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Week of October 25, 2001
Once you have that it's all cosmetics.
Microsoft likes to talk about ROI - Return on Investment; they never talk about COI - Cost of Investment.
William H. Goebbels-Gates 3 today unveiled Windows XP to a NYC crowd grateful to have an event in town. Regis Philbin was seen puckering at Goebbels-Gates' backside on stage. Goebbels-Gates pulled a number of cuties with DOS screens being displayed for the final time - typing 'Exit' at the DOS C-prompt. How cool. Gates disappeared into the fun crowd at Times Square, oblivious to the fact that he was taking his life in his hands, unless his invisible Gardol circle of gorillas suddenly reappeared outside Hype Centre and kept off camera.
Gee whiz how impressive. Linux has grown all these years with none of the same. Somewhere there is a truth that there are enough good and intelligent people in the world so we can know that good products will be successful products on occasion, and Linux is one example of this.
But today it's all cosmetics and the COI. The COI needs real calculating too. Maybe your Windows 98SE was already overpriced at close to US$100, but is that the complete tale? No, of course not. Have you factored in all the bottles of whisky and gin you bought? All the boxes of Excedrin? All the lost working hours? All the lost sleeping hours? Have you factored in all the pulling of hair and the cursing of walls and the whispered screams and the dang it all frustration every time you catch Microsoft or some other company doing something stupid on your machine with your work, interrupting and ruining your day? No you haven't.
People are not dumb, despite AOL being number one. They don't need everything on their desktop in big icons, and they won't necessarily only use what is already there. People are capable of configuring their own boxes. People learned to jump down off their horses and learn a bit about combustion engines and how to fill a gas tank and how to change tires and check their pressure, people learned how to put out triangles when they get a blow out on the motorway and how to use that contraption in the boot to get the bad tire up high enough so it could be switched. People can read odometers and make sense out of them, they watch all these cockpit gadgets in front of them and they actually make sense out of them. And in similar fashion people of today really do understand what RAM and free RAM means and what disk free space is and what maxing out a Registry is. This is not arcane stuff. People only needed a little track time from the front door of Idiots R US to get there.
Smooth is not a startup without incident. Smooth is letting me do what I want without incident. Ok, it starts up, but now I want to do this and I want to do that. Without incident. That's what smooth is. And that's what people want.
Cost? What does it cost? If it's smooth it's cheaper by a mile already. But if the credit card is not affected, or affected at the most for one time only and insignificantly as well, that's good too, and people understand that as well.
People can calculate COI. And more and more they will see this COI as a key cornerstone concept.
How about cosmetics?
Saying 'they all look the same' is a bit of an over-simplification. They do not all look the same, even though it's fairly obvious they want to. Everyone is copying Aqua today - even AOL, and that's as sure a sign of the times as anything. Aqua runs on a MACH FreeBSD kernel and it costs. More money than Linux. But it might be where everything is happening.
You have to have a low or non-existent COI; and once you have that, it's cosmetics - it's all cosmetics.