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Moore's Law Is Microsoft's Latest Enemy

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the eee-running-aero-yeh-right dept.

Portables 395

Glyn Moody writes "Until now, the received wisdom has been that GNU/Linux will never take off with general users because it's too complicated. One of the achievements of the popular new Asus Eee PC is that it has come up with a tab-based front end that hides the complexity. But maybe its real significance is that it has pushed down the price to the point where the extra cost of using Microsoft Windows over free software is so significant that ordinary users notice. As Moore's Law drives flash memory prices even lower, can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?"

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Moore's law has nothing to do with price (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664550)

Moore's law pertains to transistor density, not price.

It's such a well-known thing that anyone who makes the inference that Moore's law has anything to do with price is an idiot.

Pertains to density at a given price (5, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664608)

Moore's law pertains to transistor density, not price.
The quotation in the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] implies that Moore's law pertains to density at a given price: "The complexity for minimum component costs has increased at a rate of roughly a factor of two per year" (my emphasis).

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (-1, Flamebait)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664656)

I don't think I'd be using Wikipedia as a source... It's not that reliable, you know?

Here's a choice quote [wikipedia.org] from the page you gave: "Steven Moore was a well known ultra-Zionist that was known to make romantic passes at goats."

Yeah, don't think I'm going to take Wikipedia at face value, thanks.

Why don't you actually read the Wikipedia article? (5, Interesting)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664816)

You're impugning the credibility of Wikipedia as a way of dismissing anything that contradicts your argument, rather than dealing with the matter head on. That's intellectually dishonest, and a lazy, stupid way to argue.

Also, if you'd bothered to look at the article, you'd find that the quote provides a citation, and that citation points to a PDF file of the article in which Moore made the statement in question:

ftp://download.intel.com/museum/Moores_Law/Articles-Press_Releases/Gordon_Moore_1965_Article.pdf [intel.com]

In short, you lose on both style and substance.

Yeah, but (4, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665230)

he wins in jackassory!

Re:Yeah, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665366)

Heh heh heh.

BAG

Re:Why don't you actually read the Wikipedia artic (2, Funny)

iago-vL (760581) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665284)

I seriously thought you meant the line about goats. I was trying to search that PDF for "zionist" and "goat" and wondering why I couldn't find it!

Sorry to post twice, but thanks for the (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665364)

link.

"With unit cost falling as the number of components per
circuit rises, by 1975 economics may dictate squeezing as
many as 65,000 components on a single silicon chip
Certainly over the short term this rate
can be expected to continue, if not to increase."

oh know, not 65,000! heh, I love how times have changed.

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664874)

Yeah... blatant lies are a great way to get taken seriously.

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (4, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664928)

It's too bad we are talking about Gordon Moore, and not steve Moore.

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (4, Insightful)

Evanisincontrol (830057) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665016)

Here's a choice quote from the page you gave: "Steven Moore was a well known ultra-Zionist that was known to make romantic passes at goats."

The text you describe appears nowhere in the article [wikipedia.org] for Moore's Law. This should come as no surprise, since Moore's Law is named after Gordon Moore, not Steven Moore.

I figured that would have at least gone to the trouble to vandalize the article yourself and add in such garbage. However, a quick look at the page's history [wikipedia.org] shows that you did not even go to the trouble to do that. (not that it matters; vandalism on Wikipedia is typically reverted in under a minute.)

Congratulations, you are not only a liar, but you are also lazy. Please take your poorly made strawman arguments elsewhere.

So... (2, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665416)

Gordon Moore worked at black Mesa,
and Steve Moore was rebuilt faster and stronger.

Wait...

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (0, Redundant)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665226)

I don't think I'd be using Wikipedia as a source... It's not that reliable, you know?
Others have pointed out the fallacy of your ad hominem argument. But I'm not quoting a random Wikipedia editor; I'm quoting Gordon Moore. Google provides a list of other web pages apart from Wikipedia containing the same quotation [google.com] . Which quotation repository that you consider more reliable than Wikipedia or Wikiquote would you recommend that I use?

Here's a choice quote [wikipedia.org] from the page you gave: "Steven Moore was a well known ultra-Zionist that was known to make romantic passes at goats."
If your concern is that somebody could edit the Wikipedia article to insert such a statement, you might prefer a permanent link to the revision that I used [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Pertains to density at a given price (5, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665022)

But Wikipedia is not accurate! Uncyclopedia says [uncyclopedia.org]

Moore's Law
Moore's Law was enacted by the Florida legislature in 1999. This law makes it a felony to posess or sell any film or documentary produced by Michael Moore. Moore's Law had its beginnings when a Florida Legislator heard some old Geezer complain about the damned kids on his lawn saying "there ought to be a law" and told his fellow congressthings that the old guy had said "we need more laws." As all the legislators are hearing aid wearing geezers themselves, they took this to mean that Michael Moore should be outlawed. Florida Governor Jeb Clampett, President George Clampett's brother, signed the law so quickly that the friction of the pen caught the paper on fire and the law had to be passed again.

Many slashdot nerds believe that Moore's law has something to do with computers, but this is patently false.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (3, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664612)

you're being too pedantic, the styling of Moore's law can be applied to progress of most anything, (from the Ford model A to the Ford Mustang for example, not just transisters)...

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (5, Funny)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665120)

Moores law can also be applied to the correlation between the increase in ones Unix knowledge, and the corresponding decrease in ones attractiveness to the opposite sex.

Dammit.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664616)

Moore's law pertains to transistor density, not price.

It's such a well-known thing that anyone who makes the inference that Moore's law has anything to do with price is an idiot.
Moore's Law is strongly correlated with price. For about the same price, you can double the number of transistors every 18-24 months, *or* you can keep the same amount of transistors for less cost, or some combination thereof.

In fact, the relation between Moore's Law and price is so well known, that I'd say anyone who thinks it has *nothing* to do with price is the idiot...

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664618)

You're right... as transistors get smaller, and flash drives get larger capacity, it stands to reason that the price per KB stays completely static. That's how the economy works!

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (1, Informative)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664626)

One of the formulations says "Twice the computing power for the same price every 18 months".

You fail it.

it's called a corollary (5, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664648)

an excerpt....
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free?currentPage=2 [wired.com]
"WASTE AND WASTE AGAIN
Forty years ago, Caltech professor Carver Mead identified the corollary to Moore's law of ever-increasing computing power. Every 18 months, Mead observed, the price of a transistor would halve. And so it did, going from tens of dollars in the 1960s to approximately 0.000001 cent today for each of the transistors in Intel's latest quad-core. This, Mead realized, meant that we should start to "waste" transistors."

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22664652)

Wait, you also have to show that there's no connection between transistor count and the ability to run Windows, or that there's no connection between transistor density and price, otherwise Moore's Law does definitely translate into cheaper hardware that can run Windows.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (3, Informative)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664674)

Moore's law does pertain to transistor density, but anyone who doesn't see the relationship between the two is just as silly. Increasing transistor densities invariably mean price drops for the previous generation of chips, and since the power/capacity of chips is growing more rapidly than the needs of devices, especially in the ultraportable segment, it is not at all surprising that the chip prices for those devices see a corresponding drop.

Moore's law may pertain to transistor density, but increasing transistor density indirectly affects the price of chips at lower transistor densities.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (1)

notorious ninja (1137913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664696)

You might want to read this [intel.com] (warning: PDF)

With unit cost falling as the number of components per circuit rises, by 1975 economics may dictate squeezing as many as 65,000 components on a single silicon chip

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22664962)

>Moore's law pertains to transistor density, not price.

Wrong. The two are closely related.

Moore's law pertains to a lot of things. The passage of time, price, density, CPU power, power consumption...

Not all of these things are explicitly mentioned in Moore's law, but they all fall out of it, and are thus pertinent.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22664988)

Mod parent down for not knowing what the hell he is talking about and being, in general, a giant douche, if you please. Thank you, that is all.

Re:Moore's law has nothing to do with price (2, Informative)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665040)

Moore's law pertains to transistor density, not price.

It implicitly refers to transistor density at a given price. You've been to get $200 computers for many years, and Moore's law means that you can now get $200 laptops capable of running Linux and a GUI.

FYI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665152)

Writing posts that preemptively insult anyone who would disagree is not a good way of earning respect.

The Year of Linux on the Ultraportable? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22664552)

Hahahahahah.

Linux will never be a mainstream operating system, because it is at best usable, and generally unusable for most users.

How do you play mp3s on one of these Linux "computers"? You don't.

Re:The Year of Linux on the Ultraportable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665012)

Double click on your mp3 file, click on 'ok' a few times if it decides to install codecs (this will only happen on the first mp3 you try to play), hear your mp3.

Yes? Is this a question? (2, Insightful)

realthing02 (1084767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664584)

Familiarity is worth $200 to a lot of people. Besides, if this becomes the case, I'd have to imagine we won't be seeing vista or whatever windows system there is being sold for the same price.

Familiarity isn't worth that much (5, Insightful)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664986)

Familiarity is worth $200 to a lot of people.

A lot less people all the time. Every single electronic gizmo nowadays has its own menu system, along with half the websites and such. People are used to learning slightly different interfaces all the time these days, 'familiarity' is much less of a barrier. And then there's the fact that Vista's Aero interface isn't all that familiar to XP-users compared to the latest Linux systems, anyway.

There are still plenty of dealbreakers - niche Windows-only software - but those niches are shrinking, and 'familiarity' alone isn't enough to save Windows forever.

Re:Yes? Is this a question? (5, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665098)

But it's starting to become more than $200. With the hardware requirements of Vista, you have to buy a much more expensive computer, just to get the same usability. I bought a laptop that runs Linux. It cost me $500. To get a machine that runs Vista just as well, I'm looking at spending $1000, at least.

Re:Yes? Is this a question? (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665332)

I bought a laptop that runs Vista for $300 (+$40 in RAM). It runs it well. I write code, play MMO games, etc. Vista's not as bad as the FUD'ers make it out to be.

Re:Yes? Is this a question? (1)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665340)

I bought one of those Dell Ubuntu machines and it seems to handle Vista Ultimate fine for the little bit I've used it. I spend almost all of my time on my Linux partition though.

Maybe If They Ran Windows 3.1? (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664590)

That was fairly crash proof, and it has hardware requirements that my engineering calculator can muster,

Re:Maybe If They Ran Windows 3.1? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665190)

Windows 3.1 was only crash free until you started running applications on it. After that all bets were off. Installing anything but the most standard hardware (cpu, memory, motherboard, keyboard, mouse) could be a problem too, especially with things that required more than a minimal amount of driver support (like sound cards).

Eee PC vs. REAL UMPCs (-1, Troll)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664592)

The Eee sucks big time. Unusable piece of crap has less than 1024 px horizontal res == not suitable for web surfing.

Gimme any of those VAIOs with 1280x600 or such for $3000, at least it's worth SOMEthing. (Not at that tortured extortion price, of course, but they're usable.)

Re:Eee PC vs. REAL UMPCs (4, Insightful)

Selfbain (624722) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664640)

If you have $3000 to blow on a laptop then you're not the target market for the Eee in the first place making your comment irrelevant.

Re:Eee PC vs. REAL UMPCs (5, Interesting)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664730)

For a portable email, quick document, travel internet browser this $400 "piece of crap" is the perfect solution in a hostile environment. I won't let my 11 year old touch the Vaio with my business on it, but when traveling in the car and checking hotels, he can do this easily with this little gadget. When dropped (it is actually more durable than the Vaio) and broken, I am only out a few hundrend and am not stuck with a multi thousand dollar pile of junk. I have no problem sending this "piece of crap" with my kid to school for a project. Would you send a $3000 Vaio with your 11 year old son?

Everex has now come out with the Cloudbook (Linux) at WalMart so, now it is being exposed to the masses. The revolution is starting!

Re:Eee PC vs. REAL UMPCs (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664786)

Unusable piece of crap has less than 1024 px horizontal res == not suitable for web surfing.

Sites with fixed layouts that cannot accommodate browsers with screen widths under 1 kilopixel == not suitable to be web surfed.

Switching costs of using a different web site? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664898)

Sites with fixed layouts that cannot accommodate browsers with screen widths under 1 kilopixel == not suitable to be web surfed.
Web sites of providers with prohibitive switching costs == mandatory to be web surfed. These include government agencies, government-granted monopolies (such as public utilities with a municipal franchise), natural monopolies (such as the only bank with a branch in your town), and your employer (would you really want to quit your job over a mere fixed layout and have to endure another months-long period of unemployment?).

Re:Switching costs of using a different web site? (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665046)

If my employer expects me to use such a website on the move, he'll be the one paying for my laptop. And so he'll be the one buying me an expensive, Windows-running quick thing. I no longer care whether such poor design has been implemented, although if I know the team responsible I'd have a polite word anyway; it's genuinely poor design.

I've never met an example of any of the others that did such a ludicrous thing, so it hadn't occured to me that they might be an issue.

Besides, who uses the Eee as their only machine? It's absolutely perfect for its intended job, which is a cheap, ultra-portable toy for situations you wouldn't want to have either a hulking desktop or a painfully expensive 'proper' laptop with you anyway.

Slashdot (4, Funny)

hotsauce (514237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664596)

Only on Slashdot would an article ask if Windows can compete with Linux.

*Shakes head*

Get out of mom's basement once in a while, guys.

Re:Slashdot (1)

tristian_was_here (865394) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664910)

What outside!? Mingle with real people!? You must be joking!

Re:Slashdot (5, Insightful)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664926)

100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell? It just is not sustainable to have every business, school, and government paying 1 provider of software for an operating system.

The school district I grew up at pays MS $400,000 every year for the software assurance program (and then $75,000 to Symantec to secure it). The total budget is about 150 Million. This can not be sustained.

Windows can not compete with Linux. That's why they use lock-in, FUD, etc.

Re:Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665014)

Why can't it be sustained? Why is .003% of the schools budget not acceptable to run software for all of the computers? Seems pretty cheap to me considering what you get for the money.

Re:Slashdot (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665242)

100 years from now. Do you thing proprietary software has a chance in hell? It just is not sustainable to have every business, school, and government paying 1 provider of software for an operating system.
Holy Mother of Gary Gygax! Are you for real? Proprietary software will be around as long as smart coders figure out they can live higher on the economical ladder by commercializing ("charging for") their creations. We don't live in a socialist utopia, and we will NEVER live in a socialist utopia.

Re:Slashdot (2, Insightful)

Locutus (9039) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664998)

Only on Slashdot would an article ask if Windows can compete with Linux.

*Shakes head*
And yet these low cost devices are constantly being offered only Microsofts 6 year old version of their operating system. That's right, out dated software instead of the latest as is the case with the Linux operating system and software on these devices. I just can't wait to see how the price of these devices go up when Microsoft pays them to put Windows Vista on them instead of Linux. But hey, what's another billion dollars or so spent to keep the ignorant shaking their heads?

And yes, I can shake my head too.

LoB

And advertising/capitalism is Linux's enemy (4, Interesting)

sqldr (838964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664598)

Namely, that with a closed source OS, vendors are being paid by software companies to install reams and reams of crapware on your system. When (eg) Dell installs Linux, they lose that revenue, which on a $200 unit, is a significant portion.

Re:And advertising/capitalism is Linux's enemy (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664824)

You will see reams and reams of crapware installed on linux PCs too if it ever takes off. Even Apple can't resist pushing their .Mac at you and putting some trial applications on the machine.

XP on EEE (2, Insightful)

copious28 (983855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664630)

Asus is already has an XP model overseas, and it is coming to the US. They have created a smaller footprint for the OS, so I dont see any barriers...

Windows XP will soon go out of print (4, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664818)

Asus is already has an XP model overseas, and it is coming to the US. They have created a smaller footprint for the OS, so I dont see any barriers...
Microsoft has stated that it will put the System Builder version of Windows XP on a sales moratorium from January 31, 2009 [microsoft.com] , through December 31, 2096 [wikipedia.org] . (The sales moratorium for the retail and OEM versions starts seven months earlier.) After January 31, 2009, the least resource-intensive version of the Windows operating system that continues to be available from Microsoft to the public will be Windows Vista, and I doubt that using Windows Vista on a subnotebook will become economic by that date. How many of these computers can Asus and its partners ship by the end of January of next year?

Re:Windows XP will soon go out of print (1)

copious28 (983855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665060)

Its a niche market to begin with, though the EEE has been wildly successful. M$ has backed off these dates before. Vista was never designed to be a top performer on anything but the fastest hardware, so yes, you are correct in saying that a subnotebook of this caliber will not support it. But XP started out bloaty as well, and they improved its performance...maybe they will get the hint that they should improve Vista. Who knows...

Yes. (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664632)

Yes, they can compete. Well, if then can turn a profit on $20 Windows licenses.

For something as useful as a computer, a $20 price difference isn't a significant motivator, especially for someone facing some unknown amount of transition cost.

Re:Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665318)

$20 a significant motivator on a $100 computer.

Flexibility Not Price (4, Interesting)

WesternTreefrog (1159569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664660)

It's not price that cripples Microsoft in the mobile market, it's flexibility. As anyone who's used a Pocket PC or Windows CE device knows, it's the chained to the desktop mentality that's killing them.

The inability (well, ok, extreme difficulty in) to skin/specialize the user interface is going to hurt them. Microsoft appears to be mentally permanently stuck in one-size-fits-all land. And to be fair, it would be really hard to let people customize as deeply as they need to without letting them muck with the deep details of your OS.

Re:Flexibility Not Price (5, Insightful)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664820)

And to be fair, it would be really hard to let people customize as deeply as they need to without letting them muck with the deep details of your OS.


Only because of how MS made its OS. Some OS's *cough*Linux*cough*BSD*cough* let you choose among dozens of different UI's without messing with the kernel.

eee-running-aero-yeh-right (1)

kerohazel (913211) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664682)

The "eee-running-aero-yeh-right department" line says it all.

If computer usage were truly based on activities average people needed to get done on a daily basis - reading email, surfing, basic word processing, etc. - then I might be inclined to agree with the article.

However, software producers have an incentive to keep tacking on new features, some useful, some just bells and whistles. The new features mean that consumers will always have to keep upgrading their computer just to do basic things.

You never know, though. From TFA:
"The first effects may already be being felt. Notably, last week Microsoft cut the cost of retail copies of Vista, apparently because people don't see it as a necessary upgrade at the prices charged."

Maybe people will smarten the fuck up a bit, to the point where they realize they don't have to get bloated "upgrades" requiring the latest and greatest hardware.

Re:eee-running-aero-yeh-right (1)

dens (98172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665148)

You never know, though. From TFA:
"The first effects may already be being felt. Notably, last week Microsoft cut the cost of retail copies of Vista, apparently because people don't see it as a necessary upgrade at the prices charged."
Yeah right, like that has anything to do with the Eee. That's just because Vista is a piece of crap, has nothing to do with anything else, really!

Plus, dropping memory prices makes running any OS cheaper.

The Intel Atom processor (1)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664694)

Intel has this [theregister.co.uk] new low power low cost x86 processor. This family of processors is not powerful enough to push through the Microsoft bloat ware. It must be intended for Linux systems!

Re:The Intel Atom processor (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665104)

It must be intended for Linux systems!

Despite recent events [slashdot.org] , I'm betting systems with this chip will have the "Vista Capable" logo. :-)

Shiny stickers sell systems!

Parent is incredibly insightful (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665182)

When half of the WinTel duopoly puts out a new processor two years after the introduction of the other half's latest operating system, that won't even run it, that is significant.

Microsoft should not have started OEM'ing AMD PCs in India with Zenith.

I think they don't (5, Insightful)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664714)

I don't think ordinary users notice. When I talk to my non-tech-savvy friends, they usually ask me if this or that price is right for a given computer, mostly without taking into cosideration its characteristics (Once a girl I know asked me if a 300 price tag for a laptop could be right, and when I asked for specs, she only replied "Acer"). Besides, we've got big PC stores here (like PC City) whose prices can be 50% more expensive than those you find in smaller, franchised, specialized shops, and they still sell the most.

So no, ordinary users will judge the price based on how awesome the salesman tells them it is (and, of course, if it doesn't come with Windows, don't bother calling it a PC, please, it just confuses them).

Re:I think they don't (1)

alx5000 (896642) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664764)

And that 300 were meant to be Euros, but Slashdot likes them so much, it won't give them away, or even show them.

$3 is not significant on a $200 computer (3, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664718)

MS had a $3 XP license in the 3rd world for awhile. If they did that worldwide and cooperated with these low-end PC vendors it would short-circuit the Linux retail-price advantage.

Re:$3 is not significant on a $200 computer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665166)

And it would short-circuit Microsoft's share holders in the long run whom they answer to.

If need be, they'll give windows away (4, Interesting)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664722)

The point has already been made that these linux-based minicomps may not be as accessible as you might like - having never used one, I'll just give the benefit of the doubt that they successfully fill the needs cheaply. If they don't play mp3s now, they'll do so sooner or later.

  Microsoft can make money on windows without charging for it; they can charge $15/copy for the minicomputer version. Microsoft has an endless number of strategies, which they will employ to keep market dominance for as long as they can.

  There will be a whole *series* of retrenchments. Microsoft is in a very powerful, very profitable place, so they will fight each retrenchment as hard as they can - but they're not stupid, they've got contingency plans to stay in the market and, frankly, to stay extremely profitable whatever happens. Put another way: they can compete with free, maybe not on a level playing field, but on the playing field that exists, and they intend to do so.

  Forcing them to compete, even on a biased field, is good for the rest of us, so I'm all for it. But driving MS out of any market segment is going to be extremely difficult.

MS strikes back (4, Interesting)

lixee (863589) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664736)

MS is using all its weight in anticipation of the problem. The new and upcoming Eee 900 for example, has been announced by Asus France as a Windows only version.

http://www.blogeee.net/2008/03/06/le-eeepc-900-uniquement-avec-windows-xp-dapres-asus-france/ [blogeee.net]

The good news is that the French customer is very well protected and forcing a software with a PC down their throat is illegal. So essentially, what will happen is thousands of geeks demanding reimbursement of the XP licenses. That oughta hit Asus really hard, and teach them a good lesson.

I read that Asus Germany announced a similar "forced sale", but can't seem to find the article.

Sure they can! (3, Insightful)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664740)

can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?

Sure they can! Sure, Linux is free, but Windows can be also made free. After all, it's not like it's not already amortized, or something. They can even _pay_ the PC makers to put Windows inside, if it's just in some models. Linux cannot really compete with that, can it?

Royalty-based Windows components (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664990)

Sure, Linux is free, but Windows can be also made free. After all, it's not like it's not already amortized, or something.
It's not fully amortized. Some patented technologies included in the Windows operating environment, such as MP3 audio coding, require Microsoft to pay a royalty per copy to a third party.

Operating SYSTEM, not environment (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665174)

For those of you just now getting out from under your rock; both the consumer and professional versions of Windows have been fully self-reliant operating systems (not a DOS-based "operating environment") since 2001 (XP release), and the professional line since the first WinNT release.

NT 5.1 is the OS. Windows XP is an environment. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665314)

For those of you just now getting out from under your rock; both the consumer and professional versions of Windows have been fully self-reliant operating systems (not a DOS-based "operating environment") since 2001 (XP release), and the professional line since the first WinNT release.
Windows NT 5.1 is the operating system. Windows XP is a distribution of Windows NT 5.1 that also includes things such as Windows Media Player that some would claim is not part of an operating system. For example, Windows XP N is a distribution of Windows that does not include Windows Media Player components.

Re:Sure they can! (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665082)

No, that's the whole point of the article. Microsoft can cut as many cheap deals with OEMs as they like (in certain sectors of the world these are already down to around $3 a copy, in a desperate bid to fight rampant piracy). But when the memory, disk and CPU footprint means the hardware itself needs to be $50-$100 more expensive than a thin Linux install just to hold and run everything, they struggle to compete.

Re:Sure they can! (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665146)

but Windows can be also made free.

How many of us would load Vista even if it was free?

Failure of Moore's law is more of a threat to MS (3, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664772)

Once CPU speeds cease to double every few years, competition becomes too complex to sustain a monopoly. Further increases in software performance and features will be done in many different ways - robust multithreading for multi-core CPUs, instruction sets more efficient than x86, use of GPU and CPU's vector unit for general computations, programable hardware with each application supplying Verilog-like code, distributed computing and of course plain old good code. It's impossible for one operating system or one application of a given category to be optimum in all these areas. Programming languages very different from C++, Java or .Net will be needed for good auto-parallelization, auto-vectorization and use of programable hardware. A market for a bare-bone, hand coded in C and assembler OS may once again develop if it allows a movie frame rendering app to run 30% faster when hardware performance is not anticipated to rise wildly in a couple of years.

Microsoft can not possibly maintain 10 operating systems with radically different code bases and programming interfaces. In fact it's likely that some use scenarios will be too specialized for a commercial company and will instead be realized by open-source coding by the prospective users. Eee-PC and OLPC are already more about failure of Moore's law that it's continuation. People want to have a cheap, light and silent notebook with extraordinary battery life, but the technology to run Vista+Aero on such a machine is not anywhere on the horizon. So it suddenly makes more sense to run Linux in order to have the hardware that the user wants.

Clear for a long time (5, Interesting)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664782)

It's been clear for many years that part of M$'s strategy has been to maintain a high overall cost of personal computing, and thereby ensure that they are getting a slice of a big pie. If the total cost of a computer falls - if the pie shrinks - their slice will shrink with it. Their strategy has therefore been to write software that requires more and more demanding hardware, not to offer enriched user experiences (as claimed) but rather as a rationalization for keeping costs up.

If a P3 500Mhz system was coded with the efficiency and elegance that prevailed on the Commodore 64, your OS and every application running would be so blazingly fast as to seem instantaneous, and with 1GB RAM you would not require a harddrive for anything except storing large image/music/video files. Instead, my early-generation P4 2ghz machine at work with 2GB of RAM chugs and sputters and stutters along and I can't wait to get home and use my 'powerful' personal machine that operates much faster. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Re:Clear for a long time (1)

downix (84795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664870)

Try the Genesi Efika sometime running MorphOS... I had the Pegasos with it and understand exactly what you're talking about.

Re:Clear for a long time (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665292)


If a P3 500Mhz system was coded with the efficiency and elegance that prevailed on the Commodore 64, your OS and every application running would be so blazingly fast as to seem instantaneous

That's probably true. The other effect is your applications would do 1/5 as much, and there'd be 1/5 the choices.

Programmers don't use processor and memory resources because they have some perverse need to use more and more resources. They do it because they can develop applications faster because they can develop applications faster by re-using code, working in memory-managed application, etc.

I do agree that Microsoft has pursued a "keep it expensive" strategy by using their monopoly power. The word processor and Spreadsheet haven't made any real improvements since at best Office 97, but the requirements keep going up. But the rest of the computing world has done the same thing. I can't really run a modern desktop Linux distribution like Ubuntu on a machine with 64 MB of memory. It might not be quite as aggressive as MS pursues, but the resource use is still prevalent.

Re:Clear for a long time (3, Insightful)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665398)

I keep hearing this mantra, but I think a lot of it is a case of people looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses. Do people really think that software was more efficient in the days of the Commodore 64?

I remember in the late 1980s, a fair number of games for the PC would take at least 3 minutes to start up, just to initialize look-up tables and pre-render sprites! In the early 1990s, Netscape would literally take more than 45 minutes to start up on his PC. In the mid 1990s, I remember seeing, for the first time in my life, a game rendered at more than 30fps.

My point is, people are a lot less patient these days with computers. No one in their right mind is going to wait a minute for an application to start up, and certainly not 45 minutes for a browser!

If you want to know how bad software was in the 1980s, try to run some software from the 1980s. I used to think like you do, that software was incredibly efficient and incredibly well written in the 1980s. Then I tried to run some software from the 1980s. A game from the 1980s often runs slower on today's hardware than today's games do. There are all sorts of ill-conceived hard coded limits in old games. Take software from the 1980s and try to run it on data sets measuring in the gigabytes: no dice.

Again, people expect more from their software today than they did from yesteryear. I'm extremely suspicious of people who say that old software is more efficient/better written than today's software. I've used software from the C64 age. Guess what: IT SUCKED.

rolling my eyes (3, Insightful)

dodgedodge (166122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664792)

Utter nonsense. The last paragraph illustrates perfectly why. 99% of the market does't want to customize their OS, they want apps. I can't believe 30 years later some people still don't get that.

This is 100% true. (3, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665068)

As long as Microsoft Office runs on Windows and doesn't run on Linux, Microsoft will be able to compete.

Maybe in ten years that won't be true. After all, I didn't really expect Word to overtake WordPerfect and other alternatives in the market the way it did back in the 90's... but even in that case, it's because something has happened to Office, not because of Moore's Law.

already started (1)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664810)

they will be forced to slash prizes. This already started [latimes.com] . It could even so far to give a basic version away for free to get people hooked.

received "wisdom" is wrong (2, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664846)

Until now, the received wisdom has been that GNU/Linux will never take off with general users because it's too complicated

I think you meant "perceived" wisdom. But in fact, I've installed Linux on several friend's PCs who had never used a computer before (Mandriva 8 IIRC). None of them have had any trouble whatever using it. In fact, I get fewer "how do I" phone calls from them with Linux/KDE than I did when their new machines were running Windows.

Gnu/Linux/KDE (and most likely Gnome as well, although since I haven't used it I can't say) is easier to use than Windows for a variety of reasons, the first being that stuff is put in logical places (at least with Suse and Mandriva) as opposed to Microsoft's way of putting stuff any old place. At least that's what it seems like; I can't see the logic of where Windows' stuff goes at all.

So please stop spreading this this FUD. It's simply not true. Windows is NOT easier to use than Linux.

Re:received "wisdom" is wrong (1)

Computershack (1143409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664912)

I've installed Linux on several friend's PCs who had never used a computer before (Mandriva 8 IIRC). None of them have had any trouble whatever using it. In fact, I get fewer "how do I" phone calls from them with Linux/KDE than I did when their new machines were running Windows.

So please stop spreading this this FUD. It's simply not true. Windows is NOT easier to use than Linux.
One can only assume from that that all they do is browse the web, send emails, listen to a few MP3's and do a bit of typing. I notice you said you installed which means you most likely did all the configuration thus making your comments about ease of use completely irrelevent. I bet non of them could install any software that came as a downloadable tar.

Compare to installation of Windows apps? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665070)

I notice you said you installed which means you most likely did all the configuration thus making your comments about ease of use completely irrelevent. I bet non of them could install any software that came as a downloadable tar.
Can comparable users of Windows install software that comes as a downloadable zip file, without the aid of some .exe or .msi installer?

Treo Palm vs Treo Windoze (1)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664854)

the Windows flavor of treos is fairly new and you definatly feel the price pressure... to the point I am not sure anyone than Exchange Server "push" Lock-ins are the only thing selling these things.

Treo 755p (palm) - 320x320 screen, 312mhz processor
Treo 750 (windows)- 240x240 screen (looks like crap compared to Palm), 300mhz processor
The windows version does have a persistant file system and the palm does not, which is nice if your battery and backup battery both die, but this has never happened in my 4 years of owning a treo.

The price difference? The windows one costs $100 more, for (imo vastly) inferior hardware.

No. (3, Funny)

xanadu-xtroot.com (450073) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664860)

"As Moore's Law drives flash memory prices even lower, can ultraportables running Microsoft Windows compete?"


No, it can't.

Here, on this laptop:
# du -sx /
4677115
# du -sx /home
2026303
# echo "4677115 - 2026303" | bc
2650812


(This is Gentoo so you need to subtract about 300M for the metadata caches,etc. Also, /usr/portage is on a seperate partition from hda1 and not included in that measurement.)

2 1/2 Gig. That's it. Sure I could slim it down more if needed (I don't really use timidi much at all, etc.).

That's for a FULL, USABLE Operating System. OOo, Full install of KDE, several other User things that make this machine (a near 9 year old laptop) a User's PC and not a "workstation".

Given that same space, Windows will get your machine to boot to a Desktop and that's about it. Linux will soar on flash drives, especially with them getting larger and cheaper. Windows (unless you run CE... :\ ) can not match that.

How Linux can compete with Windows (2, Insightful)

Wister285 (185087) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664880)

I'm sure it's been said many times here, but I think that it is really this simple:

+ Simplify the interface and make it usable
- As much as I love KDE, there are just too many options.
- GNOME needs to be more usable. Sometimes I think that it was made for 5 year olds.
- Once you get over the fact that Office 2007 is not Office 2003, Office 2007 is a good example of how to make things simple AND usable.

+ Get support from big companies that sell to schools

+ Increase interoperability with Windows applications

Linux is on its way and I think that Windows XP highlights just how far Linux has come. As much as it many not seem like it, Windows may have moved more towards Linux than vice versa. Linux developers need to understand what Apple has done. Linux is great, but I think that the people who develop it don't understand the people who actually use the products!

Re:How Linux can compete with Windows (2, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665094)

GNOME needs to be more usable. Sometimes I think that it was made for 5 year olds.

A lot of irony in this comment. The sign of a great UI is that the young and uninitiated can easy learn them.

Re:How Linux can compete with Windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665126)

KDE - too complicated
GNOME - too simple

There's no pleasing some people.

Actually, Moores' law is what keeps MS afloat (4, Insightful)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22664922)

If it wasn't for Moore's law, Linux would have long since caught up with them. Imagine if hardware hit a wall, and technology couldn't advance beyond say what existed in 2000 or 2005. Then MS couldn't sell a more complex OS or office suite, and customers would be "stuck" with Win 2000 XP. There would be security patches or hard tuned optimizations to make it a bit faster, but that would be it. They couldn't justify the release an expensive major update for existing customers. Users would dead end at office 2000 or office 2003, since there would be no incentive to update. Office 2007 and/or Vista would not run at all, or would run impossibly slow on such machines.

Eventually, Open Office and Linux would catch and match them feature for feature, so new customers would have no incentive to go with the proprietary solution, since their protocols would eventually be reverse engineered bug for bug, feature for feature, driver for driver. The only way MS keeps Linux at bay is by releasing new feature laden stuff that takes advantage of new, updated hardware.

My prediction: The end of Moore's law will herald the end of Microsoft.

new way of working argument is garbage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665024)

From the article "The price differential has been slight, and there has always been the problem of learning new ways of working." I have always hated this argument. Anyone moving from Windows 2000 to Windows XP to Windows Vista knows that it's quite different every time. So the switch to Linux isn't such a difference...

Really? (1)

dens (98172) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665202)

You're comparing the move from one version of Windows to another to the move from Windows to Linux?

Can you score me some of what you're smoking?

Industry Collusion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22665026)

Most of the industry is in collusion with Microsoft.

I predict that the next step will be a Microsoft OS Embedded in a flash ROM soldered onto the computer.

think about it, flash gets cheaper and cheaper, embedding windows becomes an option.

Welcome back to the days of cartridges and proprietary interfaces.

Signed BIOS's, Signed Cartridges, "Trusted Computing" everywhere.

Look at the X-Box, it's bascially a test run.

Welcome back to the mainframe era, and leasing your computer.

Don't worry, you will like it because you will have no choice. It will work just like your cellphone. You will pay whatever is asked of you, and accept mediocre service. Heck, it already works with Windows.

MS Enemy? (2, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665100)

What could Microsoft do to defeat such enemy? Just use the old, proven tactics to win, including:

- Put their own lawyers on the case. To extra effect, make Ballmer shout "Lawyers, Lawyers, Lawyers"
- Buy another law, rename to MS Law, include it with new versions of Vista for free, and put the Moore Law out of the market
- Patent something related to some of the words of the moore law, and sue anyone trying to use it
- Finance a dying company to sue Moore for prior art.
- Add some undocumented code in Windows, to make it stop working if the Moore law tries to come into effect (they already are doing a good work in this direction)

Simplicity does not mean usability (4, Interesting)

node 3 (115640) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665128)

The tabbed interface of the Eee PC is simpler, but that does not mean it's more usable. That's one of the big mistakes people make about the Mac. Mac OS X is more usable than Windows (as a general rule, YMMV), but it's not simpler. In many ways, OS X is much more complex than Windows, but that complexity is *managed*, not merely limited.

The main problem Linux faces is not that it's too complex, but that it's designed with a philosophy that tends to value "technologically correct" above all else. There are times when being less precise, less technically oriented, less detailed or less optioned is better for the human user, even if it is not as "true" to the computer itself. Apple seems to explicitly understand this, Microsoft seems to sort of intuit this without understanding it (so they don't make the right choices, but they realize such choices need to be made, which is better than nothing), while on Linux, this seems to be poorly understand, and often seen as a negative.

With most cases of usability efforts on Linux, it's often just trying to copy (and improve upon) some existing system (GIMP vs Photoshop, KDE vs Windows, GNOME vs Mac OS (classic), etc.), it's an attempt to be more usable for admin-types (dselect, aptitude, etc.), or--and this is where Linux truly falls flat on its face--when someone attempts to make a truly usable Linux, they don't think, "let's make a Linux that works the way people work," they think, "let's make an interface that is so simple, even an idiot can use it." Instead of respecting the humanity of their target audience, they insult them.

That is a problem Moore's Law can't do anything about.

Linux won't truly take off until they stop insulting the normal person, and start respecting them. Ubuntu is close, but it's still too technically-oriented. The thing is, though, I'm not sure this is a bad thing. It might be, as it does keep Linux from being a mainstream OS, but on the other hand, it *is* an excellent OS for the people who are more technically-minded, and prefer absolute control, who value technology over aesthetics and the humanity of the interface. If Linux truly evolved to become a user-oriented OS, it would leave a void for the technical user. I suppose there'd still be the DIY Linux distros, plus there's always BSD or Plan 9, or some new OS yet to be created. Still, I'm not sure that if a User-Oriented Linux became a major OS player, that the more bare-bones technically-oriented Linuxes wouldn't find themselves losing significant attention by both users and developers alike.

Last time I checked ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665198)

Moore's law did not reduce the cost of power supplies, monitors, DVD drives, keyboards, plastic cases or mice. And guess what, almost every one of those items I mentioned costs (significantly, as in twice) more than an OEM Windows license. If anyone should worry, it's Intel.

An example happened to me today (1)

Stu101 (1031686) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665372)

We use a system that requires MS SQL on the laptops (yes its a bad system, I didn't write the program.) Anyhow needed to add a new machine and I phoned up our supplier and we were quoted £4,500 for a single licence. So ok, multiply this by 10 and you could be saving £45,000 per year.

This is just one example of where MySQL can kick the ass of MS SQL.

Ok so I don't write the programs, but my god thats a saving and a half, even if you need to rework a percentage of the code, the cost saving is still massive.

Eee isn't "better" than Windows (1)

wicka (985217) | more than 6 years ago | (#22665374)

Just because the Eee OS is tabbed and simpler than normal Linux doesn't mean it's suddenly better than Windows. It lacks probably 90% of functionality that Windows and a full distro has.
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