow movers. We ditched Autocad in favour of Bricscad a few years ago. I realise they may not yet have all the add-on bits an architect might need, but they are bringing out a Linux version (Beta available now). We are also about to ditch MS Office in favour of OpenOffice, and Thunderbird in favour of Outlook. More people doing this will drive down prices for all and should focus minds at MS. Isn't competition great!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      First time I used autocad...

      ... was on HP9000/400 terminals. That's 68030 running HP-UX (8 or 9).

      A couple years later they ditched all unix versions to go windows only. Just like SGI went heavy on the windows for a time. And plenty of other misguided companies. Misguided? Yes, because bandagoneering on monocultures breeds weakness into your application too. Even though the "age of unix workstations" was receding at the time, and companies kept on missing the right vibe to pull off commercial applications on linux.

      I'm amazed they waited this long to figure out windows-only is a losing proposition in the long term. Then again, large companies do get awfully inward-looking, losing touch with what the customers want. Keep up the righteous nagging the vendors for macos versions.

  23. Maty

    yes, but ...

    The real 'lost generation' is that generation of desktop operating systems that never developed because of the stifling MS monopoly. With MS both killing rivals and simultaneously doing nothing but rework win2k, innovation has moved from desktop computers to mobile phones, TV and other devices.

    Seriously - what's really different about how you use your MS computer today to the way you did in 2001? Now what's different about how you use your mobile phone?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @what's different about how you use your mobile phone?

      I don't pull the aerial out any more.

  24. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    Business paid through the nose for the expensive version of Vista because it was the only way to buy an XP license. The UK government have recently announced that IE6 is worth hundreds of millions to them. What would you boss pay for pre-ribbon MS Office?

    Microsoft's business is lock-in and control of the channel. The sooner they remember that and flush everyone else's new ideas down the toilet the sooner they can cash in again. They should put Bill back in charge - that way they would never release anything new.

  25. variant

    os choice

    Where i work, users in the technical departments (ops, dev) can choose whatever OS they want. I use ubuntu :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think Ballmer is a legend- I am not sure if he is a good CEO, but his actions and demeanour amuse me. Steve Jobs on the other hand looks like a tramp and smells of piss.

    1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

      Well argued, Sir!

      I shall buy MSFT stock immediately....


  27. Chris Dixon

    OS X is not BSD

    Could all the experts posting that OS X is a "proper" OS because it's based on BSD / has a BSD core please get their story straight?

    OS X is based on NextStep which used the Mach microkernel architecture at its core. In the beginning, Mach was run as an addition to a BSD kernel but as more of it was developed they replaced the BSD code with Mach code.

    BSD API bindings allow code written to run on BSD to run on Mach but that doesn't make it BSD any more than calling a C program via Java's API makes that program Java.

  28. Alan Bourke

    Mac/PC choice.

    "Chowdhry notes that companies are increasingly allowing workers to choose between Macs and Windows PCs — and the percentage of employees opting for Macs is rising."

    Yeah, increasing a tiny number still leaves you with a tiny number.

  29. Andy 70


    the share price is about the only new thing, but it almost looks like an excuse to trot out a story that is about as old as "console gaming will kill off pc gaming" from the days of the super nintendo and sega megadrive.

    windows is so entrenched in industry, it is not going anywhere for a loooooong time. all i can hope for is that Apple do start bringing some game to the table with some big names like autodesk etc, as it is only with some competition that we actually get innovation.

    may the most marketed/politically motivated/advertised/spun/flashy/slick man win

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Ballmer in more trouble. GREAT!!!

    MS just don't get it, Vista was a failure and windows 7 isn't much better. Before people go on it's great, you explain to me why I can't get USB 2.0 or headphones to work, that crashes graphics after sleep mode every time, MS can't. Yet in dual boot to vista, XP and unbuntu it works fine so ain't hardware. Ruddy awful OS

    So if you offer something that is appalling but the competition just works. Are you surprised people jump ship. I think they will lose two gererations of users on the mobile. I can't see anything windows mobile 7 does being more mature, better and more functional than Android, and nothing as 'cult' like as Apple.

    Innovation is dead at MS, just like it is at Nokia. the other monopoly in trouble because people move forward, and most don't look back.

    Personally Ubuntu is the one I use. My head of IT is considering just giving everyone ubuntu with open office, save on the MS tax. And we are a PCT. So MS really are in trouble.

  31. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Ooh, Religious War

    Let me get some popcorn and find a comfy seat.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I'm with you and Mos...

  32. MinionZero

    What needs to be done (if only they would finally do it!)...

    Given the three main (desktop) platforms of choice (Windows, Linux, Mac) I don't think any fulfils the needs of all users, yet there is no technical reason why any or all of them could be made suitable for all users. So as there is no technical reason its simply a choice made to ignore and so fail to address the needs of various types of user groups and market segments.

    (Apple) - While I don't (and have never had) an Apple (of any kind) I am forced to respect Apple's focus on providing a consumer product like environment to its operation. (This can be seen best on iPhones). To a seasoned programmer its easy to dismiss it as a dumbed down UI environment, but its what most non-technical consumers want and really its what they need (as most never need or will ever have time or interest to learn programmer level complexity). I think the one really big problem Apple have always had is their pricing is always way to expensive and at times its insanely high for what they give.

    (Linux) - Put simply, its not easy for most non-technical consumers. (To Linux programmers I'm sure its a joy to use, yet its at times a nightmare of confusing details to even non-linux platform programmers who even have decades of experience on other platforms). Yet there is active and at times hostile opposition to making Linux easier to use, as its seen and very often dismissed as dumbing down the environment. Ubuntu is trying to change this but its still falling some way short of that goal. I would love to see Linux win the hearts and minds of all consumers, then finally everyone will be freed from paying the effective software tax of buying the underlying OS and then all developers can work together towards boosting the one common platform.

    (Windows) - As my work has often required me to program Windows machines I still can't shake off the feeling that Windows to me is boring but far worse its profoundly bureaucratically over complex. Very little Microsoft does inspires me if anything it far too often dismays me. It OS design is less like providing me with a service and far more like being a dictator over me, which forces me to be locked into writing Microsoft applications. Its as if Microsoft have intentionally blurred the lines between OS and application to force developers to make Microsoft applications. So in their goal of dictating and so controlling everyone they have constructed an authoritarian bureaucratic nightmare which often feels like government forms to fill in to ask the OS to do just about anything for you.

    What we need is a box you switch on, its instantly available like an old electronic product (not minutes wasted booting up), and then its simple for non-technical users like an Apple UI, but has the freedom of Linux under the hood if someone wants to lift that hood (but should never need to lift the hood to use consumer applications) and we have to be freed from the various lock in tactics (i'm looking at you Microsoft and Apple). Linux has real potential to finally achieve this dream goal of being ideal for all users, but its most definitely not anywhere near where it needs to be yet, plus even worse some Linux users are actively hostile to it ever being suitable for all users. (These hostile users quickly switch to Passive–aggressive Obstructionism where the only way forward they will allow is to force yet another branch of Linux and thereby fragment the platform and developer efforts even more).

    I'm sure fans of each platform will be very hostile to any question their platform should change and sadly so often such arguments rapidly sink into either the realms of Cognitive Dissonance about the faults of other platforms or just as badly we get into the stalemate arguments that its all too complex and its just the way it has to be, so in the end we get no where. The simple fact is no one programmer is going to change this situation. Its going to take the entire culture of any or all the platforms to embrace change. It could be done, its just going to take a mass build up of momentum towards embracing change.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      @What needs to be done

      Generally you make a number of valid points, but the issue of "making Linux easier" is one that is more complicated than you seem to be suggestion.

      Yes, I am in favour of better GUI management tools that do what they should, and things that just work out of the box, but what I *do not* want to see is the MS approaches of:

      1) Turn everything on by default to save people having to configure what they actually need.

      Result = hackers & port-scanner's paradise. Most folk don't need a whole range of things, and not having unnecessary stuff enabled is always a good security point.

      2) Make things. happen automatically with little or no questioning. (Result = you get rooted by a CD, USB stick, etc with malware).

      Yes it may sound arrogant, but anyone who can't learn the basic steps to run something should NOT be running anything they find on external media or downloads! That is why you have 'administrators' who can install stuff and 'users' who can't. Few in any family are suitable for the 1st case.

      3) Tell me what I can and cannot do, and keep resetting things to what I DID NOT WANT.

      This just pi**es me off big time. It is my PC, and if I want to do something as administrator it should bloody well do it. Maybe warn me, and yes please have a 'reset to defaults' option to save me from my own stupidity, but it is still my PC and my right to do as I please.

      Tux, cause I like him/her (how do you tell with a penguin?)

  33. A. Lewis

    Just maybe...

    It's because Macs are better.

    I never thought I'd hear myself say that, as a long time Windows user and Mac cynic. I've been using MacOS X quite a bit recently though, and am finding my convictions shaken by the fact that an awful lot of the things that annoy me about Windows, don't exist in MacOS. Yes it can seem superficial and oversimplified, but as the zealots say: it works. And if it doesn't, the underlying structure is there to dig around and troubleshoot. (As some other commenters have pointed out: the terminal is alive and kicking in MacOS.) Whereas I look at Windows and see essentially the same OS they've been shovelling since 2000, with the same bugs and creaky seams.

    Given the current trend towards virtualisation of applications and desktops, the actual OS running on end-user hardware is becoming less and less important. Could we be nearing the start of the end for Windows as we know it?

    An idea I've mentioned before is that the folks in Redmond have the clout to change computing, to take the lead once more. They just seem to have become too lazy and lumbering. They've proven though that they can work well with the user/developer community when producing a new OS (see Windows 7). What they could do is make a complete break. Create a new OS, nothing to do with Windows, and involve the user community at the early stages. In this way they could build the next big thing, and if it's good enough people will use it regardless of compatibility. There will always be ways to get those legacy apps working, even if it means running a virtual windows environment just for that purpose.

  34. John Carter 1

    Good UI design is NOT subjective

    There are good reasons for doing things certain ways and good UI design has been proved to be more productive for users.

    I'm not saying Mac OS X is perfect, but windows has some basic flaws that have now become acceptable e.g.

    1.Alert boxes with OK/CANCEL

    2. wizards that use up enormous space and hide details fifteen layers down.

    3. Of course they do the opposite too of crowding too many features onto one page.

    4. Isn't the little doggie in XP search cute? What the .... and they accuse the mac of being the toy OS

    5. The menu belongs at the top of the screen (look up Fitts law to see why). How many file menus do you need on the screen at once anyway?

    6. Wasted screen real estate with buttons I never use, little icons that animate and exist for no reason (I'm looking at you Word with your wasted status bar at the bottom of every window)

    7. Inconsistent task. Why is changing the font different in every application, including those written by Microsoft themselves.

    8. Why note-pad and word-pad, one of which can open multiple windows and the other not?

    9. Contextual menus should be avoid if possible, because they move and require over-precision to select (again Fitts law). I think contextual menus are bad design, simple an area to sling things when the developer couldn't decide where to put it.

    And yes before you start, I know that there are technical or historical reason. Still it results in inconsistent, unproductive and unintuitive interfaces. Plus I'm sure you can find things in Mac OS X too, but I promise you that I could find 10 things for every one you find.

    P.S. - Notice I didn't event mention the start menu

    1. stewski

      Fail is consistent with the facts IMHO.

      @John Carter 1

      You clearly do overstate the problems of context sensitive menus.

      You are throwing Fitts law around in UI design but you neglect to explain the premise:

      The time to acquire a target is proportional to both its distance (from your current pointer position) and the size of the target. Indeed the edges and even more so corners of the screen are usually considered infinite targets (corners both X and Y).

      With that in mind: as screen resolutions increase and multi monitor setups become more common the apple approach is arguably becoming less advantageous.

      While we're suggesting preferred environments from a usability perspective gnome makes good use of all four corners and applications are asked to provide consistent context sensitive menus that are duplicated elsewhere yet provide a convenient short cut.

      And the diatribe on wizards (which can be a pain but are clearly not defective by design) and status bars is utter tosh!

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        Fitts Law sucks

        I mean, it's perfectly valid, but extrapolating from there to a menu bar at the top of the screen always seemed a reach too far for me. I used Macs quite extensively back in OS7 days, and I was forever screwing up because the menu bar that was displayed at the top of the screen wasn't the menu bar I thought it was. And unwinding the consequences was loads more time-consuming than the few milliseconds saved "acquriing the target".

        So, for me, that way of arranging the menus doesn't work. No biggie, I'm sure I can change the configuration to put them where I prefer? I can't? Bugger.

        Also, my current setup is two 22" widescreen LCD screens stacked vertically, to the top edge of my main working screen isn't an infinitely large target, and can be quite a long way away from the application on screen. Indeed, I was playing with a Mac in a shop the other day, and finding I had to re-position the mouse regularly to get from application to menu. Not good.

        I will probably move away from Windows for my desktop/laptop OS at some stage, unless Windows 8 is something stunning. But it'll be to the Penguin, not the Malus.


  35. Bram

    The Real World

    Its funny when I hear people especially IT guys and girls saying Unix is the onl thing worth having and the other side starts to banter on about Macs are simple and for everyman and then the new kids on the block bang on about Google being the way forward with cloud services the fact is that all the champions of these realms have missed the real issues...

    Macs are far to expensive for the average user

    Internet services require the internet which is not accessible everywhere at a usable speed for the majority

    Unix requires too much specialist knowledge

    These are the practical reasons why people opt for the subsidised windows format on a third party hardware box, plus it gives them the choice of buying a budget end system without having a stigma attached, you don't have to have an internet connection to write a document and if something goes wrong you dont need to open a terminal to solve it, or spend hours asking linux gurus online who scoff at you for not knowing a vague command line prompt.

    I have a linux box, a macbook, windows7 box and a windows 2008 server and they all have their uses at specific times but the windows box is what I tend to use most often because it covers most bases without too much hassle.


    Im not a microsoft fanboi, I can just see the bigger picture no one solution is best

    1. Anonymous Coward

      If something goes wrong ?

      Generally a Linux box doesn't tend to go wrong once its been set up correctly, which can be a bit 'tricky' admittedly. However, if it does go wrong at least you can fix it as it tends to be a matter of editing text configuration files. When ( not if) Windows goes wrong, you're screwed. It is fundamentally flawed in design. When a Windows box goes wrong the best thing to do is just reinstall it which is fairly easy until you reach driver hell.

      Unfortunately as I develop on Windows for a living, I run Windows almost exclusively both workstation and server. However, my young son is happily using Ubuntu on my old Dell laptop and I don't have to worry about him. He's more or less immune to getting a virus and he can't screw anything up without the admin password.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Damn their Jedi Mind Tricks!

    "If you don't want to move to the cloud, we are not your folks"

    We don't want to move to the cloud.

    These are not the folks we are looking for.

    You can go about your personal computing without submitting to the 'clouds'.

    Move along... move along.

  37. FatCandy

    Win7 over OSX?

    Has anyone ever tried to get software for a Mac not made by Apple/Microsoft/Adobe? If not try it, 99% of it is rubbish that will exhibit some serious, unwanted side-effects. Similarly, if you do find software for a Mac that is not made by one of the aforementioned companies, you will find that it is overpriced. Fanbois will be crying foul at this observation! Give me empirical proof you say. Okay, fine. SVN clients. On Windows one has access to the excellent, opensource TortoiseSVN (note the OPENSOURCE) on Mac we have access to well nothing usable really unless you're willing to stick your hand in your skyrocket and fork out (at reduced price & one time offer) $59. The counter-argument is that one can use terminal instead, but WTF is the point of buying a Mac instead of using a Linux distro if I'm forced to go to terminal?!

    Being the owner and user of Mac/Win/Linux systems one quickly realizes the pros and cons of each. What I can say for certainty is that my servers will always run one flavour or another of Linux but as for Personal Computing, for me Apple is out of touch not MS. Win7 really is the bees knees and in my mind far superior, not only due to the improvements made in the OS but because I'm not locked into the workflows dreamed up by Jobs and his minions. The days of Apple's superiority in the hardware sector are drawing to a close. I just got a ThinkPad W510 and it's performance and quality are truly staggering.

    Conclusion -> Give me choice and quality over aesthetics any day.

    1. ThomH

      For SVN, I use...

      ... the SVN client built into Xcode, the free development suite that ships on the OS install media (and is downloadable subsequently). Though it's Apple software, so perhaps I'm missing your point.

      Straying from the Apple/Microsoft/Adobe fold, glancing through my /Applications folder I use the following good (and cost effective) software:

      • Cheetah3d, for 3d modelling

      • Pixelmator, because I do sometimes do editing things, but don't need Photoshop

      • VirtualBox, which needs no introduction

      • Skype

      • 0xED, a hex editor, for when I'm (ever more rarely) doing bits and bytes stuff

      • IBM Lotus Symphony, but only at work because I have iWork at home

      • Audacity, sometimes...

      • Sound Studio, ...the rest of the time

      • The Unarchiver, for access to 7zip, lxma, etc archives (and sit too, if I'm unarchiving from history)

      • SOAP Client, when programming anything to do with SOAP

      • Google Chrome

      • Froq, for access to a remote SQL database

      • Cyberduck, an excellent FTP client

      • Flip4Mac and Perian, both codec packs for QuickTime

      • Inkscape, but only sometimes because as a lazy (note: lazy) X11 app, the user interface is horrid

      • Citrix Metaframe, for the obvious uses

      • SolidWorks eDrawings, for viewing CAD images — though I think I used this exactly once for exactly one project

      • Snapz Pro X, for screen recording

      • Meshlab, which is a cross platform set of 3d mesh tools

      • RapidWeaver, which is a web page designer for the lazy

      • Taco Edit, for HTML editing otherwise

      Though the Microsoft/Apple stuff in particular is excellent, and the Adobe stuff really very good.

      I would guess from the general tone of your statement that games don't count and I'm not much of a gamer, but I also have World of Goo, the recent Monkey Island and Steam installed.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I never bought software for my Mac

      Speak for yourself, I am happy with free stuff on my Mac. Alright I am a home user, not in a business environment, so my needs are different, but there's plenty about if you look.

      I use VLC for videos, way better than that shite Quicktime. You find a file that VLC can't play and I'll find you a dog that speaks Danish ( Danish dogs excluded of course! ).

      OpenOffice. Alright Apple's three office type apps are nice, but I paid enough for the kit and OOO is good enough for my needs. MS Office on Mac? Bog off! Utter drivel that just kept crashing, that was the demo, so heaven knows how bad the real thing is!

      Firefox is way better than everything. Safari is piece is crap, even on OSX, just admit it for once fanbois!

      GIMP for pictures thanks. £500 for Photoshop?!!?! Get stuffed with that! I only want to tidy up some pictures of my kids and my dog, thanks. I ain't even paying £75 for Elements either, just no point GIMP is good enough for my home needs.

      iTunes, alright it's complete cack, but it works, just about so I tolerate it, just!

      There are a handful of other utils and tiny apps. iTerm ( terminal is poop ), xAct ( music conversion ), Thunderbird ( Apple Mail is pants, I want easily accessible mail formatted files ), a few others.

      You can't whack MAME/MESS for classic gaming fun! PacMan on a gorgeous 27" HD screen, can't beat it!

    3. Ian Davies

      Says it all...

      "Conclusion -> Give me choice and quality over aesthetics any day."

      That this is the "conclusion" you come to speaks volumes.

      First, there's the fallacy that choice *and* quality somehow equate to each other, or come as an inseparable pair. Then there's the stock-in-trade fanboi argument that aesthetically pleasing software is some kind of antithesis to *good* software.

      I know, I know; you'll no doubt point to your usage of Win/OSX/Linux as evidence of your even-handed (and therefore beyond reproach) point of view. Guess what? It's a blinkered, fanboi argument, whether you're prepared to recognise it or not.

      Software does not sit on a one-dimensional axis with "choice" at one end, and "attractive" at the other. The space is multi-dimensional, and there is software on all platforms that occupy the high-end of these metrics.

      "Design isn't how it looks, it's how it works"

      I get the feeling that quoting Steve Jobs at you might induce some kind of aneurism, but there's no getting around the truth in that remark, and it highlights the gaping hole in your stance, that the qualities you mention are somehow mutually exclusive.

      Leaving aside the laughable statement that software from Microsoft/Adobe somehow sits *inside* the 1% of "good" software that you claim for the Mac platform, the example of an SVN client that you use to illustrate the deficiencies of available open source software on OS X is bizarre in the extreme. Most computer users (nevermind Mac users) wouldn't know what the feck an SVN client is.

      Try looking at the kind of software that normal people use and you'll find the Mac has a vibrant and high quality selection of software, both from open source developers (free) and independents (low cost). Are there as many software apps available on the Mac as on Windows? No. But I'm a digital media and IT professional and I've yet to find a job for which there isn't a suitable bit of good quality software available on the Mac platform.

      I don't recognise the ridiculous "1% good, 99% shit" landscape that you paint.

  38. Jesse Dorland

    Just go with Mac

    Unless you're buying toughbook -so you can view monitor in direct sun beat light. I'd go with Mac, it can dual boot with Windows, or Linux, and it's worth it -- minus the price.

  39. Anonymous Coward

    @John Carter 1

    You seem to reference Fitt's Law several times and decry context-sensitive menus when in fact these are considered to be beneficial by Fitt's Law:

    "Pop-up menus can usually be opened faster than pull-down menus, since the user avoids travel."

    Therefore, I award you one Epic Fail.

  40. MyHeadIsSpinning

    Another Apple vs Microsoft vs Unix argument

    Damn, you people are easy.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not apple or windows or unix-flavour

    The majority of us have used windows for years.

    But it still freezes, crashes, looses config, etc.....

    No one OS is better than the other. Just accept it and move on!

  42. J. Cook Silver badge

    I think the phrase that we are looking for is this:

    "All Operating systems SUCK."

    (and for a really amusing video of it, google that phrase with "three dead trolls in a baggie")

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    75% of Mac owners also own a Windows PC.. it's not as redundant as you think

  44. Cyfaill

    non emotional experience

    Real computers, toys, and the selling to the masses,

    Why is the Linux kernel the choice for super computers ?

    it does the job.

    The original DOS was selected because it was incapable of competing against UNIX. IBM was wise.

    NT was chosen by Microsoft because it was not UNIX and they believed it was good enough to be competitive (with Intel's help - oops)

    NEXT was too early

    UNIX is the evolutionary predecessor to is non clone Linux (Unix like)

    Microsoft is toast because they were never competitive technically

    Amiga (never marketed well in its functional life)

    unix - is dying slowly only because its wild child replacement is still a teenager rebel in the minds of the old school thinkers. (Linux)

    Linux became because the world really does need something that works.

    Linux is what is found on REAL computers today. go look.

    Why else do you think that it... and none of the others, is the largest, fastest moving software project in the history of computing...

    Its Linux flexibility and its awesome GPL It will survive its attackers because it has all of the right aspects to survive...

    all the rest is marketing.

  45. John Carter 1

    Fitts Law

    They may mention the contextual menu, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with them.

    I believe they go against it in principal because of the fact that they might move to the left or the right of cursor and even above or below. Try hitting the option you want without thinking about it. You may not think you are but I bet a time and motion study would prove otherwise.

    You gave me epic fail (bastardised english from a japanese arcade game) without mentioning any of my other points. I assume they are all rendered void because of a debatable point.


  46. drag
    Thumb Up

    happy thoughts vs reality

    "Real computers, toys, and the selling to the masses,

    Why is the Linux kernel the choice for super computers ?"

    Because it is cheap, it's easily customizable to different workloads, HPC folks were familiar with Unix, and (most importantly) it stays out of the way of the custom applications that do the brunt of the work.

    "The original DOS was selected because it was incapable of competing against UNIX. IBM was wise."

    Ever try to run a Unix system on a 16bit processor with 512K of RAM? I think not. Unix was expensive and was much to large for the hardware. MS-DOS was cheap and ran just fine.

    Plus it helped that:

    "Oh, that's run by Bill Gates, Mary Gates' son." --- John Opel: IBM President and close personal friend of the Gate's family.

    You put the rest of the pieces together.

    "NT was chosen by Microsoft because it was not UNIX and they believed it was good enough to be competitive (with Intel's help - oops)"

    NT was not 'chosen' by Microsoft. Microsoft hired a bunch of VMS creators and programmers to help them write a new enterprise OS kernel and they wrote NT Microkernel. Once they figured out a Microkernel was a shit design they went with a hybrid approach that formed the basis of what is now the most popular non-embedded OS in existence.

    "NEXT was too early"

    Next was a decent Unix system with a high-tech windowing system designed to run on overpriced and unmarketable hardware.

    Which Apple purchased, along with the CEO, hacked on Next for a few years and eventually cranked out OS X, because Apple could not write a new OS from scratch to save their lives.

    "UNIX is the evolutionary predecessor to is non clone Linux (Unix like)"

    Unix was hacked together to play video games on a otherwise fairly worthless PDP7 and was designed to be a amusing anti-Multics.

    Once it was realized that writing everything assembly was a shitty idea the C programming language was created and Unix was rewritten.

    There it languished for a while as a academic toy because AT&T could not sell it because of rules the USA government pushed on them in response for allowing them to maintain government-sanctioned monopoly over the telephone networks.

    Then the BSD hackers came along, developed TCP/IP as a error resistant network stack for a military research project, released it as freeware. This turned Unix into a networking powerhouse and lead to it's commercial success.... which went on for a few years until the corporations that licensed the AT&T copyrights then proceeded to around and sue BSD folks.

    Unix has been slowly going down the toilet ever since.

    "Microsoft is toast because they were never competitive technically"

    Yeah right.

    "Amiga (never marketed well in its functional life)"

    Amiga was a proprietary shit OS doomed to failure. It continues to serve as a example of what not to do.

    "unix - is dying slowly only because its wild child replacement is still a teenager rebel in the minds of the old school thinkers. (Linux)"

    Unix worked best when it was open and people shared. Once it got all proprietary then it splintered and the life of a application developer for Unix turned into shit. Microsoft then ate their lunch.

    Now Linux is working because the licenses require everybody to work together and forces people to share.

    "Linux became because the world really does need something that works.

    Linux is what is found on REAL computers today. go look.

    Why else do you think that it... and none of the others, is the largest, fastest moving software project in the history of computing...

    Its Linux flexibility and its awesome GPL It will survive its attackers because it has all of the right aspects to survive...

    all the rest is marketing."


    All the rest is Linux gaining acceptance by the business computing so it can gain the funding and proper developer resources required to make it survive.

    Redhat is the best thing that has ever happened to Linux. IBM is a huge asset. HP, SGI, Oracle, etc etc.

    Look at Android:

    For years people been trying to hack together a acceptable highly mobile version of Linux for phones and other handhelds. It was not until a major USA for-profit corporation took Linux and developed a decent application development environment and showed everybody else in the 'community' how to make a mass marketable Linux-based OS before Linux has gained.

    Right now Android is #1 smartphone in the USA. In the past few months it has surpassed even RIM in terms of sales and sits at 33% of the market and RIM with 28%. (Apple is down in the low teens and is losing market share: even with the iphone 4) . It is selling to the tune of 200,000 new Linux systems per day. +800% growth since the same time last year. By this time next year it will only be second to Nokia in terms of world-wide smartphones.

    Android and Linux proves that if combine sharing of code and ideas in a open manner (with copyright and patent restrictions nullified as best as possible) with a huge for-profit motivation that business provides you can be hugely successful.

    THAT is what Linux needs. Screw marketing: these are _RESULTS_.

    Freedom + Profit = Win.

    1. Hi Wreck
      Thumb Down

      Er, actually it ran fine on 128k...

      "Ever try to run a Unix system on a 16bit processor with 512K of RAM? I think not. Unix was expensive and was much to large for the hardware. MS-DOS was cheap and ran just fine."

      It worked fine on a PDP-11/45 with split I and D (making a whopping 128K of memory), and the disk may have had 20M on a good day. It also supported more than one user. So, your point is?

      Micro kernels also work fine. Just ask the QNX folks. MS couldn't get the video working well enough with the uKernel, so we now have the monster that is NT and the joys of DLL.

  47. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Form vs. function, and easy installs

    "Mind you, I am an individual who believes strongly that a computing device should be functional first, and pretty second

    Why does it have to be a choice between the two in the year 2010? Can't we have both?"

    Nope! At least not that I've seen, because one element of what people consider a beautiful interface is to have a simple and uncluttered interface. Well, what's the easiest way to do this? Remove "uneeded" functionality. Except it's *not* uneeded for some users!

    "There are rather a lot of us who want a computer that can do more than an iPad, but aren't techy enough to install Linux."

    I SERIOUSLY doubt that. They tend to just THINK they are not technically savvy enough but the install is so simple that they actually are. I've stood by while several people -- who have never installed Windows and probably couldn't -- installed Ubuntu, I just stood by to provide support and they were like "That's it, it's done!?!?" "Yep." Ubuntu 10.04, you can pop in the CD and run the LiveCD -- it supports almost any printer, scanner, wireless card, ethernet card, video card, sound card, it supports bluetooth etc -- but that way you can make sure everything works. Then click "install" -- it goes through 6 screens (numbered 1 to 7, but I've never seen screen 6...), it asks for language, timezone, keyboard type (you can click a button and it has you press 2 or 3 keys to figure it out for you), a screen to either use the whole hard disk, or split the disk with an OS you already have on there, username and password (and the 7th screen just lists all the options to give a "last chance" before it actually starts working over your disk). That's it! I install "ubuntu-restricted-extras" to install extra video codecs, Java, and Flash in one shot, but otherwise the first time you go to a Java or Flash site it's just like "Click this button to install Flash", and playing a video "click this button to add support for foo video format" so still simple. Canonical has worked HARD to make a Linux distro as simple as possible. Compared to installing OSX, it's the same level of complication (actually a little easier, because on the Mac with a blank hard disk it'll stop and say there's no disks to install to, and you have to know to go to "Apple Disk Utility" to set up the disk), except it's not limited to Apples only, and with the LiveCD you can check things will work before installing.

  48. This post has been deleted by its author

  49. aardman

    MS = GM 30 years ago.

    GM (and Ford & Chrysler) lost a whole generation of US buyers about 30 years ago. Once you lose one generation, you have to work really hard to win the next one. In the US the children of todays more affluent buyers grew up riding their parent's non-US-brand cars and it will take a lot of convincing to get them comfortable even with the idea of buying GM again. Especially since their parents fled the marque and no doubt had nothing good to say about it to their kids.

    Microsoft is facing what GM faced in the 80s and like GM it's not doing a thing except say "We're Microsoft, we're invincible."

  50. David 138


    Students are lazy bastards, and why would a company offer Macs? Macs are about as good in a working enviroment as a kick in the balls every morning.

    Also how does a terminal make a mac a real computer? its a locked down system which is looking and freeling out of date. The Irony is that Mac are the voices in the screen on there 1984 advert. Grey is the only way bitches.

    The worst part is noone seems to have noticed that MAC have dropped their computers? They havent changed in years. if its not an ipad or iphone Apple couldnt care less.

    1. Magnus_Pym


      "Students are lazy bastards" - Well reasoned and convincing. You certainly put that argument beyond further discussion.

      "and why would a company offer Macs? Macs are about as good in a working enviroment [sic] as a kick in the balls every morning" - Yes it's hilarious to expect Macs to break out of their tradition niche market of specialist work computers...

      ...No. Wait that doesn't sound right.

  51. davethedormouse


    Please stop showing that pic of Steve Ballmer in the Top Stories box, it scares me...

  52. Joe Montana


    The interfaces that make up UNIX are an open book, and there are multiple implementations out there which are generally compatible at least at the source level (and in some cases at the binary level)...

    Windows on the other hand, has only one real implementation and is not well documented... There are partially compatible implementations (eg wine) but these have come around through years of reverse engineering, are not fully compatible and will always be several versions behind.

    VMS is in a similar boat to windows, only there is considerably less demand for reverse engineering of it.

    As someone who values choice, unix is simply the best option right now.

    It's also a simple clean design that is easily extensible and generally just makes sense. Windows just appears to be unnecessarily complex, most likely intentionally so out of a desire not to be cloned, only this complexity is now making it difficult to maintain.

  53. gtype
    Thumb Down


    Linux Rocks! BSD Rocks! Windows 7 Rocks! (After reverting everything back to the way it was in XP) MAC SUCKS

  54. iAndy

    Apples and Pears

    MS have certainly done it again by slagging off their main competitor. Their advert is more indicative of their worries about losing market-share and profitability. This is nothing more than a pear pointing out that it doesn't look, feel or taste like an apple, and so therefore must be superior to the other.

    Every time MS claim a great advancement in the GUI it usually ends in confusion and a lack of useability. They are promoting a revolution within their own industry. Every revolution has its casualties, often the customer. Apple seem to follow the evolutionary process, where the basis of the GUI doesn't change substantially between versions. This seems to work for them and causes less stress for their users.

    I'm writing this on an Apple, having been a PC user for years. My reason for change, less time spent on all the maintenance to keep the PC running smoothly and start-up times of less than a minute, even after three years of filling the hard drive.

  55. binner

    OS != computer

    I thought a real computer was cpu , memory and i/o and everything else was just software

  56. Mark Rendle

    I love my MacBook Pro

    It is far and away the nicest computer I have ever owned; the screen is amazing and the trackpad is great. It runs OSX Snow Leopard, and Windows 7 Ultimate on Bootcamp (and the same partition in VMware Fusion).

    There's a lot to like about OSX and Win7, and there are issues with both.

    Bash is far, far better than CMD or PowerShell. Mac generally is better for running *nix-y software, Ruby stuff and all that.

    I prefer the Windows taskbar to the OSX dock.

    Having got used to it, I quite like the way the menu is always at the top of the screen is OSX. But I don't like the way OSX claims function keys for itself and stops them working in applications.

    Also, Steve Jobs is right: Flash on Mac is a piece of crap.

    In my opinion as a developer, Windows wins: Visual Studio is exponentially better than XCode, and Objective-C is a horrible, horrible language. MacRuby is cool, though.

    Generally speaking, I boot into OSX and use Windows, where necessary, through VMware, unless I need better performance for development work. All general web browsing, email and stuff I do in OSX.

    One thing, though: I can't remember the last time Windows just completely hung on me, without even letting me CTRL-SHIFT-ESC to bring up task manager. OSX throws up that spinny beachball all the fecking time. iTunes is a particular offender.

  57. Anonymous Coward

    From long and personal experience:

    Artists = MacOS

    Architects = MacOS

    Musicians = MacOS

    Designers = MacOS

    Printers = MacOS

    Filmmakers = Mac OS

    Photographers = MacOS

    Medical Imagers = Unix/MacOS

    Engineers = Unix/MacOS

    Astronomers = Unix/Mac OS (quickly shifting to entirely Mac OS since OS X)

    Physicists = Unix (quickly moving to Mac)

    Most other Sciences = Unix (slowly moving to Mac)

    Meteorologists = Unix

    Vehicle & Road research = Unix (moving toward Mac OS since high speed digital photography came about)

    Flash 'Artists' = Windows

    Web 'programmers' = Windows (although most creative companies use a guy with a Mac to do the actual graphics)

    Accountants = Windows

    Bankers = Windows

    Salesdroids = Windows

    Astrologers/Clairvoyants = Windows

    Says it all, really.

  58. Ritchie1987

    Microsoft needs decent hardware

    I love windows 7 its fantastic, but I hate cheap laptops that flex and break all the time and usally look industrial - If microsoft got some decent hardware suppliers on the go or even designed hardware themselves they would do alot better - sure alot of people want cheap laptops but there are alot of us that spend most of our lives on them and would love to have something a bit nicer for work on. I've had to many bad experiences with laptop makers - unless things change my next laptop will be a mac running windows as a secondary OS.

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