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Author Topic: Holy disingenous corpspeak, Batman
scifibum
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Microsoft got a patent approval today for a method of billing computer users for the software and hardware they use on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Link

Among the mind****ing assertions:

quote:
When the need is browsing, a low level of performance may be used, and when network-based interactive gaming is the need of the moment, the highest available performance may be made available to the user
What? You want me to pay extra if I want my word processor to load up in 1.2 instead of 1.8 seconds? This makes no sense. The hardware is sitting on my desk, it's being paid for, and it's not doing anything else. This is the equivalent of disabling bluetooth access to files on a cell phone and charging for uploads through the cell phone network: evil.

quote:
For consumers, Microsoft said, the advantage of such a model would be a lower price at the outset for a powerful PC.
Oh great, more "free" cell phones.

quote:
But the company admitted that the overall cost to the user might be higher than for a standard PC purchase.
Ya think? Or maybe Microsoft was doing this to soften up their margins a little. [Roll Eyes]

quote:
Although the cost of ownership over the life of the computer may be higher than that of a one-time purchase, the payments can be deferred and the user can extend the useful life of the computer beyond that of the one-time purchase machine," Microsoft contended.
Or, I could buy on credit like I can now. Leaving it up to the purchaser whether to pay extra now for longer useful life.

quote:
"To make this model successful, a mechanism must be in place that supports a highly secure method of adjusting performance coupled with a secure, auditable measurement and payment scheme to allow a variety of pre-paid and post-paid mechanisms for capturing and settling highly granular, infinitely adjustable, performance variations,"
Oh, and it might have a little DRM chip. We haven't decided.

quote:
"Both users and suppliers benefit from this new business model," Microsoft claimed. "The user is able to migrate the performance level of the computer as needs change over time, while the supplier can develop a revenue stream business that may actually have higher value than the one-time purchase model currently practiced."
That bolded portion was what made my head explode.

The reason this makes me mad, instead of just annoyed but mostly disinterested, is that Microsoft will undoubtedly jack up prices for their products that will not run on one of these managed/metered systems, in order to drive people into the more lucrative long term contracts. Furthermore, they'll persuade suppliers of PC games to optimize for or exclusively target these systems. Despite everything, I enjoy several Microsoft products and really like PC gaming. Yet if this goes where I think it's going, I'm going to be left with only a few options:

A) Go with illegal cracked software
B) Forego use of Microsoft software and pay-as-you-go targeted 3rd party products, including some cool games.
C) Pay what they ask.

I'll be leaning toward some combination of A and B, I think.

Sadly I doubt enough people will be awake enough to tell MS to **** off with this garbage.

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Jordan
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Thanks, scifi; this is one of the freakiest ideas I have heard recently. Not content with exploding the concept of "ownership" for software, they're now going to do the same for the physical hardware we use? Gah, my head already aches over EULAs!

*sigh* That aside, this is only economically viable for manufacturers if the returns are close to break-even compared to simply purchasing the high-spec equipment. It strikes me that this will probably be used to make computing equipment look cheaper to low-income families, while extracting the same (if not greater) cost from them in the long-run. My family is one of them, they get ads and salespeople all the time inviting them to buy televisions in instalments which turn out to be maybe 20% more expensive than just buying it outright.

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Gaoics79
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The push toward Linux is becoming stronger and stronger, particularly with the forced introduction of Vista. Everyone knows that Vista is a turkey, but now you can't buy a computer without it. It isn't even an option to get a blank system with nothing at all. When it comes to laptops in particular, you are going to pay for that Vista license, whether you like it or not. It's basically a forced purchase if you want to own a laptop.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
Furthermore, they'll persuade suppliers of PC games to optimize for or exclusively target these systems.
That's highly unlikely, you realize.
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Redskullvw
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Why not buy an Apple? Or Linux based system?

This is the end of the begining for MS.

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scifibum
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To be honest, I'd have little problem with the concept of leasing or amortizing the purchase of a set of hardware and software over a set term.

It's the usage-specific billing that really infuriates me. It infuriates me when it happens with mobile phones already. Networks are one thing; you need to manage bandwidth usage. Software is worse but somewhat understandable. However, software as a service tends to be delivered over the Internet, and to run on company-owned hardware. That's not what MS is proposing.

This is buying a toaster on a $1/month installment plan and getting charged a nickel for every piece of toast you make. At the end of the contract, it's a two year old toaster, you're no longer allowed to make toast with it, and the company will buy it back for $1.75, no matter how much toast you made with it. That doesn't sound like the user benefits from the innovative business model, to me anyway.

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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Redskullvw:
Why not buy an Apple? Or Linux based system?

This is the end of the begining for MS.

That's what I'll do. I'm prepared and willing to vote with my wallet, but I'm still bothered by being squeezed until I pop out of the target demographic like a cork out of a champagne bottle.

And it will be an inconvenience since most software is developed for the MS operating systems.

quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
Furthermore, they'll persuade suppliers of PC games to optimize for or exclusively target these systems.
That's highly unlikely, you realize.
*shrug* I don't realize. Why? How many hardware choices do I have right now if I want to run software from the iPhone App Store?

There are big titles that MS will anticipate a large market for, and they will have the financial wherewithal to make it attractive for the game publisher to target their managed systems. Why wouldn't they do this, even at a short term loss, in order to ensure all the Halo devotees are using either an Xbox or a MS pay-as-you-go PC in the long run?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Why not buy an Apple? Or Linux based system?

This is the end of the begining for MS.

I have never liked Apple, for various reasons. As far as Linux goes, it's becoming a more and more attractive option, especially now that I don't really play games anymore. But honestly, I'm not as willing to spend time futzing with my software and hardware the way I used to. Mostly these days I just want things to work. So it's still an inconvenience for me to switch to Linux.

One thing is for certain: software piracy is looking like a more and more attractive option. I swore I would do things legit, and I have been pretty good about that.

But if Microsoft is going to force me to buy Vista against my will, even though I legitimately own about 4 Windows XP licenses (which of course cannot be easily (or at all) installed on a different computer from the one they came with) I think, frankly, I'm justified in just pirating the damn thing. I've already paid for it, after all. If Microsoft is going to force-feed me their software and take my money against my will, I may as well get to use the software I actually want.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
*shrug* I don't realize. Why? How many hardware choices do I have right now if I want to run software from the iPhone App Store?
It is precisely because you're asking that question that you don't understand why it's unlikely, actually. Microsoft is just one part of the Windows platform, and it knows it. It has concluded that the home computer is a dead end in terms of profitability. Business users still find value in Microsoft products due to their best-of-breed management tools, but the time is coming when the home user won't see that value -- and Microsoft is perfectly aware of that fact.

So they have two strategies:

1) Make it so easy for people to program for their OS that developers for Windows stay ahead of their counterparts on other platforms.

2) Phase out computers as much as possible from the home, replacing them with entertainment hubs -- like the Xbox. Since Microsoft can control the hardware and licensing channels for these devices, it can squeeze a lot more money out.

Frankly, I would not be at all surprised if the patent described was specifically for a variant on #2: making certain services and/or computing functions available on the XBox (or its children). If you can replace the computer -- which, after all, only gets Microsoft a pittance, since they don't own the hardware -- in someone's home with an XBox that, for an extra charge, lets someone open a spreadsheet now (as long as they've got the $60 XXXTreme Keybo4rd peripheral), you're making a lot more money.

In the short term, Microsoft is not going to be talking PC game manufacturers into much. What it will be doing is -- very subtly -- trying to making gaming on the PC a less viable option, in hopes that people will break down and grab an Xbox.

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scifibum
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I guess you're saying that I'm wrong about the mechanism rather than the intention or the end result, then.

"It is precisely because you're asking that question that you don't understand why it's unlikely, actually."

Yeah, 'why' questions are like that. [Wink]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
I have never liked Apple, for various reasons. As far as Linux goes, it's becoming a more and more attractive option, especially now that I don't really play games anymore. But honestly, I'm not as willing to spend time futzing with my software and hardware the way I used to. Mostly these days I just want things to work. So it's still an inconvenience for me to switch to Linux.

I may be derailing the thread by asking this, but why do you not like Apple now? I could see it for people who game or like futzing around with their hardware and software, but if you aren't in either of those categories anymore, why wouldn't you use Apple?

To get it somewhat back on track, higher total cost of ownership, smaller sticker price? That's just how the windows world does things, I don't know why any of us should be surprised at this obvious extension of their proven method for making money.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I may be derailing the thread by asking this, but why do you not like Apple now? I could see it for people who game or like futzing around with their hardware and software, but if you aren't in either of those categories anymore, why wouldn't you use Apple?
Well for a host of reasons. Let's see, where to begin. I owned an Apple IIE way back, which I was happy with. It worked for many years and of course, back then, Apple was king.

But then time passed, and I made the switch to X86, so I could play the games that my friends were playing, mostly for Ultima 7. After that point, my experience with Apple has been as follows:

1. A parents' friend asked me to help him fix his computer when I was about 14 or 15, since I am handy with computers. I came over, tried to eject the floppy disk, only to find that there was no eject button on the drive. Apparently Apple doesn't believe in manual eject buttons. You have to do it in software. Great. I press the eject button on the screen, and what does it tell me? "Insufficient memory to eject disc" We had to reboot the computer to get the floppy disc out of the drive [Smile]

2. Flashforward to university. I keep hearing all this great stuff about how Macs never crash, Macs are great for publishing, Macs are great for graphics. Well I work for the student paper and we have a bunch of IMacs networked together. The publishing software, called "Qark" or something seemed ok, but I dunno, there wasn't anything there that was blowing me away. It did the job. When I wasn't rebooting the things after their frequent crashes, I was scratching my head trying to figure out what nitwit thought it was a great idea to have a mouse with only one button. Thanks Apple.

3. I buy a Diamond Rio, the first ever MP3 player. It works very well. I am happy with it. Years go by, and the MP3 player market matures. There are flash memory players, hard drive based players, CD-R based players. But all of the sudden, here comes Apple with a newfangled player called the IPod. What is an Ipod? As near as I can tell, it's a standard hard drive based MP3 player with a prettier interface. That's it. Of course, the windows-based software crashes every six seconds, and everyone I know who owns one has to get it replaced every six weeks because the thing breaks regularly. My best friend was practically on a once a month replacement plan at Future Shop. My sister's broke at least once. Her friend's broke. My friend's girlfriend broke. I literally didn't know anyone whose Ipod hadn't broken at least once. But pish posh, I'm just a dinosaur failing to stare in awe at the wonder that is Ipod. Suddenly, we don't call it an MP3 player anymore. It's called an Ipod. We don't stream video anymore, we "Podcast". Apparently Apple single-handedly invented streaming video and the MP3 player. Who knew?

My single greatest complaint with Apple is that they make pretty furniture, not computers. They are obssessed with style, to the exclusion of all else. They claim that their stuff is easier to use and more reliable than the competition, but this never seems to pan out. All that seems to be the case is that they have better marketing and their products are more stylish. Great.

Now if you were me, would you want to own a Mac?

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scifibum
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I'll tell you why I don't like Apple, even though I'm not jasonr. Obviously gaming is not their strong suit but there are other reasons.

- Constant posturing as arbiters of computing fashion, and annoying tendency of fans to wax enthusiastic about "design." I really don't care how sleek my computer looks on my desk, thanks, and don't want to pay extra for the privelege. I don't buy designer jeans or custom rims for my vehicles.

- Dishonest Mac vs. PC ads. (I get some amusement from the backlash videos you can find on Youtube.)

- Limited choices. I think Mac offers a few models and that's about it. I like choosing every component of my system and building it myself.

- Price! Right now a Macbook starts at $999. Similarly spec'd PC laptop can be had for less than half the price. iMac and Mac Pro models seem obscenely expensive to me for what you get. They're selling the basic iMac with a dual core 2.4ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, and 20 inch LCD screen for $1199. Spent wisely on a PC, that would get you quad core, 8 GB RAM, 24 inch screen, 1.5 TB RAID array, top of the line graphics and TV tuner cards, and you'd have plenty left over for nice peripherals. I don't buy the argument that at least Mac comes with everything you need: no it doesn't, and anyway if I want to edit video there's plenty of open source software out there that I can use for free.

If Apple put out workhorse machines with less focus on style and more focus on maximizing performance for price, I'd be happier with the prospect of buying a Mac. As it is I think using Linux on PC hardware is far more attractive at the moment.

BTW, my iPod shuffle stopped working spontaneously after extremely light use, so I wasn't impressed with the quality. I also wasn't a fan of the design. Sure, it does one thing well, but why wouldn't I want a player that does that plus a lot of other stuff, with larger storage capacity, for the same price? (I received it as a gift.)

Oh, and like jasonr, I'm annoyed by Apple's blithe pretense that they invented portable music players and streaming/downloadable video. They might not quite claim they did, but they sure don't mind most of their customers thinking it's so.

[ December 30, 2008, 11:07 AM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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Gina
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:

My single greatest complaint with Apple is that they make pretty furniture, not computers. They are obssessed with style, to the exclusion of all else. They claim that their stuff is easier to use and more reliable than the competition, but this never seems to pan out. All that seems to be the case is that they have better marketing and their products are more stylish. Great.

So true. I made the switch to Mac on my last laptop purchase, and have found the very same thing. High on style, but they seem to purposely hide or obfuscate how to use things. I had to go out and buy a thick manual to figure out how to do simple operations, and even now I am frequently mystified. I've had more hardware and software glitches in six months than in years of previous Toshiba laptop ownership. Definitely not up to the hype.
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OpsanusTau
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Huh. That's funny - I love my Mac.

I find it extremely intuitive to work with and don't have any problem with hardware or software glitches.

My basic reason for loving my Mac is that I loathe using most Microsoft products, and am not really capable of the whole Linux thing. This way, the only Microsoft product I use is a pirated copy of Excel for Mac.

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scifibum
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Perhaps you should try using Google Docs instead of Excel, to really be free of Bill's taint. (And now that I put it that way, I feel dirty typing this on a Windows machine.)
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Storm Saxon
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I won't buy a Mac until they allow their OS to be virtualized. I refuse to have to buy a whole computer to get to experience the orgasmic exeperience that their OS reputedly brings.

As to the original article, MS has been pushing this kind of thing for a while for their software a la thin clients running office apps direct from Redmond where rather than companies buying Office for each computer, they just run it from an application server. As Tom notes, they've been trying to get their fingers into other business models that are not so amenable to piracy-- Web PCs, Zunes, Xbox Live, etc.

Linux right now is at a great stage where it's fairly easy to setup and use, but it is definitely not for someone who doesn't mind working with it and researching problems when it does run into issues.

For instance, I've been playing around with the newest version of Ubuntu. This version is apparently 32 bit by default, so it didn't recognize any memory over 3 GB.

For almost any other OS, I would have had to buy their 64 bit version. With Linux, I googled the problem, stuck in some server headers in the OS configuration and BAM! problem solved.

For well-known MS programs, there is WINE, which allows users to run Windows programs in Linux. However, again, it usually takes a little googling to resolve problems.

And if you really need to, there's virtualbox, which allows one to run Windows virtually inside linux. The downside there being that your hardware isn't being accessed directly, so most gamesj, or anything else that require a lot of hardware muscle, can't be used. Outside of that, though, it works like a charm.

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Jordan
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My experiences with Apple computers are mostly positive, particularly of OS 9. Unfortunately, encounters with their fans, corporate attitudes and price tags go a good way to offsetting this.
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OpsanusTau
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Does Google Docs do what Excel does?
I've never tried it.

I've tried using the spreadsheet that came with my Mac as well as Open Office, and both of them don't work as well at the tasks I need.
Besides which, everyone else uses Excel, and I often need to sync data up with others'.

I am resigned to it - as long as I don't have to pay. [Wink]
Though it has caused a few problems on my machine.

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scifibum
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For 3/4 of the Excel users I know, they could substitute Google's online spreadsheet. The basic functionality is the same and a lot of the formulas seem to work identically.

That's partly because 3/4 of the Excel users I know barely use the program at all. [Smile]

If you found deficiencies with Open Office I doubt you can get what you need out of Google Spreadsheets. Features in the google product seem to be coming along - there is now support for charts, and for something like pivot tables - but there are things like linked workbooks, vba macros, OLE automation, etc. that I think would be quite difficult to port to Google.

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JabberWockey
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TomDavidson is right here, we're seeing the stereotypical "Home" PC functionality being divided up amongst different platforms as technology advances.

Gaming is being pushed to consoles, not only by user decision, but also by developers as piracy becomes far more common on the PC. It is so much easier for users to buy a one time console rather than constantly upgrade their PCs or drop $8000 one-time on a PC to ensure years of compatibility. Similarly, PC software is much easier to hack and share as opposed to consoles, which when hacked to play pirated games are near impossible to partake in online gaming. This leads developers to switch to consoles or to go to more extreme means of protecting their PC software for which there is backlash (try googling "EA" and "Spore DRM").

Similarily, you are seeing music and video moving to media centers. One of the reasons blu-ray is having difficulty becoming established STILL (other than cost) is because of the online marketplace. iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu.com, and soon Sony all offer online marketplaces where you can purchase media for download or simply view media for free. This streaming media, increases in internet speed, and the compatibility of flat screens with computers, is why media centers were created - to act as a central hub for all the media in a household.

What does that leave for the PC? Word and spreadsheet documentation? In the not too distant future you are going to mostly see businesses utilizing the PC for it's functionality.

Microsoft sees this as well, and is looking to capitalize on it. For a large corporation that needs functionality more complex and private than Google Docs, pay as you go is not so bad an offer when use inside that corporation varies. For the two to five users in a home, though, it would seem ludacris.

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Storm Saxon
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The death of the PC has been proclaimed for years, and every year it seems to hang on. [Smile]
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JabberWockey
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Touché, Saxon. Dead, maybe not, but changed.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Redskullvw:
Why not buy an Apple?

Um, dude? If you're avoiding Microsoft products because you don't like the idea of a large company cynically trying to extract as much money as possible from its' customers pockets, Apple might not be a really smart alternative.
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Jordan
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Sorry to continue the derail, but while we're on the subject of how pretentious Apple can be… [Edit: not as good as Rallan's.]

[ January 03, 2009, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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scifibum
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The new rail is just as good as the old rail. I think that's as good as Rallan's link too. [Cool]
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Gaoics79
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I don't usually bump old threads like this, but when I read this, I was just so outraged that I had to post it.

Check out this article on entrepreneurship that was posted today on CNN:

Article

Here's the part that makes my brain explode:

quote:
Kawasaki said Apple would have failed without the unique contributions of its co-founder, Steve Jobs. "He asked the question, 'Wouldn't it be neat if people could carry all their music with them wherever they went?' " Result: the iPod.
[Mad]
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kenmeer livermaile
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Once a time it mattered (to someone, somewhere) when the commercial said:

"Xenith, the quality goes in before the name goes on."

Because back then TVs were cool.

And never once did Philo T. Farnsworth get a mention.

I think the Cult of Jobs/Apple stems from the fact that Apple went out and, for a time, stole IBM's lunch via an application that was blatantly obvious once it happened.

And they did it in a garage.

Marketing mythology.

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Adam Masterman
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quote:
Now if you were me, would you want to own a Mac?
Everyone's experience is different. I was diehard PC for a long time, but was forced to switch when my school issued laptops to teachers. Within a month I was sold, and I haven't looked back. They don't run perfectly, but glitches and freeze ups happen about 1% as often as they do on PCs, in my experience. For graphics, they are without a doubt the only choice. All of this work (a few partial exceptions):

http://www.mahasiddha.deviantart.com

was done entirely on my computer, an 06 iMac. Couldn't live without it.

Adam

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Gaoics79
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quote:
Marketing mythology.
You know, I would not be that upset if at the time of the introduction of the IPod, the MP3 player was some obscure gadget that only a handful of geeks owned.

But in tech terms, the MP3 player was already ancient history by the time Apple got into the game. It had been several years already since the introduction of the Diamond Rio, and you already had flash MP3 players, hard drive MP3 players, CD-R MP3 Players, etc... Everyone and his uncle had one on the market. You could get Samsung models for under $100, as I recall. It was already very mainstream.

Now I'll give Apple credit for its spectacularly successful marketing, which turned a garden variety hard-drive MP3 player into the MP3 player. But really, for this schmuck to imply that Steve Jobs practically invented it? And for CNN to print a quote like that without comment?

In 5 years is Apple going to be claiming to have invented the cellphone too? This is just too much.

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LetterRip
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The Mac price premium is the only annoyance for me, I'm a total bargain hunter when it comes to computer hardware.

Currently I run Ubuntu on my laptop, haven't had vista for about a year. Might have to reinstall it though since a golf simulator I bought won't work in WINE.

LetterRip

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scifibum
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In case you want more head exploding, jasonr, read this.

Choice bits:

quote:
one of Jobs' basic insights about technology is that good design is actually as important as good technology. All the cool features in the world won't do you any good unless you can figure out how to use said features, and feel smart and attractive while doing it.
(emphasis added). What insight! If you don't "feel smart and attractive" while using it, technology won't do you a bit of good! So sayeth Jobs. I guess all those spreadsheets I made that saved my company hundreds of hours of labor are essentially useless, because I made them on an ugly computer that didn't make me feel attractive.

quote:
[for the iPhone] Apple's engineers used the touchscreen to innovate past the graphical user interface (which Apple helped pioneer with the Macintosh in the 1980s) to create a whole new kind of interface, a tactile one that gives users the illusion of actually physically manipulating data with their hands—flipping through album covers, clicking links, stretching and shrinking photographs with their fingers.

This is, as engineers say, nontrivial. It's part of a new way of relating to computers. Look at the success of the Nintendo Wii. Look at Microsoft's new Surface Computing division. Look at how Apple has propagated its touchscreen interface to the iPod line with the iPod Touch. Can it be long before we get an iMac Touch? A TouchBook?

(Emphasis added again). Never mind that touch screen interfaces for laptops and desktops have been around for years...Apple might come out with iThings with them!!!

quote:
when apple made the iphone, it didn't throw together some cheap-o bare-bones firmware. It took OS X, its full-featured desktop operating system, and somehow squished it down to fit inside the iPhone's elegant glass-and-stainless-steel case. That makes the iPhone more than just a gadget. It's a genuine handheld, walk-around computer, the first device that really deserves the name.
Geez. Just like the MP3 player thing. PDAs that run full operating systems were available for years before the iPhone. Unless to "deserve" the name "handheld walk-around computer" you have to be both pretty and made by Apple.

I have no problem with people loving their iPhones. It's the inaccurate claims that bug me (OK, the giddy tone is just as annoying as the inaccuracy).

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