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The Reality Distortion Field On Longhorn

http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/000984.html

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"No, because there's hardly anybody investing a lot of energy in engineering on the Wintel platform outside of Microsoft and Intel, right?"
Steve Jobs.

I knew the guy was controversial  but that's more than a bit fruity...

SC
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

the long period before the next major release would have me worried if I was bill gates....netscape almost died because it delayed a similar length of time before releasing a new version...

and when it _does_ come out, it will require users to accept the various drm restrictions on what they can do with their computer...

...interesting times...

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

There's nothing in that article but hot air.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Jobs: "We're on our fourth major release of Mac OS X within three years."

Weren't they basicaly just service packs (with a few bells and whistles... which tends to be what MS Service Packs are)?

Duncan Smart
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I totally agree that the long release window should be concerning to MS.  Especially with the mono project (http://go-mono.com) months away from a cross-platform release of the dotnet CLR. 

Once Mono matures I'll be much more inclined to pick up one of those sleek little powerbooks..

mac wannabe
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Weren't they basicaly just service packs"

<shrug>  may as well argue about how many angels on a pinhead as about what constitutes a 'major' release.

<g> peope upgrading had to shell out, which fulfills the criteria for me.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Especially with the mono project (http://go-mono.com) months away from a cross-platform release of the dotnet CLR. "

thats pretty fast work,  the industry of people never ceases to amaze me.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

. releases of OS X are "major" releases 10.1 -> 10.2 (Jaguar) -> 10.3 (Pather).

It's hardly like any of this is new though. I remember when Windows 95 came out and Microsoft demoed things like being able to change colour palettes... you know things that Amiga owners had been able to do 10 years earlier (and things that are hardly earth shattering).

Operating systems have different features... it's just kind of annoying when users of one operating system claim that feature n is new and revoultionary in their OS when it has been around for, quite often, years in other OSes.

Certain features (including software availability) dictate the usefulness of an OS for a particular user. How useful is vector-based windowing for end-users? Perhaps the software that can be developed with such a system is beneficial, which is why Microsoft does a good job of getting previews out to developers.

Walter Rumsby
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

I guess you're right Walter -- XP is actually NT version 5.1.2600

C:\>ver
Microsoft Windows XP [Version 5.1.2600]

Duncan Smart
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

(Windoiws 2000 was 5.0.x)

Duncan Smart
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Hmm, I'm starting to think Apple really blew it by not paying Gassee what he wanted for BeOS.  They'd already have the relational database file system.

christopher baus (www.baus.net)
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"They'd already have the relational database file system."

hmm..thats an interesting one.  Im still not entirely convinced its either necessary or particularly useful.

what _were_ the advantages of using a sql based database for the file system instead of, for instance, a 'normal' filesystem with a sql database for file meta data?  (one record for each unique file id)

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Apple's HFS+ file system has a lot (but not all) of the advantages a "database" filesystem would provide. HFS+ resource forks make it really easy to add meta-data tags to a file without disturbing its contents, like thumbnails of image files, file type information (so you don't have to guess from the extension, and you can have different default apps for opening files of the same type), etc. Windows Explorer does this, but it has to cram all that into separate behind-the-scenes cache files, which results in reduced performance and unpredictability. On the other hand, resource forks violate the "file is a sequence of bytes" rule, so if you're not careful you can lose them easily. The only feature I can think of that a real "database" would provide over HFS+ is more powerful searching (less than O(N) searching on keys other than file name).

Not that I think HFS+ is the end-all of filesystems; its performance isn't that great, and it doesn't work over the network. Perhaps a database filesystem would also have better atomicity and concurrency properties than regular filesystems, but I don't think that's what MS has in mind.

Dan Maas
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"the long period before the next major release would have me worried if I was bill gates....netscape almost died because it delayed a similar length of time before releasing a new version..."

Five years from VB6 to .Net, which seems to be staggeringly more popular than any previous version...

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

...and by the way, through the 98, 98SE, 2k, XP period weren't people whining that Windows was changing too often?

Now they're not changing often enough. I suspect the issue is "what ever MS is currently doing is the wrong thing to do" ;-)

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Five years from VB6 to .Net, which seems to be staggeringly more popular than any previous version"

:) good lord, was it really?

but there is rather a difference between a development language and an operating system.
(do we have any stats about the # of users over those 5 years...was it going up or down?)

"...and by the way, through the 98, 98SE, 2k, XP period weren't people whining that Windows was changing too often?"

LOL..wouldn't surprise me at all, one way or another _someone_ is going to complain about _something_

But I certainly never made that complaint.

"Now they're not changing often enough. I suspect the issue is "what ever MS is currently doing is the wrong thing to do""

well, no.  That really wasn't what motivated my comment.

look at it another way, if _apple_ didn't ship a new version of the operating system for 5 years, they would almost certainly die because of it.

Netscape didn't ship a new browser in 5 years and they were declared dead by pretty much everyone.

Now, obviously MS is not going to die..they have 95% of the computer market and they are not going to lose all of that in 5 years (although I suspect there will almost certainly be losses)

But it _is_ a reasonably big gap, and I think mentioning that is a reasonable thing to do....certainly I am interested in the effect it will have.

<g> if you have opinions on why it isn't a problem then by all means share them, but insinuating that I am an anti-MS zealot seems a little uncalled for.
(for the record, Im not)

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Actually, the last versions of BeOS did NOT have a database backed file system. They tried that in earlier versions, and it was too slow to be useful.

What BeFS Did have was extensible, indexed metadata on every file on the disk, along with some standard definitions for some of the fields. So, for example, the email program stored each email message as a disk file, with metadata for the various headers. Every email program could use the same fields, so all email folders were compatible, and you could search your mail using the built in system tools.

One thing that BeOS did that I really, *really* hope the Longhorn guys pick up on was the way they mapped file types to executables to figure out what to do on double-click. Every file has a mime type in the metadata (instead of just using the extension). There was a system registry that mapped mime type to executable, like Windows does now with extensions. The next step was that each file could have metadata saying what application to open it with. So, for example, by default you could open pdf files in acrobat readers, EXCEPT for "current.pdf" that you set to open in full acrobat since you're working on it.

Very nice, very simple, very powerful.

Chris Tavares
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

<g> if you have opinions on why it isn't a problem then by all means share them, but insinuating that I am an anti-MS zealot seems a little uncalled for.
(for the record, Im not)
*********************

I think MS is in a comfortable place with Win2k3 server and Windows XP - they make a good platform, and should be reasonable purchases for a while. Office 2003 just came out, and is a great upgrade, Sharepoint's new on the market, and a good investment, and Yukon is due out in a few years.

No need to rush Longhorn from a revenue perspective, and the gap gives customers a chance to relax from the version chase for a while.

Honestly, seems like a good move.

And didn't mean to call you an anti-MS zealot - was referring to Jobs and his supporters.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"There was a system registry that mapped mime type to executable, "

the interesting thing there is that this was something that macos classic does as well, but that apple _were_ trying to move away from with their switch to osx.

Im not sure if its still the case, but certainly when osx first came out developers were being encouraged to move into using extensions over the type info.

always seemed a shame to me.

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"I think MS is in a comfortable place with Win2k3 server and Windows XP - they make a good platform, and should be reasonable purchases for a while."

thats true, I actually rather _like_ XP, <g> thats not something Ive said about many other versions of windows (although NT and windows98SE weren't bad either)

" Sharepoint's new on the market, and a good investment, and Yukon is due out in a few years."

what _is_ Yukon?  I had some idea it was going to be the next version of the operating system some time ago....or is it a new server product?


"No need to rush Longhorn from a revenue perspective, and the gap gives customers a chance to relax from the version chase for a while."

hmm.. lot of things change over 5 years though, I suspect XP is going to be looking pretty old by then.
How is MS handling the newer 64 bit machines?  will XP be made compatible with them or will that be left for longhorn, do you know?


"And didn't mean to call you an anti-MS zealot - was referring to Jobs and his supporters."

<g> I _am_ a mac purchaser, and although not a zealot I am currently fairly pleased with where Jobs has led apple...
Hes actually never struck me as particularly anti-MS at all, except during his press releases (which, lets face it, is a pretty transparent and standard marketing ploy...)
Certainly MS and Apple have made a fair number of totally pragmatic deals over the years. (which is as it should be)

FullNameRequired
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Yukon is the next version of SQL Server, which looks pretty promising.

Win2k3 comes in a 64bit flavor, as does SQL Server 2000.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Windows XP also comes in a 64 Bit edition. (It is available in MSDN downloads, and also I think via volume licencing, I don't think it is available to retail yet.)

ChrisO
Wednesday, November 12, 2003

"Apple's HFS+ file system has a lot (but not all) of the advantages a "database" filesystem would provide. HFS+ resource forks make it really easy to add meta-data tags to a file without disturbing its contents, like thumbnails of image files, file type information (so you don't have to guess from the extension, and you can have different default apps for opening files of the same type), etc. Windows Explorer does this, but it has to cram all that into separate behind-the-scenes cache files, which results in reduced performance and unpredictability."

You can add metadata tags to files in Windows 2000 and XP and I believe they get stored in NTFS streams. NTFS streams have always been used to emulate the Max resource fork in NT Server.

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Thursday, November 13, 2003

"We're on our fourth major release of Mac OS X within three years."

I don't get it - why is this a good thing for users?

John Topley (www.johntopley.com)
Thursday, November 13, 2003

The Jobs comments are hilariously funny, in a sad sort of way. This is the company that took about 15 years to produce a new OS, still failed, and then had to shop around for something cheap. Now he is actually boasting about the agility you can gain by ditching your own user base cold?

As for the long Longhorn delay: there is two sides to every coin. Sure, the boy in all of us wants the new toys, but the man (my appologies to the 2% Sheila's amongst us) wants some stability to get some ROI on our skills, and the wallet likes the fact that it doesn't have to cough up every 6 months for the latest and greatest.
I am also looking forward to new stuff that will hit long before Longhorn. Unified Microsoft-update and .NET 2.0 are two things that I would pay for, but that I will be getting for free.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, November 13, 2003

BTW: I used to really like the Mac and it was my main platform in the 84 - 94 period. While you might not believe it given the previous post, I'm quite happy Apple is finally getting back in the game with OS X. It is just that they have a long way to go yet.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, November 13, 2003

"I knew the guy was controversial  but that's more than a bit fruity... "

Well, he /is/ the CEO of Apple you know...

Sugus
Thursday, November 13, 2003

Longhorn certainly looks like an attempt to sow some FUD to me.  Oh, I don't doubt that there is some technical reality behind the claims, but pretending that they're *not* trying to steer the market is just naive. Of course they are. It's what market leaders do.

Portabella
Thursday, November 13, 2003

"This is the company that took about 15 years to produce a new OS, still failed, and then had to shop around for something cheap. Now he is actually boasting about the agility you can gain by ditching your own user base cold?"

Did you give even a second's thought before you posted this?

Jobs was the guy who was gone for those 15 years, then was bought (sic) back because his company HAD developed an outstanding, modern OS during that period.  So OF COURSE Jobs is going to boast about it.

Apple provided an environment for running Mac OS 9 apps in OS X, as well as a backwards compatible API for porting OS 9 apps to native OS X apps (Carbon).  How is this "ditching your own user base cold"?  Mac customers famously remain the most loyal in the entire industry, so what on Earth are you talking about?

The annual Apple releases have all been very significant.  Tons of features, lots of performance enhancements.  Apple also releases periodic, free updates like Windows does, in addition to the paid releases.

I think Jobs has a point in that it would be impossible for MS to follow the "major release" once a year model, no matter how much they wanted to.  It's also utterly true that MS is advertising features for 2006 that are in OS X today.

I'm not sure I see what the objections to Jobs comments are.  For the most part, he's just pointing out the obvious (with his usual hyperbole overlaying all of it, of course).

Jim Rankin
Thursday, November 13, 2003

I agree with Philo on this one. I don't want a new OS every two or three years. In fact if only W2000 would boot faster I would keep it for another ten.

I changed from W98SE to WinXP because I wanted a new laptop; the software change came with the hardware change.

And that is how most people work. I suspect Ballmer's realized that there is no money in upgrades any more. The OS is sold with the new machine.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, November 15, 2003

> I don't want a new OS every two or three years.

Then the entire computer biz, including Microsoft, is against you ;)

Is it too obvious to point out that, as usual, most of this boils down to politics? Linux and Mac OS are the outsiders trying to break in (to the mainstream desktop market), so they are moving very quickly to try and show that:

1. You don't lose by switching from Windows
2. They contain new and better features than the incumbent

I hope it's again obvious that I am describing their *strategy*, not whether these things are factually true. #2 in particular almost guarantees that you have to rev the OS on a very frequent basis.

The timing of Longhorn is interesting. If Microsoft was *really* worried about the new OSes, they'd be moving aggressively with a much shorter schedule. On the other hand, their "compatible with nothing" strategy suggests that they *are* worried about the long-term prospects of the Web and competing platforms.

Portabella
Monday, November 17, 2003

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