Re: [changed to] Why stability is secondary to some companies

Sorry Jan, but I couldn’t disagree more. First, if a company is that
concerned about short term profitability to the point they deteriorate
their long term viability, market forces are going to take care of that
company fairly quickly. Sure a few consumers get pissed off in the mean
time, but such is freedom.

A good manufacturer in the case here will create two modes for their
device. One which slams the whole system and wins them benchmark awards,
and the other for every day use. Many video cards employ just this
strategy and usually have a registry key to flip the device. If the company
in question didn’t do this, it can be easily tracked back to engineers not
coming up with the elegant solution. This is usually easily tracked back
to numb skull managers not knowing how to hire the right engineers.

If the performance tradeoffs were easy to figure out, Microsoft wouldn’t be
worth so much. It is precisely because OS development is so difficult that
MS has done so well and been able to keep competitors at bay. No amount of
preditory practices are going to keep competition down. MS has just flat
stayed ahead of the pack. Notice, I didn’t say they haven’t engaged in
predatory practices, but that isn’t why they got where they are, no one can
convince me of that. The reason? They have the single best operating
system on the market with Win2000. Without this greedy profit driven
monopolistic evil corporation driving the standards, do you really think
you would have an OS available for < $300 that can run on everything from a
baseline pentium with ISA hardware to the latest 64-bit server with
infiniband or whatever? Plus ease of use, ACPI, WMI, PnP, Power, all the
.Net crap and whatever other cool features I can’t think of right now
thrown in?

People love to compare Linux, or FreeBsd or VMS or whatever to Win2000, but
there simply is no comparison. This operating system runs many more types
of hardware on many more types of platforms than all of the other OSes
combined. And don’t say UNIX, because no one UNIX can run the matrix with
Win2000, unh uh. No one can compete. If they could they would have.
Linux may have a shot at the embedded space, but if I was MS, I wouldn’t be
too worried about the desktop market if that is still a market.

The best technology never wins, never. The best processors don’t win, the
best OSes don’t win, the best platforms don’t win. They never have, and
they never will. But, in the end, its the competition that forces the
innovation, so who cares? The end user today has choices that would have
never been possible if these evil greedy money hungry corporations weren’t
all scratching for another buck. I think Linux and like projects are cool,
but they are never going to do for the end user, what a private corporation
driven project will do. GNU, or the Free Software Foundation or whoever
don’t have the billions it takes to get the top minds working on the
underlying fundamental problems. It takes corporations to push that stuff.
I like the free stuff, and see its place in the world, but there won’t be
much innovation if the Microsofts of the world pull out of the game. Same
could be said if the competion to the Microsofts of the world go away.

So, UNIX, which ever variant or whichever UNIX-like variant you like, may
be more stable for some applications, but it isn’t having to tow the same
line as the MS OSes. Its like trying to compare VxWorks against Win2000,
well sure its more stable, but it isn’t facing the same issues. You just
simply cannot compare Linux and Win2000. My mom can use Win2000, Linux,
even with the newer friendlier versions isn’t even close. And, do you
think those newer friendlier versions would exist if Win2000 didn’t? I
don’t think so. Linux is competition and I think that is real good, but
pound for pound, Microsoft is way ahead in the OS race.

All that said, I definitely see the usefulness of WHQL and all of MS’s
attempts at stabilizing their system. But, I think this is directly
related to their bottom line as well. The server market is probably
calling their name, not to mention people want Linux like network
stability, so Microsoft is going to go after it. Another market driven
innovation coming on, hmm. The problem is it just takes time for the
market to work. I would have taken some of these steps from day one if it
were me, but then again, I don’t have a mega-house on Mercer Island and a
net worth written with 9 zeroes. Its hard to argue with success.

Bill M.

  • the views expressed here are correct, but they are mine and don’t reflect
    those of my employer, or any one else I know of for that matter -

On 08/07/01, “Jan Bottorff ” wrote:
> > > The “video card that locked the bus” should have had such notice, or been
> >
> >Yes, a common example of the vendor’s ignorance.
> My understanding is this was NOT done out of ignorance, it was decided to
> be this way by top management. The bottom line was if the company got top
> benchmark scores in a magazine article, it represented millions of dollars
> in sales. Weighing current quarter sales vs. pissing off customers for the
> next 10 years is a tricky decision. Management at public corporations have
> a legal responsibility to the stockholders to maximize profit, generally in
> terms of short term profit. Lawsuits over bad management decisions are
> common, lawsuits over inserting unfriendly code are a lot less common. It
> doesn’t seem like there is much chance of getting companies to make
> decisions in favor of stability when THEY may loose financially in the
> short term.
> If the playing field is leveled by OS enforcement then there simply isn’t
> code that can be written to trade performance for stability. Basically, the
> OS gods decide the needs of the many (stability) outweigh the needs of the
> few (top performance). As long as SOME competitor has the ability to do
> tricks then everybody has little choice but to also do tricks.
> Microsoft also has this same problem. Say they changed things to run
> drivers in a protected environment, and performance degraded. If sales
> decline because it’s now slower but more stable, Microsoft stockholders may
> sue claiming management made a bad decision. They have no choice but to do
> what drives sales to the majority, even if the majority makes their
> decisions based on total marketing BS.
> It’s pretty hard to make marketing glitter about stability, although
> peripheral companies brag about their 500,000 hour MTBF. Since engineers
> have TOTAL control over OS software, it seems odd that a rotating piece of
> metal, with bearings, and little magnetic sensors floating an extremely
> small distance away can have orders of magnitudes better reliability. I
> have to assume most OS vendors don’t brag about their reliability because
> it’s not very good.
> I hate to say it, but feel an OS that the majority of people base their
> computing infrastructure on should NOT be controlled by a public for-profit
> corporation, because of exactly this conflict between what’s technically
> best and what’s financially best short term for the company.
> I think the situation might have been better had Microsoft stuck with the
> original concept of NT where stability ruled, potentially reducing their
> profit to only an excellent level, instead of an outrageous level. Instead,
> over the years, they made more and more compromises in favor of
> performance. Rumor is Bill Gates made the decision to junk a lot of the
> elegant LPC architecture that was originally in place, because at the time
> it was “too slow”. As CEO of a public company, this was perhaps the right
> decision, but perhaps the wrong technical decision long term. Now that
> hardware is faster, making tradoffs in favor of maximum stability would
> have positioned things much better.
> I could go on, but I’ll shut up now…
> - Jan
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