Re: [Fwd: Corel Intel Deal in the making]

From: Mike Linksvayer (
Date: Thu Mar 09 2000 - 18:46:22 MST

Billy Brown wrote:
> Now, I thought it was supposed to be the evil Micro$ofties that tried to
> treat vaporware like a current feature. :-) I could say the same thing
> about Windows with equal accuracy (after all, it runs POSIX applications,
> DOS programs, and all the major Unix shells, and Microsoft could easily slap
> other interfaces on top if they wanted to). The questions are:

I wasn't arguing that Windows sucks or that Unix is great because in
a year or three it will have x, y, and z. I was arguing against the
notion that it would be a horrible thing if most computers ran Unix
at some point in the future.

I'll admit to knowing basically nothing about Windows internals, but the
conventional wisdom is that the OS is pretty tightly coupled to the UI,
otherwise why would doing anything on a Windows machine remotely be such
a pain? And even if technically Microsoft could slap completely new
interfaces onto Windows easily, they couldn't do anything non-incremental
for business reasons. The installed base is overwhelmingly important.
Same applies to Apple.

> 1) Is there anything decent you can use now (and if you have to compile it
> yourself, you've completely missed the point as far as the mass market is
> concerned).

Sure, you can use Gnome <> or KDE
<> right now. Most Linux distributions ship with one
or the other as the default desktop, and easy to install binary packages
are available. To the extent that I care, they already look and feel
more or less like Windows and provide roughly the same GUI capabilities.
The aforementioned Eazel is really just a project/company (ex-Apple UI
people I think) that wants to make Gnome even easier to use.
> 2) Is there reason to think that X years of improvement in Linux UIs will
> yield better results than X years of improvement in Microsoft UIs? (And it
> would be nice if the reason amounted to more than 'oh, open source will
> automatically make everything wonderful'.)

Well, Gnome and KDE have only been around for a few years and are already
quite slick. I will predict that more UI innovation will come from
the open source camp than Microsoft or Apple in the future. Unix is a
platform anyone can innovate on, Windows and MacOS are platforms only
their corporate owners can innovate on. However, I'd guess that any
real UI innovation won't originate on the traditional desktop (perhaps
video games or mobiles).

> > I don't see this changing anytime soon. I expect that the vast
> > majority new applications rolled out in the near future will reuse
> > parts of the existing XML/HTTP infrastructure and be platform neutral.
> > Some will even be truly innovative.
> For the client, probably.

The server too, for many applications. While there's some interesting
stuff happening on the client, XML and the whole net infrastructure
are really enabling the B2B revolution. Of course when you have N-way
communications what qualifies as a client and what qualifies as a server
is kind of nebulous.

> But for apps that interact with a database you
> can get about a factor of five cost savings by writing the server app on top
> of COM+ and running it across clusters of cheap boxes, as opposed to going
> with the one-big-box approach or trying to hand-code a distributed app on
> Unix.

Hand-code what? Use CORBA. From my limited vantage point, forget about
COM and CORBA, Windows and Unix. Write everything in Java (now there's
a real cost savings vs. C++), abstract your transport, and you can easily
plug into COM, CORBA, some fancy message queue, or whatever, easily.


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