Dvorak Really Hates Windows 8

Via the WSJ‘s Market Watch:  Microsoft reinvents the wheel with Windows 8

Windows 8 looks to me to be an unmitigated disaster that could decidedly hurt the company and its future.

[…]

The public and enterprise users are going to demand Windows 7 throughout 2013 and until Microsoft gives up on this soulless Metro interface and gets a new design team, fast.

Read the whole thing, if such things interest you.

I had some passing hope for the OS based on the fact it is supposed to be fast booting, but Dvorak’s column definitely kills the interest.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. I’ve been reading him for 20-odd years now. Is there anything Dvorak doesn’t hate?

  2. @Doug Mataconis: He is pretty grumpy, to be sure.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Windows seems pretty close to kill-proof. Vista was seen as an unmitigated disaster, too, but they got through it and on to Win7. Frankly, I’m long past the point where I expect OS’s, browsers, office suites, and other such basic packages to do more in terms of features. Instead, I’m hoping they’ll figure out how to make them do what they’re supposed to more efficiently.

  4. Jim Henley says:

    People also professed burning hatred for the interface changes in Office 2007, even though they were a massive improvement over what had come before.

  5. @Jim Henley: That’s true. I liked those changes.

  6. @James Joyner:

    The bigger challenger to Windows, at least on the consumer side, is going to be the plethora of mobile and tablet devices out there that allow people to do things without using a PC. Already, Microsoft is working on a version of Office for the iPad, and I assume they’ll have on for Android tablets in due course as well.

    Microsoft still benefits from the fact that their OS comes pre-installed in every new PC and (non-Apple) laptop sold, but the more alternatives have to those products, the more Microsoft will have to look in new directions.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    There are still people using Windows? Hah hah hah.

    Every few years the Windows users will try to tell me that this time, finally, Windows has caught up to Mac. And I just laugh. Lion OS has some dumb features but Windows 8 sounds like something I’d take a hammer to.

    It’s time, people: join the cult. One of us . . . One of us . . .

  8. James Joyner says:

    @Jim Henley: @Doug Mataconis: I still HATE, HATE, HATE Office 2007 and its successors. The problem is that I used to be able to do everything I needed to do quite easily from one window. Now, I have to jump back and forth constantly from menu view to menu view to do simple things like change fonts, add comments or footnootes, do a search and replace, and so forth. Nor are there any new features that I’ve started using that make up for that inconvenience.

  9. al-Ameda says:

    @Jim Henley:

    People also professed burning hatred for the interface changes in Office 2007, even though they were a massive improvement over what had come before.

    Really? I thought the Office 2007 MS apps for Word and Excel were a big step backwards, and most of my colleagues thought so too. We all adapted and learned the new stuff (what choice did we have) but really, I thought Office 2007, with that idiotic banner at the menu bar, was designed for people who don’t know how to use a computer.

  10. Jim Henley says:

    Dudes. Real users use right-click context menus anyway! 😀

    What I resent is the extra click to see recent files in Office 2010.

  11. PJ says:

    Windows releases have the same pattern as Star Trek movies.

    Windows 98 – Good
    Windows Me – Bad
    Windows XP – Good
    Windows Vista – Bad
    Windows 7 – Good
    Windows 8 – Bad?

  12. Jim Henley says:

    @michael reynolds: I think xkcd has the right of it.

    FWIW, my personal machine is a unibody Macbook I bought in 2009 so I could run Scrivener, which was then unavailable for Windows. At work I’ve used a succession of Thinkpads and HPs running Windows. About the Macbook I’ll say: damned impressive piece of hardware! Especially the screen. Mind you, at those prices, it ought to be. But as for the OSes themselves, I just don’t fund the interface differences clearly favor OS X. It’s not obvious to me: why having to close a program separately from the last file is better; that it’s “user-friendly” that I can’t CUT a file or folder from the Finder and paste it somewhere else rather than have to drag it between finder windows or copy-paste and then delete the originals; that the dock is superior to the Start-menu/status-bar combination; that only being able to cycle through applications with Cmd-Tab vs. cycling through files with Alt-Tab is more convenient – there are probably a half-dozen little touches in the way one does ordinary things where the Mac, three years later, makes me go, “Oh, come on!”

    I’ll probably stick with Macbooks going forward because my iPad and iPhone enmesh me enough in the Apple ecosystem that dumping OS X is more trouble than it’s worth. And maybe Win8 will suck as much as Dvorak says anyway. But while I’ve found my OS X machine perfectly usable, I haven’t found it worthy of worship.

  13. LaurenceB says:

    Here’s Dvorak’s opinion of the iPhone from 2007.

    Make of it what you will.

  14. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    One of my problems with MS products is precisely because they reinvent the interface in every release. Most users get lost, it´s a nightmare for IT and support people.

  15. michael reynolds says:

    I’ve just switched to the Mac Air after an unfortunate incident involving coffee and keyboard. I haven’t checked the weights but it doesn’t seem to weigh any more than my iPad while doing all the work of my old MacBook Pro.

    It’s lighter than your computer. It’s prettier than your computer. And I could slice bread with it if I wanted to.

    As for Lion the only things that have pissed me off are in Pages — the disappearing scroll bar and the idiotic ‘export’ rather than ‘save as’ nonsense. Other than that, I don’t recall the last time anything Mac or native to Mac crashed or froze. I almost want to say never. I’ve certainly never had an OS crash. And Chrome meshes perfectly with it.

  16. Two things:

    First, companies like MS or Apple should not be afraid of offering a second OS line, and positioning it for an “advanced” audience. The market becomes self-selecting, and less likely to complain if they don’t get it right away. It’s always a bigger risk offering a “low end” interface. No one wants to admit that they should be using it, and if they can’t manage an “easy” interface, it must obviously be the software’s fault.

    Given the Windows/Office money machine, Win8 should just have been a minor rev on the quite nice Win7.

    Second, I think MS did this to pre-fight a future war. The don’t worry about Apple (a niche premium product), they worry about Chromebooks, the Google product.

    Chromebook has an advantage that it grows out of the browser, and can offer a very simple interface, without expectation of local storage or local applications (except in the cached, off-line, versions of on-line apps).

    The new Windows secure boot architecture is also a block on browser-centered OS proliferation.

    FWIW, I think Chromebooks and cloud-based computing are the answer to the Number 1 problem facing rank and file home users … “what do I do when my computer ages, slows, or requires a OS reinstall?” With a browser-centered OS it’s no big. Just remember your cloud passwords.

  17. I really thought Windows 7 was the huge step forward promised with Vista. I fail to see why Microsoft would mess with what is probably their best system ever.

  18. @michael reynolds:

    MacBook Air: $999

    Samsung Series 5 Chromebook: $300

    In my opinion the interesting thing is that the premium market is so much larger than it should be in the US. Certainly you are in the position to buy an Air, and if you like it more power to you. That said, many people who might be happy with the Chromebook are putting the Air on charge cards in cultural gambits.

    … it’s like a leased Mercedes.

  19. Ron Beasley says:

    I gave up on MS Office years ago and switched to the free Open Office.

  20. @Ron Beasley:

    I use Ubuntu, not particularly loving the GUI, but it works. I use online Google Apps for most documents, and Open Office just for the few things I like local.

  21. @michael reynolds:

    It’s lighter than your computer. It’s prettier than your computer. And I could slice bread with it if I wanted to.

    I think Mac vs. PC is pretty much the ultimate how liberal arts views the world vs. how engineer views the world issue. I have to agree with you on all you points, and yet those all seem like terrible criteria for deciding what computer to buy. ;>

    Other than that, I don’t recall the last time anything Mac or native to Mac crashed or froze.

    Yeah, it’s easy to do that when you have control over all the hardware that the OS has to work with, rather than having to work with a bazillion hardware vendors, many of whom write crappy drivers. But that also means you end up with hardware that’s often two or three generations out of date but still costs more than new PCs (by way of example, Apple’s current top of the line Mac Pro has the same processor and graphics as the Alienware machine I bought 2.5 years ago, and still costs $800 more now than I paid for it then).

    It’s kinda amusing to see you essentially arguing for vertical monopolies.

  22. Jim Henley says:

    @Ron Beasley: I’ve tried to switch to OpenOffice at various times because I am very, very cheap. I wanted to like it so bad. But every version I tried was incredibly slow, the things that Calc did differently than Excel seemed worse ways of handling it, and yet enough things worked just like Excel that it gave me a major Uncanny Valley reaction.

    Contrariwise, Apple’s Numbers is inarguably a less capable spreadsheet than Excel, but it also works differently enough from Excel that it doesn’t infuriate me the way Calc did. It’s just “a different program missing crucial professional features” rather than a failed clone.

  23. @Ron Beasley: @john personna:

    I went through a period of experimentation with Ubuntu and Open Office (back when Vista was driving me nuts). They were nice, but I got tired of have to tinker with it to get certain things to work (e.g., various internet streaming issues, which may now be easier) and I found out that while OO does a good job for basics, I found I had a variety of problems with formatting issues and whatnot when I was dealing with publishers.

  24. @Jim Henley:

    Huh, I LOVE Open Office and like it much better than Office. Ah well, de gustibus non est disputandum. ;>

  25. I also found that OO’s version of PowerPoint (I forget the name at the moment) was not as Office compatible as it claims to be–I still have a number of files from my Linux experimentation era that I created or edited in OO that will not open in PPT.

  26. Jim Henley says:

    @Ron Beasley: I should add that Excel is basically my job. If my only uses for spreadsheets were non-professional I could get by with OO Calc, though if my only uses for spreadsheets were non-professional OO Calc might be too much to be worth learning. And it would still be slow!

    And I did get decent use out of OO Writer for a time.

  27. PJ says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Lion OS has some dumb features but Windows 8 sounds like something I’d take a hammer to.

    And with Mountain Lion Apple is starting to bring the walled garden to OS X.

    Personally, I prefer a bit more freedom than what Apple is turning into.

  28. sam says:

    A Linux user, a Mac user, and a Windows user are having drinks in a bar. The Windows guy and the Mac guy are having an argument about which OS is better. The argument goes on and on. The Linux guy sees a beautiful supermodel at the bar, goes up to her, chats her up, and they leave. The Windows and Mac guys continue to argue.

  29. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I found I had a variety of problems with formatting issues and whatnot when I was dealing with publishers.

    Again, I find the opposite. There’s a few things like outlines or working with a lot of formatting templates, where Word has never entirely worked properly and Open Office requires far less hand tweaking. I also find it easier to get images positioned precisely the way I want in Writer than in Word.

  30. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I’m a .. jeez if I started programming a Radio Shack TRS-80 in 1978 .. 34 year computer guy. I’ve written code for literally dozens of commercial OSes (there were many UNIXII in the 90’s). So I have an attitude that if it can fly, I can fly it.

    So my “can run anything” attitude is definitely different from an average user who probably spent many formative years with a single OS.

    The reason I talk about Chromebook, which is not at all a normal, traditional, Linux, is that it’s coming at this from a different angle. Most home users now spend most time in their Chrome browser. Tada. Chromebook is a Chrome browser with just enough to keep it running, automatically, in the background, without worries about upgrades and updates.

    Perhaps Linux and Open Office reached a level where semi-technical people “could” run them “if they really wanted to” .. but we saw that was not sufficient inducement when compared to ubiquitous WIndows pre-install.

    We may see that cycle repeat when Chromebook faces Win9 … but this time might be different, when MS competes with Chrome, Google, and the Google cloud architecture.

  31. @Stormy Dragon: My problem was with sharing the product with the publisher. What it looked like to me and what it looked like to them was the problem.

  32. I guess the “shorter” would be if you are ready to go whole-hog for the cloud, why not Google?

  33. @Steven L. Taylor:

    That’s what PDFs are for!

  34. @john personna: I agree with you about the Chromebook and its likely mass appeal. I do think that cloud-based tech may be the next big think for typical users.

    I was talking about downloading Ubuntu and running it as an alternative to Windows. I wasn’t that pleased with it after about a year or so of messing with it and using it on at least two machines for a variety of usages.

  35. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also I should note I secretly pine for WordPerfect. I’ve really never really recovered from the loss of WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature.

  36. @Stormy Dragon:

    That’s what PDFs are for!

    Yes, but when the publisher needs to load the information into whatever software they are using (I forget the name) to typeset the document, a PDF won’t cut it. I had a number of problems, in particular, with figures and such.

  37. @Stormy Dragon:

    Also I should note I secretly pine for WordPerfect. I’ve really never really recovered from the loss of WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature.

    We are in complete agreement there. That is one of my ongoing complaints about Word.

  38. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I was being facetious, but more seriously, it’s kinda shocking that a professional publisher doesn’t accept ISO 26300 ODF files and requires a proprietary format like the Microsoft .docx format. You’re probably right Open Office doesn’t render that the same was a Word, but you really shouldn’t be forced to submit in that format to begin with.

  39. @Steven L. Taylor:

    The latest Ubuntu just does all media, from what I can tell. Haven’t been stumped by any embedded video.

    Hmm. Not sure now if I added “secondary sources” to my package manager in Ubuntu 12. That used to be part of the install-day routine.

    Anyway, if anyone wants to play with Linux (and programming) I recommend a clean install, wiping out any previous OS, on a spare, scratch PC.

  40. (I’d imagine that publishers would be using cloud-based software within 5 years. As was reported in the tech blogs recently, it slashes IT costs (and oops, employment).)

  41. al-Ameda says:

    I use a Mac at home and I downloaded Open Office to use instead of the Mac’s Pages and Numbers – so far it’s been fine.

  42. @john personna:

    It cuts IT costs, but increases risk. Now you’re dependent on a third party for securing your data and you’re dependent on them for availablity. And the recent Megaupload.com fiasco demonstrated what happens when things go badly at your cloud provider. I think a lot of business would be very loathe to place the fate of their enterpise in a situation like that.

    What’s probably more likely is going to be “local clouds”, where the companies virtualize everything onto centralized servers, but a server they have full control of.

  43. @Stormy Dragon:

    I was being facetious,

    Gotcha. I missed the tone 😉

  44. @Stormy Dragon:

    We pursued uptime in most business computing projects. The “fife nines” of the mainframe world were the best of the best. That’s 99.999 percent uptime.

    Household IT never came close. They take hits of an hour here a couple hours there. As much as it makes headlines when a world-wide service goes down for a few hours, the “nines” are still better than the small to medium shops.

    If your IT departments have a honest uptime log, they’ll see the cloud advantage.

  45. @LaurenceB:

    From the review you linked:

    What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a “reference design” and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures.

    It should do that immediately before it’s too late. Samsung Electronics Ltd. (US:SSNGY) might be a candidate. Otherwise I’d advise you to cover your eyes. You’re not going to like what you’ll see.

    Point taken.

  46. (I expect you can count the corporate IT shops with better uptime than Google on one hand.)

  47. @john personna:

    If your IT departments have a honest uptime log, they’ll see the cloud advantage.

    Risks are measured on to scales: likelihood (what are the chances of this happening) and impact (what happens when it does). The hardest case to deal with is the low-likelihood/high-impact case, which is wait cloud availability falls into. You’re right that it’s less likely to go down. But when it does, you’re IT infrastructure is completely crippled. Again, take a look at the megaupload.com situation: the chances of your cloud provider getting raided by the FBI and all their computers siezed is highly unlikely. But now every one of thier customers has lost access to their data for months, and will likely never get access to it again.

    And what happens when we start getting stories about people breaking into a cloud provider and stealing some companies files? Are you willing to lose all of your companies IP because it turns out your cloud provider wasn’t as secure as that claimed to be?

  48. LaurenceB says:

    @Steven Taylor, @StormyDragon

    Also I should note I secretly pine for WordPerfect. I’ve really never really recovered from the loss of WordPerfect’s “reveal codes” feature.

    As a former WordPerfect developer, this warms my heart.

  49. @Stormy Dragon:

    I’m saying that the cloud record is better, already. The only thing small scale IT has going for it is that their downtime and data loss record is hidden, and can’t be judged equally.

  50. Jeremy says:

    @Ron Beasley: Why everyone doesn’t do this I don’t know. It’s so much better than Microsoft Office.

  51. @LaurenceB:

    Seriously, reveal codes was one of the best features I’ve ever seen in a word processor anywhere. If something isn’t looking the way you want, you could just go in and see what invisible code wasn’t in exactly the right spot, or was there when it wasn’t supposed to be, and fix it. Maybe the issue is that it was too much of a “programmer” way of looking at things, which is both why I liked it so much and while casual users couldn’t make use of it, but I can’t believe that no one else has ever copied that feature.

  52. @Stormy Dragon:

    Seriously, reveal codes was one of the best features I’ve ever seen in a word processor anywhere. If something isn’t looking the way you want, you could just go in and see what invisible code wasn’t in exactly the right spot, or was there when it wasn’t supposed to be, and fix it

    Word.

    (No pun intended).

  53. Jeremy says:

    I took one look at the Metro interface and said “Fougeddaboutit.” I want my fracking computer to be a computer, and a fracking tablet to be a tablet. I don’t want them mixed. I want my taskbar and what not. The radical change that Redmond is trying to implement here will be, in Dvorak’s words, an “unmitigated disaster,” though I don’t think it will cause them to go bankrupt. It will be an ugly black eye, though.

  54. @john personna:

    Small scale IT fails more, but it’s failures tend to be more contained. The e-mail server may be down, but you can still access office. Or the remote drives are gone, but you can just save things locally temporarily and then move it over later. Cloud is likely to have a probelm, but when you do, it tends to be total.

    Also management can fully audit what their local IT is doing. Now if they’re not going to bother, yes, they’re better off with having a third party taking care of things. But on the other hand, you really have no idea how, say, Amazon is really managing there systems. You have to trust they’re doing it right, but if they’re not, you have no way of knowing until a disaster happens.

  55. @Stormy Dragon:

    You are arguing from missing data.

    You do not have the cumulative losses of those small shops, the accumulation of the “contained” losses.

    But you mentally compare Google’s global loses (minimal) with the single “contained” loss.

  56. @Jeremy:

    I’m not sure. Objectively, I’ve seen the HMI studies and know that our current windowing paradigms are far less productive than they could be, and that Windows Metro begins pulling in some of the ideas that have been shown to improve our use of computers. Subjectively, I see it and, like you, have a very negative aesthetic reaction to it.

    Metro is a superior product from a technical sense, but it’s running into a problem with our innate resistence to change: most people won’t like it, but only because it’s different, not because it’s actually worse than what came before.

    People resent having to relearn things, even if it can be shown that they will end up being able to work more effectively once they do. Which means design ends up stagnating.

  57. Trumwill says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: When did you last try Linux? Cause I banged my head against a wall for years and years, then around 2008 stopped trying. Earlier this year I tried again and found it an entirely different experience. It’s not going to displace Windows in my ecosystem, but it’s now running side-by-side with it on computers with lighter resources. Linux Mint (an offshoot of Ubuntu) in particular came out of the figurative box working well.

  58. @john personna:

    If your IT departments have a honest uptime log, they’ll see the cloud advantage.

    They have, and ARE increasingly going to cloud services. But as I said, a corporate cloud rather than a commodity provider.

  59. Trumwill says:

    Any of you OpenOffice people looking at LibreOffice? I’ve been making that transition and am curious if anyone else has some perspective on it. I’m sort of thinking the Libre is where open source office is going from here.

    I actually think that Microsoft Office hit its apex at around 2000. If it weren’t for the new file-formatting system, I’d have stuck with Office 2000 forever. It got clunky after that. However, since Office 2000 won’t open current Office docs, I’m actually switching back to Open/Libre.

  60. @Doug Mataconis, @Steven L. Taylor: Dvorak, as smart as he is, is definitely someone I would characterize as a crank. I remember watching him on Tech TV before they ruined it and he never had anything nice to say about anything.

    As for Windows 8, I’ve been using the Consumer Preview through VMWare and it is really quite cool. It’s a very very different experience at first, no start menu, no desktop, etc. If you use any legacy apps you get dumped into, basically, Windows 7 desktop (which is apparently undergoing some design changes that will be revealed in the retail release). Metro apps are gorgeous and full screen. It feels alien at first but it’s designed to be cross-platform between tablets and desktops. If you’re using a Mac with Lion right now there are a lot of gesture and tablet features they’ve ported from iOS that just simply don’t feel right if you’re using a mouse and keyboard. If you have a trackpad for gestures it suddenly makes sense though. I can’t say if I’d like to use Win8 all the time, but the direction they’re going is certainly bold for a company that has not really made any waves recently. It’s a stark contrast to an interface that hasn’t really evolved much since Win95.

  61. george says:

    Like Stormy Dragon said, if you’re doing technical work (just about every kind of engineering for instance), the PC is much better, if you’re doing arts then the Mac.

    The problem with Metro is that it makes sense for a mobile device, but is horrible for serious work on a desktop (seriously, you only have to spend a few hours on it to see that). This isn’t a question of getting used to it, most of us have iphones or the like, and are quite happy with the touch/mobile interface – on the small device. It doesn’t map well at all to a desktop.

    On the other hand, I see this is a real chance for Linux to take over the corporate environment; very few businesses are going to want to put up with the interface limitations (key codes … is this 1986 again????) in their environment. A large percentage of corporations are still running Windows XP, and from what I’ve heard, those that were waiting to see what Windows 8 was like are now going ahead and installing Windows 7 while they still can – very few want anything to do with Windows 8. A few are waiting to see if Windows 9 keeps to the pattern of good/bad (ie goes back to a meaningful desktop interface).

  62. @Trumwill:

    OpenOffice people looking at LibreOffice

    Libre Office is a fork of Open Office that was started after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and cut off their Open Office development (the name was eventually given to the Apache Foundation). At present they’re 99% identical, although they’ll probably diverge more as time passes.

  63. george says:

    In terms of cloud, there’s actually a growing reluctance – the recent incidents have definitely pushed it to the far back burner.

    I see the cloud becoming more used for consumer users than corporate, and I think improvements in wireless will if anything strengthen that trend (ie its becoming cheaper and easier to have a good data center).

  64. @george:

    Like Stormy Dragon said, if you’re doing technical work (just about every kind of engineering for instance), the PC is much better, if you’re doing arts then the Mac.

    I meant it less in what type of work you’re doing and more the way of looking at the world. Mac users tend to be focussed primarily on the look of the computer and the aesthetic experience of using it. When I buy a computer, I’m more concerned with what the parts in it are and what their technical capabilities are. Beyond that the PC is to me just a box for containing those pieces and I don’t really care if it looks nice (and to the extent I do care about how it looks, I prefer a more brutalist or industrial look).

  65. Trumwill says:

    There are some cloud-computing aspects I am coming around with. It’s nice and convenient with the Android phone that I never have to attach it to my computer to sync information. It’s always syncing with the Google ecosphere for calendars, contacts, email, and so on. Even Google Drive for files, though that has its limitations.

    I have to confess a little bit of bafflement, though, at what buying a Chomebook gets me that a regular laptop/netbook doesn’t. The Chromebook would be ideal for a market where laptops have a high pricepoint, but they don’t.

  66. @Trumwill:

    A Chromebook is Linux Mint for people who don’t know what Linux Mint is.

  67. george says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I agree with you in terms of looking at the world; however, in practice, most engineering companies I’ve been associated with use PC’s (actually often with a flavor of Unix) rather than Macs, because the PC’s simply work better for that. Meanwhile I understand most graphic arts shops use Macs because they are better for that.

    Someone once said that Macs were like a sleek sportscar, while PC’s were like a truck – which one you use depends on what you’re trying to do.

  68. @Trumwill:

    As an aside, many of the people who would benefit from notebooks, don’t know they should get a notebook. It’s similar to not knowing that Chrome OS would make things easier.

    Home users (especially older ones) have been taught that the desktop is the primary PC, and the notebook is a second or third for power users.

    The opportunity for simplicity comes with a Chromebook as “most often used” even if an old Windows PC stays “primary” in the spare room.

  69. rudderpedals says:

    @Trumwill: No problems at all with Libreoffice for calc writer or mail merge. All of my law office doc generation runs on it.

    I wonder James if the interface probs you mentioned were with a cranky Linotype machine?

    Waxing on software gone but not forgotten: Framemaker, should have been a contender. Produced high quality book quality documents.

    Wordstar whose ctrl-q combinations would still fall from my fingers…

  70. Ron Beasley says:

    If it is radically different business customers won’t be buying it. That means MS will have to support Windows 7 for a very long time. If I want a tablet I will buy a tablet.

  71. michael reynolds says:

    I think geek nostalgia explains a lot of the continuing affection for Windows products. Engineer types kind of like things they can fix after a breakdown and alter and adjust. I don’t. Just like I don’t want to work on my car or fix my washing machine.

    A computer is an appliance — I just want it to work, straight out of the box. If it stops working I want a single place I can take it — like a car dealership. And like a car or again, a household appliance, I would like it not to be ugly.

    Left to engineers we’d all be driving putty-colored cubes.

  72. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I think you’re ascribing to nostalgia what is really technical requirements – when was the last time you tried to develop imbedded processor software on a Mac? Or tried to do a VLSI, or Programmable Gate Array design on a Mac?

    Just as there is a reason why every vehicle isn’t a BMW (ie a semi-trailer doesn’t look as nice or handle as well as a high end sports car, but it hauls a heavy load much better), so there is a reason why there is more than one kind of computer.

    Yes, computer are household appliances (though even there not everyone wants the same kind of stove) – but they’re also business machines, and what they are used for varies. And just as shipping companies have their own shops and mechanics to keep their fleets running, so do technology companies have their own staff to keep their varied computer equipment running.

    Its probably like the difference in language skills required for you to write a book, and for me to write internal design documentation – it’d be silly for me to think that my limited requirements can be usefully mapped to writing in general. So too with your computing needs …

  73. michael reynolds says:

    @george:
    Fair enough, I tend to forget their function as business machines. Mine is a business machine as well, but one that really only needs Pages, Chrome and Keynote.

  74. sam says:

    @george:

    Someone once said that Macs were like a sleek sportscar, while PC’s were like a truck – which one you use depends on what you’re trying to do.

    I remember Guy Kawasaki saying that the reason the PC beat the Mac on the business desk was while the Mac was a “better” computer, the PC was “good enough”…and a whole lot cheaper.

  75. @sam:

    I remember Guy Kawasaki saying that the reason the PC beat the Mac on the business desk was while the Mac was a “better” computer, the PC was “good enough”…and a whole lot cheaper.

    This sounds about right.

    Plus, back when I would build and tweak my own machines, the OC architecture was a plus. Now I buy laptops alone. Problem is, I can get a Window machine that does everything that I want for 400-500 cheaper than the Mac I would want. And since I am buying computers for myself, my wife, and kids, going Mac is cha-ching territory.

  76. Ben says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Mac’s are so hellaciously expensive compared to PCs, that I’ll never get a chance to try one. The cheapest lowend Macbook is more expensive than the top-of-the-line Dell quad-core i7 laptop I just got. Apple has priced themselves out of my league as a laptop or desktop consumer. Although I do like my iPhone.

  77. LC says:

    @Talmadge East:
    No question. Have used PCs since the PC1 and DOS1. W7 is the first good OS produced by MSFT. Not perfect but solid. A few tweaks could make it a great OS.

  78. Ron Beasley says:

    @Ben: It really is too bad that Apple is a hardware company and not a software company. Now that they use the same micro processor it is possible to run MAC OS on any machine.

  79. PJ says:

    @michael reynolds:
    If you want a newer version of Pages, Chrome, and Keynote, and the programs that will replace them, then there needs to be open computers and operating systems were people can do more than just use office software, create images, edit movies, and play games.

  80. grumpy realist says:

    One problem with the cloud is the way SCOTUS interpretation of software patents is going, a lot of cloud technology may be considered too abstract to patent.

  81. Trumwill says:

    @john personna: Mint has the same problem as Chromebooks. I don’t see either ever occupying more than a niche.

    As it happens, I use my Mint machine in a Chromebook capacity. It’s an outdated Thinkpad X60 that I got used and was really struggling under Windows XP. I decided to put in an SSD drive and install Linux. so now it’s my “quick resource” machine. For the most part, though, it stays in a travel bag and so when I go somewhere, I don’t need to pack a computer. It’s handy, but I use it because I have it rather than having it to use it. And it can do a lot more than a Chromebook is likely to, if I need it to.

  82. Trumwill says:

    @michael reynolds: Apple would likely be great for most of what I do. But then there are the things the Apples are not really meant to do. I could have one OS here and another OS there, but by and large (Linux tinkering aside) it’s smoother to be going off a single set of systems.

    One of the things with Linux is that even though it always historically did 90% of what I wanted it to, that other 10% was a prick. I’ll put up with a lot in order to get the functionality that’s important to me. It’s why I stuck with Windows Mobile 6 (which let me do things that none of the current OSes want to let me do) until a month ago and why I wouldn’t go with iPhone (though don’t judge those who do!).

  83. DRS says:

    The real problem with “Reveal Codes” was that it was, you know, actually helpful to the user. Can’t have that.

  84. matt says:

    Dvorak is an idiot who has been wrong about so many things technical that I don’t even know where to begin.

    You can easily turn off the new interface and use Win8 with the standard win7 GUI.

    My biggest problem with win8 is that MS is pushing it shortly after win7 came out. The end of life schedule for win7 shows that Microsoft is looking to accelerate the forced obsolescence of their operating systems. I used XP for a decade but they want me to be out Win 7 within a couple years. The greed is getting a bit excessive.

    The bigger challenger to Windows, at least on the consumer side, is going to be the plethora of mobile and tablet devices out there that allow people to do things without using a PC. Already, Microsoft is working on a version of Office for the iPad, and I assume they’ll have on for Android tablets in due course as well.

    Win8 is MS’s attempt at standardizing the windows experience across phone tablet and PC. A program designed to work in win8 will run on any platform assuming the tablet or phone has the resources required.

    There are still people using Windows? Hah hah hah.

    Every few years the Windows users will try to tell me that this time, finally, Windows has caught up to Mac. And I just laugh. Lion OS has some dumb features but Windows 8 sounds like something I’d take a hammer to.

    It’s time, people: join the cult. One of us . . . One of us . . .

    I always thought you an intelligent man but you’ve just proven that even well informed people can be completely clueless. Win7’s capabilities are far superior to OSx. Your platform is not virus proof hell browsers are easier to hack when they are running from OSx then Win7. Win7 was a complete game changer and Apple is playing catch up at this point from a security and performance perspectives.

    I personally refuse to buy apple computers because of their use of substandard components and ridiculous prices. My “server” can run OSx anytime I feel like as part of it’s multiboot setup. Although I honestly cannot tell you the last time I actually booted up OSx on that machine.

    One of my problems with MS products is precisely because they reinvent the interface in every release. Most users get lost, it´s a nightmare for IT and support people.

    That’s almost completely incorrect. From the perspective of IT win7 is nearly identical to vista and only mildly different from XP. Basic line commands that work in XP work in win7 too. The interesting thing about win7 is that they introduced newer more efficient methods of getting nitty gritty stuff done but MS also kept the old XP way of getting stuff done. You can pretty much set win7 up to look just like XP if you want.

    As for Lion the only things that have pissed me off are in Pages — the disappearing scroll bar and the idiotic ‘export’ rather than ‘save as’ nonsense. Other than that, I don’t recall the last time anything Mac or native to Mac crashed or froze. I almost want to say never. I’ve certainly never had an OS crash. And Chrome meshes perfectly with it.

    I have an install of XP that I first installed back in 2000. This install has been through 4 CPUs (2 intel 2 amd) and 3 MOtherboards. Despite being used across radically different hardware platforms that install of XP has only crashed a few times in 10 years despite me consistently OCing the hardware involved. User error is the leading cause of crashes (I consider purchasing of hardware to be tied to user choice thus bad hardware is an error in choice). Out of the two machines running win7 a laptop running vista and two machines running XP (one a laptop) I’ve had all of a grand total of a handful of crashes in the last 4 years of which I caused most of them by fiddling with OverClocks.

    I’ve had OSX crash on me about the same amount of time over the years.I’ve also repaired quite a few macs over the years. Everything from replacing the cheap Taiwanese caps used in the product to removing viruses/adware etc.

    I gave up on MS Office years ago and switched to the free Open Office.

    I prefer Libreoffice but they are along the same lines.

    Yeah, it’s easy to do that when you have control over all the hardware that the OS has to work with, rather than having to work with a bazillion hardware vendors, many of whom write crappy drivers. But that also means you end up with hardware that’s often two or three generations out of date but still costs more than new PCs (by way of example, Apple’s current top of the line Mac Pro has the same processor and graphics as the Alienware machine I bought 2.5 years ago, and still costs $800 more now than I paid for it then).

    Indeed most of Apple’s OS stability stems from their obsessive control of apple related hardware.. Too bad they aren’t so obsessive at making sure their hardware is well built.

    Not trying to diss you but Alienware is an overpriced turd itself. Ever since dell took over they have been seriously skimping on component quality themselves. I could build a desktop of superior quality for cheaper then Alienware even back before Dell. Personally for prebuilt machines I would prefer falcon northwest. Asus has made a few performance laptops that are pretty good too.

    I’m saying that the cloud record is better, already. The only thing small scale IT has going for it is that their downtime and data loss record is hidden, and can’t be judged equally.

    Oh really? Ask those people who were using megaupload for cloud computing how well that worked…

    Like Stormy Dragon said, if you’re doing technical work (just about every kind of engineering for instance), the PC is much better, if you’re doing arts then the Mac.

    Not true. A mac IS a PC with just a different Operating system. The video and image editing software on the MAc OS is no longer superior to alternatives available for Windows use..

  85. Trumwill says:

    @matt:

    My biggest problem with win8 is that MS is pushing it shortly after win7 came out.

    I agree, though it’s funny to note that the lag-time between XP and its successor was the source of a lot of complaint. I know that I would have preferred some revision updates in the interim.

    Win8 is MS’s attempt at standardizing the windows experience across phone tablet and PC. A program designed to work in win8 will run on any platform assuming the tablet or phone has the resources required.

    Last I heard, this was not the case. Which is to say that I would not be able to install standard Windows desktop software onto my Windows 8 tablet. I was really quite irate when I heard this (I mean, uniformity was one of the reasons I was going to hold out for a Windows tablet to begin with, but I don’t care if it looks the same if it doesn’t work the same). Was that story not true?

  86. matt says:

    @Trumwill: Well the problem is that tablets have lesser resources available then what programmers expect out of a typical PC running win7. While MS has made .net and such cross platform compatible the programmers themselves have to accommodate the hardware differences. That will take time naturally as this is still a new actual implementation of the concept.

  87. @Trumwill:

    Again, the difference between then and now, linux and chrome os, is the cloud.

    Up top Steven touches on the old Office lock-in. That was based on “shared files.” You know, like back in the stone age when you wrote files on your own pc and had to sneaker-net and then (whoo-hoo) email them. The receiving computer had to recognize “file formats” and etc.

    That’s the number one question from my Mom, what to do with an attachment.

    With the cloud … file formats? What’s that? You just throw a “share” link and don’t worry about it.

    OK, so that was a little “out there,” and a little “if all goes well” but it’s the shape of the next grand battle, Google vs Microsoft, rather than the last war, Microsoft vs Apple (that some old generals still fight).

  88. Trumwill says:

    @john personna: You don’t need Chrome OS in order to access the cloud, though. You can do that with Windows. Or Linux. I have Google Drive installed on my computer as I type this. The problem is that Chromebooks limit themselves to that particular kind of use. A laptop or notebook has the advantage of being able to do that and sufficient room to store files locally. I don’t see Chromebook’s advantages (faster boot times, and a rather slight price advantage) outweighing that.

    For the same $300 it costs to get an Acer AC700 Chromebook, with a 11.6″ monitor, I can get a 10″ monitor Acer Aspire One with space to store stuff in addition to being able to access the cloud. Or, for $25 more, I can get one of the same monitor size.

    For the cloud to be relied on so much that the lack of a hard drive (or one of any significant size), we need a better Internet infrastructure. It’s nice having stuff on the cloud, but I’m not always going to be connected.

    The argument for Chromebook is a “less is more” one… but I’m not sure how less is more in this case. Even if I move all of my documents to the cloud, on a netbook I can keep all or more of them synced online/offline. And I can install more software with which to use these files (image editors, etc.) to use online or off. so I’m seeing a lot of things I can do with a standard netbook that I can’t do with the Chromebook unless they start turning it into a netbook (hard drive, app installation, and so on).

    On the office suite aspect, I’d love nothing more than to see GoogleDocs give MS Office a run for its money. I won’t personally use GoogleDocs as my primary format unless I can use it online or off. Can I (I thought I heard at some point that they were working on it)?

  89. @Trumwill:

    I won’t personally use GoogleDocs as my primary format unless I can use it online or off.

    This is a major issue for cloud-only. For example: the other day we had storms roll through and the power kept going out. I was able to keep working on what I was working in Word on via battery on my laptop. And then, even once the power came back, there was no internet for quite a while.

  90. @Trumwill:

    I really don’t know why you weigh things so strangely.

    Perhaps it is because you don’t see local data, and upgrade, as more problems than solutions for the normal, household, user?

    I was at a picnic recently, and a lady asked me to interpret what the Fry’s service desk had said about her pc. Basically they’d given her the option of a full Windows re-install and “losing everything” and she didn’t know what “losing everything” meant.

    Yes, people like that lady can manage their … wait a minute, no they can’t. That’s my point.

    Managing a traditional OS and then having the knowledge to use the cloud in preference to local storage is beyond them.

    (Steve, how many days down have you had for your internet cable in the last 5 years? I think I’ve had about 1 day myself.)

  91. @john personna:

    (Steve, how many days down have you had for your internet cable in the last 5 years? I think I’ve had about 1 day myself.)

    Well, every time we have any serious rain/wind it tends to go down, sometimes for 15 minutes and sometimes for over an hour (and we get such weather with some frequency). There are also the weird, intermittent outages that I awake to on occasion that sometimes are fixed with a reboot of the modem and router, and sometimes that aren’t.

    It is bad enough in those situation that I cannot access the web, but it would be hideous if all my files were on the cloud.

  92. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Wow. My view is definitely shaped by my … call it even one day a year … 99.726% uptime.

    For people with similar network performance, it is easy to balance that network risk against universal “remote” access.

    The thing about a chrome book is that you have everything, anywhere you are. And without local storage, there is nothing on it to risk in a loan. You may casually let someone access using yours, you may casually access using theirs.

    (Well, OK, someone fairly trusted. A shady guy on the street offering chrome book access may have a key logger installed.)

  93. I probably should have said “The thing about a [cloud commitment] is that you have everything, anywhere you are.”

  94. To further press the “doesn’t matter which computer you use” thing, it makes each computer disposable. There is zero penalty or hassle in upgrading to new hardware. Just buy it and start using it. There is zero risk in handing down or selling off your old pc. It doesn’t have your data (if they do it right and nothing from a secure connection is cached).

    Two more problems are ticked off the worry list for less technical users:

    – how do I move my data?

    – how do I securely erase my old pc?

  95. george says:

    @john personna:

    (Steve, how many days down have you had for your internet cable in the last 5 years? I think I’ve had about 1 day myself.)

    Not Steve, but if you’re curious – we lose about on average a day every two months due to thunder storms or blizzards. And a couple of days every season of extremely slow internet service for unknown reasons. Oddly enough, internet reliability has been getting worse rather than better, and I’ve no explanation for it – it seems to be province wide at least, perhaps wider.

    As well, the increased ability of groups like Anonymous to bring down sites makes many nervous about relying on the cloud – locally its seen by companies as a good way to share information outside the corporation, but a poor way to actually handle data; I think it’ll be awhile before many give up their local data centers. As Steve said, the cloud is fine, so long as we can keep working while the Internet is down. When that gets solved (some sort of cache-ing?) then I think the cloud will take off, but until then there’s going to be real reluctance. And for companies worried about security, it might never catch on.

    Personally and professionally, I’ve used the cloud (dropbox and the like) to share info; in its current incarceration I’d never use it to actually store my work, simply because its too far out of my control if something goes wrong. And actually using apps based on it just won’t happen for me – one of the nice things about laptops and the like is that I can work through power outages. That would be eliminated if my app was on the (locally unpowered) cloud.

    The addition of the cloud is good because it increases flexibility. Relying on it decreases it – its another tool in the toolbox, but not the only tool.

  96. @george:

    I have been concentrating on the wedge edge of the cloud market, people who should not be managing their own data. People who periodically have to call the geek squad, or a nephew, to bail things out. Handing over your pc in that situation, to a geek, hasn’t proven 100% secure either.

    When you get to the commercial world you have levels of cloud integration. I know companies widely use Google’s Apps for Business (“Over 4M businesses have gone Google”), but we should presume that this is not primarily business critical stuff. It’s probably emails and calendars, mostly.

    When companies go cloud for business critical work they have the option of virtualization and a much higher level of data privacy. Of course, we are back to homegrown security inside the VM.

    Google’s cloud is lower granularity and requires a bit more trust on the part of developers, but the advantages are again much lower infrastructure management costs. You may be putting more eggs in Google’s basket, but we can trust them to know all their eggs are in that basket as well.

    Google’s 10 year strategic plan relies on a trustworthy cloud, and so they will work very hard to provide one.

  97. When I started computing in the 70’s, my first thought was when I could afford a hard disk, and then when I could afford one to hold as large a library as I wanted to have? It is a bit surprising, a mental adjustment, to get out to the 10’s, and discover a future where I don’t need a hard disk. Other people are willing to own them and manage them for me.

    There was a time when an Encarta or a Project Gutenberg CD was a cool thing.

    Yeah, it’s a big wave.

    You guys are dinosaurs ;-), telling me the swamp will always be better than the sky.

  98. Trumwill says:

    @john personna: A lot of what you’re talking about can be used without going entirely cloud and buying a computer that won’t work any other way. When you do an F&R, there are two areas of potential loss. The first is personal data. This is where the cloud is most helpful. You can either sign up for Google Drive and have everything synced up, or there are an increasing number of “back up your hard drive” options that work with the cloud in that manner. Neither necessitates keeping nothing locally, which Chomebooks are geared towards.

    The other is the reinstallation of apps. This, too, is going into a particular direction to make it less of an issue. As computers start having the appstores that phones do, reinstalling everything comes down to a point and click.

    Fear of offline isn’t limited to the Internet going down in my household. My Internet connection is actually pretty solid, though there are always issues with the local wireless LAN acting up (less so than their used to be). Rather, the issue is as much as anything the outside world. Some third places have good WiFi, others don’t, want money for it, or have a lousy and inconsistent one. Having a lousy, inconsistent can be worse than not having one if you’re interacting within a cloud (when I am at all worried about the quality of my connection, I use an email client rather than gmail.com). I like to use my laptop on a plane, where there’s no Internet. When I visit my in-laws cabin, there’s no Internet.

    I cannot rely on having Internet wherever I go. That’s a pretty big deal, when your computer doesn’t function without it. The widest networks are the cellcos, but reliability is an issue there, too.

  99. @john personna:

    You guys are dinosaurs ;-), telling me the swamp will always be better than the sky.

    Speaking for myself, I see the usefulness of the cloud, but al la @Trumwill above, I am not sure why it has to be an either/or proposition.

  100. @Trumwill, @Steven L. Taylor:

    I know I’ve recommended The Innovator’s Dilemma in the past. Did either of you ever pick it up?

    What you are doing in your last comments is concentrating on your, and I would argue the old, value network. Certainly you can name another path, or name things the new kid can’t handle. You can always do that.

    The trick is that “disruptive technologies” do not succeed by first tackling the old problems and the old value network. They always go somewhere the old network cannot go, and usually create a new value proposition in that space.

    The place the old model cannot go is zero dependence on local storage, and the associated freedoms that brings.

  101. @Steven L. Taylor:

    As long as you can work off-line Steven, you’ve got a worry about your HD.

    As long as your HD has your home movies, you have a data retention problem.

    The problem with “both” is that data retention and data migration continue to dog you for … decades, right?

    If you keep precious data on your HD, you commit to shepherding it for decades.

  102. Jib says:

    @Stormy Dragon: But here is the thing. I work 50+ hours a week because I need all that time to do my job. I do a lot of the work on a PC (running Ubuntu now but up until the last few years, running Windows) mostly using a browser and dev software but also office software. I get by on keystrokes and mouse clicks that are almost muscle memory by now. I work fast and on most days, I dont ever notice the OS or the office software. If I notice it, it is only because something goes wrong.

    I spend so little time actually in the O/S or in the office software that even if you doubled the efficiency of both systems, it would have little material impact on my productivity.

    But now you change it all on me and the muscle memory no longer works. Now I have to think about how to do things that I spent zero time thinking about yesterday. You do it to me because your experts have decided that it will be better for me if I stop doing things the way I have been doing them and start doing them your better way.

    I grumble but you tell me, “Its a A Great Leap Forward Comrade! Dont be selfish, work extra hours covering your current work in the new system and eventually, you will be back to doing the same amount of work in just 50+ hours just like before we made the change. Chairman Bill will smile on your sacrifice, there might even be a Hero of the Corporation medal for your sacrifice.”

    Well F.U.!! I dont need your experts deciding how I do my job unless you are going to send some one over help me make up for the lost productivity as I learn this ‘new and improved’ way.

    The idea that MS knows better than me how I should work and they will make me do it this way ‘because it is really better, you will see’ is something straight out of the central soviet planning circa 1965.

    Freedom! FREEDOM!!!! Viva la Ubuntu!!!!

  103. george says:

    @john personna:

    As long as you can work off-line Steven, you’ve got a worry about your HD.

    As long as your HD has your home movies, you have a data retention problem.

    The problem with “both” is that data retention and data migration continue to dog you for … decades, right?

    If you keep precious data on your HD, you commit to shepherding it for decades.

    Though things like thumb drives, (and clonezilla for that matter), make it trivial, and for many of us the very minor inconvenience of saving to some sort of external storage (which can easily be automated in any case) is more than worth the increased flexibility of being able to control your environment rather than being dependent upon some third party to do so for you.

    As you pointed out, most folks will probably end up with a combination anyway – minor or less important items on the cloud, more important or private items on a local system. They’re not mutually exclusive.

  104. matt says:

    @john personna: Last place I lived my internet was down for months at a time without warning. Naturally my provider had a monopoly so I had no alternatives.

    My current place is up most of the time but downtime can occur sporadically depending on weather.

    Like I said earlier as the people who used Megaupload for their cloud computing needs how well that went. IF the government wins in that case then NO cloud computing resource is immune from an unprovoked shutdown and seizure by the government. Of course that risk is on top of the usual risks of people hacking your account and stealing/deleting all your data and the company itself potentially unexpectedly closing down.

  105. matt says:

    Ha it won’t let me edit my last comment 🙁

    Oh well you should still get my point.

  106. Trumwill says:

    @george:

    As you pointed out, most folks will probably end up with a combination anyway – minor or less important items on the cloud, more important or private items on a local system. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    Actually, that’s Steven and myself. John seems to be under the impression that HDs are going to become archaic. As long as there is syncing technology, I just don’t understand why this is the case.

  107. @Trumwill:

    And Trumwill continues to argue that every grandma and soccer mom has his skilz.

  108. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Grandma should just run BSD on her media store, behind a strong firewall, fully updated, and with all services running on non-standard ports. Grandma can do that, no problem.)

  109. Trumwill says:

    @john personna: Not quite that. Rather, I think that going forward, operating systems will make people have to know substantially less in order to play in the sandbox. Syncing will occur automatically, automatic backups, app stores will further automate the installation and update process. The whole thing will work like they work with smartphones now, except easier

    “Hey, these are the apps you had installed last time. Which ones do you want to re-install now that you reset everything?”

    “Hey, here are the files you had in your documents. Do you want to start the process of syncing up your hard drive with your cloud drive?”

  110. matt says:

    This whole talk of cloud computing is a mute point when the megaupload case has shown that all it takes is one person backing up some illegal content to the cloud to get that service shut down and confiscated.

  111. Guess what greeted me this morning when I went to read the news? No Internet connection from my cable. Don’t know why–weather’s great. This just happens from time to time. I am typing this on my phone.

  112. @Trumwill:

    If you want decades of data retention, and you depend on your OS vendor to bake in data retention over upgrade, then you have just made a decades long commitment to a vendor.

    @matt:

    Come on, you expect that to happen to google drive?

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    William Gibson famously said “the future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” Places with bad internet are not the future … they are barely the present.

    (There are associated policy questions. Does your crappy cable company enjoy a local government monopoly?)

  113. @john personna:

    William Gibson famously said “the future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” Places with bad internet are not the future … they are barely the present.

    Understood–but I would be screwed if I needed the cloud to work on my book under such circumstances.

    It is up now.

    (There are associated policy questions. Does your crappy cable company enjoy a local government monopoly?)

    There are two providers within Montgomery proper, but where I live my choices are cable and DSL. I did DSL for a while about 5 or 6 years ago after an especially egregious cable outage.

  114. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Cable vs DSL is the phony competition enshrined in law.

    What you have is a legal constraint on progress in your locality, rather than a technical one.

    … geez louise, telling me you can’t go cloud because your mandated monopoly doesn’t give a crap.

  115. @john personna:

    … geez louise, telling me you can’t go cloud because your mandated monopoly doesn’t give a crap.

    That it ought be different doesn’t change the practical constraints in question.

    It is one thing to say how things could be under perfect to near-perfect conditions. It is yet another to have to decide what is practical given reality.

    One has to go to the cloud with the internet connectivity one has, not the internet connectivity that one might like to have.

  116. matt says:

    @john personna: It’s very likely based on past evidence. Just look at the cudgel that ICE has been wielding (shutting down hundreds to thousands of innocents sites just to get one lawbreaker). I wouldn’t be surprised if the RIAA and the MPAA forces cloud providers into regulating the content being stored. So you very likely could see your wedding video deleted because it contained a copyrighted song.

    On top of those problems there’s still the problem of hackers attacking cloud storage facilities. From people looking for the lulz to full on criminal enterprises cloud storage will be under attack by a wide array of people. The very elements that make it easier for average people to use cloud storage will be it’s downfall.

  117. LC says:

    @john personna:
    The “cloud” is not new. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was called time-sharing. During the time I was at one company it cycled (well, different divisions did) from time-sharing to in-house to outsourcing to in-house and, FAIK, has continued to do so.

    Your optimism about access to affordable fast broadband for everybody in the U.S., from the worst parts of the inner cities to a cabin in the Ozarks is touching. How and when, exactly, do you see this happening? (Acquaintances in “socialist” France, where our home’s Mbps is so slow it isn’t even an option, pay about 50% less for 20x the speed, and let’s not even mention South Korea.)

    Would you also give us some idea of where you live? It must be someplace where the wind never blows, it nevers rains, there are no thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods, tsunamis, cyclones, or earthquakes; where no car, bus, train or occasional plane ever slams into a transmission line; and pipelines of one sort or another never blow up. I take it as given that you don’t regularly travel to, say, the middle of the Amazon, Gobi desert, or an atoll in the Pacific.

    Since, however, you refuse to accept the fact of a co-existence between the “cloud” and local storage, I must conclude that
    1. you work for a security agency which salivates over the idea of all data everywhere being stored in the cloud where it can be scooped up (or access points shut down) rather than distributed on billions or trillions of devices of various sizes and types that can be hidden anywhere.

    2. Or, more likely, you are arguing just for the sake of arguing.