Problems in the Industry of Making and Selling PCs

Joshua Shapiro has an understanding of the horror which has become of the PC industry. M$ gets its stuff put on OEM PCs and applications may or may not be installed by the OEM or the end user. OEMs make very little profit because to compete they only control the price, not the mix of applications and the OS. M$ has not done anything to address this yet most OEMs depend on M$ for software.

“The problem in the market is commoditization. There is generally a lack of innovation on the part of the vendors, who have left it to Intel, Microsoft and the ODMs to advance the industry. Once upon a time this didn’t matter because computers were slower and users always looked to the latest models for more horsepower, more storage capacity and more pixels in the display. However, the traditional focus on increased speed or better hardware specifications is no longer vital for users, and without differentiation, vendors increasingly compete on price, leaving them to face diminishing returns over the past 10 years.”

see Digitimes – Addition through subtraction, turning software installation on its head: Q&A with Joshua Shapiro.

Joshua Shapiro hopes to sell OEMs on a new way of installing software on PCs in the factory, by giving buyers a menu and tweaking an installation image during the installation of the software. Basically, a huge image would be created but only the chosen software would be installed. Unfortunately, this would encumber OEMs with having to make deals with many ISVs. M$ is not going to do that because they have a monopoly on the desktop OS and don’t give a damn whether OEMs make money. Essentially, OEMs’ margins are just the margin on M$’s OS and OEMs are doing all the work of designing, building and shipping PCs for $0. They are M$’s slaves, given just enough bread and water to keep them alive.

The real solution is not to prop up M$’s monopoly further but to use GNU/Linux which already has huge repositories of applications ready to go. An OEM can add an application to a PC in seconds or custom build an image in minutes with a package manager application, and OEMs would not need to pay Joshua Shapiro for his patented technology. It would cost OEMs much less to contribute a little to FLOSS than to pay M$ per-seat licensing fees and be just another manufacturer in the crowd of M$’s “partners”slaves.

Joshua Shapiro is right about one thing. OEMs have to make the effort to change. ASUS changed in 2007 when it brought out the fabulous GNU/Linux netbooks which sold out globally. When M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS, that innovation was killed. 2012 may see the last netbook made. What OEMs fail to realize is that they can sell PCs with GNU/Linux and package managers getting all the flexibility Shapiro advocates with none of the burdens M$ insists upon. OEMs should run their business independently of M$. It’s the only way they will thrive. Let M$ make its own PCs. The rest of us can cooperate and make great IT. There is no difficulty for OEMs to differentiate their products on price and performance with FLOSS. see Distrowatch

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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27 Responses to Problems in the Industry of Making and Selling PCs

  1. oiaohm says:

    eog
    –5) Give independent software vendors (ISV)s more support.–

    This does not have to come from FOSS. Steam on Linux might be all they need. They need a system to sell their applications and get them to end users.

    –Sure, fundamental programs work on all versions of Linux, but say you’re an ISV, what desktop should you build for? KDE? The slumping GNOME? Ubuntu’s Unity? My own favorite Linux Mint Cinnamon?–

    This is close to the right question. As a ISV how am I going to distribute updates and other things to all the different distributions to make supporting many distributions simple. Currently if you look for that you are screwed. Steam could be the cure. Then hopefully other true distribution independent app stores would open up for Linux.

    ISVs that use appstores mostly don’t run there own websites either. So ISV’s are lazy we know this we need to support them that way.

    Reality people run programs all the time under Linux that don’t match their desktop. Windows and OS X users do the same thing. This is mostly tell the complains about application does not match there desktop needs to suck it up.

    –4) Slow down the pace of change.– and
    –3) Work even harder to get low-level hardware vendor support.–

    Both conflict with each other. Lot of the rapid changes at moment are about support more hardware types. Like hardware that can decode mp3 in audio and Prime for those video outputs that are two GPU. So slow down pace of change equals equals slap hardware vendor in face and say we cannot support their hardware.

    So some of the pace of change cannot be slowed down not just yet. Because Linux don’t support everything in hardware in existence yet.

    So since Linux cannot slow down. So question becomes can we make it less painful for those that don’t keep up?

    Basically how can we get what is important from the bleeding edge back to those who are no where near the bleeding edge.

    This is where this comes in. https://backports.wiki.kernel.org

    So a person running a distribution a few years old still has current drivers for current hardware. So extending the time a person can go between updating fully.

    Linux 2.6.27 kernel released 9 October 2008 will be maintained for 5 years. So end of life October 2013. Problem is how to get drivers from 3.6 back to 2.6.27. There has been no automatic way. Yes that is the oldest kernel backports will support at this stage.

    So the kernel backports project will slow down requirement for hardware support to update you kernel more like once every 5 years.

    So yes is the answer we can make it less painful for those who don’t keep up. Solution is more automatic back-porting and virtualisation that is under-way. People would not still be on XP if someone had pulled the driver rug out from under them. Its that driver rug that forces people to update there Linux Distributions as often.

    Most versions of Windows only start dropping out of existence when the driver rug is pulled. So Linux is not magically different its just been pulling the driver rug a little too often.

    Lot of people don’t get wayland. Wayland allows you to run two completely different X11 servers. Even run different wayland solutions inside each other. Change to wayland allows more virtalisation for old application support.

    Needing new applications is another that takes the rug out and that is refer to number 5 we need distribution independent app stores.

    –2) Pound on PC vendors’ doors.–

    Most likely after backport kernel project lands and steam lands. PC vendors particular hate having to recertify their hardware and they do also want to offer the latest software without having to reinstall the machine. So 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all related. Most likely major-ally solved by curing two problems.

    –1) Linux distributors need to take the traditional desktop seriously.–

    Question here is current Linux distributors or do we need a new one. There is a possibility we need a new one focused on what Windows and OS X users like in performance and so on.

    If not a new distributor maybe a group who takes testing distributions and design automated tests to get what the performance shape of the distributions are.

    There is a problem define what you call unresponsive. Different groups of people call this different things. So if someone did event a scale that rated where each distribution was with the metrics each group wanted we would have something useful.

    Thorsten Rahn SJVN is mostly on the money. Problem here is he is a little out the loop.

    The issue is what is under-way addresses a lot of it.

    So the correct list is 3.

    1) Linux need distribution independent appstores ISV trust.
    2) Linux need drivers to have a backport system.
    3) Linux really need someone to come up with a desktop metric with test cases for assessing distributions that makes some sense. We have test cases that make sense for servers.

    As you see 1 and 2 are under control. Number 3 I have not seen a project yet dealing with that.

    Without number 3 Linux will still progress. 1 and 2 on my list are critical.

  2. Thorsten Rahn says:

    Five things Desktop Linux has to do to beat Windows 8

    Well, well, well. SJVN may be a nutjob, but he’s not on Rob’s level. I can accurately predict how Rob will react: complete and utter denial. Linux evangelists questioning if Linux can take advantage of the opening Windows 8 will (supposedly!) give Linux are simply: traitors! SJVN even has the nerve to suggest that the Linux invasion via Android won’t really help. Hang him!

    But Rob will dutifully explain why SJVN is a paid M$ shill in a moment. Stay tuned, folks.

  3. Thorsten Rahn put these words in my mouth, “I actually don’t remember a thing about Windows 95”.

    Of course I do. It still ran DOS underneath and crashed every day. I read that people lined up to buy it. I never bought Lose ’95 but I worked in schools that did. In those days, most schools preferred MacOS but they gradually shifted to COTS PCs. MacOS was non-UNIX in those days too and similarly crashed and froze so there was not much choice on retail shelves. I chose GNU/Linux and had a lot of fun with it.

  4. oiaohm says:

    ch most of the kernel of windows written by Microsoft is not where the hell is.

    Its third party drivers that have not been properly maintained or updated. Then no a proper separation between versions.

    Linux distributions you could say have too strong of separation between versions.

    Windows 9 Microsoft is going to start breaking things the same way Linux Distributions has for years. The simple reality is that the ways Microsoft has done are insecure. What Microsoft people like where windows will run everything over a very long time frame without having todo anything is in fact security wrong. This results in new programs using old broken ABI/API so preventing its removal.

    Time is catching up with Microsoft. Culture around Microsoft is flawed from a security stand point.

    The culture around Linux is still flawed from the point of view I want to use the latest hardware or software. Latest hardware most like will be handled by the Linux kernel backport project. Latest software that could be steam and other distribution neutral package management.

    The problem here is the Linux people have been able to see the culture problem in Windows and the Windows users have been seeing a culture problem in Linux. Problem is neither wants to admit their own culture problems. This is normal human.

    Also normal human trying to claim a culture defect exists long after it died.

  5. JR says:

    @ Thorsten Rahn

    I am basically yanking Clarence’s chain but you would have missed that.
    To call Linus’s efforts piddly.
    Well even you I am sure would agree that anybody with half a brain knows that calling linux piddly is a bit of a stretch.

  6. JR says:

    @ Thorsten Rahn

    Your comment numbered 11 refers:

    You complain that the article is so biased yet you use a quote from it where code was looked at in order to make a point.

    You are using those quotes in isolation.

    If you had read the whole article perhaps you would be able to put everything in perspective.

  7. Thorsten Rahn says:

    Why don’t you offer your services to Linus and his pals I am sure they would appreciate some help with their piddly efforts and then maybe just maybe Linux will have a usable desktop.

    Because he doesn’t have to!

    One of the big problems in the loonatic Kingdom of FLOSS. If you dare to criticize, one of the usual alibi answers will be: send a f**king patch, moron! Well, duh, how on earth could a critic just trying to be helpful assume that critique isn’t really well liked in the Kingdom of FLOSS? Must be one of the reasons why Linux still sucks.

  8. JR says:

    @ Clarence Moon

    Clarence I see you were also a developer in your day.
    Wow! I am impressed.

    Your comment refers:……..”That is world class performance and the piddly efforts of Linus and his pals pale by comparison. Linux is just a copycat sort of Unix and is not particularly appropriate for desktop usage.”

    Why don’t you offer your services to Linus and his pals I am sure they would appreciate some help with their piddly efforts and then maybe just maybe Linux will have a usable desktop.

  9. Thorsten Rahn says:

    Unfortunately that was the only OS I used in those days but five years later, GNU/Linux was viable and far superior.

    Translation: “I can delude myself pretty good.”

    If Lose ’9x had any advantages it was fleeting.

    Translation: “I actually don’t remember a thing about Windows 95.”

    I did use most of M$’s later OS and they were varying degrees of crapware being slow, buggy and fragile.

    Translation: “I have to convince myself that GNU/Linux was ‘far superior’.”

    GNU/Linux has been rock solid since I started using it in 2000.

    Translation: “If ever something went wrong it must’ve been my fault. Oh, silly me!”

    Sure there have been a few failures but they were narrowly isolated to particular human errors.

    Translation: “If I’ve learned one thing, it’s that ‘isolated’ and ‘particular’ are great buzzwords.”

    You heard wrong, Rob. Sorry.

    That other OS contains thousands of vulnerabilities designed in by the sales team at M$.

    Translation: “Thanks to studying all of GNU/Linux’s code my eyes have become able to transcend the binaries and look at the evil machinations contained within them. You can call me ‘Neo’ from now on.”

    Classical cognitive dissonance at work here.

  10. Clarence Moon says:

    If Lose ’9x had any advantages it was fleeting…

    I think you are focusing on schoolboy sneering over names and missing the larger picture, Mr. Pogson. Windows as a product line is, first of all, intended to be a sort of one-stop shopping experience for general users and is provided by most OEMs as a solution for that need. Second, it is a continuum, not a series of starts and stops of unrelated products.

    You say you have a BestBuy in your town, so you can go there on the morning of the day that Microsoft has declared Windows 8 as released to the public and I am sure that you will find that all of the laptops and desktops on display there will be using Windows 8 in place of the Windows 7 that they were using the day before. 8 is just the new model of 7.

    Sure you can find leftover stock for Windows 7 machines in the channel, but it is just on close out.

    Win3.1 gave way to Win95 which was succeeded by Win98 which yielded to WinMe which was quickly replaced with Win2k then XP then Vista up to Windows 7 today. At every step along the way, it was just the “next” Windows, filling the role of a “one stop shopping solution” as did the previous release.

    That “fleeting advantage” continues today.

  11. Clarence Moon wrote of Lose ‘9x, “it was the best that money could buy. It was an ideal product for the market expectations of the time.”

    Unfortunately that was the only OS I used in those days but five years later, GNU/Linux was viable and far superior. If Lose ‘9x had any advantages it was fleeting. I did use most of M$’s later OS and they were varying degrees of crapware being slow, buggy and fragile. GNU/Linux has been rock solid since I started using it in 2000. Sure there have been a few failures but they were narrowly isolated to particular human errors. That other OS contains thousands of vulnerabilities designed in by the sales team at M$.

  12. Lose ’9x was crap

    Not at the time, Mr. Pogson, it was the best that money could buy. It was an ideal product for the market expectations of the time. You pooh-pooh Microsoft’s efforts in that era, but where were any others? You were not doing any sort of product promotion then, you are not even doing it today in any committed way. You just appear mean and petty in trying to demean and diminish Microsoft in this way.

    Tiny Microsoft took on the behemoths of the day, Apple, Tandy, TI, and eventually IBM itself and outwitted them to create the massive market they enjoy today in server and client OS, office automation, and development tools. That is world class performance and the piddly efforts of Linus and his pals pale by comparison. Linux is just a copycat sort of Unix and is not particularly appropriate for desktop usage.

  13. ch says:

    “Lose ’9x was crap, riddled with bugs and with no security.”

    Everybody knew that at the time: Win9x was never designed for stability or security – it was designed to be easy to use, run existing applications and still fit in a miserable 4MB.

    But putting the problems of Win9x on that list in 2007 is just ridiculous. And the rest of that rant is just worse: He completely rewrites history, doesn’t know basic stuff, cites any rumor he hears somewhere and then writes “Be that as it may”, “This last detail may or may not be true”, “This may or may not be true”.

    More silliness:
    First, he writes “Thus it was decided that OS/2 would have a GUI. Soon Microsoft’s code began to diverge from IBM’s (especially from Presentation Manager, IBM’s GUI component of OS/2) and became increasingly incompatible with it.”

    So MS and IBM were both working on different GUIs for OS/2? (No, they weren’t.)

    “Eventually they took the GUI portion of what should have become OS/2 and sold it as a separate DOS product called MS-Windows.”

    Development of Windows started in 1983, the first version was released in 1985. Early development of OS/2 started in 1985, the first version with GUI was released in 1988. And so on, and so on.

  14. ch, I have been there and done that. Lose ‘9x was crap, riddled with bugs and with no security. That they thought it was OK to spread that stuff over Earth because they had a monopoly is plenty of reason to hate M$. The same people who did that are still at the helm.

  15. ch says:

    “Good stuff”? Hardly. “Appendix A” is supposed to contain “A brief overview of Windows’ most serious design flaws”. First point: “Limited memory protection and memory management. This problem exists primarily in versions prior to Windows 2000.” In other words, he’s talking about Win9x (and doesn’t know NT) – seriously out of date.

    Another point: “No code sharing. Only DLL code can be shared, which makes up only a tiny fraction of the entire OS and application code.”
    Even in 2000, this was completely wrong.

    “Being the offspring of a stand-alone, single-user desktop OS, Windows can only be implemented in a LAN (or any other environment where users share computing facilities) by means of cumbersome workarounds and kludges.”
    No, this guy really doesn’t have any clue and makes up stuff out of whole cloth.

    “Windows’ code is a collection of bad programming practices. It contains a huge amount of sloppy code and kludgy design, which results in an extremely glitchy and buggy end product.”
    Oh, so he looked at the actual source code? Of course not. However, these guys have looked at the Win2k source:
    http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2004/2/15/71552/7795

    Quote: “Despite the above, the quality of the code is generally excellent.”

  16. Thorsten Rahn says:

    http://www.vanwensveen.nl/rants/microsoft/IhateMS.html

    It’s marked as a rant. And it is not more than that. In fact, after reading this sentence in chapter 1:

    Gates and Allen initially met at Lakeside School (an exclusive private school for rich boys) …

    you can already stop reading and put this “thinkpiece” into the waste basket where it belongs, because now you know that you won’t find anything in it which strives to be only half-objective. This sentence, or to be precise, the part in parentheses, outlines the whole agenda of the author.

    Then, a bit later, comes this gem:

    By the time PC-DOS took hold, Gates had already shown that Microsoft’s future would hold very little innovation indeed. Gates’ views on development are probably best illustrated by the following:

    From: 'Programmers at work', Microsoft Press, Redmond, WA [1986]:
    Interviewer: "Is studying computer science the best way to prepare to be a programmer?"
    Gates: "No, the best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system."

    You’ve gotta be kidding me! Isn’t one of FLOSS’s central pillars the possibility to study the code? Of course, the real agenda behind including this excerpt is to paint Bill Gates as a thief.

    That shows once again that Rob can’t be bothered to carefully read what he claims to have read.

  17. eug! Good stuff. I would have switched to GNU/Linux five years sooner if I had known half that stuff back then. Anyway, what’s done is done and I don’t have to give M$ any of my business from now on.

  18. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon
    –But that is just a digression. What is the mechanism by which “M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS”?–
    Patents.

    MS was wanting 20 dollars for patents to cover Linux at the same times the were wanting 20 dollars for full XP for netbooks.

  19. Clarence Moon says:

    The product sold well for a long time in million quantities.

    Millions of XP and Windows 7 based versions, that is. If you look at the picture in your cite, the CEO fellow is showing and XP home screen. Linux fell of the radar in 2008 and hasn’t been heard of since.

    But that is just a digression. What is the mechanism by which “M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS”?

  20. Clarence Moon wrote, “They made hundreds of thousands per month and they all sold

    Well, you would be hard pressed to document such a myth, Mr. Pogson”.

    Only if pages have been erased from the web.

    In 2008, the CEO of ASUS predicted 5 million eeePCs would sell with, A lot of users like the Windows XP, but in Europe a lot of people want the Linux option. Hmmm… Europe is a larger market than USA, home of M$ and a lot is a lot when you talk of 5 million PCs. He saw no difference in return rates…

    2007-12-11:“ASUS’ fledgling Eee PC is doing extremely well, the company reports. It expects to sell over 400,000 systems by January, and at a tradeshow in Taipei last week, it sold out all 5,000 units it brought for the occasion. Targeted sales for 2008 could be in excess of 3.8 million. “

    2008 Q2 PC shipments in Europe, where GNU/Linux was popular increased dramatically thanks to the eeePC which still shipped with GNU/Linux at that time.

    2008-07-14: “Asus produces Linux and XP Eees in equal numbers, she claimed, and will continue to do so: the Linux Eees are the better selling models. “We think our version of Linux is how we will stand out from our competitors,” she said.” see http://www.reghardware.com/2008/07/14/asus_linux_eee_901_famine/

    So, the triumph of XP over GNU/Linux on the eeePC was entirely man-made. The product sold well for a long time in million quantities.

  21. They made hundreds of thousands per month and they all sold

    Well, you would be hard pressed to document such a myth, Mr. Pogson, but let us pretend that it is true. That being the case, then why would ASUS abandon such a gold mine? Of course you say that “M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS”, but you do not describe any mechanism that could realistically apply such a force. What is it? Remember, this is at a period in time that Microsoft was under intense scrutiny from two watchdog committees established for the very purpose of making sure that Microsoft did not leverage its market power illegally and when the EU was was squeezing more than a billion euros out of them based on things like integrating a media player.

  22. oldman says:

    “False. ASUS doubled and redoubled production rates to keep up with demand. They made hundreds of thousands per month and they all sold.”

    Prove it!

  23. Clarence Moon lied about the GNU/Linux netbooks, “Only tens of thousands of the original were ever sold”.

    False. ASUS doubled and redoubled production rates to keep up with demand. They made hundreds of thousands per month and they all sold.

  24. dougman says:

    Joshua depicts some loon going into a Bestbuy and wastefully spending hundreds of dollars on unnecessary software.

    http://www.digitimes.com/NewsShow/20120905VL203_files/1_r.jpg

  25. Years ago, in my developer days, I was developing industrial system management software for IBM Industrial PCs using OS/2. One unique thing in that era was IBM’s distribution of its developer software and SDKs via hard drive. To set up a development station, one just replaced the hard drive of a development machine with the drive that came from IBM and you were in business. At the time there were no DVDs and CDs were rare and expensive and the IBM software was massive (for the time, that is, some 500mb) and took forever to install from floppy disk.

    I wonder if the same guy was behind that odd approach. Distributing software via new PC seems to fit the same mold.

    ASUS changed in 2007 when it brought out the fabulous GNU/Linux netbooks which sold out globally. When M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS, that innovation was killed.

    You tell this tale now and then, Mr. Pogson, but you leave out a lot of detail. Retailers only ordered a handful of the netbooks with the Linux pre-install and they had a rather retarded UI and limited application availability. The initial designs were sold quickly in a number of cases and that prompted the industry and Microsoft to agree on first a stopgap version of Windows XP and then on an engineered version of Windows 7 to be used at an acceptable price point.

    Once the product image became that of a fully compatible Windows computer albeit with a minimal display and functional capacity, the concept took off and tens of millions were sold. Only tens of thousands of the original were ever sold and, as I recall, you once posted a link to an “Alibaba” site that still had some of the original machines available for quantity purchase. No takers apparently.

    What I really would like you to expound on is the mechanism by which “M$ forced OEMs to install that other OS”. Was it by lowering the price of Windows XP or 7 Starter Edition to where it was affordable? Did they send out squads of goons who held guns to the OEM product manager heads? Did Bill Gates just call up OEM CEOs like Michael Dell and say “Aw, come on, Mike, be a guy!”? Just how was all this control exercised?

    My own belief is that the OEMs clearly saw that the netbook market would blossom if Windows compatibility were magically made available. Once Microsoft met their hopes and prayers, the Linux game was over.

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