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Re: Release plans

From: Lennart Borgman (gmail)
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2008 03:41:24 +0200
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20071031 Thunderbird/ Mnenhy/

Richard M. Stallman wrote:
Millions of people use Windows.  Why?  Partly because that's what came
on the machine, partly because they don't care, and partly by choice.

It is a bit temptating to see this list as grasping all possibilties. I think that is a mistake.

I happened to watch the rise of ms windows. I was astonished and had a hard time to understand what was happening. No one of course can really tell the reason behind the success, but some things I noticed where:

- The advertising campaign from MS said to the user "you should decide what programs you have on your pc". Very smart. If you tried to tell users that there are better programs (there were!) then you just had to face that the user "wanted to decide".

- The free software world in my opinion did exactly the opposite. It said to the users "we know what is best for you" (because we are smarter). This is a psychological mistake. And it is not an easy one to cure.

- The unix vendor at that time had the best software. I tried to encourage them to make something that we could actually use in a company environment. The response I got was "we are best", "when the user understands they will chose us". Ok, they were best, but today the user can rather understand that windows is no longer technically inferior (at least not overall). So as I see it there were clearly something that the unix vendors did not understand: meeting the needs of the users and the companies. (The unix vendors did of course not make free software, but the grounds for free software is standards and that is why the unix vendors where important.)

- First ms focused on GUI aspects and usability. When I read messages from experts at ms on this subject I often found the messages surprisingly good. It looked to my like they did take it seriously - and that really requires much thought.

- The free software world seem sometimes to think that creativity regarding GUI is making a new GUI. (MS rather integrated different aspects and made the interface uniform. And that was not made out of laziness, it was as I saw it after careful thought.)

- One of the strength that ms today has it that it has control (at least to some degree) over cooperation between different parts of its software). They can achieve that because they have everything under one umbrella and also have the man power to try to achieve it. Cooperation is a very, very difficult thing in my opinion. Complexity and scaling jumps in.

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