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October 04, 2004

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Vlad

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Shannon J Hager

The article doesn't mention that installing XP Professional is $299. The $199 price is XP home.

Jennifer

Thomas, thank you for your thoughtful comments and clarification on some of the technical issues. I agree that usability and ease of use is a key consideration. I'm not advocating that the integrated version should not be available for those who want it; rather, my point is that people who want a choice should be given a choice. I believe that the masses of worldwide computer users (most of whom aren't highly proficient) would prefer not to upgrade to XP if their current OS is satisfactory. I also believe that those who truly want the extensive online functionality that you mention are a small segment of the market. My big concern is that Microsoft and other companies who try to combine everything into one big "Swiss Army knife" offering are overserving the majority of the market; when highly specialized, less expensive tools come onto the market (ie. Linux, Mozilla, etc.) most people will abandon the Swiss Army knife in favor of those specialized tools.

Thomas Baekdal

Hi Jennifer,

I have been listening in to your excellent blog for quite some time - and I very much enjoy your posts and your opinions.

However, this post is a bit tricky - because although I do respect your opinion towards a company or a topic, there are some facts in this that is distorted by the media urge to bring up a scandal - instead accurately comparing Microsoft to its competitors.

---

"Longhorn has been delayed"
- yes and no. Some parts are delayed, and will be shipped later - but Longhorn itself is actually still on track within the original deadline.

Upgrade to XP to get a safer browser:
- Yes, you need to do this, but what the media do not tell us is that 99% of every software companies on the planet are doing the same - even those who make security products like Symantec and McAfee.

What we need to differentiate is security problems and security enhancements. Security problems (e.g. that someone can hack your browser and take control of your computer) are still being updated regardless of version of Windows. It is only the "new programs/functionality" that you need XP for. Things like the security center, the build in firewall etc.

To compare this with a e.g. antivirus company, then when your buy their product you will of course get the latest anti-virus definitions to ensure that all security problems stays fixed - but you still need to buy an upgrade if you want the new features - like spyware detection. Unless you pay a subscription fee of course - maybe we should pay a subscription fee for Windows? :)

Mozilla is a safer browser:
I do not think so… Very recently 10 high-security problems were patched in Mozilla/Firefox, only 2 month before that 3 other high-security problems were fixed. At this very moment, Firefox's website is alerting that their users needs to update the browser, the avoid having their personal files damaged. It was only barely mentioned in the news - and these are browsers who get much less attention from hackers than Internet Explorer.

I am personally feeling more secure using Internet Explorer, where a lot of people is testing for security problems - than Mozilla where only a few people are testing, and lack an adequate updating feature.

IE, Mozilla, Media Player and RealPlayer
Something that really bugs me is how the media reports the issues between Microsoft's IE and Media Player and their competitors, because it is one sided story. The reason why it is so difficult to remove media player, is not technical, but because it is not just a media player. Media player is incorporated into a lot of product basically enabling them to include rich media experiences.

To give you an example: If you some day want to create Brand Management System, and wants to include rich media into the system as an integrated part - you can incorporate Media Player's functionality directly. It is the same with Internet Explorer. It is not just a browser; it is also an internet "enabler" - allowing you to add internet based information into other programs. Many programs that rely on internet based information, from the small ones showing the weather in your task bar, to larger systems that relies on instant online collaboration. These programs are "internet enabled" because they use Internet Explorers "engine".

By taking away Internet Explorer and Media Player, they are not just removing two separate programs (a browser and a music/video player). But they are taking away the ability to incorporate their functionality into other programs.

---

I am not advocating Microsoft. I do not think that Microsoft is the best example of a good company. They are of course trying to make money, and they are very good at it - but so do their competitors.

What I am advocating is usability - ease of use. And taking away an integrated and consistent rich media environment like the Media Player and replacing it with a non-integrated and inconsistent stand-alone player (like RealPlayer) is not a very good idea. Making a less capable product and then take Microsoft to court in an effort to gain market share, might be good business for RealPlayer - but it is hurting those who have to use it - people like you and me.

BTW: Sorry for the long comment :)

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