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IE drops below 90% market share

Warren Dew
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I know some people have been following Firefox's market share versus Internet Explorer. Now MSNBC is reporting that IE is below 90% market share:

http://msnbc.msn.com/id/7053712/
frank davis
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below 80%? below 70% ?

http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp
Sudharsan Govindarajan
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and Firefox is now downloaded more than 44 million times.

)
Sudharsan
Jeroen Wenting
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yup. And if all those downloads are like the 3 times I downloaded it they're not used

Download numbers are utterly useless statistics. There's things I've downloaded dozens of times because I can't be bothered to look up where I put the CD I burned with the thing on it...


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Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
yup. And if all those downloads are like the 3 times I downloaded it they're not used

Download numbers are utterly useless statistics. There's things I've downloaded dozens of times because I can't be bothered to look up where I put the CD I burned with the thing on it...


The number of frivolous downloads for both IE and firefox can be assumed to be equal, unless you're willing to indulge in the a priori assumption that one product is superior. Accordingly, the ratio of the downloads is a useful indication of the tread. To wit, that trend is the increasing popularity of firefox.

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Eric Pascarello
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Another thing you must consider when you see sites stats is what the site is.

A tech site verus a news site verus a entertainment site.
They are going to draw different users that use different hardware and browsers. You will get different numbers.

Eric
Ryan McGuire
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:

The number of frivolous downloads for both IE and firefox can be assumed to be equal, unless you're willing to indulge in the a priori assumption that one product is superior. Accordingly, the ratio of the downloads is a useful indication of the tread. To wit, that trend is the increasing popularity of firefox.


Another possibility that would make the percentage of frivolous downloads unequal would be whther or not downloading is most likely form of distribution. For instance, IE is included on many new PC straight from the dealer without the need for a download (frivolous or not).

So I could see the number Firefox downloads way ahead of those for IE but FF still having a smaller market share.

Ryan
Mark Spritzler
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As more and more people with spyware, see how bad the security is in IE and how much better other browsers like FireFox are in that respect, the numbers of IE will decrease, as it should, now I look at it as one of the worst programs ever created. They allow Con Artists and pure "Jerks" to do stuff to your computer that you never asked for. I spent an hour and a half cleaning up my wife's user account on our PC.

Mark


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Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Ryan McGuire:


Another possibility that would make the percentage of frivolous downloads unequal would be whther or not downloading is most likely form of distribution. Ryan


I disagree that this is a significant factor. Remember, that distribution mechanism was in place when Microsoft controlled over 90% as well.
Eric Pascarello
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All I can say is every browser has it flaws. Opera just had a big one. One reason why you see so many problems with IE is the same reason you see problem with windows and not MAC.

Why go after a smaller market?

If I was going to sell food to people, would I go to the 3 guys standing at the corner or walk over to the crowd of 30 waiting for the bus?

Every program out there has flaws!

Safe computing is the key! Watch where you go! alt f4 is your friend!

Eric
Gerald Davis
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I am still very surprised that 90% still use IE and most people are not seeking an a more secure alternative but willing to pay good money on firewall and virus checkers. I see Macs becoming a popular secure alternative too because less viruses effect Macs then windows. Windows has too many memory hogging services that can be attacked remotely. An easy to use option to close them would be so nice.
Gerald Davis
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Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:
All I can say is every browser has it flaws.


Partly down to the popularity if OOP.Logical and functional systems are easier to certify for correctness easier then object oriented systems. However it is hard to create correct software if the operating system, the library or GUI frameworks have bugs; buggy software on top of buggy software, patches on top of patches.

I can never understood why a faulty DVD can crash a windows system because all it does is stream data like the same way an internet site would. I wonder would it crash if it were run on an Amiga emulator in windows
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Eric Pascarello:
One reason why you see so many problems with IE is the same reason you see problem with windows and not MAC.
Eric


I second it.

I am currently working on Linux, and now I feel why windows is so great. I think atleast home PC market will be with Windows where user does not want to details and in interested in simply doing his job.

The problems are being reported with Windows becuase it has users. The more users you will have for Linux, OR Linux would try to reach at the level of simplicity of windows, that will also face same problems.

I had heard that Linux did not not hang, but I think atleast once in a week I have to reboot the system.

If my Linux is not restarted for 3-4 days, it also becomes slow like Windows.
But windows makes your life easy. Linux is trying to do so .. and by the time Linux will reach there, windows would have gone up with fixing bugs that are being reported or otherwise.


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
Jeroen Wenting
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Correct. And to make matters worse the people using Linux (already in the minority) are also typically the more experienced people out there and thus less likely to fall for things like phishing scams and spyware installing P2P programs and "download accellerators".
And of course they're far less likely to open email virusses...
[ April 13, 2005: Message edited by: Jeroen Wenting ]
Jim Yingst
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[Ryan]: Another possibility that would make the percentage of frivolous downloads unequal would be whther or not downloading is most likely form of distribution.

[Max]: I disagree that this is a significant factor. Remember, that distribution mechanism was in place when Microsoft controlled over 90% as well.


I don't see how that counters Ryan's point. So maybe Microsoft had 99% of the total market, and 90% of the download market. Or maybe they had 80% of the overall and 90% of the download. I'm just making up numbers here - the point is, the fact that IE's numbers were high doesn't mean they weren't being skewed low by the measurement system being used. Doesn't show they were skewed high either, of course. But I find it quite plausible to imagine that statistics based on downloads were omitting that portion of the market that doesn't upgrade as frequently, or at all. And that this group might be more likely to have gone with IE in the first place (if only because that's what was on the machine when they got it) rather than something else.


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Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Ryan McGuire:
Another possibility that would make the percentage of frivolous downloads unequal would be whther or not downloading is most likely form of distribution. For instance, IE is included on many new PC straight from the dealer without the need for a download (frivolous or not).


This is a problem with download statistics - downloads!=users. As you say, some people download many times but only use it once (e.g. when they want to reinstall, or get a new version). There are also people who will download it once, but the download will be used by many people - a network administrator may download Firefox once, but stick it on a thousand computers.

I think the real sign of the success of Firefox will be when people begin to stop using webpages which have been programmed with Microsoft's mangling of web standards in mind. Those sites such as hotmail, which are horrible in a non-IE browser, will become increasingly less used.

Hopefully what will happen is that Microsoft's capitalist instincts will kick in and they will realise that they have to improve their product. The problem they face is that Firefox's success is not just about browsers. If Firefox becomes widely popular, then the average person's mistrust of "geeky" open source projects may decline, and more people may become willing to try Linux et al. With any luck Microsoft will be worried enough about this to consider making a product that not only works, but is tested before release.


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Paul Sturrock
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Hopefully what will happen is that Microsoft's capitalist instincts will kick in and they will realise that they have to improve their product. The problem they face is that Firefox's success is not just about browsers. If Firefox becomes widely popular, then the average person's mistrust of "geeky" open source projects may decline, and more people may become willing to try Linux et al. With any luck Microsoft will be worried enough about this to consider making a product that not only works, but is tested before release

Hmm. I can't see MS thinking this way till IE's market share drops below 50%. Only having a c90% share of a market is not going to have whoever manages the product suffering from sleepless nights. And MS are good at defending their market share in ways other than improving a product - take for example the recent deal with the NHS, the world third largest employer, which will now be a 100% MS organization.

People (by which I mean non-technical) won't try Linux etc. till it is supplied with the machines they buy. Only a very few OEM's sell PCs with Linux installed. My folks - who I think may be typical of users their age (60), who don't come across computers as part of their work - are still a little sketchy on what an Operating System is let alone the relative benefits of one over the other.


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Jeroen Wenting
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Microsoft has dedicated all their resources to making Longhorn as secure and stable as they can. That has seriously delayed development of IE7 which will form part of Longhorn (and may be available for older OSs as well as a standalone upgrade to IE6).

Microsoft isn't ignoring IE, it's just delayed.

btw, Microsoft isn't doing any "mangling of standards". They're an active participant of the W3 and may from time to time include proposals in their products that haven't yet been included in the standard.
Other browser manufacturers do exactly the same thing.
Not all those proposals get turned into standards, leading all browsers to have a subset of functionality that isn't supported by their competitors.
A good example of Microsoft leading the way in HTML standards is the HTML/Javascript DOM. This was included in IE4 before it was approved as a standard by the W3. Netscape chose to ignore the proposal and go with their own competing technology in NS4, their proposal was voted down.
Before the DOM was approved people complained (of course...) that Microsoft didn't follow standards, shortly after some of those same people applauded Microsoft for their foresight and scolded Netscape for not following standards...
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Paul Sturrock:
Hmm. I can't see MS thinking this way till IE's market share drops below 50%. Only having a c90% share of a market is not going to have whoever manages the product suffering from sleepless nights.


Well, yes, at the moment they haven't really got much to worry about. I guess an important factor will be the rate at which Firefox's popularity increases. If it only has a slow growth then MS probably won't care - their next version of IE will be out there before they are threatened. If, on the other hand, Firefox begins to grow in popularity rapidly, maybe MS will pause for thought.


And MS are good at defending their market share in ways other than improving a product - take for example the recent deal with the NHS, the world third largest employer, which will now be a 100% MS organization.


Now this really send a shudder down my spine. Its bad enough that the government has tied themselves into such a long term deal on something this important, but with Microsoft? What's going to happen when the NHS's systems start showing the good ol' Blue Screen Of Death on a regular basis? I know MS aren't the worst company out there at producing software (far from it), but they do have a reputation for producing very buggy releases. I really hope their contract with the NHS has clauses that can punish them or cancel the contract if things go pear shaped. Especially as I live in the UK and may need to rely on the NHS computer system........


People (by which I mean non-technical) won't try Linux etc. till it is supplied with the machines they buy. Only a very few OEM's sell PCs with Linux installed. My folks - who I think may be typical of users their age (60), who don't come across computers as part of their work - are still a little sketchy on what an Operating System is let alone the relative benefits of one over the other.


Absolutely. This is the crux of the problem in the o/s market. While most computers are sold with Windows installed on them, there is very little competition in the market. Very simple economics tells us that monopolies are generally a bad thing, so perhaps something should be done to free up the market a bit. Maybe a more free market will result in some nice new cheap innovations.

Maybe there could be regulation to force new computers to be sold with more than one o/s (with perhaps a boot up menu to choose which one to select), although that may mean a bit of flaffing around with partitions and the like. To be honest I can't see many governments having a go at doing this (as a lot have lucrative deals with MS), apart from maybe the EU which has had a few recent arguments with MS.
[ April 14, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]
Paul Sturrock
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Now this really send a shudder down my spine. Its bad enough that the government has tied themselves into such a long term deal on something this important, but with Microsoft? What's going to happen when the NHS's systems start showing the good ol' Blue Screen Of Death on a regular basis? I know MS aren't the worst company out there at producing software (far from it), but they do have a reputation for producing very buggy releases. I really hope their contract with the NHS has clauses that can punish them or cancel the contract if things go pear shaped. Especially as I live in the UK and may need to rely on the NHS computer system........

Just be thankful the NHS didn't pick EDS...
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Dave Lenton:


Maybe there could be regulation to force new computers to be sold with more than one o/s (with perhaps a boot up menu to choose which one to select), although that may mean a bit of flaffing around with partitions and the like. To be honest I can't see many governments having a go at doing this (as a lot have lucrative deals with MS), apart from maybe the EU which has had a few recent arguments with MS.

[ April 14, 2005: Message edited by: Dave Lenton ]


Ah, more laws...
Don't like something, make a law for it...

Let's for once be smart and stop overregulating everything.
Next you know you'll get a law telling you to use Windows for 20% of your time, Linux for 40% (but spread across at least 3 major distributions and 1 minor one), an Apple for 30% of the time, and 10% free for your choice.

And of course you'll need to provide proof of that to the government at a weekly basis.
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Ah, more laws...
Don't like something, make a law for it...

Isn't that what the EU is best at?
Let's for once be smart and stop overregulating everything.

I would like the (or a) government to encourage the use of more than one o/s, preferably by encouraging more than one at a time to be supplied in new computers. Now this doesn't necessarily need a law to happen - maybe something like tax breaks could be used. If that doesn't work, then maybe organisations like the EU can look into anti-competition practices of the computer suppliers (which I suspect they may be guilty of). If none of these work, then maybe yes, we could have a law of some kind, but this law should be aimed at suppliers rather than users. It should also, like all laws, have an initial evaluation period to see if its working before being permanently implemented.

I guess this depends upon a fundamental question of political ethics - should a government pass a law to make things better, or keep their nose out of other people's business? Could be argued both ways.
Jeroen Wenting
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Isn't that what the EU is best at?


Like all politicians... Why do you think I'm not fond (and that's an understatement) of our overlords in Brussels and Strassbourg?

I would like the (or a) government to encourage the use of more than one o/s, preferably by encouraging more than one at a time to be supplied in new computers.


Leave it up to the market. If there's a demand suppliers will react. Apparently there is no demand so they don't.
Unless the government forces users to use another OS they're not going to use something inferior for their purpose. And as most users' purpose is playing games and surfing the web they've no use for an OS that has a nice commandprompt but a crappy GUI and for which few games are released.
Ben Souther
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Dave Lenton:
I would like the (or a) government to encourage the use of more than one o/s, preferably by encouraging more than one at a time to be supplied in new computers. Now this doesn't necessarily need a law to happen - maybe something like tax breaks could be used. If that doesn't work, then maybe organisations like the EU can look into anti-competition practices of the computer suppliers (which I suspect they may be guilty of). If none of these work, then maybe yes, we could have a law of some kind, but this law should be aimed at suppliers rather than users. It should also, like all laws, have an initial evaluation period to see if its working before being permanently implemented.


Why do we need governments to do this for us?
Why not just vote with your own dollars?
If you don't think it's a bad idea for one company to dominate so many facets of the computing industry, keep buying and using their products. If you do, put some effort into using something else. Either pay a more for a Mac or spend more time configuring Linux or BSD Unix. It takes very little effort to dowload and install Firefox.
You have choices these days.
[ April 15, 2005: Message edited by: Ben Souther ]

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Jeroen Wenting
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You always had choices... People chose and they chose Microsoft.

10 years ago 90% of computers here were distributed with OS/2. But customers purchased Windows 3.1 and later Windows 95 licenses in droves and PC retailers and manufacturers responded by starting to ship that instead.

Before that there were many types of computers. Amigas, TRS.80, etc. etc.. But people chose the PC and DOS for its versatility and price.

In other software, 90% of the market belonged to WordPerfect. Microsoft Word overtook it because Microsoft produced a product with a better price/performance figure, not because of some conspiracy on their part to take over the world. I think the people in Redmond were quite pleasantly surprised by the success of Word 6, I doubt they were expecting it to get that big a market share.
Ben Souther
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Yes, and if people want to continue to have choices, they will exercise them.
If they're content to have one vendor, then they should continue supporting that vendor. If they want diversity, then they might need to put in a little more effort to support diversity in the industry. Try as they might, the government is not going to be able to legislate better choices.
Warren Dew
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Jeroen Wenting:

Unless the government forces users to use another OS they're not going to use something inferior for their purpose.

It's easy for the government to fall into doing that even without laws or regulations, though.

For example, last I checked the Massachusetts state government only provided Windows software for electronically filing tax returns. Starting this year, they are starting to require electronic returns. I'll be affected by this next year. Essentially that amounts to mandating Windows for small businesses.
Steven Bell
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Couldn't you then write off the expense of Windows as a tax expense for tax purposes?
Warren Dew
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Steven Bell:

Couldn't you then write off the expense of Windows as a tax expense for tax purposes?

Writing it off wouldn't help much ... I'd still be paying for half of it myself, after taxes. Plus, I'd be paying in time for all my hours learning how to use Windows for just this one purpose.
Steven Bell
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You're just not looking at a broad enough definition of expense.

P.S. Though I should add, I'm not defending Mass in their decision, I think it's ridiculous, I just figure if their gonna stick it to you, you should find a way to stick it right back.
[ April 15, 2005: Message edited by: Steven Bell ]
Paul Bourdeaux
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I see Macs becoming a popular secure alternative too because less viruses effect Macs then windows.
It isnt appropriate to say that less viruses affect Macs than Windows... The fact is that many more viruses are created for Windows than any other OS. This is because Windows is still by far the most popular OS, and most people who have enough skill to write a virus but not enough sense not to seem to be Microsoft haters.

However, the percentages of successful intrusions per attack is surpisingly similar accross platforms. There was an article in one of my magazine (PC World or Popular Computing) that tested security vulerabilities in Mac OX 10.3, Windows XP SP2 and Linux (I believe Red Hat), and found that Windows fared only slightly worse than linux and much better than Macs. I know, I know... where's the link? I will look for it and post it when I find it again. The article was sometime during summer of 2004, when Windows was just about to release XP SP2.


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Warren Dew
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Paul Bourdeaux:

However, the percentages of successful intrusions per attack is surpisingly similar accross platforms.

This says little about the safety of the platforms, just about how the viruses work. If, for example, attacks are 10% likely to be successful, all that says is that viruses need a 10% success rate to propagate successfully.

One thing that does say something about the relative safety of the platforms is what kinds of attacks the viruses make. I run a web site and occasionally collect statistics on the attacks; the attacks on Microsoft IIS tend to be buffer overrun attacks that can take over the entire machine, while the attacks on Apache on Unix systems (including Mac OS X) tend to be much more limited in scope, for example mail forwarder attacks. To me, that's evidence that Apache on Unix is in fact safer than Microsoft IIS, even after adjusting for the relative popularity of the platforms.
Paul Bourdeaux
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To me, that's evidence that Apache on Unix is in fact safer than Microsoft IIS, even after adjusting for the relative popularity of the platforms.
Good point, and one that was also made in the article (where is that damn article???) The viruses that exist for the Microsoft platforms do a better job of exploiting that platform's security vulnerabilities than the viruses for Mac/Unix do, and therefore tend to be more severe. Again, I think the fact that significantly more viruses exist for the windows platform than any other contributes to this...

But your point is well taken. Windows may be theoretically as secure as its Unix and Linux counterparts, but in practice suffers greater security exploitation.
Jeroen Wenting
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It's more likely evidence of the current state of mind of server admins.
There used to be a lot of buffer overrun and underrun attacks on Apache a while back, which were perfectly capable of granting the perpatrator root access to the server.
But Apache servers are run mostly by professionals why rather quickly close such holes as patches become available.

Many IIS installs are run by amateurs, people running an installation from their bedrooms. A similar hole might not get patched (despite patches being available) for a long time on such machines.

In fact, one of the most devastating attacks of last year was aimed at Apache, installing files on the server which tried to exploit a hole in MS SQL Server.

Anyway, even if Apache is inherently more secure than is IIS that doesn't say a thing about the OS they are running on
Dave Lenton
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Leave it up to the market. If there's a demand suppliers will react. Apparently there is no demand so they don't.


Originally posted by Ben Souther:
Why do we need governments to do this for us?
Why not just vote with your own dollars?


In theory, we could just let market choose these kinds of things, but (here's a shocker) sometimes the market doesn't provide the best solution. What? Wasn't Adam Smith omniscient?

Its all nice in theory, but unless the market is a nice free market, then market forces cannot work their stuff as well as we may like. The market for operating systems is far from free. Microsoft's deals with computer suppliers form a significant barrier to entry to other organisations wanting to supply alternative products. Who else has enough money to pay computer suppliers to cancel their lucrative contracts with Microsoft?

Microsoft also have deals with schools and governments meaning that many people go through their schooling without even realising an alternative to Windows exists. Like mentioned above, they also have some deals with governments meaning that some administrative interactions with the government needs to be done through Microsoft products.

At the moment the competitors in the operating system market seem to be a bit stumped as to what to do about it. The Mac seems to be aiming for more of a niche market (in media related computing), the various unix clones are trying to enter the market by offering something for free and so on.

I'm not sure it will work though. Microsoft is so big that they can squash most commercial rivals like a bug. While I agree that Windows is generally a decent product, more competition in the market would hopefully put pressure on them to make it better. In other sectors of the economy the government steps in to stop unwanted monopolies forming, but the operating system market has been largely ignored.

It is, of course, perfectly possible for the people with a certain amount of technical ability to pick an alternative, but Joe Q. User probably hasn't even heard of unix, such is Microsoft's domination. Try asking him what the difference between a Mac and a Windows computer is, and he'll probably reply that a Mac looks funkier. Maybe a solution would be to better educate people at school as to the alternatives, and how to use them.

Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Unless the government forces users to use another OS they're not going to use something inferior for their purpose. And as most users' purpose is playing games and surfing the web they've no use for an OS that has a nice commandprompt but a crappy GUI and for which few games are released.


Most other operating systems are probably fine for surfing the internet, but you're right - games could be a big barrier to people switching over. What would be nice would be an easy to install and run emulator (or similar type thing) which can be used on a unix machine to play PC games. That may help to encourage Windows users to have a go at using unix... but it seems a lot of unix developers have an aversion to making stuff that is easy to install. Its a bit frustrating - the levels of distrust in Microsoft products is fairly high and interest is growing in open source alternatives, but the unix community seem to be wasting an opportunity to gain some ground. It could be a wasted opportunity - before long Microsoft will make a better version of IE, do a few more government deals and then they'll have locked another chunk of the computer using population into their products.
 
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