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[ossig] Linux cannot compete with Longhorn

I love this article, very entertaining.

News and Trends 

Linux cannot compete with Longhorn


Wednesday September 08, 2004 (08:00 AM GMT)

 By: Joe Barr 
Wait. Hear me out. I'm not saying that because Longhorn is a superior platform 
in any way. I'm saying it because Longhorn is not real, it's just the latest 
codename for the next version of Windows. As everyone knows, the next version 
of Windows is always the best operating system of all time: it's always 
faster, more stable, and more secure than anything the world has ever seen 
before. Comparing a real operating system like GNU/Linux against the 
marketing dreams of the malignant monopoly from Redmond is like comparing 
your geekiness with Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet: a futile and 
unfulfilling exercise. 


such false comparisons are one of Microsoft's favorite marketing techniques. 
Remember, Microsoft has never competed on the technical merits of its 
operating platforms. Not from the day IBM gave them a corner on the market 
until today. Given the quality of their products, that's probably a good 
thing for Redmond: DrDOS was a better DOS than MS-DOS, and OS/2 was far 
better, far more advanced than Win95. 

Microsoft has always preferred to compete with its core competencies: FUD, 
astroturfing, false advertising, rigged benchmarks, funding "independent" 
studies, being channeled by submissive scribes and sycophantic industry 
analysts, and attempting to freeze the market long enough for them to catch 
up with the competition. Longhorn will probably fit into all those categories 
before it materializes, but its primary purpose is the latter. It's just 
another train-load of BS designed to freeze the market until the next version 
of Windows gets there. 

In the beginning 

Consider this quote from a ComputerWorld story, from May of 1994, by Ed 
Scannell and Stuart Johnston: 

Microsoft Corp.'s consistently poor track record for delivering systems on 
time continues to disrupt developers' product development cycles and, 
ultimately, the purchasing plans of corporate information systems shops. 

While this failure to live up to one's word is endemic in the microcomputer 
software industry, when a key provider of systems software like Microsoft 
does it, it often creates waves with crippling effects. 

"If you believe their press releases, then you probably deserve whatever 
happens to you," said Vadim Yasinovsky, president of Clear Software, Inc. in 
Brookline, Mass. "If you don't learn from history, then you are an idiot by 

Those words were written because the due date for Cairo -- which at the time 
was the codeword for the next release of Windows, just as Longhorn is today 
-- had just slipped two years, and it wouldn't be available until 1996. 

The great promise of Cairo was to be its Object File System, OFS for short. 
OFS was going to be a native database file system, similar to what IBM had 
been shipping in OS/400 for years. But that promise was trimmed from the 
feature list before NT 4.0 -- the release once called Cairo -- was launched 
in 1996. So instead of OFS, the Win95 UI became NT 4.0's most cherished 

The undead file system 

OFS may have been summarily yanked out of NT 4.0, but it didn't really die. It 
was merely pushed back into Microsoft's favorite OS. You know the one. That's 
right, the next release of Windows. In this case, that was NT 5.0. 

Bill Gates did an interview with PC Magazine between the launch of NT 4.0 and 
NT 5.0. Here is the answer he gave when asked what had happened to Cairo. 
Notice the subtle shift: Cairo is no longer a product, not even one still 
over the event horizon. Instead it's a "vision." Or a collection of visions. 
It's difficult to know for sure. 

The only thing of all that vision that's not in the marketplace is the file 
system and directory -- the rich file/system directory combination which is 
now part of the NT 5 product. We actually put a developers' release of that 
in people's hands in November in a professional developers conference we 
had... And so later this year that'll go into beta testing. 

Having the rich storage system with the directory -- that was part of that 
Cairo vision. And so although a lot of the Cairo things have been done, 
that's the one that we're still working on. Today when you think about 
storage, you think about storing messages as one thing or addresses as 
another thing or user objects, machine objects as another thing. Anyway 
there's just too many ways that people are storing things and having to learn 
utilities and different security, different replication, different 
enumeration, query. Right now there's two grand unifications taking place: 
all the presentation is being unified around a sort of a super browser that 
takes over the shell, and then all the storage is being unified around a sort 
of a super file system that takes over a lot of those functions. The storage 
unification is the harder of the two, but they're both very important and 
will make the system more powerful and easier to work with. 

Far be it from me to say that Gates was lying, but he was certainly spinning 
faster than the political pundits on cable news. Please note the fact, 
however, that the OFS went into a beta version of NT. 

La plus ca change 

NT 5 was renamed Windows 2000. In case you've forgotten, W2K has come and gone 
with nary a sign of the promised file system. Ditto for Windows XP. Some 
claim that XP -- the letters Chi and Rho in the Greek alphabet -- was the 
real Cairo. But if it was, it didn't have the new file system either. 

But guess what has been hyped as part of Longhorn the last year or so? 
Correcto-mundo. With just a new coat of paint hastily slapped over it, OFS 
has become WinFS. And if you pay attention to Windows news at all, you 
probably also know -- or have guessed by this time -- that Longhorn's ship 
date has slipped and some features have had to be trimmed. Oh, no! Not the 
promised file system, again! But, yes, in fact. The centerpiece of Longhorn 
lo these many months, WinFS has just been dropped from the production release 
of Longhorn, which is now scheduled for late 2006. 

Luckily for the MS spin-machine, it was a simple cut-and-paste job to patch 
their excuses for not shipping OFS on its original schedule in 1994 and 
re-use them for Longhorn. I think they've really gotten the object-oriented 
concepts of inheritance and re-usability down pretty well, don't you? 

Here's what MS exec Jim Allchin had to say about recently in a story in 
ENTNews by Scott Bekker about WinFS waving bye-bye to the cattle car just as 
the Longhorn train was pulling away from the station: 

The first change is we're going to go hard-core for a Longhorn client in '06 
and hard-core for a server release in '07... 

In order to become more crisp about the dates, we've had to make some hard 

What that means is, given the hard focus on date, that WinFS won't be in the 
client release in '06. It will be in beta at that time. 

Pretty amazing coincidence, eh? That the OFS -- oops! --- WinFS is being 
pulled from Longhorn. But don't worry! They're going to put it in a beta. 
Just as Gates promised, about ten years ago. With promises like that, you 
have to figure that guy in 1994 was right, and trusting Windows users really 
are idiots. 


Actually, I think my conclusion to this story was written last year, by 
someone else. Roger Howorth wrote in a story called Longhorn's long haul 
which appeared in PC Magazine UK last December: "Of course, the real question 
is why does Microsoft seem to focus on promoting Longhorn rather than 
products that are available now. Perhaps Microsoft hopes that if it focuses 
on next-generation technologies we might forget about its rivals of today." 

Let's not make the job any easier for the spin-meisters at Microsoft by trying 
to compare a real operating system, available today, with whatever happens to 
be on the coders' desk at the witching hour two years down the road. It only 
serves to lend Longhorn some much needed appearance of substance. 

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