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What Would The World Be Like Without Microsoft?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the how-would-life-be-different dept.

Microsoft 1054

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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GNAA Leaks Windows 2000 Source code (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676099)

GNAA Leaks Windows 2000 Source code
by GNAA staff

As previously reported here [slashdot.org] , source code to Microsoft's latest operating system has been stolen.

So far, nobody claimed responsibility for the act, and Microsoft is denying it even happened. But you know better than that! GNAA 0wnz you.


We will be right back after this commercial break!
According to Google Zeitgeist [google.com] , there are about 80% of Internet Explorer 6 [microsoft.com] users. The only platform supporting Internet Explorer 6 is, of course, Microsoft Windows. These statistics are consistent with the earlier presented graphs of the operating systems used to access Google, with the Windows family consistently taking the top 3 ranks. Out of remaining 20%, the split is even between MSIE 5.5, MSIE 5.0, both Windows-only browsers. Netscape 5.x (including Mozilla) counts for only a measly 5% of browsers used to access Google. As you can see from the graph, this sample was calculated starting from March 2001 until September 2003.
According to Google Zeitgeist [google.com] , there are about 80% of Internet Explorer 6 [microsoft.com] users. The only platform supporting Internet Explorer 6 is, of course, Microsoft Windows. These statistics are consistent with the earlier presented graphs of the operating systems used to access Google, with the Windows family consistently taking the top 3 ranks. Out of remaining 20%, the split is even between MSIE 5.5, MSIE 5.0, both Windows-only browsers. Netscape 5.x (including Mozilla) counts for only a measly 5% of browsers used to access Google. As you can see from the graph, this sample was calculated starting from March 2001 until September 2003.
And now we return to our scheduled broadcast...

.________________________________________________. fucking
| ______________________________________._a,____ | CmdrTaco
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | will
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ | he ever learn that
| _j#'_.00#,___4#dP_"#,__j#,__0#Wi___*00P!_"#L,_ | GNAA is totally
| _"#ga#9!01___"#01__40,_"4Lj#!_4#g_________"01_ | unstoppable? Teamed
| ________"#,___*@`__-N#____`___-!^_____________ | up with the other troll groups,
| _________#1__________?________________________ | GNAA will absolutely own
| _________j1___________________________________ | the shitty place that is slashdot.
| ____a,___jk_GAY_NIGGER_ASSOCIATION_OF_AMERICA_ | Just remember, the longer the lines are,
| ____!4yaa#l___________________________________ | the smaller CmdrTaco's penis.
| ______-"!^____________________________________ | This logo is (C) 2003, 2004 GNAA
` _______________________________________________' [1] [idge.net]

(C) GNAA 2003, 2004


Standards (4, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676101)

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 (5, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676127)

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 (4, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676155)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676131)

'Tis a silly place.

Maybe it could be more like castle anthrax...

Re:Standards (1, Troll)

xs650 (741277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676162)

Microsoft's "standards" are the artifact of a partially failed attempt to completely dominate software and operating systems.

Re:Standards (5, Insightful)

Snad (719864) | more than 10 years ago | (#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...

Re:Standards (2, Funny)

mingot (665080) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676267)

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.

a better question (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676102)

more importantly, where can I find pictures of rusty's [kuro5hin.org] naked wife?

Answer... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676104)

probably similar to what Slashdot would be without GNAA.

Re:Answer... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676112)

aka, "in the shitheap"

the real problem is... (1, Funny)

Zorak Man (732141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676107)

All the wrath of the open source community could be focused right on Mr. McBride.

If Windows were to diappear (4, Interesting)

Ralph JH Nader (765522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676110)

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.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676130)

You have no idea what the hell you're talking about.

That myriad of x86 software out there wouldn't run because they require the Win32 API

Apple is NEVER switching to x86. There is NO POINT.

And how the hell is Apple going to dominate a market that Dell already owns (x86 hardware)?

Re:If Windows were to diappear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676164)

No, he's referring to Apple applications written in C which could be ported over without great difficulty. He just means that there's a large about of x86 machines which would be waiting to have the market tapped.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676222)

of course, because everybody would buy x86 machines which do nothing, hoping Apple would come along and create some software so they'd have more than just a doorstop.

ps: you're the original poster... admit it

Re:If Windows were to diappear (2, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676134)

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.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (4, Interesting)

pebs (654334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676263)

The inexpensive x86 machines out there all run Windows.

Not this inexpensive x86 machine.

Say hello to my little friend...

Re:If Windows were to diappear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676165)

Well, the applications would not all just run on Mac OS X x86 flawlessly, Apple would need to provide some sort of emulation, as they are all compiled for the PowerPC.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (5, Interesting)

clifyt (11768) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676209)

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...

Re:If Windows were to diappear (3, Interesting)

Ralph JH Nader (765522) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676229)

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.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (5, Funny)

Daleks (226923) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676238)

If Windows were to disappear the world would be very, very dark inside.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676241)

There wouldn't have been any inexpensive x86 machines because the IBM PC's OS would probably have been retained by IBM and thus the clone market would not have been created. If Gates hadn't had the gaul to ask for the right to relicense DOS to third parties, we'd probably be paying 10K for a basic PC.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676247)

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.

Re:If Windows were to diappear (1)

Scottaroo (461317) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676272)

I think that you are overestimating Apple's ability to produce a stable system on x86 hardware. Part of Microsoft's problem (and Linux's for that mater) is the amazing diversity of hardware available on the x86 platform. Someone's got to write all those drivers, and because they are kernel level code, when you screw them up bad things can happen to the stability of the system.

I wouldn't call it an insurmountable problem, but it wouldn't be as easy as cross-compiling the source code, either.

We'd all be using IBM OS/2 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676111)

And we'd be loving it!

Re:We'd all be using IBM OS/2 (3, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676133)

OS/2 was a joint venture between MS and IBM.

Re:We'd all be using IBM OS/2 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676198)

In the beginning, but IBM took it over mostly after 2.0.

Re:We'd all be using IBM OS/2 (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676240)

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.

noo... (0, Redundant)

Hello this is Linus (757336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676118)

With out Microsoft, who would I have hate?

My life would be pointless...but virus free.

Re:noo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676138)

Not really. There are viruses on Windows because it is popular. If Mac OS X had a large market share there would be just as many viruses. But, Apple would work hard to remove them. :) Still love my Mac :P

probably using something like CPM (1, Insightful)

SmartyPants (27576) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676120)

or out of jobs completely.
MS brought computers to peoples desktops.
without DOS & Windows we would probably still be on green screens.

Re:probably using something like CPM (3, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676141)

Bullshit. Without DOS we'd be using QDOS, and without Windows we'd probably be using Apple computers or the like.

Re:probably using something like CPM (1)

Throtex (708974) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676281)

While I'm not a Microsoft hater nor lover, your scenario sounds rather bleak. I'd take Microsoft any day.

Re:probably using something like CPM (1)

AaronD12 (709859) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676276)

Wow. I didn't know the Macintosh ever came with a green screen...

Macrohard (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676123)

Big and hard just like I like 'em.

really... (-1, Troll)

Zorak Man (732141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676124)

Thats like asking... "What would the world be like with out Goatse." I mean we all hate it, but its something painful and tragic that we all have to carry around in the deepest scared part of our souls forever.

AOL member page? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676125)

Yes, this is a troll post. Why in $diety's name did you post a link to an AOL member page?

Re:AOL member page? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676167)

AOL can't be Slashdotted

Without Microsoft... (5, Funny)

bfg9000 (726447) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676129)

... we'd have no idea how bloody good Linux and Mac OSX really are.

One thing's for sure (5, Funny)

-kertrats- (718219) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676146)

A lot less /. comments. With no microsoft to complain about, half the comments wouldn't have anything to rant about.

Re:One thing's for sure (5, Funny)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676226)

Sure we would have things to rant about:
- George Lucas messing up Star Wars
- SCO
- duplicate articles
- the lack of an MS substitute to complain about

Re:One thing's for sure (1)

el-spectre (668104) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676243)

No doubt... most folks would bitch about them decreasing the number of companies to badmouth... encouraging monopoly..

Re:One thing's for sure (4, Funny)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676262)

That wouldn't change anything. People rarely need to talk about anything to post comments....

Re:One thing's for sure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676286)

Actually, if you were take the last hour of Slashdot commenting into account, you'd only around 4%, as 96% of the last posts were pure GNAA pwnage.

Apple of course!!! (4, Insightful)

Jubii (315611) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676153)

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....

Re:Apple of course!!! (4, Interesting)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676215)

Blah, there were never any decent games on the Apple.
We were all Commodore's slaves back in those days. By the time the Amiga went away, we were all slaves to the PC.

The world without windows (4, Funny)

QEDog (610238) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676157)

Yikes! That is scary! But not as scary as a world without doors.

Well... there's the obvious (4, Funny)

ValourX (677178) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676244)

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

what would it be like (4, Insightful)

starworks5 (139327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676158)

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

IT folks would be worth more (3, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

More like... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676161)

What would Bill Gates be like without Microsoft?

Now THATS something I'd like to know.

Previous Interesting Thread (1)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676168)

Check this thread [slashdot.org] for an interesting discussion. This is just posted around today...

Less microsoft means... (3, Interesting)

zaunuz (624853) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Less microsoft means... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676216)

". . . since MS Windows is by far the most newbie-friendly operating system availible for PC.

It's no better the GEM. or OSX.

Re:Less microsoft means... (1)

zaunuz (624853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676254)

ok, i am not familiar with those OSes, but...

Could someone who has never used a PC before sit down and understand the basics of how it works, without reading the manual first?

Down And Out (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676171)

Try reading Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom [craphound.com] by Cory Doctorow. It should give some hint at least to what the world could be like without MS (ideally, that is).

What will happen to ./ !!! (3, Funny)

vinit79 (740464) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:What will happen to ./ !!! (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676264)

I think ./ will be fine without MS. I still run my executables in Linux perfectly fine, and MS never touched them. ... Oh, you meant /. ;)

I think we all know what we would be using... (1)

Valar (167606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676173)

A certain popular open source unix operating system. The one that is way more secure than Windows, much lighter on resources, but has a few usability issues to hammer out.

That's right...

OpenBSD!!

forgotten windows? (4, Informative)

VValdo (10446) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676174)

What about the forgotten windows? [aol.com]

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

W

Google (1)

cft_128 (650084) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676176)

If MS went down people's insatiable need to have something to gripe about would focus on the next large company that dominates a sector. If that were to happen soon google looks to replace it. Large, dominates the space, and can be abusuve with its powers.

one word (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676177)

What Would The World Be Like Without Microsoft?

Better.

But what would we do without Microsoft? (2, Funny)

mboos (700155) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676182)

We would have no one to blame for all of our computer problems.

open source has a long history (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676183)

The various algorithm books, complete with source, predate the existence of MS by a longshot.

And CP/M had a open source replacement, ZCPR that was doing pretty well for awhile.

I'd say Microsoft is an abberation, one that will gradually lose ground and fade.

Information and knowledge want to be free. Imagine a world where opening a math or physics book required a license...I'm sure the publishers would love it, but the fact is, it's kind of unimaginable now that we have had a taste of freedom.

Software is getting to be this way, too. A time will come when all the licensing and secret codes will seem quaint. At least I hope that time comes...it's hard to tell what will happen with all the laws being twisted by money and influence.

Computers wouldn't be as easy to use (-1, Insightful)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676184)

Hate him if you want, but there's no denying that Bill Gates made PCs mainstream and accessible-with Windows 95 onwards, anyone could use a PC-no need to muck about with a terminal, or config.sys, or compile your own kernel.

I personally think this is part of the reason for the hatred by the Open Source movement-I'm old enough to remember having to actually learn to use an OS to use a PC, and I think many geeks hate him for demystifying computer use-suddenly, their skills were obsolete in the face of Plug and Play

What Would The World Be Like Without Microsoft? (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676186)

Anybody else flash to what Lionel Hutz envisioned a world without lawyers to be like?


"I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony."

It's always somebody (1)

kefoo (254567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676187)

I think if Microsoft never existed we would have had to deal with some other company doing whatever it can to dominate everything.

Never underestimate the power of greed.

Now that the computer world is more mature (for better or worse...) we might be able to do it right, if we can get rid of Microsoft. It would be much harder for any one company to take over now.

Re:It's always somebody (1)

kefoo (254567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676212)

Which isn't to say Microsoft didn't do some good. They did make computers more accessible to the average person. It's just their methods (and software quality) I disagree with.

That's easy (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676191)

IBM.

If Microsoft ceased to exist today... (2, Insightful)

cipher chort (721069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676194)

Well it's pretty clear that Apple would win a huge chunk of the desktop market by default, but probably not the the extent that Microsoft has today. The rest would be carved up by various Linux distros, and maybe new or revitalized OSs?

The server market would just be consumed by UNIX-like OSs and probably Apple would gain ground there as well, but not nearly like the desktop situation.

It would be a huge win for IBM and Apple, and even Sun could probably make some ground.

I wonder if Dell would come up with their own OS to start selling, or a highly customized version of Red Hat? Hmm... one would think that Dell wouldn't want to lose it's grasp on the PC market.

The real problem would be all the chaos that would ensue when no one was dominating the standards. Despite being Pure Evil, Microsoft *does* give everyone else standards to integrate with. Everyone at least makes their stuff as compatible with Windows(TM) as possible. Without the standards, companies like IBM, Sun, Apple, Cisco, HP, etc would all compete with their own proprietary stuff and it would probably be a real nightmare for application developers.

my thoughts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676196)

Anyone who's been around here for a while probably knows I have a very long fuse. I really don't get upset by much, and I've always allowed a lot more silly shit to go on here than most people would. It should be no surprise though that everyone has a limit, and a few former posters here finally hit mine on Sunday.

Since there's already been a lot of confusion about it, what happened was that some people posted links to a porn image with my wife's face photoshopped in. Objectively, it was a rather good photoshop job. Nevertheless, that particular clique earned themselves immediate lifetime bans. I know some of you know where the pictures are. If you'd like your accounts erased as well, please post links to them below. I'm sure someone will test me on this. I'm not kidding. There was also some related stuff with comments designed to crash browsers and so forth. Apparently, all the assholes went nuts at the same time.

Following that was a joyous day of playing whack-a-mole, watching the new accounts get created and removing them. It got boring real fast. Finally, mainly because I had work to finish, I just shut off new user accounts altogether to think about it.

And then one of our Scoop servers was broken into and basically trashed by a rootkit. I don't think it had anything to do with events on the site itself, but the timing sure was bad. The box is back up, and should be back to serving this weekend. We seem to be doing fine on one for now. But that's another story altogether.

I don't think we have a huge problem here. There's almost always been a few annoying people with enough free time to piss off everyone else. The names change a little but the song remains the same. If there was some way to keep it from becoming another game for multiple accounts, I would love to have user voting on whether another user could stay or not. However, that would require some kind of hard proof of identity, and I'm just not prepared to deal with that hassle, nor do I think most of you would accept it for the fairly limited benefits of just having an account here.

So the question is, how do we make it more difficult for obnoxious people to disrupt the site, without barring the gates altogether? And from a wider view, how can a large community like this continue to grow in an organic way? I think part of the initial success of the site was due to the word-of-mouth nature of who showed up to use it. Now that half of our pages are result number one for some google search or another, it seems like a lot of that person-to-person growth, and the sense of community that comes with it, has been lost.

I'd like to propose a strategy for this with four parts. The overall ideas behind it are first, to create more of a barrier to entry and thereby make losing accounts more of a hardship, and second, to recognize that some administrative oversight of who stays and who goes is necessary, while making it as accountable as we can to the wishes of other members (without, hopefully, turning it into a game itself).

Part I: Sponsorship

The first part of the plan involves new accounts. I don't mean sponsorship as in advertising, I mean sponsorship as in vouching for another prospective user.

The idea is this: someone creates a new account. They go through the normal email confirmation. At this point they cannot do anything. Before you have the privileges of a user, you must get an existing user to sponsor you. That just means that some user with the ability to sponsor others goes to a page and enters the new user's nickname. These two are now associated, and if a user gets kicked off the site, their sponsor does too.

Our hypothetical new user, after being sponsored, is now a full user of K5 in all senses but one. They can post comments and diaries, they can submit stories, they can vote and rate comments. The only thing they can't do yet is sponsor other users. The criteria for this are adjustable, but I'm leaning toward a requirement of 60 days of sponsored membership and 40 positively-rated comments before you can sponsor others. Yes, that is a high bar. I think it should be pretty high. Also, you will be restricted to a maximum of something like two users sponsored per week.

Also, you can revoke your sponsorship of a user at any time, if you think they're being obnoxious or you no longer trust them. A user whose sponsorship is revoked will go back to unsponsored status, and will not be able to post unless and until they find another sponsor. If the user is re-sponsored, they start from scratch as far as the requirements for sponsoring someone else are concerned.

Sponsorship and the associated delays that go with it, are intended to limit the growth of the site to a rate that allows new users to get used to the place and its culture (and vice versa), and to make it difficult enough to get an account that jerks, spammers, and fly-bys will go elsewhere.

I can't stress enough the point that if someone you sponsor does something to get themselves kicked out, you get kicked out too. This will be made abundantly clear on the sponsorship page. Further, it's not hard to analyze the chains of sponsorship and identify an account that has an unusually high rate of users kicked out downstream. The obvious game against this is to create a drawerful of sock puppet accounts that take the heat when one gets banned and keep your real account protected. It will be easy to identify the root accounts of any users persistent enough to try to game this thing repeatedly.

The sponsorship system is ready to go right now. I held off posting this until I knew that I could roll out the biggest part of it more or less immediately, and get membership back open, to the extent that it will be open from now on. I will await your comments and suggestions, and turn it on when I feel like you guys have had a chance to react. For current users, you are all fully sponsored and have your sponsorship date set to your account's creation date, so you may sponsor others provided you meet the 60 days and 40 comments criteria.

But I don't think this change alone addresses all that we need. Implied in the sponsorship plan is the admission that sometimes people do have to be kicked out. As I said above, I don't trust a voting system with no hard identity backing it up to handle that, so there has to be administrative judgement involved. The following ideas incorporate that fact and try to bring it more up to par with the democratic goals of the site.

Part II: Better Guidelines

The appropriate use guidelines we have now pretty much suck. I hate writing down rules for a thing like this site, because they're always going to be vague, and even vague rules will invite the classic legalistic troll ("The rules don't say anything about..."). But it seems like there will always be a few people who don't realize that harassing another user is not ok, so we might as well write it down.

The basic points I have in mind so far for appropriate use guidelines boil down to:

* Be respectful of others
* Technical abuse is grounds for banning (intentional page widening/lengthening, posts designed to crash someone's browser, attempts to crash the site or interfere with other people's use of it, etc)
* Crapflooding, or posting repeated offtopic spew is grounds for banning
* Threats against or harassment of another user is grounds for banning
* Modstorming is grounds for banning
* All decisions are made by admins and are final, and you can be kicked out for any reason whatsoever. Whining about something not being explicit in the rules is not a defense.

Hopefully you guys can help me whip this into something that spells out the basics of how to behave like a human online. One point I would like to include in there somewhere is that it's not a human right to not be trolled. If you want to be pissed off by something, you will surely find a way, and no website admin can protect you from that. The point is not to make K5 happy-play-land, but merely to prevent it from being a forum for harassment. People with stupid opinions, whether real (Baldrson) or pretend (John Asscroft), are not inherently unwelcome, provided they play by the basic rules of social interaction. "I think you're wrong, because numerous studies have shown that black people are less intelligent and more athletic than white people," is a dumb opinion, but does not inherently violate the site's rules. "You stupid nigger fag" does. That's the difference I'm trying to get at here.

Part III: Warnings

While it's been my experience that 99% of users who lose accounts know exactly what they're doing wrong already, and are doing it on purpose, it may possibly be that a few don't. Also, with sponsorship, one person's obnoxious behavior can affect someone else, who may be innocent of it. So I want to implement a warning system, so people will know when they've gone too far.

It's pretty simple. An admin will be able to go to a user's info page and fill in a text box explaining what that person did wrong. This warning is sent to the user's real email address, the sponsor's real email address, and will also show up in a big red-bordered box at the top of every K5 page the warned users view until they click a button confirming that they have seen it. Site policy will be that you get one warning. The second one is when you and your sponsor get the boot. Hopefully the sponsor system will also encourage people who sponsored friends that get a warning to have a little chat with their friend about what you do and don't do here. That's likely to do more good than I ever could.

This is policy, and not software-enforced, so the admins have the option to issue more than one warning or no warnings at all, and may do so in cases that seem to warrant it. But policy is one. More or fewer than that will probably be rare.

Part IV: Feedback From You

I often don't know whether someone is really annoying the hell out of everyone, or whether it's just a couple of people overreacting while everyone else finds it funny. So I'd like to provide a simple way for you to report if you think someone did something obnoxious enough to warrant a warning or to be shown the door. If you go to someone's user page, there will be a textbox similar to our admin warning one, where you can describe what you're complaining about and report that user. It will make it much easier for us to identify who is a problem and who is just goofing around. It ain't democracy, but at least it provides a clear channel for you to tell us what you think about someone. It should be obvious that reporting people in order to annoy admins is itself a great way to get yourself noticed and warned.

Implementation

This turns out to be not all that hard to implement, at least in its basic form. I will roll out the sponsorship piece as soon as I feel like I haven't overlooked anything major, and the rest of the changes will follow. So please help me craft the appropriate use policy, and let me hear your thoughts below.

I will post another site news when whatever turns out to be the full plan is done. From experience, I expect that a bunch of comments below will ask the same questions and/or bring up the same points. I'll respond to as much as I can here, but if there are things that a lot of people seem to want to know, I'll talk about them in the next site news. Meanwhile, please, please read the comments below before you post. There's a good chance someone's already asked the question you were going to ask. Try to find out if it's already been answered.

And finally, since I know it will come up, the negative aspects described in this post from Everything In Moderation express very well how I feel about killfiles. I'm not going to add them here, and the arguments have all been had many times. So feel free to argue about them yet again if you must, but they're not ever going to happen here. For those of you who have suggested them (over and over) I would encourage you to bend your energy and creativity toward coming up with something new, rather than pushing for the same old mistake.

without Microsoft (2, Insightful)

morelife (213920) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676200)

IBM would be the three headed monster, devouring everything in sight.

a world without microsoft would be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676206)

like a bicycle without depth charges!

mmm (5, Funny)

gho (717405) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676207)

We'd all be running (and enjoying) AmigaOS 8.

Without Microsoft? (5, Interesting)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676219)

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.

That's easy! (5, Funny)

pergamon (4359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676220)

There'd be no war, starvation, or crime, and every child would have a pony.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676223)

Actually, I think Louis Armstrong wrote a song about it.

No more Kill Clippy! (1)

mrklin (608689) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676225)

Replaced by

Kill the AOL Running Man or

Kill the Puma/Jaugar/Panther/or whatever cat the next OS X version is called after or

Kill the (gasp!) Penguin

without microsoft... (5, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Where will the EU get money from ! (1)

vinit79 (740464) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676235)

If MS goes **whoff** poor EU wont have anyone to fine and the whole of Europe will go in a major economic depression dragging US and the rest of the world with it which will lead to unrest and wars and destroy the human race. This will make the mice angry as they wont find the question to 42 and being hyper projections of super intelligent beings they will end the universe and everything.

Good thing I have a life insuarance.

Taken down? (1)

pebs (654334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676239)

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?

By taken down what do you mean? Microsoft is not going away for a long time. They have the resources to continue survival as long as they change to fit the market. They will do what they have to do to be profitable. And they will buy out technology that is already successful in order to do this.

Unless you mean lose their stranglehold on the desktop OS market. I certainly hope this happens soon. Maybe the snowball effect Linux is having will grow big enough to cut into this. Apple already has a great product that is catering to the premium market. Maybe someone else will step into the game?

In any case, a world without Microsoft is not going to happen. For example, if Linux became the desktop standard, Microsoft would certainly get involved with it and somehow make money off it. A world without Windows as the desktop standard, that's certainly possible.

Obligatory Simpsons Quote: (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676242)

"Could you imagine a world without Lawyers..."

<utopian scenes of happy people holding hands, dancing round maypoles, rainbow in background>

<the lawyer shudders>

Re: Obligatory Quote (2, Funny)

seaswahoo (765528) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676245)

And we wouldn't have the obligatory quote: "640K of memory should be enough for anybody." (Bill Gates, 1981)

As much as (0)

AnonymousCowheart (646429) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676246)

As much bashing as MS gets, computers wouldn't be as cheap as they are today, without MS making it possible for joe 6 pack to operate one. Same thing counts for AOL, ppl love to bash them (mostly their users i guess) but if it weren't for them, the internet would be as popular-and before someone says that's a good thing, less spam, etc, there would also be MUCH less content out there too. Let's not forget that MS has done some good for computer users, maybe not computer users USING their software. Remember, with competition, everyone wins!

Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676248)

Very boring for the average Slashdot poster, that's what.

An Interesting Idea (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676250)

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.

Just a thought.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676251)

We'd all be using Netscape on BeOS?

What would the world be like... (1)

starseeker (141897) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676255)

We'd probably all be using OS2/Warp clones right now - IBM's hardware would have been reverse engineered, they wouldn't have licensed OS2/Warp, and people would have cloned it as the "standard" PC interface.

Whether that would be an improvement I have no idea. It probably would have slowed the adoption of the PC in the US (come to think of it, that might not have been a bad idea). It probably would have forced universal standards that everybody actually followed, since it would have been a heterogeneous environment. Also a lot more response to customer needs/wants probably would have gone on, due to actual competition.

BUT - Open Source probably wouldn't have taken off, since that initial pool of tech savvy people pissed off at Microsoft and having no affordable alternatives wouldn't have been there. It would still probably be a movement, but I don't think it would have the star power and momentum it has now. Maybe we should be thanking Microsoft for that, actually. Tilting is more fun if you have a nice big windmill to run into.

Round (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676257)

I'm pretty sure the world would be round without Microsoft. Here is a rendering:

. <--- you are here

Here is a closeup:

o

Without Microsoft, there wouldn't really be anywhere to put Bill Gates. I guess we'd have to send him into space. I found an artist's conception of what Bill Gates might look like orbiting the Earth:

\o/ -- AUGH! HELP!
| .
/ \

I'm tearing up, here, just thinking about it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676259)

It's like some beautiful dream... no words... no word to describe it... should have sent... a poet

[sniffle]

one word comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676266)

happy.

History will tell us (1)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676271)

Assuming a couple of things:
a) Microsoft never existed
b) All else in history is more or less unchanged before MS moved in

The server market in the high end was controlled by mainframes and big tin servers running *nix. Without Windows to replace these systems, the companies that ran them (Sun, HP, IBM) would keep doing so for longer. Eventually the rise of the powerful small end server would still leave these older big tin servers by the wayside, as we are seeing today.

The small end market was completely owned by Novell. Novell would progress at the same rate from 3.12 up to 6, but market penetration in their segment would be phenomenally higher than even Windows over a long enough period.

IBM's OS/2 completely dominates the desktop market. Intel and AMD continue a fierce price war, although Intel's market share is damaged as IBM is a more cosmopolitan company than MS, and so offers support for AMD and Cyrix processors quite happily. For this reason Via never acquires Cyrix, making Cyrix dominate the market segment at the cheap and cheery level. Likewise, as Cyrix has a much stronger hand, Transmeta never gets the Crusoe off the ground.

Apple is relegated to its current niche as higher than OS/2 pricing and interoperability difficulties with Novell servers push the Macintosh away from the corporate spotlight. Apple nonetheless is a much stronger company and is presumably embroiled in near eternal court battles with IBM over antitrust issues.

Assuming the Linux movement begins to attempt to thwart IBM's OS/2 (the dominant desktop OS) offering seamless compatibility with Novell Netware on the server side. A few niche groups attempt to weedle market share away from Novell, but Novell's interoperability with Linux and more open software philosophies make the advantages of Linux appear much smaller than when compared with Windows.

OpenOffice and StarOffice are the first to compete heavily with IBM's 123 Suite that has held the market captive for over a decade.

Lotus Notes is much more pervasive and dominates several custom business flows in most major corporations across the world. People recognise that Novell is the most stable and solid platform for Notes deployment, and the Linux equivalents are shaping up and looking promising but still aren't viewed as "Ready for business".

The World would be worse off... (1)

ath0mic (519762) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676274)

...since we wouldn't have the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation [gatesfoundation.org]

Regardless of your feelings for Microsoft and Gates, you have to respect his philanthropy.

What would the world be like... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676284)

...without people asking stupid, senseless questions. I mean, really, this is a completely idiotic question. It's pointless. It's mental fucking masturbation. It's the geek equivalent of a dozen fratboys sitting around with a half ounce of Northern Lights and a 48-pack of Pabst asking what happened, man, if the tail chased you?!

Aren't there any REAL questions being asked, or is /. so desperate for material that this is what passes as discussion fodder?

Could have been worse then microsoft (4, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

What would the world be like without Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8676288)

Good question. I think IT managers wouldn't walk so funny anymore. They'd probably be able to sit down without wincing too.

Apple would likely dominate (1)

ripbruger (312644) | more than 10 years ago | (#8676289)

I think that Apple would likely dominate with the Mac. We wouldn't have Windows/DOS, but we might have other idiosyncrasies from the Apple world that might have been left in the OS if there wasn't any competitive "instinct" to innovate the product any further than need be.

Instead of DirectX, the big question remains as to if Apple would incorporate OpenGL, or develop their own 3D API. With no X-BOX competing against the PS2 and GameCube, it'd be interesting to see if Sega would still be around (or Infinium La....nevermind, we're talking about plausible things here).

The most interesting thing would be to see how business networking would have evolved as well. Would we all be on AppleTalk for sharing files and printing, and what would you use for a server? There's no WinNT in this hypothetical reality, but would we have a UNIX variant, or something else entirely.

As said previously, a lot has come out of Microsoft's Research division for many different ares of computer science, and most importantly, usability.

Anyway, that's my two cents.
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