Thursday, November 09, 2006

The time has come

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“The time has come,” the Walrus said,” to speak of many things.”

Not that I liken myself to the Walrus in Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, but it is still time to speak of many things. Things are changing with the speed of a run-away freight train, and you need to know the facts before things get out of hand. This is truly a cautionary exercise and not a case of ‘Chicken Little’ism.


First off, Microsoft and Novell entered into a collaborative agreement last week to develop a set of applications, interfaces, and ‘drivers’ to allow Microsoft Office and other formerly Windows exclusive applications to function under Linux. More specifically, a distribution known as SUSE (Sus-uh), which was purchased by Novell from the German development company known as SuSE. On the surface, it sounds like a good deal but, knowing how Microsoft has done business in the past, and considering the active role Microsoft has taken to ‘eradicate’ Linux from the marketplace, I have serious doubts things are going to happen the way they have been stated. Microsoft has ‘promised’ to behave nicely towards the Linux Community and to actively support the GPL (General Public License) which, in a nutshell, says the source code and compiled applications are free as in freedom to copy and pass around. Information Week has reported that other computer and software manufacturers like Sun, IBM, and Hewlett Packard are giving their blessings to the effort. We should know more about the whole deal before the end of the month.

The Linux Community is seeing a different view of the situation, however. The GPL, which was proposed by the Free Software Foundation and Richard Stallman some years ago, may be tested in court. If it fails, the concept of Open Source Software is in danger of disappearing. Microsoft is looking to apply a license to Linux, which means someone (you and I) will have to pay for the right to use it, much like the Windows EULA (End User License Agreement). That, my friends, will not be a good thing. It would be like you inventing and building a useful device that someone else takes, manufactures thousands more, and then sells them, keeping all proceeds in their pocket. Microsoft is guilty of a lot of things, some we know about, but one thing we must agree upon, they are looking for the income and little else. I’m hoping the leopard has changed his spots, but like the saying goes, it just doesn’t happen that way.

Web 2.0 problems

Network Computing had an interesting set of articles relating to Web 2.0 and it’s underlying structure. It seems the concept, which is already showing up in dozens of new sites, has a few serious problems in the area of Security and performance. We are all aware that the Internet is not a safe and ‘friendly’ place. If it were, we would not have need for such things as firewalls and anti-spyware, anti-adware, anti-virus utilities. As it turns out, the security holes prevalent in Web 2.0 make it look like a round of Swiss Cheese and the performance of the applications on those sites are slow and prone to making errors. Is the situation hopeless? Only time will tell.

Vista Limitations?

Microsoft is releasing Vista on November 20th (or so they say). It has been six years since XP Pro and XP Home were released Does Vista show any sign of being all that much better for being worked on for six years? Unfortunately, no. Don’t get me wrong, Vista does have a few things that are an improvement over XP, but if it took six years to do it, I am not terribly impressed. About all they accomplished is a pretty desktop with a few glitzy tricks (eye candy). A point to ponder! If a software company is having problems getting a piece of software out the door, one way to get the software in the hands of the consumer is to trim features, Especially if those features are causing the delay. A few months ago, I read an article that talked about all the broken promises in undelivered features that Vista was to have had. Knowing the well publicized six month plus delay in releasing Vista, I wonder what they pulled from the OS. I suppose it makes sense to release Vista with things missing and then add the missing features by the update channel. But I get the feeling I’d be ‘buying a pig in a poke’ in that circumstance.

I’m not crying “Sour grapes!” Nor am I bashing Microsoft, although it would be easy to do so. I’m just pointing to the horizon with concern. This kind of stuff makes having fun with my computer very difficult.