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The Features War

There is no features war. The media will tell you there is but there is none. Get over it.

We're not even close to the home stretch. The horses haven't even left the starting gate. But the race is underway. We have but one year and a few months until the barrage begins. Until Longhorn Vista is upon us, and it promises to be just as brutal and obnoxious at the last one for Chicago Windows 95.

They've started already. Jim Allchin joins colleagues on stage for a round table about Microsoft's future and casually lets slip that he bought an iPod nano on the day they were released and it fell apart. Message: Apple suck. He couldn't help himself.

They're like heavyweights getting ready for the big fight, boasting how they're going to down their opponents in twenty seconds flat, but none of them are Mike Tyson. Like US presidential candidates getting out their smear armies.

Microsoft have the Enderles, Paul Thurrott, and who knows who else. The Enderles will continue to rattle the Apple people and worm their way into boardrooms and Thurrott will play wishy-washy, first saying PowerBooks and iPods are cool, only to finally proclaim Microsoft have everything and Apple and everyone else have been left far behind.

They'll attack at every angle. They'll try to convince everyone in every corporate stratum that Microsoft are the only way to go. And ultimately they'll let it come down to the features.

Microsoft were embarrassed by Apple and Google. Chief Software Architect Mister Bill has been muttering for ten years about his file system within a file system WinFS. Cutler threw it down the toilet back then and Microsoft engineers gave up on it now. And one thing Mister Bill wanted to be able to do with it was search disks. Google and then Apple beat Microsoft to it.

Apple told Microsoft to start the photocopiers. Apple were way out in front. And the media gladly compared a Tiger that was to a Bull that was only talked about. It made copy - not good copy, just copy. And today they're still talking about features.

But there is no features war. It's Machiavellian. It's about ruling the planet. It's about who has the monopoly and the hegemony. Microsoft are not worried about quality unless it interferes with world dominance, and as long as their marketing teams are out there pushing pushing pushing, they have little to worry about.

Apple came out of nowhere and entered the Unix community and are today the leaders. And the open sorcerers continue to do their thing - and it's a good thing. Together they have 5 - 10% of the market. Microsoft have 90 - 95% and they don't want to let go for love or money.

No one ever got fired for recommending IBM, goes the old saying, but soon someone will be fired for not having a clue about Microsoft.

Microsoft are in trouble. The 'bad years' of the DOJ trial and the worm outbreaks of the new millennium have taken their toll and they're withering away from within. But they're still Microsoft. They have incredible clout.

And it's typical of them to tout features that everyone else already has and claim they're their own. We all know that. But it's not a features war. It never has been and it never will be.

As Radsoft pointed out time and time again ad nauseam, the choice between Internet Explorer and Netscape wasn't a features thing but an ethical thing, and so it is with operating systems today. It's not a question of whether Windows will match Unix and OS X feature for feature - it's a question of what kind of world we all want to live in.

Kitchen users get it better and faster. They're not the crowd we have to worry about. It's the suits that are the difficulty. Those people who keep their elbows away from their bodies with rear view mirrors implanted in their eyeballs and tongues hanging out saliva dripping with greed.

No one ever got fired for recommending IBM, goes the old saying, but soon someone will be fired for not having a clue about Microsoft.

They don't want to move. They'd rather play it very very safe. They might still be fired for recommending open source or Apple. Who knows how upper management will react.

They're not particularly well read either. They probably more than anyone rest on superficial platitudes with all they do. Microsoft promise the world yet again and it's Microsoft talking and all the broken promises of the past mean nothing.

Politicians work the same way. Rhetoric and what-not and everyone knows politicians lie through their teeth and never come through on any of their promises. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are our new politicians. They have Rick Rashid, Jim Allchin, Rob and Mary Enderle, Brian Valentine - Paul Thurrott.

Brian Valentine once said of Microsoft: 'we all suck' [sic]. It didn't matter. The suits still signed the contracts. This is not about what is good and what is not - at least in the software sphere. This is about nailing the big contracts. And to do that they have to be out in force and talk 'features' to the suits.

Suits don't understand security. People in the street don't understand politics or politicians. People continue to elect candidates who disappoint and suits continue to put their weight behind Microsoft who excel at disappointing. A sea change is needed.

There is no features war. There is only war. But no war that needed to be won has ever been impossible. It matters not what (Unix) platform people are on as long as they're not on Windows. As long as they don't continue to feed the Vole.

The Vole is evil. The Vole does not want your good. The Vole wants only to dominate for the sake of domination. The Vole hurts. It's time to run the Vole away.

The race is underway. And we're all here listening, waiting, watching. Microsoft have time - but so do all of us who care what happens to this blithering planet and this thing called the Internet which holds a promise of greater global communication and unification.

That's a world we can't have with Microsoft for a hundred different reasons anyone can enumerate. But we can't sit idly by and just await the outcome of the battle. We need to try to do something now.

  • Boycott Microsoft completely. Do not use anything even remotely connected to that company. If there seems to be a lock-in, determine where the lock-in originates and remove it.

  • Talk to people. Show the poor suckers how easy things are on the other side.

  • Write to government representatives. Demand they look into alternatives to Microsoft.

It's not about features. And it's not about security either, although that's one good reason to not use Windows.

It's about ethics. It's about making something conscionable of this lonely planet and the wires connecting everyone together.

The other day some moron quipped that spyware on Windows was the greatest threat to the Internet today. He completely missed the point. It's not spyware on Windows.

It's Windows.

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