Re: [unrev-II] Lifestreams

From: Eric Armstrong (
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 16:00:33 PST

  • Next message: Eric Armstrong: "Re: [unrev-II] Lifestreams"

    Jack Park wrote:

    > page is Gelernter's view of the future of Microsoft.

    Gee, what a rosy picture. Wish I agreed with it.

    I think it was the exposure of Microsoft's "embrace and extend" policy
    as a
    "deadly embrace" mechanism bent on platformizing an open standard that
    prevented them from taking the same tack with XML. Interestingly, the
    framework may be headed in that direction anyway.

    In other words, without government intervention, we'll all be free --
    free to interact using any Microsoft system we choose.

    Having said that, let me hasten to add that I would have *willingly*
    ceded the battle to them, based on the fact that they were the first,
    and for a long time the only, company to actually *care* about the user
    with respect to little things like interface standards, ergonomics, and
    data safety. (Despite many crashes, they do a pretty damn good of
    safeguarding the user's effort, which is by far the most critical aspect
    of system design. It doesn't matter if a system fails only rarely, if it
    takes your data with it when it goes...)

    However, the regularity and consistency with which they have engaged in
    anti-competitve business practices has moved me to the other side of the
    It's a love/hate relationship, in a sense. Unfortunately, their recent
    moves in UI design seem to be "stepping down" from their previous high
    standards. It feels like the highly successful "interface czar"
    (whoever it was) who was responsible for setting their high standards
    has moved on. To the degree that happens, it removes their "saving
    grace", unfortunately.

    Even without those business practices, they would have won the desktop
    war, if
    nothing else. Unix was fragmented into a plethora of byte-sized,
    incompatible standards, all of which had absolutely atrocious user
    interfaces, when they existed at all. (The non-intuitive nature of Unix
    commands, despite their power, is legendary.)
    Jobs was already well on the way to his now established pattern of
    developing great products, and then overpricing them and limiting
    hardware and software development to a single company, so his efforts
    were always doomed.

    When I started my company, there were 5,000 software companies making PC
    products, who among them had some 17,000 products. The ads for all of
    those individual products, in one sense, competed for user attention.
    But in a very real sense they all *cooperated* in gaining user
    mind-share for the PC platform, establishing it as the juggernaut it
    became. That's why the Bootstrap effort must
    be focused on creating an *industry*, not a product. There is no
    substitute for the amount of marketing muscle, development capability,
    and customer-education capacity of thousands of competing companies. No
    single product or company can ever hope to make the same kind of
    civilization-transforming dent in public consciousness.

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    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Fri Mar 31 2000 - 16:07:53 PST