Ron Miller wrote:

> In my view, the only reason Windows has dominated personal 
> computing is because Microsoft bullied hardware company into 
> selling its products. 

I don't think this popular myth stands up to scrutiny. Microsoft's
"bullying" wasn't primarily to get people to *use* Windows, it was to
get them to *pay* for it. In the absence of bundling the OS with a new
PC, vast numbers of people would have told the salesman, "I don't need
an OS," and borrowed a friend's Windows disks/CD. The pressure to
unbundle led MS to develop the current "activation" mechanism as a
substitute defense against widespread piracy. 

Windows became dominant for two reasons, IMHO: 

(1) Microsoft didn't try to force people into overpriced proprietary
hardware, like Apple did. 

(2) From Win 3.1 on, the average non-geek joe could install the OS (if
necessary), install a new application, add a peripheral, etc., and be
successful 90+% of the time by just following some simple instructions
or a wizard. No having to make tedious edits to arcane commands in a
bunch of barely documented scripts and config files. No struggling to
resolve dependency problems and version conflicts. No scouring geek
hangouts for the right hacked source code to make your CD drive work.
Stuff just worked -- not always or perfectly, but often enough and well
enough to satisfy the vast majority. 

A friend of mine who's an Oracle application programmer, and who's been
running Linux at home exclusively for many years, recently got a new PC
(sans OS). He spent a long weekend and then some installing Linux and
getting everything configured and working -- and that was Ubuntu, which
is supposed to be a very "friendly" Linux distro.

Bash Microsoft all you like (and there surely is plenty to criticize,
especially regarding security), but the Windows PC user experience is
miles ahead of everything except the Mac -- which it beats on price and
availability of software and peripherals. 


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom

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