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Cheap Solid State Computers Could Kill Microsoft

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the interesting-but-frothy dept.

Microsoft 427

Eh-Wire writes "This is an interesting point made by a Clayton Hallmark on IndyMedia out of Argentina. He predicts that cheap Asian computing appliances with an Open Source Operating System on a chip will be the ultimate MS killer. References to the US$220 Mobilis out of India suggest the begining of newer, more powerful, and cheaper things to come. Mr. Hallmark also points to the success of the Wal-Mart cheap PC as proof the end is near for proprietory software. Overall an in interesting and thought provoking read."

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427 comments

Kill Microsoft? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675342)

I'm going to kill myself.
#teens4christ
Retroactive post for klerck.

Not that likely... (5, Insightful)

beh (4759) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675345)

The end of M$ has been foretold ever so often, more often than I would care to remember. But nothing has happened as of yet, that would pose a significant threat to them. Before you go about how xyz could kill M$ - just ponder for a moment, how much cash M$ has in their pockets - they are not immediately threatened by anything - and they HAVE the kind of money to sit out minor glitches and/or buy them the neccessary time to re-adjust (or just throw humongous amounts of money at the problem to overcome it). And even if someone goes for the cheap PC option, as long as large companies aren't switching over to these devices, I guess the PC will remain a strong seller (just think about all the parents buying PCs for their kids to play with - while knowing they have a machine they can also do their regular work on)...

The likes of Atari ST / Amiga / ... "could" have ended the MS monopoly - when they were released, they were faster than PCs, and cheaper; and you could get good software for them, too - still, they didn't make it because they never became widely accepted in the commercial market.

M$ is not going to be "killed" any time soon - the most realistic chance there is, is that they will eventually be (financially) ground down far enough for them to no longer be able to react quickly enough to save their own hide. But that is most likely still quite a few years away - and it depends on there being enough serious outside threats.

Also, it would be more important to engage them on more fronts - if they are only in a skirmish with google over the search engine, their income will more than pay for that. If there were more (and different) fresh new competitors to emerge in different markets where M$ is a player (or sees that the market is too important for them to neglect), that could hurt them - but a single issue (the early browser wars; search engines now; cheaper computing platforms in the future) most likely won't be enough.

(And - no - the "new browser wars" I won't even count as a secondary issue - M$ already has the expertise to deal with that - it will cost them money, but it isn't something new they have to worry about - they need to be challenged on new frontiers - just look how long it took for them to catch up with netscape in the first place; and I would be prepared to bet that google is going to last for a few years yet, before M$ can kill them off - it will still be a while since M$ still need to build up a good deal more expertise in this market.

Re:Not that likely... (1, Interesting)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675357)

Last time I checked th 50 billion in their pockets could keep Microsoft running for 30 years without making a single dime.

Re:Not that likely... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675382)

Last time I checked th 50 billion in their pockets could keep Microsoft running for 30 years without making a single dime.

But back in reality, their shareholders wouldn't let them run a month without making a single dime without a clear explanation of how they're going to change that RIGHT NOW.

Re:Not that likely... (4, Insightful)

mcdesign (699320) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675527)

But back in reality, their shareholders wouldn't let them run a month without making a single dime without a clear explanation of how they're going to change that RIGHT NOW

Exactly no money in and the Microsoft share price value would plummet. All those nice shareholders would turn nasty and demand that Microsoft hand over that big 'ol pile of cash now! Unless the remaining members of the company with large shareholdings, such as Gates etc, keep shareprice up by buying back outstanding shares at inflated prices. Either way that nice big "war chest" will be nothing in no time.

Re:Not that likely... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675361)

The end of M$ has been foretold ever so often, more often than I would care to remember. But nothing has happened as of yet, that would pose a significant threat to them. Before you go about how xyz could kill M$ - just ponder for a moment, how much cash M$ has in their pockets - they are not immediately threatened by anything - and they HAVE the kind of money to sit out minor glitches and/or buy them the neccessary time to re-adjust

Yeah, MS is immortal. Like the British Empire, when you're that rich and powerful nothing can change it.

Re:Not that likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675553)

Yeah, MS is immortal. Like the British Empire, when you're that rich and powerful nothing can change it.

As a Canadian I can tell you that the British Empire is alive and well unfortunately. I've already had to swear two oaths to the Queen in my lifetime. (One when I took a government job and one when joining the Artillery.)

Re:Not that likely... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675577)

As a Canadian I can tell you that the British Empire is alive and well unfortunately. I've already had to swear two oaths to the Queen in my lifetime. (One when I took a government job and one when joining the Artillery.)

And Canadian policy is dictated from London. Hence Canada's enthusiastic support for the invasion of Iraq.

History is against Microsoft this time (1)

mollog (841386) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675365)

I hear the argument against the demise of Microsoft, but consider Microsoft's own history; a free OS on an 'open source' hardware platform. This time, instead of CPM/DOS on the S100/IBM PC, it will be Unix (Linux) on a PC.

But it's the follow-on to this miniaturized platform that will prove interesting. The volumes will help drive the price way down and with a PC that cheap, imbedding this Microsoft killer in toasters and lawn mowers without having to pay the Microsoft tax will have a chance to happen.

Re:Not that likely... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675370)

When they've maintained their position for three or four hundred years this sort of babble might be appropriate. Until then it's just saying "look, big company!". There's nothing new about that.

Re:Not that likely... (2, Interesting)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675391)

I agree. Just to be clear - MS bank about $1bn per month at the mo. They have enough of a warchest for rev to drop to $0 today, and the company will still be alive and kicking for 3 years.

Knocking out that sort of company can't be done with a single thrust (like a cheap computer).

For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity. TCO drops and everyone can afford MS software. The software becomes the key factor again. MS continue to extend their protocols to ensure non-interaction (as they constantly do now).

Re:Not that likely... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675404)

They have enough of a warchest for rev to drop to $0 today, and the company will still be alive and kicking for 3 years.

Their management, however, wouldn't last anywhere near as long.

For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity.

And what sort of return on investment am I, the shareholder, going to make on this? You're going to make back as much on the software as you would have been making on the hardware and the software? Explain.

I don't care how much gain you made me in previous years if you're just pissing away my money right now.

Re:Not that likely... (1)

Ithika (703697) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675529)

I hate to break it to you, but it's not your money. It's a gamble, you're not assured anything.

Re:Not that likely... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675536)

I hate to break it to you, but it's not your money. It's a gamble, you're not assured anything.

I love to break this to you Mr Ballmer: It sure isn't your money, and you're fired.

If you've already gone through with the acquisition of Intel then I'm putting the Intel guys in charge of the whole operation. Like you they have a history of making money and unlike you they 1) arestill making money right now 2) don't appear to have gone completely insane.

Re:Not that likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675565)

(For the slow of uptake, no obviously one shareholder can't dictate policy. The Shareholders can and would in the unrealistic situation previously proposed.)

Re:Not that likely... (2, Informative)

Seahawk (70898) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675451)

For example, with that sort of money on hand, I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away - make the whole box a commodity. TCO drops and everyone can afford MS software. The software becomes the key factor again. MS continue to extend their protocols to ensure non-interaction (as they constantly do now).

This would most likely be agains anto-competitive laws in alot of countries.

I'm pretty sure it would be a problem in Denmark anyway.

Re:Not that likely... (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675630)

I recommend they buy Intel (or AMD) and Seagate, then almost give the CPUs/disks away
I recommend you send your MBA back and ask for a refund.

Re:Not that likely... (1)

10Ghz (453478) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675454)

By my calculations, there were 8 references to "M$", and ONE reference to "MS" in your post. Pay more attention next time! Sheesh!

Re:Not that likely... (1)

halaloszto (703344) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675471)

agree. also please note, that the ratio of "business computer usage" and home/entertainment usage was a bit different in the time amiga came. when people are talking about computer sales, they start talking about walmart pc-s and home entertainment systems, and web browsing. the home usage will overcome the business usage, and MS may happen to remain a business sw vendor, and nothing more. vajk

Re:Not that likely... (3, Insightful)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675475)

Microsoft might not be killed but for sure but it might be crippled, and crippled bad. Look at Microsoft's gooses with golden egg; Microsoft Windows, Office and Visual Studio. It's those products that makes Microsoft the top of the line sofware company in the world. After now, for Microsot being alive is to keep this brand as the best software company in the world, that's true for every other company in the world, like Coca Cola, Mercedes or Fedex whatever. For those companies, having consistent increase in stock prices is real aim, and to get this you have to make your brand best of all, in other word, unique. What Microsoft losing with Open Source movement is that brand value, which actually determine how much a company worth in financial market. How much Bill Gates have in cash, and how rich he is, does not matter much for stock holders, because that does not make much difference to stock prices in long run. Nobody is saying Bill Gates will be homeless in five years time. Or he will be looking for lower rent flat. Not for even any other EO of Microsoft. However Microsoft, as the brand that is merged w/ PCs may be changed. With that price(!), and quality maybe in future Linux will be the default OS of PC sales, and Windows will be an option with its bells and whistles. Maybe in future OpenOffice.org formats will be the industry standards, and Microsoft Office will be forced to support them. And maybe in future only one third of the softwares are developed for Microsoft Windows "due to market share". If those happen, Microsoft movements in software industry won't harm or make someone rich in no way. As I said, don't expect Microsoft to be a company that won't be able to hire any developer or even pay its depts. But it's possible to see Microsoft as one of the $7 stock price, mid-level companies in Nasdaq soon (in financial terms).

Re:Not that likely... (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675485)

Sorry about previous post here's with paragraphs. Btw, this script check is definately sucks like hell. Microsoft might not be killed but for sure but it might be crippled, and crippled bad. Look at Microsoft's gooses with golden egg; Microsoft Windows, Office and Visual Studio. It's those products that makes Microsoft the top of the line sofware company in the world.

After now, for Microsot being alive is to keep this brand as the best software company in the world, that's true for every other company in the world, like Coca Cola, Mercedes or Fedex whatever. For those companies, having consistent increase in stock prices is real aim, and to get this you have to make your brand best of all, in other word, unique.

What Microsoft losing with Open Source movement is that brand value, which actually determine how much a company worth in financial market. How much Bill Gates have in cash, and how rich he is, does not matter much for stock holders, because that does not make much difference to stock prices in long run.

Nobody is saying Bill Gates will be homeless in five years time. Or he will be looking for lower rent flat. Not for even any other EO of Microsoft. However Microsoft, as the brand that is merged w/ PCs may be changed. With that price(!), and quality maybe in future Linux will be the default OS of PC sales, and Windows will be an option with its bells and whistles. Maybe in future OpenOffice.org formats will be the industry standards, and Microsoft Office will be forced to support them. And maybe in future only one third of the softwares are developed for Microsoft Windows "due to market share".

If those happen, Microsoft movements in software industry won't harm or make someone rich in no way.

As I said, don't expect Microsoft to be a company that won't be able to hire any developer or even pay its depts. But it's possible to see Microsoft as one of the $7 stock price, mid-level companies in Nasdaq soon (in financial terms).

Re:Not that likely... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675480)

You are completely wrong about Amiga and ST. Amiga had a 30% market share in europe!!!
Amiga and ST were on the market years before microsoft was seen as a mainstream operating system, in those days microsoft was a basic and DOS subcontractor for other computer companies such as Apple, IBM and so forth.
The main reason the home computer market colapsed and there hasn't been a home computer designed since is that Amiga and Atari is that they could not compete in price and keep up in development with PC clone makers. The PC market never since replaced the home computer market as it has always been designed for business use and since then always ben retro-fited for home use. That is the case with microsoft, a company that makes products solely for accountants and managers!
That is the sad truth, we do not have a home computer.
there is Apple, but they are a high end media and premium home computer not aimed at mass marked home use.

Re:Not that likely... (1)

Cmdr Whackjob (883018) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675599)

As usual this just seems to be more Anti-MS FUD spread by OSS zealots. Do they really think some poxy solid state computer used in asia running linux is going to bring down MS?

I don't think so.

Re:Not that likely... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675606)

You failed to add that microsoft makes about $100,000,000 every day. Yes day. What could harm them more is if they dont fit into the EU compliance (Wednesday) and get fined the *max* ($5,000,000/day). Given their margines and other expenses a 5% hit like that on a daily basis would cause them harm, however unlikely kill them.

Which cheap PC? (1)

Averron (677873) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675346)

Certainly noy THE wal-mart cheap PC we're all thinking of? Because I don't recall it being much of a success.

Re:Which cheap PC? (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675363)

I think they are refering to the more general cheap-ass PC market.

I know the 200 dollar computers at my local Frys are selling quite well.

Re:Which cheap PC? (0)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675392)

2 differencies.

Wal-mart is probably in US only. These computers should be shipped worldwide. Remember that most of linux usage is non-US based

Second thing is that most of consumers use illegal windows and office copy (and only god knows how much other, personally I don't remember when was the last I've seen computer without copy Photoshop and AutoCAD). It is only question of time when Microsoft and BSA will start raiding at home. Common users aren't Microsoft fans, but taken the fact that software costs 0 (if you make illegal copy, that is), is what makes the tendency of sticking to windows. Cost 0, will always be the main driving force.

Personally, I feel that there is a much better success story for linux in PS3 (or something other like it). I just hope that there will be option to switch between computer and game mode in a form of some hibernate. After that you can have everything, games and software.

Ahem... (4, Funny)

Ziviyr (95582) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675348)

Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a slave to MS and you should care. /sarcasm/ Yes, I care deeply.

(switches screens on Linux system)

Re:Ahem... (4, Interesting)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675383)

Agreed, very irritating the way that people assume that Computer == PC == Windows. Seeing software labeled as available for "PC" is particularly irritating, since I'm running a PC, but without windows it's an entirely different platform.

Re:Ahem... (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675608)

Whenever I meet such single minded people, I just assume that PC==Linux and go on from there.

So any office document will be in one of OOo's format, any tool will be based on the expected contents of /usr/bin, and so on.

When they finally notice that something is wrong, some get enlightened (others additionnally require some vigourous whacking).

Re:Ahem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675611)

Just like OS X isnt Unix as alot proclaim.

Just as NT isnt VMS as alot proclaim.

Re:Ahem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675545)

I also agree, as I'm reading this with Opera on my Mac mini...

Re:Ahem... (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675625)

Looks like someone told him...

> Since you are reading this on a computer, you are a slave to MS...

"Esclavo"? Creo que no -- uso solamente Linux.
:)

Re:Ahem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675627)

I'm reading this on my iPod with its UNIX underpinnings.

Yeah, right! (2, Insightful)

MadMirko (231667) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675353)

All the *-Killers have been extremely successful so far, right? No one is buying iPods anymore, right?

No?

Next story,then.

Re:Yeah, right! (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675488)

Aha, I'm with you. Like these petroleum carriages can replace the horse. Like these "avia" thingies can replace ocean ships. Like Windows shell can beat OS/2 OS. Like Renault can beat Ferrari in F1. Right, yeah, ahaha. You know - it works both ways. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Computers (be that Windows, Macs, or Linux) all have huge usability and reliability problems presently and there is little evidence that those can be overcome without going revolutionary different ways. If you don't see it then I guess it's just a matter of being used to those problems. Prepare to be painfully crushed by the progress though.

Re:Yeah, right! (1)

MadMirko (231667) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675525)

Well, actually I didn't mean to imply that new technology can't beat old technology.

I was just saying that the things that have lately been called "Killers" of whatever have not done so well, especially not killed their subject. As an example I provided the iPod, which has more Killers than anything, but is far from dead.

Argument? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675605)

I'm desperately looking for something like an argument in your post, but all I see is:
Hasn't happened yet, so it won't happen in the future.

Which isn't an argument and isn't even logical.

Hmmm. kill microsoft? or help them? (2, Insightful)

Saven Marek (739395) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675358)

Hmmmm? the idea of OS in a ROM on the computer sounds dodgy. I mean in that it forced you to always use the operating system that comes with the computer.

If that becomes common practice then it can turn around and bite us

What if microsoft do the same. Windows in ROM with some patches coming through software. It would force your machine to always only ever use windows.

Once it's legislated that you can't mess with your hardware, it means you then have to use windows.

I think Microsoft's xbox DRM to make sure no other operating system runs easily on the hardware is an entryway into this system.

And I don't like the sound of it

Re:Hmmm. kill microsoft? or help them? (5, Informative)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675371)

Have you heard of FlashROMs?

It's a nifty technology which allows a chip to be written to as well as read from, but remain persistant in the manner of a ROM. Very few so-called ROMs these days are actualy read-only -- you just write to them occasionaly, and read from them often.

Re:Hmmm. kill microsoft? or help them? (1)

chl (247840) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675592)

So WORM now means "write *occasionally*, read many [times]"?

chl

I believe it is called a XBOX... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675405)

... or something like that.

Re:Hmmm. kill microsoft? or help them? (3, Interesting)

horza (87255) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675633)

RiscOS [riscos.org] computers (previously called Acorn computers) have had the OS on a ROM for the last 16 years, but it doesn't stop you from running Linux [linux.org.uk] on it.

In the UK it is already legislated that you can't mess with your hardware, and trying to mod a PS2 can land you in jail. You make a good point about the xbox, even though they failed [xbox-linux.org], but if a 3rd party is making the machine then they don't have much incentive to lock it to Windows unless bribed by M$.

Phillip.

Re:Hmmm. kill microsoft? or help them? (1)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675635)

the idea of OS in a ROM on the computer sounds dodgy. I mean in that it forced you to always use the operating system that comes with the computer.


Isn't that pretty much what's happening now anyway ?

How many people buy a new PC when they want to upgrade their version of Windows ?

How many even know that they could run something other than windows ?

On less generic devices, it's even more obvious...

Who actually knows that you can install other systems on iPaqs (and a number of other handhelds) ?

If you want a generic computer, buy a regular one, if you want a cheap computing appliance, buy one of those little machines. Simple enough.

Apart from gamers who are a large enough segment of the general public, very few users actually need the versatility of a complex system such as NT 5.x or even Linux. They're perfectly happy with something simple.
The PalmOS approach (keep things *very* simple, never show the system), if translated to the desktop, could be a good idea if it was open enough to allow for the addition of extra software.

Death of a giant? (2, Insightful)

teh moges (875080) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675379)

The death of Microsoft will come, there is little question about that. The only problem is that they will fight it, and not just go down. The browser wars will be decided shortly after IE7 comes out (more importantly: if a major security flaw is found), the console wars will be won when Nintendo realise there is a different market now days, sony will keep them out for at least another generation to come... the OS wars could be won by these computers, but its more likely to come when *nix becomes a computer that is more compatable with windows (i know the problem is the other way around, but thats not the general perception). Basically, in most areas, Microsoft has two things going for them: lock-u-in style formats, and the perception that it just works (if it doesnt work, of course its another companies fault). As more and more governments (slowly) get turned to open source for security, more and more companies are going to need programs that can read more then MSOffice documents. These computers (I would assume) are another big step to getting rid of the "MS Office files by default" mindset that 90% of the world is in right now. Once that is gone, it will be only a matter of time before the giant is killed and order will return to the force... er computing industry

Ironies, Ironies . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675385)

Am I the only one who thinks a solid state computer would be more than a bit ironic? In many ways it would be a return to the 'archaic' and 'old fashioned' games machines like the Atari 2600/7200. . .

Another irony is that such a computer could be a lot like a cyberpunk-style 'deck' with plenty of slots for ROM (excuse me, flash-memory) slots.

Cheers,
Coward 321-124

No actually (2, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675393)

Microsoft primary market is U.S. and Europe. For other countries, it doesn't really matter. So I guess it could have impact of Microsoft chances of growh in certain region, but not in overall.

oh, please (2, Insightful)

kuzb (724081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675396)

Yeah, linux will kill MS, cheap computers will kill MS, your dog will kill MS ...

Every few months there is someone predicting the demise of Microsoft. What do all these people have in common? They've all been 100% wrong, 100% of the time. I mean, we're talking about a company that could run at a loss for years and not bat an eye.

Re:oh, please (2, Insightful)

Polir (675291) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675420)

Imagine the fury of the shareholders if MS continues to produce loss year after year...No, such a giant company cannot afford to do that!

Re:oh, please (1)

kuzb (724081) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675492)

Such a company would never let it happen. Even if they started to lose in one market, they'd just switch tactics, and move in to new markets.

To reiterate: MS is not going to die. Not now, not tomorrow, probably not in our lifetimes. They are here, and they are here to stay.

Look at IBM. Many would cite them as an example of the "toppled giant" Microsoft will become, except they didn't actually die. In fact, they're still making money.

Re:oh, please (1)

lokedhs (672255) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675532)

True, but they're a better company these days.

Most people don't want MS to neccessarily to die. They do want to get rid of the "bad MS", perhaps by replacing it with a "good MS".

Re:oh, please (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675434)

What do all these people have in common? They've all been 100% wrong, 100% of the time.

Just like the fall of the Roman Empire (or anything else in history), everyone who predicted it was wrong, until the time it happened.

Re:oh, please (4, Insightful)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675574)

Yes, or to summarize opinions like these, nothing will ever kill MS because nothing in the past have so far!

Open source os in rom (1)

halleluja (715870) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675397)

Nothing new, since I've seen efforts for years to open source the BIOS, which is basically an incomplete os.

fat chance (1)

ag3ntugly (636404) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675398)

those cheap "electronic" computers cant begin to play counter-strike: source, and untill they do i'll stick with my "Wintel" machine

Re:fat chance (1)

prr56 (661675) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675632)

The people using these type of comps are not worried about playing games on their comps, they are using them for actual work!

Mobiles, Mobiles! (4, Insightful)

cyberjessy (444290) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675403)

It seems that while we are debating various MS killer technologies, MS has itself identified the most likely cause of the weakening of its desktop dominance. Mobile Phones and devices. MS has been late in entering the sector (reminds me of the internet), but then the OS has caught up, or surpassed the others in most areas. The new Windows CE 5.0 is pretty solid.

If we analyze the submission, the main reasons why people would switch to solid state devices would be

1. Price
2. You don't need a PC to send mails and make documents
3. Compactness and looks better
4. Easier to use

But if these are the factors, wouldn't mobile devices be way way easier than these computing appliances? And guess what, MS has an even better chance at capturing the market than anything else with XBox 360, which is now a multimedia + entertainment + communication ... yeah and gaming console.

The reasons why people would use PCs would be
1. Powerful machine (For games, multimedia, programming etc etc)
2. Developers, Power users
3. Upgradeability
4. and most importantly, they prefer a PC for some reason.

By the way, about the $220 Mobilis, I don't see it as any different from the Simputer (which was yet another Slashdot favorite, and also from India) but failed to make any waves. IAAI, and I have not seen a Simputer, except at a trade show.

Nobody could get a simputer (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675510)

And it is a relatively niche device anyway. The Mobilis devices are far more general purpose mainstream devices, the developers are starting to get their marketing right.

It's a powerful proposition at the prices they are suggesting. If it's retailing at $220 (£120) it's about 1/3 to 1/2 the price of anything similar here in the UK.

Re:Mobiles, Mobiles! (1)

Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675644)

The reason mobile phones will never overtake or even come close replacing computers is pretty simple... my eyesight is damaged enough from 21" CRT displays, I don't need to be peering myopically at a little 3" screen. And carpal tunnel syndrome will be the least of your worries if you have to type out most of your everyday work on a thumb pad...

Yipe! (3, Insightful)

DingerX (847589) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675411)

Now, I too grew up with computers where every byte in memory was fond to me, and many of them I knew personally, but this rant makes my ears bleed.

The Crimes:
A) ALL CAPS (almost) ALL THE TIME
B) Flameworthy headline reminiscent of a Babelfish treatment: (BIG NEWS ON USA MICROSOFT: Slavery to It Is Ending
C) No real news in what follows the "Big News" headline.
D) Anti-Microsoft tied to anti-Americanism without even a thin veil of sophistication:
Beware of the US spies at the USAID and beware Microsoft's so-called "Local Economic Development Program for Software," which is insurgent in Brazil and Jordan.)

Why not say: "BIG NEWS: THE WORLD WILL CHANGE FROM BASE. WE ARE NOTHING -- Let Us Be Everything?"
E) OS HISTORY -- GROWING LIKE TOPSY
F) Okay, now let me get this right: all US corporations, including Sun (praised and damned in the same rant) are evil, or can be evil, but Walmart is good?
G) Mentioning that Car Lots have a 108-day supply of SUVs. I don't even know where to begin with that.

I mean, I hate M$ as much as the next guy, but that is the nuttiest troll of an article I've seen in a while.

Daily dose of slashdot lame stories (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675412)

Slashdot is becoming the #1 lame site on the internet when it comes to everything containing the word "Microsoft". Can't you stop posting all that Anti-Microsoft crap? We all know that this is always pure wrong speculation. We don't care if some poor countries make Linux-ready computers, that won't kill Microsoft. It's like saying Internet Explorer is dying cause 10% of the people (the geek ones) are using Firefox. And don't forget that Microsoft is NOT Windows. Windows is just one of their 2 biggest products (the other one being Microsoft Office). So even if people would start switching to something else massively (that will never happen anyway), Microsoft wouldn't die. Never forget all these workers that use Microsoft Office everyday. They will never switch to OO.org (even v2). Mainly because it's not ready for wide use and because these people are too dumb to learn how to use softwares themselves: they need training ($$$). Anyway, in real life, most people fully agree that Windows is much easier to use than Linux. Linux is NOT ready for desktop usage. So why people would switch? Money? no, too much trouble. Even the vast majority of the Free Software people are still using Windows (you don't believe me? goto sf.net and take a look at the TOP Downloads. Alot of Windows-only projects). So stop dreaming kids, It won't happen.

Re:Daily dose of slashdot lame stories (2, Interesting)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675463)

I wouldn't say that large numbers of people will never change to something else. I would be absolutely shocked if microsoft still dominate the market in 2100 in the way they did in 2000 (i wouldn't be suprised if they still exist, but I wouldn't be suprised if they don't either).

It's the nature of things that the status quo always changes, given long enough. But I do agree that the modern so-called MS-Killers aren't anything of the kind.

(I'm a long-term Linux user thinking of switching to a mac soon - and my non-technical friends have mostly been converted oover to Linux or MacOS at this point - but I don't think it's likely to happen to everyone anytime soon)

Re:Daily dose of slashdot lame stories (1)

eleitl (251761) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675601)

Yes, I'm sick and tired of reading mainstreap crap
on Slashdot.

Yes, just as you I got a "Troll -1" mod on my post, and negative mana to boot. Well, at least no more hassles to excersie meta-moderation.

guy throws around silly assertions (2, Informative)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675418)

From TFA: "...has its OS on chips -- where, by the way, viruses can't get to them..."

Why would this stop a virus? Answer: It wouldn't.

BTW, he doesn't tout the success of the Walmart PC, he just notes it's existance. Who said it's successful?

Re:guy throws around silly assertions (1)

Snotboble_ (13797) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675562)

If the OS is on a R/W flash, the malware *can* get to the OS. You could make the flash R/O. Then the occasional security updates - which are needed to stop malware getting to the machine in the first place - can't get to the OS either.

[sarcasm]Clever...[/sarcasm]

Article Misses Point, Death by Thousand Cuts (0, Troll)

putko (753330) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675419)

The author misses the point a bit. MicroSoft is getting into the embedded devices, as much as they can. Just check out this [windowsfordevices.com]. MicroSoft can and is responding to the threat of cheap appliance hardware, by making sure their stuff winds up on those boxes. I'm horrified that so many phones/PDAs are running windows.

Microsoft made the jump from the 8-bit processors (don't even remember their numbers) to 64-bit processors. If they can move into embedded/Risc stuff, we're stuck with them for the next few decades.

That being said, the big threat to MicroSoft is from stuff like this [slashdot.org] and this [google.com] -- these are threats that attack microsoft's franchise, but the only way they can compete is to play by the rules of the other guys: start giving away cheap computers that run Windows (and "just work" -- yeah, right, Billy! Hahahaha!), or start giving away web services that undercut their income-generating software. They have very low odds in these contests, considering that it does not fit with their "play to their strength" strategy to date (obligatory Borg reference).

Re:Article Misses Point, Death by Thousand Cuts (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675509)

Microsoft made the jump from the 8-bit processors (don't even remember their numbers) to 64-bit processors. If they can move into embedded/Risc stuff, we're stuck with them for the next few decades.

The first version of DOS ran on the 8088, which was a 16-bit CPU (with an 8-bit external bus). The first versions of Windows NT (the oldest ancestor of current Windows versions) ran a variety of CPUs, including i386, Alpha and MIPS.

WinCE has been available on a number of hardware platforms, including some RISC systems, for quite some time.

Network effect in embedded systems (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675544)

The network effect with embedded systems is relatively minor, they are generally fairly custom systems with fixed applications. So MS getting involved in embedded systems doesn't bother me much. There's also fairly competent and fierce competition in those markets and Linux is there too.

I think you're right about Google, they are going to change the face of the IT industry. Think Arkwright, think Ford. The software and hardware costs have dropped to the point that Google scale IT systems become the economic solution.

PC with the kernel in ROM (1)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675421)

What? A PC with it's entire OS in ROM?

They tried that in the Commodore 64. And back then, the entire kernel (all 8K of it) was in ROM. Actually a bastardized version of MS-BASIC wound up with it's own ROM as well in that system.

It was fun to crash C64 BASIC with PRINT""+-0

Re:PC with the kernel in ROM (1)

Ziviyr (95582) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675443)

AmigaOS had its kernel+stuff in ROM too.

Hence its fast boot times. The Amiga 600 was claimed to be instant on (never saw it in action though).

Solid State PC + google (2, Interesting)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675428)

Give me a solid state PC WITHOUT harddisk (now that should drop the price a little). Give it some flash for local settings. Hook it up to the net and use GMAIL, a webversion of Picasa, and let me use some of those 2 Gbytes to store wordprocessor documents. It would be good enough for my mother, and no virus/worm/spyware on earth would be able to get to it. Hell, it wouldn't need a firewall or AV. Combine it with a flatscreen which I can also use as TV. How much would that cost?

Re:Solid State PC + google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675580)

2GB of FLASH cost about the price of a 80GB HD. You cannot run swap on FLASH without wearing it out.

Re:Solid State PC + google (1)

TimberManiac (851670) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675616)

It would be good enough for my mother...
First up... it won't be good enough for your mother. Unless you're mother is already tech savvy, then you just plain don't have a point. Simply making the machine a thin client will not resolve any existing HCI woes your average 50 -80 year old has.
...and no virus/worm/spyware on earth would be able to get to it. Hell, it wouldn't need a firewall or AV.
Ok, a worm/virus/spyware app doesn't need lots of hard disk space to do nasty things. All it needs is a local vulnerability to exploit (or your mothers mistaken consent in the spyware case), memory to live in and a processor to run on. Then it can spam its little heart out / corrupt your flash based storage / steal your personal details for as long as the machine is up. Making the machine a thin client does not remove the need for security. In fact it increases the need, as almost all the work done on the machine is being sent over the web to GMail or your web based version of Picassa.
It would be good enough for my mother, and no virus/worm/spyware on earth would be able to get to it. Hell, it wouldn't need a firewall or AV. Combine it with a flatscreen which I can also use as TV. How much would that cost?
Or maybe I'm reading this all wrong, and these are you're specifications? In which case the answer to your question is 'a lot more than you think'.

Most Would Like To See End of All Software (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675429)

Cheap throwaway computers are at least as likely to be sold by Microsoft as anyone else, probably more likely.

As for the "end" of proprietary software, not likely. What most people would really like to see is the end of software, proprietary or not. Most people don't want to install new software. From their rather logical perspective, software is as much a part of the machine they bought as the hard drive.

I really think most people would be quite happy to buy a computer that never needed new software at all, including updates.

Re:Most Would Like To See End of All Software (1)

DaEMoN128 (694605) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675615)

I am sure... with some engineering.... that the os would still be upgradeable. The os is on a rom chip. Who says you couldnt buy a new rom chip... with a panel on a side (any of them) where you can easily replace the chip.... instant upgrade. It'd be like running a couple of word processors I had on the C64. Slap a cartridge in the back and have it boot off the cartridge. New os on a cartridge, but where would we write our personal data... make em eeproms?

Why "MS Killer" ? (2, Interesting)

cablepokerface (718716) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675446)

Why so often the discussions about who/what will be the MS killer? Surprisingly, these stories always somehow assume that MS will stand completely still in progress/development until this holy grail hits the market.

Does it really matter anyway? Do we want microsoft gone? Let's say there is no microsoft anymore from this very day on. Does the industry improve? Try not to respond emotionally, but think about it.

Re:Why "MS Killer" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675636)

"Surprisingly, these stories always somehow assume that MS will stand completely still in progress/development until this holy grail hits the market."

They don't really. They simply try to make the argument that a certain developement can/will hurt MS' current bussiness model. Now of course MS is free to reinvent itself, but that's beside the point, as the article, or articles like it try to argue the end of MS as we know it.

"Do we want microsoft gone?"
I of course can't speak for us, but yes, I'd like MS to be gone, or rather, it like the MS monopoly and their stranglehold on the market gone.

"Let's say there is no microsoft anymore from this very day on. Does the industry improve?"
That's a strawman, as nobody is talking about MS disappearing right here, right now (which wouldn't be very feasible anyway, as they have a near monopoly in several markets).
And btw., what exactly do you mean by "the industry"? I wasn't aware that there is such a monolithic entity.

Anyway, yes, I think MS at least being reduced to maybe an important player, but a player among others, not a company that is killing of competition using its monopolies would benefit "the industry", technological progress and consumers.

Regarding Indymedia... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675455)

I suggest taking stories in Indymedia with a grain of salt. All the stories I've seen on those sites this far are extremely anti-capitalistic, anti-authoritarian and generally very elitistic (in the way that suggests people writing and reading the stories consider themselves the vanguard of neo-socialistic revolution, which elevates them above the laws and the society). When truth is subordinated to the service of dogma in this scale, reality tends to be a bystander.

Intel and microsoft (2, Insightful)

tezbobobo (879983) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675457)

Sure, and AMD will beat Intel. The facts of life are this, just as Intel will be the market leader for MANY years to come, so will microsoft. Idustry leaders like these have many diverse products. The power of microsoft extends beyond market domination. They have a range of software with interoperability far beyond any opposition (I'm writing this on a Mac). Office products just work together. The reason any other networks work is because they're trying to be compatible with windows. The VAST majority of software is written for windows.

This is a little like people who'll say China is catching up on America. They're correct, it sure is. In about 50 years they will have caught up.

If microsoft topples, it wont be because of free software - maybe aided but not because. Probably a company like Apple will take the lead over anyone else. They have a superior product, the benefits of open source, an appropriate business model.

I could go on but my dinner is ready... sorry!

brightly coloured pieces of plastic could kill ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675460)

microsoft ...

well they could you know

pricing ms out of the market (2, Interesting)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675461)

it's difficult to market a very cheap computer when there is a $30 to $80 Microsoft tax per machine.

It's in the nature of things that electronics approaches zero cost over time (I've got a $5 calculator that has more features than the $100 one I bought five years ago.) MS can't follow hardware down in price without affecting profits.

MS won't die. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675465)

MS won't die, not during most of our lifetimes anyway, they are far far too big and have too much money. They will simply lose a *load* of money before changing what they do to fit in with the new market conditions, a bit like IBM. They'll lose their monopoly and dominant position and will have to compete like the rest of us.

The only way they would die is if they refused to move with the times, and the shareholders won't allow that.

It happens more often than not (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675548)

The latest innovation guru is Clayton Christensen. He has studied several industries to try to find out why market dominant companies fail. He found that they usually succumb to 'disruptive' technology. A smaller competitor enters a small unimportant part of the market and slowly takes over because the larger company is stuck with an inappropriate 'value network'. Open source is such a disruptive technology.

See: The Innovator's Dilemma, Cristensen, Clayton.

Instant On ala 1985 (1, Interesting)

martijnd (148684) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675534)

[Rant]
My old Toshiba MSX (1.0) booted within seconds. Loading 64Kb of word processing software from tape took a little longer; but you could stick in ROM cartridges and be playing instantly at a blazing 3.5Mhz.

So a PC look a like that gets me working after just pressing the "ON" button and doesn't have a dumb "SHUT DOWN" sequence (power off should be good enough) gets my money.

At the moment I just never turn a PC off anymore so that I have the ability to do things when I want them without having enough waiting time to boil a kettle of water.
[/Rant]

we're not losing proprietary software anytime soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675556)

anyone who thinks otherwise is behind naive. until we live in the Star Trek Era where we're one entire planet and not individual countries it ain't gonna happen. so lay off the blunts and the group meditations.

What is needed to replace the PC... (0)

xirtam_work (560625) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675558)

are cheap low power displays that can fold up, such as electronic paper, etc. that we've all been told about. If you look at the simputer and all the other desktop PC replacements that are touted as the 3rd world's answer to computing they either use a TFT/LCD screen or a big bulky monitor.

If you could have a device the size of a text book that could fold open and be used as a computer that wasn't expensive (so no sony vaio's) and didn't draw a lot of power (so it could be charged cheaply via solar power) then you've moved a long way towards universal computer access.

The actual operating system these machine will use is irrelevant. Yes they will probably be an open source OS available, but that's not stopping the likes of IBM, MS, Sun, Apple, Sony, Palm, Symbian, etc. making an OS for such a device and it shouldn't either.

MS angle not nearly as interesting as the onward (2, Insightful)

Senor_Programmer (876714) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675561)

march of the appliance.

Computer as appliance will eventually lead to, as it has with all appliances, a huge reduction in both specialized workers and people who become motivated to understand how a thing works.

How many people these days understand how NTSC color encoding works while retaining compatibility with black and white sets? I suspect there are fewer than three /. readers capable of a cogent, concise explanation, without reference materials.
How many know how to rebraid the end of aworn buggy whip?

When understanding is no longer necessary, people, for the most part and even if capable, don't bother. The result? Perhaps a slowdown in software innovation. Perhaps an increase in other pursuits where understanding is required to get anything interesting done.

b

Endless Opportunities (3, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675564)

The opportunities are endless. They could put it into a waterproof box and let it run the fuel injection system in a low cost automobile -- made in India, of course. And with a little screen, they could combine it with a GPS receiver to make a "portable map" for fishermen and hikers. And maybe it could include a calendar and address book (all open source) and call it a "personal digital assistant". And games -- good gosh, the games it could play. Does Nintendo know about this?

Finally a home computer after 20 years! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675582)

Most people do not remember the days that there used to be computers desiged for home use, the likes of Sinclair, Amiga, ST and so forth. In the 80's they used to be the majority of the computers produced. But they failed to compete with price and development with PC clone makers. Now we are in the situation that we have computers designed solely for accountants and managers where the software is actually completely divorced in terms of design from the hardware, in short the mess that everyone knows that is microsoft. Only brave survivor is Apple (they should own something as they invented the personal computer) but they are for media and high end home users, not aimed at mass marked (I am an OSX user by the way).
So why should the mass market, the home users, use systems designed solely for accountants and managers that were retrofitted for home use? What we need is a computer that have been desiged from ground up for home use with hardware closely designed with software. In short a mass market Apple. Linux could be and has been shown to be the operating system for this dream as it is inexpensive, well supported and customzable as it has been shown in cunsumer products as some DVD players and TiVO style boxes.
Hope we have real home computers comming back soon, has been a while.

CHECK YOUR FACTS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675588)

I like how the writer prophesies about the day computer production is not done in the US... COMING SOON!
And how any "using a computer" is "a slave to MS".
I knew there was a reason IndyMedia had to stay Indy.

Can Bill Gates change his old strategy? (1)

nektra (886676) | more than 8 years ago | (#12675629)

The business cases are full of companies with difficult to change their minds when time changes, some examples are IBM and Cray. The question is if Microsoft can detach from his original idea of one PC in each home (with windows operating system only!) to a more strategic one.
Like in board games Microsoft needs to sacrifice some pieces and try to win the match changing to another strategy.

Yeah, OK. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#12675639)

This whole article is a troll and has obviously been written by someone who does not remember the
Apple II, Commodore 64, and has never owned any of the more recent "cheap" computers with embedded OSs. Palm pilots anyone, Pocket PCs.
The idea that a $200 computer could kill Microsft is laughable, it's like saying my "Blackberry" will take out Microsoft because it has a free embedded OS. The only thing to get from this article is that the writer is obviously very young as he doesn't remember the past when PCs where big bucks and a C64-C128 cost about $200, had built in sound and was faster. I am disgusted that this article made it to the front page of slashdot but because the author proclaims embedded linux will kill Microsoft.
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