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Editor's Note: More FUD From Microsoft

Hardware Breakthrough are not Tied to One Operating System

  • May 7, 2000
  • By Kevin Reichard

Let me get this straight: two writers from PC World go to the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, listen to Bill Gates' keynote and then declare that based on what they heard at the show, Windows is certain to dominate the PC market well into the year 2004. And declare this with a straight face, no less.

Geez, debunking crap like this could easily turn into a full-time job, couldn't it?

Let's begin with the basic premise: that there's a lot of neat hardware coming down the pike, and that the only operating system to benefit from these breakthroughs will be Windows. Yes, there are definitely a lot of hardware breakthroughs on the horizon. But to assume that only Windows will benefit from these breakthroughs is rather illogical. These breakthroughs have nothing to do with the operating system. USB is clearly the best way of managing peripherals, but its advantages won't be felt only by Windows users. The next wave of 64-bit Intel processors certainly won't be limited to Windows users; the Linux community is already dedicated to creating Linux's 64-bit future. Digital video certainly is already supported in Linux.

Clearly it is in the best interest of hardware vendors to support Linux, and more of them are doing so. It would be silly for any hardware vendor to solely support Windows unless they are being forced to do so. (Wait, wasn't that the point of the recent Justice Department lawsuit against Microsoft?)

And these projections are based on some rather flimsy premises that aren't backed up by past performance. Microsoft is promising that Windows Millennium, the successor to Windows 98, will ship this year, but it's already May and we haven't seen any widescale beta testing; one suspects that this fulfilling this promise will depend on how you define "ship" and "year." Microsoft is also promising that by 2002 "Whistler," the merger of 2000 and Windows 95/98, will be released.

Yeah, right. This gets back to one of the bedrock rules of large-scale software development: any projection more than six months out should be viewed as a wish, not a reality. There are simply too many variables to correctly predict what will happen that far out (a fact that the Linux kernel-development team is running into, by the way), and anyone with a lick of common sense should realize this.

But let's face it: events like the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference serve as pep rallies for the faithful and reassurances for investors. I wouldn't treat every promise made at LinuxWorld Expo to be written in stone, either. But the FUD from Microsoft just keeps rolling out there, and the mainstream computer press can't be trusted to see what's FUD and what's the truth.

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