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What Would The World Be Like Without Microsoft? 1054

Posted by Cliff
from the how-would-life-be-different dept.
CanadianMikey asks: "The debate with the business side of computing rages on about the validity of Open Source. Is it good or bad? What is the future of computing? Could it have been different, and where will the 21st century take us? Is Microsoft just the big nail that always gets hammered first and will someone step in to take their place when they are finally taken down? If Microsoft were to close up shop, who do the readers of Slashdot think would be tomorrow's Microsoft? What about the forgotten windows?"
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What Would The World Be Like Without Microsoft?

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  • Standards (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:45PM (#8676101) Homepage Journal
    As loathe as I am to say it now, Microsoft has actually show us the benefit of "standards". Only the benefits are not quite in their definition as they want to control all of the standards and get a cut of all money from the use of those "standards". Also, it should be noted that Microsoft is not all bad. They actually produce some nice code (Office for OS X is quite nice), however, they always seem to be behind the curve as if they are not able to innovate anything. They missed the GUI, the Internet and now notably the search engine all by quite a while only to turn the company around and focus all of their efforts on exploiting what they missed. The market dominance however, has shown us the benefit of having "standard" file types such as .doc that just about everybody in certain industries uses exclusively.

    • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) <Satanicpuppy@ g m a i l . c om> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:49PM (#8676127) Journal
      Actually, I think IBM, the original scary tech monopoly, showed us the benefit of standards (abliet mostly hardware standards).

      Microsoft just shows us how little we learn from historical mistakes, REGARDING standards. This is the one place where I wouldn't mind a little government intervention, toward an open and efficient standard. They could hardly screw it up worse than it is now.
      • Re:Standards (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:51PM (#8676155) Homepage Journal
        This is the one place where I wouldn't mind a little government intervention, toward an open and efficient standard. They could hardly screw it up worse than it is now.

        Doesn't sound like you work in a regulated industry.

        Hi. I from the government. I'm here to help you.
        • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore.gmail@com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:42AM (#8676527) Homepage Journal

          It doesn't sound like you do, either. You think buildings would be safer if every builder was allowed to "innovate" their own designs? Do you think the highways would work better if each one was a toll road, allowed to design to their own needs? Do you think it would be better or worse for communications if ATT and Verizon each designed and developed phone technology independently of each other, meaning interoperation didn't happen?

          Actually, IINM, there is some historical precedent: the South had different guage of train tracks than the North, and it's part of what led to the cultural divide, which in turn led to the Civil War. Relaying tracks so that troops could be moved was a great burden--but once accomplished, and the standard set, notice how it's been preserved since.

          Institutions that purport to operate on a national level, and become part of the national infrastructure, should be standarized so that there are no boundaries of information exchange. On this point I agree with Ashcroft, who said as much when Bush took office. However, I disagree that one company should be in control of that standard; instead, it should be controlled by an open forum. As was the early internet, and it's why it remains as strong as it is and grew to the popularity that it acquired.

          Do you think that if Microsoft was in control of the early HTML specifications, or even TCP/IP for that matter, that we'd have the ubiquitious internet now?
          • Re:Standards (Score:5, Interesting)

            by TykeClone (668449) <TykeClone@gmail.com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:52AM (#8676587) Homepage Journal
            Yes, I do. I work in banking. Most of the regulations imposed upon that industry are there because of the bad actions of the stupid few - and they do little good.

            The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act added financial privacy regulations. What difference does it make to the consumer - precious little, they get a mailing once per year saying something about privacy. Like most other regulations, it's a paper chase for the financial institutions - we've got to send out those pieces of paper to stay in the good graces of the regulators.

            I'm no Microsoft fanboy, but to say that the government can't make things worse is just plain silly.
          • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:01AM (#8677028)
            > You think buildings would be safer if every builder was allowed to "innovate" their own designs?

            Reminds me of that quote off my giant poster on Murphy's Law about Computers [astrohoroscopes.com] ...

            "If engineers built buildings the way programers write code,
            the first time a woodpecker came along, it would destroy civilization."

            And yes, I am a programmer. :)

      • Re:Standards (Score:5, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:13AM (#8676340) Journal
        They could hardly screw it up worse than it is now.
        Actually, they could. Government went after MS and found them guilty. New President and suddenly we let the company go with only simple agreement and monitoring that shows MS is still disobeying the agreement. Things can always get worse with the feds in control.
      • Re:Standards (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:14AM (#8676349) Homepage
        Standards are nice, but it's NO PLACE for government. An industry board of some kind (like IEEE, or whatever) maybe, but NOT the government.

        If the government were to decided the standards, we'd all be writing programs in Ada. In other news we would just be getting the standard for 10Base-T later this year (because of the special interest groups for the lithium industry trying to require the the wires in Cat5 cable are made of 20% lithium), and a byte would soon be 37 bits long (becuase it's the only number that doesn't offend lacto-vegitarian-femi-nazi-free-range-chicken-head s) or some other weird thing.

        I would be nice to have the government say something like "OK all you companies, decided on a format for word processor documents and stick to it untill the you issue a new standard after that", but for government to decide the standard its self probably wouldn't be good.

        I agree, though, that open standards are important. We have standards now (.doc, Internet Explorer, etc), but they're not open. Opening them would make all the difference.

        • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by JebusIsLord (566856) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:21AM (#8676396) Homepage
          Lets not forget that the internet was originally a government project founded on government standards.
          • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

            by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:28AM (#8676436) Homepage
            Yes, but it was part of another project, and it was something they needed. All to often what would happen (IMHO) if the government was asked to make standards now would be a big committe would be formed that would take recomendations for years, then argue for years, all while various groups lobby their own odd ideas.

            It's one thing to have a group of engineers sit down to decide a standard. It's another to have a panel of engineers hear a bunch of companies argue why their product is better.

        • by Sean Clifford (322444) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:45AM (#8676546) Journal
          I am writing in Ada, you insensitive clod! :)

          Seriously, though, I have to agree with you that the government is the last place you want programming standards to come out of. Shudder. The technology sector should develop its own standards in cooperation - sure, it leads to a BetaMax versus VHS situation sometimes, but in the end you get general interoperability.

          Much as I hate to say it, I don't think that the computer industry would be as far along as it is today without games.

          Games have driven the market and the platform of choice has been the PC. Why? Because it was there.

          Apple became tied to its hardware/software model, expensive. (And excellent.) The IBM PC clone gained ubiquity by being cheap (And...cheap). Microsoft was in the right place at the right time and kept on the ball in crushing competition and playing bondage with PC manufacturers.

          And here go my mod points and karma

          I doubt that Linux would be where it is today without the domination of Microsoft.

          • by hyc (241590) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:24AM (#8677132) Homepage Journal
            Apple's hardware has always been uninspired, 2nd rate dreck. The best hardware designs came from Jay Miner and friends in the Atari and Commodore camp. While Apple was inventing new ways to make a fast processor slow (single 68000 CPU running the entire system, no DMA, etc. etc.) the Amiga and Atari had custom coprocessors for disk I/O, graphics, sound, keyboard, mouse etc., getting *great* performance out of the same CPU. And doing it all for less $$ overall.

            I totally agree that Microsoft *and Intel* have retarded the state of the art by at least 15 years. There have been so many other worthwhile, efficient CPU architectures (MIPS, Alpha, 680x0) that have gone by the wayside, while the bloated hulk of x86 keeps rolling on.

            I really do wonder where Linux would be today without Microsoft. I wonder why Minix didn't experience the same explosive growth. (Anyone even remember it?)

            One can only hope that as we push thru the 21st century, marketing will less frequently win out over superior technology.
            • by Endive4Ever (742304) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:41AM (#8677663)
              I wonder why Minix didn't experience the same explosive growth. (Anyone even remember it?)

              Minix still exists, and there is a Minix usenet group that gets traffic. It was never intended to be anything like what Linux became. It's a pedagogical OS whose main method of distribution is a CD in the back cover of a textbook. It 'inspired' Linus to go off and do something of his own. It's wrong to act like it 'died' or in any way is a failure because it's still primarily a pedagogical OS.
            • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Friday March 26, 2004 @05:11AM (#8677765) Homepage Journal
              ``I really do wonder where Linux would be today without Microsoft.''

              Keep in mind that GNU/Linux has mainly been taking market share from commercial unices. This is to be expected, as it has much in common with those and their technical strengths and weaknesses are very similar.

              As far as competition with MicroSoft goes, the GNU system just doesn't have what it takes. Windows has all these graphical configuration tools and wizards that can make even a complete agnostic feel in control. These are just not there for Linux, so you'll need people with actual knowledge of the system as sysadmins. With companies hiring only people with x years of experience, this is just not going to work. Besides, Linux has this hippie feeling to it that companies are uncomfortable with.

              As for the home desktop, don't even think about it. People want their gadgets supported and they want their games to run. They don't want to break their system, so they'll stick with what it ships with and not experiment.

              The successes of Linux, clearly, are in the server area, particularly against commercial UNIX systems. MicroSoft hardly has anything to do with it. Of course, some people like to run Linux on their PCs, because they feel it goes against MicroSoft, but keep in mind that most PC users think MicroSoft is GOOD.

              ``I wonder why Minix didn't experience the same explosive growth. (Anyone even remember it?)''

              MINIX was never meant to be big. It's a teaching OS and it strictly abides the KISS principle. No improvements that increase the complexity of the system are accepted. I believe there was or is a fork that tried to expand the system and make it more useful, but it obviously hasn't made high-profile achievements.
        • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tdemark (512406) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:51AM (#8676578) Homepage
          I would be nice to have the government say something like "OK all you companies, decided on a format for word processor documents and stick to it untill the you issue a new standard after that", but for government to decide the standard its self probably wouldn't be good.

          It's actually much simpler than that. The government doesn't need to dictate that a standard be agreed upon... what it can dictate is that "We will only purchase products that read and write open, pubically documented formats by default."

          In this case, there doesn't need to be agreement between companies in the form of a standard. But, it brings all the benefits of a standard in that the "popular" products will be well-documented.

          - Tony
      • by vwjeff (709903) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:45AM (#8676541)
        Let's see. A world without Microsoft. What would I be complaining about right now. Oh, yeah, I would be talking about the evil empire Apple and how they have a hold on the market.
        • by Endive4Ever (742304) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:47AM (#8677679)
          Oh, yeah, I would be talking about the evil empire Apple and how they have a hold on the market.

          That's not at all far off from the truth.

          Apple intended for quite awhile to own the GUI market and be it's only vendor. They sued various entities and ran some of them out of the market. Because that's just how Apple does things.

          When Microsoft came out with Windows, Apple sued Microsoft in the famous 'look-n-feel' lawsuits.

          If Microsoft hadn't prevailed in those lawsuits, Apple would own the GUI market and be it's sole vendor.

          That would suck bigtime. Microsoft plowed that ground for us. In fact the legal precedent that Microsoft set by fighting that fight for us is what allows people to 'clone' Windows GUI concepts and incorporate them into Linux/Free Software projects.

          If Apple were in charge it would suck a hell of a lot more.
          • by anothy (83176) on Friday March 26, 2004 @08:24AM (#8678472) Homepage
            When Microsoft came out with Windows, Apple sued Microsoft in the famous 'look-n-feel' lawsuits.


            If Microsoft hadn't prevailed in those lawsuits, Apple would own the GUI market and be it's sole vendor.
            um, no.

            Apple sued Microsoft not because they had produced a GUI, but because they had produced a GUI that was largely a clear derivative of Apple's. i really wish Apple had won that suit. not because i wanted to see MicroSoft get it (hey, i thought Macs were dumb back then, and was a DOS user!), but because it would've forced them to do something else. there are other ways to do GUIs. look at the dozens of X11 window managers that use totally different designs (okay most are trying to be just like MS or Apple, but some aren't). Look at Plan 9, with rio and especially Acme - or Oberon, for that matter. there's tons of sucky examples, too (Bob!). hell, some were even concurrent with Apple's work! read up on the blit/jerq from Bell Labs and all the PARC stuff Apple got their ideas from.

            Apple has certainly used litigation to achieve some goals in the past, but i've seen no evidence of them holding the same "we'll sue you if we can't come up with a better way to own everything " model MicroSoft seems to have. i can see no support for the statement that Apple was trying to "own" the GUI market or the GUI - although you could argue that they were trying to "own" the metaphor and design. but i think that's justifiable, and would likely have been a good thing, forcing people to come up with other ideas.

    • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Snad (719864) <mspace@NETBSDbigfoot.com minus bsd> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:56PM (#8676201)

      As loathe as I am to say it now, Microsoft has actually show us the benefit of "standards".

      That's true, but in the absence of a behemoth like Microsoft dictating what a "standard" is we would probably be working with true (ie open) standards rather than simply what Bill declares is Good For You(tm).

      I'd like to think that absent a Microsoft-like controlling entity, the continuing mayhem of opposing formats and standards for data and documents would have become so untenable that developers would have been forced towards working together to come up with standards that actually worked. And that were actually supported and were actually standard. This would be simply to ensure that the multitude of word processors (for example) could reliably utilise each other's documents since none would have the market leverage to ignore the others.

      This assumes, of course, that not only is there no Microsoft, but that there is no company in a similar position of power.

      There is also an Easter Bunny, and I saw Santa yesterday at his summer job at the beach...

      • by mingot (665080)
        That's true, but in the absence of a behemoth like Microsoft dictating what a "standard" is we would probably be working with true (ie open) standards rather than simply what Bill declares is Good For You(tm).

        Nah, we'd just be running OS/2 or OSX.

        But lets answer the actual question that was asked... What would the world look like if we were all running Linux. In my view, it would look a lot different since I'd probably be an auto mechanic or cabinet maker instead of a programmer.
    • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@@@monkelectric...com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:29AM (#8676446)
      As loathe as I am to say it now, Microsoft has actually show us the benefit of "standards"

      In the same way fucking that crazy girl down the street reminds you its not good to fuck crazy girls... I suppose

    • Re:Standards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gfody (514448) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:32AM (#8676461)
      Microsoft is an inevitability, just like Neo. Asking what the world be like without microsoft is like asking what the world would be like if WWII never happened.

      To answer the question, the world would be exactly the same.. except the software company holding a monopoly on operating systems wouldn't be called "microsoft" it would be called g-soft.. and today you would be asking the question "what would the world be like without g-soft?"

      a better question would be why is the microsoft-anomoly inevitable.. that one, I think, is because anything that makes up an integral part of our infrastructure (such as an OS) that isn't yet mandated by government will naturally fall into a monopoly simply because it's convenient.
    • by slowbad (714725) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:41AM (#8676515)

      Microsoft has actually show us the benefit of "standards".

      If not for Microsoft's corruption of SLIP and PPP in 1994...
      my very own TRIPLE Challenge Handshake Authentication
      (CHA CHA CHA) would have ruled the dialup world instead!

    • missed the GUI? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 1000101 (584896) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:52AM (#8676586)
      If Microsoft missed the GUI, why does almost every Linux desktop try to emulate it?
    • Re:Standards (Score:4, Informative)

      by ortholattice (175065) on Friday March 26, 2004 @02:56AM (#8677300)
      If think Microsoft really promotes good standards, ask Andrew Tridgell (Samba team leader) who's practically dedicated his life to reverse-engineering Microsoft's SMB protocol. In this interview [linux-mag.com] he says:
      "The protocol is so incredibly convoluted and bloated and badly designed -- there are ten ways of doing everything. You end up with these massive exchanges going on the wire between Windows 95 and NT, just because they are trying to work out exactly which sets of bugs the other guy has so they can figure out how to actually stat a file or find its size or date or something. And we've found from talking to people who work at Microsoft how much of a headache it is to maintain the damned thing and keep it secure."

      This, my friend, is a Microsoft "standard".

  • by Ralph JH Nader (765522) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:47PM (#8676110) Journal
    Apple would see a rather large market for all the inexpensive x86 machines and would likely port a version of OS X to run. Given the commercial applications available already for OS X and a big name such as Apple, they could step in and dominate the industry in a rather short time.
    • The inexpensive x86 machines out there all run Windows. Would people have bought them if there were no OS to run on them? Odds are likely that Apple would be the already dominant force in the home, similar to how they were in the Apple ][ days.
    • by clifyt (11768) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [rettamkinos]> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:56PM (#8676209) Homepage
      Why?

      Apple is based on having decent and predictable hardware to run the OS.

      OS X is great software -- I'm using it right now, but unless you are using the hardware along side it, its not the same. One of the problems with Windows is that there is WAY too much hardware to support relyably...thats not totally their fault either. The fact that you want to encourage folks to make hardware for your platform means that you have to make the code easy to program against -- which means you have folks vastly unqualified to write driver software writting it.

      Apple raises the bar and makes it a bitch to program some drivers for this very reason. That probably means that having a dozen types of motherboards with different integrated parts would not work as relyably...or if Apple kept their standards - not at all. Witness every so often when they patch their systems to remove specific pieces of hardware that is known to be buggy -- I've been told some updates were there to simply KILL some hardware so that it wouldn't make the machine unstable. There was substandard RAM that was sold for a while on the G4s and Apple put out a patch that disabled all of this from being used and they pissed off a LOT of folks -- but Apple needed to do this to keep their standards up (otherwise folks were bitching about stability issues that had nothing to do with the OS or Apple branded hardware).

      So would they move over to inexpensive x86s? They might. probably not...at least not from a supported perspective...
      • Actually, the move wouldn't be entirely unprecedented. Even if the OS wouldn't run quite as well, it'd still be in the interest of Apple's profits for them to take advantage of such a market. Why do you think Sun Microsystems releases Solaris for x86? They see that people are interested in running UNIX on relatively inexpensive hardware.
    • by Daleks (226923) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:00AM (#8676238)
      If Windows were to disappear the world would be very, very dark inside.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      More likely companies like Commodore, Tandy, Texas Instruments would own the home computer industry, while IBM would own the business market, and Apple would have lower educational markets. A lot like it was before MS.
    • by markv242 (622209) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:18AM (#8676374)
      Without Windows, x86 would be the busted platform that it really is. AMD probably wouldn't be a player at all, and Motorola would probably be where Intel is today. Let's not forget that when Windows came out, the Mac and the Amiga absolutely ruled the desktop GUI world. Chances are really good that DOS-based machines would have simply succumbed to the Mac paradigm, and Amiga might even still be alive today (Amiga zealots: flame off for a moment).

      On the other hand, we almost certainly wouldn't see OS X in the form its in-- FreeBSD almost certainly wouldn't exist. Linux _might_ exist, in some strange Yellow Dog format, but I have no doubt that Apple would be the marketshare leader.

      The better question is: what sort of power would computers of today have, if Microsoft didn't exist? Other than gameplay, Office and Windows are the two biggest reasons that Intel/AMD/etc make faster processors. Chances are really good that Apple and Motorola machines wouldn't be as fast as they are today, because there'd be no speed gap to close up.

      My hypothesis: Sun on the server side, Apple on the client side, and small offerings from companies like Be, or Amiga, or other nontraditional platforms. (NeXT?)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:47PM (#8676111)
    And we'd be loving it!
    • OS/2 was a joint venture between MS and IBM.
      • yes, and when MS sucked all they could out of IBM, they abadonded it and crated on OS/2 bastard called NT.

        OS/2 was damn good. It's marketing sucked.
        • I worked in an AS/400 shop in 1995 and 1996. At that time, OS/2 wasn't quite dead (I think that they had just launched Warp!) and OS/2 actually integrated quite well into that environment.

          I think that IBM probably launched OS/2 Warp a bit early - they had an OS designed to take advantage of the internet (as opposed to Windows 3.1), but that was before the internet had taken off.
  • by bfg9000 (726447) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:49PM (#8676129) Homepage Journal
    ... we'd have no idea how bloody good Linux and Mac OSX really are.
  • by -kertrats- (718219) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:50PM (#8676146) Journal
    A lot less /. comments. With no microsoft to complain about, half the comments wouldn't have anything to rant about.
  • Apple of course!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jubii (315611) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:51PM (#8676153) Homepage
    If Microsoft were to close up shop, who do the readers of Slashdot think would be tomorrow's Microsoft?

    I honestly believe if there were no Micro$oft we'd all be sitting around here bitching about Apple. They "owned" the education market for a long time. So long that those students that first learned on an Apple are now consumers. I believe that alone makes Apple a strong contender for the desktop crown ... if only....
  • by QEDog (610238) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:51PM (#8676157)
    Yikes! That is scary! But not as scary as a world without doors.
    • by ValourX (677178) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:01AM (#8676244) Homepage

      Well Jim's been dead for more than thirty years... Robby, Ray, and John are still around though. They don't play much anymore.

      Or were you talking about ports to games on old Amiga BBSes?

      -Jem
    • Without doors you could always climb in through the Windows. They're always the greatest security/intrusion risk, being, by their very nature, terribly insecure. You'll never find a maximum security facility with Windows where they want to be absolutely sure no one can get, or even see, inside.

      I'm not exactly sure how chimneys fit into this, but be extra careful around Christmas time. Leaving out a honeypot is reputed to work against malicious behavior in case of actual intrusion though.

      And maybe some coo
  • by starworks5 (139327) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:51PM (#8676158) Homepage
    what would the world be like without microsoft?

    what would the world be like without GW?

    what would the world be like if there was no hate, war, stupidity?

    some say it would be harmony, but humans bring these things upon ourselves, its our nature i believe. not that WE like to be subjected to these sort of things, but many of us like subjecting them on others. why else do we watch professional wrestling, reality tv. why else do we say "at least im not him", instead of say "man i should help him out" these are more important questions that we should ask ourselves
  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:51PM (#8676160)
    Windows has made things easier with the GUI. We need to go back to that world when unix and wang computers dominated the scene. Things were ugly and only techies have the answers. Windows has made things harder with all these security BS. Unfortunately HR don't give a fuck, they won't hire people just to install patches. Security folks I think, have too much on their hands nowadays. In the end, windows put IT folks in a shitty situation. Abandoned by HR, abandoned by economy, screwed by viruses and hackers on a daily basis.
  • by zaunuz (624853) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:52PM (#8676170)
    more people use open source software, which means
    more people will develop open source software, which means
    more and better open source software

    The downside would be that not 'everyone' can use a PC, the way they can today, since MS Windows is by far the most newbie-friendly operating system availible for PC.
  • by vinit79 (740464) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:53PM (#8676172)
    If microsoft disappears I guess ./ will be the worst hit.

    Just like ,if there is only good left in the universe then wont religion be redundant!
    Dont let it happen !! Save microsoft so we can have something to bitch about .

    As a social service I am accepting contribution for saving MS. I promise all the money will be spent on buying licenses of MS Office and Windows XP.
  • forgotten windows? (Score:5, Informative)

    by VValdo (10446) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:53PM (#8676174)
    What about the forgotten windows? [aol.com]

    Or the other one [geocities.com]. (Apple II Version [aci.com.pl])

    W
  • mmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by gho (717405) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:56PM (#8676207)
    We'd all be running (and enjoying) AmigaOS 8.
  • Without Microsoft? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:57PM (#8676219) Homepage Journal
    IBM needed an OS, and if MS wasn't there, CP/M was. So on that front we'd just have different person reaping the rewards there. Of course, Kildall was a business moron and blew his chance at that time.

    Apple would have risen much more strongly, as well as console/PC makers like Atari and Commodore. We'd probably see computers with more advanced graphics systems, but with less memory and less hard disk space as most media would be self-contained cartridges. Which is an interesting idea, that we wouldn't have software available separate from a cartridge. We would have to have the physical cart to plug into the slot array on our PCs to enable software, but it would also be easier to move software from one machine to another as well as conserve primary disk space as documents could be saved directly onto the cartridge.

    We wouldn't have the powerful CPUs that we have now, we'd probably be a couple generations behind as the hardware demands of the software would be much lower. Hard disks would be small, memory would be low, and video screens would be optimized to view on both TV and computer monitors. Digital TVs that could display computer video output at high resolutions would be the standard as the console/PCs would have merged the computer into a central position in the home entertainment cabinet.

    Many companies would only just now be moving their businesses to computerized systems. Until now, computers would have been viewed as toys. Without Microsoft, the concept of a computer for business would be unthinkable except for large institutions, so many smaller accounting firms, warehouses, and mom'n'pop stores would still be doing their paperwork by hand.

    In short, the computer as a personal entertainment device would be much more ingrained in our culture, but the computer as a business tool would only be catching on. The prices of "serious" personal computers useful for business purposes would still be astronomical and software would be expensive to purchase.
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:18AM (#8676376) Homepage Journal
      If IBM went with CP/M in all likly hood they would have retained the rights and we would all be locked into IBM.
    • by k_head (754277) on Friday March 26, 2004 @01:02AM (#8676651)
      I think you are playing revisionist history here.

      You are forgetting the revolution in business brought about by dbase and visicalc.

      By the time MS came on to the scene business had already embraced computers.
    • by _Sprocket_ (42527) on Friday March 26, 2004 @01:57AM (#8677006)


      IBM needed an OS, and if MS wasn't there, CP/M was. So on that front we'd just have different person reaping the rewards there. Of course, Kildall was a business moron and blew his chance at that time.

      Maybe, maybe not. This is one bit of computing history that has me stumped. MS-DOS exists because CP/M wasn't an option for IBM. Or at least wasn't an option at the time IBM needed it to be.

      MS-DOS was, essentially, QDOS. QDOS existed because Digital Research was slow to produce a version of CP/M for the newer 8086 line of processors. Seattle Computer had a new line of hardware based on the 8086 and eventually created their own CP/M clone to fill the void lefted by Digital Research - QDOS. Microsoft licensed QDOS.

      Oddly enough, IBM had approuched Digital Research about CP/M. However, they were not greeted with much enthusiasm (some niggling over a non-disclosure agreement). It seems that Digital did not have a version of CP/M ready. The question I have is - why not?


      Apple would have risen much more strongly, as well as console/PC makers like Atari and Commodore. We'd probably see computers with more advanced graphics systems, but with less memory and less hard disk space as most media would be self-contained cartridges.

      I disagree here. Yes - Atari and Commodore did have an early preference for cartridges. However, that mode was quickly overcome by a growing industry of software producers selling software on cassette tape and floppy disk. In short, cartridges were being out-moded. Floppy disks were catching on. And that was happening on every microcomputer platform.


      We wouldn't have the powerful CPUs that we have now, we'd probably be a couple generations behind as the hardware demands of the software would be much lower.

      I'm curious as to what you base this on. If IBM hadn't lost control of its platform, I could this this happening. But once the IBM PC became a commodity platform, competition began driving performance as hardware producers grabbed whatever edge they could - and as fast as Intel (and then later AMD and Cyrix) could provide one (and thank AMD for pushing this cycle even faster).

      Now - the question would be... would Compaq been successful in starting the commodity / clone market if Microsoft hadn't been there to license MS-DOS?


      Hard disks would be small, memory would be low, and video screens would be optimized to view on both TV and computer monitors. Digital TVs that could display computer video output at high resolutions would be the standard as the console/PCs would have merged the computer into a central position in the home entertainment cabinet.

      I'm not so sure about the whole monitor bit. Sure - the ability to use a TV tube as a monitor was a consumer-friendly practice. A practice started by Apple. However, dedicated computer monitors weren't too uncommon even with consumer systems from Commodore and Atari. I don't see things going any differently.


      Many companies would only just now be moving their businesses to computerized systems. Until now, computers would have been viewed as toys. Without Microsoft, the concept of a computer for business would be unthinkable except for large institutions, so many smaller accounting firms, warehouses, and mom'n'pop stores would still be doing their paperwork by hand.

      First, you're giving credit to Microsoft for the IBM PC platform. IBM drove sales of the PC - by name alone.

      Secondly, IBM itself was playing catch-up. They ignored the microcomputer market. That is, until the first killer app. That application was Visicalc - the dawn of the spreadsheet. Microcomputers stopped being simply hobbiest curiosities and became a tool for business. It might be

  • by pergamon (4359) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:58PM (#8676220) Homepage
    There'd be no war, starvation, or crime, and every child would have a pony.
  • without microsoft... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @11:59PM (#8676231)
    I'll likely get flamed to hell and moded out of existance, but I believe every word of this:
    Gary Kildale died in a plane crash and never got the chance to give CP/M to IBM. Without Microsoft getting DOS for IBM, Intel never would have gained the marketshare. Linus would not have been hacking on the 386 and needing badly to break the confines of what he had available. Therefor, the likelihood of Linux existing today would be significantly lower. It may not have happened. You might still be waiting for HURD (or, more likely, using BSD). Hell, Intel woulde never have gotten so popular. You all might all be on using Macintoshes right now like I am.
    Microsoft's products might suck, but they made Intel hardware the comodoty that it is today in order that you can afford to tinker with Linux or whatever it is you want to do.
  • An Interesting Idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:01AM (#8676250) Homepage
    Without MS, where would we be? That's a very good question.

    First off we have to consider the fact that MS has really pushed the PC market very far. Without MS, IBM may have made their own OS for the PC or had a company make it that wouldn't have sold it to clone makers. This would give IBM a monopoly on (what became) Wintels, so we would have had more kinds of computers (at least for a longer time). Would this have forced more innovation, or would everyone be re-implementing everyone else's ideas so things would have slowed down?

    The standardization of MS has also pushed us a long way. I know that I can take a disk from my computer (Win XP right now) and read it on nearly every other computer I'll find (Windows PCs, Macs, BSD, Linux, BeOS, etc). When Microsoft has backed a standard, often it's the one that survives so who knows how many more VHS/Betamax type fights computer users would have had to go through without them. At the same time, who's to say Apple wouldn't have become dominant and caused the same kind of standards.

    In software innovation, MS has done many things too. While they are stagnating now, back when Apple was a major contender they really pushed things. Some things have really improved because of them (most computers run the same API for games, DirectX), but then again they have tried to strange/take over other things (Java).

    So I guess it all depends on who would have existed if MS didn't become who they did. There are a couple of options.

    • A bunch of companies competing - Great for consumers, quite possibly where we would have ended up
    • A different monopoly, but with stiff competition - Like when Apple still kept MS on their toes all the time (unlike what we saw when the Mac wasn't much of a challenge, like the OS 9 days). I think we're approaching this thanks to OS X and Linux
    • A different monopoly who would have done the same - From a business point of view, a (near) total monopoly with a strangle hold on the market is a great place to be in

    While computers have stagnated (relativly) in the last few years due to lack of competition, I think the increased incompatabilites that would have stayed around if there were many computer standards for a while might have kept the computer from becomming any more advanced from what it is now. So I guess I don't things would be too different (ability wise), although interfaces and such would probably look quite different.

  • by zakezuke (229119) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:05AM (#8676285)
    Microsoft's business model, like it or not, made the clone industry possible... causing the clone PC to actually take a hold of the market. If it wasn't for the fact that you could buy / pirate a copy of MS-dos for your clone... we may have had no alternative but to buy from IBM / Apple / Commodore / Atari / Dec / Sun what ever what have you. While this may have been good in many ways, all seem to have been more interested in the end user just buying a new PC every few years without assurances of binary downward compataiblity. If we're talking Sun / SGI / Dec... I highly doubt that your typicaly home user would be able to afford a license. Microsoft was sub $100 for your sub $1000 pc... and like it or not, this wasn't a bad deal esp to those who just pirated a copy from a friend... as it was the custom.

  • by SmoothTom (455688) <Tomas@TiJiL.org> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:09AM (#8676319) Homepage
    ... there would be a huge effect on the economy and on future development of computer operating systems and other softwear.

    If Microsoft were to vanish, it would become very difficult to maintain or improve their closed, proprietary software. If their softwear wer to vanish along wioth them, it would be utter disaster for a good while until everything could be pieced back together with other softwear.

    Some of us would only have secondary effects felt because others use Microsoft softwear. For example none of my computers have any Microsoft softwear installed, and I try to ensure it remains that way.

    A related question is "Would I *like* Microsoft to disappear."

    No, I wouldn't. I'd very much like for them to be broken into independent, managable-sized pieces ("bite sized chunks"), as that wouild likely help innovation and pricing by making it possible for others to compete without suddenly vanishing away ...

    --
    Tomas

    "But o beamish nephew, beware of the day
    If your snark be a boojum for then,
    you will softly and suddenly vanish away
    and never be met with again." (Lewis Carrol)
  • God (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 (697113) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:10AM (#8676322) Homepage Journal
    Can we shut up about Microsoft already? Damn, every other story is some "anti-M$" drivel. Lets imagine life without these kinds of "discussions", just for one day.
  • MS Bashing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thirdofnine (702646) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:12AM (#8676339)
    I am an avid Slashdot reader, and I regularly moderate, and attempt to even the balance here (which is very difficult with so much bias).

    I do not have any affiliation with MS, and have both Linux and MS machines at home.

    I know someone will probably mod me down for this, but why does it appear that Slashdot has a tendency to continually bash MS.

    I mean at the end of the day, if Windows was really as crap as some people make it out to be, no-one would use it, simple as that. I have used many OSes over the years, W95, WNT, W2K, WXP, W2K3, OS2, Linux, UNIX. I know that they all have their problems, but really, name an OS that doesn't have a problem in it.

    Not only that, a computer is very much like a car, if it is not looked after, it will eventually die, be it Linux, Windows, UNIX or MAC OS.

    I am not claiming that MS does no bad, but really there is not many large companies out there that have not done something bad at some stage. And there is not one company out there that would not defend themselves the same way that MS has, if they were under attack, be that a legitimate attack or not.

    Now, I understand the concerns of the Open Source community, and Linux has come a hell of a long way in recent years (which is why it is starting to be used in the real world now), but do not think for a second that the tables would not be turned if Linux was in MS's position. I do not like SCO's tactics, but if they do prove that Linux has their source code, then you might as well put Linux in the same box as MS, as it would prove that not even the open source community is always the GOOD IT community member it claims to be.

    So mod me down if you wish, but really, the MS bashing is starting to get boring.

    But to answer you question, someone else would be in their position, with a different name, with it's own bugs, exploits and vulnerabilities (just as every program and OS does), and would probable cop the same bashing that MS does.

    Third of Nine.

    • Re:MS Bashing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tuxedobob (582913) <tuxedobob@mLISPac.com minus language> on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:35AM (#8676475)
      I am reasonably certain that the only reason (today) that everyone uses Windows is because everyone uses Windows.

      Just my two cents...
      • Re:MS Bashing (Score:4, Interesting)

        by lth (145996) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:30AM (#8677634) Homepage
        I am reasonably certain that the only reason (today) that everyone uses Windows is because everyone uses Windows.

        I'm reasonably certain that you're wrong.

        Personally I use windows because I choose to. Why? Better hardware support, apps I don't want to do without and the occasional game.

        I've tried Linux regularly since Redhat 4.2, and I basically think Linux seems like a fine OS. But guess what? I don't really care what OS I'm running as long as I can use the programs I like, and can do what I want.

        I've thought about running things with Wine or installing VMWare and running my windows apps this way. But every time I just stop short, because it doesn't seem worth the effort. I can't find Linux' killer app.

        Linux needs to be able to do something, that I can't do with Windows, and that I would actually want to do. :-)

        All the arguments about bugs and security don't work on me. I'm pretty well firewalled, and I choose my hardware with care. I can't remember the last time I experienced a blue screen but its several years ago..

        I'm using lots of open source software, and I think open source is a great movement.. But I'm always going to use the tool that fits the task, and doesn't steal my time away from reading Slashdot. ;-)

        Perhaps the introduction of DRM in Windows, will be what gives me enough incentive to switch to Linux..
  • Re: One Word (Score:3, Interesting)

    by seaswahoo (765528) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:14AM (#8676350)
    Imagine a world without...Microsoft Bob [toastytech.com]!
  • One of two situaions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:25AM (#8676416)
    1) The same as it is now, more or less. It is probably that had Microsoft not come to dominance, someone else would have. Apple perhaps, or IBM. Their OS would dominate most systems and would be around what Windows is. IT would suffer from the same problems, instutional rot, trying to block competitors, sacrificing security for ease of use and would probably have the same benefits. While it would, of course, be good and bad in different areas, I imagine qualitatively it would be on par with Windows (much as MacOS is today).

    2) We'd have two or more incompatible camps duking it out, probably at the stratification of the market along usage lines. If you did X, you'd use system A since it would be the ONLY system that did that well, if you did Y, you'd use system B, etc.

    It's a cycle that many industries have taken. You get divergence, sometimes dominance, and then convergence. The computer industry did diverge, I mean there was a time when it was UNIX or nothing (almost exclusively on big iron) for servers/science, DOS/Windows for bussiness and MacOS for graphics/sound. There was little crossover. Then MS moved to dominance and became viable for about everything, though not always the best option. Now I think we're seeing more convergence, slowly. Windows is getting a real worthwhile POSIX layer, many apps are being written for more than one platform, and cross platform dev tools and APIs are becoming more prevelant.

    If you look at the history of other industries, you'll find this isn't an uncommon cycle, though not all of them grow to have one dominant player.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:31AM (#8676457) Journal
    Exactly wich OS was linux written on? Does history record?

    Anyway MS got its chance when IBM decided to launch a cheap crap machine. IBM wanted one since Apple was doing not to bad selling very light hardware and software (compared to the big iron of IBM) to both consumers and horror of horror even businesses. IBM didn't want to let that market go but neither thought it to be very big or important. It just wanted to be in there fast.

    So they let two upstart outsiders do a lot of the work. Intel for the hardware and Microsoft for the software. There is probably a dungeon somewhere at IBM where a couple of bodies lie behind glass where new bosses are taken and shown the ghastly remain of those who drew up the Microsoft contract.

    Microsoft was loose and all has not been well.

    So where would the world be without Micosoft? Pfff that is a thoughie. Would IBM have developed their own software instead? Would it have been a solid piece of software as we find on big iron but immensly expensive? (if you think unix is good you never worked on a mainframe)

    Then apple would have been the low end supplier with IBM PC's coming in at the top end, you know like now but in reverse. Would apple have allowed clones? If not then PC's would still be expensive, the lowest price would be Apples, yes ouch, and the top segment of PC's would be IBM's, take it bitch.

    MS was told to build a dirt cheap OS and Intel to build a dirt cheap piece of hardware. IBM never really intended the PC revolution. It wanted thin clients powered by big hardware. Not dozens of single task crap machines. It just wasn't prepared to let apple take that market.

    Maybe the PC market would be better without MS but there also might not be a PC market without MS. or might there? We do have the home computers. Might they have filled the role? C64000 anyone? The sinclairs, the ataries and god knows what else?

    I think a world without MS is certainly a world that would have been a whole lot more fun.

  • by Trolling4Dollars (627073) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:31AM (#8676459) Journal
    As a longtime Atari ST user, I have a fondness for GEM. So much so that when I moved to the PC in 1994, I bought a used copy of GEM for DOS and ran with that baby for quite a while. Looking at that simple desktop (luckily the ST still was able to use the disk and trash can icon metaphor unlike GEM for DOS) and the simple fonts really takes me back to when computers were REALLY fun. All those old ST games, paint programs, and of course MIDI software and the demo scene. Sure the Amigas had slightly better graphics (duck) but you couldn't beat the ST for MIDI. And since I was a musician at the time, that's mostly what I used the ST for, everything else was just nice icing on a very sweet cake. I also used to subscribe to ST Format magazine and hav it shipped from the UK to the states. I looked forward to those cover disks every month. You never knew what was going to come next. Somehow, it seems the Brits know how to do cover discs. Even with last year's issues of Future Music, there's actually useful stuff on cover disks. Here in the states, all we get is crappy AOL CDs or shit game previews. Oh well... it's been a long time since I've bought print magazines on a regular basis. But sometimes you just mss the old days, when magazine were glossy and used dense paper covers and there was a floppy with an attractive game or two on it. Ahhh... the old days.
  • by hak1du (761835) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:32AM (#8676464) Journal
    I suspect that if it hadn't been Microsoft, it would have been some other company like them. The PC market shows that there have been plenty of other companies willing to take shortcuts for quick time-to-market and for hardball business strategies.

    If you recall Apple's history, first, they claimed to own "the GUI" and started suing people over it, then they saddled us with a decade of horrendously poorly designed and flaky operating systems (until OS X). Sun hasn't been much better: they took BSD UNIX, created a proprietary product around it, and more recently claimed to establish Java as an "open standard" only to protect it heavily with patents and try to keep complete control of it. And the only reason IBM didn't try to monopolize the PC market was because they were already under intense scrutiny for anti-trust violations and couldn't do so.

    On the whole, among the potential monopolists that could have assumed the role of evil monopolist, Microsoft was probably one of the less harmful ones: they didn't wise up to patents until recently, they bungled a lot, and their technology was so poor that it allowed UNIX and Apple to co-exist for a while and OSS to take off.

    But the fact that the combination of our laws and the computer market seems to predispose us to having an evil monopolist around doesn't mean we have to accept their behavior as natural. Just because lots of people loot when there is a natural disaster doesn't make the behavior acceptable. Likewise, just because people can behave like monopolists in the PC market doesn't mean that they are justified in doing so.

    Fortunately, a company as big and predominant as Microsoft is also a big target. In the long run, they won't keep their position: the combination of antitrust enforcement and plain old free market forces (including open source) brings companies like Microsoft down in the long run.
  • Well.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Shadwell (709447) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:33AM (#8676466)
    ...people on Slashdot would have a lot less to complain about.
  • by gopherd00d (753955) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:40AM (#8676506)
    Maybe if there were no MS, we'd all have a SparcStation on our desks instead of a PC, and we'd be complaining about the latest CDE virus. There would be an ongoing religious debate over the merits of Apple vs Sun, and an ever-growing third faction would be educating both sides about the wisdom of Open Source.

    Realistically, folks, if there wasn't a Microsoft, someone else would take their place. Perhaps we should be grateful for Microsoft's existence, because if someone more competent were in that position (say, some company that could write good code, for example), there'd be a whole lot less need for open source. So, thanks Microsoft for showing us all just how bad an operating system can be!
  • Comdex 1983 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rixstep (611236) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:42AM (#8676523) Homepage
    There's an old story oft repeated back home and taken as truth. It's about Comdex 1983. Microsoft were still a small company back then, still in Seattle, and had a minimal representation in Vegas with Gates himself behind the counter.

    All of a sudden there was a bit of a stir, and Gates found out it was a demonstration of GEM. He wandered over and pulled one of his big poker bluffs.

    Heckling the product demonstrators, he told everyone who he was, what company he represented, claimed his own company had a similar product in the works, far more developed than this beta of GEM, but his company, ethical as it was, would never dream of luring the public with a demonstration of a product what wasn't ready for market.

    He then supposedly stalked back to his own exhibit, closed it down demonstratively, and proclaimed that he was leaving Comdex in protest. He traveled immediately back to Seattle.

    Where he immediately convened the 'board' of MS and appointed Steve Ballmer manager of the phantom project. Ballmer started getting phone calls from the media who wanted to know what the product would be called (here Ballmer was impressively creative) and also wanted to know why it was taking so long: Gates intimated MS had been working on it for several years already in 1983.

    When the 'product' finally surfaced in 1985, and looked (and performed) as poorly as it did, a few people understood: it hadn't taken that long at all.
  • by talexb (223672) on Friday March 26, 2004 @12:56AM (#8676604) Homepage Journal
    You know what roll of paper tape I'm talking about .. that was the one containing the version of GW-Basic (yep, stood for Gee-Whiz) that Bill Gates and Paul Allen had hacked together. They were showing it in their hotel room in the late 70's or early 80's to a couple of (Comdex?) visitors and were talking about selling it when someone saw a copy of the tape and scarfed it.

    They made a copy, and passed it on with the admonitiion to 'be fruitful, and multiply' -- make a copy and pass it on. Bill Gates wrote a scathing letter to the community (and no doubt, swore to wreak his own revenge).

    So, it's 25 years later, and he's still battling the same people that stole his reel of paper tape from that hotel room. So consider this .. what if he'd had good security and no one had been able to lift that reel of tape? Bill Gates and Richard Stallman might have peacefully co-existed.
  • by humankind (704050) on Friday March 26, 2004 @01:50AM (#8676962) Journal
    You could list for days the software companies that went out of business as a result of Microsoft's dominance of the industry, but nothing is more substantive than the fact IMO that Microsoft single-handedly destroyed the entire computer product support industry.

    Back in the 80s and early 90s, software companies offered toll-free tech support and were easily contacted to resolve problems. When Windows came along, there were so many incompatibility issues that most of us software publishers found the majority of our tech support resources were going towards fixing Microsoft problems that were inadvertently blamed on our own products. The unstable and chaotic Windows environment, where one il-behaved app or library could screw everything else up, made it a nightmare trying to support even the most simple applications.

    Microsoft, single-handedly eradicated the entire product support market by forcing developers to hide or else become pawns in helping microsoft debug its own OS.

    I abandoned the desktop market when Windows became dominant. It wasn't worth it trying to develop a useful product for consumers when every new release of an operating system would make your application malfunction and cause all your users to blame you for something that was outside your control.

    Thanks Microsoft.
  • by botik32 (90185) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:08AM (#8677570) Homepage
    Funny we just discussed yesterday the unfortunate effect Microsoft has on software.

    Maybe Microsoft did a lot of good. I am sure a lot of posts will show that.

    Here I would like to stress what a mess Microsoft has made of web applications by meddling with Java and killing off it support in Windows.

    I am a web programmer and I know the hurdles encountered when delivering a web application.

    My experience says 80% of the development and maintenance efforts go to the presentation layer. Why? Because it is done through the ass. Excuse me, but HTML+JavaScript was not designed as a user interface layer. Implementing thin-clients in Javascript is suicide, a slow and painful one. Re-sending the form to the browser every time an action is made is assinine.

    It is ludicruous, the things companies do right now to implement a web user interface. When 20 programmers and 15 designers spend all day explaining to each other what bits in the entangled mess of a page the designer should change to change the interface , it is not programming, it is extremely distorted masochistic masturbation.

    Enter client-side java. Thin clients? Easy. Security+sandbox? Yep. Custom widgets? Yep. Direct graphics rendering? You bet. And it can be done in a few weeks by a programmer + UI designer. As a result, half the burden is off the server, the interface is natural and easy to use, maintenance costs are minimal.

    Face it, Browser-embedded Java is the answer to all these freaking mammoth problems web development has drowned itself into. This technology is how many? 10 years old?? Why has not it been accepted???

    Enter Microsoft.

    Had Microsoft not interfered, client-side Java would be as ubiquitous on the desktop as are GNU tools on unix'es, due to its superior design and concept. But no, M$ had to distort it and obstruct it so it never made it to the users' desktops. Instead it promises .NET shit that is even slower and more complex than current implementations.

    And this is just one example. Killing off good ideas is M$'s job. Not innovation, not better products, not open standards, not fair play. Microsoft has just killed everyone in the IT and scared the shit out of everyone else. It stands alone on a pile of skulls two stories high.

  • by Angry Pixie (673895) on Friday March 26, 2004 @04:22AM (#8677610) Journal
    If there were no Microsoft, there would be no savvy competitor to rival Apple. IBM and HP couldn't do it. They lacked the entrepreneurial creativity and energy Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Steve Ballmer possessed. Jobs was only going to be defeated by someone with that new generation forethought.

    Apple would have dominated, and Steve Jobs' meglomania would have only escalated. Eventually Apple would hold majority share and small developers would find themselves getting squeazed. So essentially, a world without Microsoft would be still be the same as a world with Microsoft.

    I won't even entertain ideas about greater unchecked innovation. There are a lot of great technologies that have been killed off by kinder gentler cooperations that MS.
  • by minkwe (222331) on Friday March 26, 2004 @05:34AM (#8677882) Journal
    Is what the real question should be.

    Nobody can answer the question that says what will the world be like if X did not exist? Or what will the future be like if X stops existing?

    The point is our decisions today will determine what the future will look like to us. We haven't made all those decisions yet so the question is:

    What will you want the (computer) world to be like in the future, and what decisions should we make toward that.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday March 26, 2004 @06:23AM (#8678064)
    What would the world be like today if Daimler Benz had a de-facto monopoly on cars just like MS has a de-facto monopoly on Software?
    Right.
    A world free of MS: Think various flavors of DOS and various flavors of GUIs, something like a Geos 2004 (that would probably be better even that todays Aqua) and competitors and Apple would be smaller yet due to the lack of contrast it could provide in a truly free market. And we'd all have fun and a feeling of meaning to what we're doing: tinkering with computer stuff.
    Right now I only have that feeling when I'm working with Linux and am not forced to emulate a sick proprietary application or 'standard'.

    Some people here think that MS forced innovation, but that's absolutely wrong in ever which way. They only managed the near impossible: Lock in a actually open plattform: the PC. And that did nothing but seriously stall inovation.
    SW Developement would be ten years ahead today. Think somethink like BeOS V.9.0 with a GUI burned onto a BiosChip that boots into GUI in 5 seconds flat.
    MS managed to lurr all vendors into the now-yet-more-crappyness upgrade mill promising everybody who joined big bucks. They made the biggest bucks. Curiously, I recall it started to become evident with the Windows Keyboard stunt. The Keyboard vendors kissed MS feet for having them sell new KBs.

    No, look at it from the distance and it's absolutely evident: We have to programm every single bit of our stuff ourselves in order to reclaim a minimum of control that we had in the Amiga days. And Amiga was a proprietary Plattform!

    In fact, if DRM/TCPA would get foothhold in a way that MS would like it, I'd aktually drop out of computing entirely - even though I've been with it since nearly 20 years and Sharp PC 1402 assembler. But hopefully that will never happen, since VIA and Transmeta would rejoice over a DRMing/TCPAing Intel and AMD. Thank God MS doesn't have control over the x86 hardware. Not yet at least.
  • To get an idea what the world would be like without Microsoft, you need to start with another question.

    What was the world like before Microsoft?

    Not before Microsoft formed, but before Microsoft Windows started really hammering down the competition. Back when Microsoft's OS, DOS, was simple enough it could be emulated and when platforms running on top of operating systems from simple common libraries through virtual machines... what we call middleware, now... were the standard way of writing portable software.

    You had a few common families of operating systems. DEC had RSX-11, TOPS-10 and TOPS-20, VMS, RT-11, and RSTS, though they were settling on VMS as the way forward. You had IBM's mainframe systems running native and under VM. You had MUMPS both native and hosted. You had EXEC/1100, PR1MOS, burroughs A-series. You had CP/M and its descendents (CDOS, MS-DOS, etc). You had UNIX and UNIX clones like Regulus and Idris and Cromix. You had Mac OS and AmigaOS and GEM. You had Atari-DOS and TRS-DOS and their enhanced clones like LDOS.

    On top of these you had GEM and DesqView and Mumps and the UCSD P-System (Daddy's playing Pascal, that's where you try and see how many dots you can get before you start swearing). You had databases and interfaces and transaction protocols and network protocols in a huge fight between OSI and TCP/IP that ended up with TCP easily winning the bottom level because none of the OSI people could agree on a low level protocol so nobody could talk to each other without expensive gateways... but there's still plenty of OSI living on above that.

    You had Pascal and Modula and ADA and C and REXX and the Lisp languages and a billion Basics blooming in everyone's garden.

    And so, we get to the next question.

    Where was it going?

    Well, standards were ever more important. We had a network running OSI and TCP at the low level, UNIX/Xenix, VMS, EXEC/1100, RTE-IV, DOS, Netware, NFS, RFS, DECnet, OpenNet, ... and I was able to largely flatten the whole thing because every platform interoperated with three or four different standards. You could always find something that would talk. And things were getting simpler, as newer and better standard interfaces supplanted or complemented older ones. Increasingly, there were a handful of languages with good standard implementations that were widely (almost universally) available: SQL, REXX, C, and newcomers like Tcl and Perl.

    Microsoft never bothered to fit into this world, except through a valve. You could check in to the Windows hotel but you could never check out. Even companies like IBM had a culture of interoperation: they had multiple platforms specialised for different things and they worked well together... and with other systems.

    But all these systems had one thing in common... they were first multi-user and secondarily end-user.

    Advanced end-user systems had always been islands, with very few exceptions. Your IBM or Xerox word processing systems, your Macintoshes and Wangs, these never had to depend on networks, they had one user, and that user was in control, and the interface to other systems was through the user... where networks existed, they were often (usually) job-oriented, with Word Processing on one and Drafting on another. So interoperability was secondary to everything else.

    The open source community has developed from the shared systems that were dominant though to the end of the '80s. Communication was paramount, secrets were death: if your software didn't play well with other software people ended up avoiding it.

    What would have happened without Windows? Apple would have continued to spread their only slightly less extreme end-user system, at a premium price. VMS and other decent minicomputer systems would have fought it out, alongside a variety of UNIX systems all running common applications and sharing files. Amiga's UNIX and Apple's UNIX and Microsoft's Xenix would have bridged the gap between end-user systems and minis. OS/2

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