What would you do if Microsoft went bankrupt, and Windows became an orphan product?

This is a copy of what I’ve posted on the Daniweb forums in the JEM Report forums, and in the Semi Accurate Forums. I rather expect that in several of these places it’s likely to start a flame war – however I think it’s a valid question.

This question covers Windows only. I know Microsoft makes a wide variety of other software products (Office, Exchange, etc.), I’m not interested in them, only in the Desktop Operating Systems.

First – unlike the most of you, I’ve read Microsoft’s financial reports, and understand accounting. I know how much money Microsoft has on hand, and how unlikely this scenario is. I’m asking the question to find out what people currently think are their best options, if Windows is no longer available.

Second – this is not a troll. I know there are a lot of Windows fans here. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m asking what you would do in a theoretical situation.

Third – I’m going to be posting the same question in several places. The plan is to write an article based on the feedback I get. I am assuming that a response to this post means that I can quote you in full.

So what would you do if you could no longer buy new copies of Windows?

Be a Martian – Part One

Caltech/NASA JPL have a new website: Be a Martian. The aim – a drum up interest in the Mars project. The problem, well read these words:

This site was created under a Memorandum of Understanding between NASA/JPL-Caltech and Microsoft.

Yep Silverlight. Silverblight. Silverlie. Whatever you want to call it. This was mentioned on Groklaw where I heard about it for the second time. I’d actually signed up on the website several weeks ago, and posted a complaint about Silverlight at that time, and got no response. This time I decided on the nuclear option. I called.

After a couple of minutes of talking to a very polite receptionist, who finally understood that I was having a problem with a website, I got transferred to Mark in Public Services. I explained the problem to Mark, pointing out that:

1) Most geeks are fans of the space effort.
2) Most geeks don’t run Windows.
3) Most geeks refuse to have Microsoft software on their systems.
4) Does CalTech/NASA/JPL really want to annoy their biggest fans?
5) Does Microsoft have the right to force us to run Windows?

Mark had never heard of the website, so I pointed him to it, and he spotted the bit about the Memorandum with Microsoft immediately, and pointed out that of course Microsoft would use Silverlight. And he’s correct. Of course Microsoft would use Silverlight. However NASA/JPL is a government institution, with responsibility to the American taxpayers, not Microsoft, and that it could be argued that any memorandum that blocked access to a significant part of NASA/JPL’s core constituency might not be legal. I also mentioned that I’m not an American, and I’m interested, that my fondest early memories was watching the sub-orbital Mercury flights.

Mark is going to check into things after Thanksgiving (a point which blows my mind – why don’t Americans celebrate Thanksgiving in October when it should be celebrated). He also gave me contact information for several other people, and I will be following up on this.

And yes, Mark knows I intended to blog about it.

Some weeks are nuts

Let me see. We have a major Australian insurance company dumping Windows.

Free BSD 8.0 is now out. I’m going to VM it and see how it runs.

Microsoft’s CFO is leaving. He says he is looking for a bigger job. Does this make sense to you? There aren’t many corporations larger than Microsoft.

Boing Boing says that Microsoft is going to pay Rupert Murdoch to remove all of his news sites from Google. They got this from the Financial Times. If both articles are accurate, it looks like Microsoft is prepared to pour more money down the rathole named Bing, trying to make it competitive. Does this add shareholder value? I doubt it.

Good article over at Semi Accurate about how the RIAA and MPAA are contributing to the development and success of P2P.

Here’s one I missed when it was first published, which has massive implications for chronic pain sufferers like myself from Scientific American about a Medical Madoff. Pretty scary. None of the drugs I am on appear to be involved, Thank God.

Visual Studio add-on for Windows devs to target Macs and Linux

Here’s an interesting concept. Mary-Jo Foley reports that Novell has released a Visual Studio add-on so that .NET developers can target Linux and Macs.

This raises several issues:

1) Are there really any .NET developers out there? No, I’m serious. I did a survey a while back on a couple of websites where developers hang out as to what people are using, and .NET was way down the list. I’d have to dig to find the numbers, but less than 1% of the developers who answered the survey were using .NET.

2) Do MAC users need Mono? There’s a huge range of MAC applications available already. Mono on the Mac seems like a non-starter.

3) Novell has also come up with an IPhone dev kit for Mono. They seem to be ignoring the huge number of apps available for the IPhone written in C. Does anyone really need Mono on the IPhone?

I think I know what Novell is doing. Novell is targeting the Enterprise, providing a single, unified environment that can be used for Windows, IPhone, OSX, and Linux. Corporate Applications are a lucrative market. There are far more programmers working on internal corporate software than for the major software companies. And it’s corporate programmers who use Visual Studio and program .NET applications.

This could be a success for Novell. It’s definitely a market that is willing to pay for results, and if Novell can deliver the results, the money will roll in. Could it make Novell profitable? Maybe.

How many companies run a mix of operating systems that would require a cross platform development environment? The IPhone has made some inroads into the corporate market, but is a distant second to Rim’s Blackberry devices. If Novell was to add BlackBerry OS capabilities, this would be a real seller. Linux hasn’t done well on the desktop, and while it does well in the server room, most .NET applications are designed for the desktop. Corporations who use OSX tend to do so exclusively, and wouldn’t employ Visual Studio anyway.

Without the capability to produce applications for the Blackberry OS, I can’t see this as bring Novell in enough revenues to stop the slid. And that has to be a concern for any corporate types looking at this as a solution. Buying from a vendor who has financial problems introduces a level of uncertainty that Corporate IT doesn’t like.

Monster Cable

I bought a new Fender Stratocaster today. It was quite a search, and I ended up with a beautiful Left Handed Standard Strat in Candy Apple Red with a Maple neck. I ended up visiting a lot of stores to find exactly what I needed. Now any musicians among you will be shaking your heads. Strats are pretty damned common.

Problem is my left wrist is toast. It doesn’t bend, so I can’t finger chords with it. This is why I stopped playing ten years ago. Playing right was impossible, and at the time I didn’t think switching to playing left (even though I’m left handed) was a reasonable option.

Then I got lucky, when I went with my wife on a guitar hunting spree. I saw a left handed guitar in a store, tried it, and found that all the fingerings I remembered from playing right, just worked. So I decided to switch, and then the problem was finding a guitar. Yeah, I know most guitar stores will order a guitar in for you. But I refuse to buy anything I haven’t played. So I started searching, and today I got lucky.

And what’s the one thing you need with an electric guitar? A cable. I have several amps, and I have cables, but one thing I learned is that you always keep a cable in your gig bag.

So I go wandering into the cable section, and guess what the first brand I see is? Monster Cable. Now this is probably silly of me, but I expect that the companies I deal with to operate in a moral and upright manner. If they don’t, I buy elsewhere. As a musician and a programmer, I know more about “Ineffectual Property” than most people. While I’m not a lawyer, I’ve had to learn the basics, because it affects what I do.

Monster Cable has been involved in a wide variety of spurious trademark infringement cases. Cases where, Monster Cable has tried to use its size and strength to attack a variety of organizations that use Monster as part of their name.

This is not acceptable to me. I had a very interesting conversation with several of the staffers at the store, which is one of the major musical instrument distributors in Canada. They weren’t aware of what Monster had been doing, and at least one of them was totally horrified at what they learned. The Google Search really blew them away.

I have a lot of cables – I have one in each guitar’s gig bag (I have a left handed Yamaha bass as well), one with each amp, and 5 or 6 with the recording equipment, one with my wife’s Fender Semi, and one with her Peter Cox acoustic (it has a detachable pickup). But I didn’t know Monster had an audio line. Since I do now, I’m telling all the musicians I know to avoid them, and suggesting that our local stores not stock them. And I know a hell of a lot of musicians.

If Monster wants my business, they can show so by their behavior. If they don’t, they can keep on acting like Monster Idiots, and loose business.

Oh, and as for Noel Lee? He’s a lying bastard. Trademark law requirements have nothing to do with what his company is trying to do.

I am emailing Monster Cable a link to this article, and will post their reply, if any.

Update 1 – I’ve just been told of a report on cables that was broadcast on TV in New Zealand.

Update 2 – Monster Cable has not responded. Since they haven’t responded, I will assume that they are in agreement with what I said.