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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
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
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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